Posts tagged ‘Greed’

The Untold Secrets Of the Federal Reserve

The Untold Secrets Of the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve fought tooth and nail for over two years to keep their actions hidden from the American people. The central bank lost part of their battle for secrecy when they were court ordered through a Freedom of Information Act request to release 29,000 pages of documents earlier this year. Although it was just a one-time and limited release of their records, the papers revealed that among the largest recipients of the Fed’s money were foreign banks during the 2008 economic meltdown. Bloomberg News has further examined the thousands upon thousands of pages of transactions to discover more Fed secrets. 

The Federal Reserve had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to “rescuing” the financial system, according to a new study from Bloomberg News. The Fed also kept secret which banks were in trouble during the height of the financial crisis while bankers were taking in tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans. Bloomberg has calculated that the secret Fed loans helped banks net a whopping $13 billion. All of these numbers are staggering but not exactly surprising. The unelected bureaucrats at the Federal Reserve have fought to keep their dealings behind closed doors for a reason. 

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is desperate to protect his privileged secrecy. Bloomberg writes that he “argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma — investors and counterparties would shun firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort — and that needy institutions would be reluctant to borrow in the next crisis.” Helicopter Ben, a nickname he acquired by essentially stating that the government could “defeat” deflation by dropping money out of helicopter, cares more about protecting the reputation of his cronies than letting the American people know where their money is going. 

Bloomberg reports that Fed officials haven’t told the truth about the bank bailouts. The news agencywrites that, “while Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.” The Federal Reserve is ripping off the American people by printing money out of thin air which devalues the value of the dollar to bail out the big banks. 

As Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) writes, “this is just one more reason why we need a full audit of the Fed.” The court ordered released documents are disturbing enough. But imagine what kind of mischief we would find out through a comprehensive audit. A real audit of the Fed would also inspect how it determines interest rates, which is one of the most crucial activities of the central bank. We still need to pass a true audit of the Fed such as Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Ron Paul’sFederal Reserve Transparency Act of 2011, which would require comprehensive audits on a regular basis. 

An overwhelming 75% of Americans want a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. The calls for a true audit are getting louder and stronger by the day. More Republican presidential candidates are starting to echo Ron Paul’s long held beliefs on the Fed. The fight for transparency is transcending party lines, with fiscal conservatives such as Ron Paul and self-identified Democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders working together to remove the Fed’s cloak of secrecy.

We will win our immediate goal when the Fed is thoroughly audited. Then the next step becomes ending the Federal Reserve and finally restoring sound money in America.



Credit union flap may reveal Goldman Sachs is bullying community banks

Credit union flap may reveal Goldman Sachs is bullying community banks (via Raw Story )

When it was announced recently that Goldman Sachs had withdrawn its sponsorship of the small community bank at which Occupy Wall Street had set up an account for its donations, it appeared to be merely a petty act of vindictiveness. According to investigative reporter Greg Palast, however, the motivations…

Read more…

How to Sweep Dark Money Out of Politics | Mother Jones


Justice John Paul Stevens had seen a lot of precedent overturned by the time the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in January 2010. Appointed to the court by Gerald Ford after a career as a distinguished Republican jurist, he’d been there for contentious cases on abortion, the death penalty, Gitmo, you name it. But none had prepared him for the way the court’s new conservative majority, led by John Roberts, seized on an obscure campaign finance case expected to produce a narrow ruling and used it to shred nearly four decades of federal law.

The majority opinion in Citizens United takes up 57 pages, but it’s pretty efficiently boiled down as follows: (1) Money is speech; (2) corporations are people; (3) therefore, under the First Amendment, the government can’t stop corporations from spending money on politics pretty much however they choose.

Stevens penned an impassioned 90-page dissent lambasting the "glittering generality" of this construction. "Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it," he wrote. "Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races."

Stevens wasn’t the only one appalled. Citizens United set off a torrent of outrage, culminating in the high drama of the president (a constitutional law professor, lest we forget) condemning the court in the State of the Union for opening "the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections." Anger spanned the political spectrum (80 percent were opposed shortly after the ruling, 65 percent "strongly") and helped spark the Occupy movement.

The right "recognizes something that few on the left recognize: that campaign finance law underlies all other substantive law."

But Americans’ disgust didn’t stop the bagmen, on both sides of the aisle, from seizing the opportunity. Just ask Dan Maffei, a Democrat in upstate New York’s 25th District who led Ann Marie Buerkle, a pro-life activist with scant political experience, by 12 points two weeks before the election. Then Karl Rove’s American Crossroads buried him with $400,000 worth of attack ads—and Buerkle won by a mere 648 votes.

So how to put elections back in the hands of voters? Here are the four options:

Constitutional amendment: Okay, it takes two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Nevertheless, we did just that to bring about Prohibition in 1919 and then to overturn it in 1933, and to lower the voting age to 18 in 1971. That last one wrapped in a mere five months; then again, the 27th Amendment, which regulated congressional raises, was in the works for 203 years. And recall the Equal Rights Amendment: "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States." No-brainer, right? The ERA passed Congress in a landslide in ’72 (354 to 24 in the House, 84 to 8 in the Senate). It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, included in the Republican Party platform, and ratified by 30 state legislatures within another year. And then Phyllis "Stop Unisex Bathrooms!" Schlafly whipped up a major froth, got enough culture war firebrands elected to state legislatures, and stopped it cold.

So yes, it’s technically possible to pass an amendment clarifying that corporations are not quite the same as people and money is not quite the same as speech. (Several organizations, including People for the American Way and a new outfit called Move to Amend, are pushing for this.) But there’s also a lot of dark-money groups waiting to underwrite a Schlafly-like play.

SCOTUS deathwatch: How about waiting for a conservative justice or two to die while Democrats hold the White House and the Senate? Yeeaah. Absent the plot devices of a John Grisham thriller, don’t hold your breath. Then again, know who’s been the master of this kind of waiting game? The folks who brought you Citizens United. When he started flooding the docket with anti-campaign-finance-regulation cases in the 1980s, conservative lawyer James Bopp Jr. was facing a hostile court. But he kept at it until the majority shifted—and slammed the ball he’d teed up.

Let the sun shine in: In the nearer term, there’s the option the Roberts court expressly invited in Citizens United—full-monty disclosure. Not long after the ruling, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the DISCLOSE Act with 114 cosponsors, just two of them Republicans. It would have banned most secret donations, forced companies to report their giving to shareholders, and shut foreign corporations out of electioneering. The bill’s life was brief and full of ironies (among the clauses tacked on in the House was one exempting the NRA); it passed the House in an anemic 219-206 vote—36 Dems voted nay—and died, as all good legislation must, when the Senate fell one vote short (RIP Ted Kennedy) of a filibuster-proof 60 votes. Van Hollen has reintroduced the legislation, and with Sen. John McCain back in the reform business, it might just stand a chance.

But Congress is not the only game in town. Court after court has come down squarely on the side of disclosure, and in May, the DC court of appeals ruled that nonprofits like Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the US Chamber of Commerce must reveal their donors’ names. In another promising step, the IRS has made noises about revoking the tax exemption of dark-money groups.

Taxpayer-financed campaigns: No one likes big money in politics—least of all, perhaps, members of Congress who toil in the Hill’s drab call centers, dialing donors to beg for cash. That’s why public financing was key to the post-Watergate reforms, and until billionaire Steve Forbes opted out in 1996, every major presidential candidate took it. But the system failed to keep up with the cost of elections; this year, candidates could hope to get about $90 million in public financing, whereas Obama expects to raise up to $1 billion. Nevertheless, public financing can still make a big difference in down-ballot races, from the statehouse all the way to obscure but critical judicial elections. And keep in mind, today’s state legislator is tomorrow’s US senator.

As the rich get richer, throwing six-figure sums at presidential campaigns is just like tipping for good service.

