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Night Owls
At The Atlantic, Jordan Weissman writes, The Recession's Toll: How Middle Class Wealth Collapsed to a 40-Year Low:

Between 2007 and 2010, the median net worth of U.S. households fell by 47 percent, reaching its lowest level in more than forty years, adjusted for inflation. In other words, middle class wealth virtually evaporated in this country. A good chunk of the population got sucked through a financial wormhole back to the sixties.  

Such are the findings of Edward Wolff, an economist at New York University who has produced a paper [sub. req] documenting the Chernobyl-like meltdown of asset values during the recession, and its impact on wealth inequality. To some degree, his work confirms what we've already more or less known; home prices, 401Ks, and the like were demolished during in the recession, and we've been reckoning with the consequences since. In June, the Federal Reserve released its own analysis of household finances, which found that median net worth (which just means a family's assets minus its debts) fell closer to 39 percent from 2007 to 2010. Wolff also uses Federal Reserve data, and approaches the net worth calculation in a slightly different way. But his study is valuable in that it gives us a clear sense of which families were set back, and how far.

In the United States, wealth (again, what people own, minus their debts) tends to be much, much more concentrated than income (what people make). That's not particularly surprising, since the rich have extra cash to stow away in bonds, stocks, and other investments, while the rest of us spend much of our money fulfilling basic needs such as housing and transportation. The rich are frequently well off to start with because they also own pieces their own businesses, which adds to their net worth tally.

But Wolff found that during the recession, wealth inequality increased, even as incomes evened out a bit. Why? Because while middle class families saw the value of their possessions collapse dramatically, the wealthy came out comparatively unscathed.

Chart shows the mean and median inflation-adjusted net worth. The mean gets boosted by the rich. The median fell nearly by half because of Great Recession while the mean only fell 18 percent.
All of which makes even more necessary what Robert Reich advises Democrats to do in this video. He's taking to you, Steny Hoyer:

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008KBR, Halliburton sued for sickening U.S. troops :

KBR and Halliburton are the targets of a new class-action lawsuit alleging that U.S. troops have been sickened by water, food and fumes produced by the two massive private contractors, according to the Army Times. The details of the charges laid out in the lawsuit are macabre:
The lawsuit also accuses KBR of shipping ice in mortuary trucks that "still had traces of body fluids and putrefied remains in them when they were loaded with ice. This ice was served to U.S. forces."

Eller also accuses KBR of failing to maintain a medical incinerator at Joint Base Balad, which has been confirmed by two surgeons in interviews with Military Times about the Balad burn pit. Instead, according to the lawsuit and the physicians, medical waste, such as needles, amputated body parts and bloody bandages were burned in the open-air pit.
"Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains," the lawsuit states. "The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths, to the great distress of the U.S. forces."

The troops that the contractors so love to claim to support are not only being exposed to toxic fumes and scenes of wild dogs dragging off body parts. No, they're getting extra treats in their rotten food as well

Tweet of the Day:

Texas prisoner locked up for thirty years -- and he's not been convicted of anything. Totally amazing.
@JeffreyToobin via HootSuite

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin reviewed the WaPo/Pew poll showing Republicans losing the "Fiscal Thingy" debate. Then, a wandering bit of interconnected background on the current filibuster reform fight, the origin of the filibuster, Aaron Burr versus Alexander Hamilton, and back to today's tax cut fight, via House discharge petition procedure. Finally, ALEC's pre-fabricated legislation that allows states to turn its prison population into a profit center. Now crime really does pay. The state, that is.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "The villagers are here, Dr. Frankenstein." (16+ / 0-)

    The diabilities treaty was defeated today because the full-blown monster, "paranoia" rules 38 of the Republican Party.
    Enough already.
    What I'd like to see; what I'd love to see, is a good million person wheelchair roll and all the support they need from other disabled persons. Many would be veterans. To watch as the Repubs, looking out on the mall, saw that!
    I picture a heavy drumroll to solemn chants of, "Face the music," and lots and lots of cameras.
    If they are going to paranoically shiver down in the bunker anyway, lest the Teabags bang on the door, wouldn't this, at least, be a real threat?
    It's only a dream...but, damn.

    Fuck Big Brother...from now on, WE'RE watching.

    by franklyn on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:32:02 PM PST

    •  Area 51 Black Helicopter Alien Anal Mind probe (9+ / 0-)

      Conspiracy theory trumps compassion and common sense.

