Tag Archives: minimum wage

ICE use of private prisons is another example of our make-a-buck Congress and WH losing public trust

Why do we put up with nearly 750,000 pending immigration cases, where many detainees are forced into private jails for months, awaiting a ponderous bureaucracy to decide their fate?

Let’s follow the money…

An entire industry has grown up around detainees, from employment for lawyers and judges, to nonprofits raising money for jazzy executive salaries. And the longer the review process, the more money sloshes about, enriching groups and individuals at the expense of foreigners, who should be instead rapidly excluded from – or included in – our American society.

Nowhere is this abuse more blatant than the for-profit detention centers run by the same folks who own many of our criminal prisons and use inmates and government largess to grab the big dollars. Continue reading →

British want to fight inequality – it’s worse here!

British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin is starting a campaign against inequality that should be emulated by all (five, ten?) American politicians not controlled by big business.

“One proposal is pay ratios between top and bottom, so that the rewards don’t just accrue to those at the top,” he said.

“Of the G7 nations only the US has greater income inequality than the UK, and pay inequality on this scale is neither necessary nor inevitable.”

Corbin is talking about real compensation – wages, salaries and bonuses – while many reports for the American public will note an executive $1 million wage, but exclude their $12 million bonus. That trick is good PR for the overpaid, but not good statistics when comparing worker to CEO. Also not mentioned is that company owners (with no work required) usually make much more than the executives. When comparing apples to apples, the mismatch is onerous.

“Total direct compensation for 300 CEOs at public companies increased 5.5% to a median of $11.4 million in 2013, concluded an analysis by The Wall Street Journal and Hay Group. A separate AFL-CIO study of CEO pay across a broad sample of S&P 500 firms showed the average CEO earned 331 times more than the typical U.S. worker last year. In 1980, that multiple was 42,” according to a report in the Wall Street Journal in November, 2014.

Gave you halfThe record of being the most unequal of G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and United States – is a distinction without merit. So-called pay inequality solutions here include lowering the taxes on the highest paid, sheltering savings of the richest Americans, and maintaining government subsidies to the poorest workers (EITC), rather than really raising (not $10.10) the minimum wage. And those negative plans are the ones endorsed by many in the Democrat Party. Most in the GOP also want to privatize everything from national parks to public roads and schools – in short, anywhere a buck can be squeezed.

“Another proposal would be to bar or restrict companies from distributing dividends until they pay all their workers the living wage,” Corbin explained.

“Only profitable employers will be paying dividends, if they depend on cheap labor for those profits, then I think there is a question over whether that is a business model to which we should be turning a blind eye.”

During the 2008 financial crisis, it was common that many, running for public office, also espoused caps on highest salaries to five or ten million dollars. Continue reading →

Rich look poorer, poor much richer – report distorted to make average Joe happy – despite Depression

350px-Personal_Household_Income_UIt’s so very wonderful to learn this week that “median household income” in 2014 was $53,657, even if it was down from $57,843 in 1999. You can still buy a nice basket of goodies on $50 grand a year. If only it were true.

Most jobs pay about $31k. Many families have just one parent or one spouse working. Something doesn’t add up. Welcome to the world of making statistics lie to fool the peons into believing serfdom is almost as good as living in a castle.

First, the bad news for the poor. The government is reporting your household income much higher than your wages. You may be earning $20k at a lousy job, but Uncle Sam’s statisticians massage that number upward by adding:

  • The value of the free lunches your children eat in school.
  • The estimated net price of the Medicaid and Medicare received for healthcare.
  • Pensions, unemployment insurance, welfare, workman’s comp.
  • Social Security retirement and disability payments.
  • Tax refunds, alimony and childcare payments to you.
  • Supplemental Social Security and Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Heating and utility subsidies for the poor.
  • Women’s and children’s subsidized clinic care.
  • The estimated value of government-provided childcare.
  • Employer cost of healthcare premiums, pension payments and insurance.

Continue reading →

Lies about minimum wage – it’s not even a lousy $7.25 an hour

One of the least discussed provisions of the minimum wage law in this country is how we treat workers under the age of 20 – those high school and college students deprecated on FOX News, for example, as overpaid burger flippers, toilet cleaners, gardeners, and other manual workers. The concept of raising their wages to $15 an hour drives most of the GOP and some Democrats up the wall.

wagesIf you are under 20 and planning to spend most of your summer raising money for college, the thought of even $7.25 an hour (less 50 cents FICA) might sound attractive. So, you agree to your new job of flipping meat for eight hours behind the hot grill without asking about wages, and you assume you will be paid minimum wage of $7.25 or more.

