Tag: Income Disparity

Have the House Democrats Found Their Spines

Cross posted from [The Stars Hollow Gazette

Have the House Democrats finally realized there is a way to beat the recalcitrant Republican majority?  Somebody in the Democratic caucus must have been up watching old movies on Netflix and remembered an old House rule called a “discharge petition

A http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=viagra-generico-200-mg-pagamento-online-a-Milano discharge petition is a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee and usually without cooperation of the leadership. Discharge petitions are most often associated with the U.S. House of Representatives, though many state legislatures have similar procedures. canadian healthcare cialis tablets They are used when the chair of a committee refuses to place a bill or resolution on the Committee’s agenda; by never reporting a bill, the matter will never leave the committee, and the full House will not be able to consider it. A successful petition “discharges” the committee from further consideration of a bill or resolution and brings it directly to the floor. The discharge petition, and the threat of one, gives more power to individual members of the House and usurps a small amount of power from the leadership and committee chairs. The modern discharge petition requires the signature of an absolute majority of House members (218 members). Only twice has it been used successfully on major legislation in recent history.

Democrats plot a way to bypass Boehner

Rachel Maddow explains how congressional Democrats are considering the use of the discharge petition to get votes on immigration and the minimum wage.



Transcript can be read here

House Dems seek to force GOP’s hand on minimum wage hike

By Mike Lillis, The Hil

CAMBRIDGE, MD – House Democrats are launching an effort to force Republicans’ hand on the minimum wage.

The Democrats will introduce a discharge petition later this month designed to force a floor vote on a proposal to hike the minimum wage, even in the face of entrenched opposition from GOP leaders.

The discharge petition faces a high bar, as it would require at least 18 Republicans to buck their leadership and endorse the measure – a scenario the Democrats readily acknowledge is unlikely.

“I don’t think we’re ever confident that we’re going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded during the Democrats’ annual issues retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. [..]

Hoyer said he hasn’t yet surveyed the Democrats to learn exactly how many would endorse the discharge petition, but he predicted it will be “close to everybody.”

Schumer Offers Long-Shot Option to Skirt House G.O.P. on Immigration

By Ashley Parker and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

WASHINGTON – Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, offered a long-shot option on Thursday to revive the moribund effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws that would require the support of more than a dozen House Republicans – and, if nothing else, pressure others to act on an election-year issue that Tea Party-aligned members strongly oppose. [..]

Mr. Schumer was responding to a recent column in The Washington Post by E. J. Dionne Jr., suggesting that Democrats go the route of the discharge petition. He also suggested during a “Meet the Press” appearance on Sunday that Congress could pass immigration legislation this year, but delay its implementation until 2017, to assuage the concern of many Republicans who say they do not trust President Obama to enforce the laws.

Now the issue is getting enough Republicans to vote with the Democrats. It’s an election year and there are a number of Republican seats that are vulnerable. So what will the Republicans do if the Democrats get all their members to sign on to a discharge petition? The bigger question is will House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) be able to rally the troops? We’re watching.

The Rich Are Still Getting Richer

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The alleged recovery from the recession that began in 2008 has done wonders for the wealthiest of the world.

The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery

By Annie Lowry, follow The New York Times

Share of Total Income photo 10economix-sub-wealth-blog480_zps10d87814.jpg viagra generico 50 mg online prezzo piu basso a Venezia The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago, according to an updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty.

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=Comprare-Cialis-Originale-online-farmacia-senza-ricetta-in-Italia The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913, when the government instituted an income tax.

The figures underscore that even after the recession the country remains in a new Gilded Age, with income as concentrated as it was in the years that preceded the Depression of the 1930s, if not more so.

High stock prices, rising home values and surging corporate profits have buoyed the recovery-era incomes of the most affluent Americans, with watch the incomes of the rest still weighed down by high unemployment and stagnant wages for many blue- and white-collar workers. [..]

More generally, richer households have disproportionately benefited from the boom in the stock market during the recovery, with the Dow Jones industrial average more than doubling in value since it bottomed out early in 2009. About half of households hold stock, directly or through vehicles like pension accounts. But get link the richest 10 percent of households own about 90 percent of the stock, expanding both their net worth and their incomes when they cash out or receive dividends.

