Tag Archives: middle class

The Twinkie Manifesto

Great Op-Ed from The New York Times’  Paul Krugman – R. T.
The Twinkie Manifesto
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times
Published: November 19, 2012

The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time.

Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s – the Twinkie Era – do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing “lower tax rates” as a “guiding principle.”

Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders. … “

To read more, please click on the link below. R.T.:

Five things you won’t hear Scott Brown say (i.e. the truth) about his tax record

By Jason A. Stephany, MassUniting

At a noon press conference in Randolph on Tuesday, US Senator Scott Brown delivered what his office claimed would be a “major policy speech” on taxes. To the surprise of few in Massachusetts, Brown’s remarks turned out to be nothing more than the stereotypical, failed tax rhetoric of his Republican colleagues in Washington. More telling were the facts Brown failed to mention about his voting record on taxes. Here are five true statements we didn’t hear from the junior senator in Randolph:

1. “I voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster the Creating American Jobs & Ending Offshoring Act, a bill would have ended tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs or build plants and offices offshore to replace American facilities. The vote came as thousands of American workers face impending layoffs while training their replacements from China, India, and elsewhere. (US Senate roll call vote #242, 9/28/10)


2. “I gave $24 billion of your tax dollars to Big Oil.”

In the face of drastic budget cuts, Scott Brown voted three times to give more than $24 billion in taxpayer funds to the oil industry over the next decade. The top five Big Oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell – are amongst the most profitable corporations in the world, posting $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone. (US Senate roll call votes #187 6/15/10; #72, 5/17/11; #63, 3/29/12)


3. “I’d really like to take more money out of your paycheck.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for working families – holding low and middle income workers hostage to shield the wealthiest Americans from a small surtax on income over $1 million. In effect, Brown cast a deciding vote to raise taxes on 113 million working families. In Massachusetts, the surtax would have affected just 0.6% of taxpayers with an average income of more than $2 million. (US Senate roll call vote #219, 12/1/11)

4. “I support tax breaks for millionaires…just not middle class or low-income families.”

Three times in 2010 and again in 2012, Scott Brown voted to kill measures that would extend tax cuts for the middle class. Like his vote for payroll tax hikes, Brown used the same rationale to justify his votes to raise taxes on middle and low-income families: those making $250,000 to $1 million or more each year shouldn’t have to pay their fair share like the rest of his Massachusetts constituents. (US Senate roll call votes #258 & #259, 12/4/10; #275, 12/15/10; #184, 7/25/12)


5. “I filibustered tax credits and loans that help small businesses grow and create jobs.”

Despite his claims of supporting job creators, Scott Brown repeatedly filibustered and opposed major legislation that helps small businesses grown and create jobs. Brown twice voted to filibuster the Small Business Jobs & Credit Act – a bill that connected growing small businesses to credit through community banks and offered significant tax credits to small firms that create American jobs. When his filibuster failed, Brown voted again to kill the legislation. The Massachusetts Bankers Association stated that failure to act on the bill “would be a missed opportunity that our struggling economy cannot afford.” (US Senate roll call votes #218 & #221, 7/29/10; #237, 9/14/10)


Per usual, Senator Brown took no questions from constituents or reporters, ducking out a back door immediately following his speech. But anyone who takes issue with Brown’s out-of-step voting record on taxes – or any other issue, for that matter – may contact his office at (617) 565-3170.

We Americans are not stupid!

By Chris Horton

The American people weren’t born stupid. How could we be? For three centuries the best and brightest made their way here looking for a fresh start, to escape from the tyrannies and rigid class systems of Old Europe (and Old Asia,) from the legacy of the Conquistadores, from wars and dictatorships and the bondage of poverty.

It was said that if you work hard, you can make it here, and the people who came were the ones who were willing. And work hard we did. It’s said we are the hardest-working people on Earth – working longer hours, longer weeks, working faster, with less vacation time and later retirement than anyone.

Our children could always go farther than we did – with the best schools and colleges in the world, with nothing stopping them from moving up in the world and giving their own kids an even better start.

So how could we be stupid?

We’re the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, who threw off the chains of empire and serfdom in a great revolution and the chains of slavery in a bloody civil war. We put a man on the moon, built the Interstate System in ten years, split the atom and raised a great citizen’s army that in four short years finished off the fascist hordes of Hitler and Tojo.

How could such a people be stupid?

But, you ask, how could we have let things come to the state they’re in now if we weren’t stupid?

With our living standard’s collapsing, our jobs exported, our cities and states, schools, roads and bridges collapsing, and the banks taking our homes and leaving them boarded up to rot. Aren’t we stupid?

We’re taxed to the limit by a government we don’t trust that gives the billionaires a pass, and we’re not getting much back for it. Our treasure’s being squandered in wars we don’t support, led by a President and politicians who promised to end them ,who lie with every breath, who gave away TRILLIONS to the very bankers that are ruining us. And yet, we elected them! Are we stupid?

Are we?

Lots of folks say so – about each other. But most people I talk to are still pretty smart, about the things they know about.

And there’s the rub.

We’re not stupid, we’re just ignorant. Given good information most of us will do the right thing, but we aren’t mostly getting it. Sad to say, the American people, who have always been among the smartest on Earth, are also among the most ignorant – about what’s really going on around the world, in Greece, in France or Iceland, in Libya or Pakistan – or in Wisconsin or Sacramento or on Beacon Hill and City Hall!

This is not entirely our fault. With a “corporate media” – television, radio, dailies, cable providers – that’s almost entirely owned by a few incredibly rich families; with a public broadcasting system beholden to its corporate sponsors, whose news director was a propaganda chief for the CIA; with endless corporate PR messages and with Rupert Murdoch’s empire deliberately spreading lies and confusion, it’s hard to know what to believe.

So what to do?

First, we need to turn off our TV and radio, and really talk, really listen to each other – about what’s going on and what we’re seeing in our lives, what we’re hearing from other people and what we’re learning.
But then somehow we need to put our truths into a bigger picture, a shared truth, free from the lies of the media barons. To share our stories across the city, the state, the land. Stories that will give us the courage and knowledge to get together, to act, to defend our homes and take our country back.

For that we need independent media: local radio stations, community cable, blogs and reader-supported Internet news services. And locally owned independent newspapers, like InCity Times, in whose pages we can tell our truth to our neighbors across town.

Remember the “Underground Newspapers” of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s? If you’re my age, you do. They helped break the media silence about Vietnam and Jim Crow, and gave us courage, knowledge, news of each other. Labor papers like New Unity in Springfield, movement and party papers, independent student newspapers and free entertainment weeklies broke through the silence and empowered us to turn the country around.

InCity Times is one of the last independent papers from that tradition. We need it now, and we need it to be joined by tens or hundreds more around the state. Because we need each other, and we need to be able to share our truth without the by-your-leave of the editors of the T&G.

So Happy Birthday, ICT, and many more!

Report finds MA housing “affordability crisis.” A great story in today’s Boston Globe

By Rosalie Tirella

A great story in the Boston Globe today (or go to Boston.com) re: just what InCity Times pointed out last issue: We have a “housing affordability crisis” in Massachusetts (and Worcester).

Contrary to what the greedy, fat-head brigade says in town, Worcester DOES NOT NEED MORE MARKET-RATE HOUSING. Worcester, along with every other city in Massachusetts, needs more affordable housing. Housing for working people, middle-class people, people who have jobs – and are still seeing almost half of their income go to rent (it should be about a third). Like single working moms – moms like the woman interviewed in the Glovbe story, written by Globe staff reporter Megan Woolhouse. The single mom Woolhouse interviewed said she makes $14 an hour working at FedEx and gets child support – and still uses most of her money on housing and necessities. A quote from Woolhouse’s piece:

“Sandra Cassio, a single mother, said the rent on her $1,300-a-month Dorchester apartment consumes about half her monthly paycheck. The 29-year-old cares for her two children and a nephew, and works part time at FedEx for $14 an hour. She also receives child support.

“The Dorchester apartment is also $200 more expensive than her last rental in South Boston, which Cassio had to leave when the landlord decided to renovate. She lives frugally to make ends meet; many of her furnishings are secondhand, given to her by friends and family.

” ‘You don’t want to be spending money on things that are not necessities,’’ Cassio said. “There is no ‘I want this.’ There is only ‘I need this.’ ‘ ”

This happens all over Worcester – every day!

Back to the Globe piece. This from a housing expert: “Belsky said low-income renters were most likely to be burdened by high rents because of an acute shortage of affordable housing. Apartment construction in recent years has been geared toward the upper-end market.”

These starting statistics, we all feel. We feel them as we watch Worcester Public school students leave one public school to go to another as they leave one apartment in Worcester to live in another, the bill collectors on their tails. We sem them in the instability in our neighborhoods because the families living in them are stressed to the max and are tired of moving, tired of being rootless. Domestic violence, violent crime – it all goes up.

More from the Globe story:

“The study, released yesterday, described an “affordability crisis’’ worsened by the recent recession, which eroded family incomes even as record foreclosures pushed more people into the rental market, driving up prices.

“As a result, 10.1 million US households, or one in four renters, spend more than half their earnings on rent and utilities. Another one in four households spends one-third to one-half of income on rent and utilities, according to the study.

“This squeeze, traditionally concentrated among lower-income families, is increasingly becoming a middle-class problem, according to the study. The percentage of middle-income families using 30 to 50 percent of their income for rent and utility payments more than doubled over the past decade, to 23 percent from 10 percent.”

Worcester does not need more $1,200 apartments – it needs more $650/$700 apartments. And if the Main South Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the other CDC’s in Worcester can build/rehab apartments, can do the job, along with big developers who get funds from the government if they build affordable housing, then I say BUILD ON! Build on CDCs and friends!!

We must not be bamboozled by a few fast talkers in town who wanna make a buck. When they build or rehab, they do not pay good wages to their carpenters or laborers. Construction workers at their jobs sites, do not get a salary to raise their families on – or pay their mortagages. The CDCs are the opposite. CDC’s use excellent building materials, excellent construction companies – who pay good wages – and they are – because they are nonprofit – forced to keep rents in their units affordable. And they don’t go into the business with the intent to “flip” their properties (to God knows who) to make a killing.

Let’s go Worcester CDC’s! Let’s build for Worcester!