Tag Archives: ECONOMICS

As Rome Burned the People Refused to Watch

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Affairs, retired General Stanley McChrystal reported that the US has always had a “simplistic” view of Afghanistan and after ten-years of fighting neither America’s military or that of NATO are much more than half way finished in achieving the major goal of establishing a stable government in that nation.

With major troop reductions scheduled to begin by the end of this year (2011) it seems the prospect of our total involvement in that nation being a waste is rapidly being confirmed. I am not a military person, my years as a Navy Radioman gives me no more insight Continue reading As Rome Burned the People Refused to Watch

The Panic is On

Hezekiah Jenkins, circa 1930s

You’re probably aware that I’m a great fan of blues music and when I’m in the car I’m usually listening to BB King’s Bluesville on XM Satellite Radio. Recently a song being performed by Maria Muldaur, a contemporary performer, titled The Panic is On began playing. It had a sound from the 20s or 30s and the subject was economic hard-times. The lyrics were so familiar I couldn’t tell if the song was addressing hard-times today or hard-times during the Great Depression. Muldaur had added a last verse containing the name of our current president, further confusing my thoughts.

So, later in the day I did some Googling and discovered the song was written by and first performed in 1931 by Hezekaih Jenkins and Muldaur had resurrected it for Continue reading The Panic is On

It’s Not the Wealth, It’s the Influence It Buys

David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times and regarding fiscal matters I often am in agreement with him. In his latest column he is arguing that the 1% at the top of the food chain is not the real problem. He contends that if the government took away all their wealth the national debt could only be reduced by 2%. He believes the current Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is not focusing on the true causes of our economic woes by focusing on the top 1%.

I can agree with much of what Brooks argues. And, to an extent, I agree that the causes go far beyond the 1%. But, the one thing that OWS is helping bring to attention is the enormous political and economic power wielded by what that 1% represents. It represents the major share holders in the largest corporations in both this nation and the world. They have the means, and have used it, to corrupt or bend our Continue reading It’s Not the Wealth, It’s the Influence It Buys

Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street Protestors Share Common Concern

There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it”. That phrase came to mind as I read an article on the Occupy Wall Street protests now under way in New York and other cities. I couldn’t help but think about how some of the original Tea Party protestors were angry about a government that didn’t seem to listen to the people. A system that no longer even put up a pretense of being responsive to anyone other than big money special interests. Even if they weren’t sure exactly how it had happened, people knew that over the years, something had gone wrong and they wanted it fixed. We may be seeing the beginnings of a similar movement with the Occupy Wall Street protests.

It is still too early to tell, but the similarities are striking. Both groups started as a way to give a voice to those that felt they weren’t being heard by their elected representatives. They both attract a wide array of personalities, some that are unable to articulate exactly what they are angry about and thus are easy to dismiss as being Continue reading Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street Protestors Share Common Concern

If You Think You’re Middle-Class, You Probably Aren’t. Take This Simple Test

So you think you’re middle-class. I’ve already written several pieces about America’s disappearing middle-class but many Americans still cling to the notion that they remain in the middle-class. I’ve done a little homework and I’m beginning to wonder if many of those who think they are/were in the middle ever actually were.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my family’s gross income close to $50,000 annually?
  2. Is my family’s income secure? Can we count on it being there tomorrow and many tomorrows in the future?
  3. Do we own our own home or are able to meet the mortgage payments with little difficulty?
  4. Is the neighborhood we live in safe?
  5. Do we own at least one dependable vehicle?
  6. Are we able to save enough for our children’s college tuition?
  7. Are we able to save enough for retirement?
  8. Do we have enough disposable income for a few frills?

 

A single income family in 1970 had more discretionary income than a dual income family in the 2000s. By the way, the average 1970s family didn’t earn over $40k and the average today does not earn $75k.

If you’re having trouble answering these questions in the affirmative you’re probably not middle-class. If you’ve never been able to answer yes to these questions then you’ve most likely never been middle-class. According to an ABC News poll in 2010, “45 percent of Americans define themselves as middle class (very similar to a CNN poll that year). They earned about $55,000 a year, compared with about $95,000 for those who defined themselves as above the middle class…” How one sees perceives their situation is often quite different than reality. The anorexic looks in the mirror and sees a fat person.

Continue reading If You Think You’re Middle-Class, You Probably Aren’t. Take This Simple Test

Our Fading Middle-Class, More Proof!

