Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Marginal utility" of (unorganized) labor? My foot!


If a retailer lives on 5% profit and raises prices 5% which in turn loses 5% of sales then the retailer ends up back in pretty much the same place -- because the retailer is working from profit on gross income (100%).

If a labor union forces the retailer to raise prices 5% which in turn loses 5% of sales then the labor union is way ahead -- because labor (in this example) represents only 10% of retailer costs. Total sales drop 5% but labor's price is up 50%.

OTH, if the retailer can squeeze (unorganized) labor back to 5% of costs while maintaining the same price level then the retailer will double his (formerly 5%) profit.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

90% income tax for the top 1%?


I just had one of my usual eighth-grade math flashes.

The way things are going nowadays the top 1% will continue to garner 95% of all income growth to themselves into the foreseeable future.  In 25 years per capita income should grow 50% -- meaning top 1% should go from 25% of today's 100% to 75% of tomorrow's 150%.  40 or so years down the road top 1% incomes should take 125% of 200%.

Just tax future top 1% income at 90% -- we have 99% of the votes, don't we? -- and redistribute to government programs (e.g., health, education) and/or helicopter money, etc., whatever -- and we should all live happily ever after. 

Come to think of it we could start that 90% tax today (say on income over $2 million). 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Americans under 30 support unions almost two-to-one


Pew reports 55% of Americans under 30 years old approve of labor unions -- only 29% disapprove.  Even among Republicans under 35, approval edges out disapproval 45% to 44%.  The propaganda hasn't worked – the culture is ours.    

All that remains is to add to labor organizing laws those itty-bitty structures they are so obviously missing: adult dentures.  Using crushing economic pressure to obstruct employees from exercising a legally spelled out process to organize a collective bargaining unit is just as free market warping as anything the Rockefellers or the Carnegies ever carried off -- while atrophying the political sinews of the 99% to boot.  Baby teeth won't do it -- right now all that most organizing laws have left are what amount to gums.

Making union busting a felony at state level (job deprival not core injury -- free market deprival is core) opens up the potential for federal RICO prosecution.  33 states have their own RICO laws.

 


“But when Pew sliced and diced its responses (which Gallup did not), it found that young Americans were unions’ most fervent supporters. While 46 percent of its respondents in each of its three older age groups (30 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65-plus) viewed unions in a favorable light, fully 55 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 held a favorable view of unions, while just 29 percent held unfavorable ones. Pew even found that a slim plurality of Republicans under 35 thought well of unions: 45 percent held positive views, 44 percent negative. For that matter, 65 percent of Democrats (of all ages) thought favorably of unions, and given the towering share of Democrats (or left-of-Democrats) working in the media, new or old, the Gawker vote should have surprised no one.”
http://prospect.org/article/what-made-difference-gawker-boss

Friday, June 12, 2015

Did Chicago public school teachers crack the ghetto code?!


Chicago public schools may have uniquely cracked what I call the ghetto code: that ghetto schools fail because students (and teachers!) don’t seen anything remunerative enough waiting for them in the labor market post graduation to make it worth putting out the extra effort. This down and discouraged vicious circle was revealed by Berkeley political scientist Martín Sánchez-Jankowski in his book Cracks in the Pavement. The professor spent nine years on the ground in five NYC and LA impoverished neighborhoods. He spent the previous ten years with street gangs. 

“U.S. News and World Report just released its annual rankings of the nation’s best high schools: Six of the top 10 in Illinois are in CPS and another three in the top 20.”

“from 2003 to 2013 and found Chicago students grew 11 points on the 8th grade math test and 7 points on the 4th grade reading test. The state grew just 7 points and 3 points, respectively.”

