Category Archives: Labor

Why New York City Is In Trouble – 114,041 Public Employees With $100,000+ Paychecks Cost Taxpayers $14.6 Billion, by Adam Andrzejewski

And Bill De Blasio wants a federal bailout! From Adam Andrzejewski at forbes.com:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is aggressively pushing for a $12.4 billion federal bailout— because New York City faces an unprecedented $7 billion budget deficit over the next two years.

Last week, in a public relations stunt, the mayor announced a one-week unpaid furlough of himself and 494 employees within his office — a taxpayer savings of a paltry $860,000.

So, how did the city get so deep into trouble?

Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com dug into the skyrocketing city payroll. In 2016, there were 76,166 employees with pay exceeding $100,000. By 2019, there were more than 114,000 — a 50-percent increase in six-figure earners.

In 2019, plumber helpers earned $172,988; thermostat repairmen made up to $198,630; regular laborers hauled away $213,169; electricians lit up $253,132; and plumbers pocketed up to $286,245.

School janitors ($256,000) out-earned the principals ($154,000). Four deputy mayors made over $241,641 each and 5,998 city employees out-earned New York governor Andrew Cuomo ($178,000).

The city has 331,520 full-time equivalent employees – up from 297,349 in 2014.

However, 592,432 people pulled a paycheck at some point last year at a total cost of $29.5 billion. (This included base salary, overtime, and “other pay,” but not healthcare or pension benefits. Those perks add 30-percent.)

Office of the Mayor – $52 million payroll cost

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s base salary was $258,541 plus free rent at Gracie Mansion and regular police-escorted trips to the gym – even as he closed schools, restaurants, and gyms.

First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan made $278,980 and three deputy mayors earned between $241,641 and $246,124. Even de Blasio’s executive chef Feliberto Estevez cooked up $124,285.

First Lady Chirlane McCray, de Blasio’s wife, works within the Office of the Mayor as a volunteer. However, fourteen city employees aid McCray with salaries that cost taxpayers $2 million per year.

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The 21st Century Is Marked By Crisis and Political Division, by Bill Bonner

We’re twenty percent into the 21st century and it hasn’t been a great start. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

Week 26 of the Quarantine

In this bright future, you can’t forget your past.

– Bob Marley

SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – What a colossal flop!

We’re talking about the 21st century. A failure in almost every way.

We now have 30 million people on unemployment – nearly 20% of the labor force.

We have a budget deficit of nearly 20% of GDP.

And, despite already spending $2 for every $1 they collect in taxes, the feds are planning to spend more.

We have phony “conservatives” waving the flag… and real radicals trying to tear it down. On both sides are more and more loonies, locked and loaded…

Even many of our own dear readers are ready to go to war with each other. This is from yesterday’s mailbag:

Hey Dude, we are at WAR! Trump leads the Win-the-War Party! The Neo Repubs are the “What? Me, worry?” Party. And you are like the pet dog nipping at the heels of the soldiers marching past!

No matter the cost, we must win the war against socialism and the Ds. There is time enough to purify ourselves after we win! If we lose, it will be a “thousand years” before our experiment is tried again… Meanwhile it is your obligation to support those who are fighting, regardless of technique and strategy… TRUMP!

Nasty Themes

It is hard to figure out how an administration that declares a moratorium on rent collection, stifles free trade, and runs a deficit of 20% of GDP could save us from socialism… But in this great 21st-century future, wonders never cease.

This week, in this “new normal,” we’ve been trying to remember what the “old normal” was like. And was it really better? Or is it just us?

We recalled what it must have been like when we were born. Of course, it was a very different world back then.

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COVID Financial Pain ‘Much, Much Worse’ Than Expected, Warns Harvard Study, by Tyler Durden

Some of us expected Covid’s financial pain to be very bad indeed, but that certainly wasn’t the mainstream media line. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

New findings from a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published by NPR News on Wednesday, reveal low-income minority households have experienced the most financial hardships in the virus-induced recession.

The pandemic heavily impacted Black and Latino households across America’s four largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston) with massive job loss or reduction in hourly wages or a decline in working hours.

The survey, conducted from July 1 through Aug. 3, found Latino households (77%) and Black households (81%) in the Greater Houston area incurred “serious” financial problems.

Houston

As for the three other major cities, the survey showed 73% of Latinos in New York City experienced severe financial hardships, 71% of Latinos in Los Angeles, and 63% in Chicago. Black households in New York City (62%), Los Angeles (52%), and Chicago (69%) also reported severe financial distress because of the downturn.

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The Covid-19 Catastrophe, by Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan

The cure has been far worse than the disease. From Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan at aier.org:

It has been five months since the American people were told they would be under house arrest for three weeks to “flatten the curve.” Under the guise of protecting us from Covid-19, America’s politicians completed one of the greatest nonviolent power grabs in US history, pushing the lockdowns well beyond the initial three-week prediction, thereby taking control of 330 million lives.

