Monday, October 10, 2011

And the world goes 'round...

Whoa! did'ja see the headline and story in the New York Times?

Recession Officially Over, U.S. Incomes Kept Falling

Published: October 9, 2011
Well, of course incomes kept - wait. Recession. Over? Wha?
I went on to read the first lines....
WASHINGTON — In a grim sign of the enduring nature of the economic slump, household income declined more in the two years after the recession ended than it did during the recession itself, new... scan down...  Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study...
STOP. The "Recession ended in 2009"?... "the average inflation-adjusted" STOP. We're admitting that there's inflation now?    "inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study." STOP. The average income is DOWN to $49,909.00? Who are these people and how do I identify them? So am I, suffering from the inability to acquire enough venture capitol to pay my most modest and basic bills, am I paying for this curse of not being "average"? (I think I'll flip my hair and mutter, "Oh, Dear, i am getting so confused...")
First off, did anyone remember that the recession had ended back in 2009? I had to go look that one up. Sure enough, there it was - the National Bureau of Economic Research had declared the Recession over in 2009. There was a bit of an explosion of commentary about it back then. The National Bureau of Economic Research is the outfit which calls the beginnings and ends of recessions.
Soooo, back to our day and its story. Here's a little interesting factoid referring to the study cited in the Times: "Gordon W. Green Jr., who wrote the report with John F. Coder, called the decline 'a significant reduction in the American standard of living'." Who, ummm, are they anyway? Well, it turns out that those two used to work for the U. S. Census Bureau. For 25 years.  They should know. Shouldn't they? So. Who funded their new report? (surf-surf-surf-did-did-dig-ta da!) Why, it was funded by our friends over at the National Bureau of Economic Research. The Bureau, as it turns out, doesn't really mean to imply a Federal connection. They are a private, non-profit economic think tank. They note that they have 16 Nobel Laureates for Economics on their staff. Oh, and they specialize in Behavioral Economics. I looked that one up, too. Here's a couple of that division's  most recent reports: Increasing Efficiency in the Indian Electric Power Industry. Race and Ethnicity in the Classroom. Decision making and Capital Allocation within Firms. And my two favorites: Leverage across Firms, Banks, and Countries, and the ever popular Deregulation and Consolidation Add Efficiency in U.S. Nuclear Power. Gee, there's a lot of parameters to economic research, huh?
And, just because I'm an irritable, grumpy bastard, I looked for the National Bureau of Economic Research's funding. Here's what's known: not much. All their money comes from foundations. The Rockefeller Foundation is a long time supporter.
Ah, the Rock. Why, they have money all over the place. Not long ago, it came out that the Rock was funding a World Health Organization project "Research on the Development of Methods of Fertility Regulation", which included research into both “injectable Immunocontraceptives” and implantable ones. Uh, huh. And guess what? The Rock has been funding work on anti-fertility since back in the mid 1930's! And those modest guys didn't even make public mention of that until their annual report noted it in 1969! The Rock also funds Agricultural development (GMOs), which fits neatly into their support of population control and eugenics programs in universities.
Before I forget,one of  the National Bureau of Economic Research's major funders seems to be the Scaife Foundations. That's a group deal - 4 different family foundations all controlled by reclusive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. They fund the American Legislative Exchange Council which, after the 2010 midterms, boasted that 3 of 4 former state legislators elected to the Senate were Council Members. And 27 of the 42 new House members were too! ALEC works behind closed doors to encourage legislation to benefit  Corporate bottom lines. They are even so nice as to introduce and pass bills handed to them by the Corporations. Those bills do so much to undermine environmental regulations, deny climate change, undercut health care reform, defund unions, define redistricting goals,  extend prison sentences for the private prison industry, and so on and so forth. ALEC was instrumental in the "New Right" movement of the mid 1980's, when Donald Rumsfeld was ALECs chair of the business policy board. And they've been up to all kinds of things since then. For instance, they're tied in to the Heritage Foundation. And they've been working hard to change banking regulations in all 50 states. I think that the executive director of ALEC is still Kathleen Teague Rothschild. Oh, yeah, I should probably note that both Coca-cola and Koch Industries serve on the ALEC governing board.
That's a glimpse at who funded the study.
Aha moment: the release of this study's information publishes the week the Senate starts debate on the Jobs bill.

Other points in the study as mentioned in the NY Times article:
Two main forces appear to have held down pay: the number of people outside the labor force — neither working nor looking for work — has risen; and the hourly pay of employed people has failed to keep pace with inflation, as the prices of oil products and many foods have jumped. The average time a person who lost a job remains unemployed: 40.5 weeks. One reason pay has stagnated is that many people who lost their jobs in the recession — and remained out of work for months — have taken pay cuts in order to be hired again (an average 17% less).  For example, income, after adjustment for inflation, declined fairly substantially for households headed by people under age 62, but it rose 4.7 percent for those headed by people 65 to 74, many of whom are not in the labor force. The change was negligible for those 62 to 64.
Singles took a worse real income hit than families. Men living alone showed a bigger decline than women living alone.
A few other things not in the study which should be noted for those debating a jobs bill:
Income inequality is grinding down the middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people, a generation of lost opportunity. And even before the recession, the share of income held by the top 1% was 23.5% - at the time, the highest inequality measured since 1928. That inequality  has led to lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans. The financial sector, with regulators and elected officials in collusion, inflated and profited from a credit bubble that burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, incomes, savings and home equity. First they got bailed out, and then they got bonuses. And no one except Bernie Madoff has gone to jail or been forced to repay that money.

And bigwigs wonder why people are protesting?
And claim the the occupying "mob" has no message?

Not paying attention now, are we?
I doubt that many of them even know that they are privileged.
As the 82 year old whose pension and investments vanished forcing him back to work put it:

"Off with their heads!"


Austan said...

Well it seems we need to move to a Third World country. Oh wait, we're in one!

CarrieBoo said...

They have a talent for fudging facts, that's for sure. I wonder where they will go next?