Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Integral and Indispensable to the regular duties, Your govenment says this defines if you get paid

Update below.

From a Salon interview with  Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel and program director for the National Employment Law Project comes this case being argued today in the Supreme’s Court: Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk

We tend not to hear much about Supreme Court cases until there’s an imminent ruling, much less before oral arguments have begun. So could you give me a quick overview of the case?

Sure. This is a case that’s been brought by Amazon warehouse workers who were working in a warehouse in Nevada and who at the end of their shift every day were required to go through an anti-theft screening in the warehouse that took workers as much as 25 or more minutes to get through.

So the workers brought a lawsuit against the staffing company that Amazon has [contracted] to recruit and hire the workers, it’s called Integrity Staffing [Solutions], and sued to try to get paid for the time they stood in line at the end of their shifts The [United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit] said the workers should get paid for that time, and the employer appealed and the Supreme Court has now taken the case.

The argument for the workers seems pretty intuitive to me; if you’re doing something because of your employer’s demand, you should, within reason, be compensated for your time. What’s Integrity’s argument in response?

The employer and, surprisingly, the government are saying that because the duties are not “integral and indispensable” to the regular duties that the workers are performing, the work isn’t compensable. So they’re trying to carve out of any duties that workers would perform whether or not it’s at the direction of the employer — or for the benefit of the employer — if they’re not “integral and indispensable” then you don’t have to get paid for it.

Are you getting this?  Do you get this line of argument?  This is a perfect, dictionary ready example of just what is wrong with our legal system.  That anyone can possibly look at the employer/employee relationship and consider a line of reasoning that parses out that relationship such that the legal concept of the “common man” understanding is no longer a valid legal principle just shows how little if there is any regard for the concept of the rule of law is present today.

But worse is that We the People, or at least those who are acting as stand ins for us have decided that the proper position, the one We the People would choose if voted on is the one that states an employer can pay you or not depending on just how close to the assembly line you are for the present activity you are doing.

Tags: , , , Comments (8) | |

Bill Clinton thinks corps will put people first, profits second…all on their own.

So, Bill baby thinks the corps are going to see the light and return to the good old days of having a social conscience.  Heck, they will even see the light regarding their role as a member of society in the US.   And, here is the best part.  This is all going to happen without the government!

“I think the government can have incentives that will encourage it, but I think by and large it will happen, if it does, because of proof that markets work better that way,” Clinton said…

Right out of the Milton et al, Republican, conservative free market text book.  (Hope you are all reading Beverly’s post.)

He quantified it with:  “This corporate change, Clinton said, will be one of the most important keys to building a better future.”   Well he sure has that correct.  It is important as a key to building a better future.

Tags: , , , , Comments (11) | |

The mayors report in on Income Inequality (and miss the conclusion).

(lightly edited for ease of reading)

Yesterday the Conference of Mayors and the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City released a report prepared by IHS Global Insight that is a repeat and thus update of a similar study performed after the 2001 – 2002 recession.  Income and Wage Gaps Across the US.

I caught wind of it today reading our state news paper, it was on page 1 no less. I suggest reading it and then using it to judge your favorite candidate in the coming elections. See if they mention this report. There are 357 metro areas reported on in the index pages. Even Providence RI is noted. So look yours up.

The report looks at the jobs being created and the wages they are generating.  The trend since the 2001/02 recession is that jobs lost in the recession are replaced by jobs producing lessor wages. No surprise as we have been hearing such for a while. However, this study documents that the difference in the wages is even greater this time. After the 01/02 recession it was a 12% difference or $23 billion in annual wage loss. After this current recession it is a 23% difference! $93 billion! Yes, it is because manufacturing and construction jobs are being replaced by hospitality, health care and administration jobs.

“Extensive job losses in high-wage manufacturing ($63K) and construction ($58K) sectors were replaced by jobs in the lower wage sectors of hospitality ($21K), health care ($47K), and administrative support ($37K).”

