Franklin County Democrats

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

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.

Labor Notes takes a look at a distinction that even many inside the labor movement are not aware of in For Unions, Sometime a Lockout Is Better Than a Strike...

EMPLOYERS’ PLAYBOOK

The attack usually goes like this: The employer constructs a bargaining platform full of concessions. Company negotiators are intransigent at the table, making only minor moves, driving towards impasse.

As the contract expiration date nears, the company makes a dramatic show of hiring outside contractors to do the work. Members are pushed to work extra hours to build inventory. Often members do their jobs with replacement workers already standing by, observing the work process.Image result for Image, Locked Out

Armed security guards, dogs, and even helicopters may be brought in to protect and transport the scabs —all providing a show of force designed to shock and awe the workforce.

If the union doesn’t give in to the company’s demands, and does not walk out on strike after the contract expires, the employer chains the gates and locks out the workforce.

Management may fully realize that it can’t get production up to pre-walkout levels. Still, the boss counts on starving and scaring the workers into submission.

As the lockout drags on, the employer will force repeated votes on the concessionary agreement. Gradually the employer whittles away at union support. Members slowly drop away. Eventually they vote to accept the bad deal.

This scenario has played out far too often, at companies like American Crystal Sugar in Minnesota or Honeywell in Illinois. But it doesn’t have to go that way.

PREPARE LIKE A STRIKE

What should you do when it looks like a lockout is on the way?

First of all, no union should wait until a lockout is imminent to start preparing. With plenty of lead time before the contract expiration date, the union should make the same preparations it would to get ready for a worker-initiated strike:

  • Members refuse to work overtime to build inventories or accounts.
  • Workers put away savings for a long, economically trying dispute.
  • The union reaches out to the community and to other unions for solidarity.
  • The union analyzes the company’s customers and suppliers to find points of leverage.
  • Members are trained to recognize and document the company’s unfair labor practices.

All these steps serve the cause, whether the workers walk out or are locked out. There are no legal tricks to avoid these painstaking preparations.

The story of ATI is a good example. Before the lockout, although the workers sometimes worked 60-70 hours per week to stock specialty steel in the warehouse, they also meticulously documented all the company’s unfair labor practices.

Later, this paid off. When workers are locked out and they can prove an unfair labor practice, the company is sometimes on the hook for back pay. The big price tag became a point of leverage to push ATI back to the bargaining table.

Once the steelworkers were forced into the street, they developed a program to reach out to their community. They distributed window signs to sympathetic small businesses and yard signs to neighbors.

Today is the day the campaign of Donald J. Trump has gone through another shakeup.  This shakeup is designed to modify the candidates behavior and try to salvage what has been a scattershot stream of insults and stale policy ideas.  Only time will tell if the new crew of chaperones will be successful.  The whole episode begs the question, If it takes a team of talent to keep the candidate on point during the campaign is he really ready to be President?Babysitter Team

Will DT bring the team of babysitters to the White House?  What a difference eight years makes.  You may remember when President Obama was selecting his crew as he assumed office there was much discussion of his decision to create a “team of rivals.”  The inspiration for this phrase was the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin about the cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln.  Barack Obama’s team of rivals is examined in this piece by NPR…

Back in 2008, shortly before Barack Obama became President Obama, he told a reporter that an Obama Cabinet would be a team of rivals, smart people with different viewpoints who would, in Mr. Obama’s words, push him out of his comfort zone.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of State, came to symbolize the idea, but what about the rest of the team? Well, according to Todd Purdum, the national editor at Vanity Fair, the president’s Cabinet isn’t so much a team of rivals, but rather a team of mascots.

The rivals idea was supposed to be modeled on Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, a Cabinet that included three men who all ran against Lincoln for the nomination.

William Seward at State, Edward Bates at Justice and Salmon P. Chase at Treasury – all rivals and all men who initially hated their new boss. And it meant Lincoln was actually fighting two Civil Wars.

What a difference eight years and competence make.  From President Obama’s Team of Rivals to Candidate Trump’s Team of Babysitters.

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