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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Republican presidents flunk the economy: 11 reasons why America does worse under the GOP


Republican presidents flunk the economy: 11 reasons why America does worse under the GOP

The data is unequivocal: The economy performs far better under Democrats than Republicans. Here's why

Republican presidents flunk the economy: 11 reasons why America does worse under the GOPGeorge W. Bush (Credit: AP/Susan Walsh)
Consider the following fact: The last time a Republican president created an average of 1 million jobs a year over the course of his presidency was nearly three decades ago, under Ronald Reagan. When the the 2016 election comes around, a full 44 percent of voters will have entered the workforceafter that period of time. Then consider that Barack Obama has created 7.35 million jobs since taking office, and will almost certainly cross the million-per-year threshold. And that, for many Americans, the last time the economy was working for them was under Bill Clinton.

As the chart below (using data from the Economic Policy Institute) shows, the last time Americans at the bottom of the income distribution had a raise was during the sustained employment growth under Bill Clinton.

The conclusion? If Democrats want to win the White House, they need to promote a progressive, pro-jobs agenda.

I’ve previously discussed the rather large body of research suggesting that not only does the economy perform better under Democrats, it tends toperform better for everyone under Democrats. People of color do far better in terms of employment, incarceration and income growth when a Democrat is in office. The incomes of the poorest tend to increase more rapidly as well. Both effects are likely tied to two major policies: First, Democrats tend to preside over lower unemployment rates; and, second, they are far more likely to raise the minimum wage. There are other factors at work, of course: I’ve noted how market conditioning (things like regulatory policy) can change outcomes as well. But another major factor is that the key to increasing the bargaining power of workers and creating a more racially just society is jobs. And progressive policy creates jobs.

There are several specific factors that explain this.

(1) Liberal governments tend to invest more money in infrastructure and education, both of which bolster growth.

(2) While conservative governments try to maximize growth for the rich by reining in inflation, progressives benefit everyone by reducing unemployment.

(3) Conservatives spend a large amount of their political capital reducing labor force participation among gays, people of color and women. Conservatives oppose policies that would help women balance work and family responsibilities, openly sabotage their economies to discriminate against gays, and pursue policies that overwhelmingly harm people of color. By doing this, conservative governments shut out talent and competition, in all probability harming economic growth: One study finds that about one-fifth of the increase in productivity growth between 1960 and 2008 can be explained by the increase in talent from women and people of color getting jobs they were previously excluded from.

(4) Conservatives pursue policies that increase inequality, which studies suggest can also slow growth.

(5) Conservatives are less queasy about the influence of money on politics, fostering cronyism that can undermine growth.

(6) A weak safety net means that fewer Americans can take entrepreneurial risk, when entrepreneurship is a key factor in bolstering growth.

(7) By creating a winner-take-all economy, conservative governance reduces social trust necessary for growth.

(8) By promoting war and violence abroad, and a bloated military at home, conservative governments reduce the money available for clean energy, healthcare, education and tax cuts for the middle class, which create more jobs. Matt Yglesias also argues it could increase oil shocks, thereby harming growth.

(9) By promoting an oversized and unregulated financial system, conservative governments make crisis more likely. Studies also suggest that when the financial sector gets too large it starts to reduce growth.

(10) By reducing upward mobility, conservative governments reduce growth by leaving millions of opportunity-less youth mired in poverty.
(11) Conservatives are less amenable to more open immigration policies, when immigration boosts growth.

Whichever of these factors cause conservative governments to be less effective, the differences are stark. The chart below shows the average job growth under each president over the last 75 years.

Bloomberg examined private sector job growth between January 1961 and April 2012. Over that period, Republicans have held the Presidency for 28 years and Democrats for 23. Republican presidents created 71,000 jobs per month, while Democratic presidents created 150,000. In total, Democrats created 42 million jobs, compared to Republicans 24 million.

All of this means that Hillary Clinton should embrace jobs and argue that progressive policies can unleash economic growth. She should argue that the country needs a proactive government working with the free market to best promote the interests of all Americans, not just the rich. As Bob Moser notes in the American Prospect, the most successful Democratic candidates have been those who embraced economic populism rather than a fuzzy centrism. He points to Gary Peters, the only freshman Democratic Senator, who ran a populist campaign that targeted the Kochs for their plutocratic policies. Moser notes that three of unabashed populist progressives — Jeanne Shaheen, Jeff Merkley and Al Franken — not only won their elections but also won white working class voters at a time when Democrats nationally lost them by 30 percentage points.
(Peters lost the white working class, but only 47 percent to 48 percent.)
Dorian Warren is an associate professor at Columbia and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute who is leading “Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All,” ​which seeks to put jobs at the center of the political agenda. He tells Salon via e-mail that a jobs-centered Presidential campaign could be a political winner: “It is time to embrace a simple but achievable idea: that government should take action to create millions of good, new jobs in emerging sectors and ensure these jobs are open and accessible to all, guarantee decent wages and benefits for all who want to work, and ensure equity in the labor market for women and people of color.”

