corporatism

Just as businesses seek to have government impose tariffs on imported goods that compete with their own products, so labor unions use minimum wage laws as tariffs to force up the price of non-union labor that competes with their members for jobs.
— 

Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics (h/t DB)

There are two primary reasons unions agitate for minimum wages when union members - professionals in a given trade and not entry-level laborers - don’t receive the minimum wage. Both are, naturally, self-serving. 

The first: certain labor contracts have automatic wages increases when the minimum wage increases. So when the minimum wage goes up, their pay goes up

Second and most common (and what Sowell discusses above): it makes the union laborer more attractive to a potential employer relative to a minimum wage laborer. 

For the sake of argument, let’s take it as a given that a union worker is more productive - due to training and experience and so forth - than a minimum wage worker. But how much more productive he may be is relative to the price of his labor. If a union worker is twice as productive as a minimum wage worker but he’s three times as expensive per hour, then the union worker will not be hired. If you can get the same utility from two minimum wage workers that you get with one union worker, but it’s cheaper, ceteris parabus, to hire the two minimum wage workers, then that’s what any sensible business person would do. But if the minimum wage increases, that gap narrows - potentially eliminating the discrepancy altogether. So even if the minimum wage doesn’t increase a given worker’s cost to his employer beyond the productivity he imparts to said employer, the minimum wage worker may still lose his opportunity for employment if his value drops relative to the union worker simply because he must not charge an employer less than the minimum.

Baltimore Sun

Baltimore officials, trying to collect some $40 million in long-unpaid water bills, have shut off service to more than 1,600 customers in the past six weeks. But records reviewed by The Baltimore Sun show the city’s enforcement has been starkly uneven.

While large commercial properties owe the biggest amounts, not one has been shut off. All of the service cuts so far have been to homes.

And while the majority of homes with unpaid bills are in the city, nearly 90 percent of shut-offs have been in Baltimore County. Dundalk and Gwynn Oak have each had more service cuts than all of Baltimore.

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell, a Republican who represents Dundalk, said he found it “odd” that his community, with a population of less than 64,000, saw more enforcement than a city more than 10 times that size. He has asked officials to verify the accuracy of their data.

“There have been a lot of billing errors and mistakes,” he said…

More

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In 1949, some of the country’s top advertising executives launched a national marketing campaign. They weren’t selling a physical product. They were selling religion. Before long, the Religion in American Life campaign was placing close to 10,000 newspaper ads per year, coordinating national radio marketing, and putting up thousands of billboards, all intended “to accent the importance of all religious institutions as the basis of American life.” Major corporations bankrolled the effort.

We think of One Nation Under God as a phrase dating back to our founding. The real history is newer – and scarier

MALL OF AMERICA SECURITY CATFISHED BLACK LIVES MATTER ACTIVISTS, DOCUMENTS SHOW

(by Lee Fang || @lhfang)

Documents obtained by The Intercept indicate that security staff at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to monitor local Black Lives Matter organizers, befriend them, and obtain their personal information and photographs without their knowledge.

Evidence of the fake Facebook account was found in a cache of files provided by the Mall of America to Bloomington officials after a large Black Lives Matter event at the mall on December 20 protesting police brutality. The files included briefs on individual organizers, with screenshots that suggest that much of the information was captured using a Facebook account for a person named “Nikki Larson.”

Metadata from some of the documents lists the software that created them as belonging to “Sam Root” at the “Mall of America.” A Facebook account for a Sam Root lists his profession as “Intelligence Analyst at Mall of America.”

The fake Larson account featured a profile photo that a Google reverse image search shows is identical to a photo associated with a woman who is Facebook friends with Root.

The account, previously found at this url, was deleted soon after The Intercept contacted the Mall of America for this story.

On December 11, as news of the planned Black Lives Matter protest began to spread, the “Nikki Larson” account was updated with a banner image of an (apocryphal) Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” At some point, the Larson account “liked” the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook group.

After the December 20 protest, the city charged 11 protesters with six different criminal misdemeanors. The city and mall are seeking over $65,000 in restitution for police and mall expenses.

Information collected from Facebook was used by the Mall of America security team to build dossiers on each activist. A document on Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the activists charged by the city, includes screen grabs of  her Facebook account. Levy-Pounds, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas, told The Intercept that the Larson account befriended her in December.

Another dossier profiling activist Lena Gardner contains pictures, a timeline listing where to spot her in videos from the protest taken by protestors and by Mall of America security, as well as information scraped from her social media accounts. Similar documents were created for at least eight other activists.

The Larson account appears to have been created in 2009, and had 817 friends, many of whose pages showed they were involved in Minnesota political activism. The account also “liked” Facebook groups associated with Ferguson activists, the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center, Occupy Minneapolis, SumOfUs, the SEIU Minnesota State Council, and Communities United Against Police Brutality, among others.

(Read the complete article via TheIntercept  ↳ here)

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Follow the money:

1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

The idea is that since the main goal of all private corporations is to make money, they’ll be much more willing than the government is to cut costs and eliminate waste. The result, conservatives and libertarians say, will be more efficient, responsible, and responsive services. That’s the theory, at least. In reality, privatization of public services has been a total disaster wherever it’s been tried. And, as a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy shows, it’s also created huge opportunities for fraud and corruption. The report, which was released today and is titled “Pay to Prey,” focuses on how Republican governors in states all across the country used the cover of privatization to enrich campaign donors and political cronies. The worst culprits include some the biggest names in Republican politics.
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Money is speech, dollars have more influence than people – it’s time to be honest about the plutocracy we live in

From the financial crisis of 2008 to the present era of political paralysis, the path to democratic reform has been blocked at every turn. Between Wall Street and Washington, Congress and the courts, statehouses and city halls, the will of the many has been subordinated to the will of the few (as it has been, sadly, for much of our history as a nation). As study after study has shown, politicians are far more attuned to the whims of the wealthy than they are to the will of the other 99 percent. A recent analysis of 1,779 policy outcomes by two leading political scientists found that, in the United States today, “the majority does not rule,” and that, “when a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites…they generally lose,” causing the authors to question the claim that ours is a democratic society.

American capitalism is incompatible with true democracy.