Lawrence O’Donnell host of The Last Word on MSNBC is featured in this video describing how the Democrats should use the Fiscal Cliff to keep middle class taxes at current levels, raise tax rates on the wealthy, and allow spineless Republicans to work around their pledge to lobbyist Grover Norquist.
Why would an elected represntative put a pledge to a lobbyist before the needs of their constituents? Ask GOP representatives like Blaine Luetkemeyer. The fact that House Republicans like Blaine are demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare while fighting like a cornered cat to stop the richest Americans from paying three percent more in federal income tax highlights rheir misplaced priorities. Enjoy The Last Word and call your congressman!
One aspect of the recent campaign that won’t be missed is political candidates giving empty speeches about the so-called skills gap or how there are manufacturing jobs waiting to be filled but the employer can’t find anyone with the needed skills. The main reason such speeches are given is to avoid dealing with the real issues in job creation.
A couple things come to mind. America has lost almost six million manufacturing jobs since 2000! A third of the entire manufacturing sector. This is a disaster of epic proportions, a major contributor to our slow recovery, and a result of bad trade and tax policy not lack of skills.
Many of these CEO’s and politicians justify their own pay packages on the basis of their unique set of skills. They may have such skills but to then expect someone to take a variety of advanced manufacturing classes in order to operate today’s high-tech, mega-dollar machines and expect them to walk in the door with these skills and accept a pay package that barely keeps them out of poverty is in Batman terms, Two-Faced.
In Skills Don’t Pay The Bills author Adam Davidson takes a good, hard look at the future of manufacturing and the bs factor in claims of a skills gap.
The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.
In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.” The study’s conclusion, however, was scarier. Many skilled workers have simply chosen to apply their skills elsewhere rather than work for less, and few young people choose to invest in training for jobs that pay fast-food wages. As a result, the United States may soon have a hard time competing in the global economy. The average age of a highly skilled factory worker in the U.S. is now 56. “That’s average,” says Hal Sirkin, the lead author of the study. “That means there’s a lot who are in their 60s. They’re going to retire soon.” And there are not enough trainees in the pipeline, he said, to replace them.
Paul Bucheit has written Private, Public, Union, or Management: Who Takes All The Money? This brief but concise piece is a very interesting read on how the economy and working people in particulat came to be where we are today.
Corporate executives and financial employees make up just one-half of 1% of the workforce, but with nearly a trillion dollars of annual income (11.3% of $8.12 trillion), they make more than ALL 15 million unionized workers in the United States, and almost as much as ALL 21 million government workers. Much of their income derives from minimally-taxed capital gains. Meanwhile, the great majority of their private company employees toil as food servers, clerks, medical workers, and domestic help at below-average pay.
Doesn’t sound like middle class folks, union members, and small lbusiness owners are on the plus side of the inequality does it?
This week’s audio netcast features an interview with Phil Longman an advocate for lifetime savings accounts which are started with government funds. He explains that conservative economic policies, low savings rates and lack of social mobility are resulting in older americans facing high levels of poverty in years to come.
I have heard versions of this idea for the last fifteen years and it is a thought provoking approach. What do you think? Enjoy the interview and remember to share your thoughts and comments.
Think Progress has released this graph showing the unemployment benefits of most developed nations. This graph also discredits the often cited Republican theory that people enjoy living off unemployment as many of the nations with more generous benefits have lower unemployment.
I suspect this fact will remain absent from GOP rhetoric, they will try and bury it the same way they did the study that showed tax cuts for the rich don’t create jobs.
As O’Brien points out, the chart also proves the “culture of laziness” critique of the unemployment insurance program wrong, since there is very little correlation between generous unemployment insurance programs and high unemployment rates. Greece, for instance, has one of the least generous unemployment programs, but it has higher unemployment than nearly every country included. Israel is among the most generous, and its unemployment rate declined rapidly after peaking early in the recession. Spain ranks in the middle and has a higher unemployment rate than any country on the chart.
