**Editor's Note: Your editors are extremely thankful they have jobs that provide paid holidays. The next edition will be Dec. 6.
Let's start with a 2011 cartoon from Ingrid Rice:
In the more fallout analysis from the mid-term elections, Demos Chelsea's McKevitt argues low voter turn out is hurting the poor. "The United States already ranks among the lowest of developed democracies for voter turnout—even in presidential elections—and criticism against the new voter ID laws is that they will not only further decrease turnout, but decrease it specifically for the lower classes." New York University's Farai Chideya contends in the Guardian that the U.S two-party system is failing the poor:
[W]orking- and middle-class Americans are increasingly hogtied when it comes to wealth and social mobility, the foundations of the American dream. Family wealth for all races and ethnicities, but particularly for blacks and Latinos, has not recovered from the jab/uppercut combination of the Great Recession and the housing crisis. And while social mobility varies by region (America’s south-east is the least socially mobile, and also arguably the most racially segregated), it’s elusive for most working-class and poor Americans of any region or race...For all the problems with multiparty democracies – and all the xenophobia we see currently expressed in European elections – I’d prefer a wider range of options. And I’m not alone. People who don’t vote are widely viewed as lazy or selfish. But in a country where a third of people consider themselves political independents, there is a cohort of citizens who are more akin to conscientious objectors than layabouts in the party wars.
In Pew Stateline, Teresa Wiltz reports on whether new laws addressing the homeless help or hurt:
Since January 2013, 22 cities around the country, from Los Angeles to Atlanta to Philadelphia, have enacted legislation restricting individuals and groups from sharing food with the homeless in public places, according to a new report by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). Nine more cities have pending legislation...Homelessness is a seemingly intractable problem with roots in a variety of societal ills, from mental illness to substance abuse to unemployment and a lack of affordable housing. (It is a myth that the majority of homeless people are mentally ill; only a small percentage are. Nor are all homeless people unemployed.)
In this interesting blog submission series over at Rage Against the Mini Van, Keisha W., who grew up middle class, describes her experience of being in poverty:
When you are poor, the odds are stacked against you from the get-go. People may look at my laundry pile and question why I can’t keep it under control, not understanding that not having daily access to a washer and dryer makes it nearly impossible. I am intelligent and driven, and even so it took me six years to finish a four year degree because I was also working at a minimum wage job and raising a baby and had neither the time nor the money to finish school at the traditional pace. Working and going to school is grueling—even more so when you don’t have a vehicle and it takes you an hour and a half by public transit to get from one place to another. Life is simply exhausting. A trip to the grocery store that would take someone else 45 minutes ends up taking three hours when you have to wait for the bus. It is especially time-consuming when you can only carry a few grocery bags at a time, and you end up having to make this the trip multiple times per week. But it’s not just the logistics of getting around that makes life hard. Its other things—things that I took for granted before I knew what it was like to go without.
The New York Times' Tom Friedman argues that our real governing challenge is that the "three biggest forces on the planet — the market, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law — are all surging, really fast, at the same time":
Moore’s Law, the theory that the speed and power of microchips will double every two years, is, as Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson posit in their book, “The Second Machine Age,” so relentlessly increasing the power of software, computers and robots that they’re now replacing many more traditional white- and blue-collar jobs, while spinning off new ones — all of which require more skills. ...[W]e’re in the middle of three “climate changes” at once: one digital, one ecological, one geo-economical. That’s why strong states are being stressed, weak ones are blowing up and Americans are feeling anxious that no one has a quick fix to ease their anxiety. And they’re right. The only fix involves big, hard things that can only be built together over time: resilient infrastructure, affordable health care, more start-ups and lifelong learning opportunities for new jobs, immigration policies that attract talent, sustainable environments, manageable debt and governing institutions adapted to the new speed.
Check out this cartoon from Signe Wilkinson:
K-Mart employees are fighting not to have to work on Thanksgiving Day, as retailers across the country try to force more store hours over holidays. Barbabra Alverez over at the Huffington Post looks at what it means for employees:
Every one of these retailers, in their corporate "wisdom," has made the decision to require employees to work on a national holiday. Some of them are not giving any employees time off. The employees will have to work their full, part-time or full-time schedules throughout the holiday season. If these employees want a day off for a family member's graduation, wedding or funeral, too bad, so sad. If they are scheduled to work that day, they will show up that day. Period. Full stop... These employees can choose to resign and find a job elsewhere. Except. Except for the fact that, because of more corporate decisions and actions, good, fair-paying, full-time jobs in the retail sector are few and far between. Highly few and far between. If retail employees at any of these stores or others choose to walk, they will be doing so during the worst time of the year. They have rent to pay, car bills and insurance to cover, utilities to pay and groceries to buy. They are stuck -- and worse, they know they are stuck.
