"BUENOS AIRES, Jun 18 2014 (IPS) - As Argentina starts to mend fences with the international financial markets, the emerging powers that make up the BRICS bloc invited it to their next summit. This could be a step towards this country’s reinsertion in the global map, after its ostracism from the credit markets since the late 2001 debt default.
For now, there is no letter “A” in the BRICS acronym, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. But in Buenos Aires speculation is rife about whether it should be called BRICSA, ABRICS or BRICAS, if Argentina is admitted."
"The invitation for President Cristina Fernández to participate in the group’s sixth summit, scheduled for Jul. 15 in the northeast Brazilian city of Fortaleza, is seen as another sign that Latin America’s third-largest economy may be incorporated, after India, Brazil and South Africa indicated their interest."
“This is very significant for Argentina,” Fernanda Vallejos, an economist at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), told IPS".
MOSUL Iraq/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said it could launch air strikes and act jointly with its arch-enemy Iran to support the Iraqi government, after a rampage by Sunni Islamist insurgents
Low-Wage Workers Butt Heads with 21st Century CapitalAnalysis by Peter Costantini Reprint | | Print | Send by email
This is the first in a three-part series on minimum wage
A minimum wage protest outside a McDonald’s in downtown Seattle. Credit: Peter Costantini/IPS
SEATTLE, Jun 3 2014 (IPS) - “Supersize my salary now!” The refrain rose over a busy street outside a McDonald’s in downtown Seattle.
A young African-American mother carrying a little girl told the largely youthful crowd that she had walked off the job to join them because “we’re getting tired of being pushed around”. Her five-year-old took the microphone in both hands with a big grin and led a spirited chant: “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more!”
Green signs sported a hashtag, “Strike poverty 5-15-14 #FastFoodGlobal”, red T-shirts reasoned “Because the rent won’t wait – 15 now”, and a blue banner exhorted “15 dollars an hour plus tips. Don’t steal our wages.”
A few hundred ethnically-diverse demonstrators filled a sunny afternoon with demands that fast-food chains pay a living wage. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant said that workers in over 150 cities, including her hometown of Mumbai, India, had walked off their jobs that day.
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Fast-food worker Sam Laloo spoke: “I believe in this movement because I’m trying to save enough to go to college and better myself. And I can’t go to college because I don’t make enough money. So it’s a Catch-22.”
According to the organisers, the protest was linked with fast-food worker actions in over 30 countries by coalitions of worker centres, labour unions, community groups and faith organisations.
This prosperous Pacific Northwest seaport, though, is the place in the U.S. closest to actually raising the minimum wage for all workers to something approaching a living wage. From the current Washington state minimum wage of 9.32 dollars an hour — already the highest in the country — Seattle’s mayor, city council, and a majority of citizens according to some polls all support ratcheting up the wage over 60 percent to 15 dollars.
The debate now centres on how long the ramp-up period should be for different-size businesses and non-profits, whether benefits and tips will be included in the wage, and other implementation details.
Seattle would seem a promising test case for these efforts. Home to Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, the metropolitan area boasts relatively low unemployment and burgeoning technology jobs with good salaries. The electorate votes heavily Democratic and organised labour wields some influence.
Fast food workers protest for higher wages in New York City, July 2013. Credit: Annette Bernhardt/cc by 2.0
Nationally, President Barack Obama has proposed an increase in the federal minimum wage. Democrats introduced legislation in both houses to raise it from the current 7.25 dollars an hour to 10.10 dollars an hour over two years, and index it to inflation thereafter. Recent national polls show strong support for the raise, even among conservatives. But the proposal was filibustered by Senate Republicans, throwing the initiative back to states and localities.
From its establishment in 1938 through 1968, the national minimum wage roughly tracked inflation and productivity.
But sporadic increases since then have failed to keep up with prices, leaving the current inflation-adjusted wage below its 1968 high.
Meanwhile, the standard has fallen far behind productivity growth: had it kept pace, by 2012 it would be nearly three times as high, 21.72 dollars instead of 7.25.
To bypass the federal stalemate, state and local efforts to raise minimum wages have proliferated since the 1990s. Twenty-six of the 50 states have raised or are raising their base wages above the federal level, with increases scheduled in eight states and the District of Columbia.
More than 120 cities have also raised their benchmarks, and efforts are underway in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, New York and Portland, Maine.
