#SaveYourSavings Shows That Democrats Are Clueless on Millennials, Too

#SaveYourSavings Shows That Democrats Are Clueless on Millennials, Too

You may have missed it this morning, but  #SaveYourSavings was trending on Twitter. It was coordinated by the Department of Labor, and various Democratic leaders like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker helped promote the cause. Glad to be here w/ @LaborSec & @CoryBooker to talk about @USDOL ’s new conflict of interest rule! #SaveYourSavings pic.twitter.com/2vkIzKYk6Y — Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 6, 2016 According to NPR , the hashtag was created to celebrate the Labor Department’s unveiling of a new rule “imposing limits on how financial advisers and brokers may offer advice to people saving for retirement.” That’s a worthy cause. In fact, the hashtag would be worthwhile even if it just called attention to the dismal level of savings in our country. If you can believe it, most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings  right now. That’s truly awful for our citizens and our economy. However, while promoting this noble cause via Twitter, Booker and Warren displayed some real tone-deafness when it comes to my generation’s economic plight. First off, Warren provided an eye-opening reminder to millennials: Remember: Paying off your student loans & getting out of debt is an investment in your future too. #SaveYourSavings — Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 6, 2016 That’s her fix?! And this is supposed to be our nation’s revolutionary progressive?! But it gets worse. See this exchange between Cory Booker and a millennial: What steps should millennials take now in order to prepare for a better future? #SaveYourSavings — Corrina (@Tailoring_Ri) April 6, 2016 Start saving now. Just a few $$$ a day (skip the coffee). Over decades it'll add up to thousands #SaveYourSavings https://t.co/ZYikX8MTJM — Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 6, 2016 What a condescending “solution,” for a couple of reasons. 1) Urging millennials to spend less unfortunately takes money out of the economy — something which is desperately needed when consumption accounts for 70% of GDP and 2) it’s not even really a solution. These statements are akin to  Jeb’s widely panned statement that Americans who aren’t earning enough “need to work
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Republican Admits Voter ID Laws Help Republican Candidates

Republican Admits Voter ID Laws Help Republican Candidates

Last night, Wisconsin Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman did something unforgivable for a Republican politician: he told the truth. Here’s what Grothman told a Milwaukee TV reporter when he was asked about Republican presidential prospects in November: “I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up. And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.” Grothman is referring, of course, to Wisconsin’s incredibly restrictive new voter ID law. Amée Latour at Bustle explains that the law demands that voters show certain types of photo ID at the polls, including “different types of IDs issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the military, or colleges.” If you don’t have a photo ID with you on election day, you vote on a provisional ballot and then you have until end of day on Friday to show a photo ID to a county clerk. Usually when you ask the conservatives who promote these kinds of voter ID laws, they’ll tell you that they’re only trying to stop voter fraud. Never mind that US District Judge Lynn Adelman found that The evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin. The defendants could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past. The only evidence even relating to voter impersonation that the defendants introduced was the testimony of Bruce Landgraf, an Assistant District Attorney in Milwaukee County. Landgraf testified that in “major elections,” by which he means gubernatorial and presidential elections, his office is asked to investigate about 10 or 12 cases in which a voter arrives at the polls and is told by the poll worker that he or she has already cast a ballot. However, his office determined that the vast
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Daily Clips: April 6th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 6th, 2016

The gig economy is powered by old people:  Here at Skunk Works we are fascinated with the promise and the perils of the gig economy. If you don’t know our opinions on the matter, you should listen to our podcast episode on the subject  — it gives a great overview. Today, Bloomberg View highlighted a recent study by Lawrence F. Katz and Alan Krueger which finds, among other things, that the growth of the gig economy is actually “being driven not so much by struggling millennials lining up gigs online as by 60-year-olds working as independent contractors.” What’s unclear, they say, “is whether they’re doing this because they’re semi-retired and value freedom and flexibility, or because they’ve been downsized out of a full-time, full-benefit job and have to settle for contract work.” Are robots job creators?   Two schools of economic thinking have for many years been engaged in a debate about the potential effects of automation on jobs, employment and human activity: Will new technology spawn mass unemployment, as the robots take jobs away from humans? Or will the jobs robots take over release or unveil—or even create—demand for new human jobs? When the poor move, do they move up? …the federal government still does very little to incentivize racially and economically integrated neighborhoods—chiefly because of the political peril involved, but also because scholars and housing experts have failed to resolve whether promoting integrated neighborhoods would even be desirable or beneficial. A wave of new research, however, is helping to settle the experts’ debate, and may pave the way to fulfilling the Fair Housing Act’s original promise. Tweet of the day: 78% support. Among business owners. For secure scheduling. According to a Republican pollster. https://t.co/Wz8PxNJp08 — Working Washington (@workingwa) April 6, 2016

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Signs Anti-Gay Bill Into Law

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Signs Anti-Gay Bill Into Law

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a so-called “religious freedom” bill into law this morning. He tweeted this statement justifying his reasoning: I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning. This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws. It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of federal law in such limited circumstances. The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived. CBS News reports that this law’s “stated intention is to protect those who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, that sexual relations should only take place inside such marriages, and that male and female genders are unchangeable.” There are so many problems with this premise. First up is the demand for sincerity in religious beliefs, which I’m pretty sure is impossible to prove in court. And Bryant for some reason neglects to mention in his statement that the bill would allow anyone to deny housing to someone for reasons of gender identity, sexual preference, or even sex outside the bounds of marriage. I can’t imagine this law would survive even the tiniest challenge in court. And hey, didn’t North Carolina pass one of these bigoted anti-gay laws a while ago? How are they doing? Dominic Holden reports for BuzzFeed : PayPal announced Tuesday that it is canceling an expansion in North Carolina that would have employed 400
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Daily Clips: April 5th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 5th, 2016

Why did the CDC stop researching gun violence? The failure of the CDC to invest in studies of gun violence has greatly inhibited the ability of social scientists, law enforcement agencies, and policymakers to understand the scope and causes of shootings — while also limiting understanding of interventions that might save lives… Today, less than  $5 million is spent each year on gun studies. A single HIV or cancer study can cost twice as much… Frieden [the CDC’s Director], who declined an interview for this story, has faced public criticism for not addressing— or even acknowledging —gun violence as a public health issue. Low-skilled immigrants are good for the working class:  Noah Smith points out that “new research shows that low-skilled immigrants may do a lot more for the native-born working class than we thought.” David Brooks writes another awful article: When I went to go see David Brooks speak in Seattle last month , he told the crowd that he usually consults “200 to 300 pages of research” for his columns. Think of this claim as you read his latest work: Odder still, people are often plagued by a sense of powerlessness, a loss of efficacy. The liberation of the individual was supposed to lead to mass empowerment. But it turns out that people can effectively pursue their goals only when they know who they are — when they have firm identities. Strong identities can come only when people are embedded in a rich social fabric. They can come only when we have defined social roles — father, plumber, Little League coach. They can come only when we are seen and admired by our neighbors and loved ones in a certain way. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds.” If this is the payoff he is getting from hundreds of pages of research, then I think Brooks needs to rethink his approach. Tweet of the day: #Same pic.twitter.com/H1h3aEUtOy — MoveOn.org (@MoveOn)
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Poll Confirms ‘Most Americans, Even Most Republicans, Are Okay with Raising the Minimum Wage’

Poll Confirms ‘Most Americans, Even Most Republicans, Are Okay with Raising the Minimum Wage’

