Posts Tagged ‘Income Disparity’

NO COLLUSION

March 8, 2019

First things first, Analysis needs to bring context to today’s post through a follow up to the previous two. Fresh off the new Governor’s State of the State but still the same old marketing to Ohio residents as well as outside investors, we give some numbers (the theme of today’s post). “The average JobsOhio employee made six figures in 2018, records show” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland.com (3-7-19). The headline speaks for itself. “The nonprofit’s top-paid employee was outgoing President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor, who made $621,322.62 in total compensation, which includes salary, 401k contributions and health care costs. That’s $86,863, or 16 percent higher than he received the previous year.” “The second-highest paid employee was Dana Saucier, the nonprofit’s vice president and head of economic development. He received $353,099.72. Chief Financial Officer Kevin Giangola received $240,486.96, and General Counsel Don Grubbs made $238,163.06. Two senior managing directors made $342,155.67 and $304,863.34; Kristi Tanner and Aaron Pitts” “In all, 39 employees received at least $100,000, and 11 received more than $200,000. The average employee’s compensation was $107,741.25, compared to $98,129.02 in 2017.” You do the math. But Analysis notes the new Governor’s State of the State. What does he make? And his cabinet? From the same reporter/news source (Here are the salaries for Gov. Mike DeWine’s top staff — and how they compare to John Kasich’s, 1-30-19): “State legislators voted last December to give state and county-level elected officials across-the-board raises. As a result, DeWine will make $154,248, while Kasich, whose veto of the pay-raise bill was overturned, made $148,315. We did not include this in our average salary calculations.” And what was the averages for cabinet and staff? “The average DeWine cabinet member will make $156,377, compared to $151,140, or about 3.5 percent more, for the same jobs in the Kasich administration.” “Along with salary data for cabinet members, the DeWine administration last Friday released a partial list for top, but not-cabinet level, administrative staff. Those staff made an average of $114,254, compared to $116,000 for the Kasich staff.” Still want a government job, Bunky? Analysis shows top public private partnership ones pay better. But who’s working for whom? And what are they getting for it? (that includes you, Bunky) Writing for the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham headlines Household net worth falls by largest amount since the Great Recession, new Fed data shows (3-7-19). Of note: “Total household net worth is a measure of the assets — such as homes, stocks and bank accounts — owned by American families and nonprofits minus their debts. In the fourth quarter of 2018, it fell by about $3.7 trillion, a 3.5 percent quarterly decline. Going back to 1952, the start of the Fed’s data, only three quarters — the third and fourth quarters of 2008, and the second quarter of 1962 — posted bigger declines in household net worth, percentage-wise. The data shows that change was driven by the poor performance of the stock market in the fourth quarter of last year. The flailing market erased $4.6 trillion in assets from household and nonprofit balance sheets, which was offset somewhat by gains in real estate and other assets.” Been wondering why your rent has been going up, Bunky? “More important, most of the household wealth in the United States is owned by the country’s richest families. In 2016, for instance, the top 1 percent of families owned 40 percent of all household wealth, with the next 9 percent of families holding an additional 29 percent. That leaves 21 percent of the country’s net worth for the remaining 90 percent of American families. Furthermore, about half of American families don’t own any stocks, while the top 10 percent of families control about 84 percent of the stock market. Taken together, the numbers are a reminder that the stock market is not the economy, and that big national-level data sets may not necessarily reflect financial reality for typical American families, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to meet even small unexpected expenses.” Speaking of expenses, numbers news came out this week that addresses just that: “In Blow to Trump, America’s Trade Deficit in Goods Hits Record $891 Billion” by Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson for the NY Times, 3-6-19. ““All countries run trade deficits whenever they consume more than they produce,” said Kimberly Clausing, an economist at Reed College in Oregon. “And when we borrow to finance tax cuts, like we did with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we make these imbalances worse.”” “It is a case of textbook economics catching up with some of Mr. Trump’s unorthodox economic policies. Economists have long warned that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts would ultimately exacerbate a trade deficit he has vowed to reduce, as Americans, flush with extra cash, bought more imported goods.” Analysis can only conclude that the garage and yard sales market will rise in 2019 as average Americans will have so much more stuff to sell. No matter, as of this writing (3-8-19), Dear Leader’s morning constitutional tweet stresses once again, in all caps, “there is NO COLLUSION.” Confused, Bunky? By design, Bunky, by design.

