Archive for the ‘Plutocracy’ Category

Why Your Life Sucks – The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy (via NYT)

February 6, 2013

This was a great article, well worth the read, that explains one of the many facets of how the threats to your personal economic security have arisen from past practices. Here is one part of how job insecurity has been creeping up on us since 1947:

The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy

Politicians across the political spectrum herald “job creation,” but frightfully few of them talk about what kinds of jobs are being created. Yet this clearly matters: According to the Census Bureau, one-third of adults who live in poverty are working but do not earn enough to support themselves and their families.

A quarter of jobs in America pay below the federal poverty line for a family of four ($23,050). Not only are many jobs low-wage, they are also temporary and insecure. Over the last three years, the temp industry added more jobs in the United States than any other… Read More

via New York Times: The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy.

I know that, in my career field, there is a lot of “contracting” – employment where the “employers” are just middle men, pimps who sell the labor of others to their clients (the companies that used to employ people) and reap tremendous profits for doing, well, nothing really, beyond payroll (which they farm out to ADP anyway), and the actual “we’re sorry, but you are no longer employed” conversation.

You are just a commodity.

(Ironically, when I spell checked this post prior to publishing it, the proofreading suggested I use the word “use” in place of “employ”. Ya think?)


Parsing Romney’s Speech

July 12, 2012

Romney’s Speech at the NAACP, with clarifications.

The opposition charges that I and people in my party are running for office to help the rich. Nonsense. The rich will do just fine whether I am elected or not…I am running for president because I know that my policies and vision will help hundreds of millions of middle class Americans of all races, will lift people from poverty, and will help prevent people from becoming poor. My campaign is about helping the people who need help.

True for the following value definitions:

Rich = People who have more money than Mitt Romney

Middle class  = People who have about the same amount of money as Mitt Romney

Poverty/Poor = Having less money than Mitt Romney, but more money than you.

You = Mitt doesn’t care.  Your cookies suck.

Get Rid of Job-Killing Regulations

July 11, 2012

The solution to the economic mess is to get rid of those job-killing regulations.  Obviously.

That way we can get back to freely killing what really needs to be killed.

See, despite the fact that we, the top 1%, are richer than we have ever been, despite the fact that our earnings have skyrocketed while your wages have dropped; despite that,  because of regulatory capture (our guys are now running the show at the agencies that are supposed to be regulating us) and budget cuts made at the behest of our lobbyists, the rules aren’t being enforced and fines aren’t being collected; despite the fact that you no longer matter in the process of making laws; despite all this, we need to get rid of those job-killing regulations.

For example… Black Lung is on the rise again.  Remember Black Lung?  The disease miners used to get by breathing coal-dust choked air in the mines, before those job-killing regulations were enacted that tied our hands, saved thousands of lives, and made us unprofitable ? (Well, not so unprofitable that we, the top 1%, were unable to enrich ourselves to the point that we now own the lawmaking and regulatory processes.)  No, you don’t remember?  Good, then our cuts to the educational system have worked.

So as I was saying, Black Lung is on the rise again, because we have re-written the regulations to make sure we don’t have to obey the law.  When our cheating on air quality tests (by sealing off the testing equipment from the air that the workers actually breathe) is insufficient to fool mine safety inspectors (like, when the quantity of dust becomes so bad that the mine blows up, and it is OBVIOUS that we haven’t been actually and honestly performing the tests) and the inspectors find that the air in the mines is toxic to the miners and unsafe to work in, we have to retest the air five times ourselves before we can eliminate the piddly fine that we would have been assessed.   (One reporter said it is like getting pulled over for speeding, but instead of getting a ticket, the officer gives you a pad of paper and a pen, and says he wants you to write down the speed you are going the next five times you drive at that location, and if what you write down is less than the speed limit, you don’t have to pay the ticket.)

Five times!  What a hassle!

And the fact of the matter is that, while Black Lung is on the rise again, and workers are dying again, the death rate is still not what it was before those job-killing regulations, which means there are still safety measures in place that weren’t there before those job-killing regulations were enacted.  Which means expense, which comes out of MY earnings.  I shouldn’t have to pay for those safety measures.  They are job-killers.

