Published: Tuesday 2 October 2012
A far better strategy for strengthening our shaky retirement security system would be to increase Social Security benefits for low income beneficiaries under or close to the poverty line, add long-term care as a Medicare benefit, and contain our out of control health care economy.

A disturbing new report mandated by Congress from National Research Council (NRC) concludes that the rapid growth of the 65-plus population in the United States and the continuing strain on public resources will make Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid “unsustainable” over the next three decades.

What’s troubling, though, are not the report’s conclusions, but its bias toward a strictly budgetary outlook. Unfortunately, this study—from a federally chartered body charged with scientifically objective research--is so unbalanced that it does a disservice to the full range of viewpoints on this politically volatile issue. 

The report, titled Aging and the Macroeconomy, fails to take into account the microeconomic realities facing tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-income and ethnic minority groups. 

The report’s 14 authors are ...

Published: Thursday 13 September 2012
“We’re joined by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, who are attempting to start a national dialogue with their new Poverty Tour 2.0 visiting four battleground states.”

New government data shows economic inequality continued to widen in the United States last year. The Census Bureau reports the wealthiest Americans increased their share of total wealth by 4.9 percent, while the median income reached its lowest level since 1995. Some 46.2 million Americans were classified as living in poverty. We’re joined by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, who are attempting to start a national dialogue with their new Poverty Tour 2.0 visiting four battleground states: Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida. West is a professor at the Union Theological Seminary and prolific author. Smiley is an award-winning TV and radio broadcaster who hosts the PBS TV show, "Tavis Smiley." Together they are co-authors of the book, "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto."

Published: Wednesday 12 September 2012
Published: Monday 3 September 2012
“The richest 10% own 83% of financial wealth, which they’ve skillfully arranged to be taxed at just 15%, ostensibly because they pump that money back into job-creating ventures.”

 

With cunning, contempt, and catechismal fervor, the super-rich have argued on behalf of supply-side economics: the economic philosophy that contends  that money should move to the top, where it will be used to stimulate the economy and create jobs. But they ignore the facts that prove them wrong. And it doesn't take much to prove them wrong. 

 

1. First, a look at the success of the super-rich: Money has quickly moved to the top

 

Based on IRS figures, the richest 1% nearly tripled its share of America's after-tax income from 1980 to 2006. That's an extra trillion dollars a year. Then, in the first year after the 2008 recession, they took 93% of all the new income. 

 

Wealth is even more skewed. The richest 10% own 83% of financial wealth, which they've skillfully arranged to be taxed at just 15%, ostensibly because they pump that money back into job-creating ventures. More on that misconception later. 

 

Conservatives claim that wealth inequality has remained steady for the richest Americans. But data from Edward Wolff shows that the excess wealth was simply redistributed among the rest of the top 5%, who saw their share of America's net worth increase by 18 percent from 1983 to 2007. It was also noted by Sam Pizzigati that much of the top-level wealth was socked away tax-free overseas, a fact largely confirmed by a ...

Published: Wednesday 25 July 2012
“The fallout from the bubble and the associated financial meltdown continues to cause pain for a lot of people.”

Recently, the story broke that foreclosures were at the lowest level since 2007. That sounds like great news—we’re finally cleaning up the mess from the real estate bubble. Except for one thing: RealtyTrac.com, a marketer of information on foreclosed real estate, noted in April that the number of short sales (where a bank allows an owner to sell for less than is owed on the mortgage) were up by 33 percent from last year. In other words, there’s still plenty of distressed real estate; the banks are just using a different method to get rid of them.

The fallout from the bubble and the associated financial meltdown continues to cause pain for a lot of people. The standard question among economists is, “What can we do to get things back to the way they were?” But it’s not clear why we’d want to do that. There’s no point in trying to return to inflated prices that have everything to do with speculation and nothing to do with real value. There’s nothing to be gained by recreating a market where everyone buys the biggest house they can afford—and maybe a bit more.

Why not ask, instead, what we can do to create a different model for housing—one that embraces the best of tradition and the best of new thinking. Since 1950, the average size of a new house in the United States has more than doubled, even as average household size has decreased by nearly a quarter. The average American now has living space just shy of 1,000 square feet—nearly the size of the average house in 1950. Have our needs really changed that much in six decades? Or have we been sold something we don’t really need?

While ...