401K? Not Even Close.

October 5, 2018

On the 10-5-18 edition of PBS NewsHour, Mark Shields answered a question asking “how do we heal after the Kavanaugh hearings?” with a reference to the fact that even with record unemployment in the country, we retreat to tribal camps when it comes to issues of difference. Though unspoken, the assumption was that “with things going so well” it would be a little easier to persuade one another (since the foundation would be this overall sense of shared prosperity, “wellness”). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed this week that the unemployment rate for September 2018 fell to 3.7%, the lowest it has been in almost 50 years. The dialectic of it all is hard to miss. Polarization 50 years ago centered around a colonial era war that the U.S. was engaged in. That very same war was what was driving the low unemployment figures. Fast forward to today’s polarized country and the same dialectic applies with regard to unemployment figures and polarized lack of consensus. Interesting to note, but hidden in all the polarization, was that 50 years ago some of what was possible during the run up to low unemployment was continued to be possible during those same low unemployment days, economically. A person with “a decent job” (what is an “indecent job”?) could afford housing, could afford transportation, could afford medical (dental, etc.) care, and could even afford to record memories of a vacation or of “college life”. Can as much be said for today? 50 years ago those in the “middle class” could afford a summer retreat or RV, even a retirement home in Florida or Arizona. Who can count on their retirement today where most feel they will be working at least until they are 70, if not beyond? Who can savor their “college life” when paying for it all but displaces everything else, even study? Mark Shields was on point while at the same time failing to elaborate a fundamental difference in the statistics of “unemployment rates” over time. That fundamental difference is the enormous spread of income disparity over the last 50 years, where today a “decent job” pays for little more than being one step away from living under a bridge. This income disparity has shrunk the middle class while making anything regarding health care, vacation, education, or retirement available only to 1% of Americans. Face it Mark, low unemployment rates do not reflect a misery index, something today’s polarized America shares with that of 50 years ago. “By now, you’ve likely heard the conventional wisdom: that you should aim to have a nest egg of $1 million to $1.5 million. Or that your savings should amount to 10 to 12 times your current income [to retire].” (AARP The Magazine). Really? What percentage of folks, employed or not, have that kind of money socked away? 401K? Not even close.

Polarization And Gerrymandering

October 6, 2017

Analysis finds there to be endless speculation, with statistical backing, on “the polarization of America” on the majority of issues facing our children’s future. Whether this is a readily available handle on the news by the news media, or “fake news” promoted by tech savvy raconteurs (both foreign and domestic), or is actually so but impossible to grasp unless you are a main frame computer is a contemporary puzzle. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing a case questioning Wisconsin’s political redistricting. Labeled gerrymandering, the issue is rather one of domination than polarization. Locally, in Newark Ohio, we have the destruction of the courthouse square gazebo which ostensibly is part of the City of Newark’s public domain but sits adjacent the Licking County Courthouse (also a public domain but of the county, not city). Confused? It is all akin to the township trustee positions that some municipal voters get to vote on even though unaffected by any township adjudication. Where is the gerrymandering and polarization in all this when it comes to the Newark City Council, Mayor Jeff Hall, and the voting residents of Newark? A recent editorial, er, report by the Advocate editor, Benjamin Lanka, may shed some light on this (since obviously no one would admit to polarization in Newark let alone gerrymandering with the ward districting supplemented by at large representatives). Entitled “Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it?” (10-6-17) it paints a rather ambiguous picture (THAT is an understatement!). In a nut shell, Lanka goes out of his way to survey each council representative and their views on the matter. All, save one, would prefer the gazebo remain and not be destroyed. All plead powerlessness to stopping Mayor Hall’s action (but for discretely polarized reasons!). The “save one” is none other than Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s son, Ryan Bubb. In the past, Ryan would have been given the benefit of doubt with regard to nepotism, but with the age of the Kushners being part and parcel of the White House administration, the doubt itself is more than doubtful. Commenters to Lanka’s editorial, er, reporting raised the obvious. When Lanka writes “The costs of moving and restoring the gazebo are being paid by private donors.” They ask “who are the private donors?” Analysis speculates it is probably a public private partnership (like JobsOhio) which is not obligated to disclose their “private” parts (so fashionable these days!). Investigative reporting is not this particular Advocate reporter’s forte. Lanka concludes his editorial, er, article by quoting Ryan Bubb: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” Priceless! Analysis finds the gerrymandering and polarization of Newark to be a little more readily apparent when one asks a simple question – why has no one suggested (publicly voiced) recalling the mayor if he continues with his administrative action counter the people’s will? All of a sudden the polarization jumps out. The ambiguity of the GOP representative’s we’d-like-it-to-stay-but (“Would I like to see it stay? Absolutely,” Frazier said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the authority of the mayor.”) is obviously inevitable (an acknowledgement of the little man behind the curtain in Oz). It is what comes after the “but” that makes for the affirmative statement (we still abide by the GOP power structure). The reticence of the Democratic candidates to generate any action to save the gazebo (initiate a recall) points to the de facto gerrymandering (their very powerlessness). Their positions within their districts are none too secure. Analysis finds (on the national level) talk, reporting and commentary on gerrymandering and polarization to be often times, if not most of the time, couched in terms of economics. However, as the Newark gazebo shows, polarization and gerrymandering are about those who have power, and those who are lorded over. We will have our way because we can. And in this case, we can make the gazebo disappear. “It’s going to be back better than it was.” Now THAT’S power!

