Friday, October 31, 2014

Obama abandons “the defining challenge of our time” -- after nternal polling


http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/07/07/Internal-Democratic-Polls-Prompt-Obama-to-Abandon-Income-Inequality-Message

“Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) candidly admits that internal polling data proves the class warfare and soak the rich rhetoric is an election loser.

” ‘There are some who believe it’s better to talk about the negative parts of wealth that people have accumulated, but our polling data show people care less about that and more about how we’re going to help them,’ said [Democratic Sen. Charles] Schumer.”

Cut to CENRALIZED BARGAINING:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28/business/international/living-wages-served-in-denmark-fast-food-restaurants.html?_r=0
”Denmark has no minimum-wage law. But Mr. Elofsson’s $20 an hour is the lowest the fast-food industry can pay under an agreement between Denmark’s 3F union, the nation’s largest, and the Danish employers group Horesta, which includes Burger King, McDonald’s, Starbucks and other restaurant and hotel companies.”

It would help if Obama and friends were not helpless to know what actually might reverse middle-class decline (God help the growing ranks of the poor), what modality could reverse the race-to-the-economic-and-political bottom.

A modality at work in every just and bountiful economy in the world: Germany, France, Nordic democracies and continental Europe in general, French-Canada, even Argentina, even Indonesia.  Walmart closed down 88 big boxes in Germany where it had to pay the going wages and benefits (see Denmark above).

Did somebody say CENTRALIZED BARGAINING, as in legally mandated?  In place for nearly seven decades on the continent.

How come America has Marxists and Austrians and every species of economic/social advocate except centralized bargaining oriented believers? ???  Could it be because nobody ever mentions the possibility out loud?

One exception to that: Thomas Geoghegan: Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life.  Wake up and return to broadly spread prosperity America.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The issue to end all progressive economic issues: (legally imposed) CENTRALIZED BARGAINING


All we progressives can all bat all the air we want to with wonderfully understanding delineations of all the troubles we’ve seen … but wont ever be able to do a single thing about any of it until America is unionized by law via CENTRALIZED BARGAINING as its statute imposed centerpiece -- like Germany and so many other of the worlds most successful economies have done.  

Whereby, all employees doing similar work negotiate one common contract with all firms: ending the race-to-the-pay-and-benefits-bottom and reestablishing full parity of political muscle with ownership.
 

Open the issue up (that means mention it out loud in the public square!) and get out of the way of the stampede once people realize what it can do for them.  Supermarket workers and airline employees would kill for centralized bargaining!  !!!  (Look no further than French Canada next door for confidence -- or inspiration)
 

In his “The Seeds of a New Labor Movement” Harold Meyerson in his American Prospect article portrays David Rolf as the top (I would call it) “ground gainer” (Patton style) of today’s American labor movement.
 

He writes: “More than most union leaders, Rolf is a student of labor history.” Yet Rolf thinks collective bargaining is dying — just waiting to be dead: “Every condition and factor that underpinned unions’ power from the 1930s through the 1960s was gone: immobile capital, government assistance, the Cold War defense establishment, even organized crime, which propped up some unions so it could loot them. Not to mention losing two generations of workers by not organizing in the private sector after the 1940s. In the ’80s and ’90s, Andy’s [Stern’s] generation rediscovered organizing, but it was too little, too late.”
 

Top American labor leader sees the history of America and thinks labor is dead. Ever hear of the history of Germany and continental Europe, David? Or of French Canada or even Argentina or even of Indonesia? Wake up and smell the opportunity.   

Ever read a very recent tome by whom many think to be America’s top labor lawyer: Thomas Geoghegan, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How theEuropean Model Can Help You Get a Life.

My personal reaction, a decade ago, on learning of centralized bargaining was: “Why didn’t I think of that?” After wondering for a decade what possible modality could reverse American labors tailspin, the answer seemed so perfectly obvious once you heard it.

It’s sort of like I wondered for two decades why energy increases with the square of the speed. Then, some kid on a science-fiction newsgroup explained to me that: you go twice as far when you go twice as fast; ergo, four times the energy. (If you are doing the two cars hitting head on at 50 miles an hour versus one car hitting a still care at 100, remember to double the weight when two cars are moving — figured that out myself :-))

So when are progressives going to stop pointlessly batting the breeze with their well reasoned complaints and start talking up the issue to end all the other issues?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In 30 years 1% may take 50% of income -- check the math!

