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Has the ‘War On Women’ been declared a Jobs Program yet?

10:29 am in Culture, Government, Jobs by dakine01

A Job Program and A Sales Program, all In One! (image: donkeyhotey/flickr)

A Jobs Program and A Sales Program, All In One! (image: donkeyhotey/flickr)

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It has been fascinating, albeit in an unpleasant way, to watch the War On Women unfold this month. There’s more than a little irony that we are seeing this “war” take place in March when March is annually the month to celebrate Women’s History. That’s a problem as many of the battles that women have fought for over the years are being re-fought this year, so how can we celebrate them as history?

Actually, the best way I think to celebrate is to fight against the current iteration of the war. As I wrote a couple of years ago, I love strong women, but that gives me no more the right to tell any woman how she should live her life than the state has a right to do. Yet all over the country, we are seeing state and federal elected officials propose that a women considering abortion has to undergo an invasive, unnecessary procedure that’s only purpose is to attempt to intimidate a woman as if she has no will and awareness of her own.

The justifications for these proposed laws are about as patronizing and condescending as there is. The attempted obfuscations (“Religious Freedom!”) rival the worst of what we’ve seen. Really, about the only smoke screen we haven’t seen is someone trying to defend these attacks on women as a job creation effort.

Maybe they just haven’t thought of it before. They do manage to keep re-cycling the same standard activities and call them Jobs programs. Tax Cuts! = Jobs Programs. De-regulation = Jobs Program. Drill, Baby, Drill = Jobs Program.

I guess the only reason they may have not linked the War On Women to a Jobs Program is it really wouldn’t be a Jobs Program. The sad thing is, I would wager they could find thousands of people willing to volunteer as “Chief Busybody and Slut Shamer.” Do they understand that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is not really a “How-to” guide? Read the rest of this entry →

The (Official) Double Dip Moves Closer

10:43 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

"just take one dip and end it"

"just take one dip and end it" by peyri on flickr

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Back about six weeks ago, I predicted that the economy was headed for an official “double-dip” recession. Today’s Commerce Department report on the economy showed the second quarter of 2011 GDP growth at 1.3% but also reported a downward revision to the 1st quarter GDP from 1.9% to .4%. This is after the original 1st quarter numbers had been revised upwards slightly from 1.8% back in June.

The economy grew at a 1.3 percent annual pace in the second quarter after expanding just 0.4 percent in the first three months of the year. First-quarter growth was revised from the previously reported 1.9 percent increase. 

While the recovery stepped-up in the second quarter, economists had expected a stronger 1.9 percent reading.

Fourth-quarter [2010] growth was revised to a 2.3 percent rate from 3.1 percent.

Now, I have been using the phrase “officially a double-dip” because for the millions of people among the long term un and underemployed, we’ve never left the Great Recession/Lesser Depression. It has been all one long scene of watching our unemployment run out, our savings and retirement plans get cashed in and spent while trying to survive and keep a roof over our heads. And this is not just limited to those folks covered by the official un and underemployment lists but includes the new college graduates from the last few years trying to find employment in their fields. It also includes the folks who gave up and filed for Social Security if they were eligible, just to have some money coming in. It includes all the folks who are now considered “independent contractors” or “self-employed.” Read the rest of this entry →

Is There Possibility Of A Glimmer Of A Clue?

1:55 pm in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government, Jobs, Media, Unemployment by dakine01

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Clue Game 1960

Clue Game 1960 by Thrift Store Addict, on Flickr

No. It probably isn’t. Probably just some more wishful thinking on my part. Nevertheless, I was quite surprised this morning to see a few pieces around the web pointing out that a “new Republican Jobs bill” was just another tired rehash of the same failed policies of the last thirty years. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post, Paul Krugman at the NY Times, Steve Benen at Washington Monthly all pounded on the Republican “Plan” and for good reason. From the Klein link:

The best evidence that Washington has forgotten about the jobs crisis is to look at the plans emerging to address it. Yesterday’s House GOP plan was a perfect example. It was, as MIT economist David Autor told me, a classic case of “now-more-than-everism”: Everything on the agenda was also on the GOP’s agenda in 2006, in 2002, in 1987, etc. It’s lower taxes, less spending, fewer regulations, more trade agreements, more domestic oil production. You can argue about whether these proposals are good for the economy. But as Autor says, there’s “no original thinking here directed at addressing the employment problem.” 

