When are policies/legislation ever going to be designed for the struggling Working Class, rather than the corporate elite?….The standard stats like the unemployment rates used to measure the strength of the economy are a flawed way to look at things.  Most of the numbers in the latest jobs report were quite impressive, even signaling stronger GDP & wage growth are likely ahead (although participation rates remain disappointing which can indicate a still large number of discouraged workers that artificially lower unemployment rates quid-pro-quo-media-gets-trump-tax-cut-and-hails-economy-as-robust-ignoring-millions-of-americans).  By placing in the proper context, we see the steady decline in the unemployment rates & approximately 200K monthly jobs created being a continuation of the trends seen in the last few years of the Obama administration, resulting in reporting of more great data for a broken system where the working class keeps getting screwed.

It’s an affront to the sensibilities & dignity of the nearly half the working class population, who work hard but are struggling in making ends meet to call this a strong economy.  No matter what the unemployment rate says, let’s fix the major problem of the lower-middle class being able to find good jobs that pay a livable wage, before we insult them with this hollow claim of the economy being so robust.  The Trump tax cuts get unwarranted credit for the economy, but it really hasn’t changed the trajectory of the same economy we’ve had for years: two-economies.  And if we wanted to create the perfect legislation for bringing on higher deficits & widening wage/wealth gaps, that tax cut was it.

While the Dems seek to expand government benefit programs & the GOP prefer relying on free markets, neither is adequate in these times for providing the fundamental initiatives that are really needed.  No matter what the stats show, when we read a U.N. report on the reality of the situation, it’s a sham to call this a strong economy.  See americas-poor-becoming-more-destitute-under-trump-un-expert & also un-poverty-official-trump-exacerbating-inequality & these excerpts fromu-s-developed-world-income-wealth-inequality-un-report, which highlights the dire circumstances many are in & how badly misguided the tax cuts are:

A scathing new United Nations report has found that the United States is leading the developed world in income and wealth inequality, laying explicit blame with the Trump administration for policies that actively increase poverty and inequality in the country. Friday’s report, which will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council on June 21, is the result of U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston’s 10-day tour of the United States last year, when he investigated whether economic security in the country undermines human rights. The report found that the United States “is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal,” citing the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts passed in December 2017, which “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

“The consequences of neglecting poverty and promoting inequality are clear,” the report concludes. “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.” In an interview with TalkPoverty ahead of the release, Alston characterized the United States as an outlier among the developed world. Alston was not hopeful of the odds that the report will force the administration to change course. During his visit, “The U.S. was visibly debating what to do with $1.5 trillion [in tax cuts]. And its proposals in relation to those living in poverty was essentially to cut back on existing benefits in order to help fund the tax reforms. That made for a pretty dramatic contrast for the approach that I have found elsewhere.”

War on the Working Class

For decades many middle class families have literally lost ground, with real wages stagnant or in decline, along with basic expenses outpacing incomes.  But with our wages generally so much higher relative to most other countries being a primary reason millions of our jobs have been outsourced over the years, it creates a conundrum that if we did see higher wage growth, that could cost us more jobs as companies cut costs by moving production elsewhere.  Companies are also incentivized to invest in automation/robotics when it becomes more cost effective than rising labor costs.

There are no easy answers, but as a society we should earnestly/proactively/aggressively seek better training for better jobs.  Rising productivity is another missing piece to the wage issue, as stagnant wages have corresponded to stagnant productivity, where we must find a smart formula to boost both.  DC leadership crafting domestic policies should not just stay focused on the wage growth side of the equation, but numerous ways should be explored in lowering the standard cost of living.  We could explore every reasonable means to reduce costs in various sectors of the economy such as health care, child care, energy, insurance, housing & higher education.  Permanently cutting costs is like a pay raise, let’s do whatever it takes so the working class can finally see their wages rise faster than their expenses.

