Tag Archives: Unemployment

Why Stephen Hawking is more afraid of capitalism than robots

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In October, a Reddit user asked Stephen Hawking if he thinks robots are coming to take all of our jobs.

“In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated?” the user asked the renowned physicist on an Ask Me Anything thread.

The question isn’t crazy. Computers are getting smarter and more efficient all the time. It’s conceivable that we one day will reach a point where machines’ output is simply much more valuable than humans’.

Hawking didn’t discount the notion that machines may replace us. But he said whether this is good or bad depends on how the wealth produced by machines is distributed. That is, Hawking is more concerned about capitalism than he is about robots. He wrote:

..Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

We could be headed toward a work-free utopia where machine-produced goods and services are cheap and plentiful for all. Or, as Hawking suggests, the coming robot age will just exaggerate the income inequality that’s rampant across the globe. (Hawking is generally ambivalent on the advent of artificial intelligence. “We are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history,” he has said.)

Read more » Vox
See more » http://www.vox.com/2016/2/27/11119804/stephen-hawking-robots

Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%

The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam.

It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality.

Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens.

Oxfam predicted that the 1% would overtake the rest of the world this time last year.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35339475

Global Middle Class Shrinking, As Report Finds Richest 1% Owns Half Of All Wealth In The World

It is official, the richest one per cent now owns half of all the wealth in the world, and unfortunately it also looks as though the global middle class is shrinking as this happens, according to a new study.

Credit Suisse recently released its annual report on global wealth, and according to the CBC, this marks the first time that the world’s richest group has amassed enough wealth to cross that line.

The report also found that from 2008 on wealth gains have been shifting away from the middle class in favour of those at higher wealth levels. This has created a decline in the middle class wealth in ‘every region since 2001 and a decline in all regions except for China for the entire 2000 – 2015 period.’

Also troubling is that 3.4 billion adults – 71 per cent of the world’s population

Read more » TEAMSTERS 362
Learn more » http://www.teamsters362.com/global-middle-class-shrinking-as-report-finds-richest-1-owns-half-of-all-wealth-in-the-world/

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Stephen Hawking Says We Should Really Be Scared Of Capitalism, Not Robots

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According to world famous physicist Stephen Hawking, the rising use of automated machines may mean the end of human rights – not just jobs. But he’s not talking about robots with artificial intelligence taking over the world, he’s talking about the current capitalist political system and its major players.

On Reddit, Hawkings said that the economic gap between the rich and the poor will continue to grow as more jobs are automated by machines, and the owners of said machines hoard them to create more wealth for themselves.

Someone asked:

Have you thought about the possibility of technological unemployment, where we develop automated processes that ultimately cause large unemployment by performing jobs faster and/or cheaper than people can perform them?

In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated? Do you think people will always either find work or manufacture more work to be done?

Hawkings replied:

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

The insatiable thirst for capitalist accumulation bestowed upon humans by years of lies and terrible economic policy has affected technology in such a way that one of its major goals has become to replace human jobs.

If we do not take this warning seriously, we may face unfathomable corporate domination. If we let the same people who buy and sell our political system and resources maintain control of automated technology, then we’ll be heading towards a very harsh reality.

Courtesy: U.S. Uncut
Read more » http://usuncut.com/news/edit-complete-hw-stephen-hawking-says-really-scared-capitalism-not-robots/

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More details » Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-hawking-capitalism-robots_5616c20ce4b0dbb8000d9f15?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

Next wave of smarter, faster robots coming for many of our jobs

By Robert Riguaux

Will a robot replace you at work? The odds, increasingly, say yes.

The good news is that one recent analysis of the job with a 99 percent chance to be replaced by a machine is … telemarketer. There is admittedly some personal delight in learning that.

I also now understand why parents always cherish the idea that their kid wanted to be a doctor. Not for the prestige or money but for job security. The same analysis gives only a 0.4 percent chance a robot will replace that occupation.

If you keep up on the chatter about the future of work, it’s tough to avoid the buzz about a new wave of automated machines and robots empowered with advanced artificial intelligence. (We’re way past the Roomba automated vacuum cleaner from iRobot, folks.) Next-generation robots will begin to take over not just blue-collar, repetitive-motion jobs, but also white-collar occupations like bankers and, yes, even fashion models.

You may have heard this line of conversation, as I have, in recent weeks. It goes like this:

If we eventually shift to driverless (automated) cars (goodbye, taxi drivers), then in theory we’ll have far fewer collisions (see ya, auto repair shops), ambulance calls (farewell, emergency med techs), less need for auto coverage (so long, insurance agents), attorneys (adios, personal injury lawyers) and certainly their overwhelming barrage of radio and TV ads (adieu, advertising agencies). These jobs won’t disappear entirely, but the growth of work opportunities in these occupations will undoubtedly shrivel.

