Republicans and the rich guys who imposed on American workers 35 years of stagnant wages now offer a prescription for easing this pain!
Their solution for robber-baron-level income inequality is not the obvious: Give workers raises. They don’t want to increase the minimum wage, which would eventually push up pay for everyone else as well. They don’t intend to provide paid sick leave or decent pensions or fewer unstable contract jobs. They have no intention of strengthening unions so workers can collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions.
Instead of any of those straightforward measures, rich guys and corporate-owned Republicans assert that the solution is more free stuff for corporations! The government, they say, should provide that free stuff. The government, the very organization they deride and despise and denounce as incompetent and deserving of nothing but cutting and shrinking and destroying! Yes, they actually contend that very same government should take the taxes paid by workers and give that money to corporations to improve worker wages and working conditions!
The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the August goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $48.3 billion. This is a big 15.6% increase from July’s enormous, humongous $41.8 (revised) billion trade deficit.
Exports dropped 2 percent and imports rose 1.2 percent.
The monthly U.S. goods deficit with China rose in August to an enormous, humongous $32.9 billion from an enormous, humongous $30.6 billion.
The U.S. goods deficit with Japan was down a bit to $5.2 billion in August.
The U.S. goods deficit with South Korea was $2.7 billion in August.
U.S. exports of goods and services fell to $185.1 billion. This is the lowest level since October 2012.
After years of negotiating, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 30-chapter, 12-country trade agreement that's been in the works for years, was signed yesterday by participating countries.
Trade negotiators from the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam resolved long-standing differences on tariffs, dispute procedures, labor and environmental rights, intellectual property/patents, and much more, and agreed to the accord. That step alone does not make it the law governing trade practices between these nations; their governments, as well as our own, of course, must now ratify the treaty.
But what does this all mean? The deal has been negotiated in secret so we've largely had to rely on what negotiators tell us about it, and since the negotiators are tasked by their governments with selling the deal, such information tends to be pretty one-sided. Will it really herald "a wide range of change in the years ahead" for "consumers across the country," as the New York Times writes this morning?
I haven't seen it either, but I strongly doubt it. Trade and globalization have historically been a big, economic game-changer, reaping benefits for consumers and macro-economies from vastly increased supply chains. Trade deals, on the other hand, are nothing more than rules of the road for how trade is conducted between partner countries. Some of those rules are handshakes between investors across borders; other measures, often in opposition to the investor-favored ones, have the potential to benefit consumers, workers, and the environment.
The latest annual Forbes magazine numbers on America’s richest 400 have just come out. The personal fortunes of our nation’s 400 deepest pockets, Forbestells us, now average $5.8 billion each.
A little historical context makes that figure even more impressive. Forbes began its annual top 400 tally in 1982. Our top 400 averaged back then, in today’s dollars, $570 million. In effect, after inflation, our wealthiest have multiplied their wealth more than tenfold since 1982.
And the rest of us? Forbes doesn’t count our fortunes. Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman do, and they've just updated their stats. Between 1982 and 2012, their figures show, households in America’s bottom 90 percent saw their average net worth, after taking inflation into account,increase less than 1 percent per year.