The struggle to pay the bills have resorted many to engage in the gig economy, which is mainly long/odd hours for not much pay & no benefits, as seen in these excerpts from opinion-if-the-economy-is-so-great-why-are-78-million-hustling-for-dimes:

Even though the official unemployment rate has dropped to a 19-year low of 3.9%, the economy is still broken for a great number of Americans who are living a precarious existence — nearly invisible and economically marginalized. For millions of Americans, the security and income of a steady 9-to-5 job is as far out of reach as it was during the worst of the Great Recession. Some, of course, have simply given up on finding any job, discouraged about their employment prospects after so many years out of work. Many others have resorted to scrambling for a buck here and a buck there, cobbling together a patchwork of irregular hours and side hustles.

When viewed from 35,000 feet, the economy looks pretty strong, with stellar profits, higher household consumption and a tight labor market. But most of the economic data glosses over these forgotten Americans. This new army of contingent “workers” don’t seem to fit any of the old classifications. They aren’t employees exactly, nor do they act much like entrepreneurs. How widespread is this phenomenon? Some say these so-called “alternative work arrangements” are pervasive, encompassing tens of millions of workers. Others say the “gig economy” is tiny, amounting to about one of every thousand hours worked in the United States. It’s hard to say what the right answer is because we’re still arguing over the sparse data we have. Nor do we have common definitions of what we’re trying to study.

78 million hustling for dimes on the side

The Federal Reserve has just published a study that sheds some light on this hidden part of the economy. The Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking delves into how people feel about their economic lives and why they make the decisions they do. Surveys like this add shadings that the regular data miss. The SHED found that about 31% of adults participate in what the Fed called “the gig economy” — work done outside of regular employment structures. That looks huge — about 78 million people. However, most of these people are working five hours a month or less on their side hustles, and the kinds of activities this survey considers to be “gigs” is far broader than what other researchers consider, including selling goods and services online or in real life, or picking up a few hours of babysitting.

Economy is still failing millions

Not everybody who has a side hustle or who works a erratic shift wants a regular full-time job, of course. But millions of people would like a job — or a better job, with higher pay, more reliable hours, more generous benefits, and more humane working conditions. The only way that can happen on a broad scale is for the economy to get even stronger. The Fed ought to get out of the clouds and see that the economy is still failing for many Americans. The Fed might think that 3.9% unemployment is the “Mission Accomplished” signal. Millions of people scrambling for dimes disagree.

Rubin chimes in on these dire trends with this excerpt being the start to the article repetitively-cutting-taxes-for-the-rich-isnt-the-answer:

Conservative proponents of supply-side tax cuts remain stuck in the 1980s. Tax cuts worked then, so tax cuts will work again to stimulate growth. That syllogism defies logic, given how the economy and workforce have changed in 37 years since the first Reagan tax cut. Income inequality has skyrocketed, globalism has rejiggered economies of every developed country, and automation has reduced labor needs in certain industries. Moreover, as William A. Galston points out: [L]abor-force participation among Americans of prime working age (25 to 64 years) dropped by 2.5 percentage points. In the same period, labor-force participation for U.S. women 25 to 64 fell from eighth to 26th among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For men, the ranking dropped from eighth to 29th. American men experienced the largest decline of any OECD country, and American women were the only female cohort in the entire OECD whose workforce participation fell. . . .During the last two decades of the 20th century, the U.S. workforce expanded at an annual rate of about 1.5%. During the next two decades, it will expand at an estimated 0.5% annually. By itself, this slowing growth of the workforce will be enough to knock a full percentage point off annual economic growth. Productivity improvements that once yielded 3% growth will now yield only 2%.

This article Trumpanomics-Good-Job-Numbers-Terrible-Wage-Numbers-The-Depraved-Exploitation-Of-Workers basically states our current economic system has become nothing short of highway robbery against the working class:

Today, the wealthy and their dupes are cheering the ongoing fall in the unemployment rate to 3.8%. Employers are finally spending the unprecedented savings they accumulated under Obama to in turn use more of us. And the stock market loves it. But what about wages? You know, the whole purpose of jobs for you know, actual people? It’s dismal. Wage growth has actually gone down compared to what it was in January and it’s down compared to what it was in 2009. But I thought the economy was doing so well? For the companies on the dow, sure. For your boss’s boss? Sure. But not for you. These numbers tell us one thing. America’s wealthy are exploiting more of us. Is that cause for celebration? Of course not. In fact, US inequality is reaching a new and historically “dangerous” level due to Trump’s cruelty towards the poor and working class. As Republicans strip the poor, working, and middle class of services they pay for in taxes, 40% of us have less than $400 in the bank to pay for an emergency. That’s basically half the people you see walking down the street. This is not sustainable. It’s criminal.

