Monday, February 18, 2013

Poltical economy

A minimum wage of $9.00 is really the... um... minimum we could do for people right now. But the usual people will make the usual hay out of it for the usual insincere reasons.

So Mr. Obama’s wage proposal is good economics. It’s also good politics: a wage increase is supported by an overwhelming majority of voters, including a strong majority of self-identified Republican women (but not men). Yet G.O.P. leaders in Congress are opposed to any rise. Why? They say that they’re concerned about the people who might lose their jobs, never mind the evidence that this won’t actually happen. But this isn’t credible. 

For today’s Republican leaders clearly feel disdain for low-wage workers. Bear in mind that such workers, even if they work full time, by and large don’t pay income taxes (although they pay plenty in payroll and sales taxes), while they may receive benefits like Medicaid and food stamps. And you know what this makes them, in the eyes of the G.O.P.: “takers,” members of the contemptible 47 percent who, as Mitt Romney said to nods of approval, won’t take responsibility for their own lives.

The challenge of economic policy isn't simply "growth", it's ensuring that the benefits of growth benefit the greatest portion of the polity in the most efficient and equitable manner.  Or, at least, that should be the primary challenge of economic policy in the context of a democracy.  Not sure what context we're working within, though.
WASHINGTON — Incomes rose more than 11 percent for the top 1 percent of earners during the economic recovery, but not at all for everybody else, according to new data. 

The numbers, produced by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, show overall income growing by just 1.7 percent over the period. But there was a wide gap between the top 1 percent, whose earnings rose by 11.2 percent, and the other 99 percent, whose earnings declined by 0.4 percent. 

Mr. Saez, a winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, an economic laurel considered second only to the Nobel, concluded that “the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s.”
Update: This morning Mayor Landrieu hosted a press conference celebrating the coming of Wrestlemania 30 to New Orleans in 2014. This event is owned and presented by Vince and Linda McMahon. Linda is a recently failed ultra-conservative Senate candidate from Connecticut who opposes raising the minimum wage and even suggested we consider lowering it.   Someone should ask Mayor Landrieu if it's in our best interest as a city to expend our time, money, and energy hosting these kinds of people.  No one will ask that, though.

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