Article 43

 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Minimum Wage 2016

Minimum Wages To Increase In 14 States By New Year’s Day

ByCole Stangler
International Business Times
December 28, 2015

Some of the country’s lowest-paid workers are about to get a raise. Fourteen states, including New York and California, will lift their minimum wages on either New Year’s Eve or New Years Day.

The hikes will come as most American workers continue to suffer from broad-based pay stagnation, even as the official unemployment rate falls. The pay raises also underline the growing gap between statewide wage floors and the federal hourly minimum, which remains $7.25.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal pay floor, ACCORDING TO the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In addition to the wave of New Year’s pay hikes, Nevada, Minnesota and Maryland are slated to hike their minimum wages later in 2016. A number of cities are poised to follow suit during the year, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, which are all phasing in $15 minimum hourly wages. Those three cities’ wage hikes the most ambitious and controversial of the bunch ח are largely the product of the so-called Fight for 15, a union-backed protest movement.

Christine Owens, executive director of the NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND LAW PROJECT, a research and advocacy group, applauded the series of pay increases. But she said the hikes are unlikely to dramatically affect most workers paychecks.

“The increases in 2016, particularly those that aim for $15 within a reasonable period, are a good start but they will not immediately halt broad-based wage stagnation,” said Owens. “That’s because wages have been stagnant or fallen across the board for most workers - particularly for workers whose wages are lowest for many years, and it will take a while for these patterns to reverse.”

Dan Crawford, a spokesman for the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said “policymakers should consider other options to jump-start wage growth across the board” like lifting the federal minimum wage and strengthening collective bargaining rights.

Democrats in Congress have proposed raising the federal minimum to $12 and $15 an hour, but the bills have stalled under Republican majorities in both chambers.

WALMART, the country’s largest private sector employer, LIFTED starting pay to $9 an hour earlier this year. In 2016, it plans to further boost its lowest wages to $10.

Still, many business groups have opposed efforts to lift minimum wages. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce focuses on federal policy, not state policy, but it warned of the impact of minimum-pay increases on employers.

“Any discussion about raising the minimum wage needs to recognize that small employers often have to operate under very slim profit margins and will have the hardest time absorbing these higher labor costs,” said Randy Johnson, senior vice president at the Chamber of Commerce. “They will have to find more revenues or trim costs to make up the difference.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 3 million workers earned the federal minimum wage or less last year. The federal minimum for employees who receive tips is $2.13 an hour.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/31/15 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rise Of The Temp Workers Part 8 - The 1099 Economy

Welcome to the 1099 economy: The only things being shared are the scraps our corporations leave behind
Companies can hire and fire perma-lancers at will. Is it any wonder the middle class is vanishing before our eyes?

By Steven Hill
AlterNet
December 13, 2015

In the aftermath of the economic collapse in 2008, a significant factor in the decline of the quality of jobs in the United States, as well as in Europe has been EMPLOYERS increasing reliance on “non-regular” workers - a growing army of FREELANCERS, TEMPS, CONTRACTORS, part-timers, day laborers, micro-entrepreneurs, gig-preneurs, solo-preneurs, contingent labor, perma-lancers and perma-temps. Its practically a new taxonomy for a workforce that has become segmented into a dizzying assortment of labor categories. Even many full-time, professional jobs and occupations are experiencing this precarious shift.

This practice has given rise to the term “1099 economy,” since these employees don’t file W-2 income tax forms like any regular, permanent employee; instead, they receive the 1099-MISC form for an IRS classification known as “independent contractor.” The advantage for a business of using 1099 workers over W-2 wage-earners is obvious: an employer usually can lower its labor costs dramatically, often by 30 percent or more, since it is not responsible for a 1099 workers health benefits, retirement, unemployment or injured workers compensation, lunch breaks, overtime, disability, paid sick, holiday or vacation leave and more. In addition, contract workers are paid only for the specific number of hours they spend providing labor, or completing a specific job, which increasingly are being reduced to shorter and shorter “micro-gigs.”

In a sense, employers and employees used to be married to each other, and there was a sense of commitment and a joined destiny. Now, employers just want a bunch of one-night stands with their employees, a promiscuousness that promises to be not only fleeting but destabilizing to the broader macroeconomy. Set to replace the crumbling New Deal society is a darker world in which wealthy and powerful economic elite are collaborating with their political cronies to erect the policy edifice that allows them to mold their proprietary workforce into one composed of a disjointed collection of 1099 employees. EMPLOYERS HAVE CALLED OFF THE MARRIAGE WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES, preferring a series of on-again, off-again affairs.

