Saturday, February 10, 2007

Settlements that work -- 1949 Israel -- high settler to native ratio:

Settlements that work -- high settler to native ratio -- 1949 Israel:
Jews made up 86% (see chart V) of the population.

Settlements that fail -- low settler to native ratio -- long list:
South Africa: blacks outnumbered white settlers five to one (settlers allowed to remain -- after yielding power -- because they had something to offer);
Algeria: North Africans outnumbered French settlers ten to one (all gone);
Today's West Bank: Palestinians make up 86% (see chart VII) of the population.

Settlements that can work -- 1 native per square mile -- 1850 American plains:
A farming nation of 23 million people (growing 35% a decade) expanded into a million square miles roamed by a million plains Indians -- territory previously dwelt in by 20 million hunter gatherers before Spanish diseases took their overwhelming toll, a century earlier.

Settlements that cannot work -- 1000+ natives per square mile -- the West Bank:
400,000 Israelis bulldoze aside two and a half million subsistence farming Palestinians (with world's highest birth rate) who were already over-packed into 2,000 square miles.

Settlements not overly dangerous -- no natural allies:
American plains Indians had no one to back them up.

Settlements very, very dangerous -- unnaturally militant allies:
Just beyond the subjugated Palestinian homeland begins a civilization of a billion plus (!) co-religionists whose shared faith contains a template for terror -- which template has lately (1983) added a fearsome new instrument, suicide bombing -- which has been tragically experienced not only by David but by David's big brother Goliath.

Almost forty years ago, a disturbed loner whose family had been ethnically cleansed from Palestine assassinated a possible next president of the United States, Robert Kennedy for supporting Israel. Sixty years might have healed the scars of Israel's initial intrusion on world Islam. But, recent decades of piling on doubly-undoable settlements has created enough facts on the ground to motivate multiple attacks on America's greatest downtown -- what else could have?

[Check out the correlation between increasing settlements and increasing suicide bombings in former US Air Force instructor Robert Pape's book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" -- just received here; haven't read yet.]
Israel may have as many as 200 Hiroshima type nuclear weapons -- actually enough, if Israel had the deliver systems, to flatten most of Europe's and America's downtowns (would need to rent and rig cargo planes for the day to hit continental USA) -- just to emphasize that Israel's strategic bulwark is no fragile eggshell.

Saddam was an Armageddon kind of guy: he set fire to the Kuwaiti desert (600 oil wells), flooding the adjoining gulf with oil and was prepared to dump all his WMDs on Israel in 1992 -- to avenge the destruction of half his armed forces. If he could have bought or built nukes he might have been happy to die using them.

Israel has now serially attacked the core infrastructure of one defenseless neighbor while making Lebanon's adjoining land mass as unlivable as 1,000,000 unexploded bomblets can -- and bombed what amounted to the only infrastructure (power station) of an even more toothless next door neighbor and screwed down Gaza's financial lid so tight that many residents have been reduced to one meal a day -- in both cases to force the release of a single military abductee.

Can Israel be trusted with weapons of mass destruction? Doesn't matter; nobody can take them away from her. Israel has twice as many tank formations on short notice as today's US army -- and it takes three to one to invade. China or Russia could field three or four to one respectively but they suffer inferior equipment and training. All of NATO might be able to put together one to one.

Israel may field the world's fourth strongest army and its sixth most powerful nuclear deterrent -- she is held protectively to the breast of the world's only super power. Yet Israel refuses to negotiate peace with the Palestinians unless they, first, formally agree to Israel's right to exist -- while daily chipping away at the Palestinians' own homeland, which is guaranteed to leave them in no mood to.
Settler overload can give rise to peculiar institutions, the chief example being the West Bank's "wormhole" road network which connects settlements to Israel and to each other and which is reserved for the use of Israelis only (Palestinians lately banned from riding on them in Israelis' cars without a permit) -- making it possible to travel the length and breadth of West Bank "Israeli World" without making contact with the Palestinian dimension.