The economy remains depressed for most wage-earning families. With sustained, relatively high rates of unemployment, businesses are under no pressure to raise their employees’ incomes because both workers and employers know that many people without jobs would be willing to work for less. quanto costa il vardenafil generico 20 mg in farmacia The share of Americans working or looking for work is at its lowest in 35 years.

Three years ago during the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report based on information from the IRS and US Census Bureau that over the last forty years the top 1% has nearly quadrupled:

– The top 1 percent made $165,000 or more in 1979; that jumped to $347,000 or more in 2007, the study said.  [..]

– The top 20 percent of the population earned 53 percent of after-tax income in 2007, as opposed to 43 percent in 1979.

– The top 1 percent reaped a 17 percent share of all income, up from 8 percent in 1979.

– The bottom 20 percent reaped just 5 percent of after-tax income, versus 7 percent in 1979.

This is exacerbated by the fact that hourly wages have stagnated while the biggest banks are even bigger than they were before the collapse thanks to policies of the government and the Federal Reserve.

The wealth gap is not an isolated problem, according to a report by the NGO, Oxfam, it’s global with just 85 people possessing owning half the world’s wealth

Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The World Economic Forum has identified economic inequality as a major risk to human progress, impacting social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale.

This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities – such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites – to the detriment of ordinary people.

Eighty of the those billionaires are meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, where the wealth disparity has finally become a concern:

As billionaires bet on accelerating growth and rising asset prices, income inequality is emerging as a key theme for this week’s annual meeting. A study released last week by the forum identified the income gap as the most probable menace to the global economy during the next decade. Wealth disparity — driven by globalization and the recent financial crisis — threatens to breed poverty and social disorder, it said.

Next Tuesday, President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union Address where he will outline the ideas he has for closing this gap that has gotten bigger since he was elected. Perhaps, as Huffungton Post’s Howard Fineman suggests, that the president find governing role models other than Ronald Reagan whose policies have brought the US economy into its New Gilded Age.

Add Bank Tellers to Underpaid Workers List

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

One would think that the person we speak to behind the bullet proof plexiglass at the bank was paid enough to own his/her own home, put food on the table, have a good pension plan and health care insurance. Apparently, that is a myth. In NYC, one in three bank tellers need some form of public assistance and the average pay is only $11.59 per hour, three dollars below what is considered a living wage in big cities where the cost of living is highest. The recent focus has been on Walmart and fast food workers, now we can add bank tellers to the list of the underpaid

Thirty-nine percent of NYC-based bank tellers and their families rely on at least one government assistance program, like Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit or food stamps, which costs the city a total of $112 million per year (pdf), according to the study from the New Day New York Coalition, a group of progressive organizations. Researchers arrived at their findings through government data, as well as interviews with 5,000 bank workers in the New York area, who answered questions about stress, working conditions, pay practices and how the industry has changed since 2008.  [..]

The study’s findings mirror trends nationwide and are yet another sign that the pool of so-called middle-class jobs is shrinking. Nearly one-third of the almost half-million bank tellers in the country rely on public assistance, according to an analysis by the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center. The Labor Center’s Ken Jacobs estimates that these employees’ reliance on such programs costs taxpayers nationwide roughly $900 million per year. [..]

Activists have been quick to point out that if companies like Walmart, McDonald’s and now big banks paid their workers more, fewer of them would have to lean on public assistance, saving taxpayers money. More than half of frontline fast food workers rely on government assistance, costing the nation $7 billion, according to an October report. A single Walmart store’s low wages could cost taxpayers $900,000 per year, according to a May report from Senate Democrats.

Striking for Raising the Minimum Wage

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“We Can’t Survive on $7.25”: Fast-Food Workers Kick Off National Day of Action for Higher Pay



Full transcript can be read here

Fast-food workers are walking off the job in about 100 cities today in what organizers call their largest action to date. Today’s strikes and protests continue a campaign that began last year to call for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Early this morning, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Hany Massoud headed to Times Square in New York City where a group of McDonald’s workers were joined by a crowd of hundreds of supporters to kick off their strike. We hear voices from the protest and speak to Camille Rivera of United NY, part of the newly formed New Day New York Coalition, which has organized this week of action to fight income inequality and build economic fairness.

US fast-food workers strike over low wages in nationwide protests

By Adam Gabatt, The Guardian

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=Search-Results Thousands due to strike across 100 cities through the day in a signal of the growing clamour for action on income equality

Thousands of fast food and retail workers went on strike across the US on Thursday in a signal of the growing clamour for action on income equality.