This is a direct threat to the nation’s future, as well as to what has been lionized around the world as the “American Dream.”

Ive experienced the vagaries of this new working life myself. After working for many years in the Washington, D.C.’s based think-tank world, the program that I directed lost most of its funding and was shut down shortly thereafter. All my employees, myself included, were laid off. I was promoting my latest book that had been published a few months before, so I surfed that wave for many more months. For a while, all seemed normal and natural, but without realizing it I had stepped off the safe and secure boat of having what is known as a good job with a steady paycheck, secure employment and a comprehensive safety net, into the cold, deep waters of being a freelance journalist.

Suddenly I was responsible for paying for my own health care, arranging for my own IRAs and saving for my own retirement. I also had to pay the employers half of the Social Security payroll tax, as well as Medicare - nearly an extra 8 percent deducted from my income. The costs for my health-care premiums zoomed out of sight, since I was no longer part of a large health-care pool that could negotiate favorable rates.

But that’s not all. Suddenly not only was the pay per article or lecture not particularly lucrative, but I didn’t get paid for those many hours in which I had to query the editors for the next article or lecture, or conduct research and interviews. It was as if I had become an assembly line worker who was paid on a per-piece rate; the extraneous parts of my working day rest and bathroom breaks, staff meetings or time with co-workers at the water cooler, usually paid time in a “good job” had been stripped to the bone. Not to mention I no longer had paid vacations, sick days or holidays, nor could I benefit from unemployment or injured workers compensation. Instead of receiving a paycheck from a single employer, now I had to track my many and varied sources of income, making sure that unscrupulous editors didn’t stiff me.

In short, I had to juggle, juggle, juggle, while simultaneously running uphill - my life had been upended in ways I had never anticipated. And I began discovering that I was not alone. Many other friends and colleagues including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, professionals and intellectuals, as well as many friends in pink-, white- and blue-collar jobs - also had become 1099 workers, tumbleweeds adrift in the labor market. They found themselves increasingly faced with similar challenges, each in his or her own profession, industry or trade. In short, we had entered the world of what is known as “precarious” work, most of us wholly unprepared.

Not to worry. The new economy visionaries who like Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide always see the best of all possible worlds has a plan in place for us. A new mashup of Silicon Valley technology and Wall Street investment has thrust upon us the latest economic trend; the so-called “sharing economy,” also known as the gig or on-demand economy. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Instacart, Upwork and TaskRabbit allegedly are liberating” workers to become “independent” and the CEOs of their own businesses. These companies, the sharing economy gurus tells us, allow us to “monetize our assets,” “rent out our house,” “our car,” “our labor,” “our driveway,” “our spare drill” and other personal possessions = using any number of brokerage websites and mobile apps. This is the new - sharing economy:  contracted, “freelanced,” shared,” “automated,” “Uber-ized,” “1099-ed.”

Frederic Larson enjoyed a successful 30-year career as a staff photographer with the San Francisco Chronicle, during which time he won numerous awards, including being a Pulitzer Prize finalist. As Forbes reports, he was downsized during the recession, and needing income he “monetized” his assets. He turned his house into an Airbnb hotel and his spiffy Prius into a Lyft taxi. Now for 12 nights a monthӔ40% of his lifehe shutters himself in a rabbit hole inside his own home and showers at the local gym while complete strangers have the run of his place. This award-winning professional photographer has been turned into an innkeeper in his own home and a taxi driver in his own car.
In reality, these gig economy workers also are contractors, hiring themselves out for ever-smaller jobs (gigs) and wages, with no safety net, while the companies profit. Websites like Uber, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Airbnb and others have taken the Amazon/eBay model the next logical step. They benefit from an aura that seems to combine convenience with a patina of revolution; convenience as revolution. The idea of a “sharing economy” sounds so groovy - environmentally correct, politically neutral, anti-consumerist and all of it wrapped in the warm, fuzzy vocabulary of sharing. The vision has a utopian spin that is incredibly seductive in a world where both government and big business have let us down by leading us into the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression.

