Tag Archives: working people

Regulations help working people, deregulation serves corporate interests

Whose interests are served by repealing existing regulations and curbing future ones? In light of recent anti-regulation efforts pushed by Congress and the Trump administration, Economic Policy Institute labor counsel Celine McNicholas and director of policy Heidi Shierholz raise the question with a new fact sheet.

The following is comment from the Economic Policy Institute.

Regulations often help working people, while deregulation primarily benefits corporate interests and can have devastating consequences for the economy. Not only does regulation help make the economy more fair, but the lack of sensible regulations can lead to economic catastrophe and the loss of millions of jobs.

Regulations provide the structure and the details that a law needs to function. They are not static, and can be updated to adapt to changing norms. Research has found that regulations have a neutral or modestly positive effect on employment. While regulations may sometimes cause a reduction of jobs in one area, new jobs are will be created in another.

“The belief that financial markets can ‘self-regulate’ is a myth,” says Shierholz. “Deregulation and lax enforcement played a major role in the housing bubble and the financial crisis. Nearly nine million jobs were lost in the resulting Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.”

The fact sheet outlines various regulations that Congress is attempting to repeal or has repealed using a rarely used procedure called the Congressional Review Act — such as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order and the OSHA recordkeeping rule — which directly benefit working people and which hold private interests responsible for workplace rights and safety violations.

The fact sheet also explains proposed congressional actions that limit future regulations from being implemented — such as the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would make congressional approval required for a major rule to take effect. This would make it more difficult to hold private interests accountable.

“In examining efforts to repeal regulations, it is important to consider whose interests are served,” says McNicholas. “We should be skeptical of claims that regulation hurts the economy, because the truth is that deregulation often hurts working people and allows corporate interests to get a free pass on public accountability.”

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, was created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. Today, with global competition expanding, wage inequality rising, and the methods and nature of work changing in fundamental ways, it is as crucial as ever that people who work for a living have a voice in the economic discourse.

Trump budget threatens dream of buying, owning a home

The NeighborWorks Alliance of Wisconsin Chair Noel Halvorsen issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s budget proposal which would eliminate the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, commonly referred to as NeighborWorks America:

The proposal by the White House will have a detrimental impact on people in every part of Wisconsin when it comes to achieving and maintaining homeownership.

Communities throughout Wisconsin have experienced positive economic impact from the housing and community development activities provided by the NeighborWorks Alliance of Wisconsin, which is made up of six groups all chartered by NeighborWorks America.

In our most recent Economic Impact Study, it showed that in 2014 the impact of homeownership services and development activities from the NeighborWorks Alliance of Wisconsin sustained 495 jobs and generated more than $69.17 million in economic activity.

These findings demonstrate the value of NeighborWorks organizations in supporting homeownership and community development.

Losing NeighborWorks America would be a tremendous setback for communities across Wisconsin.

Although the agency’s budget is small, less than three thousandths of a percent of the federal budget, the 1.4 million that came to Wisconsin in 2016 was leveraged into tens of millions of direct investment in homes and neighborhoods and generated $13.8 million in real estate and income tax revenue at all levels of government.

Unfortunately, the White House proposal goes even further and includes elimination of:

• the HOME program.



• Funding for Habitat, Enterprise, LISC, and more.

Essentially, the budget proposal empties the federal toolbox for underserved market housing investment  and community revitalization.

That would mean fewer Wisconsin families buying homes and less renovation of blighted houses in at-risk neighborhoods.

The NeighborWorks Alliance of Wisconsin calls on Congress to reject the president’s proposal and craft a budget that maintains NeighborWorks America and other critical agencies and programs that help families achieve and maintain the American Dream and help all of us build stronger communities.

Oscars rich in tales of wealthy and poor

Early in “Captain Phillips,” the cargo ship captain (Tom Hanks) and his wife (Catherine Keener) drive from their Vermont home to the airport where he’ll take a flight to his next job, one that will bring him face-to-face with the less fortunate on the other side of the globe. Like the chatter of so many couples, their conversation turns to their general feeling of economic uncertainty.

“It just seems like the world’s movin’ so fast,” says Phillips, wondering about the future their kids will inherit. “Big wheels are turning.”

This year, many of the Academy Award-nominated films bubble with such undercurrents of worry, navigating the deep waters that separate the haves and the have-nots.

The lavish Oscar ceremony may be one of the highest profile parties of the year for the chosen few, but the theme of inequality is just as visible in the season’s nominees — from the dusty, dying towns of “Nebraska” to the Madoff-like fall-from-grace in “Blue Jasmine.” Tales of con-artists striving to short-cut their way to wealth (“American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”) are joined by stories of detached observers of decadence (“The Great Beauty,” “The Great Gatsby”).

Of these films, Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with five nominations, including best picture, is the most hotly debated. Though set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, its portrait of stock broker excess has struck a chord with contemporary viewers. But it has polarized moviegoers over whether it glorifies the over-indulgence of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).

“What’s the emotion behind making the picture?” says Scorsese. “There’s a lot of anger. I didn’t go hang out in Zuccotti Park, so this is a way of expressing the frustration and also recognizing it. It’s not going to go away if you don’t look at it.”

Since a film typically demands years of work, the movies can take a while to catch up to societal trends.

Many of this year’s Oscar candidates were being written or planned as Occupy Wall Street protesters swarmed downtown New York in late 2011, and outrage grew at the expanding distance between the poor and wealthy.

Though some films were initially conceived before such issues were in the headlines, movies can take on the energy of their times during production. Payne’s “Nebraska,” nominated in six categories including best picture, is about an aging working-class man (Bruce Dern) who believes he’s won $1 million from a junk mail sweepstakes.

Payne says his black-and-white film about barren Midwest lives, while “a little comedy,” has a “sub-basement theme of waste and depression and forlornness. … So, yeah, all those elements showed up even more palpably in the film because of the time in which we were making it.”

Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” up for three Oscars including best actress for Cate Blanchett, was inspired, Allen has said, by a New York family ruined by the financial collapse. Playing a Manhattan socialite both before and after her husband’s fraud is revealed, Blanchett drew from interviews with Ruth Madoff.

“It wasn’t the monumental, historic fraud that her husband perpetrated,” says Blanchett. “It was the domestic betrayal of the affair that in the end she found most painful and morally repugnant.”

Blanchett’s Jasmine lives a life of fiction as bankrupt as her checking account. In David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” (nominated for 10 Oscars including best picture), nearly everyone is living some kind of fantasy — and hoping to cash in.

“We’re all conning ourselves one way or another, just to get through life,” says Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld as he combs over a hair piece.

There’s also a pervasive theme of simple survival in some of the best films of 2013, from the lost-in-space adventure “Gravity” (10 nominations) to the slave odyssey “12 Years a Slave” (nine nods). In the minimalistic shipwreck drama “All Is Lost” (one nomination), a sailor’s boat is randomly damaged by the detritus of global commerce: a shipping container.

Baz Luhrmann’s “Gatsby” (two nominations) and Italy’s “The Great Beauty” (the foreign-language film favorite) both revel in and recoil at the nightlife of decaying eras: late ‘20s New York or modern Rome.

DiCaprio, star of “Gatsby” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” marvels at history’s redundancy.

“Look at us right now,” he says. “We’ve had this gigantic economic crash but a few years later, here we are and everything’s sort of recalibrated itself and the economy’s booming.”

Yet while period films with contemporary overtones have been lauded by the Academy, many of the most current films were passed over: Harmony Korine’s neon nightmare “Spring Breakers,” Sofia Coppola’s teenage robbery caper “The Bling Ring” and Michael Bay’s beefed-up satire “Pain & Gain.” All depict runaway materialism, warped by delusion and sunshine.

Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips,” up for six awards including best picture, might have easily been just from the perspective of the American hero, says lead Tom Hanks. But the film gives equal attention to the story of the terrorizing Somali pirates, who live in poverty and corruption but alongside a well-trafficked trade route.

“Every ship that goes by has BMWs and tennis shoes and TV sets and peanuts on it,” says Hanks. “So the source of their hopelessness is worthy of some degree of examination and some degree of dramatization.

“It’s not the same movie unless you have that element to it.”