Our hourglass economy, not much middle!

I recently wrote about the shrinking Shrinking American middle-class and since that piece appeared the word on the street hasn’t gotten better. According to the Wall Street Journal and Salon.com major manufacturers of consumer products are “bifurcating” their product lines. In simple terms, they are restructuring their marketing in ways to appeal to two different markets separated by income. In this case, the true middle and upper classes and the growing lower middle-class and poor.

For generations Proctor and Gamble marketed its consumer product line to the growing middle-class in America. Today, however, P&G is an example of a company becoming more aware of the divide in incomes and that yesterday’s middle-class are seeking more affordable alternatives. Accordingly, the company is developing Continue reading Our Fading Middle-Class, More Proof!

Lay Off the Class Warfare Rhetoric and Get Real

Warren Buffett, "My class is winning." For the first decade of the 21st century the Republican party controlled the Presidency for eight straight years and both houses of the Congress for most of that time. Given that, how can GOP leader, Paul Ryan, come before the nation and claim Obama’s policies are creating class warfare?

America today is a nation divided many ways but especially about who gets the big piece of the pie. As I and others have stated before, one-percent of the people have over forty-percent of the nation’s wealth. Much of that disparity results from tax cuts, tax rates, tax policy, and neglected tax regulation fostered during the eight years of George W. Bush.

The story on America’s middle-class is, at best, one of stagnation. A greater truth is that it’s increasingly disappearing. For decades, America’s middle-class was the world’s Continue reading Lay Off the Class Warfare Rhetoric and Get Real

There’s Not a Republican in America Who Shouldn’t Read This

The following column by David Brooks appeared in the September 2, 2011 edition of the New York Times. While I as a Democrat don’t agree with all Brooks has to say, he really isn’t speaking to me so much as he is speaking to his own political party. As a moderate Republican, Brooks is having the discussion all Republicans need to be having but is being avoided by the party’s elected politicians and leaders.

There’s a specter haunting American politics: national decline. Is America on the way down, and, if so, what can be done about it?

The Republicans, and Rick Perry in particular, have a reasonably strong story to tell about decline. America became great, they explain, because its citizens possessed certain vigorous virtues: self-reliance, personal responsibility, industriousness and a passion for freedom. Continue reading There’s Not a Republican in America Who Shouldn’t Read This

As You Drink a Cold One on Monday

America has been taking the first Monday in September off since the late 1800s. The holiday rose from the labor violence of that era as a reaction to the growth of the unionism and collective bargaining. It is a day whose purpose is to honor the efforts of those who fought so hard to attain better conditions for the nation’s working classes.

In the decades that followed, the day has come more to mark the end of summer rather than a day to acknowledge the reason for the holiday itself. Labor Day is a day Continue reading As You Drink a Cold One on Monday

Companies Pay More to CEOs than Uncle Sam

Just when you think you can’t get more upset you pick up a cyber newspaper and in the words of Emeril “BAM,” you get smacked between the eyes. This morning’s draw dropping headline screamed that at least 25 American corporations paid their Chief Executive Officers more in salary than they paid Uncle Sam in taxes.

On the list were such luminaries as Boeing, eBay, Verizon and General Electric. Of the 25 companies the average CEO salary was $16.8 million in 2010 while receiving tax refunds from the federal government. Continue reading Companies Pay More to CEOs than Uncle Sam

Lucas Perie, Ebay Star

Yesterday I received an email telling me about an item posted on Ebay that was drawing major attention along with bids nearing $100,000 dollars. The seller was a young college student, Lucas Perie, from Greenfield. The item being sold, a simple drawing of a Hewlett-Packard Touchpad computer.

It appears that following HP’s announcement they were discounting their popular touch pad device the demand skyrocketed and inventories rapidly dwindled.  Dwindling inventory drove the price into the stratosphere and somehow Lucas conceived the idea that Continue reading Lucas Perie, Ebay Star

Maybe Not Warfare But Certainly Disparity

Frequently when discussing the distribution of wealth in America a conservative will employ the phrase, “class warfare.” They argue that liberals and the liberal media are trying to drive a wedge between the haves and have-nots that will somehow lead to a forced redistribution of wealth at the hands of government.

I don’t think anyone is advocating real “class warfare” but, there Continue reading Maybe Not Warfare But Certainly Disparity