Actually, you can argue whether those “proposals” are good for the economy as we have thirty years of evidence that they are not good for the economy.

Krugman points to how foolish it is to try to negotiate with the Republicans on these issues (as does Blue Texan at FDL this afternoon). Krugman said:

Anyway, the new “jobs plan” illustrates, once again, the foolishness of believing that we can reach any real bipartisan agreement on economic policy. The GOP stopped thinking a long time ago; all it knows how to do is parrot Reaganite rhetoric over and over. And there’s so little there there that the document — look at it! — has to rely on extra-large type and lots of pointless pictures to bulk it out even to 10 pages. 

Benen is even less forgiving than both Klein and Krugman:

As we discussed yesterday, the jobs agenda, such as it is, is practically a conservative cliche: the GOP wants massive tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, more coastal oil drilling, and huge cuts to public investment. Republicans are confident this will work wonders, just as they were equally confident about the identical agenda in the last decade, and the decade before that, and the decade before that. 

Indeed, the most glaring problem with the GOP jobs agenda is that it won’t work, but nearly as painful is the realization that it’s already been tried, over and over again, to no avail. They either don’t care or can’t understand the famous axiom: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The agenda is the agenda: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, cut public investments. Good times and bad, deficit or surplus, war or peace, it just doesn’t matter.

It’s as if someone bought an iPod, uploaded one song, and hit “shuffle.”

Read the rest of this entry →

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…

10:37 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Media, Unemployment by dakine01

i'll have some

i'll have some by dotpolka, on Flickr

I

assume that by now, many folks are aware of the hoax press release purportedly from GE declaring that they were going to be (“press release” from BusinessInsider):

…gifting its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 Billion, to the US Treasury on April 18, Tax Day, and will furthermore adopt a host of new policies that secure its position as a leader in corporate social responsibility.

If you are unaware of the source of the $3.2 Billion figure, this NY Times story from March explains things.

Now, as soon as I saw this “press release” I started looking for the “April Fools” tag. For me, the tells were:

Immelt acknowledged no wrongdoing. “All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal,” Immelt noted. “But Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance.

and

In tandem with the gift, the company is also announcing a host of new policies to restore public faith in the GE brand, including a commitment to keep American jobs in America, and to create one U.S. job for each new job created abroad.

Other folks (like emptywheel) who saw it had their own tells of course but those two really jumped out at me. Earlier this month (April 4) the NY Times Economix blog had a post on Tax Havens…

Our budget deficit would be smaller – and pressure to cut social programs lower – if corporate tax revenues had not declined over time relative to gross domestic product and relative to individual income tax revenues.

Corporate America is a world leader in creative tax minimization. As David Kocieniewski reported in The New York Times, General Electric used some particularly innovative strategies to take advantage of overseas tax havens, including “offshore profit-shifting.”

The Boeing Corporation, a major federal contractor, has had a net rebate in federal taxes over the last three years, and a total tax rate of 4.5 percent over the last five years, though the company points to pension contributions and research credits that have reduced the bill.
Read the rest of this entry →

The Rush to Declare “Recovery” and Move On

9:03 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

There are times that I begin to despair a bit about all the crap going on all over. I can’t do anything about earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear disasters (all in one) but I can address some of the reporting I’ve seen in the TradMed the last couple of days.

Apparently the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits are anxious to stop writing all those bummer articles about the un and underemployed and the destruction of the global economy. I guess it’s just too Debbie Downer for them. So they’ve started the “Everything’s Getting Better” articles. The NY Times and Floyd Norris started with this headline:

Crisis Is Over, but Where’s the Fix?