So congratulations, America. You’ve officially lost what used to make America great. But hey, you know who’s wages are now going up a whole lot faster than yours? Workers in Russia and China. Honestly, I never thought I’d see American workers accept being exploited worse than Chinese and Russian workers, but I gotta give Trump credit for that I guess. Under his watch, we really have sunk that low. Dignity? That’s a luxury item in Trump’s America. It’s time to fight back. It’s time to stop letting Republicans exploit us and use us like trash. Workers in America must stand up TOGETHER and DEMAND dignity and respect, or we’re just going to keep losing more and more of our quality of life and more and more of our standing compared to other countries. Prices keep going up (thanks to Trump’s moronic tariffs). Rent keeps going up. Wages, not so much. So we’re working harder for less. And that sums up the GOP plan for us pretty succinctly. Republicans want slaves, not workers. But will Americans wake up in time to reclaim what actually once made us great? Will American workers ever reclaim their dignity?

These excerpts from Home-Depot-Co-Founder-Ken-Langone-Epitomizes-the-1-Smugly-Disregards-Income-Inequality show that jackasses do exist outside the White House, in this case defiling the headquarters of Home Depot.  This type of blind, entitled, putrid-minded thinking is why it’s so hard to fix our ongoing structural economic problems, let alone have a sensible discussion about it:

Ken Langone is not interested in eliminating income inequality. He actually doesn’t give a damn about it. Langone is a hardcore conservative who has allies like the Koch brothers. He has written a book entitled, “I Love Capitalism,” an over glorious tribute to a system that has a basic feature like income inequality for the many. Langone’s defense of his class is smug and arrogant. He blames those who oppose income inequality as a source of what is wrong in U.S. society (or any society). While Langone thrives in his capitalist bubble, reality goes on. Philip Bump, writing in the Atlantic magazine: “A majority of Republicans back a wage hike; 72 percent of all Americans think it’s overdue. Two-thirds of Americans are unhappy with income inequality, including, again, a majority of Republicans.” Jealousy or envy is not the issue. Langone’s turning away from the many coping with income inequality, and those wanting to change that, is the issue. Langone could be compared to the Robber Barons of the 19th century. There is a priority not on people but on profits. The characteristic attitude of “I got mine and to hell with you.” This attitude is the problem; not progressives talking like Hitler, which is a delusional fantasy of Langone’s. One-percenters like Langone not only need a lesson in etiquette, they need to know how it feels living from paycheck to paycheck. While there are “rags to riches” stories out there, that doesn’t mean that the 1% need to run roughshod over the 99%. Despite what Langone says, there’s no excuse for it. There’s no excuse for the disparity of wealth.

The sorry economic conditions are being played out in tangible ways on multiple fronts, including healthcare insurance lets-turn-bad-news-on-health-coverage-into-a-path-toward-change, college costs/student loan debt student-loan-debt-and-the-cost-of-college-are-out-of-control-and-climbing, retail workers how-can-they-walk-away-with-millions-and-leave-workers-with-zero-toys-r-us-workers-say-they-deserve-severance, family farms the-latest-blow-to-struggling-family-farms-rising-interest-rates, rural poverty report-rural-poverty-in-america-is-an-emergency & even lower birth rates is-a-lousy-economy-responsible-for-the-baby-bust.  Rest assured, the first 500 days don’t begin to measure up to the Trump hype: trump-500-days-president-american-greatness.

Tariffs & Trade Wars

I’m very partial to helping the auto & steel industries, since here in northeast Ohio I’ve seen the devastation from closed factories & lost jobs, which were jobs which generally paid much better than most of the new jobs our economy has created lately.  Back in the day, a blue collar job around here could adequately support a family on one income.  It’d be great to bring that back, but realistically it would require the development of more advanced industries for the modern world rather than a reliance on heavy manufacturing.  Plus the supply chain has become so international, the lines are blurred over what is an American or foreign-made car.  But I also concur we did a horrible job for decades of not restructuring unfair trade deals as our nation was hemorrhaging factory jobs.

