Thursday, June 22, 2006

Race To The Bottom: That Cost Of Living Thing & Collateral Matters

Ill: Wizard of Whimsy

Here goes, kids. Demon Princess has an extreme aversion to discussing economics, & not just because she has conservative accountants swinging off another vine of the family tree, but because she just doesn’t like it. But hey--that doesn't mean I can't comprehend it. I’ve had it. The really the shallow, stupid “debates” over the imaginary federal minimum wage hike on the news tonight have really pissed her off.

I mean, how stupid does a person have to pretend to be not to get it?

Under GOP top-down management—I advisedly said “management,” by the way, not “democratic government”—the continued sell-out of our collective well-being continues unabated. We exist only if there’s a perceived need for us, & even then, completely on their terms.

What the GOP stands for is nothing so much as “I got mine & I’m slamming the door in your face"—the rest of you can beg on the streets.

Talking points: Whoops, there goes the student loan program, there go any sort of safety nets for the poor (what was even left of them), but—wait, we do now have Medicare prescription drug coverage: prices of which have already increased though it was just instituted, thanks to the huge giveaway to Big Pharmco that prevents the program from using its formidable negotiating power to get lower prices--& still they raise them! What kind of unconscionable assholes really can't get enough, preying on peoples' misfortunes, & yes, gouging people on fixed incomes who need these drugs to survive:

And don't give us that "R&D" expenses are so high. Holes have been blown through that time & again. Maybe, when it comes to Big Pharma, what we need is tight regulation instead of letting it run amok, doing what free-market capitalism does best--raping those who need it most.

What a big fuckin’ disaster. And in the meantime (despite all the propaganda to the contrary) the American economy hasn’t improved by much. Maybe we need more tax cuts for the wealthy.

See here, Bushco: I grew up thinking that free choice, getting a good education & working hard work mattered for something, I’ve always paid my fair share. I know this will come as a shocking--indeed, unfathomable--mystery to you, but I also want to see other people have the chance to do well. Even worse, I also still believe in a government that marshalls its collective resources in order to provide a safety net for those who encounter difficulties along the way.

After all, we all age, grow ill & die. That’s a collective problem, something we’re all gonna have to face. None of us here is immortal. However, as with everything, it seems, since this administration took office, the goal seems to be to cement the GOP’s wealth & privilege with an endless-love sycophantic relationship between the only party in power & the greedy corporations that would capture it. Corporate welfare is the name of the game, & it’s apparently working well for companies that continue to consolidate their power.

Oh, please. I wouldn't dream of criticizing "no-bids" for friends Halliburton, Enron, Big Pharma..I know I'm missing someone...oh yes, Big Oil.

Who was it that said, “The measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable”? By that measure, folks, we’re going straight to hell—if we aren’t already there. Compassionate conservatism my ass.

What set me off on this evening's tirade is the continued, blatant, relentless, completely devoid of humanity or conscience public beating of the proverbial little guy--you know, the insignificant worms out there whose lives you know nothing about & don't want to know anything about.

It was the news tonight revealing that that there was never any serious question that the exceedingly stingy proposed minimum rate increase would never see the light of day, as, according to an AP report late tonight, the GOP had disingenuously “smothered” it. “House Republicans making it clear that they do not intend to allow a vote on the issue, fearing it may pass.”

Of course, Congresspersons, who have the luxury most of us don’t of voting their own wage hikes, have been very generous with themselves in same the just-under-a-decade period--they've increased their own pay by approximately $30,000 (per Ted Kennedy) in the same period. And that’s in addition to the most generous health insurance an such an august body can unilaterally vote to reward themselves, as well a luxe retirement plan—all side goodies that continue for their lifetimes, I’ve heard, & can’t be forfeited even if the Congressperson serves one term & is booted out in disgrace. Maybe it’s just me, but I find these things outrageous, considering the following tidbits, which I will be pleased to knit together for y’all so I’ll have some company in my outrage.

The GOP refuses to raise the federal minimum wage from the five measly bucks plus change it’s been for almost a decade, which works out to yearly figure below the poverty line. What kind of message does that send to the Walmarts of the world, whose employees in great numbers are forced to rely on Medicaid, if they can jump through the insane amount of hoops required to get it? Granted, states can & do legislate their own minimum wages, but only four have increases tied to the rate of inflation, and at the very least, the federal minimum wage represents a floor beneath which workers cannot fall.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Adjusted for rising living costs, those earning minimum wage make less per hour today than they have in the past 51 years. A glimpse at this low-wage workforce shows a broad blend of faces and backgrounds from teenage lifeguards to single moms, from immigrants to grandmothers, that, together, wage-hike proponents say, form an alliance of the chronically underpaid..

“But whether the fortunes of these 8 million Americans, earning less than $7.25 an hour, would rise or falter under the first government-ordered wage hike in 10 years is the broader debate spreading from restaurant kitchens on Capitol Hill to the grocery store aisles of Atlanta.

"’The typical minimum-wage worker is not a teenager earning side money,’ says Isaac Shapiro, an associate director at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington. ‘Most minimum-wage workers, those most affected by the wage increase and those just above the minimum wage, their earnings can really be vital to their household economics.’"