      The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

      by JML9999 on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:43:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Send 'em to Salt Lake City (8+ / 0-)

      Right to Mike Lee's office and to the head quarters of the LDS church (the biggest political player in the state) and on over to Orrin's place. Humiliate these bastards and the state along with them. I'm disgusted.

      "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

      by high uintas on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:27:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's also time for LDS to own up to Joseph Smith (0+ / 0-)

        and his White Horse Prophecy megalomania.

        All of it the result of misreading the Book of Revelation and falling for the "conqueror." His hero in the WHP still leads Mormon males to think there's going to be "One Mighty and Strong" who becomes President of the United States and sets up a theocracy led by the SLCT Elders.

        (For Christians this "conqueror" is the final Anti-Christ. The Revelation is not a sequential poem, so this figure appears more than once. Smith didn't know much about the Bible and didn't care to learn more about it than tent-revival slogans.)

    •  Deprivators deprive. That's what those who lust (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bontemps2012, JeffW

      for power are about. Their intent is to injure whomever they can get away with--i.e. least likely or able to fight back. The deprivators we have elected to public office are clever crooks. They have figured out how to inflict injury and deprivation by doing nothing. However, they are not like the people who passed by while the good Samaritan stopped to help. No, they're different because, as public officials, they were actually hired and are paid to serve. So, when they don't carry out their obligations, they are being insubordinate and perpetrating a fraud in collecting their pay. That used to be called featherbedding in the railroad industry.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 01:51:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right on!! (0+ / 0-)

        I couldn't agree more that most of our politicians in this country have forgotten why they were elected and sent to Washington, forgotten that they are in a position to serve. Why in the world do we keep sending the same damn people up there and then expect something to change. That said, we should keep in mind that while many people in the country don't like John Boehner or Harry Reed, they were both elected by their respective constituencies just like all the other politicians we have in DC. What this should show is that its not just a small group of Republicans or Democrats in congress, rather its that the country as a whole disagrees on such fundamental issues. This is particularly more noticeable in the House because each member is elected by a smaller group than the members of the Senate. We can only hope that if the Republicans are voting against something, they are doing so because it is what the people who voted for them want them to do whether the rest of the districts agree with it or not.

        •  Entertainers. (0+ / 0-)

          When candidates for public office are paraded around like entertainers and the media are trained on their personal attributes, speaking ability and even singing, the electorate is left with little to choose from. And for this situation, the political parties are largely to blame. For quite a long time, the political parties divided up the electorate between them with Republicans focused more on punishment (law to being order) and Democrats promising rewards to the compliant. More recently, Republicans have figured out that promising punishment and then withholding it from their supporters is both easy and cost effective. The party of doing nothing becomes attractive when the alternative is deprivation. Democrats, on the other hand, have been reduced to the role of the good Samaritan, trying to compensate for the fact that the pirates have the goods locked up.

          Predators deprive to survive. When humans act like predators, they attack indirectly by restricting access to the necessities of life. The right to private property helps them. Not necessarily, but because we have failed to insist that ownership comes with an obligation to share the fruits of our assets. Predators, I suspect, don't share voluntarily. When they learn to share, they are like the wolves who have evolved into dogs. We say they are domesticated. Obviously, a goodly number of humans aren't.

          Imagine Little Red Riding Hood compromising with the wolf.

          We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

          by hannah on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:16:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You got my hopes up.. (0+ / 0-)

            I was right there with you, right up to the point where you tried to explain to me why you think the Republican politicians are attractive to some voters. Your belief that people vote for Republicans because they are afraid of being deprived is no different than the radical right saying people vote for Democrats because they want to be lazy and have everything handed to them. I understand that is how you apparently view the Republican political strategy, don't imply that it is anything more than an opinion. You see the Republicans refusing to give something to people as deprivation, I see Democrats giving things to people as deprivation. Let me explain.

