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 The Working Poor

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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:35 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
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I hadn't thought of a global depression - isn't this where social welfare came from the first day? From the Great Depression? I know it arose in Sweden but was it because of the Great Depression?

I once attended a great lecture by a professor of Modern History from Columbia University, New York on the fact that the Welfare State (referring mainly to Britain) was important now more than ever before. In the post war period the Welfare State served to keep society from revolution. Even if society is poor and jobs rare, you will at least stablise it if you provide for people's basic needs.

The argument of public security, stability and public health is just as strong for a Welfare State as is human conscience or moral obligation.
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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:41 pm

johnfás wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
.

I hadn't thought of a global depression - isn't this where social welfare came from the first day? From the Great Depression? I know it arose in Sweden but was it because of the Great Depression?

I once attended a great lecture by a professor of Modern History from Columbia University, New York on the fact that the Welfare State (referring mainly to Britain) was important now more than ever before. In the post war period the Welfare State served to keep society from revolution. Even if society is poor and jobs rare, you will at least stablise it if you provide for people's basic needs.

The argument of public security, stability and public health is just as strong for a Welfare State as is human conscience or moral obligation.

THere is also the idea of the "Reserve army of labour" - that capitalism needs a pool of able bodied workers to draw on and to keep wages down (threat of dole queue).

The postwar Welfare State was both a soft measure (roll with the punches) to stop Communist governments coming to power and also I think because a lot of people genuinely believed it was possible to reform capitalism to guarantee workers a decent life.
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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:46 pm

Paul krugman wrote the following in 2005. it's scarily prescient!

Losing Our Country
SYNOPSIS:

Baby boomers like me grew up in a relatively equal society. In the 1960's America was a place in which very few people were extremely wealthy, many blue-collar workers earned wages that placed them comfortably in the middle class, and working families could expect steadily rising living standards and a reasonable degree of economic security.
But as The Times's series on class in America reminds us, that was another country. The middle-class society I grew up in no longer exists.
Working families have seen little if any progress over the past 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, the income of the median family doubled between 1947 and 1973. But it rose only 22 percent from 1973 to 2003, and much of that gain was the result of wives' entering the paid labor force or working longer hours, not rising wages.
Meanwhile, economic security is a thing of the past: year-to-year fluctuations in the incomes of working families are far larger than they were a generation ago. All it takes is a bit of bad luck in employment or health to plunge a family that seems solidly middle-class into poverty.
But the wealthy have done very well indeed. Since 1973 the average income of the top 1 percent of Americans has doubled, and the income of the top 0.1 percent has tripled.
Why is this happening? I'll have more to say on that another day, but for now let me just point out that middle-class America didn't emerge by accident. It was created by what has been called the Great Compression of incomes that took place during World War II, and sustained for a generation by social norms that favored equality, strong labor unions and progressive taxation. Since the 1970's, all of those sustaining forces have lost their power.
Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy "reform" that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era.
It's not a pretty picture - which is why right-wing partisans try so hard to discredit anyone who tries to explain to the public what's going on.
These partisans rely in part on obfuscation: shaping, slicing and selectively presenting data in an attempt to mislead. For example, it's a plain fact that the Bush tax cuts heavily favor the rich, especially those who derive most of their income from inherited wealth. Yet this year's Economic Report of the President, in a bravura demonstration of how to lie with statistics, claimed that the cuts "increased the overall progressivity of the federal tax system."
The partisans also rely in part on scare tactics, insisting that any attempt to limit inequality would undermine economic incentives and reduce all of us to shared misery. That claim ignores the fact of U.S. economic success after World War II. It also ignores the lesson we should have learned from recent corporate scandals: sometimes the prospect of great wealth for those who succeed provides an incentive not for high performance, but for fraud.
Above all, the partisans engage in name-calling. To suggest that sustaining programs like Social Security, which protects working Americans from economic risk, should have priority over tax cuts for the rich is to practice "class warfare." To show concern over the growing inequality is to engage in the "politics of envy."
But the real reasons to worry about the explosion of inequality since the 1970's have nothing to do with envy. The fact is that working families aren't sharing in the economy's growth, and face growing economic insecurity. And there's good reason to believe that a society in which most people can reasonably be considered middle class is a better society - and more likely to be a functioning democracy - than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty.
Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.
Originally published in The New York Times, 6.10.05
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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:00 pm

Interesting stuff Zakalwe. J.K. Galbraith writing about the crash of 1929 said that extreme income disparity - concentration of too much wealth in the hands of the few, was one of the causes of the Crash and the Great Depression.

A lot of people in Ireland managed to get out of poverty in the last ten years without active Unions because there was a labour shortage. We would be well advised to join them now, even though wage increases aren't what is at stake at this stage.
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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:35 pm

'Tis all falling on deaf ears and blind eyes imho. The economic models being adopted essentially rely on a coterie of big businesses allied and intertwined with government policies to generate wealth, along with a boat load of debt for the average consumer. Governments in the West, by and large, don't view themselves as gaurdians of societies but as economic partners with the business community. If a policy suits the business community and enough fringe benefits, jobs etc., are generated to get a particular party re-elected then that is the policies a government will pursue. Their goal are short term. Their focus limited.

The economies of scale required by an upstart entrepeneur, barring some fantasticly new idea, are now so huge as to make it impossible for the small upstart to compete. A best, the start up needs to find a niche that the big boyos don't want. This is why Ryan Air and the fella who does mobiles in the Caribbean (spelling?) are somewhat startling. OK the Caribbean fella had to go to market that the big corps didn't tackel but he still had to have the vision and the Euros to back his plans. Ryan may have had some protection back in the 80's when Ireland was an economic backwater but that doesn't take away from the ruthlessness of his plans and business model. Loath or hate the guy, he still produced the goods. I won't like to work for him though.

Tbh, I don't see anything changing. The stats will continued to be massaged. The consumer will be encourage to load up on debt as the consumer represents about 70% of all spending in most Western economies. Commodities price will ebb and flow but in the long term an economic conflict is brewing over resource allocation. More tax cuts for large corps will be in the pipeline as these corps require ever more capital to compete on the world stage.

And I was reading in The Investors Chronicle last night where the sober Germans have invested heavily in funds that invest in property across Europe. Guess what, the funds are loaded with debt to the eyeballs with rental incomes in the single digits compared to the debt servicing requirements. As a result the funds have been dramatically downgraded. Makes you wonder where the super rich are going to invest their assets in the future.
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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:13 pm

rockyracoon wrote:
'Tis all falling on deaf ears and blind eyes imho. The economic models being adopted essentially rely on a coterie of big businesses allied and intertwined with government policies to generate wealth, along with a boat load of debt for the average consumer. Governments in the West, by and large, don't view themselves as gaurdians of societies but as economic partners with the business community. If a policy suits the business community and enough fringe benefits, jobs etc., are generated to get a particular party re-elected then that is the policies a government will pursue. Their goal are short term. Their focus limited.

The economies of scale required by an upstart entrepeneur, barring some fantasticly new idea, are now so huge as to make it impossible for the small upstart to compete. A best, the start up needs to find a niche that the big boyos don't want. This is why Ryan Air and the fella who does mobiles in the Caribbean (spelling?) are somewhat startling. OK the Caribbean fella had to go to market that the big corps didn't tackel but he still had to have the vision and the Euros to back his plans. Ryan may have had some protection back in the 80's when Ireland was an economic backwater but that doesn't take away from the ruthlessness of his plans and business model. Loath or hate the guy, he still produced the goods. I won't like to work for him though.

Tbh, I don't see anything changing. The stats will continued to be massaged. The consumer will be encourage to load up on debt as the consumer represents about 70% of all spending in most Western economies. Commodities price will ebb and flow but in the long term an economic conflict is brewing over resource allocation. More tax cuts for large corps will be in the pipeline as these corps require ever more capital to compete on the world stage.

And I was reading in The Investors Chronicle last night where the sober Germans have invested heavily in funds that invest in property across Europe. Guess what, the funds are loaded with debt to the eyeballs with rental incomes in the single digits compared to the debt servicing requirements. As a result the funds have been dramatically downgraded. Makes you wonder where the super rich are going to invest their assets in the future.

Every time there is a crisis doesn't it seem to concentrate the wealth into fewer hands - Bear Stearns for example ? Those who have liquidity will mop up those who don't for a fraction of what people thought they were worth.

The middle classes in Europe and America have to some extent had the lives they have had a the expense of natural resources removed from undeveloped countries for small money. That isn't so easy now with competition from the east and with the oil crunch. If what we are going to do with our money is buy a house on a hill in Leitrim and leave it empty, then we would have been better off not having it in the first place. Maybe we need to live a bit more simply and equally.
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PostSubject: Re: The Working Poor   Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:27 pm

cactus flower wrote:


Have been looking for some up to date stats:

This is fascinating stuff Ard Taoiseach - http://www.cso.ie/newsevents/pressrelease_measuringirelandsprogress2007.htm

It is. The CSO do great work in that regard. I really like reading through it and finding out how Ireland is getting better, faster and stronger.

Quote :
Ireland was performing very strongly in terms of employment and GDP/GNP but still this:

Quote :
6.9% of persons in Ireland were in consistent poverty in 2006 (Table 4.6). 22.8% of unemployed persons were in consistent poverty (Graph 4.7).
The proportion of Irish people at risk of poverty, after pensions and social transfer payments were taken into account, was 18% in 2006. This was above the EU 25 average of 16%. The effect of pension transfers on reducing the at-risk-of-poverty rate was low in Ireland compared with other EU 27 countries (Table 4.4).

I don't understand the pension stuff.

It's high, but I'd like to see how they actually arrived at the poverty figures and are the relatable to EU figures. I think the pension stuff means that the transfer payments from the government to pensioners reduce the level of poverty they experience by raising their income level.
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