The Watering Hole: Tuesday November, 22 – We Decide

Ht: Shayne via twitter @Zoocritter

My first reaction: I’d not buy from him until…well, hell freezes over.

We can influence what happens, we are not powerless. We still have our purchasing power. Not that there is very much left of it, we can still decide what we buy and who we buy from. Do we really want to give our money to corporations who lay off workers while still making huge, even record profits? I don’t. We can read the economy pages of our local newspapers and find out who’s hiring, who’s firing and whenever given the choice, we can support hiring businesses. We can reconsider our needs. Shutting down the TV set brings us a huge step nearer to that. Just let’s tune out the constant brainwash and reassess our needs. We can make Black Friday a huge failure for the retail corporations! By just staying at home. They’ll say that’ll cost more jobs! But remember, they are firing for profit anyway and they have done so for a very long time.

This is our open thread- Open Up!

Sunday Roast: Something’s Gotta Give

The rich aren’t just ‘rich’ anymore, they’re super-duper-mondo rich, and the poor are just more and more dirt poor.  The middle class is shrinking everyday, and they sure as hell aren’t joining the super-duper-mondo-rich crowd.

As I was surfing around the interwebs this week (I promised myself I would remember where, but you know that goes), I found a link to this post: 22 Statistics That Prove That The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America.

The whole list of 22 items is depressing enough, so I pulled 7 that might hit close to home for the average American:

#1) According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

61% is an unbelievable number, but when you take into account that the number of Americans living paycheck to paycheck rose a whopping 12% in one year, that is just staggering.  We may want to put money away in a nest egg for the future, but because our money doesn’t go as far as it used to go, we simply cannot.

#2) The number of Americans with incomes below the official poverty line rose by about 15% between 2000 and 2006, and by 2008 over 30 million U.S. workers were earning less than $10 per hour.

As with the first item, the number of Americans living in poverty has taken a huge leap in recent years.  These are working Americans who nevertheless still remain in poverty.  Excuse me, but Americans work harder than ever these days — where is the money going? Continue reading

It’s a B*tch Being Poor

We are all still feeling the effects of a slow economy.  Jobs that pay a livable income are hard to come by.  If the unemployed do find work, many times it is temporary, contract work without benefits.

A recent research paper from the Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, further analyzed the unemployed by income and race.

The charts with the results can be viewed here

Source: “Labor Underutilization Problems of U.S. Workers Across Household Income Groups at the End of the Great Recession: A Truly Great Depression Among the Nation’s Low Income Workers Amidst Full Employment Among the Most Affluent”, by Andrew Sum, Ishwar Khatiwada, with the Assistance of Sheila Palma, Center for Labor Market Studies,Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.

The following are some of the key takeaways from the study:

  • The total number of unemployed and underemployed has doubled in the last two years
  • Four year collage graduates, many managers, government employees, professionals are well protected from job losses
  • Blue-collar workers particularly in the construction sector, teenagers and black men have higher unemployment rates
  • From the chart above, we can infer that workers in the top two deciles have unemployment rates of just 4.0% and 3.2%
  • Workers in the lowest decile – those earning $12,499 or less – faced a Great Depression era unemployment rate of about 31% and the second lowest declie had an unemployment rate of about 20%
  • Both unemployment and underemployment rates increase dramatically from high income to low income levels

The study above clearly shows that lower-income Americans are affected greatly by the current recession while people at the top of the pyramid have almost negligible unemployment rates.

Since the majority of the low-income workers are employed in the service sector, they face a further bleak future as consumer spending is still down. The study confirms that the headline rate unemployment rate of 9.7% is vastly misleading since it is much worse than that for low-income workers. Most of the Wall-Street bankers, government employees and other professionals have escaped this recession unscathed while it is not the same case with the rest of the workers.

Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, Sharron Angle, wants people to take any old job and stop collecting unemployment insurance.   Sharron’s views on the unemployed only echoe the Republican ideology of “I got mine so I don’t care about you.”

GOP Blocks Another Attempt to Extend Unemployment Benefits

In the most under-reported story of the week, the Republican’s have, yet again, screwed over the people who have been hardest hit by the recession. This is the second time this month that the GOP has blocked extending unemployment benefits.

Washington Independent’s Mike Lillis wrote:

Last week, Senate Democratic leaders rolled out a proposal to extend unemployment insurance by 14 weeks — with an extra six weeks thrown in for those states where jobless figures have topped 8.5 percent — only to have Republicans block the measure on the chamber floor.

Well, today it happened again.

According to the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Democrats on Tuesday asked for consent to pass the bill, only to be shot down by GOP leaders.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Republicans aren’t objecting to the extension, but to how it’s funded. (The Democrats’ plan would tap an expiring surtax on businesses, while the Republicans want to use unspent money from the stimulus bill.)

The House has already passed its version of the extension. With unemployment numbers creeping up each month, the pressure’s on the Senate to work out a deal quickly.

The saddest thing about this story is not the story itself (which is disgusting enough), but the comments by regular American people who responded to this story and the desperation some of them are feeling. I have posted the following comments as they were written.

My unemployment benefits ran out in August and I am barely holding on. I am watching daily to see if this bill will be passed. I lost my job and went from a salary of comfortable salary to $450.00 a family and I was able to live off of our saving for a while but now we are dependent on UI benefits. My husband was layed off and we are only surviving on his benefits. We are in jeopardy of losing our home. We’ve already lost both cars and have had to cut our expenses substantially. As the weather changed we are afraid to use our heater and we are bundling up for fear of not being able to pay the bill our heating bill.. . I need the GOP to get off their high horses and live a day in my life. I guess if you haven’t been affected by the economy then you don’t get it. I will just continue to pray.

