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Showing posts from January, 2009

Affirmative Action

What is it about affirmative action that makes people so angry? For hundreds of years, American minorities have not had the same rights as white men. Finally almost 500 years after Columbus landed, we got a law, the Civil Rights Law of 1964, which said we can not discriminate against race in employment. The term “affirmative action” was first used by President John F. Kennedy in creating the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1961 and required that projects receiving federal funds take “affirmative action” to ensure that employment decisions are free from racial discrimination. Slowly, the idea of affirmative action evolved to encompass programs that actively sought to increase the participation of racial minorities. We went so far as to say that we can consider race when students apply to college. Minorities got extra points in admissions. Think about it. We were not saying – take minorities that were not qualified. We were saying take them if they were. What happens? Some w…

Who is in the Room in the Financial Crunch?

We have the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. And who do we put in charge - investment bankers who started it.Let’s look at how this got started. There is a MIT professor, Thomas Kochan, who demonstrates that in the last quarter of a century, productivity in U.S. manufacturing rose by 70% but real wages remained flat (see http://kochan.lerablog.org/). At the same time as wages remained flat, half of the income gains went to the top 10% of the income distribution. Top that off with inflation rising over 400% since the 1970s and that means those who make a median income in this country are being squeezed - they work harder, earn less and watch while the rich take the bulk of the money. What a country! Obama wins and guess what - he surrounds himself with investment bankers. Way to go! What are Democrats to do? Long ago, a friend of mine who was an Assemblyman said the influence of the rich was quite seductive. He gets home from a long night of meetings and h…

The Impact of Globalization

Dani Rodrik is a Professor of International Political Economy at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, writes “the revolutions in transportation, communications and information technologies have considerably increased the speed with which global markets react to changing realities and procedures. But the flows of goods, services, and capital across national boundaries are not significantly larger today- in relation to national product - than they were during the classical gold standard.” There are 3 potential sources of tension between global markets and social stability. First, globalization makes large segments of the working population more easily substitutable across national boundaries, and, therefore, it fundamentally transforms the employment relationship. The post-World War II social bargain between workers and employers, under which the former received a steady increase in wages and benefits and a degree of job security in return for labor complacenc…