This resurgent movement to raise the floor of the labour market is surfing the zeitgeist of renewed international debate on economic inequality.
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, the chef d’oeuvre of French economist Thomas Piketty, has levitated to number one on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list. Piketty documents “forces of divergence” in modern capitalism driving current levels of wealth concentration unequalled since the 1920s. To remedy some of the “potentially terrifying” consequences, he proposes a global tax on wealth.
Piketty is no prophet crying in the wilderness. Institutions as influential as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank have joined the chorus. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde has flagged growing income inequality as a threat to stability, and called for policies to reduce poverty and advance “inclusive” growth.
Fed chair Janet Yellen has called “a huge rise” in income inequality “one of the most disturbing trends facing the nation”.
Both the IMF and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have recently recognised that moderate minimum wage raises may be beneficial.
As a non-fiscal policy not requiring direct outlays by cash-strapped governments, minimum wage hikes have proven attractive even to some on the right.
The Economist magazine, a British champion of market hegemony, has swung from opposition to grudging acceptance that measured minimum wage increases can do more good than harm. Another business-friendly voice, the U.S. news service Bloomberg, has editorialised in favour of raising the national minimum.
Conservative British Finance Minister George Osborne recently advocated an increase in the U.K. base wage. And centre-right Chancellor Angela Merkel approved Germany’s first minimum wage legislation in April, setting the benchmark at 8.50 euros (11.75 dollars) in 2015.
"The global imbalance hypothesis, a view held by Ben Bernanke and other prominent economists, attributes the global financial crisis to the so-called “global saving glut”—that is, an excess of domestic savings over investments in emerging market, oil-producing and some advanced countries. This view explains the crisis as triggered by the interaction of exogenous economic shocks with that massive build-up of excess saving. Junji Tokunaga and Gerald Epstein present an alternative approach, building from the work of Hyman Minsky. Their approach focuses on the the destructive global expansion of an unregulated shadow banking system, which is then funded by the rapidly expanding global supply of dollars. "
Goals and Purpose of Real Political Economy Notes Notes, sources, and perspectives on real political...
Alan F. Fogelquist's insight:
Neoliberalism is now used as a generic term to characterize an economic ideology that favors unrestricted “free” markets, “free trade”, macro-economic stability, and a set of related economic policies. Neoliberal ideology favors unrestricted freedom of private corporations to pursue profit, the privatization of public enterprises and services, and the elimination or reduction of public or government control, regulation, and guidance of economic activity. Neoliberal policy prescriptions give priority to the prevention and control of inflation over economic growth and employment. In some versions of neoliberalism, there are also prescriptions for tax reductions for corporations and upper income groups under the assumption extra income retained after tax reduction will be reinvested in productive capacity. The ideology also calls for free trade and the elimination of tariffs or government support of domestic manufacturing. The ideology assumes that unregulated markets will correct themselves and produce optimal outcomes for society as a whole.
Just what should a job pay? Or, put another way, was Chelsea Clinton worth $600,000 a year for her work as a journalist at NBC?
"Yes, folks, life and the 24/7 news cycle intersect in mysterious ways. Let me explain: Just this morning, as my wife and I were out on our morning constitutional (that means we were walking, young folks!), we happened upon the sound walls that are under construction in our little slice of paradise. Except, well, there wasn’t a lot of work going on. On one side of the freeway, a few workers were stirring. On the other, nada.
Ask Joe Average Citizen about salaries, and I guarantee you'll be told that X makes too much, and Y would do the same job for less.-
“You could probably find plenty of people at Home Depot parking lots who would be happy to come down and get that wall built,” opined my wife, her Orange County roots suddenly showing.
“Well, sure, but this is probably a government, union job,” I said, my labor-family background emerging. “On the other hand, you’re right; a trip to Home Depot for some guys and we could probably knock this job out in a week,” I quickly added, being wise in the ways of keeping the marital peace."
The news media is in decline because most journalists lack objectivity, honesty, courage or skill. News executives don't concern themselves with informing the public about important issues... those executives are more concerned with selling advertising. If the goal of Chelsea's education at...
at 9:18 AM June 15, 2014
capitalism and yet question one of its central tenets: i.e. A person gets paid what someone thinks they are worth.
