Follow by Email

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The federal minimum wage has been eroded by decades of inaction

http://epi.org/111134

This week marks the seven-year anniversary of the last time the federal minimum wage was raised, from $6.55 to $7.25 on July 24, 2009. Since then, the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage has fallen by 10 percent as inflation has slowly eroded its value. However, this decline in the buying power of the minimum wage over the past seven years is not even half the overall decline in the minimum wage's value since the late 1960s. As the figure below shows, at its high point in 1968, the federal minimum wage was equal to $9.63 in today's dollars1. That means that workers at the minimum wage today are paid roughly 25 percent less than their counterparts 48 years ago.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How to subscribe to the Socialist Economics list serve

How to subscribe to the Socialist Economics list serve:



  1. Go to Socialist-economics google group.
  2.  Click on the 'Join group' button. ...
  3.  Fill in the options on the Join Group dialog box.
  4.  Click the Join this group button

Reflections on Joseph Schumpeter, Creative Destruction and Innovation

Reflections on Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction
Part I: Introduction
In Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942), the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) wrote:

The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation—if I may use that biological term—that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. (p. 83)

Schumpeter devoted a mere six-page chapter to "The Process of Creative Destruction," in which he described capitalism as "the perennial gale of creative destruction." Despite some ups and downs in reputation over the decades, it has become a  centerpiece for modern thinking on how economies evolve. One of the most paradoxical economic theoreticians in history, Schumpeter is an intellectual child of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Yet he is father of the lions share of Free Market economic development theory on the "libertarian" right wing of the economics profession, and evolutionary economics on the left.

Schumpeter's paradox of progress, takes this expression, according to a modern "free market" -  Schumpeterian

"A society cannot reap the rewards of creative destruction without accepting that some individuals might be worse off, not just in the short term, but perhaps forever. At the same time, attempts to soften the harsher aspects of creative destruction by trying to preserve jobs or protect industries will lead to stagnation and decline, short-circuiting the march of progress. Schumpeter's enduring term reminds us that capitalism's pain and gain are inextricably linked. The process of creating new industries does not go forward without sweeping away the preexisting order."

This is clearly where the right wing does a Thelma and Louise with "creative destruction" and drives into a Grand Canyon with their obsession. Note the acceptability of individuals losing out "forever" combined with "inevitable pain"!! For Schumpeter the chaos would always lead naturally to efforts to moderate, to pay the losers. Those efforts and reforms would lead to institutions and laws, as well,  but would themselves in the end be undermined by the permanence of change.

This series discussion on Schumpeter and his legacy focuses on the implications for socialism and social democracy in the serious, and difficult-to-deny truths contained in his  essential insight -- relating "creative destruction" to innovation.  For this purpose, I will use the following, simplified, essentially Marxist (but also Schumperterian), definition of "capitalism": 

"a system of economic relations and development arising from the circulation (motion) of commodities. Commodities are defined as products or services produced primarily or solely for exchange." 


Notice that with the motion and circulation absent, there is no capitalism, and indeed, no commodities. It is the motion and the inherent contradictions and variation that flows from real motion, and real development, that give Marx's, and Schumpeter's, dialectical theory their special power and appeal.



Schumpeter borrowed some dialectics as it would apply to economics from Marx and Engels. Dialectics is a non-metaphysical logic of motion in which Negation (differentiation, variation, conflict, competition, contradiction, the new replacing the old, etc) plays a central role in propelling evolution in physical, biological and economic systems. Schumpeter also embraced philosophically Marx's and the classical economists' labor theory of economic value. However he agreed with his famous student, Paul Samuelson, that, price theory would have to be the data foundation of any practical value theory, since it is not easy, indeed likely not possible, to calculate the "mean socially necessary labor" required to comply with Marx's (or Adam Smith's, for that matter) value definition -- a definition that in Classical economics was derived more deductively than via data. It's worth noting that the primary objection here is not statistical. Most statisticians will agree you can plot a regression line through most any data set depending on what level of confidence you require in the result! The problem is different: there are many qualitative, in addition to quantifiable, inputs into the expression: "socially necessary labor". There are elementary ones, like skill differentials involving human capital investments (e.g. education). The division of labor in modern economies has become vastly more complex than in the times of classical economics. Then there is the thorny question of valuing public good and infrastructure inputs into the quality of  "an hour of labor", and the even more thorny question of valuation of intangible products (ideas, many services, software, etc). The sum of the thorny questions equals a value that cannot be computed presently. So, studying the behavior of prices, supply and demand has been a modern, data-driven approximation of "value" theory.

