Sunday, August 18, 2019

From The Infancy Of Intelligence


Demographic Breakdown Of Trump's Job Approval

The following charts are from the Civiqs Poll. They questioned 268,132 registered voters between January 20th and August 15th of 2019 about whether they approved or disapproved of the way Donald Trump is performing his job. They have the national numbers as 43% approval and 54% disapproval -- a negative 11 point difference.

The charts below break those numbers down demographically and by state.










Fist Bump

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

How Rich Are The Presidential Candidates?

It is just a sad fact that politics in the United States is now a rich man's sport. That is especially true of those running for president. The website of Forbes.com has examined the wealth of most of the candidates running for president this year. What they found is below:





NOTE -- Forbes has not yet determined the wealth of Democrat Wayne Messam or Republican William Weld.

Keeping The Blood Money Flowing

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Corporate CEO Compensation Is Out Of Control



Donald Trump likes to brag about how well the economy is doing, and for rich people (the top 1% or 0.1%) that is very true. They are doing better than ever -- making record profits and acquiring record wealth. But ordinary working Americans are barely keeping ahead of inflation, and many are not doing even that. The truth is that the Republican economic policies have created a very unfair economy -- one that is slanted to favor the rich at the expense of everyone else.

But there is one group that is doing better than everyone else -- even better than the 0.1% of richest Americans. It is corporate CEOs. While corporations resist raising the wages of their workers, they are giving the CEOs more compensation than ever before.

The Economic Policy Institute has an excellent article of this out-of-control growth of CEO compensation (written by Lawrence Mishel and Julia Wolfe). I highly recommend you read the whole article. Here is just a taste, showing some of their key findings:

The report’s main findings include the following:
  • CEO compensation in 2018 (stock-options-realized measure). Using the stock-options-realized measure, we find that the average compensation for CEOs of the 350 largest U.S. firms was $17.2 million in 2018. Compensation dipped 0.5% in 2018 following a 7.6% gain in 2017. CEO compensation measured with realized stock options grew 52.6% over the recovery from 2009 to 2018.
  • CEO compensation in 2018 (stock-options-granted measure). Using the stock-options-granted measure, the average compensation for CEOs of the 350 largest U.S. firms was $14.0 million in 2018, up 9.9% from $12.7 million in 2017 and up 29.4% since the recovery began in 2009.
  • Growth of CEO compensation (1978–2018). From 1978 to 2018, inflation-adjusted compensation based on realized stock options of the top CEOs increased 940.3%. The increase was more than 25–33% greater than stock market growth (depending on which stock market index is used) and substantially greater than the painfully slow 11.9% growth in a typical worker’s annual compensation over the same period. Measured using the value of stock options granted, CEO compensation rose 1,007.5% from 1978 to 2018.
  • Changes in the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio (1965–2018). Using the stock-options-realized measure, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 20-to-1 in 1965. It peaked at 368-to-1 in 2000. In 2018 the ratio was 278-to-1, slightly down from 281-to-1 in 2017—but still far higher than at any point in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Using the stock-options-granted measure, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio rose to 221-to-1 in 2018 (from 206-to-1 in 2017), significantly lower than its peak of 386-to-1 in 2000 but still many times higher than the 45-to-1 ratio of 1989 or the 16-to-1 ratio of 1965.
  • Changes in the composition of CEO compensation. The composition of CEO compensation is shifting away from the use of stock options and toward the use of stock awards, which now average $7.5 million for each CEO and make up roughly half of all CEO compensation. Stock-related components of compensation—stock options and stock awards—make up two-thirds to three-fourths of all CEO compensation, depending on the particular measure used. The shift from stock options to stock awards leads to an understatement of CEO compensation levels and growth in our measures as well as in other measures, including the measure prescribed in SEC reporting requirements.
  • Changes in the CEO-to-top-0.1% compensation ratio (1989–2018). Over the last three decades, compensation for CEOs based on realized stock options grew far faster than that of other very highly paid workers (the top 0.1%, or those earning more than 99.9% of wage earners). CEO compensation in 2017 (the latest year for which data on top wage earners are available) was 5.40 times greater than wages of the top 0.1% of wage earners, a ratio 2.22 points higher than the 3.18 average ratio over the 1947–1979 period. This wage gain alone is equivalent to the wages of more than two very-high-wage earners.
  • Implications of the CEO-to-top-0.1% compensation ratio. The fact that CEO compensation has grown far faster than the pay of the top 0.1% of wage earners indicates that CEO compensation growth does not simply reflect a competitive race for skills (the “market for talent”) that also increased the value of highly paid professionals: Rather, the growing differential between CEOs and top 0.1% earners suggests the growth of substantial economic rents in CEO compensation (income not related to a corresponding growth of productivity). CEO compensation appears to reflect not greater productivity of executives but the power of CEOs to extract concessions. Consequently, if CEOs earned less or were taxed more, there would be no adverse impact on the economy’s output or on employment.
  • Growth of top 0.1% compensation (1978–2017). Even though CEO compensation grew much faster than the earnings of the top 0.1% of wage earners, that doesn’t mean the top 0.1% did not fare well. Quite the contrary. The inflation-adjusted annual earnings of the top 0.1% grew 339.2% from 1978 to 2017. CEO compensation, however, grew three times as fast!
  • CEO pay growth compared with growth in the college wage premium. Over the last three decades, CEO compensation increased more relative to the pay of other very-high-wage earners than did the wages of college graduates relative to the wages of high school graduates. This finding indicates that the escalation of CEO pay does not simply reflect a more general rise in the returns to education.

