September 28, 2012
Look at the chart. The inflection point is Clinton's "explaining" speech, not the 47% remarks. They clinched it, but the turnaround started with Clinton's convention speech.
THIS is what happens when Dems actually make their case. Clinton did that, here we are. Even consumer confidence is way up.
September 27, 2012
Here is Romney explaining how Bain would "harvest" companies. (See also So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples?)
September 26, 2012
So bankers are forcing austerity... See When you enslave yourself to banks, this is what happens, describing the misery across Europe.
My comment: The job of bankers is to assess risk. They are supposed to look at all the factors, and price a loan accordingly. If you have a credit card with very high risk, you might pay in the 20% range! This way the banks can lend out the money, and even if a large percentage of the borrowers default, they still do OK. They are expecting a certain default rate, they price accordingly, they do OK on the loan portfolio.
Same for when they lend to countries. They price loans according to the default risk, and over the lifetime of the loans they are supposed to get their money back plus some return, even with the expected defaults. If the banks screwed up and didn't price their loans correctly, this doesn't make the people of Greece lazy, etc. it makes the bankers incompetent.
OR the bankers did price correctly, and over the lifetimes of all of their loans they are getting their money back and a return, AND they are also taking advantage of the situation to get more, make a killing, force privatization, force wages down, get rid of that pesky democracy that has been in the way, etc.
So here we are again, with the elites in the position of being either stupid (incompetent) or evil. And with the people in misery as a result, while the elites do just fine for themselves. With the added bonus for the elites that the experiment of wresting control from the elites and to the people -- democracy -- ending.
September 23, 2012
Coltrane's My Favorite Things, McCoy Tyner piano, Steve Davis on bass, Elvin Jones on drums:
1965, faster version:
September 22, 2012
Question for readers: How can I take an iPhone 4 back from iOS 6 back to iOS 5?
The Maps app isn't just really, really bad - terrible - it's downright dangerous. It's wrong. An incorrect map is not something I will trust. Lots of reasons, but I need a good and correct maps app. (And never mind what happens if I want to take trains or buses...)
This is a dealbreaker, and I think I'll be all done with Apple products now. The ONLY reason to pay Apple's extreme, premium, incredibly high prices (15" Mac laptop starts at $1800!) was because when you bought something from Apple it worked, was better than anything else, and an upgrade improved the product. Apple isn't doing that anymore. They changed maps to fit into a corporate strategy, and didn't give a shit about how it affected customers -- just more corporate greed, so forget this.
So how can I take my iPhone back from iOS6 to iOS5?
September 20, 2012
Funniest video in a long time:
Then go to this website: LetMyPeopleVote
Homer Votes 2012
The new Maps app in iOS6 is just terrible. Embarrassing. It is just corporate greed -- they dropped Google so they could get ad dollars for themselves -- while making the customer experience worse for us. (Another example, the smaller connector. Yes, they needed a new connector, no they do not need to charge us $30 for a little adapter -- $40 for one with a little wire! That is just squeezing the customer, nothing else, just corporate greed.)
Here is how YOU are supposed to help Apple fix their maps, so they can make ad dollars instead of Google: How to add a location or report a problem in iOS 6 Maps.
They call this "crowdsourcing" but really it is having the crowd work for free and then harvesting the returns for themselves.
Hey, here's an idea: give the people who help fix the maps some of the hundreds of millions that will be made selling $30-$40 adapters!
This has really turned me off from Apple products. Coming on the heels of the stories about how the slaves in China are treated, this really does undo the positive feelings I had about the brand.
Looking seriously at Android phones, tablets, maybe even Windows 8. (Well - talk about negative brands and corporate greed, though... Microsoft?)
P.S. Apple Maps uses Yelp for info about businesses. That's the company that allegedly shakes down business owners along the lines of: you pay us, people see good reviews but if you don't pay us, people see bad reviews. Talk about negative brand associations, wow.
Outside the circle:
I downloaded iOS 6, the maps app is SO BAD that I am thinking of cancelling my iPhone 5 order, moving off iPhone ecosystem.
Update: see Apple Wants YOU To Fix Their Maps
September 19, 2012
Here is another Romney video, from 1979:
(It's really the Dead Kennedys, Kill the Poor.)
September 18, 2012
Mitt Romney was caught on video complaining that 47% of us don't make enough to pay taxes, believe they are victims, are dependent on government, etc. The right question is why do so many of us make so little?
Moving Jobs To Places Where People Don't Have A Say
You often here that competition due to "globalization" means that we have to accept lower wages and fewer benefits, because people "over there" make so much less. What has caused the pressure, however, is "free trade" agreements that allow companies here to close factories here and open them over there, and then bring the same things they used to make here to sell in the same stores. The only "trade" involved in this transaction is trading who does the work.
In places where people are able to have a say, they say they want better wages, benefits, good schools, good roads, parks, a clean environment, safety standards, and things like that. In places where people do not have a say, they are told they can't have better wages, benefits, good schools, good roads, parks, a clean environment, safety standards, and things like that.
When we allow our companies to close factories here, where people have a say and move them there, where people do not have a say, and then bring the same goods back here to sell, we are allowing them to escape the borders of democracy. When they are no longer subject to the We, the People that has a say, they can do what they want, exploit workers, exploit the environment, and reap the profits of not having responsibilities to others. And because it costs less to pay people less and exploit the environment, allowing them to escape these responsibilities makes democracy a competitive disadvantage.
The Wal-Martization Of Our Economy
Another reason so many people don't make enough wages to pay taxes is because we let companies like Wal-Mart and Staples pay close to minimum wage. That is part of how they compete with our smaller, local businesses. Low wages, selling cheap stuff made in China by people with lower wages. (And by the way, we don't raise the minimum wage to a livable level! This means that government ends up helping employees of these companies through "safety-net" programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps, and the other "dependency" programs Romney complains about.)
Also, bigger companies are able to use their size. They can also apply the advantages of access to capital that smaller, local companies and regional chains cannot. They can also take advantage of scale in their purchasing, negotiations, management functions and elsewhere. This is smart business, but then we let them drive down wages, and send the difference to a few at the top, without even taxing those at the top so we can use the money to make up for the circumstances this imposes on those at the bottom.
In So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? I looked at whether Staples really invented new jobs or really just shifted jobs from other companies to their company. Unfortunately Staples didn't "create jobs," it grew by putting other companies out of business, thereby shifting people into lower-paying jobs. That is the Wal-Mart model, Bain Capital model, that has taken over our economy.
Staples grew by putting local stationery stores out of business, local office supply, and other chains like Businessland out of business. All those small business owners who had local stores, making a modest small-business income, now instead are working maybe as managers at a Staples. From the post,
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
How do these"Romney job creator" jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That's $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)
So Mitt Romney complains that the changes in our economy over the last few decades that have made most of us so much poorer are our own fault. But he concludes that government - We, the People - shouldn't try to do something about it! He complains that government - We, the People - are really just in the way of letting it go on and make a few at the top get even richer at the expense of the rest of us.
In democracies We, the People are supposed to have a say. And WE say we want better wages, bnefits, and a piece of the pie. When democracies function, that is what happens. When the Romneys and the Bain Capitals and the Wal-Marts are able to tell us what the government's policies should be, then things fall apart. 6 Wal-Mart heirs have more wealth now than around 1/3 of all Americans combined. Mitt Romney has an income of approx $440,000 per week.
And yes, 47% of us don't make enough to pay income taxes.
The solution is to restore our, We the People's, yes government's control over these circumstances. Government is US making the decisions and bug government is us making more of the decisions. And when We, the People have a say we say we want to restore the virtuous circle of prosperity: we create the fertile ground for businesses to prosper by building roads and bridges and good schools, we help them prosper by providing good courts, regulation to keep the giants from domination and to keep the components of the economy functioning smoothly, and investing in research and universities. And then when the business are doing well we ask for good jobs with good wages and benefits and working conditions, and we collect taxes to pay for the investment that keeps that virtuous circle going.
Please read also: Tax Cuts Are Theft
September 17, 2012
It's clear that Mitt Romney is losing. Will "real" conservatives blindly support him, or will they vote Libertarian?
Remember the primaries, when conservative after conservative pledged they could not support RINO Romney?
After the nomination was secured they all banded together like lemmings to defend anything Romney said or did? Flip-flopping, etch-a-sketching, lying, refusing to give details of his plan, etc? Doesn't matter, they fall in line and defend it.
Every one of us - progressive, conservative, independent, etc - knows that the Republican Party is about a few wealthy multi-national corporations securing their dominance over the economy.
HONEST conservatives: the Libertarian Party candidate for President is Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico.
September 15, 2012
A quick note on something I enountered while reading Do Tax Cuts Lead to Economic Growth? - NYTimes.com
Longer term, people will presumably work harder if they keep more of the next dollar they earn.
