Somewhere In England, Karl Marx is Spinning In His Grave

Well don’t this just beat all…  The Karl Marx MasterCard.

The German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz recently launched a Karl Marx credit card. The bank let people vote online for 10 different images, and Marx was the “very clear winner,” beating out a palace, a castle and a racetrack, among others.

I guess MasterCard will be revising their motto.

The best things in life are free, for everything else there’s MasterCard because property is theft

Where do I sign up?

Business Executives Want More Public-Sector Workers

Yes, that’s right.  The people who run America’s businesses want more state and local hiring to offset the slack in private demand.  I guess we’re all Keynesians now.

Of those polled, 66% responded that a jobs bill wouldn’t be enough to offset the effects of global economic trends such as the Euro crisis, but when asked if they thought local government hiring was going in the wrong direction, 67% agreed.

“There’s no silver bullet answer to our dilemma,” said Bob Damon, president of the North America unit for Korn/Ferry. He said the results suggest that executives might see the jobs bill, which may stimulate hiring in the public sector with additional civil service jobs, as a short-term lift to a long-term problem.

Walker and the other Republican governors are taking the nation in the wrong direction.  But then if you’d been paying attention, you’d know that.

Comments that Deserve to be Posts: PJ on Utopian Conservatives

Lovingly lifted from the comments section of the post Why do so many union haters want a race to the bottom?, PJ delivers a gem.

In response to this from Denis:

Yes, employees add value to businesses or they would not be hired. Also, the owners risk their wealth with every new hire and would not do so without an expectation of profit. But the free exchange of labor for services is somehow unfair and the employers should pay more and they are all I suppose sitting on piles of cash. But what you fail to realize is that businesses must compete for labor. As such, a skilled employee can leave the tightfisted employer for the more generous one. Unskilled employees are less valued, ie add less value to a business and as such can’t demand the higher wages. The answer to this is not unionization but instead the improvement of skills that increase an employees value to an employer. Unionization is a protection racket for the lesser skilled individuals, but in the end they destroy every business and now government that must deal with them. And that isn’t good for anyone in the long run.

PJ wrote this:

Denis,
No doubt you sincerely believe in the validity of the economic scenario you’ve laid out, and I respect that. Ironically, you’ve also indicated a belief that “Lefties always think they are able to create some Utopian solution when none exists.” Yet it is you have articulated a Utopian schemata.

Your analysis fails to account for the realities of a globalized economy structured to favor limited business interests at the expense of the domestic public interest – the interest of aggregate labor in this country. The model you propose may have had some relative relevance 50 years ago, but in a 21st century hyper-globalized economy your model is sheer fantasy. Businesses do not have to compete for labor in the manner in which you suggest. This is the ridiculous fiction perpetuated by both Democrats and Republicans alike. The idea which insists upon the need for increased skills and education within the labor force may have even been true in the early stages of globalization, but the notion has been proven false not only during the current economic crisis but evidenced by 30 years of domestic market constriction and disproportional valuation of education and skill.

So, if you would please elaborate a little on your point in the event I’m misunderstanding you: Exactly which skills do you refer to in your scenario? To how many economic spheres do these value-added skills apply? Are they channeled into one sector or is it a broad need? How are you measuring skill? What value do you place on experience in relation to skill? Do you think experience has any impact on skill? Is there an assessable combined value to experience and skill?

I would contend that neither education nor experience are applicable to the current unemployment situation this nation is enduring. You’re rounding on a circulatory path back toward “training and education” which does not address the structural realities of a globalized economy – and one which will likely become more deregulated and favorable to foreign corporations and less favorable to domestic public interests if TPP is realized.

What your analysis leaves out is who determines value and why and the value of human capital. Your analysis skews the perspective of economic relations so drastically it’s unrecognizable as a thoughtful response to a supranational economic climate. You seem to reiterate the standard talking points for justifying not only the marginalization of “Big Labor” but the non-existence of “Big Labor” within an economic sphere determined by “Big Business” interests. This suggests you believe in the simplification that what is good for big business is good for aggregate labor. I’d disagree.

Your protection racket analogy is flat out wrong on several counts, and it is an identifiable meme derived from propagandist extremism. I suggest you study what protections rackets are, how and why they function the way they do, how they have evolved over time, and the circumstances under which they operate. Unions are not analogous.

When you use this analogy you insert the idea that businesses are victims of labor – that workers are victimizing their employers. Not only is this not a useful lens for examining the complex issues of our day, it subverts the actual power structure and exploitative relationship that currently exists and which exists in historical precedent.

Union members are not racketeers. Racketeers are not legitimate players within a legitimate relationship. if you thoughtfully examine this metaphor you’ll find the economic extortionist in this country is not citizen labor but big business. If you believe there is some coherently scaled contrast between unions and big business with respect to kickbacks and regulatory capture, please do make the argument.

I’ll grant you this – unions in this country have not adapted well to nor sufficiently resisted globalization. But I would maintain that your antiquated business model doesn’t either. If we accept the current supranational economic structure – and for the record, I do not – then more responsive attitudes and perspectives must be reached. Germany and Spain, for example, have actively opened their economic cultures to the kind of creative thought that is marginalized in this U.S. by the very rhetoric you espouse.

I only wish I were half as articulate as PJ.

Happy Watergate Day, Republicans!

Ahhh, the good old days when political criminals were actually held to account.

Charlie Pierce has a fantastic piece on the 40th anniversary of the unravelling of a President.