Some more general findings:

The 2012 household median income of $51,017 was, in real terms, the lowest since 1995. It had peaked at over $56,000 in 1999, and measured $55,627 in 2007 before the recession. It has fallen in each subsequent year.…the 20% of households with the highest incomes, which rose from 43.6% in 1975 to 51.0% in 2012. Moreover, most of this gain was among those in the highest 5% of income, which rose from 16.5% in 1975 to 22.3% in 2012, a gain of $490 billion in 2012. Each of the lower quintiles experienced a declining share of income.

Nothing too new there as with some other facts noted early in the report. However they do something I have not seen and I believe does a better job of presenting income distribution change in this nation. The cry we are hearing regards the decline of the middle class. But then the numbers are presented as blocks of 20%. In this report they divide the income distribution into thirds. Thus, you have a middle third…the middle class?

…we can also consider a broader group of middle income households, the middle third of the income distribution. In 2012, among US households, 34.8% earned less than $35,000, 31.8% earned between $35,000 and $75,000, while 33.5% earned more than $75,000.

Tags: , , , , Comments (2) | |

The President’s job in 5 words or less

The NPR radio show “Market Place” did an interview with President Obama last week.  As they do in such interviews he was asked to describe his job in 5 words or less.   This is what President Obama stated:

My job is to: Keep the American people safe and to create a platform for hard working people to succeed.

OK, first it’s not 5 words though he did say he could have boiled it down to 5 words.  Second, the first 5 words seem so trite.  Third, the remaining words…well trite again.   In fact, it reminded me of his interview by 60 Minutes in 2010.   What struck me with that interview was:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: …And, you know, I can make some really good arguments defending the Democratic position, and there are gonna be some people who just don’t agree with me. And that’s okay. And then we’ve got to figure out a way to compromise.

In keeping with my posting from 2010, I add this latest of President Obama’s statements to the “All you need to know to Understand President Obama” list.  That is what these statements are.  They are his self perception.   They are a window into who he is.

Tags: , , Comments (10) | |

Men with beards respond…

I’m posting this here as a topical subject.  It may not seem economics related, but to me it is as it speaks to trust.  There is no way a nation can continue to produce $16 trillion dollars a year and not have trust as a basic position to starting all conversations.  No nation built on mistrust survives long as an economic growth machine  compared to humanity’s existence.

In response to all the intentional distortion regarding Bob Bergdhal’s appearance for the sole purpose of creating another path to discredit President Obama as part of a strategy for winning elections via the promotion of generic societal distrust, I present these men with beards and their response to tragedy which few have or will experience.  It is a tragedy that is not debated as to being the most powerful force for destroying ones sprit and will.

Amish men leaving trial

Men such as these did the following:

Charles Roberts wasn’t Amish, but Amish families knew him as the milk truck driver who made deliveries. Last month, it was announced that the Amish community had donated money to the killer’s widow and her three young children.

It was one more gesture of forgiveness, gestures that began soon after the shooting.

“I think the most powerful demonstration of the depth of Amish forgiveness was when members of the Amish community went to the killer’s burial service at the cemetery,” Kraybill says. “Several families, Amish families who had buried their own daughters just the day before were in attendance and they hugged the widow, and hugged other members of the killer’s family.”

But the above picture is not of those particular men.  It is a picture of men who were attending a trial for a hate crime that manifested in a man’s beard being cut off.   Sixteen men went to jail for that hate crime against a group of people who are capable of forgiving what the nation could not believe was forgivable.

Tags: , , , , Comments (1) | |

Capital in the 21st Century Discussion at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Last week there was an 1.5 hr discussion with the following participants:  Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University), Paul Krugman (Princeton University), and Steven Durlauf (University of Wisconsin–Madison) participated in a panel moderated by LIS Senior Scholar Branko Milanovic.

The Center just posted it yesterday on their youtube channel.

Tags: , , Comments (0) | |

Oxytocin and lying from a psychology and ECONOMICS study center researcher

I am posting this because the source of this study caught my attention.  It is out of the  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Amsterdam, Psychologists Dr. Shaul Shalvi and Dr.  Carsten K. W. De Dreu respectfully.  Dr. Shalvi is the head of BGU’s Center for Decision- Making and Economic Psychology.

