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Why is this recovery different from all other recoveries?
Many of the reasons are widely known: Rebounding from a financial crisis takes an excruciatingly long time; the huge decline in housing values has reduced Americans’ purchasing power; large corporations are making do with fewer employees — at least, in this country.
But what really sets the current recovery apart from all its predecessors is this: Almost three years after economic growth resumed, the real value of Americans’ paychecks is stubbornly still shrinking. According to [April 5th’s] Bloomberg Economics Brief, “the pace of income gains is well below that of the past two jobless recoveries and real average hourly earnings continue to decline.”
The Bloomberg report cites one reason for this anomaly: Most of the jobs being created are in low-wage sectors. According to Bloomberg, fully 70 percent of all job gains in the past six months were concentrated in restaurants and hotels,
The Supreme Court’s deliberation on the Affordable Care Act goes to the heart of differing visions of the American concept of “freedom” and “liberty.” It’s a debate worth having.
In court this week, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. described what real freedom looks like. “There will be millions of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease,” he said, “and as a result of the health care that they will get, they will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.”
Verrilli’s argument evokes FDR’s famous “Four Freedoms Speech” that included freedom from “want” and “fear.”
FDR repeatedly articulated and elaborated upon those ideals. On June 8, 1934, in a special message to Congress he said:
“[I]n the earlier days, the interdependence of members of families upon each other and of the families within a small community upon each other” [provided fulfillment and security.] “The complexities of great communities and of organized industry make less real these simple means of security.
This month Frying Pan News presents personal stories of L.A.’s April 29-May 4, 1992 explosion. These recollections do not represent the point of view of this blog or its sponsor, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. In this installment we interview painter Anthony Ausgang, one of the best-known proponents of Los Angeles’ Lowbrow art movement; his psychedelicized images of cartoon cats and rogue hot-rodders have become iconic staples of Southern California galleries.
In 1992 he was the property manager of an eight-unit block of storefront studios near the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, an area near Los Angeles City College that would see much arson and looting. He lived in one of the units, which he still manages today; he and his companion, painter Marcy Watton, who lived next door, were taken off-guard by the violence that erupted after the Rodney King verdicts.
I’ve had the good fortune to travel a bit in Europe and there are a few things I have taken away from my journeys. There seems to more of an enjoyment of the simple things in life over there. Whether it is a having a nice meal or taking a long paid vacation (anywhere from four to eight weeks) every year, people don’t seem as neck-deep in the rat race as we are here in the States.
The European perspective on what’s important also translates into a deep appreciation for long-term planning. I especially noticed this when I found myself looking at one of the thousand-year-old cathedrals that seem to be in every city. A more modern example of how planning is embraced in Europe is its efficient transportation — which made me think of how much we need high-speed rail here in California.
Anyone reading this blog who lives in L.A.
A few weeks back I was quoted in a blog called Down With Tyranny. The article was about the ongoing dispute over employers asking for employee Facebook passwords, as well as the overly broad social media policies of my own employer, the Hyatt Corporation.
After posting this blog to my own Facebook profile, I was a bit stunned by the quick response from an old conservative classmate from high school who didn’t think there was anything wrong with employers asking job applicants to hand over their passwords as a condition of employment.
“If you don’t like it don’t apply to work there. You are asking them for a paycheck, why can’t they ask you for something?”
A few other commenters joined the conversation including my own Canadian wife, who quickly jumped to my defense — which made me proud and embarrassed,