“[B]etween 2006 and 2014, the percentage of CPS students earning a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of high school graduation jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. The national rate is 18 percent. … They found that Latino students enrolled in CPS are more likely to graduate high school than their counterparts in many suburban districts, including Maine Township High Schools and Evanston Township High School.”
http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025?utm_campaign=E-Update%205-14-15&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua
 


“Salary figures provided by the Chicago Public Schools show teachers here have the highest average salary of any city in the nation. But, according to the Chicago Teachers Union’s calculations, Chicago teachers would rank second behind New York City.”
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/06/12/how-much-do-chicago-public-school-teachers-make/ 


On Wisconsin; to nearby states with your children where they can still get a first-class education without you reaching into your pockets to waste 300 million tax payer dollars. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Take the biggest bite out of street crime: police union busting


HEADLINE:
Chicago's Stop-And-Frisk Rate Four Times New York At Its Worst, ACLU Says 
HEADLINE:
12Killed, 43 Wounded In [Chicago] Memorial Day Weekend Shootings 

Maybe Chicago should switch off from New York's now former macro intrusion on the poor to New York's continuing micro intrusion (to the last horizon) on everyone; so-called broken windows policing:
A woman puts her dog leash down for a moment to scoop up poop – a plainclothesman pops out of the shadows to ticket her;
A man leaves his car door open while gassing up, allowing his radio to be heard by others – a ticket;
Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk (ooh; pedestrians are killed by bicycles in the street – particularly crosswalks – do the cops tell 15-year-old boys to go bike in traffic?);
Riding a bicycle the wrong way down a one-way street (oooh; good way to avoid being doored – broken hip if you get one is 25% fatal; DVT becomes PE);
Walking between subway cars – will never get hit by a bicycle;
”Manspreading” -- the latest: spreading knees too wide in subway seat; not touching anyone.
If someone breaks a window and nobody repairs it that may invite others to break more windows – an out-of-control atmosphere supposedly may develop.

I was there when Times Square transformed from the Great White Way into Robert De Niro's Hell. It all began with the US Supreme Court protecting pornography under the First Amendment (which of course it had to do) which for whatever reason resulted in an explosion of naughty shops throughout the area, followed by an influx of massage parlors and the lowest supply and demand of the oldest profession.

This coincided with a heroin explosion that nobody who was not there to witness it can imagine.  Methadone quelled the panic in needle park – doppies now had a way to avoid getting sick that didn’t include crawling up your fire escape. 

During the 1990s 75% of robberies and burglaries, etc., nationwide faded away. Everything from less lead in the atmosphere to legalized abortion has been credited for the drop.  My first pick is the nationwide emergence of massive drug dealing street gangs.  Now a boy going wayward (and many who were not) has a criminal franchise right on his own block (often to join whether he wants to or not) which will put him to work immediately for sub-minimum wage ("Five-O!") and offer the promise of promotion to guns and more macho mayhem later.  No need to snatch purses or climb in your window for your costume jewelry.  

In Chicago, 100,000 out of (my guesstimate) 200,000 gang age, minority males are in street gangs: dealing drugs, shooting each other (along with an amazing amount of innocent bystanders) and doing hard time (where some catch up on robbery and burglary).

As long what starts in the Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago stays in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the city government seems content to leave the police department sitting on the lids on the garbage cans.  Conventional wisdom has it that there is not a lot that even progressive local officials can do about the national economic maladies underlying the permanent underclass.  There’s certainly not much police can do – macro or micro – beyond cleaning up messes afterwards (think Taxi Driver).

I came of age in an America where the federal minimum wage kept up with inflation – and -- economic growth.  In 1956, Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson guided passage of an $8.75 minimum wage in today's dollars (which a Republican president duly signed).  In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson oversaw a $10.75 minimum wage – reflecting 23% average income growth in between.  Union density in that era was in the neighborhood of 35%.

Today, a $600 a week minimum wage coupled with an $800 normal expectation for everyday positions like supermarket employee would disappear the Crips and Bloods faster than they appeared.  I read Wilson’s When Work Disappears at the same time as Venkatesh’s American Project.  Project went on longer than Work and Chicago housing projects only descended into gang infested hell as the minimum wage descended to nearly half its 1968 purchasing power – double the average income later. 

