August 30, 2011
Before leaving on vacation President Obama said he is going to talk about creating jobs in September. The latest word is he will give this speech next week. Campaign for America’s Future has put together some ideas for creating jobs. See our series Big Ideas To Get America Working:
The task is not simply to give the economy a stimulus, as if we were giving a charge to a dead car battery. We need to rebuild the engine and modernize the wiring, creating a new strategy for America in the global economy. We asked our writers and contributors to lay out the "big ideas" and framing you can use to push a jobs-first agenda to the forefront of the national debate.
Here is where we are: People need jobs and jobs fix deficits. We have to get people back to work and the American people deserve good-paying jobs, not just any new job at half the old wages. Lots and lots of regular people are not working or have settled for jobs that don’t offer enough hours or just don’t pay enough or provide benefits. And here's a fact: people who are working are paying taxes, are not collecting unemployment and are less likely to be collecting food stamps, so putting people to work lowers deficits.
Of course people want their President to be reasonable and bipartisan and compromise to get things done, but more than that they want results. Mr.President, if you can't get results any other way people want you to move the obstructers out of the way. Republicans in the Congress are blocking every effort to boost the economy and create new jobs – especially good-paying jobs. Many think they are doing this to sabotage Democratic chances in the coming elections.
So, Mr. President, you have to take this to the public. Go big. Draw contrasts. Give the public a clear choice. You don’t have to propose something that Republicans will pass -- because no matter what you propose, they won’t. Instead you have to bring forward proposals that will clearly put lots of Americans to work, so the public can decide what they want to do.
Above all, it is time to be reality-based in the approach. The country is sick of spin and propaganda and putting the best face on things. Reality and good policy are the best politics. Here are some “reality-based” ideas to help get this going.
- Reality: Millions of Americans are out of work or are working in low-paying jobs and outside of the DC area it is not getting better.
- Reality: Getting people back to work lowers deficits because they are paying taxes and require fewer government services.
- Reality: Tariffs on goods made by exploited workers in exploited environments = jobs and good wages here. Our trade agreements have created huge trade deficits that are draining our economy. “Free trade” is a myth that has been used to drive wages down here, not to create trade partners who buy as much from us as they sell to us.
- Reality: Other countries have national industrial/economic strategies. This means we increasingly send our companies out alone to compete with national systems and they won't win that fight no matter how big they are.
- Reality: Other countries use national domestic-content procurement policies, and we need a "Buy American" procurement policy.
- Reality: For decades all income gains have gone to the top. This is distorting everything in our society and democracy.
- Reality: Tax cuts for the rich cause deficits. They also incentivize predatory business models by rewarding get-rich-quick schemes over good, long-term, sustainable business strategies.
- Reality: Climate change is real and it is serious and we have to address it. And addressing climate change means millions of green jobs will be created.
Twenty-five million Americans are in need of full time work. One in four teenagers not in college can’t find a job. Wages aren’t keeping up with prices. Our trade deficit is rising, as more and more good jobs get shipped abroad. It’s projected that a staggering 48 percent of homes with mortgages could be underwater – worth less than the mortgage – by the end of the year.
Moreover, there is no recovery to an old, healthy economy. The old economy didn’t work for most Americans even when it was growing. The cancer was spreading before it metastasized in the financial panic. In the so-called Bush recovery years before the collapse, the few captured all the rewards of growth. The average income of the bottom 90% dropped. That economy was built on debt and bubbles. We were hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs and borrowing $2 billion a day from abroad. And we were in complete denial about global warming and the catastrophic climate changes that have already begun. We can’t recover to that old economy – and we wouldn’t want to.
Summary: The old way didn’t work and led to disaster. Don’t try to bring that back, thinking it will be better this time. We need a new vision, and new strategies.
So let's get down to business. Here are the ideas presented in our Big Ideas To Get America Working series:
Today's Big Idea To Get America Working: Fix The Housing Crisis by Liz Ryan Murray.
Today's Big Idea to Get America Working: Hire the Young to Build Their Own Future by Richard (RJ) Eskow.
Today's Big Idea To Get America Working: Make Work Pay by Anne Thompson.
Big Ideas To Get America Working: Rebuild Our Infrastructure by Dave Johnson.
August 28, 2011
Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about "Obama spending" and "Obama deficits" and how the "Stimulus" just made things worse. Solution: Here are three "reality-based" charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.
Government spending increased dramatically under Bush. It has not increased much under Obama. Note that this chart does not reflect any spending cuts resulting from deficit-cutting deals.
Notes, this chart includes Clinton's last budget year for comparison.
The numbers in these two charts come from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2012. They are just the amounts that the government spent and borrowed, period, Anyone can go look then up. People who claim that Obama "tripled the deficit" are either misled or are trying to mislead.
The Stimulus and Jobs
In this chart, the RED lines on the left side -- the ones that keep doing DOWN -- show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse. The BLUE lines -- the ones that just go UP -- show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better. The leveling off on the right side of the chart shows what happened as the stimulus started to wind down: job creation leveled off at too low a level.
It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus.
Conclusion: THE STIMULUS WORKED BUT WAS NOT ENOUGH!
More False Things
These are just three of the false things that everyone "knows." Some others are (click through): Obama bailed out the banks, businesses will hire if they get tax cuts, health care reform cost $1 trillion, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme or is "going broke", government spending "takes money out of the economy."
Why This Matters
These things really matter. We all want to fix the terrible problems the country has. But it is so important to know just what the problems are before you decide how to fix them. Otherwise the things you do to try to solve those problems might just make them worse. If you get tricked into thinking that Obama has made things worse and that we should go back to what we were doing before Obama -- tax cuts for the rich, giving giant corporations and Wall Street everything they want -- when those are the things that caused the problems in the first place, then we will be in real trouble.
August 26, 2011
You hear over and over that Social Security is "in trouble" or that we "can't afford it." This is as far from true as can be, and the idea behind this is to convince people to just give up on defending the program and let the haters have their way. The people who hate Social Security the most are the ones who say they want to make these changes to "save" it. Well Bernie Sanders loves the program and has introduced a bill that actually will save it.
Conservatives have hated Social Security from the start, because it is a program that demonstrates once and for all the value of progressive governance. Social Security is as clear an example of We, the People watching out for and taking care of each other as there ever was. It has made a huge difference n the lives of older people, and their/our families. It works, is cost-effective and requires minimal overhead to keep it going. So they hate it.
A very recent example of conservative hatred for Social Security came from Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who said, that We, the People helping each other makes us weak,
"These programs actually weakened us as a people. ... All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job."
Substitute the words "We, the People" or "each other" for "government" in Rubio's statement and you'll get the point: people don't have to worry so much because we're taking care of each other. He says that makes us weak. Yikes!
Decades Of Attacks
For decades conservatives who hate Social Security have been using every trick in the book to turn people against the program. Over and over you hear, "It's a Ponzi scheme." "It won't be there for you." This latest attack is that it "makes us weak." And of course the old classic: "Social Security is broke."
The "it's going broke" and "won't be there for you" attack strategy goes back to a 1983 Cato Institute Journal document, "Achieving a Leninist Strategy" by Stuart Butler of Cato and Peter Germanis of the Heritage Foundation. The document is still available at Cato, and select quotes are available at Plotting Privatization? from Z Magazine. If you have time it is worth reading the entire document (in particular the section "Weakening the Opposition") to more fully understand the strategy that has been unfolding in the years since. But if you can't, the following quotes give you an idea:
"Lenin recognized that fundamental change is contingent upon ... its success in isolating and weakening its opponents. ... we would do well to draw a few lessons from the Leninist strategy."
" construct ... a coalition that will ... reap benefits from the IRA-based private system ... but also the banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public."
"The first element consists of a campaign to achieve small legislative changes that embellish the present IRA system, making it in practice a small-scale private Social Security system.
"The second main element ... involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it."
"The banking industry and other business groups that can benefit from expanded IRAs ..." "... the strategy must be to propose moving to a private Social Security system in such a way as to ... neutralize ... the coalition that supports the existing system."
"The next Social Security crisis may be further away than many people believe. ... it could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible. But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform."
