Monday, July 5, 2010

Last Call

Been a long day, I've been out and about but this story caught my eye about our old friend Minnesota's other crackpot Republican, would-be Governor Tom Emmer.  He's got a great plan to help Minnesotans.
Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, has put forward a new policy for helping the state's businesses: Lowering the minimum wage for waiters and waitresses, and forcing them to rely more heavily on tips.

Minnesota is one of seven states that do not permit employers to pay less than the standard minimum wage to tipped workers. Federal law permits tipped workers' wages to be as low $2.13 per hour, with tips given to workers credited against the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour employers are required to pay. Emmer's proposal would get rid of Minnesota's law against using that credit, and thus bring the minimum wages for restaurant staff and other gratuity-based workers down to $2.13 per hour plus tips, a reduction of nearly two-thirds. Emmer said this proposal would result in a "level playing field so the employers can continue to exist, survive and thrive."
Yep, you heard that right, lower wages for waiters and waitresses because...they earn too much.  Knock $5 an hour off of people's pay because...I'm not sure why, what does this accomplish, again?  Last time I checked waitstaff aren't union employees or state employees, so how does this save Minnesota any money?  How does this help the economy since the whole problem right now is demand?  He wants to fight wage deflation by...cutting wages!

There's no state budget here to cut.  There's no union employees to blame.  This is just declaring that waiters and waitresses make too much money somehow, and they need to take a $10,000 yearly pay cut, I guess.

I guess since waiters and waitresses are all lazy welfare cases or whatever, we need to punish them.  That makes sense, right?

Destroying Afghanistan In Order To Save It

Meet the new, old boss in Afghanistan. Same as the old, old boss (as well as the old, new boss.)  Spencer Ackerman:
In a new letter to the troops and civilians of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, their new commander, General David Petraeus, underlined a point he made in his confirmation hearings last week: the overall task is to secure the Afghan people from harm, but the rules of engagement won’t stop you from finishing fights with insurgents.

“We must also continue our emphasis on reducing the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum. We must never forget that the decisive terrain in Afghanistan is the human terrain,” Petraeus writes today in the letter. “Protecting those we are here to help nonetheless does require killing, capturing, or turning the insurgents. …[A]s you and our Afghan partners on the ground get into tough situations, we must employ all assets to ensure your safety, keeping in mind, again, the importance of avoiding civilian casualties.”

(Note the addition of “turning the insurgents,” a tweak of the typical kill/capture formulation, indicative of the Karzai government’s desire to “reintegrate” or “reconcile” with Taliban and other insurgent forces.)
We must destroy the village in order to save it, yadda yadda.  This is where we're at after almost 9 years: still can't tell the good guys from the bad guys, so let God sort em out after the ordnance is done.

Same as it ever was.

The Kroog Versus The Coalition Of The Mean

Paul Krugman continues to beat the drum on America's unemployment situation, trying to convince people that this time it really is different.  How did we end up in an America where we're now trying to cut off the unemployed just as the second leg down in our economy begins to pick up speed (emphasis mine)?
The answer is that we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it’s possible to clear up some of the confusion.

By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.

By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

Now, I don’t have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle’s view of the world — and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her. 
It's the same folks who say America is a the greatest country on Earth, that its people are exceptional and destined, who talk about how special we are as a people, invariably they are the first to turn on their neighbors and say "I don't care if there's not any jobs out there, go paint fences and collect aluminum cans.  I'm not helping you.  Get a job you lazy bastard."

The deficit numbers are just an excuse to heap more misery upon the unemployed.  That's because a lot of people in Krugman's first two categories believe everyone who is unemployed still must be lazy, or trying to scam the system, or trying to fleece them personally.  It's a depressingly cynical worldview, and in reality that's just covering up for fears of something far more nasty:  that everyone who's still unemployed by this point is shall we say of a certain ethnic background.

That brings us to category three, which is not just populated by Republicans, either.
But there are also, one hopes, at least a few political players who are honestly misinformed about what unemployment benefits do — who believe, for example, that Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, was making sense when he declared that extending benefits would make unemployment worse, because “continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.” So let’s talk about why that belief is dead wrong.

Do unemployment benefits reduce the incentive to seek work? Yes: workers receiving unemployment benefits aren’t quite as desperate as workers without benefits, and are likely to be slightly more choosy about accepting new jobs. The operative word here is “slightly”: recent economic research suggests that the effect of unemployment benefits on worker behavior is much weaker than was previously believed. Still, it’s a real effect when the economy is doing well.

But it’s an effect that is completely irrelevant to our current situation. When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn’t booming — again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for workbut they can’t take jobs that aren’t there
Now that makes perfect sense to me:  Our problem here is stimulating demand, not supply.  The supply siders have been in charge since 1980.  We've finally gotten to the point where all the supply side economics on Earth won't fix the basic problem where Americans just don't have the wages, the savings, or the equity to pay for things anymore.  No demand, tons of supply = deflationary death spiral.

 And we're lining up millions of jobless as human shields against that.

First Half Stats Look Grim

America's first six months of 2010 economic stats, that is.  Housing is in the crapper, jobs are starting to slip again and personal bankruptcy filings are on the rise as unemployment benefits are running out leaving hundreds of thousands in limbo.
Bankruptcy filings surged 14% during the first half of 2010, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. Filings totaled 770,117 through June, compared to 675,351 during the same period last year.

"Years of rising consumer debt and low savings rates, combined with the housing and unemployment crisis, are causing bankruptcy levels not seen since the 2005," said Samuel Gerdano, executive director of the institute, in a press release.

In 2005 Congress amended the Bankruptcy Code, making it harder for Americans to file and sparking a rush to file by October of 2005, when the amendments kicked in. In 2005, bankruptcy filings totaled more than 2 million.

By comparison, Gerdano expects there will be more than 1.6 million new bankruptcy filings by the end of 2010.

The institute also said that bankruptcies totaled 126,270 in June, a jump of 8.5% from the same month in 2009, when they totaled 116,365.
Expect that to keep rising, folks.  Families are starting to fall between the cracks now, and we're told this has to happen to save the rest of us, that we can't afford to help them anymore, that this will motivate them to take minimum wage jobs that will somehow make ends meet.

It's odd that our response to the biggest banks on Earth wrecking our economy is to blame the working-class people who got laid off.  They must be lazy, after all.  Real Americans I guess work three 40 hour minimum wage jobs.


Related Posts with Thumbnails