Versions of this ripple effect from a robotic revolution are going on all around us. We just don’t always recognize it for what it is.

At direct mail marketer Valpak’s building along I-275 in St. Petersburg, one of the most automated materials handling systems in the world stuffs blue envelopes with coupons.

In downtown Tampa at USF Health’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (better known as CAMLS), visiting surgeons can learn robotic surgical techniques.

And some financial advisory firms are easing into the burgeoning automated investment management business — better known as robo-advising. It’s about providing clients with automated investing services that let algorithms do the work of financial advisers, assuring quality control in investment advice without the need to hire more expensive people.

Last year, Aloft Hotels announced an unusual hire at its California location: a robotic butler, or a Botlr, that can deliver room service to its guests.

This is just the beginning.

Two Oxford researchers recently analyzed the skills required for more than 700 different occupations to determine how many would be susceptible to automation in the near future. The news, says an article inthe Atlantic magazine last month, “was not good.” The two concluded that machines are likely to take over 47 percent of today’s jobs within a few decades.

That’s the same analysis that says telemarketers, umpires, lending officers, fashion models, restaurant cooks and manicurists are among many professions that have a 94 percent or higher risk of being replaced by a machine.

Conversely, teachers of younger kids, doctors, occupational therapists and clinical counselors all run a very low risk — less than 1 percent — of a robot taking their jobs, according to this analysis. How did they determine who was more or less at risk? Some aspects of a job are easier to automate than others. It all depends on the tasks.

If your job requires you to be creative, to squeeze into small spaces, to personally help someone or to demonstrate negotiation skills, it’s unlikely a machine will replace you.

The trick, of course, is that robots, automated systems and the rise of algorithms — step-by-step procedures for solving a problem or accomplishing some task by a computer — are getting more capable at a faster clip than human beings are improving their skills. Just look at smartphones and the number of apps we are all so happy to rely on.

Job hunters today, especially younger adults trying to find work at busy companies, must already get by algorithms used to initially screen the thousands of resumes sent online. Certain words or phrases indicating specific job skills, for example, may open the digital door enough to eventually reach a human and possibly an interview. Use the wrong word or phrase and you may be out of luck.

Part of the recent buzz over the coming robot invasion into the workplaces is because of a new book written by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future tells how the use of robots is about to dramatically increase, in part because technology has at last created a standard operating platform — like Android for smartphones or Windows for computers — that can now be built upon efficiently.

“We are at the leading edge of a wave of innovation that will ultimately produce robots geared toward nearly every conceivable commercial, industrial and consumer task,” Ford writes. Robots may even help reduce jobs being outsourced overseas because adding more robots to factories will reduce costs and make U.S.-based facilities more competitive. Ford calls this potential trend “factory re-shoring.”

Continue reading Next wave of smarter, faster robots coming for many of our jobs

Canada’s economy shrinks for fourth month, raising spectre of recession

By Gordon Isfeld

OTTAWA — Canada’s economy began the second quarter of 2015 the same way it finished the previous three-month period, continuing to contract as the collapse of oil prices squeezed output in the energy sector and the hoped-for turnaround in manufacturing again failed to materialize.

That will be discouraging news for the Bank of Canada, which has been looking for signs of a rebound in this country and in the United States after a harsh winter start to the year — greatly aggravated by the plunge in crude and an uncertain global economy.

Statistics Canada said gross domestic product — the widest measure of goods and service produced the country — declined 0.1 per cent in April. That was the fourth straight monthly contraction in the economy. The last time output declined over that many months was between November 2008 and May 2009, at the tail end of the recession.

Most economists had forecast 0.1 per cent growth in April.

Canadian GDP shrinks four months in a row

Read more » Financial Post
See more » http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/canadas-economy-shrinks-again-raising-spectre-of-recession

Poverty: A Man Made Disaster On Planet Earth

By Nayyar N Khan

Oxfam Estimates That It Would Take $60 Billion Annually To End Extreme Global Poverty–That’s Less Than Quarter Of The Total Income Of Top 100 Richest Persons Living Amongst Us. 

IMAGINE, the everyday increasing poverty, the widening gap between haves and have not’s. Nature, the most gracious and merciful has granted more than enough resources in this universe that these resources could feed every living being. But we, the greedy human beings, are misusing these resources thus creating CRISIS OF “hunger and starvation” for not only human beings but many other creatures too on this planet. Today, more than 1.4 billion people around the world live in poverty- so extreme that they can barely survive- and around 25,000 people die from hunger each day whilst a new billionaire is created every second day.

The figures are frightening when we look at the map of the world populated by people, just like us. Nearly one half of the world’s population – more than 3 billion- live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.4 billion live in extreme poverty i.e. less than $1.25 a day. One billion children worldwide are living in poverty. More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people die per day.

165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) in 2011 due to chronic malnutrition. Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children per year as they are from such poor families who cannot afford proper treatment. As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide did not receive the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Imagine, if it were you who was forced to live on less than $1 a day, the same amount other people mindlessly spend on a bottle of water or a pack of cheap candy or gum. Imagine going to bed with empty stomach that night spent becomes unbearable.

1/4 of all humans live without electricity. Approximately 1.6 billion people. 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest persons living amongst us. The World Food Program says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties.

Continue reading Poverty: A Man Made Disaster On Planet Earth

The world economy – Watch out

The Economist issues an ultimate warning of another Recession

It is only a matter of time before the next recession strikes. The rich world is not ready

THE struggle has been long and arduous. But gazing across the battered economies of the rich world it is time to declare that the fight against financial chaos and deflation is won. In 2015, the IMF says, for the first time since 2007 every advanced economy will expand. Rich-world growth should exceed 2% for the first time since 2010 and America’s central bank is likely to raise its rock-bottom interest rates.

However, the global economy still faces all manner of hazards, from the Greek debt saga to China’s shaky markets. Few economies have ever gone as long as a decade without tipping into recession—America’s started growing in 2009. Sod’s law decrees that, sooner or later, policymakers will face another downturn. The danger is that, having used up their arsenal, governments and central banks will not have the ammunition to fight the next recession. Paradoxically, reducing that risk requires a willingness to keep policy looser for longer today.

Continue reading The world economy – Watch out

Across the aisle: Letter to the Prime Minister

I read that there are 85 lakh persons registered with the employment exchanges in Tamil Nadu. If we extrapolate that number for the whole country, don’t you agree that the situation is alarming?

Written by P Chidambaram

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

I am an average citizen. I belong to an average family, had an average education, live in an average town, hold an average job, and have average ambitions. I am aware that because I am the son of a school teacher, hold a bachelor’s degree (second class) and have a job, I may actually be above the average. It only shows how low the average is.

In the last week, my fellow citizens and I have been bombarded with editorials, columns, statements, interviews, blogs, tweets and what not, and I am quite confused. I thought your letter of May 26 that appeared in all newspapers would put things in perspective but, I am afraid, it left me more confused. So, please bear with me while I ask you a few questions.

Where are the Jobs?

My first question is, how is the economy doing? To me and my children, and to all families on our street, the most important concern is jobs. Will you please tell us the number of jobs that were created in the first year of your government? The numbers I have seen are a little over one lakh of jobs every quarter, so that makes a grand total of 4 to 5 lakh jobs in the whole year. I also read that there are 85 lakh persons registered with the employment exchanges in Tamil Nadu. If we extrapolate that number for the whole country, don’t you agree that the situation is alarming? So, please tell us the truth about jobs.

That takes me to the next question, who is creating the jobs? My neighbour who teaches economics in the local government college told me that no real new jobs can be created in farming. She thinks that only if more people start new businesses, and more large plants are built to produce power or steel or cars or mobile phones or anything, will there be more direct and indirect jobs. She said the key word is investment and encouraged me to ask you what were the amounts invested in the last year by the public sector enterprises and the private sector, what is the number of jobs they expect to add once the projects go into production, and when. By the way, why don’t we see advertisements of a bhumi puja or an inauguration of a big project costing a few thousand crore rupees as we used to do a few years ago?

Read more » Indian Express
– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/across-the-aisle-letter-to-the-prime-minister/#sthash.Mp0i0WAo.dpuf

Elizabeth Warren on Fighting Back Against Wall St. Giants

In Oklahoma, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and her brothers grew up in “an America that invested in kids like us and helped build a future where we could flourish.” But, as she writes in her memoir, A Fighting Chance, “Today the game is rigged – rigged to work for those who have money and power… The optimism that defines us as a people has been beaten and bruised. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, is an expert on how Wall Street and the banking industry are destroying the middle class. She’s put that knowledge to powerful use on Capitol Hill, rapidly becoming the most authoritative and articulate voice of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. Many are urging her to run for president.

Continue reading Elizabeth Warren on Fighting Back Against Wall St. Giants

Congressman Sherman and Senator Sanders Stand Together to Reintroduce “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act”

May 6, 2015 – Press Release: WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will reintroduce the “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act,” in the House and Senate respectively. Under the legislation, any institution that is too big to fail will be broken up and reorganized to avoid more government bailouts and future risk to the economy.

This legislation would require the Secretary of the Treasury to identify and break up institutions that are deemed too big to fail. This is the third time Congressman Sherman has introduced similar legislation in the House, and the third time Senator Sanders has introduced such legislation in the Senate. The only thing that has changed is the biggest banks have gotten even bigger – 38% bigger than 2008.

“Too big to fail should be too big to exist,” said Congressman Sherman who has advocated this position since 2009. “Never again should a financial institution be able to demand a federal bailout.  Today they can claim: ‘if we go down, the economy is going down with us.’ By breaking up these institutions long before they face a crisis, we ensure a healthy financial system where medium-sized institutions can compete in the free market.”

“These medium-sized and smaller banks will be more inclined to make loans to small- and medium-sized businesses – which are the backbone of our economy. The legislation is endorsed by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), which represents over 6,000 of our nation’s 6,589 banks.”

Sherman continued, “Every financial institution should compete for funds based on the soundness of its balance sheet, and no financial institution should be able to claim that there is a special federal safety net available to its investors because of the institution’s sheer size.”

“In my view, no single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure could send the world economy into crisis,” Senator Sanders said. “At the very least, no institution, no CEO in America should be above the law.  If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.”

Richard Fisher, former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, argued that when markets presume a systemically important institution has implicit government backing, access to capital is easier. A study by International Monetary Fund researchers showed a potential advantage of these firms as high as 80 basis points (.8%).[1] Building on that estimation, Bloomberg News calculates taxpayers could be creating a subsidy of $83 billion dollars annually, roughly equal to the bank’s annual profits.[2]

This legislation would require the Secretary of the Treasury to submit to Congress a list of all banks and other financial institutions that the Secretary believes have become too big to fail.  Those entities deemed too large would then be broken up in a managed process of reorganization, so a single failure would no longer cause a catastrophic effect on the United States or global economy without a taxpayer bailout.

“Too Big to Fail” refers to any entity that has grown so large that its failure would have a catastrophic effect on the stability of either the financial system or the United States economy without substantial government assistance.

News courtesy: Congressman Sherman
Read more » http://sherman.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-sherman-and-senator-sanders-stand-together-to-reintroduce

Even Small Businesses Are Jumping on the Robot Bandwagon

BY ELAINE POFELDT

bots aren’t just for corporate Goliaths — now even the little guy on Main Street is adopting them. The goal: to boost sales and productivity. But at what cost?

Take Sam Kraus, a Hungarian immigrant who founded what became Skyline Windows in 1921. In the early days, the tinsmith traveled around with a small cart to do his roofing and waterproofing work by hand.

Fast-forward to today, and the fourth-generation business based in New York City’s South Bronx has left the pushcart era far behind. Skyline, which has evolved into a custom window manufacturer and installer, now relies on robots to do some of its work. In the factory in Woodridge, New Jersey, where it makes its windows, Skyline uses a $150,000 computer-operated machine to automate tasks like cutting holes in the metal and two $20,000 robots to install its windows, which sometimes weigh 600 pounds.

“It allows us to be more efficient—and our plan is to buy more of these robots when we can,” said senior vice president Matt Kraus, whose profitable firm brings in about $70 million in annual revenue and employs about 350 people.

Kraus is one of many entrepreneurs who are discovering that robots can be a powerful tool for growing a small company—even one with its roots in an old-line business. In the manufacturing industry, a recent study by Boston Consulting Group found that by 2025 robots will do about 25 percent of all industrial tasks—and that inexpensive robots are becoming increasingly available to smaller companies. Robotics are also making it possible for more individuals to start businesses in industries where the need for a substantial labor force once posed a big barrier to entry.

“Automation is having a big impact,” said Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” due to be published May 5. “It’s both positive and negative.”

3-D printing is one example. Some tiny firms are already using 3-D printers to make prototypes and even manufacturing products on their own, Ford said. Others are sending their prototypes to China, where they make the products. That makes it easier for business owners to fatten their bottom line, but the flip side will be a decline in traditional jobs.

The future of jobs

“Businesses will need to hire no people or fewer people,” he said. “You can literally have one person start a manufacturing business.”

A decline in traditional jobs could lead to shrinking markets for small businesses, said Ford. “We need consumers out there who will buy what is created by the economy,” he said.

Courtesy: NBC News
Read more » http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/even-small-businesses-are-jumping-robot-bandwagon-n352186

India – Where are the jobs?

Despite racing ahead in economic growth, surpassing China’s slowing economy; India is unable to keep pace when it comes to creating jobs. A survey by Labour Bureau shows that job growth has declined in the third quarter of 2014-15.

During the quarter October-December 2014, only 1.17 lakh jobs were created in eight key sectors of the economy. A careful perusal shows that job growth has been steadily on the decline in the first three quarters of the year. From 1.82 lakh jobs created in April-June, it came down to 1.58 lakh jobs in July-September; and further slid to 1.17 lakh jobs in October-December 2014.

