Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's the economy, ...uh, smart guy

It is generally acknowledged that income inequity is at a very high level right now. I don’t know if it is setting records, and I don’t care. I believe that tax policy over time is often blamed (probably along with the reduction of regulatory law and enforcement). I believe it is suggested that tax policy could also help ameliorate this situation (along with tightening regulatory law and enforcement). But …

I hadn’t realized I should be worried about how well the rich are doing. But pundits keep telling us in sonorous and solemn and gravely concerned tones that the rich make up perhaps a quarter of the spending in the economy (that 3% of the economy spends a fourth –that’s a quarter, right – is obscene in itself), and “If they pull back, even a bit, the recovery could be derailed.”. Meanwhile, I have heard elsewhere that companies are looking at the healthcare plan and thinking they should either keep employees at or reduce their hours back to 25 or 30. Now, I don’t know the terms of the law per se, but I am guessing that being full time is one of the prerequisites to qualifying for employee provided healthcare. Before I look at that in any detail, let me also mention I heard Laura Tyson, economic adviser to Obama, say (as several others have) that companies and wealthy individuals have something like a trillion dollars they are sitting on (this was on Meet the Press). What are they waiting for? Honestly I don’t know, and haven’t heard anything. My only speculation could be that they are waiting for the Republicans to take back the Congress, and get to work undoing anything Obama has already done.

Another interesting thing Laura Tyson said was the while the overall rate of unemployment is around ten percent, the rate for people with college degrees is around four and a half percent, and less than four for people with even higher degrees. Which means those with high school degrees (or without even high school degrees) have an unemployment rate somewhat higher than 10%. Then of course there are those who are considered under-employed. What is under-employed? Working hours fewer than 40 is one definition (another is working a lower wage job than you might be qualified for). So part of the current misery being experienced by the bottom 50% (or 90% or however you want to look at it) is being blamed on the government’s evil policies causing uncertainty.

But looking at this, are we supposed to believe that the companies who are keeping (or reducing) hours to 25-30 would otherwise raise the hours and offer health insurance to those employees, if they weren't faced with an onerous tax burden? And I don’t even know where to begin with the trillion socked away. But my major thought is, we are seriously suppose to feel bad for the rich? We are supposed to agree they should be able to pay their employees less and less, so we can benefit from their restrained spending? We should encourage our legislators to repeal “Obamacare”, so that employers are not too expensive.

Or we could look at the high school graduates, who are finding that the only work they can find (if they can find work) is for 30 hour a week jobs without healthcare. What are they supposed to do if they get sick? How are they supposed to provide for their families?

But we need to stay focused on the rich, who are much more important.

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