Tuesday, April 21, 2020

WILL AMERICA STARVE DURING THE TRUMP DEPRESSION? - “Trump Administration Betrays Low-skilled American Workers.”

“Our entire crony capitalist system, Democrat and Republican alike, has become a kleptocracy approaching par with third-world hell-holes. This is the way a great country is raided by its elite.”                                                                                     Karen McQuillan 

Only a complete fool would believe that Trump is any more for American Legal workers than the Democrat Party for Billionaires and Banksters!
“Trump Administration Betrays Low-

Skilled American Workers.”

The latest ad from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) asks Trump to reject the mass illegal and legal immigration policies supported by Wall Street, corporate executives, and most specifically, the GOP mega-donor Koch brothers.
Efforts by the big business lobby, Chamber of Commerce, Koch brothers, and George W. Bush Center include increasing employment-based legal immigration that would likely crush the historic wage gains that Trump has delivered for America’s blue collar and working class citizens.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley 

investors are uniting with the Koch 

network’s consumer and industrial 

investors to demand a huge DACA 


A handful of Republican and Democrat lawmakers are continuing to tout a plan that gives amnesty to nearly a million illegal aliens in exchange for some amount of funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

VIDEO: Man Sets Up Roadside Food Pantry to Help Neighbors During the Coronavirus Pandemic

A man in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, is making sure his neighbors do not go hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though the health crisis stopped Jerry Pilachowski from operating his sign making business not long ago, he was not about to let it keep him from helping others, according to WGAL.
“I went out and bought a tent and bought some food and put it in and put it out on Facebook and people started coming,” he told reporters.
Since that time, the Little Free Food Pantry, located at 3265 Cape Horn Road, has become a place for people to reach out to one another.
“Give What You Can. Take What You Need,” the sign outside the tent read.
“People can come and get what they need and drop stuff off,” Pilachowski said, adding, “We have a lot of people drop some things off and pick up other things. [We have] a lot of people stopping by that just give.”
April 8, he created a GoFundMe page so people could donate to help fund the effort. So far, the page has raised $270 of its $3,000 goal.
“We are raising money during the Covid-19 to buy food to stock the Little Free Food Pantry to help those who are struggling during this pandemic,” the site read.
Pilachowski’s effort appeared to be part of the mini pantry movement which is a “grassroots, crowdsourced solution to immediate and local need.”
“Whether a need for food or a need to give, mini pantries help neighbors feed neighbors, nourishing neighborhoods,” its website read.
In addition to community members bringing food, numerous local businesses have also donated supplies to Pilachowski’s pantry, which is open from eight a.m. until seven p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon to seven p.m. on Sundays.
“As long as I have people coming, as long as I have people donating, we’ll keep doing it,” he said.

Drive-Through Food Bank in Hartford Draws Massive Lines During Coronavirus Pandemic

food bank line
NBC Connecticut/Screenshot
A Foodshare drive-through food bank in Hartford, Connecticut, has drawn massive lines as the economic shutdowns spurred by the coronavirus pandemic continue to ravage the American economy, leaving millions of Americans without work and unable to make ends meet.
Foodshare, a regional food bank serving residents of Hartford and Tolland counties, opened a drive-through distribution center at Rentschler Field in East Hartford to assist struggling families during the coronavirus pandemic. The site is slated to distribute food every day from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET through Friday, April 24.
According to NBC Connecticut, a line of cars formed hours before the process started on Monday. Foodshare reportedly handed out groceries to an estimated 931 families on Monday and could top 1,000 on Tuesday:

.@foodshare says they gave groceries to 931 families yesterday. They believe they’ll probably exceed 1k today.

The gate at The Rent will most likely close around 11am since it’s been taking cars about an hour to get to the drive-thru distribution from the gate. @NBCConnecticut

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An estimated 1000-plus cars lined up at Renstschler Field where @foodshare was distributing 35,000 pounds of food today. https://bit.ly/2wTNI6V 

View image on Twitter

WATCH: @NBCConnecticut's DroneRanger shows us the really long lines at Rentschler Field as @Foodshare launches drive-thru food distribution in East Hartford, CT. Details ===>> https://bit.ly/3eBd6zh 

