Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Bits (and Pieces)

Quote of the Day: "The TPP is not a trade deal, it's a corporate coup d'etat." (So why does Obama keep pushing for this "free trade agreement that's been described at NAFTA on steroids? Especially when even his political base is against this? Is Obama just another puppet president for the big corporations?)

New York Fed: The Job-Finding Rate -- "The job-finding rate is still substantially below its pre-recession levels, suggesting that it is still difficult for the unemployed to find work ...both the vacancy-to-unemployment ratio and matching efficiency declined during the Great Recession and have not recovered since ... the most important factor in the low job-finding rate is the persistently low level of vacancies per unemployed."

Gap Inc. CEO Glenn Murphy shook up the retail world this week by announcing that the retailer would voluntarily raise its minimum wage to $9 this year and to $10 in 2015. A day later, labor groups that have spent months beating up Gap over its handling of garment factory disasters in Bangladesh are now hailing the company as a leader for raising workers' wages without being forced by Congress. Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO labor federation, said:

"Gap’s decision exposes the greatest economic fraud of our time: that large employers cannot pay their employees fair wages. With one decision, The Gap has stripped the oligarch of his clothes and changed the economic debate in America."

Because Republican politicians had interfered in the union vote at VW, the company may NOT build another plant in Tennessee, thereby costing the state jobs.

The Comcast buyout of Time Warner will result in higher costs and worse service (higher and worse than it already is) But Comcast's and Time Warner's rivals may see opportunity in the mega-merger.

Famous people who were once on food stamps includes some who now advocate against food stamps:

  • Craig T. Nelson: The actor and former "Coach" star famously told radio host Glenn Beck that he was once on food stamps. He was strangely trying to make the point that government shouldn't be in the business of bailing people out. Nelson said, "I've been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No."
  • Dr. Ben Carson: The famous doctor and conservative Fox News darling has warned that the welfare state will sap people of their entrepreneurial spirit. He himself, however, benefited from food stamps as a kid.
  • Phil Drake: The president of Drake Enterprises, Ltd., is a prominent businessman, a fervent conservative and a tea party enthusiast. He was also once on food stamps. 

Study: The more money one has, the more right-wing they become -- "In most data sets, rich people typically lean right. In our data set, many hundreds of individuals serendipitously receive significant lottery windfalls. We find that the larger is their lottery win, the greater is that person’s subsequent tendency, after controlling for other influences, to switch their political views from left to right. We also provide evidence that lottery winners are more sympathetic to the belief that ordinary people ‘already get a fair share of society’s wealth’...Winners disproportionately lean to the right having previously not been right-wing supporters...Money makes people right-wing and inegalitarian."

EXPOSE: Silicon Valley giants conspired to keep the lid on pay -- "Silicon Valley execs love to talk about how a free market breeds innovation. So it might come as a surprise that some of those execs were engaged in a secret pact not to recruit one another's employees—in other words, to game the labor market. The potentially illegal deals suppressed salaries across the sector by a whopping $3 billion, claims a class-action lawsuit scheduled for a May trial in San Jose, and were done to juice the bottom lines of some of the nation's most profitable companies."

In San Francisco, Department of Public Works employees are spraying the homeless with high-powered hoses to clear the sidewalks. The "second tech boom" attracted a stream of moneyed young professionals, whom many critics have blamed for driving up the cost of living in the city and for pushing many lower-income people out of their apartments. Last December the CEO of tech startup AngelHack, Greg Gopman, posted a Facebook status complaining of the homeless in San Francisco. "The difference is, in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet and generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests."

For the last few years, a small handful of global high-tech corporations (Apple, Microsoft, etc.) and their allies on Capitol Hill have been doing everything they can to put small inventors out of business. Since the late 1990s, these high-tech multinationals have been stripping garage inventors of their rights under the guise of "patent reform," doling out tens of millions of dollars to K Street lobbyists.

Why the US needs tax reform to avoid a 'Downton Abbey' economy -- "As America's rich get richer, there is growing political pressure to act on the causes of inequality." Like maybe tax the rich and feed the poor?

EXPOSE: The Shadow Lobbying Complex. Influence peddling hasn't declined. In reality, it's just gone underground. -- "On paper, the lobbying industry is quickly disappearing. In January, records indicated that for a third straight year, overall spending on lobbying decreased. Lobbyists themselves continue to deregister. In 2013, the number of registered lobbyists dipped to 12,281, the lowest number on file since 2002. But experts say that lobbying isn’t dying; instead, it’s simply going underground. The problem, says American University professor James Thurber, who has studied congressional lobbying for more than thirty years, is that “most of what is going on in Washington is not covered” by the lobbyist-registration system. Thurber, who is currently advising the American Bar Association’s lobbying-reform task force, adds that his research suggests the true number of working lobbyists is closer to 100,000.

The White House blamed House Republicans for refusing to entertain raising tax revenue in exchange for including chained CPI, in the 2015 budget—which would cut the benefit increases for Social Security and other federal social programs; but added that Obama's offer to include chained CPI in exchange for raising new tax revenue still remains on the table. In other words, this wasn’t a substantive move away from austerity by the White House, but rather a temporary re-assessment of the current bargaining atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

Job Creator or Mafia Capo? -- The Philadelphia sports bar and restaurant chain Chickie's & Pete's must pay its employees $6.8 million in back wages for stealing tips from its bartenders and servers. The owner, Peter Ciarrocchi, Jr., must pay 1,159 employees at 9 of the company's locations. He had required his employees to contribute 60% of their tips to a "tip pool" that the employees called the "Pete's Tax" — which had to be paid in cash at the end of each shift. In some cases, the company required employees to use their own money to contribute to this pool by withdrawing cash from a nearby ATM or borrowing from another server. (The Republicans want LESS regulation and LESS taxes for these job creators.)

"The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of approximately $150 million in grants to prepare and place those facing long-term unemployment into good jobs on what's called The Ready to Work Partnership. Approximately 20 to 30 grants ranging from $3 million to $10 million will be awarded to programs focused on employer engagement, individualized counseling, job placement assistance, and work-based training that facilitate hiring for jobs where employers currently use foreign workers on H-1B visas." (Where does the unemployed sign up or apply?)

NEW STUDY: Corporate Welfare Makes the Rich Lazy

The mysterious online war against a payday lending crackdown

Retailers band together to fight health reform law

The Fed still blaming Baby Boomers for a declining labor force, instead of just saying "We lack jobs."

8 pages of Fox News animations for your website or blog

1 comment:

  1. The cutting edge of computer chips today will probably look like a steady old cheap workhorse of a chip in about five years. Intel is now etching transistors at 22 nanometers, and as the company points out, you could fit 6,000 of these transistors across the width of a human hair; or if you prefer, it would take 6 million of these 22 nanometer transistors to cover the period at the end of a sentence. Also, a 22 nanometer transistor can switch on and off 100 billion times in a second.

    So how will this affect the labor market?

    The most valuable part of each computer (a motherboard loaded with microprocessors and memory) is already largely made with robots. Whereas, people do things like fitting in batteries and snapping on screens (so easy, a caveman can do it). As more robots are built, largely by other robots, assembly can be done here as well as anywhere else...So why then are unemployed American workers still being blamed for lacking skills...And if robots are going to displace American workers, then the only skills that would be needed would be Americans with Ph.Ds for "fitting in batteries and snapping on screens".