Summary travel gun laws travel gun laws (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog is most concerned with politics and it is not possible to write about it without becoming aware of the myriad problems facing the US. Some are from outside our borders, but most are self-induced by the GOP, aided and abetted by some Democrats, at the instructions of their masters, the 1%. The following list is in no particular order and enumerates our tasks ahead.

  • Public financing of political campaigns.
  • Limiting the influence of lobbyists.
  • Eliminating gerrymandering.
  • Require truth in political ads and reporting.
  • Stricter gun laws.
  • Higher taxes on the very wealthy and corporations.
  • Elimination of all tax shelters.
  • Reduce offshoring and foreign banking by US citizens.
  • More green energy.
  • More airlines and greater competition.
  • High speed rail.
  • Higher minimum wage, a living wage.
  • Fewer jails and prisons, none for profit.
  • Single-payer healthcare.
  • No restrictions on the right of adults to vote, mandatory voting.
  • Reformed immigration laws.
  • Freedom to petition and to demonstrate peacefully.
  • Freedom of worship or to not worship. No religion better than another.
  • Restrictions on the CIA and NSA.
  • Institute the Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.
  • Reinstate usury laws.

I have previously written on many of these subjects, and I will be addressing the others in future posts. Thank you for your support.

To restore the middle class

English: Economist James K Galbraith

English: Economist James K Galbraith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again from The Predator State by James K. Galbraith:

“The true secret  lies in the aggressive regulation of wages. If you are a business in Sweden or Norway, you are free to import, export, and outsource as you like. There is, however, one thing you are not free to do: you are not free to cut your wages. You are not free to compete by going after cut-rate workers, either native or immigrant. You are not free to undercut the union rate. You have to pay your workers at the established scale, and if you cannot do that and earn a profit, too bad for your business.

“The effect of this on business discipline is quite wonderful. To succeed, business must find ways to compete that do not involve running down the wage standards of their workforces. They do it by keeping productivity high and investing in the search for technological improvement. this means that advanced industries thrive in Scandinavia, while backward ones die out. (Progressive businessmen prosper, while reactionaries fade away.) As a result, the economies as a whole stay competitive: the Scandinavian countries started the twentieth century poor and ended it at the top of the world’s distribution of income and wealth. The tax and welfare systems then make sure that everyone has enough to live on.

The United States is not Sweden or Norway. It is much larger, in particular, and for this reason it cannot move ahead as far or as fast as smaller countries. But the economic principles do not change when they cross the North Atlantic. And we have, in fact, applied them in the past. As Dorgan and Brown correctly state in their essay, this is how the American middle class got built in the first place. It was done not by ‘free markets’ but through unions, laws, regulations, and yes, standards. But the standards were not imposed on other people. They were imposed at home–where they can be enforced–and the rest of the world adjusted to what we did here. The problem, in short, is not foreigners and trade. The big problem is that unions, laws, regulations, and standards have been undercut by conservative policies right here at home. And the foundation stone of those policies is the idea that wages and prices should be set by the market, and not interfered with by the political process.”

Free market wages

English: Monthly minimum wages in EU Member St...

English: Monthly minimum wages in EU Member States, Turkey and the USA in 2008, in national euros and purchasing power standards Français : Salaire minimum mensuel dans les Etats membres de l’UE, la Turquie et les Etats-Unis en 2008, en euro et en parités de pouvoir d’achat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some in Congress want to repeal the minimum wage and let wages be set by the market. That is a very bad idea. Additionally, Congress sets its own wages by law and they receive a generous package of benefits for very little work. They have the time to write books and engage in lucrative speaking engagements if they wish to supplement their taxpayer guaranteed wages. The rest of us struggle to pay our bills with full-time work if we can find it.

In the recent past, society decided the acceptable salary range for various jobs and professions, and regulations or other mechanisms enforced our collective judgment. With the movement to deregulation and market based wages, we have witnessed a growing disparity between what the lowest paid workers are paid and what CEOs pay themselves. Repealing the minimum wage will make the situation worse. Jack London documented in The People of the Abyss how free market wages lead to a downward spiral that ends in misery and an early death for many.

E pluribus unions

President Reagan with William French Smith mak...

President Reagan with William French Smith making a statement to the press regarding the air traffic controllers strike (PATCO) from the Rose Garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unions have been losing members since Ronald Reagan broke the air traffic controllers strike. Now the GOP are going after unions of public employees including teachers. If you are wondering why all the gains in employee productivity have gone to owners and management and not to workers, it is because unions are no longer strong enough to demand a more equitable division of the fruits of increased worker productivity. The GOP response is that gains in productivity result from capital investments, but that is only partly true. There would be no gains in productivity at all without a trained and educated workforce.

Another reason why wages have been stagnant since 1980 is that business have caused laws to be changed reducing regulation and taxes, allowing business to relocate abroad, or to import goods from abroad where those goods are made without American labor, paying substandard wages and making workers live and work in unsafe conditions.

Only by uniting together in unions are workers strong enough to confront today’s giant corporations. Out of many, let there be a few strong unions that sit down at bargaining tables as equals to corporate persons. In today’s economy where the economic pie is growing slowly, a bigger piece for owners and management means a smaller piece for workers.

Chained wages

"Wake Up Walmart Campaign" requestin...

“Wake Up Walmart Campaign” requesting additional wages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time, American workers earned enough in wages to afford to purchase goods and services produced in America by American workers. Those days began to end in the 1980s. Americans began the long, slow decline in our standard of living by downsizing our expectations and our purchases, substituting cheaper goods where possible and borrowing against our paper assets in the stock market and our homes when we resisted downsizing. That is an example of chained wages, where wages do not keep up with the cost of living. Borrowing against our paper assets came to a screeching halt in 2007 at the beginning of the Great Recession.

Now some in Washington are advocating a chained CPI, a way to refigure and reduce the annual cost of living increase for retirees and other recipients of so-called “entitlements.” Using the rationale that less income will force Americans to further downsize our purchases, proponents of a chained CPI want us to substitute pet food for human food and later substitute no food for pet food. Instead of American made durable goods, we are expected to substitute Chinese made not-very durable goods retailed by big-box discounters. The current government calculated COLA adjustment to entitlement programs is totally inadequate. To reduce it further in order to save the 1% from paying additional taxes is a high crime and misdemeanor truly worthy of impeachment of any legislator who supports it.