            Democrats, on the other hand, have been reduced to the role of the good Samaritan, trying to compensate for the fact that the pirates have the goods locked up.
            I don't see that Democrats have been reduced or even forced into this role, rather have chosen it as a differing technique to maintain their power. All politicians give political favors. It is corrupt, it is wrong, it should be stopped, but it is NOT one sided. When the Democrats offer an extra year of unemployment benefits, which benefitted a statistically left leaning group of people, it is just as corrupt as the Republicans giving tax breaks or subsidies to large corporations. Securing loans for green energy companies is no less corrupt than doing so for oil companies. They are both using tax-payer’s dollars to buy votes and remain in power. Where the Democrat’s genius shines is that they are, ironically, buying the cheaper votes which turns into more votes per dollar. They are also getting the added benefit of getting people used to relying on the government for things they would otherwise have to acquire on their own. I say ironically because if you look at government as a business, that is a very ingenious business plan. It’s very similar to the business plan of Wal-Mart. They go in to a small town or community and offer the same or similar products at a much lower price than the local stores and all in one location which makes it much more convenient for the consumer. Eventually, the local stores close and now the whole town has no other option but to shop at Wal-Mart. This business model has worked extremely well for Wal-Mart, to the point where now most everyone despises Wal-Mart but they shop there anyway because they have few to no other options.

            In regards to the predator comments; if you look at it from a strict food chain standpoint, humans are animals, we are natural born predators and we are the top of the food chain. The problem with your “Little Red Riding Hood” analogy is that it involves two different species. While many animal species do co-exist together quite well, others do not (hence wolves and humans). More to what I perceive was the point of that, whether you want to believe it or not every American is just as human as every other American. The only differences are our upbringing, experiences, and natural born abilities. Just like in any group of animals, there are the alphas and there are the ones who make up the rest of the group. Those alphas are your “1%”. Unfortunately, just like in any other animal group, not everyone is born to be an Alpha. You’re looking at it as if the alphas are making the decision as to who can and cannot be an alpha and that they are preventing you from being one. That’s simply not the case. Again, just like in the animal world, if you decided you wanted to be an alpha and had the skill sets to accomplish that, you would already be an Alpha. One thing you don’t see in the animal world is the rest of the pack/herd/whatever rising up against the Alpha unless they have another Alpha to take its place. Where Americans have evolved above the rest of the animal world and what makes us exceptional is where we have molded a form of government that presents every individual equal opportunity for success. The kind of “equality” you’re looking for doesn’t exist, never will, and wouldn’t work if it did. Someone has to lead, and what makes America unique and prosperous is that, unlike every other country, our Alphas are NOT all employed by the government. Look at Russia, or China, or Nazi Germany. That is what happens when the government becomes the sole power. We have to put our trust in our political leaders, but we have to diligently watch them to make sure out trust isn’t misplaced in order to maintain our power as individuals over them. If we become completely reliant on government, lose that power.

            We the people can eradicate homelessness in America, not the government. We the people can feed all the starving children, not the government. We the people create jobs and build wealth, not government. The government’s role in the whole thing is solely to protect our rights and freedoms so we can continue to do so; the rest is up to us as a society. There’s a saying: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” We can’t just take money from the people that have figured out how to earn it and give it to those who don’t. We have to teach people the skills they need to earn it themselves and we need to teach them to be responsible with it so they have some saved up when and if they do lose their job or when they reach retirement. The real problem is not the starving children or the homeless people; they are symptoms of the problem. The problem is that we’ve been relying on the government to educate our kids and no one wants to admit that the

  •  How do you like the nifty new diary title area (13+ / 0-)


    I like it, personally.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:34:50 PM PST

  •  It's totally amazing that... (16+ / 0-)

    Jeffrey Toobin thought "amazing" was the best adjective to use in that tweet.

  •  This scoping hearing was tonight (13+ / 0-)
    Coal protesters rally in Helena before heading to Spokane

    “The Army Corp of Engineers will get a busload of Montanans coming to their hearing today,” said Kate French, a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council’s Sleeping Giant branch in Helena. “We are loud and not that used to being polite and not used to being ignored.

    “We want to make a loud and clear statement that Montana shouldn’t be ignored and we will not be ignored.”

    Rally organizers said they had left Billings on a bus around 4 a.m. with about 20 ranchers, Native Americans and others, picking up more people along their route. They expected to double their numbers with a stop in Missoula before heading toward the hearing in Spokane.

    I have seen anything about tonight's hearing in the news yet.

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:40:27 PM PST

  •  The lunatics are running the asylum over in (20+ / 0-)


    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Chicago--Proud Home of the 1907-08 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

    by Jeff Y on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:41:14 PM PST

  •  The story behind that tweet is appalling. (17+ / 0-)

    I hope that Toobin is able to get some traction on it - fortunately he has a high-profile outlet.

