Showing posts with label Economics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economics. Show all posts

September 24, 2016

News We Never Thought We Hear: ‘Saudi Middle Class Has to Tighten Their Belts'


 Mohammed Idrees used to travel to London once or twice a year, but these days the Saudi civil servant is asking his wife and children to cut back on using the family car to save fuel and has installed a solar panel for the kitchen to reduce electricity costs.

For decades, Saudi nationals such as Mr. Idrees enjoyed a cozy lifestyle in the desert kingdom as its rulers spent hundreds of billions of dollars of its oil revenue to subsidize essentials such as fuel, water and electricity.

But a sharp drop in the price of oil, Saudi Arabia’s main revenue source, has forced the government to withdraw some benefits this year—raising the cost of living in the kingdom and hurting its middle class, a part of society long insulated from such problems.

Saudi Arabia heads into next week’s meeting of major oil producers in a tight spot. With a slowing economy and shrinking foreign reserves, the kingdom is coming under pressure to take steps that support the price of oil, as it did this month with an accord it struck with Russia.

The sharp price drop is mainly because of a glut in the market, in part caused by Saudi Arabia itself. The world’s top oil producer continues to pump crude at record levels to defend its market share.

One option to lift prices that could work, some analysts say, is to freeze output at a certain level and exempt Iran from such a deal, given that its push to increase production to pre-sanction levels appears to have stalled in recent months. Saudi Arabia has previously refused to sign any deal that exempts arch-rival Iran.

As its people start feeling the pain, that could change.

The kingdom is grappling with major job losses among its construction workers—many from poorer countries—as some previously state-backed construction companies suffer from drying up government funding.

Those spending cuts are now hitting the Saudi working middle class.

Saudi consumers in major cities, the majority of them employed by the government, have become more conscious about their spending in recent months, said Areej al-Aqel from Sown Advisory, which provides financial-planning services for middle-class individuals and families. That means cutting back on a popular activity for most middle-class Saudis: dining out.

“Most people are ordering less food or they change their orders to more affordable options,” she said.

To boost state finances, Saudi Arabia cut fuel, electricity and water subsidies in December, after posting a record budget deficit last year. It also plans to cut the amount of money it spends on public wages and raise more non-oil revenue by introducing taxes.

But in response to these moves, inflation more than doubled from last year to about 4% now, crimping consumers even more.
Analysis: Is OPEC All Talk?

The government doesn’t have much choice. Saudi Arabia’s real growth in gross domestic product slowed to 1.5% in the first quarter from the year-earlier period, according to its statistics office, and Capital Economics says data suggest it may have contracted by more than 2% in the second quarter. Much of that slowdown is related to consumer-facing sectors, which have struggled since the start of 2016 as rising inflation has eroded household incomes.

The political stakes for managing this slowdown are high. Saudi Arabia survived the Arab Spring unrest that toppled several autocratic leaders across the region and forced some others to change, largely by offering cash handouts and more government jobs to placate its people. About two thirds of Saudi workers are employed by government related entities.

Besides cushy jobs, such middle-class Saudis also received substantial overtime payments and regular bonuses. At the time of his ascension to the throne early last year, King Salman ordered a hefty bonus payment to government employees.

Such largess is looking like a thing of the past.

Besides cutting state handouts such as subsidized electricity and water, the government also plans to reduce money it spends on public wages to 40% of the budget by 2020 from 45% as part of its ambitious plan to transform the oil-dependent economy. It aims to cut one-fifth of its civil service as well.

Saudis are beginning to speak out about a sense of anxiety about the economy. “I think we are going through a difficult period,” said Emad al-Majed, a Riyadh-based pharmacy technician. “There will be suffering.”

Mr. Majed, who has two children, took a bank loan to purchase an apartment last year, a decision he said made him reconsider his spending habits.

“If you are used to a certain level of spending, how can you be told to limit your expenses and cancel some stuff?” he asked. “It is a good idea, but in practice it will be difficult for so many people.”

Saudi nationals are reluctant to gripe about rising costs, but there is clear discontent, some analysts say. In a region engulfed in political and sectarian strife, Saudi Arabia can ill-afford similar turmoil.

“Discontent so far has been mildly expressed,” said Robin Mills, chief executive at Qamar Energy, a Dubai-based consulting firm. “If the slowdown continues and starts affecting local jobs, that could change.”