With Trump’s brazen & haphazard tariffs, I just don’t sense the well-thought-out plan needed to truly create a level playing field on trade was ever developed properly, as his moves appear more punitive in nature.  Hence, he’s picking winners & losers, with related industries using steel & aluminum as raw materials in their products will see job losses, while consumers will see higher prices on various items.  And the longer these disputes with trading partners go on, it will have a negative impact on the economy.  Such trade policies as unilaterally imposing tariffs are seen by other countries as antagonistic, already resulting in retaliatory measures, so in other words we’re sparking destructive trade wars: trump-thinks-hes-saving-trade-the-rest-of-the-world-thinks-hes-blowing-it-up & also the-gop-made-two-rotten-policy-bets.

Trump is so adamant on revamping trade to keep those campaign promises that excited his base, he’s taking steps that are reckless.  Maybe this is all just a short-term ploy to gain concessions & strike more favorable trade deals, & then again maybe not.  From the newsfeeds, see trumps-fatal-flaw-becoming-dangerous-even & also tariffs-can-workbut-not-stupid-ones & also trump-poses-a-threat-to-the-economy-he-inherited-and-to-republicans-politically.  And it would seem better going after the trade cheaters who’ve unilaterally given themselves an unfair advantage, rather than taking punitive steps against some of our closest allies who are not the bad actors.  When we read these articles, let’s ask ourselves why are we attacking our friends?: theresa-may-tells-trump-tariffs-are-unjustified & also trudeau-its-insulting-that-the-us-considers-canada-a-national-security & also canada-foreign-minister-to-us-think-hard-about-message & also trade-tarriffs-trump-eu-mexico-canada & also trump-tariffs-canada-mexico-europe & also trump-tariffs-trade-war-with-canada-mexico-misses & finally these excerpts from trump-appeasement-fails-so-trudeau-takes-the-gloves-off:

Trudeau tore into the Trump administration, if only by the standards of stereotypical Canadian politeness. He fired back with tariffs on U.S. exports of everything from whiskies to motorboats to orange juice. He said the legal basis of tariffs — U.S. national security — was an affront to Canadian soldiers who died fighting alongside Americans in numerous global battles. “Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” a visibly frustrated Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa, calling the measures inconceivable and deplorable. “This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail, but we see no sign of that in this action today.”

Tragedy in Puerto Rico

Despite this hurricane turning into the most tragic American loss of life in our lifetime from a natural disaster, after the initial coverage it’s as though the media abandoned the island.  We’ve already seen how Trump abandoned the island.  Where’s the outrage over a pathetic hurricane disaster response now more deadly than Katrina which forever tarnished George W’s leadership reputation?  Trump’s performance was even more inept: puerto-rico-media-ignored-chart & also Puerto-Rico-death-toll-should-be-story-of-the-year-it-wasn-t-even-the-story-of-the-week & also san-juan-mayor-trump-admin-completely-looked-away-over.

We Need Great Ideas

Recognizing what the core economic issues are can help lead to ideas offering real solutions.  We need more thoughtful observations like what’s seen in these excerpts from review-jonah-goldbergs-suicide-of-the-west, while realizing answers can only come from abandoning the intransigent hyperpartisanship which defines so much of our current politics: 

