There are only about 40 days left in the Congressional season before these champions of non-accomplishment go out to lie and buy their votes. Yet what they should be doing is getting the Middle Class jobs, not waiting to see if Romney is elected.
In Las Vegas, today marks a protest of appointed U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) to get him to support H.R 5542, the “Bring Jobs Home Act.” Heller has been focused on by the AFL-CIO. Heller, along with the Republican Party, have never voted for any Job Bills proposed by President Obama or the Democrats in congress, and it’s not likely that he or his Party will start now.
The Bring Home The Jobs Act would end a tax benefit for companies that move jobs overseas and, instead, would add a tax credit for companies that move jobs back to the United States. The bill would also prohibit the first group of companies from receiving federal grants or guaranteed loans.
The AFL-CIO is also promoting the “United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act” that would make public the names of companies that move call centers overseas (H.R. 3596.)
The Democratic Party in both the House and the Senate have backed Bills in the past that would end corporations from receiving a tax break for creating jobs overseas, while giving a tax credit if they create jobs in the United States, but the Republican Party stopped them with a no vote in the House and a filibuster in the Senate.
Of course, wasting time on repealing an unrepealable Health Care bill was worth the effort for Boehner and his Bozos.
And what is their job strategy based on? This:
- Congress Fiddles as Crises Loom (thedailybeast.com)
- Rep. Van Hollen: Health care repeal vote is ‘empty political gesture’ (cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com)
- Health care repeal effort: Worth the time? (cbsnews.com)
- NV Women Respond to Heller Campaign’s “A Woman’s Place is in the House” Button (nvrdc.wordpress.com)
- Even Republicans Are Dissing Appointed-Senator Heller (humboldtdems.wordpress.com)
… we’ll be spending some time talking about the economy, the political future of the Middle Class, and a few other things.
That’s 10 o’clock this morning http://www.blogtalkradio.com/billtchakirides/2011/07/19/under-the-lobsterscope.
“Consciously or not, policy makers are catering almost exclusively to the interests of rentiers — those who derive lots of income from assets, who lent large sums of money in the past, often unwisely, but are now being protected from loss at everyone else’s expense.”
Hmmm. “Rentiers.” There’s a new word to learn. It’s sort of a nice way to say bastard bankers, or corporate pigs… a lot of class for a collection of scum ( or “scumiers”). Yet these are the people who have taken their tax deductions and NOT created jobs… nor even encouraged the creation of jobs… but have pocketed their cash in the back of their pants in Mexico and China and India… Certainly it is not being spent here in the good old USA.
And who pays the tab on the huge bill created for operation of our government, military, debt repayments and the loans and support w are making to just about every other civil population but our own? Why, we do. The American “Middle Class“… just a label now, since any economic positives of being in the middle class have been thoroughly negated.
Krugman sums up how these “rentiers” take over the ruling power in our country:
“And that explains why creditor interests bulk so large in policy; not only is this the class that makes big campaign contributions, it’s the class that has personal access to policy makers — many of whom go to work for these people when they exit government through the revolving door. The process of influence doesn’t have to involve raw corruption (although that happens, too). All it requires is the tendency to assume that what’s good for the people you hang out with, the people who seem so impressive in meetings — hey, they’re rich, they’re smart, and they have great tailors — must be good for the economy as a whole.“
- Paul Krugman: Rule by Rentiers (economistsview.typepad.com)
- Economic Reality (swampland.time.com)
- Thursday Reading List (ritholtz.com)
- For the Virtual Green Room: June 7, 2011 (delong.typepad.com)
- Who Are The Rentiers? (krugman.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Tim Pawlenty’s Supply-Side Time Warp (douthat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Abbreviated pundit round-up (dailykos.com)
- The Rentier Regime (krugman.blogs.nytimes.com)
- DCCC and CREEP Want My Money to Re-Elect President Romney’s Econ Team (my.firedoglake.com)
“You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both.”
– Louis Brandeis
So how poor is the Middle Class when looked at in comparison with the top 1% (who don’t seem to be affected by the results of the Great Recession)? Here are a couple of charts from Stanford University which will give you an idea:
CEO pay as related to Average Worker pay
The ratio of the average pay of the 100 highest-paid CEOs in the United States to the average wage of workers increased from 39:1 in 1970 to 191:1 in 1988 to 1,039:1 in 2000. Put more colloquially, top CEOs in 1970 made 39 times more than the average worker, whereas now they make 1,039 times more than the average worker.