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While Foodshare has 250 pantries and dozens of mobile locations, CEO and President Jason Jakubowski said the pop-up distribution site was needed to meet demands during the pandemic. Many of the individuals showing up to the drive-through distribution centers are “first timers” who “have never had to use our services before,” Jakubowski noted.
“They’re people who just four weeks ago were gainfully employed and now through no fault of their own, have found themselves unemployed or not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” Jakubowski said, according to the outlet:
In just 4 months, he says Foodshare has already spent $200,000. That’s two-thirds of what they spent to buy food for all of last year.
The president of says because of the COVID-19 crisis, they are seeing about a 30-percent increase in the amount of food they’re distributing.
Usually most of their food is donated by the grocery stores, but that’s just not happening right now.
“The tough thing that we’ve been having since the start of this crisis is that we’ve had to purchase food. We never, we rarely, have to purchase food,” said Jakubowski.
Jakubowski said the organization intends to do its best to keep up with the increased demand for food.
“We will not close. I can guarantee that, but we are bringing in a distributing food at an amazingly rapid pace right now,” he said.
A pop-up food pantry in Southern California drew similar results, drawing a line of cars spanning a mile as organizers distributed food to 2,500 families earlier this month.

Thousands Line Up for Donated Food in Texas’ Largest City

Houston volunteers load more than 4,000 cars with food during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Houston Independent School District)
Photo: Houston Independent School District
HOUSTON, Texas — Thousands of people lined up for hours to receive donated food collected by the Houston Independent School District and the Houston Food Bank. Lines grew so far in advance that organizers opened the event three hours early.
Houston ISD and the Houston Food Bank teamed up to provide enough food to last a family for two weeks and organized the delivery of the food at Harris County’s NRG Stadium complex, KTRK ABC 13 reported. More than 4,000 cars lined up in a mile-long caravan to receive the gifts that are meant to curb “food insecurity.”

Over 4,000 vehicles full of Houstonians showed up at NRG Park Saturday afternoon where 90,000 pounds of food were distributed by Houston ISD with the Houston Food Bank. It was a site I would not have imagined just one month ago. Full story @nkhensley: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-ISD-hands-out-food-to-more-than-4-000-15210655.php#photo-19314380 

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Drivers lined up for hours in advance and the vehicles stretched along the roadway for more than a mile. Officials decided to open the even three hours earlier to relieve traffic and help volunteers avoid approaching thunderstorms.
One recipient of the food donations said the event was extremely well organized.
Workers distributed more than 90,000 pounds of food in what organizers called the first “mass food distribution site” in the city’s history, the Houston Chronicle reported. As each car approached in the multiple lanes of distribution, volunteers put bags of potatoes, meat, and milk in each vehicle.
“The goal is to accommodate working families who are unable to visit HISD-sponsored distribution sites during the weekday,” Houston ISD officials said in a written statement. “The site is expected to distribute 3,000 food bags — or 90,000 pounds of food — in three hours.” The organization exceeded that goal by a great margin.
The school district said that 120 workers gathered to organize the lines and place the tons of collected food bags into the waiting cars. The Houston Texans NFL franchise not only donated the space for the event, but provided a catered lunch for the volunteers. Exxon also donated $50 gift cards to the volunteers.
“Schools are more than just centers for education, they are the heart of every community, with strong connections and relationships with students and families,” said Brian Greene, president and chief executive officer of the Houston Food Bank in the joint statement with HISD. “Houston Food Bank is working with HISD to supplement their efforts to ensure children who rely on school meals are still receiving access to nutritious food during this unprecedented time.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

Hundreds line up to receive free food outside of Washington, D.C. area supermarkets

While national news media outlets have sought to focus on the handful of right-wing protests which have called for a re-opening of the United States’ economy, a social catastrophe for the working population continues to develop in neighborhoods and communities across the country.
On Friday, hundreds of people from Maryland and Virginia lined up outside of local MegaMart supermarkets with the hope of obtaining free baskets of groceries to feed their families. The giveaways, held at four of the Latino-owned stores in the Washington, D.C. area, led to massively long lines which wound around the buildings and disrupted traffic.
Yoni Lopez, owner of the local supermarket chain, told press outlets that his stores quickly ran out of to-go food baskets. Lopez explained that staff began handing out $35 gift coupons to people in line. Anarel Mejia, who was waiting in line, told Fox News: “I don’t want to come out because I worry. I take care of my life. I take care of my son, that’s why… he’s not with me… but I need food… now I think everybody needs help.” Mejia is also an employee of the store.
Like food pantries all across the country, Washington, D.C.-area food banks have reported a sharp increase in demand. According to the local CBS affiliate, the Capital Area Food Bank, which is the largest regional hub for food distribution to the needy, reports a “30%-400%” increase in demand for assistance. The food bank relies on shipments from local supermarkets. Since the onset of the pandemic it has seen a 75 percent drop in such deliveries.
News media outlets were quick to leap on store-goers for violating social distancing procedures. Such acts of desperation, repeatedly seen in cities throughout the country, are an indictment of capitalism’s failure to properly care for the fundamental needs of working people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Likewise, those suggesting that such conditions indicate the need for a speedy “re-opening” of the US economy, without proper protections in place for workers in grocery stores and other essential locations, will only hasten the spread of COVID-19.
According to Fox, over 400 people showed up Friday morning at MegaMart’s Takoma Park location. The working class suburb is situated on the northeast border of Washington, D.C. and houses a sizable immigrant population. The Washington Post wrote last week that the pandemic is proving to be “particularly devastating” in neighboring Langley Park, which has an 80 percent-immigrant population, a large number of whom are undocumented.
“Here, countless cooks, construction workers and cleaners are suddenly out of a job without any chance of unemployment benefits or federal stimulus checks. Those who still work often do so in close quarters and at high risk of infection,” the Post states. The publication cites a note given to leasers in a local apartment complex, informing them “that, although the coronavirus had closed the leasing office, it had not canceled rent payments, which should be dropped through a slot in a metal box.”
Other nearby jurisdictions, such as neighboring Washington, D.C., have also excluded undocumented and informal workers from receiving rent assistance and other basic help during the pandemic.
While the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region and its surrounding jurisdictions have reported lower numbers than other major population centers in the US, it is expected that the capital area will see a spike in coronavirus infections in the coming weeks. According to the University of Virginia, it is predicted that the commonwealth will see a “surge” in infections in late April or early May, reports WUSA9 .
The Post reported that known COVID-19 cases in the Washington region doubled from around 10,000 to over 20,000 in the week ending Friday. Maryland, which on Friday surpassed 10,000 known cases of the virus, Sunday reported that it had 12,830 confirmed cases and 23 deaths overnight.

What Makes a “Healthy” Economy?

