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Browsing Posts published in November, 2013

Steven Colbert gives his take on the Wal-Mart food drive for it’s own employees.  The video lasts about 2.5 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sam Pizzigatti has written How To Fix Social Security Without Cutting A Penny.

Average Americans, of course, don’t want Social Security cut. Over three-quarters of Americans, polling shows, oppose any Social Security cutbacks. If anything, average Americans have become even more committed to keeping Social Security whole—and for good reason. Social Security currently stands as America’s only retirement bedrock.

Not long ago, pensions delivered retirement security. But the nation’s biggest corporations have cut back on traditional pensions. In 1980, 89 percent of Fortune 100 companies guaranteed workers a “defined benefit” at retirement. By last year, only 12 percent offered that level of security.

Companies have replaced traditional pensions with 401(k)s, and many giant firms—like Walmart—don’t even offer anything. The predictable result? Among Americans between the ages of 50 and 64, the bottom 75 percent by wealth average just $26,395 in retirement assets.

So who does want cuts to Social Security benefits?

So amid all this retirement insecurity, who thinks cutting Social Security would be a good idea? The most relentless pushing has been coming from the nation’s “corporate statesmen.”

These corporate leaders—the nearly 200 CEOs who run the influential Business Roundtable and the over 135 chief execs who bankroll the two-year-old lobby group known as “Fix the Debt”—seldom ever mention “Social Security benefits” and “cuts” in the same sentence. They speak instead in euphemisms. The nation, they intone, cannot afford the current level of “entitlement” spending.

In the name of “saving” Social Security for future generations, these CEOs are urging Congress to enact “reforms” that range from lowering the annual Social Security inflation adjustment to upping the Social Security retirement age to 70. These two changes would slice the average Social Security beneficiary’s lifetime benefits by about 20 percent.

That prospect does not terrify America’s CEOs in the least. They are sitting on what figures to be the biggest retirement bonanza in modern human history, holding an average $14.6 million in their corporate retirement accounts. That’s $86,043 a month once they retire.

Sure that sounds like a lot but don’t most Americans have enough to money to pay their monthly bills when they retire?

The typical American worker within 10 years of retirement, by contrast, now has
only enough in savings to generate a monthly retirement payout of $71. If Social
Security benefits shrink, notes the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities,
millions of older Americans will slide
into poverty
.

Most Americans would only have $71 a month to retire on if Social Security disappeared?  How can we fix this?

First, their corporations don’t pay much in the way of corporate taxes. They want to pay even less—and the less the federal government spends on Social Security and other “entitlements” like Medicare, the less pressure on lawmakers to seriously tax corporate income.

Second, Americans pay Social Security taxes on only the first $113,700 of income. But if we eliminated the ceiling—and taxed CEOs at the same rate as average workers—95 percent of the expected Social Security budget shortfall over the next 75 years would disappear.

America’s CEOs would rather just cut Social Security benefits, but public opinion clearly disagrees. Americans—by a 66-29 percent margin—last November told pollsters they favor eliminating the ceiling on income subject to Social Security tax.

So come on Blaine Luetkemeyer, remember all that of, by, and for the people campaign talk? 66% of Americans want people that let their money do their work to pay the same taxes as those that work for their money.   By people, of course I mean those that live, breath, and fight for this country.  Not corporations that deal, scheme, and finance your campaign.

The Coalition for a Prosperous America has this collection of the writings of President John F. Kennedy regarding trade policy assembled by the Office of the Historian, U.S. State Department.

  • If we cannot keep up our export surplus, we shall not have the dollar exchange with which to meet our overseas militaryjfk commitments.  We are spending $3 billion a year abroad to maintain our international security position.  We must either do a good job of selling abroad or pull back.  Our balance of payments position has put a strain on our gold reserves, and while we are not at a point of danger, we are at a point of concern.  If confidence in the dollar is not maintained, those holding dollar and gold obligations against us could easily create grave difficulties for us. — Volume VIII, National Security Policy, 18 January 1962, Document 69
  • The over-all importance of the balance of payments position to our military security can be understood still more clearly by noting the British experience.  The British pull-back of forces from numerous bases throughout the world in the years since World War II has been very largely a response to balance of payments difficulties.  We see further pressure of this sort causing British planners to undertake further military reductions overseas. – Volume VIII, National Security Policy, 18 January 1962, Document 69
  • The President then summarized the guidelines for forthcoming trade negotiations.  In the present situation, we must be very careful to protect U.S. interests.  Our balance of payments problem is serious, it is not now under control, and it must be righted at the latest by the end of 1964.  If we do not do so, there will be pressure against the dollar and Congress will be demanding reductions in our foreign programs. – Volume XIII, Western Europe and Canada, 22 January 1963, Document 168 continue reading…

Charles Jaco of Fox 2 interviewed my friend Dr. Ed Weisbart of Physicians for a National Health Program in this 8 minute video segment.  How does going to any doctor you want, a single card in your wallet or purse, all with a administrative cost of 3% or less sound?  Dr. Weisbart explains how Medicare for All would cover every American for less money than we are currently spending.

Now that would be one more thing to be thankful for!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Our friends at AFSCME have released this short video explaining how tax breaks and cutting spending are the same.  Except that tax breaks usually provide outsized benefits to corporations and the richest Americans.  Brief and to the point!

Please help promote this public service event. Contact Lloyd Klinedinst (email:  lloydk@klinedinst.com cell phone:  (314)-609-5571 ) for more information or for a flyer version of this post for printing and distribution.