To justify this, they shifted the goal posts from flattening the curve, to halting transmission of the coronavirus entirely. Some even talked about maintaining lockdowns, at least in part, until a vaccine is developed. That could take years.

Quelle surprise.

How did it come to pass that a nation of 330 million was effectively imprisoned, with virtually every sector of the economy shut down either in part or in total? The answer to this question is as clear as it was wrong: In the early days of Covid-19, politicians and experts lined up to tell us that, if we did nothing, up to 2.2 million Americans would die over the balance of 2020.

As of late August, there have been fewer than 170,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States. If the 2.2 million projection was accurate, then the US lockdown saved in the neighborhood of 2 million lives. But at what cost?

In early March, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the economic output of the United States economy over the period 2020 through 2025 would total $120 trillion. Just four months later and because of the Covid lockdown, the CBO reduced its projection by almost $10 trillion. That $10 trillion difference is income Americans would have earned had the lockdown not happened, but now won’t.

Economists outside the CBO have estimated this loss at almost $14 trillion. For perspective, the median US household earns $63,000. A $10 trillion loss is equivalent to wiping out the incomes of 30 million US households each year for more than five years.

Our desire to keep people safe, no matter the cost, has already resulted in 10 million Americans being unemployed. By the time things have returned to normal, the total price tag, just in terms of lost incomes and adjusted for inflation, will have exceeded the costs of all the wars the US has ever fought, from the American Revolution to Afghanistan – combined.

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The Economy Continues To Unravel Despite All Stimulus Measures, by Brandon Smith

You don’t get a lot of production out of an economy when producers have to lock themselves up, fire their employees, and close their businesses. Who knew? From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

Since the pandemic lockdowns were first implemented in the US I have been more concerned with the government and central bank response than the virus itself. As I have noted in past articles, the pandemic restrictions and subsequent economic and social crisis events they help to create will cause far more deaths than Covid-19 ever will. Not only that, but the actions of the Federal Reserve continue to con the American public into believing that there is some kind of “plan” to stop the crash that THEY engineered.

The only agenda of the Fed is to increase the pain in the long term; they have no intention of actually preventing any disaster.

This is evidenced in comments by voting members of the Fed, including Neel Kashkari who recently argued for the enforcement of hard lockdowns for at least six weeks in the US, all because the US savings rate was going up. Meaning, because Americans are saving more in order to protect themselves from economic fallout, Kashkari thinks we should be punished with an economic shutdown that would force us to spend whatever we have been able to save.

Do you see how that works?

Fed members and government officials demand hard lockdowns, depleting public savings and destroying small businesses. Then, the public has to beg the Fed and the government for more and more stimulus measures so that they can survive. The people and the system become dependent on a single point of support – fiat money creation and welfare. Yet, the evidence suggests that this strategy is failing to do much of anything except stall the inevitable for a very short time.

If the goal was really to reduce the pain of the pandemic as much as possible, then the strategy should be to keep the economy as open as possible and let the virus run its course.  By initiating lockdowns, all we are doing is extending the economic damage over the span of years instead of months.  We can deal with the comparatively minimal deaths associated with the virus; we cannot handle the disaster that is about to befall the financial system.

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How Corporate Tyranny Works, by Chris Hedges

Most major corporations today are closer to socialism than capitalism, and they have no compunction about teaming with governments to destroy their enemies. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

Those, like environmental lawyer Steven Donziger, who fight the corporate control of our society on behalf of the vulnerable find the institutions of power unite to crucify them.

Steven Donziger. (Still from video by Amazon Watch and Frente de Defensa de la Amazonía)

The persecution of the attorney Steven Donziger is a grim illustration of what happens when we confront the real centers of power, masked and unacknowledged by the divisive cant from the Trump White House or the sentimental drivel of the Democratic Party. Those, like Donziger, who name and fight the corporate control of our society on behalf of the vulnerable see the judiciary, the press and the institutions of government unite to crucify them.

“It’s been a long battle, 27 years,” Donziger said when I reached him by phone in his apartment in Manhattan.

Donziger, who has been fighting polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador, has been under house arrest in Manhattan for a year. He will go to trial in federal court in New York on Sept.  9 on contempt of court charges, which could see him jailed for six months. Ever since he won a multibillion-dollar judgment in 2011 against the oil giant Chevron, the multinational has come after him personally through litigation that threatens to destroy him economically, professionally and personally.

“Our L-T [long-term] strategy is to demonize Donziger,” Chevron wrote in an internal memo in 2009, as reviewed by Courthouse News.