While Schumpeter agreed that the instability of capitalism would ultimately lead to a scantly  defined "socialism", he chiefly employed Marx's ideas to promote rather than deride capitalism's ceaseless revolutionizing of all previous modes of production and their associated social and economic relations. He was blunt in championing an echo of capitalism's critics in acknowledging that lost jobs, ruined companies, and vanishing industries are inherent parts of the growth system. The saving grace, he argued,  comes from recognizing the good that comes from the turmoil. Over time, societies that allow creative destruction to operate grow more productive and richer; their citizens see the benefits of new and better products, shorter work weeks, better jobs, and higher living standards. Yes,  following 1910, for example, 109,000 carriage and harness makers and 238,000 blacksmiths became obsolete and had to find other occupations. But, in a world increasingly dominated by what you could buy with the universal commodity, money, and with millions in subsistence or under-subsistence agriculture "tractor-ed out by the cat's" --- the higher productivity, and wages, in the emerging commercial and mass industrial sectors were a force too compelling to deny. Further, one  might say inevitably, a sharp class struggle arose alongside these structural changes in labor markets as workers demanded a bigger share of the vastly increased value(s) their labor created. This cumulative result impressed Schumpeter with its possible antidote, or at least counter-pressure, to Marx's description of a much stronger tendency toward working class immiseration as the primary outcome of capitalist class relations.

Schumpeter's dialectics  of creation and destruction as brides of development and innovation have been sustained by the 20th and 21st century capitalist history. He felt strongly that capitalism could only be understood as a historical, and evolutionary, phenomenon. He also was, like Marx, a "long waver" -- an adherent of the theory that roughly 50-75 year -- perhaps generational -- cycles of technology and innovation (not the supply and demand business cycle) were the source of  both instability and growth in capitalism. Further "growth" had a fundamental definition as a kind of reproduction, as in organic birth, as the system reproduced itself. Each generation (projecting reproduction in a mass context) -- a third of the entire division of labor must be replaced --  but replaced in ever more evolved forms since the "system" is not, and cannot be, the same as it was when the retiring generation entered, before the human labors of two generations had made their mark, and changed the "real world".  

Lets take a walk through some recent economic history from a socialist Schumpeterian viewpoint. After 1991 the USSR model of socialism was judged a failure. The Maoist one had already been judged that after the catastrophe of the Cultural Revolution. Though different in various ways, both shared a common, and conscious, adherence to a "command", or "planned" economic model that has proved unworkable, or at least unsustainable, in the era of commodities. The planned model cannot escape scarcity in this era. Historically that leads to strong corruption pressures, weak innovation, or, a return to markets. Scarcity is the prime condition for human wants being satisfied by exchange -- or by commodities -- assuming labor and wealth has advanced to enable a non-primitive division of labor. For a Schumpeterian neither turn of events (the USSR, or the Mao regime) would be surprising.  He might even quote Marx on the conditions for communism: the technological ability to provide material human wants and needs abundantly and cheaply (if not freely). Although, to be fair to Marx, he wrote very little elaborating his views of post capitalist society. Plus, he clearly changed his mind over time. In any event, its clear now that Chinese, Vietnamese, many Latin American and indeed most socialist trends have accepted a dose of Schumpeter and committed themselves to mixed (part capitalist, part socialist) socialist economic models. Of these, it must be said that those with more -- but not too much -- planning, are growing faster. At the same time, those who, economically, retreated from the "command" policy least, or slowest, are growing least. Those where socialism held insufficient power, or was excessively reliant on natural resource commodities (oil, etc), have the most political instability. Countries with historically strong social democracies have fared best, at least from a working class point of view. However they too are struggling to accommodate and restructure in response to the many dimensions of globalization and the "creative destruction" forces it unleashes. 