Chicago has scheduled a minimum wage hike to $13 for 2019 – make that $12 with inflation (2% a year – 8 cents X 13 = 1.04) – a dollar more than LBJ's peak, half a century -- and -- double average income later.  The poor will still be poor but better off.  

Missing union density?  As easy as saying “lost employee price setting mechanism” – a restraint of trade wrought via ruthless economic pressure under the shadow of union organizing legislation that has gone practicably toothless in old age.  Simple enough resolution: new dentures -- make union busting a felony in as many states as possible to begin – which will make it subject to federal RICO prosecution also (33 states have RICO laws).

To take the biggest possible bite out of inner city crime: prosecute union busting.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The "side impact" of aminimum wage hike


IMAGINE that all fast food restaurants (the only ones I know the numbers for — also, I never see the inside of a full-service :-)) were somehow able to conspire to raise their prices 25% all at the same time (about how much a $15 an hour minimum wage would impact fast food prices). Demand for food is inelastic so it is in the realm of possibility that fast food might make out like gang busters. Possible.

Now imagine that fast food was able to conspire at the same time to have the federal minimum wage raised to $15 except for fast food. Most industries average 10-15% labor costs and don’t pay as low as fast food to start with (fast food 33% labor costs; 25% price hike because not all at minimum) — let’s say average price hikes in other industries that use low wage labor average about 6%; not enough to heavily hurt employment.

Wage levels tend to patronize their own wage levels. Allow me to cite an example from the opposite wage end: from a 1/ll/14, NYT article “The Vicious Circle of Income Inequality” by Professor Robert H. Frank of Cornell: “… higher incomes of top earners have been shifting consumer demand in favor of goods whose value stems from the talents of other top earners. … as the rich get richer, the talented people they patronize get richer, too. Their spending, in turn, increases the incomes of other elite practitioners, and so on.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/business/the-vicious-circle-of-income-inequality.html?src=me&_r=0

In the double conspiracy case fast food should surely make out like a bandit because its low wage customers would benefit more from the wage hike than the food price hike would hurt them: driving business up …
… driving business up no matter who benefits from the price rise: labor or management. 


Where is all the extra dough ultimately supposed to materialize from? From higher income employees or agents who have been getting relatively more of what consumers are willing to pay — than lower wage employees in our particular economy who have been getting squeezed unmercifully below what I call their natural market value for decades (minimum wage one-third below peak, double average income later! — time to mark the minimum wage to market).

This “side impact” on fast food businesses from employees of firms that did not have to raise prices relatively as much to meet the same wage hike is probably what Card and Kruger observed in their seminal study. It is probably why business went up in the states that raised their minimum wage.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The landlords are coming; the landlords are coming!

Employees I saw out shopping today:
bus drivers: American born (mostly), decently paid, unionized;
drug chain employees: American born, $400-500/wk;
Supermarket employees: American born, a little bit better;
fast food employees: (all) foreign born, $300/wk (can't get 40 hours);
taxi drivers (my 3 decade job): foreign born, don't know how they make minimum wage in Chicago (50 cents/mile below 1981 when I came here -- after 1991 built subways to both airports, opened up unlimited limos, put on free trolleys between all the hot spots downtown AND added 40% more taxis.
UPS drivers: American born, well compensated, Jimmy Hoffa's union. 


I almost forgot (had to come back from the end) to include a group of "employees" I did not see today -- but whom in a big chunk of Chicago's neighborhoods I would have bumped into many of, at every turn. I am of course taking about Chicago's mostly American born, 100,000 street gang members -- something like half of our minority, gang age males ...

... who refuse to work for a minimum wage that is one-third below its 1968 peak -- after average income has doubled.
* * * * * * * * * *
IMAGINE we magically (without unions) mark wages to market (what the consumer will pay) -- could we hold on to the money?


