Archive for the ‘Outsourcing’ Category


Did you know that the USA does not have the world’s highest living standard?! Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes 8th, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands.

This book offers a concise blast of iconoclastic, eye-opening economic truth-telling; essential reading to understand where free market thinking falls short.

Just take a look at the titles of some chapters, and you’ll know if this book is for you:

(1)There is no such thing as a free market
(2) Companies should NOT be run in the interest of their owners
(3) Most people in rich countries are paid more than they should be
(4) The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet has
(5) The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world
(6) Making rich people richer doesn’t make the rest of us richer
(7) People in poor countries are more entrepreneurial than people in rich countries
(8) More education in itself is not going to make a country richer
(9) What is good for General Motors is not necessarily good for the United States
(10) We are not smart enough to leave things to the market

Review

“Chang, befitting his position as an economics professor at Cambridge University, is engagingly thoughtful and opinionated at a much lower decibel level. ‘The “truths” peddled by free-market ideologues are based on lazy assumptions and blinkered visions,’ he charges.”Time  Magazine

“Chang presents an enlightening précis of modern economic thought—and all the places it’s gone wrong, urging us to act in order to completely rebuild the world economy: ‘This will [make] some readers uncomfortable…[;] it is time to get uncomfortable.’”—Publishers Weekly

“Myth-busting and nicely-written collection of essays”—Independent (UK)

“Shaking Economics 101 assumptions to the core … Eminently accessible, with a clearly liberal (or at least anticonservative) bent, but with surprises along the way—for one, the thought that markets need to become less rather than more efficient.”Kirkus Reviews

“For anyone who wants to understand capitalism not as economists or politicians have pictured it but as it actually operates, this book will be invaluable.”—John Gray, Observer (UK)

“A lively, accessible and provocative book.”Sunday Times (UK)

“For 40 years, I have worked as a journalist and trained thousands of other journalists from my former perches as a University of Missouri Journalism School professor and as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. I have written newspaper articles, magazine features and entire books with heavy doses of economics policy and business behavior. I wish the book 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism had been available when I was a rookie; I would have been more alert to the hands-off-business catechism by which Americans are relentlessly indoctrinated.”—Steven Weinberg, Remapping Debate

“I doubt there is one book, written in response to the current economic crisis, that is as fun or easy to read as Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell you About Capitalism.”—AlterNet Executive Editor Don Hazen


Top “U.S.” Corporations Outsourced More Than 2.4 Million American Jobs Over The Last Decade

Read Complete Report at Source:

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/19/us-corporations-outsourced-americans/


Wealth, Income, and Power

by G. William Domhoff

September 2005 (updated September 2010)

This document presents details on the wealth and income distributions in the United States, and explains how we use these two distributions as power indicators.

Some of the information might be a surprise to many people. The most amazing numbers on income inequality come last, showing the change in the ratio of the average CEO’s paycheck to that of the average factory worker over the past 40 years.

First, though, some definitions. Generally speaking, wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns, minus any debts. However, for purposes of studying the wealth distribution, economists define wealth in terms of marketable assets, such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, leaving aside consumer durables like cars and household items because they are not as readily converted into cash and are more valuable to their owners for use purposes than they are for resale (see Wolff, 2004, p. 4, for a full discussion of these issues). Once the value of all marketable assets is determined, then all debts, such as home mortgages and credit card debts, are subtracted, which yields a person’s net worth. In addition, economists use the concept of financial wealth — also referred to in this document as “non-home wealth” — which is defined as net worth minus net equity in owner-occupied housing. As Wolff (2004, p. 5) explains, “Financial wealth is a more ‘liquid’ concept than marketable wealth, since one’s home is difficult to convert into cash in the short term. It thus reflects the resources that may be immediately available for consumption or various forms of investments.”

We also need to distinguish wealth from income. Income is what people earn from work, but also from dividends, interest, and any rents or royalties that are paid to them on properties they own. In theory, those who own a great deal of wealth may or may not have high incomes, depending on the returns they receive from their wealth, but in reality those at the very top of the wealth distribution usually have the most income. (But it’s important to note that for the rich, most of that income does not come from “working”: in 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries. See Norris, 2010, for more details.)

As you read through these numbers, please keep in mind that they are usually two or three years out of date because it takes time for one set of experts to collect the basic information and make sure it is accurate, and then still more time for another set of experts to analyze it and write their reports. It’s also the case that the infamous housing bubble of the first eight years of the 21st century inflated some of the wealth numbers.

So far there are only tentative projections — based on the price of housing and stock in July 2009 — on the effects of the Great Recession on the wealth distribution. They suggest that average Americans have been hit much harder than wealthy Americans. Edward Wolff, the economist we draw upon the most in this document, concludes that there has been an “astounding” 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by far less: just 11.1%. So as of April 2010, it looks like the wealth distribution is even more unequal than it was in 2007. (See Wolff, 2010 for more details.)

The Wealth Distribution

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. Table 1 and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2010).

 

Table 1: Distribution of net worth and financial wealth in theUnited States, 1983-2007
Total Net Worth
Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
1983 33.8% 47.5% 18.7%
1989 37.4% 46.2% 16.5%
1992 37.2% 46.6% 16.2%
1995 38.5% 45.4% 16.1%
1998 38.1% 45.3% 16.6%
2001 33.4% 51.0% 15.6%
2004 34.3% 50.3% 15.3%
2007 34.6% 50.5% 15.0%
Financial Wealth
Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
1983 42.9% 48.4% 8.7%
1989 46.9% 46.5% 6.6%
1992 45.6% 46.7% 7.7%
1995 47.2% 45.9% 7.0%
1998 47.3% 43.6% 9.1%
2001 39.7% 51.5% 8.7%
2004 42.2% 50.3% 7.5%
2007 42.7% 50.3% 7.0%
Total assets are defined as the sum of: (1) the gross value of owner-occupied housing; (2) other real estate owned by the household; (3) cash and demand deposits; (4) time and savings deposits, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts; (5) government bonds, corporate bonds, foreign bonds, and other financial securities; (6) the cash surrender value of life insurance plans; (7) the cash surrender value of pension plans, including IRAs, Keogh, and 401(k) plans; (8) corporate stock and mutual funds; (9) net equity in unincorporated businesses; and (10) equity in trust funds.