    It's one of those stories that makes me deeply ashamed to be an American.

  •  Maybe we should look at cutting Congressional (11+ / 0-)

    perks and benefits.  Or condider this comment I overheard on the bus last week.  "Maybe we can no longer afford to be a Super Power."

  •  Shameless diary plug: I need help (12+ / 0-)

    to help my poor kitty with diabetes:

    It's a Kos Katalogue diary, too :)

    Handmade holiday gifts from Jan4insight on Zibbet. Get 10%off everytime with coupon code KOSSACK.

    by jan4insight on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:51:31 PM PST

  •  If the middle class had wealth, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, high uintas

    would they still be middle class?  If the middle class lost wealth, would they still be middle class?  Does wealth matter?

  •  Wealth Concentrated? Not Under Democrats. (6+ / 0-)

    Oh shit.
    Image Hosted by

    I guess I mean not under liberals, but there aren't any charts of that for most of living memory.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:00:37 PM PST

    •  A lot happened in 1998 such as this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wbr, tardis10, basquebob

      Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM) was a hedge fund management firm[1] based in Greenwich, Connecticut that utilized absolute-return trading strategies (such as fixed-income arbitrage, statistical arbitrage, and pairs trading) combined with high financial leverage. The firm's master hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Portfolio L.P., collapsed in the late 1990s, leading to an agreement on September 23, 1998 among 14 financial institutions for a $3.6 billion recapitalization (bailout) under the supervision of the Federal Reserve.[2]

      LTCM was founded in 1994 by John W. Meriwether, the former vice-chairman and head of bond trading at Salomon Brothers. Members of LTCM's board of directors included Myron S. Scholes and Robert C. Merton, who shared the 1997 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for a "new method to determine the value of derivatives".[3] Initially successful with annualized returns of over 40% (after fees) in its first years, in 1998 it lost $4.6 billion in less than four months following the Russian financial crisis requiring financial intervention by the Federal Reserve, with the fund liquidating and dissolving in early 2000.

      The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

      by JML9999 on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:18:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clinton slashed Cap Gains & Dividend rates by more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      than Bush did. And it sure shows on that graph.

      “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

      by Lefty Coaster on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:29:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bravo! (0+ / 0-)

      And if I recall the economy towards the end of that graph was booming AND the government was starting to run surpluses. Hmm, maybe the 1% isn't to blame for poor people being too lazy to educate themselves and figure out how to make money and not blow it on stupid shit.

  •  So is it just me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or is DKos getting like Facebook with the unannounced format changes?

  •  I was working with a guy one time in an exclusive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Noor B, JeffW

    part of town. He left his tool box in the back of the truck and started to walk off.
    I asked, "You gonna leave those tool out here?"
    "Why?" he asked.
    "How do you think these people got this rich?" I asked.
    I was farkin' snarkin'.
    He came back and locked them up.

    Fuck Big Brother...from now on, WE'RE watching.

    by franklyn on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:22:46 PM PST

  •  President Obama is inching closer... (7+ / 0-)

    to 51% of the popular vote... currently at 50.95%.

    "Really nice, but also very serious about his job." Jackie Evancho on President Obama 6/7/12

    by BarackStarObama on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:38:57 PM PST

  •  Why screwing unions screws the entire middle class (8+ / 0-)

    by KevinDrum @ Mother Jones - March of 2011
    Page 4 of a the article:

    If unions had remained strong and Democrats had continued to vigorously press for more equitable economic policies, middle-class wages over the past three decades likely would have grown at about the same rate as the overall economy—just as they had in the postwar era. But they didn't, and that meant that every year, the money that would have gone to middle-class wage increases instead went somewhere else. This created a vast and steadily growing pool of money, and the chart below gives you an idea of its size. It shows how much money would have flowed to different groups if their incomes had grown at the same rate as the overall economy. The entire bottom 80 percent now loses a collective $743 billion each year, thanks to the cumulative effect of slow wage growth. Conversely, the top 1 percent gains $673 billion. That's a pretty close match. Basically, the money gained by the top 1 percent seems to have come almost entirely from the bottom 80 percent. - emphasis added
    The infamous Lewis Powell Memo memo is mentioned on page three. The Powell memo is a corporate blueprint to dominate democracy that was taking off in the 1970's:
    Forty years ago today, on August 23, 1971, Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., an attorney from Richmond, Virginia, drafted a confidential memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that describes a strategy for the corporate takeover of the dominant public institutions of American society.
    We need Unions back at full people strength asap

    P.S. Robert Reich nails it in the video

    And one more thing. Since Boehners latest offer after the elections was  $800 billion in revenue; a drop from pre-election $950 billion in revenue, the Obama admin. should counter with a 2 point above Clinton era rates (from 39.6% to 41.6%) with another 3 point hike to follow any following counter offers in the next round of negotiations. And hold firm on UI benefits & executive control of debt ceiling or get rid of it altogether.
     IOW's head away from the GOP offers not towards themJust to speed things up a bit :)

    .- source for revenue numbers  - Rachel Maddow show 12/3/2012

    •  This (4+ / 0-)

      from Independent Lens on PBS mentions the Powell Memo and the growing economic inequality in the US. I keep plugging it because it has so much crammed into an hour about the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

      Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 10:26:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How are there so many of you... (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:

      people that believe some other group of people should take care of you. Unions should go crawl in a hole and die. Unions are part of the problem, not the solution. Unions are just another way to force the "free" market to do something it shouldn't. People should not be paid more than they are worth, end of story. If you don't think your employer pays you enough, go find one that does. If you can't find one, it doesn't mean that there is some conspiracy to keep the little man down, it means that you need to go learn how to do something of value. Carrying the same skill set you've had since 1970 is no way to increase your income.

      And this:

      Basically, the money gained by the top 1 percent seems to have come almost entirely from the bottom 80 percent.
      Really? They just stole it eh? No, the "1%" was able to earn a larger percentage of that wealth because the "80%" didn't do what it took to earn it for themselves. Instead they sat back and relied on unions and over reaching government to try to take it for them.

      And finally:

      executive control of debt ceiling or get rid of it altogether.
      This statement should be enough to take away your right to vote. Really? Give one man the power to decide whether or not the rest of us should take on more debt? Can you say dictatorship? And the idea of no debt ceiling is equally stupid. The debt ceiling should be damn near $0 unless we are at war, and even then should be capped at a VERY small percentage of GDP. This whole "lets just borrow more money because we have more shit we want to blow it on" is ignorant and irresponsible.
      •  "Free market" - lol (ruefully) (0+ / 0-)

        Unions worked to make sure workers had:
         • 1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend:
         • 2. Unions Gave Us Fair Wages And Relative Income Equality:
         • 3. Unions Helped End Child Labor:
         • 4. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage:
         • 5. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act

        Unions are just another way to force the "free" market to do something it shouldn't.
        It shouldn't?  Fair wages and all of the above are necessary and fair, and make for a better and more prosperous society .. yes, even for the near sighted investor types

        About the debt ceiling artifice:
        Under Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution,

        The process of setting the debt ceiling is separate and distinct from the regular process of financing government operations, and raising the debt ceiling does not have any direct impact on the budget deficit. The U.S. government proposes a federal budget every year, which must be approved by Congress. This budget details projected tax collections and outlays and, if there is a budget deficit, the amount of borrowing the government would have to do in that fiscal year. A vote to increase the debt ceiling is, therefore, usually treated as a formality, needed to continue spending that has already been approved previously by the Congress and the President. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) explains: "The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred."[60] The apparent redundancy of the debt ceiling has led to suggestions that it should be abolished altogether
        - emphasis added
        And this RW foolishness:
        Carrying the same skill set you've had since 1970 is no way to increase your income.
        People will always need homes built, vehicles repaired, food to be grown, infrastructure to build and every other of the innumerable jobs that no investor has the skills or willingness to do.
        Tax System Favors Wealth Over Work
        Taxing income from wealth at little more than half the rate of income from work: it’s the perfect recipe to make sure that Warren Buffett (and all the Buffett wannabes) pay effective tax rates far below what their incomes suggest.
        So right wing plutocracy teaches (force feeds its adherents) that those who actually perform the work that needs doing and wear themselves out durng all their limited working years should pay twice that of those who have leveraged the tax laws to favor themselves - (whose investments mean zero without  the labor of those that do work for a paycheck)  
        Another clear example of right wing ignorance:
        They just stole it eh? No, the "1%" was able to earn a larger percentage of that wealth because the "80%" didn't do what it took to earn it for themselves
        1% Earn? (again, off the labor of others) - more supply side trickle down fairy dust bullshit

        - Man if that isn't RW Indoctrination defined what is? And what is really very saddening is witnessing those calling it and believing this is liberation

        •  ... (0+ / 0-)

          First I would like to be clear that I will not argue the validity, necessity or accomplishments of unions in American history. They, for a time, had a very valuable role in the shaping of our labor laws and workers rights and I do commend them for that. Who’s going to argue against having a weekend or ending child labor? I don’t think we need to start an Obamacare debate here either which is what would happen if I start discussing items 4 and 5 so I will stick to item number 2. Now I honestly don’t mean this next part to be condescending but judging by your belief that union wages are fair, I’m afraid you were never properly educated in economics.

          I’ll start with some definitions:
          Fair - marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism (source: Merriam-Webster: 6a)
          Wage – a payment usually of money for labor or services usually according to contract and on an hourly, daily, or piecework basis – often used in plural Fair - marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism (source: Merriam-Webster: 1a)
          Supply and Demand – an economic model of price determination in a market (source: Wikipedia)
          Law of Demand – an economic law which states that consumers buy more of a good when its price is lower and less when its price is higher (source: Wikipedia)

          Now hopefully we can at least agree on those definitions because if not you might as well skip down to my response to your debt ceiling comment. Here’s where the economics lesson begins. In a competitive market, such as our capitalist market, the consumer holds a majority of the power when it comes to determining price. While there is obviously a price point that the supplier cannot or will not go below, what restricts the top end price is the consumer. Take for example Nike shoes. I think we all know that it doesn’t cost anywhere near $135 dollars to produce this shoe. The reason they charge that much is because they have determined that is the price at which the supply and demand curves meet.

          So how does that apply to wages? Well when it comes to wages the typical idea of consumer and supplier gets flipped upside down. With wages, we are the suppliers and the businesses that pay our wages are the consumers. If you read the article referenced above, you will also see how a shortage of supply, or excess supply can affect those curves thus adjusting price.

          The point is this. Say a business has 5 job openings and receives 50 applications from workers who would all provide equal value to that business. That business will hire the 5 people willing to work for the least amount of money. Why? Because there was an excessive supply of workers with the same skill set and those 5 were willing to perform the same work for less money. Americans as a whole are no different. Look at Black Friday. For some, like myself, there is almost no deal on Earth that is worth me leaving the house on Black Friday to deal with those crowds. For others, the only way they would buy a particular product is at the low price it is offered at on Black Friday.

          This ties right in to my comment about “carrying the same skill set you’ve had since 1970.” Now 1970 is an arbitrary year I chose to make a point and I will use it again here. You’re absolutely right that people still need homes built, vehicles repaired, food grown, etcetera, etcetera, but have those processes changed? Do we build houses today the same way that we did in 1970? Does it require the same number of people with the same skill sets to build a house today as it did back in 1970? How about for repairing cars? Growing food? Building roads? I don’t work in any of these fields so I can’t tell you for certain, but I can almost guarantee that not only have the required skill sets and processes changed, but the amount of people required to perform this type of work has changed. It has gone down which has created a surplus of workers thus allowing employers to pay less than they would have to if the surplus didn’t exist.

          To tie this all back to unions. What unions are doing is forcing companies to pay above and beyond the economic value the company receives and disguising it as “fairness”. What do you do when someone raises the price of something beyond what you’re willing to pay? You find a substitute that is priced at what you see as reasonable. What happens if you’re forced to buy something at a price that is beyond what you’re willing to pay? First you will complain and be justifiably frustrated. If you’re forced to buy that product long enough at that price you will give up and go bankrupt. We’ve seen it in businesses and governments across this country for years. Am I saying that unions are the only reason companies go bankrupt? Absolutely not, the executives can be just as corrupt and the unions and can screw a company up just as bad as a union can.

          Now for a quick comment on the debt ceiling; I can’t describe how happy I am to see that you know how to find things in the US Constitution and that you are taking the time to read it. I do understand that “the debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations” but you skipped the part of that article that said “the Treasury is authorized to issue debt needed to fund government operations (as authorized by each federal budget) up to a stated debt ceiling, with some small exceptions.” That piece says that while Congress can approve all of the spending they want to in the budgets they haven’t actually passed in about 4 years, the US Treasury can’t borrow any more money if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. That means that while the GAO is correct that it doesn’t restrict Congresses authorization of the expenditure of money. It does require that Congress execute a separate vote approving the borrowing of money in order to pay for those newly authorized expenditures. The only way to restrict Congress from authorizing more deficits would be through a balanced budget amendment. Neat little fact there is that, according to Wikipedia, 49 out of 50 states have some form of balanced budget amendment. I personally like the idea of a balanced budget with a variation of the Oregon Kicker.

          Finally, on the capital gains tax, you do realize that with the capital gains tax, in nearly every case, the money that an individual invested in order to earn a capital gain was already taxed through our income tax system right? Think about it, you get your paycheck and income taxes have been taken out. You then decide to invest some of that already taxed income the stock market. Once the shares you purchased have increased in value you decide to sell, at which point you are charged a capital gains tax on the amount you have earned in excess of the amount you invested. Now I agree that an income tax system does not promote work (hence my support of The FairTax), that is a separate issue from promoting wealth. The people who build wealth are the people who have the discipline and patience to wait for the things they want. The people that are willing to set aside money and let it earn interest so that they have wealth later on in life are the ones who become wealthy in America. I truly believe that every American has the opportunity to become wealthy but it is up to them to make the choices and sacrifices necessary to do so.

  •  It was a dark and stormy... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, Lily O Lady, cany, basquebob, OLinda, JeffW

    internet connection. I'm likely to go "dark" some time tonight. I've had my Xfinity line crash twice in the last hour and the storm system is getting worse. If you live in a rainforest you really aren't allowed to complain about the rain. ;D

    To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 09:50:28 PM PST

  •  Those things at the top are well, new. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When did that happen?

  •  The first known sighting (to me) of this type of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, JeffW


    Republican disarray.

    "Go well through life"-Me (As far as I know)

    by MTmofo on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:41:42 AM PST

    •  Obama is negotiating from strength (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MTmofo, JeffW

      playing it cool, and letting the Republicans sweat.

      “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

      by Lefty Coaster on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:48:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I came across this (0+ / 0-)
    Spending cuts shadow Obama meeting with tribes

    Exit polls showed Obama carried 52 percent of the American Indian vote, compared with 46 percent for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, although the totals could vary either way by 7 points or more because of the small group of voters.

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:46:31 AM PST

  •  Middle class wealth loss. (5+ / 0-)

    Raise your hand if your boss came to you at some point during the Great Recession and said in order to keep your job and/or in order to protect your co-workers' jobs, you were going to have to take a significant pay cut and/or unpaid furlough days. You know, shared sacrifice. We sacrifice as a team in hard times, but we'll celebrate as a team during good times.

    Now that recovery has been underway for a while and the private sector is doing better, please drop your hands if you've had your full pay reinstated.

    Why are all of you still standing around with your hands raised?

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:55:59 AM PST

  •  I hate to say this, but it's only money. (0+ / 0-)

    The real assets are still here, albeit deteriorating at anincreasing rate because the money to pay people to keep them in good condition is being hoarded, both by the Capitol Hill Gang and our financial Rumpelstiltskins.
    Why do they hoard money, a figment of the imagination? Why does anyone hoard anything? It's a psychological derangement.
    If what I'm writing doesn't make sense, consider a situation where real destruction occurred. Most recently, we had hurricane Sandy which blew away the man made and natural environment, but not too many people, thank goodness. Hurricane Katrina took more. However, for real destruction that's incalculable in both real assets and people, we have to look at the wanton destruction of Iraq, the cradle of civilization, whose treasures can never be restored, millions killed in the prime of life are gone for ever, while the genetic defects resulting from the poisons will last for ever.
    There is not much to be gained from nattering about Boehner's depredations and effort to impose deprivation to make him and how cohorts feel powerful. What we need to do is work around them and their banksters friends by letting them know we're not going to let them hold our dollars hostage. That there is not enough money is a lie. That our representatives do not want to carry out their duties and fulfill their obligations is the truth. We have fired a bunch of them, but, like the unjust steward in the Bible parable, they're trying to do last minute favors for the cronies before they head out the door. That's got to stop.

    It's not possible to negotiate with abusers because deprivation is their game.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 01:42:26 AM PST

  •  EU: Juncker says bye bye (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Another sad truth seems to have become reality. The era of the Benelux states as the linkers in Europe seems to have demised. In itself the EU was never the system but the link between the diffrent system. Certain plutocrats within Italy and Germany were nerved for years to have an organization at the top which delivers some linking service but no "spiritual guidance, " what can be very important for fascists I guess. The service part seems to have come to an end anyway I guess.

