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Posts Tagged ‘wealth inequality’

Source: Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/

More than 40 million US workers would get a raise if the US minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour. Doing so would do five important things to help the US economy.

1. It would increase the demand for goods and services and create jobs in the process. Currently, we are in the worst post World War II economic expansion in US history, except for the last one, you know, that negative job growth under the economic policies of the worst president in US history, George W. Bush! Outside of that expansion, the current expansion is the worst, with the lowest job growth, the least GNP growth, and lots more historically weak statistics.

2. Every US economic expansion since 1981 has been caused by artificial bubbles which have created artificial stock market bubbles, which have almost completely benefited only the rich, and mostly the super rich, at the expense of everyone else. The Bill Clinton presidency saw the creation of 22 million jobs, which came about because of simultaneous housing, tech, stock and telecommunications bubbles. The tech and telecommunication bubbles were created by Clinton’s signature on legislation. The current economic bubble has been created by an illegal housing bubble created by the big banks. See The fix is In! The Banksters are Manipulating the rise in housing prices: Mortgage applications are down for home sales–Johnhively.wordpress.com Raising the minimum wage would create more demand, possibly creating the first demand inspired economic expansion since the Great President Jimmy Carter.

3. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would steer money away from the stock market bubble because it would decrease corporate profits, and perhaps gently deflate the current bubble that is due to burst in a few months anyway. The other option is to allow the bubble to run its course and essentially ruin the US economy like what occurred from 2007 to 2012 and from 1929-1933. The next recession will be worst than the last one, and it’s just around the bend.

4. Income inequality is at an all-time US high with the 1 percent stealing about 37 percent of all income produced in the USA every year compared with only 8 percent in 1980. That means the 99 means we have less money to buy things, while the rich primarily purchase things like stock options, stock, bonds and politicians. This inequality is stifling the demand sector and weakening the economy which is why the US economic expansions since 2000 are the weakest in history. This is, of course, unless, the creation and functioning of the US and worldwide economies are solely for the benefit of the 1 percent, and always at the expense of the 99 percent. You can see from the graph above the rich are stealing $17,867 from every working American, and they do this year after year after year. I think it’s time we get a little of our money back.

5. Wealth inequality is also near an all time high in the USA, and this means (along with income inequality) the rich can afford to buy the services of more politicians, which has already effectively turned our democracy into both an illusion and a myth, and this occurred perhaps as early as 1981. Raising the minimum wage would cut away a bit of the economic cancers known as wealth and income inequality.

The corporate talking heads will also insist raising the minimum wage will result in lost jobs, but there are plenty of studies showing not a whole lot on this issue. Most studies on this subject during the last twenty years show a rise in the minimum wage has a negligible impact on job loss, or jobs experience slight growth. On the other hand, most minimum wage increases that have been studied have been minimal and very local.

However, all of this is irrelevant because there is one gigantic study that shows that when the real wages of the 99 percent go up, so too does the US economy, and not just for the benefit of the few. This study is called the history of the US economy. Notice in the graph below real wages grew in the US economy from 1948 to 1978. In reality, you can go back to 1938 and see the same stuff. Inflation was low and job growth was high during the years 1938 to 1980. The middle class was strongest then, and demand for US goods was incredibly strong, especially the demand from US citizens. Even the rich got richer, although the percentage of income and wealth they could steal from the rest of us was small compared to today.

Source: Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/

Corporate talking heads will always lie and say raising the minimum wage will increase inflation. In reality, allowing the financial markets to rise in bubbles creates inflation, as I pointed out in my book, The Rigged Game.

Now some people will say inflation was fairly high during the 1970s, and yes that is kind of true, and then kind of not. That’s because the US government has changed the way it measures inflation twenty times since 1981, and every change has the intended effect of lowering the rate of inflation. In other words, if inflation is 1.5 percent nowadays, using the methodology of 1975, today’s inflation would be about 6 percent. Average yearly inflation during the 1970s was 7 percent, and so using today’s inflation methodology, inflation during the 1970s would have averaged about 2.5 percent, which isn’t all that much.

You can also see from the graph above how real hourly wages have stagnated since 1978, but of course, that’s a lie since real wage increases are measured against inflation, and we know inflation is no longer measured like it used to be. If inflation over the last 35 years was measured with the methodology used by the US government in 1975, US inflation would be significantly higher each of those years, and real US wage growth during this period would be negative, year after year after year for the last thirty or more years. This means real wages are significantly lower nowadays than the available statistics will allow us to measure, and this, of course, is one of the reasons why the government changed the way it measured inflation: it stops us from seeing how much we of the 99 percent are getting screwed by our corrupt government in redistributing our income and wealth to the 1 percent.

I don’t know about you, but I want my money back! Raise the minimum wage!