The West Bank's "wormholes" are all too reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's odd Monticello mansion setup, where racially divided floor levels and physical gimmickry (e.g., dumbwaiters) contrived to allow free whites to live without the conscience pricking sight of enslaved blacks.

Extremist Israeli settlers are certain God granted Palestine to their people in perpetuity, but that doesn't mean God would not "allow" Palestinians the "use" of the remaining 22% of Palestine -- if vacating would cause prior residents unbearable hardship and if the fight they put up against vacating in accord with their own beliefs is likely never to end. The constraints of humanity and prudence here should outweigh the right to property. Ask your Rabbi.

Every year we run a vast test sample of the minimum wage raise/job-loss correlation

Every year we run a test of the wage-hike/job-loss theory on a sample 20 times larger (!) than the 6 million who would be directly affected by the current minimum wage hike proposal: the 120 million American workers who get raises every year -- and do not lose their jobs over it.

It works like this: everybody gets a raise every year to make up for everybody else getting a raise every year -- everybody that is except minimum wage workers who have had two, two-step raises since Jimmy Carter was president.

If they finally get a raise, we may confidently assume that everybody else will just get a teensy higher annual raise to match the teensy higher cost of living.

Education of workers has not kept up with demand?:

Education of workers has not kept up with demand?: why then is it that when technology slows and productivity LAGS that most workers in America fall far behind average income growth -- but when technology races ahead and productivity soars most or our workers keep much better pace with average income growth?

Too simple answer: how human nature responds to boom and busts when there are no checks and balances in the labor market. During the boom, bargaining pressure is down, everyone is allowed to make money -- during the dip the pressure is on and those with small bargaining power will lose the share they had previously gained.

This works in CEO favor at all times: today's firms are flush with money either because of boom times or because unionless workers are being squeezed to keep profits up during the down cycle, leaving little pressure to keep CEOs from looting.
None of this exists in Europe -- not because of heavy market regulation there but because of fair labor market balance of power there: sufficient unionization.

Everybody seems to understand the need for a free market for efficiency and innovation. Nobody, even progressives -- at high academic levels -- seem to catch on to the unconditional need for checks and balances in the labor market to achieve fairness.

Around about 1968 in New York State: A police officer may not draw his gun....

As it was in 1968 in New York State: A police officer may not draw his gun....

....even upon entering the scene of a reported armed robbery, even if the suspect has drawn his gun -- unless -- the suspect points his gun at the officer. Which newly revised deadly force rule quickly got an officer killed in Queens, New York; leading a quick legislative reversal. The equally cruel rule it succeeded had authorized police officers to fire a shot in the air to warn -- any -- fleeing suspect, and then shoot to kill (you may observe this rule portrayed in action on "oldies" TV stations featuring the early 60s series "Naked City").

A similarly crackpot deadly force rule change seems to have fallen de facto upon law enforcement across the land in the form of the conviction and draconian sentencing of two U.S. border patrol guards in El Paso federal court for shooting a fleeing drug smuggler whom officers believed -- but were not sure -- had a gun in his hand.

The El Paso, Texas U.S. Attorney's Office's took the combination of federal civil rights law and a U.S. Supreme Court finding that "it is a violation of someone's Fourth Amendment rights to shoot [someone] in the back while fleeing if you don't know who they are and/or if you don't know they have a weapon" as a federal civil rights formula for prosecuting the (honest enough to admit they were not sure about the gun) border patrol officers.

The officers believed they acted in fear for their lives as they were chasing a suspect who had just left one of them floored and bloody in the act of breaking free (not your typical illegal job seeker) and kept looking over his shoulder while running with an object in hand, at one point turning towards them and pointing the "shiny object" they took for a gun...
....according to the convicted officers at least. The prosecution-immunized drug smuggler -- 800 pounds of marijuana were subsequently found in his van -- told a different tale under oath. He escaped at the time, making it impossible to absolutely prove or disprove possession of a gun.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declared that "we cannot expect calm deliberation in the face of an upraised knife." To which we may add the modern day knowledge that adrenalin can diminish you judgment every bit as much as alcohol.