Read more » abplive
See more » http://www.abplive.in/author/devindersharma/2015/05/03/article575966.ece/Where-are-the-jobs

Britain ‘is experiencing same decline as Rome in 100BC’

Dr Jim Penman believes Britons no longer have the genetic temperament that sparked the Industrial Revolution

By , Science Editor

Britain is experiencing the same decline as Rome in 100BC, with the collapse of civilisation inevitable, a scientist has warned.

Dr Jim Penman, of the RMIT University in Melbourne, believes Britons no longer have the genetic temperament to advance because of decades of peace and a high standard of living.

He claims that the huge success of the Victorian era will not be repeated because people in the UK have lost the biological drive for innovation.

Instead, Britain is existing in a period similar to the decades before the fall of the Roman Republic where social tensions were rife, the gap between the rich and poor was increasing and extremism was growing.

And when added to a growing distaste for military action, which has seen huge cuts the armed forces, by the end of the century the UK will no longer have the power, or will, to protect itself against a serious invading force, he predicts.

“There are certainly parallels between 100BC in the Roman Republic where things are starting to get pretty dodgy,” he said.

“It was a time when democracy was moving towards despotism, and in Britain we now see that politics is becoming much more about individuals rather than political parties. It’s about personalities. The two party system has started to break down.

“We live in a golden age where there have been no major wars in Europe for three quarters of a century. But the economy is stagnating and we’re having fewer children.

Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11562374/Britain-is-experiencing-same-decline-as-Rome-in-100BC.html

Tax cuts for top earners fail because the theory is broken

by Ha-Joon Chang

Tax breaks for the wealthy were meant to trickle through society to benefit all. It didn’t work and inequality just got worse, says an economist

ADVOCATES of trickle-down economics argue that, when the rich get extra income, they invest it and create more jobs – and a higher income – for others. Those people, in turn, spend their extra money. Eventually the effect trickles down the whole system, making everyone better off, in absolute terms.

So, what seems like a moral outrage – giving more to people who already have more – is in theory a socially benign action.

The trouble is it hasn’t worked. In the past three decades, states with pro-rich policies have seen economic growth slow, except in countries like China and Vietnam that needed to jump-start socialist economies.

In the UK, upward income redistribution since 1980 has seen the share of the top 1 per cent rise from 5 per cent of national income to over 10 per cent. Yet the annual growth rate of income per person has fallen from 2.5 per cent between 1960 and 1980 to 1.8 per cent between 1980 and 2013.

One reason is that the rich have not kept their end of the bargain – they didn’t invest more; and inequality, linked to poorer health and societal damage, worsened. Investment as a share of GDP used to be 18 to 22 per cent in the 1960s and 1970s but since then has been 14 to 18 per cent, except for a few years at the end of the 1980s.

Moreover, concentration of income at the top has boosted the political influence of the super-rich, allowing them to push for policies that benefit themselves but create harm in the long run. For example, the UK financial sector successfully lobbied for “light-touch regulation”, which enabled it to earn a lot but led to the 2008 financial crisis.

It is well established that a less equal society has lower social mobility. When talented people from less privileged backgrounds cannot move up the social ladder, the economy’s long-term dynamism suffers. An increasing number of studies show that, above a certain level, higher inequality harms growth. Some are by the International Monetary Fund and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which didn’t use to be concerned about inequality.

Despite these failings, some politicians still back measures that benefit the wealthy, often citing trickle-down economics. In the UK, the Conservatives cut taxes for the top earners while in government. They want to slash inheritance tax for wealthier estates and cut the numbers paying higher-rate tax. The UK Independence Party has a similar stance on higher-rate tax and wants zero inheritance tax.

The 35-year experiment with trickle down economics has failed for most people. Unfortunately, there is too much money and power at stake for its true beneficiaries to accept this reality and end this approach.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Defying gravity”

Ha-Joon Chang is an economist at the University of Cambridge. His latest book is Economics: The user’s guide (Pelican)

Courtesy: Newscientist
Read more » http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630182.500-tax-cuts-for-top-earners-fail-because-the-theory-is-broken.html?utm_source=NSNS&utm_medium=SOC&utm_campaign=hoot&cmpid=SOC%257CNSNS%257C2015-GLOBAL-hoot#.VTwzliFVhHw

Australia – Regional unemployment hits 12-year high

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The unemployment rate in regional Australia has risen to 7.3 per cent, a 12-year high, as job demand shifts increasingly to major cities with the winding down of the mining construction boom.

Regional Australia has not experienced unemployment rates this high since March 2003, with regional NSW recording the largest increase in jobless rates in the past three months, particularly in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle – big coal-producing regions.

Regional Australia Institute (RAI) says analysis of this week’s Bureau of Statistics quarterly employment data shows the unemployment rate in regional Australia, in non-seasonally adjusted terms, remains structurally higher than in capital cities.