Warren cites research by Celinda Lake showing that three core messages resonate with Americans across the political spectrum: infrastructure spending, government investment in green energy and government creating jobs in high unemployment communities, particularly communities of color. As the chart below shows, progressive policies are popular with the Rising American Electorate (African Americans, Hispanics, millennials, and unmarried women) who veteran pollster Stanley Greenberg notes will be more than half of the electorate in 2016.

The Lake memo also notes that turnout is key to a progressive victory. In 2014, 34.5 percent of the Rising American Electorate who voted Obama for Obama’s re-election in 2012 stayed home. Mobilizing these voters will be key.

If Clinton is the nominee, she should emphasize the track record of Democrats creating and sustaining jobs. Instead of running away from Obama’s achievements should build on them. She should focus her message on a strong public sector being necessary for a strong private sector. By setting the rules for fair play, the government ensures that those who get ahead do so by creating value, rather than extracting it. By investing in the next generation, government gives private companies an educated and highly trained workforce. By ensuring paid sick leave, childcare and universal pre-k, the government allows women to bring their skills to creating prosperity. The difference between conservative and progressive governance is simple: one benefits a small elite while the other promotes widespread prosperity.

Sean McElwee's writing may be viewed at seanamcelwee.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmcelwee.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Robert Reich: The Nightmarish Future for American Jobs and Incomes Is Here


Even knowledge-based jobs will disappear as wealth gets more concentrated at the top in the next 10 years.

Photo Credit: via YouTube

What will happen to American jobs, incomes, and wealth a decade from now?
Predictions are hazardous but survivable. In 1991, in my book The Work of Nations, I separated almost all work into three categories, and then predicted what would happen to each of them.

The first category I called "routine production services," which entailed the kind of repetitive tasks performed by the old foot soldiers of American capitalism through most of the twentieth century -- done over and over, on an assembly line or in an office.

I estimated that such work then constituted about one-quarter of all jobs in the United States, but would decline steadily as such jobs were replaced by new labor-saving technologies and by workers in developing nations eager to do them for far lower wages. I also assumed the pay of remaining routine production workers in America would drop, for similar reasons.

I was not far wrong.

The second category I called "in-person services." This work had to be provided personally because the "human touch" was essential to it. It included retail sales workers, hotel and restaurant workers, nursing-home aides, realtors, childcare workers, home health-care aides, flight attendants, physical therapists, and security guards, among many others.

In 1990, by my estimate, such workers accounted for about 30 percent of all jobs in America, and I predicted their numbers would grow because -- given that their services were delivered in person -- neither advancing technologies nor foreign-based workers would be able to replace them.

I also predicted their pay would drop. They would be competing with a large number of former routine production workers, who could only find jobs in the "in-person" sector. They would also be competing with labor-saving machinery such as automated tellers, computerized cashiers, automatic car washes, robotized vending machines, and self-service gas pumps -- as well as "personal computers linked to television screens" through which "tomorrow's consumers will be able to buy furniture, appliances, and all sorts of electronic toys from their living rooms -- examining the merchandise from all angles, selecting whatever color, size, special features, and price seem most appealing, and then transmitting the order instantly to warehouses from which the selections will be shipped directly to their homes. So, too, with financial transactions, airline and hotel reservations, rental car agreements, and similar contracts, which will be executed between consumers in their homes and computer banks somewhere else on the globe."

Here again, my predictions were not far off. But I didn't foresee how quickly advanced technologies would begin to make inroads even on in-person services. Ten years from now I expect Amazon will have wiped out many of today's retail jobs, and Google's self-driving car will eliminate many bus drivers, truck drivers, sanitation workers, and even Uber drivers.

The third job category I named "symbolic-analytic services." Here I included all the problem-solving, problem-identifying, and strategic thinking that go into the manipulation of symbols—data, words, oral and visual representations.
I estimated in 1990 that symbolic analysts accounted for 20 percent of all American jobs, and expected their share to continue to grow, as would their incomes, because the demand for people to do these jobs would continue to outrun the supply of people capable of doing them. This widening disconnect between symbolic-analytic jobs and the other two major categories of work would, I predicted, be the major force driving widening inequality.