In the end, all these avenues need to be pursued, and here’s why: As Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center told MoJo‘s Andy Kroll, the right "recognizes something that few on the left recognize: that campaign finance law underlies all other substantive law." In other words, no matter what you care about—climate change, abortion, taxes, net neutrality—it all comes back to who pays for our elections. Need a more selfish reason? Because the 1 percent have bent the system to their advantage, America’s median household income—your income—is $40,000 lower than it would have been had incomes continued to keep pace with economic growth. Conversely, as the rich get richer, throwing six-figure sums at presidential campaigns is just like tipping for good service. Snake, meet tail.

So yes, we might agree with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), no stranger to campaign rainmaking, that Citizens United is the court’s worst decision since it upheld segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson. But bad law is not without redress—if voters shame reluctant representatives into getting off the dark-money teat. "At bottom," wrote Justice Stevens, the court’s opinion is "a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding…While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics."

Ready to explore for yourself? Here’s choose-your-own adventure guide to the options, with plenty of links to more resources.

<p>Sadly, in order to play, you must have javascript enabled.</p>


Monika Bauerlein

Editor in Chief

Monika Bauerlein is co-editor of Mother Jones. For more of her stories, click here. You can also follow her on Twitter. RSS | Twitter

Clara Jeffery

Editor in Chief

Clara Jeffery is co-editor of Mother Jones. For more of her stories, click here. You can also follow her on Twitter. RSS | Twitter

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  • Jacqueline D. Reyes06/17/2012 09:28 AM

    This comment was flagged for review.


  • RudyTwoShoes06/17/2012 09:55 AMin reply to Jacqueline D. Reyes

    This is a scam/spam link and has been flagged.

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    Marcus_from_the_North and 4 more liked thisLikeReplyReply

  • RudyTwoShoes06/17/2012 09:58 AM

    "Corporations are people and money is speech" yet corporations can commit fraud, slander and treason without prosecution.  We the People need the same freedom and access (and most certainly the same level of freedom from taxation, the ability to purchase a Toyota directly from Japan without import tax and the ability to purchase drugs, food and anything from Canada or anyplace we want).

    Free trade and free "speech" for everyone.

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  • Ronnie Waters06/17/2012 06:37 PMin reply to RudyTwoShoes

    This is the only intelligent point made here.  Thanks Rudy

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  • Won WordYesterday 05:23 AMin reply to RudyTwoShoes

    One upon a time, corporations received the death penalty for egregious acts. 200 years ago, corporate charters could be–and were–revoked by the state. When was the last time that happened?

    Two+ perfect candidates: BP for their flagrant disregard for personnel and environmental safety, and JP Morgan/Bank of America/Wells Fargo for their engineered destruction of the economy.

    Revoke their charters, see off their assets to pay for cleaning their messes, and prosecute their officers. Done and done.

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  • melinda_jobsYesterday 10:56 AMin reply to RudyTwoShoes

    corporation are about "protection their bottom line" with all causes or by any mean.   

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  • slave2libertyYesterday 12:08 PMin reply to melinda_jobs

    And you’re not about protecting your bottom line?

    "all causes or by any  mean" – wow, that’s amazing – i didn’t realize that all corporations and all people whom they consist of use any and all means necessary to protect what is rightfully theirs (money or right to associate).

    If this is true, then why am i not tripping on dead bodies in the streets daily, or receiving a visit from Guido of ABC Corporation, and being told i have to buy their products, or else? Seems like, you demagogue just a little.

    Ironically, i have been visited on occasion from Guido of the State apparatus, telling me how much soda i can drink, how much salt i can put on my steak, what type of bicycle helmet to wear, and how much of my own money is rigthfully some else’s who makes less than me, or that i must pay for programs which encourage ILLEGAL immigration (or straight out amnesty), so that Democrats can increase their voter rolls.

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  • slave2libertyYesterday 11:54 AMin reply to RudyTwoShoes

    So, is it really as simple as lefists make it out – that corporations deserve no protections which are afforded to the individuals whom they consist of?

    Should a corporation not be afforded protections against illegal search and seizure? Or taxation without representation? Or freedom of political speech?

    On the flip-side – if corporations (a collection of individuals) are  not to be held to the same laws as the individuals, what laws are they accountable to? In other words – what legal parameters are their actions judged against?

    Me thinks, that the ONLY reason leftists get their panties in a bunch on this issue, is because they don’t like the resulting effectiveness that occurs by having many people pooling their resources to speak out against the left’s beloved statists.

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  • Phoenix WomanYesterday 01:24 PMin reply to slave2liberty

    "Many people"?  Nah, just a handful of very rich people who have used the brainwashing techniques of Fred Bernays, coupled with skillful and amoral "Southern Strategy" manipulation of race hatreds cloaked in the mantle of deficit hawkery (….

    In the meantime, the left is outgunned and outfinanced by these new high-tech feudal overlords whose butts you love kissing for the tiny crumbs they give you.

    Why not skip the parasitical overlords and go for economic democracy instead? You know, where the people who do the work — not commissars, not boards of directors, not third-generation trustafarians whose cosseted lives are so different from ours that they think Ayn Rand’s flatterings of them as the master race are sober truth — actually get the proceeds therefrom.

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  • FromtheGreatWhiteNorth06/17/2012 10:57 AM

    The cynicism embodied by Citizens United defies belief. The notion that corporations are citizens is so offensive. Once again, we privitize profits (bought politicians) and social risk (prosecution for illegal actives = fine. Just add it to the price). We might be able to have a conversation about things when a ‘corporation’ is jailed for malfeasance (e.g., suspended from doing ANY business for the length of the sentence). Those of us older feel helpless. Those of us younger feel nothing – they’re excluded forever.

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  • talktoo06/17/2012 04:12 PMin reply to FromtheGreatWhiteNorth

    ..or buried in Arlington

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  • Won WordYesterday 05:28 AMin reply to talktoo

    As a former servicemember, I council young people to avoid military service like the plague. Patton had it right: let "the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

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  • Steven DeeringYesterday 07:05 AMin reply to FromtheGreatWhiteNorth

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Lately, I seem to be getting into more arguments with friends/family/coworkers about immigrants and minorities being the problem ("They get free health care, food stamps!") as if they have any political clout. Meanwhile, corporations are handed subsidies after posting historic revenues. Why? Because, job creators. Or something. It is really confusing… But then I look at Florida and see a voter purge to combat nonexistent fraud and it becomes slightly clearer.

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  • slave2libertyYesterday 12:39 PMin reply to Steven Deering

    Those are some great ethics you live by – if they don’t have political "clout", then just let them do as they want, taking resources from LEGAL citizens, making the rule of law arbitrary, ignoring US sovereignty, and giving politicians fiat power to ignore immigration policy.

    Regardless of your accomodations and lack of principle, the truth is, ILLEGAL aliens have plenty of political clout which is aimed at undermining US Sovereignty. You never heard of MALDEF, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, The National Council of La Raza (THE race!), or MECHA?

    As for the specious attacks on Florida and every municpality for attempting to ensure the integrity of our election system, it seems that you would prefer to look the other way as long as those illegal votes sway in your favor.

    Do you honestly believe that there should be no auditing or oversight of the voter records? That people should be able to vote in multiple districts (as is sometimes the case with college students, by accident), or that widowers should be able to mail in their deceased partner’s ballot? Or that ILLEGAL aliens should be able to vote?

    Besides, if there is no fraud (or…

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  • Phoenix WomanYesterday 01:31 PMin reply to slave2liberty

    If "illegal aliens" had clout, they wouldn’t be working starvation wages. 

    Which is of course why, contrary to your protestations, Republicans love the current situation:  You use undocumented workers as a club with which to force documented workers to accept starvation wages, too.