Voter ID

September 14, 2016

“Evictions still on rise in Licking County despite recovery” headlines reporting by Jennifer Smola for The Columbus Dispatch (9-13-16). Smola writes that “The number of eviction cases filed in Licking County Municipal Court has steadily increased each year since 2010. Last year, the county logged 1,078 cases, an increase of 8.6 percent from a decade earlier, in 2006, before the Great Recession. The county is on track for a similar number this year, with 712 cases. The eviction hearings occur once every two weeks, and a court date late last month had 82 eviction cases — the most this year.” Later she reports the irony that “Regionally, mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates are down, according to a report last month from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which covers Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. But despite those improvements, roughly 50 to 70 percent of low-income renters struggle with housing costs, the report said.” Bear in mind, dear reader, that Analysis has repeatedly covered the success story narrated by Tim Bubb and Grow Licking County. See his 2015 year in review (“A look back and ahead for Licking County” Newark Advocate 1-10-16). Indeed, overall unemployment places Licking County under 5%, within the state’s rate. And nationally the recovery is begrudgingly working, making the rich richer and the poor statistically not growing. So what gives with the growing evictions given the jobs are there along with “consumer confidence”? Smola considers “Despite low unemployment rates and reports of economic growth, the picture of recovery isn’t always as rosy as it’s portrayed to be, [local Newark activist David] Greene said. Wages remain low, and many jobs that are available locally are only part time, temporary or seasonal, he said.” Analysis reveals this to be an incomplete (and unsatisfying) explanation. A Wall Street Journal graphic from 6-21-16 (“Not Just the 1%: The Upper Middle Class Is Larger and Richer Than Ever” Josh Zumbrun) lists the various percentages of “class” population in the US. The poor (under $30,000 per year) at roughly 20%, the lower middle class (30-50,000) 17%, the middle class (50-100,000) comprises 32% and the upper middle class (100,000-350,000) at 29%. The rich (over 350,000) displace 2%. The 20% poverty rate has remained essentially flat lined for the last 50 years, yet evictions in Newark are growing. In a PBS Newshour article entitled “There’s less middle in the middle class as income inequality grows, Pew analysis finds” (5-12-16) Kai Ryssdal (Host & Senior Editor, PBS Marketplace) says “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” This is borne out by the WSJ “class” distinctions of “upper” middle class, middle class, and “lower” middle class instead of upper, middle and lower. Rich, middle class, and poor is how the politicians in this election year have divvied up the masses. More on this later. Ryssdal confirms Greene, but more completely: “Wages have been stagnant in this economy for decades now, right, which means incomes and household wealth are stagnant, which means there is more income inequality. And when you have income inequality, you have more going to the low end, you have more going to the high end, and those drivers of prosperity in America [the middle] are getting, as you said in the beginning, hollowed out.” The Pew findings, along with the WSJ article, find that although the poor and the rich have maintained the same percentage of population, the middle class (the middle) has shifted with roughly 2/3’s getting richer (increasing the percentage of the “upper” middle class) and 1/3 getting poorer (increasing the “lower” middle class). Not noted within the Fed report is that rents have been following the middle class, with landlords erring on the side of upward mobility in setting rents. More people today cannot afford rent though there aren’t statistically more “poor”. Politicians (Dem as well as GOP) have remained fixated on the rich, poor, middle distinction. With the poor remaining in stasis, no emphasis is placed on measures to create affordable housing. It is easier to speak of “jobs” as the solution. The 2/3 of the middle class that benefitted from the recovery would likewise explain the “base” that has materialized and supported the presidential candidacy of Donnie Trump. These folks have the most to lose with any political maneuvering that would integrate the “lower” middle class with the poor (creating an overall 37% of the population within a lower class status, in need of public support programs). It is this appeal to the fear of losing the gains accrued within the Obama recovery that drives the Trump candidacy. After all, the reality of loss is certainly manifest within the evictions suffered by those who did not benefit from the Obama recovery, the 37% in the lower class. Losses in the middle and “upper” middle class would not be found here, but rather in the Fed’s mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates. No wonder voter ID is such a huge issue. “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” But how many would identify as “upper’, middle or “lower” class?

