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Did your Congressman Support Normalizing Trade Relations with CHINA in 2000?

In POLITICS TODAY on December 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm

ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE

Costly Trade with China: Millions of U.S. jobs displaced with net job loss in every state

Robert E. Scott

May 1, 2007

October 9, 2007 (revised) (originally released May 2, 2007) | EPI Briefing Paper #188

Contrary to the predictions of its supporters, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) has failed to reduce its trade surplus with the United States or increase overall U.S. employment. The rise in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 1997 and 2006 has displaced production that could have supported 2,166,000 U.S. jobs. Most of these jobs (1.8 million) have been lost since China entered the WTO in 2001. Between 1997 and 2001, growing trade deficits displaced an average of 101,000 jobs per year, or slightly more than the total employment in Manchester, New Hampshire. Since China entered the WTO in 2001, job losses increased to an average of 353,000 per year—more than the total employment in greater Akron, Ohio. Between 2001 and 2006, jobs were displaced in every state and the District of Columbia. Nearly three-quarters of the jobs displaced were in manufacturing industries. Simply put, the promised benefits of trade liberalization with China have been unfulfilled.

As a matter of policy, China tightly pegs its currency’s value to that of the dollar at a rate that encourages a large bilateral surplus with the United States. Maintaining this peg required the purchase of about $200 billion in U.S. Treasury Bills and other securities in 2006 alone. This intervention makes the Yuan artificially cheap and provides an effective subsidy on Chinese exports; best estimates are that the rate of this effective subsidy is roughly 40%. China also engages in extensive suppression of labor rights; it has been estimated that wages in China would be 47% to 85% higher in the absence of labor repression. China has also been accused of massive direct subsidization of export production. Finally, it maintains strict, non-tariff barriers to imports. As a result, China’s exports to the United States of $288 billion in 2006 were six times greater than U.S. exports to China, which were only $52 billion. China’s trade surplus was responsible for 42.6% of the United States’ total, non-oil trade deficit. This is by far the United States’ most imbalanced trading relationship. Unless and until China revalues (raises) the Yuan and eliminates these other trade distortions, the U.S. trade deficit and job losses will continue to grow rapidly in the future.

Major findings of this study:

•The 1.8 million jobs opportunities lost nationwide since 2001 are distributed among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with the biggest losers, in numeric terms: California (-269,300), Texas (-136,900), New York (-105,900), Illinois (-79,900), Pennsylvania (-78,200), North Carolina (-77,200), Florida (-71,900), Ohio (-66,100), Georgia (-60,400), and Massachusetts (-59,300).

•The 10 hardest-hit states, as a share of total state employment, are: New Hampshire (-13,000, -2.1%), North Carolina (-77,200, -2.0%), California (-269,300, -1.8%), Massachusetts (-59,300, -1.8%), Rhode Island (-8,400, -1.8%), South Carolina (-29,200, -1.6%), Vermont (-4,900, -1.6%), Oregon (-25,700, -1.6%), Indiana (-45,200, -1.5%), and Georgia (-60,400, -1.5%).

China’s entry into the WTO was supposed to bring it into compliance with an enforceable, rules-based regime, which would require that it open its markets to imports from the United States and other nations. The United States also negotiated a series of special safeguard measures designed to limit the disruptive effects of surging Chinese imports on domestic producers. However, the core of the agreement failed to include any protections to maintain or improve labor or environmental standards. As a result, China’s entry into the WTO has further tilted the international economic playing field against domestic workers and firms, and in favor of multinational companies (MNCs) from the United States and other countries, and state- and privately-owned exporters in China. This has increased the global “race to the bottom” in wages and environmental quality and caused the closing of thousands of U.S. factories, decimating employment in a wide range of communities, states, and entire regions of the United States.

 

False promises

Proponents of China’s entry into the WTO frequently claimed that it would create jobs in the United States, increase U.S. exports, and improve the trade deficit with China. President Clinton claimed that the agreement allowing China into the WTO, which was negotiated during his administration, “creates a win-win result for both countries” (Clinton 2000, 9). He argued that exports to China “now support hundreds of thousands of American jobs” and that “these figures can grow substantially with the new access to the Chinese market the WTO agreement creates” (Clinton 2000, 10). Others in the White House, such as Kenneth Liberthal, the special advisor to the president and senior director for Asia affairs at the National Security Council, echoed Clinton’s assessment:

Let’s be clear as to why a trade deficit might decrease in the short term. China exports far more to the U.S. than it imports [from] the U.S….It will not grow as much as it would have grown without this agreement and over time clearly it will shrink with this agreement.

Promises about jobs and exports misrepresented the real effects of trade on the U.S. economy: trade both creates and destroys jobs. Increases in U.S. exports tend to create jobs in the United States, but increases in imports tend to destroy jobs as imports displace goods that otherwise would have been made in the United States by domestic workers.

The impact of changes in trade on employment is estimated here by calculating the labor content of changes in the trade balance—the difference between exports and imports. Each $1 billion in computer exports to China from the United States supports American jobs. However, each $1 billion in computer imports from China displaces those American workers, who would have been employed making them in the United States. On balance, the net employment effect of trade flows depends on the growth in the trade deficit; not just exports. Another critically important promise made by the promoters of liberalized U.S.-China trade was that the United States would benefit because of increased exports to a large and growing consumer market in China. This market, in turn, was to be based on an expansion of the middle class that, it was claimed, would grow rapidly due to the wealth created in China by its entry into the WTO. However, the increase in U.S. exports to China has been overwhelmed by the growth of U.S. imports.

