NB Politicus

The Race to the Bottom – August 27th Post From Other Words

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on August 27, 2012

 The Race to the Bottom – IPS

The Race to the Bottom

The American middle class isn’t the envy of the world anymore.

William A. Collins
Labor had
Its happy day;
Now that time
Has flown away.
Is the love of money the root of all evil? OK, so Jesus may have played down bigotry and megalomania when he said that, but overall his observation holds true 2,000 years later.
Labor relations are a contemporary battleground for greed. Man’s inhumanity takes many forms. But we all have to work, and that means interactions between owners and toilers generate a lot of conflict.
Happily, a few nations have acted to help workers get a fair shake. Western Europe, shaken today by waves of economic turmoil, got the hang of it a century or so ago. The United States jumped on the worker bandwagon after the Great Depression. Our very successful experiment with employee rights, which have been gradually dismantled for years, ushered in the heyday of the American middle class.
Communism promised millions some hope for a fair shake, but it relied too heavily on repression meted out in the name of the people. Japan later picked up the concept of worker equity, followed by Taiwan and South Korea.
Hellish Working Conditions, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
Hellish Working Conditions, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
Today, Brazil, Argentina, and other Latin American nations are reshaping their economic systems to be more labor-friendly.
Most U.S. leaders don’t worry about worker rights anymore. They believe that government has no business in business. We’re gradually privatizing whatever public services we can. Across the nation, public schools and prisons are increasingly run by private companies.
And mercenaries and other “military contractors” have replaced hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in our endless wars.
This privatization push is a key part of the trend toward exporting jobs and attracting immigrant workers who will accept conditions that most Americans thought they had long ago transcended. It’s called “the race to the bottom.”
Under our cherished old system, championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the government set standards that all employers had to obey. Minimum wages, safety conditions, child labor laws, limits on the length of a permissible workday, and the freedom to form unions and collectively bargain — all these rights were supposed to be protected by law.
This system once worked commendably. By the 1960s, the American middle class was the envy of the world. No more. After big employers transferred millions of industrial and service jobs overseas, and technological advances rendered millions more jobs obsolete, we’ve got a surplus of workers. Wages have plummeted to the point that many autoworkers aren’t middle-class anymore. Unions are a vanishing breed, especially in the private sector.
Nothing much has changed, of course, for agricultural workers. They’ve long enjoyed virtually no protections at all, lest they drive up the price of food. The same goes for domestic workers, like caretakers and housekeepers, whose exploitation is a growing problem as our population ages and more mothers work outside the home.
As much as I’d like to point to some silver lining to relieve all this despair, I’m just not seeing any faint glow on the horizon. If anything, things look worse now that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling has stripped many previous limits on the torrent of corporate cash that can flood political campaigns. As a result, very wealthy companies and individuals are positioned to tighten their control over Congress, as well as state and federal governments.
What would Jesus say?
OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut. otherwords.org

Campaign Stop: Cong. Murphy at Mickey D’s Jazz Night in Hard Hittin’:

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on August 23, 2012

NEW BRITAIN – Another Wednesday night. Another evening with a packed house for jazz and dancing at the West Main Street McDonald’s in New Britain for seniors who turn the fast food restaurant into a night club every week.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Sam Kimball and musician friends, including members of The Rockin’ Heartbeats, started up with Jazz standards and kept going.

This week  Cong. Chris Murphy, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, moved comfortably from table to table,  talking with New Britain constituents and listening to their concerns after a long day of campaigning and meeting with constituents.

Murphy, who’s represented New Britain for three terms in the House, has come to the New Britain McDonald’s in past campaigns.  It’s a place where he draws energy and encouragement from older voters, some of whom told him they’re not buying the paid televised snake oil from the lady wrestling executive. Murphy’s well-heeled opponent from Greenwich, who once lived in New Britain,  avoids speaking to newspapers and continues to hide behind misleading commercials in hopes of buying a Senate seat. You’re not likely to find her at Mickey D’s on Jazz Night either. Having a conversation with real people and answering unscripted questions is something her handlers won’t allow.

Good Food and Politics: NB Black Democratic Club Hosts Soul Food Fest

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on August 19, 2012

A tradition for New Britain Democrats continues…

posted from http://www.newbritaindemocrat.org 
Politics and traditional Southern cuisine were on the agenda at the annual Soul Food Fest sponsored by the New Britain Black Democratic Club on Saturday, August 18th at the Pride of Connecticut Lodge of Elks in New Britain. Club and DTC members also extended birthday wishes to DTC member and community leader Alton Brooks who is celebrating his 91st birthday this week.  Cong. and Senate Nominee Chris Murphy and Attorney General George Jepsen participated.

