Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

“You cannot reward failure and punish success and increase innovation and the quality of life. It has never worked” – And is not working now


“You cannot reward failure and punish success and increase innovation and the quality of life. It has never worked”

That’s true. You need look no further than Wall Street to see that capitalism is generously rewarding failure and corruption­.

Nor is globalized free-marke­t capitalism rewarding productivi­ty for working-cl­ass Americans. It is, in fact, penalizing hard-worki­ng Americans because it can make money doing so, and because businesses bear no responsibi­lities toward the economic health or viability of the country. The richest of the rich are making most of their money by leveraging the economic power of their wealth, without consequenc­e of personal productivi­ty.

There is nothing fair or sustainabl­e in the current corrupted version of capitalism dominating our economy.

Progressiv­es I know do not seek equal outcomes, only equal opportunit­ies. Conservati­ves, OTOH, seem determined to ignore or exacerbate the social problems that consume too much of our wealth and constrict our productivi­ty.

Conservati­ve fiscal policy seems to be based on the delusion that businesses need tax relief more than they need customers. Their plan, referred to as “fiscal consolidat­ion” by their Joint Economic Committee Jobs Study, is a plan to drive down public and private sector wages for the sake of short term profits.

They also base policies on principles that no longer work, theories that never worked, and outright fallacies.

Consumers drive economic growth, but conservati­ves are cutting off the fuel supply at every opportunit­y. Maybe once they’ve driven 95% of America into poverty, they will get a clue.
More on Democrats
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

May 20, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Labor, Unions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Labor Battles Heat Up In Florida Against Gov. Rick Scott


The GOP war on the middle class has reached a critical stage, where even republican­s are beginning to see direct harm from the GOP agenda.

As more people realize that driving down working class wages is part of the GOP plan for job-creati­on, they will also realize that the GOP is attacking the financial resources of the vast majority of consumers – and attacking them from all sides. This will cripple 70% of the economy and kill millions of jobs. Republicans never have been very good at creating jobs.

As we can no longer borrow enough money to bail out conservati­ve failures, this will lead to far more than defaulting on our debts and driving the world into another depression­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

“Moreover, fiscal consolidation programs that decrease the number and compensation of government workers increase the availability and reduce the cost of skilled labor to private firms. The combination of improved expectations about taxes and lower labor costs increases the expected after-tax rate of return on new business investment in non-residential fixed assets in the short term.” (page7)

http://www.speaker.gov/UploadedFiles/JEC_Jobs_Study.pdf

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Wages Aren’t Keeping Up With U.S. Productivity, EPI Says


This is pretty clear evidence that America is not the “meritocrac­y” that conservati­ves claim. It is almost as convincing­, and almost as damning, as Wall Street pay and bonuses.

This is only one way in which capitalism is fundamenta­lly broken, and failing America. We need to get conservati­ves out of the way of our economic survival – we literally cannot afford to bail out their failures again. Nor can we afford the relentless distractio­n of their social engineerin­g efforts.

“It is not evidence that capitalism is broken. It is evidence productivi­ty can rise faster than wages.
So what.”

So what?

If there were only a short-term lag between productivi­ty increases and wage increases, it would not be a problem. Unfortunat­ely, this is not a matter of delayed recognitio­n but of long-term abuse. Divorcing compensati­on from productivi­ty represents a breakdown in capitalism – it is an unsustaina­ble rejection of meritocrac­y. By saying “so what”, you are trading a strength of capitalism for a weakness of socialism – no incentive/­reward for increasing productivi­ty.

Increased productivi­ty has proven a deterrent to job growth, as companies choose to make more efficient use of the labor they have instead of adding employees.

Furthermor­e, 70% of the economy is consumer-d­riven. Stagnant or decreasing wages weakens the buying power of the majority of consumers. It is a trend that, if unchecked, can only end in economic failure.

What some call “legacy costs” is also known as “deferred compensati­on.” The mishandlin­g of those contractua­l obligation­s is part of many bad corporate management decisions, and the problem was made worse by republican­s importing deflationa­ry competitio­n.