Dining service employees working on Capitol Hill have asked the Obama Administration to increase their pay so that it looks more like Costco wages instead of "like Walmart," the Guardian reports. Meanwhile, CNN Money looks at the part-time jobs trap. Check out this chart:
Over at Real Clear Policy, Mike Casisdy says long-term unemployment is something to worry about. Meanwhile, Wired's Issie Lapowsky reports on the reshoring of tech jobs to places like the Bronx via enterprises such as Start Box and Per Scholas. Ever heard of a millionaire grocery clerk? Neither had your editor until this story about Oregon's WinCo Foods, as reported in Mary Josephs Forbes:
Inside the store labor 130 employees of WinCo – grocery clerks, shelf stockers, display builders, bakery workers – and their combined retirement savings roughly comes to an astounding $100 million. And that figure is growing rapidly, such that in a few years the average wealth of these employees could easily exceed $1 million. Quite a few individual workers already have account balances above that level... WinCo is one of thousands of ESOP-owned U.S. companies employing millions of workers. And its industry includes many employee-owned chains, including Publix, the largest employee-owned company and another great example of capitalism played as a team sport.
As we continue to explore banking and Wall Street's relationship to the economic mobility, we offer up several new stories this week. Over at the Fiscal Times, Suzanne McGee reports on high-profile banking misconduct stories and a study attempting to see if it is Wall Street creating bad apples or if bankers just come that way:
Over and over again, we’ve heard the banks tell us, it isn’t about them, but about a few bad apples. But is it?... It turns out that a group of economists at the University of Zurich began to wonder whether it was the apples or the barrel itself that was the problem. So they created a study to try to measure professional dishonesty, and then tested a group of more than 200 bankers working for a large international bank and some smaller banks.
According to the results of the study, when they were asked questions before the test that reminded them of their professional identity as bankers, or to focus on stuff like financial success, they were more likely to cheat. There were built-in incentives to cheat — to “win” the game that the economists devised, and earn the $200 prize, they had to have a certain number of “correct” coin tosses; only their honesty stood between them and their ability to capture the prize by lying...
Perhaps it’s time for those on Wall Street to sign a kind of banking industry variant of the Hippocratic Oath — a pledge to, first and foremost, do no wrong. It’s a lovely idea, isn’t it? An honesty oath, in which bankers promise not to cheat their clients (and we could ask them not to take the financial system back to the brink of disaster, too).
You might be interested in this visual guide from the Tax Foundation on business taxes and corporate tax reform.
In this New York Times story, James Kanter looks at how companies are using Luxemborg to lower their tax bills:
The list of multinational businesses accused of using European jurisdictions to cut their tax bills grew much longer on Wednesday when a group of investigative reporters published findings accusing more than 300 companies, including PepsiCo, Ikea and FedEx, of benefiting from preferential deals with the government of Luxembourg.
The findings, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, are based on a trove of leaked documents that included 548 so-called comfort letters that the group said Luxembourg had provided to corporations seeking favorable tax treatment.
The DealBook's Andrew Sorkin looks the push for transparency in CEO pay and argues there is definitely pay distortion:
Most employers seek to hire people at the lowest possible cost while still paying them enough to do the best job possible and keep them from leaving. It’s a delicate balance. But most companies seek to maximize whatever money they devote toward compensation.
That is rarely how boards think about it. For them, the best chief executive makes the most money.
You also may be interested in NYT's Upshot, post in which Neil Irwin says U.S. economic indicators are a paradox, sending mixed messages about what 2015 will look like.
Giving Magazine looks at new giving pledger Andrew Forest of Australia, who is a more visible philanthropist than many of his countrymen:
While the Forrests’ generosity is often celebrated in Australia, critics have also questioned their philanthropy as well as the business deals that make it possible. Years ago, many Australians rallied against his falling far short of his promised delivery of relief housing to communities devastated by fatal bushfires in Victoria in 2009. Many laud the assistance while others have remained critical of his high-handed approach in dealings with indigenous communities. Earlier this year, Forrest released a review of Indigenous Employment and Training commissioned by the Australian government and has since attracted widespread criticism for his campaign to instate a cashless welfare system that would bar recipients from purchasing restricted items.
Quartz reports that Bill Gates is using is own money to start an impact investing fund aimed at India, and says impact investing is "a powerful model with the potential to build markets and drive change for the people who need it most." Are the new breed of liberal CEOs any better than the "imperial CEOs" of yesteryear? In the Guardian, Suzanne McGee says maybe not so much:
[E]ven as the boardroom liberals use their power – from their wealth to the various kinds of clout that wealth has brought them – to transform the world for the better, they aren’t really advocating any changes in the power structure. The levers of power stay firmly in the hands of the elite. There’s just more noblesse oblige. It’s not just the corporate do-gooders. Consider billionaire hedge fund managers as part of this trend, too. After all, the foundation of choice for those who toil in “Hedge Fund Alley” in New York is the pointedly named Robin Hood Foundation, which throws one of the city’s most lavish gala events every spring. Last May, Robin Hood raised $60m, “stealing” from the ultra, ultra wealthy to “give” to the poor. Of course, the “theft” is in the form of tax-deductible donations of a tiny fraction of the very large compensation packages by hedge fund managers and other finance professionals known for backing progressive causes.