Of course, without anything being fixed, it’s rather difficult for the “crisis” to be over. And to be fair, Norris does address some of this in the article:

When the financial system began to crumble more than three years ago, the world rushed to rescue it. Country after country went deeply into debt to keep banks afloat and prevent a deep recession from turning into something worse.

…snip…

But the world has changed since then. The economic recovery in most developed countries is stuttering at best, and governments are struggling with their own finances. It is time for remorse and second-guessing.

A surprising citadel of that second-guessing is at the International Monetary Fund, where researchers this week concluded that the rescues “only treated the symptoms of the global financial meltdown.”

The researchers, Stijn Claessens and Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, warned that “a rare opportunity is being thrown away to tackle the underlying causes. Without restructuring financial institutions’ balance sheets and their operations, as well as their assets — loans to over-indebted households and enterprises — the economic recovery will suffer, and the seeds will be sown for the next crisis.”

…snip…

In retrospect, it is clear that the bailouts came with too little pain for those responsible. Bondholders who financed banks that failed largely escaped pain. That was true even in Ireland, where the bailout would have led to a default of government debt had Europe not stepped in. It is still not clear how Ireland will pay its national debt, but the bank bondholders did fine.

Norris goes on to point out that one of the problems is the lack of accountability. Imagine that?

Next up with the Let’s Declare Victory Recovery crowd is Ben Smith at Politico, though he projects it on to President Obama as the President’s “dilemma” about when to declare Recovery:

The economy has been growing for 18 months after the longest recession since the Great Depression – but public opinion has yet to fully reflect what economists generally agree are incipient signs of hope. One truism of presidential politics that actually happens to be true is that voters’ perception of the economy trumps just about any other issue, so Obama, acutely aware of both the need to present a successful economic record and the dangers of prematurely declaring victory, is treading very, very carefully.

…snip…

Yet despite several quarters of real — if uninspiring — growth, the pessimism remains deep. A Bloomberg National Poll conducted in early March found that more than a third of Americans continue to believe that the U.S. is in a recession, more than a year after it ended, and 63 percent of Americans say the nation is on the “wrong track.”

Yeah. Gee. Now why ever would folks not be inspired with unemployment still hovering around 9% and un and underemployment nearly double that? There are still nearly five applicants for every job opening. But that’s only because all the people without jobs just lack the pertinent skills right? Well, no, that is not right:

Structural unemployment – unemployment stemming from a mismatch of workers’ skills and job requirements – has been cited in mainstream media as the main cause of current, high unemployment. Data from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), however, suggest that structural unemployment is not what is ailing the economy. The graph below draws on data from the NFIB’s monthly survey from December 2007 (the official start of the recession) to January 2011. Each month, the NFIB asks its sample of small businesses to state the single most important problem facing their business today. Since the recession began, respondents overwhelmingly have cited “poor sales,” suggesting that today’s unemployment is primarily due to a lack of demand. “Quality of labor,” the factor most consistent with structural unemployment, barely made the list.

And this from Yahoo’s The Lookout:

Why the shortage? Many of the people who were laid off from factory jobs and are looking for work don’t have the specialized skills companies are looking for, manufacturing execs say. And they’re not eager to acquire them, because, having been laid off from one manufacturing job, they’re convinced that the whole sector is on the decline. So they don’t want to spend time retraining for jobs that they fear could soon be shipped overseas.

Some say those fears are misplaced, arguing that skilled manufacturing jobs are difficult to outsource. But the numbers tell a different story. As we’ve reported, middle-wage, middle-skill jobs — a category that includes both skilled manufacturing jobs and white-collar clerical work — are shrinking rapidly as a percentage of total U.S. jobs, thanks to the effects of offshoring and mechanization. So it may make sense for a worker to decide against spending a year retraining himself to learn these skills.

My bold. Today’s (Saturday, March 11) Hartford Courant had three articles that reflect the reality of things today.