Total liabilities are the sum of: (1) mortgage debt; (2) consumer debt, including auto loans; and (3) other debt. From Wolff (2004, 2007, & 2010).

Figure 1: Net worth and financial wealth distribution in the U.S. in 2007

 

In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.

 

Table 2: Wealth distribution by type of asset, 2007
Investment Assets
Top 1 percent Next 9 percent Bottom 90 percent
Business equity 62.4% 30.9% 6.7%
Financial securities 60.6% 37.9% 1.5%
Trusts 38.9% 40.5% 20.6%
Stocks and mutual funds 38.3% 42.9% 18.8%
Non-home real estate 28.3% 48.6% 23.1%
TOTAL investment assets 49.7% 38.1% 12.2%
Housing, Liquid Assets, Pension Assets, and Debt
Top 1 percent Next 9 percent Bottom 90 percent
Deposits 20.2% 37.5% 42.3%
Pension accounts 14.4% 44.8% 40.8%
Life insurance 22.0% 32.9% 45.1%
Principal residence 9.4% 29.2% 61.5%
TOTAL other assets 12.0% 33.8% 54.2%
Debt 5.4% 21.3% 73.4%
From Wolff (2010).
Figure 2a: Wealth distribution by type of asset, 2007: investment assets
Figure 2b: Wealth distribution by type of asset, 2007: other assets

 

Figures on inheritance tell much the same story. According to a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, only 1.6% of Americans receive $100,000 or more in inheritance. Another 1.1% receive $50,000 to $100,000. On the other hand, 91.9% receive nothing (Kotlikoff & Gokhale, 2000). Thus, the attempt by ultra-conservatives to eliminate inheritance taxes — which they always call “death taxes” for P.R. reasons — would take a huge bite out of government revenues for the benefit of less than 1% of the population. (It is noteworthy that some of the richest people in the country oppose this ultra-conservative initiative, suggesting that this effort is driven by anti-government ideology. In other words, few of the ultra-conservatives behind the effort will benefit from it in any material way.)

Actually, ultra-conservatives and their wealthy financial backers may not have to bother to eliminate what remains of inheritance taxes at the federal level. The rich already have a new way to avoid inheritance taxes forever — for generations and generations — thanks to bankers. After Congress passed a reform in 1986 making it impossible for a “trust” to skip a generation before paying inheritance taxes, bankers convinced legislatures in many states to eliminate their “rules against perpetuities,” which means that trust funds set up in those states can exist in perpetuity, thereby allowing the trust funds to own new businesses, houses, and much else for descendants of rich people, and even to allow the beneficiaries to avoid payments to creditors when in personal debt or sued for causing accidents and injuries. About $100 billion in trust funds has flowed into those states so far. You can read the details on these “dynasty trusts” (which could be the basis for an even more solidified “American aristocracy”) in a New York Times opinion piece published in July 2010 by Boston College law professor Roy Madoff, who also has a book on this and other new tricks: Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead (Yale University Press, 2010).

For the vast majority of Americans, their homes are by far the most significant wealth they possess. Figure 3 comes from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances (via Wolff, 2010) and compares the median income, total wealth (net worth, which is marketable assets minus debt), and non-home wealth (which earlier we called financial wealth) of White, Black, and Hispanic households in the U.S.

 

Figure 3: Income and wealth by race in the U.S.

 

Besides illustrating the significance of home ownership as a measure of wealth, the graph also shows that Black and Latino households are faring significantly worse overall, whether we are talking about income or net worth. In 2007, the average white household had 15 times as much total wealth as the average African-American or Latino household. If we exclude home equity from the calculations and consider only financial wealth, the ratios are in the neighborhood of 100:1. Extrapolating from these figures, we see that 70% of white families’ wealth is in the form of their principal residence; for Blacks and Hispanics, the figures are 95% and 96%, respectively.

And for all Americans, things are getting worse: as the projections to July 2009 by Wolff (2010) make clear, the last few years have seen a huge loss in housing wealth for most families, making the gap between the rich and the rest of America even greater, and increasing the number of households with no marketable assets from 18.6% to 24.1%.

Historical context

Numerous studies show that the wealth distribution has been extremely concentrated throughout American history, with the top 1% already owning 40-50% in large port cities like Boston, New York, and Charleston in the 19th century. It was very stable over the course of the 20th century, although there were small declines in the aftermath of the New Deal and World II, when most people were working and could save a little money. There were progressive income tax rates, too, which took some money from the rich to help with government services.

Then there was a further decline, or flattening, in the 1970s, but this time in good part due to a fall in stock prices, meaning that the rich lost some of the value in their stocks. By the late 1980s, however, the wealth distribution was almost as concentrated as it had been in 1929, when the top 1% had 44.2% of all wealth. It has continued to edge up since that time, with a slight decline from 1998 to 2001, before the economy crashed in the late 2000s and little people got pushed down again. Table 3 and Figure 4 present the details from 1922 through 2007.

 

Table 3: Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in theUnited States, 1922-2007.
Bottom 99 percent Top 1 percent
1922 63.3% 36.7%
1929 55.8% 44.2%
1933 66.7% 33.3%
1939 63.6% 36.4%
1945 70.2% 29.8%
1949 72.9% 27.1%
1953 68.8% 31.2%
1962 68.2% 31.8%
1965 65.6% 34.4%
1969 68.9% 31.1%
1972 70.9% 29.1%
1976 80.1% 19.9%
1979 79.5% 20.5%
1981 75.2% 24.8%
1983 69.1% 30.9%
1986 68.1% 31.9%
1989 64.3% 35.7%
1992 62.8% 37.2%
1995 61.5% 38.5%
1998 61.9% 38.1%
2001 66.6% 33.4%
2004 65.7% 34.3%
2007 65.4% 34.6%
Sources: 1922-1989 data from Wolff (1996). 1992-2007 data from Wolff (2010).
Figure 4: Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in theUnited States, 1922-2007.