In Chicago, hundreds of protesters gathered outside a McDonalds at 6.15am. As a large “Christmas Grinch” ambled about in freezing temperatures, demonstrators chanted for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 per hour.

It was the first of nine strikes in Chicago, with employees at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Walgreens, Macy’s and Sears also due to walk off shift. Low wage workers were due to strike across 100 cities through the day, including Boston, Detroit, New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles and St Louis.

“Poverty Wages in the Land of Plenty”

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living check to check on their meager pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Wal-Mart don’t want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by.  This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Wal-Mart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.

“Wal-Mart was put in an uncomfortable spotlight on what should be the happiest day of the year for the retailer,” Josh Eidelson told me, reporting on the coordinated Black Friday protests. “These were the largest protests we’ve seen against Wal-Mart … you had 1,500 stores involved; you had over a hundred people arrested.” Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees, 1.3 million of whom are in the U.S. It reported close to $120 billion in gross profit for 2012. Just six members of the Walton family, whose patriarch, Sam Walton, founded the retail giant, have amassed an estimated combined fortune of between $115 billion-$144 billion. These six individuals have more wealth than the combined financial assets of the poorest 40 percent of the U.S. population.

Income Inequality: “Is a Very Serious Problem”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee to replace Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen took congress to task its roll in the growth income inequality and the threat it is to the economy.

Yellen reminded lawmakers of their sheer terribleness during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Thursday about her nomination to replace Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve when his term ends in January. Republican senators moaned and groaned, as usual, about the Fed’s extreme easy-money policies. Yellen reminded everybody that Congress has forced the Fed to act by constantly imposing harsh austerity measures on an economy still recovering from a financial crisis and deep recession. [..]

This belt-tightening has probably cost the economy nearly 2.5 million jobs, according to a recent study by the Center For American Progress, a liberal think tank — one huge reason this has been the slowest job-market recovery since World War II. Economists on the right and left agree austerity has hurt economic growth, employment and consumer spending, with executives from Walmart and Cisco among the most recent capitalists to complain about it.

The sluggish recovery is also making income inequality worse, Yellen pointed out, depriving poor and middle-class Americans of more and better job opportunities.

low price free levitra This is a very serious problem, it’s not a new problem, it’s a problem that really goes back to the 1980s, in which we have seen a huge rise in income inequality… For many, many years the middle and those below the middle [have been] actually losing absolutely. And frankly a disproportionate share of the gains, it’s not that we haven’t had pretty strong productivity growth for much of this time in the country, but a disproportionate share of those gains have gone to the top ten percent and even the top one percent. So this is an extremely difficult and to my mind very worrisome problem. [..]

Fiscal policy has been working at cross purposes to monetary policy. I certainly recognize the importance of the objective of putting the US debt, deficit and debt, on a sustainable path… But some of the near-term reductions in spending that we have seen have certainly detracted from the momentum of the economy and from demand, making it harder for the fed to get the economy moving, making our task more difficult.

In many states, the recovery is making the income gap worse

By Niraj Chokshi, The Washington Post

For years, the wealthiest 1 percent have amassed income more quickly than the rest. From 1979 through 2007, for example, the top 1 percent of households saw income grow by 275 percent, according to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study. Compare that to the bottom fifth of households, which saw income gains of only 18 percent over that time. Recent Nobel Prize winner for economics Robert Shiller, who is known for creating a closely tracked home-price index, last month called income inequality “the most important problem that we are facing now today.” And just last week, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, called income inequality “an extremely difficult and to my mind very worrisome problem.”

Though rare, the recovery was strong and reduced inequality in some states, such as North Dakota, where an oil boom has provided a sustained economic boost. There, the number of households in the lowest half of income brackets shrank, while more joined the highest income brackets, a trend that suggests broad upward mobility. But in most states-and nationally-the data show the income gap worsening. In Michigan, for example, more than 65,000 households fell out of the middle-income brackets. That loss was counterbalanced by the addition of some 38,000 households, but only at the lowest and highest income levels.

That was true in many states: The number of middle-income households shrank while the number of low- and upper-income households grew. In many states, more upper-income households were added than lower-income ones-a positive economic sign not entirely unexpected during a recovery from such a severe downturn-but the middle class still shrank.