(Still from video by Amazon Watch and Frente de Defensa de la Amazonía)

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Glitzy Convention Conceals Emerging One-Party Tyranny, by Mike Whitney

The Democrats are continuing to ignore the white working class voters they ignored in 2016. They shouldn’t be surprised if the outcome in 2020 is the same as in 2016. From Mike Whitney at unz.com:

Here are a few takeaways from the Democratic Convention:

  1. The Democrats are running on the same platform they ran on in 2016.
  2. The Democrats put style above substance, flashy optics above ideas or issues.
  3. The Democrats think that hollow tributes to “diversity” and “inclusion” will win the election.
  4. The Democrats have abandoned white, working class voters opting instead for people of color.
  5. The Democrats have learned nothing from Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016.

In 2016, Democrat front-runner, Hillary Clinton lost the election because she failed to see her support was eroding in the key Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump won all three states with a measly 77, 651 votes total. All three states were expected to go Democrat but flipped to the GOP due to Clinton’s support for free trade and immigration policies that cost jobs and imposed unwelcome demographic changes on the working people of those states. The Democrats and Hillary have never accepted the factual version of how the election was lost. Instead, they fabricated a conspiracy theory about Trump colluding with Russia. Although the Mueller Report proved that the claims of meddling were baseless, Clinton and the Dems continue to trot them out at every opportunity. On Tuesday at the convention, Hillary again reiterated the lie that Trump stole the election. She said:

“Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are. Remember: Joe and Kamala can win 3 million more votes and still lose. Take it from me. We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”

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Bite the Bullet or Extend & Pretend? Unemployment in Europe, by Nick Corbishley

We know the answer is going to be extend and pretend, for as long as humanly possible. From Nick Corbishley at wolfstreet.com:

Unemployment in the EU has barely budged since the virus crisis began. In the first four months of the crisis, the official unemployment rate edged up from 6.5% in March, when many lockdowns began, to 7.1% in June, the last month on record. There’s one reason: Furloughed workers are not included in the unemployment stats (all charts via Trading Economics):

Most EU countries have adopted hugely ambitious job retention programs that have saved, at least temporarily, tens of millions of jobs. Each government pays companies, who in turn pay employees between 60% and 84% of their monthly wage. In some cases, the workers work fewer hours for less pay; in others, they don’t work at all. The workers take a hit to their income but their jobs remain intact, at least for the duration of the program, giving their employers time and financial breathing space to reinvent themselves for the new economic reality that is quickly taking shape.

In Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain, a combined 45 million workers were registered in furlough programs at the end of May — compared to about 32 million Americans who are claiming unemployment benefits under state and federal programs. The initial duration of the programs differed significantly by country, from nine weeks in Italy to a year in Germany. But governments have begun to extend the duration of the programs.

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Jobless Thursday – How the Donald Is Making America Poor Again, by David Stockman

Make no mistake, America is getting massively poorer by the day. From David Stockman at lewrockwell.com:

Maybe it is time to don our tinfoil hat. Here’s the flat-out lie the WSJ reported this morning in response to the weekly unemployment claims release. It sure did make you think that the jobs picture is improving by the week:

The number of people receiving benefits through regular state programs, which cover the majority of workers, decreased by 1.1 million to 16.2 million for the week ended July 11. The decline extends the recent trend, with the number receiving benefits the lowest reading since the week ended April 11.

Just to make sure you grasped the good news, the WSJ added this chart for good measure:

Actually, there was no improvement at all this week!

And what remains is the greatest labor market disaster in history. As Wolf Richter observed in his excellent post on the heels of the DOL (Department of Labor) report:

If you read this morning or heard on the radio that 16.2 million people were claiming unemployment insurance – the “continued claims” – and you thought that there were only 16.2 million people who claimed unemployment benefits, you fell victim to lazy misreporting in the media, by reporters or bots that didn’t read the Labor Department’s press release beyond the second paragraph.

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32 Million People on State & Federal Unemployment, 2nd Highest Ever: Week 17 of U.S. Labor Market Collapse, by Wolf Richter

There’s no recovery evident in the unemployment numbers, which are in fact getting worse. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Torrent of 2.4 million new claims under state & federal programs this week. PUA claims by gig workers now 45% of 32 million in total unemployment. Many people are hired back, but many people are newly laid off. Labor market recovery remains hard to discern.

The torrent of newly laid-off workers keeps flowing into state unemployment offices to claim unemployment at an astounding rate week after week. But many people who were claiming unemployment benefits in prior weeks were called back to work, or found new work. And the total number of people who continued to claim unemployment compensation in the week ended July 11 under all state and federal unemployment insurance programs, including gig workers and contract workers, dipped by 433,000 to 32.0 million (not seasonally adjusted), according to the Department of Labor this morning. It was the second highest level ever, after last week’s gut-wrenching record.

Unemployment insurance under state programs.

It’s not getting better: 1.50 million people who were newly laid off filed their initial unemployment claims with state unemployment offices in the week ended July 11, up from 1.40 million people who’d filed their initial claims in the week before.

Over the past five weeks, these initial state unemployment claims totaled 7.25 million, for an average of 1.45 million per week, which shows how relentlessly companies have shed workers week after week.

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