Why the Middle School Bond Will FAIL (hint: Wealth Disparity)

“Americans are not being honest with themselves about the structural changes in the economy that have bestowed fabulous wealth on a sliver at the top, while undermining the living standards of the middle class and absolutely crushing the poor…. If matters stay the same, with working people perpetually struggling in an environment of ever-increasing economic insecurity and inequality, the very stability of the society will be undermined.” Quote: Bob Herbert (full text follows post)

“Households are unable to pay off debt,” Elizabeth Warren, President Barack Obama’s newest top adviser on consumer and economic issues, said Friday during a conference call with reporters. “There’s a substantial amount of debt written off.” (full text follows post)

I glanced at the “other” Molalla Blog site today – it has the question posted “Will you vote for the school bond?” But – guess what? As usual the pro-bond folks have frozen the ability to debate or to even vote “NO” on the site.

How sad for our community that the lucky FEW with good jobs – lucky at least for the moment – think it is fine to try to impose a giant tax bond MILLSTONE on our suffering community. Like TEAM’s privileged merchant class, the tiny ‘us first’, control the message, pro-middle school bond parent group thinks that campaigns can be won by closing debate. It’s like the current DUD candidate for Governor of Oregon who is trying to win by keeping his mouth shut and not facing public scrutiny. That’s what ultimately shoots down campaigns: without honest debate people dig even deeper to find FACTS.

It’s funny to see how fast Kostur jumps on public information requests when Assistant Attorney General Kron is copied on the email. Sadly, even with Kron’s name attached Kostur can’t produce details about the square footage or cost of playfields.

And, watching the huge shifting numbers come out of plannin’ incompetent Potter’s office regarding the cost for his ‘work’ to permit a 34 MILLION DOLLAR project makes one’s head spin. I wouldn’t trust BOZO Potter to ‘permit’ a $50 DOG HOUSE – and the ‘us first’ bond committee expects our tanking community to dole out $400,000 of the 34 MILLION DOLLAR BOND to the biggest loser, incompetent, fake planner on the planet?  WOW! THAT’S certainly a leap of faith – or extreme head in the sand positive thinking!

How many pizza parties would THAT GIANT $400,000 BOND RIP OFF BUY POTTER as he drools over the plans for the outlandish, oversized Taj?  (We’d probably get popped for buying new sets of plans over and over as Potter smeared them with tomato and cheese goo). Nothing is fixed in this rush job, “let’s get your money as quick as we can before you see we don’t have a clue what we’re doing” middle school bond.

What’s really telling is that Molalla, in a time when every State district is in trouble, is the ONLY Clackamas County District dumb enough to put a big school money measure on the ballot in these economic times – and the vote will come RIGHT AFTER PROPERTY TAX BILLS ARRIVE!  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised about the way the ‘campaign’ has been run, given the lack of leadership from the District and the lack of understanding from the tiny parent’s group about the economic suffering  surrounding us in these horrific (and sure to get worse) economic times.

Posted below is the most enlightened take I have read lately on the growing gulf between America’s ‘haves and have-nots’. Too bad the ‘us first’, lucky (for now), working (for now) parents haven’t any compassion for what is really happening in the local economy – or for the sinking economic picture of the ‘unlucky majority’ who surround them. And never forget about the coming TAX COMPRESSION!  Dream on, keep the pie in the sky ‘kids first’ proposals coming – or read the following TRUTH and weep for the Middle Class. Quote:

Wealth disparity: We’ve left the middle class too weak to save economy

Published: Saturday, September 18, 2010, 8:44 AM

Syndicated columns

We’ve avoided soup lines and a second Great Depression but concentrated wealth among the richest Americans is undermining the economy.

By BOB HERBERT

We can keep wishing and hoping for a powerful economic recovery to pull the U.S. out of its doldrums, but I wouldn’t count on it. Ordinary American families no longer have the purchasing power to build a strong recovery and keep it going.

Americans are not being honest with themselves about the structural changes in the economy that have bestowed fabulous wealth on a sliver at the top, while undermining the living standards of the middle class and absolutely crushing the poor. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a viable strategy for reversing this dreadful state of affairs. (There is no evidence the GOP even wants to.)

Robert Reich, in his new book, “Aftershock,” gives us one of the clearest explanations to date of what has happened — how the United States went from what he calls “the Great Prosperity” of 1947 to 1975 to the Great Recession that has hobbled the U.S. economy and darkened the future of younger Americans.

He gives the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve credit for moving quickly in terms of fiscal and monetary policies to prevent the economic crash of 2008 from driving the U.S. into a second Great Depression.

“But,” he writes, “we did not learn the larger lesson of the 1930s: that when the distribution of income gets too far out of whack, the economy needs to be reorganized so the broad middle class has enough buying power to rejuvenate the economy over the longer term.”

The middle class is finally on its knees. Jobs are scarce and good jobs even scarcer. Government and corporate policies have been whacking working Americans every which way for the past three or four decades. While globalization and technological wizardry were wreaking employment havoc, the movers and shakers in government and in the boardrooms of the great corporations were embracing privatization and deregulation with the fervor of fanatics. The safety net was shredded, unions were brutally attacked and demonized, employment training and jobs programs were eliminated, higher education costs skyrocketed, and the nation’s infrastructure, a key to long-term industrial and economic health, deteriorated.

It’s a wonder matters aren’t worse.

While all this was happening, working people, including those in the vast middle class, coped as best they could. Women went into the paid work force in droves. Many workers increased their hours or took on second and third jobs. Savings were drained, and debt of every imaginable kind — from credit cards to mortgages to student loans — exploded.

With those coping mechanisms now exhausted, it’s painfully obvious that the economy has failed working Americans.

There was plenty of growth, but the economic benefits went overwhelmingly — and unfairly — to those already at the top. Reich cites the work of analysts who have tracked the increasing share of national income that has gone to the top 1 percent of earners since the 1970s, when their share was 8 to 9 percent. In the 1980s, it rose to 10 to 14 percent. In the late ’90s, it was 15 to 19 percent. In 2005, it passed 21 percent. By 2007, the last year for which complete data are available, the richest 1 percent were taking more than 23 percent of all income.

The richest one-tenth of 1 percent, representing just 13,000 households, took in more than 11 percent of total income in 2007.

That does not leave enough spending power with the rest of the population to sustain a flourishing economy. This is a point emphasized in “Aftershock.” Reich, a former labor secretary in the Clinton administration, writes: “The wages of the typical American hardly increased in the three decades leading up to the Crash of 2008, considering inflation. In the 2000s, they actually dropped.”

A male worker earning the median wage in 2007 earned less than the median wage, adjusted for inflation, of a male worker 30 years earlier. A typical son, in other words, is earning less than his dad did at the same age.

This is what has happened with ordinary workers as the wealth at the top has soared into the stratosphere.

With so much of the middle class and the rest of working America tapped out, there is not enough consumer demand for the goods and services that the U.S. economy is capable of producing. Without that demand, there are precious few prospects for a robust recovery.

If matters stay the same, with working people perpetually struggling in an environment of ever-increasing economic insecurity and inequality, the very stability of the society will be undermined.

The U.S. economy needs to be rebalanced so that the benefits are shared more widely, more equitably. There are many ways to do this, but what is most important right now is to recognize this central fact, to focus on it and to begin seriously considering the most constructive options.

Copyright: 2010, New York Times News Service

© 2010 OregonLive.com. All rights reserved.

End quote. If you need more depressing (but truthful) observations about the state of taxpayer’s tanking assets (like their homes – wait till they look at their “up 3% by law” property tax bills – then the argument that the school bond will keep taxes the same will look like a lie – because overall property taxes will have grown as real property value SANK), here’s another headline and telling article. Quote:

Americans’ Net Worth Tanked In Second Quarter, Erasing This Year’s Gains

Americans’ net worth plunged in the second quarter of this year, new data from the Federal Reserve show, erasing the gains of the previous two quarters and adding evidence to the argument that the economy has entered a double-dip recession.

The net worth of households and non-profit organizations dropped $1.52 trillion during the period from April 1 to June 30 of this year, according to the report released Friday. The new figure, $53.50 trillion, represents a 2.8 percent decline from the previous quarter.

The net quarterly loss, the data suggests, came from Americans’ losses in the sagging stock market. Equity shares owned by households and non-profits tanked in the second quarter, dropping $1.88 trillion or 11.2 percent to $14.87 trillion from the previous quarter. The second quarter figure went down past the territory of 2009’s third quarter ($15.32 trillion), almost to the range of the 2009 second quarter ($13.06 trillion), when equity was just starting to rise from its low of $10.94 trillion in the first quarter of that year.

The Dow rose 4.1 percent in the first quarter of this year and fell 10.0 percent in the second quarter.

Total household wealth showed a 5.9 percent increase over the same period last year, which isn’t saying much, since at that point the economy was only just beginning to improve. More significantly, Americans’ net worth has approached levels not seen since the third quarter of 2009, when the total was $53.03 trillion, and when it was steadily increasing.

The overall value of assets owned by households and non-profits dropped as well, sliding $1.56 trillion or 2.3 percent, to $67.41 trillion from $68.97 trillion in the first quarter of this year. Again, the figure entered territory not seen since the third quarter of last year.

The economy has been in the slow process of deleveraging. Overall household debt dropped in the second quarter by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.3 percent, with both mortgage debt and consumer credit debt falling. For households and non-profits combined, the values of mortgage debt and credit debt in the second quarter (respectively $10.15 trillion and $2.40 trillion) fell from the first quarter figures of $10.20 trillion and $2.42 trillion, respectively.

Mortgage debt for households and nonprofits has been steadily falling since the most recent peak of $10.50 trillion in the first quarter of 2009. And banks charged off 2.9 percent of all loans in the second quarter, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The charge-off rate this year is higher than any other year since at least 1988.

“Households are unable to pay off debt,” Elizabeth Warren, President Barack Obama’s newest top adviser on consumer and economic issues, said Friday during a conference call with reporters. “There’s a substantial amount of debt written off.”

In a tentative, and potentially outdated, cause for hope, the value of real estate assets owned by households in the quarter went up, a 0.3 percent increase over the previous quarter. Moreover, total tangible assets owned by households and non-profits increased in value 0.6 percent to $23.68 trillion. But the current housing situation, which has worsened since the end of June, suggests trouble.

“Looking ahead, the household net worth will move sideways as minor improvements on the financial side are likely to be offset by lower real estate asset values,” Gregory Daco, an economist with IHS Global Insight, said in a release. “With employment recovering very gradually and housing prices remaining low, household wealth will make a very slow recovery.”

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