A MIND FOREVER VOYAGING THROUGH STRANGE SEAS OF THOUGHT, ALONE


This is my second blog.

My first blog chronicled my experiences over three years caring for my dad as he lived through and finally died from Alzheimer's. That is the book that is for sale.

This second blog kind of chronicles of life, what it is like to start your life over in your late 50's. After caretaking, you are damaged, file bankruptcy, and the world doesn't care what you did. After 8 months of unemployment, you wake each day knowing the world doesn't want you. Finally you do find a job, 5 weeks before homelessness, but doing what you did 30 years ago and getting paid what you did 30 years ago. So this is starting over.



The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

MY SECRET CRUSH ON ELIZABETH WARREN

Yes, it's true.  I really like the woman.

About 5 years ago, an old internet bud whom I rarely ever agreed with on anything sent me some links to some presentations EW recorded on the middle class.  It was a stats geek wet dream.  She had so many graphs and charts I thought I would hyperventilate.

I loved the graph where she showed how the recessions today are so much more damaging to the family than in the 60's and 70's.  The data showed back then, there was one wage earner and when he lost his job, the wife could go out and find a job that would keep them afloat until the husband was able to find another job.  Think of it this way; take one person's income and their living expenses were less than the income.  When he loses his job, she would work and they could keep up the house payments.

In the dual income world, their expenses are greater than any one income and they can't make it up because the fixed living costs are so much greater because they were based on two incomes, not one.

I also felt for her with the Indian ancestry.  My great great grandmother was a Shawnee Indian and married my great great grandpa who was a Methodist minister that traveled around on horseback.  I still have his Bible book, which is about 3 inches by 4 inches and 3 inches thick with such small writing I don't know how he could read it.  But I can prove none of that, it is what was passed on by word of mouth, so that is very similar to what happened with her, so I took her word for it and let it go.

Unfortunately, she appears to me to be one of those people who is great at research and then falls flat when proposing solutions, but then again, she'd probably say the same thing about me.  And I am sure we probably disagree on abortion, gun ownership, and a few other areas.

But she seems to be one of the few people in DC that has the balls to take on the banks.  And she is pushing a new bill to reinstate Glass Steagall that Clinton and Newt tossed in 1999, which led to all the banking failure/fraud when they used depositors money to place risky bets and lost.  And she totally hosed CNBC hosts who questioned her on this topic, it was great.





I've harped on this before, but I'd bet the farm that when DC went to the banks to press them to make home loans to millions who otherwise would not qualify for a home loan that the banks said sure, but you have to get rid of Glass Steagall.  So they killed it and in less than 10 years the banks had gambled depositors money on risky stuff and in 2008 had to be bailed out.  But, and I can't say this enough, the bail out was for the big banks. Small local banks did not get a cent of bail out money, so the local town named bank was forced to 'close' and be taken over by middle to large banks, which then were taken over by the larger banks with all that bailout cash.  So Bank of America, Wells, and others got all the assets and none of the debt, which is why they are so much bigger today than in 2008.

But Main Street took it on the chin.  How much better off we would have been as a country if that big ass bailout had paid off every mortgage in the US.  Then the homeowners would have kept their homes, the local banks would have gotten their money, thousands in mortgage payment cash would have been freed up for the American citizen to buy new cars, new homes, etc and the economy would have boomed, well, except for Wall Street where the big banks would have failed but who the hell cares?  Oh, politicians care because the big banks give big money to politicians and DC is run by former employees of Goldman, Wells, Bank of America, etc.

So it really doesn't matter if you are republican or democrat, you got screwed.

But what brought her to my attention is the plight of the middle class in America.  So let's do a little research, time to graph up my imaginary readers.




When old geezers like me start talking about the 'old days' most young people will roll their eyes but stop the eye rolling for a moment and pay attention to what I am going to explain.
Over the past 40 years, prices have gone up drastically but wages of lower and middle class have not been rising with the rising prices.  However, you will be happy to note that pay for executives has actually far outpaced inflation over the same time period, so the people at the top of an organization have actually seen salaries and benefits keep far ahead of rising costs while those further down the corporate ladder, well, not so lucky.




Frankly, the Toil Index says it all.  How many hours a month do you have to work just to pay the rent.  Notice back in 1970, it was a weeks pay.  By 1980, it was 7 work days, up from 5.  Even by 2000, it was below two weeks pay, so in 30 years it went up by about a day a decade.  Since 2000?  It's jumped an entire extra week so now the average jane or joe in America will work half the month to pay the rent.
It's not all the landlords fault folks.  Rents have increased, but so have the taxes coming out of the paychecks so you need more days because you take home less because of taxation.  I'm not even going to talk about health care costs out of the paychecks.  Plus, back before the 80's, companies paid into pension funds for workers, but by the end of the decade, most of those were disappearing for the 401k and IRA world so that is more money out of the paycheck of the middle class.



The final graph I am including because it might be confusing.  There are two numbers being batted around as far as the percentage of working age people actually employed.  One number is around 63% but that needs to be understood that if you pull out government employees, but in the private sector, the rate is at 58.3 and holding pretty steady over the last 3 years at 58.3 to 58.7.  To put it in perspective, there is always a portion of this group not working; retired early, housewives, unemployed, disabled, etc.

During the mid 1980's until about 2008, the numbers were between 62% and 65%




Which brings me to my final point.  How will granting amnesty to between 20 and 30 million illegal aliens help these problems?  One major reason hourly wages have not kept up with productivity and inflation is because of the illegal alien workforce in this country and now it will be exasperated by making 20 million illegals legal?

If you want to see black unemployment triple, pass the amnesty bill.  If you want to see wages drop even further, pass the amnesty bill.

But if you are an executive, you must be drooling at what passing the amnesty bill is going to do for your profit margins.

But back to Warren.  Is she correct that the minimum wage today, if factored properly with inflation and productivity should be 22 bucks an hour?  Yes and no.  See, the cost of benefits are not included in her calculation so it's a little misleading.  She is using the hourly pay wage, not the accounting cost of the employee, which includes taxation, health care, workers comp, and all the other things.

But at least she is raising the issues, not in the pocket of the banks, and trying to do something in DC.  I wonder how they will destroy her?



Fourteen junkies
too weak to work
One sells diamonds
for what they're worth
Down on pain street,
disappointment lurks
Son, don't be home too late.
Try to get back by eight
Son, don't wait
till the break of day
'Cause you know
how time fades away.
Time fades away
You know how time fades away.

All day presidents
look out windows
All night sentries
watch the moonglow
All are waiting till
the time is right
Son, don't be home too late
Try to get back by eight
Son, don't wait
till the break of day
'Cause you know
how time fades away.



Neil Young 



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