One of the “fixes” to close the income gap, create more and better jobs, and solve the Social Security fund problem is to raise the minimum wage to a livable wage. As Robert Reich explained in his recent column, if Walmart, the largest employer in America, were to “boost its wages, other employers of low-wage workers would have to follow suit in order to attract the employees they need”. He used Ford magnate, Henry Ford as an example of how that worked and made Ford a fortune.

Walmart is so huge that a wage boost at Walmart would ripple through the entire economy, putting more money in the pockets of low-wage workers. This would help boost the entire economy – including Walmart’s own sales. (This is also an argument for a substantial hike in the minimum wage.)

Now, states like New York and New Jersey and cities like Sea Tac, Washington are recognizing the need for a higher minimum wage to attract workers and business as it helps to improve the economy. There is overwhelming broad public support, with 58% of self identifying Republicans in favor. It’s time for Congress to wake up, end the sequester and austerity measures and raise the minimum wage.

Raising the Minimum Wage Growing Momentum

Cross posted from the Stars Hollow Gazette

The push for an increase in the minimum wage has grown with the recent passing of an increase in New Jersey from $7.25 to 8.25 with annual increases based in inflation. The amendment to the state’s constitution passed with 61% of the vote over newly reelected Governor Chris Christie’s objection. A Gallup poll conducted Nov. 5-6 shows that an even greater percentage of Americans would vote for an even higher minimum wage. According to a White House official, the Obama administration supports the bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour in increments of 95 cents.

The same Gallup poll that showed 76% of Americans support for the increase, also showed support across party lines with 58% of self-identified Republicans supporting it. So what’s the problem? The issue is congress’ feral children, the Tea Party coalition in both houses who have vowed to block it and would completely abolish the minimum wage if they had their way. These are the same extremists who would repeal child labor laws, as well.

Despite the objections of the radical minority, the wave for an increase of the minimum wage is swelling as RJ Eskow observes:

There’s something happening here/what it is ain’t exactly clear …”

When Steve Stills wrote the dystopian anthem “For What It’s Worth” in 1966, it resonated with listeners who understood that great if half-hidden transformations were underway. There’s been a turn toward the dystopian in recent economic and social trends as well: Wall Street greed and criminality. The growing power of wealth over the political process. The rise of the Tea Party. The collapsing middle class. Growing inequalities of wealth. Lost social mobility.

But there were encouraging signs in 1966, as well as troubling ones, and that’s equally true today. Take the movement for a minimum wage. Voters in the state of New Jersey and the city of Tacoma, Washington voted to increase the minimum wage in last week’s election. These victories follow a series of polls which confirm that the general public holds strongly progressive views on issues which range from taxation to Medicare and Social Security.

Something is happening here.

Noam Scheiber, senior editor for The New Republic, spoke with Rachel Maddow about why economic populism is a wise strategy for Democrats.

The Increasing Inequality of the 99%

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The income gap between the 99% is has grown to the point that it now as great as it was a the start of the Great Depression. In New York City, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio built his campaign for mayor around the increased poverty of New Yorkers that he says is creating two cities. According to the US Census Bureau the poverty rate continues to climb in NYC threatening the viability of the city:

The poverty rate rose to 21.2 percent in 2012, from 20.9 percent the year before, meaning that 1.7 million New Yorkers fell below the official federal poverty threshold. That increase was not statistically significant, but the rise from the 2010 rate of 20.1 percent was.

Former Labor Secretary for President Bill Clinton, Robert Reich has released a documentary, Inequality for All, on the fifth anniversary of the fall of Lehman Bothers and the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street which brought attention to the income gap and change the nation’s conversation about the “American Dream.” Sec. Reich joined Bill Moyers on his show Moyers & Company to discuss his film and the increasing income inequality for all of us.



TRanscript can be read here

“The core principle is that we want an economy that works for everyone, not just for a small elite. We want equal opportunity, not equality of outcome. We want to make sure that there’s upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy.”

By the Numbers: The Incredibly Shrinking American Middle Class

by Karen Kamp, Moyers & Company

A typical American household made about $51,017 in 2012, according to new figures out from the Census Bureau this week. That number may sound familiar to anyone who remembers George H. W. Bush’s first year as president or Michael Jackson in his prime. That’s because household income in 2012 is similar to what it was in 1989 (but back then it was actually higher: you had an extra $600 or so to spend compared to today).

