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NY Times Editorial Board Offers Their Very Serious People Bona Fides

12:47 pm in Government, Media, Politics, Veterans, War by dakine01

Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace

I took a bit of a roundabout path to reading this Op-Ed from the New York Times Editorial Board. I am still seething after having first read it a couple of hours ago. It seems whichever member of the Editorial Board that authored this, thinks the military members are not “sacrificing” enough so pay and benefits need to be “on the table.” As I looked through the short bios of the various members of the Editorial Board, it is fairly obvious that few if any of them have actually had much experience of military life beyond the obligatory “I support the Troops” or “Thank you for your service” they may have uttered in an airport somewhere.

From the editorial:

Big-ticket weapons like aircraft carriers and the F-35 fighter jet have to be part of any conversation about cutting Pentagon spending to satisfy the mandatory budget reductions known as the sequester. But compensation for military personnel has to be on the table, too — even though no other defense issue is more politically volatile or emotionally fraught.

After a decade of war, the very idea of cutting benefits to soldiers, sailors and Marines who put their lives on the line seems ungrateful. But America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is over or winding down, and the Pentagon is obliged to find nearly $1 trillion in savings over 10 years. Tough choices will be required in all parts of the budget. Compensation includes pay, retirement benefits, health care and housing allowances. It consumes about half the military budget, and it is increasing.

Pete Peterson would be so proud and I’m sure the Beltway Village Idiots Politicians, Pundits, and Courtiers in Washington are chagrined that they couldn’t get Very Serious People credit for proposing this first.

Proposals like this are in my mind, another facet of the austerity movement seeking to cut back the social safety net for Veterans and the working poor. The people making these proposals see statistics, they do not see human beings. Please let me assure you, all those military members are first and foremost humans. They are sons and brothers, daughters and mothers. As I wrote on Veterans Day 2012, there are almost as many reasons for people serving as there are people serving.

If they really do see a need for cuts to the Pentagon bloat, there are a whole host of areas that should be “on the table” before member pay and benefits is on the horizon. The F35 Joint Strike Force fighter is a good start with its cost per plane doubling from $81M to $162M. There are currently ten Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carriers with an operational life of 50 years. The first (USS Nimitz) went online in 1975 so is still within its original operational window for a dozen more years. The tenth (USS George H.W. Bush) was commissioned in 2009. Planned de-commissioning costs for the Nimitz-class carriers is $750M – $900M (versus roughly $53M to de-commission a conventional non-nuclear carrier.)

Then we have the next generation of super-carriers, the Ford class with three scheduled for construction and commissioning in 2016, 2020, and 2025. The current projected cost is $9B for construction of the first of these (USS Gerald R. Ford on top of $5B for original R&D and Engineering.

I don’t know but I just have to think we really do not need a new floating nuclear powered city rolling off the construction gangways every five years from now until 2060.

Since the Op-Ed specified concerns about the costs of health care for military, I googled “military health care costs on the rise.” I admit I am skeptical when the first item shown is from “Third-Way,” our old “friends” pushing the Grand Bargain to cut Social Security. But let’s give them a mild benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be an across the board savings and cost benefit to institute a Medicare for All/Single Payer health care system? After all, a major component of the costs of Health Care is actually the cost of Health Insurance, not treatment costs in and of themselves.

I will make one proposal that will definitely save a fair amount of money in salary and benefits across the board. As I wrote here back in 2010, it would be beneficial on a myriad of levels to cut back on the numbers of Flag Officers and associated staff. That is the ultimate definition of a “win-win” for all concerned.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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It’s Time to Stop Digging

1:48 pm in Economy, Government, Media, Politics by dakine01

Well, the Republican Congressional Arson Committee was out-voted Wednesday and the government shutdown has ended and the debt ceiling has been raised. At least for a few months. Now come the analyses striving to set the Conventional Wisdom.

First up we had this from McClatchy on Tuesday, before the shutdown had been ended:

WASHINGTON — It may be one of the most serious missteps of the federal government shutdown.

After weeks of planning, the nation’s spy chief sent home nearly three-quarters of the workers at the government’s intelligence agencies when faced with the partial shutdown. The move, James Clapper later admitted himself, put the United States at greater risk of terrorist attacks. He then reversed course and brought thousands of employees back to work.

Fix The Jobs THEN Fix The Debt

Fix The Jobs THEN Fix The Debt

Of course, as I noted in this post the other day, when there is a shutdown, the managers are almost required to make things as painful as possible for the maximum numbers of people to show the people pushing for the shutdown what happens. For myself, I would have preferred more oversight people kept working than those within the NSA and other members of the so-called “Intelligence Community” being allowed to spy on average citizens within the US, but that’s just me.

Tiger Beat On the Potomac (h/t Mr Pierce) offers up an “Anatomy of a Shutdown.”

Bloomberg reports on the “Republican Civil War“:

A battle for control of the Republican Party has erupted as an emboldened Tea Party moved to oust senators who voted to reopen the government while business groups mobilized to defeat allies of the small-government movement.

CNN’s article on the ending of the shutdown was a bit pessimistic:

The debt cushion now extends through February 7, with current spending levels being authorized through January 15.

That means a few months of breathing room, but little more. After all, the bill doesn’t address many of the contentious and complicated issues — from changes to entitlement programs to tax reform — that continue to divide Democrats and Republicans.

Ah yes, our old friend “entitlement reform.” What a hoary old chestnut that is turning out to be. Why just yesterday the folks at “Fix the Debt” (Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles’s attempt to stay relevant and invited on talking head shows) held a “Twitter chat.” As Business Insider noted, it did not go well:

“Fix the Debt” just felt Twitter’s sweet, trollish wrath.

Championed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, Fix the Debt — which The Nation magazine called a “fearmongering campaign to convince Americans that the deficits the United States has run throughout its history have suddenly metastasized” — held a Twitter live chat this afternoon to discuss next steps in America’s ongoing fiscal squabble.

And it didn’t go so well, with the #fixthedebtqa soon teeming with jokesters and those very much against Fix the Debt’s message.

My phrase of choice for people such as Simpson and Bowles and the rest of the austerity freaks is “willfully obtuse.” Between the shutdown, sequester, and overall fear-mongering of the last few weeks, the general economic consensus is the US economy took a $24B hit. Now, anyone who has read my posts these past few years is aware that I am not a big fan of most CW spouting economists but given how often they are surprised at the end results of things, my WAG is the $24B figure is probably conservative.

A note for the Fix the Debt folks (and Paul Ryan who used a Wall St Journal opinion piece to push for “entitlement reform”,) Harry Reid is quoted as saying, it ain’t happening. Now, Reid has backed off some of these type statements in the past, so we just have to make sure to hold him to his words.

I continue to be dumbfounded at the words and actions of people who think nothing of cutting funds for the elderly and the poor in order to throw more money at the DoD or Banksters or BigAg or Big Pharma or Big Insurance. As I noted here a few months ago, most people receiving Social Security are getting what amounts to less than a minimum wage. For many that is the only income they have. And as Forbes notes yesterday, minimum wage workers are not getting rich (though businesses that rely on them are and sticking the taxpayers with the bill.)

So all of you Beltway Village Idiots Pundits, Politicians, and Courtiers, why don’t we do something unique from these last half dozen year. Let’s create some decent paying jobs, build the economy in the US, send a few economic criminals to jail rather than giving them multi-million dollar bonuses, and see what the result is for the economy and those “entitlement” programs. You might be surprised that jobs would mean people paying in would extend the life of these programs with no action required to fiddle and fuck with them.

Besides, if the Russian astronomers are correct, we might be hit with an asteroid in August of 2032, making things moot.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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Oh the Oppression! Oh the Tyranny! Oh the doG-awful Whining With No Reason!

10:55 am in Government, Media, Politics by dakine01

I was looking through various “news” web sites this morning when I came across this article from Tiger Beat On the Potomac (h/t Mr Pierce). The headline alone made me shake my head, “Wall Street gets misty as Bloomberg departs” then it just got worse as I read the “article”:

Michael Bloomberg - Cartoon

Michael Bloomberg – Cartoon

Michael Bloomberg isn’t leaving office until January but Wall Street is already beginning to miss the New York City mayor — and bracing for a possible backlash from his replacement.

In his 12 years leading the city, Bloomberg has been a vocal champion of New York’s business and banking communities. When the knives have come out, he has time and again come to the defense of the financial services industry without batting an eye at the political reality that advocating for Wall Street is a highly unpopular move for public officials.

Awwww. Da poor widdle babies have their fee-fees hurt by those big bad people, led by a politician who thinks they might do a bit more to pay for services:

Many in New York’s business and financial elite, stung by the abrupt ascent of Bill de Blasio, an unapologetic tax-the-rich liberal, are fixated on a single question: What are we going to do?

The idea that someone like DiBlasio might replace Bloomberg as NYC Mayor seems to set alarums blaring among the power elite and rich in New York.

Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break.

A couple of years or so ago, I wrote a diary after reading some whines from JP Morgan/Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Now we have more of the rich 1% from Wall St whining about how their taxes might go up and how dare he! From Raw Story:

New York City, like much of the nation, is living with a vast divide between rich and poor. In appearances leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, Brooklyn-based Democrat di Blasio decried these inequalities, saying, “We are not, by our nature, an elitist city. We are not a city for the chosen few,” statements that have set off alarm bells among the city’s top tier of business leaders and the well-to-do.

Oh those oppressed Titans of Wall St and Masters of the Universe! They are so oppressed, just like the Fundamentalist Christians and straight white men, they never get things their way. Why, they just might have to go on Food Stamps after they pay their taxes in a DiBlasio administration:

When it comes to average per capita wealth, New York City has been eclipsed by a handful of other locales, but the city that never sleeps still holds sway in the public imagination as the capital of capital, the center of the financial industry, and a place where a $235,000 salary still only counts as middle class. But, as a couple of recent articles show, New York isn’t just a center of American wealth: it’s also a center of American wealth inequality, a place where the divide between the very rich and the very poor is sometimes only a matter of a few hundred feet … as the crow flies.

I’m sure you’ll pardon me if I shed no tears for these members of the Clueless Class.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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A 9/11 Takeaway: Media Consolidation in Action

12:51 pm in Media by dakine01

Online News

Online News

A couple of years ago, just before the 10 year mark after the 9/11 attack, I wrote this blog post, “A Personal Reflection on September 11, 2001.” If you haven’t read it, please go and do so and I’ll wait for you. It won’t take too long.

You’re back? Cool. But just in case you didn’t want to take the time to read, I want to quote my final paragraph:

The other thing that has stood out in my mind since September 11, 2001, besides wondering about the folks I passed each day going to and from work, was seeing the affects of media consolidation. Like many people, my attention span is not always able to stay with one thing for all that long sometimes. I recall channel surfing that morning and afternoon. I think except for Turner Classic Movies and maybe the Weather Channel, most every other cable and broadcast network available was broadcasting their parent’s top news anchors. TNT and TBS were with CNN. ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel all had ABC News. CBS News was on MTV, VHI, BET and the other Viacom networks. Fox News was on FX, Fox Sports, National Geographic, and some others. NBC News was on USA, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, and others. I had sixty some channels available to me on the Springfield cable system yet there were only five news sources showing.

This has been the biggest takeaway for me from that day — the media consolidation where the local cable system had over sixty available channels yet only five available news options. We see it in some respects each and every Sunday with the Sunday Talking Heads but those shows are generally speaking to the inside the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits, Politicians, and Courtiers. For most of us, it takes a day of tragedy such as September 11, 2001 to really see media consolidation in action.

While there has been some movement of individual cable networks between and among these five major media companies, and even sales from one owner to another (such as GE selling NBC/Universal to Comcast), the following links will give you a good idea of who owns what in the media these days. I am using the wiki for most of these links out of standard laziness.

Time Warner Assets (parent of CNN)

Viacom Assets (CBS)

Disney Assets (ABC)

News Corp Assets (Fox)

Comcast Assets (NBCUniversal)

Columbia Journalism Review has this list of the above companies as well as many other media companies that extends beyond just the cable networks I have been talking about here.

I do not have a solution. I wish sometimes that the various news divisions within these organizations still reflected the pioneers of broadcast journalism. Even as he sometimes did commercial shows, Edward R Murrow brought in depth reporting. Walter Cronkite did a few appearances in network shows and movies but maintained his credibility. NBC gave us Chet Huntley and David Brinkley then John Chancellor. I would hesitate to designate any current news anchors from these big 5 broadcast media groups as an heir to these men. Instead of a Huntley or Brinkley, we get Disco Dave Gregory and his dance party. Instead of a Howard K. Smith or Harry Reasoner we get The Clinton Guy Shocked by Blow Jobs (h/t Mr Pierce).

Infotainment at best. Pablum for the masses for the most part.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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Thoughts on Labor Day 2013

3:30 pm in Economy, Jobs, Media, Politics by dakine01

Labor Day Parade

Labor Day Parade, Peoria, IL

Well, well, well. As I look back the last couple of years, it seems I have established a small tradition of writing something about Labor Day. This is the post I wrote in 2011 and this is last year’s post. As I read my words from the last two years, I recognize that very little has changed in some ways yet in others, we have seen some massive changes.

Labor Day 2011 was just before the start of Occupy Wall St. Today, two years later, we are seeing fast food and retail workers staging strikes for higher wages. While many people are able to ignore the demands of these workers, there is coverage in the TradMed, albeit at the local level. This is a positive thing, even as so much of the news cycles are taken up by the rush to war with Syria (and it is a rush to war, no matter how the words and proposed actions may be caveated as “limited.”

Yesterday (Saturday, August 31) the Firedoglake Book Salon was Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty, the plight of young adults from working class families. NBC News has been doing a series titled In Plain Sight: Poverty In America which has been covering all aspects of living poor in today’s United States. Yet with all the discussion in some parts of the TradMed on working poor (and as I first wrote a couple of years ago, trying to live on minimum wage is at best an exercise in treading water), we are more likely to find articles like this one from ABC News yesterday with the title Top Labor Day 2013 ‘Made in America’ Sales or this one from International Business Times titled Labor Day Sales 2013: 27 Stores To Score The Best Deals And Discounts This Weekend. The Denver Post today (Sunday, September 1) had this article titled New culture of work, both virtual and traditional, on Labor Day 2013 while the Washington Post had this blog post on the failure of schools to teach anything about the labor movement:

Major textbooks, among other things, often represent labor organizing as inherently violence, and virtually ignore the role organized labor played in winning broad social protections such as child labor laws, Social Security and Medicare.

Scholars say this [is] a result of the unfavorable view the business community and some politicians hold towards unions, an attitude that appears in textbooks that are approved by states in processes that are very political.

So as you sit down to your barbecue or grilled whatever this Labor Day; as you seek out the best deals at the store for whatever Labor Day sales this weekend; remember that the working poor, the laborers if you will, are probably not getting a paid day off. Or maybe they are among the long term un and underemployed who probably are not sitting down to a nice cook out meal to celebrate the “end of summer.”

When the politicians make their Labor Day statements, remember their actions towards labor rather than their words.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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So what about the rest of your workforce?

6:39 am in Economy, Jobs, Media by dakine01

These last few years, I have occasionally found myself watching the TV show Undercover Boss. From the wiki:

On Tonight's "Undercover Boss" on CBS:  Kendall-Jackson Wineries CEO Rich Tigner

Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss is an Emmy Award-winning television franchise series created by Stephen Lambert and produced in many countries. It originated in 2009 on the British Channel 4.[1] The show’s format features the experiences of senior executives working undercover in their own companies to investigate how their firms really work and to identify how they can be improved, as well as to reward hard-working employees.

Each episode features a high-ranking executive or the owner of a corporation going undercover as an entry-level employee in his or her own company. The executives alter their appearance and assume an alias and fictional back-story. The fictitious explanation given for the accompanying camera crew is that the executives are being filmed as part of a documentary about entry-level workers in a particular industry, or a competition with another individual with the winner getting a job with the company. They spend approximately one to two weeks undercover (one week being the norm in some editions, such as the U.S. version, and two weeks in some other versions, such as the Australian edition), working in various areas of their company’s operations, with a different job and in most cases a different location each day. They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

My bold

Now, I have laughed at some of the “…series of predicaments with amusing results…” It can be very amusing to see someone who spends the bulk of their time behind a desk trying to wrestle a pallet loader or make a bed or wait on a customer. But there was always something that bothered me about the show and I eventually figured it out. It goes to the pieces of the wiki that I have bolded – “…rewarding hard-working employees” and “…learning about their professional and personal challenges.” The wiki for the US version of the show has a bit that covers much of what bothers me about it, from a review in the Washington Post:

The Washington Post, in a negative review, said that Undercover Boss “is a hollow catharsis for a nation already strung out on the futility of resenting those who occupy CEO suites.”

Further from the Washington Post review:

And in trickle-down style comes a show in which ordinary people get paid exactly nothing to experience the strangest sort of practical joke in their workplace, as if they’re being “Punk’d” by a Successories poster: The head of the company wants to work alongside them, but — get this — they won’t know it’s him. And the sad part is, rather than tell a story about middle-class anger, “Undercover Boss” is drizzled with the feel-good syrup of corporate bunk.

Most of the shows I’ve seen have the “undercover” person meeting front line workers and being shown how the person does the job. As the worker and undercover boss do the task(s), they talk together and we hear the stories of the workers. It may be how the worker is a single mother worrying about how she will pay for her children’s education. It may be the story of how the worker volunteers at a homeless shelter. Whatever the story the worker has to tell, it is usually some variation on heart warming to heart wrenching. At the end of the episode, the workers the “undercover boss” has met are brought to the headquarters where they then meet the boss in his/her real life. Sometimes they recognize the person they knew as a worker, sometimes they don’t but they always seem to be shocked at the news they have been working with a big cheese. Almost invariably, the boss will reward the worker(s) – sometimes it might be a new car to replace the junker the worker has been using to transport food for the food pantry. It might be a scholarship fund or it might be a no interest loan for home repairs. Sometimes the boss creates a new position within the organization for the worker but no matter what special reward is provided, it is always a feel good moment.

But for all the feel good moments within the shows, what about all the other “Hard-working employees” who do not appear on camera dealing with the “undercover boss?” What will the organization do about the “professional and personal challenges” of the hundreds and thousands of other employees who are not privileged? Would it be possible for the businesses, producers, CBS, and other networks showing this TV series to maybe start doing little things like paying living wages, funding defined benefit retirement plans, providing full health care coverage to all employees? Maybe they could work to assure their companies aren’t polluting the environment, maybe fewer feel good moments at the end of a television episode and more moments of businesses recognizing the values of all workers, not just the ones the show’s producers decide can increase a couple of ratings points.

No, I am not going to hold my breath.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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There are no magic wands.

12:47 pm in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government, Media by dakine01

Occupy Wall Street sign

Occupy Wall Street sign

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Mr Pierce’s joint and saw he had a post up and the video of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box this past Friday (July 12), talking about her proposed legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act from the 1930s. I made it almost to the end of the video snippet Mr Pierce had posted when I heard a preposterous question (Columbia Journalism Review identifies the questioner as one Joe Kernen – and accurately identifies the question as a straw-man):

Sullivan’s dumb question is followed by a straw man question from Joe Kernan about how Glass-Steagall—all by itself—wouldn’t have prevented the financial crisis. Warren has amiably knocked that one down before (not coincidentally, it came from CNBCer and NYTer Andrew Ross Sorkin), and she does here as well.

As I was writing this diary, I came across an article from Fortune Magazine on Monday where the author first claims:

Last week, the unlikely political pair introduced a bill aimed at recreating the 1933 law. The effort is welcomed, but the protections of Glass-Steagall aren’t a cure-all for bank risk today — its repeal didn’t cause the financial crisis. And reinstating the law likely won’t protect Americans from another one.

Then immediately follows this first paragraph with this:

This isn’t to say a law like Glass-Steagall isn’t needed. Warren and McCain’s proposal would separate traditional banks that offer your standard checking and savings accounts insured by The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from riskier institutions, such as those involved in investment banking, the sale of insurance products, hedge funds, private equity, and the like.

When did we reach the point where proposed legislation like Glass-Steagall is being presented as a miracle cure/magic wand that will cure all the ills? We do not live in a binary world where the options are all-or-nothing. Senator Warren maintained her composure and pointed out to the Wall St Shills Squawk Box hosts this exact point.

Yet this is no where near the first time we hear Beltway Village Idiots Pundits, Politicians, and Courtiers use the argument that X legislation won’t totally solve a problem in-and-of itself so we should not do anything at all. I’m thinking right now specifically of the opposition to even the most basic expansion of background checks at gun shows. Background checks alone will not solve the problems with the proliferation of guns but they just might keep them out of the hands of some folks who should not be allowed to carry (criminals for example.) Will someone who is intent on obtaining a weapon going to be stopped? Probably not. But what is wrong in making it a tad more difficult for them?

We do not live in a binary world, so let’s stop trying to pretend that the solutions are only binary. Oh, and Jim Cramer? When you have to protest that Senator Warren did not make an impact on the issue of Glass-Steagall with her appearance? You pretty much confirm that she DID make an impact.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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McJobs: Bad and Getting Worse

1:37 pm in Economy, Jobs, Media, Politics, Unemployment by dakine01

A couple of years ago, you might remember that McDonalds got a lot of publicity out of a one day hiring binge. I wrote about it here with a follow-up about the Washington Post noticing that it was a “McJobs” economic recovery a couple of weeks later. So here we are, two years later and where exactly are we?

At best, we are treading water. At best.

Today, NBC News‘ web site had this article titled ”In tough economy, fast food workers grow old” discussing the reality of older workers working in the fast food world. They had a companion article on fast food jobs as portrayed in the movies over the past couple of years (presumably in an attempt to off-set the negative implications of the original) but the stories in the first article should be heeded:

In many ways, she is a typical fast-food worker: She’s older than you’d expect, has more years of schooling and works in the industry not for entry-level experience, but to try to keep her head above the financial storm that threatens to swamp her.

Due to the lingering effects of the Great Recession, the Hollywood image of the care-free, freckle-faced, teenage hamburger flipper is no longer the norm. Only 16 percent of fast food industry jobs now go to teens, down from 25 percent a decade ago.

And many of the older workers are educated. More than 42 percent of restaurant and fast-food employees over the age of 25 have at least some college education, including 753,000 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jobs: Recovery is at Hand!

Jobs: Recovery is at Hand!

Yes, fast food jobs are not just for teenagers anymore.

I’ve actually noticed a few articles these past few months discussing working poor, low wage jobs, and the on-going unemployment crisis. First up is this from the Washington Post in January on the growing ranks of working poor:

Nearly a third of the nation’s working families earn salaries so low that they struggle to pay for their necessities, according to a new report.

The ranks of the so-called working poor have grown even as the nation has created new jobs for 27 consecutive months and is showing other signs of shaking off the worst effects of the recession.

As I discussed a couple of years ago, minimum wage is not a salary where someone is going to get ahead.

At the end of March, NBC News had an article looking at the growing ranks of poor families in the suburbs:

The number of suburban residents living in poverty rose by nearly 64 percent between 2000 and 2011, to about 16.4 million people, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of 95 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. That’s more than double the rate of growth for urban poverty in those areas.

At the end of this article, there were links to some further articles including, “‘By the grace of God’: How workers survive on $7.25 per hour” and “Media coverage of poverty: Why ‘so little’?” (coverage of a Dan Froomkin essay.)

On April 1 (and not an April Fools Day joke) CNN had an article on the lousy pay at the 10 most common jobs in the US:

Food prep workers are the third most-common job in the U.S., but have the lowest pay, at a mere $18,720 a year for 2012. Cashiers and waiters are also popular professions, but the average pay at these jobs tallies up to less than $21,000 annually. There are 4.3 million retail sales workers out there, making them the most common job, but the position pays only $25,310 for the year.

As a companion to the incredibly shrinking pay checks and the increase in the working poor, there are also the stresses put on workers by the jobs. First up here is this article from NBC News in early January, “Temp employees more likely to succumb to workplace hazards: Read the rest of this entry →

Jobs and Social Security

8:44 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Media, Politics, Social Security, Unemployment by dakine01

Job forms

Unemployment is up a fraction of a percent.

The January Jobs reports are out and for once, there is a modicum of (somewhat) good news. The Labor Department reported 157K new jobs for January 2013 and significantly revised both November and December 2012 numbers upwards:

Employers added 157,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said, which was right in line with analyst expectations. The best news, though, was that revised estimates put job creation in November and December much higher than earlier estimated; the nation added a whopping 247,000 jobs in November and 196,000 in December, revisions that place those numbers a combined 127,000 jobs above earlier estimates.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent, however, as both the number of people reporting having a job and the number looking for one edged up.

I’m sure we will hear a lot about how the January figures were “…right in line with analyst expectations” given how they are usually “surprised” that their predictions are wrong.

The .1% uptick in the unemployment rate (from 7.8% to 7.9% is not all that much of a surprise – or shouldn’t be – if the economy truly is improving after all these years. The BLS U6 figure for the un/underemployed and marginally attached folks was unchanged at 14.4% (a figure that I believe is low but can’t prove). Bloomberg reported the jobs news as:

Sustained hiring gains will give incomes a lift, buffering American workers from the sting of higher payroll taxes and helping them keep spending. At the same time, bigger employment advances are needed to drive down a jobless rate that Federal Reserve officials say is too high.

We can but hope Bloomberg is correct in this analysis that incomes will be lifted.

This past Wednesday, ADP reported 192K private sector jobs for January (versus 166K reported by BLS – see Bloomberg link).

One of the areas that seems to escape a lot of notice is how the jobs reports impacts the Social Security Trust Fund. Bloomberg touches on this with the mention of higher wages offsetting “…the sting of higher payroll taxes” but still seems to miss how higher employment will provide more funds to keep Social Security running without needing to be “fixed.”

Of course, this in no way will stop people like Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post from offering up his fantasy of cutting Social Security as part of a “sequestration”:

To be effective, a sequester has to hit millions of Americans so hard that, if it took effect, mobs of outraged voters would storm Capitol Hill.

Here’s my modest proposal to do that. Unless congressional negotiators agreed on at least $1 trillion in deficit cuts over a decade — personally, I’d go higher — then the desired amount would be raised in two ways: half from across-the-board income-tax increases and half from across-the-board Social Security cuts. People would see their take-home pay and retiree benefits reduced. There would be no mystery.

…snip…

It won’t happen. Truth in journalism: I have proposed this before. There were no takers. It would astonish me if there were any now. But the point is that there is a path to agreement. The fact that our so-called leaders don’t take it reflects their calculation that disagreeing is better politics.

Thankfully, he has had no takers so he has a sad

Allison Linn at NBC News offers a counter to Samuelson and his gibberish with this report of a survey with results that fly in the face of so much Beltway Conventional Wisdom:

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Today’s Anti-Social Security Propaganda

8:40 am in Economy, Government, Jobs, Media, Politics, Social Security, Unemployment by dakine01

FDR Quote on Social Security

FDR Quote on Social Security

Well, it looks like there is a new push on in the long term destruction of Social Security today. Now, I usually write about the plight of the long term unemployed and underemployed but I am getting close to Social Security eligibility so decided I would discuss the anti Social Security effort today.

I’ll start with Fact Free Fred Hiatt’s Concern Troll op-ed in today’s (Monday, January 28) Washington Post. It seems Mr Hiatt wants to offer his advice to President Obama on “entitlement reform” using the guise of how Democrats and Republicans view the past four years:

To achieve a fiscal compromise, Obama agreed in 2011 negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner to changes in Social Security that would be anathema to liberals, but Boehner walked away from the talks.
…snip…

Both histories are factually correct. That coherent accounts can be written either way ought to suggest to partisans that neither version is quite the slam-dunk they imagine.

At a minimum, it ought to propel the White House to continue acting in the national interest, whichever party that seems to serve. And for a long time, Obama has said the national interest requires both revenue increases and reform of entitlement programs.

Once again, Mr Hiatt and the Post are pushing the myth that Social Security is a part of the overall Federal Budget and needs to be “controlled” to “fix the deficit” when in fact, Social Security loans to the Genera Fund have been propping up the Federal Budget for decades, allowing for the tax cuts over the years.

While I expect this type of nonsense from the Washington Post, today’s Tampa Bay Times had a decidedly misleading headline (“US spends far more on seniors than on kids.”) How is it misleading?

In 2008, all government (local state, and federal) spent $26,255 on average for each person 65 or older, most of which is Social Security and Medicare.

The blurb on children spending:

Conversely, the federal government spends relatively little on children and Medicaid is the largest single item. State and local governments spend much more on children because they pay for schools. But overall, governments spend far more than double on seniors than they do on children 18 and younger.

Finally, at the very bottom of this post, the Times offers a couple of caveats to offset the misleading nature of their headline and opening:

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