Published: Friday 15 June 2012
For reference, according to the Census Bureau, there were about only 300,000 black men between the ages of 13 and 34 living in the city that year.

 

Last week there was much rejoicing when Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, flanked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, came out in support of ending the practice of arresting individuals for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view.

The details here are very important. These arrests come in consequence of stop-and-frisk police powers — used across the country — otherwise known as a Terry stop (OK'd by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968) under which a cop may briefly detain a person upon reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime but short of probable cause to arrest. When a search for weapons is also authorized, the procedure is known as a stop-and-frisk.

In the Bloomberg years in New York City, stop-and-frisks have gone through the roof. In 2002, when Bloomberg had only just stepped into the Mayor's office, 97,296 New Yorkers were stopped by the police under stop and frisk. Out of those, 80,176 were totally innocent, 82 percent.

By 2009, 581,168 New Yorkers were stopped by the police. Of those, 510,742 were totally innocent; 310,611 were black, 55 percent; ?180,055 were Latino, 32 percent; ?53,601 were white, 10 percent; ?289,602 were aged 14-24, 50 percent. For reference, according to the Census Bureau, there were about only 300,000 black men between the ages of 13 and 34 living in the city that year.

In 2011, the police stopped 685,724 New Yorkers. ?Of those, 605,328 were totally innocent, 88 percent; ?350,743 were black, 53 percent; ?223,740 were Latino, 34 percent; ?61,805 were white, 9 percent; ?341,581 were aged 14-24, 51 percent).

There are continued protests about New York City's racist application of an already essentially racist law. Last week the New York Civil Liberties Union unveiled "Stop and Frisk Watch" — a free and innovative smartphone application that will enable New Yorkers to monitor police activity and hold the New York ...

Published: Friday 8 June 2012
40 million people is more than the population of Connecticut. Of Iowa. Of Mississippi. Of Kansas, Arkansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, and Wyoming ... In fact, it’s more than all of them put together.

 

It sounds like hype to say it, but underwater homeowners can change the course of history. It's not me saying that - it's the numbers. People who owe more than their homes are worth have the power to become the a powerful new political and economic force.

They've got the numbers, they've got the votes, and - if they can get organized - they've got the economic clout. And we can prove it.

This is something I and others have been pondering for a while, and it's been on my mind again as I look forward to being on a panel at the Take Back the American Dream conference with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Heather McGhee from Demos, and MSNBC's Alex Wagner. It also came up in a conversation we had this weekend on The Breakdown with members of the Home Defenders League, a group that's looking to organize underwater homeowners.

How powerful are those homeowners? The numbers are staggering.

40 Million Strong

A new and more accurate study by Zillow shows that the number of underwater homes is higher than we had thought, and that that 16 million homes are underwater. If those households are the same size as the American average, then the average number of people living in them is 2.6. (I thought it might be higher, but I cross-tabulated some Census Bureau numbers and came up with 2.63.)

That's more than 40 million people.

40 million people is more than the population of Connecticut. Of Iowa. Of Mississippi. Of Kansas, Arkansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, ...

Published: Thursday 6 October 2011
“In recent months, a blizzard of new data, the hardest of hard numbers, has laid bare the dilapidated condition of the American economy, and particularly of the once-mighty American middle class.”

Food pantries picked over. Incomes drying up. Shelters bursting with the homeless. Job seekers spilling out the doors of employment centers. College grads moving back in with their parents. The angry and disillusioned filling the streets.

Pan your camera from one coast to the other, from city to suburb to farm and back again, and you'll witness scenes like these. They are the legacy of the Great Recession, the Lesser Depression, or whatever you choose to call it.

In recent months, a blizzard of new data, the hardest of hard numbers, has laid bare the dilapidated condition of the American economy, and particularly of the once-mighty American middle class. Each report sparks a flurry of news stories and pundit chatter, but never much reflection on what it all means now that we have just enough distance to look back on the first decade of the twenty-first century and see how Americans fared ...

Published: Tuesday 26 July 2011
Syndicate content
Make your voice heard.
Write for NationofChange
Small and medium businesses aren't the only ones at risk for massive financial miscalculations....
Autism and autism spectrum disorders have created unique challenges for parents for years. These...
Let’s face it, the world used to seem like a huge place. A place in which there were areas, towns,...
Recently, when I trying to define what the term “global energy markets” really meant, I stumbled...
Ukraine and neo-Nazis Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western...