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Monday, May 06, 2019

We Want Foreign Workers

image foreqign h1-b worker

The OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT) program, in which the AMERICAN GOVERNMENT pays American employers to discriminate against American workers has grown rapidly in recent years, and during FY 2017 it used nearly $2 billion swiped from trust funds for the elderly to favor 240,000 alien college grads over an equal number of U.S.-resident grads.

It is hard to believe, but true; employers of FOREIGN STUDENTS who have a degree from a U.S. institution are given an 8.25 percent tax break if they hire an alien, rather than a U.S. college grad with the same skills, and paid at the same salary, as we described in some detail in a recent posting.
- Bifg Media Hides Truth On Immigration II

Do We Really Need So Many Foreign Tech Workers?

By Froma Harrop
Real Clear Politics
February 2019

Americans don’t usually think of technical professionals as “guest workers,” yet at any one time, there are more than a half-million foreigners holding tech jobs in the U.S. They are here thanks to the H-1B visa program. H-1B, so the official spiel goes, addresses an ALLEGED SHORTAGE of “highly skilled” Americans to fill jobs “requiring specialized knowledge.”

GROWING EVIDENCE, however, points to companies’ using the program to replace perfectly qualified American workers with cheaper ones from elsewhere. A new REPORT published by the ATLANTIC COUNCIL, DOCUMENTS the abuses. The authors are Ron Hira, a political scientist at Howard University, and Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

Among their criticisms:

--Virtually any white-collar job can be taken by an H-1B visa holder. About 70 percent of them are held not by what we consider tech workers but by teachers, accountants and salespeople, among others.

(Denver Public Schools employs teachers on H-1B visas. During a strike, the district actually threatened to report participating foreigners to immigration authorities. It later apologized.)

“By every objective measure,” Hira and Gopalaswamy write, “most H-1B workers have no more than ordinary skills, skills that are abundantly available in the U.S. labor market.”

U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students in engineering and in computer and information science than are hired in those fields every year, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.

--Employers don’t have to show they have a labor shortage to apply. They don’t even have to try recruiting an American to fill the job.

Cutting labor costs is clearly the paramount “need.” In Silicon Valley, computer systems analysts make on average just over $116,000 a year. But companies can hire H-1B workers at a lower skill level, paying them only about $77,000 a year to do the same work, the report says.

And it’s not unheard-of for companies to ask American workers to train the H-1B workers taking their jobs. “60 Minutes” featured Robert Harrison, a senior telecom engineer at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. Asked whether training his replacement felt like digging his own grave, Harrison responded:

“It feels worse than that. It feels like not only am I digging the grave but I’m getting ready to stab myself in the gut and fall into the grave.”

Why does this program continue without serious reform? Mainly because its big boosters include such marquee tech names as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Eric Schmidt. Big Tech has showered think tanks with funding to brainwash Americans into believing that their country is starving for tech expertise.

Are there rare tech skills that justify companies’ looking abroad? There are, but that’s the purpose of the O-1 visa. About 10,000 are granted each year to individuals with “extraordinary ability or achievement.”

I asked Hira whether we need H-1B at all.

“I think there’s a place for the H-1B program,” he responded. “The O-1 is a cumbersome process that requires a lot of paperwork, both in preparation and review. But we need to raise the standards of the H-1B program so that the quality and skills of the workers are much higher.”

Also, we should substantially raise the wages paid to H-1B workers and make employers show that they tried to recruit Americans and offered them positions. Other guest-worker and green-card programs have that requirement.

Finally, put in force an effective means of enforcement. Right now, compliance is driven by whistleblowing. A random auditing system would far more efficiently find abuses.

Apparently, the argument that “tech jobs need filling” has, in many cases, oozed to “we want cheaper foreigners.” The H-1B program demands a major overhaul.

SOURCE

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H-1B Petition Denials Skyrocketing in First Quarter 2019

By Nick Kolakowski
Dice
April 22, 2019

The rate of denials for new H-1B petitions rose in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, according to new data from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).

Some 32 percent of petitions for initial employment were denied, based on NFAPs analysis of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. That’s a remarkable increase from 2018, when 24 percent were denied, and 2015, when only 6 percent were denied.