Who would have thought that there was economic related research happening which actually is looking into the thought process of all those free market agents with perfect knowledge?

The short of the study’s results:

Oxytocin is a hormone the body naturally produces to stimulate bonding and psychologists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Amsterdam say it even causes participants to lie more to benefit their groups. People do so more quickly and without expectation of reciprocal dishonesty from their group…

“Together, these findings fit a functional perspective on morality revealing dishonesty to be plastic and rooted in evolved neurobiological circuitries, and align with work showing that oxytocin shifts the decision-maker’s focus from self to group interests,” Shalvi says.

“The results highlight the role of bonding and cooperation in shaping dishonesty, providing insight into when and why collaboration turns into corruption.”

Tags: , , , , Comments (7) | |

Seattle University Symposium on Inequality, Nick Hanauer

The following video was posted in Ed’s Post by Marko.  I thought it deserved a wider audience.

The symposium included a discussion regarding raising the minimum wage to $15.  Mr. Hanauer, being an honest to goodness real billionaire talked about what that would mean for his situation.  I like the way he put it.  He earns 1000 times the median wage and yet he still only needs 1 pillow when he sleeps at night, not 1000.

You might also know of him from his TED talk that was originally  refused for posting.  He has been talking for a while about the wrongness and dangers of income inequality.

Now, if only he would team up with one or 2 more billionaires and start fighting against the Koch et al’s money in the political arena.  Then we just might see some balance.

Tags: , , , , , , Comments (15) | |

Apple has some money burning a hole in its pocket

Getting real about Apple’s $100 billion stock buyback. 

Updated*

So I was hearing some where that Apple has a lot of money just burning a hole in it’s pocket. Seems there’s an arson named Carl Icahn trying to really ignite it by using twitter.

Apple has implemented a plan to spend $100 billion of it’s current estimate of $148.6 billion pocket money by 2015 to buyback it’s stock. Mr. Icahn has tweeting his joy.   Others say Apple needs to grow to grow it’s stock price.  Now wouldn’t that be the New Deal thing.

Apple has 80,300 full time equivalent employees of which 42,800 are “outside the retail division”.  Yup, you guessed…what if Apple instead of buying their stock back distributed that $100 billion to its employees?  Try $1,245,300.01 to each of them by 2015.  That’s 80 thousand new millionaires. Now that’s some job creating.

Tags: , , , Comments (35) | |

David Simon via Bill Moyers

I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.  And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building?  David Simon

This is the first part of an interview with David Simon.   He is a “journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme…”   Mr. Simon talks about America as a “Horror Show”.   (video below the fold)

What caught my attention is that this is the first time I have heard someone in the public sphere use the word “selfish” instead of the more benign word “greed”.

You know when we started out space program, which was, you know, an unqualified success in the end, the rockets kept blowing up on the launching pad. Somehow we figured out a way to keep launching rockets and do it right. And that’s a very different America from the tonality of this one, which is selfish, which is I have my health care still and I don’t want to pay for anybody else to get back in the boat.

Some excerpts:

The Supreme Court has walked away from any sort of responsibility to maintain democracy at that level. That’s the aspect of government that’s broken.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s Obama or Clinton or Bush or anybody at this point. If this is the way we’re going to do business, we’re not going to do business. You know, they’ve paid for it to be inert. And it is inert. And ultimately that aspect of capitalism hasn’t been dealt with in any way.

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together. This is about sharing and about, you know, when you say sharing there’s a percentage of the population (and it’s the moneyed percent of our population), that hears socialism or communism or any of the other -isms they want to put on it. But ultimately we are all part of the same society. And it’s either going to be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people or it’s not.

If how much money you have is the defining characteristic of citizenship or of value or of relevance, of human relevance, and if that’s all that we’re going to measure (and apparently, since 1980 this all we’re going to measure), you’re going to get a society to live in that is structured on that metric. And it’s going to be a brutal one.

Tags: , , , Comments (0) | |