On the "capitalist" side of the "creative destruction" walk, after 2007 there are few economists left who still believe that some deft combination of Keynes and/or Friedman regulatory regimes  have solved the "depression problem".  But for 40 years the corporate led unraveling and gutting of the New Deal social contract with American working families -- itself the cap of a Schumpeterian cycle of growth and restructuring --  was frequently covered up in economic debate in large measure by a consensus that said decades of "no raises for workers" won't seriously threaten the economy, never mind the entire society. A lot of malarkey one might say, while technology and globalization have turned every  US and global labor and capital market -- even fast food -- upside down; while incomes in "advanced economies" are going down, or are flat; while the 1% is grabbing all it can consume and parking it anywhere in the world where cops and taxation cannot find it. The turmoil is generating global dysfunction in government at every level, and extremes in politics, including violence, and, if not contained and constrained, will lead irreversibly to war.

Can creative destruction be contained and managed for at least the duration of time in which we depend upon commodities? That is a key question and challenge for both socialists and all working class democratic forces.  In Part II of this series I will survey possible Schumpetarian solutions to this challenge from heterodox economics, innovation studies, game theory, and some alternate economic models in practice around the world. Part III will survey a different question:Does creative destruction apply in economies, or communities, freed from commodities?


 
John Case
Harpers Ferry, WV

The Winners and Losers Radio Show
Sign UP HERE to get the Weekly Program Notes.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Imagining President Trump [feedly]

Imagining President Trump
http://www.cagle.com/r-j-matson/2016/07/imagining-president-trump

 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Survey research on right-wing extremism in Europe [feedly]

Survey research on right-wing extremism in Europe
http://understandingsociety.blogspot.com/2016/07/survey-research-on-right-wing-extremism.html

 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Measuring Sustainable Development Goals [feedly]

Measuring Sustainable Development Goals
http://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/29/07/2016/measuring-sustainable-development-goals

Measuring Sustainable Development Goals

Carlo Carraro - 29th July 2016
Measuring Sustainable Development Goals

Carlo Carraro explores current and potential future efforts to measure and evaluate progress towards the SDGs.

In September 2015, the UN Assembly unanimously approved its new Sustainable Development Goals. These goals replace the Millennium Development Goals and are supposed to drive policymaking on both the national and local scale towards sustainability. The definition of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets has been followed by a long debate to establish the set of the best fitting Indicators. In March 2016, the United Nations Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDG Indicators (UN IAEG SDGs), at the 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission 'Better Data Better Lives', presented its report (UN IAEG SDGs, 2016) for a final agreement on the indicators selected after a multi-step consultation process. These indicators are the ones to be measured in the near future to assess progress towards sustainable development.

There are still many criticalities to be solved in order to make the whole implementation process effective and successful, including adequate investments and financial assistance for developing countries (OECD, 2014; UN SDSN, 2015). Nevertheless, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are becoming increasingly a lighthouse of national and local policymaking. It is therefore crucial to start preparing adequate data sets and statistical indicators to measure how each country intends to achieve its own sustainable development indicators. A few attempts have recently been published. Some notable ones include the GGKP Report on "Measuring Inclusive Green Growth at the Country Level", the "SDG Index and Dashboards – Global Report" prepared by the SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, and the "APPS Project" (Assessment, Projections and Policy of Sustainable Development Goals) developed by FEEM.

The GGKP Report on Measuring Inclusive Green Growth at the Country Level

The GGKP report provides a systematic overview and categorization of the main reliable sources for data collection at the country level, as well as the main constraints and obstacles in data gathering. It is worth noting that the authors' perspective does not refer to the pool of SDGs now under consideration by the UN, but to the different components of the so-called Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) (WB, 2012), which is a way to make more concrete the concept of sustainable development.

The study assesses the main limitations of the available tools for monitoring the interaction across the three sustainability dimensions. The traditional "social, environmental, economic" triangle is replaced in the IGG context with "inclusive, green, growth," which better stresses their interaction in a dynamic perspective (economic growth is a goal per se but should be green and inclusive). The authors propose several guidelines to improve the process of integration and analysis of the relevant indicators. This is particularly helpful to policymakers in clarifying what the different methodologies employed for measurement of progress towards sustainable development aim at and their respective advantages and drawbacks within differentiated country-specific contexts.

The components of Inclusive Green Growth and connected measurement gaps

The GGKP report identifies, describes and links to sub-themes and indicators the 5 broad themes characterizing the IGG: 1) Natural Assets; 2) Resource Efficiency and Decoupling; 3) Resilience and Risks; 4) Economic Opportunities and Efforts; and 5) Inclusiveness.