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USA Today reported in last weekend’s edition that “Low-wage jobs are expected to grow the fastest over the next five years while occupations that support a middle-class living will lag.” The newspaper cited a survey by CareerBuilder.

“Globalization” is the culprit according to the survey. In other words, factory and office jobs will continue to be exported, and the difference between the higher US wages and benefits and the new third world wages with no benefits will go straight into the pockets of the richest via higher corporate profits, rising dividends, and surging share prices. Neither the study nor USA today mentioned this part. Reporter Paul Davidson only mentioned “globalization,” and deliberately so to keep you ignorant.

Just as important, trade treaties also establish the rules by which US corporations can also create jobs overseas, rather than in the USA. This redistributes income from the 99 to the 1 percent, as well.

So expect income and wealth inequality to grow throughout the USA, as well as the rest of the world. And, contrary to the lying corporate press and the World Bank, poverty throughout the world has grown during the last thirty-seven years.

The report clearly shows that more of the middle class will be disappearing as those middle-class jobs are exported and the wages and benefits transformed into dividends and higher share prices for the rich. In other words, the rich are eating the middle class.

When those factory jobs operating machines that sustain a middle-class life style are exported, jobs in accounting, bookkeeping, management, law, computer technology, and more are exported. These are all middle-class jobs.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Globalization is not inevitable. It never has been inevitable. But the policy of globalization enriches the wealthy at the expense of the everybody else throughout the world, and this is the inevitable result of globalization, as well as its purpose as US public and economic policy. And this is why the corporate news media keeps pounding this idea into our heads, and we meekly accept this bull shit lie.

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The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports that CEO compensation at major US corporations dropped a bit to 271  times the average annual pay of the average worker. EPI reports that, “While the 2016 CEO-to-worker compensation ratio of 271-to-1 is down from 299-to-1 in 2014 and 286-to-1 in 2015, it is still light years beyond the 20-to-1 ratio in 1965 and the 59-to-1 ratio in 1989.”

Much of CEO compensation is based on stock options. Boards of Directors offer CEOs stocks at certain prices. So, for example, if a CEO is offered stock at $5 a share, and the price rises to $25, the CEO can purchase a high number of shares at $5 and turnaround and sell them at $25 a share. So who signed the legislation that brought this about? Why, none other than Wall Street President Bill Clinton. See Bill Clinton Created Terrible Corporate Loop Hole–New Republic.

Naturally, stock options have led CEOs to outsource and export jobs at higher rates than they normally would, which in turn, has led to much of the income inequality we experience today. Depending on whose figures you use, the 1 percent now steal anywhere from 23 to 37 percent of all income produced in the USA, up from 8 percent in 1980. This inequality of income, and also of wealth, continues to grow. Thank you Bill!

According to the report, “Over the last several decades CEO pay has grown a lot faster than profits, than the pay of the top 0.1 percent of wage earners, and than the wages of college graduates. This means that CEOs are getting more because of their power to set pay, not because they are more productive or have special talent or have more education. If CEOs earned less or were taxed more, there would be no adverse impact on output or employment. Policy solutions that would limit and reduce incentives for CEOs to extract economic concessions without hurting the economy include:

  • Reinstate higher marginal income tax rates at the very top.
  • Remove the tax break for executive performance pay.
  • Set corporate tax rates higher for firms that have higher ratios of CEO-to-worker compensation.
  • Allow greater use of “say on pay,” which allows a firm’s shareholders to vote on top executives’ compensation.

Click here for the complete EPI report.

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On behalf of the Wall Street Democratic Party, hundreds of thousands of people have called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, and some of them called for impeachment even before he was sworn into office. Here’s what I think of them; Sore losers and misguided Wall Street pawns being used by the Wall Street Democratic Gold Plated Leadership.

The Democratic Party abandoned working people decades ago.

Several thousand of us fought on the front lines in the battles against the massive income redistribution scam promoted by a Democratic president and called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This scam would have exported millions of jobs and redistributed trillions of dollars of income from the 99 to the 1 percent while most of those now calling for Trump’s impeachment stood on the sidelines and shouted hooray for their team on social issues.

For the past 40 years, the Democratic Party as a national organization has systematically abandoned its historic representation of the working class in favor of a wholesale embrace of Wall Street’s and other corporate principles that squash workers’ representation at all levels of political and workplace engagement, and enhance the power of the wealthy few to govern all aspects of our lives.

It was a Democratic president supported by the Republican Party who unleashed Wall Street by signing legislation repealing Glass-Steagal, legislation which had forced a separation of commercial and investment banking and had protected the US economy for sixty years.

It was a Democratic president supported by the Republican Party who signed the Telecommunications Act which allowed the monopolization of the supposed news you receive. Nowadays, six major corporations control 90 percent of the supposed news we absorb, and much of it is Republican and Democratic Party propaganda.