Refreshment Opportunity

August 29, 2016

A teaser. Really. But oh, so revealing. “Is city corporate park about to land first user?” (Chad Klimack, Newark Advocate, 8-25-16) reports “on the potential economic development opportunity” of (what the Kasich administration defines as) a “Job Ready Site”. Analysis notes “the “opportunity” apparently concerns the city’s long-vacant Job Ready Site, which covers nearly 300 acres inside the 500-plus-acre corporate park.” Lest, dear reader, one believes that “the city’s…” designates ownership, the article later clearly points out that “Pataskala’s corporate park is privately owned”. Significant for Analysis is that “Pataskala officials and their county counterparts have been bullish on the corporate park ever since the opening of the extended Etna Parkway in 2011. The county used a $3.4 million state Job Ready Site grant — and contributed almost $3 million of its own money — to build the road. Officials argued it would open up the site to development by creating an easier connection between U.S. 40 and Broad Street.” Equally significant for Analysis is the anecdotal narrative (that never was) “City and county officials may be hesitant to comment because they have come close to landing a user before — only to see the company go elsewhere. An unnamed data center sniffed around the park in early 2015. Representatives even submitted a rezoning request for 212 acres inside the park, but they ultimately pulled the request.” Of course, Grow Licking County has a complete array of tax credits, abatements, subsidies and incentives to consummate the art of the deal. Analysis wonders whether 5 years of inactive vacancy is a sign of success or failure (on the part of Grow Licking County)? The tax payers have provided well over six and a half million dollars for some privately owned property to become profitable. This is done with the “hope” of jobs being created. Would they do this for a hot dog vendor who wanted another cart and was willing to hire an employee to man the cart? Restrain your guffaws, please. What of a “mom and pop” (such a thing still exists?) restaurant, garage, or small farm wanting to add another location or expand? Would the county commissioners fund that job creation? No, of course not, it would have to be really big before… That is the “natural” expectation that drives the repetitive behavior (we all recall the definition of insanity and repeating behavior that doesn’t work). How big? What makes it big enough to qualify? Analysis would like to look at this from a more contemporary perspective. To be really big means big wealth. Big wealth can’t be idle, it is supposed to create even more wealth. The power of wealth, also known as capital (from whence comes “capitalism”), is that it can create value. Big wealth (capital)) calls the shots (“only to see the company go elsewhere” So much for some governor or president being credited for creating…). Capital (big wealth) determines value. The “natural” expectation is that the “privately owned” land has some value. The actuality is that capital (big wealth) alone determines value, hence the almost 7 million spent by the tax payers wooing big wealth (naturally described as “opportunity”). Where have we seen this before? Analysis finds this repeatedly playing out in the kabuki of the 2016 presidential contest. Indeed, in recorded interviews, the Republican candidate for president has repeatedly said that his value (net worth) cannot be pinned down because that changes with however it is he feels about his personal worth on any given day. Substantiating his expressed policy position is the adamant refusal by the GOP candidate to release his tax returns. Doing so would assign him a specific value, limiting the “opportunities”. A key component of “opportunity” is such “feeling” toward value. Analysis found this term appeared 6 times in Klimack’s little article. The rival on the DEM side is just too happy to establish her own value, believing such inherent worth justifies “receiving” mega bucks in multiple speaking honorariums. The big wealth (capital) accumulated from these brief speaking stints have helped create the candidate’s value, entitling her to address things from the side of capital (big wealth) while promoting the neo liberal mantra of “opportunity” for all. In 2016 the American electorate has presented itself with the choice of “wealth determines value” or “value determines wealth”. Would the reader prefer a Pepsi or a Coke?