"The landlord reaps what he does not sow." Familiar is the plight of the business that grows and grows as the landlord raises and raises the storefront rent. Ever more apartment renters in this country are gouged for everything they earn over subsistence. The Lord made the Earth and He's not making anymore. Also more and more rentals are going condo. If retail workers go from $500/wk to $800/wk, how much will the landlords milk?

Education cost grow by leaps as more instruction is done by non-tenure bound, as administrations join the ranks of CEO rakers. The more other students pay they more they are forced to pay to keep up with other students (Germany has 16% college).

Sovaldi: Hepatitis C can be wiped out for $300 billion (that's a "b") -- the same amount we now pay for all other prescriptions. Cost to manufacture: half a billion dollars.
Now comes: "Amgen scores a victory for PCSK9, halving cardio risks after one year"
http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/amgen-scores-victory-pcsk9-halving-cardio-risks-after-one-year/2015-03-15
" ... new [cholesterol] drugs could eventually add as much as $150 billion to the national health-care bill."
http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-type-of-cholesterol-drug-could-prove-costly-1426817085
The list of new breakthroughs keeps getting longer -- we'll all be mortgaging our homes to live.

The list of potential rent collectors keeps growing too:
 
(6/19/25) Potential type 2 diabetes drug found with new screening tool
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295623.php
* * * * * * * * * *
Simple answer: legislation from a concerned Congress and state legislatures.
Simple way to get there from here: organize labor Western European style to grow popular political sinews.
Simple way to get there: actually the laws are already on the books. Just make union busting a felony -- NOT FOR DEPRIVING THE PERSON OF A JOB (the big cultural misunderstanding here); BUT FOR DEPRIVING THEM OF THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE THEIR ECONOMIC LIVES -- for conspiracy in restraint of trade. Once any state makes union busting a felony it becomes subject to federal (or applicable state) RICO prosecution.

Wisconsin -- thanks to Governor Walker -- has created a curious mirror image of this: in Wisconsin it is a misdemeanor punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine to collect union dues from an employee who opts out of membership. Any state (WA, OR, CA, NV, IL, NY?) anywhere can start the criminalizing ball rolling -- hopefully to spread like a grass fire across the whole country.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The missing link in macro economics: labor extracting what the market will bear


Glad I watched Stiglitz video to the very end -- to the part where he contradicts the (fading) free market consensus that pursuing LOWER inequality inevitably causes market distortions that lead to a loss of overall efficiency.

A more fundamental understanding than even progressive economists present (the missing link in macro economics if you ask me) for why HIGHER inequality is associated with higher in-efficiency, higher in-stability and lower growth is that the true market distortion results when labor is unable to test -- indirectly -- what the ultimate consumer would have been willing to pay for the combined product of capital and labor -- through collective bargaining with capital.

When labor is priced only in comparison with other labor – what I call a subsistence-plus labor market -- I think that the most serious miscalculation of relative value occurs.

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2015/05/video-stiglitz-on-inequality-wealth-and-growth-why-capitalism-is-failing.html


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Labor Unions Trump Luddites


Mere civil penalties -- if you can call reinstatement a penalty -- carry zero deterrent against union busting.  Firing employees who attempt to organize a collective bargaining unit can be overwhelmingly profitable (unlike practicing forms of discrimination).  Firing a few organizers packs the same tactical punch as locking out the entire workforce but with zero economic inconvenience to the boss.  An employer may even feel compelled to bust a union because the firm down the road does so and he wont be able to compete equally.

Labor unions have no chance to ever resume their role as the natural  counterweight to employer interests unless union blocking/busting will be met with serious jail time.

Disappearing organizers deprives them of more than a job: it strips them of -- both -- the economic and political sinews they need to interact effectively against competing interests. Employees may be able to find another job but they cannot find another fair and balanced society (unless they emigrate to Denmark).
 * * * * * * * * * *
Once a state legislature makes union busting a felony, federal and state RICO prosecution will kick in (there are 33 state RICO laws).

A business (which is not the defendant and which can be perfectly legit) fits the case law definition of an ongoing enterprise -- if it has:
(a) a purpose,
(b) a life outside the crime (a bank robbery gang is not an enterprise),
(c) longevity -- which is taken as over a year or substantially over. Longevity however may be considered built in: for example, if a demand is made for $1,000 a month. I imagine union busting action could be taken as having a common sense expectation of longevity -- if not, wait a year, then factor in the common sense expectation and start your prosecution.
 * * * * * * * * * *

The Industrial Revolution replaced fairly paid individual cloth weavers with steam loom operators whose incomes were squeezed below subsistence by the “Iron Law of (unorganized) Labor.” Over the same period, anyone in England who publicly advocated universal suffrage for all males was on his way to jail and then to Australia.  
The Making of the English Working Class (1966) -- E. P. Thompson
http://www.amazon.com/The-Making-English-Working-Class/dp/0394703227
 


How much happier employees would have been to successfully support legislation protecting collective bargaining -- than to burn down looms.  Labor unions trump Luddites.  :-)

PS.  At first I couldn't believe reading that four years ago, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed card check legislation for farm workers (of all most desperately in need).  Then, further informed that California has the strongest labor law in the country -- 10% cards signed, the union gets the names and addresses of all employees; 50% gets an election within 7 days, no delays.  Also been suggested Brown traded this off for support for his deficit fighting bill -- possibly figuring he wasn't giving away much even if the other side thought he was.  ???  Important revelation for many here is that states may and do pass their own, even stronger than federal, labor legislation.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/jerry-brown-farm-worker-bill-veto_b_893599.html

[LATE NOTE:  Just came up with this gem -- in Wisconsin it is a crime to force collection of dues for a union:
"Right to work comes with a Class A misdemeanor. Requiring dues payments could mean nine months in jail and/or a $10,000 fine for each violation."
http://labornotes.org/2015/05/wisconsin-test-case-right-work


[So when are we going pass state (and eventually federal) rules criminalizing employers thwarting employees exercise of their right to follow the federally prescribed formula to organize a collective bargaining unit by firing them?]

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I don't get states not grabbing every Medicaid dime they can

 
I don't get states not grabbing every Medicaid dime they can.  Maybe 50% (rough guess) of would-have-been-covered patient care will end up being covered anyway but thru increased private insurance premiums or via alternate government channels.  Today's (pre-expansion) Medicaid pays something like 65% back to states – leaving something like (okay, rough guess) 15% profit missed for no reason.  States send this money to Washington in the first place; don't they want it back?  ???

Patients who don’t get care for diabetes, early cancer diagnosis, mental health/drug treatment, not to mention for simply controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are going to show up at the health system in the long run with much more expensive symptoms to treat for which they wont be turned away.  The Republican fiscal version of kicking the can down the road.

Medicaid expansion under Obamacare will pay 90% of costs (100% at first).  Inexplicably, 16 governors resist this money dump in their states. 
Florida’s governor wont turn on the spigot because he says he doesn’t trust the feds not to turn it back off.  Wonder what crackpot political party would do something like that.
 
States cut businesses billions in tax breaks hoping to attract jobs.  Medicaid wants to shovel states (back) billions of (their own) dollars -- that will create tens of thousands of good paying medical field jobs (where technical training actually pays off).  Am I missing something here?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The dismal universe?


Recently I watched a physicist on TV say that fish and birds on other planets would look the same as they do here because the physics of movement would be the same — even if the underlying biology might be very different. 

A while back, after watching a show on chemistry — I wondered if God had done an economic “sneaky” by including silver and gold in the table of elements: both naturally precious looking, the more attractive of the two being the more rare. What else could have so perfectly filled the need for a medium of economic exchange in early (pre-plastic) civilizations?
 
Now, it occurs to me that silver and gold is the likely medium of exchange in developing civilizations all over the universe -- perhaps with the same contention over gold versus bimetal standard.  The dismal science is everywhere too!

Time to break up medical monopolies of our own making?

 
Sovaldi, the $84,000 cure (90+%) for Hepatitis C. Early research got along on government grants — until researchers smelled money; then looked for private investment. Success: planned sell for $350 a pill but Gilead Sciences “gambled” and paid Pharmasset $11 billion for it, thinking of $1000 a pill …
… enough to cost $300 billion if all patients get treatment (70% will develop liver symptoms) — as much as all other prescriptions cost combined. Pharmasset would only have charged $100 billion.
Scientists ‘incredibly excited’ by asthma treatment breakthrough http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292947.php - See more at: http://angrybearblog.com/2015/04/open-thread-april-24-2015.html#comments
Scientists ‘incredibly excited’ by asthma treatment breakthrough http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292947.php - See more at: http://angrybearblog.com/2015/04/open-thread-april-24-2015.html#comments

Alzheimer’s: new ultrasound technique ‘restores memory’ in mice
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290801.php
Nanoparticles that ferry dopamine to the brain offer potential Parkinson’s treatment http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292848.php
Scientists ‘incredibly excited’ by asthma treatment breakthrough
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292947.php

Scientists ‘incredibly excited’ by asthma treatment breakthrough http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292947.php - See more at: http://angrybearblog.com/2015/04/open-thread-april-24-2015.html#comments

Got to read Medical News Today — multiple stories of progress daily — medical knowledge doubles every two years. Will we rejoice if and when these treatments and dozens of others work out — or will these be more causes of anxiety about how we as a nation are supposed to pay the extortionate rates of multiple medical monopolists?   http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

Antibiotics Against Superbugs
One line of research our non-hero scientists ($440 million personally to the chief scientist who discovered Sovaldi) don’t trouble themselves to pursue is new anti-biotics — seems the bugs develop resistance too fast and then the money dries up too soon. Welcome back to 1935. 

https://thebrowser.com/articles/antibiotics-against-superbugs/

Meanwhile back on the farm, Bloomberg:
“since 2007, the cost of brand name medicines has soared with prices doubling for dozens of established drugs that target everything from multiple sclerosis to cancer, blood pressure and even erectile dysfunction.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-05-08/why-prescription-drug-prices-keep-rising-higher

John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie could not have invented one monopoly after another to fete themselves on -- temporary, but don't worry, they can invent them faster than they lapse -- and held the nation's health hostage to garner obscene sums.  Time to break up the medical monopolies we are making with our outdated patent system -- don't forget medical device makers and one-and-a-half million insurance bureaucrats (don't care what their profit percentage is) trying not to pay three-quarters of a million doctors?  Time for America to learn to do medicine a different way? 

Played right, the medicine can become America's rust proof, export proof (even to cheaper US locals), recession proof, pollution free, even robot resistan growth industry.  Don't worry; per capita output grows 20% every ten years to pay for it all -- assuming the 1% don't keep scarfing 95% (true figure) of the growth.  

[Late note: "Hepatitis C linked to increased risk of liver cancer, other cancers"  Double the risk of cancers other than liver cancer?
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/293082.php]


