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Economic Anxiety Is Not Just for White Men
"At some point in his 56 years of life, Cesar Alteri Sayoc—the man charged with mailing explosive devices across the country and who is the mixed son of Italian and Filipino parents—learned to cloak himself in the construct of whiteness and the benefits he likely presumed it would provide.

Among those were the benefit of the doubt—a privilege generally not granted black men in similar economic stations—that being lost, angry and homeless precipitated his descent into violence. This may be true. It is also apparent that Sayoc’s hopelessness could find salvation in bigotry.

He is just one in a spate of white men who found comfort for their white supremacy in America’s highest executive office and sympathy for their socioeconomic conditions in mainstream media over the course of two violent weeks last fall. Soon after Sayoc was identified as the suspect who spent several days sending package bombs to Democratic officials and terrorizing the country, the public learned about his bankruptcy, the house that was foreclosed, and the van out of which he was reportedly living.

In a world where white interests are prioritized, the black lives that they threaten are collateral damage, afterthoughts in the white imagination. And it begs the question: Where is this attention to the systemic failures of capitalism when black people are its victims, let alone if they are criminal perpetrators?"



"Cesar Sayoc bounced around odd jobs and conjured some imagined ones. “He said he worked for the Hard Rock casino booking all their venues,” Debra Gureghian tells me over the phone as she prepares her work at a Fort Lauderdale pizza shop. She supervised Sayoc at the shop for several months, where he drove his infamous white Dodge Ram van on delivery runs. Hard Rock Cafe Inc. denied that it had ever employed him. “I didn’t know any of this was a lie,” Gureghian shares.

When Sayoc wasn’t insulting his boss’ sexuality—“a proud lesbian,” Debra affirms—he was comparing black people to apes and hearkening back to the Hitler regime. Sayoc and others like him, Gureghian observes, “are becoming entrenched in hatred and have become foot soldiers for Donald Trump. The hatred is being bred nightly, daily.”

Gureghian was prepared to defend herself before I had a chance to ask. “I couldn’t fire him. He did his work. Being a non-corporate restaurant, my hands were tied.”

Like Eric Garner and other men dealing with economic insecurity, Sayoc had multiple jobs and no particular career. He, too, became a bouncer. He also had several run-ins with the law. Prior to his gig delivering pizza, Sayoc had multiple arrests. This is about where the comparison ends. As described in a Wired report, Sayoc’s charges “related to fraud, possession of a controlled substance, battery...and more. [He] appears not to have served any jail time in Florida, but was placed on probation in three separate instances.” Sayoc was extended chances in both the legal system and the job market. Despite an extensive record, dating at least as far back as 1986, he kept getting hired.

Unfortunately, that leeway hasn’t been equally extended to black men and women who began falling behind in America’s restructured economy and those still reeling from the devastating blow of the Great Recession. Their rap sheets don’t get ignored by employers. Their anger hasn’t been assuaged by humane news profiles or blessed by America’s high profile public officials.

Black pain, instead, becomes mere background noise. Until it is not. And in those rare moments—when fires rage in post-industrial wreckage—civil unrest is dismissed as rioting. Nonviolent protest framed as extremism. Disillusionment pinned exclusively on Facebook, Russians, and outside agitators instead of our decades of tireless struggle.

When cities no longer provide material comfort and companies abandon us like obsolete machinery, left to rust when we’ve reached our useful life, the pioneers among us engage in a “silent pilgrimage.” From the south to the north and back south again, we search elsewhere in the country’s boundaries looking for a reprieve, searching for a world that has been engineered to never exist. And the cycle continues, as the dreams of our ancestors suffocate, left to die on a concrete sidewalk."
economics  anxiety  malaikajabali  capitalism  2019  race  us  policy  extremism  work  labor  unemployment 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
How This All Happened · Collaborative Fund
"This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II."



"10. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Brexit, and the rise of Donald Trump each represents a group shouting, “Stop the ride, I want off.”

The details of their shouting are different, but they’re all shouting – at least in part – because stuff isn’t working for them within the context of the post-war expectation that stuff should work roughly the same for roughly everyone.

You can scoff at linking the rise of Trump to income inequality alone. And you should. These things are always layers of complexity deep. But it’s a key part of what drives people to think, “I don’t live in the world I expected. That pisses me off. So screw this. And screw you! I’m going to fight for something totally different, because this – whatever it is – isn’t working.”

Take that mentality and raise it to the power of Facebook, Instagram, and cable news – where people are more keenly aware of how other people live than ever before. It’s gasoline on a flame. Benedict Evans says, “The more the Internet exposes people to new points of view, the angrier people get that different views exist.” That’s a big shift from the post-war economy where the range of economic opinions were smaller, both because the actual range of outcomes was lower and because it wasn’t as easy to see and learn what other people thought and how they lived.

I’m not pessimistic. Economics is the story of cycles. Things come, things go.

The unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been in decades. Wages are now actually growing faster for low-income workers than the rich. College costs by and large stopped growing once grants are factored in. If everyone studied advances in healthcare, communication, transportation, and civil rights since the Glorious 1950s, my guess is most wouldn’t want to go back.

But a central theme of this story is that expectations move slower than reality on the ground. That was true when people clung to 1950s expectations as the economy changed over the next 35 years. And even if a middle-class boom began today, expectations that the odds are stacked against everyone but those at the top may stick around.

So the era of “This isnt working” may stick around.

And the era of “We need something radically new, right now, whatever it is” may stick around.

Which, in a way, is part of what starts events that led to things like World War II, where this story began.

History is just one damn thing after another."
history  economics  us  ww2  wwii  2018  morganhousel  debt  labor  work  credit  teaparty  donaldtrump  employment  unemployment  inequality  capitalism  1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  2000s  2010s  expectations  behavior  highered  highereducation  education  communication  healthcare  housing  internet  web  online  complexity 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Millennials Are Screwed - The Huffington Post
"In what seems like some kind of perverse joke, nearly every form of welfare now available to young people is attached to traditional employment. Unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation are limited to employees. The only major expansions of welfare since 1980 have been to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, both of which pay wages back to workers who have already collected them.

Back when we had decent jobs and strong unions, it (kind of) made sense to provide things like health care and retirement savings through employer benefits. But now, for freelancers and temps and short-term contractors—i.e., us—those benefits might as well be Monopoly money. Forty-one percent of working millennials aren’t even eligible for retirement plans through their companies."



"The most striking thing about the problems of millennials is how intertwined and self-reinforcing and everywhere they are.

Over the eight months I spent reporting this story, I spent a few evenings at a youth homeless shelter and met unpaid interns and gig-economy bike messengers saving for their first month of rent. During the days I interviewed people like Josh, a 33-year-old affordable housing developer who mentioned that his mother struggles to make ends meet as a contractor in a profession that used to be reliable government work. Every Thanksgiving, she reminds him that her retirement plan is a “401(j)”—J for Josh.

Fixing what has been done to us is going to take more than tinkering. Even if economic growth picks up and unemployment continues to fall, we’re still on a track toward ever more insecurity for young people. The “Leave It To Beaver” workforce, in which everyone has the same job from graduation until gold watch, is not coming back. Any attempt to recreate the economic conditions the boomers had is just sending lifeboats to a whirlpool.

But still, there is already a foot-long list of overdue federal policy changes that would at least begin to fortify our future and reknit the safety net. Even amid the awfulness of our political moment, we can start to build a platform to rally around. Raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Roll back anti-union laws to give workers more leverage against companies that treat them as if they’re disposable. Tilt the tax code away from the wealthy. Right now, rich people can write off mortgage interest on their second home and expenses related to being a landlord or (I'm not kidding) owning a racehorse. The rest of us can’t even deduct student loans or the cost of getting an occupational license.

Some of the trendiest Big Policy Fixes these days are efforts to rebuild government services from the ground up. The ur-example is the Universal Basic Income, a no-questions-asked monthly cash payment to every single American. The idea is to establish a level of basic subsistence below which no one in a civilized country should be allowed to fall. The venture capital firm Y Combinator is planning a pilot program that would give $1,000 each month to 1,000 low- and middle-income participants. And while, yes, it’s inspiring that a pro-poor policy idea has won the support of D.C. wonks and Ayn Rand tech bros alike, it’s worth noting that existing programs like food stamps, TANF, public housing and government-subsidized day care are not inherently ineffective. They have been intentionally made so. It would be nice if the people excited by the shiny new programs would expend a little effort defending and expanding the ones we already have.

But they’re right about one thing: We’re going to need government structures that respond to the way we work now. “Portable benefits,” an idea that’s been bouncing around for years, attempts to break down the zero-sum distinction between full-time employees who get government-backed worker protections and independent contractors who get nothing. The way to solve this, when you think about it, is ridiculously simple: Attach benefits to work instead of jobs. The existing proposals vary, but the good ones are based on the same principle: For every hour you work, your boss chips in to a fund that pays out when you get sick, pregnant, old or fired. The fund follows you from job to job, and companies have to contribute to it whether you work there a day, a month or a year.

Seriously, you should sign up. It doesn’t cost anything.

Small-scale versions of this idea have been offsetting the inherent insecurity of the gig economy since long before we called it that. Some construction workers have an “hour bank” that fills up when they’re working and provides benefits even when they’re between jobs. Hollywood actors and technical staff have health and pension plans that follow them from movie to movie. In both cases, the benefits are negotiated by unions, but they don’t have to be. Since 1962, California has offered “elective coverage” insurance that allows independent contractors to file for payouts if their kids get sick or if they get injured on the job. “The offloading of risks onto workers and families was not a natural occurrence,” says Hacker, the Yale political scientist. “It was a deliberate effort. And we can roll it back the same way.”

Another no-brainer experiment is to expand jobs programs. As decent opportunities have dwindled and wage inequality has soared, the government’s message to the poorest citizens has remained exactly the same: You’re not trying hard enough. But at the same time, the government has not actually attempted to give people jobs on a large scale since the 1970s.

Because most of us grew up in a world without them, jobs programs can sound overly ambitious or suspiciously Leninist. In fact, they’re neither. In 2010, as part of the stimulus, Mississippi launched a program that simply reimbursed employers for the wages they paid to eligible new hires—100 percent at first, then tapering down to 25 percent. The initiative primarily reached low-income mothers and the long-term unemployed. Nearly half of the recipients were under 30.

The results were impressive. For the average participant, the subsidized wages lasted only 13 weeks. Yet the year after the program ended, long-term unemployed workers were still earning nearly nine times more than they had the previous year. Either they kept the jobs they got through the subsidies or the experience helped them find something new. Plus, the program was a bargain. Subsidizing more than 3,000 jobs cost $22 million, which existing businesses doled out to workers who weren’t required to get special training. It wasn’t an isolated success, either. A Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality review of 15 jobs programs from the past four decades concluded that they were “a proven, promising, and underutilized tool for lifting up disadvantaged workers.” The review found that subsidizing employment raised wages and reduced long-term unemployment. Children of the participants even did better at school.

But before I get carried away listing urgent and obvious solutions for the plight of millennials, let’s pause for a bit of reality: Who are we kidding? Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are not interested in our innovative proposals to lift up the systemically disadvantaged. Their entire political agenda, from the Scrooge McDuck tax reform bill to the ongoing assassination attempt on Obamacare, is explicitly designed to turbocharge the forces that are causing this misery. Federally speaking, things are only going to get worse.

Which is why, for now, we need to take the fight to where we can win it.

Over the last decade, states and cities have made remarkable progress adapting to the new economy. Minimum-wage hikes have been passed by voters in nine states, even dark red rectangles like Nebraska and South Dakota. Following a long campaign by the Working Families Party and other activist organizations, eight states and the District of Columbia have instituted guaranteed sick leave. Bills to combat exploitative scheduling practices have been introduced in more than a dozen state legislatures. San Francisco now gives retail and fast-food workers the right to learn their schedules two weeks in advance and get compensated for sudden shift changes. Local initiatives are popular, effective and our best hope of preventing the country’s slide into “Mad Max”-style individualism.

The court system, the only branch of our government currently functioning, offers other encouraging avenues. Class-action lawsuits and state and federal investigations have resulted in a wave of judgments against companies that “misclassify” their workers as contractors. FedEx, which requires some of its drivers to buy their own trucks and then work as independent contractors, recently reached a $227 million settlement with more than 12,000 plaintiffs in 19 states. In 2014, a startup called Hello Alfred—Uber for chores, basically—announced that it would rely exclusively on direct hires instead of “1099s.” Part of the reason, its CEO told Fast Company, was that the legal and financial risk of relying on contractors had gotten too high. A tsunami of similar lawsuits over working conditions and wage theft would be enough to force the same calculation onto every CEO in America.

And then there’s housing, where the potential—and necessity—of local action is obvious. This doesn’t just mean showing up to city council hearings to drown out the NIMBYs (though let’s definitely do that). It also means ensuring that the entire system for approving new construction doesn’t prioritize homeowners at the expense of everyone else. Right now, permitting processes examine, in excruciating detail, how one new building will affect rents, noise, traffic, parking, shadows and squirrel populations. But they never investigate the consequences of not building anything—rising prices, displaced renters, low-wage workers commuting hours from outside the sprawl.

Some cities are finally … [more]
economics  housing  retirement  inequality  highered  highereducation  employment  wealth  income  politics  generations  babyboomers  michaelhobbes  poverty  policy  anirudhkrishna  unions  healthcare  cities  socialmobility  socialsafetynet  zoning  urban  nimbys  urbanization  unemployment 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Cookie Monster on the Dole - The New Yorker
"Hard times for Muppets! Sad! Me think unemployment not easy for puppet with addiction issues. Me find unemployment very triggering. Me want to ask government, “Who is real monster here?”

Colleagues bad now, too. Elmo spiral into depression and eat his goldfish, Dorothy. Pepé the King Prawn worry about deportation. Miss Piggy now glorified geisha, forced to be active listener. Only good thing is most of us newly politicized. Me is totally woke. Use new free time to rally colleagues and to dialogue. Camaraderie good! Camaraderie powerful! During long hours together in unemployment line, you can really get deep, you can really go beyond the felt.

What strange to Muppet community is Muppets always like Donald Trump. Donald Trump always somehow seem like kindred spirit. Donald Trump seem like slightly more organized Fraggle. Yes, in nineteen-eighties, on “Sesame Street,” Ronald Grump character built tower of trash cans on Oscar’s turf. Yes, other time, on special, Joe Pesci play Ronald Grump and spit on Elmo. But mocking was gentle. Mocking gentle, and plus we give lots airtime. Donald Trump like airtime. Airtime is hair time. The letter “H”!

Me trying to transition into this new life chapter with grace. Me trying to find bright side: no more pledge drives, no more feeling old when realize all favorite TV shows are sponsored by river cruises. But sometimes cloud come over me in afternoon. Cloud of realization. Cloud of sad. More reflective now. Time makes puppets of us all. Bad!

Me talk to agent about possible second career as recording artist, because me often mistaken for gravel-voiced singer Tom Waits. Me think me has everything Tom Waits has, plus me is blue. Sad songs from blue person, very good, very meta. Agent laugh. Agent say more realistic direction is recovery memoir and ted talk. Agent say more realistic direction is therapy pet who visit hospitals—“Make-A-Wish but the meter is running, hon.” Agent also say that he get call about Cookie working as kind of Swiffer—some company want Cookie as a “electrostatic stanching shammy.” Now me laugh. Me think contemporary consumerism like virus that eat brain. Me unclear about meaning of “electrostatic stanching shammy,” but me pretty sure it mean rag.

So. Me trying to be big. Me trying to reap benefits of talk therapy. Therapist point out that Cookie strong because Cookie weathered changing attitudes about eating. Therapist talk about time, in 2005, when show had Hoots the Owl sing “A Cookie Is a Sometime Food.” Stupid song. Stupid song suggesting me had no jurisdiction or agency over throbbing id. That song the beginning of the end. That the singing on the wall. Me not like that song! That song just another unseen hand reaching up the Cookie ying-yang.

Now this new government hand. It not nice like Frank Oz hand. Frank Oz smell good, have light touch. Government hand rough, like that of teen-age boy. So now me take only route available: me wage cookie hunger strike. Me get Hoots the Owl to do duet of new song, “Bye-Bye, Biscotti.” Me get outside consulting firm to create slogan: “Nom, Nom NO.” Me tell world that “C” is not for cookie, “C” is for cauterize the wound that is direct result of rapacious governing. Me get sympathetic People cover in manner of survivor of rare disease.

Meanwhile, me send message to Washington via quiet assertion of strength. Me remind government that Cookie Monster have no eyelids. Me remind government that Cookie Monster always watching."
2017  cookiemonster  sesamestreet  humor  henryalford  unemployment  grace  government 
april 2017 by robertogreco
POLITICAL THEORY - Karl Marx - YouTube
"Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out certain of its problems. The School of Life, a pro-Capitalist institution, takes a look.