Read more » The Age
See more » http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/regional-unemployment-hits-12year-high-20150424-1msjaq.html

Australians’ living standards face the greatest threat in a generation: report

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Australians’ living standards face the greatest threat in a generation, with no signs of strong wage growth, longer unpaid commuting times and a rise in workforce casualisation putting more pressure on middle- and lower-income households than they have faced in 20 years.

A new report from Per Capita, an independent think tank, also shows the split of national income between labour and capital is continuing to worsen in Australia, with wages’ share of national income dropping from 65.5 per cent at the turn of the century to 59.7 per cent in 2012.

It says this has occurred at the same time as the bulk of productivity improvements have come from labour rather than capital in recent years.

The report, “Paradise Lost? The race to maintain Australian living standards”, says Australians’ living standards are under threat due to slowing productivity, rising unemployment and slowing wages growth.

It warns Australians face an “inevitable correction” in their income and wages levels – with real wages set to fall markedly to reflect the country’s changed economic circumstances and lack of reform over the last decade – if nothing is done about it.

David Hetherington, Per Capita’s director, warned Australian governments they must re-start the reform process now to arrest the worrying trends, saying the benefit of the economic reforms of the 1980s and ’90s had run their course.

“Australia must either reform once again or face a dramatic downwards adjustment in wage levels and living standards,” Mr Hetherington said.

“To continue to lift labour productivity, we must lift our investment in hard infrastructure like transport and broadband, as well as soft infrastructure like skills and education.

Courtesy: The Age
Read more » http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australians-living-standards-face-the-greatest-threat-in-a-generation-report-20150423-1mrppz.html

I am a cook in the US Senate but I still need food stamps to feed my children

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I work 70 hours a week doing two jobs but cannot make ends meet. Presidential hopefuls must make profitable federal contractors pay living wages

Every day, I serve food to some of the most powerful people on earth, including many of the senators who are running for president: I’m a cook for the federal contractor that runs the US Senate cafeteria. But today, they’ll have to get their meals from someone else’s hands, because I’m on strike.

I am walking off my job because I want the presidential hopefuls to know that I live in poverty. Many senators canvas the country giving speeches about creating “opportunity” for workers and helping our kids achieve the “American dream” – most don’t seem to notice or care that workers in their own building are struggling to survive.

I’m a single father and I only make $12 an hour; I had to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet. But even though I work seven days a week – putting in 70 hours between my two jobs – I can’t manage to pay the rent, buy school supplies for my kids or even put food on the table. I hate to admit it, but I have to use food stamps so that my kids don’t go to bed hungry.

I’ve done everything that politicians say you need to do to get ahead and stay ahead: I work hard and play by the rules; I even graduated from college and worked as a substitute teacher for five years. But I got laid-off and I now I’m stuck trying to make ends meet with dead-end service jobs.

Continue reading I am a cook in the US Senate but I still need food stamps to feed my children

Paul Martin blasts Conservative economic plan ahead of budget

By Evan Solomon, CBC News

Dismissing the Conservative economic plan as “an absolute disgrace” and “nonsensical,” former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin has leapt into the debate over Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s newly announced April 21 budget.

In an interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Martin told host Evan Solomon Canada is facing a “very serious” economic situation and he accused the government of doing nothing about it.

“[The government] is not doing the right things now and we have not been doing the right things for the last decade,” Martin said.

Taking a cue from Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, who suddenly cut Canada’s key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 per cent and said recently the first quarter results in Canada will be “atrocious,” Martin called on Joe Oliver to kick start a fiscal stimulus program.

“Fiscal policy and monetary policy have to work hand in hand, they cannot contradict each other,” Martin said. “If the governor of the central bank is talking about the need for monetary stimulus, he also understands there has to be changes made in the [fiscal policy] and those changes have to be investments.”

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/paul-martin-blasts-conservative-economic-plan-ahead-of-budget-1.3020162

If We Don’t Overturn Citizens United, the Congress Will Become Paid Employees of the Billionaire Class

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I recently introduced an amendment at the Senate Budget Committee. It was pretty simple. It asked my Senate colleagues to begin the process of overturning the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, and to bring transparency and disclosure to the political process. The link to that debate on the amendment is here.

Here’s what I asked my Senate colleagues to consider:

Are we comfortable with an American political system which is being dominated by a handful of billionaires?

Are we a nation that prides ourselves on one-person, one-vote, or do we tell ordinary Americans you’ve got one vote but the Koch brothers can spend hundreds of millions of dollars?

Do we want a political system in which a handful of billionaires can buy members of the United States Congress?

Who are those members of Congress elected with the help of billionaires going to be representing? Do you think they’re going to be representing the middle class and working families?

The answers seem clear to me. Unless the campaign financing system is reformed, the U.S. Congress will become paid employees of the people who pay for their campaigns — the billionaire class. Needless to say, not everyone on the Committee agreed.

It was an interesting and informative debate. Not one Republican supported the amendment and it lost by a 12-10 vote. I intend to offer it again this week on the floor of the Senate.

Read more » The Huffington Post
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ee more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/sanders-to-senate-if-we-dont-overturn-citizens-united-the-congress-will-become-paid-employees-of-the-billionaire-class_b_6918468.html

Marches for ‘Bread, Work, Homes and Dignity’ Converge on Madrid – End w/Police Repression

BY

Madrid, March 21, 2015. Coinciding with the first anniversary of the massive March for Dignity last March 22, 10’s of thousands of people have returned this Saturday the streets of Madrid to demand ‘bread, work, shelter and dignity‘.

The protest was organized by over 300 social groups and 9 Dignity Marches converged on Plaza Colon in Madrid from virtually every corner of Spain shortly after noon today.

The main reason for the protest was once again unemployment, affordable housing, social rights and democratic freedoms, rejection of austerity cuts, corruption and privatization of once public services. Also banners against the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP, for its acronym in English) were seen.

Read more » http://revolution-news.com/marches-for-bread-work-homes-and-dignity-converge-on-madrid-end-wpolice-repression/

OECD cuts growth forecast for Canada in 2015 and 2016

Paris-based think-tank of wealthy nations says economy will expand by 2.2% this year

By The Canadian Press

The OECD has reduced its 2015 and 2016 economic growth forecasts for Canada, citing the drag caused by a significant drop in prices for oil and other commodities since its previous outlook in November.

The Paris-based organization is now estimating Canada’s economy will grow by to 2.2 per cent this year, 0.4 less than previously thought. Next year’s forecast has been trimmed to 2.1 per cent, down 0.3.

The OECD says Canada is among the countries that has been affected by the sharp decline in oil and commodity prices while others, particularly in Europe and Asia, will benefit from sharp drop in oil prices to six-year lows.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/oecd-cuts-growth-forecast-for-canada-in-2015-and-2016-1.2999555

The rich are 64% richer than before the recession, while the poor are 57% poorer

Britain’s divided decade: the rich are 64% richer than before the recession, while the poor are 57% poorer

By NIGEL MORRIS

The gap between richest and poorest has dramatically widened in the past decade as wealthy households paid off their debts and piled up savings following the financial crisis, a report warns today.

By contrast, the worst-off families are far less financially secure than before the recession triggered by the near- collapse of several major banks. They have an average of less than a week’s pay set aside and are more often in the red.

Younger workers have fallen behind older people while homeowners – particularly those who have paid off their mortgages – have become increasingly affluent compared with their neighbours who are paying rent.

Evidence of Britain’s rapidly growing wealth gap was revealed by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), which analysed the changing incomes and savings of thousands of people. Its findings will be seized on by Labour as evidence that any recovery from the downturn is uneven and not shared across all income groups. However, the trends uncovered by the SMF began before the Coalition came to power, underlining the huge impact of the credit crunch on levels of affluence.

It found that the average wealth of the best-off one-fifth of families rose by 64 per cent between 2005 and 2012-13 as they put more money aside as a buffer against future shocks. They have average savings and investments of around £10,000 compared with £6,000 seven years earlier.

The proportion of people in this group with debts (apart from mortgages) dropped from 43 per cent to less than one-third. However, the SMF found the poorest 20 per cent are less financially secure than they were in 2005, with their net wealth falling by 57 per cent and levels of debt and use of overdrafts increasing.

Read more » The Independent
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-divided-decade-the-rich-are-64-richer-than-before-the-recessionwhile-the-poor-are-57-poorer-10097038.html

Corporations are destroying human society, global culture and the environment. – Howard Zinn

Read more » Twitter »» Howard Zinn

Global banks: A world of pain – The giants of global finance are in trouble

New York: ONLY pop music and pornography embraced globalisation more keenly than banks did. Since the 1990s three kinds of international firm have emerged. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs deal in securities and cater to the rich from a handful of financial hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore. A few banks, such as Spain’s Santander, have “gone native”, establishing a deep retail-banking presence in multiple countries. But the most popular approach is the “global network bank”: a jack of all trades, lending to and shifting money for multinationals in scores of countries, and in some places acting like a universal bank doing everything from bond-trading to car loans. The names of the biggest half-dozen such firms adorn skyscrapers all over the world.

