Posts Tagged ‘#labor’

Income InequalityThe inequality of wealth and income in the US is greater than at any time since the 1920s. As Professor Elizabeth Warren has explained, “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.” Nobody. Not even Mitt Romney. As Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, noted recently, “the U.S. is unique…just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.” Today, we are told by the 1% and their political representatives in Washington DC that we can no longer afford money for public education and the social safety net, even as trillions go to Wall Street and the unending wars purportedly fighting terrorism (although it could easily be argued that terrorism begets terrorism, we must also consider who in the world really uses & traffics in Weapons of Mass Destruction?).

The Occupy Wall Street protests (the 99%) are a protest, a rebellion of human beings thinking reasonably and rationally. After all, isn’t government supposed to serve the People, and not the other way around? Government employees are “public servants” not corporate servants, and not solely servants of the 1%. The greater the disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else, the more unstable an economy becomes. Consumer demand is what drives a capitalist economy, and as more people sink into poverty, they are unable to buy products because they don’t have enough income to make those purchases.

In 1928, one year before the global economic collapse of the Great Depression, the wealthiest .001% of the U.S. population owned 892 times more than 90% of the nation’s citizens. Today, the top .001% of the U.S. population owns 976 times more than the entire bottom 90%.

Extreme Income Inequality

Chart courtesy of The Nation magazine. Click for full size.

As you can plainly see, there has been a radical redistribution of income to the top 1%. And yet, they don’t call this “socialism”. This dire economic situation just didn’t happen by accident either. The wealthiest 1% reaped 2/3rds of the economic benefits from Bush’s tax cuts. In 2010, top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%, its lowest level in nearly 30 years. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued in 2011-12 as the stock market has continued to recover. [For a more detailed description of these and other sources of income inequality data, please see Chad Stone, Hannah Shaw, Danilo Trisi, and Arloc Sherman, “A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 5, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-28-11pov.pdf.]

Poverty-In-AmericaOne out of every 5 children in the U.S. lives in poverty (21%) compared with approximately 4% in Sweden. One out of every 4 (25% of) children in the U.S. is receiving food stamps (SNAP). Social spending makes up most of the difference: in Sweden, social spending reduces child poverty by 70%, while in the U.S. it reduces child poverty only 5%, down from 26%. These differences arise as a result of policies that create these enormous inequalities in resources, or in the absence of policies that would bridge the inequalities.

This is a list of countries or dependencies by income inequality metrics, including Gini coefficients, according to the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the OECD. The tables there are sortable by column, but in pretty much every case, the United States ranks right near the bottom among both developed and developing countries, meaning it has the highest rate of income inequality. We might expect to see something like this in authoritarian dictatorships, but not in a country like the U.S.

A number of factors may help explain this increase in inequality, not only underlying technological changes but also the retreat of institutions developed during the New Deal and World War II – such as progressive tax policies, powerful labor unions (.pdf), corporate provision of wages/salaries, health and retirement benefits, and changing social norms regarding pay inequality. We need to decide as a society whether this increase in income inequality is efficient and acceptable and, if not, what mix of institutional and tax reforms should be developed to counter it. And we need to vote for politicians that will propose and support those policies.

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The Dodd-Frank pay disclosure mandate, the new PayWatch notes, has become more “needed now” than ever. Big-time CEO pay outpaced average worker pay by 380 times in 2011, the stats show, up from 343 times in 2010.

The gap at many individual corporations runs much higher than this overall 380-times average. But we can’t now identify which specific corporations sport the widest pay gaps between CEOs and workers since corporations — until the Dodd-Frank disclosure mandate goes into effect — don’t have to disclose how much they pay their most typical workers.

The SEC could have — and should have — written the rules necessary to put the Dodd-Frank pay ratio disclosure mandate into effect in time for this spring’s annual corporate meetings. The agency flubbed that deadline.

via Pay Ratios: Shoving CEOs under an Online Microscope.


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Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity examines the ideological roots of the “austerity” agenda and proposes revolutionary paths out of the current crisis. The film features original interviews with Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, Michael Hardt, Peter Gelderloos, Leo Panitch, David McNally, Richard J.F. Day, Imre Szeman, Wayne Price, and many more!

The 2008 “financial crisis” in the United States was a systemic fraud in which the wealthy finance capitalists stole trillions of public dollars. No one was jailed for this crime, the largest theft of public money in history.

Instead, the rich forced working people across the globe to pay for their “crisis” through punitive “austerity” programs that gutted public services and repealed workers’ rights.

Austerity was named “Word of the Year” for 2010.

This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future.

Special attention is devoted to the crisis in Greece, the 2010 G20 Summit protest in Toronto, Canada, and the remarkable surge of solidarity in Madison, Wisconsin.

It may be their crisis, but it’s our problem.

Portugal is preparing for a general strike, as trade unions try to rally opposition to the government’s austerity measures.

The Portuguese economy is mired deep in recession, as many economists predict it will follow Greece and have to ask European partners for a second emergency bailout.

A group of activists have made a protest video, in which they say the government’s austerity measures are threatening the social gains of the past 35 years.

Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips reports from Lisbon.

  • 1. There is an alternative to capitalism. This is the heresy that the keepers of the temple do not wish us to utter. It is possible to organize a large, sophisticated, modern economy that tends toward fair and just outcomes, benefits the many rather than the few, and enables an enduring human presence on a flourishing Earth.
  • 2. Getting there is not only about regulation but about emergence. As organizational change theorist Margaret Wheatley writes, “emergence” refers to what happens when local actions spring up and connect through networks. Without warning, emergent phenomena can occur, such as the rise of the organic food movement. Such movements rely not on central leadership but on shared vision.
  • 3. The generative economy is not a legal exercise but the embodiment of an emerging value system. Companies in the generative economy are built around values; the John Lewis Partnership’s core value is fairness, while Organic Valley’s core values are sustainability and community.
  • 4. Generative values become enduring through the social architecture of ownership. The generative economy is built on a foundation of stakeholder ownership designed to generate and preserve real wealth—resources held and shared by our communities and the ecosystems we live in. These enterprises don’t have absentee ownership shares trading in a casino economy, but ownership held in human hands.

via Can There Be “Good” Corporations? by Marjorie Kelly — YES! Magazine.

Economists, investment advisors and political strategists are closely watching the unemployment rate. But few commentators acknowledge just how faulty the employment statistics are. One key problem is that a crucial group of people can’t be tracked and measured. These are the so-called discouraged workers, who have given up looking for employment. They are the economic equivalent of astrophysicists’ dark matter – the particles scattered throughout the universe that can’t be seen but have enough mass to alter the course of everything we can see.

There have always been discouraged workers, of course, but the recent recession has multiplied their number. And it has enlarged a related category, as well, those who could be described as disgruntled workers – the underemployed, who have been forced to accept jobs with fewer hours or lower pay than they would like. These two groups aren’t counted in the unemployment rate either because they aren’t listed as looking for work or because they are listed as already working.

The uncounted include people who lost their jobs and spent months unsuccessfully looking for new ones until they finally gave up; women, and some men, who would like to work but have decided it makes more financial sense to stay home and care for kids instead; and teenagers who have not been able to find entry-level jobs.  There are also older middle managers who have had to take early retirement even though they would prefer to continue working. To those groups, add anyone who lost a job and ended up having to accept a new one that was worse.

via Headline unemployment is down, but Bureau of Labor Statistic’s numbers don’t reflect the underemployed and discouraged workers | Business | TIME.com.


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Chris Hedges: “Obama Has Broken Almost Every Campaign Promise He Made In 2004”

Here’s the real story: Government intervention has created millions of jobs. But those interventions were too small, so we’re still years away from fixing the problem. To claim anything else is to reinforce the delusions that created the problem in the first place.

If the president and his supporters make that case clearly and forcefully, the country will be able to choose between competing visions in November. It’s more likely to choose an end to its misery. The pitch is pretty simple, really: The medicine’s working, but let’s not stop before the patient gets well. And despite this month’s report, the patient is still very, very sick.

Help is needed urgently.

via Job Numbers Hype: It’s Bad Politics and Worse Policy | Crooks and Liars.


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February 02, 2012 MSNBC


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In less than 30 years, the income of the wealthiest one percent of Americans increased 275 percent, while the income of bottom fifth increased just 20 percent. Jennifer Granholm talks to journalists David Cay Johnston and Charles M. Blow about the roots of income inequality in America.
Tune in Weeknights at 9:00/8:00c on Current TV
http://current.com/shows/the-war-room/