Low wage jobs are dominating the U.S. recovery

By Brad Plumer, published August 31, 2012 at The Washington Post

The United States lost about 8.1 million jobs after the recession began in late 2007. The economy has since recovered about 3.3 million of those jobs, starting in early 2010. That, in itself, should alarm policymakers. The labor market is still in a deep, deep hole.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.32.07 PM
The jobs of the future? (Washington Post)

But in some respects, the situation is even bleaker than that. The types of jobs that have come back so far don’t seem to be paying as well as those that were lost.

A new report (pdf) from the National Employment Law Project finds that low-wage jobs, paying $13.83 per hour or less, have dominated the recovery to date. In many cases, they appear to be replacing higher-paying jobs that were lost in the first place.

Continue reading Low wage jobs are dominating the U.S. recovery

In Bed with a Nation-Wrecker: 5 Ways Hillary Is As Bad As Bill

by Paul Buchheit, published February 29, 2016 at Common Dreams

hillbill
Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

In 1996 Bill Clinton referred to the U.S. as “the world’s greatest force for peace and freedom, for democracy and security and prosperity.”

For PEACE he cluster-bombed civilians in Yugoslavia, wiped out a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and stood by as Iraqi sanctions and Rwandan genocide killed hundreds of thousands of people.

For FREEDOM he oversaw the largest increase in prison population in U.S. history, with the great majority of prisoners in for nonviolent drug offenses, and with more people working in criminal justice than in social services.

For DEMOCRACY he backed NAFTA, which allowed corporations to undermine local governments with lawsuits against public health and environmental and food safety laws.

For SECURITY he dismantled the safety net for families with children, leading to a dramatic increase in extreme poverty in the U.S.

Continue reading In Bed with a Nation-Wrecker: 5 Ways Hillary Is As Bad As Bill

Don’t Shut Post Offices—Reinvent Them

By Naomi Klein, published February 29, 2016 at Common Dreams

postal-leap
(Image: Delivering Community Power)

Naomi Klein delivered the following remarks in Ottawa on February 29, at the Leap Day launch of Delivering Community Power, a proposal to turn postal offices into green community hubs to power Canada’s next economy. Leap Day is the official kickoff date for dozens of climate action and events already planned in Canada and around the world, which will take place throughout February and beyond. Check out leapyear2016.org and #leapmanifesto on Twitter for more.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging that we’re on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

I’m delighted to be here today with my colleagues from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Idle No More, ACORN and the Canadian Labour Congress, brought together by our allies from Friends of Public Services.

2016 is a leap year, and today, February 29th, is Leap Day. We are all currently enjoying the extra day we add to our calendars, every four years, to bring them into alignment with the earth’s orbit around the sun.

We do this because it’s easier to change our human-created systems than to change the laws of nature. In this way, the leap year is a perfect metaphor for the present moment, in which our political and economic systems badly need updating to accommodate the hard realities of our common home, the Earth.

We see the conflicts all around us. In the gap between what scientists tell us we must do to prevent catastrophic warming, and the emission reduction pledges our government has proposed. In the gap between even those inadequate pledges and the actual policies that would get us there.

Continue reading Don’t Shut Post Offices—Reinvent Them

11 Principles of Oligarchy

Noam Chomsky Wants You to Wake Up From the American Dream

By David Swanson / Let’s Try Democracy February 27, 2016 via Alternet

noam
Photo Credit: fotostory/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve just seen Michael Moore’s movie and are wondering how in the world the United States got diverted into the slow lane to hell, go watch Noam Chomsky’s movie. If you’ve just seen Noam Chomsky’s movie and are wondering whether the human species is really worth saving, go see Michael Moore’s movie. If you haven’t seen either of these movies, please tell me that you haven’t been watching presidential debates. As either of these movies would be glad to point out to you, that’s not how you change anything.

“Filmed over four years, these are his last long-form documentary interviews,” Chomsky’s film, Requiem for the American Dream, says of him at the start, rather offensively. Why? He seems perfectly able to give interviews and apparently gave those in this film for four years. And of course he acquired the insights he conveys over many more years than that. They are not new insights to activists, but they would be like revelations from another world to a typical U.S. resident.