Links to the articles are embedded in the titles but there we have it. UTC is laying off workers and moving the jobs elsewhere. They are doing it because they can (profitable but want more profits) and they reward the CEO with $24M in compensation to oversee these cuts and outsourcing. And the CEO likes to brag about it (from prepared remarks delivered in Mumbai to NASSCOM):

…snip…
Today, we have almost 5,000 employees in India. Our Otis factory in Bangalore has produced more than 30,000 elevators since the 1990s. Our Carrier factory in Gurgaon produces 200,000 air conditioning systems per year. In addition, Pratt & Whitney engines power the aircraft of many Indian airlines, including Air India, Kingfisher, and Indigo – as well as more than 225 turboprop aircraft, business jets and helicopters in India.

From our perspective, this is really just the beginning of our relationship with India. Before talking about some of the big macro forces that will shape the global economy over the next decade, I’d like to share just a little data that highlights the size of the opportunities in both the infrastructure and aerospace markets. Last year, UTC’s sales in India were $500M. We expect this to grow to $2.5B by 2015. I’m confident in this level of growth based, in part, on the current per-capita consumption rates. As countries like India become more urban, consumption levels for air conditioners, security systems and air travel will increase toward the levels seen in more mature markets.
…snip…

But surely there are folks in the US working to see US workers employed, building things useful to all citizens, right? Just today there were two more articles on Republican governors attempting to justify killing rail projects within their states. First up is John Kasich in Ohio refusing to put up $52M for a project estimated to cost $128M for streetcars in Cincinnati:

Gov. John Kasich said he can’t justify spending $52 million in state money for Cincinnati’s streetcar – the new governor’s most emphatic statement on what Cincinnati leaders consider a major economic development project.

…snip…

Without the state money, the project could be up to $30 million short of the $128 million needed to build a streetcar route from Downtown’s central riverfront to the Uptown communities near the University of Cincinnati. The city could seek that money from Washington or other sources, say backers.

Then the NY Times tried to paint Florida Governor Rick Scott’s rejection of high speed rail funds as a rejection of President Obama’s planning:

The federal government had agreed to pay $2.4 billion of its estimated $2.6 billion in construction costs, railroad companies were vying to build and operate it, and state transportation planners had even dummied up proposed timetables: Train 7092 would depart Tampa at 8:10 a.m. and arrive in Orlando at 9:04 a.m.

The fast train was sought, and won, by Florida’s former Republican governor, Charlie Crist. But it was killed last month by his successor, Rick Scott, who joined several other Republican governors in spurning federally financed train projects over fears that their states could be on the hook for future costs. The final nail in its coffin came last week when a Florida court ruled that the new governor could not be forced to accept the federal money and start building it.

Of course, buried w-a-y down in the Times article is this little nugget that negates the article’s premise (and Scott’s justification for canceling):

Last month, Mr. Scott decided to scuttle the project after reading a report by the Reason Foundation that questioned its ridership estimates. The foundation is a prominent libertarian policy research organization that employs several respected transportation analysts, but it gets some of its funding from donors with ties to the oil industry, including foundations related to Koch Industries, which owns oil refineries.

“The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers, and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits,” Mr. Scott said.

But a state-sponsored ridership study, which was released this week, concluded that the proposed line would actually have been a money-maker from the start.

Regardless of the complaints that Tampa and Orlando are too close together and as cities are “virtually unnavigable without cars,” the line would have been a money maker. It would have eventually been extended south to Miami as well.

So here we sit. Private industry destroys jobs because they can. Governors destroy jobs because of ideology even though those jobs could eventually help people get around cities and states without buying gas, contributing to pollution and auto gridlock. Saving gasoline that has spiked in price once again, chewing up more financial resources that the long term un and underemployed could use on things like, oh food or medical care.

Let’s let the Village Idiots Pundits declare Victory Recovery and move on so they can cover such news as Newt Gingrich’s Patriotic Affairs.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

Is Cutting Jobs Programs to Create Jobs Like Cutting Taxes to Increase Revenues?