FURTHER READING

“Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising, leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the ideas of its most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn’t very surprising. In practice, his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Frankly, the remedies Marx proposed for the ills of the world now sound a bit demented. He thought we should abolish private property. People should not be allowed to own things. At certain moments one can sympathise. But it’s like wanting to ban gossip or forbid watching television. It’s going to war with human behaviour. And Marx believed the world would be put to rights by a dictatorship of the proletariat; which does not mean anything much today. Openly Marxist parties received a total of only 1,685 votes in the 2010 UK general election, out of the nearly 40 million ballots cast…”"
karlmarx  marxism  capitalism  2014  work  labor  specialization  purpose  alienation  disconnection  hierarchy  efficiency  communism  belonging  insecurity  economics  primitiveaccumulation  accumulation  profit  theft  exploitation  instability  precarity  crises  abundance  scarcity  shortage  productivity  leisure  unemployment  freedom  employment  inequality  wealth  wealthdistribution  marriage  relationships  commodityfetishism  feminism  oppression  ideology  values  valuejudgements  worth  consumerism  materialism  anxiety  competition  complacency  conformity  communistmanifesto  inheritance  privateproperty  banking  communication  transportation  eduction  publiceducation  frederickengels  generalists  specialists  daskapital 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Freedom and Beyond — John Holt GWS
"Even if what I have said about growth were not true, or even if we were as ignorant and unconcerned about the environmental costs of growth as we were twenty years ago, it would still be true that the kind of growth we have known for a generation and more, and most of this under national governments committed to the idea of fighting poverty through growth, has done very little to change the shape of the job pyramid. For all our trillion dollar a year GNP, we have not done away with unemployment, or increased very much the number of good jobs, jobs that people are glad to do. For most people in our society work is drudgery, what you have to do to live, perhaps a punishment for not having been smarter or done better in school. If this has been so little changed by the last generation of growth, there is little reason to suppose that it will be changed much by the next.

This brings me back to the point I made earlier, that as long as the overall shape of the job pyramid is not changed, as long as the numbers of good, fair, and bad jobs remains about what they are, any poor person who moves up to a better job is going to move up at someone else's expense. He may make it. But that someone else is almost certain to be someone only slightly less poor than he is. When we try to apply on a large scale what works on a small, if we try, through schooling or otherwise, to move large numbers of people from the lowest job boxes up into higher ones, the result is to put poor people and working-class or lower-middle-class people in competition for jobs that are scarce and good jobs that are scarcer yet. This makes them each others' rivals and enemies, and prevents them from forging the kinds of political alliances that would make real large-scale change possible. It is grimly ironical and even tragic that our minority group poor should be most feared and hated by the very people whose friendship and support they must have if they are ever to make any real improvement in their lives. And it's a great for the rich when they can make the poor think their true and worst enemies are those who are even poorer…"
johnholt  poverty  inequality  capitalism  1972  society  books  unemployment  employment  work  competition  small  growth 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Poverty In San Diego County Higher Than During Great Recession | KPBS
"Nearly three-quarters of working-age San Diego County residents who were living in poverty surveyed 2011 to 2015 reported working some amount in the week before the survey.

Peter Brownell, research director at the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives, says the Great Recession wiped out many good-paying jobs. The recovery that followed hasn’t brought them back.

“Even as the jobs numbers nationally improved, you saw employment was improving but wages weren’t moving at all. I think that’s a big story in San Diego,” Brownell said. “In terms of the jobs that we lost during the Recession, a lot of those were more middle-income jobs in industries that pay more in middle incomes and the jobs that we’ve seen in the quote-unquote recovery have been a lot of service economy jobs that are lower-paying jobs.”

What’s more, Brownell said, many workers living in poverty are holding down part-time work but would take full-time employment if they could get it.

Data from the latest five-year Census survey suggests that could be the case in San Diego County. Among prime working-age individuals living in poverty who had worked in the previous 12 months, 79.1 percent were working part time compared with 20.9 percent who were working full time.

In that case, San Diego seems to reflect a nationwide trend. A report published last month by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focusing on low- and middle-income workers, found that 6.4 million Americans want full-time work but are stuck working part-time jobs. The report found that the number of people working part time involuntarily was 45 percent higher than it was before the Great Recession.

“We’ve created jobs as jobs but they’re not the same quality jobs in terms of both the pay and the hours that are available to folks,” Brownell said."

[same article also here: http://www.cbs8.com/story/34183993/poverty-in-san-diego-county-higher-than-during-great-recession ]
sandiego  economics  poverty  2016  2017  employment  underemployment  unemployment  singlemoms  work  labor  inequality 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Genius and the Sharing Economy — Medium
"At this point, I became probably overly obsessed with the fact that Jeremy and Rap Genius were featured front and center in that Times article about the declining interested in the Humanities, and then with the use of that Times piece as a “hiring” strategy of sorts. Whatever their deal was, it seemed clear that The Times gave Genius the credibility to claim that [1] the humanities needing saving and [2] that increased traffic and content on their site was the way to do it. I’m not sure what Genius gave The Times in return, but I’ll just add here that the Genius guy giving the talk said the New York Times wasn’t going to be around in 5 years anyway.

In a room full of bright-eyed future businesspeople, I felt like a alien interloper and began to fashion my own tinfoil hat theories even though I suppose this sort of deal is how the marriage of journalism and commerce always works. More selfishly, I began to suspect that the job ad I had read was not actually a real job ad. (I know, kind of rich given my last post here [https://medium.com/@exhaust_fumes/the-inside-can-didate-f8d0c2312be8 ]).

I suppose anything I say from here on out could easily be dismissed as elitist or turf warring, or maybe just naive and overly-sensitive; it’s quite possibly true that my reaction to the Stern talk was rooted in my own vested interest in universities keeping Humanities programs funded. I generally have a very weak stomach for any kind of pro-capitalist language in academic and educational contexts, and in the winter of 2013, I was emotionally drained from trying to finish a book and find another job, and spiritually-speaking, I was running on fumes."



"The opportunity to go to Brooklyn is indeed a good thing; I live in Queens, but I know how good it is across the bridge where many of my friends live. Really, I shouldn’t be so glib: it’s cool to be part of something devoted to teaching and a bonus to have your travel expenses paid. I think it is also, as I was saying at the beginning of this long-ass post, a great example of the fucking sharing economy and what’s wrong with it. Be grateful to people who use a small fraction of their VC money to fly you somewhere — but also think about the value of what you give them in return.

I’m using swears there in the hopes that I sound like a Genius when I say things I’m not totally sure about; I’m a bit out of my comfort zone talking about how a start-up makes and uses money. I’m really good with my own financial affairs and budget, but my academic expertise is in 16th and 17th century drama and history so I worry I don’t really know what I’m talking about. But perhaps you are somebody who knows a lot more about these things and perhaps you know where to look to answer some of the questions I’ve tried to raise here.

I have no doubt that Genius has content and a viable business model without content from educators. But I still want to know more about the role and real worth of our labor in an economy that asks the precariously employed to share while its founders and investors make money. Humanities scholars can see all the tensions of our professional choices in this economy: the fact that we do our work for pleasure, that others find pleasure in our work, and that the work we love is only lucrative for some."
vimalapasupathi  genius.com  annotation  hypothes.is  labor  sharingeconomy  work  2016  technology  humanities  scholarship  gigeconomy  mahbodmoghadam  precarity  unemployment  rapgenius  business  adjuncts  hiring  2015  jeremydean  stanfordlitlab  evankindley  disclosure  tamarlewin  nytimes 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism | Foreign Policy
"Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought. In America, the bottom falls out fast.In America, the bottom falls out fast. The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered."



"Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Policies like a $15 per hour minimum wage — brought to mainstream attention not by Sanders, but by striking fast food workers years before — are not radical, but a pragmatic corrective to decades of wage depreciation. The minimum wage, which peaked in 1968, would have reached $21.72 in 2012 had it kept pace with productivity growth. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible, but nearly half of Americans do not have $400 to their name. The gap between the rhetoric of “economic recovery” and “low unemployment” and the reality of how most Americans live is what makes Sanders seem unconventional: he describes widespread economic hardship many leaders rationalize or deny. Voters are not only rejecting the status quo, but how the status quo is depicted by media and politicians — the illusion that the economy is strong, and that suffering is the exception, not the rule.

We live in an era where heated rhetorical battles are fought over terms that have lost clear meaning. In an attempt to placate an angry populace, all three major candidates — Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton — have at various times positioned themselves as “anti-establishment”: a dubious description of two career politicians and a billionaire tycoon. “Neoliberal” has gone from a term that describes an advocate of specific economic and political policies to an insult hurled indiscriminately on social media. Thanks to Trump, the word “fascist” has reentered the American political vocabulary, with some playing down Trump’s brutal and unlawful policies on the grounds that they do not precisely emulate foreign fascist leaders of the past. Meanwhile, Trump castigates Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” This sparring over labels illustrates the depths of our ideological confusion.

It is in this rhetorical morass that the debate over whether young Americans support “socialism” or “capitalism” takes place. Omitted from most coverage of the Harvard poll was the fact that youth were asked not only about socialism and capitalism but four other categories. “Which of the following, if any, do you support?” the questionnaire inquired, giving the options of socialism, capitalism, progressivism, patriotism, feminism, and social justice activism. None of the terms were defined. Respondents could choose more than one. “Socialism,” at 33 percent, actually received the lowest support. “Patriotism” received the highest support, at 57 percent, while the three remaining categories were each supported by roughly half the respondents.

What do these category-based questions really tell us, then, about the allegiance of youth to ideologies? Nothing. The real answers are found in questions about policies. When asked whether they support the idea that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.” Does this indicate support for socialism? Not necessarily. It indicates that respondents grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter — and they want the suffering to stop.

You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself."
age  capitalism  economics  us  socialsafetynet  socialism  2016  occupywallstreet  ows  democracy  labor  work  minimumwage  education  highered  highereducation  debt  neoliberalism  progressivism  patriotism  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  barackobama  opportunity  hope  despair  frustration  ideology  berniesanders  employment  unemployment  youth  politics  policy  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Six Implications of Brexit, Through the Eyes of a Foreign Resident – Zainab Usman
"1. An Anti-Establishment Vote by the Marginalised

The Brexit vote is a political backlash against the ‘establishment’, a catch all phrase for politicians, the media, economic institutions, or those with power. The way I see it, and as many analysts and economists have pointed out, this backlash is a political response to the progressive decline in material wellbeing of the middle class, from Thatcher’s reforms in the 1980s and exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis, a phenomenon neither seriously acknowledged nor addressed. There are so many grievances by working class and blue collar workers, displaced by steady loss of competitiveness and deindustrialisation of British manufacturing and the aftermath of the financial crisis. Since 2010, the austerity policies of massive cuts in social welfare and gross underinvestment in public services have pushed many in the working class to economic precarity while the financial institutions in the thick of it all were bailed out by the government with tax-payer funds, and rewarded their top executives with hefty bonuses. The average worker saw a 8% decline in real wages between 2008 and 2013, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Not to exaggerate, but there is a rise in food banks, an indication of rising food poverty in the world’s fifth largest economy.

Amidst all this, what I’ve always found astonishing is the dearth of critical commentary to articulate the grievances of this disadvantaged demographic in the public sphere especially in the British media. It is generally pro-establishment, including the so-called left-leaning press. Watching and following political commentaries, I’m often astonished at the sameness of views of most commentators, while critical voices are often savaged by the press, and thereby marginalised. Look no further at how both UK Independence Party (UKIP)’s Nigel Farage and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn on the far-right and far-left respectively, both propelled to power by vibrant grassroots movements are usually savaged daily in the press, and portrayed as loony, sloppy, and unsophisticated. In the run up to the referendum, there were few insights into the lives of everyday people who would be making this momentous decision, with the exception of this short documentary by The Guardian, released a day before the vote.

The referendum thus presented an opportunity for these marginalised, maligned and angry voices to speak, and this was their decision. For many, it was a vote against a ‘technocracy’ in Brussels, in Westminster, which formulated economic policies that they felt rightly or wrongly did not favour them but did an already advantaged ‘elite’. With the Brexit vote, I hope more politicians, journalists, and the commentariat will now be more open to actually listening to what the people are saying and are feeling, without being derisory

2. Britain: Beset by Class, Economic and Regional Disparities

Brexit and the lively debates which preceded it have unearthed and reinforced deep divisions in the U.K. The deeply ingrained and institutionalised class divisions across all spheres of British life in business, politics, the media, academia and the arts, never cease to amaze me. Even top chefs and top actors are Oxbridge educated or Eton alumni, as these reports by the Social Mobility and Child Welfare Commission in 2014, and by the Sutton Trust in 2016 revealed. Of course private education is inherently not bad, but it is the limited scope for social mobility and the hegemony of ideas that this represents that I find discomforting.

Numerous reports have been published since 2008 about rising economic inequalities, graduate unemployment, housing crisis, a strain on public services etc., leaving many behind, and reinforcing the privilege of elite Oxbridge, Public School (i.e. private school) and personal networks who sit atop all spheres. I’m neither ideological nor a huge fan of the Left, but it is the limited scope for social mobility across all strata in British public life, especially in the media and the arts, that I worry about. Most of the big newspapers (the Times, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Mirror, the Financial Times etc) are right of centre or very right wing (but not quite far right).

No wonder, there was a surge of support for the far-right and far-left movements during the general elections in 2015, and afterwards in Nigel Farage’s UKIP, Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, most of which were actually grassroots movements. Regionally, areas with higher unemployment, closed industries, preferred to Leave, including surprise surprise, the highly diverse Birmingham. While more prosperous and cosmopolitan areas such as London and Manchester preferred to Remain in the EU. Scotland, which is under the political control of the left-wing SNP overwhelmingly voted to Remain as illustrated below.

3. ‘Project Hate’s’ Victory Will Embolden Other Far-Right Movements



4. Scapegoating Foreigners and Minorities



5. Implications for Africa and the Commonwealth



6. Whither the International Liberal Order?"
brexit  2016  politics  policy  marginalization  economics  media  establisment  elitism  technocracy  class  geography  classism  zainabusman  inequality  poverty  precarity  derision  unemployment  housing  privilege  grassroots  stability  donaldtrump  nativism  racism  immigration  scapegoating  africa  commonwealth  neoliberalism  xenophobia  jocox  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
interfluidity » Attributions of causality
"Drum is certainly right to characterize the explicitly racist appeals of these movements as loathsome. But it isn’t enough to say “that’s where we are”. His interlocutors are right to point to economic anxiety and other disruptive changes rather than leave it there. We have to share the same world with every other human. Drum and I have to share the same country with Trump voters. We try to understand the world in order to better live in it. Explanations or assertions that don’t contribute to that are not worth very much.

How we attribute causality is a social choice, and it is a choice much less constrained than people who clothe themselves in the authority of “social science” or “the data” often pretend. Quantitative methods like instrumental variable analysis at their best indicate that some element is a factor in causing a measured phenomenon. For anything complex, they are rarely strong enough to even suggest either the necessity or the sufficiency of a factor. Social outcomes like susceptibility to racist appeals are affected by lots of things, and are probably overdetermined, so that one could generate equally strong results implicating a wide variety of different factors depending upon what is excluded from or included in ones model.

In political life, there are nearly always multiple reasonable models to choose from. Our choice of models is itself a moral and political act. For example, conservatives prefer cultural explanations for communities with high rates of young single motherhood, while liberals prefer economic explanations. These explanations are not mutually exclusive, both can be simultaneously true, but cultural explanations serve mostly to justify the social stratification that correlates with single motherhood, while economic explanations invite remedies. It might be true, and demonstrable in the usual statistical ways, that a certain neurological state “causes” the verbally expressed sensation of hunger. It might also be true and demonstrable that a prolonged absence of food causes the same expressed sensation. Both of these models may be true, but one of them suggests a more useful remedy than the other. And a more moral remedy. Prescribing a drug to blunt the hunger may yield a different long-term outcome than feeding food, in ways that are morally salient.

It may or may not be accurate to attribute the political behavior of large groups of people to racism, but it is not very useful. Those people got to be that way somehow. Presumably they, or eventually their progeny, can be un-got from being that way somehow. It is, I think, a political and moral error to content oneself with explanations that suggest no remedy at all, or that suggest prima facie problematic responses like ridiculing, ignoring, disenfranchising, or going to war with large groups of fellow citizens, unless no other explanations are colorable. It turns out that there are lots of explanations consistent with increased susceptibility to racist appeals that also suggest remedies less vague and more constructive than, say, “fighting racism” or censoring the right-wing press. With respect to Britain’s trauma, for example, Dan Davies points to Great Britain’s geographically concentrated prosperity, and the effect that has had on the distribution of native versus immigrant young people. I can’t evaluate the merits of that explanation, but it might at least be useful. It does suggest means by which the British polity might alter its arrangements to reintegrate its divided public.