It was a Democratic president who signed a free trade pact that allowed Mexico to officially swallow almost two million US jobs, and most likely much more. The difference between the old US wages and the new lower Mexican wages goes straight into the pockets of the already super-rich via higher corporate profits, surging dividends, and rising share prices. This is called income redistribution. Thank you, Bill and Hillary!

It was a Wall Street Democratic president (with Republican support) who acquiesced to demands to gut welfare programs that had for decades helped workers build their lives without an ax of abject poverty constantly hanging over their heads.

Wall Street Democrats watched (and frequently voted for) the gutting of pensions, the wars we were lied into which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings, the ability of the executive branch to assassinate US citizens without trial, the militarization of police, the fall of worker wages and skyrocketing compensation for the wealthy, the deregulation of Wall Street, and the ongoing privatization of public education. In effect, Wall Street Democrats such as Ron Wyden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama led the charge to create the still growing massive income and wealth inequality we experience today, as well as override the US Constitution in the process.

Eric Ethington, writing the Salt Lake City Tribune, perhaps said it best.

“The idea that Trump is somehow unique, or distinctly worse than other conservatives in his policies is laughable. If Trump were to be impeached today, the same agenda would continue rolling forward without a moment’s pause, because for all the posturing of House Speaker Paul Ryan, or Sen. Orrin Hatch or Rep. Mia Love, the ideas Trump is pushing is exactly what they have been advocating for years — albeit with much more disguised and sophisticated rhetoric. The only difference seems to be the more overtly authoritarian, racist and sexist rhetoric Trump uses and the boneheaded clumsiness of his incompetent staff.”

“What good is getting rid of one bombastic fool if there’s no legitimate voice of the workers to step in? Pretending everything was fine before Trump is lunacy.”

Stop allowing yourself to be mad at Trump. We all know the Republican Party is the party of the rich folks, and nothing has changed with Trump at its helm. The real enemy of the people is the Democratic leadership which fought tooth and nail to ensure Bernie Sanders, the people’s representative, did not get the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016, so that the Wall Street representative named Hillary Clinton would.

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Income inequality is getting worse in the United States, and some new data from Pew Research shows this to be true.

An analysis that weighs the U.S. against 11 countries in Western Europe shows that America holds the tiniest middle class, with just 59% of the United States’ population falling between rich and poor on the income scale. By contrast, 72% of the German population falls into that middle-income bracket — defined by Pew to be between two-thirds the country’s median income and double the median — as does 80% of the Danish population.

“Countries with higher income inequality tend to have smaller middle classes,” said Rakesh Kochhar, the associate director of research at Pew Research Center. The US rates 93rd worst when it comes to income inequality. That’s because the vast majority of new income in the United States is being redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, and because the rich control virtually all levers of government that determines income and wealth redistribution.

Tens of millions of US jobs have been exported thanks to Free Trade Treaties since 1990, for example. The difference between the old higher US wages and benefits and the new lower third world wages with no-benefits go straight from the pockets of the middle class to the super wealthy via higher corporate profits, soaring share prices, and surging dividends.

There’s one interesting wrinkle to the Pew data: While the U.S. middle-income segment is smaller than in European countries, it takes a higher income overall to make it into that group. The median income for a middle-class household in Italy is $35,608. It’s $44,000 in France and $46,000 in Denmark.

But in the United States, it’s $60,084. That, however, simply measures how badly income inequality has become in the US since income inequality in the US badly skews the data. Pew defines the middle class to be between two-thirds the country’s median income and double the median. The median is the midpoint. So if the highest earner in a nation earns $1.2 billion a year and the lowest worker earns $50,000, the midpoint is $599,950,000.

The median is the midpoint. So if the highest earner in a nation earns $1.2 billion a year and the lowest worker earns $50,000, the midpoint between the two is $599,950,000. Whereas, if the highest earner garners $1 million while the lowest worker earns $100,000, then the median income is $450,000. The higher income inequality, the more money it takes to get into the middle class. The less income inequality is, the less cash it takes to be in the middle class.

 

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Supporters of the H1-B Visa program continuously tell us of the need for it because of a severe shortage of high-tech employees in the United States. This, of course, is not and has never been true. The program has been used by US corporations to lower the wages and benefits they pay to their employees by switching out US workers for foreign labor. That’s it in a nutshell.

