Economic Inequality

Morning Reads: Living Wage Movement Spreading Like Wildfire

This in from Bill Moyers & Company's Morning Reads for 2 December, 2013:

Growing movement –> Following Black Friday protests last week, fast food workers seeking $15 per hour will stage one-day strikes in 100 cities this Thursday. Stephen Greenhouse reports for the NYT. ALSO: RJ Eskow writes at Campaign for America’s Future that the fight for a living wage may be creating a broader social movement. AND: Goldy reports for The Stranger that Seattle will be ground zero in the fight for $15 per hour this year, either through the legislature or at the ballot box. AND: U of M economist Arindrajit Dube on why it makes good economic sense to raise the wage floor.

That's all ~ nothing below the fold but room to comment

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Gender Prison: Oh, noes!!! Transgender teachers!

The Weekly Standard's John McCormack couldn't resist. In the face of the Senate's immanent passage of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act, McCormack stated the real concern: ENDA Would Grant Transgender Rights to Elementary School Teachers…by which I believe he is concerned with the fact that transgender people might…just might…become elementary school teachers.

John, John, John, oh, John. That boat left the dock decades ago. Teaching is one of the foremost occupations that transgender people gravitate to in their lives before transitioning.

McCormack bemoans the numbers calimed by the Human Rights Campaign…that 88% of Fortune 500 companies have formal employment policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. McCormack even brings up the fact that Rick Santorum has a gay friend and confidante.

It's hard to imagine that in the year 2013 that any business in the country could fire someone simply because he is gay without facing a major backlash and boycotts.

Transgender, on the other hand, is a different matter.

ENDA contains no exceptions for schools at any age level (though the law does contain a modest religious liberty provision).

Horrors! Transgender teachers! Run!

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Economic Populist: The Gerrymander & Wave Election Floodplains

Last week (8 Oct), Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium Blog reported on some interesting findings on partisan swings in gerrymandered Republican districts:

Representatives who benefited from the great partisan gerrymander of 2010 were given enough of an advantage to get into office narrowly. In a district designed to give Republicans a narrow advantage, Republican loyalists are likely to be spread thinly, with the balance of the needed votes being drawn from independents. Some of these independents might be more prone to anger about the current situation. These polls suggest that Republicans in those states might be particularly ripe targets for pressure.

 
The 12 districts plotted in white are FL-02, FL-10, FL-13, MI-01, MI-07, MI-11, OH-06, OH-14, PA-07, PA-08, VA-02, and WI-07.

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Economic Populist: Nuts & Bolts for Premium Notes

I recently discussed an alternative to Consol Bonds

Now, I was addressing a proposal by Matt Lavine at Bloomberg, and as a result, the explanation was not necessarily the simplest possible explanation. So here, I'm looking at just my proposed 10 year 100% coupon note, and going through the nuts and bolts.

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Economic Populist: Premium Bonds Would Disarm Default Threat

Just as the GOP Shutdown was getting underway, 2 October, Matt Levine at Bloomberg was calling on the administration to Mint the Premium Bonds!.

The creepy trick that has swept the nation* is the platinum coin option, in which Treasury mints a $1 trillion platinum coin, deposits it at the Fed, and suddenly has an extra $1 trillion of money to spend without incurring any debt (and, thus, without breaching the debt ceiling). This is a good trick as tricks go, and it's been extensively advocated by Josh Barro, Paul Krugman, Matt Yglesias, Joe Weisenthal, basically every economics blogger really. I am unaware of any good arguments that the platinum coin wouldn't work, but it does have the problem that it is really really really really obviously a trick. I mean, it's a trillion dollar coin, come on. So it's sort of sub-optimal symbolically, and would make people really mad. It's a crisis-enhancer, although with the benefit of avoiding immediate default.

So there is an alternative that Matt Levine is putting forth:

Instead of just rolling those Treasuries -- paying them off at 100 cents on the dollar by issuing new Treasuries at 100 cents on the dollar -- it should pay them off at 100 cents on the dollar by issuing new Treasuries at 275 cents on the dollar and using the extra money to pay its bills. The 10-year yield today is around 2.6 percent, so you could sell a 10-year with a 23 percent coupon for 275 cents on the dollar.**** The 30-year is about 3.9 percent, so a 14 percent coupon should get you there. Etc. Math here.

Now, given my previous writing on Fixed Interest Payment Consol Bonds ... would this work too?

Yes, in a functional sense, of course it would. Its a similar, though not identical, answer, but it goes through the same loophole. Premium bonds are, by law, counted on their face value. So any bond with a face value substantially below its issue price that is used to roll over maturing long term bonds would "roll back" the debt ceiling count.

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Economic Populist: Will the White House Accept A Government Default, When It Doesn't Have To?

