Archive for September 2011

Who Are They Listening To?

September 10, 2011

Ever feel like no one is listening when you speak? Your spouse? Your kids?

How about the members of Congress who make and enact the laws that govern our nation and affect you and your family on a daily basis? (Now there’s a question that begs the answer if ever there was one.)

In “Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class,” Kevin Drum, a Princeton political scientist, writes about this very issue.

” … American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartles studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.”

Drum’s central premise, with respect to the Democratic Party, is that unions used to be the strong base of the Democratic Party. The Party listened to and depended on union support and the votes of their members for the carrying out of a Democratic agenda.

But that isn’t the case today. As unions have been assaulted and have lost their numbers and influence over the last forty years, the Democratic Party has “lost” its base. So, it has turned to another demographic for its support, votes, and money as it seeks to compete with the Republican Party. The Democratic Party has turned to big business and the wealth class and has, like the Republican Party, become a party of and for the “monied.”

Consequently, the working and middle classes no longer have a political party to represent them in Washington, D.C. and the Democratic Party is no longer the party of working men and women.

Drum concludes his excellent article on this very relevant issue with these words …

“If the left ever wants to regain the vigor that powered earlier eras of liberal reform, it needs to rebuild the infrastructure of economic populism that we’ve ignored for too long. Figuring out how to do that is the central task of the new decade.

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Kevin Drum’s article was published in the March/April 2011 issue of Mother Jones.

Read “Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class” here.

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Economic Fact Sheet – EPI

September 8, 2011

Just how serious in the economic recession that the United States finds itself in?

Check out the “Labor Day by the Numbers 2o11” fact sheet produced by the Economic Policy Institute and published Septemebr 5,2011.

In it you will discover that:

  • The economy needs 11.2 million jobs to regain its pre-recession level of employment.
  • In August 2011, the economy added zero (0) jobs.
  • 17,000 private-sector jobs were created in August 2011; 17,000 public-sector jobs were lost that month.
  • In August 2011, there were 2.5 million workers who wanted a job, were available to work, but had given up actively seeking work and so were not counted as offi cially unemployed.
  • In total, there are 6.9 million fewer jobs today than there were in December 2007.
  • The unemployment rate in August 2011 was 9.1%.
  • There were 14.0 million unemployed workers in August 2011, 6.3 million more than in December 2007.
  • The underemployment rate (i.e., those who are unemployed, marginally attached, or working part time involuntarily) was 16.2% in August 2011.
  • There were 25.3 million workers who were either unemployed or underemployed in August 2011.
  • In August 2011, there were 11 States with double-digit unemployment rates.

It is going to be interesting to hear the President’s economic speech on Thursday evening and how he proposes to bring recovery and growth to our economy.

America’s working men and women are waiting to hear.

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EPI states that this seasonally adjusted underemployment data is calculated using the most recent data available from June.

To read the complete fact sheet, see here

Economics 101

September 8, 2011

Interested in economics? Especially economics that an untrained layman, like me, can begin to understand?

I have recently added links to two blogs that address the issue of economics. I have found them both to be very helpful to me in becoming better educated about the subject. Both are relevant to and address today’s economic situation, i.e., the recession with all of its ramifications. I find this to be of particular interest to me as a recently laid-off public sector worker (independent school district employee).

The blogs are Working Economics, a blog of the Economic Policy Institute, and the blog of Richard Wolff, retired economist and author.

The blogs can be found under the Blogroll heading in the right-hand column of this blog whenever you are visiting scottspeak.

“D” Is For Plan D

September 5, 2011

In “Austerity: Why Capitalism Is Choosing Plan B,” economist and author Richard Wolff  discusses three plans the capitalist system has considered for use in its attempts to bring “recovery” to our nation’s struggling economy.

Plan A

Plan A was a “crisis response” program that was implemented and involved the government bailing out banking and insurance institutions, large corporations, and stock markets in an effort to bring economic recovery to businesses, and subsequently, to our nation. The theory behind this plan, says Wolff, was the theory of “trickle-down” economics. The saving of big business, hypothetically, would result in the creation of new businesses and jobs, the raising of  the incomes of working families, and general prosperity. “All boats rise” in this theory.

 The plan didn’t work and all boats don’t.

Plan B

Plan B is the one that we now find ourselves subject to. It is a plan of austerity that involves government and big business assault on public workers and their unions, union formation and collective bargaining, and our social service programs. It involves the lowering of taxes on the wealthy and corporations and the lowering of the living standards of the working and middle classes. This plan is best exemplified by what took place in Wisconsin this past spring.

Austerity programs in Greece brought that country to the brink of revolution.

I do not believe that the austerity programs and efforts that are being made in the United States will result in riots and violence in our streets. I do believe, though, that those efforts and their tragic effects on the working men and women and families of our nation are serving to educate us more than ever about the true nature of the government-big business system under which we live and work.

As we are educated in this way, we will be “agitated” to organize for a change in the system. That change will be brought about as we go to the polls and cast our votes for those who understand the issues of the working and middle classes and are committed to represent us at the local, state, and federal levels.

We may not have the money, but we do have the people and the vote.

Plan C

Wolff says that while government and big business have tried and are trying Plans A and B to bring about economic recovery in the U.S., there is one plan that they are not even considering. Plan C would increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy class “enough to avoid either public service cuts or wage cuts.”

Not going to happen

Plan D

Richard proposes a Plan D response to our capitalist crisis and economic repression and its recovery. That plan would “change how we organize productive enterprises in our society. Profits would be distributed by democratic decision-making of  all those who produce and depend on them, the workers and the affected communities. The twists and turns of this global capitalism system, painful as they are to endure, nonetheless also move it toward a confrontation with the alternative Plan D.”

The article concludes with this statement.

“The real question is whether the advocates and supporters of Plan D can be mobilized and focused on achieving their goals in the confrontation.”

Good question.

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Read Richard Wolff’s article, see here.

Happy Labor Day

September 4, 2011

Thank you, working men and women of America, for the role you have played, and continue to play, in making our nation great.

I appreciate the labor you have expended and the sacrifices you have made for your families and for us all. 

Support America’s workers, the unemployed,  under-employed, and disenchanted. Support labor’s right to form unions and collective bargaining. Support the creation of family supporting income jobs. Resist austerity programs. Restore progressive taxation.

No Banker Left Behind

September 4, 2011

Thank you, Ry Cooder.

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Ry, perhaps we could ask you to write some songs about insurance companies, austerity programs, the government and big business attack on public sector unions, the decline in working and middle class incomes, the growing income inequality gap in the United States, the need for progressive taxation, the creation of jobs, and the protection of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, to name just a few of the many pressing issues that we are confronted with today.

Thank you.