Here is what to take away from this: Every time you hear that "Social Security is going broke" you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point that is part of a decades-old strategy. Every time you hear that "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" you are hearing that strategy in operation. Every time you hear that "Social Security won't be there for me anyway" " you are witnessing that strategy unfold.
The Social Security program is entirely self-funded, separate from the way that the government taxes and spends for other programs. People set aside money in their working years, they get a monthly amount when they retire. (The program also has other benefits including disability benefits, survivors funds and others.) Social Security does not contribute to the deficit in any way.
You never hear that the huge, vast, bloated, enormous, mammoth military budget is "going broke" or "won't be there for you." But year after year you hear that Social Security is "in trouble."
Currently the program has built up a huge trust fund -- over $2.5 trillion. This is invested in US Treasury Bonds, and is earning interest. But there are projections that this trust fund will be depleted in approx. 2037, and if this happens the program will have to cut payouts by as much as 25%. (Hey. when does the military budget Trust Fund run down?)
One big reason for this shortfall is that the last time the programs was comprehensively adjusted (1983, Greenspan Commission) certain economic growth and income projections were used to decide how much "payroll tax" to take out of people's paychecks. They increased the amount taken out of paychecks, and set up an increasing "cap" on the income that would be taxed. Right now 6.2% (temporarily reduced to 4.2%) is taken out of paychecks, and employers kick in another 6.2%, on income up to a "cap" of $106,800. There is no "payroll tax" on amounts above that "cap."
But something changed between 1983 and now: almost all the income gains have gone to a few at the very top. Instead of people who mostly were under that "cap" getting raises, thereby increasing the amount they pay into the fund, the raises went to people who already pass that amount, so the increased income is not contributing to the program. So that money that was calculated would go into the Social Security Trust Fund instead went to the top few. As a result the program is no longer bringing in enough money to keep the trust fund fully-funded past 2037.
Sen. Sanders' Solution
Senator Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill to the Senate to fix this, once and for all. In simple terms, this bill will start taxing income above $250,000 a year to cover this Social Security shortfall. So instead of just "raising the cap" it lets that cap stay, and then takes it off again on income above $250,000. In effect it means there will be a gap between the current top income that is taxed, and $250K.
Get the money from where the money went: So because much of the real Social Security problem is that so much income is now going to just a few at the top, this gets the money to fix the problem from those top-level incomes.
Here is Sanders, talking about his bill:
“When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!”
In Is capitalism doomed? Nouriel Roubini writes,
The right balance today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment. It also requires more progressive taxation; more short-term fiscal stimulus with medium- and long-term fiscal discipline; lender-of-last-resort support by monetary authorities to prevent ruinous runs on banks; reduction of the debt burden for insolvent households and other distressed economic agents; and stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system run amok; breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and oligopolistic trusts.
Over time, advanced economies will need to invest in human capital, skills and social safety nets to increase productivity and enable workers to compete, be flexible and thrive in a globalised economy. The alternative is - like in the 1930s - unending stagnation, depression, currency and trade wars, capital controls, financial crisis, sovereign insolvencies, and massive social and political instability.
I think we also need to start an international effort to reduce population growth. And we need to change the GDP metrics to account for externalization -- harm to environment, health, etc. and add metrics for goding things people want and need, not just growth for its own sake.
August 25, 2011
Do you think that corporate greed has gotten out of control? Here is your chance to take a stand against corporate greed in a way that can make a difference. There is a greedy corporation that right now is trying to take away its workers' benefits and job security. Let's all back up the workers and stop this, and show people how it's done.
Verizon is a $100 billion-plus company, paying billions in dividends, paying some top executives as much as $50,000 a day, and now in the kind of corporate greed-grab we are so familiar with is asking its workers to take a big hit. Just because they can. Sound familiar? Want to do something about it?
Last week Verizon's workers scored a big victory for the economy and the middle class. 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike against the company's corporate greed and forced the giant company to back off. Now they are at the bargaining table not just for themselves but to set an example for all of us, for our wages and benefits. We can help them by showing our support, and showing up to back them up. This is about us as much as it is about them and you can help support them.
If this sounds familiar it is because this is what all of us are facing now. This is a chance for all of us to take a stand against this destructive and unsustainable corporate greed that Verizon and other giant corporations -- and corporate funded politicians like Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin -- think is the way of the future.
How You Can Help
Join with Verizon's workers and with Jobs With Justice to help fight back:
- Adopt a store! To adopt a store, report your activity (very important so the unions know what supporters are doing), and download this flyer go to: http://www.jwj.org/verizon
- To locate a store near you, go to: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/storelocator/index.jsp
- Leaflet: Download the flyer, print it and hand it out.
- To send a message of solidarity to the workers, go to: http://www.cwa-union.org/verizonsolidarity
Tell them what democracy looks like:
August 24, 2011
Through Digby's Hullabaloo watch what happens when a citizen tries to document what a Republican Congressman is saying:
These people are not fooling around. They do not like accountability, transparency or democracy. Not at all.
August 23, 2011
Hey here's a real dog bites man story for you: a really, really rich guy says to readers of billionaire Murdoch's Wall Street Journal that he "deeply resents" paying taxes and whines about how the government does things he doesn't like. This in response to Warren Buffet's call to ask billionaires to at least pay as much in taxes as their secretaries. Seriously, it wasn't in The Onion.
Let's set the stage. Thanks to the "trickle down" policies of Reagan and Bush all the income gains in recent decades have gone to the top few. One in seven Americans and 25% of our children now live in poverty. (43% of our children are "at risk.") The average family income for "the bottom" 90% of us is $31,244, while the average income of the top .01% is over $27 MILLION. Per year, each year. The average income of the richest 400 Americans was $227.4 million -- and those 400 hold more wealth than the "bottom" 50% of Americans combined. Etc., etc. (I don't have to write about how many are unemployed, do it?)
So with those statistics as background, former American Express CEO Harvey Golub wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, responding to Warren Buffet’s call for the rich to start paying taxes again.
Mr. Golub writes,
I deeply resent that President Obama has decided that I don't need all the money I've not paid in taxes over the years, or that I should leave less for my children and grandchildren and give more to him to spend as he thinks fit.
... After all, I did earn it.
Now there's attitude! Never mind that someone who reached the high position of CEO of America Express doesn't even seem to understand the system well enough to know that the President doesn't spend tax dollars "as he thinks fit." In American We, the People (used to) decide how best to spend our tax dollars, for the benefit of We, the People.
Golub gets to the heart of his complaint, government services like post offices where "no one lives":
Governments have an obligation to spend our tax money on programs that work. They fail at this fundamental task. Do we really need dozens of retraining programs with no measure of performance or results? Do we really need to spend money on solar panels, windmills and battery-operated cars when we have ample energy supplies in this country? Do we really need all the regulations that put an estimated $2 trillion burden on our economy by raising the price of things we buy? Do we really need subsidies for domestic sugar farmers and ethanol producers?
Why do we require that public projects pay above-market labor costs? Why do we spend billions on trains that no one will ride? Why do we keep post offices open in places no one lives? Why do we subsidize small airports in communities close to larger ones? Why do we pay government workers above-market rates and outlandish benefits? Do we really need an energy department or an education department at all?
Summing Up His Complaint: Democracy
He complains about the inefficiency of providing services for rural citizens because no one who conts in his eyes would live out there. He complains about efforts to help workers displaced by pro-corporate trade policies. He complains about efforts to fight the harm caused by pollution-for-profit. He complains about paying people good wages with benefits. To sum up his complaint in one word: democracy.
Above I set the stage for Golub's complaint: millions unemployed, in poverty, wages stagnant... Contrast the situation so many of us find ourselves in with the lifestyle if the beneficiaries of the dominant conservative "trickle down" policies. Just imagine the lifestyle of Golub and the rest of the wealthiest few today. Private jets, multiple mansions, servants... (This might help your imagination: Nine Pictures Of The Extreme Income/Wealth Gap.) Did you know that the latest trend is to send your kids to summer camp in private jets?
Now, even as the economy limps along, more of the nation’s wealthier families are cutting out the car ride and chartering planes to fly to summer camps. One private jet broker, Todd Rome of Blue Star Jets, said his summer-camp business had jumped 30 percent over the last year.
... “We have 50 to 60 jets up here in just that one day,” Mr. Kilmer said. “It’s a madhouse because they all leave at the same time, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.”
Extreme Inequality Makes Even The Rich Resentful
They say that extreme inequality causes even the very rich to feel poor. They look upwards and feel inferior. They don't look down; We, the People are literally invisible and meaningless in their lives. They look up and see vast extremes, and feel like they are missing out. And they feel resentful.
People are fed up and showing up, making their voices heard, taking action. You might not be seeing very much coverage in the "mainstream" (corporate) news outlets but his has been a summer of increasing action, all following up on the Wisconsin actions. Just a few examples: the American Dream Movement was launched with thousands of house meetings across the country resulting in the Contract for the American Dream. There was the Speakout for Good Jobs Tour of town hall meeting events around the country. Two Republicans were recalled in Wisconsin! Last week the Verizon strike of 45,000 workers -- assisted on the picket lines by non-employee volunteers -- forced the company to the bargaining table. Continuing this week there are thousands of people protesting the tar sands pipeline, with arrests taking place daily outside the White House.
October 3-5 Campaign for America's Future and the "Rebuild The Dream" organization bring the fight to Washington at the "Take Back the American Dream" conference.
Maybe it isn't reported in the "major media," but so what? It is happening. Jobless people don’t buy stuff. The major media today is about selling stuff, not serving democracy by keeping the public informed. So they focus on things that interest people with money. The result is that major media is too busy telling us that "we" have to sacrifice (to pay for tax cuts for the rich), cut Social Security (to pay for tax cuts for big corporations) and those of us that still have jobs accept longer hours and pay cuts and bigger health insurance payments and ore outsourcing (to pay for bigger bonuses for top executives.)
See For Yourself
But it is happening and building -- see for yourself. Here is a newsreel of LOCAL news coverage of jobs protests against members of Congress by the American Dream Movement:
Here are clips from the Speakout for Good Jobs Tour:
This is footage from the opening day of the Tar Sands Pipeline Protests:
August 20, 2011
You aren't hearing about it on the news, but people are SHOWING UP at the local town halls put on by their members of Congress. And they are speaking up. And it is working.
August 19, 2011
Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry, threatening Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, over his efforts to boost the economy:
“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
Perry believes that efforts to help the economy are "politics" because helping the economy helps President Obama in the coming election. Perry’s comments brought into the open the Republican mindset about the economy: They want it to tank – and are working to tank it – because they believe a poor economy will help them in the coming election. They see helping the economy as "politics" that help Obama.
Hostage-Taking And Intimidation
Republicans recently threatened to take the country into default, which brought about the "credit-rating downgrade" from Standard & Poors. The result of this hostage-taking was an economy-killing deal to take trillions of dollars out of the economy, immediately sending the stock market and economic indicators like consumer confidence into a dive. Republicans previously used hostage-taking to keep tax cuts for the wealthy, thereby dramatically increasing deficits and economy-killing income/wealth disparity. Then they used hostage-taking threats to "shut down the government" to force economy-killing cuts in services to regular people.
Time after time Republicans are obstructing, delaying, bullying, doing whatever they can to keep the economy from recovering. Hostage-taking, intimidation, bullying tactics, and they are not even above use of physical threats to get their way.
JFK Assassinated In Texas
This flyer was circulating around Dallas in the days before Kennedy's assassination:
Governor Perry threatened Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s safety, using language echoing 60s-era accusations against President John F. Kennedy. A person who could be the next President accusing a public official of the death-penalty crime of "treason" is about as serious as it gets. On top of that, it is not easy to forget what this kind of talk means in Texas. President Kennedy was accused of "treason," too, and Texas treated him “ugly” in November, 1963. There is no possibility that a Governor of the state of Texas is not very aware that this event occurred there, and of the political climate in Texas at the time it occurred, and of what saying to a high federal official that "we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas" necessarily brings to mind.
Cut Him Slack?
In response to Perry's threat against Bernanke, President Obama said he will "cut him some slack."
"Mr. Perry just got into the presidential race. I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say," Obama responded.
"But I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now," he said.
Cut him slack for threatening the Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Cut him slack for saying that efforts to get our economy going are "treason?"
Mr. President, you were elected by We, the People to empower and protect us. You have a duty to take on those who threaten us, and threaten our livelihoods and prosperity and wish to harm our government. You owe it to us to be tough in the face of intimidation and hostage-taking.
Mr. President, do not "cut them some slack" when they threaten us and take hostages! Confront them head on, shame them, call them out for these actions. If you "cut them some slack" the bullies will continue to do these things again and again, as they have been doing for some time. You owe it to us, to We, the People, to put a stop to this and we gave you the power to do that.
August 15, 2011
Here is everything you need to know about how to fix the deficits and jobs problems. This is a chart of job creation over the last few years:
There is a report in Saturday's New York Times, "White House Debates Fight on Economy," saying the Obama administration is choosing between doing very little about jobs, or doing nothing.
Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. ... But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view.
So according to the Times the choices being debated are a) do nothing, because the mean Republicans will block it anyway, or b) offer even more tax cuts for businesses. Yikes!
Meanwhile, out in the Real World...
The ailing economy, barely growing at the same pace as the population, has swept all other political issues to the sidelines. Twenty-five million Americans could not find full-time jobs last month. Millions of families cannot afford to live in their homes. ... [. . .] A wide range of economists say the administration should call for a new round of stimulus spending, as prescribed by mainstream economic theory, to create jobs and promote growth.
But, back in the White House?
Mr. Plouffe and Mr. Daley share the view that a focus on deficit reduction is an economic and political imperative, according to people who have spoken with them. Voters believe that paying down the debt will help the economy, and the White House agrees, although it wants to avoid cutting too much spending while the economy remains weak.
They think that taking money out of the economy will put more money into the economy. Great. As I wrote the other day, this is austeridiocy. As England, France and every other country that ever tried to grow an economy by cutting the economy has learned, taking money out of the economy takes money out of the economy.
What Works In The Real World
Here is everything you need to know about how to fix the deficits and jobs problems:
This is a chart of the monthly job losses that were occurring before and after the "stimulus" package.
Before The Stimulus
In this chart, the RED lines on the left side -- the ones that keep doing DOWN -- show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse.
During The Stimulus
The BLUE lines -- the ones that just go UP -- show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better.
The Stimulus Winds Down
The TAIL -- the leveling off on the right side of the chart -- show what happened as the stimulus started to wind down. Job creation leveled off.
It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus.
Conclusion: THE STIMULUS WORKED BUT WAS NOT ENOUGH!
Jobs Fix Deficits
When people are working they are paying taxes and are not collecting unemployment. And they are buying things, which means there is demand in the economy again, so businesses will hire people.
Customers Create Jobs
Actually, the rich don't create jobs, we do. Lots of regular people having money to spend is what creates jobs and businesses. That is the basic idea of demand-side economics and it works. In a consumer-driven economy designed to serve people, regular people with money in their pockets is what keeps everything going. And the equal opportunity of democracy with its reinvestment in infrastructure and education and the other fruits of democracy is fundamental to keeping a demand-side economy functioning.
When all the money goes to a few at the top everything breaks down. Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going. Cutting taxes at the top steals from democracy's ability to continue this reinvestment.
It doesn't matter how much more money you give to business owners, businesses are not going to hire any more employees until they have a REASON to -- and that reason is customers coming in the door.
Businesses Do Not Create Jobs
Businesses do not create jobs. In fact, the way our economy is structured the incentive is for businesses to get rid of as many jobs as they can. It costs money to pay employees, so businesses want to trim down to the minimum number required to get the needed work done.
Many people wrongly think that businesses create jobs. They see that a job is usually at a business, so they think that therefore the business "created" the job. This thinking leads to wrongheaded ideas like the current one that giving tax cuts to businesses will create jobs, because the businesses will have more money. But an efficiently-run business will already have the right number of employees. When a business sees that more people are coming in the door (demand) than there are employees to serve them, they hire people to serve the customers. When a business sees that not enough people are coming in the door and employees are sitting around reading the newspaper, they lay people off. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.