U.S. CEO pay in relation to the average worker’s wage:
Source: Thomas Piketty, and Emanuel Saez. 2007. “Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-2002.” In Anthony B. Atkinson, and Thomas Piketty, Top Incomes Over the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Children In Poverty
In the United States, 21.9 percent of all children are in poverty, a poverty rate second only to that of Mexico’s (among rich nations).
Relative Poverty Rates in Twenty-One Rich Nations at the Turn of the Century for Children:
Got it? The rich aren’t complaining because they earn around a thousand to one compared to the average middle class guy. And they don’t seem to be concerned that, aside from Mexico, we are leaders in Child Poverty among developed nations (we even come in 3 times worse than Slovenia!)
So now the Tea Party folks are pushing a budget where they have already eliminated, in concept, NPR, PBS, the EPA and just about every other federally funded advantage that the Middle Class has. This was all passed by the House yesterday… now it goes to the Senate.
I signed a petition yesterday to save public broadcasting. If you want to join me, go to this link: http://pol.moveon.org/nprpbs/?r_by=-5593088-7WiE7Qx&rc=mailto. This will get the word out to the Senate before they vote on it. Let’s let them know what WE want.
The Republicans are working very hard to eliminate the Middle Class, and it is a losing battle, it seems, negotiating with them. John Boehner seems to have no real control over his House colleagues and the Tea Partyers don’t have any idea what negotiation means.
As we head for a potential government shutdown, we’re in for lots of rhetorical crap and not much real action.
- Dave Johnson: Budget Cuts Kill The Middle Class (huffingtonpost.com)
- Podcast: Jobs, Wages and Middle-Class Costs (economix.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Robert Scheer: The Peasants Need Pitchforks (huffingtonpost.com)
- Middle-class insolvency increase (moneydebtandcredit.com)
- GOP Budget Plan: Humbug For Middle Class & Poor, Lollipops For Rich & Big Business (themoderatevoice.com)
- Class Warfarin: Hemorrhaging, Part II by Joseph Natoli (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- It’s not just the poor who need social mobility (telegraph.co.uk)
- Poverty and Social Class- The Impact of Poverty (socyberty.com)
“His representative told me that they did not think it would hurt the middle class that much, and that the budget needed to be cut in any way necessary.
“He told me that Republicans are not paying attention to what the American people want, they are paying attention to the cuts that need to be made, no matter where those cuts come from. He said Republicans are carrying the momentum right now and they will continue to do because that is what the American public wants right now.”
I picked up a very good comparison of the amount of money Scott Walker and his allies in Wisconsin are ready to cut from the budget that effects middle class and union workers to the amount of money given away as tax breaks for the wealthy (reprinted from a Daily Kos post by greywolfe359):
On the left you have the “shared sacrifices” and “painful cuts” that the Republicans claim we must make to get our fiscal house in order. On the right, you can plainly see WHY these cuts are “necessary.” The reason? Because we already gave away all that money to America‘s wealthiest individuals and corporations.
This just mirrors what we’re seeing in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker (R-Koch) claims that ordinary public sector workers need to fork over at least $137 million to save the budget. Problem is, he just gave away $117 million in tax breaks for his corporate pals. This is out and out class warfare. The big corporations in America have decided that they can get even richer by raiding the public treasury. It’s time for the middle class to stand up and defend itself!
Greywolfe359 also gives us this music video for Unions standing up to the Wisconsin Class War:
- Labor Lambasts Walker, GOP Senators (thepage.time.com)
- Scott Walker’s real agenda in Wisconsin | Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers (guardian.co.uk)
- Michael Moore On Wisconsin: ‘This Is War’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Union-Busting: ‘An Attack on All Working People’ (beavercountyblue.org)
- Wisconsin Protests Spark Ad War (huffingtonpost.com)
- Wisconsin Protesters Removed From State Capitol By Police (huffingtonpost.com)
I should have decided this long ago, and I’m not sure why I didn’t. I tell myself I was concerned with creating things for middle class design workers (my fonts) or hiring young people and giving them health insurance (U-Design, Inc and Hybrid Communications the two companies I owned in the 80s and early 90s) or just promoting good, ethical, Progressive and liberal causes in this blog.
Apparently I was wrong all these years.
So I am now thinking about raising the price of my picture and display fonts (which you can find at UTF Type Foundry or here on this blog where I give away one of these products for any contribution above $5.00) from $29.95 a set to $125,000.00. Then, if I sell the same amount I’m doing now, I’ll be Rich in a very short time and have all the tax breaks and government favors…and be able to hire my own lobbyists… and spend the remaining years of my dwindling life in Conservative Happiness.