Again, I wasn't far off. But I didn't anticipate how quickly or how wide the divide would become, or how great a toll inequality and economic insecurity would take. I would never have expected, for example, that the life expectancy of an American white woman without a high school degree would decrease by five years between 1990 and 2008.

We are now faced not just with labor-replacing technologies but with knowledge-replacing technologies. The combination of advanced sensors, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, big data, text-mining, and pattern-recognition algorithms, is generating smart robots capable of quickly learning human actions, and even learning from one another. A revolution in life sciences is also underway, allowing drugs to be tailored to a patient's particular condition and genome.
If the current trend continues, many more symbolic analysts will be replaced in coming years. The two largest professionally intensive sectors of the United States -- health care and education -- will be particularly affected because of increasing pressures to hold down costs and, at the same time, the increasing accessibility of expert machines.

We are on the verge of a wave of mobile health applications, for example, measuring everything from calories to blood pressure, along with software programs capable of performing the same functions as costly medical devices and diagnostic software that can tell you what it all means and what to do about it.

Schools and universities will likewise be reorganized around smart machines (although faculties will scream all the way). Many teachers and university professors are already on the way to being replaced by software -- so-called "MOOCs" (Massive Open Online Courses) and interactive online textbooks -- along with adjuncts that guide student learning.

As a result, income and wealth will become even more concentrated than they are today. Those who create or invest in blockbuster ideas will earn unprecedented sums and returns. The corollary is they will have enormous political power. But most people will not share in the monetary gains, and their political power will disappear. The middle class's share of the total economic pie will continue to shrink, while the share going to the very top will continue to grow.

But the current trend is not preordained to last, and only the most rigid technological determinist would assume this to be our inevitable fate. We can -- indeed, I believe we must -- ignite a political movement to reorganize the economy for the benefit of the many, rather than for the lavish lifestyles of a precious few and their heirs. (I have more to say on this in my upcoming book, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, out at the end of September.)

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Obama's transition advisory board. His latest book is "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

Monday, April 20, 2015

7 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore

Personal Finance

7 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

During debates and speeches, politicians often bring up the financial burden that’s placed on the middle class. We talk about the middle class as though they are this singular entity, who used to thrive until they underwent persecution by the evil 1%. But, realistically speaking, the middle class and the 99% are not really synonymous. So, who are the middle class?

In its discussion of historical middle class societies, The Economist reports, “Their members are neither rich nor poor but somewhere in-between…’Middle-class’ describes an income category but also a set of attitudes…An essential characteristic is the possession of a reasonable amount of discretionary income. Middle-class people do not live from hand to mouth, job to job, season to season, as the poor do.”

Some argue that the most sensible income amount to attach to the middle class would be the median household income, of around $54,000. Perhaps, anyone who earns between the 25th percentile and 75th percentile is a member of the middle class.

Diana Farrell, once Deputy Director of America’s National Economic Council, told The Economist she thinks a middle class income begins at the point where a person (or family) has one-third of their income left over for discretionary purposes after they’ve provided themselves with food and shelter. In other words, someone who earns $3,000 per month would have $1,000 left after they’ve paid their mortgage or rent, utilities, and grocery bills.

Though there is some debate over the exact income a middle class household brings in, we do have an idea of who the middle class are — most working class people. Today’s bourgeoisie is composed of laborers and skilled workers, white collar and blue collar workers, many of whom face financial challenges. Bill Maher reminded us a few months back that 50 years ago, the largest employer was General Motors, where workers earned an equivalent of $50 per hour (in today’s money). Today, the largest employer — Walmart — pays around $8 per hour.

The middle class has certainly changed. We’ve ranked a list of things the middle class can no longer really afford. We’re not talking about lavish luxuries, like private jets and yachts. The items on this list are a bit more basic, and some of them are even necessities. The ranking of this list is based on affordability and necessity. Therefore, items that are necessity ranked higher, as did items that a larger percentage of people have trouble paying for.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

1. Vacations

A vacation is an extra expense that many middle-earners cannot afford without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that this year 54% of people gave up purchasing big ticket items like TVs or electronics so they can go on a vacation. Others made sacrifices like reducing or eliminating their trips to the movies (47%), reducing or eliminating trips out to restaurants (43%), or avoiding purchasing small ticket items like new clothing (43%).

