via Facebook http://breakingculture.tumblr.com/post/33712719188/hovercraft-bike
via Facebook http://breakingculture.tumblr.com/post/33712719188/hovercraft-bike
Any day now, I'll get some new letters after my name. In the meantime, I should curse less if want to appear academic
He first teamed with a real estate company that touted Florida real estate as a can't-miss deal. Then Ingoglia did the touting himself and did it until at least March 2007, when he told potential buyers at a "Real Estate and Wealth Expo'' in Los Angeles that they could clear $25,000 by reselling before their homes were even finished. His claims were backed by appraisals that local Realtors and statewide appraisal experts said were highly inflated, if not downright phony. [ . . . . ] In his first seminars, in 2007, he roasted Hernando County government for the huge bump in property tax revenue, created mostly by the huge bump in property values, created by what? Speculation.
A disproportionate number of federal employees are professionals, such as managers, lawyers, engineers and scientists. [This is backed by] a 2002 study of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It found that federal salaries for most professional and administrative jobs lagged well behind compensation offered in the private sector. The CBO study concluded that the best way to measure the difference is to compare government jobs with those in the private sector that match the actual work performed. The CBO found that salaries for 85 percent of federal workers in professional and administrative jobs lagged their private sector counterparts by more than 20 percent.In other words, though the statistics in question are accurate, it is a misleading comparison.
Among lawyers, for example, the average pay in the federal government was about $127,500 a year in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average lawyer in the private sector earned $137,540. And the starting salary at large law firms in Washington, D.C. -- where most government lawyers work -- is $160,000, and can grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to the National Association for Law Placement.
At the end of each appraisal year, an employee is assigned pay shares based on performance that represent percentage increases in pay. Lower-performing employees may receive fewer pay shares or no pay shares. An employee must acquire at least a satisfactory performance rating to be eligible for any performance-based bonuses.In other words, this was a program designed to incentivize performance in exactly the way free market promoters find the public sector lacking. It was designed by people with this in mind and there was the unexpected consequence that many more people qualified for merit pay than they thought would. In any case, it was not some random pay raise: it was designed to introduce market incentives into the public sector. Now those same free market denizens howl when public employees get paid close to their private counterparts.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week borrowed $750-million by issuing taxable bonds that it plans to repay not over 30 years, the usual term for capital borrowing by universities, but over 100 years.
By the end of this century, global warming threatens to raise the sea level enough that a heavy storm would send flood waters into Boston's downtown waterfront, the Financial District, and much of the Back Bay, based on projections in a federally funded report to be released today
To address your gripe about the "very top" getting "ALL" the benefits of growth. They also shouldered the greatest burden. Remember who pays the lion's share of taxes...
"The top-earning 5 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $...159,619), however, still paid far more than the bottom 95 percent. The top 5 percent earned 34.7 percent of the nation's adjusted gross income, but paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes."
How much do you want the top 5% to pay? All of the federal individual income taxes? That, of course, would be absurd.
And remember the bugs in your data collection:
"Overall, these data on high-income tax returns appear to confirm that the recent recession had the same diminishing effect on income inequality that most recessions have, and that it occurred for the same reason, a sharp decline in income at the high end. This appears to contradict recent reports based upon Census data suggesting the opposite, that this recession had actually increased income inequality. This inconsistency between IRS data and Census data is explained by a number of factors such as: (1) Census doesn't break down data for the extremely high income tax returns (typically stops at the 5 percent threshold), (2) Census income measures do not account for capital gains realizations, and (3) Census data gathered from household surveys are less reliable for income information at the high end of the income spectrum than IRS data."
The assertion that this economic disaster was brought on by "the top 2%" is utter conspiracy-theory nonsense. Millions of middle-class homeowners took out loans, in many cases lying to get them, that far exceeded their ability to pay. They hoped to game the system, perhaps, or "not to miss out." Regardless, this was the core of the housing/leverage super-bubble. This was abetted by government policies allowing low-to-no down payments in an effort to "share the wealth" of homeownership with a broader population. And by an absolutely idiotic Federal Reserve policy of low interest rates (shame on Greenspan for calling himself an objectivist while weilding the club of market intervention). Securitization was a useful tool that became a deadly weapon--but only in the hands of people who deliberately ignored the instruction manual. Somebody very stupid bought that junk. Many of us knew it was unwise, because we are students of the system. We chose not to participate in those markets.
Leverage is your enemy, not "the top 2%". Eliminate or reduce leverage and many evils are defanged--no housing bubble, no hedge funds, no crazy private-equity buyouts. No populace enslaved to their credit cards. I imagine banks would be smaller; they would certainly be more conservative.
For the past decade I've been intimately involved in--and aware of--the workings of the financial system. A bubble is a bubble, and they've been happening for centuries. The enemy is irrational behavior by market participants. Unfortunately, that will probably never change. The best we could do would be limit people's ability to leverage their irrational behavior to the point of collapse.
Sadly, we're using a lot of leverage ourselves at the national level. Too much debt. The problem has moved, like a Whack-a-Mole, from individuals, to corporations, to states, and finally to the federal government.
I know many in the top 0.1% and they don't and didn't have some secret cabal to cause a crash. I wish they did; I'd probably get to have a hand in it. They know very well that the burden will fall on them to fix it (see tax burden, above). Nearly all of them have businesses--and incomes--that depend on good economic times and general prosperity. These people work 18 hours a day for decades to build their wealth, and employ thousands of people in the process--indeed, some of them make their employees or investors very rich. And all this is done not by stealing, but making something better, cheaper, and more appealing when they sell it to their customers. Most of the time, the role of government in that process is to be inefficient, absurd, conflicting, unweildly, and incomprehensible. I've seen it over and over. When I was a broker, I was regulated by FIVE different agencies. And you know what? Not one of them actually ensured any of us were acting ethically. None of them prevented the crash. So all five were a collosal waste. That's government, and "regulation."
Nobody wins in a crash, and the rich--more than anyone--know that very well.
However, I want to insist that we decentre wage labour in our conception of life under capitalism. The fetishism of the wage may well be the source of capitalist ideologies of freedom and equality, but the employment contract is not the founding moment. For capitalism begins not with the offer of work, but with the imperative to earn a living. Dispossession and expropriation, followed by the enforcement of money taxes and rent: such is the idyll of ‘free labour’. In those rare moments of modern emancipation, the freed people—from slavery, serfdom and other forms of coerced labour—have never chosen to be wage labourers. There may be a ‘propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another’, as Adam Smith put it, but there is clearly no propensity to get a job.
Rather than seeing the bread-winning factory worker as the productive base on which a reproductive superstructure is erected, imagine the dispossessed proletarian household as a wageless base of subsistence labour—the ‘women’s work’ of cooking, cleaning and caring—which supports a superstructure of migrant wage seekers who are ambassadors, or perhaps hostages, to the wage economy. These migrations may be short in distance and in interval—the daily streetcars or buses from tenement to factory, apartment block to office, that will come to be called ‘commuting’—or they may be extended to the yearly proletarian globe-hopping of seasonal workers by steamship, railroad and automobile, as well as the radical separation of airborne migration linked by years of remittances and phone calls. Unemployment precedes employment, and the informal economy precedes the formal, both historically and conceptually. We must insist that ‘proletarian’ is not a synonym for ‘wage labourer’ but for dispossession, expropriation and radical dependence on the market. You don’t need a job to be a proletarian: wageless life, not wage labour, is the starting point in understanding the free market.
That globalization produces redundancy would be better understood not through the deceptively concrete image of wasted lives, but through Marx’s two dialectically related concepts: the relative surplus population and the virtual pauper. The one is from Capital; the other from the Grundrisse. In the key chapter on ‘The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation’ in Capital, Marx views the problem from the vantage point of capital: ‘it is capitalist accumulation itself that constantly produces, and produces indeed in direct relation with its own energy and extent, a relatively redundant working population, i.e. a population which is superfluous to capital’s average requirements for its own valorization, and is therefore a surplus population.’ He continues: ‘this is a law of population peculiar to the capitalist mode of production; and in fact every particular historical mode of production has its own special laws of population’. Indeed, ‘the relative surplus population exists in all kinds of forms. Every worker belongs to it during the time when he is only partially employed or wholly unemployed.’ The industrial reserve army is thus merely one of these forms; in fact, as might be expected, Marx’s specific examples of the relative surplus population are the most dated part of his analysis. 
The fundamental metaphor in Marx’s account is that of opposing forces: it is not as if there are two kinds of workers, employed and unemployed, or two sectors of the economy, formal and informal; rather, there is a process in which ‘greater attraction of workers by capital is accompanied by their greater repulsion . . . the workers are sometimes repelled, sometimes attracted again in greater masses’. The ‘higher the productivity of labour, the greater is the pressure of the workers on the means of employment, the more precarious therefore becomes the condition for their existence, namely the sale of their own labour-power’. Intriguingly, almost the entire contemporary vocabulary—redundant, superfluous, precarious—can be found in this chapter. 
If the passage in Capital tells the story from the point of view of the accumulation of capital, the parallel passage in the Grundrisse begins from the point of view of living labour: ‘It is already contained in the concept of the free labourer, that he is a pauper: a virtual pauper . . . If the capitalist has no use for his surplus labour, then the worker may not perform his necessary labour’. Marx is not arguing that all workers are or will become beggars, as in the immiseration thesis often attributed to him. Rather, this is his account of bare life: since the exchange required for the means of living—the selling of labour-power—is accidental and indifferent to their organic presence, the worker is a virtual pauper.  Virtual paupers: this strange figure—which combines an almost lost word with one that has taken on entirely new connotations—will be my temporary resting place. In a letter written as he turned fifty, Marx wrote: ‘half a century on my shoulders and still a pauper’. A century and a half on again, the spectre of wageless life still weighs upon us.