I have previously written of the perils of Uber, a company I work for, and how they are pushing cab drivers out of business (and even to suicide in six cases this year), while driving down wages across the industry. Turns out they have allies in the civil rights movement, including Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP. They are opposing efforts by the NY City Council to freeze the number of Uber permits and regulate the industry so drivers can actually make a living. Seems that Uber drivers are more likely to pick up minority passengers than cabs because they have no choice – you don’t know the race of the rider when you accept a fare. Rev. Sharpton remarked, “Some yellow cabs won’t even go to uptown or to parts of Brooklyn. If you’re downtown they won’t stop.” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “We’re not saying Uber is bad (but) the industry needs to be regulated.” Amen! We know Uber will fight this tooth and nail and probably prevail, as they did in a similar attempt in 2015. Make them pay living wages with their billions in profits!
Paul Krugman, in his July 31 op ed, Trump’s Supreme Betrayal, writes that, in addition to big tax cuts for the rich and repeated attempts to strangle the ACA, Trump’s greatest “betrayal” of the American people may be appointing a raft of pro business, anti labor federal judges who will aid and abet rising economic inequality for decades to come. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh falls squarely into this mold. He found Sea World not liable for the death of a staffer by a killer whale on the grounds that “she accepted the risks” of the job when she signed up! He has declared the Consumer Financial Protection Board unconstitutional and repeatedly upheld the rights of business to suppress labor organizing. Krugman says this is the opposite of the “phony populism” Trump ran on in favor of pro-business elitism and increased inequality. Don’t be fooled by attempts to distract with “culture war” issues like abortion and gay rights. To cite Leonard’s Law, “in the end, it all comes down to money.” Democrats must seek, “by all means necessary” (Malcolm X) to delay the vote until after the mid-term elections, just as that mendacious prick Mitch McConnell did to Judge Garland in Obama’s last year. Stand and fight!
Last Friday Apple declared that it had become the first $1 trillion dollar company, eclipsing the gross GDP of all but 16 of the world’s countries! It is part of the fearsome five tech companies-with Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft – that delivered half the gains to the S&P 500 last year. Other industries, such as finance, airlines, cable and wireless services are similarly concentrated. In 1975, 109 companies delivered half the corporate profits; today that’s down to 30. Economists generally agree that this has led to the rising inequality and declining labor share of income we’ve witnessed in recent decades. Fewer companies equal reduced competition and unionization and rising political control of the rich over public policy. These organizations wield monopsony power (more on this in a later post) in the economy, controlling the price of inputs (especially labor) and suppressing wages across the board. We are in a New Gilded Age and need to check the power of the plutocracy before they enslave us all.
My main column, to follow, will focus on a back door attempt by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to cut capital gains taxes by regulatory fiat, bypassing the legitimate role of Congress in the process. As if the recent $1.5 trillion, deficit financed tax cut weren’t enough, Republicans are always seeking new ways to funnel ever more dollars into ever few hands in the fraudulent belief it will “trickle down” to the masses eventually. This must be nipped in the bud. READ!