Jonah Goldberg has allegedly written a brilliant book. His latest effort, The Suicide of the West, which borrows its title from a 1964 book by the conservative political theorist James Burnham, is a long meditation on how “the rebirth of tribalism, populism, nationalism, and identity politics is destroying American democracy.” So far, it has received effusive praise from the center-right media. David Brooks of the New York Times opinion page labeled it “epic and debate-shifting,” while National Affairs’ Yuval Levin gushed in his review that “more than any book published so far in this century,” Suicide of the West “deserves to be called a conservative classic.” A somewhat more reserved Adam Keiper, writing in The Weekly Standard, called it “big, baggy, sometimes frustrating, and often brilliant.” With the conservative Establishment currently under siege, is this the book to drive out the barbarian hordes? All of the good things we enjoy in the West today (high living standards, long life expectancies, a reasonable degree of social and political freedom) are the products of capitalism and liberalism, the combined triumph of which Goldberg refers to as “the Miracle.” The Miracle is mysterious — an “unplanned and glorious accident” — and profoundly unnatural, in two senses. First, it is relatively recent — for most of human history, people lived in tribes of hunter-gatherers, and, after that, in large agrarian states in which life for the vast majority was hellish and brief. The Miracle, therefore, cannot be a product of human nature. Second, modern societies, and especially liberal ones, tend to bracket out the questions of individual and collective meaning that, in previous societies, were fully integrated into everyday life. As a result, many modern people feel out of place, or alienated, and wish to reorganize society in order to revive a subjective feeling of wholeness they believe to have existed in the past — an impulse that Golberg calls “romanticism” and that, in his view, explains everything from socialism to Trumpian populism.

Political Polarization & Real Results Come from the Center

Can’t we just get along?: why-dialogue-matters–even-in-the-trump-era.  An excellent analysis of the destruction caused by our political polarization are in these excerpts from michael-smerconish-makes-the-case-for-bold-moderation:

One of the most important lessons of the book is the urgency to burst the bubbles in which we live and the need to think independently without banners, as much as we can. Nonetheless, the costs of maintaining one’s political independence are very high in our climate today. Smerconish is aware of how difficult it is for journalists who aspire to be in the center to be impartial and unbiased. They risk being attacked from both aisles and might end up forgotten or despised in a political no-man’s land. A second lesson has to do with the importance of political moderation. To those dissatisfied with our current political landscape, Smerconish offers a nuanced defense of political eclecticism and trimming. I am not sure he would accept the label moderate, but I believe that he fully deserves honorary membership in the select club of moderates. On some issues, Smerconish thinks like a conservative, on others like a liberal; he is simultaneously optimistic in some regards, and pessimistic in others. If a few decades ago he had a tendency to see the world in black and white, he has learned to explore and appreciate its many shades of gray. Now he can say, with Adam Michnik, “Gray, too, is beautiful!” Yet, the situation was different several decades ago. During the Reagan era, for example, moderates amounted to about 60 percent of the Senate. Since then, they have been the victims of money, ruthless primaries, and gerrymandering. In the media, they have been ridiculed or silenced. As a result, “the elected middle has vanished” and the center has become a lonely place in American politics today. Following partisan signals, sometimes fueled by fake news and apocalyptic rhetoric, voters in both parties tend to reward ideological purity over compromise. They prefer politicians who reject conciliatory tones and present themselves as the opposite of wishy-washy, a pejorative label reserved for moderates, condemned for their eclecticism and flexibility.

Wayward GOP has lost its way

Constructive, pragmatic GOP leadership is being dismissed these days from the hardcore intransigents within the party always obstructing needed legislation: kasich-attacks-gop-for-not-opposing-trump-on-tariffs-daca & also kasich-sounds-peculiarly-rational-because-republicans-are-so-irrational-these-days & also https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/05/31/john-kasich-gop-trump-party-boehner-sot-ath.cnn.  The decline of the GOP is playing out in extreme policies & antagonistic attitudes.  Many rational conservatives have been ostracized by the radical elements which have hijacked the party, as seen inside various links such as attacks-on-john-mccain-are-repugnant-midterm-strategy & also john-boehner-republican-party-trump & also john-boehner-republican-trump-party & also john-boehner-gets-real-about-the-total-trump-takeover-of-gop-there-is-no-republican-party.  Here is Rubin’s take on that topic from john-boehner-there-is-no-republican-party:

Wow. Why aren’t these guys leading the GOP? The answer is that they’ve been ostracized by an angry, populist, nativist party led by a demagogue. The party, which was once their home, has become inhospitable to the likes of Kasich, Boehner, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge (who happened to be pro-choice), the Bush family, former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, and a slew of state and federal office holders who defended the rule of law, free markets, robust legal immigration, public civility, education reform and principled international leadership. They were not on the far right edge of the party, but they operated comfortably within the party, which did not give its nomination to right-wing nativists until 2016. It was not too long ago that someone such as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was considered a solid conservative. Supporting such officeholders were lively think tanks, conservative magazines and respected academics who represented a cross-section of views, not scientific and economic illiteracy or racial intolerance. They’ve now been largely drowned out by the likes of Breitbart, Fox News’s prime-time hosts, crackpot advocacy groups and grossly hypocritical evangelical leaders who applaud the president’s cruel policies and ignore his lies, affairs and bigotry.