We need to get back to freely killing what really needs to be killed…


Family Budget Redux

May 23, 2012

The conservatives just love to talk about the family budget when talking about the government’s budget, about how the family has to cut back on its expenses when the money isn’t coming in.

But when the money isn’t coming in, real families frequently can’t cut back on their expenses.  They have commitments – they need gas to get to work, the children need to be fed, the bills have to be paid, their parents’ bills at the rest home need to be paid too.

When real families need money to meet their commitments, if you need more money, what you do, what other real people do, is go out and get another job, bring in more income.

We, as a nation, have commitments we must keep, so the choice is simple and obvious:  we must bring in more revenue.  With taxes the lowest as a share of GDP in decades, there is plenty of room to bring in more revenue, if done right.

Taxes ARE eating up a larger share of YOUR budget, it is true, since your wages have been flat for decades.  But there are some whose income have increased by 20x over the last fifty years while your income has been stagnant (all adjusted for inflation, of course).

Oh, and their taxes have dropped by about 2/3 over the same period.

Gee, where can we get more money to make up the difference?

Take Them At Their Word

May 21, 2012

There is a conservative ideology called “originalism”, which presupposes that the practitioners of this ideology know the original intent of the founders of our nation, and that the original intent of the founders is sacred and should be immutable.

Now, this ideology is ridiculous on the very face of it.  First off, the sacred founding fathers had slaves, and it would be hard for these true believers to argue that we should return to this original principle of the founders.  Secondly, the founding fathers built into their original blueprint for our country a means for amending their design – meaning they knew they did not possess the final word on what our nation should become.

We could twist ourselves in knots over this for hours – the founders word was immutable, and their immutable word was that their words were indeed mutable.  Which means they could be wrong.  If they were wrong, they were wrong about their word being mutable, therefore their words were sacred.  Their sacred immutable words were that their words were indeed mutable.. and so on and so on and so on.

But let’s take these Originalists at their word: they believe what the founders said was totally true and correct.

These same Originalists also say that government is a bad thing, even going so far as saying they wanted to get government down to the size that it could be drowned in a bathtub, and then drown it in a bathtub (metaphorically speaking, of course).

If I remember correctly (and I do), someone once said that government should be “of the people by the people, and for the people”.  Gee, I wonder who it could have been.  Could it have been the founding fathers the originalists so revere?  The ones that designed a government fo the people, by the people and for the people?

By that logic then, these originalists, who believe the original intent of the founders to be the gospel of our nation, they want to drown America in a bathtub (metaphorically speaking).

Just sayin’.

According To The 1%, The 1% Are NOT The Job Creators

May 20, 2012

The best, most well explained, explicit demolition of the Job Creator myth that I have ever read.

From the National Journal:

As Hanauer puts it, he and his rich friends, for all their lavish parties and jet-away vacations, don’t buy enough shirts, cars, and restaurant meals to match the spending that would occur if, say, their wealth was divided up among thousands of poor families. Studies on what economists call “marginal propensity to consume” bear out this idea.

Hence Hanauer’s claim that middle-class consumers, not innovators, create jobs. Amazon didn’t create a new group of book buyers; it just peddled a more convenient way to buy books. Its success created lots of jobs in Seattle, Amazon’s hometown, but it also killed lots of jobs in strip malls across the country. Increasing the number of book buyers would boost sales and jobs in the industry, with no downside.


The middle class incubates entrepreneurs because it offers a good combination of time, resources, and motivation to invest in skills and climb the innovation ladder. Put it this way: The comforts that flowed from the Pacific Coast Feather Co., his then-modest family business, provided Nick Hanauer with a house full of books and days full of time to explore big ideas. Think of those comforts as an investment. The eventual return was Hanauer’s venture-capital portfolio. Poor families just scraping by at the margins can’t make those investments, so their children struggle to achieve in school and pursue higher education. Children from rich families may, thanks to their extreme childhood comforts, lack the desire to build wealth and climb the economic ladder, which the Kauffman study found to be a key motivation for would-be entrepreneurs.

