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.
https://onlabor.org/thank-non-union-construction-companies-and-federal-preemption-for-those-collapsed-cranes-in-miami/

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:
http://ontodayspage.blogspot.com/2017/07/california-shills-around-block.html



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

MORE FUN TO COME (I hope) 


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
http://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6305&context=lalrev


  * * * * * * * * * * * * 

http://www.teamsters40.org/RTW/index.html 

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).

http://angrybearblog.com/2017/08/republicans-and-labor.html

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.
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196802&year2=201705

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


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
https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2017/07/24/What-Do-Democrats-Stand-Party-Finally-Has-Right-Answer

... 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.
 * * * * * *


http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2017/08/more_americans_would_rather_not_work_than_take_jobs_for_the_stingy_wages.html

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. 


ADDENDUM
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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

GOT THIS SPAM FROM NANCY PELOSI THIS MORNING -- putting monoply worries cart before rebuilding labor density horse


GOT THIS SPAM FROM NANCY PELOSI THIS MORNING

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% has lost 33% of its income share over two generations.  Wanna try again, Nancy -- to start a stampede towards Democratic Party doors?
-- The 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
https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2017/07/24/What-Do-Democrats-Stand-Party-Finally-Has-Right-Answer

... 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 of the egg came first.

I never understand why not.

6% union density in private economy is as pathological as 20/10 blood pressure: starves every other healthy process: the core pathology under girding the financialization of America.

It is also the easiest disease in the world to remedy: make union busting a felony (the penicillin of inequality?) .  Can be passed almost w/o oppo in progressive legislatures nationwide -- can be done by ballot initiative without waiting for pols to wake up (usual requirement to get on ballot: 5% of voters in last governor's race (appox. 3% of all registered voters).


************************

BIGGEST HOLD BACK I'M GUESSING: people think because there is a federal union certification and labor regulation structure that preemption bars states from criminally protecting collective bargaining.

LET'S LOOK AT THE FEDERAL ROLE.  Union certification under the NLRA(a) does not empower the right to bargain as most people think  -- like issuing a license (thought I saw this on Kevin MD's website recently).  Federal union certification ONLY blocks anyone else but the certified from bargaining on that work site.

All other (not very efficacious) protections applying to all labor/owner relationships -- certified or unionized OR NOT -- are enforced by the NLRB(b).

Now imagine there were no federal certification process or regulations enforced by the NLRB(b).  The states would be free to set up their own certification and rules structure.  California actually has a mirror CALRA for farm workers only -- who were left out of the NLRA(a).

If a future Democratic Congress included farm workers under the NLRA(a), California's CALRA/CALRB would presumably step aside.

People expect competing bureaucracies to draw federal preemption -- and I think they mistakenly mix that up with criminal civil rights enforcement.  But, there is no competing bureaucracy if violating this most important of all civil rights (ask Martin Luther King) is made a state felony.  And no state/federal complications even if they both punish union busting under separate criminal laws.

States requiring centralized (sector wide) bargaining (?); forbidding hiring replacement workers (?) -- depending on whether enforced on the regulatory or the criminal level (?) -- adding but not subtracting okay like with safety rules and the minimum wage (?) -- those are discussions for another day.

Monday, July 3, 2017

California shills - around the block


I believe that so many registered voters in California would sign a ballot initiative to make union busting a felony -- that they might have to line up around the block.  Basic requirement: need as many registered voters to sign up as 5% of last governor’s race voters (365,000).  Basic source: 40% nationally earn $15/hr or less –- and –- bottom 40% incomes nationally down to 10% of overall income share from 15% two generations earlier (California wages higher, but prices too).

The latter means 33% less of twice as much, true -- but -- people judge their well being as compared to others -- besides -- the very bottom 10-15% are down in absolute terms (today’s $7.25/hr federal minimum wage compared to 1968’s $11.45/hr).
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196802&year2=201705

Shill effect: As a Manhattan and Bronx street peddler in the early 1970s I could wait for ten minutes for somebody to make a buy – but as soon as someone did, four other people might suddenly shell out too. 

