Archive for category Jobs

Faux News: Paying people for the hours that they actually work ‘undercuts work ethic’

Dilbert unpaid overtime

Via Media Matters:

Throughout the day on June 10, Fox News and Fox Business personalities derided an expected proposal from the Labor Department that would expand guaranteed overtime pay to millions of American workers who currently work uncompensated hours.

…Under current federal guidelines, salaried employees are only guaranteed overtime pay if they earn up to $23,660 per year. Raising the threshold to $52,000 would expand overtime protections to at least 6.1 million additional American workers, and bring the policy roughly in line with federal standards last witnessed in 1975, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

On the Faux News Channel, commentators worry that paying people for the hours that they actually work “undercuts work ethic.” Seriously?

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Keystone XL Zombie Lie

Via Media Matters.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Virtually all the Republicans and 28 Democrats voted for this foreign-owned project, which is likely to impose significant environmental costs, cause an increase in American gasoline prices, and contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,200 mile dirty oil pipeline would carry bitumen — a tar-like substance mined from the Alberta tar sands, chemically diluted, and heated to improve flow — at high pressure across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries. Existing pipelines of this type spring dozens of leaks every year, and the mess is much more difficult to clean up than a crude oil spill.

Why allow this? Right-wing propagandists insist that Keystone XL will create “42,000 jobs.” This is false.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including “35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.” Further, their report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years.

President Obama has threatened to veto the congressional attempt to force the issue, however he seems to be keeping the option open to ultimately approve this disastrous project.

UPDATE:
Senate Advances Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline Despite Obama’s Veto Threat

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Hillary: ‘Trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history’

Hillary on trickle-down

I know Hillary Clinton would be the Wall Street candidate if she runs for President. I remember how the last President Clinton irritated progressives by embracing right-wing policies, and the last thing this country needs is another dynastic succession. Most of all, as we have seen with President Obama, progressive populist rhetoric can turn out to be meaningless.

But it’s still good news that Hillary said this at an October 24 campaign event for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley (emphasis added):

Don’t let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I’ve been through this. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s. I voted to raise the minimum wage and guess what? Millions of jobs were created or paid better and more families were more secure. That’s what we want to see here, and that’s what we want to see across the country.

And don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. That has failed rather spectacularly.

One of the things my husband says, when people say, what did you bring to Washington? He says, well I brought arithmetic. And part of it was he demonstrated why trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs over seas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn’t add up. Now that kind of thinking might win you an award for outsourcing excellence, but Massachusetts can do better than that. Martha understands it. She knows you have to create jobs from everyone working together and taking the advantages of this great state and putting them to work.

By way of explanation, Coakley’s Tea-GOP opponent Charlie Baker won an “Outsourcing Excellence Award” for sending American jobs out of the country.

UPDATE:
Rand Paul Mocks Hillary Clinton Over Jobs Remark

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What Would Be The Downside To Trying Solar Roadways?

I get tired of moaning and groaning about our broken political system, so here’s something I found that gives me hope for America.

Germany is making us look bad, because some thirty years after we passed up the chance to lead the world in solar energy, that country is astounding the world with what it’s been able to do with solar in a very short time.

This looks like a chance for America to lead the way yet, with – job creating – American made technology that the world would love to have. I realize this is a promotional video which is most likely not pointing to many downsides of their product, but can’t we just try it? It seems much simpler then going to the moon, and we’re all tired of the oil spills; most of which we never even hear about, because the stories are mostly banned from the media.

Check it out. There are lots of other videos on the subject, including a “TED” talk by the inventor, which I haven’t had time to watch yet.

UPDATE: Here’s the TED talk from Scott Brusaw and one other video.

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Pope Drives The Financial District Crazy

Hopefully making “The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints” leaders sit up in their chair a little.

But let’s not kid ourselves, The Vatican has a lot more assets to sell in helping the poor.

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Pope Francis: Don’t Believe ‘Trickle-Down Theories’

Pope Francis

h/t DSWright on Firedoglake

The most inspiring Pontiff since John Paul II has done it again. Pope Francis has issued a rigorous and comprehensive denunciation of trickle-down economics, the long-discredited theory that the best way to aid poor people is through policies that help the rich get richer.

Called his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) makes clear that Pope Francis regards modern capitalism and the political movement promoting it to be antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.