A job is created when demand for goods or services is greater than the existing ability to provide them. When there is a demand, people will see the need and fill it. Either someone will start filling the demand alone, or form a new business to fill it or an existing provider of the good or service will add employees as needed.
Do you want a path out of this recession? Then help the Verizon workers by joining a picket line at your local Verizon store. (Click to learn how.) Verizon has billions in profits. They pay their executives huge salaries. But they are asking their workers and even retirees to take cuts, so the workers are on strike. They just want what you want - a decent job with decent pay and maybe some benefits. So join them.
Path Out Of Recession
Larry Cohen, president of Communication Workers of America (CWA), said on a call today said, "If a company with profits like this, and paying their top executives more than $50,000 a day, can demand these kind of cuts from its workers, there literally will never be a path out of recession in this country."
Cohen also said,
"The collapse of the standard if living across the country, we need to convince people of the larger issues here. The economics lesson here ... the human rights issues here are enormous. We are attempting to picket every Verizon Wireless store in the country and this can be done by anyone carrying our sign. ...
Are people like us going to have any rights in this country, do we have any rights in this country, do we have anything to look forward to?"
Last week I wrote, in Verizon's Workers Strike Back At Corporate Greed -- You Can Join Them!:
The reason you see so many cellphone stores and ads everywhere is because wireless is a very lucrative business. Wireless companies are pulling in billions and their executives are raking in the bucks. But they are also squeezing their workers, their customers and our government.
Right now Verizon is greedily trying to put the squeeze on its workers, cutting pensions, sick pay, health insurance, even disability for employees injured on the job. If this story sounds all too familiar, this part won't: Their workers are fighting back with a strike! And you can join them!
Verizon's demands include: • Continued contracting out of work to low-wage contractors, which means more outsourcing of good jobs overseas. • Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job. • Elimination of all job security provisions. • Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers. • Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees. • Replacing the current high-quality health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.
The Is About You
This is about you because this is happening to everyone. These Verizon workers are putting everything on the line for you -- trying to do something about it. They going on strike to try to get your wages and pension and health care back, or keep those things from being taken away from you. Don't forget that when you hear the corporate propaganda from FOX News and the rest of the corporate media, telling you about "union thugs" and "union bosses." This is about you and if you are anywhere near a Verizon worker picket line you should go join them.
What You Can Do
Easy: Click to Tell Verizon: Stop Attacking the Middle Class. From the petition:
Over the last four years, Verizon has made $19 billion in profits while paying its top five executives $250 million in compensation and bonuses .
With middle-class families already struggling, it's time for Verizon to share its success with the hardworking Americans who made it possible. This is not a time for corporate greed. It is time to do the right thing.
Verizon made dramatic concessionary demands to kick off bargaining and never moved. Now you are refusing to bargain with the CWA & the IBEW.
Socially: “Like” them on Facebook.
Techy: Download their iPhone app.
Have Fun, Meet People, Join A Local Picket Line
Much more fun: Join them! Click here for a map of local picket lines that you can join. I especially like this one: Adopt Verizon Wireless a store to picket and leaflet.
August 14, 2011
The one where I got heated: Seeing the Forest: Listen To Susie And Dave
August 13, 2011
Just wow. The following are Republican reactions to this Contract for the American Dream video:
This headline is not the Onion, it's a conservative outlet: Van Jones Forces Innocent Children to Advocate Infrastructure Spending, Oppose Corporate Personhood on YouTube
... cute kids mouth bizarrely sophisticated talking points, including words and phrases they almost certainly don't understand, such as "infrastructure," "living wage," and "tax brackets."
Go read the horrible, nasty comments left by the readers. The usual batch of "High tech Hitler Youth, imo." and "Loving Uncle Sam has nothing but the childrens' best interests at heart. Love The Fatherland."
We’re dealing with some radical folks here… radicals attempting to hide their extremism behind the smiles of unsuspecting and exploited children.
Made sicker when, as Michelle Malkin documents, you understand who it is that Van Jones is teaming with to further his agenda… not just MoveOn.Org as Greyhawk notes, but the Union thugs at SEIU and the AFL-CIO.
Jones’ use of children and his choice of thugs as partners in the carrying out of his ideas seems fitting.
... Leftists today will go to any length to advance the cause to include thuggery and the exploitation of children.
Sick stuff indeed.
In the last week I have seen six (Nissan) Leafs and three (Chevy) Volts in my area. I'm in Redwood City/Menlo Park, in the Silicon Valley area, so you would expect more rapid adoption of electric cars. (The very first Leaf sold in the United States was in Redwood City.) But still, this is more than I expected and a lot of the Leafs still have the dealer plates. So they were probably back-ordered and a shipment just arrived.
My aunt is considering buying a Leaf. I'm thinking of getting the new Ford Focus Electric. We have a 2007 Focus, and we love it. My Honda Accord is 11 years old now... and the electric Focus comes out soon...
Here's the thing about electric cars. Have you ever had to repair your refrigerator motor? Almost the only maintenance you'll ever need on an electric car is replacing tires and lubricating bearings. There is no water pump. There is no timing belt. No valves to adjust. No fuel filter. No oil changes. No exhaust system...
One more thing: Ford and SunPower announce deal to bundle electric cars with rooftop solar power Ford has teamed up with our own SunPower to offer a special deal on a rooftop solar system. The system doesn't directly charge the car -- the system feeds power into the grid during the day and you charge the car at night from the grid. You could make a profit on the power, by the way, if you only count the car-charging, but it will knock down your electric bill enough to pay for itself either way. From the story,
The "Drive Green for Life" program is designed to provide the cars' owners the opportunity to fuel their vehicles with clean energy and have a carbon-free driving experience.
SunPower will offer a 2.5-kilowatt rooftop system, which should provide enough electricity to fuel an electric car that travels about 1,000 miles per month, for less than $10,000, after the federal tax credit. Typically, SunPower charges at least $18,000 for a system of that size.
"This is a great opportunity to take solar mainstream," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. "We're thrilled to provide electric car owners with a clean source of fuel."
So here we are, finally getting away from being tied to the oil system and the (literally) centralized power structure.
Update - Saw two more Leafs just this evening.
As I wrote last month about the Google Ads that follow me around, everywhere I go online I see Hickey Freeman ads, because once I looked up a Hickey Freeman sport coat on Google. As I wrote,
I am really, really sorry I ever looked up "Hickey Freeman"on Google once, because now I can't go to almost ANY websites without having to look at Hickey Freeman ads. It's like they are chasing me around. I've been branded on the web as "The Hickey Freeman Guy" I guess.
It's terrible. I watch a YouTube video and up on the screen pops "Hickey Freeman Sale" or something like that.
One thing for sure, it has made me decide I'll never, ever buy a Hickey Freeman jacket, because of the creepiness. And that I hate Google now, even more than Facebook, because of the invasion.
August 12, 2011
"The patient is sicker so we have to apply more leeches." Countries that are trying to fix deficits with spending cuts are finding out that taking money out of their economies by cutting government is slowing their economies. Duh! Imagine that! So instead of cutting deficits the resulting slowdowns are making their deficits worse as tax revenues drop and joblessness goes up. So what are they proposing? More "austerity" spending cuts. I call them "austeridiots."
It Didn't Work So Do It More
See if you can find the logical flaw in this AP news report: French growth sputters to a halt in 2nd quarter,
The French government was put under further pressure to cut deeper into spending after figures Friday showed growth in Europe's second biggest economy ground to a halt in the spring, in another sign that the global economy is facing rising recessionary threats.
With the worse-than-expected French growth figures suggesting a possible budget shortfall this year, government ministers may have to find additional savings...
Right, the cuts are slowing the economy, which means the deficits are worse, so they "have to find additional savings." Cutting government - taking money out of the economy - slowed their economy, so they think they'll solve the problem by taking more money out of their economy. Austeridiocy.
