“Our economic woes, then, are not simply cyclical or structural. They are also — chiefly — institutional, the consequence of U.S. corporate behavior that has plunged us into a downward cycle of underinvestment, underemployment and under-consumption. Our solutions must be similarly institutional, requiring, for starters, the seating of public and worker representatives on corporate boards. Short of that, there will be no real prospects for reversing America’s downward mobility. ” Harold Meyerson AMERICA’S DOWNWARD SLIDE: CORPORATE DECISIONS SHATTER THE ECONOMIC EQUILIBRIUM (complete post below)
Don’t you wonder what kind of fools elected officials like the “do nothing except lobby for the rich” fake “leaders” around here think we all are? “Our” pathetic, simplistic State Rep Vic Gilliam, who seems never to have had to actually WORK for a thing in his “Nowhere Man” actor’s life, is telling us in this week’s Pioneer to look to Texas for answers!
Influence peddling a la Vickie is great “work” if you can get it! Texas? He must be kidding!
LOL! I have posted many times that the City of Molalla – or at least the noxious sprawl advocates like Potter/Clarke/Atkins and the good ole boy speculators they work for – should just fly wholesale to TEXAS! And now I urge silly, simplistic, serve the rich Vickie to join the exodus.
Yes, Vickie, you and your “work” to protect your riches and the riches of the tiny, monied minority you represent, would be a perfect fit in Texas. Maybe Texas could find an instant slot for you there to advocate nasty anti-environmental, anti-fair wage, anti-science (“our” Vickie voted against stem cell research last session) and anti-free speech policy. I hear Texas is the leader in executions: I bet Vickie could get some laws on the books to sweep up political opposition and keep it locked away as long as Vickie “served”.
So anyone with ideas how we can export Atkins/Clarke/Potter/Vickie and the local speculators to Texas please get in touch quick. Everyone else take a look below to learn the FACTS about what Texas is really facing. Personally, I would always rather face any national depression with forward thinking people in Oregon in a cave than ever try to emulate anything from anti-fair wage, execution loving, racist Texas.
PHEW! Have at it Vickie, we’ll all cheer as you and your advocates for the richie riches of the state roll south. Good riddance! Take your anti-free speech bill from last session (the one where you tried to give political losers like yourself more “freedom” to sue Oregonians that offended you as they exercised their right to political free speech) and your move to stop stem cell research and march to Texas where you belong. The deep south is the only place a guy like simplistic, serve the rich corporations, bust the workers Vickie Gilliam fits!
Read on for the true Texas failure – the one Vickie is too lazy to research in his quest to help the rich, and then read the post about the REAL reasons America is tanking:
By PAUL KRUGMAN
These are tough times for state governments. Huge deficits loom almost everywhere, from California to New York, from New Jersey to Texas.
Wait — Texas? Wasn’t Texas supposed to be thriving even as the rest of America suffered? Didn’t its governor declare, during his re-election campaign, that “we have billions in surplus”? Yes, it was, and yes, he did. But reality has now intruded, in the form of a deficit expected to run as high as $25 billion over the next two years.
And that reality has implications for the nation as a whole. For Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.
How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.
The point, however, is that just the other day Texas was being touted as a role model (and still is by commentators who haven’t been keeping up with the news). It was the state the recession supposedly passed by, thanks to its low taxes and business-friendly policies. Its governor boasted that its budget was in good shape thanks to his “tough conservative decisions.”
Oh, and at a time when there’s a full-court press on to demonize public-sector unions as the source of all our woes, Texas is nearly demon-free: less than 20 percent of public-sector workers there are covered by union contracts, compared with almost 75 percent in New York.
So what happened to the “Texas miracle” many people were talking about even a few months ago?
Part of the answer is that reports of a recession-proof state were greatly exaggerated. It’s true that Texas job losses haven’t been as severe as those in the nation as a whole since the recession began in 2007. But Texas has a rapidly growing population — largely, suggests Harvard’s Edward Glaeser, because its liberal land-use and zoning policies have kept housing cheap. There’s nothing wrong with that; but given that rising population, Texas needs to create jobs more rapidly than the rest of the country just to keep up with a growing work force.
And when you look at unemployment, Texas doesn’t seem particularly special: its unemployment rate is below the national average, thanks in part to high oil prices, but it’s about the same as the unemployment rate in New York or Massachusetts.
What about the budget? The truth is that the Texas state government has relied for years on smoke and mirrors to create the illusion of sound finances in the face of a serious “structural” budget deficit — that is, a deficit that persists even when the economy is doing well. When the recession struck, hitting revenue in Texas just as it did everywhere else, that illusion was bound to collapse.
The only thing that let Gov. Rick Perry get away, temporarily, with claims of a surplus was the fact that Texas enacts budgets only once every two years, and the last budget was put in place before the depth of the economic downturn was clear. Now the next budget must be passed — and Texas may have a $25 billion hole to fill. Now what?
Given the complete dominance of conservative ideology in Texas politics, tax increases are out of the question. So it has to be spending cuts.
Yet Mr. Perry wasn’t lying about those “tough conservative decisions”: Texas has indeed taken a hard, you might say brutal, line toward its most vulnerable citizens. Among the states, Texas ranks near the bottom in education spending per pupil, while leading the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance. It’s hard to imagine what will happen if the state tries to eliminate its huge deficit purely through further cuts.
I don’t know how the mess in Texas will end up being resolved. But the signs don’t look good, either for the state or for the nation.
Right now, triumphant conservatives in Washington are declaring that they can cut taxes and still balance the budget by slashing spending. Yet they haven’t been able to do that even in Texas, which is willing both to impose great pain (by its stinginess on health care) and to shortchange the future (by neglecting education). How are they supposed to pull it off nationally, especially when the incoming Republicans have declared Medicare, Social Security and defense off limits?
America’s downward slide: Corporate decisions shatter the economic equilibrium
Published: Sunday, January 09, 2011, 8:37 AM
By Harold Meyerson
The city on a hill and the last, best hope of mankind has entered a new period in its history. We are now America, the downwardly mobile.
The problem isn’t due to the recession. Would that it were. The decade just concluded is the first in which Americans, on average, have seen their incomes decline. Median household income increased by about $4,000 per decade in the 1980s and ’90s: from $42,429 in 1980 to $46,049 in 1990 to $50,557 in 2000 (in 2007 dollars). In 2009, the most recent year for which we have figures, it had declined to $49,777 — but 2009, of course, was a year of deep recession. If we go back to the peak year of the last decade, 2007, we find that median household income was just $50,233 — roughly $300 less than it had been in 2000.
Until the housing and financial bubbles burst, of course, we enjoyed the illusion of prosperity through the days of wine and credit. Now we stand on unfamiliar terrain in which almost all the signs of long-term economic health point downward. Our private sector isn’t creating jobs at a rate commensurate with our increasing population, much less at a level to significantly reduce unemployment. The share of our civilian population employed has dropped to 58.2 percent — the lowest level since the early ’80s, when far fewer women had entered the work force.
The social pathologies long associated with the inner-city poor — single-parent households, births out of wedlock, drug and alcohol abuse — now stalk the white working class in rural and post-industrial regions far removed from big cities. The middle is falling. Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, has noted that as wages and employment levels have fallen for the Americans who have graduated high school but not college, their level of out-of-wedlock births (44 percent) has approached that of Americans who haven’t completed high school (54 percent). Americans with college diplomas or more, by contrast, have a rate of just 6 percent.
The great sociologist William Julius Wilson has long argued that the key to the unraveling of the lives of the African American poor was the decline in the number of “marriageable males” as work disappeared from the inner city. Much the same could now be said of working-class whites in neighborhoods that may not look like the ghettos of Cleveland or Detroit but in which productive economic activity is increasingly hard to find.
This grim new reality has yet to inform our debate over how to come back from this mega-recession. Those who believe our downturn is cyclical argue that job-creating public spending can restore us to prosperity, while those who believe it’s structural — that we have too many carpenters, say, and not enough nurses — believe that we should leave things be while American workers acquire new skills and enter different lines of work. But there’s a third way to look at the recession: that it’s institutional, that it’s the consequence of the decisions by leading banks and corporations to stop investing in the job-creating enterprises that were the key to broadly shared prosperity.
Our multinational companies still invest, of course — just not at home. A study by the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Council Foundation found that the share of the profits of U.S.-based multinationals that came from their foreign affiliates had increased from 17 percent in 1977 and 27 percent in 1994 to 48.6 percent in 2006.
As the companies’ revenue from abroad has increased, their dependence on American consumers has diminished. The equilibrium among production, wages and purchasing power — the equilibrium that Henry Ford famously recognized when he upped his workers’ pay to an unheard-of $5 a day in 1913 so they could afford to buy the cars they made, the equilibrium that became the model for 20th-century American capitalism — has been shattered.
Making and selling their goods abroad, U.S. multinationals can slash their work forces and reduce their wages at home while retaining their revenue and increasing their profits. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Our economic woes, then, are not simply cyclical or structural. They are also — chiefly — institutional, the consequence of U.S. corporate behavior that has plunged us into a downward cycle of underinvestment, underemployment and under-consumption. Our solutions must be similarly institutional, requiring, for starters, the seating of public and worker representatives on corporate boards. Short of that, there will be no real prospects for reversing America’s downward mobility.
(c) 2010, The Washington Post
Harold Meyerson is editor-at-large of American Prospect and the L.A. Weekly.
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