The plan is work hard to reduce your student loan debt, especially since college costs go up 5% or more every year.

Paid every two weeks, after an exhausting struggle, there is your first paycheck, and something is very wrong. You go to your boss and ask – why is my pay so low? Is this for just one forty-hour week?

The employer paid you gross – before taxes – a total of $340. After FICA and state and local taxes, you take home about $300 – and your boss explains it is for 80 hours of work. Welcome to crony capitalism!

Here’s why this is allowed, according to the Department of Labor (DOL) minimum wage rules:

A minimum wage of not less than $4.25 may be paid to employees under the age of 20 for their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with any employer as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment, or when the worker reaches age 20 (whichever comes first), the worker must receive at least the Federal minimum wage.

Just as you are ready to qualify for $7.25 an hour, it’s time to leave your job and go back to Continue reading →

Trump card is the minimum wage. My bet: he just lost any chance of winning the Republican Presidential nomination

serfIn the Middle Ages an average duke or earl’s property was about 38,000 acres, and the “little people” grew the food and paid taxes to these aristocrats of yore, and the humble were called serfs and lived like dogs to support the castles for the very few.

The present crony capitalism is different. Our aristocrats elect public officials, set prices by corporations, and there are no serfs, just the “working class.”

Today’s lords and masters also make the dukes of old look like the pikers that defended them. Donald Trump, for example, boasts about $9 billion in wealth. That wouldn’t just buy him 39,000 acres, but at $10,000 an acre, he could acquire 900,000 acres or 1,400 square miles – enough to fit all New York City’s boroughs inside – four times – and still have 200 square miles remaining for golf courses and towers. At that size, Trump’s land could hold 40 million inhabitants at NYC density.

Asked if he is in favor of raising the minimum wage this week:

trumpDONALD TRUMP: I can’t be, Neil (Cavuto). And the reason I can’t be is [that] we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. There is nothing that we do now to win. We don’t win anymore. Our taxes are too high. I’ve come up with a tax plan that many, many people like very much. It’s going to be a tremendous plan. I think it will make our country and our economy very dynamic. But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratosphere. We can not do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can’t do it. – most recent Republican debate

Donald Trump has a mixed bag of economic solutions, many bereft of the international Continue reading →

Tax credit cuts will make Britains work much harder – like Chinese or Americans – British Health Secretary tells the poor

hunt-ja

Smirk, smug and telling you to work harder

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt thinks the British don’t work hard enough because they have too generous tax credits – a benefit similar to the U.S. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Hunt seemed like a money-grubbing rich person when he explained:

“My wife is Chinese. We want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years’ time. There’s a pretty difficult question that we have to answer, which is essentially: are we going to be a country which is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating a culture where work is at the heart of our success.”

“Dignity is not just about how much money you have got … officially, children are growing up in poverty if there is an income in that family of less than £16,500 (a £ is worth about $1.52 U.S.). What the Conservatives say is how that £16,500 is earned matters.

“It matters if you are earning that yourself, because if you are earning it yourself you are independent and that is the first step towards self-respect. If that £16,500 is either a high proportion or entirely through the benefit system you are trapped. It is about pathways to work, pathways to independence … It is about creating a pathway to independence, self-respect and dignity.”

In one sense Jeremy agrees with many Americans. We do work hard. We spend too many hours at work. Many of us are underpaid. For Jeremy all that is good – because he is rich Continue reading →

Two political parties with same fiscal plan prey on middle class

The federal government elections are winner takes all, which means the tiniest majority insures the elected party powers, as though everyone voted one way. Many other nations use proportional representation. In those systems if one party gets 75% of the vote, it is awarded 3/4 of the delegates to the governing body, and the minority party or parties gain 1/4 of the representation.

Proportional, or true democratic elections, insure that GOPDem Boxing Ringa small party can join the debate, and not be ignored, because it has no representatives. For example, a national proportional election for Congress might give the Democrats 40% of the representatives, 40% to the Republicans, 7% to the Greens, 4% to the Teas, and 9% to the Coffees.