Austeridiocy Here, Too
Our leaders, in their austeridiot geniosity, "solved" the made-up "debt-ceiling crisis" with a two-step process. First they will take about $1 trillion out of the economy right away. Then a 12-member "Super Congress" will try to come up with another $1.2 - 1.5 trillion to take out of the economy. If they can't come up with a deal, then there will be across-the-board cuts to take that money out of the economy.
The idea is that by taking that money out of the economy, there will be more money in the economy. And with less money in the economy, the resulting increases of money in the economy will bring more tax revenue. This strategery was thought up by the crowd that claims cutting taxes increases tax revenues. (It is important to notice that the ideas that come from this crowd always, always, always, always, always, always, always end up making the rich richer and the biggest corporations bigger at the expense of the rest of us. So maybe they're smarter than their ideas make them appear.)
Cuts Only Shift Costs, They Don't Cut Costs
The things government does have to be done, and cutting government doesn't get rid of the need, it just shifts the costs. Cutting government budgets only shifts the cost away from the wealthier taxpayers who were asked to pitch in and give back to the system that enabled their wealth. It removes the "take care of and watch out for each other" concept of democracy and puts the costs on the backs of vulnerable individuals. Cutting government doesn't remove the costs from the larger economy, and often increases the costs to the larger economy.
Example: Health care for old people is provided by government because they need the health care. If you cut or phase out Medicare the health problems of the elderly don't go away. And the cost to the economy is still there. In fact, by shifting these costs from government onto the back of the elderly themselves it increases the cost to the overall economy because it gets rid of the economy-of-scale government offers. Individuals do not have government's ability to buy in bulk for millions and negotiate for lower costs. And by pitting individuals against the giant predatory insurance corporations, the individuals end up paying even more, which further increases the costs to the overall economy. Finally, pushing these costs onto vulnerable individuals drains what's left of their money, which lowers their participation in the rest of the economy, further cutting consumer demand.
That Trick Never Works
See if you can find any examples in history of government budget cuts increasing economic growth. But there are examples in history of government cuts slowing growth. This is because taking money out of the economy slows the economy's growth.
An Alternative That Will Work
What if, instead of doing things that have always failed, we addressed our economic slowdown in a way that has always worked in the past? What if we took this opportunity to invest in repairing our aging, crumbling infrastructure, bringing it up to 21st-century standards? The long-term result of this would be an economy that is more efficient and competitive in world markets, which would of course help our businesses. But more important right now this would mean hiring millions of people to do the work. These people would then be paying taxes and would not be receiving unemployment, food stamps, etc. So of course this would help lower deficits. Also they would be participating in the economy again, making their mortgage payments, buying clothes, even cars. So of course this would help the economy.
The Contract For The American Dream And The Emergency Jobs Bill
The Contract For The American Dream And The Emergency Jobs Bill both call for investment in repairing and modernizing our infrastructure, to improve our economy and to create millions of jobs. So does The People's Budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The first step in the Contract For The American Dream (please, please click through) is:
Invest in America's Infrastructure
Rebuild our crumbling bridges, dams, levees, ports, water and sewer lines, railways, roads, and public transit. We must invest in high-speed Internet and a modern, energy-saving electric grid. These investments will create good jobs and rebuild America. To help finance these projects, we need national and state infrastructure banks.
The Fact Sheet about this idea begins,
For decades America has deferred maintenance of our public infrastructure – our roads, bridges, airports, ports, rail, levees, schools, broadband, wastewater and sewage systems, energy systems, and waterways. This infrastructure serves the public’s safety and welfare needs and supports the nation’s economic growth and competitiveness. This is a core function of government and we aren’t doing it.
This is work that has to be done. This is millions of jobs that need doing, while millions of our people are looking for work. Instead of taking money out of our economy, let's invest in our economy and our people, and live off the dividend.
August 11, 2011
If you haven't seen this yet, it is a must-see. "With 1% of Americans controlling 40% of the country's wealth, we examine the gap between the rich and the rest."
The richest one per cent of Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country's income and control an astonishing 40 per cent of its wealth.
Inequality in the US is more extreme than it has been in almost a century - and the gap between the super-rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.
Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US' $14.3 trillion debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above nine per cent, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programmes that are the backbone of the US' social safety net, and whether to raise taxes - or to cut them further.
The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the US has never seemed so divided - both politically and economically.
How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top one per cent impacting the other 99 per cent of Americans? Fault Lines investigates the gap between the rich and the rest.
Americans aren't spending enough! Regular people don't have any money. Need more tax cuts for the rich, immediately! There is no other path imaginable. Americans’ Economic Confidence Plummets | FDL Action
August 10, 2011
Steve Benen in Political Animal - Fox News’ lack of limits asks,
Obviously, the Republican cable news network has a lot invested in condemning the president in every possible instance, but is it too much to ask that Fox accept some limits?Go see why.
Susie Madrak and myself last night on Virtually Speaking turned out pretty good, except I got pretty heated at one point, talking about the "cuts." Just click the following to listen:
Recovering journalist and class warrior Susie Madrak explores the impact of current events on the daily lives of working class people. This week: Susie talks with Dave Johnson about the stock market and the Democratic leadership and the Congressional Super Committee.
The reason you see so many cell phone stores and ads everywhere is because this is a very lucrative businesses. They are pulling in billions and their executives are raking in the bucks. But they are also squeezing their workers, their customers, and our government. Right now Verizon is greedily trying to put the squeeze on its workers, cutting pensions, sick pay, health insurance, even disability for employees injured on the job. If this story sounds all too familiar, this part won't: Their workers are fighting back with a strike! And you can join them!
Consumed By Greed
The giant telecom company Verizon, currently raking in the billions ($6 billion in profits and a $10 billion dividend on $108 billion in revenue last year), while paying no taxes, is putting the squeeze on its workers, and they are fighting back. With all those profits the company has been consumed by greed: Now Verizon is asking for $1 billion in concessions from its workers.
Kenneth Quinnell lays it out in Union Workers Stand Up to Extreme Demands from Verizon over at Crooks and Liars:
More than 40,000 workers -- members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- went on strike this week after Verizon refused to even begin to bargain fairly with the workers. The workers on strike include "telephone field technicians, call center workers and cable installers from Massachusetts to Virginia."
Verizon has canceled multiple bargaining sessions and refuses to back down from any of their original concession requests, something that flies in the face of the basic idea of negotiating. Workers say they are prepared to return to work as soon as management shows a willingness to sit down and work out a fair agreement.
How MUCH Greed?
Laura Clawson writes in, More than 45,000 Verizon workers strike, at Daily Kos Labor:
Verizon's demands include:
• Continued contracting out of work to low-wage contractors, which means more outsourcing of good jobs overseas.
• Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job.
• Elimination of all job security provisions.
• Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers.
• Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees.
• Replacing the current high-quality health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.
Meanwhile, Verizon is doing just fine:
• 2011 annualized revenues are $108 billion and annualized net profits are $6 billion.
• Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company and Vodaphone a $10 billion dividend.
• Verizon’s top five executives received compensation of $258 million over the past four years.
Paying No Taxes?
Verizon, with $108 billion in revenue and huge profits, is not paying taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice, in Verizon Pushes for $1 Billion in Concessions from Workers, While Receiving Nearly $1 Billion in Subsidies from Uncle Sam, explains, (emphasis added below because I got mad when I read it.)
Despite earning over $32.5 billion over the last 3 years, Verizon not only paid nothing in corporate income taxes, it actually received nearly $1 billion (the same amount as the concessions they are seeking) in tax benefits from the federal government during that time.
... In fact, if Verizon paid its corporate income tax at the official rate of 35 percent, it would have owed more than $11 billion (rather than negative $1 billion). This alone is enough to avoid the recent cuts in the debt deal to student loan programs.
CTJ also points out that, "...the top 5 executives at Verizon received more than a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation over the last 4 years."
Just 5 people got more than a quarter billion,(CEO Lowell McAdam’s compensation works out to about $55,000 per day) the company pays no taxes which means the rest of us -- an entire country -- has to cut student loan programs, and on top of that they are trying to take disability pay away from workers who are injured while they work to make those executives even richer.
The Is About You
This is about you because this is happening to everyone. These Verizon workers are putting everything on the line for you -- trying to do something about it. They going on strike to try to get your wages and pension and health care back, or keep those things from being taken away from you. Don't forget that when you hear the corporate propaganda from FOX News and the rest of the corporate media, telling you about "union thugs" and "union bosses." This is about you and if you are anywhere near a Verizon worker picket line you should go join them.
What You Can Do
Easy: sign a petition.
More fun: Click here to learn how you can support the strike. And you can join them! Click here for a map of local picket lines that you can join. I especially like this one: Adopt Verizon Wireless a store to picket and leaflet.
August 9, 2011
Rebuild The Dream
As I wrote earlier in Ten Years Ago We Were Paying Off The Nation's Debt. But Then We Elected Obama., the The American Dream Movement is rolling out their Contract for the American Dream. The Tea-Party-fascinated press is largely ignoring this, but this movement represents the majority of the public, and can't be ignored for long.
Today on a call with bloggers and the press to announce the The American Dream Movement Van Jones described the movement's origins. He has been traveling around the country giving talks and talking to people, and found that it seemed that the American people had smarter solutions to our problems than our politicians seemed to. So he helped set up an "open source" process to gather ideas from regular people. 131,203 participated, held 3,600 house meeting, and came up with 29,000 ideas. These ideas have been distilled down to the ten most popular ideas, which are now the Contract for the American Dream.
No Help From FOX News
Unlike the Tea Party, they had "no help from FOX TV or the billionaire Koch brothers." And unlike the Tea Party, which began with much smaller numbers, the American Dream movement is getting almost no press attention.
The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act
Rep. Jan Schakowsky was on the call to talk about her upcoming Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act. She said this legislation reflects the spirit of the Contract for the American Dream. She said we have a jobs crisis, a disappearing-middle-class crisis, a disparity-in-income crisis. America is not broke, the top 100 make $27 million per household. This disparity means we have a shrinking and disappearing middle class.
She said that Washington is about cuts that will make jobs situation worse, and the economy worse. We have to grow our way out, there really is no other choice, and that means put people back to work so they become taxpayers.
The Emergency Jobs To Restore The American Dream Act creates 2.2 million jobs for 2 years to put the economy back on track. These are jobs for teachers, firefighters, cops, health care providers, maintenance, construction, and jobs for youth in parks improvement and other things.
This is paid for by her Fairness in Taxation Act, with new tax brackets 45% income over 1 million, 49% over a billion. This will generate about $800 billion over 10 years. This is not punishment or revenge, it is fairness. To have a robust economy Have to have a robust middle class, and care about our elders.. We have to make sure youth can go to college.
The Same People Who Led Us Off A Cliff
Economist Dean Baker was next on the call. He said it is amazing as an economist to follow what’s going on here. He couldn’t envision that after the collapse we would have the same people determining the policy agenda who just led us off a cliff.
Our huge deficits are the result of the economy collapse, now that is turned on its head that it is government spending, by people who don’t know the facts or just are not being honest. We have a big deficit because the economy collapsed, to fix it we get the economy going again. It is simple to show and in fact that is the history. To get the deficits down, get people working. We have 25 million un- or under-employed, if we don’t get them employed they fall out of the labor force, may never work again, politicians should be taking that very seriously. This has to be front and center and all polls show it is what is on people’s minds.
Will Serious People Take The People Seriously?
Justin Ruben of MoveOn.org was next on the call. He said that serious people in DC won’t take this plan seriously.
It represents 5 million MoveOn members and majority of the American people, and a majority of economists say this plan makes sense. None of this is seriously being talked about in Washington right now and that needs to change.
We already have a Tea Party downgrade and Tea Party recession and the government is about to enact even more economy-slowing cuts on the middle class. So people are wondering what DC is thinking. This is what is fueling the rise of the American Dream movement.
This movement began with people standing up to the attacks in Wisconsin. It is about people fighting back. We will take this contract into the streets in August, to Congressional town halls, and if they won’t do town halls we’ll find them wherever they are. We are going to make sure our elected officials in Washington hear that the American people want jobs not cuts, want everyone to pay their fair share, and want to get the economy moving again.
The American people are not giving up on the American dream.
America Can Be Great Again
Jeff Parcher of the Center for Community Change said they are joining this movement to raise the voices of low income people into the policy debates that affect them. They are going to address joblessness, poverty and material deprivation and change the conversation in Washington.
We have a revenue problem, by rectifying that America can be great again.
In Every Laundromat, Barbershop, Etc, People Will Agree
Van Jones then summed up: They have organized in every congressional district. This has been growing since Madison. The network, movement, has organized in every district in record time. They can take any one of those 10 points in the Contract for the American Dream, and because of such broad participation, we can take this into every laundromat, barbershop, etc, and people will agree.
The Preamble to the Contract for the American Dream
We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice . . . for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity, and give their kids a better life. Every one of us – rich, poor, or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender – has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill – but only by working together.
Today, the American Dream is under threat. Our veterans are coming home to few jobs and little hope on the home front. Our young people are graduating off a cliff, burdened by heavy debt, into the worst job market in half a century. The big banks that American taxpayers bailed out won’t cut homeowners a break. Our firefighters, nurses, cops, and teachers – America’s everyday heroes – are being thrown out onto the street. We believe:
AMERICA IS NOT BROKE
America is rich – still the wealthiest nation ever. But too many at the top are grabbing the gains. No person or corporation should be allowed to take from America while giving little or nothing back. The super-rich who got tax breaks and bailouts should now pay full taxes – and help create jobs here, not overseas. Those who do well in America should do well by America.
AMERICANS NEED JOBS, NOT CUTS
Many of our best workers are sitting idle while the work of rebuilding America goes undone. Together, we must rebuild our country, reinvest in our people and jump-start the industries of the future. Millions of jobless Americans would love the opportunity to become working, tax-paying members of their communities again. We have a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis.
To produce this Contract for the American Dream, 131,203 Americans came together online and in their communities. We wrote and rated 25,904 ideas. Together, we identified the 10 most critical steps to get our economy back on track and restore the American Dream:
I. Invest in America's Infrastructure
II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
III. Invest in Public Education
IV. Offer Medicare for All
V. Make Work Pay
VI. Secure Social Security
VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates
VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home
IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation
X. Strengthen Democracy
The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act
Rep. Schakowsky is introducing the The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act. This bill:
- Creates over 2 million jobs to address the real crisis facing America: the jobs crisis.
- Emergency jobs are created for two years, to provide time to get the economy back up and running.
- Emergency jobs will meet critical needs to make American communities stronger.
- Costs $221 Billion ($110.5 billion for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013).
- Can be fully paid for through separate legislation such as Rep. Schakowsky’s Fairness in Taxation Act, which creates higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, eliminating subsidies for Big Oil, and through eliminating tax loopholes for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.
Here is a summary of what's in the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act:
- School Improvement Corps – Creates 400,000 construction and 250,000 maintenance jobs through new funding to public school districts for needed school rehabilitation improvements ($100 billion)
- Park Improvement Corps – Creates 100,000 jobs for youth between the ages of 16 and 25 through new funding to the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service’s Public Lands Corps Act. Conservation projects on public lands include restoration and rehabilitation of natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources. ($400 million)
- Student Jobs Corps – Creates 250,000 more part-time, work study jobs for eligible college students through new funding for the Federal Work Study Program. ($850 million)
- Neighborhood Heroes Corps –
a. Teachers: Direct funding to states to hire, re-hire, and prevent lay-offs of 300,000 teachers. ($40 billion)
b. Cops: New funding to hire 40,000 police officers. ($10 billion)
c. Firefighters: New funding to hire 12,000 firefighters. ($2.4 billion)
- Health Corps - Grants to hire at least 40,000 health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and health care workers to expand access in underserved rural and urban areas. ($8 billion)
- Community Corps – Creation of a new Community Corps that will create 750,000 jobs to do needed work in our communities, including energy audits and conservation upgrades, recycling and reclamation of reusable materials, urban land reclamation and addressing blight, including foreclosure and disaster-affected areas, rural conservation work, public property maintenance and beautification, housing rehabilitation, and new housing construction modeled after Habitat for Humanity. ($60 billion)
Standards for new programs:
- Priority for jobs given to the unemployed, particularly those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits (the “99ers”).
