AuthorTopic: The “Gig Economy”  (Read 2696 times)

Offline Surly1

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Re: The “Gig Economy”
« Reply #45 on: August 31, 2018, 06:12:31 AM »
...as probably nobody here except azozeo has an active sex life any more.

What an odd observation, considering how it is unsupported by the merest shed of evidence.

At least it was evidence my jokes are lame, but now Im stuck with images of you.. that chandelier cant hold, oh god Noooo!

I'm just grateful the bed holds. I'm big enough I barely fit my circumstances.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline azozeo

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Re: The “Gig Economy”
« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2018, 06:18:47 AM »
Did you make that one up or borrow it? Pretty good line, either way. Pretty far OT though.

I took on restoring the body of a rusty 1977 Mini S for a young Afghani guy in my spare time. It would cost him about 10k in a pro shop and I hate seeing classic cars go to scrap. To draw him into a more interesting conversation than safe topics, I tried saying 'Im like an afghan because ive been getting bombed since the 80s' , seemed appropriate having a beer while working. He just laughed and said my son had warned him that I think Im funny but am not. He still wasnt drawn on discussing the wars which I was angling to hear his opinion about. I come here to blurt out the lame ass jokes I try to bite my tongue on at work, except for asking how the weekend was, as probably nobody here except azozeo has an active sex life any more.


Those lil' British jobs are a hoot. My 1st resto at age 16 was a 60' AH Sprite.
We did a mini in the summer of '69.
I helped the kid across the street with those resto's.

I just watched a tv program on a mini resto. The speed shop in St. Louis dropped a Honda 200 hp
4 cyl jn the car (tight squeeze), replaced the dash & gauges, fresh coat of paint & new shoes to match.
Made a nice lil' weekend racer out of it. I'm not in any relationships & don't anticipate taking hostages anytime soon.
When beach bunny graces me with her presence when shes in town from S.D. we chum round & have fun like we were
teenagers again. No strings attached.
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline RE

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💸 The Myth of Rising Wages in America
« Reply #47 on: September 05, 2018, 12:40:56 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-myth-of-rising-wages-in-america/5652915

The Myth of Rising Wages in America
By Dr. Jack Rasmus
Global Research, September 04, 2018
Region: USA
Theme: Global Economy, Media Disinformation, Poverty & Social Inequality


Note to readers: please click the share buttons above 

This Labor Day 2018 marks yet another year of declining living standards for American workers. If one were to believe the media and press, rising wages belie that statement.  The Wall St. Journal, August 1, 2018 trumpeted ‘US Workers Get Biggest Pay Raise in Nearly Ten Years’.

But here’s why that media spin is a misrepresentation of reality.

Labor’s Falling Income Share 

If wages were rising, why is it that labor’s share of total national income has continued to fall for nearly 20 years, including this past year?  At about 64% of total national income in 2000, it has steadily plummeted to around 56% of today’s roughly $16 trillion national income. That decline has not just been a result of the 2008-09 great recession; half of it occurred between 2000 and 2008. So it is a long term secular trend, rooted in today’s 21st century US capitalist system and not a recent phenomenon.

A drop of 8% in income share for Labor might not seem much in simple percent terms. But 8% of $16 trillion is just short of $1.5 trillion a year. In other words, workers have come up short $1.5 trillion in 2017-18; if their share had remained at 64% they would have $1.5 trillion more in their pockets today than they actually have.  That $1.5 trillion of Labor Share decline represents a loss, at minimum, of $8,000 a year or more per worker. But the $1.5 is also an underestimation.

‘Labor’s Share’ as defined by the government (Labor Dept. and Congressional Budget Office) includes the salaries of managers and senior executives, year-end bonuses of bankers, lump sum payments to executives, and other forms of non-wage income.  True wages income—i.e. of non-management, non-supervisory worker—is a subset of this expanded official definition of Labor’s Share. But if executives, managers and bankers’ forms of salary and pay categories of Labor’s Share have been rising rapidly—which they have—in net terms then true wage incomes have fallen even more than the $1.5 trillion.  Take out the executives’ and managers’ share of the Labor Share of national income, and the lost per year per worker likely exceeds $10,000.

But that’s not all.  Even when considering true wage incomes of non-management, non-supervisory workers (about 82% of the total labor force), wage gains that have occurred have been skewed strongly to the top 10% of the remaining working class households—i.e. professionals in tech, health care and finance, those with advanced college degrees, etc.  By averaging in the wage gains of the top 10% of the working class with the rest, the wage gains of the 10% offset the wage stagnation of the rest. The true negative wage stagnation and decline for the ‘bottom’ 90% wage earners is thus even greater. That’s about 133 million of the 162 million labor force. In other words, the wage incomes of the 133 million have lost even more than the $1.5 trillion of Labor’s Share decline, when excluding the net wage gains of the top 10% of the working class. That means the 133 million have lost even more than $10,000 a year per worker.

Weekly Earnings v. Wages

Actual wages of the 133 million have therefore fared worse than the Labor Share decline suggests—and even after adjusting for executives-managers and for the top 10% tier (professionals, higher educated, etc.) of the working class. Wages are far less than Labor’s Share data.

Nor are wages the same as ‘workers weekly earnings’, which the media often refers to as wages in order to overstate wage gains.  Official government sources indicate weekly earnings have been rising at 2.7% annual rate.  But weekly earnings are volatile and upswing widely with the business cycle, reflecting hours worked and second jobs. And business cycle upswings since 2001 have been short and shallow. Nevertheless, the press and media often, and purposely, confuse wages with weekly earnings (or with household personal income) in order to make it appear that gains for America’s working class are greater than they are in fact. US Labor Dept. data as of mid-year estimated wage gains at 2.5% over the preceding 17 months to July 2018, according to the Wall St. Journal, and therefore less than the 2.7% figure for weekly earnings.

Wages: The Real Numbers

Even when properly considering just wages for non-management and non-supervisory workers, official government stats still distort to the upside the true picture with regard wages as well. This upside overestimation is due largely to five causes

    1) reporting wages for full time employed workers only;

    2) reporting nominal wages instead of real wages;

    3) ignoring the claims on future wage payments due to rising worker household debt in the present and therefore future interest payments;

    4) not considering the decline in ‘deferred wages’ which are represented in pension and retirement benefit payments decline;

    5) disregarding declines in ‘social wages’ represented in falling real social security benefits payments;

1) While official government data report that wages are now rising at a 2.5% annual rate, what that stat fails to mention is that the 2.5% is for full time permanent workers only.  It thus leaves out the lower, if any, wage increases for the current 40-50 million workers who are not full time and are employed in what is sometimes called ‘contingent’ or ‘precarious’ work.

Their lower wage gains would reduce the 2.5% for the total wage earning labor force to less than 2.5%. A similar adjustment should be made for the 8 million or full time workers who have become unemployed and whose “wages”, in the form of unemployment benefits and food stamps, are certainly not rising or being cut.  Add the millions more of undocumented workers, and still millions more youth and others working in the ‘underground’ economy (estimated now at 12% of US GDP)—neither of whom whose wages are estimated accurately by official government wage stats—and the wage gains are still further reduced from the official 2.5%.  When adjustments are made to include these latter categories of wage earners, and consider contingent workers’ wages, it is this writer’s estimate that the true net rise in nominal wages the past year is no more than 1.7% to 2.0% overall and closer to 1% for the 133 million and the ‘bottom’ 90% of the wage earning labor force.

To sum up thus far, when excluding salaries of executives and managers, exempting the top 10% of the wage earning labor force, adding in the wage-less unemployed, and correcting for undocumented and underground economy labor force—the net result for even nominal wages is far less than the official 2.5%.
Little to Celebrate this Labor Day Weekend : Low-Wage America. Protracted Main Street Depression. Economic Recovery is an Illusion

Nominal wage gains for 133 million are thus no more than 1.5%; that is, or one percent less than the official 2.5%.

2) The 2.5% official wage gain stat reported by the government is what’s called the nominal wage, not the real wage. The real wage—or what workers have actually to spend—is the nominal wage adjusted for the rate of inflation. So what has been the inflation rate? And how accurate is it?