That accelerated rate also applies to petitions for continuing employment, some 18 percent of which were denied in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. If the goal of the Trump administration is to make it much more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in America in technical fields, then USCIS is accomplishing that goal,Ӕ the NFAP wrote in a statement accompanying the data (PDF). Whether the actions of USCIS are serving the best interests of the United States is a question that will remain open for debate.”

Moreover, these denials come despite no sweeping legal overhaul of the H-1B system. “The rise in the denial rate for continuing employment, where existing H-1B workers whose petitions have been approved before, show that adjudicators are applying a new standard to people whose petitions have already been approved before,” William Stock, a founding member of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP, told NFAP.

The data from NFAP aligns with general trends reported directly by USCIS. For example, the agency’s recent data showed that approvals of completed H-1B applications hit with an RFE (Request for Evidence) declined noticeably year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019. Premium processing might have re-opened after a lengthy shutdown, in other words, but some companies are facing a heightened degree of additional scrutiny.

However, there’s a big change underway for the H-1B system, and it could radically affect the types of candidates who successfully land a visa. In the current system, applicants with advanced degrees enter a master’s cap pool of 20,000 visas; those who are rejected then enter the 65,000-visa “general pool,” which features applicants without advanced degrees. The revamped system will allow all applicants, including those with advanced degrees, to enter the “general pool,” and any who don’t land a visa during that first round can then end up in the master’s cap pool.

In theory, this gives applicants with advanced degrees two shots at landing a visa. But with USCIS clearly subjecting applications to far greater scrutiny, it’s an open question whether a revamped system will allow companies to secure all the visas they claim they need.

In the meantime, the cap for H-1B visas has been reached for fiscal year 2020. Even as USCIS tightens the system, thats clearly not dissuading companies from attempting to secure as many visas as possible. If that wasnҒt enough, these firms are providing H-1B candidates with all kinds of perks, including company-paid housing, funded relocation, travel expenses, and sponsorship for green cards.

Leading companies think about immigration strategically. For example - companies that offer foreign nationals benefits that allow them to remain in the U.S. longer are finding more success in retaining foreign talent, Richard Burke, CEO of Envoy Global, wrote in a recent statement. ԓWith heightened political scrutiny comes heightened anxiety among foreign nationals looking to work in the U.S. Companies that are able to provide their employees peace of mind by offering them a clear path to a permanent green card are getting ahead of the competition in retaining the best talent.

But that idea is enraging to critics of the H-1B system, who say that companies abuse the visas in order to secure cheaper labor from overseas. H-1B holders at consultancy firms (which aggressively petition for the visas) are often paid less than H-1B holders at tech firms such as Google and Apple. While some studies argue that H-1B use translates into a positive effect for company productivity, it’s certain the visas will remain controversial for some time to come, revamps or no.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/06/19 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Sunday, May 05, 2019

America In Collapse 4

image: third world

(How) Americas Having a Classic Authoritarian Meltdown
The Four Steps of Authoritarian Collapses, and How They’re Happening in America With Eerie Precision

By Umair Hague
Eudaimonia
May 3, 2019

An Attorney General “skipping” a hearing to protect a rogue President after both have lied to a bewildered nation about whether high crimes have been committed? This is, to put it bluntly, jaw-dropping. It’s the stuff of failed states, my friends: places where democracy not just no longer functions - but leaders don’t even aspire to pretend to be interested in it anymore.

You should be a lot more worried about America than you probably here. Here’s the hard, brutal, unforgiving truth.

Authoritarian meltdowns proceed in predictable, consistent ways, made of four classic stages which follow each other - and Americas having a textbook one. Nobody talks about that, really - because unfortunately, American discourse is still made of exceptionalism and hubris. “Meltdowns? Pah, those are things that happen in poor, dirty countries!,” cry the pundits, the Ezra Kleins and Chris Hayeses. It can’t happen here! The pundits and columnists and talking heads might be critical of Trumpism - but they appear to have little idea how dire the stakes actually are. They are dire indeed, my friends. Take your wildest expectations - and magnify them.

Let me explain - and you are most welcome to disagree, if you like. You can accuse me of alarmism if you want - but I think that these day, not being sufficiently alarmed is the true mistake.

Authoritarian meltdowns, when they don’t happen outright, thank to military coups, tend to proceed according to the following four steps. Think of them like dominoes falling. Each one makes the next a little easier to knock down.