Lowes Home Improvement provides us with the latest example of how the visa scam works. On June 7, 2017, the Charlotte Observer reported that Lowes was laying off 125 of its US high-tech workers, and is sending those jobs to Bangalore India. That means we have another 125 skilled and experienced US high-tech workers to fill jobs anyplace in the states. See Lowes Lays of High-Tech Workers–Charlotte Observer

Actually, the US has hundreds of thousands of highly skilled US high-tech workers who cannot find jobs because corporations have outsourced hundreds of thousands of high-tech jobs using H1-B visa workers, or simply brought in hundreds of thousands of H1-B workers. That’s because US companies can bring in 85,000 foreign workers every year under the subterfuge of the H1-B visa.

“Bangalore has been described as the “Silicon Valley of India.” Other major corporations have a growing presence in the IT hub, including Oracle, Dell, IBM and GE, according to a recent Wired story. Another is Wipro, an outsourcing firm used by Observer parent McClatchy,” according to the Observer.

US high-tech workers have experienced numerous layoffs over the last several years because their jobs were exported, or taken by H1-B Visa workers. Some of the employers exporting high-tech jobs include Disney, Intel, Nike, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Dell, IBM, General Electric, the University of California at San Francisco, Eversource Energy, Abbott Laboratories, PG and E, and many more. That’s thousands of US high-tech workers who have been replaced. Where is this shortage of US high-tech workers? It isn’t in the USA.

The typical American high-tech worker earns considerably more than foreign H1-B workers. According to the New York Times, US businesses only need to pay the minimum of $60,000 a year to its H1-B workers, and they often don’t get any sort of benefits package.

The H1-B visa scam works like this. A US company will hire H1-B Visa folks through a third party. Then American high-tech workers will train their H1-B replacements. Then the H1-B visa worker will either stay in the US or work in say, India, meaning the job has been exported via the H1-B program. The H1-B Visa is only good for three years, so if US jobs are exported using H1-B workers, after three years, the job is no longer governed by H1-B Visa rules. Then the foreign employee can work for quite a bit less than the $60,000 minimum in India or wherever.

The difference in pay and other compensation between the higher compensated US workers and the lower paid foreign and H1-B visa workers is redistributed to the super rich via higher corporate earnings, rising share prices, and surging dividends. The H1-B visa is an income transfer scam, plain and simple. It is time to eliminate this disaster for US high-tech workers.

The Trump Administration claims it is preparing to propose changes to the system that will benefit US workers over Wall Street investors, but we will see.

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Wall Street Democrats, such as Wall Street-owned president’s Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as Wall Street’s senator’s Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ron Wyden, have led the way toward trade deals that have exported tens of millions of US jobs overseas, with the difference between the old higher US paying jobs and the new lower paying US jobs going directly into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate earnings, rising share prices and surging dividends.

These income redistribution scams are the primary reason income and wealth inequality have grown so lopsided in favor of the billionaires over the previous 35 years or so. Most of the Republican Party have stood right behind the Clinton’s, Wyden and Obama on these income redistribution scams. 86 percent of Republican voters understand these trade scams are intended to export US jobs, compared to 52 percent of Democratic voters. So the Republican leadership is happy to negotiate with the Wall Street DNC Democrats to take the lead on these trade scams. In fact, the two sides have worked together to create the income and wealth inequality in which we now suffer. That’s why Donald Trump is president.

So how do the Democrats get out of being blamed for exporting tens of millions of jobs and creating such massive income and wealth inequality? They lie and spread these lies using a number of corporate news outlets and fake academic studies that come from real universities.

When Barack Obama became president, and for a few years afterward, the US failed to create any net jobs. And so members of the Democratic Party came up with the ingenious lie; automation killed the jobs. Since then the economy has created twelve million new jobs, and you will notice automation hasn’t killed those jobs. Nor has automation killed the tens of millions of US jobs that have been exported to China, Vietnam, Mexico and elsewhere.

I’ve written about this Democratic Party lie many times.

Now in a new report, economists Lawrence Mishel and Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute challenge the Democratic Party lie that the pace of automation is accelerating and that the use of robots will lead to much higher unemployment and greater inequality. They also point out that there is not one shred of evidence in any study showing that technology and automation are killing more jobs than they are creating. The authors argue that if automation actually led to higher overall joblessness, the United States would have seen consistently increasing unemployment over the last 70 years. That didn’t happen because technology and its offshoot called automation actually create more jobs than they displace.

Likewise, if automation were indeed surging and leading to joblessness in recent years, we would not have been able to reduce the unemployment rate from 10 percent in 2010 to under 4.3 percent now. The authors encourage policymakers to focus on the immediate need to create good jobs and robust wage growth—instead of getting worked up about a hypothetical “robot apocalypse.”

The imbalance of political power between the 1 and the 99 percent are the current reason why income and wealth inequality has grown over the last 3 1/2 decades.

For more information, click on the report at “The Zombie Robot Argument Lurches On; There is no evidence that automation leads to joblessness and or Inequality–Economic Policy Institute

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