There are various price indices against which wage gains may be adjusted: the consumer price index (CPI), the personal consumption expenditures index (PCE), GDP deflator index, and others. However, most often reported by the media is the CPI. The CPI at mid-year had officially risen 2.9% over the previous year.  So if one applied the CPI to the official hourly wage gain of 2.5%, it would mean that workers’ real wages declined by- 0.4% over the past year. (Or fell by    -1.4% if the above adjustments to the nominal wage are considered).

But both the -0.4% and -1.4% are also underestimations. Here’s why:  The CPI purposely underestimates the true rate of inflation. (And the higher the rate of inflation, the lower the real wage).  First, it smooths out year to year inflation by averaging annual inflation rates by means of what is called ‘chained indexing’.  Furthermore, the CPI does not look at all prices, but at a ‘basket’ of the most likely purchases of goods and services by households.  It then assigns ‘weights’ to the items in this basket.  For working class households, the weights should be greater for housing, healthcare, education, insurance and other basics but they’re not. The weights therefore do not reflect the true impact of inflation on reducing real wages.  There’s another problem. The Labor Dept. arbitrarily assumes increases in quality of a particular good or service in the basket reduces the price for that product. The price for the product in the CPI is often far lower than what a household actually pays for it in the market place. For example, a student may pay $800 for a computer laptop for back to school use, but the Labor Dept. reports it in the CPI as only $500 since it assumes the quality of that laptop is greater than an $800 laptop three years ago.  But this is a distortion of the actual price paid in the market by the working class household. Inflation is under-estimated. Another problem in the CPI is the government’s bias toward underestimating prices for online ecommerce goods purchases by households.

These arbitrary assumptions baked into the CPI serve to reduce the actual rate of CPI inflation. And if the CPI is underestimated, the real wage gain is estimated higher than it actually is. The true inflation rate is therefore undoubtedly well above the official 2.9% and real wages consequently even lower than officially reported.

While mainstream economists typically argue households don’t really know how much inflation is really rising, the truth is they know far better than the economists who rely on faulty, arbitrary government statistical estimations of consumer inflation.  Ask any median working class worker if their household costs have been increasing by only 2.9% the past year—when rent costs are escalating rapidly (often at double digit rates), health insurance premiums and doctor-hospital deductible and copay costs rising 20%-50%, auto insurance, gasoline costs per gallon up sharply over the past year, education & utility and transport costs, etc.  And in the last six months, prices have begun to rise even more broadly, as a large array of goods prices are being hiked by US businesses in anticipation of Trump’s tariff wars starting to bite.

With official CPI inflation at 2.9% and official nominal wages at 2.5%, the government real wage adjustment is only -0.4%.  But if the real CPI were around 3.5%, and nominal wages still assumed at the official 2.5%, then the real wage gain would be only 1.5%.

But that 1.5% real wage still does not factor in the corrections to the nominal wage noted in 1) above—i.e. for excluding executive-managers’ salaries as wages, for including contingent part time and temp workers’ wages, including the lost wages of the unemployed, and correcting for the undocumented and underground economy labor force, etc. Those adjustments reduced the nominal wage from 2.5% to 1.5%.

When these downward adjustments are made to the official 2.5% nominal wage (reducing it to 1.5%), combined with an upward adjustment of the CPI inflation rate to 3.5% (from 2.9%), what results is a real wage decline of -2.0% for the 133 million wage earners in the labor force.

The media and the press consistently report that real wages have stagnated this past year. The nominal wage gains have been roughly equal to the rate of inflation. But by properly estimating nominal wages (with the adjustments) and properly estimating a somewhat higher CPI rate, real wages have not been stagnating but have continued to decline—at least for the 133 million.

But the ‘wage story’ is still not complete, even when properly defining and adjusting for nominal wages, inflation, and real wages. Neither the media or government give any consideration in their calculations of wage changes to deferred wages or social wages or to the impact of interest and debt on future wages.

3) Future Wages represent a category never considered by official government statistics. What’s ‘future wages’?  They represent nominal and real wages adjusted downward to reflect the cost of credit, and thus interest payments on debt, incurred in the present but due to impact wages in the future as the interest on debt is repaid.  It is no secret that US working class households are increasingly in debt since 2000, as they take on credit in order to finance household consumption as their real wages and incomes have steadily stagnated or declined. Credit, and therefore debt, has been a primary way they have tried to maintain their standard of living the past two decades. (Before that it was adding more hours of work to the family income by having spouses enter the workforce. But this leveled off by 1999). Adding second and third jobs has been another way to add wage income to the household, as wages for  primary worker in the household have declined.

But interest on debt is a claim on wages to be paid in the future. It is spending future wage income in the present. And US capital is more than glad to finance household consumption by extending more and more credit and debt to households in lieu of paying more wages. Another method by which wage decline has been ‘offset’ is to provide cheap imports of basic goods like clothing, household items, even some food categories. But the cheap imports come at the cost of lost high paying manufacturing jobs.  So lack of wage gains is in part offset by cheap imports and a massive increase in available credit to households.  US household debt is now at historic levels, higher than in 2007.  More than $13 trillion in debt, including $1.5 trillion in student debt, more than $1 trillion in credit cards, $1.2 trillion in auto debt, and the rest in mortgage debt. The average household credit card debt interest payments alone are estimated at no less than $1,300 per year. Debt costs, moreover, are rising rapidly as the US central bank continues to steadily hikes its rates.

The debt-interest to wage change relationship has become a vicious cycle, moreover. Employers give little in the way of wage hikes and households resort to more credit-debt and in turn demand less wage increases.  This cycle appears in some areas to be breaking down, however, as teachers, minimum wage service workers, and others agitate for higher wages. But he overall problem will likely continue, as the vehicle for achieving wage gains in good economic times—i.e. Unions—decline further and no longer play their historic role. Knowing this, and burying households in credit card offers and other credit, businesses refuse to grant wage hikes except in isolated cases.

4) and 5): Another area that should be considered ‘wage’ but is not by government agencies reporting on wage changes is pensions and social security benefits.  These too are in effect ‘wages’.  Pensions are deferred wage payments. Workers forego actual wage increases in order to have employers provide contributions, in lieu of actual wages, into their pension plans. Upon retirement, they are then paid these ‘deferred wages’ from their pension plans.

But true pension plans, called defined benefit pensions, have been steadily destroyed—with the assistance of the government run by both Republican and Democrat parties—by employers since the 1980s. The destruction has accelerated since 2001 and continues in its final stages. Defined benefit pensions have been progressively replaced with privatized, ‘401k’ and ‘IRA’ plans—reducing employer costs and liabilities dramatically.  401k plan substitutes have proven a disaster and grossly insufficient for providing ‘deferred wages’ for retirees. Workers within 10 years of retirement on average have barely $50k in 401ks with which to retire on. The average 401k balance for all households is less than $18k. Not surprising, the fastest segment of US labor force growth is workers over age 67 having to re-enter the work force in order to survive. And retiree bankruptcy filing rates are at record levels and rising rapidly. Before 2000, only 2.1% of the over 65 age group filed for bankruptcy; today the rate is 12.2%, a more than fivefold increase even as their population share has risen by only 2.3%. Median household indebtedness for retirees is now $101,000.

Much of the rising debt for retirees is due to the collapse of the ‘wage’ in the form of monthly pension benefit payments, as defined benefit plans have been destroyed by employers and government in collusion and replaced by lower benefit 401k privatized pensions.  Bankruptcies, rise of part time contingent work by retirees, and senior citizen poverty rate escalation have been the consequences.  None of this deferred wage decline has been accounted for in the general wage statistics by US government agencies, however.