Legislative, executive, judiciary  the branches of government are taken over by fanatics and extremists in that order. Bang, bang, bang! Sometimes it takes a decade or two - sometimes just a year or two. Sometimes it takes hard work - sometimes it’s as easy as pie. But the sequence is consistent, predictable, and reliable. There’s an inner logic to it. The last to fall is the judiciary because it is the most independent, the hardest to crack - and also a democracy’s last refuge, because if the courts can’t decide against tyrants - who is there left? That sets up the fourth step - social implosion.

These first three steps are whats known as a “soft coup” a takeover without the use of military force. A soft coup is often seemingly perfectly legitimate - “hey, they won,” so they can do whatever they like - even while it’s fundamentally opposed to the values, procedures, and aims of democracy.

Then the real fireworks begin - the fourth step, social implosion, a society finally turning into a failed, collapsed democracy, a true authoritarian state, not just politically, but also culturally, socially, psychologically, economically, a place from which there’s often no coming back for generations. How could there be? There’s no check now from any branch on the others, on executive or legislative or judicial power, the following things to happen, in more or less the following sequence.

Sham elections, which are rigged, controlled, manipulated, and outright doctored, in oddly comical ways, Friend! 99% of Russian Vote for Putin!!. Serial and systemic human rights abuses. Crackdowns on dissent. The raiding of the public purse, in broad daylight. Expropriation of minorities, and demonization of marginalized communities - to give thetrue people” a sense of power. Hate and rage become social norms, celebrated and applauded. Society becomes something very much like modern day Russia - ugly, backwards, uncultured, ruled by its thugs and criminals and mafias, the most violent and abusive rising to the top. Inequality widens, poverty grows, life expectancy falls - fuelling more range and anger, directed downwards at the hated others, not upwards at those responsible for it - and so the vicious cycle continues. Bang! Implosion.

Do you see how all these things are linked? The first three steps, like dominoes - legislative, executive, judiciary captured by fanatics. The final step - having been captured, the powers considerable and vast powers of government are used an instrument, by the fanatics and extremists who now have seized them, to turn a democratic society against itself, inside out, upside down.

Now lets think about America. Would you say it’s following the sequence above, or not? Id say that if you even glance at America, it is following that trajectory - the four steps of a classic authoritarian meltdown - perfectly. Unerringly. With eerie precision. Do you see how startling that is? How unnerving? That’s why I say: not being alarmed enough is the true mistake at this point.

Consider recent events - an AG lying in public to a toothless Congress, conducting oversight hearings that seem utterly impotent - while shouts of rage erupt from people = what’s all that? That is the capture of the judiciary by fanatics. The AG thinks he is above the law - and wants the President to be above it, too. In other words, far from being the public attorney, the representative of justice for the people… he’s become a tool in the authoritarian machine, playing his part, which is to place the mafia beyond the reach of the rule of the law. But for a President or an AG to be above the law is also to say that legislative and judicial power hold no meaning whatsoever. They are effectively autocrats, who can do as they like. If the law doesn’t apply to them = what does?

Let me make that sharper. Now that the judiciary’s been captured, whos to ensure the impartiality of the next election? Sham elections tend to follow judicial capture, because then there’s nothing and no one left to appeal to for fairness, for justice. So autocrats twist results to say whatever they want to say - Russia Love Putin!! 99% Percent Vote!! - in absurd, ridiculous ways, precisely because they can get away with it. Americas *this close* to a sham election now that the judiciary’s captured - it was the last working institution left, and it’s fall bodes ill for American democracy.

So how did we get here? The classic way. The first American political institution to fall to extremists was the legislature. That happened in the 1990s, by my reckoning, though you might date it to the 1980s. America was once a progressive place - high tax rates, civil rights, few extreme ultra rich. Things were going in the right direction. Then along came the strain of ultra-extreme conservatism thatגs ascendant today. Figures like Newt Gingrich made it their lifes work to make extreme, fanatical rules not just the law of the land - but normal, idealized, romanticized. They used dirty tricks like gerrymandering to rise to power - and then made soft alliances with Faux News and so on to effectively spend decades BRAINWASHING Americans with bizarre, absurd propaganda (You don’t need healthcare!! That’s for weaklings!)

Soon enough, by the turn of the century, the American legislature was the rich world’s most extreme, by a very long way. So were State polities - governorships, state legislatures, and so on. Kansas illustrated just how extreme America had become - public services were slashed to the bone. In Congress, fanatics used extreme tactics to stall and block any kind of progress whatsoever. Healthcare, retirement, education? All filibustered, denied, stopped up. The gears of the state ground to a halt. What was the result?

