Middle Class

The U.S. Needs to Look Inward to Solve Its Economy

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Over the past months as the global economy heads for another recession, U.S. lawmakers have done their best to deflect blame by focusing on various external forces including the most popular straw-man of the day: China’s currency.

Almost every year for the last few years, Congress and the White House have pressed China to revalue its currency, the renminbi. And every time this happens, China responds that it will do what it always does: let it appreciate gradually, at about 5% per year as it has done for the last several years.  read more »

The Driving Decline: Not a "Sea Change"

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The latest figures from the United States Department of Transportation indicate that driving volumes remain depressed. In the 12 months ended in September 2011, driving was 1.1 percent below the same  period five years ago. Since 2006, the year that employment peaked, driving has remained fairly steady, rising in two years (the peak was 2007) and falling in three years. At the same time, the population has grown by approximately four percent. As a result, the driving per household has fallen by approximately five percent.  read more »

Suppressing the News: The Real Cost of the Wall Street Bailout

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No one really knows what a politician will do once elected. George “No New Taxes” Bush (George I to us commoners) was neither the first nor will he be the last politician to lie to the public in order to get elected.  It takes increasing amounts of money to get elected. Total spending by Presidential candidates in 1988 was $210.7 million; in 2000 it was $343.1 million and in 2008, presidential candidates spent $1.3 billion.  read more »

The Robotics Census

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Immigration is a concern for countries around the world, not just the U.S. It’s that annoying tendency of humans to gravitate toward an area where they can survive as opposed to staying where they are barely surviving or worse.  Once there, of course, these workers are seen often as taking jobs, altering local cultures and in general upsetting lots of apple carts.    read more »

Iowa: Not Just the Elderly Waiting to Die

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Stephen Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa, created quite a stir in Iowa this week with a piece in The Atlantic describing his unique observations on rural Iowa as evidence that it doesn’t deserve its decidedly powerful hand in the vote for the president. After the article appeared last Friday both his colleagues and the massive student body of the state he so harshly criticizes are returning the favor.  read more »

Let’s Level the Inter-generational Playing Field

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With President Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas decrying the growing economic inequality and lack of upward mobility in America, the issue has finally arrived at the center of this year’s campaign debates.  read more »

Wanted: Blue-Collar Workers

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To many, America’s industrial heartland may look like a place mired in the economic past—a place that, outcompeted by manufacturing countries around the world, has too little work to offer its residents. But things look very different to Karen Wright, the CEO of Ariel Corporation in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Wright’s biggest problem isn’t a lack of work; it’s a lack of skilled workers. “We have a very skilled workforce, but they are getting older,” says Wright, who employs 1,200 people at three Ohio factories.  read more »

Illinois: State Of Embarrassment

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Most critics of Barack Obama’s desultory performance the past three years trace it to his supposedly leftist ideology, lack of experience and even his personality quirks. But it would perhaps be more useful to look at the geography — of Chicago and the state of Illinois — that nurtured his career and shaped his approach to politics. Like with George W. Bush and Texas, this is a case where you can’t separate the man from the place.  read more »

Wall Street Plays Occupy White House

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Wall Street is disdained in the court of public opinion — detested by the tea party on the right and the Occupy movement on the left. The public blames financial plutocrats for America’s economic plight more than either President Barack Obama or former President George W. Bush. Less than a quarter of all Americans, according to Gallup, have confidence in the banks, which vie for the lowest spot with Big Business and Congress.  read more »

It's Not the 1980s in Britain Anymore

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Britain’s public sector workers came out on a one day strike last week over government plans to raid their pension funds. Government ministers did the rounds of television studios denouncing the strikers as mindless militants. Both sides are echoing the class struggles of the Thatcher-era, but the truth is that it’s not the 1980s.  read more »