Under such a system it would be very difficult to gain an absolute majority, which means that more than one party would have to vote on a bill for passage, and this consultation requirement would eliminate caucus domination by either the Republicans or Democrats.

We suffer two national parties, led by politicians who publicly espouse vastly different social values, but both parties also advocate basic economic principles that favor the wealthy class, pander to the lower class, and deny benefits and fair taxation to the middle class.

An example of this singular economic approach is the cry to “reform” Social Security and Medicare. This is only a smokescreen campaign to lower benefits for the middle class, so that no FICA tax be raised, no defense budget will require reduction, and no bevy of political party-loving bureaucrats will be dismissed from unnecessary public administration.

Internationally, many nations have third and fourth or more parties. Some concentrate almost solely on issues like minimum wage, paid leave, universal healthcare and childcare. When you vote for one of them, you vote solely for their pocketbook issues. For some of us, such a choice would be welcome in order to promote a progressive economic agenda. For others, their party of choice might urge more industrialization, shorter prison sentences, public housing expansion, or less social safety net programs.

Acting alone, both of our current political parties have tremendous baggage, when they try to attract votes from the other’s social issue spectrum. It is almst like fraternity or club politics – you get a list of ideas and you must agree to all of them to be a party player.

On one side, the Democrats have lost most of the working class vote, because the party has too many litmus tests. Do you agree that guns should be nearly banned? Do you approve of in-state college tuition for folks who are not even American citizens? And to join the GOP side, do you believe that we should have mandatory prayer in public school, a law that rules sodomy requires incarceration, or curiculums that preach the world was created less than 4,000 years ago?

An economic party with candidates that only stood for fairness in income distribution and common sense worker protections, might elect ten or fifteen Senators, a couple dozen Representatives – not enough to select the Senate Majority leader or Speaker of the House, but enough to create a swing vote that represented the people’s financial interests, a block that would need to be consulted for its support.  For other citizens their choice might be a party devoted to environmental protection, promoting mass transit or enabling the labor movement.

A small third or fourth party might also be immune to the usual Washington pressures. There would be less need for advertising, when every party gets a proportion of representation and a voice in legislative deliberations.  The small party would not try to control every aspect of our government. but instead help to craft national policy through discourse and cooperation with the other parties of like mind on particular issues.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a boon for corporations, blatant welfare for companies that underpay their workers

Congressional Map TY12

It’s budget season time again. The Washington Post and NYT have already published their obligatory stories on why we need to “reform” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because if not, we won’t have hardly any money left to spend on military and discretionary programs. Fox and NBC stations this week said we must “deal” with the budget deficit caused by “entitlement spending.” Paul Ryan has agreed, and so has the Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, the White House sees this attack on the middle class as yet another chance to negotiate with Koch and company.

In the midst of self-inflicted austerity talk, Republicans heartily approve of spending billions of dollars to raise the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which currently gives up to $6,143 (tax free) each year to couples and families, who have have lousy paying jobs.

Also in agreement are most Democrat lawmakers, who believe that EITC subsidizing business by supplementing wages is a kind thing to do for the needy.  Looking down from the top, the “little people’s” dependance on the government for their livelihood is not demeaning and demoralizing, just curing social injustice of some sort.

When the wealthy masters of both parties in Congress agree on a policy, it is often wise for the rest of us to duck. The GOP loves EITC, because it rewards employers who pay poverty wages.  Under normal circumstances such wages would lead to bare subsistence livelihoods for workers, increasing turnover and encouraging unions and other “troublemakers” to end working for starvation pay. However, with the middle class taxpayers sending billions of EITC dollars to these underpaid workers, all is well for the employer, who knows the poor will survive to work another day, and the boss can continue to compensate workers below the level of subsistence.

When will Democrats in the WH recognize that most benefits (food stamps, public housing, etc.) for the working poor are just subsidies to corporations, and that the solutions for reducing inequality must instead include higher minimum wages and more public benefits for all Americans – free college, free childcare, free healthcare and free nursing homes? Or do they already know this and have bowed to pressure from lobbies and campaign contributors.

If you wonder which employers are gaining the most from EITC, the graphics here tell the story. Most of the EITC recipients are from states dominated by austerity advocates, right to work laws, and generally low wages.

EITC Percentage of Filers by State

%d bloggers like this: