How they passed the Fed audit

Via Naked Capitalism. This is almost an hour, but worth your time for the insight into the political system.

In this interview, Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks and Matt Stoller discuss how Congress worked in 2009-2010, and why an audit of the Federal Reserve was able to get through a dysfunctional political system. It’s a long interview, with some echoing at the beginning, but it’s the most comprehensive discussion of how the fight actually happened on the House side.

Residents evacuated

We have such crappy infrastructure, and now it’s all going to catch up with us:

St. Tammany Parish, a community north of New Orleans on Lake Pontchartrain, on Saturday ordered the mandatory evacuation of thousands of residents in some 1,200 homes, fearing the failure of a lock along a canal could send a wave of water sweeping through neighborhoods.

Saturday night, parish emergency officials said that the opening of valves had relieved pressure on Lock 2 on the Pearl River Diversion Canal but the evacuation order would remain in place.

Earlier, parish officials said the order covered residents between Locks 1 and 2 on the Pearl River Diversion Canal. “Failure of Lock 2 is imminent,” the parish said on its website.

Do American corporations care how much their workers earn?

From Dissent, the history of support for a minimum wage and how it’s changed:

There is little disagreement that consumer spending is a critical driver of American economic growth. The recession that began in 2007, while precipitated by the meltdown in the financial sector, is at root a crisis of aggregate demand. The halting recovery has been punctuated by disappointing monthly job reports and—just as important—by gloomy predictions from the Conference Board’s monthly survey of consumer confidence. Even business surveys admit (here and here) that anemic consumer demand (not “job-killing regulations”) is holding back new job creation and economic recovery.

Yet, despite worries about sagging consumer confidence and shrinking paychecks, business leaders seem unconcerned about the declining standard of living of middle-class America, or about the growing number of American families slipping into poverty. Over the last generation, wages for middle-class workers haven’t budged, while compensation for corporate executives and owners is reaching stratospheric levels. Middle-class Americans are having a harder and harder time making ends meet. Most have little savings to take them through a bad patch. They are saddled with skyrocketing health care and education costs. They are underwater on their mortgages. Indeed, borrowing (on credit cards beginning in the 1980s, on home equity in more recent years) is often the last-best option to cling to a higher standard of living. Worse yet, most jobs created today don’t bring workers into the middle class. Nearly three-quarters of the jobs added during the recovery are in lower-wage occupations, like cashiers, stocking clerks, or food preparation workers.

Higher wages mean more consumer spending and more growth, but corporate America is focused, with increasing intensity, on driving wages further down. Important wage-stabilizing policies—minimum-wage laws and collective bargaining, among others—are under assault. Republican governors have declared war on unionized teachers, firefighters, and police officers—all solidly middle-class jobs. And they are looking to extend the reach of so-called “right-to-work” laws that strip private-sector workers of the ability to bargain for decent wages and benefits. Hostility to unions has become so intense that a simple proposal for workplaces to post information about the right to collectively bargain under federal law (as they already must do for minimum-wage, OSHA, and other worker protections) unleashed a torrential assault by the Chamber of Commerce.

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