Monday, March 27, 2017

ANS -- Paul Krugman: There’s A Much Bigger Con Man In American Politics Than Donald Trump

Here's a very short article about who's worse than Trump (it's Ryan!).  
--Kim


Paul Krugman: There's A Much Bigger Con Man In American Politics Than Donald Trump

By Andrew Bradford on March 26, 2017

Categories: Economy, Healthcare, Republican Watch

 

Sponsored by Revcontent

You can certainly be forgiven if you think Donald Trump is the most blatant liar and con man in Washington, D.C., a city which is known for political double-talk and broken promises. Virtually every word that leaves Trump's mouth is a blatant fabrication, but Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says the healthcare debate proved there is a bigger con man on Capitol Hill: House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In a column he wrote for the New York Times, Krugman lit into Ryan for his lies about Obamacare and the Trump/Ryan replacement, which was not even brought to the floor of the House for a vote:

"He claims that it would lower premiums; it would actually increase them. He claims that it would end the Obamacare death spiral; there isn't a death spiral, and his plan would be more, not less, vulnerable to a vicious circle of rising premiums and falling enrollment. He claims that it would lead to 'patient-centered care'; whatever that is supposed to mean, it would actually do nothing to increase choice."

Kruman also notes that Ryan's plans for the federal budget are also nothing but a plan to cut taxes for the ultrarich:

"The alleged deficit reduction came entirely from 'magic asterisks': claims about huge savings to be achieved by cutting unspecified government spending, huge revenue increases to be achieved by closing unspecified government spending, huge revenue increases to be achieved by closing unspecified tax loopholes. It was a con job all the way."

Why in the hell would anyone take anything Ryan says the least bit seriously? Krugman asks. And then he answers the question:

"This false symmetry — downplaying the awfulness of some candidates, vastly exaggerating the flaws of their opponents — isn't the only reason America is in the mess it's in. But it's an important part of the story. And now we're all about to pay the price."

Krugman can drop the mic now. He just explained exactly why the 2016 election could wind up being a disaster for this country and our future. We had a woman who would have made an excellent president, but instead we elected a buffoon who owes his soul to Putin and lets Paul Ryan write all the draconian policies.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

ANS -- The Media Have Finally Figured Out How to Cover Trump’s Lies

They are finally dealing with Trump as a liar, rather than with individual lies.  At least read the last paragraph.  Short ish article.  
--Kim


The Media Have Finally Figured Out How to Cover Trump's Lies

Not just falsehood by falsehood, but as the defining feature of his presidency.

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus Executive Committee on Wednesday in Washington.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump is not on the cover of Time this week, and that must gall him. The president is the subject of the magazine's cover story, the promise of which apparently persuaded him to grant it an exclusive interview. But instead of Trump's visage, the cover features a single three-word question in bold red type: "Is Truth Dead?"

Will OremusWILL OREMUS

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer. Email him at will.oremus@slate.com or follow him on Twitter.

It's a callback to Time's famous 1966 cover—"Is God Dead?"—and as such, it's an eye-catcher. Time isn't what it once was, but it still has a prominent perch on newsstands across the country. And this week, its top story highlights a side of Trump that much of the mainstream media have until recently failed, or neglected, to properly convey: his fundamental dishonesty.

The question on the magazine's cover refers to Trump's apparent ability to lie, dissemble, and distract from the truth—and to not only get away with it but to ride those lies to the world's most powerful office. The story within by Time's Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer, rightly takes Trump's dishonesty as its premise, then asks: How exactly does it work, and why, and can it possibly keep working now that he's president? It's a good story, thoughtful and—though Trump would never admit it—fair in the sense that it examines its subject's penchant for prevarication without exaggerating, distorting, or moralizing.

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More revealing still is the full interview transcript, which finds Trump inadvertently proving the story's premise at every turn. The money quote, which is also the cover story's kicker, is Trump in microcosm. Caught in a contradiction over his wiretapping claims, the president throws up one red herring after another, like a panicked homeowner hurling kitchen appliances at an intruder, before resorting finally to this: "Hey look … I can't be doing so badly, because I'm president, and you're not."

This is as clear a distillation of Trump's epistemology as you could hope for. Simply put: Might makes right.

Time is not the only mainstream publication to belatedly shine its light full-blast on Trump's mendacity. The Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial board got there this week, too, making Trump's credibility the subject of a scathing column that likened the president to a drunk clinging to a gin bottle. The implication: He's addicted to lying.

Even Fox News has begun to set boundaries around the degree of pro-Trump dishonesty it will tolerate: This week it suspended one of its top legal commentators over false claims about wiretapping, which the White House had subsequently latched onto.

On a superficial level, it's remarkable that middle-of-the-road and even conservative journalistic outlets are now breaking with their own conventions to, essentially, label the president of the United States an inveterate liar. But on a deeper level, what's remarkable is that it took them this long.

170323_POL_truthdead-TIME

That Trump is a professional peddler of smears and conspiracies has been clear from the outset. After all, we're talking about a man who built his political name around the nakedly racist and utterly false claim that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. And yet he ran a whole campaign, was elected president, and spent more than two months spouting whoppers from the White House before some of the nation's largest media outlets began to call him for what he is. And he did it all while branding his opponent as "crooked Hillary," a ploy by which he manipulated much of the media and the public into minimizing his own misdeeds by mentioning hers in the same breath. (To be fair, some major news organizations, including the New York TimesWashington Post, and Los Angeles Times, have been duly documenting and highlighting Trump's dishonesty since long before he was elected. That they've often been reticent to apply the "L-word" speaks not so much to cowardice as to the high bar they've set for deploying such a freighted term. Hearteningly, these publications have become much better about not letting Trump's false claims stand unchallenged, even in headlines.)

It isn't that Time, the Wall Street Journal, and others haven't confronted Trump on specific claims. They have, of course. But they've failed until now to recognize that his untruths amount to something much more than a series of claims to be evaluated and debunked just as the claims of any politician must be. Trump's reliance on dishonesty is not incidental to his character, or his appeal, or his approach to politics. It is his defining feature, shaping everything from how he talks, to the views he holds, to the way he conducts business and politics. If that sounds like an exaggeration, just go read the Time interview again and chase it with the Washington Post's fact-check.

Trump's lies are, and have long deserved to be, a top story in their own right. That the mainstream media have largely failed to treat them as such reveals the depth of its entrenched conventions around journalistic balance and respect for the presidency. Too many reporters and editors allow those conventions to constrain what should always be their core mission, which is to tell the public what they know to be true, no matter whom it offends or embarrasses.

The focus on Trump's credibility may be late in coming, but it's welcome nonetheless. In a way, Time—and the Wall Street Journal, and even in its way Fox News—has helped to answer that cover story's three-word question through its own actions this week. So have the members of the public who have recently withdrawn their support of Trump, plunging his approval rating to historic lows. The truth isn't dead: It's down, and Trump is kicking it. But this week, at last, it's kicking back.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fwd: Good one


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Date: Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 1:37 PM
Subject: Good one
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

ANS -- How Foreign Aid Helps Americans

This is an important piece of information that should be getting out more widely: foreign aid helps us here at home, and the foreign aid budget is less than 1% of our budget.  At least read the first and last paragraphs, but it's fairly short.  Written by Bill Gates.  
--Kim


A Real Bargain 

How Foreign Aid Helps Americans

Foreign aid is often in the hot seat, but today the heat is cranked up especially high. The United States government, one of the world's most influential donors, is considering dramatic cuts to health and development programs around the world. I understand why some Americans watch their tax dollars going overseas and wonder why we're not spending them at home. Here's my answer: These projects keep Americans safe. And by promoting health, security, and economic opportunity, they stabilize vulnerable parts of the world.

This is a lesson I've learned myself. When I first got involved in health and development more than 15 years ago, the main motivation was to save and improve people's lives around the world. That's still true today, but over the years I have come to see the tangible ways in which American aid benefits Americans too.

For one thing, it helps prevent epidemics. The most recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, but the death toll would have been much worse if the disease had spread widely in neighboring Nigeria, an international travel hub that's home to 180 million people. What contained it? Among other things, a group of health workers who were stationed there for an anti-polio campaign. They were quickly reassigned to the Ebola fight, and their efforts helped stop the disease—and keep it from crossing the Atlantic to the United States.

 Anti-polio work is protecting Americans and helping us get ready for the next epidemic.

The biggest public funder of anti-polio work has been the U.S. government, and for good reason. It is protecting Americans and helping us get ready for the next epidemic, which could be orders of magnitude deadlier than Ebola. To stop emerging diseases, we need the infrastructure built by consistent funding of well-run health programs.

Another example is America's global HIV/AIDS effort, known as PEPFAR, which began under President George W. Bush and works with some of the world's poorest countries. PEPFAR is an undeniable success. There are 11 million people with HIV who are alive today because of the medicines that it provides. Many more never got the virus in the first place because of prevention efforts supported by PEPFAR.

This is not simply a humanitarian accomplishment. For those countries it means more teachers, entrepreneurs, police officers, and health-care workers contributing to strong, stable societies. According to one bipartisan study, political instability and violent activity in African countries with PEPFAR programs dropped 40 percent between 2004 and 2015. Where there was no PEPFAR program, the decline was just 3 percent.

Better health puts nations on the path to self-sufficiency. How? When health improves, people decide to have fewer children, because they're confident that the children they do have will survive into adulthood. As family size drops, it gets easier for countries to feed, educate, and provide opportunity for their people—and that is one of the best ways to stabilize any vulnerable region.

A more stable world is good for everyone. But there are other ways that aid benefits Americans in particular. It strengthens markets for U.S. goods: of our top 15 trade partners, 11 are former aid recipients. It is also visible proof of America's global leadership. Popular support for the U.S. is high in Africa, where aid has such a dramatic impact. When you help a mother save her child's life, she never forgets. Withdrawing now would not only cost lives, it would create a leadership vacuum that others would happily fill.

 The world will not be a safer place if the U.S. stops helping other countries meet their people's needs.

Syria is a tragic example of what can happen when the key ingredients of stability don't come together. Beginning in 2007, the country experienced the worst drought in its history, driving more than a million people from rural areas into the cities, stoking political tension, and laying the foundation for the horrific civil war that continues today. Of course there were many causes of that war, and not every country that has a severe drought collapses as badly as Syria did. But the world will not be a safer place if the U.S. stops helping other countries meet their people's needs.

None of this is lost on our military leaders. More than 120 retired generals and admirals recently wrote a letter to Congress arguing that U.S. programs "are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm's way." Secretary of Defense James Mattis famously said, back when he was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other hotspots: "If you don't fully fund the State Department"—which runs many of America's key programs—"then I need to buy more ammunition."

Protecting Americans, preventing epidemics, strengthening markets, saving lives: aid delivers phenomenal benefits, and for a bargain. It represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget, not even a penny out of every dollar. It is some of the best return on investment anywhere in government. This money is well spent, it has an enormous impact, and it ought to be maintained. 

This post originally appeared on time.com.

Friday, March 17, 2017

ANS -- And Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan ...

This is a short and amusing piece about Paul Ryan and his relationship with Jesus.  Read it.  
--Kim


Photo
What would Jesus tell House Speaker Paul Ryan about looking after the sick and the needy?CreditMandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: "Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed."

Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: "But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won't take care of themselves, knowing that you'll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!"

They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, "Jesus, have pity on us."

"NO!" shouted Pious Paul. "Jesus! You don't have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don't worry about them — they've already got health care access."


Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.

"Why, they can pray for a cure," Pious Paul explained. "I call that universal health care access."

Jesus turned to the 10 lepers. "Rise and go," he told them. "Your faith has made you well." Then he turned back to Pious Paul, saying, "Let me tell you the story of the good Samaritan.

"A man was attacked by robbers who stripped him of clothes, beat him and left him half dead. A minister passed down this same road, and when he saw the injured man, he crossed to the other side and hurried on. So did a rich man who claimed to serve God. But then a despised Samaritan came by and took pity on the injured man. He bandaged his wounds and put the man on his own donkey and paid an innkeeper to nurse him to health. So which of these three should we follow?"

"Those who had mercy on him," Pious Paul said promptly.

Jesus nodded. "So go ——"

"I mean the first two," Pious Paul interjected. "For the Samaritan's work is unsustainable and sends the wrong message. It teaches travelers to take dangerous roads, knowing that others will rescue them from self-destructive behaviors. This Samaritan also seems to think it right to redistribute money from those who are successful and give it to losers. That's socialism! Meanwhile, if the rich man keeps his money, he can invest it and create jobs. So it's an act of mercy for the rich man to hurry on and ignore the robbery victim."

"How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven," Jesus mused to himself. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven."

"Let me teach you about love, Jesus — tough love!" Pious Paul explained. "You need a sustainable pro-business model. And you need to give people freedom, Jesus, the freedom to suffer misery and poverty."

"The Lord God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor," Jesus replied, emphasizing the last two words. Then he turned to a paralyzed beggar at his feet. "Stand up!" Jesus told the man. "Pick up your mat and go home." As the man danced about joyfully, Pious Paul rolled his eyes dismissively.

"Look, Jesus, you have rare talent, and it should be rewarded," Pious Paul said. "I have a partner, The Donald, who would like to work with you: He'd set up a lovely hospital, and the rich would come and pay for you to heal them. You'd get a percentage, and it'd be a real money-spinner. Overhead would be minimal because every morning you could multiply some loaves and fishes. You could strike it rich!"

"Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God," Jesus said. "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received comfort."

"Oh, come on, Jesus," Pious Paul protested. "Don't go socialist on me again. Please don't encourage class warfare. The best way to help the needy is to give public money to the rich. That then inspires the poor to work harder, galvanizes the sick to become healthy, forces the lepers to solve their own problems rather than kick back and depend on others. That's why any realistic health plan has to focus on providing less coverage for the poor, and big tax benefits for the rich. When millions of people lose health care, that's when a country is great again!"

"From everyone who has been given much," Jesus told him, "much will be required."

"Well, sure, this hospital would have a foundation to do some charity work. Maybe commissioning portraits of The Donald to hang in the entrance. But let's drop this bleeding heart nonsense about health care as a human right, and see it as a financial opportunity to reward investors. In this partnership, 62 percent of the benefits would go to the top 0.6 percent — perfect for a health care plan."

Jesus turned to Pious Paul on his left and said: "Be gone! For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; and I was sick, and you did not help me."

"But, Lord," protested Pious Paul of Ryan, "when did I see you hungry or thirsty or sick and refuse to help you? I drop your name everywhere. And I'm pro-life!"

"Truly, I say to you," Jesus responded, "as you did not help the homeless, the sick — as you did not help the least of these, you did not help me."


Thursday, March 16, 2017

ANS -- The “middle class” myth: Here’s why wages are really so low today

This is about wages dropping since the sixties, and the need to change our attitudes.  
Is this true, or is this obsolete?  Are we looking at fixing work, or the end of work?  What do you think?
--Kim


The "middle class" myth: Here's why wages are really so low today

Want to understand the failures of the "free market" and the key to getting a decent wage? Here's the real story

SKIP TO COMMENTS 

TOPICS: BLUE-COLLAREDITOR'S PICKSFAST FOOD WORKERS STRIKEFREE MARKETINCOMEINEQUALITYKFC,LABORUNIONSWAGES

The "middle class" myth: Here's why wages are really so low today(Credit: AP/Darron Cummings)

Let me tell you the story of an "unskilled" worker in America who lived better than most of today's college graduates. In the winter of 1965, Rob Stanley graduated from Chicago Vocational High School, on the city's Far South Side. Pay rent, his father told him, or get out of the house. So Stanley walked over to Interlake Steel, where he was immediately hired to shovel taconite into the blast furnace on the midnight shift. It was the crummiest job in the mill, mindless grunt work, but it paid $2.32 an hour — enough for an apartment and a car. That was enough for Stanley, whose main ambition was playing football with the local sandlot all-stars, the Bonivirs.

Stanley's wages would be the equivalent of $17.17 today — more than the "Fight For 15" movement is demanding for fast-food workers. Stanley's job was more difficult, more dangerous and more unpleasant than working the fryer at KFC (the blast furnace could heat up to 2,000 degrees). According to the laws of the free market, though, none of that is supposed to matter. All that is supposed to matter is how many people are capable of doing your job. And anyone with two arms could shovel taconite. It required even less skill than preparing dozens of finger lickin' good menu items, or keeping straight the orders of 10 customers waiting at the counter. Shovelers didn't need to speak English. In the early days of the steel industry, the job was often assigned to immigrants off the boat from Poland or Bohemia.

"You'd just sort of go on automatic pilot, shoveling ore balls all night," is how Stanley remembers the work.

Stanley's ore-shoveling gig was also considered an entry-level position. After a year in Vietnam, he came home to Chicago and enrolled in a pipefitters' apprenticeship program at Wisconsin Steel.

So why did Rob Stanley, an unskilled high school graduate, live so much better than someone with similar qualifications could even dream of today? Because the workers at Interlake Steel were represented by the United Steelworkers of America, who demanded a decent salary for all jobs. The workers at KFC are represented by nobody but themselves, so they have to accept a wage a few cents above what Congress has decided is criminal.

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The argument given against paying a living wage in fast-food restaurants is that workers are paid according to their skills, and if the teenager cleaning the grease trap wants more money, he should get an education. Like most conservative arguments, it makes sense logically, but has little connection to economic reality. Workers are not simply paid according to their skills, they're paid according to what they can negotiate with their employers. And in an era when only 6 percent of private-sector workers belong to a union, and when going on strike is almost certain to result in losing your job, low-skill workers have no negotiating power whatsoever.

Granted, Interlake Steel produced a much more useful, much more profitable product than KFC. Steel built the Brooklyn Bridge, the U.S. Navy and the Saturn rocket program. KFC spares people the hassle of frying chicken at home. So let's look at how wages have declined from middle-class to minimum-wage in a single industry: meat processing.

Slaughterhouses insist they hire immigrants because the work is so unpleasant Americans won't do it. They hired European immigrants when Upton Sinclair wrote "The Jungle," and they hire Latin American immigrants today. But it's a canard that Americans won't slaughter pigs, sheep and cows. How do we know this? Because immigration to the United States was more or less banned from 1925 to 1965, and millions of pigs, sheep and cows were slaughtered during those years. But they were slaughtered by American-born workers, earning middle-class wages. Mother Jones magazine explains what changed:

"[S]tarting in the early 1960s, a company called Iowa Beef Packers (IBP) began to revolutionize the industry, opening plants in rural areas far from union strongholds, recruiting immigrant workers from Mexico, introducing a new division of labor that eliminated the need for skilled butchers, and ruthlessly battling unions. By the late 1970s, meatpacking companies that wanted to compete with IBP had to adopt its business methods — or go out of business. Wages in the meatpacking industry soon fell by as much as 50 percent."

In Nick Reding's book "Methland," he interviews Roland Jarvis, who earned $18 an hour throwing hocks at Iowa Ham…until 1992, when the slaughterhouse was bought out by a company that broke the union, cut wages to $6.20 an hour, and eliminated all benefits. Jarvis began taking meth so he could work extra shifts, then dealing the drug to make up for his lost income.

Would Americans kill pigs for $18 an hour? Hell, yes, they would. There would be a line from Sioux City to Dubuque for those jobs. But Big Meat's defeat of Big Labor means it can now negotiate the lowest possible wages with the most desperate workers: usually Mexican immigrants who are willing to endure dangerous conditions for what would be considered a huge pile of money in their home country. Slaughterhouses hire immigrants not because they're the only workers willing to kill and cut apart pigs, but because they're the only workers willing to kill and cut apart pigs for low wages, in unsafe conditions.

In Rob Stanley's native South Side, there is more than one monument to the violence that resulted when the right of industry to bargain without the interference of labor unions was backed up by government force. In 1894, President Cleveland sent 2,500 troops to break a strike at the Pullman Palace Car Factory. On Memorial Day, 1937, Chicago police killed 10 striking workers outside the Republic Steel plant. The names of those dead are cast on a brass plaque bolted to a flagpole outside a defunct steelworkers' hall. They were as polyglot as a platoon in a World War II movie: Anderson, Causey, Francisco, Popovich, Handley, Jones, Reed, Tagliori, Tisdale, Rothmund.