For the kingdom’s fiscal position to improve significantly, analysts say oil prices would need to rise to $70 a barrel, up from about $46 now.

Saudi Arabia and the other large producers failed to reach a production-freeze deal in April, but its people are now increasingly jittery over their future. That has made people like Mr. Idrees, the civil servant, more cautious about spending because he sees people like him bearing the brunt of efforts to offset slipping oil revenue.

“I have become more diligent about spending because my view of the future is pessimistic,” he said. “There is a lot of talk about diversifying the economy, but the focus seems to be solely on increasing taxes.”

January 28, 2016

Trump, the Clown Missing from the Circus Says What Some Hold in their Hearts

Make America GrEaT Again

*Somewhere, a circus is missing a clown. No one seems to know where this circus is, as it is hiding–desperate to not be found by the clown it lost.

Months ago, when Donald Trump began finding traction among a segment of Americans who actually believe he should be the next president of the United States, it was funny.
Then it wasn’t funny. Then it was embarrassing. Later, insulting. And then funny again. Now, it’s embarrassing, insulting and funny all at once.

Notice I never said scary. I absolutely refuse to be afraid.
Instead, I’ll say it is sad. Sad, because despite decades of undeniable social change and progress in this country, there are plenty of Americans to whom Trump’s ignorant, bigoted, sexist rhetoric holds water. It’s something to see and hear, isn’t it? But it’s real. And it’s a shame.

Don’t you dare believe that all those who follow Trump fit the typical stereotype of the bigot. You might be surprised at how many kind, intelligent, presumably forward-thinking people—-computer nerds, loving soccer moms, priests, pastors, lesbians, rock stars, doctors, lawyers who have dedicated their careers to helping the disenfranchised, Gays, transgender people, interracial couples; souls who routinely suffer a segment of society’s foot on its neck—are themselves straight-up bigots.

Looks and actions can be deceiving. Exhibit A: Donald Trump himself, who actually seemed like an okay guy until he decided to run for president and opened his foul mouth…which appears to be connected to his ass.

They say he “tells it like it is.” They never finish the other part of that phrase—“…in our hearts.” Trump doesn’t tell it like it is; he tells it like some people want it to be.
It’s intriguing to watch the Republican party attempt to distance itself from The Donald’s idiotic views, when the party created the monster.

Simply peruse the crowds at any Republican function–where is the rainbow of humanity that is America? The only difference between Trump, Ted Cruz and the rest of them is presentation.
By the way, these are the same people who insist that Black Americans only voted for Barack Obama because he was Black. Tell that cracked theory to the ever fading Dr. Ben Carson, whose constituents are 99.9 percent white for a reason.

The most convenient thing about Trump is that he doesn’t have to become president for us to get an idea as to how the rest of the world would receive him. In the U.K. a branch of its government actually took a vote on whether to ban him from the country.
In Mexico and Latin America he is despised. The Middle East sees him as dangerous. You really have to work hard to be feared in that region.

However, playfully, he is praised by Russia’s Putin. He knows the immature and insecure Trump is someone he’d trample.

And just when we thought this floorshow of ignorance and stupidity could descend no lower, up from the depths of dysfunctional madness comes dumb-as-a-chair Sarah Palin to “endorse” Trump.
If he were running against her for anything, Trump would be gabbing nonstop about Palin’s failed bid for the vice-presidency, her up and simply quitting her job as the governor of Alaska. He’d bring up her daughter Bristol.

Instead, since they are on the same page—-for now-—he actually sees Palin as a positive. That’s how imbecilic Trump is.

It is difficult to believe this lunacy is happening at the apex of modern American politics, the bid for the presidency.
But it is.

By Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via STEVRIVORY@AOL.COM 

October 8, 2015

Life Inside the Islamic State [Why People Choose Isis] and Recruits by Country

Inside the Caliphate
Interviews with those who live under the militant rule suggest a grim reality.

In July of this year the Washington Post sent @sullivank and  @CharlesOmmanney to Jordan to report this story. .

The white vans come out at dinnertime, bringing hot meals to unmarried Islamic State fighters in the city of Hit in western Iraq.
A team of foreign women, who moved from Europe and throughout the Arab world to join the Islamic State, work in communal kitchens to cook the fighters’ dinners, which are delivered to homes confiscated from people who fled or were killed, according to the city’s former mayor.

