“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov
Today, less privileged white Americans are considered to be in crisis, and the language of sociologists and pathologists predominates. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 was published in 2012, and Robert D. Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis came out last year. From opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, they made the case that social breakdown among low-income whites was starting to mimic trends that had begun decades earlier among African Americans: Rates of out-of-wedlock births and male joblessness were rising sharply. Then came the stories about a surge in opiate addiction among white Americans, alongside shocking reports of rising mortality rates (including by suicide) among middle-aged whites. And then, of course, came the 2016 presidential campaign. The question was suddenly no longer why Democrats struggled to appeal to regular Americans. It was why so many regular Americans were drawn to a man like Donald Trump.
FEDERAL REGULATORS EARLIER this month unveiled new rules aimed at reining in payday lenders and the exorbitant fees they charge. Now expect to hear a lot of what one payday lender named Phil Locke calls “the lies we would tell whenever we were under attack.”
The new rules announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are relatively straightforward, if not also a disappointment to some consumer advocates. A payday loan is typically a two-week advance against a borrower’s next paycheck (or monthly social security allotment, for that matter); lenders commonly charge $15 on every $100 borrowed, which works out to an annual interest rate of almost 400 percent (600% in Virginia). Under the CFPB’s proposal, lenders would have a choice. One option would require them to perform the underwriting necessary to ensure that a borrower, based on his or her income and expenses, can afford a loan. Another option requires them to limit the customer to no more than six of these loans per year (and no more than three in a row).
The state-by-state interest rates customers are charged on payday loans. The rates are calculated based on a typical $300, two-week loan. Source: Center for Responsible Lending
Neoliberalism refers to capitalism in its purest form. It is an economic philosophy espoused by libertarians — and repeated endlessly by many mainstream economists — one that insists that privatization, deregulation, the opening up of domestic markets to foreign competition, the cutting of government spending, the shrinking of the state and the “freeing of the market” are the keys to a healthy and flourishing economy.
“There are aspects of the neoliberal agenda that have not delivered as expected,” the economists write in “Neoliberalism: Oversold?“, a study published in the June volume of the IMF’s quarterly magazine Finance & Development.
In analyzing two of neoliberalism’s most fundamental policies, austerity and the removing of restrictions on the movement of capital, the IMF researchers say they reached “three disquieting conclusions.”
The importance of this study is hard to overstate. The IMF is essentially admitted that many of the policies that it demanded countries implement for decades only made things worse.
One, neoliberal policies result in “little benefit in growth.”
Two, neoliberal policies increase inequality, which produces further economic harms in a “trade-off” between growth and inequality.
And three, this “increased inequality in turn hurts the level and sustainability of growth.”
The top researchers conclude noting that the “evidence of the economic damage from inequality suggests that policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are.”
May 26, 2016 / CounterPoint / Comments Off on A new report maps how much the average American has to earn to comfortably afford a modest rental in every U.S. state
In 2016, a worker would need to make $20.30 per hour to rent a two-bedroom accommodation comfortably—without devoting more than 30 percent of income on housing costs. Last year, NLIHC pegged this “housing wage” at $19.35 an hour. (And we’re not talking about luxury apartments here. The report tallies this average hourly wage against the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Market Rent, an annual estimate of what a family might pay to live in a simple apartment.)
To really understand the weight of 2016’s housing wage, consider this: The average hourly wage for Americans is actually $15.42 per the report, which is not nearly enough to afford a two-bedroom. And the federal minimum wage, at $7.25, is around a third of what’s required. That means minimum-wage workers would have to work three jobs, or 112 hours a week, to be able to afford a decent two-bedroom accommodation.
For poor Americans, even a one-bedroom place is out of reach. There’s not a single state in the U.S. where a minimum-wage worker can comfortably afford a one-bedroom by working a 40-hour week. The map below shows the hours per week this worker would have to put in live in a modest one-bedroom in each state:
Welcome to the new economy, where convenience is king. It’s no wonder these kinds of services are popular – they give us just what we need, when we need them. They make fast lives possible. But is convenience turning us into monsters?
A high minimum wage, guaranteed medical leave for workers, and paid overtime are all issues young progressives have taken vocal positions on. But in an environment shaped by on-demand apps, workers are considered independent contractors or free agents, and job protections are eliminated. It’s a system that heavily favors the corporation over the laborer.
Here’s the deal: Innovations improve our lives & create new wealth. But policy will determine if workers share in that wealth. #itspersonal
Strangely enough, however, progressives aren’t just giving their tacit approval to the sharing economy by spending their money with companies like Uber. They’re straight up coming out against protecting the workers involved. A survey from Pew found that Americans who use ride-hailing and home-sharing services are against regulating them. The people who use these services tend to be younger, and they tend to identify as Democrats.
The conclusion is obvious: we young progressives are hypocrites. We want corporations put in check, except when those corporations provide us a convenient service. We are against the exploitation of workers in theory, but in reality, we couldn’t care less about Uber drivers or about what they have to say about the weather during an awkward 15-minute drive.