An important aspect of the report is its highlighting of the main gaps in data collection and availability for each of the above themes. To begin with, the authors underline the considerable importance of qualitative data for Natural Assets, even more difficult to collect than quantitative data. For instance, increasing water availability cannot be an option for relieving thirst and reducing the water access gap if the water in question is highly polluted.

It should be noted that within the SDGs context, this has been addressed also in terms of the social dimension, for instance in SDG3, SDG4 and SDG8, as they now refer to indicators such as 'healthy life expectancy at birth', actual 'literacy and numeracy skills' irrespective of formal educational achievements and 'decent jobs'.

With reference to quantitative data collected for Natural Assets, there are well known challenges in providing cost-benefit assessments due to monetary evaluation of non-market goods and services, as well as the claim for a deeper understanding of the thresholds and tipping points that not to be exceeded in order to avoid undesirable and unmanageable effects.

Missing data also raise concerns in monitoring the other dimensions of IGG, particularly Resilience and Risks as well as Inclusiveness, also due to lack of private interests in collecting these data. For instance, given the overarching dynamics that can make it difficult to attribute responsibility and collect data at the farmer level in developing countries, it is a real challenge to get an accurate picture of the distributional impacts of environmental policies and inaction largely affecting unskilled labor intensive sectors such as agriculture.

For economic issues too (Resource Efficiency and Decoupling, Economic Opportunities and Efforts), where businesses are more involved, data are not usually open source, even though there is a growing interest in gathering them and in highlighting indicators such as value added share and jobs from environmental-friendly activities.

Finally, the report outlines how aspects such as transparency, communicability and policy relevance must be considered in the process towards data collection. Since data gathering is costly, joint efforts and strong cooperation of the involved communities (academia, international institutions, local actors) are required to ensure that the benefits gained by improved knowledge outweigh the costs.

Methodological approaches to monitoring sustainable development

The GGKP report also provides an extensive analysis of 4 different tools described by the "Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress" (Stiglitz et al., 2010) report for a combined and comprehensive monitoring and measuring the IGG indicators, namely

  • Dashboard of Indicators
  • Composite Indices
  • Environmental Footprints
  • Adjusted Economic Measures

The variety of indicators used in Dashboards may not make it possible to shed proper light on most relevant priorities for sustainability, and may fail to provide an international comparison. The problem is not solved by the arbitrary and unvarying nature (over time and across countries) of the weighting procedures when merging different indicators with a common metrics, used for Composite Indices. The UN's SDSN (2016) has recently released a comparison across synthetic indices aiming to assess their main differences but also drawing attention to their utility for policymakers in formulating guidelines for policy action as well as gauging their limitations. Environmental Footprints capture extensively the pressures on environmental resources but do not provide interaction with the other dimensions, in addition to not taking into consideration improvement induced by future technological progress. Finally, the Economic Adjusted Measures require a huge effort to evaluate the different components without bias and inconsistency.

Authors highlight the degree of complementarity among indicators when choosing a specific methodology of measurement, referring to the concept of weak/strong sustainability, i.e. to what extent (high/low) different performances across indicators can compensate each other. While the Dashboard of Indicators implicitly presumes strong sustainability among the considered indicators, the other tools, all referring to aggregate measures, presume lower degrees of complementarity across indicators and therefore a weaker concept of sustainability, which is then a relevant critical point when considering the combined measures of the 17 SDGs (UN SDSN, 2016).

The GGKP report represents a crucial milestone for those willing to work on sustainable development measurement, as it establishes the guidelines and the main differences among the above tools and the respective purposes. Given the differences across approaches, the authors suggest using more than one methodology to track progress in sustainable development and IGG, according to country needs and peculiarities.

Modeling and Assessing SDGs

In 2014, the report "A World that Counts" (UN-IEAG, 2014) represented a crucial milestone for promoting a joint, widespread, continuous effort of the whole community (research, policy-makers, business, civil society) to fill data gaps and increase the knowledge of the world in which we live. The proclaimed data revolution for sustainable development should address a three-fold request: data for everyone (data should useful and usable for all), data for now (data should be provided faster in order to allow timely decision-making) and data for the future (we need to understand future trends to anticipate and adapt to future challenges).

With respect to the latter point, both the GGKP report and the SDSN report calls for further research in order to assess future pathways of development that set long-term objectives, especially with reference to "resilience and risks". Such pathways can overlook neither country-specific priorities nor international exogenous factors. Policy scenarios must be assessed with regard to the multi-dimensionality of the globalized world, characterized by many interactions linking socio-economic and environmental dynamics.