The Islamic State has drawn tens of thousands of people from around the world by promising paradise in the Muslim homeland it has established on conquered territory in Syria and Iraq.

But in reality, the militants have created a brutal, two-tiered society, where daily life is starkly different for the occupiers and the occupied, according to interviews with more than three dozen people who are now living in, or have recently fled, the Islamic State.
Foreign fighters and their families are provided free housing, medical care, religious education and even a sort of militant meals-on-wheels service, according to those interviewed. The militants are paid salaries raised largely from taxes and fees levied on the millions of people they control, in an arc of land as big as the United Kingdom.
Those whose cities and towns are held by the Islamic State said they face not only the casual savagery of militants who behead their enemies and make sex slaves out of some minority women but also severe shortages of the basics of daily life.

Many residents have electricity for only an hour or two a day, and some homes go days without running water. Jobs are scarce, so many people can’t afford food prices that have tripled or more. Medical care is poor, most schools are closed, and bans on most travel outside the Islamic State are enforced at gunpoint. 
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made Headlines with its Barbaric Terror Tactics whether it is mass execution of innocent civilians or making professional movies of these executions which affects the life of millions of peace loving Natives. We know about all these impacts but we haven’t discussed about the impact of ISIS on World Economy, what will be the economic impact on the economies of Middle East or whole of world? We cannot think about the economy of Middle East without oil and oil is one of the most essential commodities of whole of the World’s Economy.

Over the past two years, the militants have produced a torrent of startlingly sophisticated online propaganda that has helped persuade at least 20,000 foreign fighters, many with families, to come from as far away as Australia. The campaign, largely distributed on YouTube and social media, depicts a place filled with Ferris wheels and cotton candy, where local families cheerfully mingle with heavily armed foreigners.

But local people interviewed said their daily lives are filled with fear and deprivation in the Islamic State “caliphate,” governed by the militants’ extreme version of Islamic sharia law.
“We went back to the Stone Age,” said Mohammad Ahmed, 43, a former Arab League worker from Deir al-sour  a town near Raqqa, the militants’ self-proclaimed capital in northern Syria.

“We used to have a beautiful house with marble and ceramic floors,” said Ahmed, who fled his home in June and now lives alongside 20,000 other Syrians in Jordan’s Azraq refu­gee camp. “All our lives, we had everything we needed. Then, when they came, we were cooking over a fire outside and washing our clothes in a bucket.”

Several of those interviewed said the Islamic State was actually less corrupt and provided more efficient government services, such as road construction and trash collection, than the previous Syrian and Iraqi governments. In Iraq, some said, the Sunni Islamic State militants treated them better than the Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad. But none of those interviewed said they supported the militants, and all said efficient government did not excuse the group’s brutal and fanatical behavior.

 State produces sophisticated propaganda portraying life in its territory as happy, peaceful and plentiful, as in this screen shot from a recent propaganda video. Interviews with those who live there, or who have recently fled, reveal a much more dire situation.   
“We hate them,” said Hikmat al-Gaoud, 41, the former mayor of Hit, who fled in April and now divides his time between Baghdad and Amman, Jordan.
The Islamic State came to power in the wake of years of fighting in Syria and Iraq that already had shattered many public institutions. But people interviewed said the Islamic State had made the damage worse, in ways that could be felt for decades to come — reversing gains in public education, ruining the medical infrastructure, establishing a justice system based on terror, and exposing a generation of children to gruesome and psychologically devastating violence.

For women, living in the Islamic State homeland often means being subjected to a virtual assembly-line system for providing brides to fighters, or sometimes being abducted and forced into unwanted marriages.
Many who were interviewed gave only their first name or declined to be identified at all, for their own safety and the security of their family members still living under Islamic State control. They were interviewed via Skype or telephone calls from Syria and Iraq, or in person in Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

Those who spoke from inside areas controlled by the Islamic State did so at great peril, saying the militants closely monitor Internet access. They agreed to speak so that they could tell their story of life inside the Islamic State caliphate.
Life in the ‘Islamic State’: Justice
Militant occupiers use beheadings and horror to control local people.
Read story
Nearly everyone interviewed said they had witnessed a beheading or another savage punishment. It is virtually impossible to independently verify these accounts, just as it is impossible to verify the claims in much of the propaganda material put out by the Islamic State. The militants almost never allow journalists or other observers inside their territory, and they have posted video of the beheadings of several they have captured.

