politics

Killing the Economy

The economy has been debilitated by the offshoring of middle class jobs for the benefit of corporate profits and by the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing in order to support a few oversized banks that the government protects from market discipline. Not only does QE distort bond and stock markets, it threatens the value of the dollar and has resulted in manipulation of the gold price.

Walmart's Low Prices Bear a High Cost for America

For untold millions, Walmart is not simply a place to shop, but the place. Considering that the quintessential big-box retailer claims to, and often does, offer just about every conventional item necessary for the family at an affordable price, this should be none too surprising.

However, at what cost does this convenience come, and in the grander scheme of things, is what Walmart has to offer really convenience at all? The company’s ownership would most definitely say so, as would throngs of eager consumers. Many economists, social scientists, and former employees, though, have a strikingly different opinion. While one can choose to believe whichever side of the argument he or she likes best, where do the facts lie?

First and foremost, it should be known that every single American taxpayer is essentially footing the bill for Walmart’s mere existence.

According to Reuters, this is because, as a study published last year by the City University of New York’s Hunter College Center for Community Planning showed, company employees receive inadequate health insurance coverage and in turn are left with few other options than to apply for public assistance. Beyond providing a lack of medical benefits, Walmart’s presence in most regions, says the study, "Depresses area wages....pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies."

The Bipartisan Citizen Beat Down and the End of Democracy

Michael Collins

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Both political parties are manifestly hostile to citizens. This hostility reduces electoral participation to just over 50% of the voting age population for presidential elections and less than 40% for off-year congressional elections. The absence of 50% to 60% of those eligible to vote creates minority rule and threatens the legitimacy of any ruling party. Truly, every election ratifies the rejection of both parties.

Beyond Protection vs. Liberalization - Thinking Historically About Trade and Policy

Note: this is a cross-post from The Realignment Project. Follow us on Facebook!

Introduction:

In about two years of blogging at TRP (and another two years’ policy-blogging elsewhere), I’ve never discussed trade. It’s not because it’s unimportant, because trade is clearly a major issue within economic policy and politics, but rather because of when I came of age politically. In 2001 student politics, the free trade vs. anti-globalization/protectionism debate seemed remarkably deadlocked and somewhat sterile. Twin camps of policy contenders required allegiance with either side, and I found myself unhappy with the analysis and debate and more drawn to questions of domestic economic policy.

However, in the wake of the Great Recession and the increasingly-urgent need to reassess the structure of the U.S economy, I can’t avoid it any longer. The trade question isn’t the whole of our economic problems, I think it can be exaggerated in a way that obscures a more important class conflict inside nations. And yet, the global balance of trade – between Germany and the rest of Europe, between China and the U.S, and so on – is clearly out of whack.

Time for a Bailout for the American Workforce

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Note: this is a cross-post from The Realignment Project. Follow us on Facebook!

Introduction:

As the third year of recession ends, the scale of the task of undoing the social and economic damage of the recession is now made plain. It is already well-known that 15 million Americans are officially unemployed, with another 15 million unofficially unemployed. But the scope of the recession goes far beyond their ranks  - more than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the recession began in December 2007.

The widespread nature of workers' declining fortunes, even if they have not suffered unemployment, explains why it is that one-third of U.S working families are now low-income (i.e, under 200% of poverty), one lost paycheck, one illness, or one accident away from disaster. But as I have noted before, the underlying illness of stagnant wages and a weak labor market have existed before - the one-third figure discussed above is only 7% higher than before the recession, and during the previous recovery in '02-05 we saw that figure increase, never falling below its 2007 level.

A rescue is deeply needed.

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