Creativity and Class

By Daniel C. Adkins

We face the critical problems of the needs of a sustainable future and creating an economy that works for all of us, not just the interests of the 1%. These goals cannot be reached without changing our political and labor system from a game rich people play to a more democratic and inclusive one. To reach our goals it is time we evaluated how our various social-economic groups use their creativity to change society (or not). Below is a quick view of different social class contributions.

The middle and upper middle classes cover a wide area and have created the crown jewels of our networked society. In addition to maintaining educational systems, small businesses, etc., they have created the new corporations of our technological world. The tech companies: Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook have been created by middle class students enthralled by the opportunities of their disciplines, especially the technological ones. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak is the son of a defense engineer who taught his son electronics so well that the “Woz” was able to build one of the first personal computers. Bill Gates learned coding so well that he was able to start a business. Steve Jobs got enough college under his belt that he was able to build a computer that was important in a cultural way as much as a business way. The Google guys created a company in the process of implementing their search algorithms. Although middle class professionals are unionized in education and government, unionizations have not caught on in some of the newer industries so when companies have gotten creative stealing workers options, the work force has had to create class-action lawsuits.

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Fiscal Crisis in the states produces attacks on wages, pensions

Duane Campbell

by Duane Campbell

A new report by  a  State Budget Crisis Task Force reported in the New York Times says that “the financial collapse of 2008, which caused the most serious fiscal crisis for states since the Great Depression, exposed a number of deep-set financial challenges that will grow worse if no action is taken by national policy makers.”

“The ability of the states to meet their obligations to public employees, to creditors and most critically to the education and well-being of their citizens is threatened,” warned the two chairmen of the task force, Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor of New York, and Paul A. Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.”

What does this mean to unions?  Union contracts, raises, and pensions are under attack around the nation.   In California it is the Special Exemptions Act, Proposition 32  which targets union dues collections. This tactic has been devastating in Wisconsin and Indiana.   In other states it is called a paycheck protection act.

The economic  looting of 2008- 2009  produced our current economic crisis, crashed the world economy, and caused the massive cutbacks we presently suffer in schools, in public pensions, in employment of police, fire, the bankrupting of cities and the cuts to health care and the social safety net.

Did police, fire fighters, nurses, teachers cause this crisis?  Did public employee unions cause this crisis? No. Continue reading

Barack Obama makes economic sense in Osawatamie, Kansas

Barack Obama makes economic sense in Osawatamie, Kansas. Dec.6. 2011.

English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

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For this, Roosevelt was called a radical, a socialist, even a communist. But today, we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign: an eight hour work day and a minimum wage for women; insurance for the unemployed, the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax.

Today, over one hundred years later, our economy has gone through another transformation. Over the last few decades, huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere in the world. And many of you know firsthand the painful disruptions this has caused for a lot of Americans.

Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where the workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100, so that layoffs were too often permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. These changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs or the internet. Today, even higher-skilled jobs like accountants and middle management can be outsourced to countries like China and India. And if you’re someone whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don’t have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages and benefits – especially since fewer Americans today are part of a union.

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there’s been a certain crowd in Washington for the last few decades who respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If only we cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everyone else. And even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, they argue, that’s the price of liberty. Continue reading

The Jobs Crisis and a NEW New Deal for America


By Martin Bennett and Richard Walker

The nation is experiencing the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. Princeton economist and former vice-chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Blinder, calls the current crisis a “national jobs emergency.”

The official unemployment rate in September was 9.1 percent – nearly twice the rate a decade ago – leaving 14 million people out of work. In California, the rate is much worse, 12.1 percent, with over two million workers out of luck.
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What Americans Make

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Last Friday, the Social Security Administration released its figures on how much money Americans made in 2010 from wages, salaries, and tips (but not from capital gains, dividends or rents). Turns out that the 150,398,796 Americans for whom employers issued W-2 forms made just over $6 trillion in net compensation. If you calculate the raw mean average, that comes out to $39,959.30 per worker. But 66 percent of wage earners actually made less than that (or that amount exactly)—which means, the high level of pay for upper-income workers produced a much higher mean average than the average American worker actually makes. The median wage—the dollar amount that 50 percent of wage earners made more than, and 50 percent made less than—was $26,363.55. Twenty-six thousand bucks is what the average American worker makes on the job. That’s right in line with the figures for median household income, which hover around $49,000 once you total the income for everyone at home who has a job.

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Fake Political Crisis and Real Economic Crisis-

(The Depression) The Single Men's Unemployed A...

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Fake Political Crises and Real Economic Crises – A Call for
Leadership and for Action

AFL-CIO Executive Council Statement
The United States is in a continuing and severe jobs crisis.
Our economy is growing at less than 2 percent per year, and
growth is slowing. Official unemployment is 9.2 percent and
rising – driven now by mass layoffs of teachers, first
responders and other public employees. The real unemployment
rate is almost twice as high – once labor market dropouts
and involuntary part-time work are taken into account.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are real solutions to
the jobs crisis, but real solutions require government
action.

Yet Washington is inexplicably focused on measures that will
make the situation worse – both in the short and long run.
Our nation’s leaders are offering working people the choice
between bad and worse policies. Instead of addressing our
profound economic crisis, they are adding to it an unending
series of fake political crises.

Real wages have been stagnant for three decades and are now
falling. The housing market, the largest market of any kind
in our country, continues its downward slide, driven by the
collapse of an enormous bubble. Millions of American
families have been or will be thrown out of their homes by
banks, guaranteeing that this drag on our economy will
continue for the foreseeable future. Our trade deficit keeps
growing. We invest less and less in our nation’s
infrastructure while unemployment in construction is nearly
double the national average. Veterans return home and
struggle to find work. Our education budgets at every level
are shrinking, and fewer and fewer of us have adequate
health insurance or a pension. Continue reading

The economic crisis and the assault on unions and working people

by Duane Campbell

Duane Campbell

The nation and the states continue to suffer from the Great Recession and working people remain in crisis.  The crisis was caused by the greed and avarice of the financial class and aided by the politicians of both major political parties.   The  major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown.  Now, they have been rewarded with bail out money and have returned to high profits.  The crisis was not caused by students, teachers, public employees  nor recipients of social security.     The  continuing economic decline has had a devastating impact on state budgets in  at least  42 states.   Revenues have continued to plunge and  legislatures  have been forced to make a series of deep cuts to virtually all of the state’s programs, health care, police protection, education and university systems.

The national unemployment rate edged down in February to 8.9 %, but remained high in many states and regions.  In California it is over 12.5%.  According to the Labor Center at U.C. Berkeley, the Black unemployment rate is 15.3 % and the Latino unemployment rate hovers around 11.6% in February.   These sustained high levels of unemployment and long term unemployment are devastating to families.

The corporate class is using the state budget crises to assault union workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, Colorado  among others.  They do not need this assault in Texas, Arizona, Utah,  Virginia, and much of the South where public workers are already restricted from bargaining.

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Questions and answers on unemployment

On the first Friday of every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases information on the US labor force that covers the preceding month.  The number that often gets the most attention is the unemployment rate.  In organizing around jobs and unemployment, it is important to understand what the unemployment rate measures, what it omits, and what other information is contained in the BLS release.

Q: How bad is the employment situation in the U.S?  What do the different numbers mean?

A: The answer to the first question is: very bad – by far the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  This is true even though the Great Recession was declared over in June 2009.  Here are the key numbers that demonstrate just how bad things are for working people.  Let’s begin with the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS.  This rate is the number of people unemployed and looking for work in the four weeks prior to the report divided by the people working plus those looking for work (in the prior 4 weeks).  It is important to note two things about this rate.  First, the only people counted as unemployed are those who report seeking a job in the prior four weeks.  If someone has been out of work but has given up looking or did not look in the previous 4 weeks, they are not counted among the unemployed.  Thus, if people drop out of the actively looking for work category, the unemployment rate may decline, even though as many or more people are unemployed.  This is part of what happened between November 2010 and December 2010 when the unemployment rate dropped from 9.8% to 9.4%: about half of the decline was the result of individuals no longer looking for work.  In December 2010 there were officially 14.5 million unemployed people.

That number is large but is at best half the story of unemployment.  In addition to the officially unemployed, the BLS also reports a number for people who report that that they want jobs but did not look in the 4 weeks covered by the report.  In December 2010 there were 6.5 million of these individuals, another 4.2% of the labor force.  Finally, the BLS also reports the number of people who are working part time but want to work full time.  There were 8.9 million such people in December 2010, accounting for another 5.7% of the labor force.  Adding these three categories together, there were 29.9 million un- or under- employed people in December 2010. Continue reading

Public sector workers made to pay for Wall Street Greed

by Duane Campbell

Crisis cuts to state education and social budgets: Public sector workers and their unions made to pay for Wall Street Greed

The current economic crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street, i.e. Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others. Finance capital owns the banks, and they robbed the banks through investment schemes including investments in mortgage-backed derivatives. Wall Street’s actions plunged the U.S. into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, destroying jobs and lives. Finance capital produced a $2 trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of the unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008 alone. Currently, twenty six million are unemployed and under employed (Krugman 2009, Baker 2009).

The national economic crisis produced a crisis at the state level and resulted in budget cuts in K-12 and higher education, transportation, libraries, environmental programs, parks, and key social welfare systems in the state and across the nation. This protracted economic decline of the Great Recession has had a devastating impact on the California budget and the budgets of 42 other states. Revenues have continued to plunge and legislatures have made a series of deep cuts from coast to coast. The crisis of state and local budgets, and thus of school budgets, will be even more severe next year when the current economic stimulus runs out.

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