The Patience Of Jobs

July 30, 2016

No, not Steve Jobs. Jobs, the Marxist definition of “selling one’s labor”. The 2016 presidential event has left the primary season behind and now has entered the final phase of two major party candidates with their pitch to the electorate. And once again, “establishment” or “outsider”, the pitch remains jobs. It is still not clear what the attraction is for the electorate of selling one’s labor, or what the magnetism is that sticks it to election cycle after election cycle, for as long as can be remembered. If there was anything to be learned from the Bush years, it was that profit margins are what drive Wall Street, and where the margin isn’t growing, the stock plummets. Where the money to be made is not “enough”, then the property is left to rot (see Where Credit Is Due 7-10-16 for how this happens locally, or remember the old Meijer store on 21st St.?). Yet both major party candidates are focusing their marketing on “the rust belt” promising, what else, jobs. In interviews with residents of these areas over the last 20 years they all ultimately admit “but those jobs are never coming back” (it is what comes after the “but” that is the working end of a “but” statement). Yes 20, as automation drove out a lot of those jobs with the dot com fireworks of the first Clinton administration. Today’s (un)employment statistics- local, statewide or even national- certainly don’t show what the imagined scenario promoted by the two major candidates portrays. By historic standards, it is at or near full employment. What puzzles the Federal Reserve is that, though on the cusp of being too low (contributing to inflation), there is little signs of inflationary trending. In his run for the White House, Ohio’s Governor campaigned, not on any appeal to “rust belt” marketing, but rather on Ohio’s low unemployment. Locally, former radio personality and current Licking County Commission megaphone Tim Bubb repeatedly uses “jobs” when cutting services to public transportation, family services and affordable housing while “spending” tax generated revenue on Grow Licking County (to which he is a board member), tax abatements, credits and incentives for existing/relocating businesses and development. “Selling one’s labor” is trotted out predictably when austerity is called for. When it comes to sharing (or showing) the wealth, then it is secret, “sunshine law” adverse public meetings that result in Bubb’s boondoggle cost overrun real estate projects. “[Auditor Mike] Smith said he heard last year the courthouse project would cost close to $10 million, instead of the initial $4 million cost approved by the commissioners.” (Kent mallet, Newark Advocate “Auditor: Courthouse cost spike to $10M unsurprising” 7-28-16) “In addition to the courthouse, the commissioners announced the Child Support Enforcement Agency building at 65 E. Main St., needs a repair and restoration project estimated to cost up to $3.8 million. The one-year project will be advertised in August, bids will be opened in September and it may be under construction this year, Bubb said. “The last I heard it was going to be $1 million (for CSEA building),” Smith said. “Why take a $700,000 building and put $4 million into it? You can build a new building twice the size for $3.8 million.” Bubb said he does not expect the final cost will be as high as $3.8 million.” Analysis finds no mention of jobs, “selling one’s labor” in any of these real estate partnership deals. It all is about spending the fruits of someone else’s labor. “”Our budget has increased by $45 million to $62 million and we’re still not socking any money away,” Smith said. “With our credit rating, we could borrow more money than we could ever pay back.” Bubb said the building improvements are not annual expenses and will save the county money in the long run, but the work can’t be overlooked any longer.” Analysis predicts commissioner Bubb will mouth the usual “jobs” austerity spiel when requests are made to fund services to county residents that these buildings are intended for (We can’t afford that. What we need is jobs incentives to businesses and Grow Licking County.) Will Licking County residents find a building at 65 E. Main all dressed up with nowhere to go?

