Posts tagged: economy
Even though French economist Thomas Piketty has made an air-tight case that we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.
Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 14,270 – completely erasing its 54 percent loss between 2007 and 2009.
The stock market is basically back to where it was in 2000, while corporate earnings have doubled since then.
Yet the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it…
This is where the U.S.A. is — Wall St. winning, everyone else not doing so well. Nothing is surprising if you look at tax policy and the political climate.
Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 should be a no-brainer. Republicans say it will cause employers to shed jobs, but that’s baloney. Employers won’t outsource the jobs abroad or substitute machines for them because jobs at this low level of pay are all in the local personal service sector…
Some good points about “the market”.
The “fiscal cliff” is a a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.
If we had a functional government America would address three “cliffs” posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one:
The child poverty cliff.
Between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of American school-age children living in poor households grew from 17 to 21%. Last year, according to the Agriculture Department, nearly 1 in 4 young children lived in a family that had difficulty affording sufficient food at some point in the year.
Yet federal programs to help children and lower-income families – food stamps, aid for poor school districts, Pell grants, child health care, child nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, and Medicaid – are being targeted by the Republican right. Over 60 percent of the cuts in the GOP’s most recent budget came out of these programs.
Even if these programs are preserved, they don’t go nearly far enough. But the Obama Administration doesn’t talk about reducing poverty in America. It talks only about preserving the middle class.
Yet unless we focus on better schools, better health, and improved conditions for these poor kids and their families, in a few years America will have a significant population of under-educated and desperate adults.
The baby-boomer healthcare cliff.
Healthcare costs are already 18% of GDP. Between now and 2030, when 76 million boomers join the ranks of the elderly, those costs will soar. This is the principal reason why the federal budget deficit is projected to grow.
The Affordable Care Act offers a start but it isn’t nearly adequate to limit these rising costs. The President and the Democrats have to lead the way in using Medicare and Medicaid’s bargaining power over providers to get lower costs and to move from a fee-for-service system to a fee-for-healthy outcomes system of healthcare.
But we can’t avoid the fact we have the most expensive and least effective system of health care in the world that’s spending 30 percent more on paperwork and administration than on keeping people healthy. The real healthcare cliff can only be avoided if we adopt a single-payer healthcare system.
The environmental cliff.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide jumped 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to jump another 2.6 percent this year according to scientists, putting the human race perilously close to the tipping point when ice caps irretrievably melt, sea-levels rise, and amount of available cropland in the world becomes dangerously small.
Yet Republicans (and their patrons, such as Charles and David Koch) continue to deny climate change. And the Administration is no longer pushing for a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax.
Yet unless we act to reduce carbon emissions, other major emitters won’t do so. The only binding pact so far is the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. never joined. And we’re taking no leadership at the international climate talks now taking place in Qatar.
Yes, America does face a cliff — not a fiscal cliff but a set of precipices we’ll tumble over because the GOP’s obsession over government’s size and spending has obscured them. And Democrats so far haven’t been able or willing to sound the real alarms.
1) the majority of new jobs are bad.
2) the economy has still not recovered all lost jobs, either in absolute #s or as a percentage of the population
3) so there are fewer jobs, and what new jobs have been created are worse. They pay worse.
4) The upper middle class job market has recovered, which is why those folks are no longer panicking and are telling you that the economy isn’t so bad as all that.
5) the failure to force the rich to take their losses and to break up the banks means that the same people who caused the 2007/8 financial crisis still control the economy and the government.
6) failure to restructure the economy to get off oil and over to an electrical economy means that the US (and the world) are caught in the oil price dilemna: any real recovery increases oil price and will be derailed by those high oil prices.
… plus 15 more somewhat depressing but seemingly quite accurate points.
[…]in a way Wall Street’s self-centered, self-absorbed behavior has been kind of funny. But while this behavior may be funny, it is also deeply immoral.
Think about where we are right now, in the fifth year of a slump brought on by irresponsible bankers. The bankers themselves have been bailed out, but the rest of the nation continues to suffer terribly, with long-term unemployment still at levels not seen since the Great Depression, with a whole cohort of young Americans graduating into an abysmal job market.
And in the midst of this national nightmare, all too many members of the economic elite seem mainly concerned with the way the president apparently hurt their feelings. That isn’t funny. It’s shameful.
