Category Archives: income inequality

Bits and Pieces

** Will the Hispanic vote be crucial in the upcoming Nevada general election. Maybe, maybe not. Full article Las Vegas Sun.

** Before dismissing the Buffett Rule as a “gimmick,” it should be noted that several important concepts are directly related to it. [TPM] It’s interesting that for the right wing/financialist crowd no amount brought in (even $47 billion over ten years) is supposedly enough to “really do any good,” ergo nothing should be done. Whatever happened to saying, in regard to reducing the deficit and paying for essential services — Every little bit helps?   Secondly, how will Republicans handle both refusing to adopt the Buffet Rule AND campaigning for the further extension of the Bush Tax Cuts?  Third, as TPM points out the only “tax reform” the Republicans are willing to discuss comes in the form of exceedingly regressive Flat Tax proposals which are a direct hit on the Middle Class, or in proposals which raise no revenue.

** By the way, the Financialists are already calculating ways to avoid the Buffett Rule.  [BloombergNews]  This might be the time to dig out the Congressional Research Service’s 2011 publication: “Changes in the distribution of income among tax filers, 1996 to 2006” (pdf), and review.

**  Would any of the Nevada Representatives in Congress who voted for the Ryan Budget 2.0 (Amodei, Heck) like to comment on this analysis?

“Paul Ryan wants to turn Medicaid into a “block grant” while reducing its funding level by about one-third over ten years. The details of his proposal are murky, but from past conservative moves in this direction, it’s likely he’s talking about giving states a fixed, capped sum in federal funds while eliminating most conditions for its use, as a way station to total state assumption of responsibility for low-income health care needs at some point in the future.” [TWM]

Were they truly elected to Congress to shift more of the burden of providing basic medical care for low income citizens back onto the state?

** ProgressVA issued a report on ALEC legislation enacted by the Virginia Legislature and connections between the corporation sponsored organization and Virginia politicians.    The Virgina House Speaker objected to the report, but when asked for specific examples of inaccuracies challenged the lady with whom he was speaking, “I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand.”   The lady replied that words with multiple syllables would be just fine.  [Karoli, Crooks&Liars] Speaker Howell could cite no example of any inaccuracies in the report.

** The American Factfinder tells us — in management positions women earn 73.4% of men’s earnings. In law related occupations women earn 51.2% of men’s earnings, and in sales related occupations women earn 64.5& of men’s earnings.

** What GOP War on Women? It’s real. [ABC Biden] It’s official — at least in Arizona — Life can begin before contraception. [RT] Maybe the Grover Norquist phrase should be reworded, to “government should be small enough to fit in everyone’s bedroom?”

** Science says: “Dramatic Increase In Oklahoma Earthquakes Is Man Made.”  [AUG] And, there’s this: “We are really seeing a structural change in the US energy environment because of falling domestic demand and expanded output from fracking. For the first time since oil became a major issue in the 1970’s we are starting to see a real possibility that over the next decade the US could really achieve energy self sufficiency.”  [AngryBear]

** That study which says that Obamacare will increase the deficit was sponsored by GOP donors, and the numbers only work IF Congress slashes Medicare funding (thus putting all the costs into the ACA category.) [Bernstein] Speaking of Gimmicks…

** Historical Flashback:

Some Individuals of our Countrymen, by the Smiles of Providence or some other Means, are enabled to roll in their four–wheel’d Carriages, and can support the Expence of good Houses, rich Furniture, and Luxurious Living. But, is it equitable that 99, or rather 999 should suffer for the Extravagance or Grandeur of one? Especially when it is consider’d, that Men frequently owe their Wealth to the Impoverishment of their Neighbours.   New York Gazette, 1765.  [Liberty Street Econ]

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Filed under 2012 election, Amodei, ecology, Economy, Heck, income inequality, Medicaid, Medicare, Nevada politics, tax revenue, Taxation, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

What War On Women? Repealing Equal Pay Laws

Just in case you happen to be female, or happen to be married to one, or the son or daughter of one, or the father or uncle of one — you might find this Republican assault on women of interest.  It’s not all about sex either.  It’s also about income.  Buried beneath the hoopla of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signing the anti-abortion legislation this past week (Let’s Make Government Small Enough To Insert Into Every Woman’s Vagina?) was news about Walker signing into effect the repeal of the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. [AYV]

Corporate proponents of repeal had argued the law would encourage “frivolous lawsuits” from a “protected class” of people (that would be women) — however, in the two years the law was in effect there were NO lawsuits filed.  Zero. Zilch.  None.  So, why was repeal so important? What could justify it?  Well, maybe money is “more important to men?”  Huh? Someone is still thinking it’s 1960.  For reference, my calendar says it’s 2012.

In 1960 only 20% of mothers were in the work force.  As of 2010 70% of all children in the U.S. lived in households in which all the adults worked. [AmPro]   Two incomes are now the norm, and are two income families struggling to maintain middle class earnings doing better than the previous generation in the ’60s? No.

“…while those families certainly make more money than a one-income family did a generation ago, by the time they pay for the basics — an average home, a health insurance policy, a second car to get Mom to work, child care, and taxes — that family actually has less money left over at the end of the month to show for it. We tend to assume with two incomes you’re doubly secure. But if you count on every penny of both of those incomes, which most families today do, then you’re in big trouble if either income goes away. And obviously, if you have two people in the workforce, you have double the chance that someone will get laid off, or double the chance that someone could get too sick to work. When that happens, two-income families really get into trouble, and that’s how a lot of families quickly go bankrupt.”  [MJ]

So, we have working families working harder simply to stay afloat financially.  Money, then, is equally important no matter the source, be it the father’s or mother’s contribution.  As of 2010 the median household income in the U.S. was $50,046 annually.  [Census] We can safely assume that at least 70% of those families depended on at least two sources of income to sustain their status as a “median family.”

The notion that having the “little woman” enter the workforce in order to obtain income for “extras,” is as dated as capri pants and pill box hats.

Equally outdated is the idea that women lose money by leaving the workforce to concentrate on child raising:

“A 2007  study by the American Association of University Women found that college-educated women earn only 80 percent as much as similarly educated men a year after graduation. Part of that is attributable to differences in life choices and family circumstances, but not all. “After accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a 5 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained,” it said. After 10 years in the workforce, there’s an unexplained 12 percent gap.”  [TDB]

Again, the “time off” argument might have had some validity in the age of Pill Box Hats, but it’s not a valid contention today — the calendar on the bulletin board still says 2012.  We could venture to explain that gap — women aren’t paid as much as men for the same work.

While corporations may very much want to repeal anything that might potentially affect their profitability (women’s pay, minimum wages, etc.) the hard reality of the 21st century is that two income families are the norm, and most families are one sick child or one pink slip away from serious financial difficulties.

Repealing an equal pay protection act isn’t just another assault on women, it’s an attack on entire families.  Someone might also want to remind these Republican legislators and governors that Hazel and the Donna Reed Show aren’t on the television schedule anymore.

Extra Credit Reading Assignments: “The Three Faces of Work Family Conflict,” Center for American Progress, January 2010.   “Wisconsin’s Repeal of Equal Pay Rights,” The Daily Beast, April 2012.   “Dual Income Parents,” Women and Work,  March 2010.   “Single Income Families account for 7% of the total,” Population Reference Bureau,  March 2003.   “Scott Walker Repeals Equal Pay Act, Amplify Your Voice, April 2012. “Walker Overturns Law to Prevent Pay Discrimination,” Think Progress, April 2012.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, Economy, employment, equal pay, family issues, income inequality, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Chart of the Day: Top 1% Gets Higher Share Of Total Income

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Economy, income inequality

Redux: This is NOT your family budget — False Analogies and Faulty Logic

Return with us now to that day not so long ago when the post heading was: This Is Not Your Family Budget.  Indeed, suggestions that a Balanced Budget Amendment is a good idea — as proposed by Senator Dean Heller — are based on a false analogy and very faulty logic.

Faulty Towers

The faulty thinking comes into play as the proponents ignore the fundamental ways in which government spending is different.  There are backstop functions, automatic stabilizer functions, monetary policy functions, and savings functions, which factor into the formula for institutional budgeting that aren’t part of family budgeting.  [DB]*

However, the false analogy extends a bit further. The blithe disregard for the factors listed above results in a proposition that is the complete opposite of the expression: “The government should be run like a business.”  Imagine a business that could not borrow funds for capital improvement projects?  No bond sales?  No ‘running a deficit’ for the purpose of investing in corporate infrastructure with an eye toward future profits? For example, are we to become upset and fearful for Chevron because its balance sheet indicates an increase in long term indebtedness since December 2008?  The bottom line is that a  corporate CEO couldn’t run a modern company under the guidelines suggested by the Republican Study Committee.

The False Analogy

Rather that reiterate all the specifics of the false analogy, here are some useful sources of information demonstrating the point that government budgets and family budgets are two entirely different things.

Economics writer David Nicklaus of the St. Louis Post Dispatch explains how the proposed balanced budget amendment would bust the U.S. economy rather than fix any of our current economics problems, noting the difference between government and family budgets. Robert Greenstein and Richard Kogan (CBPP) explain this argument further.   Robert Greenstein, writing for the CBPP, lists ways in which family budgets DO incorporate deficit spending and are not an appropriate model for government operations.  Greenstein and Kogan explain that the balanced budget amendment is extremely ill-advised, and would create problems for Social Security.

A Solution Worse Than The Problem

What House Republicans, and some Senators like Sen. Dean Heller, are advocating is a solution worse than the budgetary problems we are currently facing.  For those wishing to get into the weeds of this issue, the following articles and posts are recommended:

Richard Kogan, “Program Cuts Under a Balanced Budget Amendment: How Severe Might They Be?” CBPP, November 15, 2011.  Fieldhouse, Pollack, Thiess, “Why spending caps are poor policy…,” Economic Policy Institute, June 22, 2011.  Rebecca Thiess, “Unbalanced Budgeting: Federal Spending Cap May Endanger Social Security,” Economic Policy Institute, June 22, 2011.  Citizens for Tax Justice, “Balanced Budget Amendment Could Double Unemployment During Recessions,” November 17, 2011.

Several writers reference a post from MacroEconomic Advisers LLC  published on October 21, 2011 which concluded:

“The ultimate goal of a balanced budget amendment is to reduce the federal deficit. As we have written elsewhere, we believe strongly that deficit reduction is necessary both to avoid the slow crowding out of private investment and to avert the eventual sovereign debt crisis implied by current policies. A BBA would not necessarily achieve these goals before being abandoned or circumvented. Furthermore, an interesting and growing literature suggests that uncertainty surrounding fiscal policy retards economic growth.   The attempt to enforce a BBA could well end up heightening fiscal uncertainty while magnifying cyclical risks to the economy. It would be far better to achieve a sustainable fiscal policy through considered discretionary actions than under the yoke of a mechanical rule.”

Gimmicks and Games

Since it’s reasonably clear that the Balanced Budget Amendment, in its various forms, isn’t analogous to a family budget, isn’t a policy designed to make government run more like a business, and certainly isn’t a viable solution to our fiscal issues, it must be for political consumption.  It has more to do with the Republican campaign slogan “Cut, Cap, and Balance” than it has to do with economic realities.

And so, while Americans are calling for economic equity and JOBS, the Congressional Republicans continue to debate and “pass” symbolic and ideological bills playing to their own base.  Americans want jobs, the GOP offers attacks on Planned Parenthood and family planning. Americans want jobs, the GOP offers to repeal health care reform and the patients’ bill of rights legislation.  9% of American workers are unemployed, and the GOP offers to remove restrictions on firearms. Americans need jobs, and the GOP offers up a balanced budget amendment.

Nevada’s contribution to this political circus comes from our Wall Street Warriors,  Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who have evidently decided to Campaign Like Its 1988 — in 2012.

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* See also: Desert Beacon, “Magical Mark’s Unbalanced Amendment,” July 29, 2011.  Desert Beacon, “This is NOT your family budget,” June 3, 2011. Desert Beacon, “How Not To Spend Your Family Vacation,” August 5, 2011.  Desert Beacon, “BBA or Bogus Blather for America,” July 18, 2011.  (Includes references) Desert Beacon, “Heller Still Supporting BBA,” July 11, 2011. Desert Beacon, “Slogans Beat Solutions..,” November 17, 2011.

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Filed under 2012 election, Amodei, Economy, Heller, income inequality

The Tale of 3 Graphs

The first two graphs come from Jared Bernstein’s “On the Economy” article, November 4, 2011.  The third from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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Filed under consumers, Economy, income inequality

99% Complaint In Two Graphs

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Filed under income inequality, Taxation

Video Time: Bill Maher on Occupy Wall Street

(Warning: There are some Maherisms, aka “language” in this 4:11 excerpt)
“Maher’s comments are apt as a breakdown of people taking part in OWS shows that while two-thirds identified themselves as under the age of 35, 13% are aged between 35-45, and 20% are over the age of 45.  50% of protesters were in full employment, 20% were part-time workers, and the remaining 30%, just under half 13.1% said they were unemployed.  This is hardly the hippies the GOP is helping the media to portray.”   [Dangerous Ideas]

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Filed under banking, conservatism, Economy, financial regulation, Foreclosures, income inequality, labor, media