This is right-wing conventional wisdom. It has been repeated and repeated until people ... just repeat it. It is the Ayn Rand argument that people will "go Gault" if that have to pay taxes, and just stop working.
Who don't people think that people will "work harder" if taxes are raised, because they have to make up what was taxed?
In other words, this kind of argument is just making stuff up because you have to have something to say. Either one works -- if you want taxes cut say people will "work harder' because they earn more.
One more thing: in what kind of world is "making people work harder" a societal good? Maybe in Ayn Rand's world.
Shouldn't our economy be about enabling people to have fuller lives, enabling people to have more leisure time, enabling people to spend more time with their kids, or reading and hiking and throwing frisbees with dogs?
September 12, 2012
You might be hearing about the "Fiscal Cliff." And you might be hearing about a "Grand Bargain." You certainly have heard about "Simpson Bowles." You will be hearing more and more about these strangely-named things because the usual suspects are cranking up the usual propaganda machine again, getting the usual DC elite ready to play out another of the usual take-from-the-people-to-give-to-the-rich games right after the election. This time it's a push for austerity.
I always start any discussion of deficits and debt by reminding people that the country had a big budget surplus before Bush cut taxes for the rich, and doubled the military budget.
Deficit history: Reagan dramatically cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations. He doubled the military budget. Huge deficit resulted and the country began accumulating massive debt. They called it "strategic deficits," a plan to "starve the beast" by bankrupting the country and forcing cuts to government, to the things government does for We, the People, and the ways government protects us from exploitation by the wealthy and powerful.
After 12 years of Reaganomics people were fed up, and elected Clinton. Clinton raised taxes on the rich. Those increases combined with the stock market bubble created a surplus and we were paying off the debt, and then something changed. 'W' Bush again cut taxes for the wealthy and again doubled the military budget and now the deficits are enormous. So here we are.
But fixing what caused the deficits is not on the table. It never is, because that doesn't fit the plan.
They say the country faces a "Fiscal Cliff" at the end of the year. After the election the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. And – this is a bit complicated – something called “sequestration” also kicks in. This is a series of budget cuts that happen because of the “debt ceiling” deal, when Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage and threatened to put the country into default, demanding that we immediately take trillions out of the economy. The sequestration deal was a compromise that was intended to force the Congress to agree to a bipartisan solution, which failed.
The sequestration includes military cuts, which our billionaire-backed DC elite believe would ruin the economy when combined with expiration of the Bush tax cuts -- because in their minds tax cuts do not cause deficits and unlike other government spending military spending creates jobs. So to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff" after the election Congress is supposed to meet to keep the military budget intact, keep taxes on the rich from rising and cut the things our government does for We, the People.
Why After The Election?
That pesky democracy thing keeps on getting in the way of Wall Street’s plans for our economy. But after the election comes what's called a "lame duck" session of the Congress. The legislators who have been chosen by the people aren't in office yet, the ones who have been defeated are still there and the ones who were re-elected know that anything they do will be long forgotten by the next election. Democracy and the will of the people will not be a factor. Every poll says the public wants immediate action on jobs and no cuts in the things government does for We, the People.
If Obama is re-elected the post-election debate will be between the Obama deficit plan, a "Grand Bargain" based on the "Simpson-Bowles" plan vs the Ryan plan -- the budget the House Republicans passed that privatizes Medicare and reduces spending on most things government does for our people. If Romney is elected all bets are off.
Simpson-Bowles is a budget plan put together by a Republican Senator and a Director of the Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley. After the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform ("Deficit Commission") failed to make recommendations, the two came up with a plan that cuts Social Security, cuts a number of other things government does for our people, cuts a bit from military and cuts tax rates on the rich and corporations, calling it "reform." (The plan also eliminates the home mortgage interest deduction, for example.)
Important point: At least Simpson-Bowles is not a "cuts cause growth" plan. It is sold as a deficit plan, even though it cuts taxes at the top and for big corporations. It clearly asks that any cuts not take place until the economy has improved because cuts slow growth.
The "Grand Bargain" is the idea that Democrats and Republicans can reach a compromise involving Republicans "allowing" tax "reform" that eliminates some tax deductions like the home mortgage interest deduction and reducing tax rates on the wealthy and corporations, in "exchange" for cuts in things government does for us, including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. (These cuts do not eliminate the need, they just shift the cost away from the government onto the larger economy.) (If this sounds like a "bargain" that entirely benefits the wealthy and large corporations, that's just how Washington works these days.) ("Reform" always means cutting out things government does for We, the People and reducing taxes on the wealthy.)
