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The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

The book Hillbilly Elegy is generating a lot of buzz this election season.  Terri Gross of NPR conducts this interview with the author J.D. Vance.  This book focuses on the culture of poor and working class folks many of which are currently supporting Donald Trump.  Why?  Listen to find out…

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. My guest, J.D. Vance, is the author of the new best-seller “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir Of A Family And Culture In Crisis.” He says the book is about what goes on in the lives of real people when the industrial economy goes south. He writes about the social isolation, poverty, drug use and the religious and political changes in his family and in greater Appalachia. He grew up in a Rust Belt town in Ohio in a family from the hills of eastern Kentucky. Until the age of 12, he spent summers in Jackson, Ky., with his grandmother and great-grandmother. Vance joined the Marines, which helped him afford college. After attending Ohio State University, he went to Yale Law School where he initially felt completely out of place. He has contributed to the National Review and is now a principal at a Silicon Valley investment firm.Hillbilly Elegy

J.D. Vance, welcome to FRESH AIR. There’s a paragraph from your new book that I want you to read. It’s on Page 2.

J D VANCE: There is an ethnic component lurking in the background of my story. In our race-conscious society, our vocabulary often extends no further than the color of someone’s skin – black people, Asians, white privilege. Sometimes these broad categories are useful. But to understand my story, you have to delve into the details.

I may be white, but I do not identify with the WASPs of the Northeast. Instead, I identify with the millions of working-class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who have no college degree. To these folks, poverty’s the family tradition. Their ancestors were day laborers in the southern slave economy, sharecroppers after that, coal miners after that, and machinists and mill workers during more recent times. Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends and family.

GROSS: Thanks for reading that. There’s, you know, the line where you make a point of saying that your people were day laborers in the slave economy of the South. Reading between the lines there…

VANCE: Sure.

GROSS: …What are you saying about class and race with that statement?

Yahoo Finance takes a look at American’s retirement future and states The 401(k) is worsening retirement inequality.  The shift from pensions to 401(k) plans is widening the gap between the haves and have-nots among retirees…

The shift from pensions to 401(k) plans is making retirement inequality much worse—and education is what separates the haves from the have-nots, a new study has found.

College graduates have always been able to get better jobs. What’s new in recent decades is that traditional pensions have all but vanished, replaced by 401(k)-style plans.Image result for Image, hung out to dry

In 1980, 38 percent of private sector workers had a pension and 19 percent a 401(k). By last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the numbers had more or less reversed—just 15 percent had a pension and 43 percent a 401(k).

That shift is creating “double disadvantages for the less educated,” wrote University of Kansas sociology professor ChangHwan Kim and U.S. Social Security Administration researcher Christopher Tamborini in a paper presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual conference on Tuesday.

When you combine the GOP push to weaken pensions and promote 401(k)’s that was the hallmark of the Reagan administration with the current plans of Republican Paul Ryan to move Medicare from a guaranteed benefit to a “premium support” model that will shift the costs onto retirees a challenging retirement is made even more so by today’s Republican party.  Their refusal to raise the cap on Social Security or negotiate drug prices to lower Medicare costs completes the picture of the GOP as willing to leave seniors out to dry so the wealthy can become even wealthier.

 

Tell me again why white, working class Americans are supporting the Republican Party?

Maureen Dowd  shares her perspective on the Trump apology tour in An Open Letter From Mr. Donald Trump…

To Whom It May Concern:

Trump is sorry. Trump is humble. Trump is scared. Trump doesn’t want to get crushed.

So if I have offended anyone, or because I have offended everyone, I’m sorry.Image result for Image,sorry

I’m sorry that I realized too late that all the great put-downs that helped me put away the 16 dwarfs don’t translate well to the general election.

I’m sorry that I’m causing the Republicans to lose control of the Senate and I’m sorry they wish I’d never been born.