That sobering statistic gives an indication of where the American middle class appears to be headed. Take a look below at a snapshot of where the middle class is now, the problems they face and what our Facebook audience has to say about squeaking out a living these days.

No, Mr. President, the Economy Is Not Improving

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Barack Obama briefly addressed the country on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the start of the financial crisis that would see the middle class loose most of its wealth. The president rightfully chastised the obstruction on congress, blasting the Republican threats to shut down the government unless the he agrees to de-fund the Affordable Care Act and he patted himself on the back for how far the economy has come in the last five years.

In his speech the president paints a glowing picture of the economy and his accomplishments:

And so those are the stories that guided everything we’ve done. It’s what those earliest days of the crisis caused us to act so quickly through the Recovery Act to arrest the downward spiral and put a floor under the fall. We put people to work, repairing roads and bridges, to keep teachers in our classrooms, our first responders on the streets. We helped responsible homeowners modify their mortgages so that more of them could keep their homes. We helped jump-start the flow of credit to help more small businesses keep their doors open. We saved the American auto industry.

And as we worked to stabilize the economy and get it growing and creating jobs again, we also started pushing back against the trends that have been battering the middle class for decades, so we took on a broken health care system, we invested in new American technologies to end our addiction to foreign oil, we put in place tough new rules on big banks, rules that we need to finalize before the end of the year, by the way, to make sure that the job is done, and we put in new protections that crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies.

We also changed a tax code that was too skewed in favor of the wealthiest Americans. We locked in tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. We asked those at the top to pay a little bit more.

So if you add it all up, over the last three-and-a-half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate has come down. Our housing market is healing. Our financial system is safer. We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever before.

However, his rosy view of the current state of the economy isn’t shared by the 99% who are still struggling with low wage jobs, unemployment, and a housing crisis that is still looming.

The president’s speech makes one wonder who is advising this man and what economy was Obama talking about? Then one remembers that it was his best buddy Larry Summers and the Chicago School of Rubinite cohorts, as The Guardian‘s economics editor Heidi Moore notes in her column. Ms. Moore writes that is time to “end the delusion that this White House has done even a fraction of what it should to help the economy” and concludes that the president has had some poor economic advice:

The president’s economic initiatives – food stamps, manufacturing, infrastructure, raising the debt ceiling, appointing a new chairman of the Federal Reserve – have mostly ended in either neglect or shambles. After five years, the Obama Administration’s stated intentions to improve the fortunes of the middle class, boost manufacturing, reduce income inequality, and promote the recovery of the economy have come up severely short. [..]

Here’s the litany of failure: the president has not pushed through any major stimulus bill since 2009, and most of that was pork-barrel junk. Manufacturing is weak and weakening; the employment gap between the rich and the poor is the widest on record; the economic recovery is actually more like an extended stagnation with 12 million people unemployed; the housing “recovery” will be stalled as long as incomes are low and house prices are high; and quantitative easing as a stimulus, while a heroic independent effort by the Federal Reserve, is past its due date and is no longer improving the country’s fortunes beyond the stock market.

Shall we continue? We don’t have a food stamp bill even though 49 million Americans lack regular access to food. Goldman Sachs analysts have said the sequester is taking a toll on stubbornly growing unemployment: “since sequestration took effect in March, federal job losses have been somewhat more pronounced,” they wrote last week; and another debt ceiling controversy – the third of Obama’s presidency – looms in only a few weeks with the potential to hurt what meager economic growth we can still cling to.

The economy for the vast majority of people and small businesses is not going well and won’t improve in the neat future. One of the people that Pres, Obama has ignored is Pres. Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary and economics professor that the University of California, Robert Reich. Prof. Reich sat down with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the current state of the economy since the fall of Lehman Brothers.



Transcript can be read here

Meanwhile, the president is living in a bubble. Let’s hope his bubble bursts before ours does and he starts to really do something about it.  

IRS: Income Gap Greatest Since 1920

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

A recent analysis of IRS data on income and wealth in the United States found that the gap  between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it’s been since the 1920’s.

The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their largest share in Internal Revenue Service figures going back a century.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. But until last year, the top 1 percent’s share of pre-tax income had not yet surpassed the 18.7 percent it reached in 1927, according to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

One of them, Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, said the incomes of the richest Americans might have surged last year in part because they cashed in stock holdings to avoid higher capital gains taxes that took effect in January.

