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!"

Sunday, October 9, 2011

As things fall apart

Jesus H. Keyriced. October 9th? WTF? One of the more horrible times of the year is almost upon us, "The Holidays". Halloween is only days away, and Ron Paul and Michelle Whats-her-name are no longer media darlings and thus aren't around to scare the crap out of nice little democrat children everywhere. And the old folks. And the populace at large. House majority leader Eric Cantor is still spewing words that added up sure sound like hate to me - hatred of the principles of this country and its everyday people trying to keep to a moral code while getting ready to starve. Only he doesn't know it. He's not old enough to know what having rights is like. He doesn't remember when the people were sold the dream that all they really wanted was a nice big house with a mortgage, a big fancy car, and don't forget the 2.3 replacement child workers. Forget hope. And he has too much money to know what standing in a supermarket checkout line is like. He's never had to decide between rent or food + every thing else. Plus, tied as he is to the extreme religious right, he's never had the freedom of not worshipping. He's never really had free choice. Except maybe when he ran the family business while working in "real estate development". And we know what he chose. (oh, oh, I know, I know - a wife who is director of a bank!)

And thus the wolly bully spaketh to the crowd on the 7th of October in the fourth year of the great smiting:

“I am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and other cities across our country... Believe it or not, some in this town have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans...”


Did anybody ever teach that guy the word "hypocrisy"? Oh, wait, he's too young to have had a real education, isn't he?

Hmmm. Just when did anyone decide that people like him or the Fundabrainless crowd was running the country? Well, from what I can see, they did. Self proclaimed. With God on their side. Who believes , and/or agrees with all their nonsense? No global warming, or warming your houses in winter either. The evolutionary theory is wrong. No rights to your own body. No rights to equal pay, and yes, that means you women who should really be home birthing babies (in the cold).

So. The thing is this: he is leading a minority bullying their way into the playground. The people who didn't want to be bullied have fled Paris, as long as they could afford to. Those who tried to stand up to them were knocked down, spat upon, called vile names, and in general had their reputations besmirched to the point that they no longer comprise a threat to the bullies. No one will follow that lead - it's not just that others have seen what will happen (haven't they Senator Wellstone?) and backed off, it's that the bullies have destroyed the capacity for anyone to lead. The bullies use the media they own to throw mud pies at anything nice, or good. Earth's excrement covers just about everything these days - except for the gated communities and the occasional off in the woods hunting lodges with unfortunate names. Just two days ago, the not really the majority bully Eric Cantor tried to kick start the redefinition of the "occupy wallstreet" participants as a "mob". Oh, I have chills running up and down my spine now. Mobs get angry and take things into their own hands. Cantor is really telling the police and national guard to be ready to step in. He (and his Wall Street backers) fear the mob. As an 82 year old man I know who had to un-retire after his pension fund was snatched put it, "Off with their heads!." Yes, the mob has potential. Squirm you little bastard, Cantor. Flail around awhile, his disciples. What he doesn't know is that when push comes to shove, the crowd gets him. He won't be accepted at the hidden ranches. (Look at his last name.) And his really scared friends on Wall Street won't take him in - they're too used to hiring him and ordering him around than to elevate him to their level. See Mr. C? This is the world you and your friends made, and welcome to it.  It's the one the rest of us have had to live in for far too long now.

Hell, even little Brattleboro had an "Occupy the Common" on Friday. Starting at 12pm. Going to 3. Perfectly timed to avoid real working people, with enough time to go home before the tourists arrive and the lower to middle middle class workers get out. These wonderful women turn out, wearing their memory of hippy garb, wearing their green dresses, with green undies, with little green children, in their happy, green with envy little lives. It's just so hard being better than everyone else. Who do they think they are, anyway? The upper middle class? Oh. Wait. They are. Off with their heads!

Hugs and Holy Kisses,
the Rt. Rev. Crankypants. Esquire

p.s. Happy birthday, John
       There are still some of us...