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  • dustime806/17/2012 12:45 PM

    The (misnomer) dark money makes me almost laugh at those who chose the word to cover the correct term "corruption" in the money used by corporate America they launder into political donations. I guess this falls under the term political correctness which is another corruption to cover up unfettered mis-use of power by elected officials voted into office. We are allowing our country to be pilfered and destroyed by powers within and think nothing of it. People seem more interested in their next stash of marijuana or legalization of this crap than the direction America is headed. What do you think? Mother Jones, am I wrong here?

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  • Won WordYesterday 05:31 AMin reply to dustime8

    People seem more interested in their next stash of marijuana or legalization of this crap whatever entertainment garbage is on TeeVee than the direction America is headed.

    Fixed it for you.

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  • Steven DeeringYesterday 07:07 AMin reply to dustime8

    I think Orwell would have really enjoyed the pizza = vegetable idea.

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  • Marc Grober06/17/2012 01:37 PM

    No mention of Montana’s perspective?  For shame…..

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  • William06/17/2012 01:59 PM

    Speaking as a 10th and 12th generation Yankee gun-owner, and 6th generation college grad who was born a Republican, I think it will take a class war to return our legislative system to some semblance of moral equity.  Our Supreme Court is dominated by people who simply don’t have any skin in our national game, except to make themselves and their cronies rich and powerful.  We need term limits on Supreme Court seats, perhaps 14 years, so that no president could appoint more than one, under normal circumstances, and we need a list of qualifying prerequisites, including having at least either a graduate degree not only in law, but also in American History with several juried publications, and service in uniform in combat whenever other Americans are deployed in combat, otherwise demanding public service in uniform at low pay for at least 4 years.  Scalia is a cowbird whose loyalties are to wealth and the Vatican, and Alito is right in there with him.  Thomas’s qualifications are so minimal they could be stenciled on the head of a pin, and Roberts is most qualified to be a billionaire’s chauffeur.

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  • B E Pratt06/17/2012 08:30 PMin reply to William

    While term limits is an intriguing idea, the whole idea behind appointment for life was to keep politics out of the Supreme Court. It worked very well up until recently. It used to be that when a Justice was appointed, one never really knew what they would do until some decisions came down. You could guess fairly well, but you could never be sure.

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  • Won WordYesterday 05:37 AMin reply to William

    How about setting congressional, presidential and SCOTUS salaries to minimum wage, with no benefits, such as healthcare and pensions, just like the majority of Americans? Any raise they vote themselves must be matched by an equivallent dollar increase in minimum wage.

    Yeah, I know. Happy fantasy.

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  • DebbieSmith195606/17/2012 03:58 PM

    American election laws set very specific limits to the size of donations that individuals and Political Action Committees may make to Presidential campaigns. Unfortunately, as shown here, it is very difficult to track the trail of a donation as funds are moved from one PAC to another to ensure that the limits are being followed:


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  • tiredoftea06/17/2012 04:15 PM

    Another victory for the right, activist judges, of the right temperament, at the SCOTUS level. Wake up Dems! You have lost most of the battles and the war. Will your convictions and backbone ever show up?

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  • Won WordYesterday 05:38 AMin reply to tiredoftea

    Dems have no spine, and Repubs have no heart.

    Such is the way of the world.

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  • DTaggert06/17/2012 04:36 PM

    I’m still wondering what makes the 1st amendment so difficult to understand:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

    No law, means exactly nothing. Congress can’t do anything at all regulating what we talk about or how we choose to say. We can talk individually, anonymously, using any media, including those not known at the time.

    We can choose to talk as a member of a group – a neighborhood association, a professional organization, as a Tea Partier, as a stockholder in a corporation.

    Even the states have a very limited ability to control speech due to the incorporation doctrine that started with the 14th amendment.

    This freedom of speech allowed the Tea Party movement to spring up spontaneously and conclusively stop the slide of this country toward collectivism, so now, free speech is being viscously attacked

    Citizens United merely affirmed the first amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that “Congress shall make no law” meant exactly what it says. It doesn’t matter if you speak anonymousl­y, it doesn’t matter if you choose to speak as a member of…

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  • middleclassman106/17/2012 05:28 PMin reply to DTaggert

    the tea party did not spring up spontaniously, it was created by the likes of the koch brothers who deceived some gullible citizens that their lives would somehow be better by taking our country back for the rich and greedy.

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  • mcsandbergYesterday 04:17 AMin reply to middleclassman1

    I have personal experience with the Tea Party. I was at the very first one that we had in Denver and I can assure you – the Tea Party movement is real, and it happened long before we got any professional help! You had to be there to appreciate the incredible enthusiasm and determination to get this country back on track. Check out to see just how genuine the Tea Party is!

    The Tea Party is the result of lots of people reading the classics of liberty – Atlas Shrugged, The Road to Serfdom and others are always among best sellers. The people I meet at the Tea Parties are far from ignorant. Some have even read Von Mises "Human Action"!

    You can ONLY pick up 63 house seats, 6 house seats and most incredibly 695 state house seats with a true grass roots movement.

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  • Won WordYesterday 05:41 AMin reply to mcsandberg

    Ayn Rand’s work is as much a "classic of liberty" as "Grapes of Wrath" is about the benefits of unregulated Agriculture, "The Jungle" is about the benefits of unregulated meat packing, and "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" a classic of liberty of plantation owners.

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  • mcsandbergYesterday 06:04 AMin reply to Won Word

    Atlas Shrugged is a description of a country moving from liberty to collectivism. The reason its so compelling, is that its based on what Ms. Rand observed as Russia turned into the USSR. So, its very much a classic of liberty. Its the novel that introduces people to the library of liberty. Most of the Tea Partiers I’ve talked to mention it as the book that explained what’s happening to this country.

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How to Sweep Dark Money Out of Politics | Mother Jones

The upper class is more Republican

A few months ago I listened to Frank Newport of Gallup tell Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace that upper class Americans tend to be Democrats. Ryssdal was skeptical, but Newport reiterated himself, and explained that’s just how the numbers shook out. This is important because Newport shows up every now and then to offer up numbers from Gallup to get a pulse of the American nation.

Frankly, Newport was just full of crap. I understand that Thomas Frank wrote an impressionistic book which is highly influential, What’s the Matter with Kansas, while more recently Charles Murray has come out with the argument in Coming Apart that the elites tend toward social liberalism. I’m of the opinion that Frank is just wrong on the face of it, but that’s OK because he’s an impressionistic journalist, and I don’t expect much from that set beyond what I might expect from a sports columnist for ESPN. Murray presents a somewhat different case, as outlined by Andrew Gelman, in that his “upper class” is modulated in a particular manner so as to fall within the purview of his framework. Neither of these qualifications apply to Frank Newport, who is purportedly presenting straightforward unadorned data.

When the “average person on the street” thinks upper class they think first and foremost money. This is not all they think about, but in the rank order of criteria this is certainly first on the list. We can argue till the cows come home as to whether a wealthy small business owner in Iowa who is a college drop out is more or less elite than a college professor in New York City who is bringing home a modest upper middle class income (very modest adjusting for cost of living). But to a first approximation when we look at aggregates we had better look at the bottom line of money. After that we can talk details. And the first approximation is incredibly easy to ascertain. Below is a table and chart which illustrate the proportion of non-Hispanic whites after 2000 who align with a particular party as a function of family income, with family income being indexed to a 1986 value (so presumably $80,000 hear means what $80,000 would buy in 1986, not the aughts).

Family Income Strong Dem Dem Lean Dem Ind Lean Rep Rep Strong Rep
Less than $20,000 12 15 12 24 9 15 12
$20-$40,000 12 15 10 18 11 19 15
$40-$80,000 11 14 10 13 11 24 18
More than $80,000 12 12 10 11 11 23 21

The results are straightforward: the more income a family has, the more likely they are to be Republican. There is a lot of nuance and geographical detail to be fleshed out in these results. But these facts are where we need to start.