I’m not suggesting fooling voters (potential signers) with fake lines around the block.  I am suggesting doing lines around the block as our primary demonstration –- the kind of image loved by TV cameras on the six-o’clock news.  We could even start "demonstration"-demonstration lines before the precise legal language of the initiative is prepared (not trying to fool anybody there) just to get the initiative idea rolling (around the block :-]).
 * * * * * *

Suppose that a few states happened to impose (they didn't) criminal law penalties for union busting, back in 1935, when Congress passed the NLRA(a) and set up the NLRB(b).  Why would anyone suppose that federal regulatory machinery would preempt state criminal court prosecutions?

Farm workers were deliberately left out the NLRA(a) in 1935 (traded for passage votes).  California (only) has a virtual mirror image of the NLRA/NLRB for farm workers -- the CALRA.  If ever a (future Democratic) Congress moved to include farm workers under the NLRA(a) -- the CALRA would presumably bow out to federal preemption.

OTH, if Congress should wake up and make union busting a federal felony -- triable and punishable in criminal court -- there is no such presumption that state union busting prosecutions would bowl over -- no more than state bank robbery prohibitions or state minimum wage regulations give way to federal preemption. 


Lest there be any doubt: With First Amendment protected freedom of association at stake (except for government workers say the courts), federal regulations or even (if) deliberately restrictive laws cannot force organizing rights down an impassable road.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Seattle supposedly "anti" min wage study -- records only raging braket creep


SEATTLE STUDY SUPPORTS EITHER EXTREME ON THE MINIMUM WAGE

EITHER the study "proves" that you cannot safely give a substantial boost in the minimum wage even in the most outrageously runaway-reactor economy ...

... 50,000 more jobs over $19/hr (44,000 more overall -- counting the 6,000 fewer under $19/hr)
http://angrybearblog.com/2017/06/seattle-minimum-wage.html
... 2.6% unemployment rate
https://www.google.com/search?q=seattle+unemployment+rate&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
... $80,000 median household income (up $9,374 since 2014 -- US HH median $56,000)
http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/80000-median-wage-income-gain-in-seattle-far-outpaces-other-cities/
... more construction cranes working than any other US city
 

Seattle 58
Los Angeles 36
Denver 35
Chicago 34
Portland 32
San Francisco 22
Washington, DC 20
New York 18
Honolulu 10
Austin 9
Boston 7
Phoenix 5
Illustrated map: http://ritholtz.com/2017/07/where-the-cranes-are/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29

OR, the Seattle (runaway-reactor) study might just possibly suggest that there is a lot more money there to pay labor if only bargaining conditions are right -- in Seattle's unique case such an overheated a labor market that bargaining worked even with the usual American dearth of labor unions.

Mmm; maybe the Seattle study really proves the promise of labor unions. :-O

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How Republicans can explain how we cannot afford it


Republicans have this permanent game on: they can’t explain why the most productive country in the world cannot afford what everybody else can afford today …

… so they project the “cost” 40 years out and pretend that your grandchildren wont be able to afford it. How many people can realistically forecast in their minds 40 years out? So they fall for it — the far distant mirage.

Assuming the debt does pile up — thanks to Republican tax cuts for the rich and our unwillingness to pork the poor over them — our grandchildren and great grandchildren will have more money than we have to pay it off thanks to decades of productivity growth — but they wont pay; they will leave it for their great grands — who won’t pay for … . Nothing that would get me up early in the morning to work on it.