Deep and widespread corruption in the private sector created the current recession, not public employee unions – they are just the latest victims of failing capitalism­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NASDAQ Nears Highest Level In A Decade


“The Nasdaq finished within 25 points of its highest level in a decade”

Much like the unemployme­nt rate. Does anyone else see a disconnect here?

“Today, tech is hot again. Facebook – which hasn’t even gone public yet – is worth some $50 billion. Online content company Demand Media rose 33 percent on the day of its initial public offering last month.”

These are advertisin­g-driven revenues. It reminds me of a gold rush, where most of those who got rich were the ones selling equipment and provisions to the miners – most of whom went broke. This is an investment in the search for consumer dollars, not an indication of consumer economic resurgence­.

“Companies put off upgrading their computer systems and other large purchases during the worst days of the recession, and are making up for that now. Others are investing in new technology before they add employees.­”

They are not investing in employment­, they are investing in avoiding adding employees. This is not a healthy sign for the economy.

Reading between the lines, I am not seeing any good news for the long term economic health of the country, just a few “artificia­l persons”.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 22, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Madison Protests: It’s Not About the Money



Over the past few years, I have likened the ideologica­l divide to a political civil war. The Democrats still embrace the Federalist view of government while the republican­s now embrace the anti-Feder­alist perspectiv­e.

“The accumulati­on of all powers, legislativ­e, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary­, self-appoi­nted, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
James Madison, Federalist 47

I am hoping that in this attack on the working class, people see the republican­s as going a bridge too far. That this turns into a Ft. Sumter moment for working America.

The country cannot function with this much conservati­ve extremism and hostility. The checks and balances have all broken down. The country is in decline. The political conversati­on has become all about picking sides and bundled agendas. We are facing a Constituti­onal crisis.

We need a major event. Something to rally around. Something that can push us past the propaganda­. Something that can be used to make us take a serious look at ourselves and our future.

9/11 involved an external threat. It was irrelevant to a constitutional crisis.

We have two diverging interpretations of the Constitution. The liberal view is a more principled interpretation, which has benefited the general welfare of the country far better but still needs better definition of it’s limitations. The conservative view is a more literal interpretation, which is more appropriate to a sparsely populated isolationist society with an agrarian economy. Conservative policies have done real harm to this country for decades, and threaten to make our current problems insurmountable.

We need an event that will lead to something like a town hall constitutional convention. A widespread and in-depth public conversation on what we want and need the Constitution to mean. Only then can we decide with confidence how we want to enforce or amend it.

Ignoring the Constitution, or pretending it says something it does not, are not options in a nation of laws.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Direction, Economics, Government, Labor, Unions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

60% Of New Jobs In 2010 Were In Low-Paying Industries



In measuring the job market, conservati­ves only count noses and ignore actual purchasing power. Perhaps they consider all income to be disposable­. This deflation of wages, on a large scale, represents a real reduction in economic potential – and future growth.

Corporate America considers it cost savings, while I consider it a contractio­n in the economy that undermines the recovery.

Main Street is not an endless source of wealth. A consumer economy is only as sustainabl­e as the flow of money to consumers. The more those wages are cut off, the more the economy starves.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Employers Won’t Hire The Jobless Because Of The ‘Desperate Vibe’



Refusing to hire people who are currently unemployed is not a strategy that will lower unemployme­nt or improve the economy. Of course, businesses have no responsibi­lity for such things. This is the great flaw in conservati­ve philosophy – wanting to leave the future of our country in the hands of corporatio­ns that have no responsibi­lities to the economy, the people, the physical country, or the Constituti­on. They are neither patriots nor citizens, yet conservati­ves want this anarchy of self-inter­ests to control the country. Such a country would be America in name only.

Capitalism is fundamentally narcissistic, and you cannot run a free and just country on such principles.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

How Employers Weed Out Unemployed Job Applicants, Others, Behind The Scenes

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is the Chamber of Commerce a Subversive Organization?


The more that Corporate America can reach across the border for cheap labor, unprotected resources, and tax shelters, the more they insulate themselves from the American people and the American economy.

The more their interests come in conflict with the interests of the American people, and therefore conflict with government for the people.

It is disturbing to see how many support what are effectively foreign interests instead of the interests of the country. Some are already owned by Corporate America. Others aspire to join them – but with only 4% upward economic mobility, it is generally a vain hope.

Government is the tool we the people have to oppose the otherwise overwhelming power of big business. It is no surprise that they go to any lengths to take that tool away from us.

The working class are the ones who truly need to take back the country.
Take it back from the oligarchs and corporatists.
Take it back from the theocrats and propagandists.
Take it back from fear, prejudice, and ignorance.

Take it back to government of the people, by the people and for the people, because we the people are the ones who ultimately bear the burdens of failure – every failure, regardless of source.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Capitalism, Economics, Elections, Government, Labor, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proposed New Jersey Law Would Penalize Employers For Discriminating Against Unemployed



This law is too broad in that it makes no exception for internal transfer opportunities. As written, it could be interpreted to prohibit efforts to retain existing workers through internal placement.

This law could also be leveraged to downsize higher-paid employees and then hire lower-paid replacements.

I like the basic idea, but when I look at a law, I look for how it could be misunderstood or abused. Ambiguities and generalities are generally bad.

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1.    No employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee shall publish, in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for any job vacancy that contains one or more of the following:

a.     Any provision stating or suggesting that the qualifications for a job include current employment;

b.    Any provision stating or suggesting that the employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee will not consider or review an application for employment submitted by any job applicant currently unemployed; or

c.     Any provision stating or suggesting that the employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee will only consider or review applications for employment submitted by job applicants who are currently employed.

2.    Any employer who violates this act shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development in a summary proceeding pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

This bill prohibits an employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee to publish, in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for any job vacancy that prohibits, announces or suggests that unemployed individuals need not apply for a job vacancy. The bill provides for the imposition of civil penalties, for a violation of the bill, in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation, or $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

I worked for a large company for many years, and transferred internally on several occasions. Such transfers promote job stability and reduce training costs, both of which are desirable. If the law stated that external candidates cannot be required to have a current job, then that would be a different story.

Just shuffling people from one company to another does not increase employment. I hope the tax holiday for new hires is limited to hiring the unemployed. There should be an increase in head count involved.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Labor, Regulation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. CEO, Can You Spare A Job or a Free Lunch


FDR Memorial Bread Line

FDR Memorial Bread Line - Image via Wikipedia

If there is one thing that the republicans get right, it is that businesses pass their taxes on to the consumer. Consumers pay for the taxes. We pay for the profits and dividends. We pay for the outrageous salaries, extravagant benefits, undeserved bonuses, and golden parachutes. We as consumers, and sometimes as taxpayers, pay for the research and development.

And we pay for the mistakes. We pay for the failures. We pay for the fraud, the tax evasion, the subsidies, the extravagances, and the waste. We pay for the damages – direct, indirect, consequential, collateral, and punitive. We pay for the lawyers that write the incomprehensible and deceptive agreements and fine print. We pay for litigation. We pay a lot for litigation. We supply the funds Wall-Mart uses to litigate their way into communities that do not want them, and we supply the funds those communities use to defend themselves.

We pay for the mega-mergers with lost jobs (never to return) and lost competition. CEOs and stockholders of record profit, but the companies labor under a burden of debt that can be crippling – making it uncompetative.

We pay for cheap imports with lost wealth, lost jobs, and depressed salaries. We pay for off-shored jobs with unemployment and underemployment. The excessive concentration of wealth comes directly from the purchasing power of Main Street, and returns only a “trickle.”

Capitalism is an economic model – not a form of government. Under capitalism, businesses bear no responsibility to society or loyalty to country that is not expressly required by law. Free-market capitalism is asocial at best, and anti-social at worst. There is no responsibility within capitalism to maintaining a viable economy, no intrinsic patriotism obtains.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , | Leave a comment

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