Back in the late 70s when I was driving for a car service in the Bronx I had more than one almost accident with police cars -- not chasing a suspect -- but rather whose drivers had ALREADY made an arrest and were so pumped that they blew red lights forgetting lights and sirens.

If the El Paso decision holds up there should theoretically be no defense for police officers who fire when they think a suspect is even reaching for a gun -- if they were not sure. If the El Paso case holds the FBI should theoretically be prepared to investigate every police shooting in every state that fits the newly coined mis-understanding about the need for certainty about the suspect possessing a gun. Back turned doesn't mean a thing: the quick and the accurate are out there.

Last -- and perhaps most importantly: Justice White's dictum -- on which the prosecution theory lies -- did not comprehensively rule on the aspects of "imminent danger" as far as I can see. Justice White defended his opinion at the time that by explaining "It is better for all suspects to escape than for all suspects to be killed." That sounds to me like a rule that finds society's need to apprehend the suspect of less weight than the suspect's Fourth Amendment rights -- not a rule that says finds imminent danger to the officer's life automatically outweighed by the suspects rights.

End poverty in 30 years: said John Edwards a few months back. Better to return 40 years back, to when....

End poverty in 30 years: said John Edwards a few months back. Better to return 40 years back, to when....
....L.B.J's, 1968, federal minimum wage of $9.50/hr (adjusted);
....and income was distributed fairly enough to end poverty overnight were the same pattern applied to 2006's doubled average income.

Happy paydays played through 1973, following which 12%* of overall income shifted from below 90 percentile to above 5 percentile earners -- pumping top-5 share from 20% to 32% -- depleting bottom-90 share from 69% to 57%.

Practical repercussions: a quarter of today's jobs pay below L.B.J.'s (and Europe's) minimum wage -- middle and upper middle family income grew half as fast as average income from 1973 to 2001 (30% compared to 60%) -- today's real poverty line may be as high 25% (imagine if the media would report that; the official federal line having been adjusted for the price of food only for the last 50 years**).

For happy paydays to be here again, top 5 percentile incomes will need to give back a third of their swollen 32% share -- but the next to last 4 percentile would only have to yield a sixth of their 15% share (by slower growth alone?).

The next to last 9/10 of 1% must learn to live without two-fifths of their bloated 10% share -- the last 1/10 of 1% need to return to earth without three-quarters of their bulging 7.5% share [percentages rounded].
The first step to a fair and balanced labor market could be a minimum wage adjustment that, as much as practicable, catches up with 38 years of lost time on both inflation and growth. Adjusting the 1968 minimum for inflation and GROWTH would yield $19.00/hr ($9.50/hr X 200% average income growth).

Eighth-grade arithmetic can demonstrate that a less cosmic $12.50/hr minimum wage should add less than 4% to the cost to GDP output. ***

My guess: a $9/hr minimum wage (today's 25 percentile wage) would cost incomes somewhere above 50 percentile more than they gained -- with about 2% inflation and wages above the new minimum pushed up.

My guess, again: a $12.50/hr minimum wage (today's 40 percentile wage) would cost incomes somewhere above 60 percentile more than they gained -- with 4% direct inflation.

Today's federal minimum wage earner has to work one hour to pay for a $5.00 fast food meal -- if he could afford it. A $9.00/hr minimum wage earner would need to work only 40 minutes for a more expensive, $6.25 meal (fast food has one-third labor costs) -- thus did McDonalds expand coast to coast while paying almost double today's minimum wage in 1968; at half today's average income, yet.

60-90 percentile income earners can only reset their earnings by resetting their bargaining power via coast-to-coast unionization -- which can be spurred via an eighth-grade math educational effort (above) -- which should hurry the necessary legal changes (see below).

Hopefully American labor can be sold on something called sector-wide labor agreements (most extensively used in Germany; also known as de-facto minimum wages): where all workers performing the same tasks in the same geographic area work under a single collective bargaining contract -- even for different employers. This would mark the end of the race to the bottom and to (contractless) scabs.
It is possibly arguable that today's federal unionizing setup violates First Amendment protected freedom of assembly -- the legally mandated unionizing process being needlessly prejudicial to organizing labor (commercial assembling?): logical, but not necessarily promising.

