If wages had tracked with growth (GDP) over the past 60 years, you would be making about 160% what you make now. Do the experiment: multiply your current salary or hourly wage by 1.6 and tell me what you get. $35,000 a year? You should actually be making $56,000 now. You make $60,000? Well, you’d be making $96,000 now. $10 an hour? How’s $16 sound instead? What would you do with the extra money?
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the fact that in 1952 the gross domestic product was just over $2 trillion in inflation adjusted dollars. At the end of 2012, the GDP had grown to $13.6 trillion. Measured per capita (dividing by the population of each year) it was $14,000 in 1952 and is $43,270 today. In other words, the US generates wealth to the tune of $43,270 per year for each man woman and child in America. Last year, we generated three times as much wealth per person as compared to 1952.
The average worker's hourly compensation in 1952 was $10.59 (adjusted for inflation). Based on this, you can calculate a ratio of average hourly compensation to per capita GDP. In 1958 that was 0.089% and it has been falling ever since. Now it stands at 0.054% (average wage now is $23.53/hour). The difference between these two figures is what gets you to the “1.6 times” figure I mentioned at the start. That's what we all should be making if the ratio of wages to GDP were the same as it was in 1958. But things didn't happen that way. So much for the rising tide lifting all boats, or wealth trickling down...or some other such nonsense.
Chicago closes 54 public schools.
Philadelphia closes 23 public schools.
This continuing trend of public school closings in urban areas is alarming. I realize that these school systems are facing deficits and they feel that they have no choice, but it also makes me cringe to think about how we undervalue that which we should be investing the most in.
Our investment in public education is not insignificant. But it is also only 10% of what we spend at the national level on war and related defense spending. And our spending as a percentage of GDP is small compared to other countries.
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I thought this might come in handy for when Congress reconvenes after the holidays.
This is my demand. I demand that taxes be cut on 97% of households while revenue from income taxes is increased by 43%. I want a simple tax that I can send in on a postcard-size piece of paper. One with simple deductions, and one formula that does away with all of the IRS forms and schedules.
The flat tax that Rick Perry proposed is a formula: tax rate = .2 (Income). But I think that is kind of dumb. For one thing, it would raise taxes on everyone with income below $80,000, while lowering taxes on everyone making more than that. I think instead that it is the households making less than $80,000 who can use the money most right now and that it is their consumer power and savings rate that drives the economy forward.
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Instead of a flat tax, I propose the following formula be substituted for the current income tax system for a period of two years in order to provide an extreme stimulus to the economy, and that the provision sunset after those two years, reverting back to the current system:
tax rate = ((0.75*((income/100000)-1.5))/SQRT(25+(income/100000)^2))+0.2
No one has to do the math themselves of course. The IRS will have an online calculator that will do it for them (and anyone can copy and paste it into Excel if they want to). That's pretty simple.
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This graphic shows how much surface area would be required to replace all of the BTUs of energy that can be extracted annually from the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, Canada with solar power. This conversation is of renewed relevance given the pending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and the great work being done by Tar Sands Action. And it should be read in the context of today's release of the DBL Investors study on The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America’s Energy Future (PDF).
The process of mining the bitumen-rich sand is severely and irreversibly damaging to the environment. The surface mining operations require the removal of 20 feet of "overburden" (the industry term for the delicate ecosystem of boreal forest and muskeg) and the further removal of potentially 100 feet of subsoil, parts of which contain the tar sands.
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Original Post Available at landartgenerator.org
With the debate this week in the wake of President Barack Obama's Jobs Act proposal, I would like to offer one more modest suggestion that will have a lasting positive impact on the economy, jobs, the environment, and will serve to lift up the spirit of America, setting a new standard of global leadership.
A 3KW photovoltaic system on each of 7 million US homes would require the manufacture and installation of enough solar panels to cover all of Washington DC. This ambitious project will create 250,000 jobs with staying power—supported by the lasting framework that the proposal will put in place for the continued growth of America's renewable energy economy. With recent news to the effect that green jobs initiatives have been unsuccessful, it is about time that we get truly serious about turning that situation around.
One solution that has not been put forward to the perceived crisis in the American economy with regard to our national debt and deficit problem is one that was proposed by Donald Trump in 1999. He suggested that for just one year, we levy a wealth tax of 14.25% on individuals with net worth in excess of $10 million. At the time, it would have resulted in $5.7 trillion in one-time revenue. Today, the same effort would result in $7.7 trillion in one-time revenue. The wealth tax is not a new or crazy idea. It's up to us whether we tax income or wealth or both, and there are many countries that tax wealth, including Switzerland and Norway. It's not a difficult equation (assets-debts=wealth), and perhaps a simpler calculation than income actually.
On the occasion of COP15 and the important world focus on climate change and emissions, it may be just as important to reflect on what may be just as serious an issue, the solutions for which will also mitigate emissions. The facts about climate change are not to be downplayed, but given that global warming is relentlessly mired in controversy in spite of its apparent obviousness and seeming incontrovertibility, to achieve the same ends it might be useful to also focus on something that we can all more easily agree on:
The reserves of conventional crude oil are dwindling while demand is increasing.
Today in the United States, there is no real incentive for conservation other than our collective moral imperative which undoubtedly falls short. What this exercise is meant to show is that we need to have more creative thinking behind how revenue is generated. Can tax policy be progressive at the same time that it incentivizes energy conservation? What follows is a very simple approach that would be one way of addressing at the same time both income disparity and energy conservation.
Click here for larger size. Click here to download a full resolution pdf.
What the graphic shows clearly is that planting trees to offset emissions is far from a viable solution. Projects that offset carbon emissions are certainly beneficial and should be applauded. Every step in the right direction is a good one and we should all be supporting these efforts on a personal and corporate level. However, no amount of reforestation or avoided deforestation will have an effect on the overall situation. The numbers that I used are based on United Nations statistics and are located here.
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According to the US Department of Energy (Energy Information Administration), the world consumption of energy in all of its forms (barrels of petroleum, cubic meters of natural gas, watts of hydro power, etc.) is projected to reach 678 quadrillion Btu (or 7.15 exajoules) by 2030 – a 44% increase over 2008 levels (levels for 1980 were 283 quadrillion Btu and we stand at around 500 quadrillion Btu today).
I wonder what surface area would be required and what type of infrastructural investment would be required to supply that amount of power by using only solar panels.
Details below - (also posted at the Land Art Generator Initiative)