For decades, America’s economic policies have been based on the notion that catering to corporations and the wealthy is the way to stimulate the economy. Republicans routinely insist that we need to bail them out, lower their taxes, allow them to repatriate hundreds of billions in overseas profits, and free them from annoying government meddling. If we don’t, the “job creators” will stay in a funk, and the economy will stay in a rut.
But here’s a pesky fact neither corporate America nor the GOP establishment is trumpeting: After-tax corporate profits are currently at an all-time high. The problem businesses face isn’t lack of cash but rather a lack of confidence that consumer demand will pick up in the future. So they’re not expanding or hiring at the rate they should be.
Rich people don’t create jobs when we hand them big windfalls. They create jobs when the economy is growing and they have customers for their businesses.
August 31. This Adbusters page, Who the F**k Do You Think You Are, is almost completely wrong, and the popularity and unquestioning acceptance of this message is depressing. Here’s the text:You blame China. You blame India. You blame America. You blame the CEOs, the oil companies, the vague and incoherent ‘system,’ the international regulatory regimes, the hypocrisy of the left, the righteous of the right, the educators, the economy, your parents, your childhood, your job, your bank account, your mental health, your government, everyone and everything but yourself. Wake up! This is no joke. Ecocide is actually happening and your five planet-lifestyle is the primary cause of it.
Adbusters is correct that sitting back and pointing fingers, without doing anything about it, is a mistake. But the alternative it offers is a worse mistake. At least if you blame some of those other things, you might organize to change them. But changing your personal lifestyle will not do anything to stop ecocide. Even if you could organize a million people to use fewer resources, those resources would just be freed to be used by someone else. To stop consumption by voluntary action at the consumer end, you would have to organize every consumer in the world. It’s like you’ve got a hose with a billion leaks. Do you convince a billion people to painfully plug every hole with their fingers, or do you turn off the faucet?
I wrote about this a few years ago in this post:When we think about being “green,” reducing waste and so on, we almost always think in terms of stuff that we can do as individuals, and we almost never think about regulating manufacturing. Imagine: instead of making 50 million people feel guilty for using disposable cups at Starbucks, we could just pass a law prohibiting the manufacture of disposable cups. The reason we don’t is that in 1953 Vermont passed a law that banned disposable bottles, and the forces of Evil formed an organization called Keep America Beautiful, which has been working ever since to block that kind of law, and generally to make us think of waste “as an individual responsibility, and not one connected to the production process.”
Of course I was wrong to use the word “evil”. Corporations are just machines that are doing exactly what they were designed to do: generate profit with indifference to external cost. They were designed that way because humans are still beginners at designing large complex systems. As I mentioned in my post on evil elites, we apply moral condemnation to harmful systems because our ancestors lived in tribes, where moral condemnation worked by making its targets feel shame. Shame doesn’t work on governments and corporations and the people inside them doing their jobs. But it does work when those systems use shame on us! Bottom-up shaming is useless, but top-down shaming is used all the time. As with all top-down power, we must resist it.
I’ve never said that people should feel guilty for consuming resources or for any other political reason. Guilt is for when you cheat on your spouse. Politics is cold tactics. Tactically, I don’t see any way to stop or change the present system. But there are plenty of ways to build the new systems that will grow through its cracks. Personally I am a huge energy miser. I haven’t used air conditioning all summer, yesterday I baked a loaf of bread in a solar oven, and I seem to be the only person in Spokane who rides a bike to Costco. Why? First, to save money, which I can then spend on other things, like good tools, healthful food, and not having a job. Second, to practice for the coming times when most of us will have to live this way. Also, using external energy makes me feel like a slave to that energy and its sources, while doing stuff without it makes me feel free.
Some interesting thoughts here.
Look back over the last hundred years and you’ll see the pattern. During periods when the very rich took home a much smaller proportion of total income — as in the Great Prosperity between 1947 and 1977 — the nation as a whole grew faster and median wages surged. We created a virtuous cycle in which an ever growing middle class had the ability to consume more goods and services, which created more and better jobs, thereby stoking demand. The rising tide did in fact lift all boats.
During periods when the very rich took home a larger proportion — as between 1918 and 1933, and in the Great Regression from 1981 to the present day — growth slowed, median wages stagnated and we suffered giant downturns. It’s no mere coincidence that over the last century the top earners’ share of the nation’s total income peaked in 1928 and 2007 — the two years just preceding the biggest downturns.