So far, there are only a few examples of model communities working on this specific field. Among others, the APPS – Assessment, Policy and Projections of Sustainable Development Goals – project (follow-up of the FEEM SI project (Carraro et al., 2016) reviewed in GGKP (2016)), carried out by FEEM. Starting from the definition of current well-being based upon 25 indicators and composite indices covering all the SDGs and IGG dimensions (Campagnolo et al., 2015), APPS employs a macro-economic framework, extended with social and environmental variables, in order to project over the near future (2030 and beyond) the values of the SDG indicators. The final aim is to predict unsolved challenges and propose the most effective ways to improve sustainability levels all over the World. Such a complex framework can help the overall sustainable development community to provide sound analyses in order to improve the attentiveness and reliability of policy messages.


Carlo Carraro is a Professor of Environmental Economics at Ca' Foscari University of Venice. This post first appeared on Carlo Carraro's blog.

Photo credit: Laineys Repertoire via Foter.com / CC BY


References

Campagnolo L., Carraro C., Eboli F., Farnia L. (2015) , Assessing SDGs: a new methodology to measure sustainability, FEEM Nota di Lavoro, 89.2015

Carraro, C., L. Campagnolo, F. Eboli, S. Giove, E. Lanzi, R. Parrado, M. Pinar e E. Portale (2013), The FEEM Sustainability Index: An Integrated Tool for Sustainability Assessment, in M. G. Erechtchoukova et al. (eds.), Sustainability Appraisal: Quantitative Methods and Mathematical Techniques for Environmental Performance Evaluation, EcoProduction, 9-32, dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-32081-1_2

Carraro C., Campagnolo L., Davide, M., Eboli F., Lanzi E., Parrado R. (2016), Can Climate Policy Enhance Sustainability?, Climatic Change, 137(3), 639-653

FEEM – Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (2016) , Agenda 2030 per lo sviluppo sostenibile, Equilibri 2016.01, Il Mulino, Bologna

GGKP – Green Growth Knowledge Platform, (2013), Moving towards a common approach on green growth indicators, GGKP Scoping Paper No. 1, available at this link

GGKP – Green Growth Knowledge Platform, (2016), Measuring Inclusive Green Growth at the Country Level – Taking Stock of Measurement Approaches and Indicators, GGKP Research Committee on Measurement & Indicators, available at this link

OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (2014), Development Co-operation Report 2014: Mobilising Resources for Sustainable Development, available at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/development/development-co-operation-report-2014_dcr-2014-en

Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Durand-Delacre, D. and Teksoz, K. (2016): SDG Index and Dashboard – Global Report. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

Stiglitz J.E., Sen A. and Fitoussi J.P., (2010), Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, available at: http://www.insee.fr/fr/publications-et-services/dossiers_web/stiglitz/doc-commission/RAPPORT_anglais.pdf

UN – United Nations, (2015), The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, available at this link

UN IAEG SDGs – United Nations Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDG Indicators, (2016), Report of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators, available at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/statcom/47th-session/documents/2016-2-IAEG-SDGs-E.pdf

UN IEAG – United Nations Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, (2014), A World that Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, available at: http://www.undatarevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/A-World-That-Counts2.pdf

UN SDSN – United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, (2015), Data for Development. A Needs Assessment for SDG monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development, available at: http://unsdsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Data-for-Development-Full-Report.pdf

UN SDSN – United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, (2016), SDG Index and Dashboard – Global Report, available at: http://sdgindex.org/download/

WB – World Bank, (2012), Inclusive Green Growth: The pathway to Sustainable Development, available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTSDNET/Resources/Inclusive_Green_Growth_May_2012.pdf .


 -- via my feedly newsfeed

The 'smoking gun' proving North Carolina Republicans tried to disenfranchise black voters [feedly]

The 'smoking gun' proving North Carolina Republicans tried to disenfranchise black voters
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/29/the-smoking-gun-proving-north-carolina-republicans-tried-to-disenfranchise-black-voters/

Today, a federal court struck down North Carolina's voter-ID law, one of the strictest in the nation. In addition to requiring residents to show identification before they can cast a ballot, the law also eliminated same-day voter registration, eliminated seven days of early voting and put an end to out-of-precinct voting. The federal court ruling reinstates these provisions, for now.