Andrew Gelman has much more as usual. For example, this chart:

Why do I keep posting this stuff? Because facts matter. That’s my hope, my faith. Tell people facts, and they will open their eyes. Tell your friends, tell your family. Have whatever opinion you want to have, but start with the facts we know. Look up facts, calculate facts, analyze facts. They are there for us, we just need to go look. Google is your friend, Wikipedia is your friend. The General Social Survey is your friend.

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March 25th, 2012 Tags: ,
by in Data Analysis | 19 comments | RSS feed | Trackback >

19 Responses to “The upper class is more Republican”

  1. 1.   Cathy Says:

    So, the more money a person has, the more likely they are to vote Republican. But the more education a person has, the less likely they are to vote Republican – with the exception of those who never finished high school yet have a very high income (which, I’d guess, has a lot of IT folks.)

  2. 2.   Razib Khan Says:

    with the exception of those who never finished high school yet have a very high income

    the error bars there are huge. don’t trust that. as i imply above aggregating all these groups into one pot can mislead. but yes, to a first approximation what you say is correct (though dems have traditionally had a bimodal distribution, the last and most educated vote for them, repubs tend to be in the middle).

  3. 3.   Anthony Says:

    Part of the issue is defining “elite”. If you looked at the politics of America’s approximately 300 billionaires, it might look very different than the politics of people who have an income over $1 million, or over an income of $80,000.

    My impression is that Charles Murray is trying to define “elite” as “opinion leaders” or something similar, which means people with non-STEM college degrees in fields like the media or teaching, which generally means poorly paid relative to their education, which would tend to skew very Democrat.

    Incidentally, Thomas Frank’s thesis is at least partially normative, that people with lower incomes *should* vote for Deomcrats, without ever considering the idea that some “poor” people might believe that Republican economic policies would actually benefit them more. Having not read his book, I don’t know if he notices that in states like Kansas, people do generally vote more Democrat as they have less money, just skewed more Republican than in more liberal states.

  4. 4.   rob Says:

    I believe that Frank Newport was correct the upper CLASS are democrats however the 1% financially are predominantely Republican.

  5. 5.   Razib Khan Says:

    I believe that Frank Newport was correct the upper CLASS are democrats however the 1% financially are predominantely Republican.

    what? what the hell are you saying? it’s awesomely informative that you bolded it?

  6. 6.   Karl Zimmerman Says:

    I read a bunch of left-liberal blogs off and on, and Thomas Frank’s thesis is pretty widely derided now. E.G., look at this post which airs an unfortunately little-commented upon 2006 study, which found that:

    1. Whites without college degrees are not turning towards Republicans.
    2. Lower-income whites, if anything, are turning towards the Democrats, as poor white voters with college degrees have become progressively less inclined to support Republicans.
    3. From 1952 to 2004, the working-class white vote in the South shifted to be 20% more Republican. In the rest of the country – only 1% more Republican!

  7. 7.   Josh Says:

    When you get to define what is wealthy, you can make the facts suit your needs. I’m sorry, but 80k is not what republicans mean when they talk about “the wealthy”. Here is an article from left of center source that shows that a large majority of the wealthiest Americans as well as most of those earning above 200k (as of 2008) vote Democrat. The guys arguing that the wealthiest Americans are on the left aren’t wrong, they just picked a different set of data to work with.

  8. 8.   Razib Khan Says:

    Here is an article from left of center source that shows that a large majority of the wealthiest Americans as well as most of those earning above 200k (as of 2008) vote Democrat.

    look, i kind of think it’s moronic to look at the top 20 wealthiest and infer from that. people who are worth billions are kind of beyond standard models. second, i know the 2008 data. it’s suggestive, but

    1) 52% is technically most, but it’s kind of misleading in the context of the comment. don’t be a douche

    2) the sample size in that epoll may be part of the issue (which might explain the huge fluctuation between 2004 and 2008). i would be nice to dig deeper into this, though to my knowledge no one has.

    as you say if you look hard enough you can find countervailing data. the point is not to look hard, but see where the preponderance of the data points. that’s called good faith, and trying to see how reality shakes out, rather than verifying your hypothesis. don’t be so patronizing. you comment was weak.

  9. 9.   Dave Says:

    “so presumably $80,000 hear means what $80,000 would buy in 1986″

    Where’s Waldo…

  10. 10.   DK Says:

    $80K elite? Is this some sort of a joke? Elites are the ones that buy everyone else and you can’t do that for 80K. Try maybe 80,000K.

  11. 11.   Karl Zimmerman Says:

    I think 2008 was a fluke year which shouldn’t really be used as a guide for how the very wealthy vote. The financial crisis, John McCain’s useless stunt during the depths of it, and probably the selection of Sarah Palin pushed a great many generally conservative wealthy people to support Obama, because he seemed the most likely to return the country to stability.

    In general, people should check out this blog. It has a lot of data on occupations by profession. Most of the data is culled from FEC donations, however, which means it’s not the best determination of the truly wealthy, as the upper-middle class donates a fair amount to political campaigns as well.

  12. 12.   Bobby LaVesh Says:

    These graphs probably suggest one common-sense observation:

    – People whether we’re rich or poor, educated or not tend to support their own cause.

    It is no secret that most people believe that left-wing policies tend to benefit the poor and right-wing policies tend to benefit the rich. People tend to vote what they think will help them.

    There really isn’t too much of a surprise there.

    As far as education- whereas increasing education tends to trend less republican- once you get to post-grad, that is where republican’s really lose out. I’m sure a factor in that is- a large number of post-grads are dependant on government funding for their research (or their oft-state funded university). Ones that arn’t are more likely to have peers dependant on it.

    I’m actually very curious on how religion with income maps out. From personal-experience it seems to me that the richest and poorest of society tend to be the most religious- with the middle groups less so. I’m curious if my personal observations match the nation as a whole.

  13. 13.   Bobby LaVesh Says:

    #10 DK.

    $80K from 1986 would be over $100k in today’s dollars. Sure, that’s not “elite” rich- but that’s definately a lot more than those in the lowest brackets.

    “Elite” may not be the right word- “comfortable” might be a better word. As #3 Anthony commented- it would be interesting to see the “true” elite- how things change then- how they vote.

    I’m sure from a voting perspective the true “elite” (the mega-millionaires/billionaires) are too small a percentage for campaigners to worry about as a group seperate from the “comfortable”.

  14. 14.   Ria Says:

    It seems to me that a realistic analysis of income distribution and voting would have to be done regionally in the US. This is because there is too much variation due to regionality that can confound the results unless you do a more sophisticated analysis than what is being done in these discussions. After all, the exact same position with the exact same experience can command a drastically different salary in New York City versus Tennessee or Montana. As much as $20k. That would easily be a standard deviation.

    I’ve not seen a thorough discussion of the data in terms of median income versus standard deviations as a means of describing the data even in a nation-wide sense (for each census year)…everything in the discussion is focusing on simplistic definitions of salaries that we all have a social recognition as being significant salaries. Let’s just stick to the data, and that will remove the confusion…and allow us to describe the sources of variance most clearly (as in the case of regional variance in salary, for example…since I do not know if all data sets being discussed have been adjusted for cost of living, and even if they have, if such an adjustment truly normalizes across the nation…after all, you can still probably purchase more with an equivalent cost-of-living-adjusted salary in Montana than you can in New York City just because incidentals also cost more in NYC).

  15. 15.   Karl Zimmerman Says:

    14 –

    Such a study has already been done. “Blue” states show little correlation between income and voting patterns, while “red” states show a high correlation. Even though rich people in all states are more likely to support Republicans than poor people, a larger minority in states like Connecticut support Democrats than in states like Mississippi, which explains why higher-income states overall now tilt to the Democrats.

