For What It’s Worth

For an election that’s more than a year out, this one sure is making a lot of noise. And, like most noise in an election, it’s about 90% (cowpuckey). But if you listen closely, there may be something very big happening just beneath the surface. It’s not very loud yet, but it may reverberate into some beautiful music.

The sound that you may not hear is the progressive left getting its act together.

With the fans of Sen Sanders going after Sec Clinton – and getting a little bit in return – it’s hard to see how this band is going to come together. But after Clinton’s confrontation with Black Lives Matter (BLM) something wonderful has happened – people seem to be listening. If we all start doing more listening and a little less “speaking up”, as the left is wont to do, this may yet come together.

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Summer of Discontent

The news is full of Donald Trump and his lead in the crowded Republican field. Off to the side a bit, Sen Bernie Sanders is drawing huge crowds and capturing the imaginations of many supporters – and a few polls, too. With more than a year to go the Presidential election is going wildly off script as insurgent candidates are leading the insider choices, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Will this keep up for the next year or more?

A smart person would say that nothing is predictable as the electorate is obviously very volatile right now. Good thing I’m not smart. Despite the teevee noise and the large crowds it is very early and what we might call “mainstream” voters – people with jobs, families, et cetera – are not engaged yet. They will probably put a stop to the circuses and at least change the tone before it’s all over. But that doesn’t mean the election will quite go back on script.

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Show’s Over?

If you have watched the Republican debate, there’s a good chance you’ve already asked yourself, “Is this any way to elect the leader a democratic republic, the strongest nation in the history of the world?” And yes, technically the system we have is a way to do it, even if it isn’t a very good one. Billions will be spent, a lot of frothing and excitement will be expended, and in the end we’ll have a result.

But is it possible that the result is already, more or less, in the can?

Moody’s Analytics, better known as a consulting company and research arm for large financial institutions, has made their predictions for every state in every election since 1980. They’ve gotten it right 406 out of 459 times (DC counts!) for a success rate of 88%, and they do it with their own methodology – by looking at economic conditions. This year, the call the Democrat in a squeaker.

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Fight for $15

The fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage is the hottest issue among progressive Democrats today. There has been a lot of progress as cities including Seattle and Los Angeles have passed this as their minimum wage, as has the entire state of New York (but only for “fast food” workers, strangely). It would be a big hike from today’s $7.25 per hour, a 106% increase that swamps any previous jump. President Obama, and many Democrats, favor a smaller $12 per hour rate as something of a compromise.

But where did these numbers come from? Why are they important? What effects would a minimum wage rise have on the economy? It’s worth spending some time looking at the postwar history of the minimum wage, from 1947 to 2015, to see where we are today and what it means.

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End “Quarterly Capitalism”!

“It was this administration which saved the system of private profit and free enterprise after it had been dragged to the brink of ruin.”
– President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, bragging a little.

It’s a common belief that the right wing in the US is the political alignment of business. They stand for lower taxes, lower regulation, and a generally lighter hand on the economy. That may work out well in good times, but hard times call for more. It’s when things get dark that the true Liberals, capital “L”, stand up and make things happen.

Hillary Clinton, with a good shot at being the FDR we really need, may just have stepped up to do that.

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Crisis and Calm

If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s going on in the world you’re in good company. The global economy has been undergoing rapid change for a number of years but global politics has been a bit slow to catch up to it.

A few items that Barataria has covered recently have entered new phases recently – unpredictable, rapidly changing phases that show that things are indeed coming to a head. We’ve consistently called 2017 as “The Year Everything Changes” for a number of reasons, but the lead-up to that year is proving to be especially chaotic. Here are updates to three stories we’ve been all over that should take surprising turns in the next year and a half. You read it here first!

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Tax Profits, Not Labor!

Are you properly compensated for your work? As we discussed previously, between 1947 and 1973 worker’s salaries accounted for half of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There was a solid if unspoken agreement that labor and capital split the spoils of the free market equally between them.

But what of output per worker? Is it possible that workers are slacking off and don’t deserve the same arrangement they had in the immediate Post WWII era? An analysis of productivity, or output per worker, shows some interesting trends that may point to more unspoken agreements that the various markets for capital and labor expect. These trends follow business cycles, and as such point to some important changes that are necessary as we move ahead into the next cycle in the next few years.

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