Closing Thought–25May20

Today we remember our veterans and those lost in combat…..I will wait for the traditional day….

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News success for our workers (sarcasm)….nearly 40 million unemployed….

More than 2.4 million people applied for US unemployment benefits last week, per the AP. That means roughly 38.6 million people have now filed for jobless aid since the coronavirus forced businesses to shrink their workforces, the Labor Department said Thursday. The figure is slightly below last week’s revised total of 2.7 million claims, notes the Wall Street Journal. An additional 2.2 million people sought aid under a new federal program for self-employed, contractor, and gig workers, who are now eligible for jobless aid for the first time. The continuing stream of job cuts reflects an economy that is sinking into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that the economy is shrinking at a 38% annual rate in the April-June quarter. That would be by far the worst quarterly contraction on record.

During April, US employers shed 20 million jobs, eliminating a decade’s worth of job growth in a single month. The unemployment rate reached 14.7%, the highest since the Depression. Millions of other people who were out of work weren’t counted as unemployed because they didn’t look for a new job.

What better time than a pandemic to lay-off health care workers…..(again…sarcasm)……

Even as American deaths from COVID-19 exceed 90,000 and frontline health care workers are needed more than ever, hospitals and other medical facilities, guided by market forces, are closing or laying off large sections of their workforces.

The US Commerce Department reported at the end of April that health care spending by consumers had dropped by 18 percent during the first quarter of 2020. This is the largest drop since records began in 1959, contributing substantially to the annualized 4.8 percent decline in US gross domestic product. Morgan Stanley forecasts a breathtaking 37.9 percent decline in GDP during the second quarter

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/22/hosp-m22.html

An update…..the number of deaths should read 96,000+…….

But not to worry those parasites on Wall Street are still making money hand over fist while the rest of us suffer…..

While many Americans are facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak, US billionaires saw a boost in net worth in the first two months of the pandemic, according to a new report.

According to the report, published on Thursday by the left-leaning think tanks Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, the total net worth of all US billionaires got a $434 billion boost since March 19, when many US states were placed on lockdown.

According to Forbes, 623 billionaires live in the US, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, investor Warren Buffett, and Oracle founder Larry Ellison. The report indicates that just those top five billionaires saw their wealth increase by a total of $75.5 billion, or 19%. 

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-billionaires-434-billion-richer-during-pandemic-report-2020-5

Ain’t an oligarchy great?  (Once again…..sarcasm)….

Sorry for the bad news…..someone has to tell you since the government does not want to….

Be Well….Be Safe….Be Informed

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

That “Free Market” Illusion

We hear a lot about “free markets” and “free trade” these days…well for many decades…..it has been the clarion call of conservs….

Let’s look at the term “free markets”…..

A free market economy is a type of economy that promotes the production and sale of goods and services, with little to no control or involvement from any central government agency. The economic system is primarily based on supply and demand. Order and power in a free market are decentralized, with individuals making all of their own voluntary economic choices.

In a free-market economy, firms and households act in their own self-interest to determine how resources get allocated, what goods get produced, and who buys the goods. A free market economy functions in the opposite manner as a command economy works, where the central government gets to keep the profits and choose how to use them.

Read More….https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/free-market/

That is what a free market world would look like if it were truly a free system…..it is not.

Let’s be honest……A pure market economy has no barriers to economic exchange: you can sell anything to anyone else for any price. In reality, this form of economics is rare. Sales taxes, tariffs on imports and exports, and legal prohibitions—such as the age restriction on liquor consumption—are all impediments to a truly free market exchange.

So free market is total BS.

Now comes the term “free trade”…..Free trade is a largely theoretical policy under which governments impose absolutely no tariffs, taxes, or duties on imports, or quotas on exports. In this sense, free trade is the opposite of protectionism, a defensive trade policy intended to eliminate the possibility of foreign competition.  

Free Trade has an ugly side…..