If the top 1% income continues to receive all the economic growth, then, by the time the output per person expands 50% (25-30 years?) the top 1% income will “earn” half of a half-larger economy (25% + 50% = 75% of 150%). By the time output per person doubles (typically 40-50 years) the equation will read 25% + 100% out of 200% = 62.5% of a twice-as-large economy.

Throw in Piketty’s projections — inherited rentier incomes swallowing up even more income share (like the England of old) -- and the bottom drops out for pretty much everyone.

There is a decades old, around the world tested answer. Ask Jimmy Hoffa as I always say — who spent 30 years, fighting (by fair means and admittedly sometimes foul) to spread the negotiation of one, single collectively bargained contract for all employees doing similar work with all employers — spreading outward from the jungle of Detroit’s Depression era labor market, finally to the whole country with the Teamsters 1964 National Master Freight Agreement (covering 400,000 truckers then, 50,000 now). Without so-called centralized bargaining every union these days is subjected to the race-to-the-bottom if employers can point to someone down the road paying less — more is needed than just organizing, as with card check. Ask poverty level wage supermarket employees since Walmart, etc., destroyed their middle class one-union-with-one-employer contracts.

Oddly enough to an American (me), legally mandated, centralized bargaining was instituted by the industrialists in post WWII Europe — something about fending off a labor union race to the top; thereby conserving more money for rebuilding. Today centralized bargaining can be found over the world from nearby French Canada to Argentina to Indonesia.

Which is to say that the most successful labor union (relatively speaking *) in this country and the most successful economies in the world have instituted the only labor setup I have ever heard of that results in a fair and balanced market. The way back for America must begin by everyone talking about that way back -- to everyone.

Campaign financing and lobbying equal to the 1%'s plus 99% of the vote would neatly fall into place.

A Pattern of Retreat: The Decline of Pattern Bargaining

 
PS.  Where the would the money come from to pay a $15 an hour federal minimum wage: the 55% of the workforce that takes 90% of income share would pay 3.5% higher prices -- shift approx. 3.5% income -- to the 45% who take only 10% share today.  Not going to lay off 45% of the workforce.  The economy grows that much every few years!  :-)  70 million X average $8,000 raise = $560 billion out of our $16,000 billion economy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The best (only?) way to reach Democratic voters -- even if you only care about their votes


RE:  Republicans Make Big Advances Thanks to Citizens United
by Alex Kotch
September 10, 2014,  American Prospect


From:
The Rising Tide: Will All Boats Be Lifted?,  August 01, 2014,  by Richard Reeves
... The crucial factor, Podhorzer found, is Democrats’ vote share among voters making less than $50,000: ... whether Democrats win these voters by a 10-point or a 20-point margin tells you who won every national election for the last decade. ... To reach these voters, Podhorzer believes, candidates need to focus on the economic issues of the working class. ‘Economic populism decides who wins elections in America,’ he said.
**********************
There is only one realistic way to re-make America economically and politically: legally mandated, centralized bargaining.  All employees doing similar work (e.g., retail clerk) must be able to negotiate one common contract with all firms.  Automatically rebuilding America's unions by law (waiting for the resurrection? -- little things like card check will only find a few new unions on the race-to-the-bottom with all the others) would automatically rebuild and rebalance the political forum too, as the average persons' combined financing and lobbying matched ownership's -- to go with our 99% of the votes.

Even if Democratic candidates don't believe in centralized bargaining for labor contracts (a.k.a.. sector-wide labor agreements), actually don't even want or like them, just cynically pushed them to get votes -- guess what? -- (after explaining the game changing advantages) they will surely get the votes.

The most successful economy in the world, Germany, has the most thorough version of centralized bargaining (ask Lufthansa employees).  The most successful union in this country, the Teamsters, spent 30 years fighting to expand one single labor contract from sea to shining sea, succeeding in 1964 with its National Master Freight Agreement (ask retiring drivers at my old local 804,
30-and-out, $3900 a month).

Centralized bargaining is not some new look or new kook idea -- it is an established practice for almost seven decades, world-wide, from continental Europe, to French Canada, to second-world Argentina, to third-world Indonesia.  Somebody just has to say the words ("centralized bargaining") out loud here -- even if the only thing they want to accomplish is to turn the tide heavily in favor of Democratic candidates.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I like to date Vietnam War years as After Westmoreland: A.W.


