PA Economic News and Opinion for September 23, 2011

A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.

Woohoo, it’s Friday! Only 12 hours till quit’in time!  Here is your run down of the morning’s news.

So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare? … What we know for sure, however, is that policy has consistently tilted to the advantage of the wealthy as opposed to the middle class. Some of the most important aspects of that tilt involved such things as the sustained attack on organized labor and financial deregulation, which created huge fortunes even as it paved the way for economic disaster. For today, however, let’s focus just on taxes.

Krugman is great today. Read it all and share widely.

Tyson Foods Inc. agreed to pay as much as $32 million to settle 12-year-old litigation over whether it should pay its hourly poultry-plant workers for the time it takes them to get in and out of their work clothes and gear. Under the settlement, which was approved Thursday by a federal judge in Columbus, Ga., Tyson Foods will pay as much as $17.5 million to 16,703 workers, and as much as $14.5 million in attorney’s fees.

There is a lot of money to be made in sweating workers.  This is why with high unemployment and a slow growing economy, corporate profits are sky high.  Employers can systematically extract unpaid effort from workers who are scared they might lose their job.

“A Tyson Foods Inc. unit (TSN) reached a settlement in a sex-discrimination case under which it will pay nearly $2.3 million to more than 1,650 female job applicants that were rejected for employment at four plants. The meat-processing company also agreed to offer jobs to at least 220 of the women as jobs become available at three of the plants, located in Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa. The fourth plant closed in 2006. The Labor Department found the company violated regulations that prohibit companies with federal contracts from discriminating on the basis of sex. The agreement resolves the latest in a string of discrimination lawsuits filed against the company, according to the Labor Department … A 2008 decision determined that Tyson had discriminated against Latino applicants in hiring for entry-level positions. Another settlement was reached last year after evidence was found the company discriminated against 157 African-American and 375 Caucasian job applicants.”

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is currently in the middle of a campaign for “sensible regulations.”  Sensible regulations are like mom and apple pie; what’s not to love?

But remember there is a difference between what you think is sensible and what the business lobby thinks is sensible. To the business lobby, what just happened to Tyson Foods is a horrible injustice, big government punishing a job creator.  The regulations in the economy that Tyson Foods and the NFIB are typically trying to change are those that keep the air and water clean, make sure that workers are paid fairly for their work and that guarantee women don’t miss out on employment opportunity because of their gender!

A U.S. State Department probe into the situation at the plant continues. In an initial report, the department said the majority of the complaints resulted from insufficient pre-departure orientation, difficult work, high housing costs, few cultural opportunities and lack of responsiveness by the host organization.

What is it with food processing companies?

Morgan Stanley, whose shares have fallen by more than 40 per cent in the past three months, bore the brunt of the early selling, falling to levels last seen when the company was faltering in the financial crisis at the end of 2008. Investors responded to a widely circulated post on the Zerohedge blog, which pointed to a $39bn exposure to France, where doubts over the stability of the banking system have hit the country’s financial groups and international counterparties.

Exempting U.S. companies from paying taxes on overseas profits would benefit Pennsylvania companies like Air Products, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey told colleagues Thursday during a discussion on tax reform. Under the current tax system, American companies earning money abroad pay taxes to the foreign country as well as to the United States. Recently there’s been a push to follow countries like Canada and Japan and drop the domestic tax. Toomey brought up the notion of a “territorial tax system” during an almost four-hour ‘supercommittee’ hearing on tax reform. Republican Toomey, of Zionsville, also discussed the rationale for keeping capital gains taxes low.

God bless America Multinationals!