 

Here are some dramatic facts that sum up how the wealth distribution became even more concentrated between 1983 and 2004, in good part due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and the defeat of labor unions: Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s (Wolff, 2007).

The rest of the world

Thanks to a 2006 study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research — using statistics for the year 2000 — we now have information on the wealth distribution for the world as a whole, which can be compared to the United States and other well-off countries. The authors of the report admit that the quality of the information available on many countries is very spotty and probably off by several percentage points, but they compensate for this problem with very sophisticated statistical methods and the use of different sets of data. With those caveats in mind, we can still safely say that the top 10% of the world’s adults control about 85% of global household wealth — defined very broadly as all assets (not just financial assets), minus debts. That compares with a figure of 69.8% for the top 10% for the United States. The only industrialized democracy with a higher concentration of wealth in the top 10% than the United States is Switzerland at 71.3%. For the figures for several other Northern European countries and Canada, all of which are based on high-quality data, see Table 4.

Table 4: Percentage of wealth held in 2000 by the Top 10% of the adult populationin various Western countries
wealth owned
by top 10%
Switzerland 71.3%
United States 69.8%
Denmark 65.0%
France 61.0%
Sweden 58.6%
UK 56.0%
Canada 53.0%
Norway 50.5%
Germany 44.4%
Finland 42.3%

 

The Relationship Between Wealth and Power

What’s the relationship between wealth and power? To avoid confusion, let’s be sure we understand they are two different issues. Wealth, as I’ve said, refers to the value of everything people own, minus what they owe, but the focus is on “marketable assets” for purposes of economic and power studies. Power, as explained elsewhere on this site, has to do with the ability (or call it capacity) to realize wishes, or reach goals, which amounts to the same thing, even in the face of opposition (Russell, 1938; Wrong, 1995). Some definitions refine this point to say that power involves Person A or Group A affecting Person B or Group B “in a manner contrary to B’s interests,” which then necessitates a discussion of “interests,” and quickly leads into the realm of philosophy (Lukes, 2005, p. 30). Leaving those discussions for the philosophers, at least for now, how do the concepts of wealth and power relate?

First, wealth can be seen as a “resource” that is very useful in exercising power. That’s obvious when we think of donations to political parties, payments to lobbyists, and grants to experts who are employed to think up new policies beneficial to the wealthy. Wealth also can be useful in shaping the general social environment to the benefit of the wealthy, whether through hiring public relations firms or donating money for universities, museums, music halls, and art galleries.

Second, certain kinds of wealth, such as stock ownership, can be used to control corporations, which of course have a major impact on how the society functions. Tables 5a and 5b show what the distribution of stock ownership looks like. Note how the top one percent’s share of stock equity increased (and the bottom 80 percent’s share decreased) between 2001 and 2007.

 

Table 5a: Concentration of stock ownership in the United States, 2001-2007
Percent of all stock owned:
Wealth class 2001 2004 2007
Top 1% 33.5% 36.7% 38.3%
Next 19% 55.8% 53.9% 52.8%
Bottom 80% 10.7% 9.4% 8.9%
Table 5b: Amount of stock owned by various wealth classes in the U.S., 2007
Percent of households owning stocks worth:
Wealth class $0 (no stocks) $1-$10,000 More than $10,000
Top 1% 7.4% 4.2% 88.4%
95-99% 7.8% 2.7% 89.5%
90-95% 13.2% 5.4% 81.4%
80-90% 17.9% 10.9% 71.2%
60-80% 34.6% 18.3% 47.1%
40-60% 52.3% 25.6% 22.1%
20-40% 69.7% 21.6% 8.7%
Bottom 20% 84.7% 14.3% 2.0%
TOTAL 50.9% 17.5% 31.6%
Both tables’ data from Wolff (2007 & 2010).  Includes direct ownership of stock shares and indirect ownership through mutual funds, trusts, and IRAs, Keogh plans, 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts. All figures are in 2007 dollars.

Third, just as wealth can lead to power, so too can power lead to wealth. Those who control a government can use their position to feather their own nests, whether that means a favorable land deal for relatives at the local level or a huge federal government contract for a new corporation run by friends who will hire you when you leave government. If we take a larger historical sweep and look cross-nationally, we are well aware that the leaders of conquering armies often grab enormous wealth, and that some religious leaders use their positions to acquire wealth.

There’s a fourth way that wealth and power relate. For research purposes, the wealth distribution can be seen as the main “value distribution” within the general power indicator I call “who benefits.” What follows in the next three paragraphs is a little long-winded, I realize, but it needs to be said because some social scientists — primarily pluralists — argue that who wins and who loses in a variety of policy conflicts is the only valid power indicator (Dahl, 1957, 1958; Polsby, 1980). And philosophical discussions don’t even mention wealth or other power indicators (Lukes, 2005). (If you have heard it all before, or can do without it, feel free to skip ahead to the last paragraph of this section)

Here’s the argument: if we assume that most people would like to have as great a share as possible of the things that are valued in the society, then we can infer that those who have the most goodies are the most powerful. Although some value distributions may be unintended outcomes that do not really reflect power, as pluralists are quick to tell us, the general distribution of valued experiences and objects within a society still can be viewed as the most publicly visible and stable outcome of the operation of power.

In American society, for example, wealth and well-being are highly valued. People seek to own property, to have high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, to enjoy the finest in travel and leisure, and to live long and healthy lives. All of these “values” are unequally distributed, and all may be utilized as power indicators. However, the primary focus with this type of power indicator is on the wealth distribution sketched out in the previous section.

The argument for using the wealth distribution as a power indicator is strengthened by studies showing that such distributions vary historically and from country to country, depending upon the relative strength of rival political parties and trade unions, with the United States having the most highly concentrated wealth distribution of any Western democracy except Switzerland. For example, in a study based on 18 Western democracies, strong trade unions and successful social democratic parties correlated with greater equality in the income distribution and a higher level of welfare spending (Stephens, 1979).

And now we have arrived at the point I want to make. If the top 1% of households have 30-35% of the wealth, that’s 30 to 35 times what we would expect by chance, and so we infer they must be powerful. And then we set out to see if the same set of households scores high on other power indicators (it does). Next we study how that power operates, which is what most articles on this site are about. Furthermore, if the top 20% have 84% of the wealth (and recall that 10% have 85% to 90% of the stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity), that means that the United States is a power pyramid. It’s tough for the bottom 80% — maybe even the bottom 90% — to get organized and exercise much power.

Income and Power

The income distribution also can be used as a power indicator. As Table 6 shows, it is not as concentrated as the wealth distribution, but the top 1% of income earners did receive 17% of all income in the year 2003 and 21.3% in 2006. That’s up from 12.8% for the top 1% in 1982, which is quite a jump, and it parallels what is happening with the wealth distribution. This is further support for the inference that the power of the corporate community and the upper class have been increasing in recent decades.

 

Table 6: Distribution of income in the United States, 1982-2006
Income
Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
1982 12.8% 39.1% 48.1%
1988 16.6% 38.9% 44.5%
1991 15.7% 40.7% 43.7%
1994 14.4% 40.8% 44.9%
1997 16.6% 39.6% 43.8%
2000 20.0% 38.7% 41.4%
2003 17.0% 40.8% 42.2%
2006 21.3% 40.1% 38.6%
From Wolff (2010).

 

The rising concentration of income can be seen in a special New York Times analysis of an Internal Revenue Service report on income in 2004. Although overall income had grown by 27% since 1979, 33% of the gains went to the top 1%. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% were making less: about 95 cents for each dollar they made in 1979. The next 20% – those between the 60th and 80th rungs of the income ladder — made $1.02 for each dollar they earned in 1979. Furthermore, the Times author concludes that only the top 5% made significant gains ($1.53 for each 1979 dollar). Most amazing of all, the top 0.1% — that’s one-tenth of one percent — had more combined pre-tax income than the poorest 120 million people (Johnston, 2006).

But the increase in what is going to the few at the top did not level off, even with all that. As of 2007, income inequality in the United States was at an all-time high for the past 95 years, with the top 0.01% — that’s one-hundredth of one percent — receiving 6% of all U.S. wages, which is double what it was for that tiny slice in 2000; the top 10% received 49.7%, the highest since 1917 (Saez, 2009). However, in an analysis of 2008 tax returns for the top 0.2% — that is, those whose income tax returns reported $1,000,000 or more in income (mostly from individuals, but nearly a third from couples) — it was found that they received 13% of all income, down slightly from 16.1% in 2007 due to the decline in payoffs from financial assets (Norris, 2010).

And the rate of increase is even higher for the very richest of the rich: the top 400 income earners in the United States. According to an analysis by David Cay Johnston — recently retired from reporting on tax issues at the New York Times — the average income of the top 400 tripled during the Clinton Administration and doubled during the first seven years of the Bush Administration. So by 2007, the top 400 averaged $344.8 million per person, up 31% from an average of $263.3 million just one year earlier (Johnston, 2010). (For another recent revealing study by Johnston, check out “Is Our Tax System Helping Us Create Wealth?“).

How are these huge gains possible for the top 400? It’s due to cuts in the tax rates on capital gains and dividends, which were down to a mere 15% in 2007 thanks to the tax cuts proposed by the Bush Administration and passed by Congress in 2003. Since almost 75% of the income for the top 400 comes from capital gains and dividends, it’s not hard to see why tax cuts on income sources available to only a tiny percent of Americans mattered greatly for the high-earning few. Overall, the effective tax rate on high incomes fell by 7% during the Clinton presidency and 6% in the Bush era, so the top 400 had a tax rate of 20% or less in 2007, far lower than the marginal tax rate of 35% that the highest income earners (over $372,650) supposedly pay. It’s also worth noting that only the first $105,000 of a person’s income is taxed for Social Security purposes, so it would clearly be a boon to the Social Security Fund if everyone — not just those making less than $105,000 — paid the Social Security tax on their full incomes.

A key factor behind the high concentration of income, and another likely reason that the concentration has been increasing, can be seen by examining the distribution of all “capital income”: income from capital gains, dividends, interest, and rents. In 2003, just 1% of all households — those with after-tax incomes averaging $701,500 — received 57.5% of all capital income, up from 40% in the early 1990s. On the other hand, the bottom 80% received only 12.6% of capital income, down by nearly half since 1983, when the bottom 80% received 23.5%. Figure 5 and Table 7 provide the details.

 

Figure 5: Share of capital income earned by top 1% and bottom 80%, 1979-2003(From Shapiro & Friedman, 2006.)
Table 7: Share of capital income flowing to households in various income categories
Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Bottom 80%
1979 37.8% 57.9% 66.7% 23.1%
1981 35.8% 55.4% 64.6% 24.4%
1983 37.6% 55.2% 63.7% 25.1%
1985 39.7% 56.9% 64.9% 24.9%
1987 36.7% 55.3% 64.0% 25.6%
1989 39.1% 57.4% 66.0% 23.5%
1991 38.3% 56.2% 64.7% 23.9%
1993 42.2% 60.5% 69.2% 20.7%
1995 43.2% 61.5% 70.1% 19.6%
1997 45.7% 64.1% 72.6% 17.5%
1999 47.8% 65.7% 73.8% 17.0%
2001 51.8% 67.8% 74.8% 16.0%
2003 57.5% 73.2% 79.4% 12.6%
Adapted from Shapiro & Friedman (2006).

Another way that income can be used as a power indicator is by comparing average CEO annual pay to average factory worker pay, something that has been done for many years byBusiness Week and, later, the Associated Press. The ratio of CEO pay to factory worker pay rose from 42:1 in 1960 to as high as 531:1 in 2000, at the height of the stock market bubble, when CEOs were cashing in big stock options. It was at 411:1 in 2005 and 344:1 in 2007, according to research by United for a Fair Economy. By way of comparison, the same ratio is about 25:1 in Europe. The changes in the American ratio from 1960 to 2007 are displayed in Figure 6, which is based on data from several hundred of the largest corporations.