1:58 pm in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

So today (February 16) the current governor of the state in which I reside (there is no ef’fing way I’m going to lay any claim of ownership to this person and call him my governor) decided that he would follow in the footsteps of his fellow first term Republican governors of Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Jersey and reject federal rail funds for Florida (via CNN):

Washington (CNN) – Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected $432 million in highly-touted funding from the Obama administration for an Orlando to Tampa high-speed rail Wednesday. Slamming government for becoming “addicted to spending,” Scott listed three reasons why accepting the federal funds would amount to a “recipe for disaster.”

In a statement, Scott said “I was elected to get Floridians back to work and to change the way government does business in our state.”

He “was elected to get Floridians back to work…” yet cuts a program that would have created a few thousand jobs for Central Florida and a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando and eventually Miami. Outgoing Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio called it:

…the worst decision she’s seen a governor make in her 26 years of public service.

“This is such a bad decision on so many different levels. I cannot believe that the governor made this decision,” Iorio said. “This is an example when you have someone who governs from ideology instead of practicality and really looking at what’s best for Floridians in the long run. This is what you get and I don’t know when I’ve been more disappointed and concerned about a decision a governor has made for our state.”

Four out of the five candidates running to replace Iorio condemned the Scott decision:

Four of the five candidates running to succeed Iorio in the upcoming municipal elections appeared at a press conference today at the site where Tampa’s high-speed rail station was supposed to be to voice their outrage and to call for Scott to reconsider his move. Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco was not present.

Yet, Scott’s decision falls right in line with other Republican decisions the last few weeks and months. Just yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner commented on the prospect of Federal workers losing their jobs under the Republican Budget proposals (via CNN):

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday if some federal workers lose jobs because of Republican-proposed spending cuts, “so be it.”

“So be it” just might become as famous a statement of a lack of empathy for the unemployed that this country has ever had.

This morning’s NY Times The Caucus asked if the Republican concern for the jobless ended with the jobs of federal workers:

But there’s one category of jobs that appears exempt from Republican cheering: federal workers.

During his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner claimed that Mr. Obama had added 200,000 federal workers since he took office (a figure that has been disputed), and shrugged at the idea that Republican efforts to slash government spending would put many of them out of work.

However, given the responses of the new Republican governors such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the indifference to existing jobs extends to all public sector employees. Fortunately it appears the people of Wisconsin have decided to send a message or two to their new governor.

As David Dayen reports this afternoon at FDL News:

Republicans want the public to know they’re “serious” about “cutting the deficit” but they really don’t want the public to know that their plan would a) cost a million jobs and b) not materially impact the deficit in any serious way.

People understand that the lack of jobs is a big problem for the US (via MSNBC):

Unemployment — and not the economy in general — ranked as the most important problem facing Americans for the second month in a row, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.

When asked to name the biggest problem facing the country, Gallup poll found that 35 percent of Americans said “unemployment.”

That’s the highest percentage in more than a quarter century, since October of 1983.

And it is a weak demand for jobs, not the supposed lack of skills of the un and underemployed that is driving things at this point (via Yahoo News):

The sluggish state of the job market over the past year has led many analysts to suggest that the American labor market suffers from a structural malady. The recovering economy has created so few jobs, the argument goes, because 21st-century jobs require a set of skills that jobless workers in many geographical regions don’t possess.

But a new government study appears to undercut that view–finding that the economy’s chronic state of high unemployment stems more from a simple lack of demand in the labor market. And it could bolster the position of those Keynesian-minded economists arguing for continued government efforts to increase demand.

Initial Unemployment Claims for last week were at a 2 1/2 year low. With the deficit hysteria in DC combined with the states struggling and the ideologues who wish to prove that government is incompetent by making sure there are no workers around to do things, that low figure is probably not going to go much lower and stay much lower over the coming weeks and months. And just as we learned that cutting taxes does not raise revenues and magically balance budgets, so we will learn (I know, many of us already know this) that cutting jobs and killing programs will not create more jobs. VooDoo economics indeed.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy