Sunday, May 5, 2013

Will a 29-Hour Work Week be the New Norm?

Whenever I think of a CEO sitting in a boardroom conjuring up new ways to make money, I imagine a convict in prison contemplating all the ways they can's a never-ending venture.

Every day we learn of how those at the top have been ripping off and profiting from others. It's almost overwhelming, as they are always coming up with new schemes to legally defraud consumers and investors.

A New York Times article features a father-son team who earned $118 million in "advisory fees" over the last three years while diluting company stock and cutting dividends, thereby "legally" ripping off investors.

It seems like every time one scam, Ponzi scheme or rip-off is discovered and reported, three more new ones pop's a never-ending venture.

Now that we already have too many part-time workers (7.6 million to date) with no healthcare insurance (because businesses never think they earn enough, or because they claim they "feel uncertainty in the marketplace", or because they claim they must be "more competitive in a global market"), the government has unwittingly provided new incentives for these businesses (and colleges) to create more part-time jobs to save themselves money at the worker's and consumer's expense.

From the Wall Street Journal: "Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide health insurance to employees working an average of 30 hours a week or more. If they don't, the employer faces fees starting at $2,000 per worker annually. (I posted on this subject before in ObamaCare® Loophole Creates More Part-time Jobs)

Trade associations such as the National Restaurant Association have been lobbying lawmakers to raise the number of hours that trigger the requirement. This is to avoid insuring bartenders, cocktail servers, waiters and busboys --- many who only earn $2.13 an hour because they are tipped employees and their tips are taxed from hourly earnings in their pay checks.

Others, including the National Education Association teachers union and school districts, have been pushing the Internal Revenue Service to make smaller tweaks to the way an employee's hours are counted in federal rules.

The state of Virginia has begun implementing a 29-hour curb that will apply to 37,000 state employees who are classified as waged temporary workers, including college adjunct faculty. Unlike tenured faculty, whose annual salaries can top $160,000, adjunct professors make an average of $2,700 per course and receive no health care or other benefits.

Professors with PhDs are already working part-time so college presidents can pay themselves multi-million-dollar salaries; and non-paid college basketball (and football) players continue to generate billions of dollars of revenues through the NCAA for colleges, advertisers, and Las Vegas casinos --- all while tuitions are getting so expensive that one has to be either very wealthy, or go deeply into depth to get a higher education.

Keith Hall, the former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who recently testified before the Joint Economic Committee, says 102 million working-age Americans don’t have jobs – about 41.5 percent of all potentially available workers.

“The long-term unemployment rate underestimates the number of long-term jobless,” said Hall, who’s now a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, adding that the long-term unemployed are “helping to hold back economic growth.”

Hall said the unemployment rate has fallen without significantly reducing joblessness. By dropping out of the workforce, these former workers are making the participation rate shrink and are making the long-term unemployment numbers look much better than they are, he said.

Kevin Hassett, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, says the longer a worker is jobless, the greater the chance of divorce, family strife, suicide and a host of other ills that do permanent damage to children, who’ll become workers someday.

And now businesses and colleges want to further expand on that theme. For all the jobs that can't be outsourced to foreign countries, they want to create millions of more part-time low-paying jobs with no benefits at all. They will do anything to extract every penny they can, like a huge sucking vacuum, sucking all the wealth to the top.

Virgil Bierschwale of recently sent me this email:

I just went to Home Depot for the first time in a year (I wanted some charcoal to go with some beer.) I went to check out and all they had were the self-checkout lines, which I refuse to do.

In the middle, a lady was ringing up a guy's purchases, so I waited patiently. When he went to pay, she made him pay via the nearest self-checkout. I asked her about that, and after she told me everybody had too, I left my stuff and walked out.

While some of you may think I am a fool for that, that cashier doesn’t make much money to start with. He, or she needs that job. I refuse to give my money to somebody that will destroy jobs. So I will not be going back, even if it means that I need to pay substantially more and do business in my small community. At least that way I will support my community and create jobs.

Sometime today I will have a article along these lines at Keep America at Work (After I calm down, of course.

I wrote him back: "I'll be waiting for that article. Did you get the cashier's name? Did you speak to the manager about this? I would do a full "investigative" story about this. Essentially, management is asking their employees to help propagate in the laying off of fellow employees and/or themselves."

He replied, "Nope. There's no sense giving the poor girl grief. Decisions like that are made at the ivory tower level. I’m betting this is nationwide, so there's no sense going to the manager either." (Here is a post I did on Home Depot)

Commentary - Venture capital firms such as Bain Capital is continuing it's war on the American worker. Just name one unethical, immoral or criminal activity that a major corporation (or university) won't engage in to increase their profits and executive pay (e.g. lying, bribery, theft, etc). Just name one. And yes, you can also include manslaughter, murder and even genocide (such as tobacco). There is NOTHING they won't do for an extra buck, NOTHING. Creating an economy with nothing but part-time low-paying jobs without any benefits might be the LEAST of all their offenses against humanity and the American worker.

Why did Obama appoint Penny Pritzker, a billionaire and owner of Hyatt Hotels, as Secretary of Commerce when she is clearly very anti-union? Just because she's a big campaign donor? Democrats and Republicans are all corrupt.

As a society, we could fix many of these things if our political system wasn't so corrupt. The majority of Americans (and what they desire) are being completely ignored by our political leaders. We could make laws BANNING the outsourcing of jobs and FORCING corporations to repatriate their overseas earnings.

We could also tax "capital gains" as regular wages too. Forbes reports that "capital gains are the key ingredient of income disparity in the U.S. --- and more than 80% of the increase in income inequality over the past several years was the result of an increase in the share of household income from capital gains."

We could do anything we wanted to, IF our Congress ever did the "will" of the people (instead of being for sale to the highest bidder). So, until we first fix our corrupted political system, nothing else can ever be fixed. Otherwise, America's workers will have nothing to look forward to, except to be the next "emerging market" after the corporate game of "musical countries" (in search of the cheapest labor) finally comes back to the United States.

Currently, the labor participation rate is at a 40-year low. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2011, 1.7 million Americans earned exactly the prevailing Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and 2.2 million had wages below the minimum. Together, these workers made up 5.2 percent of all hourly paid workers.

Almost a quarter of all U.S. households live on a median income of $19,315 a year. And according to the Social Security Administration, half of all U.S. wage earners (who filed a W-4 with an employer and paid FICA taxes) earned $26,965.43 a year or LESS after taxes

Millions of American workers (if their schedule permits) works more than one part-time job, or works "split shifts". Can you live on $7.25 an hour (that Congress refuses to raise), working 29 hours a week, with no healthcare? Half of America's workforce may one day be expected to do so if the current trend continues. This is what 3 million new high school graduates have to look forward to this year, and the years ahead.

From the Fiscal Times - "Why a Part-Time Workforce Is the New Normal"

"We're losing the better-paying jobs making things and gaining minimum wage jobs in retail. America is becoming a nation of clerks who work for someone else selling goods made somewhere else."

"The fact of the matter is, there simply aren't enough jobs to employ our population in marketing." - [Curtis Ellis, Communications Director, American Jobs Alliance]

From the Huffington Post - "April Jobs Report Bad News for College Grads"

And let's call "entitlements" what they really are -- "wage subsidies" -- and companies like McDonald's and Wal-Mart (and others who dodge taxes) benefit the most.

Quote from the late Justice Louis Brandeis: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

William Shakespeare: "You take my life when you take the means whereby I live."

The New 29-Hour Work Week

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