 

Figure 6: CEOs’ pay as a multiple of the average worker’s pay, 1960-2007
Source: Executive Excess 2008, the 15th Annual CEO Compensation Survey from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

It’s even more revealing to compare the actual rates of increase of the salaries of CEOs and ordinary workers; from 1990 to 2005, CEOs’ pay increased almost 300% (adjusted for inflation), while production workers gained a scant 4.3%. The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3%, when inflation is taken into account. These startling results are illustrated in Figure 7.

 

Figure 7: CEOs’ average pay, production workers’ average pay, the S&P 500 Index,corporate profits, and the federal minimum wage, 1990-2005(all figures adjusted for inflation)
Source: Executive Excess 2006, the 13th Annual CEO Compensation Survey from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

 

Although some of the information I’ve relied upon to create this section on executives’ vs. workers’ pay is a few years old now, the AFL/CIO provides up-to-date information on CEO salaries at their Web site. There, you can learn that the median compensation for CEO’s in allindustries as of early 2010 is $3.9 million; it’s $10.6 million for the companies listed in Standard and Poor’s 500, and $19.8 million for the companies listed in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. Since the median worker’s pay is about $36,000, then you can quickly calculate that CEOs in general make 100 times as much as the workers, that CEO’s of S&P 500 firms make almost 300 times as much, and that CEOs at the Dow-Jones companies make 550 times as much.

If you wonder how such a large gap could develop, the proximate, or most immediate, factor involves the way in which CEOs now are able to rig things so that the board of directors, which they help select — and which includes some fellow CEOs on whose boards they sit — gives them the pay they want. The trick is in hiring outside experts, called “compensation consultants,” who give the process a thin veneer of economic respectability.

The process has been explained in detail by a retired CEO of DuPont, Edgar S. Woolard, Jr., who is now chair of the New York Stock Exchange’s executive compensation committee. His experience suggests that he knows whereof he speaks, and he speaks because he’s concerned that corporate leaders are losing respect in the public mind. He says that the business page chatter about CEO salaries being set by the competition for their services in the executive labor market is “bull.” As to the claim that CEOs deserve ever higher salaries because they “create wealth,” he describes that rationale as a “joke,” says the New York Times (Morgenson, 2005, Section 3, p. 1).

Here’s how it works, according to Woolard:

The compensation committee [of the board of directors] talks to an outside consultant who has surveys you could drive a truck through and pay anything you want to pay, to be perfectly honest. The outside consultant talks to the human resources vice president, who talks to the CEO. The CEO says what he’d like to receive. It gets to the human resources person who tells the outside consultant. And it pretty well works out that the CEO gets what he’s implied he thinks he deserves, so he will be respected by his peers. (Morgenson, 2005.)

The board of directors buys into what the CEO asks for because the outside consultant is an “expert” on such matters. Furthermore, handing out only modest salary increases might give the wrong impression about how highly the board values the CEO. And if someone on the board should object, there are the three or four CEOs from other companies who will make sure it happens. It is a process with a built-in escalator.

As for why the consultants go along with this scam, they know which side their bread is buttered on. They realize the CEO has a big say-so on whether or not they are hired again. So they suggest a package of salaries, stock options and other goodies that they think will please the CEO, and they, too, get rich in the process. And certainly the top executives just below the CEO don’t mind hearing about the boss’s raise. They know it will mean pay increases for them, too. (For an excellent detailed article on the main consulting firm that helps CEOs and other corporate executives raise their pay, check out the New York Times article entitled“America’s Corporate Pay Pal”, which supports everything Woolard of DuPont claims and adds new information.)

There’s a much deeper power story that underlies the self-dealing and mutual back-scratching by CEOs now carried out through interlocking directorates and seemingly independent outside consultants. It probably involves several factors. At the least, on the worker side, it reflects an increasing lack of power following the all-out attack on unions in the 1960s and 1970s, which is explained in detail by the best expert on recent American labor history, James Gross (1995), a labor and industrial relations professor at Cornell. That decline in union power made possible and was increased by both outsourcing at home and the movement of production to developing countries, which were facilitated by the break-up of the New Deal coalition and the rise of the New Right (Domhoff, 1990, Chapter 10). It signals the shift of the United States from a high-wage to a low-wage economy, with professionals protected by the fact that foreign-trained doctors and lawyers aren’t allowed to compete with their American counterparts in the direct way that low-wage foreign-born workers are.

On the other side of the class divide, the rise in CEO pay may reflect the increasing power of chief executives as compared to major owners and stockholders in general, not just their increasing power over workers. CEOs may now be the center of gravity in the corporate community and the power elite, displacing the leaders in wealthy owning families (e.g., the second and third generations of the Walton family, the owners of Wal-Mart). True enough, the CEOs are sometimes ousted by their generally go-along boards of directors, but they are able to make hay and throw their weight around during the time they are king of the mountain. (It’s really not much different than that old children’s game, except it’s played out in profit-oriented bureaucratic hierarchies, with no other sector of society, like government, willing or able to restrain the winners.)

The claims made in the previous paragraph need much further investigation. But they demonstrate the ideas and research directions that are suggested by looking at the wealth and income distributions as indicators of power.

 

Further Information

References

AFL-CIO (2010). Executive PayWatch: CEO Pay Database: Compensation by Industry. Retrieved February 8, 2010 from http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/ceou/industry.cfm.

Anderson, S., Cavanagh, J., Collins, C., Lapham, M., & Pizzigati, S. (2008). Executive Excess 2008: How Average Taxpayers Subsidize Runaway Pay. Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies / United for a Fair Economy.

Anderson, S., Cavanagh, J., Collins, C., Lapham, M., & Pizzigati, S. (2007). Executive Excess 2007: The Staggering Social Cost of U.S. Business Leadership. Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies / United for a Fair Economy.

Anderson, S., Benjamin, E., Cavanagh, J., & Collins, C. (2006). Executive Excess 2006: Defense and Oil Executives Cash in on Conflict. Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies / United for a Fair Economy.

Anderson, S., Cavanagh, J., Klinger, S., & Stanton, L. (2005). Executive Excess 2005: Defense Contractors Get More Bucks for the Bang. Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies / United for a Fair Economy.

Dahl, R. A. (1957). The concept of power. Behavioral Science2, 202-210.

Dahl, R. A. (1958). A critique of the ruling elite model. American Political Science Review, 52, 463-469.