Among other things, Pope Francis wrote (emphasis added):

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Apostolic exhortations like Evangelii Gaudium are basically calls to carry out existing Church teachings, so in many ways there’s nothing unique about the sentiments expressed in the document. Roman Catholics grew up on stories like Jesus’ admonition that “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-26).

UPDATE: How To Use The Pope’s Agenda To Make The World More Equal

How do we ensure that the Pope’s shift in focus to inequality and the well-being of the poor becomes a focus of actual politics and not just a bunch of nice words that make us feel like our philosophical principles got a nod from the Big Guy?

UPDATE: Obama cites Pope Francis to attack income inequality and call for minimum wage increase

“The combined trends of increasing inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream,” Obama said.

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Pay Is Too Damn Low

Today is the anniversary of NOT raising the minimum wage. Again. Four years ago, the federal minimum wage topped out at $7.25 an hour as a result of a law signed by President George W. Bush. A full-time worker earning the minimum wage now pulls in a salary of about $15,000 per year, far below a living wage. If Congress doesn’t send President Obama legislation to sign by the end of his second term, he will be the first president since Ronald Reagan who didn’t raise the minimum wage at all.

“McBudgeting” video is from Low Pay Is Not OK. Apologies to Jimmy McMillan for making a variation on his famous slogan.

More info: The American Dream Has Turned into a Grueling Quest for Survival for Millions of People

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What’s Wrong With Our Economy

Employment ratio
Civilian Employment-Population Ratio from St. Louis Fed

Antidote to economic happy-talk. Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. The employment-to-population ratio has collapsed.

Robert L. Borosage:

There are still over 20 million people in need of full time work. The employment rate — the percentage of the population in the workforce — hasn’t budged from recession levels. At current rates, the U.S. won’t return to the pre-recession 5 percent unemployment rate until 2022 — and even at that level, American families were losing ground.

Corporate profits are up, but wages aren’t. Wages are now at the lowest percent of the economy on record. The median wage hasn’t budged this century. College and non-college grads are now losing ground. The good jobs that were lost are being replaced by low wage and part-time jobs. Young people are starting out behind, unemployed or underemployed at ruinous high rates. Our Gilded Age inequality is getting worse, with the top 1 percent pocketing all of the rewards of growth.

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Henry Blodget: Here’s What’s Actually Killing The Economy… The Decline Of The Middle Class

Via Business Insider, Henry Blodget explains:

Over the past 30 years, a larger and larger portion of America’s income growth has gone to those in the top 10% of incomes, and especially those in the top 1%. This is a major change from the prior 60 years, in which the top 10% and the bottom 90% shared in the income gains.

A stark and startling example of this trend is the fact that, adjusted for inflation, “average hourly earnings” in this country have not increased in 50 years.

A recent Pew study confirms that America’s middle class has recently experienced a “lost decade.”

Since 2000, the Pew says, “the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future.” Pew cites statistics showing that middle class earnings and net worth have plummeted since the mid-2000s and that about 85% of the middle class say it is harder to maintain their standard of living than it was 10 years ago.

The reason the decline of the middle class is important is not just about fairness. It’s about the health of the economy as a whole…

Looking beyond the 8.3 percent unemployment rate, the Labor Department says that only 56 percent of Americans laid off from January 2009 through December 2011 had found jobs by the start of this year. More than half of them took jobs with lower pay. One-third took pay cuts of 20 percent or more. The figures would be even lower if people who could find only part-time jobs were included in the total.

The mortgage crisis brought on by the collapse of Wall Street’s housing bubble is ongoing. Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries found that the negative equity situation is the worst among borrowers under the age of 40, with nearly half of them underwater. These people are trapped in homes they can’t afford to sell. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has ruled out principal reductions as a way to address the problem.

Unfortunately, the 2012 election offers a choice between the Obama administration, which has done little to help the middle class, and the Republican Romney-Ryan ticket, which proposes to actively make things worse. For example, raising taxes on the middle class to pay for massive new tax cuts for the rich, and increasing the cost of Medicare by $60,000 for working people.

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Recovery From Bush’s Great Recession Has Stalled

Recession graph
Source: Calculated Risk.

There were 115,000 payroll jobs added in April, with 130,000 private sector jobs added, and 15,000 government jobs lost. The unemployment rate declined to 8.1%. U-6, an alternate measure of labor underutilization that includes part time workers and marginally attached workers, was unchanged at 14.5%.

Robert Reich:

Friday’s jobs report for April was even more disappointing than March. Employers added only 115,000 new jobs, down from March’s number (the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the March number upward to 154,000, but it’s still abysmal relative to what’s needed). At least 125,000 new jobs are necessary each month just to keep up with an expanding population of working-age people.

That means the hole is getting even deeper.

…Most of the job gains in April were in lower-wage industries — retail stores, restaurants, and temporary-help. That means average wages continue to drop, adjusted for inflation — continuing their long-term decline. Most of the new jobs that have been added to the U.S. economy during this recovery have paid less than the jobs that were lost during the downturn.

What does all this mean? Together with other recent data showing slower economic growth during the first quarter of this year, it’s safe to say the economy has stalled.

From Calculated Risk:

  • There are a total of 12.5 million Americans unemployed and 5.1 million have been unemployed for more than 6 months.
  • According to the BLS, there are 5.1 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and still want a job.
  • There are now more private sector jobs than when President Obama took office.
  • The public sector is continuing to hemorrhage jobs.
  • The participation rate decreased to 63.6% from 63.8% (a new cycle low).

The Bush administration crashed our economy so badly that even though the Obama job creation record is better than Bush’s, it’s still not enough. Most new jobs are low-paying, and the middle class just doesn’t have the spending power to help with the recovery. The rich are doing better than ever, but this also does not help the economy – instead, it sets the conditions for the next bubble and financial sector meltdown.

UPDATE:
Dean Baker reminds us that the collapse of the housing bubble stuck the American consumer with $8 trillion in lost wealth, and this continues to depress demand.

UPDATE: Presidential candidate Willard (“Mitt”) Romney says “We should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs per month.” Of course, that has only happened four times in 50 years.

UPDATE: Labor Force Participation Is Lower Than It Has Been In 30 Years — Why It Matters And Why It Doesn’t

UPDATE: Robert Reich tweets:

“Rom says unemp shld be 4%. I was Sec of Lab last time it was 4%. We got there by raising taxes on rich and investing in ed and infrstructre.”


UPDATE:
CHART: Economy Has Recovered All Private Sector Jobs Lost Since Obama Took Office

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Favorite Candidate of the 1 Percent Calls NLRB Members ‘Union Stooges’

The latest lie from Willard (“Mitt”) Romney, who has taken to wearing jeans and posing as a member of the middle class:

“The National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the President, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, ‘You can’t build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a Right to Work state.’ That is simply un-American. It is political payback of the worst kind.”

Boeing makes most of its profits from government contracts, not “free enterprise.” Their South Carolina factory is already built. And the NLRB resolved the Boeing issue last month when Boeing and the Machinists union reached a contract extension and the NLRB dropped its legal action. Yesterday President Obama appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin to the NLRB so that the board would have enough members to function despite Republican obstructionism. Flynn is a Republican.

A key role of the board is to supervise union elections and referee disputes between the nation’s private-sector employers and employees, in part by deciding cases brought to the agency. Without a quorum, the board can’t rule on cases or create major new regulations.

…Mr. Griffin is the general counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of the lawyers coordinating committee for the AFL-CIO labor federation. In the early 1980s, he served as a counsel to NLRB board members.

Ms. Block is the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs. She was previously the senior labor and employment counsel for the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, where she worked for the late Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Mr. Flynn, who was nominated by Mr. Obama in January 2011, is chief counsel to the NLRB’s lone Republican member, Brian Hayes.

UPDATE: Waiting for brewski to come along and tell us the correct term for NLRB members is “union thugs.”

UPDATE: Obama Fails On Minimum Wage Pledge. After the 2008 election, the President promised to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by the end of 2011 and index it to inflation, “to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage.” The minimum wage remains where it was when Bush left office, $7.25 an hour. If it had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now stand at around $10.

UPDATE: Boeing has announced the closure of its Wichita, Kansas factory complex after promising Kansas Republican members of Congress that it would build Air Force tankers there if awarded the contract. They got the contract, but reneged on their promise.

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Will Wall Street Go After Ice Cream?

Ben and Jerry try to turn things right side up by bucking the system. If they make a profit, the fascists will come running! Ice cream probably isn’t healthy, but neither is anything I eat nowadays. This will be interesting!

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