I wish people would stop playing the blame game, and realize it doesn’t matter who we vote in or out!


well i finally got enough money to buy a little groceries for the kids and the rent never thought i would have to do what i did to get it but necessity out ways legality,all because these assholes aren’t in our shoes, so they can take there sweet time because the crime rate will go up!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It would be nice if the GOP would leave their bubble of knee-jerk obstruction to see real American’s who are suffering. Their lives should not be used as political pawns by a party who wants every opportunity to create a Democratic Waterloo.

Thankfully, not all is lost. More comments and commentary below the fold.
Continue reading

30% Spike In Foreclosure Filings

Now that the temporary suspension of foreclosure filings has been lifted by some of the banks, February saw a dramatic increase to the tune of 290,000 property foreclosures.  Chase is set to lift their moratorium on Friday.

That total, a roughly 6% increase from January, was the third-highest monthly total – following those in August and December 2008 – since the foreclosure-listing service’s report was launched in early 2005.

After a 45-day voluntary moratorium in Florida ended at the end of January, foreclosure activity increased 14% from a month earlier, RealtyTrac said. Many New York proceedings delayed by a 90-day extension appear to have hit the system in February, boosting foreclosure activity by 23%, the report said.

The two hardest hit cities are Las Vegas and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida.  Las Vegas saw one in every 60 properties and the Fort Myers area had one in every 65 units get hit with a foreclosure notice.

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Times are Tough

Opinion piece by Cats

The job situation is becoming worse. Each day, news outlets are reporting another Corporate lay off effecting thousands of people’s lives. When I drive around my neighborhood, I see more and more “For Sale” signs in front of houses.  I even saw one house that had a “For Sale” sign and a “For Rent” sign in front of it. Either option was acceptable to the homeowner.  Now that’s desperation.

President Obama created a stimulus plan that would help put Americans back to work. He presented this plan to the House of Representatives hoping that Congress would write a job stimulus bill. After a few days of discussion, the House passed a bill which removed some of the spending and added more tax cuts.

The House stimulus bill is now with that elite group, the Senators, and the so called “Moderates” or “Centrists” have brutally chopped away at the “spending” and added more tax cuts. For 8 years, the Republican mantra has been tax cuts and more tax cuts. Since our economy is taking a nose dive over a cliff (h/t Daily Kos), it is obvious that these tax cuts didn’t save us. So what do the Republicans want more of in this stimulus bill? You guessed it, more tax cuts. They want to continue doing the same thing over and over again even though it never worked in the past. There is a word for this behavior. It is called insanity.

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Thirty States Face Unemployment Insolvency

Last week, more than a half a million American citizens filed for first time unemployment benefits, a level not seen since 1982. As a result, many states are facing unemployment insolvency.

Due to several factors, including states which opted to reduced the taxes corporations pay into unemployment, many states in jeopardy of running out of state funds to meet the need of their unemployed citizens. These states can borrow money from the Federal government, at interest (if not paid within a single fiscal year), but that does little to assist these states should unemployment continue its’ downward spiral. States are now looking to raise taxes or cut benefits – and in some cases, both.

Thirty states are at risk of having the funds that pay out unemployment benefits become insolvent over the next few months, according to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Funds in two states, Indiana and Michigan, have already dried up, and both states are borrowing from the federal government to make payments to the unemployed.

Indiana’s unemployment trust fund went insolvent last month, and has borrowed twice from Washington since then — the first such loans to the state since 1983. It also expects to request an additional $330 million early next year.

Michigan, which has been borrowing money from the federal government for the past few years to replenish its fund, is now $508.8 million in the hole and unable to repay it. Next month the state, where the unemployment rate is more than 9 percent, will begin levying a special “solvency tax” against some employers to replenish its trust fund.

California, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and other states are inching toward insolvency as well, and may have to borrow from the federal government to get through at least the first quarter of 2009.

In South Carolina, officials recently requested a $15 million line of credit.

Other states (not mentioned above) which are at risk:

Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Is it so hard for some people, people who are the have’s and have more’s to understand that a capitalistic society requires people have jobs which pay not just enough to get by on, but to have disposable income to shop? Shopping makes jobs, jobs sustain our economy. And the umbrella above jobs is that of manufacturing. If we do not manufacture stuff, we do not sell stuff. And if we do not make and sell stuff, what is it we are supposed to do, as a whole, to sustain the hundreds of millions of people in the US who desire work?

Thom Hartmann was on Countdown several nights ago talking about how the latest attempt to bailout General Motors and Chrysler were nothing but an attempt to bust the unions. During this discussion, he referenced Alexander Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures from December 5, 1791:

This is not among the least valuable of the means, by which manufacturing institutions contribute to augment the general stock of industry and production. In places where those institutions prevail, besides the persons regularly engaged in them, they afford occasional and extra employment to industrious individuals and families, who are willing to devote the leisure resulting from the intermissions of their ordinary pursuits to collateral labours, as a resource of multiplying their acquisitions or [their] enjoyments. The husbandman himself experiences a new source of profit and support from the encreased industry of his wife and daughters; invited and stimulated by the demands of the neighboring manufactories.

Besides this advantage of occasional employment to classes having different occupations, there is another of a nature allied to it [and] of a similar tendency. This is–the employment of persons who would otherwise be idle (and in many cases a burthen on the community), either from the byass of temper, habit, infirmity of body, or some other cause, indisposing, or disqualifying them for the toils of the Country.

And thus it appears to be one of the attributes to manufactures, and one of no small consequence, to give occasion to the exertion of a greater quantity of Industry, even by the same number of persons, where they happen to prevail, than would exist, if there were no such establishments.

It’s not rocket science.

Greed does not allow for a functioning capitalistic society. Nor does reduced wages or lack of healthcare. Period.

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