But the “sharing” economys app- and Web-based technologies have made it so incredibly easy to hire freelancers, temps, contractors and part-timers, why won’t every employer eventually lay off all its regular, W-2 employees and hire 1099 workers? Any business owner would be foolish not to, as he watches his competitors shave their labor costs by 30 percent (by escaping having to pay for an employees safety net and other benefits).

Sounds extreme? Merck, one of the worldԔs largest pharmaceutical companies, was a vanguard of this underhanded strategy. When it came under pressure to cut costs, it sold its Philadelphia factory to a company that fired all 400 employeesand then rehired them back as independent contractors. Merck then contracted with the company to carry on making antibiotics for them, using the exact same workers.

An Arizona public-relations firm, LP&G, fired 88 percent of its staff, and then rehired them as freelancers working out of their homes, with no benefits. Even Outmagazine, the most-read gay monthly in the U.S., laid off its entire editorial staff and then rehired most of them as freelancers, without benefits and with salary cuts.

Examples abound of companies laying off all or most of their workers and then rehiring the same workers - as independent contractors, a clear abuse of this legal loophole. One new economy booster clarified employers audacious strategy: ҒCompanies today want a workforce they can switch on and off as needed җ like one can turn off a faucet or a TV.

The apps and websites of the share the crumbsғ economy have made it easier than ever to do that. Companies can hire and fire 1099 workers at will. In essence, the purveyors of the new economy are forging an economic system in which those with money will be able to use faceless, anonymous interactions via brokerage websites and mobile apps to hire those without money by forcing an online bidding war to see who will charge the least for their labor, or to rent out their home, their car, or other personal property. These perverse incentives are threatening to destroy the U.S. labor force and turn tens of millions of workers into little more than day laborers. BuzzFeeds Charlie Warzel has rightly observed that “any tech reporter who spends their time covering the sharing economy is now, essentially, a labor reporter.”

Outsourcing to these 1099 workers HAS BECOME THE PREFERRED METHOD for America’s business leaders to cut costs and maximize profits. This is only the beginning; we have yet to see how these trends will affect the labor force over the next decade or so. But already we can see that the so-called “new” economy looks an awful lot like the old, pre-New Deal economy. “Jobs” amount to a series of low-paid piece work they’re called micro-gigs today - offering little empowerment for average workers, families or communities. We’re losing decades of progress, apparently for no other reason than because these on-demand companies conduct their business over the Internet and apps, somehow that makes them special.ԗ Technology has been granted a privileged and indulged place where the usual rules, laws and policies often are not applied.

If that practice becomes too widespread, you can say goodbye to the good jobs that have supported American families, goodbye to the middle class and goodbye to the way of life that made the United States the leading power of the world.

SOURCE

Hat tip: Eduardo Felix

Posted by Elvis on 12/29/15 •
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Corporate Policy Of Misconduct

What Was Volkswagen Thinking?
On the origins of corporate eviland idiocy

By Jerry Useem
The Atlantic
January/Februaray 2016

One day in 1979, James Burke, the chief executive of Johnson & Johnson, summoned more than 20 of his key people into a room, jabbed his finger at an internal document, and proposed destroying it.

"The documentwas hardly incriminating. Entitled Our Credo,” its plainspoken list of principles including a higher duty to mothers, and all others who use our products - had been a fixture on company walls since 1943. But Burke was worried that managers had come to regard it as something like the Magna Carta: an important historical document, but hardly a tool for modern decision making. “If we’re not going to live by it, lets tear it off the wall,” Burke told the group, using the weight of his office to force a debate. And that is what he got: a room full of managers debating the role of moral duties in daily business, and then choosing to resuscitate the credo as a living document.

Three years later, after reports emerged of a deadly poisoning of Tylenol capsules in Chicago-area stores, Johnson & Johnsons reaction became the gold standard of corporate crisis response. But the company’s swift decisionsto remove every bottle of Tylenol capsules from store shelves nationwide, publicly warn people not to consume its product, and take a $100 million loss - weren’t really decisions. They flowed more or less automatically from the signal sent three years earlier. Burke, in fact, was on a plane when news of the poisoning broke. By the time he landed, employees were already ordering Tylenol off store shelves.