  16. 16.   Curious Says:

    Karl Zimmerman is right (and this was previously discussed at some length here on GNXP.) My personal experience leads me to hazard a guess that the “working rich” ie. those in high effective tax brackets such as those of highly paid professionals, tend to be more Republican than the extremely wealthy who shield their income from taxation of earnings on capital rather than labor via capital gains taxes, municipal bonds, etc…

    BTW, even college professors at Columbia should hardly be considered “upper class” by NYC standards. You will not find many of them living in Larchmont or Rye and will definitely find them thin on the ground (water?) at venues like the American Yacht Club.

  17. 17.   Razib Khan Says:

    BTW, even college professors at Columbia should hardly be considered “upper class” by NYC standards.

    i alluded to that in the post. is there a reason you’re repeating that?

  18. 18.   Curious Says:

    No, I should have read your post more carefully. At any rate after controlling for red state – blue state effects I believe the proclivity towards Republican politics is probably explained more by one’s effective tax rate than by net worth.

  19. 19.   Razib Khan Says:

    blue state effects I believe the proclivity towards Republican politics is probably explained more by effective tax rate than most anything else.

    if you are talking about a model with dependent an independent variables, religious liberalism/conservatism is massively powerful. most poor fundamentalists and rich atheists are not republican, but they are to a far greater extent than people would care. this does not negate that fiscal concerns are extremely important.

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The upper class is more Republican.

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Withdrawl After Amended To Include Testing Lawmakers

First Posted: 01/27/2012 5:36 pm Updated: 01/27/2012 6:27 pm




Video , Class Warfare , Temporary Assistance For Needy Families , Drug Testing , Indiana Drug Testing , Unemployment Drug Test , Welfare , Welfare Drug Testing , Politics News

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A Republican member of the Indiana General Assembly withdrew his bill to create a pilot program for drug testing welfare applicants Friday after one of his Democratic colleagues amended the measure to require drug testing for lawmakers.

“There was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill,” said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), sponsor of the original welfare drug testing bill.

The Supreme Court ruled drug testing for political candidates unconstitutional in 1997, striking down a Georgia law. McMillin said he withdrew his bill so he could reintroduce it on Monday with a lawmaker drug testing provision that would pass constitutional muster.

“I’ve only withdrawn it temporarily,” he told HuffPost, stressing he carefully crafted his original bill so that it could survive a legal challenge. Last year a federal judge, citing the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure, struck down a Florida law that required blanket drug testing of everyone who applied for welfare.

McMillin’s bill would overcome constitutional problems, he said, by setting up a tiered screening scheme in which people can opt-out of random testing. Those who decline random tests would only be screened if they arouse “reasonable suspicion,” either by their demeanor, by being convicted of a crime, or by missing appointments required by the welfare office.

In the past year Republican lawmakers have pursued welfare drug testing in more than 30 states and in Congress, and some bills have even targeted people who claim unemployment insurance and food stamps, despite scanty evidence the poor and jobless are disproportionately on drugs. Democrats in several states have countered with bills to require drug testing elected officials. Indiana state Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) introduced just such an amendment on Friday.

“After it passed, Rep. McMillin got pretty upset and pulled his bill,” Dvorak said. “If anything, I think it points out some of the hypocrisy. … If we’re going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money.”

Dvorak said McMillin was mistaken to think testing the legislature would be unconstitutional, since the stricken Georgia law targeted candidates and not people already holding office.

McMillan, for his part, said he’s coming back with a new bill on Monday, lawmaker testing included. He said he has no problem submitting to a test himself.

“I would think legislators that are here who are responsible for the people who voted them in, they should be more than happy to consent,” he said. “Give me the cup right now and I will be happy to take the test.”

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Indiana unions remind voters of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ past opposition to anti-union bill as vote nears

Indiana unions remind voters of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ past opposition to anti-union bill as vote nears

by Laura Clawson

Indiana Democrats have returned to the state House after their third brief boycott aimed at slowing Republicans’ rush to pass an anti-union bill, but, according to the Associated Press, “made no promises they won’t stall again.”

If passed, the law would force union members to pay the costs of representing their non-union coworkers. The Senate is expected to vote today and to pass the bill overwhelmingly, followed by the House later in the week.

Meanwhile, the Indiana AFL-CIO will be running the ad shown above surrounding Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Republican response to Tuesday’s State of the Union, highlighting his 2006 opposition to such a law. No word on the size of the buy, but “The ad will air surrounding the governor’s response on broadcast networks in Indiana and nationally on CNN and MSNBC.”


Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM PST

Pro-Romney super PAC leads Florida primary spending, followed by union

by Laura Clawson

Will this union ad be a major player in the Florida Republican primary?

Politico rounds up outside spending on the Florida Republican presidential primary … and so far, a union is coming in second. Mitt Romney’s super PAC, Restore Our Future, leads the way:

[T]he organization has spent more than $2.07 million in Florida alone to fund broadcast advertisements and phone banking designed to both support Romney and attack both Gingrich and fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, federal records indicate.

By contrast, the super PACs aligned with other candidates are spending peanuts so far: Just $225,000 from the pro-Santorum Red White and Blue Fund and a measly $100,000 from the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future. That $100,000 is an internet ad buy; you have to assume they’ll be doing something more shortly.

But AFSCME’s ad buy targeting Romney, originally reported at $800,000, is in fact around $1 million. That’s still less than half what Romney’s super PAC has spent in the last few days, of course, but right now, it’s some of the most serious opposition Romney is drawing in Florida.


Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 08:44 AM PST

Kansas kicks American citizen children of undocumented immigrants off of food stamps

by Laura Clawson

For kids!

The state of Kansas has found a way to deny children who are American citizens nutritional assistance they would be eligible for—if only their parents weren’t undocumented immigrants.

While undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, many have children who were born in the U.S. and are, as citizens, eligible for aid. Or they were until Kansas tinkered with how household income is calculated.

Here’s how the change works: Until last fall, Kansas would look at the household income of a family made up of a mixture of citizens and non-citizens, and prorate the income to the number of citizens—and remember, we’re talking about dependent children here. So for one family the Kansas City Star‘s Laura Bauer talked to, the two U.S. citizens in a family of five were counted as receiving two-fifths of the total household income of $1,600 a month. That meant they were counted as having $640 a month in income and were eligible for $280 a month in food stamps. Now, though, those two children, aged eight and three, are counted as earning their family’s entire $1,600, and $1,600 a month is too high an income for two people to qualify for benefits.

How’s that for creativity in the service of screwing immigrant families?

The family described above applied for benefits only after the children’s mother was laid off; when the children’s father worked weekends for some months, he reported the extra income and his daughters’ benefits were cut. Then, just as his weekend work and his daughters would have qualified for food stamps again, Kansas made this change going after the children of immigrants:

He now puts $50 a week aside for food to feed his family. When that’s not enough, he borrows from the rent money and the cash put aside for utilities.

His eyes fill with tears when he talks about his struggle to provide for his family.

“My family doesn’t know what I’m doing,” he said. “I try to eat at work (where his boss often provides meals and snacks) so I don’t take food away from my children at home. … The bills are coming in. Now I am getting letters on what they are going to cut off. I know every month it’s going to be worse.

“But I ask myself, ‘What is better, my kids having food or paying the bills?'”

Way to go, Kansas.


Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 07:18 AM PST

Newt Gingrich’s ‘Obama is the food stamp president’ line founded on a falsehood

by Laura Clawson

(Adam Hunger/Reuters)

Details, details. Newt Gingrich’s whole schtick about how Barack Obama is “the food stamp president” is founded on a false claim, a USA Today fact-check finds. Gingrich’s basis for the “food stamp president” thing is his specific claim that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” It would be accurate to say that under Obama food stamp enrollment has been at its highest point ever, but:

Gingrich goes too far to say Obama has put more on the rolls than other presidents. We asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition service for month-by-month figures going back to January 2001. And they show that under President George W. Bush the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million. Nothing before comes close to that.

And under Obama, the increase so far has been 14.2 million. To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama’s time in office than during Bush’s.

Obama still has time to exceed Bush, of course, but the number of people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP, or food stamp) benefits actually went down in October. And even if, during the coming months, the number will go up enough to exceed Bush’s record, Newt Gingrich has yet to prove that he can see into the future, And even if Newt Gingrich can see into the future, he can’t change the rules of grammar such that when he says “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama” it actually means “more people ultimately will have been put on food stamps.” So no matter what happens in coming months, right now, Newt Gingrich is a liar.


Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 09:33 AM PST

Retail industry sells New York workers short with discrimination, low wages and schedule abuses

by Laura Clawson

A large majority of the 436 New York City retail workers surveyed for the newly released study Discounted Jobs have at least some college education. They’ve been working in retail for an average of five years, and half have been at their current job for more than a year. Half of them earn less than $9.50 an hour, only 29 percent get health care through their retail job, and of the 44 percent who do have paid sick days in theory, only 54 percent have used a sick day—in many cases due to pressure from their managers and fear of retribution.

What the report, by City University of New York professor Stephanie Luce and Naoki Fujita of the Retail Action Project, shows is an educated, experienced workforce in an industry that makes it virtually impossible for workers to make a living. Even the most educated workers, who earn more than others, earn poverty-level wages:

For those with a Bachelor’s degree, the median wage was $11.50 per hour. With a median of 36 hours per week, a retail worker with a Bachelor’s degree could expect to gross just under $22,000 a year. Respondents with an Associate’s degree had a median hourly wage of $10 and 32 median weekly hours. This results in an annual gross income of $16,640, assuming year-round employment.

And, as the chart above shows, there’s a significant racial gap in wages, with Latino workers with two years on the job averaging a slightly lower pay rate than white workers with less than six months on the job. As a preview of the report, which I wrote about in December, made clear, women are also paid less than men.

One explanation commonly offered for such wage differentials within an industry is that the lower-paid groups aren’t as qualified for the higher-paid jobs in the industry. In this telling, white men in retail are just more likely to have the qualifications needed to work the more desirable jobs and get more raises. Another study of New York City employment offers a rejoinder to that notion. Sociologists Devah Pager and Bruce Western conducted an audit study, in which they had matched teams of young men with similar attributes and (fictitious; created for the study) resumes, but of different races, apply for entry-level jobs. In some cases, a white tester was given a resume that indicated he was a recently released felon, while his black and Latino counterparts did not do so. Pager and Western found that, in the teams in which no one indicated a criminal record, the white man had a 23 percent chance of getting a positive response, the Latino man had a 19 percent chance, and the black man had just a 13 percent chance of a positive response. In the teams in which the white member was supposedly a felon, those white members were about as likely as the black and Latino non-felons to get a positive response.

That part of Pager and Western’s study speaks to how likely people of different races are to be offered work at all. But they also found significant racial channeling, in which black and Latino applicants for jobs involving contact with customers were instead offered back-of-house jobs—applying for a job as a salesperson or waiter, they were offered a job as a stocker or a dishwasher. White applicants, on the other hand, were sometimes channeled upward, asked to apply for a waiter job rather than the dishwasher one they’d asked to apply for. The only white testers who were channeled downward were those who claimed to be felons, while black testers were channeled down in 10 cases and Latinos were in four cases.

These were, remember, applicants who had been chosen to be similar to each other—race aside—down to their very height, then trained to behave similarly while inquiring about jobs, then given matching resumes (except in the cases of the white testers who were given prison records). The disparate results they experienced in their “job searching” demonstrates the role that employers play in creating racial disparities in pay such as the Luce and Fujita “Discounted Pay” study finds.

Pay isn’t the only racial disparity the workers Luce and Fujita surveyed experience. Scheduling is a major issue for these workers (as anyone who has read Lightbulb‘s diaries here at Daily Kos will be well aware). More than half of the workers Luce and Fujita surveyed were classified as part-time employees, though 30 percent of the “part-time” workers reported sometimes working more than 40 hours in a week. Many reported various forms of schedule-related wage theft, such as not being paid overtime when they should have been, or being called in for a shift, then sent home quickly and not paid for a four hour shift as New York law requires. But even without wage theft, scheduling is problematic for workers:

Only 17 percent of workers surveyed have a set schedule. Thirty percent know their schedules more than a week ahead of time, and the rest – over half – only know their schedules within a week, with about a fifth getting their schedule within three days notice.

Try making child care arrangements when you don’t know your work schedule ahead of time. Try budgeting for food and to pay your bills when you don’t know how many hours you’ll be working in any given week.

Like wages, scheduling problems fall differently on different racial groups:

One of the great brutalities of the retail industry today is that workers are, on the one hand, not given the hours they need to make a living, but are, on the other hand, expected to be always available to come in to work with little notice. For poverty wages, companies demand absolute control over their workers’ schedules—and, this study finds, the burden falls most heavily on Latino workers and least on white workers. Luce and Fujita identify how “hours are the new bonus,” given as rewards or taken away as punishment. Rather than offering raises, managers just give a favored worker more hours.

Though this study focuses on New York City, the struggles these workers face are common throughout the nation. Many of the retail industry’s abuses would require massive and complex societal change. Racial discrimination, for instance, is hardly confined to retail, and while the worst instances of discrimination may be subject to some kind of legal remedy, most cases are much more subtle. Pager and Western, for instance, found cases in which their black and Latino testers were told a position had been filled but they’d be called back if the new hire didn’t work out. That doesn’t sound like discrimination, until you know that their white teammate was hired on the spot. And most job applicants don’t go around in matched teams to know when that’s happening.

But Luce and Fujita’s study does point to some relatively simple ways retail work could be improved. First, we could enforce the laws we already have, so that if you work overtime, you get paid for it and so that employers can’t call a worker in then send her home after 15 minutes and pay her only for that 15 minutes if the state law requires she be paid for a four hour shift. (Obviously managers would be a lot less likely to call people in for just 15 minutes if they actually had to pay for four hours.) Protecting and enforcing the existing legal right to organize, too, would help, since union contracts often deal not only with wages and benefits but with scheduling, and can help reduce racial and gender discrimination by standardizing wages, benefits, and schedules.

Luce and Fujita also point to laws that cities and states can pass to improve things for workers. Congress may not be passing living wage or paid sick leave laws anytime soon, but some cities and, in the case of Connecticut and sick leave, even states have done so. Given the truly wretched state of affairs their study reveals, this is an important fight to wage at any level of government we have even a small hope of changing.


Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 04:55 PM PST

This week in the War on Workers: ‘Hoosier jobs are at stake’

by Laura Clawson

And more:

  • Alternet’s Sarah Jaffe looks at rising college tuitions and a system of subsidies that help individuals rather than lowering tuitions and asks one of my favorite questions:

    In other words, the hidden subsidies are not helping those who most need help in getting a degree. It’s also helping lenders, by providing an incentive to borrow.  So why not take that $22.75 billion or so that we’re already spending and putting it directly toward making public higher education free.

  • Fifty years ago this week, John F. Kennedy opened the door for federal employees to join unions.
  • Kay at Balloon Juice takes Newt Gingrich’s child janitors idea from the perspective of what he’s saying about adult workers:

    But Newt Gingrich believes that janitors are overpaid and that children can replace adult janitors, so let’s conduct one of those thought experiments that conservatives love so much, and see if any other adult workers can and should be replaced by children.

    Could nine year olds replace the adults who cleaned up after that gathering of political and media luminaries last night? Working adults did that, after all. After the political and media celebrities left that room, real live adult janitors came in and cleaned up after them. Why didn’t Newt Gingrich suggest that the people who cleaned up after him last night be replaced by children?

    What about Gingrich’s staff? How much do they make? Can children do their work as well as they can? Why or why not? Newt Gingrich has been paid an absurd amount of money for lobbying since he left Congress in disgrace. Could a nine year old replace Newt Gingrich? How hard could Newt Gingrich’s “job” be, after all? A lot of lavish meals, ass-kissing, and bloviating, right? We could employ a hell of a lot of nine year olds on the absurd amount of money Gingrich is paid.

  • And speaking of Balloon Juice, in honor of the crappy jobs Willard Mitt Romney never had, new Juicer Betty Cracker lists the three worst jobs she ever had. How would Mitt do with those?
  • Cablevision workers are attempting to organize and join the Communications Workers of America.
  • And speaking of the CWA, its president has joined with those of the UAW and SEIU to urge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep up the fight for public funding of elections.
  • With so many jobs requiring people to work unpredictable, non-traditional hours, parents face big challenges arranging for child care. Some day care centers are adding evening and even overnight hours to accommodate the demand.
  • Whatever you thought of the AFL-CIO’s new ad, the companion website Work Connects Us All is worth playing around with.
  • The General Council’s Office of the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood for increasing the number of hotel rooms housekeepers’ must clean in a shift, and threatening discipline to workers who spoke up about the problem.

    Hyatt housekeepers voiced concerns in March 2011 immediately after managers increased the cleaners’ room quota by two–meaning housekeepers were expected to complete an additional hour worth of cleaning in the same amount of time. Under the law, the hotel is required to negotiate workload increases with the workers’ union.

    The Assistant Director of Human Resources threatened to discipline workers who voiced concern about the increased workload. The complaint alleges that the Hyatt Andaz’s actions violated the National Labor Relations Act.



Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 09:00 AM PST

Van Halen supports unions – but you must be a member of the 1% to sit in the first twenty rows.

by Mark E Andersen

While reading this you are going to ask, “What does Van Halen have to do with labor”…we will get there, just indulge me for a minute…

I am a metalhead. I cut my musical teeth on artists like AC/DC, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Judas Priest, ManOwar, Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, Poison, Cinderella, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne to name just a few.

I still get pissed off when some snotty young punk music writer, who was born during this era, calls my music “Glam metal.” I grew up in that era and I can assure you it was not called “glam.” They were hair bands, heavy metal bands, hard rock bands, and in the case of Lita Ford and Vixen, hot chick metal (Please hold off on throwing eggs at me for saying “hot chick metal,” I have evolved since the eighties); however, none of them were ever “Glam bands,” “Glam metal,” or anything with Glam in the name! (Yes, I have become that old man standing in my yard yelling, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”)

Of all the bands I saw growing up, of all the bands I listened to…one stood out. Van Halen. Now I am not talking about Van Hagar here. For me Van Halen ended when David Lee Roth left the band and I joined the Army in 1985. Van Halen was never the same after that – with Sammy Hagar they had lost the raw edge that had attracted me to them.

I still remember the first time I heard “Eruption” – I was blown away, I had never heard anything like it before. Van Halen I changed how I listened to music. When I finally got a copy of Van Halen II imagine my surprise to find a “thanks to” the Sheraton Inn in Madison, Wisconsin.

[Van Halen] trashed the 7th floor of that hotel during the first tour – fire extinguisher fights, TVs and furniture out the windows. Alex Van Halen used to like gluing people’s doorknobs shut or putting Vaseline on the doorknobs so people couldn’t turn them.

They blamed the whole thing on their headliner…Journey.

For a twelve-year-old kid that was pretty damn cool to know that Van Halen trashed a hotel in your hometown (I was twelve, what did I know?).

“The Cradle will Rock…” off of Women and Children First was one of the first songs that really spoke to me – especially with a line like, “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”

Out of all of the Van Halen albums Fair Warning has to be my favorite – raw and edgy…songs like “Unchained,” “Sinners Swing,” “Dirty Movies,” and “Mean Street” just blew me away. No one, in my mind at the time, could come close to what Eddie could do on guitar and what Dave could do vocally.

I finally got to see Van Halen on the  Diver Down tour – they came to Madison on August 11th, 1982 – I was fifteen years old and going into my sophomore year at Madison East High School. The show cost all of twelve bucks and I got right up front – Eddie gave me a high five when he came on stage and while that show will not go down in the annals of history as one of the greatest metal shows ever, it will go down as the only time I have seen Van Halen live.

After 1984 came out, where I have to admit that I was appalled at the time with all the synthesizers, I found other newer, heavier bands like Metallica. When I went into the Army on August 1st, 1985 I had heard rumblings of trouble in Van Halen in the pages of Circus magazine. While in training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri the rumblings of David Lee Roth’s departure were confirmed with a contraband copy of Circus that had been hidden from the Drill Sergeants and passed around the barracks.

Van Halen was never the same for me after that…not with Sammy Hagar, and certainly not with Gary Cherone. For me Van Halen with David Lee Roth will always be the soundtrack of my teenage years and because of that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Just this last week Van Halen released a new song – with Dave on vocals, you cannot imagine how excited I was…right up until I listened to the song. It was only okay – not the Van Halen of my youth by any means; however, one part of the song caught my attention:

Uncle Denny had a gold tattoo
He fought for the union
Some of us still do
On my shoulder is the number
of the chapter he was in
that number is forever
like the struggle here to win

You can hear the lyrics at about 3:06 on the video.

Awesome! Van Halen supports unions!

Then I looked up their tour schedule…thinking I could take my son if they came close enough to Madison. Imagine my disappointment when I looked up ticket prices for their Chicago show. It will cost a hell of a lot more money than twelve bucks to see them this time around.

Lower Level Seating (100 Level)
US $79.50 Ticket + US $11.24 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $90.74
US $149.50 Ticket + US $12.76 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $162.26

Main Floor Seating
US $149.50 Ticket + US $12.76 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $162.26

Club Level Seating (200 Level)
US $49.50 Ticket + US $10.56 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $60.06
US $149.50 Ticket + US $12.76 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $162.26

Upper Level Seating (300 Level)
US $49.50 Ticket + US $10.56 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $60.06
US $79.50 Ticket + US $11.24 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $90.74

Basically if I wanted to take my son it would cost anywhere from $60 a ticket up to $162 a ticket…$60 is a bit much to pay to see a band that saw its heyday end some twenty years ago; but that isn’t what really chaps my ass. What really pisses me off if the outrageousVIP ticket packages. One of the fondest memories of my youth, right up there with getting a kiss from a pretty blonde girl at the Rollerdrome, and who will remain nameless, was getting right up in front of the stage at that Van Halen show.

Ultimate VIP Package ($995.00)
Each Van Halen Ultimate VIP Package includes:
•    One reserved ticket in the front row*
•    Backstage tour
•    Pre-show party
•    Parking (where available)**
•    Early entrance into the venue
•    Van Halen Ultimate VIP commemorative laminate
•    Exclusive Van Halen gift bag
•    Commemorative VIP ticket
•    Crowd-free merchandise shopping
•    On-site VIP host

You will be required to sign a waiver & release of liability.
Package details subject to change without notice.

That’s right…you want front row, you are paying a thousand bucks per ticket, did you notice, those tickets are sold out…and that ain’t all.

VIP Package ($595.00)
Each Van Halen VIP Package includes:
•    One reserved ticket in rows 2-13
•    Backstage tour
•    Pre-show party
•    Early entrance into the venue
•    Van Halen VIP commemorative laminate
•    Exclusive Van Halen gift bag
•    Commemorative VIP ticket
•    Crowd-free merchandise shopping
•    On-site VIP host

The greedy bastards aren’t done yet!

Tour Package ($395.00)
Each Van Halen Tour Package includes:
•    One reserved ticket in the first 20 rows
•    Exclusive Van Halen gift
•    Commemorative VIP ticket
•    On-site VIP host

On the one hand Van Halen touts support for unions in their latest release…on the other, the only way you are going to get up front like I did back in 1982 is if you are a one percenter. Sorry Van Halen, you won’t be getting my money this time around – funny thing, a couple years ago I got to take my son to see Judas Priest at Summerfest in Milwaukee – we sat up front. It cost twelve bucks and I saw one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life.

Now I doubt Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang and Dave read anything I write; however, on the off chance that they do – I ask them that if they truly support unions to drop the VIP seating…donate those seats to U.S. servicemen, give them to unions to raffle off to their members…or, if they must sell VIP packages due to contractual obligation then give the money earned off of them to some worthy cause. If the 1% wants to piss away their money – fine…let them. Just don’t profit off of it. These VIP packages are just another symptom of the disease that is eating away at America, another divide between the haves and the have nots.


Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 02:29 PM PST

Compromise on union issues to keep FAA open

by Laura Clawson

Ah, the sweet smell of compromise. The good news is that the Federal Aviation Administration is likely to get its reauthorization before the Jan. 31 deadline; moreover, instead of another short-term extension it is likely to finally get a real, stable, long-term reauthorization; moreover, Republicans are dropping their demand to count workers who don’t vote in union representation elections as having voted no. The bad news? Democrats made one big up-front compromise and the National Journal is using the term “gentleman’s agreement,” as in:

The remaining disputes between Republicans and Democrats on the measure have been worked out in a gentleman’s agreement among the congressional transportation gurus.

In exchange, Democrats have agreed to include a provision that would raise the threshold for rail and aviation workers expressing interest in forming a union from 35 percent to 50 percent.

In one sense, raising the threshold from 35 percent to 50 percent is inconsequential. You don’t file for an election in which you’ll need 50 percent-plus-one support if you only have 35 percent support. But remember when Republicans were fighting the Employee Free Choice Act and their big talking point was that it removed the sacrosanct “secret ballot”? Yeah, well, what the Employee Free Choice Act said was that once a majority of workers had signed cards saying they wanted a union, they had one. Now, Republicans are demanding that a majority of workers have to go through exactly that process, only after a majority of workers sign cards saying they want a union, they additionally have to go through a so-called “secret ballot” election, with management using the time between the petition for election and the election itself to try to persuade or intimidate them into voting against the union.

Obviously we need to hear more details, but my initial take is that this is something of a win. I would’ve expected Republicans to hold the FAA hostage to … elimination of the National Labor Relations Board or something. But boy does this ever show how full of shit Republicans were with all that “secret ballot” nonsense.


Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM PST

Union draws parallels between Mitt Romney and Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Republican primary ad

by Laura Clawson

Florida voters have a ton of buyer’s remorse over Gov. Rick Scott, and AFSCME is putting that to use with an $800,000 Republican primary buy for the ad above, which draws a comparison between Scott and Mitt Romney. Greg Sargent reports that:

The unusual involvement of a major labor union in a GOP primary is a sign that Obama’s outside allies view Romney as the all but certain GOP nominee — and the toughest Republican in a general election.

Larry Scanlon, AFSCME’s political director, says the union may invest in other GOP primaries down the line, too, depending on the response this ad gets. He acknowledged that the union views Romney as the toughest opponent Obama could face, but added there’s no reason for labor not to start spending big money to define him right away, to influence not just the primary but the general election, too. Florida, of course, is a major general election swing state.

It’s starting to look like Mitt Romney’s record at Bain will have some unfortunate (for Romney) echo in practically every state he comes to, giving his opponents—primary or general election—plenty of local interest to work with.


Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM PST

Republicans want to eliminate labor board now, but wait until next time a Republican is president

by Laura Clawson

Josh Eidelson points out one of the central ironies of the Republican crusade against the National Labor Relations Board:

The Labor Board is charged with enforcing employers’ and unions’ compliance with the Wagner Act – including the anti-union Taft-Hartley amendments Congress added in 1947. […]

Although the Labor Board often fines or forbids unions that seek aggressive action against the 1%, and regularly leaves workers waiting for years to get their jobs back after being fired for organizing, Republicans are on the warpath against the agency.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, you didn’t hear a whole lot of complaints from Republicans about the NLRB—because it was busy issuing a whole bunch of anti-union decisions. And even as Republicans have been howling about how, under Obama, the NLRB was allegedly putting a boot on the neck of businesses and tilting the playing field toward unions, the board has gotten an injunction against disruptive union picketing at the Port of Longview and has fined another union for obstructing an NLRB investigation.

It’s no surprise that Republicans would be outraged at an agency’s very existence under one president after having used it aggressively under the previous one, or that they’d act as if actions taken by the board to protect workers from businesses were the sum total of what it was doing. But it’s an important reminder of just how situational their outrage is. They really are like a bunch of toddlers who go in an instant from loving a toy to flinging it down at the slightest frustration.


Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 07:27 AM PST

Caterpillar threatening to move jobs from Canada to U.S. in search of cheap labor

by Laura Clawson

Here’s another entry in the “company going to America for cheap labor” category for you: Iconic heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar bought a plant in Canada just two years ago—and now it’s planning to move those jobs to Indiana unless Canadian workers will agree to massive concessions. Massive like a 50 percent pay cut, giving up their pension, and more, and Caterpillar has locked the workers out to drive home how serious it is about this, as Huffington Post’s Lila Shapiro reports.

Caterpillar isn’t suffering financially; in fact, it’s been profitable consistently over the past five years and profits spiked over and above that in late 2011. And it’s not that the Canadian workers of whom Caterpillar is demanding a 50 percent pay cut make outrageously much money. It’s that the Muncie, Indiana workers earn so little: $24,000, below the median income in the U.S. and just above the 2010 poverty threshold for a family of four. Shapiro points out that:

The situation at Caterpillar illustrates an emerging problem with the nascent economic recovery: While corporations are rebounding from the depths of the recession, working Americans aren’t. Corporate profits are at their highest level in decades while worker compensation is at a relative 50-year low. Much hope has been placed in the rebound of North American manufacturing, but while the industry has added some 334,000 positions in the past two years, many of the new jobs don’t pay the old middle class wages. […]

“It’s a fundamental problem: Now we have a situation where there’s not enough purchasing power in the American economy to feed this recovery,” said Thomas Kochan, a management expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It’s not all bad,” he continued, pointing to companies like General Electric, which have slashed wages while profits were strong in return for continued investment in the United States and the promise of more jobs. Other companies must cut wages to stay alive, such as the auto makers, which pay new workers nearly half what starting employees made before the crash.

“But if it’s just companies slashing wages because they’ve got the power to do so, then it’s dysfunctional,” Kochan said.

Standards may vary on what constitutes “companies slashing wages because they’ve got the power to do so” rather than because they need to; I suspect that MIT management expert Kochan and I locate that at rather different starting points. But there seems to be no question that Caterpillar falls into this “dysfunctional” category. Other words that might be applied include “abusive” and “evil.”


Thu Jan 19, 2012 at 02:46 PM PST

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels opposed anti-union bill before he supported it

by Laura Clawson

It’s not exactly a secret that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels once opposed passing a so-called “right to work” law in his state, but it’s nice to have the video reminder that in 2006 he said, to a union audience:

We cannot afford to have civil wars over issues that might divide us and divert us from that path. I have said over and over, I’ll say it again tonight: I’m a supporter of the labor laws we have in the state of Indiana. I’m not interested in changing any of it. Not the prevailing wage laws, and certainly not the right to work law. We can succeed in Indiana with the laws we have, respecting the rights of labor, and fair and free competition for everybody.

Amanda Terkel traces Daniels’ shifting positions on the issue:

In March 2006, the South Bend Tribune in Indiana noted, “Daniels had said earlier this year that he opposed right-to-work legislation as too divisive. But he did not address its inherent merits or demerits.”

In December 2010, however, Daniels said that the right-to-work issue was “legitimate” but was “too big to do without having discussed it out in the open first.”

“I’ll also say I think it would have the potential — just tactically — to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do,” he added, acknowledging that it would be incredibly controversial.

Today, though, the Republican war on workers is in full swing and Daniels has not only given in to Republican legislators in his state who hold hurting workers and unions as their top priority, he’s become the face of their campaign.


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