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The Morning Grumpy 5/4/12

All the news, views, and filtered excellence that’s fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. In yesterday’s grumpy, I linked to this article that demonstrated how the “vast majority of workers have been closed out of the country’s gains for nearly 40 years” as wages have remained stagnant while productivity has risen.

Today, let’s take a look at where income growth has actually increased.

Compensation for chief executives at American companies grew 15 percent in 2011 after a 28 percent rise in 2010.

Oh, but that’s an anomaly, right? Not at all, my dear.

From 1978 to 2011, CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent, a rise substantially greater than stock market growth and the painfully slow 5.7 percent growth in worker compensation over the same period.

Once upon a time, when America had a thriving middle class, CEOs made but 26 times more than the average employee in their company. Now?

They now make roughly 206 times more than workers, EPI found. The pay isn’t always tied to the performance of their businesses — as ThinkProgress has noted, CEOs at companies like Bank of America often pocket huge pay increases even as the company’s stock price plummets and jobs are cut.

Yes, our income inequality is now worse than Ivory Coast and Pakistan. Meanwhile, one of Romney’s advisers is telling us that skyrocketing inequality is good for America. Robber Barons for Romney!

2. Is Mitt Romney an erstwhile centrist republican from Massachusetts, Tea Party enthusiast, or is he just George W. Bush 2.0? Well, a quick look at the people Mitt Romney has brought on to his team as foreign policy and national security advisers, it would appear that he is turning into Bush’s “Mini-Me“.

Mitt Romney announced today his Foreign Policy and National Security Advisory Team. This group draws on a wide array of experience to advise Governor Romney on foreign policy strategy, defense issues, intelligence matters, counterterrorism, and regional policy. These advisers will assist Governor Romney as he presents his vision for restoring American leadership in the world and securing our enduring interests and ideals abroad.

Twenty-three of Romney’s most senior advisers formerly advised President G.W. Bush. Many of them held key decision-making positions within the Bush-Cheney administration. So, if you like the idea of pre-emptive war and an Israel-first at all costs foreign policy, you’re gonna love the Romney team.

You’ll find such neoconservative warriors as John Bolton (mustache enthusiast and former ambassador to the UN), Meghan O’Sullivan (deputy national security adviser on Iraq and Afghanistan under Bush), Cofer Black (former head of Blackwater), and Robert Kagan (former head of the Project for a New American Century, the grandaddy of neocon think tanks). It’s not odd that Romney would retain Bush advisers, as they are the most experienced Republicans available, but he did really seem to cherrypick the really awful ones, didn’t he?

3. Hey! Someone found a relevant use for the (IMO) completely useless social media tool, Foursquare.

Researchers from CMU’s School of Computer Science (SCS) have developed an algorithm that takes the check-ins generated when foursquare members visit participating businesses or venues, and clusters them based on a combination of the location of the venues and the groups of people who most often visit them.

This information is then mapped to reveal a city’s Livehoods. Wired’s blog says, Livehoods is “taking a big swing” at mining insights into “cultural habits and how societies flow.”

And the buzz among Twitterers includes, “Brilliant research project — Using Foursquare to understand the ‘true spirit’ of a city’s neighborhoods.”

Maps for New York, San Francisco and Pittsburgh are available on the project website. People can help choose the next city to map by voting on the Livehoods Facebook page.

I would imagine that a foursquare map of Buffalo would look very busy around HSBC Arena, Pearl Street Grill, Elmwood Avenue, and Hertel Avenue surrounded by wide swaths of emptiness. However, getting some granularity into the areas that ARE busy, would be a very useful tool for our (yet to be hired) urban planning staff at City Hall.

4. America is its own worst enemy, says Foreign Policy magazine

If America stopped searching for goblins under the bed, it might actually be able to reset its economic priorities and start investing in the things that would make the country stronger, more prosperous, and safer again, from infrastructure to energy security to better schools.

This is so true that it hurts to read it.

5. An advice column from “Ayn Randers”, courtesy of McSweeneys.

Dear Ayn,

My baby daughter is turning one year old, and I don’t know if I should throw her a birthday party or not. What should I do? I’d appreciate any advice.

One is the Loneliest Number           
 
Dear One,

DO NOT reward this tiny unemployed Jew with a party. Your so-called “baby” is most likely an immigrant (read: LAZYBONES) who doesn’t contribute to her family’s income and gives terrible, poor-people gifts like HD-DVDs and sand. Unrelated question: does your baby have any spare hands?

Hope this helps,
Ayn

Awesome. Have a great weekend!

Fact Of The Day: If all of Earth’s water were put into a sphere, it would have a diameter of 860 miles, with a volume of about 332,500,000 cubic miles. This picture puts it in perspective.

Quote Of The Day: “Beware of he who would deny you access to information for in his heart he dreams himself your master.” Commissioner Pravin Lal, U.N. Declaration of Rights

Video Of The Day: “The Last Creed Fan”

Laugh Of The Day: “Fear In The Media” – Doug Stanhope with a reminder that nothing of any significance will ever happen to us.

Song Of The Day: “Unsatisfied” – The Replacements

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com


  • Jesse Griffis

    On #1, I feel like you (and your anti-corporate sources) are cherry-picking the data.

    I’d like to see how much wealth changed for our uppers a hundred years ago, for instance. Or any time.

    Why start at 1978? What’s special about that date? Was everything great in the 70’s and I just missed something?

  • Jesse Griffis

    I’d also like to see a little consideration for the hundreds of millions of folks brought up out of poverty via globalization.

    We (well, you guys) whine about sweatshops and the like, but maybe a buck or two a day working in a shop is obviously preferable to living in abject poverty on a dirt farm.

    Perhaps average Americans would be better off if we didn’t ‘ship our jobs overseas’, but then what of the human condition of the rest of the planet?

    Wage gains that might have gone to 100 million Americans would look a lot smaller when spread out to 2000 million foreigners.

    Maybe you don’t care about all those folks who talk different from you.

    • EricSaldanha

      @Jesse – I thought that “the wogs should be grateful we’re giving them slave wages in order to civilize them” sentiment went out with Kipling.

  • I would like to see what the atmosphere would look like as a sphere.