Supporters of the law, like North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, have long maintained that requirements like these were necessary to prevent voter fraud. But time and time again, scholars and legal experts have found that the type of fraud these laws are meant to combat is largely nonexistent.

One of the most comprehensive studies on the subject found only 31 individual cases of voter impersonationout of more than 1 billion votes cast in the United States since the year 2000. Researchers have found that reports of voter fraud are roughly as common as reports of alien abduction.

The federal court in Richmond found that the primary purpose of North Carolina's wasn't to stop voter fraud, but rather to disenfranchise minority voters. The judges found that the provisions "target African Americans with almost surgical precision."

In particular, the court found that North Carolina lawmakers requested data on racial differences in voting behaviors in the state. "This data showed that African Americans disproportionately lacked the most common kind of photo ID, those issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)," the justices wrote.

So the legislators made it so that the only acceptable forms of voter identification were the ones disproportionately used by white people. "With race data in hand, the legislature amended the bill to exclude many of the alternative photo IDs used by African Americans," the justices wrote. "The bill retained only the kinds of IDs that white North Carolinians were more likely to possess."

The data also showed that black voters were more likely to make use of early voting — particularly the first seven days out of North Carolina's 17-day voting period. So lawmakers eliminated these seven days of voting. "After receipt of this racial data, the General Assembly amended the bill to eliminate the first week of early voting, shortening the total early voting period from seventeen to ten days," the court found.

Most strikingly, the justices point to a "smoking gun" in North Carolina's justification for the law, proving discriminatory intent. The state argued in court that "counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black" and "disproportionately Democratic," and said it did away with Sunday voting as a result.

"Thus, in what comes as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times, the State's very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race — specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise," the justices write in their decision.

This is about as clear-cut an indictment of the discriminatory underpinnings of voter-ID laws as you'll find anywhere. Studies have already shown a significant link between support for voter ID and racial discrimination, among both lawmakers and white voters in general.

"Faced with this record," the federal court concludes, "we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent."

In a statement, Governor Pat McCrory said that "photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal court room. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also review other potential options."


 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Path to Electoral College Victory [feedly]

Path to Electoral College Victory
http://ritholtz.com/2016/07/path-electoral-college-victory/

Interesting WSJ graphic showing what each side needs to achieve via the Electoral College to win the White House.

I was surprised to see the Journal starting off the post-convention period giving Hillary Clinton 310 Electoral College votes amongst Solid, likely and leaning Democrat voters (270 needed to win).

To reach that conclusion, they make Ohio and North Carolina a toss up, and move Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin and Florida to leaning Democrat.

In this unusual political year, I would be reluctant to start with those assumptions, instead making Ohio and North Carolina lean Republican, and Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin and Florida the toss ups.

Enjoy the next 101 days . . .

 

 

Source: WSJ

The post Path to Electoral College Victory appeared first on The Big Picture.


 -- via my feedly newsfeed

Rampell: If politicians care about a rigged system, it’s time to address wage theft

If politicians care about a rigged system, it's time to address wage theft

By Catherine Rampell


If these shenanigans can happen right under the noses of U.S. senators, where else are they happening?

We'll never know until we get more cops on the beat.

I'm talking about wage theft. That's the catch-all term for when employers pay their workers less than they legally owe them — by, for example, forcing them to work off the clock, paying below minimum wage or misclassifying them as independent contractors.

Wage theft is not a sexy crime. It rarely makes front-page news, even as it harms so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. We don't know how prevalent it is, only how often it is discovered — which is highly dependent on how much the government invests in enforcement.

Last year, Labor Department investigators found $247 million in back wages owed to more than 240,000 workers. That's more than $1,000 stolen from each worker, on average, or the equivalent of about three weeks' payfor a typical maid, janitor or cashier.

Every once in a while, there's a chance to capture the public's imagination on this issue — such as this week, when it turned out that even in the hallowed halls of the Senate, hundreds of low-wage workers had been shortchanged. For six years.

This case involves Senate cafeteria workers, some of whom were so poorly paid that they were homeless, on public assistance or, in one case,moonlighting as a stripper to make ends meet. For about a year, they staged a series of demonstrations to demand a living wage.

 In December, it looked as if they'd finally secured it. These employees work for a private company on a government contract, which was up for renewal. After great public pressure, senators made sure that the new contractincluded healthy raises.  

 Victory at last.

 Immediately after the contract was signed, though, the company found a loophole.