Forty years ago, on June 17, 1972, a very ordinary middle-class guy did his job, and he did it very well. His name was Frank Wills, and, on that night 40 years ago, he was making his rounds as a security guard at the Watergate complex, a bit of high-end real-estate hard by the Potomac in Washington, D.C. He passed by a door in the basement of the complex’s parking garage and noticed that a piece of tape had been placed on the door in such a manner as to prevent the door from locking. Wills took off the tape and continued on his rounds. Upon passing the door again, Wills saw that a fresh piece of tape had been put on it. It was then that he did his job very well. Frank Wills called the cops.

Forty years ago, on June 17, 1972, three members of the D.C. metropolitan police’s tactical team did their jobs, and they did them very well. Sergeant Paul Leeper, and officers John Barrett and Carl Shoffler responded to Wills’s call at 1:52 a.m. It didn’t sound like much. They got half-a-dozen “burglary in progress” calls every night. But when they met Wills, and saw the tape on the door, they began to work the building in earnest. It was then that they did their jobs very well. On the sixth floor, which was occupied entirely by the Democratic National Committee, they saw more tape on another door. They also found some ceiling panels missing. They drew their guns. Barrett saw some movement in a darkened office belonging to Stanley Griegg, the deputy secretary of the Democratic party. He identified himself and told whomever was there to put their hands up. Five men gradually unfolded themselves from behind desks and chairs. They surrendered peaceably, and then it all began.

Nixon had his secret taping system; Walker had (has?) his secret e-mail system.  Coincidence?

Stupid is as Stupid Does!

Wow… That’s some powerful dumb.

Anderson Cooper is stunned by the degree of dumb on display from Romney Campaign spokesperson Gail Gitcho.  She can’t figure out the difference between the President and the CBO.

The Congressional Budget Office is a non-partisan group of economists and econometricians put in place to provide objective economic analysis to congress and the nation.  Gail Gitcho should know this.  She doesn’t.

“A Plague on Both Your Houses”

Washington does not get it

  • Forty-five million Americans (one in seven) are on food stamps.
  • One in seven is unemployed or underemployed.
  • The percentage of those out of work defined as long-term unemployed is the highest (42%) since the Great Depression.
  • Fifty-four percent of college graduates younger than 25 are unemployed or underemployed.
  • Forty-seven percent of Americans receive some form of government assistance.
  • Employment-to-population ratio for 25- to 54-year-olds is now 75.7%, lower than when the recession “ended” in June 2009.
  • There are 7.7 million fewer full-time workers now than before the recession, and 3.3 million more part-time workers.
  • Eight million people have left the labor force since the recession “ended” — adding those back in would put the unemployment rate at 12% instead of 8.2%.
  • The number of unemployed looking for work for at least 27 weeks jumped 310,000 in May, the sharpest increase in a year.
  • Just 14% of high-school graduates believe they will have a more successful financial future than their parents.
  • The male unemployment rate for ages 16 to 19 is 27%; for ages 20 to 24, it is 13%.
  • Because of structural problems such as negative home equity (which keeps people from moving for work) and skills erosion (from long-term unemployment), UBS economists estimate that the economy’s natural unemployment rate has increased from 5.7% before the recession to 8.6% now. This acts as a speed limit on potential economic growth.
  • Between 2007 and 2010, median family net worth fell nearly 40%, while median inflation-adjusted incomes before taxes fell nearly 8%.

Welcome to The Next Great Depression.

Just.. Wow… Unbelievable Sexism on Fox & Friends

Unreal. On Fox & Friends Thursday morning, Steve Doocy interviewed members of the U.S. Navy Band about the band’s recent inclusion of women. In his reaction to the piece, Brian Kilmeade sniped, “Women are everywhere. We’re letting them play golf and tennis now. It’s out of control.” Gretchen Carlson walked off of the set in anger.  The self-loathing of Republican women is reaching epidemic proportions.  Will nobody on the right speak out against this?

Like Neo in his tank, it’s time to WAKE UP

Time to Wake Up, America!

In The Matrix, Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers that the world he thought he was living in was merely an illusion, a computer-generated program designed to keep him docile and to be, in effect, a D-Cell battery.  I’ve long held that The Matrix is a brilliant example of political cinema.  The use of information technology & media to suppress dissent has been the driving force in our political system for many years now, though the process has accelerated significantly since 9/11.  While we’re not physically connected to The Matrix as Neo was, a large portion of the population is glued to the massive right-wing disinformation system to the exclusion of all other information sources.  They are, in effect, connected to The Matrix.

One of the most important illusions the Powers That Be™ must maintain is the belief that America is a meritocracy and that anyone, no matter how lowly or economically challenged can rise to at least the middle-class if not the upper-class.  Following the Second World War with the growth of industrial unionization and the greater collaboration between management and labor, we had that.  Citizens with a high-school diploma could get a decent job in a factory, join a union, put money away for retirement and expect to live a pretty good life.  Shared prosperity was not a dirty word.

Over the last 30 years, we have hollowed out this model so that now, America offers her citizens less economic mobility that we saw in Europe in the 19th century.  Citizens with college degrees cannot find work and if they do, it’s for less than their parents made.  Wages are stagnant for all but the wealthiest citizens.  Poor people stay poor, their children and grandchildren stay poor.  Poverty is intragenerational now.  The rich stay rich and the middle-class are on a downward trajectory towards greater poverty.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that the inequality gap in America has become so great that the chances of those at the bottom making it to the middle or upper-class are bleak.  He is joined by Marxian economist Richard Wolff to discuss the plight of the non-wealthy in America.