Of course, there may be other, even easier ways to get Rich. So many of those on the top scales of our society did it by committing some form of white collar crime… it goes all the way back to Joe Kennedy during the Depression… and I could spend time researching the possibilities now (or what else is the web for?). This solution means I don’t have to go through the e-mail chore of sending fonts and keyboard charts out to buyers, saving me ten or fifteen minutes on each sale. I could sleep longer in the morning!
It’s time for me to walk the dogs and do the dishes, so I’ll have to get back to my exit from the Middle Class later on.
- “Tax the Rich”? (stephenlaw.blogspot.com)
- New website suggests rich give tax cuts to charity (salon.com)
- The Financial Elite In America – Same As Dictators Elsewhere (disquietreservations.blogspot.com)
- Are You Rich? (moneyning.com)
- The Poor, The Rich (socyberty.com)
- Blogger Drops New Fonts (webpronews.com)
- Leo W. Gerard: Republican-Hood: Steal from the Workers; Pander to the Rich (huffingtonpost.com)
- Poll: Despite recession, rich still happy (americablog.com)
- On The Growing Disparity Between The Rich And The Super-Rich (businessinsider.com)
- Achieving 2011 Financial Goals (thestreet.com)
Introducing White House Whiteboard
In this first edition, Austan Goolsbee, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House, tackles the tax cut fight and what it means that Congressional Republicans are “holding middle class tax cuts hostage” as the President has said:
That makes it pretty clear, doesn’t it. While the candidates are off now running for their seats, please remember to bring this up to the Republicans who are saying that Obama’s Administration is doing nothing to fix our economy.
- Austan Goolsbee, tax cuts and “big red balls” (salon.com)
- Think Nobody in the White House Knows How to Explain Economic Policy? (theatlantic.com)
Rex Babin in the Sacramento Bee:
Perhaps the Teabaggers are suffering from shortness of view…
- and -
Chan Lowe in the South Florida Sentinel (reprinted from 2009):
Perhaps McCain can tell…
- and -
Matt Davies in The (Westchester NY) Journal News:
Perhaps the Congress will get back to this after the election…
- and -
Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Perhaps real Americans are uneducated and closed minded…
“Well, anyone who thinks we can move this economy forward with a few doing well at the top, hoping it’ll trickle down to working folks running faster and faster just to keep up – they just haven’t studied our history. We didn’t become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness. We didn’t come this far by letting special interests run wild. We didn’t do it by just gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street. We did it by producing goods we could sell; we did it with sweat and effort and innovation. We did it by investing in the people who built this country from the ground up – workers, and middle-class families, and small business owners. We did it by out-working, out-educating, and out-competing everyone else.”
- Barack Obama.
…and it’s time the Middle Class that’s left wises up and refuses to go back into the arms of the Republican Wealth Assuagers who got us into this situation!
- Unbuttoned Obama Strikes at GOP with Folksy Sayings In Labor Day Speech [Videuoh] (gawker.com)
- Obama’s Labor Day Speech 2010 (VIDEO, TEXT): President Assails GOP, Promotes Job Creation Program (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama: Critics ‘talk about me like a dog’ (thehill.com)
We are spending $2 Billion a week in Afghanistan. If you want to see zeros, that’s $2,000,000,000.00 a week. It also means $104 Billion a year.
Meanwhile, we can’t afford to keep our education budgets in functional condition. We can’t reduce our National Debt. We can’t bring down our operating deficit. And we are spending a fortune on foreign servicing (read China) of our debt.
The Teacher/Jobs bill that was passed by the Senate goes to the House tomorrow. It MUST be passed there if we want teachers to keep their jobs, if we want to see class sizes remain small enough, if we want to have all the extra programs beyond basic ABC’s working in our children’s favor.
And what about the money we are still spending in IRAQ? Here is the remains of a military action that we get just about zero benefit from (we shouldn’t have been there in the first place… and now it turns out that the Bush Administration has been documented as planning the invasion of Iraq BEFORE 9/11!)
The debate that is going to come up right away…if not as I write this…is a Guns and Butter debate. Do we keep supplying useless wars or do we keep our own middle-class culture from dying out entirely? Watch the activities of Congress and listen to the coming election speeches if you don’t believe me.
We appear to be in the middle of a hugely stupid economic system. Consumers are consuming less…perhaps saving, actually. Lenders, even those who were bailed out by the government, are loaning less. The Military is spending more (and even if it cuts the military spending by a significant amount over the next two years, we will still be spending more… quite a bit more… than we spent the year prior to 9/11.
