Government Versus Corporate Power

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

The twentieth century featured a great debate in the world between the communist system and the capitalist system. This was a debate over whether private enterprise ought to exist in the world. Today most countries believe in the answer posed by the capitalist system; they believe that private enterprise ought to exist and is generally more efficient than the government.

Nowadays private enterprise and corporations are thriving. Very few countries even speak of “nationalization,” in which the government takes over private enterprises, anymore. Most people in the country work in the private sector. This speaks to its power.

Nevertheless, the world’s biggest employers are in fact not private. Take a look at this fascinating graphic by the Economist:

The world’s biggest employers are dominated by the government. Seven out of ten of the entities here are government-run; the two biggest are the militaries of the United States and China.

The three private employers are Walmart, McDonalds, and the Hon Hai Precision Industry. The Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as FoxConn, is a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer.

By country, four of these employers are Chinese, three are American, and one each are British, Indian, and Taiwanese. It’s interesting that while a Taiwanese company makes the list, a Japanese corporation or government employer does not. Europe also seems to punch below its economic weight in this graphic.

For all its love of private enterprise, the biggest employer by far in the United States is government-run. The same holds true for China, the United Kingdom, India, and probably many other countries as well. All in all, despite the strength of the private sector, government still packs quite a punch.

 

 

Weekly Audit: We Welcome Our New Plutocratic Overlords

 

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Meet the new global elite. They’re pretty much the same as the old global elite, only richer and more smug.

Laura Flanders of GritTV interviews business reporter Chrystia Freeland about her cover story in the latest issue of the Atlantic Monthly on the new ruling class. She says that today’s ultra-rich are more likely to have earned their fortunes in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street than previous generations of plutocrats, who were more likely to have inherited money or established companies.

As a result, she argues, today’s global aristocracy believes itself to be the product of a meritocracy. The old sense of noblesse oblige among the ultra-rich is giving way to the attitude that if the ultra-rich could do it, everyone else should pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Ironically, Freeland points out that many of the new elite got rich from government bailouts of their failed banks. It’s unclear why this counts as earning one’s fortune, or what kind of meritocracy reserves its most lavish rewards for its most spectacular failures.

Class warfare on public sector pensions

In The Nation, Eric Alterman assails the Republican-controlled Congress’s decision to scrap the popular and effective Build America Bonds program as an act of little-noticed class warfare:

These bonds, which make up roughly 20 percent of all new debt sold by states and local governments because of a federal subsidy equivalent to some 35 percent of interest costs, ended on December 31, as Republicans proved unwilling even to consider renewing them. The death of the program could prove devastating to states’ future borrowing.

Alterman notes that the states could face up to $130 billion shortfall next year. States can’t deficit spend like the federal government, which made the Build America Bonds program a lifeline to the states.

According to Alterman, Republicans want the states to run out of money so that they will be unable to pay the pensions of public sector workers. He notes that Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) are also co-sponsoring a bill to force state and local governments to “recalculate” their pension obligations to public sector workers.

Divide and conquer

Kari Lydersen of Working In These Times explains how conservatives use misleading statistics to pit private sector workers against their brothers and sisters in the public sector. If the public believes that teachers, firefighters, meter readers and snowplow drivers are parasites, they’ll feel more comfortable yanking their pensions out from under them.

Hence the misleading statistic that public sector workers earn $11.90 more per hour than “comparable” private sector workers. However, when you take education and work experience into account, employees of state and local governments typically earn 11% to 12% less than private sector workers with comparable qualifications.

Public sector workers have better benefits plans, but only for as long as governments can afford to keep their contractual obligations.

Who’s screwing whom?

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich is calling for a sense of perspective on public sector wages and benefits. In AlterNet he argues that the people who are really making a killing in this economy are the ultra-rich, not school teachers and garbage collectors:

Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don’t want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they’d like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.

Signs of hope?

The economic future looks pretty bleak these days. Yes, the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4% from 9.8% in December, but the economy added only 103,000, a far cry from the 300,000 jobs economists say the economy really needs to add to pull the country out its economic doldrums.

Andy Kroll points out in Mother Jones that it will take 20 years to replace the jobs lost in this recession, if current trends continue.

Worse yet, what looks like job growth could actually be chronic unemployment in disguise. The unemployment rate is calculated based on the number of people who are actively looking for work. Kroll worries that the apparent drop in the unemployment rate could simply reflect more people giving up their job searches.

For an counterweight to the doom and gloom, check out Tim Fernholtz’s new piece in The American Prospect. He argues that the new unemployment numbers are among several hopeful signs for economic recovery in 2011. However, he stresses that his self-proclaimed rosy forecast is contingent upon avoiding several huge pitfalls, including drastic cuts in public spending.

With the GOP in Congress seemingly determined to starve the states for cash, the future might not be so rosy after all.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Got a buck on ya?

I was tripping around the web and found this on The Political Carnival:

ATLANTA, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Georgia will stop posting signs along highway construction projects funded by economic stimulus funds, because the signs cost too much money, officials said.

The signs were first considered a nice indication that stimulus funds were putting Georgians to work but they became a target for ridicule and criticism once it was determined that they cost $1,200 apiece, The New York Times reported Tuesday.


There's more...

CO-3 John Salazar will vote for public option!

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/co0 3_salazar/PR_091009.html

As a constituent of Salazar's I'm familiar with his somewhat blue dog ways which is why I found this press release to be somewhat of a pleasant surprise.  He has actually gone on record as supporting the public option (if it came to a vote anyway).

I thought he was probably going to support any health care bill, but here he has finally stated that he would vote for a public option.

I just wrote him to ask him to join the progressives in signing that letter to Sebilius ;)

There's more...

Dueling Conference Calls: Obama And McCain Campaigns Discuss Obama's Decision About Public Finance

Ordinarily, I don't post notices of conferences calls on MyDD, unless there is a particularly good reason.  However, I did write a diary on the subject today (that is still in need of revision), so I figured I'd post links to the calls in case anyone was interested in hearing some background information on this subject firsthand...

This evening, the McCain campaign held a conference call with their General Legal Counsel, Trevor Potter, to discuss background information regarding Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing.  Audio of this call is available here.

The Obama Campaign contacted the McCain Campaign and requested that their General Counsel, Bob Bauer, also participate in the call, so that the campaigns could jointly address the issue. Bauer was not on the call. I'm not sure if McCain's campaign rejected the offer or just ignored it; it is worth noting that a few seconds of the McCains Campaign's private conversation was accidentally broadcast prior to call and one of the individuals there was speaking about the Obama campaign's offer and suggested that they have their own conference call, so it's clear the McCain campaign was at least aware (I did not include this portion of the call in the audio posted, which is consistent with my policy of not doing so - as I also did for the Clinton campaign when that accidentally happened to them as well).

The Obama campaign then held their own conference call with Bob Bauer to respond to the McCain call.  Audio of this call is available here.

As already noted, if you're interested in this issue then these calls are worth listening to.  If you're not, well, then, thanks for reading...

There's more...

Diaries

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