 See, the wages listed in the new contract were tied to specific occupation titles. The employer, Restaurant Associates, quietly began demotingworkers into lower-wage titles — from "cook" to "food service worker," for example — which meant workers would be denied the raises they were promised.

Workers' titles changed, but their duties didn't. This turned out to be a potential violation of federal law, which narrowly defines job descriptions for service occupations in government contracts.

A complaint was filed by Good Jobs Nation, an organization that has been trying to unionize low-wage federal contract workers. This week, the Labor Department announced the findings of its resulting investigation.

It determined that Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus, must pay 674 workers $1,008,302 in back wages.

One funny thing about this finding: The Senate cafeteria workers knew they'd been underpaid. But they hadn't realized just how underpaid they were, and for how very long.

Restaurant Associates had been shortchanging workers not only since the new contract was signed in December. According to investigators, it had been improperly classifying employees, not paying them for all the time they worked, and failing to pay required health and welfare benefits since at least 2010.

In a statement, Restaurant Associates attributed the violations to "administrative technicalities related to our Associates' evolving day-to-day work responsibilities." It said that the company had "corrected the classifications." (Workers I've interviewed said that at least nine employees still dispute their classifications.) 

That hundreds of current and former Senate workers will soon receive back pay is a good thing, indeed. But what about other workers who have been victimized — who don't know their rights, who fear retaliation if they pipe up, and who don't have third-party groups and the congressional press corps paying attention? 

"Most workplaces are not the Senate cafeteria," said David Weil, the administrator of the Labor Department division that ran the investigation. "I'm worried about workplaces where workers are really alone, where they're subjected to jaw-dropping violations of basic labor standards." 

Today, fewer than 1,000 Labor Department investigators are looking into wage and hour law violations. That's fewer than there were when Jimmy Carter was president, even though the U.S. workforce has grown more than 50 percent since then and workplace arrangements have gotten far more complicated.  

In each of the past three years, the Obama administration has requested funding for more investigators; each year, Congress has denied the request. 

Which is peculiar. Enforcement should be a bipartisan issue. If politicians truly care about inequality and fairness, reducing reliance on public assistance, making sure that the system isn't "rigged" against the little guy, and, for that matter, "law and order," they should start by enforcing the laws already on the books — and by making sure hard-working Americans get every cent to which they are entitled. 

Read more on this issue:


John Case
Harpers Ferry, WV

The Winners and Losers Radio Show
Sign UP HERE to get the Weekly Program Notes.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Re: [CCDS Members] J.M. Keynes : The General Theory of Employment,Interest and Money excerpt

Efficiency in terms of what? One farmer with machinery and fuel can produce a lot food. Very efficient in terms food per human worker. Maybe not efficient in terms of food per unit of energy. And if the process depletes the soil there is less food over a period of time.
 
Per Fagereng
 
From: John Case
Sent: Thursday, July 28, 2016 3:23 PM
Subject: [CCDS Members] J.M. Keynes : The General Theory of Employment,Interest and Money excerpt
 
Case: Ok socialists: Keynes last sentence asks a question any advocate of MORE socialism in a MIXED capitalist economy, or market socialist one, likely holds an opinion one: Is it possible, contra state authoritarian or command economies,  "by a right analysis of the problem to cure the disease whilst preserving efficiency and freedom..."
Yay or NAY?????
 
 
********************
 
 
From:  John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/07/must-read-the-general-theory-of-employment-interest-and-money-by-john-maynard-keyneshttpswwwmarxistsorgrefer.html

Whilst, therefore, the enlargement of the functions of government, involved in the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, would seem to a nineteenth-century publicist or to a contemporary American financier to be a terrific encroachment on individualism, I defend it, on the contrary, both as the only practicable means of avoiding the destruction of existing economic forms in their entirety and as the condition of the successful functioning of individual initiative.

For if effective demand is deficient, not only is the public scandal of wasted resources intolerable, but the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards. Hitherto the increment of the world's wealth has fallen short of the aggregate of positive individual savings; and the difference has been made up by the losses of those whose courage and initiative have not been supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough.

The authoritarian state systems of today seem to solve the problem of unemployment at the expense of efficiency and of freedom. It is certain that the world will not much longer tolerate the unemployment which, apart from brief intervals of excitement, is associated and in my opinion, inevitably associated with present-day capitalistic individualism. But it may be possible by a right analysis of the problem to cure the disease whilst preserving efficiency and freedom...