Sovaldi, the $84,000 cure (90+%) for Hepatitis C. Early research got along on government grants — until researchers smelled money; then looked for private investment. Success: planned sell for $350 a pill but Gilead Sciences “gambled” and paid Pharmasset $11 billion for it, thinking of $1000 a pill …
… enough to cost $300 million if all patients get treatment (70% will develop liver symptoms) — as much as all other prescriptions cost combined. Pharmasset would only have charged $100 billion.
Alzheimer’s: new ultrasound technique ‘restores memory’ in mice
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290801.php
Nanoparticles that ferry dopamine to the brain offer potential Parkinson’s treatment
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292848.php
Got to read Medical News Today — multiple stories of progress daily — medical knowledge doubles every two years. Will we rejoice if and when these treatments and dozens of others work out — or will these be more causes of anxiety about how we as a nation are supposed to pay the extortionate rates of multiple medical monopolists?
Antibiotics Against Superbugs
One line of research our super-overpaid scientists ($440 million personally to the chief scientist who discovered Sovaldi) don’t trouble themselves to pursue is new anti-biotics — seems the bugs develop resistance too fast and then the money dries up too soon. Welcome back to 1935.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292848.php
Meanwhile back on the farm, Bloomberg:
“since 2007, the cost of brand name medicines has soared with prices doubling for dozens of established drugs that target everything from multiple sclerosis to cancer, blood pressure and even erectile dysfunction.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-05-08/why-prescription-drug-prices-keep-rising-higher
Time to break the medical monopolies anyone?
- See more at: http://angrybearblog.com/2015/04/open-thread-april-24-2015.html#comments

Saturday, April 18, 2015

[UNDER DE-STRUCTION?]


[UNDER DE-STRUCTION:  See "Labor Unions Trump Luddites" above:  http://ontodayspage.blogspot.com/2015/05/working-on-angles-to-make-criminalizing.html ]

There are two RICO prosecutable sides to firing employees for attempting to organize labor.  The side everybody naturally thinks of is the extortionate side – the pain of unemployment.  The side everybody seems to miss is the illegal blocking of participation in the legally prescribed process of assembling a collective bargaining unit – solely for the sake of depriving employees of monies they could win from the employer in true free market negotiating.

Think almost perfect parallel with prolifers sued under RICO for blocking clinics – except that prolifers slipped off the RICO hook because they were not seeking to squeeze clinics for financial gain.
 

Let’s make up a situation which is all blocking -- no firing; no extortion.  Imagine that the federal organizing formula required online application (Obamacare style) and that for some reason the computers needed to be on the work site – and that the employer permanently barred employees from computer access.  If this is RICO/Hobbs prosecutable, then, firing is too.

Firing employees means they no longer have anything to organize -- inherently severs them from the legal prescribed process. 

Deprivation of economic participation for attempting to organize – not to reduce staff or for poor performance -- ought to be RICO/Hobbs prosecutable all by itself.  But the offense has been practiced without prosecution so much for so long (the free market?) that it may be hard for the courts to ever get their heads around the extortionate side of it.

Unions do not have to wait for prosecutors to catch on – should be able to seek injunctions against blocking of the federally prescribed organizing process – or sue after the fact.  Get cases going; watch the perps run for the hills while the cases run their courses (not sure what their liability will be) – we can organize the country out from under them before the rulings come down.

Alternate route: states can make blocking of and/or extortion against union organizing activity a felony punishable by one year – that would meet a requirement for RICO prosecution.  If pro union legislators everywhere attempt to pass such legislation every year – whether successful or not – I can think of no better ed-u-cational process about the criminality of habitually depriving most Americans of their economic and political wherewithal that Americans have gotten so used to tolerating (except maybe if our ed-u-cator-in-chief decides to make it his or her number one topic).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SS Trust Fund foie gras?


When FICA income no longer covers SS retirement outgo we will do one of three things: raise the FICA rate, raise the FICA cap or raise the income tax (or expand the deficit) to cash the Trust Fund bonds.

When the TF bonds run out (should keep one year of full replacement, not shortfall coverage -- the statutory definition of solvency) we can easily make a rule that income tax will from then on will cover the FICA shortfall -- easily because that's what we would have been doing for a couple of decades prior.

Politically, cashing the TF bonds may be the most doubtful outcome because that would in effect reverse the cap: the bottom 50% would pay nothing, the top 10% would take the biggest hit.  Most doubtful under today's 1% rule politics anyway.  Which doubtfulness makes today's Trust Fund stuffing remind me of foie gras.  :-)