On the face of it, you’d be hard-pressed to find an episode less salient to the emissions-cheating scandal at Volkswagena company that, by contrast, seems intent on poisoning its own product, name, and future. But although the details behind VW’s installation of “defeat devices” in its vehicles are only beginning to trickle out, the decision process is very likely to resemble a bizarro version of Johnson & Johnsons, with opposite choices every step of the way.

The sociologist Diane Vaughan coined the phrase the normalization of deviance to describe a cultural drift in which circumstances classified as “not okay” are slowly reclassified as “okay.”In the case of the Challenger space-shuttle disaster - the subject of a landmark study by Vaughandamage to the crucial O‑rings had been observed after previous shuttle launches. Each observed instance of damage, she found, was followed by a sequence דin which the technical deviation of the [O‑rings] from performance predictions was redefined as an acceptable risk. Repeated over time, this behavior became routinized into what organizational psychologists call a “script.” Engineers and managers developed a definition of the situation that allowed them to carry on as if nothing was wrong. To clarify: They were not merely acting as if nothing was wrong. They believed it, bringing to mind Orwell’s concept of doublethink, the method by which a bureaucracy conceals evil not only from the public but from itself.

If that comparison sounds overwrought, consider the words of Denny Gioia, a management professor at Penn State who, in the early 1970s, was the coordinator of product recalls at Ford. At the time, the Ford Pinto was showing a tendency to explode when hit from behind, incinerating passengers. Twice, Gioia and his team elected not to recall the cara fact that, when revealed to his M.B.A. students, goes off like a bomb. “Before I went to Ford I would have argued strongly that Ford had an ethical obligation to recall,” he wrote in the Journal of Business Ethics some 17 years after he’d left the company. “I now argue and teach that Ford had an ethical obligation to recall. But, while I was there, I perceived no strong obligation to recall and I remember no strong ethical overtones to the case whatsoever.”

What, Gioia the professor belatedly asked, had Gioia the auto executive been thinking? The best answer, he concluded, is that he hadn’t been. Executives are bombarded with information. To ease the cognitive load, they rely on a set of unwritten scripts imported from the organization around them. You could even define corporate culture as a collection of scripts. “Scripts are undoubtedly efficient. Managers don’t have to muddle through each new problem afresh,” Gioia wrote, “because the mode of handling such problems has already been worked out in advance.” But therein lies the danger. Scripts can be flawed, and grow more so over time, yet they discourage active analysis. Based on the information Gioia had at the time, the Pinto didnt fit the criteria for recall that his team had already agreed upon (a clearly documentable pattern of failure of a specific part). No further thought necessary.

Sometimes a jarring piece of evidence does intrude, forcing a conscious reassessment. For Gioia, it was the moment he saw the charred hulk of a Pinto at a company depot known internally as “The Chamber of Horrors.” The revulsion it evoked gave him pause. He called a meeting. But nothing changed. “After the usual round of discussion about criteria and justification for recall, everyone voted against recommending recallincluding me.”

“The most troubling thing,” says Vaughan, “is the way scripts expand like an elastic waistband,” to accommodate more and more divergence. Morton-Thiokol, the NASA contractor charged with engineering the O-rings, requested a teleconference on the eve of the fatal Challenger launch. After a previous launch, its engineers had noticed O-ring damage that looked different from damage theyd seen before. Suspecting that cold was a factor, the engineers saw the near-freezing forecast and made a “no launch” recommendation - something they had never done before. But the data they faxed to NASA to buttress their case were the same data they had earlier used to argue that the space shuttle was safe to fly. NASA pounced on the inconsistency. Embarrassed and unable to overturn the scriptthey themselves had built in the preceding years, Morton-Thiokols brass buckled. The “no launch” recommendation was reversed to “launch.”

“It’s like losing your virginity,” a NASA teleconference participant later told Vaughan. “Once you’ve done it, you can’t go back.” If you try, you face a credibility spiral: Were you lying then or are you lying now?

But back to Volkswagen. You cannot unconsciously install a defeat device into hundreds of thousands of cars. You need to be sneaky, and thus deliberate. To understand that behavior, we have to turn to a more select subset of examples, such as the Air Force brake scandal of 1968, when B. F. Goodrich built an aircraft brake that many employees knew would fail. When it was tested at Edwards Air Force Base, the brake melted. As in, became molten.

Like Volkswagens actions, this would seem an act of madness, pure and simple. (It;s almost like they painted a bull’s-eye on themselves, Joseph Badaracco, an ethics professor at Harvard Business School, says of VW.) But the final decision to deceive was, on an individual level, rational - the logical end to a long sequence.

It started, as Volkswagens problems apparently did, with a promise that should not have been made. Goodrich, which was desperate to regain an Air Force contractor’s favor as a supplier after a previous delivery of shoddy brakes, promised a brake that was ultracheap and ultralight. Too light, in fact. When first tried out in a simulation at the companys test lab, the prototype glowed cherry red and spewed incendiary bits of metal. But by the time a young engineer discovered that the source of the problem was the design itself (a more senior engineer had gotten his math wrong), the wheels were quite literally in motion. Brake components from other suppliers were arriving. The required redesign would wreck the promised timetable. The young engineer was told to keep testing.

The brake kept failing. During the 13th set of tests, an all-out effort was made to nurse the brake through the required 50 simulated landings. According to Kermit Vandivier, a data analyst at the test lab who later testified at a Senate hearing, fans were brought in for cooling. Warped components were machined back into shape between stops. Test instrumentation was deliberately miscalibrated. But even these cheats werenҒt enough. In one simulation, the wheel rolled some three miles before coming to a stop. Nevertheless, Vandivier and several colleagues were told to prepare a report showing that the brake qualified.

The only question left for me to decide,Ӕ Vandivier later wrote, was whether or not I would become a party to the fraud.Ӕ Refusal would mean losing his job. Hed be 42, with seven children, a new house, and a clear conscience. ғBut, he wrote, ԓbills arent paid with personal satisfaction, nor house payments with ethical principles.Ҕ He spent nearly a month crafting the falsified report. (The Air Force eventually asked to see the raw test data. Vandivier resigned and became a newspaper reporter.)

This sequence of events fits a pattern that appears and reappears in corporate-misconduct cases, beginning with the fantastic commitments made from on high. NASA officials had promised a routine and economicalӔ shuttle program that would launch 60 times a yeara target that proved hopelessly optimistic. Fordגs president, Lee Iacocca, had wanted a car weighing no more than 2,000 pounds and costing no more than $2,000 to be ready for production in 25 months. To hasten the process, production equipment was developed concurrently with the car itself; repositioning the Pintos gas tank would have required a redesign of the factory equipment, too. All of which placed personnel in a position of extreme strain.

We know what strain does to people. Even without it, they tend to underestimate the probability of future bad events. Put them under emotional stress, some research suggests, and this tendency gets amplified. People will favor decisions that preempt short-term social discomfort even at the cost of heightened long-term risk. Faced with the immediate certainty of a bossҒs wrath or the distant possibility of blowback from a faceless agency, many will focus mostly on the former.

This reaction isnt excusable. But it is predictable. What James Burke, Johnson & JohnsonҒs CEO, did was anticipate the possible results of these pressures, well before they built up. He shared Henry Jamess ғimagination of disaster. And itԒs why he introduced, if you will, a set of counterscripts. It was a conscious effort to tinker with the unconscious criteria by which decisions at his company were made. The result was an incremental descent into integrity, a slide toward soundness, and the normalization of referencing Our CredoӔ in situations that might otherwise have seemed devoid of ethical content.

What we know of Ferdinand Pich, Volkswagens chairman before the scandal, is that he was no James Burke. At a 2008 corruption trial that sent one VW executive to jail, Pi뒫ch referred to alleged widespread use of VW funds on prostitutes as mere irregularities, and chided a lawyer for mispronouncing Lamborghini. (Those who can’t afford one should say it properly were his precise words.) This was around the time the emissions cheating began.

“Culture starts at the top,” a businessman recently said in an interview with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. “But it doesn’t start at the top with pretty statements. Employees will see through empty rhetoric and will emulate the nature of top-management decision making.” A robust code of conduct can be emasculated by one action of the CEO or CFO. The speaker was Andrew Fastow, the former CFO of Enron, who spent more than five years in federal prison. He got one thing right: Decisions may be the product of culture. But culture is the product of decisions.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/29/15 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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Friday, December 25, 2015

Eight Things

There is something extraordinary happening in the world

By Gustavo Tanaka
Medium
October 14, 2015

Most of us haven’t quite realized there is something extraordinary happening.

A few months ago, I freed myself from standard-procedure society. I broke the chains of fear that kept me locked up into the system. Since then, I see the world from a different perspective: the one that everything is going through change and that most of us are unaware of that.

Why is the world changing? In this post, I’ll point out the eight reasons that lead me to believe it.

1. No one can stand the employment model any longer.

We are reaching our limits. People working with BIG CORPORATIONS can’t stand THEIR JOBS. The lack of purpose knocks on your door as if it came from inside you like a yell of despair.

People want out. They want to drop everything. Take a look on how many people are willing to risk entrepreneurship, people leaving on sabbaticals, people with work-related depression, people in burnout.

2. The entrepreneurship model is also changing.

Over the past few years, with the explosion of startups, thousands of entrepreneurs turned their garages into offices to bring their billion-dollar ideas to life. The vortex of entrepreneurship was to find an investor and get funded—to be funded was like winning the World Cup or the Super Bowl.

But what happens after you get funded?

You get back to being an employee. You may have brought in people not sharing your dream, not in agreement with your purpose, and soon it’s all about the money. The financial end becomes the main driver of your business.

People are suffering with it. Excellent startups began to tumble because the money-seeking model is endless.

A new way to endeavor is needed. Good people are doing it already.

3. The rise of collaboration.

Many people have figured out that it doesn’t make any sense to go on by yourself. Many people have awakened from the “each man for himself” mad mentality.

Stop, take a step back, and think. Isn’t it absurd that we, 7 billion of us living in the same planet, have grown further apart from each other? What sense does it make to turn your back on the thousands, maybe millions, of people living around you in the same city? Every time it crosses my mind, I feel blue.

Fortunately, things are changing. Sharing, collaborative economy concepts are being implemented, and it points towards a new direction. The direction of collaborating, of sharing, of helping, of togetherness.

This is beautiful to watch. It touches me.

4. We are finally figuring out what the Internet is.

The Internet is an incredibly spectacular thing, and only now—after so many years—we are understanding its power. With the Internet, the world is opened, the barriers fall, the separation ends, the togetherness starts, the collaboration explodes, the help emerges.

Some nations saw true revolutions that used the Internet as the primary catalyst, such as the Arab Spring. Here in Brazil, we are just starting to make a better use out of this amazing tool.

Internet is taking down mass control. The big media groups controlling news by how it suits best what they want the message to be and what they want us to read are no longer the sole owners of information. You go after what you want. You bond to whomever you want. You explore whatever you may want to.

With the advent of the Internet, the small are no longer speechless. There is a voice. The anonymous become acknowledged. The world comes together. And then the system may fall.

5. The fall of exaggerated consumerism.

For too long, we’ve been manipulated to consume as much as we possibly can, to buy every new product launched—the newest car, the latest iPhone, the top brands, lots of clothes, shoes, lots and lots and lots of pretty much anything we could our hands on.

Going against the crowd, many people have understood that this is way off. Lowsumerism, slow life and slow food are a few types of action being taken as we speak, pointing out the contradiction of how absurdly we have come to organize ourselves.

Fewer people are using cars. Fewer people are overspending. And more people are swapping clothes, buying used goods, sharing assets, cars, apartments, offices.

We don’t need all of that they told us we needed. And this consciousness of new consumerism can take down any company living on the exaggerated end of it.

6. Healthy and organic eating.

We were so crazy we even accepted eating anything! It only needed to taste good, and everything would be alright.

We were so disconnected that companies started to practically poison our food, and we didn’t say anything!

But then some people started WAKING UP, enabling and strengthening healthy and organic eating.

This is only going to get stronger.

But what has this got to do with economy and work? Just about everything, I’d say.

Food production is one of the basic fundamentals of our society. If we change our mindset, our eating habit and our way of consuming, corporations will have to respond and adapt to a new market.

The small farmer is getting back to being relevant to the whole chain of production. People are even growing plants and seeds inside their homes as well.

And that reshapes the whole economy.

7. The awakening of spirituality.

How many friends do you have who practice yoga? What about meditation? Now think back, 10 years ago. How many people did you know by then who practiced these activities?

Spirituality, for too long, was for esoteric folks—those weird-like and mystic people.

But fortunately, this is also changing. We’ve come to the edge of reason and rationality. We were able to realize that, with only our conscious mind, we can’t figure out everything that goes on here. There is something else going on, and I’m sure you want to get hold of that as well.

You want to understand how these things work—how life operates, what happens after death, what is this energy thing people talk about so much, what is quantum physics, how thoughts can be materialized and create our sense of reality, what is coincidence and synchronicity, why meditation works, how it’s possible to cure some ailments using nothing but bare hands, how those alternative therapies not always approved by regular medicine can actually work sometimes.

Companies are providing meditation to their employees. Even schools are teaching the young how to meditate. Think about it.

8 . Un-schooling trends.

Who created this teaching model? Who chose the classes you have to take? Who chose the lessons we learn in history classes? Why didn’t they teach us the truth about other ancient civilizations?

Why should kids follow a certain set of rules? Why should they watch everything in silence? Why should they wear a uniform? What about taking a test to prove what you actually learned?

We developed a model that perpetuates and replicates followers of the system, that breed people into ordinary human beings.

Fortunately, a lot of people are working to rethink that though concepts such as un-schooling, hack-schooling and homeschooling.

Maybe you’ve never thought of that and even may be in shock. But it’s happening.

Silently, people are being woken up and are realizing how crazy it is to live in this society.
Look at all these new actions and try to think everything we were taught so far is normal. I don’t think it is.

There is something extraordinary happening.

Gustavo Tanaka  is a Brazilian author and entrepreneur, trying to create with my friends a new model, a new system and maybe helping to create a new economy.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/25/15 •
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Half The Country Is In Or Near Poverty

dying-america.jpg

A Holiday Note to Congress: Half of Your Country is In or Near Poverty

By Paul Buchheit
Common Dreams
December 14, 2015

RECENT REPORTS have DOCUMENTED the growing rates of impoverishment in the U.S., and new information surfacing in the past 12 months shows that the trend is continuing, and probably worsening.

Half of Americans Make Less than a Living Wage

According to the Social Security Administration, over half of Americans make less than $30,000 per year.

That’s less than an appropriate average living wage of $16.87 per hour, as calculated by Alliance for a Just Society (AJS), and it’s not enough—even with two full-time workers—to attain an “adequate but modest living standard” for a family of four, which at the median is over $60,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

AJS also found that there are 7 job seekers for every job opening that pays enough ($15/hr) for a single adult to make ends meet.

Half of Americans Have No Savings

A study by Go Banking Rates reveals that nearly 50 percent of Americans have no savings. Over 70 percent of us have less than $1,000. Pew Research supports this finding with survey results that show nearly half of American households spending more than they earn. The lack of savings is particularly evident with young adults, who went from a five-percent savings rate before the recession to a negative savings rate today.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman summarize: “Since the bottom half of the distribution always owns close to zero wealth on net, the bottom 90% wealth share is the same as the share of wealth owned by top 50-90% families.”

Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Afford to Fix Their Cars

The Wall Street Journal reported on a Bankrate study, which found 62 percent of Americans without the available funds for a $500 brake job. A Federal Reserve survey found that nearly half of respondents could not cover a $400 emergency expense.

It’s continually getting worse, even at upper-middle-class levels. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a JP Morgan study’s conclusion that “the bottom 80% of households by income lack sufficient savings to cover the type of volatility observed in income and spending.”

The Middle Class Is Disappearing

image

This chart from Pew Research shows the dramatic shrinking of the middle class, defined as “adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median, about $42,000 to $126,000 annually in 2014 dollars.”

Market watchers rave about ‘strong’ and even ‘blockbuster’ job reports. But any upbeat news about the unemployment rate should be balanced against the fact that nine of the ten fastest growing occupations don’t require a college degree. Jobs gained since the recession are paying 23 percent less than jobs lost. Low-wage jobs (under $14 per hour) made up just 1/5 of the jobs lost to the recession, but accounted for nearly 3/5 of the jobs regained in the first three years of the recovery.

Furthermore, the official 5% unemployment rate is nearly 10% when short-term discouraged workers are included, and 23% when long-term discouraged workers are included. People are falling fast from the ranks of middle-class living. Between 2007 and 2013 median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with debt-driven negative wealth.

Members of Congress, comfortably nestled in bed with millionaire friends and corporate lobbyists, are in denial about the true state of the American middle class. The once-vibrant middle of America has dropped to lower-middle, and it is still falling.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/16/15 •
Section Dying America
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