What organized labor probably needs is a constitutional amendment to clarify the -- inalienable -- right to organize, in the image of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment supposedly clarified the full equality of the slaves freed by the Thirteenth Amendment (only to have the Supreme Court putrefy that into separate but equal) and enabled Congress to write laws in defense of civil rights.

A "Right to Organize Amendment" would prohibit unjustified legislative obstacles being placed in the path of union organizing. An enabling clause could empower Congress give Congress unquestioned authority to write laws to maximize the usefulness of collective bargaining; for example, mandating (German style) sector-wide labor agreements.

Just proposing a "right to organize" amendment could cause productive aftershocks.... would wake up working folks to the notion they always should have been perfectly free to organize all along -- that today's run the management gauntlet deal was not handed down from the mountaintop;
....which reminder should supercharge heavy pressure for federal card check legislation (w/o management's OK)....
....which could quickly add the 50% of the American workforce who state they would prefer to be unionized to the 10% who happily are unionized -- overnight.

[ * -- info and source of 12% income shift measure NEAR BOTTOM of blogger comments]

[ ** The federal poverty level was set in 1965 (using a 1955 formula) at three times the cost of an emergency diet (which diet doesn't even permit canned beans, only dried), before taxes yet -- meaning the poverty line has been adjusted for the price of food only for 50 years. Today's real poverty line could be more like 25% (officially reported at 12.4%). Republicans could argue that things like food stamps -- they opposed -- would bring it down to 20%; still 5% more than in L.B.J.'s era. IMAGINE THE CHANGE IN POLITICAL CLIMATE IF THE MEDIA WOULD JUST REPORT THIS ONE STAT!!! For a current bare needs income breakdown, see Raise the Floor, p. 44-47, tables 2-3,2-4,2-5,2-6.]

[ *** $12.50/hr = $7.50/hr more than today's federal minimum wage = $7,500 AVERAGE adjustment (1000 hours). Currently 54 million workers earn below $12.50/hr + 6 million at federal minimum wage ("who get two average raises") = 60 million average adjustments = $450 billion divided by $12 trillion GDP = 3.75% added cost of GDP output. ]
PS. Another federal stat quirk is the Census family income survey practice "top-coding", of not reporting family income above $1 million -- which, pre-1973, had a rationale -- but today hides most of the income share that has shifted from bottom 90 percentile to top 1 percentile.

Who can fault the education or self-discipline of thrid and fourth-quintile American families....

Who can fault with the education or self-discipline of third and fourth-quintile income American families....

....whose annual earnings grew only 30%, from 1973 to 2001, as average income swelled 60%. (First-quintile 8%; second 15%.) To whom did the lost growth go -- and why?

Filling in the lower quintile growth gaps would bleed $45,000 off top quintile mean income (reported above $160,000 for 2001).

Another $40,000 of fifth-quintile earnings may* be hidden from the Census report by the practice of "top coding" family income above one million dollars (fully reported fifth-quintile income might read $200,000) -- so right away we have a hint about where to look for the missed-out growth; we can slice thinner.

If one-percentile income families had evenly split the missed-out money, they would have had to add $900,000 (20 X $45,000) to their (million plus?) annual incomes. If top 1/10th of one-percentile families had soaked the gap, they would have added $9,000,000 (200 X $45,000). And if top 1/100th of one-percentile families had racked up the gap: $90,000,000.

The latter two computations more realistically tally with the day-to-day sight of American CEOs taking home 25 times what their counterpart CEO's in Europe earn, not to mention 25 times more than their predecessor CEOs of 25 years ago made -- and with the ever ballooning incomes of the winners of America's newly emerged economic star system: from network news anchors to pro ball players.

American corporations go out of their way to reward -- and retain -- the uniquely talented. The only way the interchangeable can make themselves indispensable is by holding out all together.

The best "all together" arrangements in the world have to be Germany's, sector-wide labor contracts -- where everyone performing the same job in the same geographic area, by law, must work under a single collectively bargained agreement. This stalls the race to the bottom before it starts and makes (contractless) scabs a thing of the past.

Note: super strong German unions never wrought the kind of stagnating interference with management that old-time British unions fomented -- it's mostly in the culture (not that Germans don't share European welfare wishes).

Education can even become less in demand as machines get better at what we do -- depending on the industry. But, who can doubt, after decades of observing economic growth trickle into an upper income torrent, that a quantum resurgence of union made bargaining power has become the necessary and sufficient condition for American labor to get it's pay groove back.

[ * To calculate the 2001, top code effect: sum all 1973 mean quintile incomes -- add 10% to the fifth quintile report to approximate 1973 top coding -- boost that sum 60% to match per capita growth. Sum all 2001 mean quintile incomes -- the shortfall from the 60%-added sum should approximate uncounted income.]

Denis Drew

America's free upgrade to plug-in hybrid?

Free upgrade to plug-in hybrid?

Reported by Tom Krishner, AP Auto Writer Monday, July 21, 2008: ..."lithium-ion battery packs needed to power even a small car now cost in excess of $10,000..."
A couple of years back I wrote that, if America needed only half as much imported oil (only 5 million bbl/day) and if we needed to pay only half the price ($30/bbl) due to the lowered demand, we could save $165 billion a year (5,000,000 bbl/day X 365 days X $30 instead of 10,000,000 bbl/day X 365 days X $60 = a saving of $164,250,000,000/year)...

...or, just enough to subsidize buidling the 16.5 million cars and trucks we manufacture every year as LITHIUM, PLUG-IN hybrids -- at $10,000 per vehicle!

Now, with oil in range of $150/bbl, we are shipping $500 billion more a year overseas; potentially justifying any form of subisidy for the manufacture of lithium plug-in hybrids. At the very least we could re-direct the flood of dollars into our own pockets -- even if the subsidy only broke even on savings -- even if the subsidy did not save multiples of itself (which is much more likely and which trend will grow over time).
For 30 years it has been known that building lithium ion batteries with silicon wires (instead of carbon wires) could yield ten times the power holding ability but, because silicon wires expanded and contracted too much as they cycled, they quickly destroyed themselves. The development of silicon nano wires – about a thousandth of the width of a sheet of paper -- has solved that drawback -- while potentially making lithium ion batteries more stable (safer) at the same time!
Near term, only the anode side of the batteries will be manufactured with nano wires, yielding the quadruple jump (up powering GM’s Volt to go 160 miles on one charge instead of 40?). Long term, manufacturing the cathode side with silicon nano wires is expected to reach the ten multiple target (introducing hybrid, long distant trucks?).

Nobody ever expects the Industrial Revolution :-O

Who would dispute that today’s Americans were living through a wage depression if a quarter of our workforce earned minimum wage – or if most, somehow, earned substantially less – and if the minimum wage we were talking about was that of two generations before?

In 1968, L.B.J.'s minimum wage was $9/hour (inflation adjusted, CPI-U) – our 25 percentile wage has become $9/hour (“State of Working America, 2004/2005”, table 2-6) – double the per capita income later!

Today’s federal minimum wage take-home is no better than F.D.R.’s, 1939 minimum of $4.20/hour (no tax) – meaning today’s just-above minimum wages must be comparable to just-above wages in the depression era – quadruple the per capita income later! I wonder how far up the wage curve the depression parallel holds.

Science fiction writers dream up wrongheaded Malthusian futures in which population growth outstrips earth’s resources (“Make Room! Make Room!; “Stand on Zanzibar”) – though advancing technology promises the opposite. Exponentially expanding production aside, the average American could be on the way to a bottom of the barrel future (who builds housing for the median income anymore?).

It all happened before – it was called the industrial revolution.

1800s English factory workers out-produced their individual artisan forbearers ten to a hundred times but ended up subsisting on oat cakes three times a day because they could not afford to eat wheat bread (Thompson’s “Making of the English Working Class”).

The common denominator of schizoid prosperities – then and now: the evaporation of labor’s bargaining clout.


Raising today’s federal minimum wage a dollar an hour would add six percent to fast food cost – but twenty percent to minimum wage purchasing power. Admittedly, raising the minimum from $206 a week to $246 a week won’t send any rush of new customers to the cash registers.

Raising the minimum wage from $5.00/hour to $12.50/hour would hike a six-dollar meal to nine dollars (the two dollar labor cost growing to five) – but the price of that meal relative to a minimum wage weekly paycheck would drop from 3% to 1.8% (the same percentage of a $330 a week income that a six dollar meal represents, today).

Should we keep fast food cheap for $500 a week earners at the expense of making life miserable for $206 workers? A $500 earner who spends $60 a week at McDonalds would need but $30 a week more to maintain his fast food fashion at 50% higher prices.

Overall inflation caused by a $500 minimum wage should only be 4%* -- not counting other wages pushed up.


Inflation can redistribute wealth from those who don’t get a raise to those who do – but recapturing labor’s share from CEOs, ballplayers and TV anchors who make 25 times their 1960s predecessors pay would take ruinous levels. Only a seriously unionized workforce can practicably re-take share from that high up the income scale.

1800s British workers designed to rebuild labor’s market muscle via protective legislation (‘twas to be their non-violent “French Revolution”) – but for them to so much as promote the vote (for all males) guaranteed, first, jail, and then, Australian exile (“1984” in 1804). The only thing perpetuating American workers on track to a “Freejack” future is their own complacency – even the 50% who would “rather be” unionized don’t sense any pressing “national emergency” – aided and abetted by an asleep-at-the-switch press corps (at least on labor matters).

Most untold story**: under the federal, stopped-clock-was-right in 1955, poverty formula (three times a crisis food budget), the poverty line for a family of four would be $72,000 a year by today -- had food prices risen twice as fast as other goods in the meantime -- instead of half as fast, leading to as foolish an official guideline of $18,000 (“Raise the Floor”, table 2-4). How alive to the great wage divide all America could be had a more alert media informed us poverty was rising from 15% in L.B.J.’s time to 25% – as it happened!

If and when America wakes up and smells the prosperity:

The most comprehensive approach – perhaps the only realistic hope – to end the American race to the bottom is (Germany’s tried and proved) sector-wide labor agreements, wherein employees working in the same occupation in the same geographic area must – by law – work under one and the same collectively bargained contract – even for different employers!

Sector-wide agreements could rebuild American labor’s bargaining power overnight – and reconstitute its political muscle – while eliminating pesky (contractless) scabs. A 1700s American scientist and philosopher might say: “Be not the first by whom the new is tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”


Denis Drew


PS. A Republican baked inflation formulation (C-CPI-U) would lower Social Security cost of living adjustments by going in opposite directions at once:

(a) taking fuller count of technological deflation (a same price TV now comes with a remote):

(b) while ignoring rising prices when consumers substitute less desirable,cheaper goods (less gasoline for more subway rides; less pork for more rice).

[ * A $7.50 hourly raise translates to an average yearly raise of $7500 for earners between old minimum wage and new. To the 54 million now below $500/week (“State of Working America, 2004-5” table 2-6) we add 6 million who get a full raise -- to get 60 million half raises. (1/3 up,1/4 down simplifier >) $10,000 X 45 million = $450 billion raise -- divided by $12 trillion GDP = 3.75% inflation.]

[ ** More missed misreporting: the Census reports top-fifth families taking 50% of all income – up from 40%, two decades back -- by “top-coding” family income above one million dollars out of its survey – adjust for “top-coding” by assuming overall family income doubled (over the same span per capita income did) and top-fifth rakes 60%!]

July, 2005
$9/hour has become the minimum wage norm in modern Europe – for now! England’s and Ireland’s minimums are scheduled to rise above that in 2006. The minimums of such poor countries as Greece, Malta and Cyprus cluster around $170/week (E600); a little less than America's.

The United States of America of 1968” featured a minimum wage of $9/hour (at half of today’s labor productivity!) – scheduled to drop in future years (if we had had a crystal ball) to $8/hour by 1974, $7/hour by 1981, $6/hour by 1991 and $5.15/hour by today (which remits the same take home amount as the untaxed $4/hour minimum of 1939 -- in adjusted 2005 dollars).

European minimum wages – and their negotiated equivalents -- are adjusted annually – excepting the Netherlands (at $350/week) and Latvia every two years). The USA's 1997 minimum has stuck still for 8 years, now; 1991’s stuck for 4 years; 1981’s for 9 years.

The interesting thing here is that, if L.B.J.’s minimum could pay $9/hour at half of today’s American and European labor productivity, does that mean economies on both sides of the Atlantic could practicably support an $18/hour minimum wage today?! Just to pose the question.

A $12/hour, USA minimum wage would raise the cost of GDP output by only a manageable 3.5% -- not counting other wages being pushed up – and could effectively eliminate most poverty and crime levels that Europe hasn't had for a long time.

Which president’s signatures are on the $4, $5, $6, $7, $8 and $9/hour minimum wage bills?:

Which president’s signatures are on the $4, $5, $6, $7, $8 and $9/hour minimum wage bills (in 2005 dollars)?:

$4 (w/o tax): FDR’s – at 25% of today's income level, per capita.

$5: Clinton’s (same as FDR's w/tax)!

$6: Bush I’s -- at 80%.

$7: Eisenhower’s -- at 40%.

$8: Nixon’s -- at 60%.

$9: LBJ’s -- at 50%.


President Nixon signed an $8/hour minimum wage bill in 1974 -- to go into effect immediately -- when average income was 60% of today's.

At that time, Nixon was also promoting his version of a national health insurance plan – an employer mandate version, more market oriented than Ted Kennedy’s competing, single-payer version -- not because of any heavy free market bent on his part; he just thought a less radical approach (for the time) would sell more easily. Had Nixon lasted out a normal second term, the only question might have been which national health insurance program was now law.

I caught Nixon on a 1992 Larry King interview: it was so refreshing to hear a national political figure state flatly that Israeli settlements in the West Bank were an unworkable mistake (now that America has traded skyscrapers for settlements, I guess time has so proven him right).

What today’s Democratic Party needs is leadership well to the left of any of its recent or current presidential aspirants – who wont hesitate speak up about their social welfare policies: more "flaming liberals" types in the progressive mold of Richard M. Nixon.

Rube Goldberg fixes Social Security

How Rube Goldberg might fix Social Security:

FIRST: Unionize American labor across the board.

SECOND: the other 90% of American hourly wages begin to catch up with the 70% increase in labor productivity that has occurred since 1973 -- which they have completely missed out on until now.

THIRD: Americans cut way back on their working hours (we work 50% more hours than Europeans, today).

FOURTH: American GDP takes a one-time drop (per capita output is currently one third larger here than modern Europe only because we work more hours).

FIFTH: Social Security coffers are flooded with new revenue (as hourly wages below the 84 percentile cap – the only incomes whose growth impact FICA collections – finally grow!).

SIXTH AND MOST IMPORTANT: Social Security collections go on a pay-as-you-go basis for all time – potentially while cutting FICA rates immediately – hopefully while raising benefits formulas over time (as all American incomes again race along side productivity – about four times population growth’s pace -- forever).

Casey Stengel does Social Security privatization


Lets, see: our president wants to borrow a couple of trillion dollars to jump start Social Security private retirement accounts – because of the shortfall they will cause in current disbursements. Wouldn’t it be simpler to say he wants to borrow a couple of trillion to lend to individuals to buy securities.

Meanwhile – while Social Security borrows trillions for whatever – Social Security will go on lending its current surplus to the government to cover non-Social Security expenditures.

Meanwhile – while trillions of dollars of tax cuts for the well off are promised to lift all Americans to permanent prosperity – President Bush bases his Social Security future worries on the worst possible economic growth projections….

….all the while proposing a stock market solution that depends on the best possible growth expectations.

As Casey Stengel once put it: “Does anybody here know how to play this game”?