Despite being paid wages that are well below what’s required to even rent a place and being forced to go to work even when they’re very ill , workers are often not viewed as the most sympathetic group in conversations about labor issues like the minimum wage and paid sick leave. Instead, when discussing these policies, you can safely assume that at some point, someone will sympathetically bring up the plight of business owners. Business owners—sorry, job creators—are persistently held up as the ultimate victims of changes to labor laws. They suffer from razor-thin margins, according to opponents, and they’ll surely be forced to shutter their stores for good if they’re required to pay their workers more. In just about every news story on the subject, you can expect to see at least one “local business owner” talking about what havoc it might create. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t definitely some business owners who are concerned, and many more who may have to make slight adjustments. But, despite the outward appearance of a united front in opposition to raising wages and providing sick leave, it seems that many business owners actually are neutral or outwardly support these policies. According to watchdog group the Center for Media and Democracy , a survey conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz has turned up widespread support of these matters among the very group of people that conservative lawmakers typically say they’re protecting when they pass laws like preemptions , which bar cities from opting to raise the wage within their limits. The survey, which asked 1,000 business owners, found that just 8% of business owners actively oppose raising the minimum wage, and 9% oppose paid sick leave. Meanwhile, 30% “totally support” paid sick leave, while another 42% either “mostly” or “somewhat” support it. David Merritt, the global director for LuntzGlobal, even admitted that the minimum wage is, in fact, pretty popular, noting in a webinar about the results that “it’s undeniable that
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The Panama Papers Highlight the Inequality of Globalization

The Panama Papers Highlight the Inequality of Globalization

Nick Cassella wrote about the Panama Papers in Daily Clips this morning , but I can’t stop thinking about them, for obvious reasons. Have you seen this video of Iceland’s Prime Minister being asked about his role in the Panama Papers? It’s so uncomfortable to watch: And the above video led, in part, to this crowd of 22,000 Icelanders protesting outside their seat of government. (For reference, Iceland’s population was 323,002 in 2013.) This really does seem to resemble Nick Hanauer’s prediction that if income inequality persisted, pitchfork-wielding mobs would be coming after plutocrats. What we’ve seen in the Panama Papers is that global elites seem to believe that a different set of rules apply to them. They believe they can stash their money—much of which was made through unethical means—away from taxes and the media’s scrutiny and the attention of their fellow citizens. You know how Republican politicians complain that taxes take money outside of the economy? This is obviously baloney—governments are a huge part of the economy. By taking part in these Panamanian tax shelters, these global elites are actually removing money from the economy. Their taxes aren’t collected, the money isn’t invested into local businesses. It just—poof—disappears into a cozy little offshore account, waiting for its owner to collect it at a time of their choosing. Rana Foroohar at TIME writes , in a story titled “The Panama Papers Could Lead to Capitalism’s Great Crisis,” why this is such a big deal: Voters know at a gut level that our system of global capitalism is working mainly for the 1 %, not the 99 %. That’s a large part of why both Sanders and Trump have done well, because they tap into that truth, albeit in different ways. The Panama Papers illuminate a key aspect of why the system isn’t working–because globalization has allowed the capital and assets of the 1 % (be they individuals or corporations)
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Daily Clips: April 4th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 4th, 2016

Panama Papers:  If we had to look at “meta-narratives” which surround the 2010s, then economic and social inequality would have to be top candidates. After Piketty stirred the conversation with “Capital” and Nick Hanauer warned of “ pitchforks “, the Panama Papers have entered the public conversation. What exactly are the Panama Papers? They are “a massive document link” which “reveals a global web of corruption and tax avoidance.” As always, Matthew Yglesias at Vox explains it best: Here are a few of the highlights the team found, with links to the full stories where you can read the details: Vladimir Putin’s inner circle appears to control about $2 billion worth of offshore assets. The prime minister of Iceland secretly owned the debt of failed Icelandic banks  while he was involved in political negotiations over their fate. The family of Pakistan’s prime minister owns millions of dollars’ worth of real estate via offshore accounts. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to sell his Ukrainian business interests during his campaign, but appears instead to have transferred them to an offshore company he controls . Climate change puts trillions of dollars of financial assets at risk:  Unsurprising. What’s the right minimum wage?   But in the policy debate, it is the job loss argument that overwhelmingly dominates. On this score, minimum wage advocates have been helped by the facts—the best research now shows that large hikes in the local statutory wage floor has no discernible effect on employment. Many jobs that fail to pay a living wage reflect the collapse of worker bargaining power over the course of the last four decades. The evidence speaks loudly: Forced to pay higher wages, employers find ways to adjust, through productivity gains, lower worker turnover, lower wage increases for higher wage workers, price increases that have little effect on consumer demand, and even reduced profit margins. Above all, a necessary condition for stronger worker bargaining power in the absence of collective bargaining is a strong macroeconomy. With sufficient time to adjust, jobs that cannot pay a minimally decent wage should be driven out of the labor market. Tweet
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New Report Reveals a Scheduling Emergency for Service Workers

New Report Reveals a Scheduling Emergency for Service Workers

Recently, Working Washington interviewed over 300 service industry Seattle workers about their schedules . If you don’t work in the service industry, or if you haven’t worked in the service industry for over a decade, you might find the results to be shocking. Everybody knows that retail and food service employers demand out-of-the-ordinary schedules from their employees. That’s just a fact of life; people don’t eat dinner inside a 9-to-5 schedule. Whenever I applied for a service job, I was warned that I’d be expected to work nights and weekends. It’s what you sign up for. But here’s what you shouldn’t have to sign up for when you get hired: schedules that refuse to make room for family, higher education, or even second jobs; schedules that are so wildly varied that you’ll have no idea how much money you’ll be making at the end of the month; and schedules that consistently leave you feeling sick, stressed out, and exhausted. Employer expectations for scheduling in the service industry have gotten way out of hand. Just take a look at what Working Washington has uncovered. Half of all the workers they talked to receive their schedules one week or less in advance. Of that half, 21 percent received less than one week notice for their weekly schedule. Imagine not knowing on Sunday if you’ll have to work on Monday. That’s the schedule that tens of thousands of people in the Seattle area live with right now. Of the 300 people Working Washington talked to, the average part-time work week was 25 hours, with a weekly variability of 14.9 hours—so you might work ten hours one week and 40 hours the next. In fact, three-quarters of all those employees polled saw their weekly schedules regularly grow or shrink by 8 hours or more. How do you plan around a schedule like that, with a full days
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The Real Lesson from $15? America’s Trickle-Down Experiment Has Failed

The Real Lesson from $15? America’s Trickle-Down Experiment Has Failed

Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane admits he has no earthly idea what a $15 minimum wage will do to California’s economy. Still, that doesn’t stop him from squeezing  an 800-word column out of his utter absence of knowledge. Nice work if you can get it. There’s a total lack of evidence that the potential benefits would outweigh potential costs — and ample reason to worry they would not. Yes, true in the sense that it is literally impossible to gather evidence on the actual consequences of something that has yet to happen. But it’s not like cities, states, and the federal government haven’t raised the minimum wage hundreds of times over the past 80 years while producing little compelling evidence that the actual benefits (you know, higher wages) have ever been outweighed by the actual costs. And no, contrary to Lane’s assertion, California’s proposed increase from $10 an hour in 2016 to $15 in 2022 — 50 percent over six years — is not particularly “Yuuuge.” From a historical perspective, it’s kinda the norm . In fact, if anything, it’s on the low side. From 1939 to 1945 the federal minimum wage climbed 60 percent. From 1961 to 1968 the federal minimum wage climbed 60 percent. From 1974 to 1980 the federal minimum wage climbed 94 percent. From 1990 to 1997 the federal minimum wage climbed 54 percent. Hell, from 2007 to 2009, over just three years, the federal minimum wage climbed 41 percent. And what of the devastating job-killing consequences of these unprecedented wage hikes? If the evidence shows some equally obvious pattern of correlated job losses, I’ve never seen it. In fact, in the years following the largest one-year minimum wage hike in our nation’s history — a whopping 87.5 percent increase from $0.40 in 1949 to $0.75 in 1950 — the unemployment rate plummeted from 5.9 percent in 1949 to 2.9% by 1953.
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