  • It causes job loss through outsourcing: Tariffs tend to prevent job outsourcing by keeping product pricing at competitive levels. Free of tariffs, products imported from foreign countries with lower wages cost less. While this may be seemingly good for consumers, it makes it hard for local companies to compete, forcing them to reduce their workforce. Indeed, one of the main objections to NAFTA was that it outsourced American jobs to Mexico.
  • It encourages theft of intellectual property: Many foreign governments, especially those in developing countries, often fail to take intellectual property rights seriously. Without the protection of patent laws, companies often have their innovations and new technologies stolen, forcing them to compete with lower-priced domestically-made fake products.
  • It allows for poor working conditions: Similarly, governments in developing countries rarely have laws to regulate and ensure safe and fair working conditions. Because free trade is partially dependent on a lack of government restrictions, women and children are often forced to work in factories doing heavy labor under slave-like working conditions.
  • It can harm the environment: Emerging countries have few, if any environmental protection laws. Since many free trade opportunities involve the exporting of natural resources like lumber or iron ore, clear-cutting of forests and un-reclaimed strip mining often decimate local environments.
  • It reduces revenues: Due to the high level of competition spurred by unrestricted free trade, the businesses involved ultimately suffer reduced revenues. Smaller businesses in smaller countries are the most vulnerable to this effect.

(thoughtco.com)

There you have it “Free Markets” is an illusion….”Free Trade” is an illusion……all made up benefits to make it more appealing to the workers which are continuously scorched by the lies of the oligarchs.

We have come to a point in our nation’s public discourse where there is a widespread realization that many of the economic policies pursued and promoted by our political, business and media elites have failed us in multiple ways. We have heard our trade policies called “Free Trade” and “Free Market”, but those statements were often dishonest.

When crafting these agreements, our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions but detrimental to the well-being of American citizens.

Traditional conservatives have been observing and asking about these policy failures for some time and have been met with name-calling and general denigration. During this current pandemic crisis, the magnitude of the failure of these misguided agreements and policies has become unavoidably obvious.

The Illusion of ‘Free Markets’ and ‘Free Trade’

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

And Join a Union and fight for your rights and your life….being a passive spectator will NEVER give you the end that you seek.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

The Next Stim Package

It appears the economics will be the savior of the nation during this pandemic.

We have already had 4 or 5 stim packages to lift the morale and hopes of the American people while steadily increasing the profits of corporations.

And now I hear the Dems and others are talking about another round of stim to help cope with this virus….but what should be included in the final bill?

How about such deals as pay check guarantee or mortgage/rent assistance or maybe some economic stabilizers……

For the next stimulus package, some lawmakers want to go bigger. Much bigger.

While it could be weeks before members of Congress land on the next bipartisan bill to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus, many have no shortage of ideas about what that could look like. House Democrats, after all, have already passed their $3 trillion opening bid, with a focus on getting more than $900 billion to states and cities.

Make no mistake, focusing on an influx of funding to local governments is hugely important and could do a lot to stave off the long-term economic effects of the crisis. But other ideas that have been proposed — like a federal paycheck guarantee or rent cancellation — would also be more ambitious ways to address the problem than what lawmakers have done so far.

A focus on implementing such expansive stimulus could well be warranted given the scale of the problem: Economists say that Congress’s economic support needs to match the devastating nature of the issue at hand. As of mid-May, the country’s unemployment rate is still growing, with more than 36 million people applying for unemployment insurance within the first eight weeks of the crisis.

https://www.vox.com/2020/5/18/21246421/congress-stimulus-ideas

But then I ask…who will these “guarantees” actually benefit…the average American or the people that control their lives?

Plus I do NOT see Trump approving of this stim package….this would not benefit many of his buddies….or enrich himself.

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Is The Economy Rigged?

My answer ….yes….. you bet your sweet bippy it is.

But I am sure that there will be those that do not agree with my assessment…..

Let me point to the stock markets during these trying times….over 30 million Americans are unemployed and yet the stock markets are still going great guns…..

The stock market is doing fine, even though everything else is definitely not.