Worse, though, is the fact that America’s federal unemployment insurance program has gotten less robust since 2007, and it could soon face bigger reductions if not outright expiration. Two million people will lose benefits at the end of the year if the program isn’t extended during debt negotiations, and another million would lose benefits early in 2013. More than a half-million have already lost benefits because of the way the federal program calculates them and because eligibility was reduced when the program was extended earlier this year.
The Sunday Post-Dispatch has an above the fold story, Freebies in capital are hard to track, that features Franklin County’s newest legislator – Tim Jones of Pacific. It seems Mr. Jones is in the practice of accepting gifts from lobbyists than using campaign funds to pay them back so constituents can’t find out about them.
But some legislators use campaign funds to pay back the lobbyists. That practice has raised questions in the capital, because state law says campaign contributions “shall not be converted to any personal use.”
Take a disappearing expenditure involving House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka. He and his wife, Suzanne, received free tickets to watch the NCAA men’s basketball regionals on March 25 from AT&T’s suite at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
AT&T lobbyist John Sondag initially reported the tickets as unspecified “entertainment” costing $100 for Jones and $100 for the legislator’s wife. But on July 3, Jones’ campaign committee, Citizens for Timothy W. Jones, paid $200 to AT&T, calling it a campaign “fundraising expense.”
Don’t worry Franklin County, Mr. Jones has stated he is not influenced by lobbyist spending. After all, would a guy that goes to these lengths to keep his lobbyist gifts secret lead you wrong?
Today’s political shows will feature more largely overbaked commentary about the fiscal cliff and the budget deficit. I predict not one will make the connection or the similarity between the budget deficit and the trade deficit. When factories close, jobs disappear, and the products are made overseas we lose the infrastructure for a balanced budget at the federal, state, and local levels.
All the teeth gnashing and hand wringing over the fiscal cliff which would result in reduced government spending of $500 billion in 2013 could be offset if we eliminated our trade deficit which has been running in the $700 – $800 billion range.
Ian Fletcher explains this concept in his latest post at the Coalition for a Prosperous America blog. You may remember Ian as the economist that challenged any Free Trader to public debate.
What’s the connection of the trade deficit to all this? A couple of things.
For one thing, when America runs a trade deficit, we have to either borrow money from foreigners or sell off existing assets to them to cover the gap. And a lot of that borrowing and asset selling takes the form of federal debt instruments like T-bills. So our appetite for foreign credit to buy imports is related to our appetite for foreign credit to finance our government.
For another thing, the reason the fiscal cliff could tip us back into recession is that it would suddenly reduce so-called aggregate demand. That’s the economy’s total demand for goods and services. But a trade deficit does the same thing, because it means that demand for goods and services is being satisfied by foreign producers, not American ones. So output, jobs, and industries suffer the same way.
If you rebalance trade, shifting to more domestic production, you expand the tax base and reduce the federal budget deficit.
From today’s Post-Dispatch: Hostess Ship May Have Already Sailed.
David Nicklaus’ column “At Hostess, conflict trumps economics” (Nov. 18) unfairly portrays the Hostess tragedy as a case of he said/she said with a splash of employee irrationality.
Mr. Nicklaus stated “union members understandably didn’t want to sacrifice about 30 percent of their pay and benefits, but isn’t that better than losing 100 percent?”
An apt comparison would be to ask would Jack Dawson sharing a piece of wood in the freezing Atlantic after the Titanic sank keep him alive.
Hostess had closed 21 plants since 2004, squandered $110 million in worker concessions, had six different CEOs, some of which gave themselves pay raises of 300 percent, and been through two bankruptcies and there was still no realistic sign of a turnaround for the company.
The private equity and hedge fund managers traveling in first class on the good ship Hostess may talk a good game while buying lifeboats to save themselves, but the workers that kept this ship afloat have decided to stop sinking and stand up. Let’s hope the band plays on.
Darin Gilley • Pacific
You have to watch this video presentation by Thom Hartmann and his evidence that every Republican president since Eisenhower has only moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thanks to fraud and treason. We can debate this but he sure is convincing.
President Dwight Eisenhower said as much in this quote, taken directly from a letter to his brother Ed.
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.5 Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
Was he correct? Enjoy the video and have a great Saturday.