Fighting Back

Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlette in the Pensacola News Journal.

You Don't Get To Cherry Pick


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Speak Loudly


Fox Poll Shows All 4 Leading Democrats Would Beat Trump


This is the poll that has Donald Trump shaken. It shows. the four leading Democratic candidates would all beat Trump if the election was held right now -- Biden by 12 points, Sanders by 9 points, Warren by 7 points, and Harris by 6 points. All of those advantages exceed the poll's margin of error.

The charts on this page are from the new Fox News Poll -- done between August 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,013 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

The poll also questioned 483 Democratic primary voters about their preference for the Democratic presidential nomination. The margin of error for them was 4.5 points.

The results of the Democratic preferences are below. It shows that only one of the leading Democratic candidates has increased support since March -- Elizabeth Warren by 16 points (going from 4% to 20%). She has now moved into second place.

Joe Biden (31%) and Kamala Harris (8%) have the same support they had in March. The big loser is Bernie Sanders, who is down 13 points (from 23% to 10%).



Statue Of Bigotry

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at artizans.com.

Warren Jumps Into The Lead Among Democrats In Iowa



The nomination season for presidential candidates begins with the Iowa caucuses. That makes it important for a candidate to do well in that state, and a win in Iowa could propel a candidate to wins in other states.

Last May, the big dogs in Iowa were Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (both at 24%) and Pete Buttigieg at 14%. The campaign of Elizabeth Warren was off to a slow start, coming in fourth with 12%. Kamala Harris was in fifth with 10%. But a lot has changed since May.

In the August poll of Iowa Democrats, Warren now has a significant lead (28%) -- putting her 11 points ahead of Biden and Sanders (both at 17%), 15 points ahead of Buttigieg (13%), and 20 points ahead of Harris (8%).

Warren is the only one of the major candidates that has increased her support in Iowa since May -- going from 12% to 28%. All of the others have seen their support shrink.

These numbers are from the new Change Research Poll -- done between August 9th and 11th of a sample of 621 voters likely to participate in the Iowa caucuses. The margin of error is 3.9 points.

Tariff Man

Political Cartoon is by Benjamin Slyngstad at slyngstadcartoons.com.

The Real Choice Now Is Democracy Vs. Oligarchy

(cartoon image is by Jim Morin in the Miami Herald.)

The post below is by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. He posted it on his blog on July 9th. He makes a valid argument, and I repost it because I think all Americans who love our representative democracy need to read it.

I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that some Democratic candidates may be “too far left”.
But in this era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left”.
A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market.
But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure.
Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super-rich, Wall Street and big corporations.
So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels?
I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted.
In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy.
The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college and housing.
There will be no substantial tax increases on the wealthy. There will be no antitrust enforcement to puncture the power of giant corporations. No meaningful regulation of Wall Street’s addiction to gambling with other peoples’ money. No end to corporate subsides. CEO pay will continue to skyrocket. Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to make off like bandits.
So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – split off people of color from working-class whites, stoke racial resentments, describe human beings as illegal aliens, launch wars on crime and immigrants, stoke fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation.
Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.
Trump is the puppet master.
He has been at it for years, long before he ran for president. He knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos.
He is well-versed in getting evangelicals and secularists steamed up about abortion, equal marriage rights, out-of-wedlock births, access to contraception, transgender bathrooms.
He knows how to stir up fears of brown-skinned people from “shitholes” streaming across the border to murder and rape, and stoke anger about black athletes who don’t stand for the national anthem.
He’s a master at fueling anxieties about so-called communists, socialists and the left taking over America.
He can make the white working class believe they’ve been losing good jobs and wages because of a cabal of Democrats, “deep state” bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton.
From the start, Trump’s deal with the oligarchy has been simple: he’ll stoke tribalism so most Americans won’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while they’re slicing the pay of average workers, won’t pay attention to Wall Street demanding short-term results over long-term jobs, and won’t notice a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations”.
The only way to overcome the oligarchy and Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is for the rest of us to join together and win America back.
That means creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of working-class, poor and middle-class Americans who will fight for democracy and oppose oligarchy.
White, black and Latino; union and non-union; evangelical and secular; immigrant and native-born – all focused on ending big money in politics, stopping corporate welfare and crony capitalism, busting up monopolies and stopping voter suppression.
This agenda is neither “right” nor “left.” It is the bedrock for everything else America must do.

The Future (With Trump)

Political Cartoon is by Andrew Winters at wintersretouching.com.

Accomplishments ?


Friday, August 16, 2019

Imposed By The Rich


Another Mass Shooting - When Will Congress Act?


There was another mass shooting on Wednesday. This time it was in Philadelphia, and the victims were six police officers. Thankfully, none of them were killed. But the mass shootings (a shooting with 4 or more victims) are happening far too often -- an average of more than one every day.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said after the shooter was taken into custody:

"So whether it’s our six officers that were shot or it's some 15-, 17-, 20-year-old kid on the streets of Philadelphia who gets shot with guns that shouldn’t be in people’s hands — it's aggravating, it's saddening, and it's just something we need to do something about. Our officers deserve to be protected, and they don't deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and an unlimited supply of bullets."

He is right. It doesn't matter who the victims are, we must take action to stem the epidemic of mass shootings (and other gun deaths) in this country. No other developed country has this problem. Many politicians want to blame mental illness, video games, violence on TV and in movies, or waning religion. But all other developed nations have those, and none of them have the number of mass shootings or gun deaths (about 40,000 a year) that we do.

Let's be honest. The real problem is the proliferation of guns in the U.S. (more guns than population), and the easy access to those guns by anyone -- even dangerous people who shouldn't be allowed to buy or own one.

One argument used is that gun deaths will still occur if action is taken. That may be true, but the number of those deaths could be drastically reduced if Congress would pass some reasonable and constitutional laws.

Making every person who wants to buy a gun pass a rigorous background check, and banning assault-style weapons (and ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds) would be a very good start. And the Supreme Court has already ruled that these actions would not violate the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

It's time for Congress to act. Their pathetic "thoughts and prayers" are not getting the job done. And the people know this. They want real action. This is shown by every poll done. A good example is in the chart below. It is from a Fox News Poll that was done between August 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,013 registered voters (with a 3 point margin of error).


Moscow Mitch

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at miltpriggee.com.

Hickenlooper Drops Out (And A Dozen More Should Do That)

(Photo of John Hickenlooper, from Wikipedia, is by Gage Skidmore.)

On Thursday, former governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination for the 2020 election. Although still popular in his home state, Hickenlooper had been unable to get his presidential campaign going on a national level.

It was obvious that he was going to be barred from the next Democratic debate, with his support continuing to hover around the 1% mark.

But his political career is not over. Many want him to run for the U.S. Senate and unseat Republican Cory Gardner. There have been some Colorado polls showing he would have a significant lead over Gardner if he enters the race.

I hope he does choose to run for the Senate. While I did not support his presidential candidacy, I think he could be a valuable asset for Democrats in the Senate.

Hickenlooper was smart. He could see the writing on the wall, and decided not to waste the time and in a hopeless effort. About a dozen or so more Democratic candidates should do the same. About half of the remaining candidates are unable to get above 1% in any of the polls. They are wasting the voters time with their Quixotic campaigns -- and they should drop out so Democrats can get down to the serious business of judging the real candidates (the ones who have at least an outside chance of getting the nomination).

Note the chart below from RealClearPolitics. Only 9 candidates have an average in recent polls of more than 1% -- and only 6 have an average of more than 2%.


Inverted Yield Curve

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at artizans.com.

Carbon Dioxide Is At Its Highest Level in 800,000 Years

(This image is from allamericanenviro.com.)

Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts are still denying the reality of global warming (global climate change). But that doesn't mean it's not happening. July was the hottest month ever recorded, and greenhouse gases continue to build up and have a disastrous effect on this planet -- with the main greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) reaching a level that has not happened in the last 800,000 years.

Are we close to the tipping point -- the point at which any efforts to stop or mitigate any damage from global warming would be useless? I don't know, but the warming continues -- and it's happening faster than the scientists had predicted. It is imperative that we act soon.

Consider this article by Jordan Davidson at EcoWatch:

A bleak new federal report found that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose to levels the world has not seen in at least 800,000 years, highlighting the irreversible and mounting deleterious effects of human activity on the planet, as ABC News reported.


Global carbon dioxide concentrations reached a record of 407.4 parts per million during 2018, the study found. That is 2.4 ppm greater than 2017 and "the highest in the modern instrumental record and in ice core records dating back 800,000 years," the report said, according to CNN.

It wasn't just the amount of carbon dioxide that set record levels. Other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide also continued a rapid rise into the atmosphere.

Together, the global warming power of greenhouse gases was 43 percent stronger than in 1990, according to the State of the Climate report released Monday by the American Meteorological Society, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information.

Greenhouse gases are not the only thing rising. Global sea levels also reached their highest levels on record for the seventh consecutive year, as ABC News reported. The report says that ocean levels are rising about an inch per decade, but that number may need to be revised if ice melt at the poles accelerates.

For global temperatures, 2018 ranked fourth, behind 2016, 2015 and 2017 for the warmest on record. That top four finish for 2018 is despite a La NiƱa system over the Pacific that cooled ocean waters for part of the year.

So far, 2019 is on track to be the warmest year in recorded history, according to NOAA.
Global sea temperatures also set a record level in 2018. "This record heat reflects the continuing accumulation of thermal energy in the top 2,300 feet (700 meters) of the ocean," according to NOAA. "Oceans absorb more than 90 percent of Earth's excess heat from global warming."

The State of the Climate report noted that glaciers continued to melt at an alarming rate for the 30th consecutive year, as CNN reported.

"Every year since the start of the 21st Century has been warmer than the 1981-2010 average," the report said, as CNN reported. "In 2018, the dominant greenhouse gases released into Earth's atmosphere — carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — continued to increase and reach new record highs."

The 29th annual release of the State of the Climate report was led by NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information and relies on contributions from more than 470 scientists from nearly 60 countries around the world. It incorporates tens of thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets and provides a detailed update on global climate indicators and notable weather events, according to NOAA.

"This is yet another in a series of expert, science-based reports that continue to sound the alarm about the climate crisis," said Marshall Shepherd, a professor of geography and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia and former president of the American Meteorological Society, to CNN. "[The] DNA of climate change is clearly seen now in our weather, agriculture productivity, water supply challenges, public health, and even national security concern."

"The findings from their State of the Climate report rise above some blog or opinion on social media," Shepherd added. "Through the process of science, they are sounding an alarm about the 'here-and-now' climate crises."

Trump Administration Racism

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.

It's Not That Hard


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Raise The Minimum Wage


Biden And Warren Are In A Virtual Tie In New YouGov Poll


These charts reflect the results of the newly-released Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 10th and 13th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,127 registered voters). The margin of error was 3 points for registered voters.

The top chart shows who the 592 people likely to vote in a Democratic primary/caucus are currently supporting (margin of error unknown). It has Joe Biden (21%) and Elizabeth Warren (20%) in a virtual tie for first place. Bernie Sanders (16%) and Kamala Harris (8%) were third and fourth, while Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg both registered 5%. No one else was able to top 2%.

The bottom chart shows the generic presidential vote among the registered voters. Currently, a generic Democrat would beat Trump by about 11 points.


Bankrupt

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at cagle.com.

U.S. Public Supports Stronger Gun Restrictions





These charts reflect the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 10th and 13th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,127 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 2.6 points, and for registered voters is 3 points.

It shows that the American public is sick of mass shootings and gun deaths. They want Congress to act. They support closing the loopholes in the background check law by a 68 margin, making laws on handgun sales more strict by a 33 point margin, banning semi-automatic weapons by a 28 point margin, and banning ammunition clips holding more than 10 round by a 38 point margin.

Will the congressional Republicans stop blocking constitutional restrictions on guns. Probably not. But if they don't, they may pay a price for it in the next election.

The National Conspirer

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at artizans.com.