Austerity is the word used to describe attempts to lower budget deficits by cutting government spending on the things that government does for its citizens.
The theory is that cutting way back on government will cause the economy to grow because government is "in the way" and helping citizens "takes money out of the economy." Also, when government provides fewer safety-net services unemployed people are forced to take any work they can get, which drives wages down and increases corporate profits. Government cutbacks also mean they can't enforce regulations, which unleashes businesses to pollute, commit fraud, cut safety procedures and other things government polices that restrict corporate profits.
But austerity literally "takes money out of the economy." Public-employee wages and pensions are cut. Government services and safety net programs are cut. Public assets are sold off for immediate cash (reducing the government's income in later years). So the demand side of the economy is reduced as people are not able to spend.
The Results Of Austerity
In practice the theory that removing government makes the economy grow has not worked out. Several European countries have been severely cutting budgets, and the result has been that the economies in the "austerity" countries have suffered. These economies appear to have fallen into a downward cycle where the "reforms" reduce demand, growth stalls, this reduces tax revenue, which means the deficit-cutting is not effective. (And meanwhile the economies are ruined and people are in misery.)
The austerity cycle happening in Europe works something like this:
Bankers demand "austerity" which drives up unemployment, cuts demand and slows economic growth. The reduction in economic growth causes tax revenue to shrink and increases use of whatever "safety net" programs remain, thereby increasing budget shortfalls.
So bankers demand more "austerity" which drives up unemployment, cuts demand and slows economic growth. The reduction in economic growth causes tax revenue to shrink and increases use of whatever "safety net" programs remain, thereby increasing budget shortfalls. .
So bankers demand more "austerity" which drives up unemployment, cuts demand and slows economic growth. The reduction in economic growth causes tax revenue to shrink and increases use of whatever "safety net" programs remain, thereby increasing budget shortfalls.
So bankers demand more "austerity" ... well you might be starting to get the picture.
Recession Resulting From Austerity
These are the GDP growth rates in European "austerity" countries:
Chart from Think Progress, CHART: HOW AUSTERITY IS SQUASHING EUROPE’S ECONOMIC GROWTH.
Unemployment Resulting From Austerity
These are the official unemployment rates in European "austerity" countries:
Austerity NOT Lowering Debt
Here is a chart of the debt-to-GDP ration as these countries shrink their GDP - and tax revenue - through austerity (click for larger):
Decline Resulting From Austerity
Europe is approaching a crisis as the region’s debt crisis and austerity measures increase the rates of depression, suicide and psychological problems – just as governments cut healthcare spending by up to 50 percent, according to campaigners, policy makers and health organizations.
Portugal's health service is being forced into sweeping cuts as last May's EU/IMF bailout terms begin to bite
Catholic Online: European economic crisis takes emotional toll
Suicides Resulting From Austerity
Digital Post, July: Austerity takes its toll with suicides increasing in Greece
Tampa Bay Times, August: Suicide rates rise in Europe amid job losses and severe cutbacks
Digital Post, August: Italian dies after setting himself alight in austerity protest
Reuters, August: Study links British recession to 1000 suicides,
A painful economic recession, rising unemployment and biting austerity measures may have already driven more than 1,000 people in Britain to commit suicide, according to a scientific study published on Wednesday.
CNN, September: Death and taxes in Italy
Watch the following news reports if you can stomach it:
What You Can Do
So the experiment in austerity that is playing out in Europe is coming to the US after the election - when democracy can't intervene.
But the way to reduce deficits is to grow the economy. When people have jobs they pay taxes and use fewer social services. Jobs programs that come out of fixing our infrastructure and making us less dependent on oil also make our economy more competitive in the future so they pay for themselves.
Contact your member of Congress and let them know that you do not think this is the time to cut the budget. Let them know that you want to see jobs programs, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, increase the safety net so people are not forced to take any work, cut the age when people can get Medicare and Social Security and increase the benefits so people can retire and open up jobs and renegotiate trade deals that are sucking us dry.
Tell them jobs fix deficits -- you want to grow us out of deficits, not pretend that cuts will work. Cuts make deficits worse.
This just came in the email:
An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans (including a Hawaiian and an Alaskan), an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovak, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, a Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, an Iranian, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Syrian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Canadian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, a Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and 2 Africans,
...walk into a very fine restaurant.
"I'm sorry," says the maître d', after scrutinizing the group...
"You can't come in here without a Thai."
September 11, 2012
Well I just had surgery yesterday for a "femoral hernia." Beforehand I was trying to figure out how to let readers know if I died, but I didn't. So there.
September 6, 2012
Everybody go give some $$ to The Smirking Chimp | News And Commentary from the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy
Send this to relatives, friends and especially to people who are not paying enough attention and might be falling for the lies. Make sure people see this!!
September 5, 2012
Next time I need a raise, I'm bringing Bill Clinton along to make the case for me.
Look at HOW hard this "Fact Checker" works to support Romney: FactCheck.org : Democratic Disinformation from Charlotte. Democrats are using "disinformation," because it is Obama's fault that the economy lost millions of jobs in the first few months that Obama was in office! Never mind that it completely turned around the minute the stimulus started.
The rest of the "fact checking" in this piece is along the same lines.
I write this for AlterNet: 6 Reasons We Need to Protect America from Texas Politicians | Alternet
It looks like the influence of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing nutcase-creation machine might have tipped Texas Republicans over the edge and into dangerous territory. Their politicians are flying right off the rails. Is it time to think about setting up border checkpoints around Texas to protect ourselves? Even better, maybe we should just build a big fence around the state to keep their elected officials in.
September 4, 2012
What if the Fed paid 5% interest on IRA accounts? Currently people are getting no return on their savings because of the Fed's zero interest policy. Older people just trying to get by are eating their savings (and catfood) because they are getting no interest.
So what if the Fed undid some of the damage 0% interest does to older people who depend on a rate of return? They could "helicopter" some money to people who need it, need to eat, and have no other source of income? They currently are literally handing free money to banks, this would be a small gesture for some people who are being hurt by those policies that are giving free money to banks.
September 3, 2012
Republicans say government has "made us dependent." They are correct. We are dependent on roads and schools and bridges and ports and dams and levees and courts and fire departments and police and teachers and food safety inspections...
What is Labor Day? And why is it a national holiday?
Labor Day is our national holiday to celebrate the contribution that regular working people make to our country and our economy. It is also a holiday that celebrates the way We, the People democracy can deliver prosperity to many, instead of great wealth to just a few -- when it works. Strong unions help make it work.
Systems That Enforce "More Stuff For A Few"
History teaches of conflict between systems set up when a few people gain power and use that power to get more stuff for themselves at the expense of the rest, and the broad masses of regular people organizing themselves to overcome those power structures that get set up to enforce these "more stuff for a few" systems.
Power structures enforcing "more stuff for a few" often come with elaborate justifications to keep people from rising up and taking back power for the people. Royalty is a system where "God said my family should be in charge, so shut up and keep quiet." The Nazis said they should be in charge because they were the übermensch, so shut up and keep quiet. Russia had the nomenklatura, so shut up and keep quiet. Today we have "job creators," who get most of the stuff because they already have most of the stuff, so shut up and keep quiet.
"We, the People"
This country was formed when We, the People fought that battle and won. We overthrew a system that funneled the stuff to a few at the top, and enshrined in our Constitution a declaration we want this country to forever be run for the benefit of all of us, not just a few of us.
We fought to build and maintain this democratic society so that We, the People could share the benefits.
Prosperity Is The Fruit Of Democracy
Democracy offers protections. It lets us demand good wages and safety and environmental protections. We, the People got a good share of the economic pie because those are the things people say they want when they have a say. Because Americans had a say we built up a country with good schools, good infrastructure, good courts, and we made rules that said workers had to be safe, get a minimum wage, overtime, weekends... we protected the environment, we set up Social Security and Medicare and unemployment benefits to help us through hard times. We took care of each other. This made us prosperous. A share of the prosperity for the 99% was the fruit of democracy.
Unions Enforce Democracy
But it was unions that made this possible. People on their own just do not have the ability to stand up against concentrated wealth and power, no matter how right their cause. Even with our Constitution, a few were still able to use wealth and power to grab more for themselves, keeping regular people from obtaining a fair share of the pie. So people organized themselves into labor unions, and as a united group said you give us a fair share or we stop working. This was effective in industries that depended on the labor to keep production moving.
Before unions came along to enforce democracy we didn't get the share of the prosperity that democracy promised, after unions came along we did. Before unions we had 12 (or more)-hour workdays, seven days a week. Before unions we had low pay. Before unions we had no benefits. Before unions we certainly didn't get vacations. Before unions we could be fired for no reason. Before unions a wealthy few were able use their wealth to
pay off influence legislators and keep the rules bent in their favor. Unions organized and forced changes that brought a larger share of the pie to We, the People.
