For the past three decades, Nelson Mandela has been swathed in global media adulation unlike any other human being in history. No pope, president, king, war hero, movie star, or rock star can boast of having been the beneficiary of such undiluted, unalloyed, and unbroken acclaim. It is common for totalitarian dictators to employ their state-controlled media to create a worshipful cult of personality about themselves — Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Fidel Castro, Kim Il-sung — but outside of their countries there are usually journalists and media organs that will report their crimes, failings, and misdeeds. Mandela has not had to worry about dirty laundry; he is the first individual to achieve a near-universal cult of personality on the global level, thanks entirely to the unparalleled glorification campaign bestowed upon him by the major media in the United States and Europe.
By standards of previous generations, the middle class has been stripmined of income, assets and purchasing power.
What does it take to be middle class nowadays? A recent paper, The Distribution of Household Income and the Middle Class, used Census data to discuss what sort of income it takes to qualify as middle class, but reached no firm conclusion: people tend to self-report that they belong to the middle class based on income, but income is not the only the metric–indeed, it can be argued that 12 other factors are more telling measures of middle class membership than income.
In Why the Middle Class Is Doomed (April 17, 2012) I listed five “threshold” characteristics of membership in the middle class:
1. Meaningful healthcare insurance
2. Significant equity (25%-50%) in a home or other real estate
3. Income/expenses that enable the household to save at least 6% of its income
4. Significant retirement funds: 401Ks, IRAs, etc.
5. The ability to service all debt and expenses over the medium-term if one of the primary household wage-earners lose their job
I then added a taken-for-granted sixth:….
An Ottawa woman is calling out retailer H&M for their practice of hiring “just-in-time” employees; workers who are asked to be available for work, but with little notice of when they might be working.
Michelle Linthorne, 19, says she was recently hired by H&M at theBayshore Shopping Centre in Ottawa and considered it a dream job.
But she says she only worked two shifts and didn’t know until 7:30 in the morning if they’ll need her that day.
“So far they’ve put me on on-call shifts and told me that there is pretty much no way that I’m going to get called in, but I still need to be available for them,” saidLinthorne.
Getting called in on short notice isn’t new for part-time or casual workers, but Canadian Labour Congress executive vice-president Barb Byers said keeping part-time employees in a sort of on-call limbo is a regular complaint right across Canada in the retail sector.
Almost a third of the country’s half-million bank tellers rely on some form of public assistance to get by, according to a report due out Wednesday.
Researchers say taxpayers are doling out nearly $900 million a year to supplement the wages of bank tellers, which amounts to a public subsidy for multibillion-dollar banks. The workers collect $105 million in food stamps, $250 million through the earned income tax credit and $534 million by way of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center.
INFLATION has dropped to less than one per cent in the European Union after years of moderate increases in prices of two to five per cent. But this apparent good news is creating concerns writes Professor Enrico Colombatto.
Inflation is now down to 0.9 per cent in the EU area and to 0.7 per cent in the euro area. This should be good news as ensuring price stability is the job of central bankers. They should be doing their best to bring inflation even closer to zero.
But Europe’s central bankers have made it clear that they do not want zero inflation and are worried by the prospect of a generalised decrease in prices – deflation.
So why is deflation a problem?
Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe’s staggering unemployment problem?
Look no further than a single Ikea furniture store on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
The company wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Within 48 hours, more than 20,000 people had applied online for those 400 jobs. The volume crashed Ikea’s computer servers in Spain.