Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

A Strong Economy for All

19 November 2014 - By

From Strong Economy for All:

The 213 members of the New York State legislature are currently agitating for a pay raise from their current base salaries of $79,600 per year. At the same time, three million New Yorkers working full-time at poverty-level pay are also fighting to raise the minimum wage up from the current $8 an hour, about $16,640 per year.

85If lawmakers are actually going to vote to raise their own pay, they absolutely must vote to raise the minimum wage at the same time. The Raise Up New York package would boost the statewide wage to $10.10 per hour, index it for inflation, and allow cities and counties to adjust it up to 30% higher to meet local living costs. It’s backed by Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, and it must be part of any special-session package that raises pay for legislators or state commissioners.

Raising the minimum wage makes good economic sense. Economists have identified stagnant wages as the biggest barrier to broader economic recovery. Right now the states with the highest minimum wages have the most new jobs and most economic growth. Small businesses across New York support a wage boost because it would put more money in the pockets of their customers, boosting spending and sales.

And raising the minimum wage makes good moral and ethical sense — and you’d better believe that raising lawmakers’ pay without a raise for the millions at the bottom is senseless.

If we want better government and a stronger economy for all of New York, as well as a democracy that lives up to our ethical standards, any pay raise for the legislature must be matched with a pay raise for the lowest-paid New Yorkers.

Happy Labor Day

1 September 2014 - By


Almighty and everlasting God, by Whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified, receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before Thee for all estates of men and women who labor and seek justice for workers, that each in their vocation, ministry, and labor may truly and godly serve our society to Thy greater glory and his own sanctification and salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

New Year’s Resolution – Financial Security?

30 December 2013 - By

The Polish National Union of America (PNUA) and Spójnia Credit Union (SCU) are effective tools in your financial management portfolio. If you are considering getting your financial house in order for the new year, contract the PNUA and SCU which are able to provide insurance, savings, loan, and other financial products. These products are secure and helpful on a personal basis. Membership also benefits your parish and our Holy Church.

PNUA policies for youth are a great way to start your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews on the road to a lifetime of savings. Giving them the gift of an endowment or life insurance policy not only provides financial security but makes them eligible for PNUA benefits like college stipends, membership in the Spojnia Credit Union, as well as branch and district activities.

Money Money Money_final

The PNU has been providing numerous benefits to the PNCC for 105 years now and with your help we will be able to do so long into the future. Contact your parish, local PNUA representative, or the PNUA office at 1‐800‐724‐6352 or by E-mail.

Dr. Jim Ploskonka on “God & Finances”

21 January 2013 - By

Holy Mother of Sorrows PNCC, Dupont, PA held the next in its Sermon, Soup & Sandwich series on Saturday, January 12th featuring Dr. Jim Ploskonka speaking on “God & Finances.” Dr. Ploskonka spoke on the subject of personal finances, specifically providing documented insights into how God has provided us means to be at peace with money and its use.

Dr. Ploskonka is a graduate of Mansfield University where in 2012 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for distinguished educators. He received his master’s degree from Boston Conservatory, his PhD from the University of Kentucky and was the recipient of the Sagan Scholarship for the dissertation of the year. Most recently, Dr. Ploskonka completed studies at Harvard University focusing on critical issues in higher education.

Reports on the fiscal cliff

15 November 2012 - By

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released reports projecting the economic impact the fiscal cliff and of avoiding different portions of the fiscal cliff. For example, avoiding sequestration and extending Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors would increase domestic product by 0.75 percent. Extending the current tax rates, which are set to expire at the end of the year, would increase economic growth by more than 1.5 percent. The report, “Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal tightening in 2013,” is one of two reports released by CBO. The other report, “Choices for Deficit Reduction,” examines several methods for reducing the deficit over the next decade.

Unemployment and Re-employment

27 October 2012 - By

Unemployment Benefits Reduce Poverty

The Congressional Research Service released a report on the: Antipoverty Effects of Unemployment Insurance (UI) [pdf].

This report examines the antipoverty effects of unemployment insurance benefits during the past recession and the economic recovery. The analysis highlights the impact of the additional and expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits available to unemployed workers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. In 2011, approximately 56% of all unemployed individuals were receiving UI benefits (down from a high of 66% in 2010). UI benefits appear to have a large poverty-reducing effect among unemployed workers who receive them. Given the extended length of unemployment among jobless workers, the additional weeks of UI benefits beyond the regular program’s 26-week limit appear to have had an especially important effect in poverty reduction.

The report’s analysis shows that UI benefits appear to reduce the prevalance of poverty significantly among the population that receives them. The UI benefits’ poverty reduction effects appear to be especially important during and immediately after recessions. The analysis also finds that there was a markedly higher impact on poverty in the most recent recession than in the previous two recessionary periods. The estimated antipoverty effects of UI benefits in 2011 were about 50% higher than that of two previous peak years of unemployment — 1993 and 2003.