I read today that kids cant graduate high school without paying off ғlunch debt ԗ do you see what I mean a little bit? What kind of rich country wont feed its own kids a decent school lunch? Only one thatҒs come to believe strange lies about cruelty and selfishness and greed being good  which is just what the GOP spent decades doing.

The next institution to fall after a legislature is usually the executive. Why? Because after a legislature is captured by fanatics, a process of corrosion begins, paving the way for one of their own to head a state and rule a society. Once fanatics establish extreme norms in a legislature, once they make it perfectly normal for anger, rage, bitterness, vengefulness, and deceit to reignits almost self-evident that a demagogue will become head of state.

Feeding into this dynamic a fallen legislature leads to a fallen executive - too is the fact that the policies of fanatics just don’t work. Instead of giving people genuinely better lives, they focus on all kinds of absurd nonissues. Hence, Americas Congress spent two decades debating how to take healthcare away from people, bills written by lobbyists, corruption in plain sight. They were “debating how to never solve a single real problem,” but only make them worse. People grew frustrated, angry, embittered. The rise of a demagogue, a Trump, was inevitable.

And that’s exactly what happened in America - the classic pattern repeated itself. After the legislature fell to fanatics, so did the Presidency, finally. Americans aren’t nearly horrified enough that there are bona fide white supremacists in the White House. They’ve kind of become inured to it, resigned to it. But what that means is that the executive branch of government no longer works democratically in any way whatsoever - it is for anti-anti-democratic systems, like supremacy, fascism, and authoritarianism, right out in the open. See the point - the classic pattern: first the legislature, then the executive. Like dominoes. That’s the stuff true COLLAPSE is made of.

The judiciary falls last, after the executive, for just a reason, too - it needs a tyrant to protect, and it needs a corrupting force to taint it. Without a demagoue, the judiciary chugs along, usually, pretty well. But when a demagogue comes along, watch out - the pressures become intense for the judiciary to become his protector, guardian, advocate, instead of the peoples. That just happened, with Barr’s disgraceful testimony to Congress, where he put both himself and the President beyond the reach of any kind of democratic check on power. Bang! The last working institution left just crumbled = in front of everyoneŒs eyes.

And its true that people were upset about it - as rightly one should be. But the meaning of this dire event in a nations history - its judiciary imploding into the hands of fanatics - was lost. Nobody really discussed it or pointed it out. So let me make it crystal clear.

The classic pattern of an authoritarian meltdown - it’s four historical steps - is now playing out at home, with eerie, unerring precision. First the legislature falls to fanatics, then the executive does, and finally the judiciary. After all three branches of government have been captured by fanatics, then the sequence of transformation into true authoritarianism begins: sham elections, human rights abuses, crackdowns on dissent, domestic militarization, expropriation, violence against minorities and the press, and then worse - the stuff of true historical horror - in that order, roughly.

Exactly that pattern is now very much playing out in America. Yet America’s thinking class seems not to understand in any way whatsoever that America is undergoing a classic authoritarian collapse, cycling through all its steps in just the right order, one after the other, predictably, consistently, eerily, precisely. Either they dont know it, they donҒt understand it, or they cant admit it. ThereҒs little real concern from pundits, media, and so on, who are more occupied with the scandal du jour, instead of warning people about the bigger picture, which is a true authoritarian meltdown.

But that is the true danger, my friends. American democracy may well be on its last legs. America tomorrow might be a democracy in name only. A place very much like Russia  replete with sham elections ever few years for a preening demagogue, tyrant, party, while society turns to violence, in despair, to make ends meet, a place of regress, stagnation, misery, and futility. If that scenario sounds extreme to you ח my friend, you are not taking Americas situation nearly seriously enough. It couldnҒt be more dire. Whats left after the legislature, executive, and judiciary have all fallen? Not much.

This is how democracies die. This is exactly, precisely, and unerringly how democracies die. Through the four steps of authoritarian meltdown җ and they show no signs whatsoever of stopping in America, because awareness of them seems limited at best.

A wise person might even observe that the pattern of authoritarian collapse above is so well know that its precisely what AmericaҒs own intelligence agencies used to destabilize other countries. Cant achieve a military coup? Target people with enough propaganda to subvert the legislature җ then get to the Presidency  then stack the judiciary. Bang! Mission accomplished. Call it the domino theory of how to destabilize a country, and take it over one little step at a time, each one easier than the last.