Earlier in the coronavirus crisis, Wall Street had a meltdown. Stocks plunged amid fears of the disease’s spread and its potential impact on the global economy, sometimes to the point that trading was halted altogether to rein in the chaos. But in recent weeks, the market has been doing okay. It’s not at the record highs it was in mid-February, but it’s not bad — the S&P 500 is hovering around where it was last fall. And given the state of the world — a deadly global pandemic with no end in sight, 30 million Americans recently out of jobs, an economy that’s fallen off of a cliff — a relatively rosy stock market is particularly perplexing.

Sure, the stock market isn’t the economy, but right now, it seems particularly divorced from what’s happening on the ground. “The gap between markets and economic data has never been larger,” wrote Matt King, global head of credit strategy at Citigroup, in a recent note.

https://www.vox.com/covid-19-coronavirus-economy-recession-stock-market/2020/5/6/21248069/stock-market-economy-federal-reserve-jerome-powell

The latest reports on the economy are grim…..

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 300 points at opening Friday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq continued to steadily climb from a low point in late March, when states across the country were imposing economic shutdowns.

The Dow also increased by 250 points right after the Labor Department released its May jobs report Friday, which showed an official unemployment rate of 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression. Economists estimate that including people who lost their jobs in the last two weeks and people who have not filed for unemployment, the actual unemployment rate is likely higher than 20%.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/08/what-rigged-economy-looks-says-sanders-stock-market-enjoys-best-month-33-years

I agree that it is time for the economy to be more reflective of society….granted the markets are NOT the economy…but those thieves need reining in….

Even Trump’s lackeys are not painting a rosy picture for this Summer…..

The US economy is in rough shape, and things are going to get worse. That was the dire prediction from not one but two of the White House’s top economic advisers Sunday, per the Washington Post:

  • “The reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday. “I think you’re going to have a very, very bad second quarter.” Asked by host Chris Wallace whether the nation’s unemployment rate was “close to 25% at this point, which is Great Depression neighborhood,” Mnuchin replied, “Chris, we could be.”
  • “To get unemployment rates like the ones that we’re about to see … which I think will climb up towards 20% by next month, you have to really go back to the Great Depression to see that,” said White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on CBS’ Face the Nation. He predicted the rate will be “north of 20%” by next month, and added that “nobody knows” when the jobless will be able to go back to work.
  • But it wasn’t all dire; Mnuchin predicted the job market could start to improve by September. The situation we’re in, he noted, “is no fault of American business, it is no fault of American workers, it is the fault of a virus.” And Vox notes that on ABC’s This Week, Larry Kudlow, director of the Trump administration’s National Economic Council, said that of the latest unemployment numbers, “80% of it was furloughs and temporary layoffs,” which “suggests strongly that the cord between the worker and the business is still intact.”

This economy is driven by greed, pride, gluttony and vanity….we need an economy that benefits everyone not the wealthy few.

To prove that point I point to the recent report that 20.5 million Americans are unemployed…..and that same day there was a market rally…..

The clearest illustration of that came on Friday, when the government reported that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April. It marked a period of unfathomable pain across the country not seen since the Great Depression. Also on Friday, the stock market rallied.

The S&P 500 is now up 30% from its lows in mid-March and back to where it was last October, when the outlook for 2020 corporate earnings looked sunshiny. Companies have sold record amounts of debt in recent weeks for investment-grade companies. Junk bonds, historically dodgy during an economic swoon, have roared back.

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-bailout-is-working-for-the-rich

Now you tell me who benefits the most from this system?

Count out the workers….and the nation……

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Economic Relief But At What Cost?

It seems that Donald the Orange has a problem with the latest economic relief package…..he will screw seniors over cuts in Social Security that he and those spineless pricks in the GOP desire.

“Trump’s actions are a war on seniors. He is insisting on threatening Social Security on which most seniors rely for their food, medicine, and other basic necessities.”

Grassroots advocacy groups representing millions of retirees and seniors across the United States are speaking out against and urging Congress to oppose President Donald Trump’s threat to block desperately needed Covid-19 relief legislation if it does not slash the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare.

“It is outrageous, callous, and cruel for President Trump to hold the American people, and seniors in particular, hostage if Congress doesn’t go along with his plan to gut Social Security for current and future retirees,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, an organization with over four million members nationwide.

“The president’s plan is also bad economics. Social Security puts more than $800 billion into the economy each year. Destabilizing the system when we are in the middle of an economic downtown is exactly the opposite of what we need to do,” Fiesta added. “The 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans call on all members of Congress to refuse to make such a deal. We will fight this attempt to gut Social Security and in November we will remember who was willing to defend and protect our earned benefits.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/05/outrageous-callous-and-cruel-seniors-rip-trump-holding-covid-19-relief-hostage-push

Once again the GOP is screwing the very people that are most loyal to the party…..and these same old farts will allow them to get away with these attacks every election…..the same old farts that cares nothing for poor people or homeless…..the same old farts that care only about abortions and some religious iconography at Christmas…..

Image

You would think that age would make them (us) more cynical but instead it seems to make them (us) more ignorant.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Dems And Stims

Then Congressional Dems have offered up economic stim plan #5….a 3 trillion virus relief plan….

US Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus response package, the largest yet, to fund efforts to fight the pandemic and provide emergency payments to millions of American households.

The Heroes Act was introduced in the House of Representatives and could be voted on in the Democratic-led chamber as early as this week.

But the 1,815-page measure faced immediate opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where leaders have said a new round of emergency funding is not yet needed.

President Donald Trump has also said recently that he is against rushing through new coronavirus legislation.

Trump has signed four pandemic relief measures into law in recent months.

They including a massive, $2.2 trillion rescue package in March known as the Cares Act, and a $483 billion measure to pump funds into a popular loan program for small businesses devastated by lockdowns.

The new bill, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubs Cares 2, includes a second round of payments of up to $6,000 per household, in an effort to ease the burden for tens of millions of Americans who have lost jobs in the pandemic.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/us-democrats-unveil-3-trillion-virus-relief-package-205046095.html

But is this plan as good for us mere mortals as it sounds?

The answer is…..”Democratic leadership has had plenty of input from progressive thinkers over the past couple of months. They just care more about the input from corporate lobbyists.”

There is your answer……

House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a sprawling 1,815-page, $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that spurns many of the key demands of progressive activists and lawmakers while including proposals that immediately provoked backlash, such as a tax cut for the wealthy and a provision that would allow corporate lobbying organizations to take part in federal small business loan program.

Formally titled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the bill (pdf) would provide $1 trillion in additional funding for state and local governments, extend beefed-up unemployment benefits through January of next year, authorize an additional round of one-time $1,200 stimulus payments for adults earning up to $75,000 per year, expand federal nutrition benefits, provide $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, establish a hazard pay fund for frontline workers, and increase spending on Covid-19 testing.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/12/no-excuse-house-dems-unveil-1815-page-bill-would-bail-out-corporate-lobbyists-omits

More info on the Dems big plan……

The Heroes Act proposes fully subsidizing COBRA, an existing health insurance program that allows laid-off or furloughed workers to remain on their employer-provided insurance plans. Under normal circumstances, COBRA is extremely expensive for individuals—recipients have to cover both their own and their employer’s premium payments—but the Democratic plan would cover 100% of the premium costs through next January.

COBRA expansion has the backing of a bizarre alliance of interests, including big business and some labor unions, but critics say the proposal is wildly inefficient and does not come close to matching the scale of the nation’s current healthcare crisis.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/13/massive-giveaway-health-insurance-ceos-democratic-cobra-plan-denounced-costly

“The historic crisis Americans are facing will not end on its own. To end it, these three things—getting people paychecks, ensuring access to healthcare, supporting businesses and their workers—are critical. But this legislation does not yet address them at the scale necessary.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/13/jayapal-rips-democratic-covid-19-bill-doesnt-end-mass-unemployment-or-ensure

Sounds more like a major bail-out for the profit health industry…..when an expansion of Medicare would have benefited more people…..it is all fraudulent relief……

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday released a $3 trillion coronavirus “relief” bill and scheduled a vote for Friday. The Democratic leadership has acknowledged that the measure has no chance of gaining passage in the Republican-controlled Senate, let alone being signed into law by President Trump.