Large Margaritas

May 26, 2016

A quarter of a century ago there was a Mexican themed restaurant in Columbus located on High Street, just north of Hudson. It was trendy then to take in the latest food and drink start ups, much as seeing the latest movie release is today. The major draw was the huge (pre- Bernie, Trump and Hillary) margaritas, a must have if dining there. The place was very dark and dimly lit. The nothing-to- write- home- to-mother- about food was brought to the table by little street urchins with even a bit of mariachi music wafting in the air. Down home Mexico! Did Analysis mention that the margaritas were huge? Soon the place was closed up by the health department, and the proprietor (who personally served each enormous margarita with a welcoming grin) found himself in jail for violating child labor laws, working after hours, etc, (and maybe more). Protestations of family values aside, the kids weren’t exactly all his. This past week’s news related reporting dominating The Newark Advocate took Analysis back in the way back machine. Various testimonials were penned by Luconda Dager, Nathan A. Strum and Bryn Bird celebrating the economic vibrancy and success of Licking County business development, and how much good it is bringing to our area, our neighborhoods, our own back yard. Indeed, the Bird article touts the imminent (and inevitable?) wonderfulness of the new Farmers Market to open next to the historic county jail (fair trade/unfair trade, you get to experience a twofer with one stop). Bird is not alone. Various other news reporting, on other days, elaborate the inevitable (and imminent?) success of the nascent enterprise to be. This is not unusual reporting for the Advocate (as well as most large media outlets). In essence, the “news” reporting is one huge infomercial. Analysis witnessed this recently with the FamFest (second year in a row). Afterwards, not a peep of critique was reported as to the actual event itself. Considering the genealogy and history of funding and organization, the grand opening of the new Farmers Market will probably receive at least a photo spread. Trendy events usually warrant imagery, sans a wordy critique. An equally celebratory article, likewise of a business oriented nature, was “Grant may be sought to clean up gas station site” by Kent Mallet. The mayor (a land bank board member) and his administration are all a gush that they may obtain funding to rid the city of the derelict gas station at Mt. Vernon and Deo Drive (a veritable museum of how life was a quarter of a century ago before Obama stimulus money made the Deo Drive extension a “shovel ready “ priority). “Deputy Licking County Auditor Roy Van Atta, executive director of the land bank, said the site could be cleaned even without the grant, but it would cost about $80,000 to dig out the tanks. It could then be marketed for sale, possibly to an adjacent property owner, before the end of the year.” Of course, the property is virtually even more unmarketable than the South Second Street fraternal hall recently “sold” by the Licking County Land Re-utilization Corporation (for $100). The old gas station, as well as the defunct car wash across the way, had their useful life terminated when the extension relegated them to only one driveway for entrance/egress. But, as far as business is concerned, there is much to be celebrated by the Newark administration. At least for “Newark Service Director David Rhodes, who owns the adjoining property for his storage units.” Analysis projects more celebration with storage unit development in the future. Another story, also by Mallet, “County children services levy not covering expenses” was quite troubling, not celebratory in the least. Put bluntly, the County cannot afford to care for the abused, neglected and unfortunate minors entrusted to its care by statute. Analogous to the anecdote at the head of this posting, all is large margaritas for the business community. When the lights come on, the family value oriented businesses eschew these children as not exactly theirs. Is it so hard to imagine Cheri Hottinger and the Chamber celebrating, in partnership with the county, that funding is guaranteed for every client of Licking County Jobs and Family Services?