America invented the soft coup, my friends. Iגm sad to have to say it, but its true. And so perhaps, then, itҒs no surprise that Americas own worst, itҒs most greedy, selfish, and abusive had not compunction whatsoever about doing exactly and precisely that to their very own country. But the rest of us  the decent, thinking, intelligent ones left ח should.

Posted by Elvis on 05/05/19 •
Section Dying America
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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Medicare for All

image: uninsured

We Desperately Need Medicare for All.
These 10 Statistics Prove It.

As the House Rules Committee officially begins discussing Medicare for All, heres a reminder of the disastrous state of American healthcare.

BY Gabe Levine-Drizin
In These Times
April 30, 2019

It’s a big week for Medicare for All. Today the House Rules Committee will hold its FIRST EVER congressional hearing to discuss U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) MEDICARE FOR ALL ACT OF 2019, and on Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office will RELEASE a report addressing many of the key questions about single-payer healthcare. This discussion couldn’t come soon enough. Here’s a statistical snapshot of the gravity of America’s current healthcare crisis.

28,300,000 - People uninsured in the United States in the first quarter of 2018.

530,000 - Estimated number of families who file bankruptcy each year due to medical issues and bills

44% - Americans who didnt go to a doctor when they were sick or injured because of cost, according

34% - Cancer patients who borrowed money from friends or family to pay for care in 2016

79% - Increased death rate for cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy in 2016

$75,375 - Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the U.S.

$15,742 - Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the Netherlands

$1,443 - U.S. per capita spending on pharmaceutical costs in 2016, the highest in the world

840% - Increase in spending for insulin from 2007 to 2017 on Medicare Part D (MedicareҒs prescription drug plan)

$5,110,000,000,000 - Estimated 10-year cost savings of the single-payer healthcare system proposed in Sen. Bernie Sanders Medicare for All Act

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/01/19 •
Section Dying America
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Friday, April 19, 2019

The Next Recession Part 27

As US Economy Weakens, Economists Struggle to Predict Next Recession

By Dean Baker
Truthout
April 1, 2019

Many of the people who completely missed the worst recession since the Great Depression are trying to get out front and tell us about the next one on the way. The big item glowing in their crystal ball is an inversion of the yield curve. There has been an inversion of the yield curve before nearly every prior recession and we have never had an inversion of the yield curve without seeing a recession in the next two years.

Okay, if you have no idea what an inversion of the yield curve means, it probably means youre a normal person with better things to do with your time. But for economists, and especially those who monitor financial markets closely, this can be a big deal.

An inverted yield curve refers to the relationship between shorter-and longer-term interest rates. Typically, the longer-term interest rate - say, the interest rate you would get on a 30-year bond is higher than what you would get from lending short-term, like buying a three-month U.S. Treasury bill.

The logic is that if you are locking up your money for a longer period of time, you have to be compensated with a higher interest rate. Therefore, it is generally true that as you get to longer durations - say, a one year bond compared to three-month bond - the interest rate rises. This relationship between interest rates and the duration of the loan is what is known as the “yield curve.”

We get an inverted yield curve when this pattern of higher interest rates associated with longer-term lending does not hold, as is now the case. For example, on March 27, the interest rate on a three-month Treasury bill was 2.43 percent. The interest rate on a 10-year Treasury bond was just 2.38 percent, 0.05 percentage points lower. This means we have an inverted yield curve.

While this inversion has historically been associated with a recession in the not too distant future, this is not quite a curse of an inverted yield curve story. Most recessions are brought on by the Federal Reserve Board raising the overnight federal funds rate (a very short-term interest rate), which is directly under its control. The Fed does this to slow the economy, ostensibly because it wants to keep the inflation rate from rising.

The higher short-term rate tends to also raise long-term interest rates, like car loans and mortgages, which are the rates that matter more for the economy. However, longer-term rates tend not to rise as much as the short-term rate. In a more typical economy, we might expect a 3.0 percentage point rise in the federal funds rate to be associated with a 1.0-2.0 percentage point rise in the 10-year Treasury bond rate.

