Morning coffee: Hug a Thug today


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REMINDER:

Feefees hurt in Michigan: Tea Party advocates protest union supporters, get yelled at

Joe.My.God: “Early this morning Tea Party advocates traded screams with union supporters on the steps of the Michigan Capitol Building.  Breitbart has posted the below video.”


WHERE do these plutocracy-supporting, low-wage-jobs-loving, Koch and Walton ass-kissing, shoot-themselves-in-the-foot people come from?

Capitalism and the rights of men and women

“If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

Job-ettes: the Republican jobs plan for America

“Well, they weren’t jobs, they were ‘job-ettes,’ right? No health care, no benefits, low pay. You can go to a waitress anywhere from Texarkana all the way to El Paso and say to a waitress, ‘Did you know Rick Perry’s created 1 million jobs? And she’d say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got three of them.”

Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s ‘1 million jobs’ claim. (Source: kileyrae)

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Mitt Romney in his RNC speech: “You deserved it because you worked harder than ever before during these years.  You deserved it because, when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out moving lights, and put in longer hours.  Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour, benefits, you took two jobs at $9 an hour…”

Matt TaibbiAre you kidding? Mitt Romney was the guy that fired you from that $22.50 an hour job, and helped you replace it with two $9 an hour jobs! 

He was a pioneer in the area of eliminating the well-paying job with benefits and replacing it with the McJob that offered no benefits at all. One of the things that killed him in the Senate race against Ted Kennedy were Kennedy ads that reminded voters that Mitt’s takeovers resulted in slashed wages and lost benefits. He was exactly the guy that eliminated that classic $22.50 manufacturing job, like in the case of GST Steel, where Bain took over with an initial investment of $8 million, paid itself a $36 million dividend, ended up walking away with $50 million, and left GST saddled with over $500 million in debt. 750 of those well-paying jobs were lost.

What kinds of jobs were left for those fired workers to look for? Well, in the best-case scenario, you might have found one at Ampad, another Bain takeover target, where workers had their pay slashed from $10.22 to $7.88 an hour, tripled co-pays, and eliminated the retirement plan.

So a guy who eliminated hundreds of $22 an hour jobs and slashed hundreds more jobs to below $9 an hour blasts Barack Obama for not giving you the better life you deserved, after you lost your $22/hour job and had to take two $9/hour jobs. Are we all high or something? Did that really just happen?

Republican Labor Day: the day we celebrate employers?

Josh Marshall comments on Eric Cantor’s Labor Day message yesterday:

Labor Day, the day we celebrate … employers.

Look, I don’t expect Republicans, whose party has moved to a place of mutual loathing with the US Labor Movement, to use Labor Movement slogans. But people “who have taken a risk …. and built a business”? Really?

Labor Day: what has happened to American working families between 1970 and today?

Juan Cole thinks it’s important that you think further back than the Romney campaign’s dumb question “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Instead, ask yourself if you’re better off now than you were in 1970:

See, in general, Who Rules America? The rich in this country now see an opportunity to take us back to the age of the robber barons– and get rid of all government programs for the middle classes and the workers and make us wait to age 70 (when most people will be more decrepit than they expect) to retire. Because the more of the national income they take home every year, the more politicians they can buy, and the more they can cut their taxes and shift the burden of road-building and other government services to the middle classes and workers.

It is a ratcheting process that is leaving the US an increasingly unequal society, and one in which hopes of upward mobility for ordinary people are increasingly crushed. Indeed, Europe (the “Old World”) now offers more opportunities for upward mobility and getting ahead than the United States.

The way to reverse this crisis of income stagnation is to restore rights to unionize and collectively bargain and to make the rich pay their fare share for government-provided infrastructure and for educating the work force they exploit. Guess who will do the opposite if they win in November?

— Labor Day Question: Are you Better off than You were in 1970?


image: christopherstreet

Response to “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” YES!

Better off now than 4 years ago? Romney launches aggressive GOP response during Dem conventionMitt Romney’s presidential campaign is launching an aggressive Republican response at the site of the Democratic National Convention aimed at stealing attention and driving new questions about President Barack Obama’s leadership on the eve of his nomination for a second term. As thousands of Democratic activists gather in Charlotte on Monday, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will campaign 230 miles to the east in Greenville. Aides say the Wisconsin congressman will focus on a simple question reflecting a message that staffers and surrogates will deliver in North Carolina and across the nation: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

RESPONSE:

Matthew Yglesias: It would probably be political malpractice to offer this as an answer to the question “are you better off than you were four years ago,” but the chart above (highlighting month-to-month changes in employment) gestures at what I think the most accurate response to that question is. Barack Obama wasn’t president four years ago. Nor did he become president magically on Election Day 2008. Between “four years ago” and his inauguration came the months of September, October, November, and December 2008 plus almost all of January 2009 (he took office on January 20th). That five month span was a terrible time for the American economy, seeing the net loss of over 3 million jobs. Under the circumstances, it’s perfectly plausible that lots of people are worse off than they were four years ago (perhaps employed in a lower-paid, lower-status job than they used to have) but better off then they were when Obama took office (perhaps employed rather than unemployed).

Bob Cesca: Yes, I agree that there are still people who are hurting. Unemployment remains unacceptably high, and, ultimately, the depth of the Great Recession is still playing itself out in the difficult task of mitigating it and returning the economy to a place of steady prosperity. But when it comes to the question of whether we’re better off, there’s no doubt that everyone is better off now than we were when, for example, the economy was collapsing with no end in sight; when we were engaged in two wars with no end in sight; when healthcare was less affordable; when mutual funds and 401(k) retirement plans were losing value as the stock market crashed; and so forth. More of this presently. (Frankly, I hesitate to enumerate all of the catastrophes we faced in 2008 and early 2009 because grouping them together makes each individual item seem less catastrophic.) So how effective were the policies of the Obama administration? Continue…

DailyKos: I think that the answer to the question is that, Yes, we are better off than we were four years ago.

1.  The war in Iraq is over.
2.  Bin Laden is dead.
3.  The Stock Market is up.
4.  We are creating new jobs, not losing jobs.
5.  We have stopped the increase in medical insurance costs.
6.  More people in the USA have medical insurance than ever before.
7.  The American automobile industry is stronger than ever.
8.  WE are producing more  domestic energy than ever.
9.  We are working toward new and innovative forms of energy.

Still, wages are frozen for working people.  CEO’s are making unprecedented profits.  The income disparity in the USA is completely skewed. We Can Do Better.  But, not by electing Tea Party and GOP representatives, Senators and Mitt Romney.

The Obama Campaign is tightening up the response to this question — THANK GOD:

David Axelrod: “Here’s what I can say, Chris,” answered Axelrod, who advises Obama’s reelection campaign. “We are in a better position than we were in the economy in the sense that when the president took office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, and the quarter before he took office was the worst since the Great Depression. We are [now] in a different place: 29 straight months of job growth and private sector jobs. Are we where we need to be? No.” Axelrod then pointed out that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had failed to outline a specific alternative during his speech at the Republican National Convention last Thursday — a convention that Axelrod called “a terrible failure.” Wallace recited grim statistics reflecting increased unemployment, higher gas prices, more national debt and lower incomes. He put the question to Axelrod again. “I think the average American recognizes it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January 2009,” Axelrod said. “It’s going to take some time to work through it.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley: (today) “We are clearly better off as a country because we’re now creating jobs rather than losing them.”

Stephanie Cutter: “Absolutely. By any measure the country has moved forward over the last four years. It might not be as fast as some people would’ve hoped. The president agrees with that.”

It’s amusing that the Romney campaign is also using the talking point as their response: “If we want a new direction, we need a new president.”  NEW DIRECTION? Are  you kidding me? Romney-Ryan are indicating they’d go back to the failed policies of the Bush Administration — the exact same policies that took us to the place we were FOUR YEARS AGO.

Juan Cole: Labor Day Question: Are you Better off than You were in 1970?: The real question isn’t whether we are better off than we were four years ago. It takes a long time to recover from burst bubbles and near-depressions (the Japanese have still not recovered from their burst bubble of the early 1990s). The real question is whether the working and middle classes of the United States will go on allowing themselves to be taken advantage of by our super-rich, who are gathering to themselves more and more of the national income. The top 1% owned 25% of the privately held national wealth in the United States in the 1950s, but have 38% of it today. In contrast, real wages per hour for the average worker in the United States, adjusted for inflation, peaked in 1970. We’re now down from that, with a generation and a half blocked from meaningful economic advancement. But, you will say, the US is a much wealthier society now than it was in 1970 or 1990. Where has all the extra money generated by American labor and investment gone? It has gone to the rich. Yes, folks, the rich are taking home a fifth of everything we make as a country each year, up from ten percent in 1970. We are 310 million people. About 3 million get a fifth of the annual income. Those 3 million people are 3 million Mitt Romneys. They want low taxes and they want to get rid of social security, medicare and Obamacare. Continue…

 

One half of all jobs in the U.S. today now pay less than $35,000 a year

We were once a great country that proudly built things, exported goods, and earned a living wage—in large part because we had thriving labor unions. We also had a healthy public sector employment rate, which contributed to employment, the economy and America’s overall success. Over the past 30 years or more, we’ve been outsmarted with tax laws written to benefit the one percent, had our labor unions and government workers demonized by conservative ideology, and we were Bain Capitalized out of our manufacturing base—we were Bain Capitalized to death. The GOP and their wealthy benefactors have killed America’s middle class for nothing more than greed—and here we are today.

A report from NPRHow America’s Losing The War On Poverty:

According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since President Johnson made his famous declaration of war on poverty in 1964.

Close to 16 percent of Americans now live at or below the poverty line. For a family of four, that’s $23,000 a year. On top of that, 100 million of us — 1 out of 3 Americans — manage to survive on a household income barely twice that amount. How is this poverty crisis happening?

[...] One half of all jobs in the U.S. today now pay less than $35,000 a year. Adjusted for inflation, that’s one of the lowest rates for American workers in five decades.

There’s a common perception that somebody who’s poor or living below the poverty level is lazy or simply living off government handouts. Edelman says the actual average poor person is working.

[...] Many economists say that when the economy does recover, a lot of the jobs that were lost won’t be coming back. That suggests the possibility of significantly high unemployment for a long time — maybe even a permanently large class of Americans who live in poverty. Blackwell says we can act to prevent that future. “And it’s not rocket science.”

“We know now that by 2018, 45 percent of all jobs in this nation will require at least an associate’s degree,” she says. “We could invest in the system of training — particularly focusing on community colleges and preparing people to go to four-year institutions and improving our high school education.”

“We actually have extraordinary infrastructure in this country, from the manufacturing base we once had,” she continues. “We need to retool it, we need to refit it, we need to make sure that it’s ready for the kind of advanced manufacturing that we’re seeing develop in other countries.”

What we don’t need is to be “Bain Capitalized” further — or more of those “great” ideas like outsourcing work that can be done locally in the public sector. To let Republicans find more ways to cut spending, more austerity cuts for 99% of us—just to give the wealthiest even more tax breaks—costs our society, and our people, in too many ways to count.


Mitt Romney’s “business experience” = a robber baron in the White House

Laura Clawson at DailyKos argues that Romney’s big rationale for his presidency, his business experience at Bain Capital, is based on bringing jobs BACK to America by making America more like China. American jobs that Bain Capital, and companies like Bain, outsourced to other countries for their own profit for the past three decades:  

If you pay attention to what Romney is saying past the quotable “My job is to bring jobs back to America” lines, he’s saying the jobs would come back because he’d make the U.S. into China. What he’s talking about when he promises to bring jobs back to America is weakening safety and environmental protections, lowering corporate taxes, keeping workers from organizing for better pay and working conditions. If Romney can accomplish all that, his time at Bain certainly does qualify him to exploit the giant new pool of low-wage, poorly protected workers that would result.

Union workers and everyone’s wages and benefits


image: christopherstreet

Read more about The Republican Strategy 

It’s a great day for Citizens United, Wisconsin!

Scott Walker survived the recall election because, apparently, Wisconsin is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. $30 million in campaign funds will usually always beat $3.9 million. Everyone knows that.

Josh Marshall wonders how Walker managed to cease to be as unpopular as he was a year ago — what exactly happened with the anti-Walker forces and what the defeat ultimately means for them and for everyone beyond Wisconsin:

This is also a big loss for public employees unions. There’s no getting around that fact. Just why that happened is another matter. But at the end of the day, victory is all that matters. Walker went big to destroy the public-sector unions in his state. And the labor movement went all out to take him down and lost. Wisconsin’s a pretty progressive, fairly blue-ish state. This result in this state has to embolden Republican governors across the country to think you can go for game-changing attacks on key Democratic constituencies like labor and not pay a price at the polls. Public employees unions across the country have feel like they have crosshairs on their backs. And they do.

If you think union-busting, and the effort to recall Walker for doing that, doesn’t eventually affect all of us in the long run, then you haven’t been paying attention. Harold Meyerson explains,

Added to the prohibition on their ability to bargain over wages and conditions of work, what the dramatic drop in union membership means is that workers’ power to win a decent life either at the workplace or at the ballot box will be weakened. Union treasuries will grow smaller, as will the level of resources they can devote to election campaigns. That means not just less money to campaign for union-specific issues, but for the whole panoply of causes (and the candidates who back them) that unions routinely support—women’s and minority rights, affordable higher education, financial regulation, the works. [...] Of course, as historian Fred Siegel, a leading opponent of public-sector unions, remarked to me many years ago (when he was still on the left), before unions, the common form of protest for workers seeking a better life was rioting. That may eventually prove to be the common form of protest after unions, too.

The reality about unions and standard wages nationally is this:

[T]he middle class’s share of national income has steadily declined as the percentage of the population in labor unions has fallen. At the same time, the top 1 percent’s share of national income has exploded… Strong unions have traditionally been the free-market solution to income inequality, allowing people to get higher salaries without government intervention. Unionization has allowed middle class and working-class Americans to have the ability to bargain for stronger wages and benefits and a larger share of national income. Highly-unionized countries tend to have far less income inequality.

 

As John Cole says, “Here’s to Wisconsin getting what they voted for and getting it hard.”