I like to date later Vietnam War years as After Westmoreland: A.W.  (numbers are approximate)

After Westmoreland the US gave up on his truly murderous strategy of killing our young men to kill more of theirs: attrition, against a Ho Chi Minh who would have been willing to see everybody in Vietnam croak as long as the last breath was taken by a communist (not much of an exaggeration).  We suffered stretches of bringing home 3,000 body bags a month -- the goal being, in Westmoreland's own words, to reach the "cross-over" point at which the North could no longer replace soldiers faster than we could kill them (his own words!).

That's the war everybody thinks we waged -- and lost!


3 1/2 A.W.  The US ambassador to Vietnam could now drive anywhere in the countryside without a military escort: the payoff of counter-insurgency.  The Viet Cong guerrilla army had been reduced to totally non-Southerners, which in turn left NVA main force units (those guys you see in We Were Soldier Once and Young) eating grass and without ammo.


North Vietnamese Army main force units -- hiding most of the time like guerrillas -- required supplies of food and ammunition to be propositioned in hidden caches before they could mount an attack.  After the countryside was wrested from VC control it was no longer practicable to cache supplies or maintain cave systems.

It was easily practicable to "win the hearts and minds of the people" simply because the Viet Cong were so hated.  The movie Full Metal Jacket portrays the Viet Cong massacre during the battle of Hue: calling in police and teachers and government office workers, etc., for "re-education" and then shooting them in mass graves (bodies depicted under white powder).  The movie said the body count was twenty,  Wikipedia calls the civilian and POW count possibly as high as 6000!

Beginning with his struggle to take over the North (more on that below) Ho and friends only approach to recruitment was to kill and kill and kill anybody who didn't see things their way.

A.W. 4 1/2  The North tried an out and out Korea style conventional invasion -- beaten off with 50% casualties.

A.W. 5  The US Congress cuts off the money and supplies the South needed to continue the war along with US air support -- all reduced to a trickle.  The South begins rationing bullets and artillery rounds.

A.W. 7 1/2  The North -- having harvested a few more crops of eighteen years olds -- finally sent them to overrun the US Congress-disarmed South in six weeks.

Two million South Vietnamese anti-communists fled the advancing forces -- one million by boat.  Good thinking; the North rounded up and shot 130,000 who did not.
 * * * * * * * * *
In the 1950s, Ho Chi Minh's began his life long approach to winning supporters typically by sending terror squads into villages, lining up some boys who may have joined some government program (e.g., education) and shooting them.  When that village was rendered sufficiently docile a maintenance squad would come in and the terror squad would move on the next village (ink blot tactic).

(N.B.  Vietnam was no longer a colony in 1949.)

After Ho won the election in the North -- population 13 million; 98% of the peasants owned the land they tilled (70% in the South) -- Ho shot 50,000 peasants as capitalist exploiters and sent 100,000 to re-education camps.  Had some formula according to how many pigs farmers owned, etc.  (Communists have to have their land reform -- even they admitted they may have gone too far.)  A year later Ho's own home province rebelled -- the army crushed this, killing 6,000 peasants (wounding?).  For the early Ho, see: The Two Vietnams by Bernard Fall -- a French political scientist who was allowed to move freely about the North while the fighting was still going on there.  Killed when his jeep hit a mine in 1967.  I found his book too dry and scholarly to read when I was in my 20s.


[Late addition: a novel by a North Vietnamese veteran whose Glorious 27th Youth Brigade went out with 500 and came back with 10 alive: The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh -- at first banned in the North but now reportedly allowed.]
 * * * * * * * * * *
Why were we in Vietnam?  Why did we let millions of Koreans die defending their rice and fish exporting peasant culture from collectivization -- when Russia was still on it's back, it's dictator not moving aggressively, only wanting to be Czar; and Mao not really known yet?  Why did we bomb populated cities (!) in helpless Japan?  


We bombed Japan out of force of habit.  If we had never bombed Germany -- in desperation to keep it from taking over the world -- it never would have occurred to us to bomb a single populated city (!) in Japan.

We defended Korea much out of the same force of habit.  Having just fought off two little countries (with single time zones and insufficient natural resources which ironically motivated their aggressions) from taking over the world, we just naturally took on world communism -- even though it posed no critical threat yet and even though the end of the Korean peninsula offered no place else to go.  That happened to turn out just fine.

By 1965, Vietnam's decision year, communism was at high tide: the two biggest countries in the world were coming at us ("We will bury you", "Your children will live under communism" -- for those who weren't around for Khrushchev) with bombs that could literally leave a half-mile deep crater where Hiroshima used to be.  Very scary time.  Khrushchev was a true believer who challenged us everywhere (Berlin grab, Cuban missiles); Mao was as bloodthirsty as Ho (see above) -- and we feared that if the democracies just let Ho run over South Vietnam it would open up the whole world to communist aggressions

Realistic?  ???  At least there was a plausible rationale.  Also Lyndon Johnson couldn't back out of Vietnam and keep his voluminous domestic legislation moving safely past "good old boy" Southern US Senators.  What a choice.

By 1975 we had won globally -- communism was receding worldwide -- we could afford to lose locally.  We, not the South Vietnamese.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Illinois' new Medicare-Medicaid narrow networks: the older you get, the less care you get?


In Illinois elderly patients on both Medicare and Medicaid are being forced into narrow networks under one insurance company (e.g., Aetna, Blue Cross, Cigna, Humana, Ilinicare, Meridian).

They may be lucky enough to keep their personal care provider -- but he or she is stuck referring them to specialists on the network. PCPs usually refer patients to a physically contiguous medical group: in the same hospital or office building. What happens if PCPs are forced to refer the elderly (the sick elderly) to addresses all over town?

Old people see a lot of specialists. The older -- and more infirm; the more unable to shuffle all over town by themselves -- the more specialists they need to see.  Some of the medical deflation we are going to see here may not be a healthy trend at all.

Horror of horrors: If you got to a doctor or get testing off network -- from providers that accept Medicare -- your Medicare wont pay for it?  Payment is limited to network only -- I think.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Does raising the minimum wage raise teen unemployment?


Does raising the minimum wage tend to raise teen unemployment?  Very possibly.  

When wages go down -- typically in the US due to pressuring or eliminating a labor union -- the quality of hires tends to go down.  

When bottom end wages go up that naturally attracts better quality hires -- often read more adult workers.  Since one of the big (phoney) arguments against raising the minimum wage is that it is no big help because it is mostly earned by teenagers living at home -- figure out whether it is a bigger, more critical issue to fret the loss of a few teen jobs, or to pay adults enough to raise a family.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

If fast food prices were cut in half ...


If fast food prices were cut in half today, most people would not purchase any more burgers.  How many can they (we) eat?  
 
We do not know how far below most people's "maximum buy line" prices may have sunk during decades of down-drifting minimum wages -- plausibly meaning today's prices could rise 25% higher and people might buy just as many; 50% might cut into business.  We DO know today's minimum wage is $3.50 an hour below what it was in 1968 -- we DO know per capita income has near doubled over the same time frame.  (See chart below.)  It is perfectly plausible that fast food prices began dropping deeper and deeper below the "maximum buy line" decades ago!

Look at Wal-Mart: 7% labor costs.  DOUBLE Wal-Mart's average wages ($10 to $20 an hour) and ADD health benefits, paid vacations, etc., and prices might go up 10% (7% + 3%?).  If Jimmy Hoffa's Teamsters were in there that would have occasioned long ago.

Look at most of the Americans you meet working on less than specific training required jobs (like x-ray tech): they are embarrassed.  They are earning $400-$500 a week.  $500 is today's median income.


Look at the official federal poverty line: 3 X the price of an emergency diet (dried beans only please; no expensive canned) -- a formula from the mid-fifties = $20,000 poverty line for family of three ($400 a week).  Realistic minimum needs line based on table 3-2, p. 44 (after adjusting for inflation) in the MS Foundation book Raise the Floor works out to more like $50,000 a year for family of three if it has to pay its own medical insurance ($1,000 a week!).  HALF OF TODAY'S AMERICANS EARN HALF THAT POVERTY LINE OR LESS!
 
  * * * * * * * * * *
double-indexed is for inflation and per capita income growth (2013 dollars):  

yr  per capita    real     nominal  dbl-index   %-of
68    15,473    10.74      (1.60)     10.74      100%
69-70-71-72-73              [real, low point -- 8.41]
74    18,284      9.47      (2.00)     12.61          
75    18,313      9.11      (2.10)     12.61
76    18,945      9.44      (2.30)     13.04        72%
77                                                               [8.86]
78     20,422     9.49      (2.65)      14.11
79     20,696     9.33      (2.90)      14.32
80     20,236     8.78      (3.10)      14.00     
81     20,112     8.61      (3.35)      13.89        62%
82-83-84-85-86-87-88-89                          [6.31]
90     24,000     6.79      (3.80)      16.56  
91     23,540     7.29      (4.25)      16.24        44%
92-93-94-95                                                [6.51]
96     25,887     7.07      (4.75)      17.85
97     26,884     7.49      (5.15)      19.02        39%
98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06                      [5.97]
07     29,075     6.59      (5.85)       20.09
08     28,166     7.10      (6.55)       19.45
09     27,819     7.89      (7.25)       19.42        40%
10-11-12                                                      [7.37]  

13    29,209?    7.25      (7.25)      20.20?     36%? 
 * * * * * * * * * *
A $15 minimum wage shifts 3.5% of income from the 55 percent of the workforce who garner 90% of income to the 45% who get 10%.  $8,000 average raise X 70 million (45% of 140 million + 5% at minimum now) = $560 billion out of $16,000 billion GDP.  Somebody challenged me that raising Walmart prices 10% (only 3.5% at $15 min) would take $26 billion from the poorest consumers.  I pointed out that with an extra $560 billion they wouldn't be so poor. :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

NYC Taxi & Limousine cops -- Bloomberg's undead?


Why do drivers whose cars are seized for supposedly operating as an illegal taxi have to prove their innocence? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Is that how the TLC gets its 80% conviction rate?

How, indeed, could the city prove they are guilty (I've been in criminal court a lot with kids)? Shouldn't the gentleman's two girls in the New York DNA story have had to come to the hearing to testify that it was a paid ride to convict him? Nobody has to talk to a TLC cop. Do most just give up -- intimidated by the crazy legal scam -- or are they found guilty as stated above if they cannot prove they are innocent?

When I was a gypsy cab driver in the Bronx back in the 1970s the mayor instructed the cops not to ticket us for picking up by hail because the medallion cabs would not, did not serve the Bronx and Harlem and in between. Does seven times as many stop-and-seizures than a few years ago -- in the final half year of stop-and-frisk Bloomberg's admin -- sound like a familiar purpose: scare MINORITY people about just driving around doing their legitimate business -- and -- reduce cab pick-up service to zero in minority areas: the old ethnic cleansing scheme; making way for yuppies?

Meantime YUPPIES take advantage of so-called "ride-sharing" by cars without livery plates, without livery insurance (ours used to be twice as high as the yellow cabs') and even brightly identified with big pink mustaches -- without getting arrested.

Just to hammer the latter home: legal aficionados may note some resemblance between Uber's and Lyft's dubious "ride sharing" self-description and Aereo's recently US Supreme Court disallowed self-description that it was only leasing antennas, not purveying copyrighted material.

PS. In my years as a gypsy (admittedly long ago, things may have changed) I never once picked up anyone with luggage or took anyone to a hotel downtown or to any airport, portrayed as the hot zones for catching in the original story -- it was not that kind of business.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

$100 minimum wage – what would REALLY happen? :-)


$100 minimum wage – what would REALLY happen?

Wal-Mart’s labor costs (7% – average $12 an hour) would go up 900% – Wal-Mart prices could go up 50%.
McDonald's labor costs (33% – average $9 an hour) would go up 1100% – McDonald's prices could go up 400%.


Wal-Mart wages up 900% – prices up 50%.
McDonald’s wages up 1100% – prices up 400%.

So far both their workers look to come out ahead (in our crazy scenario) – if only they could live their whole lives on these two job sites. What would happen when the rest of the employee world caught up with their wild raises is hard to say.

It is easy to say what would happen if the federal minimum wage were raised to $15. Wal-Mart wages would jump 50% – prices up 3.5%. McDonald's wages would about double – prices up 25%.  Even if Wal-Mart sales dipped 3.5% and McDonald's sales dipped 25%, their employees would be way ahead.

Easy to calculate* how much a $15 an hour minimum wage would add to the cost of producing America’s products and services: 3.5% (10X what E.I.T.C. transfers clumsily, in once a year lumps). Don’t worry; the 45% of our workforce earning less than today's minimum wage (which is, unbelievably, $1.50 below 1956’s minimum wage) is not going to be laid off over that 3.5%.

* Half the workforce, 70 million workers X $8,000 average raise = $560 million = 3.5% of our $16 trillion GDP (bottom 5% now at minimum wage get two average raises).

Friday, July 18, 2014

$15 minimum wage will force Chicago taxi meter up $1 a mile -- why wait?


If and when the minimum wage (local, state or federal) is raised to $15, the city of Chicago (and other localities) may be forced to add a dollar a mile to the taxi meter rate – or it may be left with few taxi drivers. If we honestly desire a much higher minimum wage, then, for the same reason we should want to add that dollar now. Could not possibly harm drivers (ask them).

It could be a test for today of whether our hearts will be in the right place on the minimum wage tomorrow.

I had been wondering why the price of taxi medallions multiplied something like 12 X over approximately 25 years to $360,000 – for the privilege of doing such an overworked/underpaid job?

Between 1981 and 1997, when I was still driving, the city allowed one 30 cent a mile increase, at which 1990 midpoint it began building subways to both airports, opening up unlimited limo licenses, putting on free trolleys between all the hotspots downtown (the Aquarium use a be our second hottest spot, after O'Hare) – and adding 38% more taxis! Today's meter is $.50 a mile lower then it was in 1981 adjusted for inflation.

I would guess the $360,000 explanation might be the American $400 “maximum wage” labor market – which I was recently horrified to catch on to at these two sites:
http://www.jobitorial.com/browse.php?Filter=A
http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/AutoZone-Salaries-E610.htm

These drivers come 10,000 miles through fire and water (or whatever immigrants come through these days :-]) only to find that, in our labor  market, if they are not trained as a x-ray technician or some such skill, about $400 a week, at most $500 a week is the max they can hope to top out at.  Anything is better than facing that.

Related:

I personally am horrified (there's that word again) that most of the non specific skill set people I encounter working every day, all day may to be living close to destitution!  “The median wage in the US per person is $26,695.“
   
Then, I read that only 800 Chicago drivers own medallions.  Mmm. Most medallions were owned long before prices reached today's altitudes – up five times since 2006. If the city is able to auction off 50, wonder how many other owners are selling? Maybe it's a bubble. Maybe the bubble will burst when the minimum wage reaches $15. Which is where we came into this movie.
 * * * * * * * * * *
Uber?  I was a gypsy cab driver in the Bronx in the 1970s.  We had livery plates – making it legal to pick up by dispatch.  Our insurance was twice that of medallion cabs (reflecting that our driving skills were twice as good?).  We could not legally pick up on the street by hail – technically -- but the mayor instructed the police not to ticket us for that because the yellow cabs would not service the areas we served.

Little did we realize we were being ripped off – we and the limo companies and the taxi drivers! We never guessed we could just use any central dispatch station (VHF radios then – before cell phones) and simply "share rides" with anyone with any car! Holy mackerel!

I think it's time for taxi drivers in Chicago to begin putting in some time – perhaps during hours the city won't let them work – “sharing rides” in their own cars – especially on their days off which might become Friday and Saturday nights. Just experiment a little at first -- gradually they could shift from all taxis to no taxis.

Something for new immigrants to ponder seriously.

Legal aficionados may catch some resemblance between Uber’s “ride sharing” self-description and recently deceased Aereo’s claim it was just leasing antennas, not purveying copyrighted material without paying royalties.  But legalities may never be able to intrude as long as yuppies like “ride sharing” (and Chicago’s mayor’s brother Ari Emanuel, is a major investor in Uber?).  It is a good thing “ride sharing” did not start out on Chicago's poorer West side or South side neighborhoods or it would have been squished in the first week – literally.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cashing TF bonds impacts top 10 percentile tax payers most -- the opposite of FICA cap


If we don’t want to raise the FICA cap — currently at 83 percentile income — we should shy away from cashing Trust Fund bonds with income tax (the only way to cash them). Income tax is not much applied to bottom 47 percentile incomes (as noted by a recent Republican nominee), meaning Trust Fund payout would fall on the top 17 percentile -- most heavily on the top 10 percentile!

If we honestly wish to minimize the impact of Social Security payout on top 10 percentile incomes, then, the logical resort may be to gradually raise the FICA cap as the shortfall comes along — best we can do.

If this generation of retirees needs a Trust Fund that will last as long as they do, why wont every succeeding generation require the same size, multi-decade Trust Fund?

Practical reality: a Trust Fund that can cover FICA short fall for five years — until Congress gets around to closing the collections gap — is the only practical need (happened a couple of times).

The only practical advantage of today’s multi-decade monster may have been reaped by politicians: spared the need to raise the FICA rate for 60 years — 35 diverting FICA surplus to non-Social Security expenses to pay for bonds — projected 25 years cashing bonds to cover growing FICA shortfall.

Third way out?  Since we may cash bonds with printed money for decades, when bonds finally run out maybe we will print more of them too — out of force of habit (the Fed actually writes checks to make money).  :-)


 * * * * * * * * * *

ALTERNATE TRUST FUND REALITIES

If Congress in 1983 had set the FICA tax rate so that collections were just a bit above then current payout the Trust Fund bonds would have come into play very quickly -- and been exhausted very quickly.

If Congress in 1983 had set the FICA rate much higher than it did Trust Fund bonds might have accumulated of another 50 years before coming into play.

If -- a much more plausible could-have-been (should-have-been!) -- working incomes (the 83% that pay FICA) had shared equally in the near 50% per capita income growth since 1983 (83s keep popping up) -- and continued into the future keeping up with what hopefully would be reasonably good per capita growth -- then, the Trust Fund bond accumulation could theoretically grow, diverting retirement taxes to on budget items, never to payout a single dime, forever.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Why throw away Israel for a bowl of soup?


Why throw away Israel – the 78% of Palestine absorbed in 1949 -- for a bowl of soup – the 5%?  If by some sorcerer’s black magic the 78% went missing one morning – what would the 5% of misappropriated West Bank land amount to – a big Jewish neighborhood?

New York demographics: ”After dropping from a peak of 2.5 million in the 1950s to a low of 1.4 million in 2002 the population of Jews in the New York metropolitan area grew to 1.54 million in 2011.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_New_York_City#Jewish


400,000 Jews in the West Bank -- maybe not even so big.

I compare Israel’s fetish with West Bank settlements with the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) fetish with Northern Ireland’s six counties – to a native New Yorker, just a big British neighborhood.  I’d love to ask the IRA dopes: If Ireland were not an island (as in surrounded by water), how would they know that the six counties were Irish?  :-)

Approaching 50 years of infinitely more serious – and totally self-imposed -- “troubles” for a little more land in the sand, must Israel go on forever being as dumb as the IRA?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Great idea? Push $1 a mile higher taxi fare -- to make way for $15 minimum wage -- and to build Chicago taxi union


Just had a “great idea” (they always seem great to me, at first): if the minimum wage is raised to a minimally liveable amount, $15 an hour (FOR WHICH THERE IS NO ECONOMIC RATIONALE NOT TO) …

… then, taxi fares in Chicago will for all practical purposes AUTOMATICALLY have to be raised a dollar a mile because nobody will be willing to drive for slave wages anymore.


Therefore: there is CERTAINLY no economic rationale to not raise meter rates to a humane level RIGHT NOW! Passengers will certainly pay the extra dollar. Right now in Chicago the rate per mile is (adjusted for inflation) half a dollar below what it was in 1981 when I started driving here (retired 10 years ago — in San Francisco) — 50% higher per capita income later.

If (terribly) low taxi wage cities are not willing to add a dollar to the meter now — then — they can stop pretending that they are hesitant to raise the minimum to $15 an hour too quickly for fear of upsetting this that or the other thing. They just don’t care.


Another idea: American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 31 (AFSCME 31) is signing up taxi drivers in Chicago.  One the one hand there is no employer opposition (lease drivers and owner drivers are both the CUSTOMER of the taxi companies).  On the other had it is hard to explain the benefits if it is much more impractical to strike.  IF 31 GETS OUT IN FRONT ON THE DOLLAR A MILE MORE-TAXI "MINIMUM WAGE", then, if successful everybody should join.  Even if the union doesn't succeed the first time, the drivers will see something practical coming from the union.  Remember there is no employer resistance.


Could happen: today's slave wage taxi drivers could open the way -- psychologically -- to quickening the adoption of $15 an hour minimum wage across the country -- emphasis on the word "quickening."
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Quick history of Chicago's (dying) taxi wages — 1981 to 1997:
One 30 cent increase in the mile rate …
… at which 1990 mid-point the city (a) started building subways to both airports, (b) opening up unlimited limo licenses, (c) and putting on free trolleys between all the hot spots downtown (the Aquarium used to be our second hottest spot after O’Hare) …
… and 40% more taxis!