We get an inversion in this story when the Fed goes too far. It keeps raising the short-term rate, but investors in longer-term debt think that they see an end in sight to rate hikes and a reversal on the way. If the short-term rate is going to be falling to 2.0 percent or even lower in future months, then investors would welcome the possibility of locking in an interest rate like today’s 2.38 percent on 10-year bonds, even if it means foregoing a slighter higher short-term rate at the moment.

That’s pretty much the story we have today. Since December 2015, the Fed has raised the federal funds rate from essentially 0 to 2.5 percent. With little evidence of inflation and some signs of a weakening economy, many investors are betting that the Fed has stopped hiking rates and will soon be lowering them. This hardly means there will necessarily be a recession.

It is also worth noting that interest rates in the US are notably higher than in other countries, which do face a recession or near recession conditions. While the US 10-year Treasury bond pays 2.38 percent interest, a 10-year French bond pays just 0.31 percent. In the Netherlands, the interest rate is 0.13 percent, and in Germany, you have to pay the government 0.07 percent annually to lend them money.

The extraordinarily low long-term interest rates in other countries puts downward pressure on interest rates here, which is another factor in our inverted yield curve. The weakness of economies elsewhere does mean trade is likely to be a drag on growth in the immediate future, but it does not mean a recession.

To sum up the general picture, the U.S. economy is definitely weakening. The tax cut did provide a boost to growth in 2018, as shareholders spent much of the money they were given from the corporate tax cut. But there will be no additional boost in 2019. There was no investment boom to give us a big push going forward. Also, the rise in mortgage interest rates last year, following the Fed rate hikes, slowed housing.

As noted, trade is a drag on growth. With Republicans again concerned about deficits, since they got their tax cuts, we can probably expect some cuts in government spending that will also dampen growth.

However, with wages growing at a respectable pace, and job growth remaining healthy, we should see enough consumption demand to keep the economy moving forward. That means slower growth, but no recession.

People should not spend time worrying about the curse of the inverted yield curve, at least not unless something else bad happens to the economy.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/19/19 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Solutions to Save Our Nation

image: remember when america made stuff

If You Were President, What Would You Do?

By Philip A Farruggio
Global Research
April 7, 2019

I actually wrote an earlier text on this issue in 2012 when Obama was running for re-election. Sadly, ALL of the ISSUES AND IDEAS below were those that neither of the Two Party/One Party system would dare to agree with.

Now we are in the Age of Trump and the pirates have really been let loose on us. All the Democrats seem to focus on is Russia Russia Russia. If I hear the phrase “The Mueller Report” anymore I think I will be committed! The skinny of all this is that the Democrats focus on the absurdities of Trump’s tweets and misinformation, along with a ridiculous border wall.

Meanwhile, while the Dow breaks records and “reported unemployment figures are low,” few from either party seem to grasp the “Why of this.” Well, the late and great Naval Air Colonel Bob Bowman, who had his epiphany after serving in Vietnam, explained it all to me many years ago. I asked him about Wall Street and the Dow, and about our labor figures. “Philip,” he said, ”It’s all very simple to understand. Unemployment figures will be lower when either many of the low wage earners will have to get two and even three part time jobs to survive, or have given up even looking for work. As far as the Dow index, when wages are going up the Dow will be low. When wages are going or staying down the Dow will go up. Period!”

I dont intend to list countless measures that, as President, I would take. No, rather, in this world of one minute sound bites and KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) I have a streamlined platform that covers the really pertinent and key issues of our day:

Cut the military spending drastically to save our states, their cities and our prestige as a nation. The 25% Solution Movement has a simple and novel approach to this: Congress cuts military spending 25% by an “Up and Down” vote, since this spending is considered Discretionary As President I will use my bully pulpit to go directly to the American public, urging everyone to A) get out and continually demonstrate for this, and B) let their congressional representatives know that they will not vote for anyone who refuses to support this! Period!

Use the added revenues from the above action ($ 170 billion a year) to send to all 50 states to help with their budget deficits. This would then allow the states to send money to the cities for the same purpose. No need to lay off police, firefighters, teachers etc or to close libraries and schools. You get my drift?

End the occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan and send the troops home ASAP!  This would save us over $ 100 billion a year and stop the killing of our troops and the innocent civilians that they kill. It would also allow the UN, along with the Middle Eastern nations, to help stabilize those two countries.

Flat Surtax of 50% on all personal income over and above one million dollars per year. Let’s leave the federal tax rates as is and begin taxing the millionaires and mega millionaires. If we are truly a nation entrenched in the Judeo-Christian traditions and precepts, are we not supposed to be Our brother’s keeper? Cannot a person who earns millions in income, whether it is from salary, bonus, interest, commissions, or inheritance, afford to live quite well on 50% of those millions? Did you know that 50% of working Americans earn less than $ 27,000 a year? How can a single mother or father raise a child or two on that meager amount? Do the math and see how taking half from a very wealthy person is perhaps the most spiritual thing we can do as a nation.

Return the corporate tax rates to what they were in our recent past. Honor small business by instituting payroll tax forgiveness for up to the first $ 20,000 of wages, for both the employee and employer. This would return close to $ 1500 a year to each worker, tax free. The small business owner would have saved up to $ 1500 for each employee.  I would cap this plan at a maximum of 100 employees., though ALL employees anywhere still get their forgiveness. This plan would discourage őoff the books hiring and give small businesses more capital to stay competitive, if they choose.

Jumpstart a movement to get private money out of electoral politics - federal, state and local. Not an easy thing to accomplish, due to the 1976 Supreme Court ruling of Buckley vs. Valeo. That ruling stated that “Money is free speech.” How do we get around such an unfair interpretation without going insane and waiting 20 years for constitutional amendments? Well, as President, I would challenge you, the voters, who elect the moneyed interests time and time again. I would urge that you only support candidates who agree to limit acceptance of campaign donations up to $ 100 per person. On top of that, we must not support any candidate who accepts PAC money at all. Period!

I would push for Congress to open up Medicare for any American who wishes to buy in. It should be 100% government run with no room for private insurers. By some of the aforementioned actions, there would be plenty of money to jumpstart it etc. The buy in would still cost less than currently under our Medicare system , which relies on private insurers too much. Having such a system would be easier to manage, with one claim form for all.

Why not have our federal government jumpstart community nonprofit mortgage banks? Imagine if your city, town or county opened, with federal loan guarantees, a nonprofit mortgage bank, charging only overhead costs? Translated: a current mortgage of let us say 5% from a for profit bank would now be perhaps 2% from a nonprofit community one.  More home ownership, fewer renters and economic stimulus for many such peripheral industries.

Windfall profits tax on Big Oil and Big Pharma. How can it be that the prices at the pumps and on medicines spiral upwards while the majority of working stiffs experience depression, both financially and psychologically? We would use the added revenue to create more solar energy use and wind farms. Portugal is getting more dependent upon wind for energy use. Why cant we? As far as medicines, letђs use the revenue increases from a windfall tax on Big Pharma to jumpstart an alternative care movement. We need more Americans to be able to get acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, psychological counseling to name a few such alternatives to established Western Medicine.  Lets be blunt: For too long our nation leads the world in the Ғdrug and cut mindset of medicine.

I could go on and on. For now, this is my platform. If you agree with even 2/3 of it, then voice your support. You know and I know that I cannot win election, but - the word will get out that we have viable options to what this current Two Party / One Party has been offering.

Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 400 of his work posted on sites like Global Research, Greanville Post, Off Guardian, Consortium News, Information Clearing House, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust, whereupon he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has a internet interview show, “It’s the Empire Stupid” with producer Chuck Gregory

SOURCE

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Want to Stimulate the Economy?
Lower the Retirement Age to 55 Now!

By Thom Hartmann
May 11, 2011

One of the most powerful forms of stimulus we could apply to our economy right now would be to lower the current Social Security retirement age from the current 65-67 to 55, and increase the benefits back to where they were in inflation-adjusted 1960s dollars by raising them between 10 to 20 percent (so people could actually live, albeit modestly, on Social Security).

The right-wing reaction to this, of course, will be to say that with fewer people working and more people drawing benefits, it would bankrupt Social Security and destroy the economy. But history shows the exact reverse.

Instead, it would eliminate the problem of unemployment in the United States. All those Boomers retiring would make room in the labor market for all the recent high-school and college graduates who are now finding it so hard to find a job.

If enough Boomers left the job market, it would even flip the current dynamic of too-many-people-chasing-too-few-jobs upside down, and create a tight labor markets. Tight labor markets drive up wages.

And as wages go up, tax revenues—which are paying for Social Security (among other things)—would increase.

Additionally, these new-into-the-workforce people can then pay off student loans, buy new houses and cars, and otherwise drive the economy from the bottom up. Which will further increase tax revenues further strengthening the Social Security system.