A similar retirement household wage decline is associated with monthly social security benefit payments—i.e. what might be called a ‘social wage’ similar to private pension deferred wage. It is ‘financed’ by employer (and worker) payroll tax payments into the social security trust fund from which monthly money benefits upon retirement are paid. Also deferred, like private pension benefit payments, the social wage represents employer payroll tax contributions to social security that are made in lieu of direct wages that might be paid to workers were there no payroll tax. The payroll tax represents workers’ deductions from wages they do not otherwise receive and instead have redirected to the social security trust fund. Both employer and worker wages are thus deferred and deposited to the trust fund, to be paid out in the future in wages in the form of social security benefit payments. Social security benefits are thus  a form of ‘social wage’. And to the extent social security benefits are reduced, the social (deferred) wage is reduced.  The wage reduction has been implemented by the government raising the retirement age to 67 at which to receive social security retirement benefits. Suspending or failing to enact cost of living adjustments to monthly payments. Cuts to SSDI benefits, i.e. social security disability insurance—all represent de facto cuts to the social wage. Rising annual deductibles and copays for Medicare are another form of social wage cut. Moreover, Trump plans to reduce Medicare in his latest budget represents yet another pending social wage cut.

Like defined benefit pension deferred wages, reductions in the social wage in the form of social security payments also represent appropriate wage categories affecting 50 million retired workers that US government agencies responsible for estimating wage changes do not include in their calculations of wage changes.

Summary Comments

Contrary to media ‘spin’, business press misrepresentations, and US government agencies’ ‘statistical legerdemain’, real wages for the vast majority of the US labor force—i.e. the 133 million— are not even close to rising in the US under Trump. Nor did they under Obama, Bush, or Clinton.  Since 1980 and the advent of neoliberal capitalist restructuring of the US and global economy, a key element of neoliberal policies has been to compress wages—for all but the roughly 10% that US Capital considers essential to its further expansion and for, of course, the salaries of executives and managers. The rest of the US workforce has undergone constant wage stagnation and decline over the long term. The pace has accelerated or abated at different times, but the long term direction of decline and stagnation has not.

When wage change is not limited to considering only permanent, full time employees or averaged out, when conveniently excluded categories of workers are considered, when wages are adjusted for true inflation rates, when interest and debt effects are accounted for, and when ‘deferred’ and ‘social’ wage payments are factored into wage totals in general—it is overwhelmingly the case that US wages have been declining for some time and that decline continues in 2018 despite the media-government spin that wages are rising in America.

*

Dr. Rasmus is author of the most recently published book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017, and the forthcoming ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press, 2019. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
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Offline RE

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🤑 The fraud of Amazon’s $15 wage
« Reply #48 on: October 05, 2018, 12:02:09 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2018/10/04/the-fraud-of-amazons-15-wage/

The fraud of Amazon’s $15 wage
October 4, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

“Curtis Skinner of the National Center for Children in Poverty estimates that a raise to $15 an hour could end up costing a parent over $10,000 a year. According to the Center for Community Solutions, an Ohio worker who receives a raise from $11.50 to $15 actually makes $29 less each month as a result of losing eligibility for food stamps, housing subsidies, and Medicaid. Such is the absurdity of American capitalism…”


Amazon’s decision to raise minimum pay has been hailed by the corporate media and the political establishment as a show of generosity that proves the corporate aristocracy and working class can live in harmony.

In reality, the paltry wage hike is part of a staged publicity operation to boost Amazon’s image and pacify a growing movement among workers demanding higher wages and an end to sweatshop working conditions.

“This is how democracy and capitalism are supposed to work,” proclaimed the New York Times in an article titled “Amazon’s Surrender is Inspiring.” The Washington Post, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns, posted an article by Jared Bernstein, a former economic advisor to Joe Biden, praising the company for delivering “unequivocally good news.”

Leaders of both parties hailed Amazon, with Trump White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow calling Bezos a “good businessman” and a “smart guy” for the move, which brings wages to $15 an hour in the US and to between £9.50 ($12.39) and £10.50 ($13.69) in the United Kingdom. Ex-Hillary Clinton advisor John Podesta tweeted, “Thank you Senator Sanders,” praising Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders’ role in orchestrating the wage increase.

The fact the New York Times, Washington Post, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Jeff Bezos are united in enthusiasm should give workers cause for concern. Keep your eyes on your purses and wallets!
Most of cost of the raise is paid for by the estimated $789 million Amazon received as a result of this year’s tax cuts. Amazon paid $0 in taxes in 2017. On top of this, Amazon workers reported to the World Socialist Web Site that the company is telling them to expect cuts to the Variable Compensation Plan and MyReward bonus program, as well as the Restricted Stock Units plan. What is being billed as a raise may actually result in a pay cut.
Financial analysts and investors understand that Amazon’s raise is actually a cost-saving measure directed ultimately against the workers themselves. The Wall Street Journal noted that Amazon will make up for the cost of the raises by driving-up productivity—i.e., enforcing speedups and demanding higher rates.

Amazon “will not end up spending more in wages, they will end up hiring less people,” one industry analyst David Bahnsen acknowledged on CNBC. That’s because the slightly higher wage will pressure more workers to work through injuries and accept long hours and unsafe conditions, decreasing turnover and training costs. Amazon has also begun introducing massive cost-saving measures to increase exploitation and reduce its workforce, including at its recently-acquired Whole Foods markets.

Anthony Chukumba of Loop Capital Markets praised the move as a “public relations victory” that will reduce widespread demands to tax the company or enforce strenuous workplace safety regulations against it. The Wall Street Journal admitted, “for Amazon, paying up now may lessen the chance of regulations that pose a bigger cost down the road.”

There is, moreover, a calculated political dimension to the action, which takes place only a month before the midterm elections. Bezos, owner of the Washington Post and prominent backer of the Democratic Party, has donated millions toward electing Democratic candidates, particularly those with military backgrounds. The company is currently bidding for a $10 billion contract to provide the Pentagon with cloud services.

Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been calling for higher taxes on Amazon, immediately dropped his token criticism of the company: “I want to give credit where credit is due and that is that Mr. Bezos and Amazon have done the right thing,” he said in a gushing statement.

Jeff Bezos himself tweeted thanks to Sanders. “We’re excited about this,” Bezos wrote. Vox said Sanders and Bezos had joined “a weird mutual admiration society.”

Sanders’ role in the confrontation with Amazon was heavily staged from the onset. By first presenting himself as a critic of Amazon, Sanders has served as a political lightning rod, attracting social opposition, harnessing it within the framework of the political establishment, and dissipating it so that it would not impact corporate profits or derail the rising stock market.

Amazon bought the smiles of Sanders and the praise of the entire political establishment on the cheap. The raise will cost him a paltry $1–2 billion in the short-term, roughly equal to what he brings home each week. Workers outside the US and UK will not receive pay increases. Bloomberg Business said the cost represents 0.001 percent of Amazon’s market capitalization.

Most of cost of the raise is paid for by the estimated $789 million Amazon received as a result of this year’s tax cuts. Amazon paid $0 in taxes in 2017.

On top of this, Amazon workers reported to the World Socialist Web Site that the company is telling them to expect cuts to the Variable Compensation Plan and MyReward bonus program, as well as the Restricted Stock Units plan. What is being billed as a raise may actually result in a pay cut.

Democrats and Republicans are pleased because the move will also save the government money by reducing workers’ reliance on social services. This was the explicit purpose of Bernie Sanders’ “Stop BEZOS Act,” which would have taxed Amazon for the cost of public services used by the company’s employees.

But studies show that when wages are raised from the $10–13 range to $15 per hour, workers end up with incomes that are too high to qualify for social programs.

Curtis Skinner of the National Center for Children in Poverty estimates that a raise to $15 an hour could end up costing a parent over $10,000 a year. According to the Center for Community Solutions, an Ohio worker who receives a raise from $11.50 to $15 actually makes $29 less each month as a result of losing eligibility for food stamps, housing subsidies, and Medicaid. Such is the absurdity of American capitalism.

Amazon’s action is above all a political exposure of the role of Sanders and the many pseudo-left organizations and trade unions that operate in and around the Democratic Party. Bezos has realized their central economic demand, “Fight for $15.” The fact that the world’s richest man has done so as part of a calculated business strategy that will do nothing to alleviate the poverty-level conditions of Amazon workers says all that needs to be said about the real content of this supposed major reform.

Workers find themselves in the middle of a tug of war.

On the one hand, Bezos, Sanders, and the entire political and media establishment are desperately fighting to pull them back, to harness their anger and prevent an explosion of the class struggle. The financial aristocracy fears demands for massive wage increases will spill across all industries and lead in the direction of a mass general strike.

On the other hand, Amazon workers are being propelled forward by incredible levels of exploitation and inequality that they confront every day.

To break free of the forces pulling them back, workers need independent organization and a political program.

Many workers at Amazon and across different industries are responding to the Socialist Equality Party’s call for the formation of workplace committees. These new organizations must be independent of the companies, the capitalist parties, and the trade unions, run democratically by the workers themselves. Their purpose is to inform workers, connect them with one another, and unleash the tremendous social power of the unified working class in the fight for social equality.

The interests of workers will not be secured through the supposed benevolence of billionaires like Bezos, whose entire fortune depends on the continued brutal exploitation of the working class. The rights of the working class will only be won through organized class struggle. What is required is a fight to abolish the for-profit capitalist system and replace it with socialism, which entails the expropriation of the wealth of the corporate aristocracy and the transformation of companies like Amazon into social utilities, under workers control, to meet the needs of the population.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric London is a senior analyst with wsws.org, a Marxian publication.
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Offline RE

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💵 Minimum Wages Rising In 20 States And Several Cities
« Reply #49 on: December 31, 2018, 12:59:32 AM »
https://www.npr.org/2018/12/30/681055793/minimum-wages-rising-in-20-states-and-several-cities

Business
Minimum Wages Rising In 20 States And Several Cities

December 30, 20184:57 PM ET

Samantha Raphelson


Protesters with NYC Fight for $15 gather in front of a McDonalds to rally against fast food executive Andrew Puzder, who was President Trump's nominee to lead the Labor Department on February 13, 2017 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Millions of American workers will see pay raises in the new year due to minimum-wage increases in 20 states and 21 cities.

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, but in the years since, 29 states and the District of Columbia have established minimum wages above the federal level.

The wage hikes range from an extra nickel per hour in Alaska to $1-an-hour in Maine, Massachusetts and California for companies with more than 25 employees. The increases will raise pay for 5.3 million workers across the country, according to the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute, giving those workers an estimated $5.4 billion in increased wages over the course of 2019.

Advocates say the trend toward higher minimum wages began in 2012, when the "Fight for $15" national movement began protesting for higher wages for fast food, child care and airline workers, among other businesses. While few have reached that threshold, several state legislatures and city councils have raised wages through phased-in laws, ballot initiatives and by adjusting for inflation.
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The Ins & Outs Of The Minimum Wage
Planet Money
The Ins & Outs Of The Minimum Wage

"It may not have motivated every lawmaker to agree that we should go to $15," David Cooper, senior economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, told the Associated Press. "But it's motivated many of them to accept that we need higher minimum wages than we currently have in much of the country."

The Economic Policy Institute reports that in six states, the wage hikes are the result of new levels set by state legislatures. In California, Massachusetts and New York, the increases are small steps in the broader effort of eventually raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In another six states – Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri and Washington – voters took matters into their own hands, approving measures at the ballot box to raise the minimum wage, according to the nonprofit. Increases in the remaining eight states reflect annual adjustments for inflation.
Amazon Sets $15 Minimum Wage For U.S. Employees, Including Temps
Economy
Amazon Sets $15 Minimum Wage For U.S. Employees, Including Temps

Despite the national movement to raise wages for low-income workers, the state minimum wage is vastly different across the country. In Georgia and Wyoming, the minimum wage is lower than the federal level at $5.15 an hour, and five states do not require a minimum wage by law, according to the Department of Labor.

Since the federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009, it has lost about 9.6 percent of its purchasing power to inflation, according to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center.

Up until a few decades ago, many economists worried that raising the minimum wage would lead to employers hiring fewer workers. Those ideas are changing, economist Arin Dube of the University of Massachusetts told NPR's Planet Money in November.

"I think the weight of the evidence to date suggests the employment effects from minimum-wage increases in the U.S. have been pretty small, much smaller than the wage increases," he said. "For example, 30 years ago, most economists expressed confidence in surveys that minimum wages had a clear negative impact on jobs. That is no longer true today."
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