While Boehner has loosened up a bit (and says, for example, he thinks differently about gay rights), it is not he who has changed dramatically. Like many Republicans, he simply does not recognize the party he served for decades. I’d like to think Boehner is right, and the real GOP is only sleeping. Unfortunately, I see few if any elected leaders willing to rouse the party. The base’s increasing passion for vitriol, race-baiting and attacks on the media make one skeptical about the prospects for success for a GOP challenger in the 2020 presidential primary. Mitt Romney says he voted for his wife in 2016, but he and legions of other Republicans not to mention center-right independents need a viable choice in 2020. That means an anti-Trump counterrevolution that cleans house of Trumpians and Trumpism, a viable independent candidate or a Democrat so moderate that marooned voters feel comfortable clamoring aboard a party in which they’ve never belonged. The other alternative is that, once again, these Republicans waste their votes on protest candidates and favorite relatives or don’t show up at all. That may please the left-wing of the Democratic Party, which can feel comfortable nominating a candidate who appeals solely to its base, but it is not good for our democracy.

There could be a huge price to pay with so many in the GOP kowtowing to a dishonest, corrupt, divisive president: Trump-With-GOP-Firmly-Behind-Him-Steadily-Marches-America-Toward-Autocracy.  And just look at what a Trump GOP is helping unleash: admitted-pedophile-and-racist-running-for-congressional-seat-in & also who-are-white-supremacists-or-neo-nazis-running-for-congress & also more-white-nationalists-are-running-for-office-than-ever-before & also Why-T-Rump-was-the-best-choice.  It’s not likely to improve soon: the-likely-next-speaker-of-the-house-is-a-mindless-sycophant.  We need to fight back: republicans-beware-the-blue-wave-is-already-changing-red-states.

Bargain Song

Reports came out the Mueller probe has so far cost less than $17 million russia-investigation-cost-nears-dollar17-million, even less than Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips trumps-spent-far-more-going-to-mar-a-lago-alone-than-the-mueller-probe-has-cost & also Mueller-investigation-cost-16-7M-over-the-first-year.  With that many accomplished legal minds & ancillary expenses, it’s surprising the Mueller figure is that low despite all the squawking trump-slams-muellers-spending-on-russia-probe.  In a federal government with an annual budget of more than $4 trillion, the probe’s price tag is barely a blip on the radar trump-says-the-mueller-probe-is-a-waste-of-taxpayer-money-but-his-budget-funded-it This is far more than a simple sex scandal/perjury case like two decades ago, as this relatively small price tag to Mueller’s team is worth it as they’re working to uncover the details of this unprecedented attack on American democracy & biggest political scandal in our history, at a much smaller cost than Ken Starr’s probe: The-GOP-Led-Clinton-Investigation-cost-70-million-so-shut-up-about-Mueller-s-cost As explained in these links newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=38074 & also Trump-and-FOX-News-Whine-About-the-Cost-of-Mueller-Probe-But-Here-s-Why-it-s-a-Bargain about the cost of the Mueller investigation, I’d call it a bargain, the best I ever had….


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfkmfpVd1Do

50 Years Ago

The man who would be king was tragically gunned down.  America may have been a far better place today had he served in the White House as President back then.  Let’s play this second song in recognition of what might have been, as Bobby was part of the tribute in this Abraham, Martin & John song….

The articles are here: bobby-kennedy-personified-americas-better-angels & also 50-years-after-darkness-of-1968-young-people-give-us-new-hope & also rfk-and-the-nation-we-might-have-been

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8xcyHplThc