I don’t mean to pick on Kevin Drum, whom I’ve read for more than a decade, and whom I really like a great deal. But it seems to me that the alleged “good guys” — the liberal, cosmopolitan class of which I myself am a part — have fallen into habits of ridiculing, demonizing, writing off, or, in its best moments, merely patronizing huge swathes of the polities to which we belong. They may do the same to us, but we are not toddlers, that is no excuse. In the United States, in Europe, we are allowing ourselves to disintegrate and arguing about who is to blame. Let’s all be better than that."
steverandywaldman  2016  via:tealtan  kevindrum  chrisarnade  uk  brexit  economics  disparity  inequality  labor  work  unemployment  disenfranchisement  racism  elitism  ageism  dehumanization  demonization  donaldtrump  class  classism  precarity 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Americans Don’t Miss Manufacturing — They Miss Unions | FiveThirtyEight
"Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions. The Midwest was, at least until recently, a bastion of union strength. Southern states, by contrast, are mostly “right-to-work” states where unions never gained a strong foothold. Private-sector unions have been shrinking across the country for decades, but they are stronger in the Midwest than in most other parts of the country. In Michigan, 23 percent of manufacturing production workers were union members in 2015; in South Carolina, less than 2 percent were.2

Unions also help explain why the middle class is healthier in the Midwest than in the Southeast, where manufacturing jobs have been growing rapidly in recent decades. A new analysis from the Pew Research Center this week explored the state of the middle class in different parts of the country by looking at the share of households making between two-thirds and double the national median income, after controlling for the local cost of living. In many Midwestern cities, 60 percent or more of households are considered “middle-income” by this definition; in some Southern cities, even those with large manufacturing bases, middle-income households are now in the minority.

Even in the Midwest, however, unions are weakening and the middle class is shrinking. In the Indianapolis metro area, where the Carrier plant Trump talks about is located, the share of households in the middle tier of earners has shrunk to 54.8 percent in 2014 from 58.9 percent in 2000. And unlike in some parts of the country, the decline in the middle class there has been primarily driven by people falling into the lower tier of earners, not moving up. The Carrier plant, where workers make more than $20 an hour, is unionized.

Cause and effect here is complicated. Unions have been weakened by some of the same forces that are driving down wages overall, such as globalization and automation. And while unions benefit their members, economists disagree over whether they are good for the economy as a whole. Liberal economists note that overall wages tend to be higher in union-friendly states; conservative economists counter that unemployment tends to be higher in those states, too.

But this much is clear: For all of the glow that surrounds manufacturing jobs in political rhetoric, there is nothing inherently special about them. Some pay well; others don’t. They are not immune from the forces that have led to slow wage growth in other sectors of the economy. When politicians pledge to protect manufacturing jobs, they really mean a certain kind of job: well-paid, long-lasting, with opportunities for advancement. Those aren’t qualities associated with working on a factory floor; they’re qualities associated with being a member of a union."
us  unions  labor  manufacturing  2016  bencasselman  politics  organization  work  class  race  birthrate  economics  unemployment  employment  recession  federalreserve 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Teaching Machines and Turing Machines: The History of the Future of Labor and Learning
"In all things, all tasks, all jobs, women are expected to perform affective labor – caring, listening, smiling, reassuring, comforting, supporting. This work is not valued; often it is unpaid. But affective labor has become a core part of the teaching profession – even though it is, no doubt, “inefficient.” It is what we expect – stereotypically, perhaps – teachers to do. (We can debate, I think, if it’s what we reward professors for doing. We can interrogate too whether all students receive care and support; some get “no excuses,” depending on race and class.)

What happens to affective teaching labor when it runs up against robots, against automation? Even the tasks that education technology purports to now be able to automate – teaching, testing, grading – are shot through with emotion when done by humans, or at least when done by a person who’s supposed to have a caring, supportive relationship with their students. Grading essays isn’t necessarily burdensome because it’s menial, for example; grading essays is burdensome because it is affective labor; it is emotionally and intellectually exhausting.

This is part of our conundrum: teaching labor is affective not simply intellectual. Affective labor is not valued. Intellectual labor is valued in research. At both the K12 and college level, teaching of content is often seen as menial, routine, and as such replaceable by machine. Intelligent machines will soon handle the task of cultivating human intellect, or so we’re told.

Of course, we should ask what happens when we remove care from education – this is a question about labor and learning. What happens to thinking and writing when robots grade students’ essays, for example. What happens when testing is standardized, automated? What happens when the whole educational process is offloaded to the machines – to “intelligent tutoring systems,” “adaptive learning systems,” or whatever the latest description may be? What sorts of signals are we sending students?

And what sorts of signals are the machines gathering in turn? What are they learning to do?
Often, of course, we do not know the answer to those last two questions, as the code and the algorithms in education technologies (most technologies, truth be told) are hidden from us. We are becoming as law professor Frank Pasquale argues a “black box society.” And the irony is hardly lost on me that one of the promises of massive collection of student data under the guise of education technology and learning analytics is to crack open the “black box” of the human brain.

We still know so little about how the brain works, and yet, we’ve adopted a number of metaphors from our understanding of that organ to explain how computers operate: memory, language, intelligence. Of course, our notion of intelligence – its measurability – has its own history, one wrapped up in eugenics and, of course, testing (and teaching) machines. Machines now both frame and are framed by this question of intelligence, with little reflection on the intellectual and ideological baggage that we carry forward and hard-code into them."



"We’re told by some automation proponents that instead of a future of work, we will find ourselves with a future of leisure. Once the robots replace us, we will have immense personal freedom, so they say – the freedom to pursue “unproductive” tasks, the freedom to do nothing at all even, except I imagine, to continue to buy things.
On one hand that means that we must address questions of unemployment. What will we do without work? How will we make ends meet? How will this affect identity, intellectual development?

Yet despite predictions about the end of work, we are all working more. As games theorist Ian Bogost and others have observed, we seem to be in a period of hyper-employment, where we find ourselves not only working numerous jobs, but working all the time on and for technology platforms. There is no escaping email, no escaping social media. Professionally, personally – no matter what you say in your Twitter bio that your Tweets do not represent the opinions of your employer – we are always working. Computers and AI do not (yet) mark the end of work. Indeed, they may mark the opposite: we are overworked by and for machines (for, to be clear, their corporate owners).

Often, we volunteer to do this work. We are not paid for our status updates on Twitter. We are not compensated for our check-in’s in Foursquare. We don’t get kick-backs for leaving a review on Yelp. We don’t get royalties from our photos on Flickr.

We ask our students to do this volunteer labor too. They are not compensated for the data and content that they generate that is used in turn to feed the algorithms that run TurnItIn, Blackboard, Knewton, Pearson, Google, and the like. Free labor fuels our technologies: Forum moderation on Reddit – done by volunteers. Translation of the courses on Coursera and of the videos on Khan Academy – done by volunteers. The content on pretty much every “Web 2.0” platform – done by volunteers.

We are working all the time; we are working for free.

It’s being framed, as of late, as the “gig economy,” the “freelance economy,” the “sharing economy” – but mostly it’s the service economy that now comes with an app and that’s creeping into our personal not just professional lives thanks to billions of dollars in venture capital. Work is still precarious. It is low-prestige. It remains unpaid or underpaid. It is short-term. It is feminized.

We all do affective labor now, cultivating and caring for our networks. We respond to the machines, the latest version of ELIZA, typing and chatting away hoping that someone or something responds, that someone or something cares. It’s a performance of care, disguising what is the extraction of our personal data."



"Personalization. Automation. Management. The algorithms will be crafted, based on our data, ostensibly to suit us individually, more likely to suit power structures in turn that are increasingly opaque.

Programmatically, the world’s interfaces will be crafted for each of us, individually, alone. As such, I fear, we will lose our capacity to experience collectivity and resist together. I do not know what the future of unions looks like – pretty grim, I fear; but I do know that we must enhance collective action in order to resist a future of technological exploitation, dehumanization, and economic precarity. We must fight at the level of infrastructure – political infrastructure, social infrastructure, and yes technical infrastructure.

It isn’t simply that we need to resist “robots taking our jobs,” but we need to challenge the ideologies, the systems that loath collectivity, care, and creativity, and that champion some sort of Randian individual. And I think the three strands at this event – networks, identity, and praxis – can and should be leveraged to precisely those ends.

A future of teaching humans not teaching machines depends on how we respond, how we design a critical ethos for ed-tech, one that recognizes, for example, the very gendered questions at the heart of the Turing Machine’s imagined capabilities, a parlor game that tricks us into believing that machines can actually love, learn, or care."
2015  audreywatters  education  technology  academia  labor  work  emotionallabor  affect  edtech  history  highered  highereducation  teaching  schools  automation  bfskinner  behaviorism  sexism  howweteach  alanturing  turingtest  frankpasquale  eliza  ai  artificialintelligence  robots  sharingeconomy  power  control  economics  exploitation  edwardthorndike  thomasedison  bobdylan  socialmedia  ianbogost  unemployment  employment  freelancing  gigeconomy  serviceeconomy  caring  care  love  loving  learning  praxis  identity  networks  privacy  algorithms  freedom  danagoldstein  adjuncts  unions  herbertsimon  kevinkelly  arthurcclarke  sebastianthrun  ellenlagemann  sidneypressey  matthewyglesias  karelčapek  productivity  efficiency  bots  chatbots  sherryturkle 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture - Vox
"Here are seven ways living abroad made it hard to return to American life.

1) I had work-life balance…

2) I had time and money …

3) I had the support of an amazing unemployment system …

4) I witnessed what happens when countries impose wealth-based taxes …

5) I had lots of paid vacation time and was never made to feel guilty about taking it …

6) I never had to own a car …

7) I had excellent health care when I gave birth — and then enjoyed a fully paid 14-week maternity leave …"
us  economics  well-being  switzerland  work  culture  society  2015  chantalpanozzo  vacation  employment  unemployment  taxes  taxation  inequality  qualityoflife  work-lifebalance 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Iceland put bankers in jail rather than bailing them out — and it worked - Vox
"Yesterday, Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, announced a plan that will essentially close the books on his country's approach to handling the financial crisis — an approach that deviated greatly from the preferences of global financial elites and succeeded quite well. Instead of embracing the orthodoxy of bank bailouts, austerity, and low inflation, Iceland did just the opposite. And even though its economy was hammered by the banking crisis perhaps harder than any other in the world, its labor didn't deteriorate all that much, and it had a great recovery.

How great? Well, compare the evolution of Iceland's unemployment rate with what happened in Ireland, the star pupil of the Very Serious People:

[chart]

Or compare it with the United States:

[chart]

How did Iceland pull it off?

Let the banks go bust

For starters, rather than scrambling to mobilize public resources to make sure banks didn't default on their various obligations, Iceland let the banks go bust. Executives of the country's most important bank were prosecuted as criminals.

Reject austerity

[chart]

Iceland was nonetheless hit by a very serious recession that caused its debt-to-GDP ratio to soar. But even after several years of steady increases, the government didn't panic. It prioritized recovery. And when recovery was underway and the ratio began to fall, the government let it fall gently.

Devalue and accept inflation

[chart]

There's no free lunch in life, and no country recovers from a severe recession without some bad things happening. But while most developed countries have gone through years of grindingly high unemployment paired with super-low inflation, Iceland did the reverse. It let the value of its currency tumble, which naturally brought about higher prices.

But as a result, the country's export industries rapidly gained ground in international markets. Unemployment rose, but maxed out at a modest 7.6 percent before falling steadily to a very low level. In the US and Europe, the priority has been on low inflation to protect the asset values of the wealthy. Iceland prioritized jobs, and it worked.

Impose temporary capital controls

In the context of bank defaults and a plunging currency, the government felt it was necessary to impose an additional measure — capital controls, regulations restricting Icelandic citizens' ability to take their money out of the country. This is a serious violation of free market orthodoxy. More importantly, it can be a major hassle to ordinary people's lives and an impediment to starting new businesses. In some countries, like Argentina, capital controls become a breeding ground of corruption and mischief.

That leads some to believe that no matter how well heterodox policies work economically, they're ultimately doomed to political failure.

Iceland shows that's not the case. Getting policy right is difficult, but it can be done. And the upside to doing the right thing — devaluing the currency massively, then imposing capital controls to contain the fallout, then ending the capital controls once the economy recovers — can be enormous. Iceland has had a rough time over the past seven or eight years, but so have a lot of other countries. Things are looking up there now because the country's leaders had the wisdom to reject elements of the self-satisfied conventional wisdom that have proven so harmful elsewhere."
iceland  banking  greatrecession  austerity  finance  2015  economics  matthewyglesias  unemployment  employment  labor  policy  politics  regulation  capitalcontols  currency  devaluation  inflation 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Robert Reich (The Political Roots of Widening Inequality)
"A deeper understanding of what has happened to American incomes over the last 25 years requires an examination of changes in the organization of the market. These changes stem from a dramatic increase in the political power of large corporations and Wall Street to change the rules of the market in ways that have enhanced their profitability, while reducing the share of economic gains going to the majority of Americans.

This transformation has amounted to a redistribution upward, but not as “redistribution” is normally defined. The government did not tax the middle class and poor and transfer a portion of their incomes to the rich. The government undertook the upward redistribution by altering the rules of the game.

Intellectual property rights—patents, trademarks, and copyrights—have been enlarged and extended, for example. This has created windfalls for pharmaceuticals, high tech, biotechnology, and many entertainment companies, which now preserve their monopolies longer than ever. It has also meant high prices for average consumers, including the highest pharmaceutical costs of any advanced nation.

At the same time, antitrust laws have been relaxed for corporations with significant market power. This has meant large profits for Monsanto, which sets the prices for most of the nation’s seed corn; for a handful of companies with significant market power over network portals and platforms (Amazon, Facebook, and Google); for cable companies facing little or no broadband competition (Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon); and for the largest Wall Street banks, among others. And as with intellectual property rights, this market power has simultaneously raised prices and reduced services available to average Americans. (Americans have the most expensive and slowest broadband of any industrialized nation, for example.)

Financial laws and regulations instituted in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929 and the consequential Great Depression have been abandoned—restrictions on interstate banking, on the intermingling of investment and commercial banking, and on banks becoming publicly held corporations, for example—thereby allowing the largest Wall Street banks to acquire unprecedented influence over the economy. The growth of the financial sector, in turn, spawned junk-bond financing, unfriendly takeovers, private equity and “activist” investing, and the notion that corporations exist solely to maximize shareholder value.

Bankruptcy laws have been loosened for large corporations—notably airlines and automobile manufacturers—allowing them to abrogate labor contracts, threaten closures unless they receive wage concessions, and leave workers and communities stranded. Notably, bankruptcy has not been extended to homeowners who are burdened by mortgage debt and owe more on their homes than the homes are worth, or to graduates laden with student debt. Meanwhile, the largest banks and auto manufacturers were bailed out in the downturn of 2008–2009. The result has been to shift the risks of economic failure onto the backs of average working people and taxpayers.

Contract laws have been altered to require mandatory arbitration before private judges selected by big corporations. Securities laws have been relaxed to allow insider trading of confidential information. CEOs have used stock buybacks to boost share prices when they cash in their own stock options. Tax laws have created loopholes for the partners of hedge funds and private-equity funds, special favors for the oil and gas industry, lower marginal income-tax rates on the highest incomes, and reduced estate taxes on great wealth.

All these instances represent distributions upward—toward big corporations and financial firms, and their executives and shareholders—and away from average working people."



"The underlying problem, then, is not that most Americans are “worth” less in the market than they had been, or that they have been living beyond their means. Nor is it that they lack enough education to be sufficiently productive. The more basic problem is that the market itself has become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed interests that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while average workers have steadily lost bargaining power—both economic and political—to receive as large a portion of the economy’s gains as they commanded in the first three decades after World War II. As a result, their means have not kept up with what the economy could otherwise provide them.

To attribute this to the impersonal workings of the “free market” is to disregard the power of large corporations and the financial sector, which have received a steadily larger share of economic gains as a result of that power. As their gains have continued to accumulate, so has their power to accumulate even more.

Under these circumstances, education is no panacea. Reversing the scourge of widening inequality requires reversing the upward distributions within the rules of the market, and giving workers the bargaining leverage they need to get a larger share of the gains from growth. Yet neither will be possible as long as large corporations and Wall Street have the power to prevent such a restructuring. And as they, and the executives and managers who run them, continue to collect the lion’s share of the income and wealth generated by the economy, their influence over the politicians, administrators, and judges who determine the rules of the game may be expected to grow.

The answer to this conundrum is not found in economics. It is found in politics. The changes in the organization of the economy have been reinforcing and cumulative: As more of the nation’s income flows to large corporations and Wall Street and to those whose earnings and wealth derive directly from them, the greater is their political influence over the rules of the market, which in turn enlarges their share of total income.

The more dependent politicians become on their financial favors, the greater is the willingness of such politicians and their appointees to reorganize the market to the benefit of these moneyed interests. The weaker unions and other traditional sources of countervailing power become economically, the less able they are to exert political influence over the rules of the market, which causes the playing field to tilt even further against average workers and the poor.

Ultimately, the trend toward widening inequality in America, as elsewhere, can be reversed only if the vast majority, whose incomes have stagnated and whose wealth has failed to increase, join together to demand fundamental change. The most important political competition over the next decades will not be between the right and left, or between Republicans and Democrats. It will be between a majority of Americans who have been losing ground, and an economic elite that refuses to recognize or respond to its growing distress."
robertreich  2015  economics  inequality  histoy  corporatism  politics  policy  wealth  productivity  globalization  markets  capitalism  labor  work  insecutiry  greatrecession  recession  unemployment  underemployment  finance  banks  banking  wallstreet  education  government  ideology 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Unexotic Underclass | The MIT Entrepreneurship Review
"The startup scene today, and by ‘scene’ I’m sweeping a fairly catholic brush over a large swath of people – observers, critics, investors, entrepreneurs, ‘want’repreneurs, academics, techies, and the like – seems to be riven into two camps.

On one side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems – capital B, capital P: clean energy, poverty, famine, climate change, you name it. I needn’t replay their song here; they’ve argued their cases far more eloquently elsewhere. In short, they contend that too many brains and dollars have been shoveled into resolving what I call ‘anti-problems’ – interests usually centered about food or fashion or ‘social’or gaming. Something an anti-problem company might develop is an app that provides restaurant recommendations based on your blood type, a picture of your childhood pet, the music preferences of your 3 best friends, and the barometric pressure of the nearest city beginning with the letter Q. (That such an app does not yet exist is reminder still of how impoverished a state American scientific education has descended. Weep not! We redouble our calls for more STEM funding.)

On the other side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems – capital B, capital P – that there are too many folks resolving anti-problems… BUT just to be on the safe side, the venture capitalists should keep pumping tons of money into those anti-problem entrepreneurs because you never know when some corporate leviathan – Google, Facebook, Yahoo! – will come along and buy what yesterday looked like a nonsense app and today is still a nonsense app, but a nonsense app that can walk a bit taller, held aloft by the insanities of American exceptionalism. For not only is our sucker birthrate still high in this country (one every minute, baby!), but our suckers are capitalists bearing fat checks.

On the other other side, a side that receives scant attention, scanter investment, is where big problems – little b, little p – reside. Here, you’ll find a group I’ll refer to as the unexotic underclass. It’s rather quiet in these parts, except during campaign season when the politicians stop by to scrape anecdotes off the skin of someone else’s suffering. Let’s see who’s here.

To your left are single mothers, 80% of whom, according to the US Census, are poor or hovering on the nasty edges of working poverty. They are struggling to raise their kids in a country that seems to conspire against any semblance of proper rearing: a lack of flexibility in the workplace; a lack of free or affordable after-school programs; an abysmal public education system where a testing-mad, criminally-deficient curriculum is taught during a too-short school day; an inescapable lurid wallpaper of sex and violence that covers every surface of society; a cultural disregard for intelligence, empathy and respect; a cultural imperative to look hot, spend money and own the latest “it”-device (or should I say i-device) no matter what it costs, no matter how little money Mum may have.

Slightly to the right, are your veterans of two ongoing wars in the Middle East. Wait, we’re at war? Some of these veterans, having served multiple tours, are returning from combat with all manner of monstrosities ravaging their heads and bodies. If that weren’t enough, welcome back, dear vets, to a flaccid economy, where your military training makes you invisible to an invisible hand that rewards only those of us who are young and expensively educated.

Welcome back to a 9-month wait for medical benefits. According to investigative reporter Aaron Glantz, who was embedded in Iraq, and has now authored The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans, 9 months is the average amount of time a veteran waits for his or her disability claim to be processed after having filed their paperwork. And by ‘filed their paperwork,’ I mean it literally: veterans are sending bundles of papers to some bureaucratic Dantean capharnaum run by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where, by its own admission, it processes 97% of its claims by hand, stacking them in heaps on tables and in cabinets.

In the past 5 years, the number of vets who’ve died before their claim has even been processed has tripled. This is America in 2013: 40 years ago we put a man on the moon; today a young lady in New York can use anti-problem technology if she wishes to line up a date this Friday choosing only from men who are taller than 6 feet, graduated from an Ivy, live within 10 blocks of Gramercy, and play tennis left-handed…

…And yet, veterans who’ve returned from Afghanistan and Iraq have to wait roughly 270 days (up to 600 in New York and California) to receive the help — medical, moral, financial – which they urgently need, to which they are honorably entitled, after having fought our battles overseas.

Technology, indeed, is solving the right problems.

Let’s keep walking. Meet the people who have the indignity of being over 50 and finding themselves suddenly jobless. These are the Untouchables of the new American workforce: 3+ decades of employment and experience have disqualified them from ever seeing a regular salary again. Once upon a time, some modicum of employer noblesse oblige would have ensured that loyal older workers be retained or at the very least retrained, MBA advice be damned. But, “A bas les vieux!” the fancy consultants cried, and out went those who were ‘no longer fresh.’ As Taylor Swift would put it, corporate America and the Boomer worker “are never ever getting back together.” Instead bring in the young, the childless, the tech-savvy here in America, and the underpaid and quasi-indentured abroad willing to work for slightly north of nothing in the kinds of conditions we abolished in the 19th century.

For, in the 21st century, a prosperous American business is a soaring 2-storied cake: 1 management layer at top thick with perks, golden parachutes, stock options, and a total disregard for those beneath them; 1 layer below of increasingly foreign workers (If you’re lucky, you trained these people before you were laid off!), who can’t even depend on their jobs because as we speak, those sameself consultants – but no one that we know of course — are scouring the globe for the cheapest labor opportunities, fulfilling their promise that no CEO be left behind.

Above all of this, the frosting on the cake, the nec plus ultra of evolutionary corporate accomplishment: the Director of Social Media. This is the 20-year old whose role it is to “leverage social media to deliver a seamless authentic experience across multiple digital streams to strategic partners and communities.” In other words, this person gets paid six figures to send out tweets. But again, no one that we know.

Time and space and my own sheltered upbringing defend me from giving you the whole tour of the unexotic underclass, but trust that it is big, and only getting bigger."



"There’s nothing wrong with the entrepreneurship-as-salvation gospel. Nothing wrong with teaching more people to code. But it’s impractical in the short term, and misses the greater point in the long term: We shouldn’t live in a universe of solipsistic startups… where I start a company and produce things only for myself and for people who resemble me. Let’s be honest. Very few of us are members of this unexotic underclass. Very few of us even know anyone who’s in it. There’s no shame in that. That we have sailed on a yacht of good fortune most of our lives — supportive generous families, a stable peaceful democracy, excellent schooling, prestigious careers and companies, relatively good health – is nothing to be ashamed of. Consider yourselves remarkably blessed."



"When I look at the bulk of startups today – while there are notable exceptions (Code for America for example, which invites local governments to request technology help from teams of coders) – it doesn’t seem like we’ve aspired to something nobler: it just looks like we’ve shifted the malpractice from feeding the money machine to making inane, self-centric apps. Worse, is that the power players, institutional and individual — the highflying VCs, the entrepreneurship incubators, the top-ranked MBA programs, the accelerators, the universities, the business plan competitions have been complicit in this nonsense.

Those who are entrepreneurially-minded but young and idea-poor need serious direction from those who are rich in capital and connections. We see what ideas are getting funded, we see money flowing like the river Ganges towards insipid me-too products, so is it crazy that we’ve been thinking small? building smaller? that our “blood and judgment” to quote Hamlet, have not been “so well commingled?”

We need someone bold (and older than us) to stand up for Big Problems which are tough and dirty. But what we especially need is someone to stand up for big problems – little b, little p –which are tough and dirty and too easy to overlook.

We need:

A Ron Conway, a Fred Wilson-type at the venture level to say, ‘Kiddies, basta with this bull*%!..  This year we’re only investing in companies targeting the unexotic underclass.”

A Paul Graham and his Y Combinator at the incubator level, to devote one season to the underclass, be it veterans, single moms or overworked young doctors, Native Americans, the list is long:  “Help these entrepreneurs build something that will help you.”

The head of an MIT or an HBS or a Stanford Law at the academic level, to tell the entire incoming class: “You are lucky to be some of the best engineering and business and law students, not just in the country, but in the world.  And as an end-of-year project, you are going to use that talent to develop … [more]
creativity  entrepreneurship  poverty  inequality  wickedproblems  purpose  siliconvalley  class  venturecapital  problemsolving  economics  capitalism  work  labor  unemployment  veterans  via:sha  underclass  inequity  business  cznnaemeka  2013 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The story of college — Medium
[Wayback: https://web.archive.org/web/20150406173924/https://medium.com/@freddiedeboer/the-story-of-college-48d3603e58c6 ]

"We are left with a situation in which institutions that were originally created to perpetuate the reign of an inherited, moneyed elite, and to train that elite to be civic leaders, are now facing the burden of incredible expectations. We expect our colleges, at this point, to essentially create a healthy labor market. With the demise of the middle class uneducated lifestyle, thanks to deliberate policy choices to crush unions and globalize labor markets, colleges are now expected to train an ever-growing population of students adequately to ensure them good jobs. Meanwhile, the madcap race to compete in the Resort-Hotel-Plus-Classes vision of higher education has resulted in an increasing reliance on exploited adjunct labor, the demise of the professoriate, the rise of sky-high tuitions and attendant debt loads, and more and more deserved public scrutiny.

In other words, America’s conservative, corporatist turn has led to declining per-capita state funding for universities thanks to austerity politics, the demise of unions as upwards pressure on wages, a shredded social safety net for those who struggle, and spiraling inequality that sees more and more of the economic pie eaten by a tiny elite. College still makes sense for graduates, as they continue to enjoy significant premiums in wages and unemployment over those without college educations. But the race to credentialize puts enormous pressure on high school students to attend the most selective institutions, erodes the value of the bachelor’s degree itself and compels many to pursue graduate degrees in law or business or medicine, and perhaps even perpetuates inequality rather than reducing it. After all, even with all of the expansion, only about 40% of working Americans has a college degree. It is unclear if the economic advantage they enjoy will survive with further expansion, given that skilled labor is subject to basic forces of supply and demand.

We’re left in a situation where everyone agrees that something has gone badly wrong, but no one is quite sure what alternatives to pursue. Many, such as myself, believe that too many people are being pushed into colleges where they are unlikely to succeed, but there is little in the way of alternative plans for mass prosperity. Arguments to increase the number of students attending trade schools are intuitively satisfying but lack evidentiary support. Arguments for sending more and more students into STEM fields are directly contradicted by available evidence. Arguments for mass online education cannot provide evidence that such systems can actually provide a quality education, particularly for the most at-risk students, and omit the social and networking functions that are an important aspect of college success. Average people can’t afford the rising cost of college thanks to enormous income inequality and stagnant wages, but neither can they afford not to go to school.

Colleges and universities deserve harsh criticism and badly need reform. The rise in administrative and amenity spending is suicidal; the use of exploited labor, unconscionable. Tuition rates must continue to slow, as they recently have. But ultimately, the problem is with our economy writ large. The pressures that colleges are under stem from the demise of broadly-shared prosperity. Without returning a substantial portion of the income growth for the top 10%, 5%, and 1% to the median American, there is likely no alternative to mass debt and economic stagnation. Proposals for free tuition and broad student loan forgiveness are a good start. But ultimately, our problems with higher education can only be solved through redistributive economic reform."
freddiedeboer  highered  highereducation  2015  history  policy  administrativebloat  economics  gender  race  colleges  universities  politics  inequality  labor  costs  education  stagnation  ronaldreagan  anationatrisk  wages  employment  unemployment  tuition  unions  us 
april 2015 by robertogreco
What "Causes" Poverty? | Demos
"Pundits of all stripes are relitigating this somewhat tired debate about what "causes" poverty. David Brooks, apparently with no self-awareness or self-reflection, bemoans nonjudgmentalism towards those who stray from specific family forms. Nicholas Kristof, previously famous for his hilarious fever dreams about a mysterious underclass of Kentucky welfare cheats, wrote a somewhat similar column, drawing upon the same tropes and no new analysis. Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, Paul Krugman, and Jeff Spross push back, noting, among other things, that poverty can be dealt with in other proven ways and that impoverishment, the demise of good working class jobs, and precariousness are themselves at the root of a lot of relationship strife.

There is a problem in this entire debate that nobody ever seems to grapple with, and that is: what exactly is meant by asking what "causes" poverty? What exactly is being communicated when someone says X, whether that's declining morals or family values or whatever else, causes poverty? This might seem like a tedious question, but it's actually the most crucial question in the debate.

Elderly

Would it be correct, for instance, for me to say old age causes poverty? On first take, I guess the answer would be no, or not really. At 9.5%, the elderly poverty rate is the lowest in the country among the different age groups. But, this didn't used to be the case.

In 1967, the elderly poverty rate was 29.5%, and the highest among the age groups. Since then, Social Security retirement benefits more than doubled, which is why the elderly poverty rate has been pushed so low. If you subtract these benefits from the Census microdata file, the current elderly poverty rate shoots to over 40%.

So, once again, the question is posed: does old age cause poverty? Well, when we have low public pension benefits, the answer seems to be yes. But when we have high public pension benefits, the answer seems to be no. Whether old age entails poverty thus depends on our economic institutions. Standing alone, old age is not sufficient to result in poverty. It results in poverty only if it gets an assist by pro-poverty economic institutions.

Disability

The same question can be asked of disability: does it cause poverty? Before answering that question, consider this graph of disability poverty with and without public benefits: [graph]

Now, even counting transfers, disability poverty is higher than overall poverty by 5 to 6 percentage points. When we exclude transfers (which primarily come from Social Security and Supplemental Security Income), however, the disability poverty rate is over 50%.

So would we say disability "causes" poverty? Once again, it really seems to depend on what economic institutions you find yourself in. Under some sets of institutions (e.g. if we eliminated disability benefits), disability results in high and severe poverty. Under other institutions, it does not. Our institutions still make disabled people poorer than the overall population by a significant margin, but more generous and better designed disability benefits probably could close if not eliminate that gap.

I could replicate this same point for nearly anything else you could throw at me. Does child-having cause poverty? Seems to under US institutions, but not others. Does sickness cause personal bankruptcy? Seems to under US healthcare institutions, but not others. The same goes for unemployment, single parenting, low levels of education, bad jobs, and so on. What level of poverty attaches to each of those conditions is heavily determined by what set of economic institutions (whether liberal market, corporatist conservative, social democratic, or something else) they occur in.

We have this debate about poverty's "causes" as if economic institutions do not exist, as if we are pondering over poverty's causes in some kind of abstract ether denuded of any of the economic particularities of our time and place. Needless to say, this pretension is as useless as it is deluded.

Pundits never actually debate about what "causes" poverty in some universalist sense. They debate about what conditions are associated with high poverty in some specific economic system, without every clarifying that they are doing so and indeed probably not even realizing they are doing so themselves.

Given where the US is today, modifying our background economic institutions is clearly and indisputably the most effective way to reduce overall poverty. Across the board and across all sorts of different categories, the US features poverty rates that are much higher than those seen elsewhere in the world. This is directly attributable to its garbage institutions, in particular its bare minimum levels of social insurance benefits.

It's trivially easy to identify specific patterns within our across-the-board elevated poverty and then declare things associated with those patterns as "causes" (just as it used to be trivially easy to declare that old age was a major cause of US poverty). But if your goal is to actually cut poverty, fixing our pro-poverty institutions is what really matters, not treading in the murky waters of causation theory."
mattbrienig  2015  poverty  economics  socialsafetynet  us  policy  age  disability  parenting  socialsecurity  systemsthinking  causation  healthcare  unemployment  sickness  bankruptcy  socialinsurance  society  politics  disabilities 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why Should We Support the Idea of an Unconditional Basic Income? — Working Life — Medium
[Section titles: ]

"What would you do?
Didn’t they try this in Russia?
The magic of markets
Can we really improve capitalism or is this just theory?
Larger rewards lead to poorer performance.
Capitalism 2.0 sounds great and all but can we afford it?
Okay, it’s affordable… but wouldn’t people stop working?
But still, what about those few who WOULD stop working?
Why would (insert who you dislike) ever agree to this?"
universalbasicincome  capitalism  communism  economics  markets  2014  scottsantens  namibia  poverty  danielpink  productivity  power  choice  workweek  hours  thomaspiketty  psychology  motivation  canada  seattle  denver  1970s  taxes  taxation  inequality  alaska  mincome  employment  unemployment  work  labor  freedom  empowerment  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Is It Bad Enough Yet? - NYTimes.com
"Then, of course, there are the matters of justice and morality. It simply isn’t right to pay people a sub-living wage with no potential for more, and as the comedian Chris Rock says, employers would pay even less if they could get away with it.

The #blacklivesmatter movement — there’s no better description — is already having an impact as well. Don’t think for a second we’d be having a national debate about police brutality (one that includes many on the right), or a White House plan to examine and fix law enforcement, without demonstrations in the streets.

The initial Obama plan is encouraging but lacking, and that’s all the more reason to keep demonstrating. (What good are body cameras, by the way? The videotape of Rodney King’s beating was seen around the world yet resulted in acquittals; Eric Garner’s choking death, viewed millions of times online, didn’t even lead to a trial, even though police chokeholds are banned in New York City.) Besides, as Sanders says, “Even if every cop were a constitutional lawyer and a great person, if you have 30 percent unemployment among African-American young people you still have a huge problem.”

I have spent a great deal of time talking about the food movement and its potential, because to truly change the food system you really have to change just about everything: good nutrition stems from access to good food; access to good food isn’t going to happen without economic justice; that isn’t going to happen without taxing the superrich; and so on. The same is true of other issues: You can’t fix climate change or the environment without stopping the unlimited exploitation of natural and human resources (see Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”). Same with social well-being.

Everything affects everything. It’s all tied together, and the starting place hardly matters: A just and righteous system will have a positive impact on everything we care about, just as an unjust, exploitative system makes everything worse.

Increasingly, it seems, there’s an appetite and even unity to take on the billionaire class. Let’s recognize that if we are seeing positive change now, it’s in part because elected officials respond to pressure, and let’s remember that that pressure must be maintained no matter who is in office. Even if Bernie Sanders were to become president, the need for pressure would continue.

“True citizenship,” says Jayaraman of Berkeley — echoing Jefferson — “is people continually protesting.” Precisely."
markbittman  2014  blacklivesmatter  justice  socialjustice  inequality  mininmumwage  chrisrock  protest  economics  racism  race  us  economicjustice  politics  policy  unemployment  lawenforcement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
08 | November | 2011 | AN EMPIRE OF ONE
"Two recent books, Alan Moore: Storyteller (which my wife was lucky enough to win from this site) and Grant Morrison’s Supergods, have re-sparked a question I’ve had regarding the connection between England’s social welfare system and the Eighties invasion of American comics by British writers and artists. There’s no doubt there were several factors, with perhaps the emergence, in the late Seventies, of comics magazines such as 2000 A.D., Warrior, the Marvel U.K. line being especially important. But the most intriguing factor? The dole.

So what is my hypothesis? That comic book artists such as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison would not exist without having had the benefit of being supported for several years by the British unemployment benefits system, otherwise known as “the dole,” thus giving them time to develop their skills such that they could survive without the dole.

The evidence?

Alan Moore: Storyteller:
Moore left the financial security of the office job [in 1977] and signed on at the Department of Health and Social Security for unemployment benefits. (p. 44)

Grant Morrison’s Supergods:
Perhaps at last, this [ie, superhero comics as represented especially by Alan Moore’s version of Marvelman, which first appeared in 1982] could be a way of making enough money to quit the dole and get noticed doing something I loved. (p. 186)
At twenty-four [1984],… I was still on the dole and living at home… (p. 208)

I do not know if Morrison and Moore are typical or exceptions, but I’m leaning towards their being representative of the writers and artists who constituted the British Invasion of American comics in the Eighties. The unemployment system in the USA in the Eighties did not allow anyone to continue collecting benefits for several years and, unlike Alan Moore’s case, it was not possible to obtain benefits after quitting or refusing a job. Another requirement was to have worked (on the books) for a certain number of weeks during the previous x number of months. In other words, to qualify for unemployment benefits in the USA, you had to have been employed a minimum amount of time, laid off (not fired), provide proof every other week of looking for work during the previous two weeks, and, even if you could not find a job, after a period of about six months the benefits would cease. The British system appears to have been very different.

Imagine an Earth-2 where Great Britain had no unemployment benefits. Would Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have been able to become Alan Moore and Grant Morrison without the benefit of the dole?"

[Continue reading for multiple updates to the post.]
alanmoore  grantmorrison  welfare  creativity  imagination  2014  uk  thedole  labor  work  cognitivesurplus  comics  socialsecurity  unemployment  comfort  money  benefits  2011 
december 2014 by robertogreco
No, college isn’t the answer. Reparations are. - The Washington Post
"I am mostly uninterested in political rhetoric about education being the “new” civil rights movement. The old civil rights movement waged a battle for citizenship through school legislation because that was the nearest available political tool. The landmark civil rights case, Brown versus the Board of Education, was initially conceived as a means for justice, not its end. I also think that narrowly focusing on college completion is not a good thing. The job market is volatile for African Americans in the best of times and these are not the best of times. During difficult economic cycles, black workers and students should benefit from the flexibility of moving in and out of college as their life circumstances allow. Without that flexibility, every educational moment becomes a zero sum decision: “If I leave school this semester to take that job or care for a family member, I probably will never be able to return.” We’re poorer as individuals and groups when people least likely to get a call back because of a “black” name or negative credit check or criminal conviction have to make a decision to take a job or opt out of college forever. In short, I’m a heretic about almost every fundamental populist education belief we’ve got.

As the world was waiting for Coates’ case for reparations, Janelle Jones and John Schmitt at the Center for Economic Policy Research were releasing a policy paper on black college graduates and the labor market. In “A College Degree is No Guarantee”, Jones and Schmitt examine the labor market conditions for black college degree holders pre and post Great Recession.

Their findings are only a surprise to those who ain’t living it."



"How can I revere education as I do and refuse to accept it as the gospel that will save us from persistent, intractable inequality?Actually, it is precisely because I revere education—formal and informal—that I refuse to sell it as a cure for all that ails us.Degrees cannot fix the cumulative effect of structural racism. In fact, over five decades of social science research shows that education reproduces inequality. At every level of schooling, classrooms, schools, and districts reward wealth and privilege. That does not end at college admissions, which is when all that cumulative disadvantage may be its most acute. Going to college not only requires know how that changes from institution to institution and year to year, but it also requires capital. There’s the money to take standardized tests and mail applications and make tuition deposits. But there’s also the money that levels differences in individual ability. An unimpressive wealthy student can pay for test prep, admissions coaches, and campus visits that increases one’s shot at going to the most selective college possible. If education reinforces the salience of money to opportunity, it is money and only money that can make educational “opportunity” a vehicle for justice.

Reparations can do what education cannot do.

When we allow education to be sold as a fix for wealth inequality, we set a public good up to fail and black folks who do everything “right” to take the blame when it goes “wrong.”

Coates has a written a thing about reparations. Ostensibly, it is about the pattern of systematic extraction of black labor, wealth and income to the benefit of institutions that operate to their exclusion. It is a story with a history but one that is not a relic of history. Conservatives may be guilty of rejecting outright their basic faith in fair pay for labor when the issue is labor done by brown people. But white liberals are just as disingenuous when they rhetorically move reparations back in time as redress for slavery when there are countless modern cases of state-sanctioned racist oppression to make the case for reparations.

Like housing and banking, education is a modern debate that sounds like it is a 19th century one. Reparations are about slavery but also about Jim Crow and white violence’s effect on intellectual property and islands of segregated want in a land of plenty. There remains an entire generation of African Americans alive and well who were legally consigned to segregated schools, neighborhoods, and occupations. The black college graduates with weaker starting positions in the labor market are the children and grandchildren of that generation. No matter how much we might believe in the great gospel of education, it is an opportunity vehicle that works best when coupled with justice and not confused for justice."
tressiemcmillancottom  2014  race  inequality  education  class  justice  reparations  ta-nehisicoates  us  jimcrow  segregation  civilrights  socialjustice  lanor  work  unemployment 
december 2014 by robertogreco
10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline | The Marshall Project
"Over the course of the 1990s, crime rates dropped, on average, by more than one-third. It was a historic anomaly; one that scholar Frank Zimring dubbed “the great American crime decline.” No one was sure how long the trend would last. Then, in 2010, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced that the homicide rate had reached a four-decade low. (Since then, overall crime rates have remained relatively flat.)While everyone agrees this is fantastic news, no one, least of all researchers and experts, can agree on exactly why it happened. Below are 10 popular theories for the decline, from abortion to lead to technology to the broken windows theory, with unvarnished views from three leading researchers—Zimring; Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on crime trends; and John Roman of The Urban Institute—on which are the most plausible.

The “abortion filter” […]

The happy pill thesis […]

The lead hypothesis […]

Aging boomers […]

The tech thesis […]

Crack is whack […]

The roaring ’90s (and Obama-mania) […]

The prison boom […]

Police on the beat […]

Immigration and Gentrification […]"
crime  theories  theory  marshallproject  abortion  lead  prozac  ritalin  behavior  moods  babyboomers  population  demographics  technology  airconditioning  television  tv  cars  debitcards  currency  transactions  crack  drugs  economics  unemployment  greatrecession  recession  prison  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  gentrification  immigration  boomers 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Wandering The City Heights Data Desert | KPBS
"For a foundation that's made such a public commitment to turn City Heights around, you'd expect its president to come to an interview armed with statistics that trumpet the group's accomplishments in the community. That didn't happen with Robert Price of Price Philanthropies.

"We haven't focused so much on statistics," he said. "We're more about doing. We feel that if we're doing enough good things here, a lot of it will stick and help people."

Price Philanthropies has transformed the physical and nonprofit landscapes of City Heights, developing more than 50 acres with affordable housing, a police station and library. It's spent about $100 million on resident leadership programs during the past decade."

[See also: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/nov/18/san-diegos-richest-poor-neighborhood-two-decades-l/
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d05290a9d991 ]

[Cross-posted to:
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/11/20/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ and
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2014/11/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ ]

[See too the comments here and on the same cross-posted at VOSD. Ignore the immigrant hater “California Defender” and consider the following:

Ann Martin: "The lack of a measurable impact of all the dollars invested demonstrates that concentrating socially and economically disadvantaged people in one area does not provide a benefit to them. This "urban apartheid" contributes to the problem. If the City mandated that affordable housing units will be built as a percentage of every new development (actually built, not pay to get out of it), people in the situation that the folks in City Heights are in can then live everywhere throughout the City. They would have access to the same high performing schools, live in areas with lower crime rates, more parks and other amenities, be closer to better jobs, and be able to escape the cycle of poverty and despair that permeates the disadvantaged areas of the city."

Matt Wattkins: "Strikes me that any organization seeking to do good things in a beleaguered community has to straddle a line: how to make things better for residents while still keeping it affordable to live here. (I am a City Heights home owner/resident.) City Heights is within walking distance of North Park and Kensington and Normal Heights. Those neighborhoods are among the most desirable neighborhoods south of the 8. (I'd argue there are no more desirable neighborhoods anywhere in San Diego county; Normal Heights is easily the most walkable neighborhood in the city.) Those neighborhoods have also gentrified relatively recently, so it doesn't take much imagination to see that process encroaching east of the 805 and south of Meade. White collar families like my own are already buying into City Heights because property values are relatively reasonable (my house located a mile west of its current location would cost 2-3 times what I paid), and it has walkable amenities and fairly quick access to Adams Ave. and 30th St., i.e. a 10 minute bike ride. I mean, if a Trader Joe's had gone into the Albertsons spot instead of El Super, I think affordable housing in our community would have been doomed within a decade. (And it's not terribly affordable now; rent for a stand-alone house with 2 or more bedrooms runs $1500+/month.)

Anyway, neither the article nor the study mention quality of life improvements to the neighborhood; the Urban Village complex is always in use. Our library is open longer hours than most libraries in the city; our Starbucks is bustling; the playground is teeming with kids; the rec center and swimming pool offer great classes; every evening (it seems) there are soccer or baseball games on the playing fields, and local youth swarm the walkway doing tricks on skateboards and BMX bikes. We have a brand new YMCA going in on El Cajon; a couple of walk-in health clinics, pretty good transit access, some really great city parks (Azalea Garden, Hollywood) and a lot of potential in our canyon spaces, with teams of folks currently doing monthly maintenance in Olivia, Swan, and Manzanita Canyons. Most of these things are directly or indirectly a result of philanthropic dollars in our community. It's hard to quantify their impact, but similarly hard to argue that they don't improve the quality of residents' lives."

Chris Brewster: "Interesting to note that on Price Charities’ tax forms (apparently a different but related organization) the highest paid executive is Sherry Bahrambeygui. According to these forms her reportable compensation from related organizations was approximately: $1.8 million in 2010; $3.79 million in 2011 (plus $60k in other compensation); and $7.9 million in 2012 (plus $56k in other compensation). Rather astounding actually, but perhaps there is a back story?"

Dan Beeman: "adly the wealthy are manipulating the "public" system. Here we see two large conflict of interests, by two different media companies that are not asking the hard questions. This will continue to happen until we get the rich out of the media business, and trying to control community/public by their wealth. Remember they are not dumping all this money in without getting tax credit and/or write offs, it is not about being altruistic, but generally about getting their way by paying out some tax credit donations while were caught up with the long time bills. Here it was first the tenants of the housing, and businesses along 44th St/Fairmount area. We the City constituents and taxpayers are still paying off the Redevelopment loans, loan financing and insurance, plus other costs. Also the private landholders lost lots of land that is now off the tax rolls because they are either non-profits and/or government owned.



You see the report didn't say anything about the cost of living increases in the area/community. It also didn't mention the costs of the new schools, redevelopment loans, or other government funding put into the area. It didn't tell about what businesses failed or moved: ie tortilla store, 2 auto dealerships, the old Albertsons, etc. The new national franchise stores pay higher rent, increasing the market rate commercial rent in the area, as well as adding lots of other new commercial spaces that do the same! These higher rental rates, and astronomical new property values kill small businesses while also hurting families. The national franchises bring a few new management positions, but mostly pay low wage/limited to no benefit jobs, that many times get HUGE government tax credits! So when the BIG corporations don't pay their fair share of the taxes who do you think pays for it? YOU!! the "weak" taxpayer! They didn't make one mention of the higher cost in gasoline/fuel and/or the huge rate of inflation for vehicles. But they don't want to mention these things. They want you trapped in public transportation that also pays low wages to their workers while giving the private corporation and Billionaire CEO/owner that runs it huge profits.

This is just a few of the truths that should be known in projects like this. Be aware next ten years they will be looking to steal property from Barrio (already happening), Sherman Heights and SE San Diego via Civic San Diego and more eminent domain. And once again you will flip for the bills while the rich gain lots of property, huge tax credits, and write offs. Just like they have gentrified North & South Park, they will continue to steal the property, hope, and money from the poor. All while patting you on the head and kissing your cheek. Good luck City Heights, you will continue to be in my prayers."]
cityheights  sandiego  2014  data  statistics  pricephilanthropies  californiaendowment  crime  employment  income  meganburks  unemployment  healthinsurance  inequality  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  corporations  eminentdomain  taxes  costofliving  funding  government  redevelopment  incentives  charitableindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
november 2014 by robertogreco
‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ Is Still Going Strong - NYTimes.com
"When I went through the 42-year-old copy, I was struck by how pertinent most of its advice still was. Yes, it contains references to “personnel departments” (even the newer name for those, “human resources,” is starting to sound dated) and the wording may occasionally sound sexist to modern ears (“You must identify the man who has the power to hire you and show him how your skills can help him with his problems.”)

But three main points in the book still hold, as Mr. Bolles explained in a personal note he sent along with the book:

■ The traditional job-hunting system is a numbers game that is “heavily loaded toward failing the job hunter.”

■ A “creative minority” has come up with nontraditional, highly successful methods of job hunting that involve choosing the places you want to work and approaching the people there who can hire you.

■ Before choosing those places, job hunters must look inward, figuring out what they would most love to do — and where, geographically, they want to do it.

Those three concepts are as relevant in 2014 as they were in 1972, as are the shock of rejection, the loss of self-esteem, and the depression that can result from a prolonged round of job hunting, which Mr. Bolles also covers. Those parts of the book have stayed the same because human nature doesn’t change, he said."
employment  unemployment  rejection  self-esteem  depression  2014  rochardbolles  purpose  capitalism  humans  humanresources  hiring  hiringprocess  jobsearches  jobhunting  power  inequality 
september 2014 by robertogreco
magazine / archive / Barbara Visser | MOUSSE CONTEMPORARY ART MAGAZINE
"Contemporary capitalism prods us to make the most of our potential, sticking with the program and doing our best. Sven Lütticken offers fascinating insights into the concepts of sleep and boredom and the potential of refusal as a counter-politics of the times, whose hero might be Melville’s Bartleby, the scrivener who not only stops writing but also explains that he would “prefer not to.” Intuition tells us that these modern concepts developed between the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution are as anachronistic as they are absolutely timely today."



"The music video shows the band performing in front of a giant silhouette of a cassette tape. Bow Wow Wow, with their “pirate” look, promoted a medium associated with pirating music, but also a medium that was creating new markets and contributed to making music ever more portable, ever more intimate (the Sony Walkman was introduced globally in 1980), thus helping to make the day a “media day.” Technology may be an emancipatory force and hasten the demolition of patriarchy, but this hardly means that “school’s out forever,” as the song has it: if anything, school is everywhere and learning is life-long, a permanent retooling of the subject. Of course, the song was released in a period with mass (youth) unemployment, with old industries in decline. If a sizable (well-educated) part of the no future generation would go on to have careers in the economic bubble produced by deregulation, mass unemployment nevertheless became structural in western European states, which are still shuffling around members of the former working class from one pseudo-job to the next."



"Meanwhile, popular discourse tends to dream of boredom as a psycho-temporal mode that is under threat and that is as important as sleeping, being a sort of waking equivalent of sleep: “It’s sad to think kids of this generation won’t be able to experience boredom like we have. Consider how boredom was handled at a younger age, as though it was a matter of solving a problem. Do children really need to worry about that, or can they just boot up their iPad? […] Instead of embracing boredom and using it as a creative application, we choose to replace it with some ‘busy’ activity. Instead of sitting in thought, we impulsively pull out our phones.”(21) However, relearning how to be bored is not a Craryesque exercise in imagining a different future beyond catastrophe, but rather an attempt at improving one’s performance: “It probably sounds a little counterintuitive to suggest to anyone that they start slacking off, but in reality it’s about as important to your brain’s health as sleeping is. Being bored, procrastinating, and embracing distraction all help your brain function. In turn, you understand decisions better. You learn easier.”(22)

Boredom is a modern concept. Just as people had gay sex before modern notions of homosexuality were around, this does of course not mean that premodern people never experienced states that we would now characterize as boredom. Rather, it means that boredom “in the modern sense that combines an existential and a temporal connotation” only become a theoretical concept and a problem in the late 18th century—in fact, the English term boredom emerged precisely in that moment, under the combined impact of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. As Elizabeth Goodstein puts it, boredom “epitomizes the dilemma of the autonomous modern subject,” linking “existential questions” to “a peculiarly modern experience of empty, meaningless time.”(23) Boredom became a crucial notion for the 1960s avant-garde in different ways. On the one hand, the Cagean neo-avant-garde (Fluxus) embraced boredom as a productive strategy; on the other, the Situationist International attacked boredom as a disastrous symptom of capitalism.

In the late 1960s, Situationist and pro-situ slogans such as “Boredom is always counter-revolutionary” and “there’s nothing they won’t do to raise the standard of boredom” made the term a battle cry, though it is not particularly prominent in Debord’s writings. Boredom for the SI was a symptom of the inhuman nature of capitalism. As Raoul Vaneigem put it: “We do not want a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation is bought by accepting the risk of dying of boredom.”(24) Boredom is a kind of byproduct of industrial labor that creates new markets for entertainment, for while boredom during working hours is unavoidable and can only be alleviated in part by half-hearted measures (playing music to the workers), boredom also infects “free time,” where various leisure activities and the products of the entertainment industry are ready to help—if only, as the slogan has it, “to raise the standard of boredom.”"



"Thus Bartleby, or Bartleby’s phrase, exists in a now-time for many of today’s real-time, just-in-time workers. But does its potential remain just that? Do we ultimately prefer to “not do” anything with it and about it? What are the possibilities and the limitations of an anachronistic politics and aesthetics of boredom, sleep, laziness, and “preferring not to?” The imperative to perform non-stop is insidious; we are constantly reminded that we may miss out altogether if we don’t get with the program. Recently, Nobel Prize winner Peter Higgs noted that “Today, I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”(34) He would, in other words, be seen as slothful, and rejected in favor of more promising and productive candidates. Today’s academia is marked by a drive for quantification and control; immaterial labor needs to become measurable. The increasing integration of art in the academic system, with the rise of artistic PhD programs, is another example of this. The seeming paradox is that we are dealing with a form of labor that is already beyond measure, that is intensified and permanent (24/7). However, what is measured is not temporal input (as in the days of punch cards) but output. When a university transforms its offices into “flex-work stations” with a “clean-desk-policy,” the hidden agenda seems to be to make sure that employees stay away from the office as much as possible—making the whole world their potential office.

In the edu-factory, as elsewhere, “associations of liberated time” need to be formed that go beyond individual qualms about the system’s insane extension and intensification of labor—qualms that must remain inefficient if they remain individual. While it is obvious that an aesthetic-political liberation of time will never be linear, and is always ready to collapse under the contradictory temporal demands made on its various participants, this does not make the project any less crucial and urgent. A genuine “association of liberated time” should not only comprise artists and academics, but also their less visible counterparts: migrants workers performing jobs that combine rote routine with the “dynamic” precarity of neoliberalism, or illegal sans-papiers whose motto is a state-imposed “never work,” as they are forbidden from “taking away jobs” and terrorized into boredom while struggling to find a place to sleep.(35)"
laziness  sloth  capitalism  liberation  freedom  2014  svenlütticken  labor  work  resistance  anarchism  bartlebythescrivner  hermanschuurman  demoker  guydebord  karlmarx  marxism  communism  dedollehond  paullafargue  situationist  malcomclaren  bowwowwow  pirating  music  1980s  lifelonglearning  unemployment  idleness  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  sleep  boredom  learning  raoulvaneigem  freetime  openstudio  openstudioproject  lcproject  revolution  fluxus  productivity  giorgioagamben  potentiality  hermanmelville 
july 2014 by robertogreco
World Processor | The Baffler
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"As Processed World veteran Dennis Hayes explained it to me, “We were really examining social history. We were asking questions that went unasked. We were asking, ‘What’s the value of a job that creates no value? Or that simply creates more work?’”"



"As Daniel Brook recounts in his book The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America, Carlsson and friends liked to “dress up as investment bankers and bow in unison at the stock ticker in front of the Charles Schwab building.” Marina Lazzara, one of the magazine’s poetry editors, recalled this period fondly. “I miss those days,” she told me. “We were really out in the streets.”"



"This was but one among the magazine’s darkly comic dispatches from the absurdist trenches of the overmanaged workplace. Others gestured at something more haunting, such as the anonymous San Franciscan who wrote in issue 7, “I’m unemployed now and should be typing my resume. Typing a resume becomes more and more like typing a suicide note, and yet choosing not to work is a kamikaze mission.” It was to this group—torn between the exigencies of white-collardom and the seeming impossibility of living as one chooses—that Processed World ultimately spoke."



"Many of us know we work bullshit jobs; others would be only too happy to have one, to escape the suffocating anxieties of living on the margins. Those employed in socially useful jobs—teachers, nurses, social workers—must contend with low pay or, if they agitate for something more, being vilified."



"Along the way, the sense of community and common cause epitomized by Processed World has been sublimated into the incessant branding and self-promotion from which none of us appears immune. We are all living precariously, and so we tread water by competing for the occasional life preserver thrown out by the attention economy. Do your job well and maybe the Washington Post, the Daily Beast,or the latest buzzy new-media property will hire you as its token leftist columnist. Hit the jackpot, and you’ll become the next Chris Hayes.

Who can blame them? It’s now so expensive to live in a coastal metropolis that one hopes to sell out at least a little bit."
jacobsliverman  culture  society  economics  siliconvalley  2014  1981  processedworld  bullshitjobs  labor  via:audreywatters  chrishayes  marinalazzara  chriscarlsson  caitlinmanning  technology  efficiency  productivity  jobs  unemployment  employment  busyness  capitalism  sellingout  sellouts  attention  attentioneconomy  markets  precarity 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Report Finds Los Angeles at Risk of Decline - NYTimes.com
"From the 73-story skyscraper that just broke ground downtown (the tallest in the West), to the blizzard of office, shopping and apartment complexes rising from there to the Pacific, construction is bustling in Los Angeles. Home prices are up, and the foreclosure rate is declining. Crime is down. There is a new mayor in City Hall. In many ways, Los Angeles, like many once-beleaguered cities across the nation, seems on the upswing.

Yet at this presumed moment of promise and potential, Los Angeles is enduring a series of blows that have challenged its self-esteem and even its long-term stability. Some appear more symbolic, like the departure of “The Tonight Show” for New York, followed by the plaintive appeal by Mayor Eric M. Garcetti that CBS move “The Late Show” to Los Angeles when David Letterman retires next year. Others are beyond its control, such as the disconcerting wave of earthquakes that have rumbled the region in recent weeks, reminding residents of how unprepared Southern California is for a cataclysmic temblor.

But the most worrisome blow by far is a scathing verdict on Los Angeles’s civic health that was delivered in a one-two punch — the second on Wednesday — by a committee of lawyers, developers, labor leaders and former elected officials who make up something of the Old Guard here. The Los Angeles 2020 Commission presented a catalog of failings that it said were a unique burden to the city: widespread poverty and job stagnation, huge municipal pension obligations, a struggling port and tourism industry and paralyzing traffic that would not be eased even with a continuing multibillion-dollar mass transit initiative."
2014  losangeles  decline  socal  california  cities  stagnation  poverty  unemployment  costofliving  tourism  traffic 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Richard Wolff presents Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism at the Baltimore Radical Bookfair - YouTube
"Called the leading social economist in the nation by Cornel West, Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics at the New School, host of WBAI's "Economic Update," and prominent critic of capitalism lays out his vision for a world without bosses, in which workers run their own workplaces democratically."

[More on Mondragon:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mondragon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation ]
richardwolff  democracy  economics  capitalism  hierarchy  hierarchies  horizontality  labor  2012  unions  organizaedlabor  socialism  communism  inequality  history  unemployment  newdeal  fdr  socialsafetynet  society  government  taxes  taxation  egalitarianism  mondragon  spain  españa  greatdepression  greatrecession  recessions 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Why we should give free money to everyone
"We tend to presume that the poor are unable to handle money. If they had any, people reason, they would probably spend it on fast food and cheap beer, not on fruit or education. This kind of reasoning nourishes the myriad of social programs, administrative jungles, armies of program coordinators and legions of supervising staff that make up the modern welfare state. Since the start of the crisis, the number of initiatives battling fraud with benefits and subsidies has surged.

People have to ‘work for their money,’ we like to think. In recent decades, social welfare has become geared toward a labor market that does not create enough jobs. The trend from 'welfare' to 'workfare' is international, with obligatory job applications, reintegration trajectories, mandatory participation in 'voluntary' work. The underlying message: Free money makes people lazy.

Except that it doesn’t."



"Studies from all over the world drive home the exact same point: free money helps. Proven correlations exist between free money and a decrease in crime, lower inequality, less malnutrition, lower infant mortality and teenage pregnancy rates, less truancy, better school completion rates, higher economic growth and emancipation rates. ‘The big reason poor people are poor is because they don’t have enough money’, economist Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, dryly remarked last June. ‘It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that giving them money is a great way to reduce that problem.’

In the 2010 work Just Give Money to the Poor, researchers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) give numerous examples of money being scattered successfully. In Namibia, malnourishment, crime and truancy fell 25 percent, 42 percent and nearly 40 percent respectively. In Malawi, school enrollment of girls and women rose 40 percent in conditional and unconditional settings. From Brazil to India and from Mexico to South Africa, free-money programs have flourished in the past decade. While the Millenium Development Goals did not even mention the programs, by now more than 110 million families in at least 45 countries benefit from them.

OECD researchers sum up the programs’ advantages: (1) households make good use of the money, (2) poverty decreases, (3) long-term benefits in income, health, and tax income are remarkable, (4) there is no negative effect on labor supply – recipients do not work less, and (5) the programs save money. Here is a presentation of their findings. Why would we send well-paid foreigners in SUVs when we could just give cash? This would also diminish risk of corrupt officials taking their share. Free money stimulates the entire economy: consumption goes up, resulting in more jobs and higher incomes.

‘Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of cash. It's not about stupidity,’ author Joseph Hanlon remarks. ‘You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots.’"



"Dangerous? Indeed, we would work a little less. But that’s a good thing, with the potential of working wonders for our personal and family lives. A small group of artists and writers (‘all those whom society despises while they are alive and honors when they are dead’ – Bertrand Russell) may actually stop doing paid work. Nevertheless, there is plenty of evidence that the great majority of people, regardless of what grants they would receive, want to work. Unemployment makes us very unhappy."



"A world where wages no longer rise still needs consumers. In the last decades, middle-class purchasing power has been maintained through loans, loans and more loans. The Calvinistic reflex that you have to work for your money has turned into a license for inequality."
universalbasicincome  mincome  povery  2014  rutgerbregman  welfarestate  via:mathpunk  income  unemployment  motivation  labor  work  inequality  economics  mattbruenig  ubi 
january 2014 by robertogreco
A Formula for Happiness - NYTimes.com
"Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can even construct a system that fulfills our founders’ promises and empowers all Americans to pursue happiness."



"So don’t bet your well-being on big one-off events. The big brass ring is not the secret to lasting happiness.

To review: About half of happiness is genetically determined. Up to an additional 40 percent comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past — but that won’t last very long.

That leaves just about 12 percent. That might not sound like much, but the good news is that we can bring that 12 percent under our control. It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way.

The first three are fairly uncontroversial. Empirical evidence that faith, family and friendships increase happiness and meaning is hardly shocking. Few dying patients regret overinvesting in rich family lives, community ties and spiritual journeys.

Work, though, seems less intuitive. Popular culture insists our jobs are drudgery, and one survey recently made headlines by reporting that fewer than a third of American workers felt engaged; that is praised, encouraged, cared for and several other gauges seemingly aimed at measuring how transcendently fulfilled one is at work."



"Along the way, I learned that rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars like the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.

So relieving poverty brings big happiness, but income, per se, does not. Even after accounting for government transfers that support personal finances, unemployment proves catastrophic for happiness. Abstracted from money, joblessness seems to increase the rates of divorce and suicide, and the severity of disease.

And according to the General Social Survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans wouldn’t quit their jobs even if a financial windfall enabled them to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Those with the least education, the lowest incomes and the least prestigious jobs were actually most likely to say they would keep working, while elites were more likely to say they would take the money and run. We would do well to remember this before scoffing at “dead-end jobs.”

Assemble these clues and your brain will conclude what your heart already knew: Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others. Franklin D. Roosevelt had it right: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

In other words, the secret to happiness through work is earned success.

This is not conjecture; it is driven by the data. Americans who feel they are successful at work are twice as likely to say they are very happy overall as people who don’t feel that way. And these differences persist after controlling for income and other demographics.

You can measure your earned success in any currency you choose. You can count it in dollars, sure — or in kids taught to read, habitats protected or souls saved. When I taught graduate students, I noticed that social entrepreneurs who pursued nonprofit careers were some of my happiest graduates. They made less money than many of their classmates, but were no less certain that they were earning their success. They defined that success in nonmonetary terms and delighted in it.

If you can discern your own project and discover the true currency you value, you’ll be earning your success. You will have found the secret to happiness through your work."
happiness  work  2013  arthurbrooks  income  money  success  life  living  purpose  genetics  values  faith  family  community  unemployment  mentalhealth  via:lukeneff 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The men who set themselves on fire - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Unemployment is not only the loss of a job. It is the loss of dignity. It is the loss of the present and, over time, the ability to imagine a future. It is hopelessness and shame, an open struggle everyone witnesses but pretends not to see. It is a social and political crisis we tell a man to solve, and blame him when he cannot.

When you are unemployed, your past is dismissed as unworthy. Your future is denied. Self-immolation is making yourself, in the moment, matter.

The most famous recent case of an unemployed man setting himself on fire was Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor whose actions are said to have spurred the Arab Spring revolutions. When Bouazizi killed himself in December 2010, the youth unemployment rate was 30 percent in Tunisia and 25 percent in Egypt, where uprisings quickly followed.

In Spain, three years later, youth unemployment is 57 percent. In Greece, it is 64 percent. The youth unemployment rate is 23.5 percent for the combined European Union and 16 percent for the United States, a statistic which does not take into account the millions whose jobs do not pay enough to take them out of poverty. The youth unemployment rates of Western nations now mirror or surpass those of the Arab world before the uprisings."

When Bouazizi self-immolated, the case was initially covered as an act of economic desperation. Only after it triggered a mass outcry was it acknowledged as a political statement, a final stand against decades of corruption and autocracy. It is pointless to ask whether the self-immolation of an unemployed man is an economic or political act: the two are inseparable.

The knowledge of their inseparability is in part what inspires these men to act. One can call it austerity or one can call it apathy, but the end result is that states are letting their citizens die - slowly and silently in poverty, or publicly in flame.

As journalist Kevin Drum observes, in every previous recession, government spending rose. In this recession, they cut benefits, food stamps, jobs. They cut and blame us when we bleed.

In authoritarian states ruled by tyrants, in democracies allegedly ruled by law, we find the same result: hard-working people let down by the systems which are supposed to support them. When the most you can ask from your society is that it will spare you, you have no society of which to speak.



Self-immolation has long been an act of protest against corrupt and tyrannical rule: Tibetans against the Chinese, Czechoslovakians against the Soviets. The difference between these acts of protest and the unemployed men on fire is that today we are not sure who is in charge.

The US government, after all, cannot even govern itself. State attempts at improving social welfare are trumped not by public will or political disagreement but by what appears to be a preplanned, funded attempt by fringe conservatives to shut the government down.

In every country with massive unemployment - which is, increasingly, every country - citizens see the loss of a functioning social contract, and the apathy with which that loss is received.

We do not know the identity of the man on fire. We do not know what prompted him to kill himself in open view in the nation's capital. We know he was a man who died. That should be enough. In every act of agony, that should be enough."
work  employment  despair  desperation  unemployment  austerity  2013  sarahkendzior  via:jenlowe  economics  society  greatrecession  self-immolation  socialcontract 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User - Ian Bogost - The Atlantic
"Feeling overwhelmed online? Maybe it’s because you’re working dozens of jobs"



"When critics engage with the demands of online services via labor, they often cite exploitation as a simple explanation. It’s a sentiment that even has its own aphorism: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” The idea is that all the information you provide to Google and Facebook, all the content you create for Tumblr and Instagram enable the primary businesses of such companies, which amounts to aggregating and reselling your data or access to it. In addition to the revenues extracted from ad sales, tech companies like YouTube and Instagram also managed to leverage the speculative value of your data-and-attention into billion-dollar buyouts. Tech companies are using you, and they’re giving precious little back in return.

While often true, this phenomenon is not fundamentally new to online life. We get network television for free in exchange for the attention we devote to ads that interrupt our shows. We receive “discounts” on grocery store staples in exchange for allowing Kroger or Safeway to aggregate and sell our shopping data. Meanwhile, the companies we do pay directly as customers often treat us with disregard at best, abuse at worst (just think about your cable provider or your bank). Of course, we shouldn’t just accept online commercial exploitation just because exploitation in general has been around for ages. Rather, we should acknowledge that exploitation only partly explains today’s anxiety with online services.

Hyperemployment offers a subtly different way to characterize all the tiny effort we contribute to Facebook and Instagram and the like. It’s not just that we’ve been duped into contributing free value to technology companies (although that’s also true), but that we’ve tacitly agreed to work unpaid jobs for all these companies. And even calling them “unpaid” is slightly unfair, since we do get something back from these services, even if they often take more than they give. Rather than just being exploited or duped, we’ve been hyperemployed. We do tiny bits of work for Google, for Tumblr, for Twitter, all day and every day.

Today, everyone’s a hustler. But now we’re not even just hustling for ourselves or our bosses, but for so many other, unseen bosses. For accounts payable and for marketing; for the Girl Scouts and the Youth Choir; for Facebook and for Google; for our friends via their Kickstarters and their Etsy shops; for Twitter, which just converted years of tiny, aggregated work acts into $78 of fungible value per user.

Even if there is more than a modicum of exploitation at work in the hyperemployment economy, the despair and overwhelm of online life doesn’t derive from that exploitation—not directly anyway. Rather, it’s a type of exhaustion cut of the same sort that afflicts the underemployed as well, like the single mother working two part-time service jobs with no benefits, or the PhD working three contingent teaching gigs at three different regional colleges to scrape together a still insufficient income. The economic impact of hyperemployment is obviously different from that of underemployment, but some of the same emotional toll imbues both: a sense of inundation, of being trounced by demands whose completion yields only their continuance, and a feeling of resignation that any other scenario is likely or even possible. The only difference between the despair of hyperemployment and that of un- or under-employment is that the latter at least acknowledges itself as an substandard condition, while the former celebrates the hyperemployed’s purported freedom to “share” and “connect,” to do business more easily and effectively by doing jobs once left for others competence and compensation, from the convenience of your car or toilet.

Staring down the barrel of Keynes’s 2030 target for the arrival of universal leisure, economists have often considered why Keynes seems to have been so wrong. The inflation of relative needs is one explanation—the arms race for better and more stuff and status. The ever-increasing wealth gap, on the rise since the anti-Keynes, supply-side 1980s is another. But what if Keynes was right, too, in a way. Even if productivity has increased mostly to the benefit of the wealthy, hasn’t everyone gained enormous leisure, but by replacing recreation with work rather than work with recreation? This new work doesn’t even require employment; the destitute and unemployed hyperemployed are just as common as the affluent and retired hyperemployed. Perversely, it is only then, at the labor equivalent of the techno-anarchist’s singularity, that the malaise of hyperemployment can cease. Then all time will become work time, and we will not have any memory of leisure to distract us. "
labor  2013  ianbogost  employment  economics  johnmaynardkeynes  leisurearts  work  leisure  hustling  wealth  income  incomeinequality  wealthdistribution  anxiety  hyperemployment  unemployment  time  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Ten Responses to the Technological Unemployment Problem | THE DECLINE OF SCARCITY
"On the internet and in the media there has been growing discussion of technological unemployment. People are increasingly concerned that automation will displace more and more workers—that in fact there might be no turning back at this point. We may be reaching the end of work as we know it.

What happens if vast numbers of people can no longer make money by selling their labor? How should society respond? What follows is a list of possible responses to technological unemployment. This list may not be complete. If I have missed anything, or misrepresented anyone’s views please say so in the comments below. Also these responses are not meant to be mutually exclusive; many of them can overlap with each other quite nicely."
futurism  politics  economics  snarkmarketseminar  2013  scarcity  abundance  universalbasicincome  technology  unemployment  employement  labor  artleisure  decentralization  capitalism  automation  socialism  incentives  motivation  wealthdistribution  wealth  wealthredistribution  policy  education  innovation  libertarianism  machines  leisurearts  ubi 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Approval Economy: In Practice | GeorgieBC's Blog
"I have talked a lot in this blog about money and society and the need for new solutions. My opinion from years of volunteering is that money ruins every volunteer effort. As soon as a need receives funding, it becomes a noun and a product instead of an action. As soon as a project is allowed to fundraise, there is a need to manufacture scarcity, to withhold work until payment is received and to continue the need for the project. And as soon as a project receives money, the motives of the person receiving money are suspect.

I do not want to go to a ‘crowd funding website’ and ask a centralized go-between to stand between me and anyone who chooses to support me. I do not want to waste my time creating glossy videos and applications to explain to strangers what you already know, my work. I do not want to ally myself with corporate media or NGO’s, I am trying to make both obsolete. I do not want to develop a persona, tell you all about my personal life, appear on panels and talks to become a character and a brand; I am an action not a noun and I value my right to privacy.

I do not want to be the designated official person for any action I initiate, I want to be free to let others take my place whenever I find people willing. I want to continue to promote others instead of seeking to enhance my own reputation for a livelihood. I want to give freely my ideas and work to anyone who can use them instead of hoarding them to myself for profit.

I do not want to ask you to support every action I take. I will not delay my work waiting for approval or funding. Most of what I work on are things that nobody knows of or supports, that is why I give them my priority. I do not want to jump on popular, widely supported causes to gain support. I want to continue to speak even when everyone disagrees with me as they very frequently do. I want to speak for Gaza when the world says it is anti-semitic to do so, I want to speak for the DRC when the west doesn’t know or care where that is, I want to speak for the Rohingya when no one believes me. I want to criticize democracy, consensus, peer to peer economies, libertarianism and Marxism when everyone I know supports them. I want to advocate for people who have no supporters or funding behind them and tell people about things they may not want to know about.

I do not want to sell you a book, a talk, art, advocacy, a button or a T-shirt, anything I do is available to you as always, for free. But I want it recognized that what I do is not ‘unemployment’, that I am a contributing and valuable member of society entitled to the benefits of society. I want to have the human dignity of societal approval and recognition. I want to be able to support myself and others in society without any of us becoming a product."
heathermarsh  economics  work  motivation  advocacy  consulting  crowdfunding  withholding  2013  labor  privacy  cv  freedom  livelihood  reputation  ideas  sharing  artleisure  artlabor  character  selfbranding  branding  democracy  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  hierarchies  employment  unemployment  society  recognition  dignity  p2p  libertarianism  marxism  funding  via:caseygollan  leisurearts 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Op-Ed: Scars of the jobless - WWW.THEDAILY.COM
"Research has confirmed what anyone who grew up with a Great Depression survivor long suspected: Prolonged periods of joblessness & economic insecurity can permanently change your outlook…mostly not for the better.

My grandfather—who came of age on a farm just as prices were crashing, banks were failing & loans coming due—used to hide large sums of money around the house. My grandmother once found $10k stuffed into a teapot she was about to donate to a rummage sale…

I will certainly never again wonder why the old ladies I grew up with hoarded rubber bands and tin foil in giant balls. If you’ve been through it, you probably don’t either: Losing a job and not being able to find another one makes you afraid in a way that never really leaves you.

Those who have endured a lengthy bout of unemployment are more anxious & prone to depression than those who have not, & less likely to participate in community activities, even decades later. "
depression  greatdepression  economics  unemployment  jobs  underemployment  despair  anxiety  2011  meganmccardle  psychology  meganmcardle 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Nothing Grows Forever | Mother Jones
"Handled correctly, this could bring about an explosion of free time that could utterly transform the way we live, no-growth economists say. It could lead to a renaissance in the arts and sciences, as well as a reconnection with the natural world. Parents with lighter workloads could home-school their children if they liked, or look after sick relatives—dramatically reshaping the landscape of education and elder care."
economics  growth  sustainability  ecology  environment  petervictor  clivethompson  johnstuartmill  adamsmith  globalwarming  population  2011  thomasrobertmalthus  history  well-being  happiness  france  netherlands  unemployment  employment  leisure  leisurearts  art  science  dennismeadows  hermandaly  keynes  motivation  psychology  capitalism  no-growththeory  wealthdistribution  standardofliving  us  europe  homeschool  unschooling  deschooling  productivity  post-industrial  post-development  work  labor  uneconomicgrowth  artleisure 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr | Rortybomb
"The people in the tumblr aren’t demanding to bring democracy into the workplace via large-scale unionization, much less shorter work days and more pay. They aren’t talking the language of mid-twentieth century liberalism, where everyone puts on blindfolds and cuts slices of pie to share. The 99% looks too beaten down to demand anything as grand as “fairness” in their distribution of the economy. There’s no calls for some sort of post-industrial personal fulfillment in their labor – very few even invoke the idea that a job should “mean something.” It’s straight out of antiquity – free us from the bondage of our debts and give us a basic ability to survive."
occupywallstreet  ows  the99%  tumblr  us  economics  policy  politics  2011  liberalism  wealthdistribution  socialism  unemployment  capitalism  via:bettyannsloan  democracy  labor  work  survival  inequality  disparity 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Douglas Rushkoff - Blog - CNN.com: Are Jobs Obsolete? ["We're living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is."]
"We start by accepting that food and shelter are basic human rights. The work we do -- the value we create -- is for the rest of what we want: the stuff that makes life fun, meaningful, and purposeful.

This sort of work isn't so much employment as it is creative activity. Unlike Industrial Age employment, digital production can be done from the home, independently, and even in a peer-to-peer fashion without going through big corporations. We can make games for each other, write books, solve problems, educate and inspire one another -- all through bits instead of stuff. And we can pay one another using the same money we use to buy real stuff.

For the time being, as we contend with what appears to be a global economic slowdown by destroying food and demolishing homes, we might want to stop thinking about jobs as the main aspect of our lives that we want to save. They may be a means, but they are not the ends."
douglasrushkoff  jaronlanier  economics  2011  jobs  work  leisurearts  labor  meaning  basics  gamechanging  paradigmshifts  society  greatrecession  history  making  doing  creativity  stuff  purpose  technology  productivity  food  employment  unemployment  obsolescence  healthcare  post-productiveeconomy  artleisure 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Nonformality | The revolt of the young
"From revolutions and protests to riots and unrests: young people are taking their fight for the future to the streets. Intergenerational contracts have become obsolete, with many young people feeling robbed of their future in the light of the employment crisis, a damaged environment and social inequality. Observers and activists describe a world awakening with rage, and a revolt of the young that has only just begun. But what will happen next?"
2011  unrest  politics  policy  generations  generationalstrife  classwarfare  economics  environment  inequality  disparity  unemployment  youth  arabspring  crisis  wealth  awakening  engagement  uk  chile  egypt  tunisia  zizek  manuelcastells  wolfganggründiger  future  pankajmishra  dissent  revolt  revolution  algeria  iraq  iran  morocco  oman  israel  jordan  syria  yemen  bahrain  greece  spain  españa  portugal  iceland  andreaskarsten  change  protests  riots 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Farewell youth clubs, hello street life – and gang warfare | UK news | The Guardian
"Others worry that a perfect storm of unemployment, the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a squeeze on programmes to help disadvantaged youths could bring more than just a rise in crime figures and result in a "lost generation"."
via:preoccupations  youth  uk  london  riots  crime  society  inequality  2011  unemployment  gangs 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Profits must no longer go to the few at the top | Simon Hughes | Comment is free | The Observer
"Activity, training and employment has to be on offer in every region of the country"

"A responsible economy is necessary for a responsible society. Building local, regional and national economies which provide the opportunity for all to participate in for fair reward will build much stronger communities. This will counter the appeal of the gangs and the get-rich-quick merchants. Other people and activity must now capture the energies and abilities of a generation that has greater potential than any we have had before."
simonhughes  employment  unemployment  disparity  wealth  uk  london  2011  riots  politics  policy  economics  greed  via:preoccupations  training  education  inequality  equality  society  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Contract for the American Dream
"We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice . . . for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity, and give their kids a better life. Every one of us – rich, poor, or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender – has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill – but only by working together…

I. Invest in America's Infrastructure
II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
III. Invest in Public Education
IV. Offer Medicare for All
V. Make Work Pay
VI. Secure Social Security
VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates
VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home
IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation
X. Strengthen Democracy"
2011  petitions  government  us  policy  infrastructure  taxes  socialsecurity  inequality  medicare  health  healthcare  education  jobs  employment  unemployment  money  work  change  democracy  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - In Steinbeck's footsteps: America's middle-class underclass
"In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck describes the harrowing journey of the Joad family - migrant workers forced to leave their home during the Great Depression - a story still relevant to those facing the realities of America's current economic crisis."<br />
<br />
"With the south-west in the grip of its worst drought for 60 years, old-timers here are beginning to talk about the Dust Bowl years, years Steinbeck chronicled in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book of migration, poverty and social injustice.<br />
<br />
I decided to retrace the route Steinbeck's fictional family took from Oklahoma City to Bakersfield, just north of Los Angeles. I hired a boaty old Mercury and put my foot down."
immigration  recession  unemployment  economy  johnsteinbeck  grapesofwrath  greatdepression  greatrecession  economics  2011  tentcities  poverty  oklahoma  newmexico  arizona  california  migration 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Why the Wealthiest Americans Are the Real 'Job-Killers' | Economy | AlterNet
"None of this is particularly complex. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the ladder took in just under 9 percent of the nation's income, leaving a bit more than 91 percent for the rest of us. In 2007, the year before the crash, they took in 23.5 percent, leaving just 76.5 percent for the rest of the population to split up.
They banked most of that income, whereas we would have spent it. The fact that we're broke means that businesses are facing less demand for their goods and services than they otherwise would, and have less need to hire a bunch of employees. And that dynamic explains why it's the wealthiest Americans who are the real “job killers.”"
greed  wealth  economics  jobs  wealthdistribution  savings  us  taxes  2011  jobcreation  unemployment  consumption 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Why the Wealthiest Americans Are the Real 'Job-Killers' | Economy | AlterNet
"None of this is particularly complex. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the ladder took in just under 9 percent of the nation's income, leaving a bit more than 91 percent for the rest of us. In 2007, the year before the crash, they took in 23.5 percent, leaving just 76.5 percent for the rest of the population to split up.<br />
They banked most of that income, whereas we would have spent it. The fact that we're broke means that businesses are facing less demand for their goods and services than they otherwise would, and have less need to hire a bunch of employees. And that dynamic explains why it's the wealthiest Americans who are the real “job killers.”"
greed  wealth  economics  jobs  savings  us  taxes  2011  jobcreation  unemployment  consumption  wealthdistribution 
july 2011 by robertogreco
What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Jobs | Mother Jones
"How racism, global economics, and the new Jim Crow fuel Black America's crippling jobs crisis."
race  us  discrimination  2011  employment  economics  unemployment  jobs  disparity  inequality 
july 2011 by robertogreco
All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup | Mother Jones
"You: doing more with less. Corporate profits: up 22 percent. The dirty secret of the jobless recovery."
culture  society  politics  economics  business  work  labor  us  world  comparison  productivity  2011  overwork  wages  growth  employment  unemployment  disparity  inequality  vacation  maternityleave  childcare 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Overworked America: 12 Charts that Will Make Your Blood Boil | Mother Jones
"In the past 20 years, the US economy has grown nearly 60 percent. This huge increase in productivity is partly due to automation, the internet, and other improvements in efficiency. But it's also the result of Americans working harder—often without a big boost to their bottom lines. Oh, and meanwhile, corporate profits are up 20 percent."
culture  politics  economics  business  work  labor  us  world  comparison  productivity  2011  overwork  wages  growth  employment  unemployment  disparity  inequality  vacation  maternityleave  childcare 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch
"1. Warning: Super Rich want tax cuts, creating youth unemployment… 2. Warning: rich get richer on commodity prices, poor get angrier… 3. Warning: Global poor ticking time bomb targeting Super Rich… 4. Warning: Next revolution coming across ‘Third World America’… 5. Warning: Super Rich must be detoxed of their greed addiction… 6. Warning: Politicians infected by Super-Rich Delusion, revolution"
politics  economics  taxes  us  superrich  wealth  2011  thirdworldamerica  poor  poverty  unemployment  disparity  incomegap  global  rich  youth  revolution  paulfarrell  greed  instabiity  greatdepression  greatrecession  greatrepression  commodities  food  wealthdistribution  instability 
april 2011 by robertogreco
History Hinders Diversification Of Portland, Oregon : NPR
"Oregon is one of only a dozen states where the majority of its residents aren't from there. Each year thousands of 20-somethings move to Portland.

The city's entire population is growing, but Portland is still about 80 percent white, making it one of the most homogeneous metropolitan cities in the country.

Many of the migrants don't have jobs, kids or a mortgage. So why do they keep coming?"
portland  oregon  economics  cities  us  npr  race  diversity  migration  employment  unemployment  whites  homogeneity  livability 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Less Work, More Life — Politics — Utne Reader
"As productivity increases, we seem faced w/ choice btwn environmental disaster or massive unemployment. Unless, of course, we slow down by reducing working hours &sharing the work. Half a century of economic growth has not increased our happiness. More free time might well do so. It will certainly improve our health.

Americans will exercise more, sleep more, garden more, volunteer more, spend more time w/ friends & family, and drive less. We need full employment, but not by returning to the unhealthy overwork of recent decades As Derek Bok puts it in his new book, The Politics of Happiness:

“If it turns out to be true that rising incomes have failed to make Americans happier, as much of the recent research suggests, what is the point of working such long hours and risking environmental disaster in order to keep on doubling and redoubling our gross domestic product?”

Progressives would do well to advocate reduced working hours instead of demanding unsustainable growth."
via:theplayethic  life  work  balance  well-being  economics  progressive  policy  employment  unemployment  johndegraaf  growth  sustainability  money  happiness  sleep  exercise  health  shrequest1 
january 2011 by robertogreco
ClubOrlov: America—The Grim Truth [A bit over the top, but there are some major truths in here, especially about the worry that results from the financial precariousness we feel as part of our system, lack of social safety net]
"Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world—by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.

I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

Consider this…"
politics  collapse  us  economics  health  healthcare  expats  2010  via:mathowie  finance  well-being  qualityoflife  food  pharmaceuticals  work  balance  australia  fragmentation  teaparty  immigration  emmigration  canada  newzealand  japan  europe  comparison  middleeast  guns  safety  society  fear  dystopia  unemployment  decline  oil  peakoil  grimfutures  change  policy  freedom  germany  finland  italy  france  scandinavia  singlepayerhealthsystem  government  socialsafetynet  bankruptcy 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Borderland › Rothstein on Accountability in Schools
"Approximately 30 well-spent minutes with Richard Rothstein, who patiently spells out what is happening as a consequence of using narrow measures of accountability for schools vs. what really needs to happen."
richardrothstein  policy  accountability  measurement  teaching  learning  schools  us  2010  obesity  children  afterschoolprograms  fitness  poverty  standardizedtesting  extendeddayprograms  health  achievementgap  dougnoon  math  mathematics  reading  crisis  achievement  media  politics  fear  education  ideology  medicaid  parenting  earlychildhood  teacherquality  economics  unemployment  race  wealth  language 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Johann Hari: America is now officially for sale - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent ["It's the Tea Party spirit distilled: pose as the champion of Joe America, while actually ripping him off"]
"story of the modern Republican Party…use cultural signifiers of good people of Middle America to get their emotional identification, meanwhile they pillage Middle America & redistribute its wealth to the rich. Sarah Palin is the queen of this cause. She presents herself as a warrior for hockey moms & Momma Grizzlies, while spreading fictions to stop those very people supporting social programs that could save their lives: remember her claim that Obama’s healthcare plan involved setting up “death panels” to execute the old & disabled? Her true slogan is Shill, Baby, Shill.<br />
<br />
This is all made easy for Republicans by the fact that most of the Democratic Party slithers in same trough of corruption, begging from the same billionaires & corporations, and so can deliver only a tiny notch more for ordinary Americans. This makes left-liberal ideas look discredited, when in truth they are largely discarded…"
corruption  government  greed  johannhari  teaparty  politics  us  2010  johnboehner  wealth  policy  money  systems  aristocracy  republicans  democrats  economics  unemployment  socialsafetynet  society  eliakazan  sarahpalin  glennbeck 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Our Banana Republic - NYTimes.com
"You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home — and in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, it may get worse.<br />
<br />
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.<br />
<br />
C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent."
nicholaskristof  development  inequality  poverty  taxes  unemployment  us  wealth  economics  politics  geography  2010  capitalism  classism  government  policy  bananarepublics  latinamerica  caudillos  disparity 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Doors of Perception weblog: The economics of attention
"core argument (is) everyone is straining for distinction in late capitalist global economy jammed w/ commodities & info…culture & creativity are what affords producer possibility of distinction.

…explains universal prevalence of shock tactics in art & advertising…offers insights into changing role of creative artist & artist's sensibility in contemporary society".

…Are attenion-seeking artists really new phenomenon, economic or otherwise?…135 years since artist Emile Zola assured world, "I am here to live out loud"…

Ellis goes on to attribute phenomenal increase in # of people describing themselves as artists, in past half-century, to "changing balance of power btwn technical & creative…

Surely traditional job market economics are simpler explanation…recently, Dutch survey found only 2% of those w/ degree in art or design consider themselves to be unemployed.

The government should introduce compulsory art education for all - & thereby abolish unemployment at a stroke."
2006  art  design  education  economics  unemplyment  attention  johnthackara  adrianellis  richardlanham  unemployment 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Unemployment Media « Snarkmarket
"It’s the dark side of Clay Shirky’s cog­ni­tive sur­plus, where tech­nol­ogy and edu­ca­tion haven’t just cre­ated a new pool of leisure time, but a pool of high-skill knowl­edge work­ers dev­as­tated by struc­tural unem­ploy­ment, with noth­ing to do but cre­ate and imag­ine and argue, strug­gling to hold on to the lives they imag­ined for them­selves, or used to lead."
cognitivesurplus  clayshirky  snarkmarket  timcarmody  writing  unemployment  greatrecession  productivity  freelancing  content  blogs  blogging  education  2010 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Unemployment netroots: We want jobs | The Economist
"shouldn't be surprising that unemployed people are exerting political pressure on gvmt for benefits & jobs programs. It seems obvious that people suffering hardship would organise to demand relief. But in fact, it's a truism of polisci that the poor & downtrodden are rarely capable of effective protest or mobilisation. The poor generally lack resources needed to engage in effective political action; they're too busy worrying about where next meal will come from. To mount successful movement, you need large #s of people w/ time & skills to mobilise; they need to self-identify as a group; & they have a motivating ideology or clear goal, often negative one.…happening now…This is a phenomenon that I don't think has been seen in America since Martin Luther King's marches against poverty in the 1960s, if not since the Depression, and it will be interesting to see what comes of it."
economics  labor  politics  unemployment  2010  discontent 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Last Psychiatrist: This Is Why The American Dream Is Out Of Reach [responding to: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/business/economy/07generation.html?pagewanted=all]
"his parents themselves did not follow Scott's path: grandfather…& dad…were right at the start of businesses, they didn't slide into middle management at Sterility Corp. But after taking those chances that ultimately resulted in prosperity & blah blah blah, they taught their children to do the opposite: look for new parents. Someone else to pay the life insurance policy…<br />
<br />
The parents & grandparents, like so many parents today, are disappointed in their son because he's not taking their advice, but in fact their son is taking their advice to its inevitable conclusion: he's holding out for the perfect corporate job. What they meant to advise him was to improvise towards a career like hopping a creek; but what they taught him to do was wait for the package…<br />
<br />
Where Scott is going wrong is not that he is holding out for a "better" job that isn't there; he's holding out for a job that shouldn't be there. We don't need more corporate management guys…What we need are more businesses."
business  economics  economy  employment  management  parenting  psychology  success  entrepreneurship  us  americandream  risk  security  jobs  unemployment  greatrecession  risktaking  highered  bubbles  higheredbubble  generations 
august 2010 by robertogreco
slacktivist: Credit scoring and unemployment [via: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2010/07/credit-scoring-and-long-term.html]
"elegantly nasty conundrum this creates for those who lost their jobs in the global financial crisis: "Many Americans these days are discovering Catch-22 of unemployment...You might fall behind on your bills because you've lost your job, & you might not be able to land a new job because you've fallen behind on your bills."
2010  unemployment  creditscores  greatrecession  creditscoring  stackeddecks  economics 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Do Economic Slumps Produce More Churchgoers? - Newsweek
"if atheists-foxholes hypothesis were true, “then real poor people would go to church like crazy & no one else would go very much.” (Economic studies do show poor are attracted to fundamentalist, Pentecostal, & sectarian branches...not that they go to church more during hard time...they go to different kinds of churches.)...
religion  economics  interconnectedness  community  wealth  income  unemployment  2010  interconnected  interconnectivity 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Diary of an Unemployed Class of '10 Philosophy Major in New York City, Part 1 - The Awl
"I’m pretty sure "boutique" has become a business-world euphemism for "insignificant and unsuccessful"—the quivering in my friends’ voices when they describe the boutique hedge fund or boutique consulting firms they work for indicate as much. Would that make me a boutique recent college graduate? I just realized I’ve been in New York for a full week!"
unemployment  nyc  academics  botique  recession  2010  greatrecession 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Editorial - Cutting Off the Unemployed - NYTimes.com
"All indications are that when the Senate finally does pass a bill, it will be stingy and cynical — hacking away at jobless benefits and fiscal aid to cash-strapped states, while preserving tax breaks for the wealthy and other well-connected political donors.
unemployment  taxes  government  2010  loopholes  class  disparity  incomegap 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Lost generation | Andrew Hankinson | Money | The Observer
"How graduates are picking up the tab for their parents' lives: Our parents had free education, fat pensions, and second homes. We've got student debt and a property ladder with rotten rungs. Thanks very much, says Andrew Hankinson, BSc"
unemployment  employment  generations  politics  society  education  economics  work  universities 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - Chinese New Year - NYTimes.com
"The bottom line is that Chinese mercantilism is a growing problem, and the victims of that mercantilism have little to lose from a trade confrontation. So I’d urge China’s government to reconsider its stubbornness. Otherwise, the very mild protectionism it’s currently complaining about will be the start of something much bigger."
devaluation  unemployment  dollar  recession  china  policy  economics  depression  bailout  paulkrugman  politics  currency  trade 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Art - The Daily Grind - NYTimes.com
"In New York City, where the unemployment rate remains at 10.3 percent, the jobless have started leaning hard on coffee shops and bookstores to get out of their tiny one-bedrooms and away from their annoying roommates. In these harsh, career-vanishing times, the members of this laptop brigade do everything they can to re-create the office environment they no longer have to complain about."
unemployment  mobile  office  work  thirdplaces  neo-nomads  nomads  laptops  thirdspaces  cafes  openstudioproject 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The coming age wars « Snarkmarket
"So how could the Obama admin­is­tra­tion stim­u­late the econ­omy by help­ing out younger peo­ple, who are actu­ally deeply suf­fer­ing, rather than by trans­fer­ring it from the young (includ­ing the unborn) to the old?
us  money  stimulus  barackobama  california  michigan  policy  politics  generations  age  agewars  2009  economics  healthcare  medicare  socialsecurity  timcarmody  snarkmarket  colleges  universities  crisis  tuition  future  unemployment 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Is Your Business Useless? - Umair Haque - HarvardBusiness.org
"Socially useless business is what has created a global economy on life support. Socially useless business is what has created a jobless "recovery" and mass unemployment amongst the young. Socially useless business is why we don't have a better education, healthcare, finance, energy, transportation, or media industry. Socially useless business is a culture in shock, reeling from assault after assault on the fabric of community and comity. Socially useless business is the status quo — and the status quo says: "You don't matter. Our bottom line is the only thing that matters."
design  society  umairhaque  business  sustainability  businessmodels  capitalism  humor  metaphors  value  economics  utility  strategy  socialvalue  sociallyuseless  walmart  google  nike  apple  banking  finance  global  globalization  unemployment  education  healthcare  energy  transportation  media  culture  us  community  constructivecapitalism 
october 2009 by robertogreco
On The Great Big Third World | varnelis.net
"So if we're seeing 9.4% unemployment this month, you should probably double that to get a real picture of how many people aren't being employed in traditional fashion. What if this continues for a few years? And what if we get the high interest [and inflation] rates that I predicted, eviscerating home values? I think the result is a country that approaches "Third World" status with a cheap labor force that will take on contract work without any guarantee of continuing employment for low wages. ... The Third World didn't vanish in the worldwide economic "boom," it spread everywhere. That's what the last two decades have brought us. I knew that the Bush administration was alternately too stupid and too evil to point this out, but Obama had the opportunity to force Americans to face up to the crisis, as FDR did when he took over in 1933, but he took an easy way out. Now we'll all pay the price. Welcome to the new, improved, much larger Third World."
kazysvarnelis  crisis  thirdworld  us  policy  economics  housingbubble  labor  unemployment  georgewbush  barackobama  inflation  devaluation  dollar  markets  boom  greatrepression  recession 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Firedoglake » The Reaganites Self-Inflicted Recession
"However, as even Republican strategists note, this exposes the real division in the Republican coalition, not between social and economic conservatives, but between exurbanites, and suburbanites. It is very easy to persuade exurbanites that they aren't socialists, even as they work on military bases, land leased at concessionary rates for mining, subsidized agriculture, waste facilities, and prisons. It is far harder to convince suburbanites of the evils of government, when they live in a place that is made safe by government, and whose value comes from subsidized education and transportation. The internal contradiction of Reaganism, then, has produced a vast self-inflicted wound on the very people who mobilized for it."
via:migurski  politics  economics  democrats  republicans  conservatism  california  cities  exurbs  suburbs  us  taxes  reagan  unemployment  recession 
june 2009 by robertogreco
3quarksdaily - Still Not Wise
"The bottom line: We’re in trouble. The average American is worried about retirement but is doing little to provide for it. Maybe working longer is the best answer. After all, the retirement age was set at 65 in 1933, when average life expectancy was 63. With life expectancy today at 78 years, perhaps we should just plan to work until we’re 80."
comments  wisdom  retirement  socialsecurity  davings  401k  aging  employment  unemployment 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Trapped in the New 'You're on Your Own' World - The New York Review of Books
"The transfer of risk from social and private institutions to individuals transfers a burden, mainly from the strong to the weak. That is primarily an issue of equity. It will surely become more urgent in current circumstances, perhaps urgent enough to be seen as a central political issue. Suppose that the best way to relieve that burden is by sharing the risk through universal social insurance. The premium then has to be a tax, a tax on work or enterprise, or some productive activity, and such a tax is a distortion, a source of inefficiency, a true cost to society. What then? I know what Gosselin would say: a society that won't pay a small cost to preserve equitable and fair treatment of, among others, the sick, the old, the unemployed, and the victims of natural disaster is not much of a society. Is that a minority view?"
insurance  economics  politics  society  efficiency  equity  moralhazard  us  socialsecurity  unemployment  income 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Reversal of Fortune: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com
"Describing how ideology, special-interest pressure, populist politics, and sheer incompetence have left the U.S. economy on life support, the author puts forth a clear, commonsense plan to reverse the Bush-era follies and regain America’s economic sanity." ... "When the American economy enters a downturn, you often hear the experts debating whether it is likely to be V-shaped (short and sharp) or U-shaped (longer but milder). Today, the American economy may be entering a downturn that is best described as L-shaped. It is in a very low place indeed, and likely to remain there for some time to come."
josephstiglitz  economics  us  crisis  bailout  2008  banking  finance  money  policy  politics  sustainability  energy  longterm  future  taxes  biofuels  oil  gamechanging  regulation  subprime  meltdown  recession  wallstreet  reaganomics  georgewbush  housing  jobs  markets  unemployment  freemarkets  greatdepression  wealth  disparity  lending  reform  change 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: The Mobi
"The Mobi is Germany's mobility bonus, funding that covers moving, relocation and retraining costs for unemployed Germans seeking work anywhere in the world."
economics  germany  government  mobility  work  incentives  unemployment  benefits 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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