PS. Just who would we owe all this money to — ourselves mostly? To the Chinese can only loan us money left over when we buy stuff but neglect to sell them anything back. Cumulative GDP over next two generations something over 1,000 trillion — that would be a lot of stuff. To the great grandchildren of the rich who loaned the government money rather than pay taxes? Once unions return rule to the average person we can just confiscatory tax most of that back.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Raise US labor unions back from the dead -- tomorrow


How to raise US labor unions from the dead -- tomorrow -- practically and practicably:

In BALLOT INITIATIVE states it typically takes the number of registered voter signatures equal to 5% of the vote in the last governor's election to put your initiative on the ballot.  (OR, CA, MO, MI, OH, OK, CO, NE ND, SD, MT)

Check the numbers of who should line around the block to sign an initiative making union busting a felony:
 -- nationally, bottom 45% income share has dropped from 15% to a penurious 10% over two generations (as per capita income doubled).

Does that mean bottom 45% are ahead absolute terms: 66% of twice as much?  Not across the board: incomes are sorted on a slope.  That leaves 15% behind in absolute terms: why we have a $7.25/hr fed min wage -- down from $11.45/hr (adjusted) in 1968.

https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196802&year2=201705

Check the numbers who should line up around the block to propose a higher state minimum wage:
 -- nationally, 45% of employees earn less than $15/hr. 

We could conceivably get 5% of registered voters (1% of population) out there collecting signatures!  :-O
 * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some states like California put a winning initiative on the law books immediately. Most, allow the legislature one shot at approval.  If it doesn't approve the measure goes back to voters for final decision.

In California you write in plain language what you want your initiative to say and a state legal office will put it into proper words for a state law. 

In California circulators (signature collectors) may be paid employees.  This has led in recent years to initiatives becoming the play thing of billionaires -- the opposite of the original intention.

If initiatives can quickly and easily take our world back, then, Fight for 15 and labor unions and others now have a new, all critical mission: register and sign up as many voters as possible.

Raising the issue of making union busting a felony to a high level of national consciousness should prompt legislatures in progressive states to finally wake up and face what they need to do -- what we all need them to do. (WA, IL, MN, NY, MA, VT, CT, RI, PA, MD, VA, etc.)

http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ballot-measures/pdf/statewide-initiative-guide.pdf


Friday, June 16, 2017

Bernie v. Hillary -- Mr. bottom up v Ms. top down


Having read the book about Hillary's political demise,  Shattered and Bernie's book, Our Revolution -- I saw Hill's campaign contention that Bernie had no practical plan to do anything, only complaints about what's wrong.

FDR had no specific plans as far as I know to accomplish what he accomplished in his first hundred days.

Hillary is Ms. top down and Bernie is Mr. bottom up.  Top downs try to work out a calculus of all problems and ways to deal with all comprehensively -- a sort of three dimensional chess game.  Try and explain that to people.  Obama made a big speech that "inequality is the defining issue of our time" (it is!) -- didn't poll well next week; forgot about it.  Endless cajoling not his game.  ("Stronger Together?")

Bernie's book spews seeming endless one-at-a-time tales of problems across all categories -- astonishingly broad and deep iteration one-at-a-time. 

Folks like FDR and Harry Truman and Bernie come at everyday folks one narrowed down complaint at a time.  If you see the world from the bottom up you never stop trying -- because you for sure never run out of individual irritations to get an ulcer over.

Top down folks have more fun.  If you think you've manipulated the matrix the most you can do -- you can relax and head for Martha's Vineyard.  Bottom up folks can be cheerful -- but cheerful ain't happy. 

Top down solutions tend to sour because life is simply too complex to get a realistic hold on looking down through too many interlocking layers.  Complexity yields more practicably to people and politicians in immediate interface with everyday reality.

 * * * * * *

Crazy thought just occurred to me: under our actual labor practices all union certification may produce is the converse of what was intended.  Since management is as likely as not to ignore the newly certified union -- the only effect of certification may be to further insulate management from anybody else trying to bargain for the employees.  Not that that comes up as a practical situation very often -- but it makes a point about the lopsided imbalance of our American labor market.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

You heard it here first: California (and other states) makes union busting a felony via ballot intitiative


You heard it here first (maybe): a quick fix. Was thinking one way to break the cultural log jam on the way to criminalizing union busting (think social inertia biggest block) might be doing ballot initiatives in states where applicable (OR, CA, MO, Mi, OH, OK, CO, NE  ND, SD, MT). Some states initiatives go to legislature first for approval — back to voters to decide if not approved. In most states initiatives need 5% of the number of voters in the last governor’s election.

Then the brainstorm. Only 400,000 signatures needed in California. Workforce there something like 16 million. Nationally, 45% of workforce under $15/hr. Maybe 6 million California employees would line up around the block (!) to sign a petition to make union busting a felony.


We might get 400,000 people collecting signatures!
 

Most natural practice in the world to protect one business (“a union is a business” as Jimmy Hoffa said :-]) from being strangled by a competing business, from being muscled in (or out of) the market place. Merely getting caught taking a movie in the movies, you’re doing a couple of federal years. 6% union density in private economy is like 20/10 blood pressure: starves every other economic and political process.

Like I said, the biggest barrier is probably cultural — we are just so used to our hidden behind the oceans blind ways we think this is the way things “eternally” must be. A petition(s) that millions may stampede to sign should clear off those scales.

Recruiting Fight for 15 type organizations would be an easy way to start. From grandiosity headquarters.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Single payer Medicare does nothing to prevent extortion


Single payer Medicare does nothing to prevent the hepatitis and Zika virus extortions described in the post just below.  As long as there is no countervailing force, the proliferation of the financialization of medicine -- and of every other American enterprise -- will continue unabated.  Countervailing force?  High labor union density.  

Chose any medical system you want from any country you like: 6% union density in the private economy equates to 20/10 blood pressure: it starves every other healthy process.
********************

Nobody would argue I think that when 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) it consciously left criminal prosecution of union busting blank because it desired states to individually take that up in their localities. Conversely, I don't think anybody thinks Congress deliberately left out criminal sanctions because it objected to such.

Congress left criminal sanctions blank in US labor law because it thought it had done enough. States disagree? States are perfectly free to fill in the blanks protecting not just union organizing but any kind of collective bargaining more generally -- without worrying about federal preemption. Don't see why even Trump USC judge would find fault with that.
*********************

This column from the other day gives me hope that Krugman may (finally) be catching on to the centrality of re-building union density.
https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/trucking-and-blue-collar-woes/

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gilead’s geese-that-never-stop-laying-golden-eggs viruses


GOTTACURE VIRUS

Gilead has announced that a Hepatitis C virus has been introduced into the world and is now infecting 3 million Americans (and perhaps 125 million sufferers worldwide).

Gilead wants $300 billion from the US for a (99%) cure (which costs $200 a patient to manufacture, half a billion for every sufferer), but, hey, vics will pay what it’s worth to them, right?

Pay now and get cured — or stretch the payoff over Gilead’s 20 year patent and pay almost the same while the virus infects ever more victims. Gilead can extract $10 billion a year anyway — insurance will cover that much annually for sickest patients.

“The number of new [US] infections nearly tripled in five years, to about 2,400 in 2015. The virus is spread by sharing needles to inject drugs, and the increase coincided with a surge in heroin use.”
http://abc7chicago.com/health/hepatitis-c-infections-nearly-triple-in-5-years-from-heroin-epidemic/1981856/

Pay up instead of dragging it out and save 400,000 US lives before the patent dies.

“Data from death certificates shows a total of 19,659 deaths in 2014, up from 11,051 in 2003. Because death certificates often under report hepatitis C, Ward said, that number could also be much higher.”
http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/04/health/hepatitis-c-deaths-all-time-high/

And who can guess how many hundreds of billions will go down the drain stateside dealing with the ravages of the virus: liver cirrhosis and cancer — not to mention lost work years?

California’s 600,000 sufferers would need $60 billion to neutralize Gilead’s goose-that-never-stops-laying-golden-eggs Hep C virus. World-wide elimination of Hep C at US prices (Gilead only charges about $1,000 a cure in poor countries — all the traffic is able to bear) would come to $15 trillion (with a “t”) for 150 million C sufferers (if they could get only away with it).

Gilead: pay now and don’t die — or pay almost as much (maybe more) later while almost as many (maybe more) die anyway.


Does Gilead perhaps bear more resemblance to the "Umbrella Corporation --  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil_(film_series)?  Ask Alice.  :-O
************************************

Here we go again: this time it's the Zika virus!  
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/05/30/529887446/states-fear-price-of-new-zika-vaccine-will-be-more-than-they-can-pay

"The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year."

"And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

"God forbid we have a Zika outbreak. We're in the middle of a fiscal crisis, we're already cutting services to people and we're already potentially cutting our funding to fight the Zika virus," Gee says.

"If the Army goes through with its plan, she says, Sanofi could set a price for the vaccine at a level that Louisianans just won't be able to afford.

"Gee is among a growing number of public officials and activists who are demanding that Sanofi agree to show restraint when it sets the price for the vaccine, which was developed by the Army.
 * * *
"Sanders and Knowledge Ecology point out that Sanofi has charged more in the U.S. for many medications, including the multiple sclerosis drug Aubagio, which costs Medicare more than $5,000, but in France it's priced at about $745."

Where's Alice?



Dishonorable mention:  "Pfizer raises US prices of 91 drugs by 20% in 2017"  https://www.ft.com/content/b2e0dd80-47ab-11e7-8519-9f94ee97d996?mhq5j=e2

Monday, April 17, 2017

$700 billion Earned Income Tax Credit?! -- or organize labor :-)


Paul Krugman: " ... we can limit the human damage when they do happen. We can guarantee health care and adequate retirement income... We can provide aid to the newly unemployed. And we can act to keep the overall economy strong — which means doing things like investing in infrastructure and education, not cutting taxes on rich people and hoping the benefits trickle down." 
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/opinion/why-dont-all-jobs-matter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1

We can rebuild union density so half the workforce isn't getting paid way less than they would be paid if we had say German union density.

If McDonald's can pay $15 an hour with 33% labor costs, Target pay pay $20 with 10-15% labor costs, Walmart can pay $25 an hour with 7% labor costs. At least that's the hope -- and labor being able to flex its bargaining muscles in the (truly) free market is the only way we are going to find out.


Labor unions are the only way to end punishing just-in-time work scheduling.

Labor unions are the only thing ever going to end endemic abuses like ...
big pharma gouging,
for-profit-college-scams,
ever growing financialization,
etc., etc., etc.
by supplying the permanent political machinery to back up the average person.

 * * * * * * * * * *

If EITC could somehow be used to restore the 5% overall income share lost by the bottom 45% over a couple of generations -- that would come in at something like $700 billion a year, not today's $70 billion. Before we tear out hair figuring out how to distribute that -- it would obviously upend the whole (consumer) market-based direction of production.

I'm not nearly as interested in the min wage as I am in rebuilding labor union density. That would sort out production by the max the consumer will pay rather than the min labor will suffer with.

I'm guessing that, if what-I-call the "mid" 54% incomes pay 7% more of their incomes through higher consumer prices (that's 5% of overall income share) -- they in turn with their newly reconstituted labor union political power will be willing to just confiscatory-tax back that 5% income lost to higher consumer prices -- plus another 5% to re-capture the total 10% of overall income -- that the top 1% squeezed out of everybody over the last two generations.

Their moral question could be phrased as: do the mids (don't have ask the bottoms) want to keep the lower 45% in penury (may not be a choice if the 45% refuse to show up for work [strike]) or would they rather pro quarterbacks work for a million a year instead of ten million. When faced with questions like this I ask myself: what would Jimmy Hoffa do? :-)

Finally occurred to me that the bottom 45% will heartily encourage the mid 54% to lay on those confiscatory-taxes (e.g., 90% tax on all income over say $2 million?) -- so they can get at some of that money with even higher consumer prices! :-O