Continue reading 11 Principles of Oligarchy

Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Nearly Half a Million Jobs Lost in the US Alone

Published  March 1, 2016 at Naked Capitalism 

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, an Assistant Secretary General working on Economic Development in the United Nations system during 2005-15, and was awarded the 2007 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published as a Global Development and Environment Institute Policy Brief

The Trans-Pacifc Partnership (TPP) Agreement, recently agreed to by twelve Pacifc Rim countries led by the United States,1 promises to ease many restrictions on cross-border transactions and harmonize regulations. Proponents of the agreement have claimed significant economic benefits, citing modest overall net GDP gains, ranging from half of one percent in the United States to 13 percent in Vietnam after fifteen years. Their claims, however, rely on many unjustified assumptions, including full employment in every country and no resulting impacts on working people’s incomes, with more than 90 percent of overall growth gains due to ‘non-trade measures’ with varying impacts.

A recent GDAE Working Paper finds that with more realistic methodological assumptions, critics of the TPP indeed have reason to be concerned. Using the trade projections for the most optimistic growth forecasts, we find that the TPP is more likely to lead to net employment losses in many countries (771,000 jobs lost overall, with 448,000 in the United States alone) and higher inequality in all country groupings. Declining worker purchasing power would weaken aggregate demand, slowing economic growth. The United States (-0.5 percent) and Japan (-0.1 percent) are projected to suffer small net income losses, not gains, from the TPP.

Continue reading Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Nearly Half a Million Jobs Lost in the US Alone

The U.S. has Gone F&*%ing Mad

by James Allworth, published February 22, 2016 at Medium

On December 2, 2015, an absolute tragedy occurred. 14 Americans were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a mass shooting in San Bernardino.

Which of the following would you attribute responsibility for what happened:

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 9.18.47 AM

Let me give you a hint. It’s not the one that comes in five flavors.

Next question: in the wake of San Bernardino, which one is the US Government going after?

Do you know how a properly functioning society would react to an event like San Bernardino? I do — because I’ve had the misfortune of living through such an event. On the 28th of April, 1996, a gunman equipped with an AR-15 assault rifle — the same kind that the San Bernardino shooters used — opened fire in Port Arthur, in Australia. 35 people were killed and 23 were wounded. It remains one of the world’s deadliest shootings by a single person.

Continue reading The U.S. has Gone F&*%ing Mad

Bernie Sanders in 1995: A Brutal Assessment of Bill Clinton’s First 2 Years as President

by Bernie Sanders, published on February 24, 2016 at In These Times 

In this 1995 column for In These Times, Bernie Sanders laments then-President Bill Clinton’s ties to corporate money—and lays out a progressive program that looks strikingly similar to his own 2016 presidential platform.

Bernie1995

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 1.09.57 PMWritten in January 1995, this never-before-published-online article by then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) assesses the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, taking Clinton to task for not pushing hard enough for progressive goals including raising the minimum wage and economic stimulus spending. Sanders explains why, under Clinton, there was “virtually no organized and effective opposition to the American ruling class,” and criticizes the former president for his focus on welfare reform, crime and free trade as ways to “placate corporate America.”

Before we can analyze Bill Clinton’s presidency and its prospects, we must discuss the social context in which the Clinton administration is currently functioning.

For the vast majority of its people, the United States is becoming a poorer country. The standard of living of the average American worker continues to decline, people are working longer hours, and new jobs are often low-wage, part-time and without benefits. The average American is nervous and angry—and has every reason to be.

The rich are growing richer—and the power they hold over the economic and political life of the nation makes them ever more arrogant as well. No apologies are needed when millionaires and billionaires spend vast sums of money to buy elective office. No apologies are made when striking workers are permanently replaced. No apologies are even expected when profitable corporations “downsize” their workforces and replace full-time employees with “temps.” The wealthy have the power, and are fully prepared to use it for their own selfish ends.

Never before in American history has the mass media’s construction of reality been so divorced from the experience of the average American. Workers see with their own eyes the jobs in their communities being exported to Mexico and China, while television gives them endless hours of the O.J. Simpson trial. Working people see with their own eyes the corporate CEO earning 150 times as much as the line worker, while television gives them rapt descriptions of the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive strategy.