Ask Joe Average Citizen about salaries, and I guarantee you’ll be told that X makes too much, and Y would do the same job for less. For instance, $120,000 for a firefighter in L.A.? Outrageous. Or, $60,000 for a teacher? Why, plenty of people would be happy to teach for $40,000!"
The Devouring Dragon: How China's Rise Threatens Our Natural World - Kindle edition by Craig Simons. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Devouring Dragon: How China's Rise Threatens Our Natural World.
Alan F. Fogelquist's insight:
A well researched book with a wealth of important details on the impact of China's breakneck industrialization on the global environment.
"A little bit of economics can be a truly terrible thing, for the introductory classes in micro and macro-economics are the most dogmatic and myth-filled part of the neo-liberal curriculum. Dogmas that have been falsified for 75 years (such as austerity) are taught as revealed truth. The poor indoctrinated student is then launched into the world “knowing” that austerity is the answer and that mass unemployment and prolonged recessions are small prices to be paid (by others) to achieve the holy grail of a balanced budget. Students are taught that national budgets are really just like household budgets. These dogmas are not simply false, they are self-destructive and cruel. Neo-liberal economics is so bad and has gone downhill at such a rapid rate that it now worships the economic analog to bleeding patients – austerity – as a response to a Great Recession. Millions of people are indoctrinated annually into believing this long-falsified nonsense, and that includes people who consider themselves progressives."
"The remarkable aspect of neo-liberal economics is that the power of its myth has survived for many progressives even after its failed dogmas caused massive economic destruction, massive elite fraud with impunity, and crony capitalism so corrupt that it cripples democracy. Indeed, the brainwashing they received is so effective that even after the eurozone ran a massive experiment with austerity that proved (again) to be a catastrophic failure they remain neo-liberal acolytes. This column discusses three examples that exemplify the problem."
Alan F. Fogelquist's insight:
One of the most cogent and accurate statements of today's real problem of mass indoctrination of the public with fallacious neoliberal economic ideas on the need for austerity for the working class combined with QE and bailout subsidies for speculative financial interests, akin to the fallacious medical notions and quack practice of bleeding patients that was prevalent in the 18th century. In two paragraphs followed by real case examples Black highlights the fallacious mythical beliefs of recent generations of economics graduates indoctrinated with neoliberalism. He shows how these false beliefs have inflenced even those with progressive concerns for economic justice, equality, and reduction of poverty and economic misery. This article shows the influence of bad ideas on real practices that have had lethal results for millions of victims of totally unnecessary austerity in the form of wage reductions, and cutbacks in employment. For many unemployment is like an unjustified economic death penalty. In extreme cases where austerity economics has been employed against millions it is tantamount to economic genocide or manslaughter on a gigantic scale. All the real evidence supports the conclusions of Professor Black and others who understand macroeconomic reality rather than macroeconomic fantasy that serves the interests of speculators and financial predators while producing mass misery and premature death. Those who wish more documentation might read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. The effects of austerity might not at first be noted by the comfortable middle classes, but they are felt throughout the entire world economy in the form of foregone development and stalled or weak economic recovery from depressions originating in reckless predatory and irresponsible speculation with concentrations of money obtained through exploitation and unequal exchange.
By William K.Black The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is every administration’s heavy artillery on budget issues. OMB’s staff is dominated by neo-liberal micro-economists under every administration, so it is institutionally...
"The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is every administration’s heavy artillery on budget issues. OMB’s staff is dominated by neo-liberal micro-economists under every administration, so it is institutionally conservative. OMB personnel obtain promotions by killing programs, cutting spending, and either blocking the adoption of regulations or weakening the regulations. OMB is institutionally predisposed to embrace austerity. OMB is also expected to be a zealous advocate for the President."
"The combination of those dual roles can produce especially bad pro-austerity propaganda. President Obama’s OMB produced a classic example of that propaganda in 2012 that exemplifies the administration’s incoherence on austerity. Obama 2013 budget proposal contains OMB’s ode to austerity. It was prepared under Jacob Lew’s direction. Lew was OMB’s head until he became Obama’s chief of staff in January 2012. Lew is described as the leading candidate to succeed Treasury Secretary Geithner. Lew, Geithner, and William Daley (then Obama’s chief of staff) were Obama’s principal aides during his attempt in July 2011 to negotiate the Great Betrayal with Speaker Boehner. Each of them is a strong supporter of austerity and cuts to the safety net and a champion of Wall Street’s interests."
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