In 2011, over one quarter (26.5%) of unemployed people who received UI benefits would have been considered poor prior to taking UI benefits into account; after counting UI benefits, their poverty rate decreased by just under half, to 13.8%.

NELP Reports on the Value of the Public Re-Employment Services

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) recently issued a briefing paper titled: Getting Real: Time to Re- Invest in the Public Employment Service [pdf].

The paper highlights the value of reemployment services. Their briefing calls for a “renewed focus on reemployment services,” with substantial increases in federal funding for the Employment Service. According to NELP, increased funding for the Employment Services would allow states to provide more services to job seekers such as: job placement services, in-person job search assistance, and pre-training counseling. In addition to increased federal funding, NELP recommends prioritizing those who are receiving unemployment insurance.

Extend unemployment insurance – action needed

13 December 2011 - By

Leaders in the House majority plan a vote on HR 3630—a bill that would slash federal unemployment benefits in every state and cut federal UI benefits by more than half in the Renew unemployment insurance UIstates with the highest unemployment rates. Tell your Members of Congress and Congressional leaders to oppose these reckless and harmful cuts to unemployment insurance, and instead support swift action to fully renew the federal UI program through 2012.

Millions of hardworking Americans—nearly 2 million in January alone, and over 6 million in 2012—will be cut off from the emergency lifeline of federal unemployment insurance, unless Congress acts to fully renew the program before it expires December 31st. In the past three years, federal unemployment insurance has helped more than 17 million Americans while they’ve looked for work in the toughest job market since the Great Depression. Recent Census figures show that federal unemployment insurance helped keep more than 3 million from falling into poverty last year alone.

A January 2010 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) looked at a variety of strategies for increasing employment and raising the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the market value of all goods and services that reach the consumer. It noted that for every dollar in UI benefits, $1.90 in economic benefit is created. The CBO looked at a variety of strategies to boost the economy — or to keep things from getting worse — such as investing in infrastructure, reducing income taxes, or cutting payroll taxes for companies that hire new people. Increasing aid to the unemployed offered the biggest bang for the buck, according to its estimates. Other studies such as that by Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, note similar results.

Congress has never cut back or allowed these programs to expire when unemployment was anywhere near this high for this long. Congress must act, and act now.

Tell Congress: Renew the full federal Unemployment Insurance program through 2012 Now! or call toll-free 1-888-245-3381.

Prayer Vigil for the 1%

7 December 2011 - By

Interfaith Worker Justice will hold a Prayer Vigil for the 1% tomorrow, December 8th. You are invited to pray along, starting at 11 a.m., for the wealthiest Americans. We are calling on them to help us create an economy that works for 100 percent of us.

If you are on Facebook, you may RSVP to the Online Prayer Vigil. Then, tomorrow at 11 a.m., change your Facebook status to say: Praying for the One Percent: to whom much is given, more is required — Luke 12:48.

While thousands of unemployed workers and people of faith gather in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for a Flower Prayer Vigil for the 99 percent, I will be praying along with IWJ for the One Percent – the wealthiest Americans who have benefitted from unfair economic policies.

Please join in prayer, even if you’re not on Facebook.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, IWJ’s national Board of Directors released “An Open Letter to the One Percent:”

To Whom Much Is Given, More is Required:
An Open Letter to the One Percent

During this time of financial crisis and economic disparity, we affirm the God-given dignity of every person. We believe God loves all 100 percent of us and wants to use us to create a more just society.

As faith leaders, we appreciate the generosity, charity, and commitment to the common good that many of you embody.

Still, some of you have used wealth and power to benefit the few at the expense of the many. We expect you to work with us to not only give generously, but to advocate for democracy and economic justice that works for everyone.

We call on you to:

  • Support tax policies and legislation that require more from you so our nation can create good jobs in America
  • Call for an extension of unemployment benefits for those unable to find work

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” We are in this together, all 100 percent of us.

National Board of Directors, Interfaith Worker Justice

On Veteran’s Day

11 November 2011 - By

For my dad, grandfather, and all our Veterans. May their service and sacrifice be honored.

My dad, Louis T. Konicki at Mainz-Bischofshein - part of the post WWII occupying forces

Our veterans are now returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course are greeted with initial joy. Then they face the search for work and the struggle with the horrors they have faced. They face a lack of adequate physical and mental health care. As to jobs, what are our veterans finding? An extraordinarily difficult job market with an unemployment rate for combat-age veterans at 17.5% in New York State, 13.3% nationally.

Dr. John Guzlowski reflects in November 11, 1918–The Day World War I Ended

I first heard of World War I when we came to America as Displaced Persons in 1951. We were refugees after World War II, and we moved into a basement apartment on Hamilton Street in Chicago.

Our landlord was a veteran of the First World War. He was a Polish American named Ponchek. He was also a drunk, but that wasn’t anything special. There were a lot of drunks around. What made Ponchek special was that he had a steel plate in his head. As a kid and a recent immigrant to America, he had been drafted and sent to France to stop the Germans who were trying to rip France apart and shove it into the Atlantic. He ended up in the trenches in France in late October fighting the Germans, and a bullet took off the top of his head. The doctors cut away what bone they could, cleaned out the wound, and screwed a steel plate into the skull bone.

This fascinated me when I was a kid. I wondered about that plate, and what it felt like. Did Ponchek always feel a weight pressing down on his head? Was it like wearing a steel hat? A steel helmet? And I wondered what they covered the plate with. Skin? And where did it come from? Was it his skin or someone else’s? I never could ask.

Like a lot of the veterans I knew, he was frightening. He wasn’t a guy you wanted to spend a lot of time talking to.

Veterans were men who limped. They dragged their legs behind them like Lon Chaney in the Mummy movie. They were men who had wooden legs that creaked when they walked past you and the other kids sitting on the stoop. These veterans had no arms or only one arm, or were missing fingers or hands, or ears.

My dad, a guy who lost his left eye when he was clubbed by a Nazi guard in a concentration camp, used to go to a bar where the owner had a black, shiny rubber hand. He lost his real hand during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 when he shoved a homemade grenade into the steel treads of a German tank. The black rubber hand was like some kind of weird toy. Sometimes, it looked like a black fist, sometimes it looked like an eight ball.

Sometimes, a vet without arms or legs sat on the sidewalk in front of this bar. He had a cloth hat in front of him, and he was selling pencils. He’d sit there smiling, making chit chat with the guys walking in and out of the bar. You’d toss him a nickel, and you could take a pencil, but most guys didn’t. Who needs a pencil?…

A musical reflection – “Sargent Mackenzie”

Original Scottish Version

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

When they come a wull staun ma groon
Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear
Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

Ains a year say a prayer faur me
Close yir een an remember me

Nair mair shall a see the sun
For a fell tae a Germans gun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

English Translation

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground I’ll not be afraid

Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me

Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

Where before many more have gone.

Getting poorer

20 September 2011 - By

Poverty is on the increase, inequality — not based on personal effort — but systematically driven is on the increase. Those who have are fewer and fewer, those without are increasing, and those in the middle are on a downward spiral. What is the proper faith response? Where are the strong calls to justice and prophetic witness?

From the U.S. Census Bureau: Poverty

The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2011 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2010.

  • The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent — up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent.
  • In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.
  • Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 9.4 percent to 9.9 percent), for Blacks (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent). For Asians, the 2010 poverty rate (12.1 percent) was not statistically different from the 2009 poverty rate.
  • The poverty rate in 2010 (15.1 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.
  • The number of people in poverty in 2010 (46.2 million) is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
  • Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent) and people aged 18 to 64 (from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent), but was not statistically different for people aged 65 and older (9.0 percent).

From the AP via Yahoo!: Behind the poverty numbers: real lives, real pain

At a food pantry in a Chicago suburb, a 38-year-old mother of two breaks into tears.

She and her husband have been out of work for nearly two years. Their house and car are gone. So is their foothold in the middle class and, at times, their self-esteem.
“It’s like there is no way out,” says Kris Fallon.

She is trapped like so many others, destitute in the midst of America’s abundance. Last week, the Census Bureau released new figures showing that nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty — a record 46.2 million people. The poverty rate, pegged at 15.1 percent, is the highest of any major industrialized nation, and many experts believe it could get worse before it abates.

The numbers are daunting — but they also can seem abstract and numbing without names and faces.

Associated Press reporters around the country went looking for the people behind the numbers. They were not hard to find.

There’s Tim Cordova, laid off from his job as a manager at a McDonald’s in New Mexico, and now living with his wife at a homeless shelter after a stretch where they slept in their Ford Focus.

There’s Bill Ricker, a 74-year-old former repairman and pastor whose home is a dilapidated trailer in rural Maine. He scrapes by with a monthly $1,003 Social Security check. His ex-wife also is hard up; he lets her live in the other end of his trailer.

There’s Brandi Wells, a single mom in West Virginia, struggling to find a job and care for her 10-month-old son. “I didn’t realize that it could go so bad so fast,” she says.

Some were outraged by the statistics. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund called the surging child poverty rate “a national disgrace.” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., cited evidence that poverty shortens life spans, calling it “a death sentence for tens and tens of thousands of our people.”

Overall, though, the figures seemed to be greeted with resignation, and political leaders in Washington pressed ahead with efforts to cut federal spending. The Pew Research Center said its recent polling shows that a majority of Americans — for the first time in 15 years of being surveyed on the question — oppose more government spending to help the poor.

“The news of rising poverty makes headlines one day. And the next it is forgotten,” said Los Angeles community activist and political commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

Such is life in the Illinois town of Pembroke, one of the poorest in the Midwest, where schools and stores have closed. Keith Bobo, a resident trying to launch revitalization programs, likened conditions to the Third World.

“A lot of the people here just feel like they are on an island, like no one even knows that they exist,” he said…

From Robert Reich writing in the Christian Science Monitor: What you won’t hear about during the 2012 election: Why progressive ideas like wage increases and medicare won’t be mentioned during presidential debates

We’re on the cusp of the 2012 election. What will it be about? It seems reasonably certain President Obama will be confronted by a putative Republican candidate who:

Believes corporations are people, wants to cut the top corporate rate to 25% (from the current 35%) and no longer require they pay tax on foreign income, who will eliminate capital gains and dividend taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year, raise the retirement age for Social Security and turn Medicaid into block grants to states, seek a balanced-budged amendment to the Constitution, require any regulatory agency issuing a new regulation repeal another regulation of equal cost (regardless of the benefits), and seek repeal of Obama’s healthcare plan.

Or one who:

Believes the Federal Reserve is treasonous when it expands the money supply, doubts human beings evolved from more primitive forms of life, seeks to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and shift most public services to the states, thinks Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, while governor took a meat axe to public education and presided over an economy that generated large numbers of near-minimum-wage jobs, and who will shut down most federal regulatory agencies, cut corporate taxes, and seek repeal of Obama’s healthcare plan.

Whether it’s Romney or Perry, he’s sure to attack everything Obama has done or proposed. And Obama, for his part, will have to defend his positions and look for ways to counterpunch.

Hence, the parameters of public debate for the next fourteen months.

Within these narrow confines progressive ideas won’t get an airing. Even though poverty and unemployment will almost surely stay sky-high, wages will stagnate or continue to fall, inequality will widen, and deficit hawks will create an indelible (and false) impression that the nation can’t afford to do much about any of it – proposals to reverse these trends are unlikely to be heard.

Neither party’s presidential candidate will propose to tame CEO pay, create more tax brackets at the top and raise the highest marginal rates back to their levels in the 1950s and 1960s (that is, 70 to 90 percent), and match the capital-gains rate with ordinary income.

You won’t hear a call to strengthen labor unions and increase the bargaining power of ordinary workers.

Don’t expect an argument for resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act, thereby separating commercial from investment banking and stopping Wall Street’s most lucrative and dangerous practices.

You won’t hear there’s no reason to cut Medicare and Medicaid – that a better means of taming health-care costs is to use these programs’ bargaining clout with drug companies and hospitals to obtain better deals and to shift from fee-for-services to fee for healthy outcomes.

Nor will you hear why we must move toward Medicare for all.

Nor why the best approach to assuring Social Security’s long-term solvency is to lift the ceiling on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes.

Don’t expect any reference to the absurdity of spending more on the military than do all other countries put together, and the waste and futility of an unending and undeclared war against Islamic extremism – especially when we have so much to do at home.

Nor are you likely to hear proposals for ending the corruption of our democracy by big money.

Although proposals like these are more important and relevant than ever, they won’t be part of the upcoming presidential election.

But they should be part of the public debate nonetheless.

That’s why I urge you to speak out about them – at town halls, candidate forums, and public events. Continue to mobilize and organize around them. Talk with your local media about them. Use social media to get the truth out…

John Gray’s essay from the BBC: A Point of View: The revolution of capitalism

Karl Marx may have been wrong about communism but he was right about much of capitalism, John Gray writes.

As a side-effect of the financial crisis, more and more people are starting to think Karl Marx was right. The great 19th Century German philosopher, economist and revolutionary believed that capitalism was radically unstable.

It had a built-in tendency to produce ever larger booms and busts, and over the longer term it was bound to destroy itself.

Marx welcomed capitalism’s self-destruction. He was confident that a popular revolution would occur and bring a communist system into being that would be more productive and far more humane.

Marx was wrong about communism. Where he was prophetically right was in his grasp of the revolution of capitalism. It’s not just capitalism’s endemic instability that he understood, though in this regard he was far more perceptive than most economists in his day and ours.

More profoundly, Marx understood how capitalism destroys its own social base – the middle-class way of life. The Marxist terminology of bourgeois and proletarian has an archaic ring.

But when he argued that capitalism would plunge the middle classes into something like the precarious existence of the hard-pressed workers of his time, Marx anticipated a change in the way we live that we’re only now struggling to cope with…



…and the rest

June 2015
« May