Friends of DTC Member Alton Brooks (seated in center) presented “Mr. Brooks” with a birthday cake at the August 18th Soul Food Fest. Brooks observed his 91st birthday on August 16th. Standing from left State Rep. Bobby Sanchez, Alderwoman and Black Democratic Club President Shirley Black and DTC Chair John McNamara (photo by F. Gerratana)

Enjoying the New Britain Democratic Black Club’s Soul Food Fest from left DTC Treasurer John Valengavich, Attorney General George Jepsen, State Senate Terry Gerratana, Chef and CT Democratic Party Treasurer Emma Pierce, Rob Blanchard, aide to Jepsen, and New Britain DTC Chair John McNamara (photo by F. Gerratana)

Greeting Cong. and Senate Nominee Chris Murphy (right) were from left Bessie Surratt, Paulette Fox and Ron Davis. (Photo by F. Gerratana)
Cong. and Senate Nominee Chris Murphy chats with participants at the Black Democratic Club’s Soul Food Fest. Murphy received 68% of the vote in New Britain’s Democratic Primary on August 14th. (Photo by F. Gerratana)

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on August 19, 2012

New Britain Democratic Town Committee

Town Committee Meets Thursday, 8/30: Fall Campaign To Begin

The Democratic Town Committee will meet Thursday, August 30th, at 7 p.m. at New Britain City Hall.

On the agenda will be Get Out The Vote plans and a schedule for the fall campaign, a voter registration update and an update on downtown revitalization and economic development in the city. All Democrats are welcome to attend.

New Britain Primary Results (20%)

US Senate:  Chris Murphy 2,136 (68%); Susan Bysiewicz 1,005 (32%)

US House: Chris Donovan  1,260 (42%); Elizabeth Esty 936 (32%); Dan Roberti 788 (26%)

Congratulations to Senate Nominee Chris Murphy and House Nominee Elizabeth Esty in the 5th Congressional District.

From Team Murphy:  Get To The “Debate” Tuesday 8/21, at Polish National Home

Linda McMahon’s televised saturation campaign of lies against Chris Murphy, her refusal to meet with editorial boards and her debate-delaying tactics got a quick response from Team Murphy…

View original post 503 more words

Other Words On Tax Dodgers: Mitt Romney Is Not Alone

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on August 12, 2012

Marching Toward Greater Inequality

The world’s super rich, according to a new report, are squirreling away phenomenal quantities of their cash in secret tax havens.

Sam Pizzigati
Are America’s rich getting richer? Certainly. Every official yardstick shows that America’s most affluent are upping their incomes much faster than everyone else.
How fast? Between 1980 and 2010, note economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, incomes for America’s top 1 percent more than doubled after inflation. They now average a little more than $1 million.
The top 0.1 percent saw their incomes more than triple, to $4.9 million, over that same span. And income more than quadrupled for the top 0.01 percent — the richest 16,000 Americans — to nearly $24 million.
And what about the rest of us? After inflation, average incomes for America’s bottom 90 percent actually fell — by 4.8 percent — between 1980 and 2010, from $31,337 to $29,840.
These numbers tell us how much peoplemake. Measuring wealth gauges how much people have. The two, common sense tells us, ought to be related. If incomes are getting much more unequal, then the distribution of our national wealth ought to become much more unequal too.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case. A Congressional Research Service of new Federal Reserve data indicates that the gap between the wealth of America’s most awesomely affluent and everyone else is holding steady.
In 2010, the Fed data show, the top 1 percent held 34.5 percent of the nation’s wealth, almost the same exact share as in 1995, and not that much more than the 30.1 percent share they held in 1989.
These numbers just don’t add up — income is increasingly skewed toward the top, but wealth distribution is holding steady. What can explain this paradox?
Maybe the Federal Reserve isn’t doing a good job of assessing just how much wealth the wealthiest Americans own. Indeed, Fed researchers do acknowledge that they don’t take into account — for privacy reasons — the wealth of anyone listed in the Forbes magazine annual list of America’s 400 richest.
But including these 400 only moves the top 1 percent’s share of America’s wealth up by a bit over a percentage point. It isn’t enough to explain the disconnect between the extraordinary income gains of America’s rich and the modest rise in their share of national wealth.
Maybe the rich are simply living large, wasting their astronomical incomes on caviar, private jets, and other luxuries. But wasteful consumption can’t explain the inequality paradox either. Deep pockets in America’s top 0.01 percent could shell out $5,000 every single day of the year and still have 93 percent of their annual incomes left to spend.
So what in the end can explain the inequality paradox? The London-based Tax Justice Network has an answer. The world’s super rich, the group has just reported, are squirreling away — and concealing — phenomenal quantities of their cash in secret global tax havens.
The Network’s new tax-dodging study “conservatively” computes the total wealth stashed in these havens at $21 trillion. That total could plausibly run as high as $32 trillion.
Americans make up, we know from previous research, almost a third of the global super rich. That would put the American share of unrecorded offshore assets as high as $10 trillion.
Add this $10 trillion to the wealth of America’s top 1 percent and the inequality disconnect between wealth and income largely disappears. Paradox solved.
Now we have to tackle a much bigger challenge: ending the march to ever greater inequality. Shutting down tax havens would make a great place to start.
OtherWords columnist Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality published by the Institute for Policy Studies.  This post courtesy of Sam Pizzigati and OtherWords.org