I’m really not that sorry to be causing trouble for Paul Ryan, who’s going to lose seats in the House. He’s a prig and I wish he had lost his primary to that tattooed guy who likes me.

I’m sorry I pretended I was going to release my tax returns. Of course I didn’t pay any taxes. I have the all-time greatest real estate deductions and depreciations.

The American Prospect takes an in-depth look at the history and affect of an increase in the minimum wage.  Turns out the real world result is different than usually heard on the business sponsored news services tend to report…

Should it be standard practice in public policy to require that new regulations pass such an extreme, evidence-based No Job Loss test? It would be a remarkable hurdle if Fight for 15applied to other areas of social policy. For instance, not only would the 1938 FLSA’s minimum wage have certainly failed the test, even though it was reduced from 40 to 25 cents and covered only one-fifth of the workforce, but so would the FLSA’s banning of child labor—which was explicitly designed to reduce employment (of children). And by putting upward pressure on adult wages, this ban would also have been expected to reduce adult employment as well. Nor would most workplace health and safety rules, environmental regulations, or for that matter, foreign trade agreements (or foreign trade itself) pass such a strict NJL test.

Why is it that only the minimum wage gets this special treatment? Is it really jobs, or is it high profit margins and low consumer prices that we want to protect? 

When in uncharted waters and fearing any risk of job loss, some anecdotal evidence may provide some guidance. On January 25, 1950, the wage floor was increased by 87.5 percent, from 40 cents to 75 cents. This represented a sudden increase in the ratio of the minimum wage to the average hourly earnings of non-farm private sector workers from 31.4 percent in 1949 to 56.2 percent in 1950.

What was the impact on jobs? Teenage (16-19) unemployment rates fell,from 15.8 percent in October 1949 (three months earlier) to 15.2 percent in February 1950 (one month later), and then fell further to just 12 percent in April (three months later). A year later, in April 1951, the teenage unemployment rate was down to 7.9 percent. Over the same period the overall unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 3.2 percent.

Much the same story can be told for the 33.3 percent increase in the minimum wage that took place on March 1, 1956. And as the New York State Department of Labor has put it, “New York increased its minimum wage eight times from 1991 through 2015 and six of those times, the data show an employment uptick following an increase in the state’s minimum wage.” The lesson of these examples is that any tendency for negative employment effects can be swamped by other factors—most importantly by the strength of the macroeconomy.

Many jobs that fail to pay a living wage reflect the collapse of worker bargaining power over the course of the last four decades. The evidence speaks loudly: Forced to pay higher wages, employers find ways to adjust, through productivity gains, lower worker turnover, lower wage increases for higher wage workers, price increases that have little effect on consumer demand, and even reduced profit margins. Above all, a necessary condition for stronger worker bargaining power in the absence of collective bargaining is a strong macroeconomy. With sufficient time to adjust, jobs that cannot pay a minimally decent wage should be driven out of the labor market. Eleanor Roosevelt was right.

But there is no evidence that a $15 wage floor phased in over the next five to six years will have a negative overall effect on job opportunities. A phased increase from $7.25 to $15 would in fact be an increase from at least $9 in 12 states (only 17 mostly small states have only the $7.25 federal wage floor), and the annual percentage increase for every state would be far less than those 1951 and 1956 increases. In terms of the absolute level of a $15 wage, it is instructive that Costco has just announced that starting pay for all its workers in all its U.S. stores is now at least $13, which is nearly the current value ($13.34) of a $15 wage in 2021, according to Congressional Budget Office inflation projections. The alternative business model is Walmart’s, whose low-pay strategy has netted Walmart fantastic profits; the Walton family is said to be worth $150 billion, and four family members recently made Forbes’ top 10 list of richest Americans.  

The cover story of this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek presents a scary case for shoppers of Walmart. Not only do citizens get to pay to build the stores, then supplement the wages of WM employees with food stamps, Medicaid,  downward pressure on local wages, they get to pay taxes for a police force that spends a lot of time protecting the profits of the Walton family and their business.  Can you say profits before people?