That soaring stock market means nothing to 99% of Americans, it just proves the rich are getting richer.

According to DSWright at the FDL News Desk, we may rapidly be approaching the bursting of another bubble:

But what’s worse is that the 1% hit a consumption limit – they can only buy so many cars, meals, homes – so the only way they can benefit from their wealth is to invest in financial assets which inflates those assets into bubbles. Then the bubbles pop, and in theory, they should eat the losses. But what we all know, or should know by now, is that the 1% refuses to eat the losses and instead use what is left of their wealth to buy favors in Washington to make them whole at your expense. It is a pretty awful system, especially if you are in the 99%.

And now due to the destruction of the labor movement, wages have frozen and even more income from production is going to the top 1% who are re-inflating the financial markets and having a great time doing so as the corporate profits to wages ratio is massive. This while America continues to have record unemployment and underemployment.

The 99% do not have a seat at the economic table as Washington ignores their needs and bends over backwards to help the 1% campaign contributor class. And when you aren’t at the table you are on the menu.

Freelance writer Sasha Abramsky joined Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonz├ílez to discuss his new book “The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives.” and ther reocrd breaking income inequality in the US.



Transcript can be read here

The American Dream Becomes the American Fantasy

Cross psosted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In a recent survey from the Associated Press, it was revealed the 80% of Americans will face near poverty and unemployment at some point in their lives.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend. [..]

As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused – on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.

Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”

The host of MSNBC’s Now, Alex Wagner discussed the growing jobs, the middle class and bridging the gap in income inequality with Maya Wiley, Founder and President, Center for Social Inclusion; Jacob Weisberg, Chairman, Slate; and Jennifer Senior, Contributing Editor, NY Magazine.

At FDL News Desk, DSWright noted President Barack Obama’s admission in a New York Times interview that “he was worried that years of widening income inequality and the lingering effects of the financial crisis had frayed the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.” He sums up that the president is finally facing the facts:

Hope has its limits, eventually people want the eloquence of rhetoric to be matched by the eloquence of action.

But there is little incentive to help the lower classes of American society. The Bush and Obama Administrations bent over backwards to bail out the rich during the financial crisis the rich caused and they’ve done a heck of a job. According to the Federal Reserve, while most Americans saw their wealth go down by 40% during the Wall Street crash and resulting Great Recession, the rich actually got richer.

So now the 99% are getting wise to the fact that the game has been rigged against them and that continuing on this course will only lead to poverty and stagnation – a realization that is scaring elites. People may be done hoping for change, they finally be understanding that power concedes nothing without demand.

Permanent Depression: Where The Hell Is Outrage?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Where the hell is the outrage? That is the question that senior fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and former executive at AIG, Richard (RJ) Eskow asks about the current state of the US econoomy:

From the first breath of life to the last, our lives are being stolen out from under us. From infant care and early education to Social Security and Medicare, the dominant economic ideology is demanding more lifelong sacrifices from the vulnerable to appease the gods of wealth.

Middle-class wages are stagnant. Unemployment is stalled at record levels. College education is leading to debt servitude and job insecurity. Millions of unemployed Americans have essentially been abandoned by their government.  Poverty is soaring. Bankers break the law with impunity, are bailed out, and go on breaking the law, richer than they were before.

And yet, bizarrely, the only Americans who seem to be seething with anger are the beneficiaries of this economic injustice — the wealthiest and most privileged among us.  But those who are suffering seem strangely passive.

As long as they stay that way, there will be no movement to repair these injustices. And the more these injustices are allowed to persist, the harder it will be to end them.

Where the hell is the outrage? And how can we start some?

He notes that Paul Krugman, too, is feeling grim about the possibility that high unemployment has become acceptable and that the “political and policy elite” see no need to find a solution, one that is staring them right in the face:

First of all, I think many of us used to believe that sustained high unemployment would lead to substantial, perhaps accelerating deflation – and that this would push policymakers into doing something forceful. It’s now clear, however, that the relationship between inflation and unemployment flattens out at low inflation rates. We can probably have high unemployment and stable prices in Europe and America for a very long time – and all the wise heads will insist that it’s all structural, and nothing can be done until the public accepts drastic cuts in the safety net.

But won’t there be an ever-growing demand from the public for action? Actually, that’s not at all clear. While there is growing “austerity fatigue” in Europe, and this might provoke a crisis, the overwhelming result from U.S. political studies is that the level of unemployment matters hardly at all for elections; all that matters is the rate of change in the months leading up to the election. In other words, high unemployment could become accepted as the new normal, politically as well as in economic analysis.

