Part Three

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Part Three

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Sat May 04, 2013 3:59 am



That sucking sound is your money and your job being pulled offshore. That continues without relief as if the recession was not happening. We remain in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. Or as some suggest this is new normal. The Labor Department reports that 165,000 new jobs were created in April -- below the average gains of 183,000 in the previous three months. Perhaps because congress is actually working to destroy the working class in the United States.

We can't achieve escape velocity. It is obvious that we must shed some burdens that are holding us down. Since mid-2010, the three-month rolling average of job gains hasn't dipped below 100,000 but has exceeded 250,000 jobs just twice. Yep, we have been flattened.

This isn't enough to ease the backlog of at least 3 million (estimates range up to 8 million) job losses since 2007, just before the Great Recession began. (And as I'll point out in a moment, 2007 wasn't exactly jobs nirvana.) Don’t forget about the sucking sound. Moreover, most of the new jobs now being created pay less than the ones that were lost.

What's wrong? For one thing the sucking phenomena is a thing that could be corrected but is being protected instead.

The Jobs news is bad. If you feel the economic recovery hasn't helped your pocketbook much, it's not just your imagination. In the world of wages nothing good has happened. If the top 2% have their way nothing good will happen for the working class, ever again.

The annual wages of the bottom 90 percent of workers declined by 1.2 percent between 2009 and 2011 when adjusted for inflation, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Meanwhile, the top one percent's wages rose 8.2 percent during the same time period by the same measure. The top one percent made money even while the recession flattened the rest of us.

The richest Americans have benefited the most from the economic recovery so far. The top one percent captured 93 percent of all income gains during the first full year of the economic recovery (2010), according to a study by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. That was largely due to the fact that rich people hold most stocks, and the stock market has rebounded strongly since the recession. The new report from the Economic Policy Institute signals that wages also have recovered for the rich.

The rich have been gaining far more economic ground than the rest of the country for decades, as demonstrated in this graph from the Economic Policy Institute:

The very wealthy cannot continue to succeed without a broader-based prosperity. That's because 70 percent of economic activity in America, is consumer spending. If the bottom 90 percent of Americans are becoming poorer, they're less able to spend. Without their spending, the economy can't get out of first gear. That's a big reason why the recovery continues to be anemic, and why the International Monetary Fund just lowered its estimate for U.S. growth in 2013 to just 2 percent.

We have a lopsided economy as the middle class is being deliberately eliminated. Almost a quarter of all jobs in America now pay wages below the poverty line for a family of four. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 7 out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage -- like serving customers at big-box retailers and fast-food chains.

The question is if this trend continues, who's going to buy all the goods and services America is capable of producing? We can't return to the kind of debt-financed consumption that caused the bubble in the first place. We need a real solution. The problem is driven from off shore. We need an expanded awareness.

It's not a zero-sum game. Wealthy Americans would do better with smaller shares of a rapidly-growing economy than with the large shares they now possess of an economy that's barely moving. This condition is being driven by global trade policies that do not work to the advantage of the working class but do reward the wealthiest Americans. Cheap labor offshore is not good for the majority of Americans.

That is what’s wrong. There is more.

First, government is doing exactly the opposite of what it should be doing. It raised payroll taxes in January (ending the temporary tax holiday), thereby reducing the incomes of the typical family by about $1,000 this year. This will slow the economy. This was a mistake.

More damaging, government cut spending through the damnable sequester – thereby reducing overall demand for goods and services. (Direct government employment dropped another 11,000 in April.) This was predicted and it will prove to be true.

There’s also a deepening structural problem. All the economic gains from the recovery have gone to the very top, leaving the middle class (and everyone aspiring to join it) with a shrinking portion of the pie. This is not an unforeseen error it is obviously deliberate.

Consumers are still spending, but tentatively at best. Note that much of the spending is coming from the rich, whose stock portfolios have grown nicely. (The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans own 90 percent of all shares of stock.) This is a fact and it is an alarming fact. Congress needs to adjust the distribution of wealth, the economy being produced is a third world economy and not the growth oriented economy the American people used to enjoy.

There is NO TRICKLE DOWN and there NEVER has been. The rich don’t spend as much of their earnings as everyone else. They save and speculate around the world wherever they can get the highest return.

The structural problem of widening inequality also hurt the last recovery, which ended in 2007.

The problem is driven by intentions. The intent is to take over the United States and to own it’s government. The idea is to seize total control over the working class and empower a competition with China and other third world countries. The truth is that the congress of the United States is already being controlled with money.

Compared to the one we’re now enduring, the previous recovery seems robust. But it was one of the weakest recoveries since World War II — propelled by borrowing of the middle class against the rising values of their homes. They constructed a bubble with E-Z Credit and then they deliberately forced the bubble to burst. Clearly mathematically the limit of how many E-Z Credit loans were safe to make was fully understood, yet they did it anyway. When the housing bubble burst, the middle class no longer had the purchasing power to keep the economy going. It was deliberate, it had to be done on purpose to produce the result we now have to deal with. That result includes the Citizens United Decision aimed at Corporate America’s take over of our government.

The working class still doesn’t have the ability to sustain a healthy economy. The solutions required are obvious. The working class must act quickly to pass a constitutional amendment that strikes down and permanently forbids Corporate money from taking control over the candidates we vote for with their money. Citizens United must be banned.

The federal budget deficit is shrinking more quickly that forecasters had expected, mainly because of government cutbacks and tax payments from the well-to-do.

If there was ever a time for our leaders in Washington to declare victory over the deficit, and focus instead on jobs and inequality, it’s now. But don’t hold your breath. Be suspicious this is a pattern. The American worker has had consistently falling wages for more than 30 years. The wealthy have grown wealthier consistently for more than 30 years. Rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is not accidental we have the statistics in hand and we have carefully backed up everything presented here.

The wealthy would support public investments in education and job-training, a world-class infrastructure (transportation, water and sewage, energy, internet), and basic research -- all of which would make the American workforce more productive, if they were embracing design intelligence. The profit driven decision making however is not going to consider what is best for the nation as a whole.

The wealthy if they embraced design intelligence would even support labor unions -- which have proven the best means of giving working people a fair share in the nation's prosperity. This is historically demonstrated. A return to an economy that was fair to the working class would create more wealth and a stronger nation state than the current epistemology. However the program is not to achieve more wealth the program is to take control.

The sad truth is that labor unions are almost extinct. The problem is that they worked better than what we have now for the working class. The decline of labor unions in America tracks exactly the decline in the bottom 90 percent's share of total earnings, and shrinkage of the middle class.

In the 1950s, when the U.S. economy was growing faster than 3 percent a year, more than a third of all working people belonged to a union. That gave them enough bargaining clout to get wages that allowed them to buy what the economy was capable of producing. When we water down the buying power we water down the economy. Diluting the cash in circulation has damaged the American economy, even if it made a few super wealthy the net consequence was not optimal.

Since the late 1970s, unions have eroded -- as has the purchasing power of most Americans, the average annual growth of the economy has also declined, that is no coincidence. Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2012 only 6.6 percent of workers in the private sector were unionized. (That's down from 6.9 percent in 2011.) That's the lowest rate of unionization in almost a century.

It shows in many ways, and the negative consequences can’t be ignored. What's to blame? Partly globalization and technological change. Globalization sent many unionized manufacturing plants abroad. Globalization is not working out very well for the working class in America. The wealthy however think it is wonderful. Globalization has been mismanaged and the American worker has been shortchanged.

Manufacturing is starting to return to America but it's returning without good family supporting jobs. The old assembly line has been replaced by robotics and numerically-controlled machine tools. This is necessary to compete with very cheap foreign labor. The emergent trend towards smaller flexible manufacturing companies driven by cutting edge technology is the future of America. That is good Design Intelligence and we endorse it. Cottage industries that manufacture locally may be common in thirty years because the technology will be in hand to empower that transformation. Currently however competition with dirt cheap offshore labor is killing America’s future not building it.

Technologies have also replaced many formerly unionized workers in telecommunications (remember telephone operators?) and clerical jobs. We need to point out that many other nations subject to the same forces, have far higher levels of unionization than America. 28 percent of Canada's workforce is unionized, as is more than 25 percent of Britain's, and almost 20 percent of Germany's. The German economy, socialist or not, is much stronger than America’s economy as is Canada’s.

Unions are almost extinct in America because we've chosen to make them extinct. The Bush administration did everything it could to crush unions by changing the NLRB rules. It is likely that George W. Bush inflicted more damage on the American working class than Hoover. Unlike other rich nations, our labor laws allow employers to replace striking workers. This is an evil attack on the working class. The idea is that American workers will never be allowed to have a right to a job that is protected or shielded from cheaper labor off shore. This creates a vulnerable class of people, it negates the power of unions. New laws should be written to empower the working class and secure their prosperity and job security, job protection is important to sustain the American lifestyle. It is insulation from the slave labor markets created by communist governments.

Having the bulk of the population chained to a paycheck with no checks and balances, does not make America a better place as the statistics clearly indicate. The working class is getting beat up in America. Architects need to have an economy that empowers us to support a practice. We need more people with money to spend, more success stories, more rapid growth and a strong expanding economy. Architects are rapidly becoming the profession nobody wants to be a part of. Because we have made it exceedingly difficult for workers to organize, and we rarely penalize companies that violate labor laws, the working class is be economically disenfranchised.

Additionally, the cost of legal representation in the US is so expensive very few workers can afford to take any matter into the civil courts. Attorneys are simply priced beyond the reach of the working class paycheck. (A worker who's illegally fired for trying to organize a union may, if lucky, get the job back along with back pay -- after years of legal haggling… if they have… and only if they have the MONEY!)

The USA has decided to lower the standards and the wages of the Working class. Republicans are predators; in particular, they have set out to kill off unions. They have destroyed the American economy. Class war in America.

Union membership dropped 13 percent last year in Wisconsin, which in 2011 curbed the collective bargaining rights of many public employees. And it fell 18 percent last year in Indiana, which last February enacted a right-to-work law (allowing employees at unionized workplaces to get all the benefits of unionization without paying for them). Last month Michigan enacted a similar law. I respect the opinions of employers who want to have higher profits to be anti-union, however the statistics indicate that it is damaging the market place and in fact over the long term limits the economies capacity for growth. Less money in the market place is simply less money and lower profits. Stupid is chasing stupid.

The middle class is being exterminated. We have the greatest failure of the distribution of wealth of any nation in the world today.

Don't blame globalization and technological change for why employees at Walmart , America's largest employer, still don't have a union. They're not in global competition and their jobs aren't directly threatened by technology. The average pay of a Walmart worker is $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart's employees work less than 28 hours per week and don't qualify for benefits. This is evil. Deliberately creating poverty is not acceptable conduct by any American Corporation. Wrong is still wrong.

The revealing facts are that Walmart is successful at destroying everything that was good about being an American worker. Poorer workers is bad for America and this is what Walmart is manufacturing.

Walmart is a microcosm of the American economy. It has brazenly fought off unions. But it could easily afford to pay its workers more. It is a greed based company. It earned $16 billion last year. Much of that sum went to Walmart's shareholders, including the family of its founder, Sam Walton. Evil is not a good investment.

The wealth of the Walton family now exceeds the wealth of the bottom 40 percent of American families combined, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. Walmart is the fountainhead of greed and feeds upon and drives the expanding poverty of the United States. Walmart is everything that is wrong in America today that needs to be so desperately fixed. The truth is that Walmart needs to be destroyed.

Walmart expects to continue to show fat profits but its customers are on a downward economic escalator. Walmart should be unionized. So should McDonalds. So should every major big-box retailer and fast-food outlet in the nation. So should every hospital in America. That way, more Americans would have enough money in their pockets to get the economy moving. And everyone -- even the very rich -- would benefit.

As Obama said, America cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.

We are only pointing out that this is failed design intelligence at work. America is not about the wealthy few it is about the many, who seek the benefits of freedom and relief from the exploitation and corrupt governments of the third world.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that the preliminary January figure for consumer confidence in the United States fell to its lowest level in more than a year as consumers indicated they were as disappointed as last October 2011, when there was widespread talk of a double-dip recession. But this time business news is buoyant. The stock market is bullish. The housing market seems to have rebounded a bit.

Why are consumers demonstrating a low level of enthusiasm? Because they're deeply worried about their jobs and their incomes -- as they have every right to be. It is certainly time for wages to rise.

Unfortunately the job situation is still lousy. The truth is that this reality is deliberately created and sustained. We'll know more about what happened to jobs by the end of January.

What we know now is that over 20 million people are still unemployed or underemployed.

Personal income is in terrible shape. The median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation. This is driven in large part from offshore. Most people can't get readily-available loans because banks are still cautious about lending to anyone without a sterling credit history. We need jobs we can’t lose. (Eliminate student loans and you find Americans aren't borrowing any more than they were a year ago.)

And the payroll tax hike has reduced paychecks for the typical American by about $100 a month. That's just about what the typical family spends to fill up their gas tanks per month. Or half what they spend for groceries each week. We are in trouble because we are facing a deliberate organized movement to scale back American wages, education and technological access. The current effort is designed to dumb down the American working class and to secure much lower competitive labor rates in preparation for the global market place that the wealthy and they alone will profit from.

Contrast the current pessimism with consumer sentiment last October. Then, a majority polled by the Conference Board expected their incomes to rise over the next six months. Now just 14 percent expect their incomes to rise, and 23 percent expect them to fall. Disaster is never tolerable when it is delivered deliberately, and designed to reward only a few at the expense of the many.

That 9 percent gap of pessimists exceeding optimists is the largest since the spring of 2009 when the Great Recession was almost at its worst. The working class is being exploited.

The stock market is bullish because corporate profits are up, costs are down, the "fiscal cliff" agreement has locked in low taxes for most of the upper-middle class and wealthy, and there's no sign of inflation as far as the eye can see.

But corporate profits can't stay high when American consumers -- whose spending is 70 percent of the U.S. economy -- are this pessimistic about the future. They're just not going to spend.

American companies won't be able to make up the difference in foreign markets. Europe is careening into a recession. Japan is still in deep trouble. China's growth has slowed.

Profits are the highest share of the U.S. economy on record. Wages are the lowest. But this imbalance can't and won't last.
Investors: beware.

Politicians: Don't do any more deficit reduction. When consumers are this glum, austerity economics is particularly dangerous.
If the next showdowns over the fiscal cliff, government appropriations, and debt ceiling result in more deficit cuts this year, we're in a recession.

Sometimes we have a national conversation without realizing it. We talk about different aspects of the same larger issue without connecting the dots.
That's what's happening now with regard to the meaning of American citizenship and the basic rights that come with it.
On one side are those who think of citizenship as a matter of exclusion and privilege -- of protecting the nation by keeping out those who are undesirable, and putting strict limits on who is allowed to exercise the full rights of citizenship.

On the other are those who think of citizenship inclusively -- as an ongoing process of helping people become full participants in America.

One part of this conversation involves immigration. I'm not just referring the question of whether or how people living in the United States illegally can become citizens. (Courtesy of our fast-growing Latino population, 70 percent of whom voted for President Obama last November, we're far closer to resolving that one than we were a year ago.)

It's also a question of who we want to join us. Engraved on a bronze plaque mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty are Emma Lazarus' immortal words, written in 1883: "Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me."
By contrast, a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week introduced a bill giving priority to the highly skilled. "Our immigration system needs to be ... more welcoming of highly skilled immigrants and the enormous contributions they can make to our economy," said one of its sponsors, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

So is the priority to be those who need us, or those whom we need?
Another part of the same larger conversation concerns voting rights -- the means by which citizens participate in our democracy.

Long waiting lines depressed voter turnout last November, especially in cities where Democrats outnumber Republicans. One study showed blacks and Hispanics on average had to wait nearly twice as long to vote as whites. Some gave up trying.

Voter registration is part of that issue, along with what sorts of proof of citizenship states may require. Dozens of legal challenges and lower-court decisions were made in the months leading up to the November election. Some are heading to appellate courts.

Congressional Democrats are pushing legislation to require states to ease voting requirements -- allowing more early voting, online voting, and quicker means of registering. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is preparing to hear a major challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 potentially giving states more leeway to tighten voting standards.

A different aspect of the citizenship conversation concerns the rights of corporations to influence elections. The Court's bizarre 2010 decision in "Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission" -- deeming corporations people under the First Amendment, with unlimited rights to spend money on elections -- didn't consider the question of corporate citizenship as such.
But it's likely to become a big issue in the future as large American companies that pour lots of money into our elections morph into global corporations without any particular national identity.

Most of Chrysler is owned by Fiat, and most of Fiat is owned by non-Americans. Both IBM and GE have more non-American employees and customers than American, and foreign ownership of both continues to increase. At what point do these global entities forfeit their right to influence U.S. elections?

And then there's the growing debate about whether American citizens have the right to a trial by an impartial judge and jury before the government executes them.

You might think so. The Constitution guarantees American citizens "due process" of law. But a "white paper" from the Justice Departmeny, recently obtained by NBC News, argues that an "informed, high-level" government official can unilaterally decide to put an American citizen to death without any judicial oversight if that official decides the citizen in question is an operational leader of Al Qaeda or one of its allies.

Even if you trust high-level officials in the current administration, their argument should give you pause. The relative ease by which targeted drones can now kill particular individuals far from recognized battlefields (as did the drone attack on American-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in September, 2011) raises uncomfortable questions about the protections accorded American citizens, as well as the potential for arbitrary decision making about who lives or dies.

They may seem unrelated, but all these issues -- who gets to be an American citizen, how easily American citizens can vote, whether global corporations are American citizens entitled to influence our elections, and whether American citizens are entitled to a judge and jury before being executed -- are pieces of the same larger debate: Are we more fearful of "them" out there, or more confident about "us"? Is our goal to constrain and limit citizenship, or to enlarge and fulfill its promise?

It's an old debate in America. The greatness of our nation lies in our overriding tendency to choose the latter. However, should we embrace 14 million illegal aliens who violated the law to be here, who displaced jobs that hard working American’s had for generations, destroyed family businesses and crushed the wage rate of union employees by excessive tolerance of corrupt illegal workers?

The State of the Union Address represented an excellent opportunity for President Obama to build upon his actions in his first term to solve the climate crisis and reclaim American leadership on this most crucial challenge. During his first four years, President Obama oversaw unprecedented investments in clean energy, improved energy efficiency standards in automobiles, and crucial carbon pollution regulations for new coal plants. While President Obama's success in these areas exceeds those of his predecessors, much more, obviously, must be done. We are facing a rapidly closing window of opportunity to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis and steer our country and -- with U.S. leadership -- the world, on a path of sustainability. What has come of it thus far is simply not impressive enough.

In 2012, it became clear that the global warming pollution we spew into the atmosphere at a rate of 90 million tons per day is already fueling dirty weather right here in the United States. From a drought that parched more than 60 percent of our nation to soaring temperatures that made 2012 the hottest year ever recorded in the history of our country, to the massive fires in the West, to the worst outbreak of West Nile Virus in our history, to the melting of half of the North Polar Ice Cap last summer, to billions in climate-related disaster damage, to Superstorm Sandy, we must heed our planet's warning.

President Obama has already spoken eloquently on this issue in his masterful Inaugural Address -- now he must act boldly. It is essential that the President continue to discuss the climate crisis and its impacts, and it is even more important that he take all possible actions to solve this existential threat. Even with Congressional inaction, President Obama has many avenues of change open to him and I encourage him to pursue them all without delay.

Unfortunately, even though public opinion now firmly supports the scientific consensus that dirty energy causes dirty weather, too many of our politicians continue to treat this topic as merely a political issue. In a recent interview, Senator Marco Rubio -- who will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union -- denied the reality of the climate crisis, stating that "the climate is always changing" and that there is "reasonable debate" on the nature of humanity's contribution to global warming. I hope that Senator Rubio and his ideological allies will reconsider these views, especially considering the threat posed by strengthening storms and rising seas to Florida and many other states across America.

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Re: Part Three

Postby phansford » Sat May 04, 2013 1:34 pm

Please stop posting your political commentary in the Architecture Section. Have you noticed your first two parts have been moved to the Fireside Forum?
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Re: Part Three

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Sun May 05, 2013 10:29 pm

Design Intelligence is the central issue that drives the future. That you want it to be invisible and unread is clear. That it annoys you is also clear. Was it moved at your request Phansford?

In my opinion since it is the central issue of the day it belongs exactly where I am posting it. Thank You for your comment and I am requesting that part one and part two be returned to the Architect Forum so that Architects will read it.

I notice by the hits posted that people do read it.
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