    Luxemburg is a very small country, but its prime was omnipresent. Change will come. Jean Claude Juncker declines to lead the Euro-group any further. For years he negotiated between the big ones of Europe - and the advantage of Luxemburg was in his view as well. His successor won't have a too easy job.

  •  CNN-Schaeuble puts brake on bank union plan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (Financial Times) -- Plans to create a eurozone banking union hit a brick wall on Tuesday after Germany's influential finance minister cautioned over moving too quickly, casting doubts over whether the EU would seal a deal by the end of the year.

    The objections from Wolfgang Schäuble come just a week before a summit of EU leaders and raise the prospect of a significant delay to establishing a single eurozone banking supervisor, a reform billed as critical to rebuilding confidence in the bloc's shaky financial sector.

    Some of Mr Schäuble's counterparts at a gathering in Brussels warned that markets could be spooked by any sign that the EU was backing away from consolidating banking oversight, just five months after agreeing to pursue it.

  •  I haven't seen anything (0+ / 0-)

    anywhere else, but Politico reports that Rachel, Lawrence, Ed, Al and Arianna Huffpo met with the President yesterday - none of the MSNBCers mentioned it last night. I would love to hear a conversation between Rachel & PO.
    Plus, the comments are hilarious.

    I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

    by hulibow on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:09:10 AM PST

  •  OMG, I have just had a hot buttered slice (0+ / 0-)

    of the best bread I have ever made.

    Sourdoug staaaarteer, Dark Kro syrup (was out of honey) aa bitof white w3hole wheat ( didn't have ngouh so, mostly all-purpose), baked in the machine on the wheat cycle anyway, and brushed with butter before and afte baking.

    Indescribably yummy, but needs a tad more salt next timme. Easily remedied.

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:11:42 AM PST

    •  Typos free of charge from insomniac's kitchen (0+ / 0-)

      orgasming on hot buttered bread.

      "Karo" syrup. I think you can figure the rest out.

      Pass the plum jam.

      Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
      I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

      by Leo in NJ on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:42:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Never buy more house than you need. (0+ / 0-)

    And never buy anything you don't plan to live in for a long time.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:31:40 AM PST

  •  The GOP has FUCKED ME out of $250,000 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... in wages, retirement assets, home value, lost pension and health care cuts in the last 10 years.

    Now they propose to fuck me out of the SS/MC I have paid in 40 years for.


  •  is "median net worth fell" due to housing bubble? (0+ / 0-)
    Between 2007 and 2010, the median net worth of U.S. households fell by 47 percent
    The quoted article says that much of this net worth collapse was due to the collapse of housing prices. Consider a household with a house worth $250,000 in 2007, who owes $200,000 on a mortgage. If that house dropped in value by only $25,000 (10%) they've lost 50% of its net worth. And many houses dropped a lot more than that.

    Certainly other things went down too, and the article mentions these, citing people going into debt to get through the last few years.  But according to the article a large part of that 47% figure can be accounted for by the housing bubble alone.

    Now, this was a bubble, and yes it was a serious collapse, and yes a lot of people took a big hit. But bubbles burst. That's what they do. Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999, which set the stage for financial speculation and the real estate bubble. As most bubbles do, this one burst, and a lot of people lost a lot of paper value on a lot of property.

    The pain that caused was absolutely real and I don't minimize that for a second. But in the end, property values decreased to about their 2002 levels - not unlikely, where they would have been anyway without the bubble. So arguably, much of the "47% decrease" is from an increase that wasn't real anyway.

  •  Mislabeled chart (0+ / 0-)

    The median vs. mean net worth chart is mislabeled. It should reflect the light blue as median and the dark blue as mean net worth.

  •  The Short Answer (0+ / 0-)

    The short answer to how middle-class wealth collapsed to a 40-year low is that we've screwed up trade policy for thirty years or so.

    Let me put it this way: Investors can go to China and make a bundle, but workers can't go to China to make a penny.

    Our trade policies have steadily impoverished the U.S. by pushing wealth-producing jobs out of the country. This, by itself, is responsible for the middle-class collapse. We got rid of the jobs that support the middle class.

    It takes a brain surgeon to figure this out???

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