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. New vehicles

Very few people who earn the median income can afford to buy a new car or truck. Interest.com recently analyzed the prices of new cars and trucks, as well as the median incomes across more than two dozen major cities, and found that new cars and trucks were simply not affordable to most middle-earners.
“Median-income families in only one major city [Washington DC] can afford the average price Americans are paying for new cars and trucks nowadays.” As of 2013, new cars are priced at $32,086, according to the study. Mike Sante, Interest.com’s managing editor reminds us, “just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn’t mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up all such a huge share of your paycheck.”

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

3. To pay off debt

These debt statistics come from Debt.org:
  • “More than 160 million Americans have credit cards.”
  • “The average credit card holder has at least three cards.”
  • “On average, each household with a credit card carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt.”
Not only do we have large amounts of credit card debt, we also have student loans, mortgages, cars, and medical debts. Our debt is growing faster than our income, and many middle class workers have trouble staying afloat. Money-Zine evaluated debt growth and income growth over the past few decades and found that “back in 1980, the consumer credit per person was $1,540, which was 7.3% of the average household income of $21,100. In 2013, consumer debt was $9,800 per person, which was 13.4% of the average household income of $72,600. This means debt increased 70% faster than income from 1980 through 2013.”

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

4. Emergency savings

To provide ourselves with a degree of financial security, we are supposed to have emergency savings to protect ourselves in the event of job loss, illness, or some other catastrophe. Most members of the middle class don’t have at least six months of emergency savings, however, and some working people have no such savings.

A Bankrate survey found that only around one out of four households have six months of emergency money saved, and many of them are in the higher income groups. Another one-fourth have no emergency savings at all, and the remaining household have a small to moderate amount of savings, but not enough to cover six months of expenses.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

5. Retirement savings

If you reach the retirement age with little or no money saved, Social Security is probably not going to be enough to cover your basic needs. Even if you want to work for your entire life, you have no way of knowing whether or not you will be physically capable of doing so.

Although having a lack of a retirement savings is a risky move, so many people bet on double zero, just hoping that things will work out in their favor. While some members of the middle class neglect this aspect of financial planning because they are procrastinating, there are also some workers who cannot afford to set this money aside. Nearly half of those who don’t save for retirement say it’s because they simply don’t have the money.

As of late, around 20% of people near 65 have not saved anything for retirement at all, and the majority of people — 59% — worry that they don’t have enough money saved for retirement, according to a Gallup Poll.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

6. Medical care

Medical care is a basic necessity and something we’d think would be affordable for someone earning a middle income. A Forbes article published data indicating that workers in large companies — many of whom are members of the middle class — “face nearly $5,000 in premiums, co-payments, deductibles and other forms of co-insurance.”

During the past few years, these costs have had a large impact on working Americans. A report by Feeding America found that a shocking 66% of households say they’ve had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care — 31% say they have to make that choice each and every month.

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

7. Dental work

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care — just 4 percent is paid by Government programs.” About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental coverage and even those who are covered may have trouble getting the care they need, the department reports.

Oftentimes, people will purchase medical coverage and forgo dental because it’s so expensive. Plus, dental insurance may cover only 50% of the more expensive procedures, like crowns and bridges. This leaves those who have insurance with large co-payments.

In many cases, middle-earners will delay or even forego some of these procedures in efforts to save on costs. According to the CDC, nearly one in four adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have untreated dental caries (like cavities or infections).

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Robert Reich: The rich don’t work anymore — working is for poor people


Robert Reich: The rich don’t work anymore — working is for poor people

Robert Reich, AlterNet

01 Apr 2015 at 02:59 ET 

Robert Reich speaks to Conan O'Brien (Screencap)
Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”
In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
It’s also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.
In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them.
The rise of these two groups — the working poor and non-working rich – is relatively new. Both are challenging the core American assumptions that people are paid what they’re worth, and work is justly rewarded.
Why are these two groups growing?
The ranks of the working poor are growing because wages at the bottom have  dropped, adjusted for inflation. With increasing numbers of Americans taking low-paying jobs in retail sales, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, childcare, elder care, and other personal services, the pay of the bottom fifth is falling closer to the minimum wage.
At the same time, the real value of the federal minimum wage is lower today than it was a quarter century ago.
In addition, most recipients of public assistance must now work in order to qualify.
Bill Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996 pushed the poor off welfare and into work. Meanwhile, the Earned Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy, has emerged as the nation’s largest anti-poverty program. Here, too, having a job is a prerequisite.
The new work requirements haven’t reduced the number or percentage of Americans in poverty. They’ve just moved poor people from being unemployed and impoverished to being employed and impoverished.
While poverty declined in the early years of welfare reform when the economy boomed and jobs were plentiful, it began growing in 2000. By 2012 it exceeded its level in 1996, when welfare ended.
At the same time, the ranks of the non-working rich have been swelling. America’s legendary “self-made” men and women are fast being replaced by wealthy heirs.
Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.
Americans who became enormously wealthy over the last three decades are now busily transferring that wealth to their children and grand children.
The nation is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. A study from the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects a total of $59 trillion passed down to heirs between 2007 and 2061.
As the French economist Thomas Piketty reminds us, this is the kind of dynastic wealth that’s kept Europe’s aristocracy going for centuries. It’s about to become the major source of income for a new American aristocracy.
The tax code encourages all this by favoring unearned income over earned income.
The top tax rate paid by America’s wealthy on their capital gains — the major source of income for the non-working rich – has dropped from 33 percent in the late 1980s to 20 percent today, putting it substantially below the top tax rate on ordinary income (36.9 percent).
If the owners of capital assets whose worth increases over their lifetime hold them until death, their heirs pay zero capital gainstaxes on them. Such “unrealized” gains now account for more than half the value of assets held by estates worth more than $100 million.
At the same time, the estate tax has been slashed. Before George W. Bush was president, it applied to assets in excess of $2 million per couple at a rate of 55 percent. Now it kicks in at $10,680,000 per couple, at a 40 percent rate.
Last year only 1.4 out of every 1,000 estates owed any estate tax, and the effective rate they paid was only 17 percent.
Republicans now in control of Congress want to go even further. Last Friday the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a non-binding resolution to repeal the estate tax altogether. Earlier in the week, the House Ways and Means Committee also voted for a repeal. The House is expected to vote in coming weeks.
Yet the specter of an entire generation doing nothing for their money other than speed-dialing their wealth management advisers is not particularly attractive.
It puts more and more responsibility for investing a substantial portion of the nation’s assets into the hands of people who have never worked.
It also endangers our democracy, as dynastic wealth inevitably and invariably accumulates political influence and power.
Consider the rise of both the working poor and the non-working rich, and the meritocratic ideal on which America’s growing inequality is often justified doesn’t hold up.
That widening inequality — combined with the increasing numbers of people who work full time but are still impoverished and of others who have never worked and are fabulously wealthy — is undermining the moral foundations of American capitalism.

Monday, March 23, 2015

GOP’s “screw the poor” budget: Republicans plan some serious pain for low-income Americans


GOP’s “screw the poor” budget: Republicans plan some serious pain for low-income Americans

The new GOP budget seeks to slash Medicaid spending and coverage, and in return will provide nothing

GOP's "screw the poor" budget: Republicans plan some serious pain for low-income AmericansPaul Ryan, John Boehner (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/Joshua Roberts)
The House Republicans came out with their big FY2016 budget proposal yesterday, and, as my colleague Jim Newell points out, while Paul Ryan is no longer the official numbers wonk for House Republicans, his influence is readily apparent in their new budget plan. The Republican proposal privatizes everything it can privatize, cuts every non-defense program it gets its grubby mitts on, nukes Obamacare from orbit, and dynamically scores itself into something resembling balance.
It really can’t be overstated just how terrible this budget proposal is for America’s poor. There’s a lot to pick over, but I want to focus specifically on Medicaid. The program would be in for some especially deep cuts under the Republicans’ vision, and the inevitable impact of those cuts would be millions of low-income Americans losing access to health coverage.
The GOP plan envisions two big changes to the existing Medicaid system: it would do away with the Medicaid expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act, and it would transform Medicaid into a block-granted program, wherein states would receive a chunk of money and be left to their own devices when deciding how to spend it.
Let’s start with the Medicaid expansion. The GOP proposal arrived the day after the White House released data showing that the uninsured rate nationwide had plummeted 35 percent since the Affordable Care Act was implemented. A huge chunk of this reduction is due to expanded Medicaid, which, as of this writing, 29 states have signed on to. The expansion is a great deal for the states – the federal government picks up full cost of the expansion initially, and 90 percent of the cost going forward – and data show that states that expanded Medicaid saw much sharper reductions in their uninsurance rates compared to non-expansion states. Obamacare works largely because of the Medicaid expansion. The Republicans in the House want to eliminate this and replace it with nothing.
The counterargument to this is that expanding coverage through Medicaid doesn’t necessarily mean access to healthcare, and the Republican budget document makes that case in proposing their changes to the Medicaid program:
For many, though, Medicaid’s promises are empty, its goals are unmet, and its dollars are wasted. Sick individuals cannot get appointments, new beneficiaries cannot find doctors, and Medicaid cards are little more than pieces of plastic.
This is undoubtedly true for a number of people. But it’s also true for people on private insurance. In fact, recent studies have found that “Medicaid provides access to health care services comparable to that of ESI but at significantly lower costs. Specifically, if adult Medicaid beneficiaries were instead covered by [employer-sponsored insurance], their access to care would not be significantly different.” Where Medicaid makes a real difference is in shielding low-income people from out-of-pocket medical costs.
But the GOP is determined to “fix” this problem, and that’s where the block grants come in. The party is clearly on a mission to distance itself from the term “block grant” – Paul Ryan’s recent poverty proposal rebranded block grants as “Opportunity Grants,” and the new Republican budget plan rechristens them “State Flexibility Funds.” I mean, who doesn’t like opportunity and flexibility, right? Anyway, the “State Flexibility Funds,” according to the GOP budget, will “give states greater freedom to build the most effective programs for their communities. We empower state policymakers to tailor their Medicaid programs based on the unique challenges they face because governors and state legislatures know their populations better than Washington.”
The reality of the block grant is very different. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out, block-granting Medicaid is tantamount to slashing its budget by 35 percent over the next ten years as funding increases lag well behind Medicaid’s projected growth rate. And while “flexibility” sounds nice, states may use that flexibility to erect new eligibility barriers to enrollment, or slash benefits, or both.
Also, there’s no guarantee that state “flexibility” will produce better outcomes. Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle recently picked over the Medicaid “reform” program that Jeb Bush implemented in Florida, which was supposed to provide flexibility and “let consumers shape and improve the market, rather than have the government tell those plans what to offer.” How’d it work out?
In 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available, the plans taking part in Bush’s reform program ranked below the national Medicaid average on 21 of the 32 quality indicators reported by the state. In some cases, those results were dramatically worse than in other states.
The overall message put forth by the Republicans in the budget document when it comes to Medicaid is that they want to take what works and get rid of it. If you’re a poor person who depends on the federal program for access to healthcare, then you’re in for a world of hurt.
Simon Maloy
Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why Social “Producer” Models Lose

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Why Social “Producer” Models Lose

Continuing on with highlighting the difference between a social producer vs. conductor it is important to understand why social producers will lose.
People simply do not like to be considered as an asset used to produce results. Yet many corporations think, act and threat people as an asset for production of results. The attitude of using people as production assets came out of the industrial era and remnants of those attitudes linger even in today’s modern society. The use of monthly, quarterly goals and bonus plans are old school methods used primarily to get people to produce more for the organization. Measurement of individual production is yet another lingering method that most people consider sophomoric, foolish and demotivating. Yet we still see these methods being used throughout corporations everywhere.
The Intrinsic Value Factor
People gain intrinsic value from being proud of their work and the company they work for. Intrinsic value is also gained from the people they work with and the relationships they form as a result of their work. Intrinsic value reflects whether something is good or bad but also  how good or bad it is. Working for a company that you don’t trust, whose methods you question and whose management actions  are archaic doesn’t instill much intrinsic value with people.
The same is true of customer experiences with your organization. The experience a customer has with your business, your processes, products, services and people either creates or destroys intrinsic value. If customers do not sense that you really care about them then there is no intrinsic value instilled. If customers feel that all you want from them is a sale then there is no relational intrinsic value created. Using marketing tricks to pull people to a web site that wants to trap them creates no intrinsic value.
The list of value offenses created by organizations  goes on and on.  Consumed with achieving short term results organizations get obsessed with “production” without even considering how to improve the relational values it has with the marketplace of buyers, employees and suppliers.
The “producer” business model will fail in a world connected, relational and transparent. Why? Because people achieve more, share more and give more when they can sense, see and accentuate intrinsic values that allows them to be part of something or a group that is good, rewarding and social.
Social technology will accelerate the differences between organizations who are producers vs conductors because people have been enabled to express, experience and share the intrinsic values created by conductors. At the same time  people have been enabled to express, experience and share the lack of  intrinsic values created by producers. Get it?
If you are an advertiser you ought to get it quick and stop wasting your money.