- Formulas will allocate fair distribution of funding and jobs among states, with targeting based on high unemployment and need.
- Ensures that jobs don’t undercut the rights of other workers or lower wages.
- Ensures work is additive and doesn’t displace current workers or take business from small/local businesses.
- Includes trigger for phase-out if unemployment drops below 5%.
Fully Paid For
The steps in the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act are paid for by Rep. Schakowsky's Fairness in Taxation Act, introduced in March.
The Fairness in Taxation Act asks enacts new tax brackets for income starting at $1 million and ends with a $1 billion bracket. The new brackets would be:
- $1-10 million: 45%
- $10-20 million: 46%
- $20-100 million: 47%
- $100 million to $1 billion: 48%
- $1 billion and over: 49%
- The bill would also tax capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for those taxpayers with income over $1 million.
What To Do
Go to the Contract for the American Dream page and sign up.
Print the Contract.
Distribute the Contract by leaving stacks of them everywhere, laundromats, barbershops, coffeeshops, etc.
Tell people to go to http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/
Just ten years ago this country was running huge surpluses and paying off its debt. But then we elected Obama and all hell broke loose. Oh, wait...
Between the time ten years ago when we had big surpluses and were paying off the debt and now when we are told the "Obama spending and deficit" mean we have to cut back on the things We, the People do for each other, something happened. Something changed. The things that happened, the things that changed, are being ignored in the current DC discussion about what we need to do to fix things.
Separation From Reality
This DC/Tea Party argument over deficits and the Reagan/Bush debt is completely separated from facts and history. And it is completely separated from what the public wants. There are things that we are supposed to just not remember and which seem to be taboo in the national media. There are things that are "off the table" for discussion, and certainly for solving our problems.
But here is some reality anyway, even if we're not supposed to see it. Just ten years ago we were paying off debt at a rate that would have completely paid it all off by now. But under George W. Bush we cut taxes for the rich and more than doubled military spending. We deregulated and stopped enforcing laws. We let the big corporations run rampant. Our federal budget turned from huge surpluses to massive deficits, and Bush said it was "incredibly positive news" because it would lead to a debt crisis they could use to shock people into letting the corporate right privatize and thereby profit.
And then, under and because of Bush, our economy collapsed.
Deficits From Tax Cuts And Military Spending
Once again: the deficits are the direct result of tax cuts for the rich, and huge increases in military spending. Then that huge jump in already-large deficits up past the trillion-dollar level that occurred in Bush's last budget was the result of the Bush-caused financial collapse. The economy collapsed and the government stepped in with hundreds of billions, even trillions, to rescue the wealthy, with "bailouts," while doing little, even cutting back, on what our government does for We, the People. That all happened in Bush's last budget year, not Obama's first.
To Fix The Damage, Undo The Cause
The way to fix deficits is to undo the damage Bush did, by raising taxes on the rich, and cutting back the huge, bloated, extreme, massive, astonishing, incredible, stratospheric military budget. And we have to boost the economy by investing in rebuilding our infrastructure to get people employed. We have millions of jobs that need doing, while millions are looking for jobs. Then those people will be paying taxes instead of collecting unemployment and food stamps. And the infrastructure improvements will bosst our economy's competitiveness. This is all so simple and obvious that only DC insider types could miss it.
Taxes And Spending = Democracy
Cutting spending doesn't cut the need, it shifts the burden. Cutting government spending does not cut the costs to society and the overall economy of meeting those needs. Cutting government spending just shifts -- or privatizes -- those costs onto the backs of people who can't afford to spend that money. That need and cost is still there in the economy, except without government -- democracy -- handling it, doing it for all of us, less expensively. Cutting government's role opens those functions up to private profit, instead of We, the People taking care of and watching out for each other -- and making the decisions.
Do you really think that if you phase out Medicare, that old people won't still need the medical care? Of course they will still need it, but the government won't be negotiating cost-savings for them, they'll be on their own, up against the giant insurance monopolies.
In the 1950s the top tax rate was 90%, and the country's economy worked a lot better for a lot more of us. We didn't have big deficits. We certainly weren't piling up huge debt. With high tax rates at the top, predatory, sell-the-farm business models didn't make sense. We were investing in infrastructure, and that infrastructure made us competitive in world markets. We as a people were doing better every year, paying our bills, getting educated and becoming more civilized. This empowerment led to demands for equal rights for all of us.
Ignored By Media
The "both sides do it" major media is simply ignoring the majority of the public. But people aren't fooled. Poll after poll (did I already say that?) shows that the public "gets it." Poll after poll shows that the public wants our government to address jobs, not deficits, to restore top tax rates, to invest in America's infrastructure, to leave Social Security and Medicare alone (or increase them,) and to put more money into education. Poll after poll.
The Public Wants Jobs
The public gets it. Poll after poll shows that Americans want their government focused on jobs, not deficits. The latest, from CNN, taken August 5-7, shows 49% of Americans think unemployment is the biggest issue facing the country, while only 27% say deficits. Only 16% say the deficit is the country's biggest problem.
Rebuild The Dream
The The American Dream Movement is rolling out their Contract for the American Dream. The Tea-Party-fascinated press is largely ignoring this, but this movement represents the majority of the public, and can't be ignored for long. I'll be writing more about it later.
Also the Take Back the American Dream conference is coming up on Oct. 3. Click through and learn more.
August 6, 2011
August 5, 2011
Holy crap July 16 was Seeing the Forest's 9th anniversary. Go see: Seeing The Forest - Welcome
Did you see "Fertile Ground": White Nationalists Organize Within Tea Party the other day?
On a very, very related note: Fox News leads the racist way today with Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs ... just go see the pic they posted. Fox seems to have closed their comments section.
Republican websites follow suit, Everyone Must Sacrifice… Hollywood Hip-Hoppers Dance Barefoot in the Rose Garden at Obama’s B-Day Bash | The Gateway Pundit
In case it isn't clear that they meant to send a certain racist message here, from the comments we see that the readers "get it":
"There went the neighborhood."
The Jefferson’s have indeed “moved on up….”
"Looks more like a street fest in the slums of Rio or some kind of pre-hunt jig on the COngo…what a disgrace…we have definatley sunk to 3rd world status in every respect."
"My kids and I make sacrifice after sacrifice just to make ends meet while Barry-boy and Moose-chelle party like there is no tomorrow."
"Can I come to the States and make a sacrifice? I’d sacrifice a pig on Obama’s lawn. “Soil” it with pig’s blood. Ha! Then again, pigs are smarter than the average commie, so maybe I should sacrifice a commie instead."
"…a few headlines from Drudge: ‘Mob’ beatings at WI state fair… ‘Hundreds of young black people beating white people’… Fairgoers ‘pulled out of cars’… ‘They were just going after white people’…"
"That turd polisher extraordinaire is on the way out, and he knows it. I just hope everyone is keeping their eye on how many curtains are in the White House – that skank Michelle loves to sew them into dresses to drape her fat butt."
From another site, the comments:
"Check out the pimp shoes. And Mooch is wearing the chenille bedspread look again."
"Today….birthday thanks, stock market tanks, went home with skank."
"Note ghetto boys shoes…………."
"Pull yo miniature heyd out yo bloated commie ass ya ignorant POS."
"Good to see they included the token white, Tom hanks."
"Was Hanks the token whitey? Sounds like all the other ‘stars’ were ‘people of color’"
Note, if you think this is not really serious, go see: White Supremacist site Stormfront: A Technique For Recruiting "Tea Party Conservatives" To White Nationalism
August 3, 2011
You probably don’t know that another act of hostage-taking by Republicans is underway. They have shut down the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help Delta Airlines in its battle to keep its workers from voting in a union. This is costing the government $200 million a week, more than 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed, and as many as 87,000 construction workers and other contractors around the country are being laid off. The agency has been shut down for more than a week and so far the Republicans have refused to let it open before Congress leaves town for the summer. All this apparently so one company can keep employees who want a union from winning an election.