I first saw those sites on a labor history tour led by "Oil Can Eddie" Sadlowski, a retired labor leader who lost a race for the presidency of the USW in 1977. Sadlowski was teaching a group of ironworkers' apprentices about their blue-collar heritage, and invited me to ride along on the bus. Oil Can Eddie had spent his life agitating for a labor movement that transcended class boundaries. He wanted laborers to think of themselves as poets, and poets to think of themselves as laborers.

"How many Mozarts are working in steel mills?" he once asked an interviewer.

In the parking lot of the ironworkers' hall, I noticed that most of the apprentices were driving brand-new pickup trucks — Dodge Rams with swollen hoods and quarter panels, a young man's first purchase with jackpot union wages. Meanwhile, I knew college graduates who earned $9.50 an hour as editorial assistants, or worked in bookstores for even less. None seemed interested in forming a union. So I asked Sadlowski why white-collar workers had never embraced the labor movement as avidly as blue-collar workers.

"The white-collar worker has kind of a Bob Cratchit attitude," he explained. "He feels he's a half-step below the boss. The boss says, 'Call me Harry.' He feels he's made it. You go to a shoe store, they got six managers. They call everybody a manager, but they pay 'em all shit."

The greatest victory of the anti-labor movement has not been in busting industries traditionally organized by unions. That's unnecessary. Those jobs have disappeared as a result of automation and outsourcing to foreign countries. In the U.S., steel industry employment has declined from 521,000 in 1974 to 150,000 today.

"When I joined the company, it had 28,000 employees," said George Ranney, a former executive at Inland Steel, an Indiana mill that was bought out by ArcelorMittal in 1998. "When I left, it had between 5,000 and 6,000. We were making the same amount of steel, 5 million tons a year, with higher quality and lower cost."

The anti-labor movement's greatest victory has been in preventing the unionization of the jobs that have replaced well-paying industrial work. Stanley was lucky: After Wisconsin Steel shut down in 1980, a casualty of obsolescence, he bounced through ill-paying gigs hanging sheetrock and tending bar before finally catching on as a plumber for the federal government. The public sector is the last bastion of the labor movement, with a 35.9 percent unionization rate. But I know other laid-off steelworkers who ended their working lives delivering soda pop or working as security guards.

Where would a high-school graduate go today if he were told to pay rent or get out of the house? He might go to KFC, where the average team member earns $7.62 an hour — 57 percent less, in real dollars, than Stanley earned for shoveling taconite. (No hourly worker at KFC earns as much as Stanley did.) The reasons given for the low pay — that fast-food work is an entry-level job that was never meant to support a family or lead to a career — are ex post facto justifications for the reality that KFC can get away with paying low wages because it doesn't fear unionization. It's a lot harder to organize workers spread across dozens of franchises than it is to organize a single steel mill.

As Oil Can Eddie pointed out, a class consciousness discourages office workers from unionizing. There's a popular discounting company in Chicago called Groupon, where the account executives — who are all expected to have bachelors' degrees — earn $37,800 a year. Adjusted for modern dollars, that's about Stanley's starting wage, without overtime. Because they're educated and sit safely at desks, they don't think of themselves as blue-collar mopes who need to strike for higher pay and better working conditions.

The fact that many of today's college graduates have the same standard of living as the lowest-skilled workers of the 1960s proves that attitude is wrong, wrong, wrong. If we want to restore what we've traditionally thought of as the middle class, we have to stop thinking of ourselves as middle class, no matter how much we earn, or what we do to earn it. "Working class" should be defined by your relationship to your employer, not whether you perform physical labor. Unless you own the business, you're working class.

"The smartest people I ever met were guys who ran cranes in the mill," Oil Can Eddie once said.

They were smart enough, at least, to get their fair share of the company's profits.

Edward McClelland is the author of "Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland." Follow him on Twitter at @tedmcclelland.