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Thursday, November 09, 2023

House lawmakers defeated an effort by Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) to defund the office of Vice President Kamala Harris, one of the highest-level efforts yet to defund prominent federal officials and agencies. It was, to be sure, a foolish endeavor, but it wasn't an isolated incident. read more

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

General Motors and the United Auto Workers union have come to a tentative agreement, the union and company announced Monday afternoon, just two days after the union expanded the strike at America's largest automaker. read more

Monday, October 30, 2023

Donald Trump, 77, has relentlessly attacked President Biden, 80, as too old for office. But the former president himself has had a series of gaffes that go beyond his usual freewheeling style. read more

Saturday, October 28, 2023

General Motors and Jeep-maker Stellantis have offered the United Auto Workers a 25 percent raise in base wages over the course of a new contract, bringing them close to reaching tentative deals with the union that would end a historic, six-week work stoppage. read more

Thursday, October 26, 2023

The U.S. economy grew even faster than expected in the third quarter, buoyed by a strong consumer in spite of higher interest rates, ongoing inflation pressures and a variety of other domestic and global headwinds. Gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a 4.9% annualized pace in the July-through-September period, up from an unrevised 2.1% pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. read more


Are Real Wages Rising? Yes, But Here's Why That Question is Harder to Answer Than You Might Think

JOSEPH POLITANO - (I write about monetary policy, labor markets, business, finance, and everything else that falls under macroeconomics.)

The last few years have seen some of the strongest US labor markets since the turn of the millennium -- unemployment rates had fallen to generational lows, working-class wage growth hit the highest level since the 1980s, and millions of workers were able to switch to higher-paying jobs as part of the "Great Resignation." Yet we have also seen an enormous surge in inflation -- the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is up nearly 19% since the end of 2019, functionally matching the cumulative price growth seen across the entirety of the prior decade, with costs for food, energy, and transportation skyrocketing. So are American workers still making it out ahead?

The answer is, on average, yes -- cumulative growth in hourly compensation has exceeded inflation since the end of 2019, though it remains slightly below the trend of strong growth seen in the latter half of the 2010s.

Official average real hourly compensation is up since the pandemic but remains slightly below the pre-COVID trendline, and the same is true for real wages derived from the average hourly earnings data. However, real wages for "production and nonsupervisory workers" - i.e., the middle/working class jobs directly involved in service provision, manufacturing, or construction, excluding managers and the like - have risen faster than the overall average and are essentially in-line with what would be expected in the absence of a pandemic.

Granting that average real wages have increased since 2019, it's still important to check on the evolving distribution of real wages -- US income inequality is relatively high, so even if average wages are up that could easily reflect growth only accruing at the top end of the distribution. The good news is that median usual real earnings among full-time workers are also up, though they remain below the pre-pandemic trendline.

Even still, it remains clear that wage growth has been strongest at the lowest end of the wage spectrum, something corroborated by the fast wage growth rates for production and nonsupervisory employees and in traditionally low-wage industries, although low-end wage growth has cooled recently.

Carmel police are the worst.

Not necessarily the worst, but their reputation is known far and wide amongst those of us living in Central Indiana. However, Irsay is generally right on the principle - the white privileged elite are definitely treated with deference in affluent Carmel. But in his case, he was an impaired driver under the influence of prescription drugs and had no business driving. And the fact that he's such a well-known and prominent citizen, anything other than his arrest after failing field tests would have tarnished the force far more than arresting him would.

Irsay certainly believes that he was the aggrieved victim from his arrest, but there is not a single person that wouldn't have been treated likewise under identical circumstances. It really shows just how out of touch he is with how non-wealthy people have to traverse through their lives and interactions with LEO. I lived in Carmel for a few years in the 90s and almost every single day I'd see black people with hoopties pulled over with their drivers pulled out sitting by the side of the road. It used to be the home of DWB.

As it regards Irsay's speech and demeanor, he is a sober reformed addict whose earlier life abuse of drugs (and likely steroids) has left him as you see him - looking 10 years older than he is and appearing as a borderline Parkinson's sufferer. I'm not saying this from any inside or confirmed knowledge, just an observation of him over the last 40 years and his public acknowledgement of more than 15 rehab attempts in the past.

Each one of the articles you provided had to do with redlining, which is based on neighborhoods. And in the text of each it mentions that these neighborhoods are considered to be high risk.

Do you think banks should be obligated to use their customers money on high-risk loans?

JFC. Would you like to explain how property is "high risk"? Is a house going to up and run away and leave the bank with no asset? You do know that homeowners insurance is mandatory, right? And it protects the bank's loan, right? Either the mortgage applicants have sufficient credit or they don't, period - and that opens up another tangent on systemic racism where poorer people often start their adulthoods with little financial acumen and many have childhood medical debt on their records before they've ever had any type of personal account at all.

"High risk" is bank speak for "the wrong people live in these neighborhoods, so we'll refuse to lend to them." However, when white investors or gentrifiers seek loans in those same neighborhoods they do not face the impediments that blacks do.

And systemically, land has been stolen from blacks since slavery was abolished.

At the beginning of the 20th century, African Americans owned at least 14 million acres of land. By the 21st century, 90 percent of the land had been stolen from them.

Across a century, white farmers and landowners developed multiple ways to take African Americans' land, using methods such as heirs property, tax sales, and Torrens Acts.

To understand the magnitude of this land theft, one must examine the extreme measures taken by those who captured the land from African American landowners. Both laws and practices allowed white landowners, farmers, and developers to manipulate the system so they could gain control over the land owned by African American farmers and homeowners.


Banks have always been complicit in this theft and denial of opportunities for qualified blacks to own property and acquire generational wealth like most working class whites have been able to for decades. And I know this from my own personal history. My father was a Tuskegee airman - B-25 bomber pilot - during WWII. The bomber squadrons never saw action due to the existent racism of the times while I'm sure you're familiar with the fighter group that went on to make history due to their extreme need due to bomber escort loss rates.

After the war even though the commercial airline industry took off, generally there were no openings for experienced black pilots, so my father became a home building contractor. He built homes mostly for working class black families and the occasional Jewish one, again because whites did not generally employ black contractors. During the 50's vibrant black neighborhoods sprang up where doctors, lawyers, other professionals and aspiring middle class blacks sought quasi-suburban life, seeking their own American Dreams. My dad maintained an 800+ credit rating his entire life and ended up having to either sign for or cosign on home loans for his own buyers due to the banks reticence to extend credit even to black professionals as they were starting out their careers. These neighborhoods are still extremely desirable today and the homes there have appreciated just like any other area of comparable homes. But the constant impediments of banks forced my father to abandon home building in the early 60's. He went back to college and acquired a masters degree in Industrial Education and finished his career as a teacher of high school students and started multiple programs where students build entire houses from the ground up. The school then sold the homes and the profits went back to the school district.

We can discuss it, but "systemic" racism would imply that the "system" itself included elements that were explicitly placed there to create different outcomes based on race.

For instance, asking for one's race on a credit card or college application would be an example of possible system racism, if the information consumer was using race data to influence decision calculus.

Like these all too recent examples in just one industry?

Bank Will Pay $31 Million After Discriminating Against Black And Latino Communities (1/13/2023)

Wells Fargo Bank sued for race discrimination in mortgage lending practices (4/26/2022)

Justice Department Secures $9 Million from Park National Bank to Address Lending Discrimination Allegations 02/28/2022

Bank set to settle lending discrimination lawsuit alleging redlining' in Philly area 06/01/2023

Black real estate investors in the Houston area file lawsuit after they say they were denied property units 9/21/22

You're right, this isn't 1960, it's 2023. And systemic racism/discrimination throughout our society is still entrenched and operating as it was designed to in order to minimize the advancement and economic success of minorities while disproportionately (and many times illegally) stealing generational wealth or keeping said wealth from being realized, handicapping subsequent generation after generation.

Systemic racism is always tied to economics as it's been since the introduction of African chattel slavery into the United States and it remains both pervasive and active today.

While I agree with the sentiments and points already expressed, the pandemic itself was the genesis of most of general cluelessness of economic forecasts since 2020.

I had a discussion with a coworker in late+ February 2020. I was paying attention to Covid's inevitable spread, and I read up on the history of the Spanish flu epidemic 100 years earlier. I told my coworker that what we think of as normal was going to change - some of it forever. And that's true. Some industries and businesses died and won't be returning, and others were invented or became more relevant and now are major players in the overall economy.

Forecasters only have the past from which to predict the future. Our future changed in ways heretofore unimagined and the role the federal government played cannot be understated. Although the demonization of the medical profession needlessly cost lives, it was indeed a miracle that millions upon millions were not tossed out into the streets when our economy temporarily shutdown and then reordered itself.

When all the know-it-alls were predicting recession, I simply looked at the number of job openings exceeding the available supply of workers and realized that until that gap closes, even people losing jobs in one industry can readily find jobs in others - sometimes at higher rates of pay than the jobs they're leaving. There is still going to be pressure to keep wages rising even if slower than before, but household incomes remain stable if not slightly rising even if they're not completely keeping up with inflation.

Corporations are making record profits, markets were rising on consumer spending and even with interest rates up their is still a dearth of housing. So in general, many Americans are doing fairly well considering, and many were able to save during the pandemic and were anxious to resume more normal lives which translates to steady if not uptrending consumption. These are not the conditions of usual recessions.

The descriptions of what Meadows allegedly told investigators shed further light on the evidence Smith's team has amassed as it prosecutes Trump for allegedly trying to unlawfully retain power and "spread lies" about the 2020 election. The descriptions also expose how far Trump loyalists like Meadows have gone to support and defend Trump.

But, as described to ABC News, Meadows privately told Smith's investigators that -- to this day -- he has yet to see any evidence of fraud that would have kept now-president Joe Biden from the White House, and he told them he agrees with a government assessment at the time that the 2020 presidential election was the most secure election in U.S. history.

Meadows told investigators he believes the Justice Department was taking allegations of fraud seriously, properly investigating them, and doing all they could to find legitimate cases of fraud -- and he told investigators he relayed all that to Trump a few weeks after the election, the sources said.

What a day. The House Republicans just rejected a Speaker designee because he wasn't an election denier, and now this ABC exclusive hits like a neutron bomb. Trump's own Chief of Staff is calling BS on the election fraud claims and saying he relayed all of this to Trump in the realtime as it was happening.

The only fraud in the 2020 election was committed by Trump pushing what he knew was a lie yet benefited him to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And Trump continues to commit fraud in separating the true believers from more of their money under false pretenses in perhaps the largest grift in the history of America.

This is always the relationship between civic democracies and the broken states where strongmen thrive and dominate. Civic democracy operates through an organized competition between different stakeholders in society. It requires a consensus to litigate disagreements through a prescribed set of rules. The breakdown of those rules creates an opening for strongmen who traffic in raw power and sell their ability to impose order. It is both the cause and result of the species of civic and moral degeneracy we see as the mother's milk of Trumpism.

Chaos and strongmanism aren't opposites but two sides of the same coin. One needs and breeds the other. As big a comedy as the House GOP Speaker debacle is it illustrates the same basic challenges and choices we face as a society and perhaps more broadly abroad: distributed power, agreed upon rules on the one hand or chaos and domination on the other. That's the civic democracy and authoritarianism question and it's playing out before us in the House GOP caucus dark comedy.

Trump's GOP does not respect the results of ANY election where their preferred candidate LOSES. It started in 2016 in advance of the shocking win even he didn't see coming and has continued in 2020 even amongst those who'd have to vacate their own victories if indeed they truly believed that Trump was cheated of his victory when they themselves won fair and square.

The House GOP is showing the world that they no longer believe in nor respect democracy if it stands in the way of them elevating the strongman of the minority's choosing, damn to hell what the majority wants. The Democrats would be wise to make clear that Americans and the world sees what's going on in front of their very eyes. Republicans crap on the Constitution and laws unless they align with the authoritarianism they so blatantly are attempting to institute.

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