Davies, J. B., Sandstrom, S., Shorrocks, A., & Wolff, E. N. (2006). The World Distribution of Household Wealth. Helsinki: World Institute for Development Economics Research.

Domhoff, G. W. (1990). The Power Elite and the State: How Policy Is Made in America. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Gross, J. A. (1995). Broken Promise: The Subversion of U.S. Labor Relations Policy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Johnston, D. C. (2010). Tax Rates for Top 400 Earners Fall as Income Soars, IRS Data.Retrieved February 23, 2010 from http://www.tax.com/taxcom/features.nsf/Articles/0DEC0EAA7E4D7A2B852576CD00714692?OpenDocument.

Johnston, D. C. (2009, December 21). Is Our Tax System Helping Us Create Wealth?Tax Notes, pp. 1375-1377.

Johnston, D. C. (2006, November 28). ’04 Income in U.S. Was Below 2000 Level. New YorkTimes, p. C-1.

Keister, L. (2005). Getting Rich: A Study of Wealth Mobility in America. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kotlikoff, L., & Gokhale, J. (2000). The Baby Boomers’ Mega-Inheritance: Myth or Reality?Cleveland: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Lukes, S. (2005). Power: A Radical View (Second ed.). New York: Palgrave.

Madoff, R. D. (2010, July 12). America Builds an Aristocracy. New York Times, p. A-19.

Morgenson, G. (2005, October 23). How to slow runaway executive pay. New York Times, Section 3, p. 1.

Norris, F. (2010, July 24). Off the Charts: In ’08 Downturn, Some Managed to Eke Out Millions. New York Times, p. B-3.

Polsby, N. (1980). Community Power and Political Theory (Second ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Russell, B. (1938). Power: A New Social Analysis. London: Allen and Unwin.

Saez, E. (2009). Striking It Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (Update with 2007 Estimates). Retrieved August 28, 2009 from http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2007.pdf.

Saez, E., & Piketty, T. (2003). Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998Quarterly Journal of Economics118, 1-39.

Shapiro, I., & Friedman, J. (2006). New, Unnoticed CBO Data Show Capital Income Has Become Much More Concentrated at the Top. Washington, DC: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Stephens, J. (1979). The Transition from Capitalism to Socialism. London: Macmillan.

Wolff, E. N. (1996). Top Heavy. New York: The New Press.

Wolff, E. N. (2004). Changes in household wealth in the 1980s and 1990s in the U.S.Working Paper No. 407. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.

Wolff, E. N. (2007). Recent trends in household wealth in the United States: Rising debt and the middle-class squeezeWorking Paper No. 502. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.

Wolff, E. N. (2010). Recent trends in household wealth in the United States: Rising debt and the middle-class squeeze – an update to 2007Working Paper No. 589. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.

Wrong, D. (1995). Power: Its Forms, Bases, and Uses (Second ed.). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Source: http://bit.ly/b9v3De


PAUL B. FARRELL

Aug. 10, 2010, 12:45 a.m. EDT

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy.” Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, “Four Deformations of the Apocalypse.”

Get it? Not “destroying.” The GOP has already “destroyed” the U.S. economy, setting up an “American Apocalypse.”

Yes, Stockman is equally damning of the Democrats’ Keynesian policies. But what this indictment by a party insider — someone so close to the development of the Reaganomics ideology — says about America, helps all of us better understand how America’s toxic partisan-politics “holy war” is destroying not just the economy and capitalism, but the America dream. And unless this war stops soon, both parties will succeed in their collective death wish.

But why focus on Stockman’s message? It’s already lost in the 24/7 news cycle. Why? We need some introspection. Ask yourself: How did the great nation of America lose its moral compass and drift so far off course, to where our very survival is threatened?

We’ve arrived at a historic turning point as a nation that no longer needs outside enemies to destroy us, we are committing suicide. Democracy. Capitalism. The American dream. All dying. Why? Because of the economic decisions of the GOP the past 40 years, says this leading Reagan Republican.

Please listen with an open mind, no matter your party affiliation: This makes for a powerful history lesson, because it exposes how both parties are responsible for destroying the U.S. economy. Listen closely:

Reagan Republican: the GOP should file for bankruptcy

Stockman rushes into the ring swinging like a boxer: “If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt … will soon reach $18 trillion.” It screams “out for austerity and sacrifice.” But instead, the GOP insists “that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.”

In the past 40 years Republican ideology has gone from solid principles to hype and slogans. Stockman says: “Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses too.”

No more. Today there’s a “new catechism” that’s “little more than money printing and deficit finance, vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes” making a mockery of GOP ideals. Worse, it has resulted in “serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy.” Yes, GOP ideals backfired, crippling our economy.

Stockman’s indictment warns that the Republican party’s “new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one:”

Stage 1. Nixon irresponsible, dumps gold, U.S starts spending binge

Richard Nixon’s gold policies get Stockman’s first assault, for defaulting “on American obligations under the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement to balance our accounts with the world.” So for the past 40 years, America’s been living “beyond our means as a nation” on “borrowed prosperity on an epic scale … an outcome that Milton Friedman said could never happen when, in 1971, he persuaded President Nixon to unleash on the world paper dollars no longer redeemable in gold or other fixed monetary reserves.”

Remember Friedman: “Just let the free market set currency exchange rates, he said, and trade deficits will self-correct.” Friedman was wrong by trillions. And unfortunately “once relieved of the discipline of defending a fixed value for their currencies, politicians the world over were free to cheapen their money and disregard their neighbors.”

And without discipline America was also encouraging “global monetary chaos as foreign central banks run their own printing presses at ever faster speeds to sop up the tidal wave of dollars coming from the Federal Reserve.” Yes, the road to the coming apocalypse began with a Republican president listening to a misguided Nobel economist’s advice.

Stage 2. Crushing debts from domestic excesses, war mongering

Stockman says “the second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40% of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970.” Who’s to blame? Not big-spending Dems, says Stockman, but “from the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.”