Continue reading Bernie Sanders in 1995: A Brutal Assessment of Bill Clinton’s First 2 Years as President

Why We Need Democratic Socialism to Fix Our Educational System

by Paul Buchheit, published February 22, 2016 at Common Dreams

rural_schoolroom
Rural schoolroom, Wisconsin, September 1939. (Photo: Archive/John Vachon)

Latoya and Jalesa, both 26, grew up on the west side of Chicago, attending Calhoun Public School during the day and stepping across the street to Marillac Social Center for after-school programs. They lived in a tough neighborhood. Latoya said the summer gunshots came as often as the sound of ice-cream truck bells in the suburbs. But everyone knew each other on those two blocks; kids walked together, to and from school and in the evenings. Parents—most of whom had gone to Calhoun—also knew each other, often through volunteer work at the social center.

In 2013 Calhoun was one of 50 schools closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It was shut down despite a committee recommendation that it remain open. Jalesa and Latoya, who still work at the center as they pursue other career interests, said the children are scattered now. Most of them take buses to a variety of public and charter schools outside the once-intimate neighborhood. Some have to walk a few blocks, some have to cross busy streets. None of them gather together before and after school, as they used to do on the grounds of Calhoun.

K-12 Education is Getting Worse

A shocking new OECD report says that among developed countries the U.S. has the highest percentage of youths ages 16-19 with low numeric skills, and the 3rd-highest percentage with low literacy skills.

SAT scores in 2015 were the lowest since the test was revised in 2005. Math scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders dropped for the first time since the tests were first administered in 1990.

Market “Reform” Isn’t Working

The unsatisfactory results, according to the Washington Post, “reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts.”

Continue reading Why We Need Democratic Socialism to Fix Our Educational System

The scariest thing about the gig economy is how little we actually know about it

by Alison Griswold, published February 23, 2016 at Quartz

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.05.21 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.05.32 PM
Gig-ing along. (Collage by Quartz. Images courtesy DoorDash, Handy, TaskRabbit, Lyft, Uber, Washio.)

Earlier this month, hundreds of Uber drivers gathered outside the company’s office in Queens, New York, to protest a 15% reduction in fares.

It was the latest bout of labor unrest to flare since Uber began slashing prices in 100 North American cities in January. Uber insists these cuts benefit everyone by spurring demand in the slow winter months, but drivers watching their per-trip earnings plummet are unconvinced. “This is not partnership,” Mohsin Alvi, an Uber driver of three years, told me at the protest. “This is dictatorship. Uber is dictating this and telling us to do this whether we choose to or not.”

The scene outside Uber’s office that rainy Monday in Queens was familiar. New York drivers also assembled here in September 2014, after Uber lowered its pricing and tweaked the rules concerning which passengers they were required to pick up. Back then, hundreds of protesting drivers were too many to ignore, and the demonstration morphed into a small-scale public relations crisis that led to Uber partly backtracking on its policy changes. This time around, the company had 34,000 drivers in New York City. When a few hundred went on strike, Uber didn’t blink.
Continue reading The scariest thing about the gig economy is how little we actually know about it

21 New Numbers That Show That The Global Economy Is Absolutely Imploding

By Michael Snyder, published February 23, 2016 at the Economic Collapse Blog

Earth-At-Night-Public-Domain-460x306

After a series of stunning declines through the month of January and the first half of February, global financial markets seem to have found a patch of relative stability at least for the moment. But that does not mean that the crisis is over. On the contrary, all of the hard economic numbers that are coming in from around the world tell us that the global economy is coming apart at the seams. This is especially true when you look at global trade numbers. The amount of stuff that is being bought, sold and shipped around the planet is falling precipitously. So don’t be fooled if stocks go up one day or down the next. The truth is that we are in the early chapters of a brand new economic meltdown, and I believe that all of the signs indicate that it will continue to get worse in the months ahead. The following are 21 new numbers that show that the global economy is absolutely imploding…

#1 Chinese exports fell by 11.2 percent year over year in January.

#2 Chinese imports were even worse in January.  On a year over year basis, they declined a whopping 18.8 percent.

#3 It may be hard to believe, but Chinese imports have now plunged for 15 months in a row.

#4 In India, exports were down 13.6 percent on a year over year basis in January.

Continue reading 21 New Numbers That Show That The Global Economy Is Absolutely Imploding