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« Milbank and the subtlety of verb tenses | Main | Whoops, sometimes a call for assassination is hard to spot? »

May 28, 2015

Comments

Bob

Could it be our little voting public has grown up? We'll all miss how cute it was when it believed in Ronald Reagan.

Peter G

I wonder if they realize what their problem is? My diagnosis is that while the public does not entirely believe that Hillary Clinton will do as she says, they do believe the Republicans will do as they say.

Bob

To drop the glibness, it seems much of the American public is going though real pain. I worked with several people who lost everything in their 401(k)'s when the bottom fell out and that was a very limited sample. Add to that the real estate situation - underwater mortgages, crumbling McMansions, falling values, homelessness and the loss of (never even mind high-paying) jobs, war weariness associated with false premises, daily reminders of social injustice, crumbling infrastructure, and you have a situation that concentrates the mind; something like an impending hanging.

Everyday Democrats might know Hillary is often too clever by half and has ties to unsavory elements like the boardroom of Wal Mart and Wall Street big shots, but she is experienced and seems capable. And with Elizabeth, Bernie and some other honest colleagues around to keep an eye out most probably see her as at least a decent bet.

A plurality of rank and file Republicans have already tried to create their own (astroturfed) party, probably feel betrayed by all their candidates and will eventually get around to rejecting them all except for the one the money people can push to the finish line. Democrats know the Republicans won't do anything they promise and everyday Republicans probably know it too. There's still a long time to go until election day, though.

Peter G

I've never really bought the idea that ties to businesses and major employers or even Wall st denizens constitutes anything nefarious. Wall st and Walmart? That's New York and and Arkansas, both places to which Clinton has strong connections. That a politician would have such connections or support the interests of business firms that are important employers and generators of tax revenues is not surprising. It is their job. And is no different from a politician in Kentucky supporting the coal industry.

Bob

Except that Wal Mart is famous, at least in The States, for things like wage theft, misuse of government assistance programs, and literally locking employees in the stores and not letting them leave until management lets them. Hatred of Wall Street is spread across the entire political spectrum and for personal reasons as well as principle. It's not that Hillary's just associated with business, it's the businesses she's associated with - which are widely considered particularly unsavory.

Peter G

Wage theft? Have at 'em. The misuse of government assistance is not credible to me. In fact I will go far as to say that many in the progressive movement have this ass backwards. The whole idea of making things such as healthcare benefits contingent on an employer is completely and utterly wrong. It guarantees inequity.

The argument is pretty straightforward. If you look at the net income any employee generates for a business the differences are vast. Employees at a Wall st hedge fund may each generate millions in revenues and profits and that makes gold plated benefits packages eminently affordable. Walmart doesn't generate nearly those kinds of numbers. Most businesses don't and some don't have margins that permit much at all in the way of benefits if they are to stay competitive. These costs are one of the leading drivers of outsourcing and the steady erosion of benefits in the private sector. This needs to stop. It kills marginal businesses.

Furthermore making the employer responsible for such things justifies what is essentially a raid on the public treasury for those who government employs. It makes them and their families preferential beneficiaries of the public purse. That cannot continue either.

As to similar arguments about pay ratios of selected CEO's and average workers that too is nonsense. I don't give a damn about how much any CEO or athlete makes. The more the better. Spread those wages over enough workers and the net result is that the government, which desperately needs revenue gets little. A proper progressive income tax rate generates a lot. That's where the work needs to be done higher rates and less loopholes. With current rates and exemptions you could pass a law (of doubtful legality) that limited CEO pay to any given worker pay ratio and all you would likely succeed in doing is create an even greater government deficit with less revenue. And encourage alternative compensation schemes like stock options that aren't subject to anything but a low capital gains rate and then only when cashed in.

Bob

I have to eat part of a crow. While Wal Mart had, and might still abuse both government programs and private free clinics ( http://www.globalexchange.org/print/21217 ), since 2007 it has started expanding its own healthcare business ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/04/24/us-walmart-clinics-idUSWEN690120070424 ). Perusing several articles didn't make it clear how successful the program has been, but it appears the company has improved its coverage for employees. I agree completely that making healthcare benefits contingent on an employer is wrong. It only happened in The States because of an historical fluke. Companies wishing to lure high value employees from Europe following WWII instituted the practice with the cooperation of the government. I'd like to see a Canadian style system here, but, you know - socialism. I'm also with you on a more progressive income tax rate. During the period of The States' greatest expansion the top rate reached 91%. Of course no person or company actually paid it, but they paid much more than they do now. We have Ronald Reagan’s "trickle down" philosophy to thank for the present situation.

As far as wage theft and what is essentially slave labor, how do you defend those?

Peter G

Well a) I didn't defend those. And b) To my knowledge no one works at Walmart as an indentured servant or slave. There is a very good reason Walmart has historically endorsed increases in the minimum wage. That is because about 40 percent of their customers fall into this low wage spectrum and such raises are good for Walmart. Having a low cost option for purchasing goods and services (and not necessarily Walmart) is particularly useful to those with limited or fixed incomes. Raising wages is also good for reducing employee turnover in a labor market which is fast becoming a problem as employment increases. There's a lot of people out there for whom the Walmart's of this world are a boon and not an affliction. That's why they remain the largest retailer in the world.

Bob

"Wage theft? Have at 'em." Maybe you meant something else, but this sure seems like supporting wage theft. "To my knowledge no one works at Walmart as an indentured servant or slave." That overstates the case somewhat: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/18/us/workers-assail-night-lock-ins-by-wal-mart.html

Peter G

I apologize. I was unclear. I meant have at Walmart or any retailer who engages in this loathsome practice. A personal anecdote: my father was both a businessman and a union organizer at various times in his life. When my older sister took a job with the local Dairy Queen she discovered that, after two weeks of work she was going to paid exactly nothing. The franchise owner had decided that employees needed to pay in advance for their uniforms and that training was to be done at their expense and not his. Which uniform he required them to surrender to get their last check. That was illegal even then. He changed his mind when his arm was physically twisted and proceeded to write a check for those two weeks of work. It might have ended poorly for the old man but when a police officer was summoned it turned out his daughter had just started working at Dairy Queen too. Sometimes the universe works out just the way it should.

Bob

I didn't really think you could have meant what it seemed and was surprised. You're extremely knowledgeable about The States but I sometimes wonder if as a Canadian you can understand the incredible N-dimensional insanity and pure dickishness that goes on routinely down here. In my experience many find it hard to believe.

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