Back “in 1981, traditional Republicans supported tax cuts,” but Stockman makes clear, they had to be “matched by spending cuts, to offset the way inflation was pushing many taxpayers into higher brackets and to spur investment. The Reagan administration’s hastily prepared fiscal blueprint, however, was no match for the primordial forces — the welfare state and the warfare state — that drive the federal spending machine.”

OK, stop a minute. As you absorb Stockman’s indictment of how his Republican party has “destroyed the U.S. economy,” you’re probably asking yourself why anyone should believe a traitor to the Reagan legacy. I believe party affiliation is irrelevant here. This is a crucial subject that must be explored because it further exposes a dangerous historical trend where politics is so partisan it’s having huge negative consequences.

Yes, the GOP does have a welfare-warfare state: Stockman says “the neocons were pushing the military budget skyward. And the Republicans on Capitol Hill who were supposed to cut spending, exempted from the knife most of the domestic budget — entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects. But in the end it was a new cadre of ideological tax-cutters who killed the Republicans’ fiscal religion.”

When Fed chief Paul Volcker “crushed inflation” in the ’80s we got a “solid economic rebound.” But then “the new tax-cutters not only claimed victory for their supply-side strategy but hooked Republicans for good on the delusion that the economy will outgrow the deficit if plied with enough tax cuts.” By 2009, they “reduced federal revenues to 15% of gross domestic product,” lowest since the 1940s. Still today they’re irrationally demanding an extension of those “unaffordable Bush tax cuts [that] would amount to a bankruptcy filing.”

Recently Bush made matters far worse by “rarely vetoing a budget bill and engaging in two unfinanced foreign military adventures.” Bush also gave in “on domestic spending cuts, signing into law $420 billion in nondefense appropriations, a 65% percent gain from the $260 billion he had inherited eight years earlier. Republicans thus joined the Democrats in a shameless embrace of a free-lunch fiscal policy.” Takes two to tango.

Stage 3. Wall Street’s deadly ‘vast, unproductive expansion’

Stockman continues pounding away: “The third ominous change in the American economy has been the vast, unproductive expansion of our financial sector.” He warns that “Republicans have been oblivious to the grave danger of flooding financial markets with freely printed money and, at the same time, removing traditional restrictions on leverage and speculation.” Wrong, not oblivious. Self-interested Republican loyalists like Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner knew exactly what they were doing.

They wanted the economy, markets and the government to be under the absolute control of Wall Street’s too-greedy-to-fail banks. They conned Congress and the Fed into bailing out an estimated $23.7 trillion debt. Worse, they have since destroyed meaningful financial reforms. So Wall Street is now back to business as usual blowing another bigger bubble/bust cycle that will culminate in the coming “American Apocalypse.”

Stockman refers to Wall Street’s surviving banks as “wards of the state.” Wrong, the opposite is true. Wall Street now controls Washington, and its “unproductive” trading is “extracting billions from the economy with a lot of pointless speculation in stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives.” Wall Street banks like Goldman were virtually bankrupt, would have never survived without government-guaranteed deposits and “virtually free money from the Fed’s discount window to cover their bad bets.”

Stage 4. New American Revolution class-warfare coming soon

Finally, thanks to Republican policies that let us “live beyond our means for decades by borrowing heavily from abroad, we have steadily sent jobs and production offshore,” while at home “high-value jobs in goods production … trade, transportation, information technology and the professions shrunk by 12% to 68 million from 77 million.”

As the apocalypse draws near, Stockman sees a class-rebellion, a new revolution, a war against greed and the wealthy. Soon. The trigger will be the growing gap between economic classes: No wonder “that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1% of Americans — paid mainly from the Wall Street casino — received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90% — mainly dependent on Main Street’s shrinking economy — got only 12%. This growing wealth gap is not the market’s fault. It’s the decaying fruit of bad economic policy.”

Get it? The decaying fruit of the GOP’s bad economic policies is destroying our economy.

Warning: this black swan won’t be pretty, will shock, soon

His bottom line: “The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing … it’s a pity that the modern Republican party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.”

Wrong: There are far bigger things to “pity.”

First, that most Americans, 300 million, are helpless, will do nothing, sit in the bleachers passively watching this deadly partisan game like it’s just another TV reality show.

Second, that, unfortunately, politicians are so deep-in-the-pockets of the Wall Street conspiracy that controls Washington they are helpless and blind.

And third, there’s a depressing sense that Stockman will be dismissed as a traitor, his message lost in the 24/7 news cycle … until the final apocalyptic event, an unpredictable black swan triggers another, bigger global meltdown, followed by a long Great Depression II and a historic class war.

So be prepared, it will hit soon, when you least expect.

Source: http://bit.ly/9bawpV


September 30, 2010

Like the clear results on a pH test strip, the vote in the U.S. Senate this week on the Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act showed Republicans’ true color: Red. Red for China.

Or Mexico. Or Indonesia. Or anywhere multi-national corporations get tax breaks for exporting American jobs. In this test of loyalty, every Republican in the Senate voted for corporate greed over American workers.

No fluke, this is a GOP pattern. The red party has consistently sided with giant corporations to the detriment of the American economy and American workers. In voting against health care reform, Republicans chose giant health insurance corporations over uninsured Americans. In opposing financial reform, Republicans embraced Wall Street over the taxpayers who bailed out the big banks and don’t want to do it again.

Republicans vainly attempted to rationalize those votes as opposing government regulation. There’s no regulation issue in the Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act.

That Act would have removed tax incentives the U.S. government gives corporations to close domestic factories, fire American workers and move production overseas. And, conversely, the Act would have instituted tax cuts for corporations that return foreign employment to U.S. soil.

Every Republican in the Senate voted against the Act. They voted to continue forcing Americans to give tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas during the worst recession since the Great Depression. The GOP said it is right and proper for U.S. citizens to subsidize corporate killing of American manufacturing. And Republicans said it would be wrong to do the opposite — to use tax breaks to encourage corporations to restore off-shored jobs to the U.S.

Democrats, whose first priority is American workers, are pushing a 17-bill Make it in America plan. The Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act is part of that effort to bolster domestic industry and employment.

