In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

A study published last year by scholars from Harvard Business School and Duke University asked Americans which country they would rather live in — one with America’s wealth distribution or one with Sweden’s. But they weren’t labeled Sweden and America. It turned out that more than 90 percent of Americans preferred to live in a country with the Swedish distribution. Perhaps nothing gets done because, in polls, Americans hugely underestimate the level of inequality here. Not only do we aspire to live in Sweden, but we think we already do.

ryking:

American income inequality through history. There was less inequality at the country’s founding.

(Via “Too Much.”)

ryking:

American income inequality through history. There was less inequality at the country’s founding.

(Via “Too Much.”)

New French law to limit CEO pay to 20 times of lowest paid employee

ignatius-m:

alexeikaramazov:

Sounds like a great law to me. 

If I’ve done the math right, in order to make a million a year (40 hour work week, 50 weeks a year), the lowest paid employee in the company would be making 25 an hour (or 50,000 a year). No argument from me.

(Source: moralanarchism)

increasing income inequality harms equal opportunity for two reasons. First, it gives rich parents more money to skew the playing field in favor of their kids. Second, it gives those rich parents a much bigger reason to do exactly that. Ultimately, a society of high inequality generates a system that crowds smart poor kids out of important positions while crowding mediocre rich kids into them. Such a system poses a real problem for the achievement of fairness and institutional competence.

Mega Manufacturer Caterpillar Demands Concessions From Workers After Boosting CEO Pay By 60 Percent | ThinkProgress

Workers at an Illinois plant for the mega manufacturer Caterpillar have been on strike for a month after rejecting a concession-heavy contract proposed by the company. Yesterday, workers overwhelmingly rejected a second Caterpillar offer, by a vote of 504-116.

According to union officials, the contract “provided no raises, eliminated the defined benefits pension program, weakened seniority rights and required machinists to pay higher contributions for health care.” All of this, at a time when the company is making record profits. In fact, Fortune Magazine recently said the company is “crushing it” when it comes to profitability.

At the same time that it is refusing to give its workers a fair raise, the company saw fit to increase its CEOs pay by 60 percent

(Source: sarahlee310)

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley Rightfully Scare Us

The heart of Smiley and West’s message is simple and profound: the United States is far more economically divided than most people want to acknowledge,and this chasm will destroy our nation. They make their case in their book by using vast amounts of very robust data from credible sources, like the Pew Research Center. (Indeed, this is the same data that drives the work we do at EARN to help low income workers save and invest to foster prosperity.)

There are some of you who will quickly dismiss Smiley, West, and their message. You may dismiss them because you don’t like their politics, or don’t like them as people. You make this dismissal at your own peril, and the peril of our nation. Irrespective of how you view Tavis Smiley or Cornel West, their passionate call to the American public to face the hard facts, is rooted in data that transcends politics or ideology.

In fact, the Smiley-West cautionary message is backed by groundbreaking research from economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, in their new book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. Acemoglu and Robinson conducted expansive research to understand why some nations fail while others prosper. While much of the conventional wisdom among economists on the issue involves natural resources or cultural traits, Acemoglu and Robinson found that it is open political institutions that allow for shared power, and collective decision making about economic opportunity that drive prosperity.

This thesis cuts straight to the heart of what Smiley and West warn us is coming. Tens of millions of Americans toil endlessly, but never find their efforts rewarded with economic security. Increasingly, these hard working people will be disenfranchised and disengaged from the political process, and have less say in how economic opportunity is fostered and distributed. This is precisely the dynamic that Acemoglu and Robinson found at the heart of poverty, corruption, and human beings at their worst. We’re moving down a dangerous path as a nation. Listening carefully to what West and Smiley have to say, however, is a good step back in the right direction.

(Source: azspot)

ashesaoirse:

Oh gee, minimum wage is hardly useful to pay rent.  Who’d have thunk it?


In my state of California (and a few others) that’s 2 full time jobs just for housing. If you want food, clothes, a phone or any other amenities that will require a 3rd job.

ashesaoirse:

Oh gee, minimum wage is hardly useful to pay rent.  Who’d have thunk it?

In my state of California (and a few others) that’s 2 full time jobs just for housing. If you want food, clothes, a phone or any other amenities that will require a 3rd job.

(Source: ashemountain)

abaldwin360:

Union membership vs income inequality - 1917 - 2008 
I’m just going to leave this here.

abaldwin360:

Union membership vs income inequality - 1917 - 2008 

I’m just going to leave this here.

In 2010, average real income per family grew by 2.3% … but the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6%, while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. Such an uneven recovery can help explain the recent public demonstrations against inequality.

UC Berkeley study on US Incomes in 2010, via Mark Thoma. (via workonprogress)

ryking:

laliberty:

Obama recently claimed: “Nearly a decade of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires led to little more than sluggish growth [and] a shrinking middle class. Your paychecks flatlined. Wages and incomes did not go up. Even when the economy was growing, it wasn’t growing for you.”
Reality illustrates otherwise:  ”In the seven years from 2001-2007 (inclusive), not only did the middle class get at least its fair share of overall income growth, the income gap between the rich and the middle class actually got smaller.”
The Myth of Middle-Class Stagnation

Once again, reality proves the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and LA Liberty wrong:

CNN Money, “How the middle class became the underclass,” Slate, “The United States of Inequality,” New York Times, “A Decade With No Income Gains,” Huffington Post, “Inflation-Adjusted Income For Median Male Worker Drops To 1968 Levels,” OECD, “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising” (“The gap between rich and poor in OECD countries has reached its highest level for over over 30 years”), Associated Press, “Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income.”

I never tire of shooting zombie lies in the head. Now if only the liars would die with the lies, the world would be a better place. — Ryking

So all this time it’s been the middle class that’s gotten all of the gains? And e rich have been the ones falling behind? Holy shit, if that doesn’t make your bullshit detector go off…

ryking:

laliberty:

Obama recently claimed: “Nearly a decade of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires led to little more than sluggish growth [and] a shrinking middle class. Your paychecks flatlined. Wages and incomes did not go up. Even when the economy was growing, it wasn’t growing for you.”

Reality illustrates otherwise:  ”In the seven years from 2001-2007 (inclusive), not only did the middle class get at least its fair share of overall income growth, the income gap between the rich and the middle class actually got smaller.”

The Myth of Middle-Class Stagnation

Once again, reality proves the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and LA Liberty wrong:

CNN Money, “How the middle class became the underclass,” Slate, “The United States of Inequality,” New York Times, “A Decade With No Income Gains,” Huffington Post, “Inflation-Adjusted Income For Median Male Worker Drops To 1968 Levels,” OECD, “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising” (“The gap between rich and poor in OECD countries has reached its highest level for over over 30 years”), Associated Press, “Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income.”

I never tire of shooting zombie lies in the head. Now if only the liars would die with the lies, the world would be a better place. — Ryking

So all this time it’s been the middle class that’s gotten all of the gains? And e rich have been the ones falling behind? Holy shit, if that doesn’t make your bullshit detector go off…