Our Industry economy has been replaced by a service economy (and long ago we lost our agrarian economy) and the need for services uses up computer networks and telephone lines but does not use up to available musculature and time of potential employees. Growing numbers of middle class employees become lower class unemployed and part-time strugglers. While we think about ways to go in a direction which favors the largest number of people instead of the top 1 percent of the population… the extremely wealthy elite… we fall more and more into a depth which was designed for us long ago and which we have supported, brainlessly, for close to 30 years.
Sustainability is one of the tactics which is being put in place by the current and former middle-classers as an effort to face the future with at least a drop of hope. Here in Shepherdstown, WV, a number of locals have put together Sustainable Shepherdstown in an early move to improve life conditions while looking out for urselves. This effects food, lifestyles and other economic factors. You can learn more about it at Sustainable Shepherdstown. Similar activities are happening in other communities.
The only real question is “Is it too late?”
I’ve been reading a number of articles on the subject, recently, as I try to put my finger on why my own world is shrinking. It won’t be long and there will be no Middle Class, or a very small one that we use as a museum exhibit to remember when the world worked better than it does now.
Elizabeth Warren’s piece on Alternet titled America without a Middle Class – It’s not as far away as you might think is a good starting place:
Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.
I’m in the first “1 in 5″… have been for 18 months or so… and I’m also part of the “5 trillion” in pension and savings losses (in my case, $30,000. from a once-secure 401 k.) So does that put me in the disappearing middle class?
PBS’ FRONTLINE explored how the credit card industry has shattered the Middle Class. It’s worth watching HERE. I watched and then thought how lucky I was that I gave up credit card use 5 years ago… only spend what I have, only use a debit card.
Health Care costs (which we are all evaluating as we watch the Senate debate the current Bill), have done their best to eliminate much of the Middle Class’s economic structure. There is a report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which lays out the economics of this situation HERE.
Plenty to read… plenty to think about. I hope you have a job and don’t have time to read it all… and, if so, I’m jealous.
Thinking this morning (see prvious post) of our insertion into Afghanistan which is in the midst of what can be seen as a Civil War, I started to ponder the “Intellectual Civil War” we are currently experiencing right here at home. While it is not the bombing, kidnapping, house-to-house shooting kind of Civil War, ours has elements which spell out an equally destabilized future for those of us who grew up in the Post WWII Middle-Class environment.
Starting about thirty years ago, the Conservative Right set out to weaken and then, most recently, to destroy or at the least enslave the Middle-Class to be the exclusive tax-supplying funding source of an Upper-Class dominated economy. The fact that it was stretched out over three decades (a slow, slow war) made it almost invisible to the majority of Americans who were convinced that there was something called a “trickle-down” advantage to stopping the taxation of the top 2% or so of the economic population. Then, when it was too late to really make a change without unattached politicians who were not paid off by the corporate creations of that top 2%, we discovered ourselves in a world where a ratio of one Dennis Kucinich was put up against 50 or so “identified-as-liberals”… or, as I would like to call it, the “false democracy.”
This “Intellectual Civil War” has battles, too, only they have taken on names like “Tea Parties” and have been controlled by outside players acting as puppeteers, and we have done little to cut the strings. Those of us in the American 98% that are being economically destroyed, robbed of affordable health care, impoverished by bankruptcies of government supported financial institutions and forced to see possibilities of our world turning around for the better dashed against the whining wrinkles of Joe Lieberman… we are left not knowing who to turn to, who we can actually believe is acting in our interests.
Look… I want to believe that Nancy Pelosi is going to do something to really get the Insurance Companies disabled when it comes to health care. I want to believe that Obama will see what’s going on in the Middle East and issue the order for everyone to come home… now… and forget the crap about how many years it will take to get our weapons and ships and other facilities dismantled… bring the armies home NOW, have them pull out in the middle of the night on Wednesday (and if Karzai’s government complains, tell them you’ll be back IF they really have a fair election and IF they handle their own military and police actions… frankly, we’ll never have to go back.) I want to believe that Republican leaders like John Boehner will actually call up Pelosi this morning and say “we’re ready to help and compromise for the good of the country… what do you want us to do?” I want to believe that the sun will shine and the sky will be blue and everything will get better (and employment opportunities will turn up so I can be at work instead of sitting here at the computer bitching about everything)… I want to believe it. I’m just not able to given current conditions.
I want to see an end to our Intellectual Civil War. I want to see the opposing generals like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin and Michael Steele decide that they have enough and can ride off into the sunset.