This model of the global bank had a reasonable crisis in 2008-09: only Citigroup required a full-scale bail out. Yet it is now in deep trouble. In recent weeks Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, has been forced to field questions about breaking up his bank. Stuart Gulliver, the head of HSBC, has abandoned the financial targets that he set upon taking the job in 2011. Citigroup is awaiting the results of its annual exam from the Federal Reserve. If it fails, calls for a mercy killing will be deafening (see next story). Deutsche Bank is likely to shrink further. Standard Chartered, which operates in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is parting company with its longstanding boss, Peter Sands.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21645807-giants-global-finance-are-trouble-world-pain

My party wants a socialist society in Pakistan: Ghinwa

PPP-SB chief says Junior Bhutto, Fatima Bhutto will join politics at the right time

By Faizan Ali Warraich

LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB) faction Chairperson Ghinwa Bhutto has announced that her party is struggling for socialist revolution, and Junior Bhutto and Fatma Bhutto will join politics at the right time.

She has said that only socialism can serve the nation, as parliamentary democracy has failed to solve problems of a common man in Pakistan. Talking to Daily Times exclusively during her visit and stay here at the home of Dr Mubashar Hasan (former minister and her party’s chief in Punjab), she confirmed that her party wanted socialist society in Pakistan, which provides equal opportunities to all. ‘People get upset from the parliamentary form of politics as voice of a common man was not being heard, even they have no representative in the existing parliament and parliamentarians, and are being treated only as slaves’, she said.

Continue reading My party wants a socialist society in Pakistan: Ghinwa

Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions

(Bloomberg) — Germany rejected Greece’s request for an extension of its aid program, saying its offer doesn’t meet the euro region’s conditions for continuing aid.

The Greek government is trying to agree bridge-financing without meeting the conditions of its existing rescue program, German Finance Ministry Spokesman Martin Jaeger said in an e-mailed statement. European Commission Spokesman Margaritis Schinas moments earlier had said the Greek letter could be the basis for a “reasonable compromise.”

The euro dropped 0.3 percent to $1.1358.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-19/eu-says-greek-letter-may-pave-way-for-reasonable-compromise-i6c3go5j

The Robots Are Coming for Your Paycheck

Technological progress isn’t always a good thing.

A paper out this month concludes smart machines, such as robots, have the potential to destroy good-paying jobs and damage the economy.

“In other words, technological progress can be immiserating,” Boston University’sSeth Benzell, Laurence Kotlikoff and Guillermo LaGarda, and Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs write.

The study, “Robots are Us: Some Economics of Human Replacement,” is careful to note that’s not the only possible outcome. But it does predict a long-run decline in labor’s share of income, a cycle of tech booms and busts, and a growing dependency on past software investment rather than continued.

Economists have long debated the role of technology and the future of the economy. And clearly automation is playing a bigger and bigger role in daily life.

Messrs. Benzell, Kotlikoff, LaGarda and Sachs look specifically at the creation of software code that powers machines used to produce goods–that is, robots. Their worry is that the stock of good code will grow during a boom to the point that the demand for new code will decline, leading to lower wages in the high-tech field. That, in turn, means less savings and investment, and the accumulation of fewer assets.

“The long run in such a case is no techno-utopia,” the authors say. “Yes, code is abundant. But capital is dear. And yes, everyone is fully employed. But no one is earning very much.”

During the ensuing bust, consumption falls and not enough capital accumulates for the next round of investment.

“In short, when smart machines replace people, they eventually bite the hands of those that finance them,” the authors say.

Read more » The Wall Street Journal 
Learn more » http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/02/17/the-robots-are-coming-for-your-paycheck/

Is Conscious Capitalism Possible?

Is Conscious Capitalism Possible? It’s Time For A Revolution Of Consciousness

by

There is a lot of talk about the possibility of “Conscious Capitalism” these days and some “life coaches” that I know are going into corporations trying to raise consciousness and create a warmer working environment.

My question always is —what is their motivation? And are they just going where the money is?

I have written about conferences like Wisdom 2.0 and efforts to bring mindfulness into the workplace, especially in the tech arena, but the trend against such positive endeavours is frightening.

Seduced by technology and seeking “control,” we have empowered companies to take our privacy and sanity for granted.

Read more » Collective Evolution
Learn more » http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/02/16/is-conscious-capitalism-possible-its-time-for-a-revolution/

Robots rising: Automated workforce rapidly gaining on humans, will push labor costs down – report

Robots will become cheaper and more efficient in the coming years, replacing human workers at a faster clip than expected while driving labor costs down by 16 percent, according to a new report.

The number of industrial robots will jump by 10 percent a year in the world’s top 25 export nations through 2025, according to the Boston Consulting Group’s report, The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing.” The current growth rate is about 2 or 3 percent per year.

The abundance of robotic workers will slash labor costs by 22 percent in the United States, 33 percent in South Korea, and 25 percent in Japan.

Read more » http://rt.com/usa/231079-robots-work-humans-labor/