VISIT WEBSITE
-- via my feedly newsfeed


_______________________________________________
CCDS Members mailing list

CCDS website: http://www.cc-ds.org

CCDS welcomes and encourages the full participation of our members in
this list serve. It is intended for discussion of issues of concern to
our organization and its members, for building our community, for
respectfully expressing our different points of view, all in keeping
with our commitment to building a democratic and socialist society. To
those ends, free and honest discussion of issues and ideas is
encouraged. However, personal attacks on named individuals, carrying on
old vendettas, excessive posts and, especially, statements that are
racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic and/or anti-working class are not
appropriate.

Repeated failure to respect those principles of discussion
may result in exclusion from the list.
Please respect each other and our organization.

Any member of the list who objects to a posting on the list or the
behavior of a particular member should send email describing his or her
concerns to members-owner@lists.cc-ds.org

Post: Members@lists.cc-ds.org
List info and archives: https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/members
To Unsubscribe, send email to:
Members-unsubscribe@lists.cc-ds.org
To Unsubscribe, change your email address, your password or your preferences:
   visit: https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/options/members/phantom%40hevanet.com

You are subscribed as: phantom@hevanet.com

Re: [CCDS Members] J.M. Keynes : The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money excerpt

Efficiency and freedom........

They're both associated with industrialism, which is central to both capitalist and 
ex eastern bloc socialism. Both systems had high degrees of inefficiency owing to not 
being clear on industrialism's interface with the connection between production relations and relations
of production amongst the producers.

The above isn't an attempt to answer your question. It is considerations of some things
to be looked into enroute to that answer.

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 28, 2016, at 3:23 PM, John Case <jcase4218@gmail.com> wrote:

Case: Ok socialists: Keynes last sentence asks a question any advocate of MORE socialism in a MIXED capitalist economy, or market socialist one, likely holds an opinion one: Is it possible, contra state authoritarian or command economies,  "by a right analysis of the problem to cure the disease whilst preserving efficiency and freedom..."
Yay or NAY?????


********************


From:  John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/07/must-read-the-general-theory-of-employment-interest-and-money-by-john-maynard-keyneshttpswwwmarxistsorgrefer.html

Whilst, therefore, the enlargement of the functions of government, involved in the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, would seem to a nineteenth-century publicist or to a contemporary American financier to be a terrific encroachment on individualism, I defend it, on the contrary, both as the only practicable means of avoiding the destruction of existing economic forms in their entirety and as the condition of the successful functioning of individual initiative.

For if effective demand is deficient, not only is the public scandal of wasted resources intolerable, but the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards. Hitherto the increment of the world's wealth has fallen short of the aggregate of positive individual savings; and the difference has been made up by the losses of those whose courage and initiative have not been supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough.

The authoritarian state systems of today seem to solve the problem of unemployment at the expense of efficiency and of freedom. It is certain that the world will not much longer tolerate the unemployment which, apart from brief intervals of excitement, is associated and in my opinion, inevitably associated with present-day capitalistic individualism. But it may be possible by a right analysis of the problem to cure the disease whilst preserving efficiency and freedom...

VISIT WEBSITE
 -- via my feedly newsfeed
_______________________________________________
CCDS Members mailing list

CCDS website: http://www.cc-ds.org

CCDS welcomes and encourages the full participation of our members in
this list serve. It is intended for discussion of issues of concern to
our organization and its members, for building our community, for
respectfully expressing our different points of view, all in keeping
with our commitment to building a democratic and socialist society. To
those ends, free and honest discussion of issues and ideas is
encouraged. However, personal attacks on named individuals, carrying on
old vendettas, excessive posts and, especially, statements that are
racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic and/or anti-working class are not
appropriate.

Repeated failure to respect those principles of discussion
may result in exclusion from the list.
Please respect each other and our organization.

Any member of the list who objects to a posting on the list or the
behavior of a particular member should send email describing his or her
concerns to members-owner@lists.cc-ds.org

Post: Members@lists.cc-ds.org
List info and archives: https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/members
To Unsubscribe, send email to:
Members-unsubscribe@lists.cc-ds.org
To Unsubscribe, change your email address, your password or your preferences:
  visit: https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/options/members/hicksgary6770%40yahoo.com

You are subscribed as: hicksgary6770@yahoo.com