To further tighten the job market and drive up wages (and tax revenues), modify the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938—which tightened the labor market and reduced unemployment by establishing the 40-hour work week - to include all hours worked by a person. We could also, like in France, drop the 40-hour maximum-workweek threshold to 35 hours (used by the Mitterrand government to successfully lower unemployment and stimulate the French economy). A final step would be to emulate the rest of the developed world and require by law that every worker get at least two to four weeks a year of paid vacation—further tightening the labor market.

In Uganda, Joseph Okwakoi gets it. He’s the president of the National Youth Council in that nation, a group that has considerable political power (and an affiliated Member of Parliament, the Central Youth Party’s Joseph Kasozi).

Earlier this month, Okwakoi called on Parliament and President Museveni to lower the age of retirement for government workers (the country’s largest employer) from the current 60 years of age to 55. This single act would instantly create about 15,000 job openings in the country, which could be filled by currently unemployed young people.

President Museveni replied that he’d consider it seriously, pointing out that, “The retirement age was actually 55 when we came but because of manpower shortage we put it at 60.” Now that the manpower shortage has eased, wages are falling, and unemployment is rising, he noted, “We shall study it.”

What Joseph Okwakoi understands is that there is a marketplace for labor. When the supply of labor exceeds demand, the price of labor ("wages") falls. On the other hand, when the demand for labor is at or greater than the supply of labor, the price of labor - wages - increases.

This is the main reason why the labor movements of the 18th and 19th centuries fought so hard against child labor; they knew that if children were removed from the labor marketplace, then the supply of labor (the number of people available to work) would decrease and the price of labor (wages) would increase. And, sure enough, that’s exactly what happened - and it began the creation of a blue-collar middle class.

It’s also why the labor movement pushed for an 8-hour day and a 40-hour maximum workweek. By reducing the amount of labor available from each worker from the average 60 hours a week or so people were working before 1938, the labor market tightened up, increasing the number of people who could be employed and raising wages.

Of course, this is the exact opposite of American labor policy ever since the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush era. Reagan drove down wages by busting unions (which tighten a labor marketplace); declared an amnesty for millions of then-illegal immigrant workers to increase the supply of labor and depress wages (particularly whacking the carpenters and other construction trades unions); and began the process (completed in a big way by Bill Clinton with NAFTA and GATT/WTO) of dismantling tariffs, taxes, and laws that made it expensive or illegal to export American jobs.

Reagan also put into the chairmanship of the Fed Alan Greenspan, who openly declared that his most important job as chairman of the Fed was to prevent “wage inflation”—a term which he exclusively applied to working-class people. Greenspan is still preaching that now-discredited and anti-American philosophy he learned from Ayn Rand, in fact.

Having already largely wiped out the ability of a blue-collar single-wage-earner family to have a middle class lifestyle over the past 30 years, Greenspan now wants to go after white-collar workers by eliminating limits on H1B visas for skilled workers ranging from computer programmers to physicians to scientists. The investor class would always be protected, in the Greenspan world, but the working class—regardless of skill level—should always be the working poor.

In September of 2007, in an interview on C-SPAN for Book TV, Greenspan said:

We pay the highest skilled labor wages in the world. If we would open up our borders to skilled labor far more than we do, we would attract a very substantial quantity of skilled labor which would suppress the wage levels of the skilled, because the skilled are essentially being subsidized by the government, meaning our competition is being kept outside the country.

It’s shocking that ideologues like Greenspan, Reagan, and Clinton believe this, but they do. And the only way to reverse the past 29 years of Reaganomics/Clintonomics is to tighten up the labor market again. While a great start would be to pull out of our insane trade treaties and begin again protecting American manufacturers, that will take a decade for the impact to be truly felt even if we were to go back to our 1980 tariff levels today.

But providing space for a good chunk of the 16 percent of the American workforce over 55 years old will immediately take us to nearly zero unemployment and dramatically stimulate the economy. Then we can begin to bring our manufacturing jobs back home from China and the other important steps (Medicare For All and Card-Check for unionization) to restore the strength and integrity our nation and national economy once had.

Thom Hartmann can be heard daily on his radio show 12pm-3pm ET. Visit Thom’s WEBSITE to stream live or find a station near you.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/09/19 •
Section Dying America
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