The FAA is the agency that regulates and overseas civil aviation. That is airports, airlines, pilots, employees, air traffic control, and other components of our aviation system. But the agency has been shut down. FAA inspectors and others are working without pay and paying for their own job-related travel. The shutdown is keeping the FAA from collecting federal taxes on airline tickets at a cost of $200 million in revenues each week even as the country struggles with deficits. Republicans said they don’t like deficits, but they clearly hate working people more – this shutdown adds $30 million a day, over $200 million a week to deficits.
A Shutdown Engineered For A Company
This shutdown of the FAA has occurred because of a form of “government shutdown” by Republicans, at the behest of Delta Airlines, over rules about unionization elections. Delta is in the middle of a fight to keep workers from being able to form a union. Delta wants the rules changes so a nonvoting worker, including one who might be sick, on vacation or otherwise absent from the workplace on election day, is counted as a “no” vote for unionization. Republicans inserted this anti-union language into the FAA funding reauthorization and are refusing to fund the agency unless Democrats agree to change these union election rules to help Delta.
Delta is apparently calling in favors to get this. According to Campaign Money Watch, in Is Delta Using Its Campaign Cash to Influence the FAA Debate?,
Delta's been spending money wisely to try to overturn the decision to let workers organize more easily. They spent $1.6 million on lobbying during the first half of 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (Over the past ten years they spent at least $32 million to influence Washington.) Their PAC has given $826,243 to members of Congress since 2000. Adding additional incentive for Republicans in Congress to stand with them, Richard Anderson, Delta's CEO, made a $5,000 contribution to the Senate Republican's campaign committee earlier this year — apparently his first one ever.
Not Delta's First Anti-Labor Problems
This is hardly the beginning of anti-labor activities by Delta’s management. There has been a string of actions against its workers to the point that the government has had to step in. WSJ: Delta Probed on Union Drive,
The National Mediation Board said Wednesday it will conduct a full-blown investigation into allegations by a flight attendants union that Delta Air Lines Inc. interfered in last year's fractious organizing drive at the world's second-largest airline by traffic.
Joan McCarter elaborates in Daily Kos in June, Delta Air's anti-union practices earns federal probe,
Delta isn't just a crappy airline for passengers, it's a crappy employer, too. At least it is if you can judge by the lengths it has gone to to prevent fairness in the workplace. Around the World Blog has some of the gory details of Delta's extreme anti-union activities:
- Open advocacy against fair American elections: Delta issued a press release commending the news that Darrell Issa's deranged Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will investigate the NMB’s 2010 decision to conduct union elections for air/rail workers the same as all other types of American elections. … Unfortunately for Delta, the facts aren’t on their side -- there’s no reason to conduct NMB elections differently from every other form of election, union or non-union, in the nation. ….
- Bumping paying customers…so Delta employees can lobby: Delta is so committed to its anti-union ideology that it offered its employees the chance to travel to Washington to lobby against fair union elections under a provision that may bump paying customers. …
It goes beyond, however, a general fight against the rights of airline and railroad employees to organize, to a very specific fiht among Delta employees to organize. The airline's fight against that union drive has made the airline a target for federal investigators.
"Delta is like the Scott Walker of airlines." Joe Sudbay sums up Delta management's attitude at AmericaBlog:
"Delta is like the Scott Walker of airlines. It wants to be known as anti-worker. And, of course, the GOPers in Congress are great allies in that quest. They'll join together to fight this investigation and undermine NMB."
Two Senators Weigh In On Delta And FAA Shutdown
In an NPR report, Reid Says FAA Shutdown Will Continue; Blames House, Delta Airlines, Senate Majority Leader Reid explains,
"It's not a battle over essential air service. It's a battle over Delta Airlines, who refuses to allow votes under the new rules that have been passed by the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board]." The issue, Reid says, is Delta's "non-union" stance. The bill to fund the FAA, as crafted by House Republicans, includes language that sets new rules for aviation workers' votes on labor representation.
Senator Rockeffeller, in a USA Today op-ed, Rural America needs Essential Air Service, talks about Delta's attack on workers rights,
Unfortunately, the Republican House is holding the FAAhostage and using the EAS program to distract from its acknowledged goal: overturning a workers' rights rule that makes sense and has been upheld in court.
This ugly backroom deal is the work of Delta Air Lines' anti-worker allies in the House. They want to overturn a decision of the National Mediation Board that allows airline and railroad workers to organize with their votes counted the regular way — yes and no — rather than by counting people who don't participate at all in the election.
Delta lost in court, and so it lobbied the Republican House leadership for help. That now involves blocking critical FAA legislation and attacking the EAS program, which creates jobs and economic opportunity in small communities by giving business access to travel.
Delta Greed Also Not Good For Customers
Delta's management provides us an example of what happens to a company that prioritizes greed over all else. We see a company that is not just bad for its workers, it is also bad for its customers. Here are examples.
Greed: When the FAA shutdown meant that taxes would not be collected some airlines let their customers keep the money. But not Delta's management -- they decided to keep that extra cash for themselves. Memphis Business Journal, Delta raises ticket prices amid FAA shutdown,
Air travelers are getting a break from federal taxes as the Federal Aviation Administration has partially shut down, but some airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc. , have raised fares and nullified the tax break. ... While some airlines will allow customers to take advantage of the tax break, others, like Delta, have increased fares following the shutdown...
Greed: Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post: Delta Charges U.S. Troops Returning From Afghanistan $2,800 In Baggage Fees,
Delta Air Lines is facing intense criticism after charging 34 U.S. soldiers returning from Afghanistan $2,800 in baggage fees.
The incident came to light on Tuesday after a couple of the new-media savvy soldiers recorded a video about their ordeal and posted it on YouTube.
Greed: According to Delta Nightmares, a website devoted to describing Delta's bad customer service,
I’m apparently not the only one who thinks so. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, Delta is having serious issues…ranking LAST among major carriers in customer service last year.…among major airlines Delta finished with the highest rate of customer complaints filed with the Department of Transportation in the first nine months of last year, and was second-to-last in on-time arrivals and baggage handling through November. Delta also had the highest rate of canceled flights among major carriers in 2010, according to FlightStats.com.
"Delta told Josiah Paco had "escaped" and the best they could do is refund his $200.00 pet transportation fee, but only as a "credit" for future Delta travel. That doesn't do Josiah any good, as he's vowed to never fly Delta again"
Greed: just Google Delta Airlines bad customer service and see the thousands and thousands of results that pop up...
Part Of Larger Anti-Worker Campaign
This effort by Republicans in Congress is really just a part of a larger fight against workers' rights. As we have seen in several states, most notably Wisconsin, this is a coordinate, all-out attack by the larger corporations and their allies in the Republican Party. New Jersey, as just one more example, just passed, and Governor Christie signed an anti-union bill. In Ohio there is a campaign to repeal a law restricting collective bargaining rights. In Florida it is revealed that ALEC was behind the state's anti-union legislation efforts. In Missouri large protest turnouts beat back anti-union legislation.
FAA Still Shut Down
So the FAA is still shut down, possibly until September when the Congress returns. This is the Tea Party dream, government destroyed, financed and pushed by private companies, this time Delta Airlines. Delta is showing itself as a model of bad corporate behavior. Delta couldn't keep their workers from joining a union, so they try to get the laws rigged. Meanwhile the Republicans are showing themselves willing to contract out their legislative power to the highest bidders.
Delta Airlines is certainly not the only example of bad, greed-inspired behavior by corporate management these days -- far from it. But with the FAA shutdown over Delta's request for a rule to keep its workers from being able to unionize Delta is putting itself forward as a top example of bad corporate behavior.
August 2, 2011
Wow I haven't visited BartCop Entertainment for a while!
August 1, 2011
You absolutely have to watch Keith Olbermann's Special Comment tonite on the debt deal and the broken system: