Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Service with Dignity

There's a lot of talk right now about whether rescinding trade deals really helps or hurts workers.

There's actually another discussion we should be having:  how can we realistically make a service-based industry a better thing for workers?  For one thing, there's no guarantee we can bring substantial manufacturing jobs back home.  Secondly, many jobs were replaced by automation/computerization.

It's helpful to look at other examples.  While we cannot be exactly like other countries, we can learn from them.  In Germany, about 71% of the workforce is in service jobs.  Yet,  having a job like this is not taken as a mark of "shame."  In fact, if you see German wait-servers at work, you can see they treat it as a real profession.  (Unfortunately, Germany has resorted to a trickle-down economics type plan. They now have more workers needing food pantries to get by.)

Although politicians can't change our behavior directly, they do seem to exercise outsized influence on people.  Maybe if they came out and talked about our "nameless, faceless" service industry workers, if they reminded everyone of the respect that McDonald's and Wal-Mart workers should have, maybe that would make a difference.

And, once again, dumping supply-side economics would be a good thing.  There are many articles coming out where a few radical, open thinkers in the "1%" are saying the same thing.  They value a stable society and argue that better wages are part of this.  They admit that huge windfalls for the wealthy don't "trickle down."  They remind their audiences that the wealthy need middle-class customers to buy their stuff.  They remind others that, if the middle class isn't stretched so thin time-wise, they can volunteer in ways to make the world a better place.

Some of these thinkers admit where the windfall to the rich goes:  it goes to buying up stock in their own companies.  This artificially raises the price of stock, which gives the CEOs, who get part of their income off their stocks, more money.  One of these enlightened one-percenters pointed out that every Wal-Mart employee could have gotten a raise of over $4000 with the money Wal-Mart spent to buy up  and inflate its own stock.  Finally, Wal-Mart listened, and there have been some pay raises there. Wal-Mart must hustle more to compete with other corporations.  But some consumers are rewarding Wal-Mart by using their services more since they've given raises.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Examine the Policies, Don't Attack the People

The really big problem, IMHO, has been 35+ years of largely unchecked "Reaganomics" or "Trickle-Down Economics."  (Sometimes this is called "supply-side economics." But the developers of true supply-side economics are objecting:  they say their work is more nuanced & more flexible. It doesn't always involved slashing taxes on the rich.)  With the exception of a few years in the 1990's, this one-sided policy has been used most of these 35 years.   It usually goes along with slashing the budget in certain key areas that only the Right can love.  (As an occasional "corrective", it might have been all right.  Not in constant use.  Google the concept; you'll see a lot of details.)

 People who might otherwise have challenged it have been deflected from taking a good, hard look at it by leaders who have tried to roll all this up in a form of public "Christianity" ever since the 1980s.

People need to know who "Grover Norquist" is.  He's browbeat practically every prominent post-Reagan Republican into accepting this position.  He's never been elected to public office.  He's an economist educated in elite schools, holding sway over elected representatives.

Grover Norquist

Trickle-down also usually saddles future generations with federal deficits.  (Fortunately a fiscally Centrist balance turned this on end in the 1990s, and we had a surplus--until  George W. Bush came in and gave sudden, ill-advised tax refunds.)  

The promise is always that when the wealthy and corporations have their taxes cut significantly, this financial "good will" will "trickle down" to the middle and lower classes.  Study after study shows it doesn't work. And it's never been implemented in a way that forces investment in the economy and jobs FIRST, BEFORE the tax breaks. 

When the "charitable" giving of those profiting from supply-side in the '80s was reviewed, it showed the wealthy still not sharing at nearly the rate of the middle class.  AND the wealthy often donated to the high-priced universities they'd attended, such as Harvard or Yale.

There has also been talk of weakening or dismantling the Dodd-Frank banking regulations.  Remember that last time banks weren't properly regulated?  The 2008 housing & economic meltdown.  Maybe a few provisions could be altered---IF they truly make sense to help qualified people get loans. But no more free-for-alls at the monetary feeding trough, if you please.

I'm not asking for a Liberal tax & spend agenda, either.  Just something closer to what happened in the '90s (minus the bank deregulation.)

YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS!!!!!  This stuff relates to a lot of the social policies and social unrest that have built up. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fastforward to the Past


BREAKING NEWS: The FBI is investigating irregularities into the 2016 World Series. Director James Comey has decided to make this information public before there are leaks from Kurds attempting to show that Russians were attempting to influence the outcome of America's favorite pastime.
      It has recently been revealed that the originator the Cubbies' curse, William Slanis, was actually of Russian origin; his actual name was William Stanislavsky. He was a Cold War era spy for the Russians. Although Communism has failed and Slanis has long since passed, there is evidence that his Moscow relations, close friends of Vladimir Putin, had been working with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to influence the outcome. The attempt was to create a tied score, to create more disruption and suspicion in American culture at a time when many Americans were already saying, "Holy smokes... how'd we end up in this situation?"
      This came after high-ranking Russians insisted that they would be observers at all games, to ensure that the outcome was not rigged. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, in private talks which were secretly recorded by the CIA & just made public, said, "It's absolutely possible for you to have observers at at the Word Series. It's called 'buying a ticket.' Just make sure you do it early." There are now investigatons opening into how many World Series seats were bought by Russians, their exact positions in the stands, and how the tickets were paid for.
      There are also investigations into complaints from all major league teams that the umpiring was rigged throughout the entire season. Many fans took up this position over the season, but felt their opinions went unheard. Ken Bone (the "red sweater guy") commented exclusively (to every major news outlet) that a system is rigged when you can no longer yell at the umpire, "The ump needs glasses!", due to political correctness run amok. (This in spite of his own use of eyewear.) His remarks are under suspicion, now, because he first gained fame by wearing a RED sweater ("red" for Cardinals, not for communists, at least not until more innuendo surfaces) and talking in ST. LOUIS!!!
Russians, knowing that baseball is already steeped in superstition, felt that they could mastermind this. If successful, their next step was to muscle into the Ukrainian vodka business, the true fuel of that part of the world.
      Neither Putin nor Assange would comment. But it has been discovered they speak regularly on red phones named "The Bat-**** Super-Crazy Phone."
It is not known yet whether Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg has been favoring the posts of one team over the other. Alogorithms are being carefully analyzed by the FBI, the CIA, and Mad Magazine.
      Megyn Kelly is undergoing serious new hairstyling, sources reveal, to be prepared to take on this story live. Although Ms. Kelly would not comment herself, one of her staffers leaked, "It's so stupid to have to make it about a woman's hair at a time like this, but you know how it is..."