“Big contributors to household income: Some 48 percent, or 3.5 million, are between 25 and 64 years old who, on average, contribute more than half of the income in their households, experts say. Raising the minimum wage is a $18.4 billion proposition that is supported by 83 percent of Americans, according to the Pew Center for the People and the Press.

"’This is an issue that has to do with the fact that economic growth is not being shared equitably among all Americans,’ says a spokesman for Rep. George Miller (D) of California, who had introduced a minimum-wage bill last year.”

Just how inequitable would that be?

According to a Reuters report today:

“Chief executive officers in the United States earned 262 times the pay of an average worker in 2005, the second-highest level in the 40 years for which there is data, a nonprofit think-tank said on Wednesday.

“In fact, a CEO earned more in one workday than an average worker earned in 52 weeks, said the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. The typical worker's compensation averaged just under $42,000 for the year, while the average CEO brought home almost $11 million, EPI said.” To see how your pay compares with your CEO's (if a publically traded company), click here:

Another apt French phrase besides l’etat, c’est moi, and complementary to our nouveau plantation society, comes to mind: “Let them eat cake.”

More interesting debate regarding the minimum wage is to be found here:


Blogger Paul said...

Don't know about the rest of the country, but it takes a minimum of $12 per hour to get by here in San Diego, and at least twice that if the worker is trying to buy a house. Anything less than $12 and the worker bee is sharing a dingy apartment with at least 2 other people, riding a bicycle to work and getting their healthcare at the free clinic.

6:48 AM  
Blogger LiberPaul said...

Great rant! There was an article published in WaPo today describing how middle-class neghborhoods are shrinking, some move up to the wealthy neighborhoods while others move down...

Sad state of affairs Demon Princess, sad indeed...

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Jet said...

Grrrl, this post just rocked the house!

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Steve O said...

Yes indeedy!!!! It's the "I got mine, now piss off" crowd. What I don't get is how some of these minimum wage earners or hovering near minimum wage earners actually think the Republican party represents them.

There they sit earning below poverty, running up medical bills for the kids, not being able to pay credit card debt and the Repubs rip the carpet out from under them by not allowing them a safety net in Bankruptcy if it ever came to that AND now they slam the door in their faces and say they aren't allowed to earn more to pay off that debt. But bye-golly they'll head to the polls in November and vote for them again. ::banging head against desk::

11:04 AM  
Blogger dusty said...

Friggin awesome post! Great research and I love your writing style!

Linking up w/ rock!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Thanks for your comments & encouragement! Means a lot to me.

Paul, the same is true for Seattle, very recently having been in the depressing housing market here myself. The only thing that made sense about renting here in recent years is that the economy had one of the highest continuing unemployment rates in the nation (if you weren't in the booming fields of healthcare or biotech~topic of another rant~for such a prolonged period of time, that rents were actually quite reasonable. That's changed, with the housing bubble~the only other sure sources of jobs here now is construction. Anyway, long story short, even viewing anything in the "affordable" price range was a monumentally depressing experience...

I'm tellin' ya, those places were shitholes. Finally lucked out, truly, only persevering against all odds & getting on a waiting list for the ONE option that was liveable. Some time afterwards, a buyer dropped out, & had the good fortune to be 1st in line.

What I know is that it's REALLY hard to survive in this country's current economic climate, & the chasm between the super-rich & the super-poor just keeps stretching. Those fortunate enough to "have theirs" seem to be under siege mentality, & even "nice people" seem to be more concerned with keeping the unfortunates, with the stink of bad luck, on them, out than with lending a helping hand (or voice) to their plight. Or, sometimes, taking the "I can help if I want, but what's in it for me" stance. I can't abide that--

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Pat said...

"how stupid does a person have to pretend to be not to get it?" That made me smile.
The master publicans, Frist etc., can pull this trick off with a true look of sincerity on their faces. It really drives me fucking nuts.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Ah, yes, Mr. Frist, Herr Docter Evil.

Whatever gets him thru the night, alright, alright. It's your money or your life, etc.

(We know where they come down on the $ issue, even though it's NOT THEIRS. It's OURS.)

I don't know where that came from, Pat, it's just that there's an omnipresent jukebox in my head comes up with a tune befitting every occasion (or thinks it does.)

12:35 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to comment! I really appreciate it. I haven't quite mastered the mysterious ways of Blogger &/or gmail to get them posted, so forgive me for not responding earlier.

SteveO, I share your frustration with everything you bring up--the new banko laws are just plain evil, for instance, but a lot of legal types are complaining that they're not workable--let's hope it has some effect.

LiberalPaul, I saw that article in the WaPo, too. I daresay that most Americans continue to believe that this is the golden land of opportunity & by what WERE all the rules, if you give it your best shot & still you "fail," it's because YOU fucked the "losers" slink away in shame, internalizing it & probably not realizing that its Bushcon time: all the cards are stacked against ya, baby.

Dusty: you rock, too, & I'll link to you, too, as soon as Cranky Liberal (my tech-guru) tells me, techno-dork that I am, how!

Thanks, all!

5:39 PM  

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