The interviews, conducted over several months, were arranged largely at random or through long-established contacts in the region. Although several activists were among those interviewed, The Washington Post did not rely on activist groups to provide interview subjects. At the Azraq camp, Post reporters reviewed records of arrivals and sought out those who had come recently from militant-controlled areas. Many of the interviews lasted two hours or longer.

A young boy in the Azraq refugee camp in the Jordan desert, 
where about 20,000 Syrians have taken shelter.
The militants control small farming communities and large urban areas, including Mosul, an Iraqi city with a population of more than 1 million people. The Islamic State’s policies differ somewhat in each area, so there is no single, uniform way of life; but in the interviews, consistent themes emerged about women, health, education, justice and the economy in the Islamic State.

Women must be fully veiled and can be whipped for leaving the house without a male-relative escort. Many simply stay at home for fear of being picked up on the street and forced to marry a foreign fighter.

Life in the ‘Islamic State’: Women
A life of forced marriages, young widows, abductions and fear.

Hospitals are usually reserved for foreign fighters and are staffed by doctors who have come from as far as Britain and Malaysia. Local people are forced to seek care in ill-equipped clinics, which have expired medications and poorly trained staff.

In some places, the Islamic State has shut down cellphone service and Internet access. Where it still exists, the militants try to control it closely. They have set up Internet cafes that have become centers for propaganda, where recruiters encourage young people around the world to leave their homes and come to the Islamic State. They have persuaded about 200 Americans — some still in their teens — in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and other U.S. cities to try to come to Syria. Most were arrested before reaching their destination, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

Except for religious schools for the children of foreign fighters, schools are generally closed. Militants have confiscated college diplomas and burned them publicly.

Life in the ‘Islamic State’: Education
Militants have closed most schools, banned “worthless” secular education and burned college diplomas.
Read story
“Life under Daesh is a nightmare each day,” said a female math teacher who lives in Mosul, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State.

“We have an unknown future,” she said, asking that her name not be used. “Maybe Daesh will kill us or maybe we will die in the war, or maybe after. What we are going through right now is a slow death.”

The militants have established checkpoints to prevent people from fleeing. But those interviewed said a growing network of smugglers is helping people get away, and they are entering Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and non-militant-controlled areas of Iraq in increasing numbers. U.N. officials said that 60 percent of refugees who have crossed the Syria-Jordan border recently were escaping areas controlled by the militants.

The Islamic State’s propaganda portrays the militants as liberators; one recent video showed armed fighters delivering sweets to a home for the elderly. But according to those interviewed, the majority of residents view the militants as a merciless occupying force, and they stay away from them as much as possible.

“Even if we see them in the streets or in the shops, there is no mingling,” said an activist who calls himself Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, a native of Raqqa who runs a social media site called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently.

People in Raqqa, he said, “feel like strangers in their own city.”

Life is bleak in the Azraq camp, but it is a welcome sanctuary for those fleeing the Islamic State militants.
Why people join and stay
The Islamic State has had some success recruiting local people. Those interviewed said many of their friends and neighbors in Syria and Iraq have chosen to join the Islamic State, becoming fighters, teachers or workers in their government offices.
Some do so because they believe in the militants’ goal of uniting the world under their extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

But most of the people who work for the Islamic State do so out of economic desperation, according to those interviewed. In places where the cost of food has skyrocketed and where many people are living on little more than bread and rice, some men have concluded that becoming an Islamic State warrior is the only way to provide for their family.
Life in the ‘Islamic State’: Economy
The militants’ government is sometimes efficient, but locals face severe shortages of daily necessities.
Read story
“There is no work, so you have to join them in order to live,” said Yassin al-Jassem, 52, who fled his home near Raqqa in June. “So many local people have joined them. They were pushed into Daesh by hunger.”

Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College in London, said that although foreign fighters have given the Islamic State a boost, “in the long term, they will turn out to be a burden.” He said that local tribes rose up against al-Qaeda in Iraq in the mid-2000s partly because that group was perceived as a foreign organization. He said people now under Islamic State control could do the same — especially in Iraq.

But those interviewed who had lived under the Islamic State said it has gone to great lengths to suppress any potential uprisings, killing anyone suspected of disloyalty.
Faten Humayda, 70, a grandmother who fled her town near Raqqa in May and now lives in the Azraq camp, said the violence increases local anger at the militants, but it also creates suspicion among local people. It is harder for any kind of resistance movement to form when people think their friends and neighbors might be informants for the militants.
“They have turned us against each other,” she said.
Faten Humayda and her family fled to Jordan from Syria.
Ahmed, who fled his town near Raqqa in June, said some of the Arab fighters would try to mix with the local population, but the Europeans and other non-Arabs never did. He said that although the Islamic State militants claimed they were there to create a better life for Muslims, they seemed mainly focused on battles with other rebel groups and government forces.

“They were always very aggressive, and they seemed angry,” he said. “They are there to fight, not to govern.”
Interviewed in his baking-hot metal hut in the Azraq camp, Jassem recalled that while he was living under Islamic State control, his 2-year-old grandson developed a brain tumor. Doctors wanted $800 to remove it.

Jassem, a farm hand, hadn’t worked since Islamic State militants took over his home town. He was desperate, so in late May he went to the militants to beg for his grandson’s life, and they offered him a choice.
“They said to me, ‘If you give us your son to fight with us, we will pay for your grandson’s treatment,’” he said.

The idea of one of his sons becoming an Islamic State fighter turned his stomach, and the thought of losing his grandson broke his heart. So Jassem took his family and escaped in the back of a smuggler’s truck. He said his son is now asking Jordanian authorities for medical help for the little boy.

“I am never going back to Syria,” Jassem said, looking out from his 12-by-18-foot hut at the bleak expanse of empty Jordan desert. “It’s not my Syria anymore.”

The Washington Post

Confronting the ‘Caliphate’: These stories are part of an occasional series about the militant group Islamic State and its violent collision with the United States and others intent on halting the group’s rapid rise.

Kevin Sullivan reported from Washington, London and Jordan. Souad Mekhennet in Morocco and Berlin; Loveday Morris, Erin Cunningham and Mustafa Salim in Iraq; Karla Adam in London; and Taylor Luck in Jordan contributed to this report. Photos by Charles Ommanney. Design by Danielle Rindler. Some Photos by Charles Ommanney

One question is fair to asks as one reads this live story and is the part of people choosing to live in these camps. Camps that curtail their freedom but at the same time it gives them some living conditions in which they don’t have to starve. If you are a believer and you have to live with little food, no freedom and horrid conditions you do it because you are looking to a wonderful life after you die. This does not make sense to people that wont believe precisely because of that. All religions offer you a life that no one as ever lived and come back to show you. Even a prophet or a Mesiath, they don’t give you a clear picture. Even the bible says tha you look at things ‘ hrough an obscure mirror now but then you will see things clear.’ That is true! After you die if you remain dead that is it! and if they had it right you will also know. 

Coming back to the camps and people economics and the money spent on the west to control this violent group that clearly believes in destroying the world as we know it. Being that everyone there is not there because they buy everything this people are selling, Why do countries have to force people into such levels of pressure by the economics of poverty when it would be so much cheaper to make a more fair world in which we can destroy poverty altogether. But this capitalist world believes that what I have is mine and I don’t want you to have anything unless you die getting it. ”This is a club and you need to belong.” What happens when the doors to that club and the windows and most of the inhabitants are blown to kingdom come? There has to be a level of fairness and fairness does not mean equality in wealth but equality in a way that offers everyone a free education and ways to make their own mark on the world that mark not being a violent one. We have already learnt there is no system in this world in everyone shares everything(communism) or in which the government can supply everything in an equity way (socialism). Some will always be rich and some wont be. But to have the majority of the people in poverty in resenting the top 1 or 2% is not the sway . It is not sustainable. We can teach those that don’t want o share that is for everyone own interests,particularly themselves to share something in which it make the bottom up their level through free education and fairness in which they keep the money they earn.

Some wonder what is the answer to avoid killings in schools and where kids and young adults meet in the U.S.? One of the ways to eliminate some of it might be to make the schools a more decent and accessible way to be and  learn. To make life fairer. Would that hurt those that want to have more than anybody else?  Yes they have to have less but not by much when it guarantees that they will keep what they have.
Adam Gonzalez

September 26, 2015

Who Lives, How Educated and How Much They make in NYC


July 1, 2014

Economics of the poor because the poor have it easy

(Not reading for everyone)

How can someone who is never been poor would even know who and what the poor is?

There are many types of poor and levels. There is the homeless that you might see in the street because they have exhausted their lives in a society that have failed them. There is also the mentally unstable that cannot keep up with the responsibilities of running a household and then there is the many levels of working or non working families, single mothers, single fathers, singles, sick or disabled, elderly.  We sometimes say poor and people that listen to that word would have a preconceive picture of what it means but that is just based on a bias of lack of information or experience.

Let’s pick on someone

For the Republicans, which is a group of people who worry about loosing what they got and believing on something called an American Dream, they believe that by skipping government regulations and just following their dream guts, family history or education can one day obtain something they feel they haven’t got at the moment. Some say that they want their children to have it easier than they did or just a better life.

Amazing thing in life is that if you want to see the future all you have to do is look at the past. Shocking! it repeats itself. If you don’t know that is because your history needs refreshing.  If you want to see how your children will do just look at the children of people like you today. Their parents said the same things you say. It’s amazing at people that think they are working for the tomorrow when they are really working for today. There is no tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be dead.  They don’t realize this is a limited journey and when we are done, we are done. Even if you believe in the hereafter you know that it cannot be anything like today.  Why Am I bringing the hereafter or non hereafter to talk simple economics? and why pick on the Republicans? Fair enough!

First, Im picking on the Republicans first because Ive been one and know them well. But better than that, you might agree with me that this is a group of people with very similar ideas of how things are and how they should be. Agree with that statement? It’s pretty general but it applies to this group better because wether you call yourself anything else you are not as well organize in thought as they are. I will prove it to you:  That is why they win elections even when most of the country disagree with them. Right now we have every demographic against them with the exception of men. Yet they have the house in congress and if the democrats keep the senate on the next elections it will be by a small margin. Yes, they win elections , they are organize in thought. Their thought I described above.

Secondly, what is the hereafter have to do with economics? Everyhting. If you are a believer you will see the world through what you have been taught through your religion first or second. If you are not a believer, you view of the world is seen by your own eyes and how well informed you are. If you a re not well informed then you are a loose cannon. You will believe even in somethings the republicans believe as a group “No Climate Change” “You should always show your power” etc.
Do you see my point?  But why the economics part again?

My thought about the economics of the poor and americans is that either you believe what your peers have told you or you believe in what you have seen, experienced or have been informed about absent of the religion view point.
My point being that both sides are short of knowledge of what the poor is. If we really knew the poor, there would no poor. Everyone would have at least the minimum to buy their food(no caviar or champagne) but tuna fish and beer is fine. Would have shelter not a mansion but an apartment livable, health care equal to congress, police or private protection and an education of 12th grade and at least 2 yrs of college. That is my view of what the poor that can accommodate this life style should have.

Who pays for it? Everyone. We know that this is our journey and we should make sure we as humanity are in the same page, particularly in a rich nation such as this. We don’t have the money some would say? What an anemic old argument? Who makes the money? Who spends the money and how? The how is the most important part. We even have money to one day go to the moon! Oops, we’ve been there. Add up the money spent in two wars of the past four. See if that is enough to change the living standards of this country. So you can even go to war. Im giving you 2 out of 4. You can’t take that away because that would be impossible. I know that because I know some history and there has to be war!

These are my economics of the poor so watch out if I ever run. No, actually this is something that has to start from grass roots with the three branches of government in unison to change the nation. It would take a revolution you know the: “ I’M sick and tired and I can’t take it anymore” from the middle class. The poor does not have the power and it never will and if it gets it throws it away like, Egypt, Russia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, etc., etc.

 The following thoughts about the poor are by  Robin Marty in “The poor have it easy

Being poor. It means stretching a dollar to be sure that your children can eat every day. It means deciding whether you can skip a car payment or a mortgage payment this month, because one more missed electricity bill will get the power turned off. It means ignoring the pain in your chest because even if you have insurance you can’t cover the deductible for the doctor’s visit, or skipping your medication because the copay is just a little too much. It’s trying to decide between buying a shirt without a hole for a job interview or having the gas you need just to get to it.
And, according to most Republicans, that’s all “having it easy.”
new study conducted by Pew Research says that over 75 percent of those who identify as conservative believe that the poor have it “easy.” “More than three quarters of conservative Americans – those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative, and young outsider typology groups — agree that ‘poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything,’” reports Wonk Blog. “Only seven percent of steadfast conservatives say that the poor ‘have hard lives.’”
There’s a number of issues with that misconception, ranging from the idea that government benefits are in any way adequate or that they are easy to get. For the last few years we’ve seen a number of states cut benefits to the poor, providing less as well as making them more difficult to apply for. TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) and WIC programs are always first to disappear in a budget crisis, such as the 2013 government shut down, and TANF has recently been cut in some states to give money to crisis pregnancy centers instead. A refusal in a number of red states to expand Medicaid has left tens of thousands in a gap without health insurance. States that are attempting to force welfare recipients toundergo mandatory drug tests prior to getting benefits are demanding the poor pay for their own drug tests out of pocket, and even when people do receive assistance, they are forced to get rid of every asset they have first, thereby dooming themselves to a cycle of poverty they are unlikely to ever end.
Still, for many conservatives, every cent is a handout that came straight out of their pocket, hurting them and helping the “lazy” poor. As the comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug so eloquently put it, every person getting assistance is a “Lucky Ducky,” taking advantage of the hard work of real Americans keeping the economy going.
Inherently, in the conservative mindset, poor and lazy are inter-changeable, and one simply would not be poor if he or she would work harder. It’s a belief system that ignores the basic realities that poverty imposes one generation after the next, as well as the given disadvantages that cycle on top of each other such as violence, lack of food and medical care, lack of permanence in housing, lack of access to good schools and quality education, and, because of all of these things, lack of access to good jobs with living wages.
The poor do not have it easy, by any means. In reality, it is a lie that conservatives tell themselves to justify their own hoarding of wealth, dismantling of the social safety net, and cruelty to those struggling to make ends meet. By convincing themselves that the poor have it “easy” and that benefits are ample and simple to obtain, they can ignore those who are truly suffering by convincing themselves that it is moral or spiritual weakness, and not their own policies, that have caused others to need help.
The question isn’t how 75 percent of conservatives can be delusional enough to believe the poor have it easy. The real question is how they will sleep at night once they finally realize they are wrong. 

Adam Gonzalez

June 21, 2014

Econ. Lee Badgett: Equal Treatment of Gays benefits economies Virginia to India


Economist Lee Badgett says equal treatment for gays and lesbians can benefit economies from Virginia to India. For the past two decades, she’s mined data in her quest to prove it.
“My long-run goal has always been the same: It’s using research to help create a more just world,” said Badgett, 54, director of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’sCenter for Public Policy and Administration. “When policy makers can pick out their favorite myth about gay people to hang their policy on, it’s pretty hard to argue against.”
The World Bank is collaborating with Badgett to analyze homophobia as a hurdle to development in emerging markets. She’s been called as an expert witness before Congressional subcommittees and in a court case that found California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Colleagues credit her with publishing the first research tackling gay and lesbian issues as economic rather than sociological.
“Lee was absolutely a pioneer,” said Gary Gates, a distinguished scholar with the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, which focuses on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, and where Badgett is also a distinguished scholar. “There was no one in economics who was really thinking about these issues.”
Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg
Economist Lee Badgett, 54, is the director of the University of Massachusetts at... 
This week, Badgett’s work for the institute was widely cited by national and international news outlets after the White House said President Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgendered employees. The change would cover 14 million more workers than state laws do, she found.

World-Bank Initiative

The World Bank also has a new initiative focusing on social inclusion to help end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. As part of this, Badgett created an economic model that she applied to India in a case study presented at the bank in March.
Preliminary findings showed that discrimination related to homophobia leads to less education, lower earnings, poorer health and shorter lives. The lost workplace productivity and health problems connected with homophobia cost the country between $2 billion and $31 billion in 2012. The range is wide because data on sexual minorities is scarce, she said.
Though a lack of statistics on gays remains a challenge, Badgett said academics and society have become more attentive to sexual-minority issues and recognize the need for further research. TheWorld Bank is working to gather better data in India, according to bank consultant Phil Crehan.

Proposition 8

Badgett’s expertise also was recognized when she was called as a witness in the case of Perry v Schwarzenegger, which found that California’s Proposition 8 banning same sex weddings was unconstitutional.
She broke into her field with a 1995 paper debunking the idea that gay men are richer than their heterosexual counterparts. In the early 1990s, she was studying gender and racial discrimination as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland at College Park when she read a newspaper article that labeled gays a marketer’s dream, citing their above-average affluence.
“I thought: ‘This is really interesting. I know a lot of LGBT people -- I am one -- and this doesn’t characterize the people that I know,’” she said. “I needed better data, so that was really the quest. Marketing data wasn’t going to cut it for economists.”

Less Income

Badgett used the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey to show that gay and bisexual male workers made between 11 percent and 27 percent less than heterosexual men with similar experience, education and region of residence.
“Lee’s seminal research on the economics of sexual orientation was critical,” said Marieka Klawitter, a University of Washington economist in Seattle who published studies on gays after Badgett. “The myths that gays were all rich, carefree, without families, led to the perception that they didn’t face discrimination.”
Badgett’s interest in social equity started in the 1960s in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where “even as a kid, I could notice the vestiges” of racism, she said. Her Girl Scout troop was desegregating, yet “the world of black and white people intersected in very few places.” She was expected to behave differently from boys and experienced “a kind of discrimination” because she enjoyed sports and “didn’t like to wear dresses to school, but had to.”

Power, Money

Her family moved when she was 11 to a Chicago suburb, where she fit in more easily. She was interested in politics, and in high school began working on campaigns. She quickly realized “there was another angle that covered everything, and that was money. Power went with money.”
She followed that observation to the University of Chicago, where she studied economics before graduating in 1982 into a recession. Jobs were hard to get, and she took a clerical position at a warehouse. She learned that male employees working in the stock room earned more.
“Just that assumption -- that women will be in the office, men will be in the warehouses and pay will reflect that difference -- was really interesting to me,” she said. Studying wage inequality “kind of became a quest.”
Badgett headed to the University of California at Berkeley in 1984 to explore labor economics, focusing on discrimination. She completed a Ph.D. in 1990. After graduating, she moved toMaryland to be an assistant professor. She had been there about a year when she came across the newspaper piece that spurred her to study economics related to sexual minorities, she said.

‘Enormous Risk’

“She took an enormous risk by doing this work,” because homosexuality was stigmatized in academia, so her research could have damaged her career, Klawitter said.
Badgett said it was difficult initially to spread her findings: One journal rejected the study without sending it for peer review. When a different journal published the research, some gays challenged it.
One camp didn’t believe the results. Others thought it was “really important” to have numbers showing gay people had a lot of spending power, she said. Even among economists, she encountered a few who made hints that homosexual people might deserve lower pay because they were morally wrong.
“She was a little bit early, but she eventually caught the wave of increasing sympathy for gay rights,” said William Dickens, one of Badgett’s advisers at Berkeley and now a labor economist atNortheastern University in Boston.

Shape Policy

From the outset, Badgett wanted her studies to shape policy. She and her colleagues founded a research group on gay and lesbian issues in 1994, as she was working on her first related study.
“We started creating publication outlets, we networked with media and policy makers to get the work out,” she said.
In 2006, the organization merged with the Williams Institute. Her work there has shown that gay couples without the option to marry miss out on tax and insurance benefits, and states that don’t allow same-sex marriages lose incremental revenue. Virginia could realize as much as $60 million in the first three years from spending on weddings and tourism, April research showed. While the impact is relatively small -- Virginia’s gross domestic product totaled $426 billion in 2013 - - it does contribute to the economy.
Badgett has “argued persuasively that legalizing gay marriage offers important economic and social -- as well as personal and symbolic -- benefits to nontraditional couples,” Nancy Folbre, a professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a mentor of Badgett’s, wrote in an e-mail.

Personal Relevance

Same-sex marriage also has personal relevance for Badgett, who wed Elizabeth Silver, an attorney, in 2005, the year after it became legal in Massachusetts.
Badgett says her goal is to continue “providing facts and analysis that policy makers need and that the public needs.”
Heidi Hartmann, president of the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research and a former co-author, said she sees this in Badgett’s work.
“She’s a person who is really dedicated to the data, on how to make sure you tell the truth with data.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeanna Smialek in Washington
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Carlos Torres at ctorres2@bloomberg.netGail DeGeorge, Melinda Grenier

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