With joblessness stuck at 9.6 percent and with the U.S. trade deficit destroying or displacing 5.6 million jobs — 70 percent of them good-paying manufacturing jobs — in just one year – 2007, Democrats developed this plan to preserve American industry and jobs. Recent surveys of likely voters suggest the Democrats’ Make it in American program is exactly what Americans want and believe the country needs.

In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released earlier this week, 86 percent of respondents cited corporate off-shoring of American jobs as the primary cause of the country’s continuing economic distress.

Similarly, a bi-partisan polling team that conducted a survey of likely voters for the Alliance for American Manufacturing in April found large majorities believe manufacturing strength is crucial to U.S. economic security and that the government should fortify American industry. These voters told the pollsters that they believe America no longer leads the world in manufacturing but could again with proper support.

That can-do-it attitude is realistic. Already some manufacturers are on-shoring. General Electric is moving production of its energy-efficient water heaters from China to the United States. Caterpillar and NCR, a technology company, are doing the same. A survey in June found 21 percent of North American manufacturers brought production into or closer to the United States in the previous three months and another 38 percent planned to research such a move.

Manufacturers gave USA Today numerous reasons for this repatriation. Chinese wages and shipping costs have risen. They cited poor quality foreign manufactured goods; theft of intellectual property; long product delivery times interfering with response to consumer demand, and benefits from providing engineers easy access to assembly lines.

The trade publication, Supply Chain Digest, quoted two experts in an August story about the on-shoring trend:

“George Stalk, a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, has led research efforts showing the inventory benefits for high margin, fashion-oriented goods from bringing production at least back to North America almost always trump the value of lower manufacturing costs in Asia. Those benefits come from both not losing sales from being out of stock and not getting stuck with obsolete inventory that a company can’t sell or must mark down dramatically.”

And, the story quoted Jeremy Leonard, a consultant for Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI:

“A lot of companies who have gone there to take advantage of cheap labor are starting to tell us that if you (calculate) total cost and don’t just look at wages, it’s actually not worth it.”

Democrats sought to nurture and expand the repatriation trend. But like numerous Make it in America bills passed by the U.S. House, the Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act died at the hands of Senate Republicans. Democrats had the majority with 53 votes for the measure, but Republicans, as they have all year, blocked passage by using a filibuster to require a super-majority of 60.

The next test for Republicans will occur Nov. 2. In the mid-term election, Americans red-in-the-face angry at the GOP for extending tax breaks to corporations for expatriating American jobs have the opportunity to show Republican politicians what it feels like to lose a job.

Source: http://goo.gl/ENSV


A group of Democratic Senators, including Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, said Friday they are bringing a new bill to a vote next week that would close tax loopholes for companies that send jobs overseas, and create tax credits for those that bring jobs back to the United States. The decision sets up a political showdown with their Republican counterparts.

“Our tax policies have to help working Americans and not stab them in the back,” Brown said in a conference call with several other senators, including New York’s Chuck Schumer, Pennsylvania’s Don Casey, Illinois’ Dick Durbin, Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, and Vermont’s independent Bernie Sanders.

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“I don’t want to be out there in 20 years and be asking ourselves why did we let our manufacturing base crumble and not do anything about it?”

The bill would prohibit companies from declaring the losses from closing plants and relocating them overseas as expenses on their tax returns, with the exception of severance packages for terminated employees.

The bill would also force U.S.-based companies to pay income tax on all products sold in the country, even if the products are made overseas and the profit is taken at an overseas subsidiary. This current practice is known as tax deferral, and companies don’t have to pay tax on them until those funds are pulled back into the U.S.

For example, under current law, a company that owns a subsidiary and plant overseas does not pay taxes on the profits for products made at that plant that are sold in the United States. Under the new proposal, such sales would be taxable even though the profits were held by offshore subsidiaries.

Finally, the proposal would give any company a two-year waiver on the 6.2 percent federal payroll tax for any worker who is hired in the United States as a result of bringing back operations from overseas.

The senators say the program would cost about $720 million over 10 years as the credits from new hires would be partially offset from the new tax revenues from off-shoring companies.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposed the measure Friday morning, forcing a floor vote to continue debate of the bill. Such a vote requires 61 votes and the Democrats currently only have 59. That “cloture” vote is necessary for the bill to continue in the Senate, and is scheduled for Tuesday morning. That vote will make individual Republicans vote up or down on the measure in the midst of the politically charged election season.

“My view is that the majority has literally wasted months in the chamber trying to tell the private sector what to do instead of providing certainty they need to make investment decisions,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“This bill … will do nothing to create jobs here in our country. Most of the factories the Durbin bill is trying to prevent from moving overseas are not traveling overseas to sell back to the American market, but are moving there to gain competitive advantage over foreign companies in foreign markets.

“And in doing so, they create more jobs and more opportunity right here in the United States,” McConnell said, adding that the bill would also add to the deficit.

Brown said that Ohio has seen manufacturing jobs fall by nearly 40 percent between 1999-2009 – a drop of nearly 400,000 jobs from more than 1 million in 1999. Locally, his office says Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties have seen a loss of more than 35,000 manufacturing jobs between 1999-2009 – including nearly 27,000 in Hamilton County alone.

“Now we know that not all of these are caused by outsourcing and off-shoring, but it certainly has had an impact,” Brown said.

Democratic leadership decided to bring this bill to a vote without certain approval as the session nears its end, instead of other legislation closer to passage and bipartisan agreement.

“I don’t care who you are, Democrat or Republican, you can’t go out into your districts and not hear that people are clamoring for suits, appliances, cars and other items that are made in the U.S.A.,” Brown said.

Source: http://bit.ly/bWx9ba


On Wednesday September 22, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is defending his ban on overseas outsourcing of state services in a letter to the U.S. trade representative.

The letter to Ron Kirk comes as the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum is being held in Washington.

Indian government officials have said the Ohio ban violates a commitment made by the Group of 20 countries to fight protectionism.

Strickland says it doesn’t violate any trade agreement with India.

The order prohibits any Ohio cabinet agency, board or commission from signing a contract that uses funds it controls to purchase services outsourced to other countries.

Strickland signed the executive order last month after federal stimulus money went to a company that outsourced work to an overseas call center in El Salvador.

Source: http://yhoo.it/cBaM9L