TOWN HALL MEETING

Pacific City Hall – 300 Hoven Drive

Wednesday December 11, 2013

7:00 pm

 

Health Care Reform: 

What’s Here? What’s Coming? What’s Missing?

 

Dr Ed Weisbart will speak to us about healthcare issues in the US including:

- what is currently available in Affordable Care Act

- the current and future state of US healthcare

- how our present system does address many vital improvements such as expanding coverage to millions.

- many problems still unaddressed, costing us unnecessary expense

- the myths and facts of US healthcare

- how America’s healthcare compares to other industrialized nations.

 

You will leave with a greater understanding of the healthcare we have now and what the future holds.

 

Dr. Weisbart practiced family medicine at Rush Medical Center in Chicago for twenty years before moving to St. Louis in 2003 to become chief medical officer at Express Scripts. He retired from that position in 2010.

Dr. Weisbart chairs the St. Louis chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, part of the 26 year-old 18,000 member group that advocates for improving Medicare and providing it to all Americans. He also volunteers as a physician in a variety of safety net clinics and other non-profits across the St. Louis area.

Talk Turkey…

No comments

…here’s a helpful Thaksgiving talking points webpage from Home

 

http://www.progressmissouri.org/TALKTURKEY

 

It beings:

LET’S TALK TURKEY

As folk gather and prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we know that some of you are already dreading tense conversations about Obamacare with misinformed conservative relations.

That’s why Progress Missouri pulled together some helpful material to help you set Uncle Newt or Aunt Phyllis straight!

 

Go to http://www.progressmissouri.org/TALKTURKEY

for the buffet…

In this week’s audio netcast: As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving, professor Robert Paarlberg summarizes the politics of food in a country where obesity may be more of a problem than hunger. This year, Thanksgiving coincides with Hanukkah — and the role of God and religion in our civic life is the subject of a provocative interview with Sean Faircloth, a former legislator from Maine and an advocate of strict separation of church and state. And Bill Press interviews California Congressman Sam Farr.

The current edition of The Atlantic features They’re Watching You At Work -  What happens when Big Data meets human resources? The emerging practice of “people analytics” is already transforming how employers hire, fire, and promote.  This is a far ranging look at not just the use of data to help in hiring but retention and promotion.  The lengths to which these “analytics” can invade and reveal all aspects of a person’s life is troubling.

The application of predictive analytics to people’s careers—an emerging field sometimes called “people analytics”—is enormously challenging, not to mention ethically fraught. And it can’t help but feel a little creepy. It requires the creation of a vastly larger box score of human performance than one would ever encounter in the sports pages, or that has ever been dreamed up before. To some degree, the endeavor touches on the deepest of human mysteries: how we grow, whether we flourish, what we become. Most companies are just beginning to explore the possibilities. But make no mistake: during the next five to 10 years, new models will be created, and new experiments run, on a very large scale. Will this be a good development or a bad one—for the economy, for the shapes of our careers, for our spirit and self-worth? Earlier this year, I decided to find out.

What did he find out about the American hiring process?

But companies abandoned their hard-edged practices for another important reason: many of their methods of evaluation turned out not to be very scientific. Some were based on untested psychological theories. Others were originally designed to assess mental illness, and revealed nothing more than where subjects fell on a “normal” distribution of responses—which in some cases had been determined by testing a relatively small, unrepresentative group of people, such as college freshmen. When William Whyte administered a battery of tests to a group of corporate presidents, he found that not one of them scored in the “acceptable” range for hiring. Such assessments, he concluded, measured not potential but simply conformity. Some of them were highly intrusive, too, asking questions about personal habits, for instance, or parental affection. Unsurprisingly, subjects didn’t like being so impersonally poked and prodded (sometimes literally).

For all these reasons and more, the idea that hiring was a science fell out of favor. But now it’s coming back, thanks to new technologies and methods of analysis that are cheaper, faster, and much-wider-ranging than what we had before. For better or worse, a new era of technocratic possibility has begun.

What was wrong with the system that’s been used for decades?

Given this sort of clubby, insular thinking, it should come as no surprise that the prevailing system of hiring and management in this country involves a level of dysfunction that should be inconceivable in an economy as sophisticated as ours. Recent survey data collected by the Corporate Executive Board, for example, indicate that nearly a quarter of all new hires leave their company within a year of their start date, and that hiring managers wish they’d never extended an offer to one out of every five members on their team. A survey by Gallup this past June, meanwhile, found that only 30 percent of American workers felt a strong connection to their company and worked for it with passion. Fifty-two percent emerged as “not engaged” with their work, and another 18 percent as “actively disengaged,” meaning they were apt to undermine their company and co-workers, and shirk their duties whenever possible. These headline numbers are skewed a little by the attitudes of hourly workers, which tend to be worse, on average, than those of professional workers. But really, what further evidence do we need of the abysmal status quo?

How does “people analytics make it better?”

For a sense of what the future of people analytics may bring, I turned to Sandy Pentland, the director of the Human Dynamics Laboratory at MIT. In recent years, Pentland has pioneered the use of specialized electronic “badges” that transmit data about employees’ interactions as they go about their days. The badges capture all sorts of information about formal and informal conversations: their length; the tone of voice and gestures of the people involved; how much those people talk, listen, and interrupt; the degree to which they demonstrate empathy and extroversion; and more. Each badge generates about 100 data points a minute.

How does this sound?  Is your creepiness alarm activated?  There is a lot more in this article so if your computer isn’t being monitored at work it’s worth the time.

 

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