Posts Tagged ‘workers’

 

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Back in 2011, I suggested that “a creative way of getting out of the current crises created by capitalism” would be for cities, regions, and states to establish something like an Office of the Creative Economy, whose task would be to “grow a diversity of noncapitalist enterprises.”

I just learned that, in June, New York City approved a city budget that contains a $1.2-million program—the New York City Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative—to fund a community of nonprofit providers to facilitate the development of cooperatives. The idea is to build on the experience of Cooperative Home Care Associates—the largest worker-owned cooperative in the country—and start new businesses, support existing businesses, and expand the promise of workplace democracy to hundreds of low-income residents throughout the five boroughs. From what I’ve heard, the funding will also support the transition of existing businesses to democratic employee ownership.

Now, that’s a creative way of creating a new economy.

rate of profit

Some Marxists put a great deal of stock in inexorable laws of capitalism, such as the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. I don’t. I don’t look at capitalism with the presumption of any kind of laws of motion nor do I look for them as the outcome of an analysis. For me, it’s all conjunctural.

And, in the current conjuncture, the tendency is for the rate of profit to rise. Not inexorably (there are lots of conjunctural causes). And not evenly (precisely because of changing configurations of those conjunctural causes). But, if you look at the data (such as the rate of profit calculated in the graph above*), we can see the capitalist rate of profit—an index of capitalist success if there ever was one—rising. It’s been rising on average (through a series of upturns and downturns) since 1990 or so, and it’s been rising (even more dramatically) since the onset of the Great Recession.

That, in my mind, is what matters. Right now, what we’re witnessing—precisely because of the measures taken to solve the crisis the capitalists themselves made (starting with the bailout of Wall Street and then continuing through various rounds of quantitative easing, high unemployment, the stagnation of wages, and so on)—is a tendency of the rate of profit to rise.

 

*I understand that “my” rate of profit (based on total corporate profits, flows of investment, and labor compensation) doesn’t exactly correspond to what others calculate as the Marxian rate of profit (which generally includes the stock of capital). I can defend my proxy (for r=s/[c+v]) theoretically. It also tracks other estimates (such as those by Fred Moseley) pretty well.

Protesters-march-during-public-sector-strikes

Up to a million U.K. public sector workers—firefighters, librarians, teachers, and council staff—are expected to participate in today’s strike.

Britain is to witness the biggest round of industrial action for three years as teachers and firefighters join care workers, refuse collectors, librarians and other civil servants at picket lines and rallies across the country. . .

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, representing many of the country’s lowest paid workers, told the BBC: “Something has got to give – enough is enough.

“We’ve got 300,000 now on zero-hours contracts, we’ve got a million workers in local government earning below the living wage that Boris Johnson and others talk about, and people are saying: ‘We cannot go through another three years of this pay restraint.’”

Union leaders say there will be more than 50 marches and rallies across England and Wales including a protest that will end in a rally at Trafalgar Square, London. There will also be scores of picket lines at schools, council offices, depots and fire stations across England and Wales.

 

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July 2, 2014

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Chart of the day

Posted: 13 June 2014 in Uncategorized
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CEO-worker

In charting the amount of the surplus that ends up in the hands (or, if you prefer, pockets or bank accounts) of CEOs, the Economic Policy Institute finds that:

  • Average CEO compensation was $15.2 million in 2013, using a comprehensive measure of CEO pay that covers CEOs of the top 350 U.S. firms and includes the value of stock options exercised in a given year, up 2.8 percent since 2012 and 21.7 percent since 2010.
  • From 1978 to 2013, CEO compensation, inflation-adjusted, increased 937 percent, a rise more than double stock market growth and substantially greater than the painfully slow 10.2 percent growth in a typical worker’s compensation over the same period.
  • The CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 20-to-1 in 1965 and 29.9-to-1 in 1978, grew to 122.6-to-1 in 1995, peaked at 383.4-to-1 in 2000, and was 295.9-to-1 in 2013, far higher than it was in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s.
  • If Facebook, which they exclude from their data due to its outlier high compensation numbers, were included in the sample, average CEO pay was $24.8 million in 2013, and the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 510.7-to-1.

 

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With 217,000 new jobs created in May, the U.S. economy is finally—finally, after 50 months!—back to the pre-recession employment level.

Except it isn’t. Not by a long shot. Not when we consider the “jobs gap”—which we can calculate in one of two ways: by the amount of time it will take at this rate to get back to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month (4 years) or by the difference between payroll employment and the number of jobs needed to keep up with the growth in the potential labor force (6.9 million jobs).

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And that’s not even considering the kinds of jobs that have been created or the pay for those jobs or the percentage of the unemployed who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more.

Or, for that matter, the fact that all those how have been lucky enough to keep their jobs or to get a new job are forced to have the freedom to work for a small number of employers who are able to capture and do what they will with the profits their workers create.