Unions enforce the concept of democracy. Yes, We, the People were supposed to be in charge. Yes, the economy was supposed to be for our benefit. Why else would We, the People allow corporations to exist in the first place? But it was unions that gave people the power to enforce that idea. People organized together and demanded that We, the People get a share of the pie, and the results grew the pie. Unions are the reason we
have had a middle class at all.
The Corporate/Conservative Attack On Labor
But we let the protections slip, and allowed money to have too much influence over our political system -- so of course those with money used that influence to bend the system their way. Then we allowed companies to cross borders to escape the protections democracy offers -- to non-democratic countries like China where workers have few rights, where pay is low, environmental protections practically non-existent. Companies locating manufacturing in places like have huge cost advantages over companies located in democracies that respect and protect the rights of citizens. This movement of manufacturing away from the borders of democracy weakened our unions, and shifted the balance of power away from We, the People.
There has been a massive corporate/conservative attack on labor and democracy over the last 3-4 decades. Billions of dollars have gone into a propaganda machine that tells us that labor unions are bad, that "labor bosses" just want things for themselves, that "union thugs" force businesses out of business, etc.
The successful attack on labor has contributed directly to this economy of massive inequality where workers don’t share in the product of the productivity they generate.
Lawrence Mishel, at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, writes in Unions, inequality, and faltering middle-class wages,
Between 1973 and 2011, the median worker’s real hourly compensation (which includes wages and benefits) rose just 10.7 percent. Most of this growth occurred in the late 1990s wage boom, and once the boom subsided by 2002 and 2003, real wages and compensation stagnated for most workers—college graduates and high school graduates alike. This has made the last decade a “lost decade” for wage growth.
... A major factor driving these trends has been the ongoing erosion of unionization and the declining bargaining power of unions, along with the weakened ability of unions to set norms or labor standards that raise the wages of comparable nonunion workers.
... the forthcoming The State of Working America, 12th Edition presents a detailed analysis of the impact of unionization on wages and benefits and on wage inequality. Key findings include:
- The union wage premium—the percentage-higher wage earned by those covered by a collective bargaining contract—is 13.6 percent overall (17.3 percent for men and 9.1 percent for women).
- Unionized workers are 28.2 percent more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance and 53.9 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions.
- From 1973 to 2011, the share of the workforce represented by unions declined from 26.7 percent to 13.1 percent.
- The decline of unions has affected middle-wage men more than any other group and explains about three-fourths of the expanded wage gap between white- and blue-collar men and over a fifth of the expanded wage gap between high school– and college-educated men from 1978 to 2011.
- An expanded analysis that includes the direct and norm-setting impact of unions shows that deunionization can explain about a third of the entire growth of wage inequality among men and around a fifth of the growth among women from 1973 to 2007.
The Social Contract
Labor Day is about honoring the social contract.
Hedrick Smith writes in, When Capitalists Cared in the NY Times,
From 1948 to 1973, the productivity of all nonfarm workers nearly doubled, as did average hourly compensation. But things changed dramatically starting in the late 1970s. Although productivity increased by 80.1 percent from 1973 to 2011, average wages rose only 4.2 percent and hourly compensation (wages plus benefits) rose only 10 percent over that time, according to government data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute.
At the same time, corporate profits were booming. In 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, corporate profits garnered the largest share of national income since 1942, while the share going to wages and salaries sank to the lowest level since 1929. In the recession’s aftermath, corporate profits have bounced back while middle-class incomes have stagnated.
[. . .] In Germany, still a manufacturing and export powerhouse, average hourly pay has risen five times faster since 1985 than in the United States. The secret of Germany’s success, says Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran the German electrical giant Siemens before taking over the American aluminum company Alcoa in 2008, is “the social contract: the willingness of business, labor and political leaders to put aside some of their differences and make agreements in the national interests.”
Unions enforce democracy. Our system is not perfect, it does not by itself sufficiently protect our We, the People system from the constant efforts of some people to gain power - so they can get all the stuff for themselves at the expense of everyone else. It is a fact of human nature proven by history that this happens. Without unions as an added kicker to help us enforce the promise of our We, the People constitution, those who have wealth and power are able to use that wealth and power to take control and grab all the stuff for themselves. We are seeing this happen again, right before our eyes.