Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Labor unions transform “price takers” into “price negotiators”

Labor unions transform “price takers” into “price negotiators.” About 20% of our labor force thrives under what could be described as perfect competition. Perfect simply
defined as ability to extract pretty much the max consumers are willing to pay for their inputs to products and services — never mind that long winded academic definition, right?

To raise most our workforce to "price negotiators" our coming blue wave Congress simply need mandate union certification and re-certification elections at every private workplace; every one, three or five years, plurality rules on the latter.

Should have done decades ago — been only way to hold on to democracy in America's unique in all the first world, anti-union labor market. Much of second and third world not fanatically anti-union culture either: Argentina and Indonesia do sector-wide labor contracts for instance.

Bottom 40% of US workforce takes about 10% share of overall income. Mid 40% plus upper-mid 19% (total 59%) take near 67.5%. Top 1% take the 22.5% — up from 10% over last two generations. See where this is going?

Newly unionized employees to take back 10% overall share through higher prices for their labor — or they won’t show up for work …

… if McDonald’s can pay $15/hr with 33% labor costs, Target can pay $20/hr with 10-15% labor costs and Walmart (bless it’s efficient heart) could pay $25/hr with 7% labor costs.

Bobby Kennedy’s son Chris was running for governor in the Democratic primary in Illinois. His father wanted to fight poverty — I remember something called "Model Cities" — but with only half today’s per capita income I’m not sure what he was thinking. Now, with doubled per capita income it should mostly be a matter of sloshing it all around better.

The bottom 40% will gently (and persistently) nudge the mid 59% to take back 12.5% of overall income from the top 1% through confiscatory taxation — of the kind we had in the Eisenhower years; and nobody gave it much thought either. With twenty times the personal income going to the same top 1% jobs, this time around we are going to get really serious about confiscation -- obviously leaving all the incentive the economy needs.

Top paid 1968 NFLer, Joe Namath made $600,000/yr in today’s money. Quarterback pays more like $12 million now. Sorry Colin (I’m sure you’re not greedy).  :-) 

 Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
Andrew Strom — November 1st, 2017

Bonus: federally mandated certification and re-certification elections automatically move up to hottest issue (maybe in a hundred years) because transformative in some way for almost every household.  Dreadful for Republicans to defend against the directed-cert-election page from their own anti-local-government-union playbook.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Natural Rate of Collective Bargaining -- 100%? -- not 6%!

I'm trying to come up with an abstraction that is able to alert progressive academics that a 94% de-unionized labor market is AUTOMATICALLY a 94% defective market.  Something akin to the so-called natural rate of unemployment -- which has a certain bar that mostly everybody recognizes.  A "natural rate of collective bargaining" (NRCB)? 

Let's look a the US.  Let's say 20% of our workforce is in what could be called perfect competition condition -- meaning they get paid about the max the ultimate consumer of their services would be willing to pay (near the top 1% a lot more).  _Equal-gratification_ equilibrium.  I would expect the natural collective bargaining rate should be close to 100% of those outside this perfect competition zone (effectively moving them into the perfect zone).

94% of the other 80% of the US labor force cannot bargain effectively without collective bargaining.  I call that _split equilibrium_: labor takes whatever price it can get along the subsistence-plus/race-to-the-bottom market scale.

A high NRCB looks a lot like a lot of continental Europe -- a lot like Germany or Canada.  The NRCB measure could even point out something deficient in the latter.  And expose the Grand Canyon wide gap between other modern economy's moderate NRCB deficiencies and the almost 100% defective American rate.
 * * * * * *
AUTOMATIC solution: our coming Dem Congress can mandate union certification and re-certification elections in every private workplace; one, three or five years, plurality rules on the latter.  Labor in other counties does not have to run the kind of almost impossible gauntlet that American employees do (unique in all the first world -- and a lot of the second and third; Argentina and Indonesia even have sector-wide bargaining). 

Mandated elections would AUTOMATICALLY become the hottest issue (maybe in a hundred years) by simple logistics, not even by merit, for the simple reason that it would impact nearly every single household and most to the core.

Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
Andrew Strom — November 1st, 2017

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


After reading Rachel Cohen’s article in the Intercept describing how the right wing went wild to fend off any pro-union legislation in Obama years …

 … "The business community hated EFCA, correctly recognizing that it would have shifted power relations between workers and employers. “This will be Armageddon,” the vice president for labor policy at the Chamber of Commerce complained." …

… while the public never really awoke that anything ambitious for the average person was in the works …

 … "To do something that will significantly shift power relations in the U.S. cannot be done quietly as a negotiated deal, it cannot happen without a loud clamor for it. It needs to be big enough and presented in ways people can understand." …

… it occurred to me (with my usual eighth-grade math approach) that with only 6% union members now in non-gov work — that is 94% not — any union issue inherently heavily tends to appear to one and all like a marginal issue — concerning only a “small circle of friends” — it’s just the natural human imaging issue.

OTH, proposing mandatory union cert/re-cert elections (one, three or five years — plurality rules) at every non-gov workplace speeds the labor organizing issue crashing into the lives of every worker in the country and powerfully so — the perfect “Madison Avenue” solution.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Fifty percent ain't one-percenters

The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism
Amanda Y. Agan and Michael D. Makowsky,
(Tyler Cohen: "here is an new and important approach")

"We find that the average minimum wage increase of 8% reduces the probability that men and women return to prison within 1 year by 2%. This implies that on average the wage effect, drawing at least some ex-offenders into the legal labor market, dominates any reduced employment in this population due to the minimum wage. These reductions in re-convictions are observed for the potentially revenue generating crime categories of property and drug crimes ... "
 * * * * * *

Something like half of Chicago gang age, minority males are in street gangs (100,000).

Berkeley professor Martin Sanchez-Jankowski found, upon spending nine years on the street in five NYC and LA poverty stricken neighborhoods, that ghetto schools fail because students (and teachers!) don't see anything remunerative enough waiting for them in the labor market to make it worth the extra effort.  Chicago teachers and their union seem to have cracked this).
Cracks in the Pavement: Social Change and Resilience in Poor Neighborhoods –  2008

Fifty percent ain't one-percenters.  Flatly stated, American born workers just wont scramble, full-out all day -- the way new Americans bustle through their  days at my Micky D's across the street -- for $10/hr.  Eventually all such jobs (see an American born cabbie lately?) get "in-sourced" to relatively desperate immigrants (not kicking immigrants here -- I want them to benefit from higher pay too).
  * * * * * *

Super easy way back is restoring healthy labor union density (6% unions outside gov equates to 20/10 bp)?  When Democrats take over Congress, we must institute mandatory union certification and re-certification elections at every work place (stealing a page from the Republican’s anti-union playbook -- see Wisconsin gov workers). I would add the wrinkle of making the cycle one, three or five years — plurality rules — take a lot of potential rancor out of first time votes in some workplaces.

Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?

November 1st, 2017 – Andrew Strom

Simply put, if fast food can pay $15/hr at 33% (!) labor costs, then, other retail should be able pay $20/hr at 10-15% labor costs, and, Walmart (God bless it) may be able to pay $25/hr at 7% labor costs.  If this means shifting 10% of overall income to the bottom 40%, that means scratching 14% of their income from the "middle" 59% (who get roughly 70% of overall income) -- in higher prices.  Which may mean we have been paying the 40% too little for too along.  But if the 40% get labor union organized (where this little speech is going) we may find ourselves willing to up if we want them to show up at work.

I have always been willing to tell any gang banger (not that I ever run into any) that side-ways guns and gang signs and all that would look pretty funny in, say, Germany where they pay people to work.  And, that if Walmart were paying $25/hr we wouldn't be hearing about any of this here.

As it is, the "middle" 59% can replenish their pockets at the expense of top 1% income whose share has ballooned from 10% to 22.5% over recent (de-unionizing) decades.  Just reintroduce confiscatory taxation of the kind existing in the Eisenhower era.  Say, 90% over $2 million income -- and this time we really mean it -- very top incomes (CEOs, news anchors, er, quarterbacks) now 20X what they were since per capita income only doubled.  I predict any social inertia (it's only human nature) on the part of the 59% to jack upper taxes up will be overcome by the friendly persuasion on the part of the 40% -- who want to jack up the price of that burger just a bit more.  :-)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mandatory union RE-certification after one year, three years or five years — plurality rules

Steal a big page from Republicans anti-union book of tricks.  In Wisconsin for instance government employee unions are forced to re-certify every year -- majority of members required, not just of voters. 
A near future (fingers crossed) Democratic Congress can pass legislation requiring first time certification or re-certification labor union elections at every workplace every so many years.

Consider this additional feature: part of election choice can be whether members wish mandatory re-certification after one year, three years or five years — plurality rules.

This extra choice could facilitate “yes” votes at high union-doubter workplaces and dispense with the most rancorous potential arguing because pro-union can always say to union-worriers: ”Try it for a year -- can't hurt."

(Government employees left outside NLRA election structure.  Wisconsin intent should be clearly recognized as unconstitutional pressure on freedom of assembly -- no other purpose possible for such an over-extreme requirement.  Courts say First Amendment protects government worker organizing but not their right to bargain.)

Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
November 1st, 2017 – Andrew Strom

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Republican tax cut sham-cycle

If Republicans actually expect lower taxes to lead to higher revenue, how come they never promise us what they intend to do with all that overflowing surplus: expand programs, lower taxes even more? We know it wont be the first with Republicans — do they have some “crossover point” in mind for the second; a specific lower tax point at which they admit lower taxes will actually begin to lead to lower revenues?  Just to be scientific about it.

Be interesting to inquire of them about that point, loudly and in public. :-)–

What will really happen of course is that revenues will take a dive — at which point the Republicans can be expected to scream bloody murder about the growing deficit on our great grandchildren and the "desperate"  need to cut back programs that assist lower income people — instead of simply raising taxes back up to where they had been all along on higher income people. And then they can re-initiate the sham-cycle over (and over) again as many times as they can get away for it.

Be interesting to interrogate the Republican party loudly and in public about what their response to lower tax revenue might actually be. :-O

Actually GW Bush did say he would use the added revenue to pay down the deficit -- which is funny because, when he replaced Bill Clinton, surplus tax revenues (much fueled by the dot-com boom) were already paying down the deficit.  GW cut taxes and revenue dived ...

... while the excess tax savings the rich could not spend on themselves ended up being loaned to others thru loony lending schemes that fueled much of the real estate and stock market busts -- and the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
 * * * * * * * * * * * *

See Barry Ritholtz [and Wall Street Journal] seriously put the lie to Republican tax cuts:

Monday, November 6, 2017

MUCH BETTER DEAL, if you want to make waves that everybody (anybody) notices (even the media!)

After reading this I guessed "yuppie" progressives might at last find (electoral) value trying to rebuild labor union density: "Republicans would have no place to hide."

Nothing.  So I came up with this.  3% of California voters could put making union busting a felony on the ballot -- one step to law books.

Then I read about this.  Preemption Chinese Wall -- so everybody thought.

So I came up with this.  First Amendment protection of organizing covers state labor protection for organizing when such protection is the necessary condition for organizing in that state.  Nor can fed labor law that was designed to make it safe for unions become the hermetic seal against state help -- while doing nothing (in this era) itself.

Still nothing  Then I read this piece.

MUCH BETTER DEAL, if you want to make waves that everybody (anybody) notices (even the media!).

Congress: Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
Published November 1st, 2017 - Andrew Strom
Best idea yet -- play perfectly into Repub tactic to force government unions to re certify yearly.

States: Preemption bars setting up union elections.  Not prevent making union busting a felony -- per First Amendment and Congressional original intent for NLRA.

The far-out wilder each may seem to the reader per cultural inertia -- potentially the bigger the waves for everybody to (including media) to notice.  We'll see.  ???

PS.  Can't get minorities out to vote because alienated and don't expect anything for any candidate?  Let alienated voters set up their own (favorite) ballot initiative (available in some form in most states -- 12 go all the way to the law books in different steps) -- then do the "shills around the block" supporting their self-dealt hand.  Will vote Democratic while they are in there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Harvoni hi-jacking? :-O

I was sitting in the doctor's office one day -- and one of the drug company folks was sitting across from me waiting to speak to the doctor.  Then it hit me and I asked him: "If Harvoni ...

... [Gileads 99% cure of Hepatitis C which it sells in the US for $100,000 an 84 pill treatment] ...

... is worth so much why doesn't anybody knock off a truckload?  They must keep it somewhere.  Isn't the Mafia interested?"

Later a whole gamut of criminal enterprises opened up for me.  You could get a prescription and then hit the pharmacy when you knew it was there (burglary or robbery).  You could treat your self or sell it and ask for another prescription -- you "never got it."

Harvoni could be the smuggling enterprise dream.  You are not going to get life imprison for smuggling kilos of prescription drugs (I don't think).  84 pills weighs, what, about two ounces?  A couple of million dollars per kilo at US pharmacy prices -- maybe $200,000 on the street (dealing with legit buyers; not crime prone addicts).  Cost to manufacture: maybe $2,000 -- going by $150* a treatment for Sovaldi, the main ingredient.  No raids and no payoffs at the point of manufacture (India, China, Egypt?) -- and no guilty conscience: you're saving lives!  :-)

Organized crime would back off "you-deal-you-die" for it's "fellows."

Be like prohibition (except easier).  Cops may look the other way -- they won't want anybody to die.  Juries may not convict!
 * * * * * *

Possible anti-pharmaceutical extortion TV ad:
I'm thinking of a scene I used to see on Seventh Avenue outside Madison Square Garden in the 70s.  Two money trucks parked, one at the curb, one catercorner in the next lane out, four guards come out of the building, one with two boxes (presumably money) on a hand truck, one just behind him to one side, another ten feet behind him to the other side and one trailing thirty feet back on the other, all guns drawn.

Well, you'd just need a little box with a dozen bottles of pills to go way over a million legit pharmacy smackolas with Harvoni.   You could film it being delivered to a drug fortress.  Once the opportunity for extreme profits knocking off sky high-priced prescription drugs, not just Harvoni, gets around you're going to have to safeguard them much more than, say, mere check cashing place dollars -- worth incomparably more.
 * * * * * *

Another anti-medical murder angle:
Put up a countdown billboard showing how many years (11) and days before Hepatitis C can be wiped out in this country (now 3 years since it could have been wiped) -- simultaneous with Gilead's Harvoni patent running down (2028).

It is crazy to have a once-and-for-all cure for Hepatitis C and to have to wait fifteen years before taking actual advantage of it -- for lack of funds to pay Gilead's $300 billion(b) drug store price.  Which price Gilead will extract most of at $15 billion(b) a year anyway -- to treat the more active infections, many or most of which will have been contracted from today's 3,000,000 US uncured hosts.  

Crazy ironic because VA research started the cure on its way -- whence said VA researchers smelled money and took over same for themselves (took it all the way to Ireland actually for lower intellectual property taxes) -- the lead endocrinologist taking off a cool $446 million (almost enough to manufacture enough for all US patients)  when Gilead bought the patent for $11 billion in 2011.


 * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Tasmanian Hep C Buyers’ Club
Sophie Cousins    JULY 25, 2017

It works like this: If you’re a patient who doesn’t want to travel to India, you send Jefferys $1,000 along with an identification form and a prescription. Within 10 days you receive your generic Sovaldi or Harvoni, shipped from India.

If you can’t get a prescription (some countries prohibit doctors from prescribing generic medicines), a medical report showing that you have hepatitis C will suffice. Jefferys asks for a $200 fee for his service, but it’s optional. “I don’t want to profit from people’s sickness. There’s enough of that going on already, so I will remove my fee if you ask,” his website says.
 * * *
While Australia, Britain and the United States allow the personal importation of a three-month supply of medicines under certain regulations, some countries, like Canada, ban personal importation altogether.

Jefferys is reluctant to talk about his work with people in Canada. “From a legal point of view, I’m just facilitating people’s access to drugs,” he said. As for his methods, he said, “I cannot reveal all because some are illegal. I’m perfectly happy to break laws and get people treatment. You’re talking about people’s lives.”


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The restocking of American labor union density in 39 words

The restocking of American labor union density in 39 words:
If a state or local legislature passes a law that makes exercising freedom of association (e.g., organizing a labor union) possible where it would otherwise not be possible, then, Congressional preemption of labor law falls to the First Amendment.

Federal interference (preemption) with state legislation can pop up in the least likely places (and least practical).


Florida wanted 140 mph resistant cranes -- Congress thought 93 mph okay, years ago -- judiciary thought no lives endangered (off street; none lost to previous storms); probable property damage to cranes and structures not enough to let Florida do its own thinking.  No competing value somewhere else in the Constitution could save Florida from judges judging federal preemption.

Not so in every area.

A doctor on KevinMD blog griped that anti-trust laws bar doctors from combining to bargain fees with hospitals (unless employed there).  I opined (no expert on the specifics) that if doctors combined to bargain with a giant like Blue Cross, then, overall market power would be sufficiently balanced -- for the First Amendment to assert itself and protect doctors' combination -- disallowing not a matter of legislative choice.  (I got the general idea right anyway.)

For decades now, judicial interpretation has walled out state labor legislation under federal preemption until it precludes anything the NLRA(a) even so much as arguably protects or prohibits (Garmon); all arguments resolved solely by the NLRB(b) -- also almost anything that fits under the definition of the free play of economic forces affecting collective bargaining (Machinists), IOW almost anything not fitting under the definition of protected or prohibited.

Ironically, as decades of judicially discovered barriers to state intervention piled up, the number of union workers left under federal rules slid endlessly down.

Decades during which the initial intent of Congress to "encourage the practice and procedure of collective bargaining" -- was been lost to growing federal ineffectiveness and state law freeze out.

6% labor union density in private business (the 6% able to hang on by their own natural advantages; no help from Congress) equates to 20/10 blood pressure -- no difficulty diagnostically.  And it starves every other healthy democratic process.

For an all day read on uninvited judicial construction activity click below (97 page PDF, very readable, half is notes and if you only want to check out Garmon and Machinists you can do pp. 70-90).

Reforming Labor Law by Reforming Labor Law Preemption Doctrine to Allow the States to Make More Labor Relations Policy   by Henry H. Drummonds

Late dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, told a novice reporter that when he came to D.C. fifty years earlier, all the lobbyists were labor.  I tell doctors that no matter what health system we originate or borrow it won't halt the financialization and crapification of US medicine -- unless we build a countervailing force, unless we restore healthy union density (for the whole country, not just doctors).

How to get (back) there in 30 words:
Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association precludes Congress from disallowing state legislative protection of labor organizing for collective bargaining which legislation is a necessary condition for the exercise of that freedom.

"The ultimate sweetheart contract is no contract at all."

Friday, September 29, 2017

National anthem uproar rooted in black and white from fifties -- television

The national anthem uproar is rooted in something black and white from the fifties -- television.

Before television countries were one step below God -- holy; an abstraction.  But once I see pictures of other countries, just land an people, and I see pictures of my country, also just land and people -- I can't see countries as sacred anymore.  Just some kind of social instinct outlook takes over.

I still have the same views on other topics from politics to religion.  I just have what seems like a practical outlook, no longer a holy outlook on my country now.  The two may may not both co-exist somehow -- for some, maybe not others.

A little practical understanding of human nature (social instinct) might go a long way to cooling some overwrought patriotic fires.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cannot turn Congressional labor law preemption into a First Amendment free zone

Until last week I was unaware of the reach and power of federal preemption. On Labor has a story how Florida was not able to require construction cranes to withstand 140 mph winds because the fed standard was only 93 mph.

Garmon says any labor issue even arguably in NLRB jurisdiction goes before NLRB — no discussion. Machinists tells states not to even interfere with the free play of economic forces related to collective bargaining. Needless to say, forget about anything that improves on federal regulations like barring replacement workers. There’s the answer to my endless question why progressive states never get around to making union busting a local felony.

What’s missed here is that First Amendment protected freedom of association is at stake — making union busting a proper matter for civil rights legislation. MLK died supporting the strike by Memphis sanitary public works employees, who were represented by AFSCME Local 1733.

The (all inclusive) labor regulatory tail cannot wag the (above all) First Amendment protected dog. Congress cannot put up a wall around one aspect of economic life and make the First Amendment disappear somewhere inside.

What might be an interesting question is what happens when Congress decides to make an effective effort to protect organizing and joining. Under present circumstances Congress for sure may not finally take the protection of organizing to itself and then do nothing (virtually) — again, not with the First Amendment at stake. I would say that Congress having for generations ignored the area — added to the civil rights angle — that states could not be barred from protecting organizing period (but of course I would) — tricky though.

Meantime no question Congress cannot fence states out of civil rights legislation it will not impose itself. For an idea how to get the ball rolling see here:

GOT IT!  (I think)
If a state or local legislature passes a law that makes exercising freedom of association (e.g., organizing a labor union) possible where it would not be possible otherwise, then, Congressional preemption of labor law falls to the First Amendment. 


For an all-day read on judicial twists and turns shutting out state labor law under the NLRA(a):
Louisiana Law Review, Volume 70, Number 1, Fall 2009    (97 page PDF)
Reforming Labor Law by Reforming Labor Law Preemption Doctrine to Allow the States to Make More Labor Relations Policy

Henry H. Drummonds

  * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Let's analyze the minimum wage upside-down -- and backwards

Let's begin analyzing the minimum wage where we usually end: with how the newly higher pay recirculates back into the consumer market.  But let's start out BACKWARDS: let's imagine we are going to take pay away from the minimum wage workers -- and see what happens.

I know that scenario sounds extremely unlikely in real life* but stick with me -- for some reason it seems just a little easier to imagine how money recirculates when we give the money to consumers (rather than add it to wages).

Imagines that we take two dollars an hour back from min wager workers.  That money will then be spent by better paid consumer/workers.  Since consumers tend to purchase disproportionately more goods produced by people at their own pay level DEMAND FOR LOWER WAGE MADE GOODS WILL LIKELY (not always) SHRINK -- killing off some minimum wage jobs?

Of course, if a min wage RAISE is priced right -- sending more money overall to the pockets of min wagers -- then, the low income consumers will spend those new dollars disproportionately more on min wage made goods -- and DEMAND FOR MIN WAGE GOODS COULD ACTUALLY INCREASE -- creating more min wage jobs?

As long as we don't overdo it.  Since fed min was $11.45 (adjusted) in 1968, and US per capita income has doubled since then, there seems little chance of overdoing anything.

Usual second consideration (second here too): if fast food with 33% labor costs can pay $15/hr, then, Target with 10-15% labor costs ought to be able to pay $20/hr, and, Walmart with 7% labor costs (can't wait to get a union in there) should be able to pay even $25/hr.

Jason Furman, chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers of all people touted that Walmart saves consumers $260 billion a year ("a progressive success story").  Cut 10% off that Jason and you can give every Walmart employee a $20,000/yr raise.  (Jason quoted Walmart only paying employees $5 billion less than optimal -- but that was 5 billion less than other miserable paying, non-union American jobs, Jason.)

Usual first point: with any commodity other than labor the first (that's first) thought is (always) what proportion of the cost of production does the commodity account for.

There are states where the median wage is not quite $15/hr.  Raising the minimum to $15/hr seems impossibly overreaching -- at least how it is made out in most of our supposedly progressive academic and press discussions (heads in the clouds or what?!).  If a firm is paying every last worker $10/hr and has to go to $15 -- and if labor represents 12% of costs, the consumer price goes up 6% (that's if every last employee is paid 50% more).  Sounds a lot less "impossible", doesn't it (down from the upper middle class clouds -- pay attention to everyday life please)?

Monday, August 14, 2017


GOT THIS SPAM FROM NANCY PELOSI -- which I re-spammed to her SF district (pols and papers)

As we first introduce A Better Deal to the American people – with more to come – we are setting out three ambitious new economic initiatives:
 *  Good-paying, full-time jobs for 10 million more Americans in the next five years.
 *  Aggressive action to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
 *  Cracking down on the monopolies and mergers driving up Americans’ cost of living.

-- 70 million of our 150 million workforce are earning less than $15/hr -- teenager's wages.  the same 45% lost 33% of its income share over two generations.  Wanna try again, Nancy -- to start a middle class stampede towards Democratic Party doors?
-- Laws on the books could already stop Gilead from demanding $300 billion to wipe out Hepatitis C in America (Sovaldi)  -- which no one raises a finger to enforce (Obama doesn't care).
-- The latter is the real deal if you believe an excellent article by David Dayen ...

What Do Democrats Stand For? The Party Finally Has the Right Answer By David Dayen, July 24, 2017

... which article predictably puts the exploited cart before the de-unionized horse -- predictably from our academic liberals who never seem to get whether the chicken or the egg came first.

I never understand why not.
 * * * * * *

I believe it's mostly a matter of making jobs that already exist pay more -- to squeeze the max the consumer market is willing to pay the labor market, assuming labor is able to withhold its input to milk the best deal; pure free market stuff, nobody should be able to disagree with that.

IOW rebuild American labor union density.

To be brief, if McDonald's with 33% labor costs can pay $15/hr, then Target which has 10-15% labor costs could conceivably pay $20/hr and Walmart with 7% labor costs possibly even $25/hr.

Uber is an almost unique example of Americans willing to work for less putting foreign born employees out of work (just to make concrete the concept).  Fast food in Chicago (anywhere I go) is usually staffed strictly by (struggling) Mexicans and Indians.  Buoy up labor's price in jobs only immigrants will do now (too low pay) and American born will go to the head of the hiring line.  Finally better paid immigrants will be much happier too (don't worry; economy expands as workers added).

What we need is a renewed cultural understanding/belief that collective bargaining (and its concomitant political muscle) is a core civil right and that we are decades behind protecting that civil right with felony union busting prohibitions (just like we prohibit KKKlan muscling) -- first, state by progressive state, and then nationally as the reality of today's labor market dead zone catches on.
 * * * * * *

Just saying.  :-)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Social Security's small-portion (one off) Trust Fund

Just had a funny thought.

The general idea anyway of Social Security retirement is for employed workers to support retirees -- who in turn will be supported by current workers when they retire.  That's the general idea anyway.

But for some reason my generation(s) was detailed to save up a small portion of our future retirement needs: paying higher FICA rate than was required to cover current SS outgo -- and when our time to retire came along, cashing in the TF bonds we'd been saving (lending the gov money for normally income tax paid items with our excess FICA tax).

Again, this trust fund was intended to cover only a small portion of our retirement: up to 25% just before the TF bonds finally all run out.

(Actually, not a good idea to let fund all run out -- a truly practical use of the SS TF is to bridge automatically any shortfall in FICA incoming, giving Congress time to patch FICA tax to match SS outgoing.  Happened a couple of times.  TF is legally solvent with one year of full replacement.  Currently has four years.)

Now, if current generations want to do the same "service" for themselves -- wish to save to cover a small portion of their future retirement, rather than rely wholly and completely on current earners -- they will hike their FICA rate enough to (presumably) cover my generation(s)' retirement needs ...

 ... which would leave us back where we came into this movie: each new generation of workers paying for the whole and entire retirement of the older generations -- and expecting follow on generations to do the same for them.  :-O

I don't know what we would be supposed to do with the (ever expanding?) SS Trust Fund. 

I just thought of "what we should do" with the (ever expanding?) SS Trust Fund dreamed up above.  If cash outs of fund bonds to  my gen stop with one year of full replacement remaining (wise), we can roughly calculate that my gen's "savings" would cover about 12% of our retirement for 12 years.  If the next generation saves up the same way -- thereby paying my gen's retirement w/o cashing bonds -- the fund may be able to accumulate more like 24% for 12 years.  Keep rolling this over for five generations (including mine) and in 100 years the SS Trust Fund would be able to cover 60% of one generation's retirement payout for 12 years.

Mmm; or maybe not.  It took longer than 20 years to accumulate my gen's bond pile.  It might take a lot higher FICA tax bleed then my gen took to finance that pile.   

A-L-M-O-S-T  F-O-R-G=E-T
In 100 years people may not be dying except by accident -- leaving the TF totally inconsequential.  :-O