It’s not unusual for the department to send a van to transport all the criminals Ross arrests at this Walmart. The call log on the store stretches 126 pages, documenting more than 5,000 trips over the past five years. Last year police were called to the store and three other Tulsa Walmarts just under 2,000 times. By comparison, they were called to the city’s four Target stores about 300 times. Most of the calls to the northeast Supercenter were for shoplifting, but there’s no shortage of more serious crimes, including five armed robberies so far this year, a murder suspect who killed himself with a gunshot to the head in the parking lot last year, and, in 2014, a group of men who got into a parking lot shootout that killed one and seriously injured two others.Bloomberg cover

Police reports from dozens of stores suggest the number of petty crimes committed on Walmart properties nationwide this year will be in the hundreds of thousands. But people dashing out the door with merchandise is the least troubling part of Walmart’s crime problem. More than 200 violent crimes, including attempted kidnappings and multiple stabbings, shootings, and murders, have occurred at the nation’s 4,500 Walmarts this year, or about one a day, according to an analysis of media reports. Sometimes they’re spectacular enough to get national attention. In June, a SWAT team killed a hostage taker at a Walmart in Amarillo, Texas. In July, three Walmart employees in Florida were charged with manslaughter after a shoplifter they chased and pinned down died of asphyxia. Other crimes are just bizarre. On Aug. 8, police discovered a meth labinside a 6-foot-high drainage pipe under a Walmart parking lot in Amherst, N.Y.

“It’s ridiculous—we are talking about the biggest retailer in the world. I may have half my squad there for hours”

The American Prospect looks for a successful model of a nation that maintains the  financial security of their senior citizens.  Turns out it is closer than you think.  Enjoy Want to Expand Social Security? Look North…

The CPP expansion, then, provides a rough blueprint that American liberals can follow: leverage social security’s popularity to build support for an expansion, and then wait for the most politically auspicious moment.

Progressives appear to have already started down that path. While American proponents of expanding entitlements do not currently enjoy the broad political support enjoyed by their Canadian counterparts, there are signs of progress. The Sanders campaign, and the work of labor unions and of liberal Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren have all prompted Democrats once silent on Social Security to start speaking out, Clinton included. Indeed, even President Barack Obama, who in 2013 came perilously close to cutting Social Security in a budget deal with Republicans, now supports an expansion.

The obvious obstacles remain. “It’s a big ask,” acknowledges Hill. “And I don’t think anyone is naïve enough to think that this is going to cruise through a Republican Congress.”

Indeed, even Canada’s CPP expansion is currently experiencing a right-wing-induced hiccup. The conservative-leaning government of British Columbia recently delayed the plan’s formal ratification, announcing that it needed more time to discuss the changes with businesses before officially signing on. Most political observers do not think that the province’s surprise decision seriously jeopardizes the agreement, which the regional government indicates it still supports and which remains wildly popular with its constituents. But the expansion cannot move forward until the provincial government gives the plan its official imprimatur, showing how even a weakened conservative movement can still cause headaches.

Still, the increasingly serious talk of Social Security expansion by Clinton and other Democrats suggests that a Canadian-style breakthrough might start looking like less of a pipe dream, particularly if Democrats win the White House and regain one or even both chambers of Congress on Election Day.

“It’s an incredible sign that, maybe, we’ve reached a new point on this issue,” says Hill. “I would say that [expansion] is more feasible now than it was even three years ago.”

The Coalition for a Prosperous America features Brigadier General John Adams with The National Security Case Against TPP…

In 2013, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board put forward a remarkable report describing one of the most significant but little-recognized threats to US security:  deindustrialization.  The report argued that the loss of domestic U.S. manufacturing facilities has not only reduced U.S. living standards but also compromised U.S. technology leadership “by enabling new players to learn a technology and then gain the capability to improve on it.”  The report explained that the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing presents a particularly dangerous threat to U.S. military readiness through the “compromise of the supply chain for key weapons systems components.”
I’ve seen these offshoring risks firsthand. Image result for iMAGE, POOR QUALITY GOODS
Our military is now shockingly vulnerable to major disruptions in the supply chain, including from substandard manufacturing practices, natural disasters, and price gouging by foreign nations. Poor manufacturing practices in offshore factories lead to problem-plagued products, and foreign producers—acting on the basis of their own military or economic interests—can sharply raise prices or reduce or stop sales to the United States.
The link between TPP and this kind of offshoring has been well-established.  The proposed deal would not only repeat but magnify the mistakes of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), offering extraordinary privileges to companies that move operations overseas.  Just this spring, an official U.S. government study by the International Trade Commission noted that the pact would further gut the U.S. manufacturing sector.  This, following the loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, is a perilous proposition.
Foreign policy and national security have long been the arguments of last resort for backers of controversial trade deals.  A quarter century ago, we were warned that, unless NAFTA and deals with eight Latin American nations were enacted, China would come to dominate trade in the hemisphere.  NAFTA passed, but America’s share of goods imported by Mexico fell, while China’s share rose by a staggering 2,600 percent. Today, following the implementation of several additional major trade deals, we’re still waiting for China to comply with its WTO commitments, and we’re still waiting for progress in dealing with our astronomical trade deficit.
While the TPP’s backers present our choice as one of trade versus protectionism, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  We already have free trade agreements with the six TPP countries that account for more than 80 percent of the promised trade. Because all TPP nations are currently members of the World Trade Organization, their tariffs have already been cut to minimal levels.
Of TPP’s 30 chapters, only six deal with traditional trade issues. The rest deal primarily with special privileges for multinational corporations and investors—like establishing the rights of companies to sue governments for cash compensation over the impacts of health and safety regulations.  These dominant features of the TPP would vastly expand the rights of multinational firms that do not necessarily represent America’s national interests.

 

Next time you have a conversation with someone carrying on about how great the Libertarian Party is this video may be a valuable resource. Scams Thom Hartmann uses this video to  examine the platform of the Libertarian Party and concludes they are basically just a front for big business.  Enjoy the video and see if you can figure out which party is the bigger scam.

Evonomics looks at the last century of American Presidents and the rates of economic growth under those gentlemen in Economists Agree: Democratic Presidents are Better at Making US Rich, Eight Reasons Why…

1. Wisdom of the CroCHeQhvLWcAAvfRAwds. Democrats’ dispersed government spending — education, health care, infrastructure, social support — puts money (hence power) in the hands of individuals, instead of delivering concentrated streams to big entities like defense, finance, and business. Those individuals’ free choices on where to spend the money allocate resources where they’re most valuable — to truly productive industries that deliver goods that humans actually want.

2. Preventing Government “Capture.” Money that goes to millions of individuals is much harder for powerful players to “capture,” so it is much less likely to be used to then “capture” government via political donations, sweetheart deals, and crony capitalism.

3. Labor Market Flexibility. When people feel confident that they and their families won’t end up on the streets — they know that their children will have health care, a good education, and a decent safety net if the worst happens — they feel free to move to a different job that better fits their talents — better allocating labor resources. “Labor market flexibility” often suggests the employers’ freedom to hire and (especially) fire, but the freedom of hundreds of millions of employees is far more profound, economically.

4. Freedom to Innovate. Individuals who are standing on that social springboard that Democratic policies provide — who have that stable platform of economic security beneath them — can do more than just shift jobs. They have the freedom to strike out on their own and develop the kind of innovative, entrepreneurial ventures that drive long-term growth and prosperity (and personal freedom and satisfaction) — without worrying that their children will suffer if the risk goes wrong. Give ten, twenty, or thirty million more Americans a place to stand, and they’ll move the world.

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