Nothing That’s Being Done Is Addressing Stagnant Wage Growth….The economy is booming (or so they tell us), which really highlights the entrenched economic problems such as stagnant wage growth & income inequality, when we’re unable to make a dent in those challenges even when the economy is relatively good.  Making meaningful changes admittedly won’t be easy, as we need big comprehensive plans instead of a patchwork approach, & somehow get both sides working together in tackling the main issues on a bipartisan basis.  As difficult as that would be, it does need done, since doing nothing is not a viable option.  The misguided tax cuts did nothing to reset the equation between the percentage of profits going to corporations vs. labor which has grown way out of kilter.  That tax bill was poorly thought-out, poorly crafted, & mostly misses the point of targeting legislation to help the struggling working class.  Workers keep losing ground, which in every single message from TheVORACS in any part 3 you wish to bring up, we’ve got the accurate commentary & data to prove it.  Check out the clear trends in a-sweet-new-century-for-americas-most-privileged.  More evidence of that is provided in articles below, which starts off with these excerpts from business/economy/wages-workers-profits:

Corporate profits have rarely swept up a bigger share of the nation’s wealth, and workers have rarely shared a smaller one. The lopsided split is especially pronounced given how low the official unemployment rate has sunk. Throughout the recession and much of its aftermath, when many Americans were grateful to receive a paycheck instead of a pink slip, jobs and raises were in short supply. Now, complaints of labor shortages are as common as tweets. For the first time in a long while, workers have some leverage to push for more. Yet many are far from making up all the lost ground. Hourly earnings have moved forward at a crawl, with higher prices giving workers less buying power than they had last summer. Last-minute scheduling, no-poaching and noncompete clauses, and the use of independent contractors are popular tactics that put workers at a disadvantage. Threats to move operations overseas, where labor is cheaper, continue to loom.

Workers, understandably, are asking whether they are getting a raw deal. Businesses have been more successful at regaining losses from the downturn. Since the recession ended in 2009, corporate profits have grown at an annualized rate of 6.5 percent. Several sectors have done much better. On Friday, for example, banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported outsize double-digit earnings in the second quarter. Yearly wage growth has yet to hit 3%. And when it does, the Federal Reserve — which has a mandate to keep inflation under control even as it is supposed to maximize employment — can be expected to tap the brakes.

Regardless, there is plenty of evidence that workers have yet to receive their fair share of this most recent expansion — or even the previous one. Since the century’s start, labor’s share of the nation’s income has sunk to the lowest levels in decades. In 2000, when the jobless rate last fell below 4 percent, corporations pulled in 8.3 percent of the nation’s total income in the form of profits; wages and salaries across the entire work force accounted for roughly 66 percent. Now, the jobless rate is again fluttering below 4 percent. But corporate profits account for 13.2 percent of the nation’s income. Workers’ compensation has fallen to 62 percent. If workers’ share had not shrunk, they would have had an additional $532 billion, or about $3,400 each, said Jared Bernstein, an economic adviser to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. And at this point in the recovery, shifting some of those corporate profits to workers would have no effect on inflation, he noted. In the tug of war between workers and investors, Americans living on a paycheck have seldom been left with a shorter end of the rope.

Economists have offered various explanations for why workers are not doing better: the steady weakening of labor unions, the ability of American companies to find cheaper labor abroad or automate further, piddling productivity growth and the rise of superstar companies that are extremely efficient with a relatively small labor force. The recent tax overhaul has further pumped up corporate earnings. Promises that lower tax bills for businesses would translate into higher wages have yet to materialize. Higher gas and medical care costs have eaten away at whatever gains most workers have made.

Nor are those extra profits going into business expansion. Since the first of the year, American companies including Apple, Wells Fargo and McDonald’s have announced nearly $680 billion in buybacks of their own stock, according to the research firm TrimTabs. In essence, they are directing a majority of the windfall to investors and chief executives, who tend to have large stock-based compensation packages. Profits are also financing foreign mergers and acquisitions. “A lot of U.S. businesses are looking abroad to see what they can buy,” said Jason Gerlis, managing director of TMF Group U.S.A., a global consulting firm, “because it’s easier to finance or capitalize offshore.” The reason is a change in the tax law that limited interest deductibility on domestic investments, but not on those abroad. International deals in the first half of 2018 nearly doubled compared with the same period last year.

The United States may be leading other big industrialized countries in economic growth, but its labor force does not fare well in comparison. American workers’ share of their country’s total output fell much sharper and faster than the average reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The United States also had a larger proportion of low-wage workers than nearly every other member. When the economy was struggling, employers became accustomed to inboxes flooded with résumés and snaking lines of eager applicants. Many may have forgotten, or never learned how, to compete for workers. When it comes to complaints of a labor shortage, as Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed, has said: “If you’re not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining.”

A couple good but brief articles from Axios explain as revenues swell corporate coffers, it’s not being passed down to their employees who keep getting saddled with stagnant wage growth.  Waiting for the free market to make corrections without some form of government tweaking just isn’t working.  For starters, DC could raise the federal minimum wage & put a lot more teeth into antitrust laws.  They could also reverse pro-corporate policies & tax cuts, instead directing the much needed benefits toward the interests of labor.  On that topic, see this article we’ve posted from america-wages-flatline-stuck-crisis-inflation:

Stuck wages for most U.S. workers looks like more than a blip in the booming economy, and some mainstream economists say the government may have to step in. What’s going on: Wages fell over the last year for ordinary, non-management workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, further evidence that companies are managing to avoid paying amid one of the tightest labor markets in decades.

By the numbers:

*From June 2017 to June 2018, wages fell by 0.2%.

*It was the second consecutive month — in May, average hourly wages fell by 0.1%, the BLS said.

*In both months, workers earned more, but that is because they worked more hours, the BLS said.

Between the lines: When accounting for estimated 2.9% inflation over the last year, the wage numbers become even worse, says Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, an auditing firm.

The big picture: The conundrum of stuck wages has vexed economists for more than a decade, but their underlying assumption had been that as joblessness drops — it’s at 4% now — companies will be forced to push up wages to attract and retain workers. Now that that hasn’t happened, the feeling is beginning to creep in that this is the new normal.

*One reality is that central banks like the Federal Reserve treat wage increases not as a public good, but a source of inflation, and thus something to resist.

*But a number of economists are starting to blame large companies, for example in e-commerce, warehousing and shipping.

*Such companies, they say, are responsible for a large proportion of new hiring, and thus enjoy inordinate market power to hold down wages.

“It’s becoming fairly clear the U.S. economy has a monopsony problem,” Brusuelas tells Axios.

*”It suggests that the Congress at one point will have to look at using its anti-trust powers against large firms.”

This next article also shows how the pendulum has swung wildly in favor of corporations over workers.  While the GOP is generally clueless, I also do not favor liberal initiatives that throw lots of money at our troubles & can encourage a dependency mentality.  Plus we don’t have the money, so we need to be smart about any new economic engineering.  If we keep doing nothing other than stuff like a silly tax cut which is looking increasingly like a band-aid approach, the forces that propelled this enormous divide will only further accelerate the huge gaps, till someday the equation finds capital virtually enslaving labor.  Based on decades of stagnant wage growth, perhaps many workers have already been enslaved.  Posted here is corporate-profits-growth-worker-wages which explain some of the challenges:

“Corporate profits have rarely swept up a bigger share of the nation’s wealth, and workers have rarely shared a smaller one,” the N.Y. Times’ Patricia Cohen writes. Between the lines: “The lopsided split is especially pronounced given how low the official unemployment rate has sunk.”

*”Hourly earnings have moved forward at a crawl, with higher prices giving workers less buying power than they had last summer.”

*”Last-minute scheduling, no-poaching and noncompete clauses, and the use of independent contractors are popular tactics that put workers at a disadvantage.”

*”Threats to move operations overseas, where labor is cheaper, continue to loom.”

Be smart: “For the first time in a long while, workers have some leverage to push for more.”

*”Throughout the recession and much of its aftermath, … many Americans were grateful to receive a paycheck instead of a pink slip … Now, complaints of labor shortages are as common as tweets.”

Trump May Talk A Good Game, But He’s Not Really Serving His Base

We should consider the irony of the situation when Trump’s MAGA acronym stood for an agenda that appealed to so many in the working class, though his actual policy initiatives primarily benefit Wall St. over his working base.  Trump still gets his fans riled up by scapegoating those they perceive as problems including immigrants & the poor, which belittling them does nothing towards making America great again.  Bringing about MAGA can only come to fruition by restructuring conditions within the economic system that could offer economic growth shared throughout society.  That most all the gains are only going to the top, while stagnant wage growth holds back much if not most of the working class, is at the heart of the problem.  And what is the irony for Trump & his supporters?  It’s that Trump’s policies are actually making our situation worse by expanding the wide divides, where the spoils are going even more towards the very top & workers keep getting the shaft.  See excerpts about this coming from midterms-will-show-voters-tired-of-taking-back-seat-to-wall-street:

Ten years ago, Wall Street crashed the economy, destroying pensions, jobs and homeownership. People organized and fought back and put important reforms in place with the Dodd-Frank law and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These steps forward were a down payment on the much tougher measures needed to rein in the power of Wall Street banks and the billionaire class in American society. Donald Trump came to power in part because so many ordinary Americans felt that they weren’t benefiting from an economy that for 30 years has mainly benefited the top 1 percent. Now he is channeling resentment to focus it on immigrants and the poor while he works to free his friends on Wall Street from the rules. But the November elections give ordinary people the ability to strike back. This poll shows what we would have every reason to expect. The public is tired of Wall Street getting the elevator and the rest of us getting the shaft. Other surveys show similar results. Even Trump knew enough to rage at Wall Street and “the hedge fund guys” as a candidate — but only as a candidate. Let’s celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dodd-Frank with a massive, popular counteroffensive aimed at restoring all of the protections in Dodd-Frank — and then truly restructuring the American economy so that it benefits ordinary Americans. The first engagement will be fought between now and Nov. 6.

We must once again make America the land of opportunity: providing-opportunity-is-the-key-to-lifting-families-out-of.  Before we laud Trump thinking somehow he’s responsible for this purported strong economy, don’t for a second think it’s likely to be sustained: finance/investinganalysis/credit-market-recession-warning.  In this next link, let the drunken sailor jokes begin: republicans-target-elections-with-more-deficit-boosting-tax-cuts.  

Viable ideas restoring the American Dream & prospering middle class will not be easy to come by, but we’re never going to get there unless we make a honest effort.  We need thoughtful input from both sides (all sides) along with the DETERMINATION to WORK TOGETHER & DO SOMETHING!!!  It’s OK to think outside the box & throw out some rather far out ideas, as seen in Anti-Capitalist-Meet-Up-Owning-one-s-work-can-workers-manage-themselves, but that’s what it’s likely to take for us to ever arrive at transformational changes to finally fix what’s fundamentally broken.  See the battered aspirations of the working class inside the-battered-aspirations-of-the-american-working-class

Tariffs/Trade Wars Starting To Get Serious

Even Trump lackeys in Congress are getting mighty nervous over how much damage his tariffs-inspired trade wars are about to do to the economy.  Yes, we do need better trade deals so American industry doesn’t keep taking it on the chin, but does Trump have some sort of game plan to soon get something worked out before many industries & farmers start going belly up?  Trump is great at tearing things down, but it seems the only things he’s good at constructing are skyscrapers & golf courses.  See excerpts on the expanding trade wars from gop-senator-trumps-policies-doing-permanent-damage:

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) warned on Sunday that President Trump’s policies on trade are starting to do “permanent damage.” Johnson said during an interview with New York AM 970 radio host John Catsimatidis that his state of Wisconsin has “been particularly targeted” by China’s recently imposed tariffs, which came in response to Trump’s trade measure against the country. Johnson told Catsimatidis that the steel tariffs are “hitting us pretty hard,” adding that he’s heard of price increases of 30 to 40 percent. “The problem with that is it raises the cost of American-manufactured products, Wisconsin-manufactured products, which makes them less competitive on the global trade market,” Johnson said. The senator said Trump is “absolutely right” to demand reciprocal trade, but that he hopes Trump will quickly resolve the escalating trade dispute because “right now there is some permanent damage being done.” Trump imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods earlier this month, prompting reciprocal tariffs from China on American products. China also accused Trump of launching “the biggest trade war in economic history.” The Trump administration later announced that it would impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. The country has also promised to retaliate for those tariffs.

The Art of Nothingness

The triumph of successful nothingness, whether having to do with domestic policy or international summits, is really a master stroke by leaders able to maintain the unquestioned support of their base, despite doing basically nothing for them.  Why take the risk of trying to accomplish something that could improve the lives of their citizens, when should such initiatives fail would reflect poorly on them?  Far better to fake & spin their way through their time in leadership using gaslighting & subterfuge, since the core of the base can be easily fooled through fabricated optics.  In the case of Trumpeters, their unconditional worship can be sustained through a well-crafted image of their omnipotent leader fighting for them through feigned accomplishments.  His special friend (see song below) & dictatorial Russian co-conspirator has mastered those same sleight-of-hand techniques.  The Helsinki meeting was a continuation of portraying great success from productive discussions, when nothing will likely change & both sides will keep pursuing their own interests, successfully accomplishing just for the optics a form of nothingness: donald-trump-vladimir-putin-and-the-triumph-of-nothing-over-everyone.

Misc Issues

Here’s an article on the badly conceived idea to take away net neutrality, which is likely to do more damage than we can even imagine for now: reversing-net-neutrality-is-a-tax-on-small-businesses I’ve seen various evidence over the years cell phones aren’t very safe.  It makes sense with the radiation given off, it might be like putting your ear up to a microwave.  Time & more research may one day find the concerns are valid: mobile-phones-cancer-inconvenient-truths.

A Broken Party Under The Spell Of A Corrupt Leader

Here is a writer after my own heart, a former Republican that had to flee the insanity of a party gone off the rails!  I’ve written extensively about the psycho-delusions of a party that’s lost its mind along with its morals, but here I’ve posted the entire article from real-republican-dont-recognize-my-party-column, since this guy explains it as well as anybody!: 

Trump is a danger to our nation and a disgrace to the Republican Party, but GOP leaders have decided they want to keep inflicting him on America.

About the same time the Trump administration had perfected its cruelty against families and children, the Hamilton County Republican Party in Cincinnati decided to hand out bumper stickers proclaiming, “Trump 2020.” Apparently, local party leaders have decided that, not only can they stomach the cruelty, incompetence, and fiscal irresponsibility of this worst-ever president — but that they want to keep inflicting him on America. This was once my party. And even when the wingnuts took it over, I had hopes for a return to sanity. I had worked for many candidates, was president of the 11th Ward Republican Club for 10 years, and was a candidate and officeholder myself.  (When I became a judge in 1982, I was prohibited from most partisan activity.)

I couldn’t vote for Barry Goldwater because I was not quite old enough, but I set off fireworks when he was nominated. I have voted in every Republican primary since 1968. I voted for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (twice), George Bush the Greater (twice), Bob Dole, and George Bush the Lesser (once). This was mostly before the party started to run off the rails. I wore out shoes for Goldwater in ’64. But when a few years ago I told that to a local party mainstay, he replied that, “Goldwater was a liberal.” Wow. The Republican Party once cared about deficits. Former local Congressman Gordon Scherer always voted against raising the debt limit, whichever party was in office. Republicans condemned spending. Then in 1994, they took over Congress, based on the “Contract with America.” Remember that? Steve Chabot should remember, because he signed, promising to serve no more than 12 years. A few Republican congresspeople honored that pledge.

Gone off the rails

So what happened to spending when the Republicans took over Congress? The “Contract” called for a balanced budget. But they spent more. The only difference was that they gave money to affluent people who didn’t need it, instead of some who did. Now Republicans have budgeted massive deficits and adding more than a trillion dollars to the national debt. The new budget and tax bill is probably the worst economic mistake since deregulating the banks. That fiasco — embraced by both parties — caused the recession. This one may be worse; but the rich will still get richer. Real Republicans were for free trade. Even Democrats became free traders when they entered the White House and understood the issues. Now we have a president who understands trade as well as he understands economics, which is not at all. He has created an international crisis while pretending to solve a nonproblem, maintaining that he wants to “bring back jobs,” at a time when we have the lowest unemployment rate in modern history. Among the first casualties are Harley Davidson workers in Wisconsin. And farmers.

Republicans have a lock on the government. But they have a president who knows little about anything and cares less. He is not a Republican in any sense, except he has attached himself to the covert racism and class warfare that had been infiltrating Republican Party ranks for the last 20 years. The Republican Party is supported by the rich, the super-rich and the mega-rich. That class gives the money to try to fool us mortals into thinking, for example, a tax cut that will give them millions is good because it might give us 50 cents a week. Republicans created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now Trump and his science-adverse director are intent upon killing as many people as possible. Latest research shows that 80,000 more Americans could die each decade if EPA changes — including rollbacks of clean air, water, and chemical rules — are implemented. But a few irresponsible companies will profit. Like most authoritarian regimes in history, the Trumpers blame “them” for hurting “us.”  Them are the darker-skinned people, especially immigrants. When Trump campaigned, he railed against illegal immigrants. Now his paranoia extends to legal immigrants — cutting numbers allowed to legally come here.

The party of Lincoln has now become all but openly racist. Nazi groups have some “very fine people,” Trump opined. I took pride in belonging to the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Now we have a Republican Party that stands for cruelty, hatred, bullying, proud stupidity, trade barriers, science denial, massive deficits and strangling debt. The president wants to build a colossal boondoggle of a wall to keep “them” out. If Reagan were here today, he would say “Mr. Trump, don’t build that wall.” Trump is a danger to our nation and a disgrace to our party. But he can’t accomplish this perversion of America alone. The Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans are equally culpable. They are fellow travelers with disaster. The next generations will pay for their folly. When the Trump destruction plays out, the deficits will deluge us; the bigotry will degrade us. To the above fellow travelers, and the local Republican chair and his fellows, who have the audacity to issue the “Trump 2020” stickers, be warned: History will revile you; your grandchildren will deny you.

They Make Each Other Feel Brand New

Here at The VORACS, we’ve obtained exclusive access in the link below to the communications between Trump & Putin at their private meeting.  Their affection for each other was apparent as they even sang an emotional duet together as seen in that song below.  Perhaps their love story is based on Putin being able to use Trump, & Trump being subservient so Putin doesn’t spill the beans on him.  But whatever the case, the love is apparently mutual in a 50 Shades type of master-slave relationship.  No word on which of them sang the part where he hit the high notes, which is really quite impressive, with the only other ones on stage being the interpreters doing their hand signals.  But the most important thing is the genuine loving sentiments they exchanged to each other.  This is so charmingly sweet: