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In a corner of the White River Valley Museum in Auburn perches a pair of white satin pumps. They’ve got sequins all over them, toe wedges several inches high and impossibly thin heels teetering even higher. They’re stunning, like something Lady Gaga would wear to stab someone in the face, and one wonders who on earth would wear these? And where? The answer turns out to be a museum staff member, who wore them at her wedding to measure up to her 6’6″ husband. It’s just one of the many fascinating stories in “Sole Obsession: 100 years of women’s shoes,” the WRVM’s latest temporary show that surveys women’s dress shoes from 1910 2010, and covers some nifty history points along its super stylish way.

As with every temporary show in the museum, it occupies just one small room but in a way, that’s just fine for a shoe show. Arranged enticingly on clear double shelves like a shoe store, the shoes stretch around the walls in chronological order, paired occasionally with period dresses from the museum’s collection and given context with informative texts, historic advertisements and cases of accessories. At the end or the beginning, if you’re under 10 years old is a dress up corner with a trunk full of hats, scarves and delightfully high heels to put on.

With around ten pairs of shoes per decade, “Sole Obsession” gives some breadth to each fashion movement. The shoes begin in the early 20th century: prim lace up boots, impossibly narrow for today’s female foot but a lot more fashionable than just plain black and brown. There’s a gorgeous two tone leather pair, and fascinating taupe suede boots with an open, sandal style lace up front from Seattle store Baxter and Baxter. The 1920s bring in dance shoes, as women get more liberated: ballet flats, T straps, and way more decoration, like glitzy gold brocade or intricate beading. Things get tougher in the 1930s, with more women doing more practical work: plain, workaday pumps in heavy satin, with the fancy Louis heel giving way to the wedgy Continental.

By the 1940s things are getting more creative, despite the war (thank you, Dior): a pair of kelly green suede slingbacks with peep toes and a wedge, alligator skin, coloful brocade. The accessories cabinet is a nice touch from curator Christine Palmer, showing scratchy looking pre war nylons along with buckles, garters and shoe forms. By the 1950s the shoes are getting their feminine groove back, matching peach tones with the era’s narrow waisted dresses and sporting metallic blues with feathers Audrey Hepburn would love. Surprisingly, the 1960s collection is demure, though still including a classic white Twiggy style ankle boot and some transparent Lucite sandals with daisies on them. But the 1970s are wonderfully crazy: four tone pumps (orange, aqua, yellow and apple green), pink metallic gladiators, vermillion wedges and some giraffe print thrown in.

Then it’s the ’80s, and here’s where you realize what’s missing from the show: non dressy shoes. While it would have been nice to see some working class boots from the 1910s, they might not have looked all that different. But street wear like Doc Martens define the punk riddled ’80s, and it’s weird not to see them. Instead we have power pumps, with pointy heels and toes, super high stilettos and gaudy bows and flowers. It’s the same thing in the 1990s, when all that Spice Girls footwear chunky high boots, hightops, knee high Roman laces are conspicuous by their absence, giving way to designer fetishes like the B minimalist Manolo Blahniks, the pink lace D’Orsays or star studded black heels on shiny golden pumps.

Finally, the 2000s, with their wild mixture of retro styles from tall lace up boots (significantly wider, now) to gaudy weaves and those impossibly tall white sequinned Gaga esque pumps. “Sole Obsession” might be lacking in street style, but it more than makes up in the fancy department. Nuggets of historical information like the Dutch Guianan inventor of the machine made shoe form give context without overwhelming, and the museum’s docents can chime in with their own experiences. And Palmer ties in cultural norms, like the sexuality of shoe terms (vamp, cleavage, breast), making these shoes a lot more thought provoking than their original owners ever imagined.
nellie timberland Exhibit at Auburn's White River Valley Museum a platform for women's shoes

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Echo Bay native Antero Tarvudd is the top local qualifier to compete in Saturday’s 50th annual, International 500 Snowmobile Race in the Michigan Sault.

The 41 year old Tarvudd, who now resides in Petoskey, Mich., completed the three day qualifying in 26th place on Thursday as lead driver for Team Applebees.

Riding a Polaris, Ryan Faust of Bunke Racing was second among qualifiers (39.621 seconds), while Gabe Bunke, also of Bunke Racing, qualified third (40.133 seconds) on a Polaris.

Meantime, Tarvudd spoke of how he and his teammates qualify as high as we’d like to, but we’re confident about Saturday.

Naithen Joseph, competing for Naithen Joseph Racing out of Goulais River,
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qualified 31st in a time of 42.939 seconds.

Joseph, 32, is riding a Polaris IQR.

Following Thursday’s final qualifying session, Joseph spoke of how he a lot of changes at the beginning of the week. We tried a lot of set ups to get faster and I think those changes helped us today.

He also spoke of possibly adding Terry Wright, a veteran driver from the Canadian Sault, to the team before Saturday’s action begins.

Ted Ritchie of Team Rivercity Motorsports wound up qualifying 36th with a top time of 44.361 seconds.

The 48 year old, about to run his 29th I 500, said he was with qualifying 36th.

“Once they drop the green flag, it’ll be okay, added Ritchie, who’s aboard a Polaris IQR. were making adjustments all of this week.

“Everyone else ran with a qualifying set up, the lead driver added. we ran consistent speeds all week and we were faster today (Thursday) that Tuesday,
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and that’s with the track being rougher.

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At the risk of beating a dead horse, this was one more confounding, discombobulating night that showed why the Edmonton Oilers are missing the playoffs for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Give up a goal on the first shot of the game for the 13th time. Go through the motions in the first 20 minutes at home. Give up a power play goal at home (Mika Zibanejad) for the 39th time in 32 games. Fail to take advantage of a Rangers’ defence with three kids who’ve played 41 NHL games. Look at a goalie who was born in Bulgaria and can’t beat him. Get a power play when Connor McDavid’s hauled down and get called for too many men on the ice a minute later when a veteran player comes on before goalie Cam Talbot can get to the bench. It no fun playing out the string when the playoffs are way out of reach we get it.

Marc Staal gets a cross checking penalty on McDavid, who was the best Oiler as usual with his 30th goal and a sweet feed to Ryan Nugent Hopkins to give him 79 points. New York, playing their third game in four nights on the road, with a kid net minder Alexandar Georgiev, who was born in Bulgaria and trained in Russia and played in Finland until coming to North America last fall, is hanging on with John Gilmour and Neal Pionk (12 games each) and Rob O (17) on D.

They got little going for the first 40 seconds or so on the power play but with Talbot coming off to give them a 6 on 4, winger Mike Cammalleri, who clearly admits he goofed, jumps on too soon and they get a penalty.

Even before the error, though, the Oilers looked disjointed on the power play.

couldn enter their zone. They did a good job stacking their line. When we had it in their end we couldn keep it alive. I think Leon (Draisaitl) stepped on the puck or stumbled in the corner and they cleared it and that ate up a good 30 seconds, said McLellan.

And the beginning to the game?

Mika Zibanejad fed a wide open Chris Kreider for a sitter 54 seconds in. Dreadful Oiler defence, Talbot had absolutely no chance on that shot against his old Rangers club.

scored on us on the game second shift. We had half a team that hadn touched the ice yet, said McLellan, who totally bummed by his club laissez faire attitude in the opening period. didn engage at all, we weren interested in physically being involved or in winning races or even the 50 50 stick battles. We barking (at them), we trying to change shift lengths, change matches. Anything to get their attention, which came in the 15 shot third, but too late. Oiler players knew they messed up early against a tired team in heavy rebuild.

didn win battles, they beat us to pucks, get possession,
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roam around our zone and we get tired, said Oiler defenceman Matt Benning.

were ready and we weren and no excuse for it, said McDavid.

Ryan Nugent Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, is shadowed by Rob O’Gara of the New York Rangers at Rogers Place in Edmonton on March 3, 2018.

Georgiev, making his third NHL start, made 35 stops and apart from a bad angle McDavid shot that squeezed through him, was very good. He not the first kid who beaten the Oilers; some have shut them out. Remember Nashville Juuse Saros this season? But, the Oilers caught a break not seeing Henrik Lundqvist, and they had three shots the first 11 minutes, and only came alive in the third.

And against a steak tartare, raw Rangers defence with another kid Tony DeAngelo, who only played 67 NHL games. No Ryan McDonagh, traded to Tampa, out there.

didn get after their young defence and they got after ours (more veteran), said McLellan.

And the Rangers babes on the blueline hung tough in the dying minutes.

thought at the end their young D defended well, they were always above guys, said McDavid.

So, the 27th place Oilers have lost three in a row. What a coach to do?

have to harp on them, push them, said McLellan.

can wave the magic wand and pound on the desk, but the players have to accept some individual responsibility. There not enough of them right now. That said, We have had some good starts and runs over the last two weeks. I was happy the way we responded,
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but the start tonight was unacceptable. start killed them at the finish.

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Tom Kawczynski was fired as the town manager of Jackman this week after his radical, racist agenda was exposed.

Kawczynski also received a $30,000 pre emptive settlement from the town for agreeing not to sue. His annual salary as town manager was $49,000.

After news about Kawczynski surfaced last week, I spent some time on his New Albion website and in the underworld of Gab, an alt right Twitter alternative, and on Kawczynski’s Facebook page.

This Jan. 23, 2018 photo provided by Tom Kawczynski shows the former Jackman town manager with the flag of New Albion, a white separatist group he leads. Kawczynski was fired from his job on Tuesday. (Courtesy Tom Kawczynski via AP)

While the white separatist and racist beliefs he espoused are terrible, I was more amazed by the openness with which he talked about his views and his goals of creating a white ethno state in Northern Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

He was proud as a peacock. And though he alluded to the liberals who would perhaps one day come after him, there was no shame in his posts or apparent concern that his ugly views would bring scorn upon him.

For several months he was right. And then dramatically, he was very wrong.

Kawczynski provided a glimpse into a racist movement and how it operates simultaneously in the shadows and right out in the open.

He provided a lesson on the way language is manipulated to hide intent, though he freely admitted that he was modifying his language in order to gain more mainstream acceptance.

And he talked about his work seemingly even during his time toiling in municipal affairs to recruit new adherents and build real political power based on racist ideology in rural Maine.

I know there are modern day Nazis, but to see cartoons and Gab handles proudly featuring swastikas was something I didn’t expect. Within this dark bigoted community, such open hatred is perfectly acceptable and there is no real fear of consequences in fact, I suspect that Kawczynski may see his Jackman downfall as a launching pad to a larger position in the larger, national white separatist movement.

Whether it’s the Aroostook Watchmen, the Sovereign Citizens or other fringe, hate motivated groups, these folks have always been with us in America. But I believe that they have been empowered to move more boldly out of the shadows by the words and actions of people like President Donald Trump and Gov. Paul LePage, who have built their political success on division, racially tinged rhetoric, anger and fear.

When the governor says people of color are the enemy and the president tries to ban Muslims from the country, people like Kawczynski hear the message loud and clear and no longer fear exposure.

If the president can say it, the leash of common sense gets a lot of slack in it.

The people of Jackman, even at a real dollar cost to them,
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did the right thing by showing Kawczynski the door. And I took pleasure in the banners around town that pushed back against his bigotry and misogyny.

But I’m also deeply discouraged. Kawczynski represents what I hope is a fringe belief system that proposes to know what it means to be a real Mainer and a real American. That identity is wrapped tightly up in being white and Christian.

The far right, however, isn’t the only group that proposes to know what it means to be a real Mainer. The slur away is still so common in Maine that it’s almost treated like a joke. But you can be from away and still be a real Mainer.

Rural lawmakers including the governor sometimes rail against Portland, Bangor and Lewiston. People there aren’t real Mainers, they suggest. Their voice, whether on local issues where there’s a progressive bent or statewide issues don’t count for as much as the Mainers from rural parts of the state. Every year, it seems, and including this year, there are efforts to limit the political influence of the state’s cities. The message is if you live in southern Maine, your vote counts less.

Every person’s status, it seems, is up for debate. Too many people are perfectly comfortable passing judgment on who is a real Mainer and who is an outsider.

In Portland, there are 61 languages spoken in the public schools. Deering High School has the most diverse student body north of Boston.

Whether they speak Portuguese or Mandarin, wear a hijab or a Rosary, whether they like soccer better than football or would rather play golf or tennis than hunt or fish, every single one of those kids is a real Mainer.

The Somali, Sudanese and Burundi communities they’re real Mainers. Just like the French, Italian, Irish and Lebanese who came before them. The hipsters from Brooklyn and the Massachusetts retirees, real Mainers.

They are all real Mainers, just like the fishermen, the farmers, the loggers and the families with three generations of papermakers are real Mainers.

All of us we’re all real Mainers. Because we choose to be here and to live among one another as neighbors and, hopefully, as friends, and to build our communities together.

Kawczynski would see us divided. Others would turn us one against the other. Sadly, they’re Mainers too.
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We are just days away from the 2018 NCAA season. Things kick off Feb. 1, as Vermont visits Furman, and then things continue to ramp up through February.

Below, here’s the one sentence preview for all 71 DI teams, as ranked in the 2018 Face Off Yearbook.

71. Hampton Seven new opponents on the Pirates’ combined DI/non DI schedule will give them opportunities to grow, and much of the most visible improvement will be on the defensive end.

70. NJIT An expanded roster and more manageable schedule structure should mean a growth year for the Highlanders, with junior Aaron Foster (34G, 9A) still carrying the offensive load.


68. Dartmouth Will a blowout loss to Brown at the end of the year along with an unacceptable two win season motivate the Big Green in 2018?

67. Manhattan Coach Drew Kelleher called his team “young and fun,” and the youthful Jaspers could sneak into the MAAC Tournament.

66. Siena A rough start with tough games had the Saints seasoned just in time for a run at the MAAC Tournament, and this year should be the same (minus Syracuse, who’s off the schedule).

65. Lafayette A new coach and an offseason tragedy make Lafayette a bit of an unknown on the field, but remember, the Leopards beat Navy last season, and the defense is still intact.

64. Quinnipiac Was 2017’s drop off (2 9 from 12 4 in ’16) a sign of what’s to come at or an aberration, or what’s most likely are they somewhere in between?

63. Wagner Back to back six win seasons show the building blocks and forward momentum that should continue with lots of returners, including points leader Andrew Streilien (28G, 15A).

62. Mercer Seniority is a key word. The Bears have grown up, especially on midfield (senior Matt Quinn and Scott Baird) and defense (Willy Deines), which will anchor the team as the attack settles in.

61. Cleveland State A group of true freshmen had a nice debut punctuated by a win against Detroit Mercy, so Year Two should build on that foundation.

60. Canisius The Griffins are now led by alum Mark Miyashita, who says the guys are buying in, and they return the league’s best offensive player in senior Connor Kearnan (35G, 24A).

59. Bellarmine The Knights, whose strength is on the defensive end, played a lot in fall in order to break in 22 freshmen.

58. Mount St. Mary’s The Mount was better than its record (4 10) in 2017, but they were plagued by youthful growing pains that should be limited in 2018 with more maturity.

57. St. John’s “We took lumps,” coach Jason Miller said in Face Off Yearbook about a majority freshmen starting squad that went 1 13.

56. Holy Cross The Crusaders lost a lot of points from last season, in which they won a Patriot League Tournament game, but the defense will lead since it is nearly intact.

55. Hartford The attack is formidable: senior Griffin Feiner (32G, 19A) is a first team All America East player; junior Dylan Jinks was once league Freshman of the Year; and senior Justin Huggins is a talented Canadian finisher.

54. Detroit Mercy There’s an upward trajectory, and the team doesn’t dwell on position based roles, but the graduation of Jason Weber in net will be tough to overcome.

53. Jacksonville Year two for John Galloway starts with momentum after the Dolphins won three of their last five games and made the conference tournament.

52. UMass Lowell It’s the first group of recruited seniors, who hopefully have the leadership to turn around four one goal losses.

51. Sacred Heart Jon Basti’s squad is faster than you think, playing a style reminiscent of Lars Tiffany’s last Brown teams, so expect a big year in the NEC.

50. Furman Five of Furman’s top six scorers return to a team that became a force in the SoCon.

49. Colgate An experienced offense anchored by Anthony Abbadessa and Sam Cleveland has Colgate optimistic about getting back to its 2015 level after two disappointing seasons.

48. Vermont Welcome back Ian MacKay, a former America East Offensive Player of the Year and a game changer for the Catamounts, who kick off the DI season with the first two games of the year.

47. Robert Morris Coach Drew McMinn thinks it could be his best team at Robert Morris with lots returners including attackmen Matt Schmidt (32G, 8A) and Adrian Torok Orban (27.7).
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It could be a longer Ever After music festival than expected this year.

Despite orders from Kitchener City Council telling the EDM festival to wrap up by 9 PM on Sunday, organizer Gabriel Mattacchione tells 570 The Mike Farwell Show he won compromise his event, and will run the show Sunday night as planned.

am not going to compromise the experience of 30,000 plus people, 70 per cent are travelling into the city and not living in the Tri cities, for a hundred complaints on one weekend. city’s bylaw division says noise complaints skyrocketed during last June’s event, which brought up to 40,
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000 festival goers to Bingemans.

In response, council approved a significant decrease in allowable noise levels coming out of the venue from 65 to 55 db, which experts say should result in a 50 per cent quieter weekend for residents.

While organizers say new technology should make for a quieter festival this year, disagreement remains over when the 3 day concert should end.

Mattacchione says he doesn believe the EDM festival has been treated fairly, suggesting the city doesn share the same taste in music.

are singling out Ever After because of the genre it is. There are other things that go on in the region that go past the 9 PM suggestion they have tabled in council. So yeah, they are singling out EDM. adds a 9 PM would rob concert goers of the best possible experience for a show largely dependent on visual displays.

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it is not the full experience of even what the artist wants to do. also posted the following statement to Facebook:

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As we drove down the 401 in the snowsquall that was hitting southwestern Ontario on Sunday, what was running through my mind wasn’t about having to shovel the snow out of the driveway when we got home. I was thinking how fortunate I was to have made sure the kids had their new winter boots and coats before now. By mid December selection is scarce and such a hassle trying to find anything decent.

Later that evening, as I sat in my favourite chair, wrapped in a warm blanket watching the snow fall, I thought about my column topic for this week. Wilson the cat was perched precariously on the arm of the chair, eyes half closed and softly purring. I listened to the furnace click on and reached for my cup of tea. Ten more minutes and another load of laundry will be ready for folding. And of course, there are always dishes to wash. I knew I should do the great dish hunt in the kids bedrooms, but it was so cozy in that chair. The glow of the Christmas tree was beautiful. It was worth all the time it took to put it together and hauling up the 20 years worth of decorations from the basement.

Downstairs, in the rec room the kids watched a Christmas movie and enjoyed treats. My husband relaxed upstairs watching yet another hockey game. And there it was, just another wintery Sunday evening. And here we were, snug and warm in our home.

It was rather bittersweet, because my column this week is about the Unity Project. You might recall back in 2001 when a group of homeless Londoners and youth activists set up camp in Campbell Memorial Park downtown. They wanted London to know that there was a serious homeless problem and a lack of affordable housing. That protest grew to what is known today as Unity Project, a remarkable and much needed service in this city. Unity Project offers emergency shelter, crash beds, drop in programs, street outreach workers and transitional housing. And there I was, in my comfortable home thinking about all the chores there were ahead of me for having such.

It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to have nothing but a few meagre possessions sitting on a shelf. No home to call your own. Nothing to take for granted. Wondering what tomorrow is going to take from you. Unity Project is no pity party. And that’s what makes it successful.

Unity Project has worked tirelessly at providing the necessities and opportunities for growth and self reliance for their clients. They do it primarily with fundraising dollars. On December 15th, with Orchestra London they are presenting a dramatic and exciting reading of A Christmas Carol at Centennial Hall. It’s a pay what you can performance and what a show it will be! Readers include some of the finest orators in town, like Gord Cudmore and Claude Pensa. Music will be provided by Orchestra London and the inspirational H. B. Beal Secondary School Singers and The London Singers.
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Something very big changed in America between the post World War II generation and the present time: That particular something was the distribution of the money generated by the growth of the American economy. In the first postwar generation, 1947 to 1973, American labor productivity average output per hour worked doubled (growing at a rate of about 2.5 percent per year). Median income the income of the average American, the American sitting on the fifty yard line rose at the same rate; it too doubled. As a society, America marched into prosperity in unwavering ranks, everyone advancing at the same rate. And Americans also managed to save about 7 percent of GDP each year.

Over the next thirty plus years, from 1973 to 2005, productivity grew at a somewhat slower rate. Nevertheless, the awful decades of the 1970s and 1980s were offset by strong growth in the high tech boom years of the 1990s, and overall labor productivity still increased by two thirds or so. But the American middle class got almost nothing of that gain. The incomes of those smack in the middle of the American income distribution increased by only 14 percent over thirty years, and almost all of that gain had come in the late Clinton years of 1995 to 2000. Simultaneously, American savings (income minus spending) dried up completely: a phenomenon not seen since the Depression.

While the median American male top income stayed flat from 1973 to 2005, the gain went to the topmost reaches of the top 10 percent. The ratio of the top 1 percent to the middle fifth went from 10 to 26 times. What caused the change A set of forces that include:An unprecedented rise in asset values: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose at about 1.3 percent per year between 1960 and 1980 (and that is not adjusted for inflation). Over the next twenty years, 1980 to 2000, it rose tenfold 1,000 percent. Whatever we may hear about America being a nation of shareholders, shareholdings are radically skewed toward the top: The top 10 percent owns 77 percent of all stocks. And the holdings are steeply skewed within the top 10 percent: The top 1 percent of American households owns one third of all stocks, the next 9 percent owns 43 percent, and the remaining 90 percent of Americans owns 23 percent (including 401[k]s). Housing prices also rose, and the wealthiest families own the biggest houses and benefit disproportionately from the advantageous tax treatment lavished on home ownership.

Government policy: Under Eisenhower, whom no one ever called a radical, top tax brackets extended up to 90 percent (snaring marginal bracket dollars from no more than about three hundred very rich people); in the 1960s, they were about 70 percent; in 1986, they were lowered to 28 percent and have moved around since, but were never pushed back up to the ranges that prevailed during the faster growth, more equitable America of the first postwar period. They are now about 35 percent. Under George W. Bush, the government cut away at inheritance taxes (and even eliminated them entirely as of 2010, but only until January 1, 2011, when pre Bush rates are scheduled to return unless the law is changed: The elderly rich are likely to be especially fearful around Christmas 2010). Inheritance taxes affect only the top 1.5 percent.

Immigration: Huge, recent waves of unskilled immigrants, legal and illegal, compete for low wage jobs, pulling down the bottom of the income scale.

Imports and offshoring: The influx of imported goods pushed down employment and pricing power at American manufacturers, which typically paid higher wages than did the big battalion service employers, retail and fast food restaurants, squeezing wages. Moving industrial production offshore even the threat to do so holds down demands for higher wages. Offshoring, until recently confined to industrial production, is rapidly extending into white collar jobs in such diverse industries as finance, insurance, accounting, law, and engineering the product flows instantly through the Internet, enabling employment to relocate to places such as India and the Philippines, where comparable skills can cost as little as one fifth of American rates.

Decline of unions: Unions more or less disappeared as a major force in most of the private sector. The Reagan administration was far more successful in its war on unions than in its war on drugs, beginning with the air traffic controller strike. And of course, increased foreign competition and the weakening of the giant, mass production, oligopoly industries such as steel (the core of union power) combined to radically reduce unions ability to sustain wages.

Technology: It is not the production of high tech goods, but their use in business that is often cited as an important factor that has increased inequality. economy uses more technology than, for example, Scandinavia or Germany, where significant increases in income inequality have not been recorded.

Culture: It seems to us that there has been a cumulating and massive cultural change regarding income inequality: CEO pay is a good indicator. In the 1960s, CEOs of large companies were on the top of the income pile, paid as much as thirty times the average worker; by 2000, the ratio had gone up tenfold, to three hundred times the income of the average worker. It would be difficult to argue that CEOs, or their companies, performed better in the twenty first century when Congress voted to repeal the inheritance tax than they did in the postwar period.

Is there a connection between rapidly rising inequality, stagnant middle class earnings, and the collapse of savings in the United States It is very likely that these trends are all closely linked. Faced with stagnant incomes, seeing themselves falling behind those above them on the income scale, and spending their evenings watching Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, what did the average American family do they worked more. By 2005, families in the middle fifth of the income distribution were working 500 hours, or 12 weeks, longer per year than in 1979. Most of this was due to women entering paid employment: In 1966, 20 percent of mothers of children under three years old worked outside the home; by 1994, it was 60 percent and rising, though child care arrangements did not improve much.

Second, they borrowed. And they borrowed bigger and bigger. Household debt rose at an annual rate of 10 percent between the end of 1999 and the third quarter of 2003. Between 1966 and 2006, this debt, adjusted for inflation, rose by almost 3,000 percent. A big hunk of the debt was for mortgages on houses; more and more Americans became homeowners, and houses, unlike families, grew bigger. But, though mortgage debt rose from about one third of GDP in 1990 to over 80 percent now, home equity (the percentage of the house not owed as mortgage debt) fell from two thirds of GDP in 1990 to one half of GDP by 2006; it has, infamously, fallen since. From 1979 on, American politics seemed to be making the nightmare of nineteenth century classical liberals irrational pessimism come true, as politician after politician called for caps on taxes and increases in spending, the most recent example being George W. Bush. Up until the coming of the widening of the American income distribution, such borrow and spend policies had little attraction to the American electorate. That changed as incomes began pulling apart in the 1970s, starting with Howard Jarvis in California in 1979 and reaching full spate with George W. Bush.

Government deficits went from a brief flirtation with zero and even surpluses (which count as savings) at the end of the 1990s into larger and larger deficits in the new century and new administration. Corporations followed suit: Corporate debt shot up by one third to about $4 trillion between 1997 and 2007. Household debt mortgages, credit cards, auto and student loans went from 64 percent of GDP in 1997, to about 100 percent in 2007. What assets did Americans borrow against Only Uncle Sam can borrow on a simple obligation to repay, and only Uncle Sam owns the printing press (as long as he borrows in dollars, that is).

They borrowed on rising asset values. Between 1960 and 1980, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose from 617 to 824 much less than zero, once you take inflation into account. But from 1980 to 2000, the average went from 824 to 11,357 more than a tenfold increase. House prices also rose: in 1980, the average house sold for $62,000; in 2006, in went for $245,000, about a fourfold increase, with the big increases coming after 2000. And nearly everyone knew that house prices would continue to rise. The Federal Reserve, aided by China, did its part to help, cutting interest rates after the 2001 dot com stock market bust, thereby enabling the same monthly payment to carry much higher debt. If tech stocks could no longer do it for them, Americans could still get rich selling their houses to one another.

And they could buy the houses with money borrowed, ultimately, from China. Given the unbalanced flows of goods from China to the United States, a corresponding flow of money from China back to the United States is necessary. If the Chinese produce more than they consume, someone has to buy the stuff or else production halts. If the United States is to buy more than it produces, someone (China) has to sell the stuff and lend it the money to buy the goods. The flow of goods is direct: from the manufacturer to Wal Mart to the consumer. The flows of money, however, are indirect. In order for the individual American homeowner or customer to borrow money, someone had to lend it to him or her. And neither the government of China nor Chinese banks nor Chinese manufacturers do that directly. The flow of money is “intermediated” by the US financial system, which decides who gets to borrow and on what terms, whether for mortgages or credit card debt, for new plants and equipment, or for stock buybacks.

Over the past ten to fifteen years, finance always an important force in the American economy and in policy making became a dominant force, perhaps the dominant force. It dominated in several reinforcing ways: as the leading growth sector generating swelling incomes and profits; as a substantial contributor to increasing income inequality; as a shaper of business behavior, government policy, and American ideology; and, of course, as the major precipitator of the current financial and economic crisis.

As manufacturing declined as a percentage of what Americans produced from 21 percent of GDP in 1980 to 14 percent in 2002, finance grew to fill the gap exactly! As a percentage of what Americans produce, finance rose from 14 percent of GDP in 1980 to 21 percent in 2002. Though manufacturing declined as a proportion of what Americans produce, manufactured goods did not decline significantly as a proportion of what they buy. The difference, of course, is imported, overwhelmingly from East Asia. economy. And though just about every think tank and politician issued dire warnings about soaring health care costs, none came forth with programs, or even warnings, to restrain the growth of finance. corporate profits, up from its historical post war average of between 10 percent and 15 percent. The 40 percent substantially underestimates finance share of total profits, because significant proportions of the finance industry venture funds and hedge funds, for example are typically not organized as corporations. Moreover, the estimates do not usually include profits from the wholly owned finance subsidiaries of industrial firms such as Ford, whose financing division was responsible for all of the automobile company pretax profits in 2002 and 2003. By 2007, the peak year, finance profits shot up to represent 47 percent of corporate earnings.

As finance banking in all its multifarious forms expanded to become the leading growth sector and the biggest profit generator, remuneration in banking (earnings is the preferred euphemism) zoomed up past the other sectors. This had not always been the case; it hadn been since the late 1920s. From 1948 to 1980, average pay in finance was pretty much the same as in other industries. By 2005, it had increased to double the average pay in the other industries, and bank tellers, of which there are still many, don get paid very much. The top “earners” in finance, however, pocketed prodigious sums, and the next two, three, or four tiers down also did marvelously well by any standards. They were the pacesetters in America rush to ever greater income inequality.

The basic function of the finance system is to round up savings from all over and to channel them to the most productive use. The American financial system dreadfully failed in the performance of its key function, and it was that failure to prudently and responsibly manage the allocation of capital that transformed the fundamentally unsustainable imbalance in America foreign trade and debt position into a financial and economic crisis of global and historic proportion.

Everyone who could participated. Top Wall Street bankers, Congress, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the secretaries of the Treasury, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and other antiregulation government regulators, the press, finance professors at business schools, fresh grown grassroots mortgage originators, corporate CEOs, and home buyers whose undisguised ignorance rivaled their transparent mendacity. Even honest and often self righteous macroeconomists (ourselves as well as the great herd), studying the data that showed productivity in the United States growing far faster than in Europe, grew cautiously convinced that the deregulating, entrepreneurial, free up the market American approach was yielding world beater results. economy in recent, finance driven years.

Corporations as well as households loaded debt onto equity. New finance theory conveniently explained that nonfinancial corporations could and should borrow money not only for productive investment, but also for buying back their own shares. corporations bought back some $831 billion of their stock, whole number multiples of their earnings. Of course, the tsunami of corporate borrowings used to buy back stock was a major contributor to rising stock prices and, therefore, to soaring executive incentive based compensation. It was also a nice business for the bankers, though it left the companies financially weakened should hard times hit and earnings fall.

Finance was the driving force. It had achieved the cultural dominance that so often goes hand in hand with economic dominance: its gigantism and ubiquity, its tonic impact on the entire economy, its fabulous success, the sheer gushing of money, its generous funding of elected politicians, its seconding of its top executives to top posts throughout the regulatory apparatus of government, and its simple and powerful message of “let the market work its magic.” It was so easy. Nobody had to take responsibility; nobody had to do anything. It all cumulated to finance full blown capture of government and culture. How else to explain the tepid opposition to the repeal of the estate tax that hit, at most, the top 2 percent Though a few tried to sound the alert, day after day, up and down, in and out, in government, in the media, in society itself, no other voices were heard.

There is no limit to the list of what and who went wrong. Incentives were perverse, and this was not totally because of some fit of absentmindedness. Smart, aggressive managers of very big funds of pooled savings were marvelously rewarded by how much they could book as instant profits. This, of course, propelled their decisions toward grabbing for short term profits and ignoring the costs of longer term risk. It paid wildly to roll the dice on other people money: One way, you, the manager, win colossal sums. The other way, you take no losses, but other people do, later, after you cashed out.

The banks were innovative, hiring superbright math students and setting them to create derivatives, derivatives squared, and, ultimately, derivatives cubed. Permitting house mortgages and other debt to be packaged in large bundles and “securitized,” the banks made synthetic debt products, thus enabling investors to buy slices (or tranches) of that debt based synthetic according to taste: higher risk with higher returns; lower risk with lower returns. Mortgages were no longer mainly originated by local banks, which knew the local market, knew the clients, demanded serious documentation of ability to pay on the loan, and kept many of them on their own books. Now, all kinds of new mortgage brokers set up shop, sold mortgages with either insouciance or complicity to buyers who could not qualify under normal scrutiny and who could only pay their debt if the house price would continue to rise and they could flip or finance against a higher notional value. Many traditional banks adopted the new model. Why carefully check out the borrower It arduous and, worse, expensive to do. They wisecracked about Ninja loans no income, no job, no assets but wrote them, anyway. Wall Street, where the product was stuffed into long, limp casings and then sliced and the slices were sliced and etherealized into mathematical functions did little, if anything, to make sure that its product would pass sanitary codes.

No finance “FDA” insisted on carefully examining and testing innovative financial “food and drugs.” The regulators did not regulate very eagerly, thoroughly, or energetically; they were, as usual but also by design, understaffed. And now they were run at the top by political appointees who were outspoken in their commitment to cut away the morass of regulators and regulations that inhibited market innovation. The attitude of the regulators mirrored that of political Washington: Cut back interference in the market.

