Thursday, June 25, 2015


Tom Geoghegan -- in his recent book "Only One Thing Can Save Us" -- portrays US auto manufacturers dumbing assembly jobs down (it’s called “simplicity”) — I’m just starting to write about this for the first time — it genuinely means gutting productivity nationwide in the usual short-sighted quest to squeeze labor.

In Germany (labor having a big say because of the co-determination worker councils) employees are brought into the design and manufacturing process to the nth degree. Which makes them productive enough to average $66 an hour including benefits.

In the US manufacturing jobs are now being reduced to simpler and simpler component portions — why auto workers can be reduced from $28 an hour to $14.

Thing is we only have X amount of workers — a fixed number. If we are now on a nationwide race to shrink the productivity of individual workers — that may look good for an individual company — fallacy of composition — but we are on a head long charge to lower and lower our overall output per worker. !!!

Meantime all other economies in the world — especially in the third world — are desperately attempting to pick up (and/or steal) product manufacturing skills so they can achieve maximum possible prosperity some day. We can wave to them going up while we are going down.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

90% income tax for the top 1%?

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Americans under 30 support unions almost two-to-one

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

All that remains is to graft onto existing labor organizing laws those itty-bitty structures they are plainly short of: call them dentures.  Imposing compelling economic pressure to obstruct employees from exercising a legally spelled out process for organizing collective bargaining units is every bit as free market warping as anything the Rockefellers or the Carnegies carried off -- while atrophying the political sinews of the majority of Americans to boot. 

Making union busting a felony at state level (job loss not core offense -- free market warping core offense) opens the door for federal RICO prosecution.  33 states have their own RICO statutes.  All other forms of free market arm twisting are heavily sanctioned by law.

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

Friday, June 12, 2015

Did Chicago public school teachers crack the ghetto code?!

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

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

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

“ ... between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of CPS students earning a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of high school graduation jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. The national rate is 18 percent. … They found that Latino students enrolled in CPS are more likely to graduate high school than their counterparts in many suburban districts, including Maine Township High Schools and Evanston Township High School.”

CHATHAM — Students and parents from Arthur Dixon Elementary school said they were ecstatic this week to learn their school had earned the highest ranking on the 2015 CPS School Quality Rating Report for the first time.

“Salary figures provided by the Chicago Public Schools show teachers here have the highest average salary of any city in the nation. But, according to the Chicago Teachers Union’s calculations, Chicago teachers would rank second behind New York City.” 

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

ADDENDUM   --   AH-EMDUM   :-)

"Chicago's progress is extraordinary. A 30 percent gain in graduation rates in 15 years is almost unimaginable, but it happened." 

"In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford."

Monday, June 8, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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