Growing trade deficits and job losses

The U.S. trade deficit with China has increased from $50 billion in 1997 to $235 billion in 2006, an increase of $185 billion. Between 1997 and 2001, prior to China’s entry into the WTO, the deficit increased $9 billion per year on average. Between 2001 and 2006, after China entered the WTO, the deficit increased $30 billion per year on average.

U.S. exports to China in 1997 supported 138,000 jobs, but U.S. imports displaced production that would have supported 736,000 jobs.  Therefore, the $49 billion trade deficit in 1997 displaced 736,300 jobs in that year. Job displacement rose to 1,000,000 jobs in 2001 and 2,763,000 in 2006. Prior to China’s entry into the WTO, an average of 101,000 jobs per year were displaced by growing trade deficits between 1997 and 2001. After 2001, an average of 353,000 jobs per year were lost.

Growth in trade deficits with China has reduced demand for goods produced in every region of the United States and has led to job displacement in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 100,000 jobs were lost in California, Texas, and New York each. Jobs displaced due to growing deficits with China equaled or exceeded 2.0% of total employment in states such as North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Growing trade deficits with China have clearly reduced domestic employment in traded goods industries, especially in the manufacturing sector, which has been hard hit by plant closings and job losses. Workers displaced by trade from the manufacturing sector have been shown to have particular difficulty in securing comparable employment elsewhere in the economy. More than one-third of workers displaced from manufacturing drop out of the labor force (Kletzer 2001, 101, Table D2). Average wages of those who secured re-employment fell 11% to 13%. Trade-related job displacement pushes many workers out of good jobs in manufacturing and other trade-related industries, often into lower-paying industries and frequently out of the labor market.

Some economists have quibbled with job-loss numbers extrapolated from trade flows, based on the presumption that aggregate employment levels in the United States are set by a broad range of macroeconomic influences, not just by trade flows. There is a grain of truth to this—the trade balance is but one of many variables affecting aggregate job creation in the United States.

That said, the employment impacts of trade identified in this paper can be interpreted as the “all else equal” effect of trade on domestic employment. The Federal Reserve, for example, may decide to cut interest rates to make up for job loss stemming from deteriorating trade balances (or any other economic influence), leaving net employment unchanged. This, however, does not change the fact that trade deficits by themselves are a net drain on employment.

Administration officials and other economists have argued that the capital inflow that is the mirror-image of trade deficits supports jobs in the United States by keeping interest rates lower than they would be absent this inflow. During the late 1990s, for example, these capital inflows fought rising trade deficits to a draw in terms of aggregate employment effects, and, through much of the 2000s recovery, interest-sensitive industries (housing and construction, for example) have surely expanded more than they would have absent foreign capital inflows. While these claims may be correct from a simple accounting standpoint, they do not support assertions that trade flows are a useless indicator of job loss.

First, and most simply, it is just not true that foreign capital inflows always make up trade-induced employment losses one-for-one. In the 2001 recession and the jobless recovery following, growing trade deficits accompanied aggregate job loss, even as interest rates scraped historical bottoms. Clearly, low interest rates do not always translate into enough growth in investment and consumption in interest-sensitive sectors to always sterilize the impact of growing trade deficits.

Second, the job-loss numbers identified in this report are a good measure of just how unbalanced the U.S. economy has become due to rising trade deficits. Tradable goods industries have hemorrhaged jobs, while interest-sensitive, often non-tradable, industries have seen rapid growth. At that point in the future when trade deficits begin to close (and this will happen—it is only a question of when and how), the U.S. economy will need to return many of the jobs displaced by rising trade deficits out of non-tradable and into tradable industries. Moving millions of workers back and forth between sectors is no mean trick, and accomplishing it without a recession in between will be hard; trying to do it after another couple of years of deficit growth—and an even more lopsided U.S. economy—will be even harder.

In short, while aggregate employment in the United States may well not respond job-for-job with the numbers reported in this paper on trade deficits with China, these numbers provide insight into how much harder other macroeconomic influences have to work to eliminate the employment drag from these deficits, and they provide a good (and ominous) measure of how lopsided employment growth in the U.S. economy has become owing to the unbalanced U.S.-China trade relationship.

Conclusion

The growing U.S. trade deficit with China has displaced huge numbers of jobs in the United States, and been a prime contributor to the crisis in manufacturing employment over the past six years. The current U.S.-China trade relationship is bad for both countries. The United States is piling up foreign debt, losing export capacity, and facing a more fragile macroeconomic environment. Meanwhile, China has become dependent on the U.S. consumer market for employment generation, has suppressed the purchasing power of its own middle class with a weak currency, and, most importantly, has held hundreds of billions of hard-currency reserves in low-yielding, risky assets, instead of investing them in public goods that could benefit Chinese households. Its repression of labor rights has suppressed wages, thus subsidizing its exports and making them artificially cheap. This relationship needs a fundamental change: addressing the exchange rate policies and labor standards issues in the Chinese economy are important first steps.

April 2007

The author thanks Lauren Marra for her research assistance

and Josh Bivens and Ross Eisenbrey for comments.

This research was made possible by generous support

from the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Michigan, NY, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Mass., Missouri, Penn., New Jersey, & Louisiana to Lose Congressional Seats.

In POLITICS TODAY on December 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Monday, 12/27/2010

Our nation’s Rust Belt, also known as the Manufacturing Belt or the Factory Belt, is an area in parts of the Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic States, and portions of the eastern Midwest.  Due to our nation’s severe economic downturn, these cities have suffered stark unemployment numbers and seen many of its residents pack up and leave.

2010 census figures reveal states in much of the Midwest and Northeast have been overshadowed in population growth by the South and West.  Due to these dismal population figures, some of these Rust-Belt states will lose political clout along with their ability to attract government money and jobs.

Michigan, the only American state to suffer a population decline over the past decade, is now surrounded by a region with feeble growth rate of 3 percent in the Northeast and 4 percent in the Midwest.  Our nation’s Southern and West regions would see growth rate results 4 times larger than our Northeast and Midwest.

Louisiana, one of 10 states to lose a Congressional seat due to census rules, is the only state losing a House seat that is not in the Midwest or Northeast.

Ohio and New York will forfeit two seats each. Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each lose one.

With New York’s House delegation declining to 27 members, this will be the smallest NY delegation since 1823.

Terry Jones, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, stated that a lack of Congressional clout can affect the region’s economy including farm subsidies, mileage standards for Detroit’s automobiles, and even the location of military installations and awarding of defense contracts.

With more than 140 federal programs, created to distribute money according to census data, these Northern states may not be able to depend on available cash for highway construction, housing loans, education, unemployment insurance, health care and more.

There is a bureaucratic glimmer of hope for Michigan.  Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan will be a leader on the Ways and Means Committee, and Sander Levin, also of Michigan, will be the committee’s ranking democrat.  The Energy and Commerce panel, an influential group, will be headed by Michigan republican Fred Upton.

“If you had a choice between having 10 more seats overall but no chairmanships, or having fewer seats but the ability to set the agenda on some of the most powerful committees in the House, you might well pick the latter,” Ornstein said.

“Public officials can’t do anything about the weather, but they can improve the business climate”, said Dana Johnson, Chicago-based chief economist for Comerica Bank.

“The reality is that businesses have tended to move to parts of the country where regulation is less intense, taxes can be lower and the union tradition is less prevalent,” Johnson said.

San Fran to Enact New Law Requiring City Project Contractors to Hire Locally.

In POLITICS TODAY on December 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

It's a long way down...

Monday, 12/27/10

Recently approving a new law, requiring restaurant kids’ meals to meet certain nutritional standards before they could be sold with toys, San Francisco takes another step towards “new-age” legislation.

With this new ordinance surviving a veto from Mayor Gavin Newsome, San Fran prepares to enact a law requiring its officials to hire locally.  If a city-financed construction project is worth $400,000 or more, the city is required to hire at least 20 percent of their worker’s from San Francisco.  The 20 percent requirement will increase by 5 percent with each incoming year until the number reaches 50 percent in 2017.  If the law is not applied to the city’s contracts, the contractors will be forced to pay penalties.

Two major city-financed projects in San Mateo County, including improvements to San Francisco International Airport and San Francisco’s water system, have been exempted from the new law.

If Mayor Gavin Newsom would have chosen to veto the measure Thursday, the Board of Supervisors’ vote of 8-3 had enough support to override it.

Mr. Newsom, in a letter to city Supervisors, said the city should work with its neighbors.  The letter was meant to express his concerns regarding the unemployed residents of neighboring San Mateo County.

San Mateo County leaders expressed their appreciation for Mr. Newsom’s effort but stated a veto would have sent a stronger message.

Net Neutrality aka Pandora’s Box

In CONTROVERSY, POLITICS TODAY on December 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

12/23/10

Did you tell the World Wide Web thank you today?  Or did you peer through your favorite blog, and totally take your world wired web for granted.  If you are guilty of taking the dub dub dub for granted, hear this…  There are forces, i.e. America’s largest communications corporations, that are lobbying their way into the Federal Communications Commission’s eyes and ears and they’ve been visiting heavily since 2005.

These corporations are attempting to alter a system and a concept that we all interact with on a daily basis.  The lobbying attempts of these corporations cannot and must not be ignored because of the simple fact that the FCC, this week, recently held a vote to change rules concerning net neutrality and the ways in which your internet is governed, broadband speeds are determined, denial of access to certain websites, slowing down public websites, and leaving small business internet providers unable to compete.

😦 OMG WTF Not ROTFLMAO

We easily take for granted the speed at which our internet operates.  Whether your provider is a massive corporate or a small business, through the internet you are able to utilize free speech, participate democratically, and you are able to use any equipment, content, application, or service without interference from the network provider.  Internet providers are not allowed to discriminate between certain content and applications online.

For the sake of being innovative today, let’s call these internet user rights “E-Ethics”.  These E-Ethics are the very concept of net neutrality.  It is these previously stated internet user rights or E-Ethics that form the foundation of an honestly preserved free and open Internet.  With this sound foundation of protection in place, the network is only needed to move data and not given the pleasure of determining which sites or data is able to receive a higher quality of service.

AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are huge contributors to the “reform net neutrality” movement.  These corporations, if given their way, would like to decide what websites receive certain speeds and what websites should load at all.

Content providers would be charged for a faster delivery speed and they could force internet traffic through their own search engines, internet phone services, and streaming video.  Imagine “Alice in Wonderland” directed by Tim Burton, Verizon Wireless, and Justin Bieber.

The internet would basically turn into a gridlocked one lane highway, with a ten lane highway next to it, but the ten lane highway costs an arm and a leg to travel on.  You’d pretty much feel like you were on Netscape again or still receiving those AOL upgrade disks by mail every two days.

This week’s FCC vote was held in order to enact new rules to be applied to help keep net neutrality intact.  The vote resulted to a narrow margin of three in support of the new rules implementation and two against.  It was a narrow victory, to say the least.

It looks like our country’s major communication corporations are ready to get their hands in another cookie jar.  No pun intended.  Jokes aside, we better chalk up net neutrality as a given and tenaciously add, passing a net neutrality law, to the “To-Do” list for our incoming 112th Congress.