It would take a brave banker to refuse to play and watch competitors rake in vast profits not just for a few quick weeks, but year after compounding, marvelous year. He would not only have to be brave and preternaturally confident, but very well defended. The board would clamor for returns at least comparable to competitor banks, and the market would reward their zeal and, presumably, severely punish any lack of it. Chuck Prince, the CEO of Citi, seems to have understood what was going on. He famously remarked: “When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you got to get up and dance. We still dancing.”
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QU Le gouvernement Couillard n’a pas dit toute la v en annon publiquement le co final pr du projet informatique SAGIR la semaine derni

lire aussi: La petite histoire d’une grande

En commission parlementaire, le nouveau pr du Conseil du tr Carlos Leitao, a d que sortes de chiffres circulent sur SAGIR et il a donn la parole son fonctionnaire responsable du projet, qui a annonc un co final de 570 M$. Or, ce que les contribuables paieront est beaucoup plus

Notre Bureau d’enqu a obtenu du gouvernement la liste de tous les frais connexes du projet SAGIR. Il y en a pour un monstrueux total de 710 M$. Ces co ne sont pas inclus dans la facture totale annonc publiquement, nous a confirm Qu

Qu a donc pu exclure une foule de d directement li SAGIR (voir tableau ci dessous) qui se retrouvent plut dans des colonnes budg qui n’ pas rendues publiques avant qu’on les demande.

Rebaptis chire par des fonctionnaires catastroph par la tournure du projet, SAGIR vise la modernisation de tous les syst informatiques de gestion de l’administration publique qu

Le projet initial devait co 83 M$. Le projet final co pr de 15 fois plus cher.

La facture annonc publiquement est seulement pour le d et l’implantation du projet, nous dit on.

En janvier, nous r que des frais similaires de 450 M$ s’ajoutaient l’autre gros m informatique du Qu le Dossier sant Qu Le minist de la Sant comparait ces co aux changements d’huile et l’essence lorsqu’on s’ach une voiture.

L’essence et l’huile commencent co plut cher aux contribuables, comme le montrent les diff montants connexes SAGIR.

ne peut pas s’applaudir admet le respon du projet

Le haut fonctionnaire responsable de SAGIR est le premier reconna que le projet informatique ne m pas d’

ce qui est du temps de d on a commenc en 2005 et deux phases sur sept r en 2015. On ne peut pas s’applaudir, comme performance admet sans d Denys Jean, le grand patron du Centre des services partag l’organisme gouvernemental responsable de SAGIR.

Mandat d

ce poste depuis le d de l’ann 2015, Denys Jean s’est vu confier, par le gouvernement lib le d mandat de mener bien la poursuite de SAGIR.

Il a accept de r toutes nos questions et de nous fournir toutes les informations demand sur le projet.

Il ne tente pas d’excuser les erreurs du pass dans le projet et son mandat est d’assurer un serr pour la suite, avec les phases 4 7 qui n’ont pas encore commencCe qui est son avis, c’est le respect des co de d pr Sur les frais de r il admet que c’est beaucoup d’argent, mais que ceux ci respectent ce qui pr

M. Jean rappelle qu’il s’agit d’un syst et pour le Qu

SAGIR traite plus de 74 G$ en paiements par ann et il est utilis par plus de 85 000 fonctionnaires. Il s’agit de la plus importante implantation informatique port horizontale (plusieurs minist et organismes) jamais r au Qu50 M$ SAGIR est aliment par un logiciel de la firme am Oracle, qui a annonc la fin de vie de la version utilis par Qu Il faut donc faire la mise niveau au co de 50 M$. Pour Qu c’est un co d’ et non de C’est pour cette raison que les fonctionnaires ont d de ne pas l’inclure.

35 M$ Qu a d payer des financiers de 35 M$ en sur les emprunts temporaires et dette long terme pour SAGIR. Le gouvernement a aussi d de ne pas inclure cette somme dans le budget annonc

208 M$ En frais connexes ont servi payer le recours des consultants priv Soulignons que dans le premier demi milliard d en contrats pour SAGIR, 98 % (502 M$) ont servi payer des consultants priv tandis que 2 % (12 M$) ont servi payer de l’

282 M$ Frais pour des correctifs de s mise niveau de logiciel, soutien technique, loyer, administration, d formation, fournitures, t traitement et avantages sociaux d’employ internes. Ces co de fonctionnement n’ont pas inclus eux non plus dans le budget annonc

134,7 M$ SAGIR est la deuxi version du projet GIRES, lanc en 1998 et annul en 2003. 134,7 M$ se sont alors envol M si un projet est la suite de l’autre, pour Qu la perte de l’un ne doit pas incluse dans le budget de l’autre. Au total, les contribuables paieront donc, au minimum, 1,2 G$. C’est sans compter que, chaque ann un budget de 50 M$ additionnel est pr pour les frais d’exploitation de SAGIR.
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