Eskow points to the factors why Americans have learned to live in a “quiet state of desperation” and offers a Action Plan for the solution:

1. Expand our avenues of political expression: First, we need to remind ourselves that electoral politics is not the only productive avenue for political activism -that we need strong and independent voices and movements.

2. Refuse to let politicians use social issues to exploit us economically: We also need to reject the exploitation and manipulation of progressive values by corporatist politicians who use social issues like gay marriage and reproductive rights exactly the way Republicans do — to manipulate their own base into ignoring their own economic interests. Politicians who don’t take a stand on economic issues should be rejected, up and down the ticket.

3. Explain what is changing — and contrast what is with what should be:We need to do a better job of explaining what’s happening, so that we can make people aware of the harmful changes taking place all around them.And it’s not just about “change”: It’s also about contrast – between economic conditions as they are, and conditions as they should be and could be, if we can find the political will.

4. Expand the vocabulary of the possible: The “learned helplessness” outlook says “the rich and powerful always win; we don’t stand a chance.” History tells us otherwise. From the American Revolution to the breaking up of the railroads, from Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting to FDR’s New Deal, from Ike’s Social Security and labor union expansion to LBJ’s Great Society victories, we need to remind ourselves of what we’ve accomplished under similar conditions.

5. Tell stories: And we need to tell stories — human stories.

Some of those human stories started 22 years ago when Bill Moyers began documenting the stories of two families ordinary families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who had lost good paying factory jobs and how they have managed over the years. In a 90 minute special on PBS’ Frontline, Moyers revisits the the Stanleys and Neumanns anf their struggles to finding other jobs, getting retrained yet still finding themselves on a “downward slope, working harder and longer for less pay and fewer benefits, facing devastating challenges and difficult choices.”

Over at AMERICAblog, our friend Gaius Publius has posted his interview with RJ Eskow that was taped at this year’s Netroots NAtion in San Jose, CA. It’s an excellent conversation.

Bill Moyers: The United States of Inequality

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Income inequality is growing in the United States. Occupy Wall Street brought the income gap between the 99% and the 1% into the light and changed the conversation. Bill Moyers explores what happened in Silicon Valley where the homeless problem has grown 20% in the last two years and tent cities are common place among the million dollar mansions. Poverty shows no sign of abating despite the market thriving.

“A petty, narcissistic, pridefully ignorant politics has come to dominate and paralyze our government,” says Bill, “while millions of people keep falling through the gaping hole that has turned us into the United States of Inequality.”

Our growing income inequality causes 43% of the projected Social Security shortfall

by Gaius Publius, Americablog

Upward redistribution of income – what we’ve been calling the “looting of the economy” by the billionaire CEO class – is responsible for at least 43% of the projected Social Security shortfall for the next 75 years.

Let that sink in. This is yet another way that the looters want the victims to pay for their victimhood and hold the looters lossless. The CEO class has worked for three decades to create an economy where working people have a far less share of the economic growth than they used to have. One of the results of that inequity was an unexpected shortfall in the income collected by Social Security.

Think about it – everyone could see that the big demographic shift, the baby-boom generation, would show up on schedule. They could see that in the 1950s. But who knew 30 years ago (1983, if you’re not subtracting quickly), when the last Social Security adjustment occurred, that Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama would create a bipartisan consensus around handing all the fruits of productivity to the “rich and famous” set that you’re not a part of? That was not part of the calculation in those golden Reagan Days, and the Social Security Trust Fund has suffered ever since.

City Report Shows a Growing Number Are Near Poverty

by Sam Roberts

The rise in New York City’s poverty rate as a result of the recession has apparently eased, but not before pushing nearly half of the city’s population into the ranks of the poor or near-poor in 2011, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg administration.

That year, according to the city’s measure, about 46 percent of New Yorkers were making less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold, a benchmark used to describe people who are not officially poor but who still struggle to get by. That represents a rise of almost two percentage points since 2009, when the nation’s recession officially ended. [..]

Though more New Yorkers were working in 2011 than the year before, larger shares of children and working adults were classified as poor in 2011, and the proportions of Asians, noncitizens and Queens residents – overlapping groups – each rose by more than four percentage points since 2008.

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