The release of the bill initiates a process of political theater in which the two parties posture to rally their respective bases and generate sound-bites for campaign ads ahead of the November elections. It is expected that the measure will pass on a party-line vote in the Democratic-controlled House, setting off weeks of negotiations between the Democrats and the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/14/dems-m14.html

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This show just how non-progressive the Dem leadership truly has become…..

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Covid Capitalism

The workers are losing their jobs….and yet the markets are doing so well during this time that shareholders are making billions…..why is this?

Five major U.S. corporations that have laid off thousands of workers in recent weeks have simultaneously dished out hundreds of millions of dollars in cash dividends to wealthy shareholders, drawing outrage from Sen. Bernie Sanders and others who say the companies should be using the money to keep people employed.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that manufacturing giant Caterpillar, toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker, clothing company Levi Strauss, office furniture company Steelcase, and World Wrestling Entertainment have paid out a combined $700 million in cash dividends to shareholders while they shutter operations and lay off employees as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. economy.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/06/outrageous-major-us-companies-hand-shareholders-hundreds-millions-dividends-while

Seems like bodies are commodities…..

The allure of capitalism has never been a clean or ethical one—the very roots are predicated on a system of continued growth and extraction, only becoming less feudal and more “modern” with the advent of beliefs that technological advances could usher in continued input to help the system survive. This has been true in some ways, such as the advent of fracking, which was able to massively disrupt Hubbert’s peak (the bell curve expected to show the gradual diminished reserves of oil). That peak was extended like a covid graph 10 days after an evangelical beach party. The rub with all things extractive and unsustainable is that there is always inherent blow-back. Just because there is more petro-product to burn doesn’t mean those greenhouse gases won’t build up from actually burning them—there will be hell to pay. This is because the natural world has a way of slapping down hubris with an intangible, almost sentient response to the greed.

Capitalism’s Voracious Appetite: Bodies are the Commodities

Instead of helping the US deal with the coming viral storm….companies kept shipping much needed supplies overseas…..

U.S. companies continued their massive sell-off of medical masks overseas throughout March, well after the coronavirus began infecting Americans and draining hospitals of critical supplies and even as White House officials raised red flags, a USA TODAY investigation found. 

America exported more protective masks — including disposable surgical masks and N95 respirator masks — this March than in any other month in the past decade. In all, $83.1 million worth of such products were sent from the United States to the rest of the world, according to an analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau trade data for the export category that includes textile-based protective masks.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2020/05/08/u-s-companies-kept-shipping-masks-overseas-despite-warnings/3090505001/

The capitalism has grown into profits even at the price of screwing the country…..there is no “patriotism” in the souls of these corporations….

…consider 23 ways in which it is a crisis of and by capital and its class rule profits system:

+1.  The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back. United States capitalism was already on the verge of a major recession before COVID-19 hit.  All the classic signs were there:  absurdly inflated P/E ratios s (an absurdly inflated stock market), massively deb-leveraged corporations, giant consumer and student debt, savage economic inequality (so extreme that the top tenth of the U.S. upper 1 percent had more wealth than the nation’s bottom 90 percent), tens of millions living just one inadequate paycheck away from being unable to meet basic living expenses, and more.  If the virus hadn’t broken that camel’s back, something else would have done the job, albeit with a less devastating impact than an epic pandemic.

Coronavirus Capitalism and “Exceptional” America  

It is time for a change….but this election will bring NO CHANGE….mostly a few reforms that do nothing but strengthen the hold that capital has on the nation….and more people will suffer and die…..

WE NEED CHANGE NOW!

WE NEED STRONG UNIONS!

Will you be part of it or just a by-stander?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”