The coronavirus pandemic shows that we don’t have one.
Wikimedia Commons
Last week, Janet Yellin, former chair of the Federal Reserve, gave an upbeat assessment of the pre-pandemic U.S. economy. “Very fortunately we started with an economy that was healthy before this hit,” she told the PBS NewsHour. “The banks were in good shape, the financial system was sound, Americans at least overall on average had relatively low debt burdens.”
But how “healthy” was that economy, really? How healthy is an economy whose workers have so little savings that they can’t make the rent after missing just a couple of paychecks? How healthy is an economy whose small businesses have so little cushion that they face almost instant obliteration when their cash flow is disrupted? How healthy is an economy where hourly employees performing many essential services earn so little that they have to go to work sick to keep their jobs? And how healthy is an economy whose housing costs force millions to cram into overcrowded homes in polluted slums replete with high stress, malnutrition, asthma, diabetes, heart problems, and other chronic disease?
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy,” said Fed chairman Jerome Powell in March. It was “resilient,” he said in February. Yellin concurred, citing the old good news in her hope that the “economy will recover much more speedily than it did from any past downturn.”
Recover for whom? The experts look at conventional measurements, which painted a picture of prosperity before COVID-19. The unemployment rate last September hit a fifty-year low, at 3.5 percent, and the rate for people without a high school diploma dropped to a new low of 4.8 percent. The GDP had been growing within the range considered ideal—two to three percent—and Powell reported a rising willingness of employers to hire low-skilled workers and train them.
But alongside the bright figures on unemployment and job creation, consider a competing set of numbers from before the pandemic: The poverty-level wages for those who harvest our vegetables, cut our Christmas trees, wash our cars, cook and serve our food in restaurants, deliver groceries to our doors, clean our offices, and even drive our ambulances. The 14.3 million households (11.1 percent) uncertain that they could afford enough food, and the 5.6 million families (4.3 percent) where at least one person has had to cut back on eating during the year. The 14.3 percent of black children with asthma, double the rate in the population overall. The 20 percent of children living in crowded homes shared with other families or three generations of their own, and the 50 percent of urban children who have lived in those conditions by age nine.
A pernicious dynamic of financial stress is the unexpected link between housing costs and malnutrition. For many low-wage families without access to such government subsidies as Section 8 vouchers or affordable housing, rent can soak up 40 to 60 percent of income, which can leave too little for other necessities. You have to pay the rent. You have to pay the electricity, phone, and fuel bills. If you need a car to get to work, which the vast majority of employees do, you have to make the car payments. Those are not optional. The category that can be squeezed is for food, and that’s what many poor families have to do.
A result is childhood malnutrition. It sometimes manifests itself in obesity resulting from cheap, bad food, which in turn can promote diabetes. It compromises the immune system. Even more seriously, deprivation of nutrients such as iron during key periods of brain development, both before and after birth, can lead to lifelong cognitive impairment. Studies show that children who suffered iron deficiency as infants, even if they’re fed properly later, still suffer as adolescents, scoring lower in math, written expression, and selective recall. Their teachers see them displaying “more anxiety or depression, social problems, and attention problems,” according to a National Academy of Sciences report.
So when federal and state governments are stingy with housing subsidies, as they always are, they are effectively, perhaps unwittingly, damaging children’s brain development and life opportunities.
The booming economy since the Great Recession 
of 2008, amplified by Republican tax cuts that 
gave corporations huge benefits, has begun to 
raise hourly wages, but not significantly.
If median hourly wages in certain jobs are put next to the official poverty line—currently $25,750 a year for a family of four—it’s clear why so many people are in desperate trouble so soon after the economy’s lockdown. Most poor families have only one wage earner, so assuming a full-time, 40-hour week, that person would have to be paid $12.38 an hour just to reach the poverty line. As of May 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for ambulance drivers and assistants was just $12.45; for workers in retail sails, $11.37 to $12.14; for building cleaners, $12.68; for parking attendants, $12.11; and for fast-food and restaurant cooks and servers (some of whom also get tips), $11.00 to $12.45.
The lesson is to look beyond the unemployment rate and number of new jobs and examine how well those jobs pay. The “healthy” economy did little to narrow the wealth gap. The most recent Federal Reserve figures, from before the pandemic, showed the top 10 percent of households with a median net worth of $2,387,500 and the bottom 10 percent with minus $962—that is, they owed more than they owned.
Adding assets and subtracting liabilities as of the fourth quarter of 2019, the wealthiest 10 percent had 70 percent ($78.5 trillion) of the country’s total household net worth, and the bottom 50 percent had just 1.5 percent ($1.7 trillion). The top had miniscule debt, and the bottom half had miniscule financial assets alongside huge mortgage and consumer debt.
So, Janet Yellin was only partially right when she said that Americans had low debt burdens. Consumer debt reached a record high in 2019 of more than $14 trillion, according to Experian, the credit agency. But it was lower as a portion of income. And defaults and late payments were low enough to drive the average FICO score—a person’s credit rating—to a high of 703, up from 689 in 2010 at the end of the Great Recession. (A perfect score is 850.) Given the high credit card and other debt among the unwealthy, however, delinquency rates can now be expected to soar, pushing credit ratings down.
In that prospering economy, then, the glass was either half full or half empty, depending on whether you were looking from the top or from the bottom. There was no need to exaggerate the hardships at the bottom, as some Democratic candidates did with one misstated statistic.
Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders all said last year that 40 percent of Americans could not come up with the money to pay a $400 emergency expense. In fact, the contrary was the case, according to the Federal Reserve’s annual survey, “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.”
Asked to check all the ways they could pay for a $400 emergency, only 12 percent said they could not pay right now, 45 percent checked “with the money currently in my checking/savings account or with cash,” and 33 percent said they’d use a credit card and pay it off entirely at the next statement. To a follow-up question, 85 percent said that making the unexpected payment would not prevent their paying other bills.
On the other hand, 25 percent told the Federal Reserve that they were just getting by or finding it difficult to get by. That number is troubling enough, one bound to spike as stay-at-home orders continue. The economy was not “healthy” for those folks in the first place, and will not be so for many more.
Improvements will come not from the stalemate of left and right, or from their manipulating statistics, but from a new ideology of practical realism that honors the complex facts, without distortion. The free-market system is the one we have, and it can work for virtually everyone if everyone in government and business works for everyone. Too idealistic? Naïve? Probably.

Nearly a third of apartment renters failed to pay landlords for April

Nearly 1 out of every 3 renters did not pay their April rent.

The coronavirus tore apart the U.S. economy, leaving many people unemployed or furloughed for the time being. The ripple effects of those firings left many landlords without a check on the first of the month.
According to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council and a consortium of real-estate data distributors, 69% of renters paid their landlords for April compared with 81% who paid for March. For an annual comparison, 82% of renters paid their landlords in April 2019.

The rental statistics included renters who had issued partial payments in the data. Some renters who are waiting on a paycheck may still make their rent payment before the end of April. The data set included only data from those who rent apartments and did not include single-family homes or low-income housing facilities. In total, data from more than 13.4 million renters was included in the report.




More Americans Are Going on Strike

For decades, the decline of the American labor movement corresponded to a decline in major strike activity. But new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, indicates a recent and significant increase in the number of Americans who are participating in strikes or work stoppages. As a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute explained on Tuesday, strike activity “surged” in 2018 and 2019, “marking a 35-year high for the number of workers involved in a major work stoppage over a two-year period.” 2019 alone marked “the greatest number of work stoppages involving 20,000 or more workers since at least 1993, when the BLS started providing data that made it possible to track work stoppages by size.” Union membership is declining, but workers themselves are in fighting shape.
EPI credits the strike surge to several factors. Unemployment is low, which bestows some flexibility on workers depending on their industry. If a work environment becomes intolerable or an employer penalizes workers for striking or organizing, a worker could find better employment elsewhere. (Though federal labor law does prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for participating in protected organizing activity, employers often do so anyway, and under Trump, the conservative makeup of the National Labor Relations Board disadvantages unions when they try to seek legal remedies for the behavior.)
The other reason undermines one of Donald Trump’s central economic claims. Though the president points to low unemployment as proof that his policies are successful, the economy isn’t booming for everyone. Wage growth continues to underperform. People can find jobs, in other words, but those jobs often don’t pay well. As the costs of private health insurance rise, adding another strain on household budgets, Americans are finding that employment and prosperity are two separate concepts.
Without a union, exploited workers have few options at their disposal. They can take their concerns to management, and hope someone in power feels pity. They can stage some kind of protest, and risk the consequences. Or they can find another job, and hope their new workplace is more equitable than the last. Lackluster wage growth suggests that this last option is not as viable as some right-to-work advocates claim. Unions afford workers more protection. Not only do they bargain for better wages and benefits, union contracts typically include just-cause provisions, which make it more difficult for managers to arbitrarily fire people for staging any sort of protest at work. Discipline follows a set process, which gives a worker chances to improve. Retaliation still happens, but would likely happen more often were it not for union contracts, which are designed to act as a layer of insulation between workers and managers with ill intent.
The new BLS data reveals that despite their relatively small numbers, unionized workers are exercising the power afforded them by their contracts. Elected officials ought to listen to what this activity tells them. A strike wave is a symptom that the economy is actually not as healthy as it superficially looks. Nobody withholds their labor unless they’ve exhausted all other options. Strikes and stoppages stem from exasperation, sometimes even desperation. Workers know they’re playing a rigged game, and they’re running out of patience.

“The remarkable thing is how weak wages are, how weak the economy is, given that as a result of the tax bill we have a $1 trillion deficit.”


Donald Trump is ‘just wrong’ about the economy, says Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz

President Donald Trump told business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland last week that the economy under his tenure has lifted up working- and middle-class Americans. In a newly released interview, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz sharply disagreed, saying Trump’s characterization is “just wrong.” 
“The Washington Post has kept a tab of how many lies and misrepresentations he does a day,” Stiglitz said of Trump last Friday at the annual World Economic Forum. “I think he outdid himself.”
In Davos last Tuesday, Trump said he has presided over a “blue-collar boom,” citing a historically low unemployment rate and surging wage growth among workers at the bottom of the pay scale.
“The American Dream is back — bigger, better, and stronger than ever before,” Trump said. “No one is benefitting more than America’s middle class.”
Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University who won the Nobel Prize in 2001, refuted the claim, saying the failure of Trump’s economic policies is evident in the decline in average life expectancy among Americans over each of the past three years.
“A lot of it is what they call deaths of despair,” he says. “Suicide, drug overdose, alcoholism — it’s not a pretty picture.”
The uptick in wage growth is a result of the economic cycle, not Trump’s policies, Stiglitz said.
“At this point in an economic recovery, it’s been 10 years since the great recession, labor markets get tight, unemployment gets lower, and that at last starts having wages go up,” Stiglitz says.
“The remarkable thing is how weak wages are, how weak the economy is, given that as a result of the tax bill we have a $1 trillion deficit.”
As the presidential race inches closer to the general election in November, Trump’s record on economic growth — and whether it has resulted in broad-based gains — is likely to draw increased attention.
“The middle class is getting killed; the middle class is getting crushed," former Vice President Joe Biden said in a Democratic presidential debate last month. "Where I live, folks aren't measuring the economy by how the Dow Jones is doing, they're measuring the economy by how they're doing," added Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate and former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Trump has criticized Democrats for tax and regulatory policies that he says will make the U.S. less competitive in attracting business investment.
“To every business looking for a place where they are free to invest, build, thrive, innovate, and succeed, there is no better place on Earth than the United States,” he said in Davos.
Stiglitz pointed to Trump’s threats last week of tariffs on European cars to demonstrate that turmoil in U.S. trade relationships may continue, despite the recent completion of U.S. trade deals in North America and China.
“He can’t help but bully somebody,” Stiglitz said.
Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Find hi