Posts tagged inequality

Posted 2 years ago

Banks Are to Blame for Rising Food Costs

mediafreakgodicon:

What’s behind the spiraling cost of food? It’s not just oil and the burgeoning appetites of Americans.

As Frederick Kaufman, the author of A Short History of the American Stomach explains in an article in this month’s Foreign Policy, titled “How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis”:

Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50-fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities—including food—seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. “You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities,” an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.

While rampant speculation by bankers in commodity index funds might sound lands away from your next meal, Kaufman writes in an earlier article for Harper’s (subscription req’d):

The worldwide price of food had risen by 80 percent between 2005 and 2008, and unlike other food catastrophes of the past half century or so, the United States was not insulated from this one, as 49 million Americans found themselves unable to put a full meal on the table. Across the country demand for food stamps reached an all-time high, and one in five kids came to depend on food kitchens. In Los Angeles nearly a million people went hungry.

And it’s inevitably going to get worse as the world reaches 10 billion. Time for bankers face the hard truth to their complicity.

Illustration: Tim Bower/Harper’s

Posted 2 years ago

Yesterday, which was Rutgers Day, I was a Millionaire for McCormick (Rutgers’ president) to satirize the administration’s complicity with the gradual privatization of the university. The obscured sign reads “Educational Opportunity TRUST Fund.” It was a chance to simultaneously do two things I very much enjoy: dress nice and protest tuition hikes.

Posted 2 years ago

We're #1 -- Ten Depressing Ways America Is Exceptional

nosex:

Let me make it clear at the outset. I too believe in American exceptionalism, although I don’t think God has anything to do with it. But I suspect my perspective will find little favor among Republicans in general and Tea Party members in particular. For I believe that America is exceptional in the advantages we’ve had over other nations, not what we’ve done with those advantages.

Indeed, to me there are two American exceptionalisms. One is the exceptionally favorable circumstances the United States found itself in at its founding and over its first 200 years. The second is the exceptional way in which we have squandered those advantages, in the process creating a value system singularly antagonistic to the changes needed when those advantages disappeared.

Posted 3 years ago
Posted 3 years ago
America is not broke. Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich. Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined. Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.
Posted 3 years ago

Many Businesses Are Now Refusing to Hire the Unemployed

mediafreakgodicon:

The unemployed in America face a lot of hurdles on the path toward gainful work. The number of people without jobs, for instance, far outstrips the number of available jobs. For others, especially African Americans, there are racial factors impeding employment. But perhaps the most frustrating thing keeping the unemployed out of work, and what people said in testimony before Congress yesterday, is that many employers simply won’t hire the unemployed.

If this sounds like a ridiculous fable, consider these actual help-wanted ads, brought before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by employment activists on Wednesday:

[A] Texas electronics company said online that it would “not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason”; an ad for a restaurant manager position in New Jersey said applicants must be employed; a phone manufacturer’s job announcement said “No Unemployed Candidates Will Be Considered At All.”

Though the statistics say that there are five people competing for every on job opening in America, some employers believe that the long-term unemployed aren’t working out of sheer laziness, or incompetence. Though there’s very little truth to that stigma, it effectively creates a permanent unemployed class and keeps people poor. It’s also a good thing to think about while considering the House Republicans’ decision today to block additional long-term unemployment benefits.

photo (cc) via Flickr user Metro Centric

Posted 3 years ago
whiporwill:

Minimum wage hikes don’t eliminate jobs
Increasing the minimum wage does not lead to the short- or long-term loss of low paying jobs, according to a new study co-authored by UC Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich and published in the November issue of the journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.  The study resolves the often conflicting research on the minimum wage in the United States and may provide guidance in future policy debates on the topic, said Reich, who is also the director of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. While the study focused on restaurant workers, he and his research colleagues reported evidence that their findings apply to workers in other low-wage industries as well. “This is one of the best and most convincing minimum wage papers in recent years,” said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard University and a specialist in labor economics.

whiporwill:

Minimum wage hikes don’t eliminate jobs

Increasing the minimum wage does not lead to the short- or long-term loss of low paying jobs, according to a new study co-authored by UC Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich and published in the November issue of the journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

The study resolves the often conflicting research on the minimum wage in the United States and may provide guidance in future policy debates on the topic, said Reich, who is also the director of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. While the study focused on restaurant workers, he and his research colleagues reported evidence that their findings apply to workers in other low-wage industries as well. “This is one of the best and most convincing minimum wage papers in recent years,” said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard University and a specialist in labor economics.
Posted 3 years ago
The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.
John Berger (via rossencraft)

(Source: )

Posted 3 years ago

Ralph Nader challenges Obama at the University of Buffalo Law School

Posted 3 years ago

On the Cusp of Class Warfare

We’re in a class war.

It’s the corporations and the very wealthiest against all the rest of us.

We’re losing.

In 1962 the wealthiest 1% of American households had 125 times the wealth of the median household. Now it’s 190 times as much.

Is that a case of a rising tide lifting all boats, just a few of them a little bit higher?

No.

When people accuse the left of ‘encouraging class warfare,’ just remember that it wasn’t our fight to choose.