It’s your web, so this fight will be left up to you.  Keep your eye on it though, it’s quite a doozy.

If Americans are able to be so easily terrified of a “government take-over” of anything, I don’t see us allowing a corporate take-over of our internet system, although I must say in the defense of our naïveté, we did just recently sign a corporate take-over of our nation’s health care system into law so…..

2010 U.S. Census results have been calculated. Read ‘em and Weep.

In POLITICS TODAY on December 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Everything's Bigger in TEXAS

Tuesday 12/21/10

50 million doors needed to be knocked on and if some of those people were not home, at the time, someone would have to make a re-turn visit.  Seems overwhelming but with a little bit of good old-fashioned “stick-to-it-ness” and a little bit of avoiding “government take-over” fearing “over-reactors”, the U.S. Census Bureau was recently able to calculate their results for the 2010 Census.  The Census’ results place the official population of the United States to be 308,745,538.

The 2010 Census also provides numbers that prove America’s once-booming population growth has reached its lowest level in 7 decades.  America’s population growth is currently at its lowest since 1940, i.e. The Great Depression that decreased the population growth rate by more than half, to 7.3 percent.

The new 2010 Census numbers of April 2010, show a 9.7 percent increase over the 2000 census, compared to 281.4 million residents in 2000.

The Census figures not only help our government calculate “fun facts” like these, but also will be used to redraw the 435 United States House Congressional districts among our 50 states.  The dominant party of each state redraws the election map that will provide our country’s political landscape for the next 10 years.

France and England witnessed increases of roughly 5 percent over the past decade.   Japan’s number stayed relatively the same while Germany saw a decline in population.  China, our global economy’s “Rookie of the Year” displayed a rise in population of 6 percent while Canada’s exhibits a growth rate of 10 percent.

The economic break down we’ve experienced, since 2000, is forced to play a major role in affecting the results of the Census.  Not only does an economic depression stunt the growth of the nation’s families it also causes a drop in illegal migration.  The Census records all those living in America, both legally and illegally.  I hope some in power don’t view an imposed economic recession as a solution to ignoring logical and rational immigration reform.   

California (37,253,956) is our nation’s most populous state, our least populous, Wyoming (563,626).

Texas (up 4,293,741 to 25,145,561) leads our nation in the ranks of numerical population growth, while Nevada acquired the largest percentage growth of any state, (up 35 percent to 2,700,551).

Texas looks to gain four Congressional House seats due to a growing Hispanic population and a diverse economic environment that held up relatively well during the recession, aside from Harris County’s 8.8% un-employment rate that has doubled since 2008 and now sits higher than the its own un-employment rate of 8.3% in June of 1993.

Other states that will gain House seats include: winners are Arizona (1), Florida (2), Georgia (1), South Carolina (1), Utah (1) and Washington (1).

States losing House seats are: Illinois (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), New York (2), Ohio (2), and Pennsylvania (1).

With Ohio and New York losing seats, this will pose a 2012 campaign challenge for President Obama, seeing as how these were democratic strongholds carried by Obama in 2008 that now show declines in his political influence.

California, for the first time in U.S. political history will fail to gain a House seat after a census, due to its lag in population growth.  We can’t blame that on the rain, so we must blame that also on our economic recession.

These population numbers are the first set of numbers to be released for the 2010 Census results.  The Census Bureau plans to release population and race breakdowns, affecting the neighborhood level, in February.  It is these February neighborhood numbers that will be used for states to redraw all current congressional boundaries.

The 2010 census results will also be used to distribute more than $400 billion in annual federal aid and will change each state’s Electoral College votes beginning in the 2012 presidential election.

Who knew a legislatively allowed breakdown of corporate business ethics and morality would cause a massive recession/depression that would halt our country’s growth, both economically and physically?  Wait, we all knew that already.

DON’T ASK DON’T TELL is now DO ASK DO TELL

In POLITICS TODAY on December 20, 2010 at 6:00 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Do, Ask, Do Tell

Monday, 12/20/10

Looks like you’re not the only person working over-time this holiday season.  The Congress and Senate of your nation’s capital have facilitated the passage of one of our most controversial and publicized political issues, the repeal of the ban on gays in the military, ending the United States Military’s 17-year old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

President Barack Obama, campaigning on this very issue in 2008, seems likely to sign the bill into law.  The 111th Congress will take credit for the work as the 112th Congress is ushered into office on January 3rd of the approaching New Year.     

Upon the Senate republican’s recent blocking of the bill’s advancement, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was thought to have no hope for passage before the year’s end. 

Saturday, a vote for “cloture” or a vote to close debate on DADT repeal was reached within the Senate, blocking a republican filibuster just hours before the bill’s final vote for passage.  The republicans would need 41 votes to allow a filibuster to delay or impede the bill’s progress.  With 6 republicans voting in favor of DADT repeal, the republicans were unable to prevent a final vote for the bill’s passage into law. 

The six republicans, stepping across their party’s political lines, included Mark Kirk of Illinois, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. 

When a final vote on the subject reached the Senate floor, two republican Senators, Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and John Ensign of Nevada, shared the viewpoint of the six republican DADT repeal supporters and would bring the total to 8 republicans voting in favor of DADT repeal.

Due to what, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, referred to as a “family gathering”, Sen. Manchin was not present for the vote and on those grounds a vote of “against” was cast for his seat.  Senator Manchin’s “NO” vote would be the only “against” vote cast by the Senate democrats.

Saturday’s Senate vote of 65 “for” and 31 “against” marked a historic moment for the gay-rights movement.  Some choose to view the DADT repeal’s passage as a political victory for President Obama.  With Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay all allowing gays to serve in their military forces,  some others choose to view the bill’s passage as a victory for 21st century common-sense in American politics.

Citigroup, Inc. continues to write memos and WE don’t READ them. Take a look, unless you’re too busy being Rich.

In POLITICS TODAY on December 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm

By: Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Maybe the 70's weren't that bad?

Friday, 12/17/10

The following are excerpts taken from a Citigroup, Inc. memo, distributed within its ranks in 2006.  Citigroup entitled the original memo, “Revisiting Plutonomy” in 2005.  As you read the contents of the “Part 2” extension to the the 2005 memo please keep in mind, the word “plutonomy” is a newly created word.  The word “plutonomy” was created by the very author or authors of the original 2005 Citigroup memo.  As I write this entry and type the word plutonomy into my laptop’s keyboard, the word processing program refuses to recognize plutonomy as a word found in the English language.

The authors of this memo believe the word plutonomy to be defined as:

  • Economic growth that is powered and consumed by the wealthiest upper class of society. Plutonomy refers to a society where the majority of the wealth is controlled by an ever-shrinking minority; as such, the economic growth of that society becomes dependent on the fortunes of that same wealthy minority.   

Plutonomy, is being used by Citigroup, Inc. as a “gentle” word to explain the incredible growth of the U.S. economy during a period of increasing interest rates, commodity prices and an inflated national debt.  Citigroup analysts believe if an economy continues to grow in the face of hardships and economic struggle for its middle and lower class citizens, the more important the ultra-rich of our country become and thus will be expected to control all commerce and maintain such growth.  Citigroup believes the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and China are all becoming plutonomies.

The word that actually does exist and is very similar to the coined phrase “plutonomy” is the word Plutocracy.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, Plutocracy is defined as-

  • Plu`toc´ra`cy

n. 1. A form of government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the wealthy classes; government by the rich; also, a controlling or influential class of rich men.

Our United States of America was founded by men who were attempting to create a constitution that would prevent a Plutocracy from becoming our nation’s ruling class.  Our founding fathers, some political heretics are so willing to exploit, believed the United States of America would be a land, for the people, by the people.

 It was once noted, in a European courtyard in the later years of Benjamin Franklin’s life, he approached a group of men in Europe who were involved in an argument that concerned who would claim the throne after their King’s recent death.  Benjamin Franklin was heard to say, “In America, the people govern themselves.”  Does this still ring true today? 

Citigroup’s so-called “plutonomy” is the inner-core of the wrecking ball that has been used to demolish the present- day American middle class.  The concept of a functioning and legislatively supported “Plutonomy” is the anti-thesis to our beloved and hallowed United States Constitution and, until it is addressed, will continue to exist as a dark stain that only hinders and is the enemy to any progress for the betterment of the working class American citizen, for our nation’s days to come.

Citigroup Mar 5 2006 Plutonomy Report Part 2:

Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer

“Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks. For example, a policy error leading to asset deflation would likely damage plutonomy. Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfranchisement remains as was — one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation on the rich (or indirectly through higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous [home-grown] laborers, in a push-back on globalization — either anti-immigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However we are keeping a close eye on developments”

The memo goes on to state…

“Our thesis is that the rich are the dominant drivers of demand in many economies around the world (the US, UK, Canada and Australia). These economies have seen the rich take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years, to the extent that the rich now dominate income, wealth and spending in these countries.

“Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper and become a greater share of the economy in the plutonomy countries.

“Also, new media dissemination technologies like internet downloading, cable and satellite TV have disproportionately increased the audiences, and hence gains to “superstars” – think golf, soccer and baseball players, music/TV and movie icons, fashion models, designers, celebrity chefs, etc.

“These ‘content’ providers, the tech whizzes who own the pipes and distribution, the lawyers and bankers who intermediate globalization and productivity, the CEOs who lead the charge in converting globalization and technology to increase the profit share of the economy at the expense of labor, all contribute to plutonomy.

Citigroup then gives us some hope for the future…

“Despite being in great shape, we think that global capitalists are going to be getting an even greater share of the wealth pie over the next few years, as capitalists benefit disproportionately from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor. As we believe plutonomy explains away some of the conundrums [low consumer confidence, high consumption, low savings rates, etc.].”

No Health Care for 9/11 Rescuers; To: 9/11 Rescue Workers From: The Republican Party “Happy Holidays”

In POLITICS TODAY on December 17, 2010 at 5:51 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Who would have ever thought it would come to this?

Friday, 12/17/10

On Wednesday, the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was presented to our Senate.  The Republican Party chose to filibuster the bill, blocking an end to the Senate’s debate.  Closing debate would provide the path to a vote final vote on the bill that, if passed, would provide health care to the 9/11 first responders whom selflessly put their lives in danger’s path to rescue survivors and tirelessly sift through the remains of what is referred to and still resembles “ground zero”.

The bill is named in reference to James Zadroga.  Zadroga was a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer who died of a respiratory disease that has been attributed to his participation in rescue and recovery operations in the rubble of the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks. Zadroga was the first NYPD officer whose death was attributed to exposure to his contact with toxic chemicals at the attack site.

Zadroga had joined the New York City Police Department in 1992 and attained the rank of Detective. He was a healthy non-smoker and had no known history of asthma or other respiratory conditions before spending 450 hours participating in the recovery efforts at the 9/11 attack site.  Weeks after his time at the World Trade Center site, Zadroga developed a persistent cough, and, as the months progressed, he developed shortness of breath and became unable to walk distances more than 100 feet without gasping for air.

Like Zadroga, many 9/11 rescuers have have suffered numerous health complications, most noted as being relatively healthy before the World Trade Center collapse.  Some 9/11 first responders have died due to disease and health complications that were not an issue in their lives prior to 9/11.

The Republican caucus has decided the bill should not be voted on as of now and would prefer the vote to be held with the introduction of the new 112th Congress arriving after the New Year.  This is also obvious due to the fact the Republican Party as a whole has agreed to vote on no other issue other than the new Bush Tax Cut compromise.  The Republican Party was even inclined to put this statement in writing.

The Republicans insist on complaining about the cost of the 9/11 health care bill.  Supporters of the 9/11 bill note the bill’s $7.4 billion dollar price tag is paid for by eliminated tax loopholes for foreign companies operating in the United States.  The funds allocated from these tax loopholes would be used to fund the bill.

60 Senate votes were needed to close debate on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  The recorded votes were as follows; 57 voted “for”, 42 voted “against”

56 Senators are Democrats

42 Senators are Republicans

2 Senators are Independents

Since the Senate allows unlimited discussion and debate on any issue, it requires a 60 Senator vote for a vote of “cloture” or a vote to end debate.  With the republicans in a locked position and a locked vote on every issue, the democrats are stalled and helpless as the Senate majority.  The republicans, in their permanent solidarity since the inauguration of our current president, have managed to halt the progress of any bill or concept presented to our government’s Senate.  By applying simple math to the numbers given above, one can easily understand why our government’s legislative decision making processes have ceased.

In order to stop the democrats’ possible “tyranny by the majority” the republicans have decided to obstruct any progress by filibustering or threatening a filibuster of any legislation brought before the Senate.  The republican answer to a possible “tyranny by the majority” is a ‘tyranny by the minority”.

This is prolifically unconstructive and non-productive.  The only group to feel the pain caused by this stalling of our legislative system is and will only be the American people.

The simple math, applied to the numbers above, explains why truly positive or tangible changes have not been made to the laws and programs that are needed and necessary to repair or improve our country’s current status and our nation’s challenging days to come.

In 2011 the taxes for those individuals making under $20,000 a year will be raised and families making under $40,000 will also receive a raise in their taxes.  It is with those tax revenues taken from the poorest of Americans, our President, Congress, and Senate believe our $12 trillion dollar national debt can be managed and avoided for the next year.

In the midst of our current recession, arguably the greatest trauma to affect the American citizen as a whole since World War II, our leaders feel it is not appropriate to tax anyone other than the poorest of our citizenry.  Even as Americans pay less in taxes than they did under former President Bill Clinton.

There is no blame for me to place.  The blame is on us all. From the President all the way down to the dishwasher.  Everyone has contributed, in some way, to our current status.  Whether it be, through selfishness, ignorance, tolerance, complacency, taking our country for granted, taking our lives for granted, whatever the case maybe.  Until the American people are respected and not ignored by our nation’s leaders, we are all guilty of handing over our country and government to displaced and disconnected men and women in blue and red neckties and blouses.

The only winners in America this year were the Bush Tax Cuts, medical insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, outsourced businesses, our nation’s 4 largest banks, Wall St. bankers, hedge fund operators, and our nation’s Athletes.

In 2010, the only loser was the American Citizen.

When the bill was defeated in Congress, back in July, democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner chose to share these words with his fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen.

School Board Shooting, Panama City, Florida, USA

In POLITICS TODAY on December 17, 2010 at 3:34 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Friday 12/17/10

December 14, a day like any other for Panama City Florida’s school board.  Superintendent Bill Husfelt and the board members whom sit alongside him conduct school board business and protocol in their normal fashion.  Of the 48 seats, in the first three rows of chairs available for the public, six concerned citizens listen as the day’s current school board business is being handled.

Bill Husfelt, the district’s current Superintendent, refers to a chart as he flips through the pages of a large book in front of him.  He is speaking to someone in the chamber regarding, I presume, a recent question or statement that has been presented to him.

Husfelt states into the microphone something along the lines of, “…and for the e-technology, to notice, it’s on the chart that you have there and it’s part of the plan we have that works with what we have that’s gonna follow this meeting, but uh, this will be the first step in that process”.

It is then at that very moment Mr. Husfelt’s life and the lives of those whom had joined him in the chamber that day would never be the same again.

A large man then approaches the microphone and podium, provided for the public speakers, and calmly says, “I have a motion.”  He then proceeds to spray paint a large red V, surrounded by a circle, on the wall behind the podium.   The “circled V” is a reference to a graphic novel, recently adapted and released as a major motion picture in 2006.  The main character is a mysterious revolutionary who calls himself “V” and works to destroy the totalitarian government.

The large calm man, Clay Duke, who suffers from a bi-polar disorder, then pulls out a pistol that was concealed until this point.  The crowd shrieks and gasps as he states, “Anyone who is not behind this desk here, needs to leave”.  Ginger Littleton, a school board member, begins to leave the room and decides to walk back into the chamber and sneak-up behind the gunman, attempting to disarm him with her purse.  The attempt is unsuccessful.  Littleton screams in fear as she collapses to the floor.  Reports have stated, he then refers to the woman as a  -stupid bitch,  I am unable to confirm this.  The gunman, probably seeing the face of his own wife inside the woman’s terror, tells the awkwardly brave woman to leave the room.  Ginger Littleton rises to her feet, stands for a moment in awe, gathers herself and proceeds to calmly walk out of the room.

Clay Duke’s wife, an unemployed teacher, has recently received her last unemployment check.  With his troubled past and prior conviction, served time in Prison for shooting his ex-wife’s tires out, while wearing a mask in 1999, Clay Duke sees no future for himself in sight.  He proclaims to the room of stunned board members, “I’m gonna die today”.  These are the only clearly spoken words he will share in the chamber that day.  Clay Duke continues to speak but mumbles and jumps from topic to topic.  His wife being fired, taxes imposed by the school board, the termination of his wife’s unemployment benefits.

The security officer, Mike Jones, peeks into the chamber and exchanges a few non-threatening words with the pacing gunman.  According to reports, it is during this time, the security officer walks back to his truck to get more ammunition and his bullet-proof vest.

Of the six men sitting behind the board’s large desk, due to his constant one-on-one dialogue with the gunman, Superintendent Bill Husfelt has become Clay Duke’s center of attention.  Duke then claims that Husfelt and the school board are part of a scam.  Husfelt attempts to defuse the situation once more and it seems Duke has heard enough.  Clay Duke takes point blank aim at Bill Husfelt and fires a shot.  He then fires a shot at the floor.  A third shot, fired from the security guard, strikes Duke in the back.  Duke fires two more shots towards the desk and Duke is then struck with two other bullets in his torso.  After falling to the floor, Duke is killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

None of the six men at the desk were struck by any of the 4 bullets fired by Duke.

Clay Duke’s wife would tell reporters, her husband was a gentle man who was troubled.  She only knew he was going to try to get her some answers.  She claims, “The economy and the world just got the better of him”, speaking of her late husband.  She also stated that her husband Clay Duke was an excellent marksman whom rarely missed a shot, unless on purpose.

This following statement would be one of his last contributions to his Facebook page…

“My Testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V)… no… I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95% of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats… same-same… rich… they take turns fleecing us… our few dollars… pyramiding the wealth for themselves. The 95%… the us, in US of A, are the neo slaves of the Global South. Our Masters, the Wealthy, do, as they like to us…”

Clay Duke’s last writings included this excerpt from the poem “The Masque of Anarchy” written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819

“Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number,

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you-

Ye are many — they are few”

It’s called a “Lame Duck Session”. What did you expect?

In POLITICS TODAY on December 15, 2010 at 8:31 am

By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.

Howard is the complete opposite of a Lame Duck

Wednesday 12/15/10

It’s kinda like leap year (comes around every now and then).  Any time your Congress meets after the new incoming Congress has been elected, you’ve got yourself a “lame duck session” of Congress.  The phrase “lame duck” dates back to 18th century Britain.  The term could be used to describe bankrupt businessmen who were vulnerable due to their financial state and were similar to a game bird injured by a shot.  Around 1830 the term would evolve to describe office-holders who held a definite termination date.

Basically, before the days of the internets and the youtubes, Congress would break to prepare for elections and if nothing crazy happened in America they could relax until January 3rd if they declared this fact in advance and mutually agreed, providing the President did not demand they return to session.  Congress prefers to word this as an “adjournment sine die”.  Translated from Latin this means to adjourn “without day”.  With this, Congress is not required back into session until the day set by the Constitution, Jan. 3, (or by law) for its next session to convene.  Any time your country sits in a dismal economic state with an unemployment rate bordering 10% and a national debt towering high enough to shadow a crumbling school system, you probably do not want your Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen having photos surface of them sipping a non-alcoholic margarita and testing out the limbo stick on some Disney cruise ship. Thus, our Congress is symbolically working “over-time” as I type.

Don’t let the silly name fool you.  A lame duck session is not to be underestimated.  Let me paint you a picture of pure fact.  The year was 1998. Both the House and Senate would adjourn “sine die” on Oct. 21.  The resolution for adjournment gave authority to both the leaders of the house and senate to reconvene Congress if they deemed it so necessary.  The resolution was granted in anticipation of action to impeach President William J. Clinton.  Because of the added resolution prior to “sine die” adjournment, the House was brought back into session on December 17, 1998, to consider a resolution of impeachment (H.Res. 611).  On December 19, the House adopted Articles I and III of the resolution by votes of 228-206 and 221-212.  It then, by a vote of 228-190, adopted a resolution appointing and authorizing House managers for the Senate impeachment trial. The House then adjourned sine die.  The blue-print for the impeachment of President Clinton, one of the most publicized political ordeals of the 20th century, was constructed and implemented during a so called “lame duck” session.  Congress would go on to impeach Clinton only to be disappointed in the Senate’s vote that ruled for an acquittal.

A number of Republicans chose to publically ridicule President Clinton, during the proceedings, for his alleged adulterous actions and would later find their own selves in “hot-water” as their own personal behaviors would soon come to light. 

  • Newt Gingrich In 2007, the Majority Leader Republican leader admitted to having had an extra-marital affair at the same time that Clinton was being impeached. 
  • Henry Hyde (R-IL) Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that recommended impeachment.
  • Robert Livingston (R-LA) immediately resigned when his own affair was discovered.[12]
  • Bob Barr (R-GA) who was one of the 13 House Managers on the Judiciary Committee.[44]
  • Helen Chenoweth (R-ID),[47]
  • John Ensign (R-NV),[48]
  • Larry Craig (R-ID),[49]
  • Dan Burton (R-IN) [50]
  • Steve LaTourette(R-OH).[51]

Now before we go any further, I need to make this clear.  The motivation for my writing of this piece is to express to fact that your Congress is able to pass legislation and conduct business on any issue it deems fit while in this “lame duck session” as long as their year’s agenda was pragmatic and focused and willing to solve certain pressing issues at hand i.e. “goals with specific end terms and deadlines for decisions” or considering our Congress’ permanent lag, “getting any work done, period”. 

In a moment, the focus of this piece will shift and before it does so, I must solidify my present thought’s point of origination once more.   I am attempting to inform you, in case you are innocently unaware, that your Congress has had a slow and unproductive year.   A “mad at the driver for driving too fast towards the Piggly Wiggly” type of year (see video below).  A year swallowed-up by a health-care debate that churned out a law that has now been federally ruled as unconstitutional, months wasted trying to convince you a few “fine print changes” in credit practices were going to change the monster that is today’s  predatory credit service practices.  Your 111th Congress, who’s approval rating flails at around 19% (on a good day), has NOT shown itself to be functional or even as relevant as many other tax payer funded congresses of past years.

Focus Shift:  I am going to paint you another picture.  I will use facts as my paintbrush and our nation’s former integrity will serve as our canvass.  In other words, I’m gonna tell you what another Congress was going through in 1980.  It just sounds better, when I say it the other way. 

As I share these notes of “ancient” political history, I only ask that you seriously attempt to visualize and comprehend the stark and obnoxiously obvious similarities between the Congress of 1980 and your present Congress today.  Please note the similarities of the issues they were dealing with right around this same time of the year. 

Also, it is most important you note how the past Congress summed up the year of 1980’s legislative business and observe how it compares to the “joke” of a bi-partisan compromise, which was given to you, the American tax payer, at the conclusion of one of the most fiscally depressing years to be recorded in our civilized history.

The year was 1980.  Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate (sound familiar?).  Some in office felt postponing final congressional action on many major issues until a post-election would delay difficult pre-election votes on budget matters and would allow those in office to enjoy a longer campaign session for re-election (makes logical sense if lacking moral judgment).  Large Republican gains would result from the election (this is just getting creepy).   The major legislation issues the Congress had chosen to place on the back-burner were, budget reconciliation, several major appropriations bills, and landmark environmental legislation (it’s like a parallel universe).

What makes the Democrats of old differ from their present brethren is the fact that the lame duck Congress of November 12 thru December 16, of 1980, chose to lick their wounds and complete action on many of the issues they held “hostage” while straddling the fence to gain an easy vote for re-election.  This Congressional body, in a lame duck session, passed a budget resolution and a budget reconciliation measure; five regular appropriations bills, one was vetoed; a second resolution was approved to continue funding for other parts of the government; an Alaska lands bill and a “superfund” bill to help clean up chemical contamination (some things never change); a measure extending general revenue sharing for three years; a measure that made disposal of low-level nuclear waste a state responsibility (are you counting these with your fingers?); and changes to military pay and benefits, and authority for the President to call 100,000 military reservists to active duty without declaring a national emergency.

Issues our Congress placed on the back burner for 2011’s Congress to deal with include…

  • Health-Care coverage for 9/11 Rescue Workers whom have yet to receive help and some who have passed away due to respiratory complications and other health problems.
  • The renewal of the START Treaty, a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and Russia concerning the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, i.e. NUCLEAR WEAPONS!
  • THE DREAM ACT or a more practical path to Citizenship
  • DADT, Don’t ASK Don’t TELL
  • A major Climate Change Bill
  • Comprehensive Tax-Reform
  • Revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement

The spooky similar parallels aside, all this, all these items, all these legislative changes were brought to the table and passed and Americans at that time were able to witness first hand, the gears that made our great country function in a proper legislative manor.  I say this hoping you did the math as I mentioned the dates and you realize this “lame duck” congress was only in session for a few days longer than one month.

Remember this information as your Senate most likely, and I mean 99.9% most likely, approves this “troll” of a tax extension compromise.  Remember this info while your Congress, both Republican and Democrat, claim this “shiny rotten apple” of a tax-lien being placed upon our national debt to be President Obama’s fault and idea.  Once again, I refer to my own personally coined affirmation, “I am no Rocket-Scientist, but Politics is not Rocket-Science”.  I say this meaning it is recorded fact, the completion of Congressional action on appropriations and the budget has been the focused task for most lame duck sessions in recent years including 1974, 1980, 1982, 2000, and 2004.  If this is true, which it is, what could cause you to not believe or comprehend the fact, your 111th United States Congress played you and your fellow Americans like a game of (insert your favorite game here).

With this being said it seems, in my humbly rational and logical process of thought, your Congress knew there was no chance of your President not stepping in and intervening to clean up the non-compromising and morally unsound mess they had made.  It was not your President’s responsibility to form this “cow-pie” of legislation.  Just as they did in 1980, your Congress chose to play it safe and wait for the mid-term elections to pass while you, the very people paying them to perform and act, lay in the grasp of massive homeowner foreclosure, a staggering unemployment rate, 0% job creation, a $12 trillion national debt, 50 million American citizens living with chronic pain, and an embarrassingly severe deteriorating infrastructure.  How convenient it must be to dodge the issues that affect the American people, wait for the President to scrape-up a solution, and then blame the short-comings of the presented solution on the President in the process, and do this all while receiving a salary earning more a year than 90% of the very people who pay your wages. 

I now realize why “Dancing with the Stars” is such a popular television program.  In our present-day America; who wouldn’t want to Dance with the Stars?  Especially, when your only other option is to Tango with your Reality.

If your still with me.  Just allow me a few more moments in order to blow your mind.  If you have time, please watch the provided, “Driving Ms. Daisy” movie trailer (which I’m sure you’ve seen).  I am asking you to please watch it once more and imagine Miss Daisy as the Republican Party and imagine Morgan Freeman as the Democratic Party.  If you can do this, the movie trailer will basicaly show you what happened all year in your United States Congress.  Give it a try, please.

Dan Akroyd as Obama, Freeman as the Democrats, and Tandy as the Republicans