The economy sags when kids who could have grown up to be physicists end up spending their lives brewing lattes at Starbucks. Or when a young woman born to be a teacher finds herself babysitting, for peanuts, while she waits for a classroom to open up.

Read the whole article here.

Why Are They Willing To Pay $26 Billion?

February 9, 2012

This just in from CNN:

In the largest deal ever to address the housing crisis, federal and state officials on Thursday announced a $26 billion foreclosure settlement with five of the largest home lenders.

The deal settles potential state charges alleging improper foreclosures based on “robosigning,” seizures made without proper paperwork.

Most of the relief will go to those who owe far more than their homes are worth, which is known as being underwater on the loans. That relief will come over the course of the next three years, with the banks having incentives to provide most of the relief in the next 12 months.

So why are the banks willing to pay $26 Billion?


The Horse Race Narrows

January 17, 2012

One of the thing I like least about election coverage is the focus on the horse race aspect… this person is ahead, this person is behind, blah, blah, blah… because it is usually devoid of context (what the beliefs and actions of the candidates are and how those things impact voter perceptions, and how voter predispositions play into the mix).  What has happened is significant, sure, but why is more important.

Huntsman has dropped from the race, which is (in some ways) a disappointment.  Of the pack, he was the most moderate, the most sensible.  His pro-science stance in the face of the Conservative mindset to ignore science when it contradicts partisan beliefs was a breath of fresh air.  Of the pro-1% stance held by all of the Republican candidates, his included some small token of tax fairness.

Of a slate of bad candidates, he was probably the least worst.  Which of course meant that he didn’t have a chance.

He’ll endorse Romney, the next least Conservative candidate, though that doesn’t actually say much.  Given how much Romney is running away from all of his previously not-quite-so-conservative positions (you know, the ones that were on the far-right fringe just a decade ago), it really says nothing at all.

Had more attention to actual political beliefs and the facts surrounding them, rather than just who was up and who was down, he might have had a better shot.  But everyone loves a winner, and conservatives in particular hate a loser, so in the absence of actual factual journalism, he never stood a chance.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry’s zombie campaign for the VP slot keeps shambling along, now struggling just to get the opportunity to be allowed on the debate stage for another opportunity to embarrass himself.  Perry is unlikely to get a bump from Huntsman’s departure, not just from the standpoint of political fit, but because Perry’s zombie campaign has the stink of death (aka “failure”) upon it.

Zombie.  Stink of death.  Heh.

Just Like The Rest Of Us Redux

January 16, 2012

Thanks to CNN, we have a pretty good picture of how just like the rest of us the candidates are.

Candidate                Net Worth
Low Estimate  High Estimate 
Mitt Romney   $85 million $264 million 
Jon Huntsman   $16 million  $72 million
Newt Gingrich    $7 million  $31 million
Barack Obama    $2.8 million  $11.8 million
Ron Paul    $2.4 million   $5.4 million
Rick Santorum    $1 million   $3 million
Rick Perry    $1 million   $2.5 million
The Rest of Us
  51%-99%  $120,000   $1.2 million
  0%-50%  -$40,000  $120,000

I guess these guys really DO understand the rest of us.

(Some references here and here.  BTW the low end of the 0% of being $40k underwater is just a blind guess, and I have no facts to back it up.  But there are plenty of people, especially those affected by the Great Recession, who owe more than they are worth.  You pick a number, anything less than $0.  Any way you slice it, it is still bad.)

12 Days of Funny – Day Twelve

December 27, 2011

The old adage…

It is true - the cost of giving the extremely wealthy just a bit more luxury is the loss of programs that do much to prevent disease, poverty and death for those that will never know luxury...

...and here are the numbers.

Thanks for reading as I presented some of the best political cartoons I have seen recently.

(Thanks again to American Progress for the funny daily cartoons, like this one! You can see their archive and sign up for the daily funny in your inbox here.)

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