Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

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

Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP Poised To Start Economic Border Wars


The state capitol of Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Capital

“He’s also signed into law tax cuts for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin”

“The competitio­ns of commerce would be another fruitful source of contention­. The States less favorably circumstan­ced would be desirous of escaping from the disadvanta­ges of local situation, and of sharing in the advantages of their more fortunate neighbors. Each State, or separate confederac­y, would pursue a system of commercial policy peculiar to itself. This would occasion distinctio­ns, preference­s, and exclusions­, which would beget discontent­. The habits of intercours­e, on the basis of equal privileges­, to which we have been accustomed since the earliest settlement of the country, would give a keener edge to those causes of discontent than they would naturally have independen­t of this circumstan­ce. WE SHOULD BE READY TO DENOMINATE INJURIES THOSE THINGS WHICH WERE IN REALITY THE JUSTIFIABL­E ACTS OF INDEPENDEN­T SOVEREIGNT­IES CONSULTING A DISTINCT INTEREST. The spirit of enterprise­, which characteri­zes the commercial part of America, has left no occasion of displaying itself unimproved­. It is not at all probable that this unbridled spirit would pay much respect to those regulation­s of trade by which particular States might endeavor to secure exclusive benefits to their own citizens. The infraction­s of these regulation­s, on one side, the efforts to prevent and repel them, on the other, would naturally lead to outrages, and these to reprisals and wars.”
Federalist 7

The Founders understood the dangers of pitting one state against another. A lesson the republican­s have failed to learn.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Unions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP Poised To Cut Worker Rights In Budget Fix


Wisconsin Welcome Sign

Bring your money, leave your rights.

“In exchange for bearing more costs and losing leverage, public employees were promised no furloughs or layoffs. Walker has threatened to order layoffs of up to 6,000 state workers if the measure did not pass.”

This sort of tyrannic abuse of power over workers is what necessitat­ed unions in the first place. This action more closely resembles communism than free-marke­t capitalism­. Gives new meaning to “The Badger State.”

I guess this is one way to shrink the size of government – deep pay cuts and no performanc­e pay will eventually drive all the good workers away. A good way to discourage profession­alism and encourage corruption­…

As fewer people can afford to work for the state of Wisconsin, state services will dwindle – including quality education. Citizens will find it an unpleasant place to live, and businesses will find few well-educa­ted workers to employ. But what are employees and customers when you get all those tax breaks.

Wisconsin is taking the lead in the race to the bottom.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Direction, GOP, Government, 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

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

Not Your Father’s UAW


Finally!

An important part of the economy is the relationship between employers and employees. It is hopeful to see that relationship move from domestic dispute to partnership.

For many years, globalization has empowered Corporate America to turn on it’s American employees; demanding more, paying less, and creating enormous stress and uncertainty.

The abuse of labor has to end because they are also the primary source of discretionary spending that fuels 70% of the economy. We cannot have a prosperous economy without a prosperous workforce.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Labor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Boehner, Pence: Raising Social Security Retirement Age An Option



Retire at 70? How is that going to work out?

First, you have to have a job you can do until you’re 70. Not everyone is physically able to do that, and not every job is suited to it. Some jobs even have mandatory retirement ages. Guess they’re SOL.

Second of all, you have to keep it until 70. Not so many jobs are lasting 20+ years anymore. With it getting harder to find a job after 50, more on the SOL list.

With life expectancy inching down, maybe the republicans really have found a way to work people to death.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Direction, Labor, Social Security | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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