Posts tagged ‘Organized Labors’

Census Bureau clarifies poverty numbers – U.S. News


Census Bureau clarifies poverty numbers – U.S. News.

Officials at the U.S. Census Bureau moved Friday to clarify widely reported figures meant to estimate the number of Americans living in poverty.

Dueling Census reports – one based on official poverty estimates that was released just last week and another based on an experimental calculus used in November – differed from one another by 20 percentage points regarding the number of people viewed as living in poverty. The widely reported figure showed that one out of two Americans are in poverty or are low-income. Other Census figures put the figure closer to one out of three Americans.
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That’s because the experimental measure, a supplement to the official poverty figures meant to take into account such factors as whether a family is receiving food stamps and how much people pay in taxes, uses a poverty level of $24,343 for a family of four instead of the $21,113 used by the official measure.

Read the original story on NBCLosAngeles.com

In expensive states like California and New York, the supplemental measure classified families making as much as $32,869 as impoverished.

However, Kathleen Short, the Census Bureau economist who spearheaded the supplemental report, said it would be wrong to extrapolate from those numbers that Americans are falling into poverty at greater rates.

In fact, she said, the experimental calculation indicated that poverty among children is actually lower than the official poverty rate shows.

On Thursday, reports in multiple news outlets suggested that people making roughly twice the poverty level under the experimental program were “scraping by” and should be considered low-income.

The Census Bureau does not support that interpretation of the data, Short said.

“Below 200 percent of the poverty threshold is the lower end of the distribution,” Short said. “But we would not call it low-income per se.”

A number of news reports on Thursday correctly said that more people fell under the definition of living in poverty under the experimental calculation, but then went on to say that people making twice that would be considered low-income.

However, the practice of using such figures as “150 percent of poverty” or “200 percent of poverty” to determine whether people were of moderate or low income is a practice that grew up around the older, traditional method of identifying poverty, which uses a lower threshold.

More from NBC4 on the Census reports: Assessing poverty

In parts of California under the supplemental approach, a family that owns its own home and earns about $66,000 per year would be earning 200 percent of the poverty level, and not necessarily be considered low-income.
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NBC4, relying on figures and analysis from the Los Angeles office of the Census, reported the newer, official poverty figures on Thursday, and questioned reports that used the supplemental figures.

A widely distributed news story by the Associated Press (and published by msnbc.com) relied on the supplemental report.

“We did not misunderstand the data,” AP spokesman Jack Stokes said in an email. “The AP story was vetted by the Census Bureau in Washington.”

However, Short said that she did not agree with the news service’s conclusion that the report showed one out of two Americans to be low-income or impoverished.

Short stressed that the supplemental measure was a work in progress, and that it should not be considered a replacement for the official poverty rate.

The AP’s calculations were correct, Short said, “but I’m not agreeing with any adjectives that are placed on being in that category.”

“In fact we stressed the Census Bureau does not have a definition for low income.” Short said

In the supplemental report, “we’re not characterizing what it’s like to be below 200 percent of the poverty line,” Short said. “We don’t have any information to characterize what that would be like.”

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Can Government Create Jobs or Not? | NationofChange


Can Government Create Jobs or Not? | NationofChange.

I’m confused by Republicans in Washington, and here’s why: For most of President Obama’s term, they have ignored the millions of jobs the Congressional Budget Office says the 2009 stimulus legislation created and instead argued that the government is incapable of boosting employment. Summing up the larger sentiment, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) in 2011 said “government spending doesn’t create jobs,” and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) insisted in 2010 that “it’s not the government that’s going to create jobs in this country.”

Fast-forward to the present debate over impending budget cuts. Incredibly, the same Republican Party that once insisted the government can’t create jobs is now barnstorming the country telling us the government can, in fact, create jobs — lots of them.

This isn’t an exaggeration. As The Hill newspaper reports, Republican senators — many of whom suggested government can’t create jobs — are hosting town hall meetings to sound the alarm about how proposed defense spending reductions “would cause significant job losses” and therefore hurt the economy.

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Ayotte’s rhetorical paroxysms are especially illustrative — and perplexing. In a CNN interview to promote the events, the New Hampshire senator — the same lawmaker who said, “it’s not the government that’s going to create jobs” — implored Americans to “think about (the Pentagon cuts) in terms of jobs, 136,000 defense jobs in Virginia. They have to issue layoff notices before the election, so members of Congress need to come together on this.”

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So, as I said, I’m confused. Do Republicans believe government cannot create jobs? Or do Republicans believe the government is so good at creating jobs that we can’t even minimally reduce the largest military budget in the world for fear of layoffs?

Because of the rhetorical backflips, there is no discernible answer to these questions — but there is an explanation for the contradictions.

Since at least the 1980s, Americans have been inculcated to think of the military as separate from “government” — even though the military is part of the government. In fact, it’s not just any old part of the government — in terms of budget and manpower; it is one of the leading entities that put the “big” in the concept of “Big Government.” Yet, in discussions about national priorities and spending, many still reflexively see the Pentagon as wholly separate from everything else.

This is not just the view of Republican senators — it is a pervasive misconception in the larger population. As an example of that fact, behold an emblematic locale like Colorado Springs.

According to the Colorado Springs Business Journal, “One of every three residents of the (region) depends directly or indirectly upon the military” — that is, upon the government. That makes the area as close to a ward of the state as it gets in this country. And yet, because residents there (like many Americans) psychologically separate the military from “government,” the city’s Republican-leaning voters typically send anti-government conservatives to Congress. No surprise, these lawmakers often embrace the same contradictions as their Republican Party brethren in Washington — when it comes to non-military spending, they imply the government can’t create jobs, but when it comes to military spending, suddenly they tout the government as a crucial force for job creation.

Of course, economic data suggest that in comparison to other government agencies, the Pentagon is a relatively inefficient job creator. But just like so many other public institutions, it does indeed create and sustain jobs. In doing so, then, the Pentagon is a stark reminder that Republicans’ contradictory rhetoric on job creation isn’t rooted in economic facts — it’s driven by an ideology that circumnavigates inconvenient truths.
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ABOUT David Sirota

David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now.” He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado.
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House Democrats Propose Increasing Minimum Wage To $10 | ThinkProgress


A group of House Democrats have proposed increasing the minimum wage to $10, which, as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) pointed out would allow the wage to “catch up” with where it would be had it been allowed to grow with inflation:

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and 17 House Democrats, including several Congressional Black Caucus members, proposed legislation Wednesday that would increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

Jackson said his bill, the Catching Up to 1968 Act, is needed to give low-income workers a way to “catch up” to inflation, which continues to eat away at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. He also said it would give these workers more income and boost overall demand for the struggling economy.

The minimum wage hit its peak buying power in 1968; to have the same buying power today, the minimum wage would have to be $9.92. If the minimum wage had been indexed to the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.

The current minimum wage is also covering a much smaller percentage of health care and tuition costs than it did just a few decades ago. Already this year, San Francisco has increased its minimum wage to $10, while 1.4 million workers are benefiting from scheduled increases in the minimum wage in eight states. According to the Economic Policy Institute, boosting the minimum wage particularly helps women and minorities, who make up a disproportionate share of minimum wage-earners.

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House Democrats Propose Increasing Minimum Wage To $10 | ThinkProgress

Debunking The Notion That Inequality Wouldn’t Impact The Economy | Addicting Info


It’s been claimed — incorrectly — that overall activity would neither be increased nor diminished by how evenly or unevenly money is distributed within our national economy. According to that line, we’d get the same amount of commerce regardless of whether we have a larger share of the pie held by the wealthy or by the lower and middle classes. “Money is money,” or so they say.

Except that in reality, lower average propensity to consume (APC) results from significantly increased real income.1 Who has how much matters because people tend to spend different portions of their income at different levels of wealth. Wealth and income distributions make a significant difference to effective demand. We’re not concerned with what people would like to have if they had enough money; we’re concerned with what people will spend with the money they’re getting. If Warren is a wealthy person and John is a poor person and over time Warren attains a higher share of the available money, total spending — effective demand — generated by those two consumers will drop.

If there’s $1,000,000 of total income between the two at time T1 and Warren gets $950,000 while John gets $50,000 and Warren spends 33.33%2 of income to John’s 100% of income, then total spending by these two individuals at time T1 will be:

T1: $316,635 + $50,000 = $366,635.00

When income ratios shift and there’s an inflation-adjusted $1,000,000 of total income at time T2 and Warren gets $975,000 while John gets $25,000, Warren’s spending ratio (APC) will likely have fallen slightly from the previous propensity, but we’ll stick with 33.33% for simplicity and understatement. Meanwhile, John can’t spend as much as before because John’s available funds have dropped. Even if Warren still spends at the same rate — which is unlikely — then total spending would be:

T2: $325,967.50 + $25,000 = $349,967.50

That would be a drop from time T1 to time T2 of $16,667.50 in inflation-adjusted spending. I’ve picked an arbitrary APC for Warren, but herein we’re just showing the rough effect. The dollar values are merely for illustration of the concept. Even if the exact average amount might vary slightly from the $16,667.50 of our illustration, the point remains that there would be a shortfall. With more of the money shifted to those with a lower APC, you get lower consumption which is to say lower effective demand.

Debunking The Notion That Inequality Wouldn’t Impact The Economy | Addicting Info.

Don’t Tell Me That Social Security Is Going Broke


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Graduate Assistants Speak Out On Union


Posted on February 10, 2012 by Richard A. Levins

 One of the most annoying things about being a professor is the day you realize that your graduate students are smarter and more articulate than you are. At first, it bothers you terribly. Then, as time goes on, you come to accept it more gracefully. At least that’s how it’s been for me.

Perhaps you’ve noticed a few comments on my last posting on unions for graduate research assistants at the University of Minnesota. Some were in favor, some objected, but all were thoughtful and worthy of our attention.

I sent out a call for help in putting together my response. Sara Nelson, a graduate assistant and doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, offered something that I can’t improve upon.  So, I will simply quote verbatim:

“The bargaining unit is defined in Minnesota law – the only way to have a union is to have a union for all teaching and research assistants and graduate instructors.

“It is true that, as grad assistants, our work across the university varies greatly – but we are all grad assistant employees, and we are all affected by terms and conditions of our employment determined at the level of the upper administration (though the specifics of our employment are – and would continue to be with a union – determined at the department level). A union would give us the opportunity to negotiate on equal footing with the administration over these basic terms and conditions; a contract would be able to establish base pay, benefits, and job protections for all workers, but this does not mean a flattening of wages across the bargaining unit – above these minimums, diversity among departments is maintained and the functions of individual departments in setting competitive compensation is not curtailed. The fundamental point is that all graduate assistants across campus have the opportunity to provide their input on an initial contract and to vote on this contract, and grad assistants will not approve a contract that is not beneficial to them.

“Further, regardless of differences in pay and benefits, the union is able to give all graduate assistants democratic control in setting the terms and conditions of their employment, which are enforceable in a legally-binding contract.  Regardless of whether we feel satisfied with the status quo, the fact is that it can be (and has been) changed at the whim of the administration. My biggest concern, personally, is less increasing my compensation (though a cost of living increase every few years would be nice) than gaining this democratic control.

“Regarding strikes: strikes are extremely rare (more than 98% of contract negotiations are settled without a strike), and involve a sacrifice for any worker – they are a serious decision that no one takes lightly. Those of us in the social sciences and humanities who may not be funded on external research grants are still required to make progress in order to maintain our positions, and take our work as research and teaching assistants seriously enough not to abandon it except under the most dire of circumstances. A strike requires a 2/3 majority vote, in order to make sure that a super majority of members feel that a strike is absolutely necessary. Further, in the extremely rare case that grad assistants decide they need to strike, no one can be forced to participate in a strike or to discontinue work. The 2/3 majority is designed to ensure that a strike would have strong enough support to succeed.”

I thank Ms. Nelson for her help with this posting. More than that, I thank her and all of you graduate students who are working to find ways that a union can give each and every one of you a stronger voice in administrative decisions. You need it now and, believe me, you will need it much more when you take the next step in your careers.

shareshareshareshareshare

This entry was posted in Economic Policy, Labor Unions and tagged graduate student assistants, graduate student union, Richard Levins, UAW by Richard A. Levins. Bookmark the permalink.

He’s One of the Nation’s Highest-Paid CEOs—and You’ve Never Heard of Him


One of the nation’s highest-paid executives is sitting on a massive pile of stock options and enjoys a private jet wherever he goes. Gary Rivlin on John Hammergren, the 1 percenter you’ve never heard of.

James Reda thought he was beyond surprise when it came to executive pay.


But then Reda, a New York–based compensation consultant who sometimes puts together mega-pay packages on behalf of publicly traded behemoths, learned about John Hammergren, the CEO of the McKesson Corp., a giant medical-supply company in California. Hammergren is the $145 million man, top dog on the latest listing of the country’s highest-paid chief executives.

But so what if he made $145 million in a single year? The lion’s share of that money was the slew of stock options Hammergren cashed out after holding them for years. “That’s what you want,” Reda says. A new CEO gets a fat basket of stock options, and if the company does well, the CEO also prospers. “As long as the original stock-award amounts were reasonable, it makes no difference if it ends up providing a huge payoff,” Reda says.

Then I read him Hammergren’s annual total compensation payouts, taken from the company’s public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission: $46 million in 2011; $55 million in 2010; $37 million in 2009; another $41 million in 2008. Hammergren hadn’t founded the company. Wall Street analysts covering McKesson can tell you of the disappointments and miscues that have marked his tenure. But his haul in the 13 years he has been running McKesson? More than $500 million, according to data provided by Equilar, an executive-compensation data firm.


John Hammergren, CEO of McKesson Corp., George Nikitin / AP Photo

For a moment, Reda is silent. “$40 million, $50 million a year is excessive, no matter what the yardstick,” he says. The average pay package for a CEO running a top 100 company these days, Reda says, is around $12 million. That includes everything, from salary to stock awards to contributions to a retirement account. Yet last year McKesson contributed more than $13 million just to Hammergren’s pension, according to company documents. Among the other perks he enjoys: a chauffeur to drive his company car, free use of the corporate jet for personal travel, and an extra $17,000 a year to pay for a financial planner because handling all those hundreds of millions is no doubt complicated stuff.

“He doesn’t leave anything on the table, does he?” Reda asks.

***

John Hammergren isn’t necessarily the highest-paid CEO in America. Sure, he topped the list when GMI, a well-regarded research firm, published its 2011 annual CEO survey in December. But that’s because he cashed out $112 million in accumulated stock options in a single year, according to GMI. He ranked 14th on Forbes‘s 2011 executive-pay list and 22nd on its 2010 ranking. And of course there are CEOs like Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Larry Page. Page has a net worth north of $15 billion, and Ellison is worth more than $30 billion, but then each was a cofounder of the company he runs.

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