Over at Wonkblog Ezra Klein, one of MSNBC;s favorites neoliberals, writes:

The problem with President Obama’s shutdown strategy
...
 
The political theory here is clear: Obama is trying to marshal public opinion against the GOP. If enough Republicans are getting angry calls from their constituents and seeing polls that look disastrous for their party, they'll find a way to back down.

 
But it can backfire badly. Every second Obama stood at that podium made it a bit harder for the Republican Party to retreat. The more he repeats that this is their shutdown and they need to end it, the more their party suffers if they can't find a way to prove the president wrong. Obama's efforts to move public opinion toward him also moves Republican opinion against him.
...

 
... the White House is still pursuing a strategy that makes it harder for Boehner and the Republicans to back down. Their gamble is that the power of public opinion will overwhelm the power of presidential polarization. And if the Republican Party loses totally -- loses in a way where they can't tell themselves it was a win -- that'll be the end of these tactics.

The problem with this kind of brinksmanship tactics is that they may lead to an economic collapse ~ and given Europe's ongoing problems with the scourge of harsh austerity policies in the context of a monetary system built broken, that might be a worldwide economic collapse.

Now, the threat of the economic collapse does not come from the Government Shutdown, it comes from the risk of default on the government debt, due to the US Treasury running out of juggling options before it needs to sell a new issue of Treasury bonds to avoid a default on payment of government obligations.

And the puzzling point is that the Administration insists that the risk of default is real, even though the Administration itself can take the threat of default off the table.

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Transgender worker wins workplace discrimination settlement with backing from EEOC

 photo McCreery_zps6da77b95.jpgCori McCreery was working as a clerk in the grocery store Don's Valley Market in Rapid City, SD and had earned a promotion in 2010. Then she announced that she was transitioning from male to female.

Originally given assurances that she would have job security if she transitioned, her employers apparently believed they had no choice but to terminate that employment soon after her announcement. Her supervisors told her she was making other employees "uncomfortable," so she had to go because the company had a "7 million dollar investment to protect."

In 2012 Lambda Legal filed a suit charging employment discrimination in 2012, claiming that workplace discrimination against transgender people is gender discrimination in violation on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Last Monday Lamdba Legal announced that, with backing from the Equal Employment Opportunity Employment Commission, a settlement had been agreed to by the contending parties. Don's Valley Market would have to pay her the maximum allowable of $50,000 for an employer of fewer of 100 employees.

In addition the settlement included a public notice on the EEOC website, public notice on the workplace bulletin board, a mandatory policy in the workplace regarding workplace protections, a letter of apology to Ms. McCreery, and a letter of recommendation in regard to future employment.

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Calling the Debt Ceiling Bluff: Taking It To The Owners

Joe Firestone has written an excellent piece at New Economic Perspectives on the phony fear mongering about the risk that the Republicans might not vote to raise the debt ceiling. He uses as his point of departure exquisitely fraudulent framing that Ezra Klein adopted for the proposal to trade a budget continuing resolution without defunding Obamacare, for taking the fight to the debt ceiling.

The reason the Republican leadership is making the case for that trade is that a continuing resolution has to pass both Chambers, and the version that defunds Obamacare is Dead On Arrival in the Senate, which will amend the bill to restore Obamacare funding and refuse to budge in reconciliation. So sooner or later, the House will have to pass a continuing resolution that includes funding for Obamacare, or else shoulder the political blame for shutting down government.

But what Joe focuses on is the framing of trading off a budget fight for a debt ceiling fight, in which Ezra says:

his is terrifying that this is the argument. And the analogy I would use is this is like trading a bad flu for septic shock. it is the worst trade in the history of all trades you could imagine . . .

Trading a bad flu for septic shock might be the worst trade in the history of all trades, but the only thing that makes the debt ceiling dangerous is the administration's refusal to call the bluff. As Joe lays out, there are not one, not two, not three, not four, but five options, and three of them would succeed in eliminating the threat that the debt ceiling vote can every again be used for political blackmail.

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AFL-CIO gives transgender equality a big push

 

The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, amended its constitution on Monday by adding a provision banning discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The AFL-CIO delegates have been at their annual convention in Los Angeles.

 

Several constituent unions had already added similar wording to their policies.

Very exciting. Labor has really been stepping up, and the AFL-CIO has been stepping up.

--Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality

The labor movement has long been a leader on full inclusion in the workplace. This important addition to the governing document of the largest federation of labor unions is a historic and important step forward to ensuring that every American has an equal shot at employment and equal benefits.

--Fred Saenz, vice-president of the Human Rights Campaign

HRC and NCTE are part of Americans for Workplace Opportunity, which is a national coalition pressing Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT workers from bias in employment.

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