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Yesterday, in a coordinated effort, many of the #Occupy movements were “closed down.” From California to New York, police moved in and cleared out encampments. Now, I think it is critically important for us to review what the #Occupy Wall Street movement is all about. To me, this movement is about Us. Our democracy has stopped working for Us. Over the last 30-40 years the scales have been tipped in favor of the rich and corporations. Politicians have stopped listening to Us. Instead, they listen to corporate lobbyists and the very rich.

If you don’t believe this and you don’t believe that the system has been unfairly rigged, all you have to do is look at the financial meltdown. Whether you understand or believe the cause of the financial meltdown is not important. Basically, our financial system was on the brink of collapse. Every single firm on Wall Street was in jeopardy of going under. The ripple effect from the massive uncertainty and huge losses was felt all over the country. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes. Now, the smoke has cleared. Wall Street is raking in record profits. Corporations that were on the brink of bankruptcy are now sitting pretty. The American people, on the other hand, continue to struggle. The unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. Wages are stagnant. Congress is arguing over cutting the meager benefits, which are keeping millions of Americans out of poverty.

The #Occupy movement is about restoring the balance. I support the right of Americans to peaceably assemble. I support Americans who want the right to free speech. I support Americans who believe that Congress needs to work for Us and not for corporations. I support hard-working Americans who want a living wage for a hard day’s work. I support #Occupy Wall Street.

By |2011-11-16T09:33:40-04:00November 16th, 2011|Civil Rights, Economy, Occupy Wall Street|Comments Off on Occupy!

That Huge Sucking Sound is Jobs Being Exported

Over the last 30 years, we’ve been told that we needed to “unleash the beast.” What that was holding back Wall Street were all these regulations. Once we broke down those barriers capital will be free to flow. So we slashed taxes. We cut regulations. We cut import and export taxes. We broke down the barriers between insurance companies and investment companies and banks. We allowed banks to take on more and more leverage. As promised, Wall Street took off. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to heights never dreamed of before. Huge corporations were raking in record profits quarter after quarter, year after year. But there was a price for all of this Wall Street prosperity. The moral contract between American companies and the American worker was broken. American companies used to have some sort of loyalty to the American citizen. Don’t laugh. They did. Frank Abrams,Chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey said in 1951, “The job of management is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups… Stockholders, employees, customers, and the public at large.” This would lead us believe whatever was good for business was good for America and vice versa.

Over the last 30 years, we’ve noticed that this is no longer the case. Now, because of rules and regulations, companies have incentives to ship jobs overseas. Companies have the ability to make millions of dollars by opening manufacturing plants, not here in the US, but overseas in Malaysia, China or Mexico. Billionaire Ross Perot, while running for president, addressed this topic head-on.

The question is, how do we fix this trend? How do we make the American economy and big business work for the American people again? On one hand, we’ve been told that all the changes that have gone on over the last 30 years have been good, that they simply haven’t gone far enough. We need to lower taxes even more for big business. We need to cut corporate taxes. We need to remove payroll taxes. We need to unleash the beast… even more.

This seems to be completely nonsense. Corporations are sitting on billions of dollars right now. I don’t understand why giving them more money will give them incentive to invest here in the United States. It seems to me that unless we change the rules, giving them more money will encourage them to invest more money overseas. Labor will always be cheaper in Malaysia and other developing countries. Big business has told us that they’re willing to play labor arbitrage with the American workforce. So, giving big business more money will be simply that – giving them more money. More money will not equal better behavior or more American jobs. Until we understand that throwing more money at Wall Street will simply be throwing more money at Wall Street, the American people will not get ahead. We need to train Wall Street. We need to enact rules and regulations that help the American worker.

By |2011-08-30T07:35:59-04:00August 30th, 2011|Economy|Comments Off on That Huge Sucking Sound is Jobs Being Exported

Dems hold strong and no budget cuts

First, let me say I told you so. I spent the last two years (here, here and here) I have been talking about our economy and the recession. I talked about some of the causes of our financial collapse. I talked about some of the strategies for getting things turned around. I said that the government must spend money. There’s no other entity within the United States that has the power and size to be able to move our economy. Republicans, on the other hand, have been running around screaming that the government is too big. We have too much regulation and business is being strangled. It’s hard for me to figure out how business is being strangled with record profits rolling in. How can business be dying on the vine when they’re not paying any taxes? House Republicans are insisting on budget tax cuts.

The new jobs numbers are out today. There’s clearly some encouraging news. The economy made over 200,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate is now 8.8%. Most of these jobs involve the private sector. So, conservatives can’t scream that all of these are government jobs. It is way too early to start doing the happy dance, but it appears that a thoughtful approach to economic policy is actually working.

Long-term unemployment is still a huge problem. There are still 6.1 million Americans who’ve been unemployed for more than six months. 24.5 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. In spite of the fact that March was one of the best months we’ve seen in this country in years (source jobs growth) the economy really needs to heat up in order to alleviate some of the pain and suffering that many Americans are feeling. If the economy continues to hire at a rate of 212,000 Americans per month it will be 2018 before the unemployment rate reaches the level that it was before the Great Recession. We’ve got work to do.

Tax cuts and budget cuts are clearly the wrong policy as the economy is beginning to turn around. We need the house Democrats and the Senate Democrats to stand strong against this budget-cutting GOP. The only reason that I can see to enact major budget cuts at this point in our economic recovery would be to stall or kill the economy before it really gets going. The GOP wouldn’t want to sabotage an economic recovery, would they?

By |2011-04-01T19:11:04-04:00April 1st, 2011|Budget, Economy, Taxes|Comments Off on Dems hold strong and no budget cuts
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