Why Bernie Continues

May 23, 2016

When a SCOTUS majority decided Citizens United, media world was all a tizzy with speculation as to what the future of politics would be. The Move To Amend folks would like us to believe it will be a safer world if it were otherwise, not unlike the second amendment faithful whose credo is that if everyone carries a gun, society would be more civil and respectful. Then again, there would be no SCOTUS to turn to for a ruling questioning such an amendment as the court is, at present, evenly divided. To complicate matters even more, with the court’s Evenwel vs. Abbott ruling, it reaffirmed the basis of representation (within this representative form of government) to be persons – not specifically limited to those eligible to vote (see this blog A Bridge Too Far 12-13-15). A different definition of personhood may have resulted in a likewise different decision, founding representation on eligible voters and not a census count of persons – creating the dilemma of “free” persons (those who can and do vote) and others (veritable non-entities). This is a crucial distinction to bear in mind with regard to our electoral process (which the Move To Amend folks say is affected by the SCOTUS definition of person). As it stands currently, anyone can have a say. Ruled otherwise, only those who show up to vote have a say. But isn’t that what is actually present today? Jeb Bush had substantial financial backing (that speaks), and dropped out, as eventually did Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, etc. Finally, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich quit the race to represent the people as president because he wasn’t winning (anything at all – popular votes, delegates, or contested convention possibility). Enormous sums of money were spent by corporate “persons” in an attempt to ground the Trump jet. One of the outcomes of the SCOTUS C U decision (unanticipated by media world) is that elections (to date) are not about “buying” but “winning”. Like a sport or game, Americans associate politics, and elections in particular, with who wins (and gets to govern) and who loses (and is forgotten). Hillary plays the game so well that even before the first primary vote was cast, or caucus held, she was projected by media world as the inevitable winner. Indeed, according to the game as played by the Democratic Party, she was ahead in delegates before any voting started, always maintaining winner status with media world no matter the outcome of any primary election. Yet Bernie continues. Media world (which includes not only news and sports reporters but gamers, entertainers, gamblers, etc.) speculates his continuance is in order to be assured inclusion and input at the convention (“a place at the table”), or to affect the party platform, maybe even to obtain a position within a fantasized future administration, etc. Analysis finds these to be way off the mark. Analysis reveals the two SCOTUS rulings to be more informative and relevant in explaining why Bernie continues. Repeatedly this blog has referenced the 47% statistic that Romney cited only 4 short years ago. 47% of Americans have no net worth (either owe more than is theirs or are one step away from having their financial equilibrium upset and falling into debt). According to Romney, these are persons who can be bought (at that time a GOP twist of C U interpretation – to say the Obama administration was “buying” their vote). Likewise these are not persons who themselves can “buy” representation (an indebted 18 – 30 year old cannot afford to “buy” an election choice the way Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson can). Here’s the sticky part, the rub that explains Sanders’ continuous effort. Is this 47%, who cannot “buy” their speech, “free” to govern itself (eligible to vote) or are they other (simply counted for the sake of representation but no more voting individuals than corporations are)? Sanders’ continuous campaign, from before its inception, has been about this very segment governing itself through voting, the electoral process. Through his continued personal engagement as contested activity, this is an actuality, not a possibility, not an “if” proposition (“if you vote for me…”) – not a game or sport (all about winning). Donnie and Hillary are all about “winning” (the bread and butter of media world). “Winning” and self-governance are not one and the same. This difference explains why Bernie continues.

Ring That Bell

April 28, 2016

On 4-24-16 CBS 60 Minutes ran an exposé entitled “Dialing For Dollars” with Norah O’Donnell. “The American public has a low opinion of Congress. Only 14 percent think it’s doing a good job. But Congress has excelled in one way. Raising money. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for their 2014 election. And they never stop. Nearly every day, they spend hours on the phone asking supporters and even total strangers for campaign donations — hours spent away from the jobs they were elected to do. The pressure on candidates to raise money has ratcheted up since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.” “By law, members of Congress cannot make fundraising calls from their offices. So both parties have set up “call centers” just a few blocks away. This is where the Republicans have theirs.” O’Donnell quotes Republican former Florida congressman and current GOP Senate primary candidate David Jolly: “It is a cult-like boiler room on Capitol Hill where sitting members of Congress, frankly I believe, are compromising the dignity of the office they hold by sitting in these sweatshop phone booths calling people asking them for money. And their only goal is to get $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 out of the person on the other end of the line.” How exactly does that work? Jolly: “We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarter back rooms in front of a white board where the equation was drawn out. You have six months until the election. Break that down to having to raise $2 million in the next six months. And your job, new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to make sure you hit $18,000 a day.” Rick Nolan, Democrat Minnesota congressman, is quoted as saying: “Well, both parties have told newly elected members of the Congress that they should spend 30 hours a week in the Republican and Democratic call centers across the street from the Congress, dialing for dollars.” New York Democrat congressman Steve Israel concurred: “I’d have to put in about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, at most, two hours a day into fundraising. And that’s the way it went until 2010, when Citizens United was enacted. At that point, everything changed. And I had to increase that to two, three, sometimes four hours a day, depending on what was happening in the schedule.” Today, The Newark Advocate headlined that Licking County’s own congressional representative Pat “Tiberi eyes Senate bid in 2018” (Deirdre Shesgreen, Gannett Ohio, 2-27-16). “Earlier this month, the congressman’s campaign sent out a news release touting his fundraising prowess. The missive noted that Tiberi had more money in the bank than Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor and Democrat running against Portman. Tiberi, who has a safe Republican congressional district, closed the first quarter of 2016 with nearly $4 million on hand, compared to Strickland’s $1.2 million.” Analysis finds this to be a sure sign of a hard worker. “Norah O’Donnell: You’re saying members of Congress are becoming like telemarketers? Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, 30 hours a week, that’s a lot of telemarketing. Probably more than most telemarketers do.” Pat Tiberi, hardest working telemarketer central Ohio has sent to Washington. Ring that bell!

What Unites Trump And Clinton Backers

April 22, 2016

Ann (not her real name) is confident, and quietly ebullient about a woman finally breaking the glass ceiling, becoming the president of the United States. She says it has been long overdue and that the current candidate deserves it, has earned it. Why, she was unflustered after 11 hours of grilling by a legislative committee, has a long history of public service, and claims continuous engagement with the country’s problems. Ann and her husband identify with that as they themselves have had a lifetime of public sector work as college educated “low level” professionals, always in unelected positions. They also worked hard, put their two kids through college, and now scramble to find the means to be with their new grandchild. Ann’s husband had lost his job at the tail end of the first Clinton administration and never found like employment after that (or work that he liked). Hillary, after the NY primary, is emphatically reasserting her inevitability by changing the topic of conversation to one she can manage. Gun control has been something relatively incidental to the primary debate thus far though her husband Bill pointed out to protesters demanding he admit his own culpability — police don’t kill black people, black people kill black people. Pundits have pointed out that though essentially inevitable in being dismissed as viable presidential material, Bernie Sanders has continuously set the topic of debate, the subject matter of the Democratic primary, the agenda of concern. Now that it is all over but the shouting, Clinton redirects what is to be the public concern. Ann is unfazed when it is pointed out that Hillary’s income for a single evening of speaking amounted to what is 2 years of adjusted gross income on Ann and her husband’s joint returns.

A half century ago there were still low ceiling coal mines in Carroll County, Ohio (long since gone). Analysis was surprised when NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast live out of Tennessee and interviewed a man who had lost his job working in one within the recent past. Dan (not his real name) worked every day crawling on his hands and knees in the 36 inch high tunnels following the narrow seam of coal (a man does what he has to do). He backs Donnie Trump. For Dan, Donnie is success personified, and that can’t help but rub off on the rest of us and the area he lives in. Trump has a no nonsense approach to playing the game and, unlike Hillary, he is setting the agenda of what concerns Americans, the mark of a winner. For Dan, having clear cut winners and losers matters. Trump is a winner. When the game is played, those who win are entitled to the spoils of victory. For Dan, this is a fairness ethics learned on the athletic playing fields of his youth. Why a mega winner like Donald Trump should be concerned with the collateral damage of his deals, which just may include someone like Dan himself, leaves Dan unperturbed. What is right, is right.

Analysis finds both candidates and their followers to be an awful lot alike (truly awful). Both are drawn to and emphasize the inevitable winner. Both win through playing the game, claiming to do it by the rules. Politics is its own rules. Both campaign and offer solutions on a cause and effect basis. Problems like crime (statistically not) are caused by illegal activity, hence those active in such are illegal’s. Get rid of the illegal’s (literally in Trump’s case) or through manipulating what is and isn’t illegal (precedent policy in the first Clinton presidency) are simple cause and effect solutions. Analysis finds repeated statistical evidence of the percentage of mental illness involved with shootings of civilians by police (25% if not more by current studies) and by other civilians. Current U S mental health care provided is severely underfunded, inadequate, and not universally available (the “conventional wisdom” that accounts for this must be that those suffering this malady will make inordinate effort to seek out treatment). The addiction epidemic (a true concern not manufactured by either candidate) is likewise aggravated by mental health challenges. But these are complicated issues not neatly tied up by “cause and effect” approaches. Both candidates are embraced by their constituency for favoring incremental change – Trump through a trickle down economics, Clinton building slowly on the rearrangements of past Democratic administrations. Complete and full change is favored by neither – Clinton wants all to succeed, Wall Street as well as Mickey D’s employees, Trump wants to Make America Great AGAIN. What unites Trump and Clinton backers almost completely is the near universal indifference, if not downright denial, to the no man’s land that separates the backers from the candidates themselves (who reside in a virtual and invisible gated community). Ann enjoyed family celebrations, suffered heartbreaks and lived a plethora of experiences within the 2 years needed to earn what her candidate was reimbursed for in an evening of “speaking”. What kind of life experiences did Hillary have during the nano seconds between syllables? Dan got dirty, sweated and ached, grew numb delivering “product” for a company that ultimately played the game by going bankrupt to avoid contractual commitments regarding retirement, health, alternate job training and employment. Did Donnie go numb with each of his multiple bankruptcy filings?