Posted in History, Politics

Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

10 Thoughts On America’s Unrecognized Scourge: Joblessness

from WGBH Radio, Boston, MA

” Thanks to a cocktail of factors – deregulation, globalization, deindustrialization, automation – wealth in the 21st century has become uncoupled from work.”

Auto factory worker
Still working…fornow.


1. A specter is haunting America – the specter of joblessness. Between Bill Clinton’s Washington exit 17 years ago and Donald Trump’s recent inauguration, about 10 million jobs across the nation have disappeared. Poof. Gone.

2. Friday’s report from the Department of Labor that the economy added 235,000 jobs is good news. “Robust,” is how NPR characterized it. But it’s a gloss on reality. It doesn’t reflect that somewhere between 20- and 40-million able-bodied people of working age have been displaced or dropped out of the workforce.

3. There are huge social, economic, and political implications attached to this still under appreciated phenomenon. The two most obvious: Brexit and Trump’s election. It would be gross over simplification to attribute these tectonic shifts to disappeared jobs alone. But it is reckless and irresponsible not to factor it into public thinking.

Read the rest of this article.

Then resist, with all your heart and will.

Posted in Work

Who Broke America’s Jobs Machine? – Barry C. Lynn and Phillip Longman

Who Broke America’s Jobs Machine? – Barry C. Lynn and Phillip Longman.

That’s why our first step must be to repopulate our discussions of political economics with the voices of the people who actually make our economy go. After all, real entrepreneurs and real scientists and real executives and real bankers and real farmers and real software engineers and real venture capitalists tend to understand quite well how real power is used against them. Just as it is they who know better than anyone else what freedoms they require to go about the task of putting their fellow Americans back to work.

Posted in Uncategorized

Times Is Hard

Yes, they is. I've just re-joined the ranks of the unemployed, believe it or not, after a two-day stint as a fill-in for someone going out on medical leave. That person got either bored or insecure and called to get their job back, part-time. How they're going to do it, given the medical condition, is beyond me. My recruiter called yesterday afternoon when I got home from work to tell me the bad news.

My head is still spinning. I feel like a puppet whose strings are being pulled in totally opposite directions. Remember that scene with the horses in "Braveheart?" Snap.

Well, I still have my sense of humor, along with the realization that everyone else in the country (or so it seems) is going through this. I heard this on NPR tonight, a song by Loudon Wainwright III and it spoke for me, as it does for millions more. You can hear the song here:

Times Is Hard

Times is hard. Times is tough.
Nothin's easy. It's all rough.
There's not much right; so much gone wrong.
All I can do is play this song.

You're watchin' the news. It all looks bad.
The worst half-hour you ever had.
What in God's name is goin' on?
All I can do is play this song.

You're losin' your job, your house and your car.
Hittin' rock bottom don't feel that far.
Nothin' good is gonna come along.
All I can do is play this song.

Folks are scared watchin' that news.
Folks feel bad. They're gettin' the blues.
My poor stomach, it ain't that strong.
All I can do is play this song.

Times is rough. Times is hard.
Take a pair of scissors to your credit card.
Circuit City just said, 'So long.'
All I can do is play this song.

Who's at fault? Who gets the blame?
Let's string up Bernie what's-his-name.
And ask Alan Greenspan to come along.
All I can do is play this song.

They want your gold, and they'll pay cash.
The only silver lining is the price of gas.
Money's short and the odds are long.
All I can do is play this song.

The factory's closed. The bank is bust.
On the money it says, 'In God We Trust.'
So pray for all your stocks and bonds.
All I can do is play this song.

Outta luck. Outta hope.
I'm wonderin' why I even cast that vote.
I took that sign offa my front lawn.
All I can do is play this song.

There's a new man down there in D.C.
They say he's gonna help you and me.
They sure know how to bang the gong.
All I can do is play this song.

Last man in D.C., he had eight years.
Now the whole damn country is in arrears.
We got two, three, four wars goin' on.
All I can do is play this song.

Times is hard. Times is rough.
I guess you folks need some cheerin' up.
Well it ain't me babe. You got that wrong.
All I can do is play this song.

You heard it here. I sang it first.
Don't feel so bad; things are gonna get worse.
Consider yourselves all strung along.
All I can do is play this song.

All I can do is …


Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Posted in Uncategorized

Not a Good Sign

We're in a heap of economic trouble here in the US, and my experiences bear the following article out. Jobs are scarce and states are strapped. I've been trying to collect the Unemployment Insurance to which I'm entitled for over a month and there are still processing delays on the state's end. After waiting over a half hour to speak to a UI representative on the phone yesterday, I was told I still needed to wait for a call from a claims adjuster to talk about my baking business (which is currently earning no income). How long? No answer except for 4 – 6 weeks for someone to finally get around to it. And what do I do in the meantime? Wait. How do I pay my mortgage? No answer, except to say sorry, but that's the way it is. I filed for UI benefits the first week in August and it's now the end of the first week in September. I have no idea when I will be able to collect Unemployment, although I may be re-employed by then (I really, really hope). I'm borrowing money to pay this month's mortgage and bills, thanks to my husband (who currently has no job). So, no employment and big questions about how we're going to be able to afford health insurance without an employer footing most of the bill. I work as a contractor, and most of these companies don't offer it.

Do I think I'm better off than I was four years ago, that big Reagan question? That's a good laugh. The Republicans have done absolutely nothing to better my particular lot and a whole heck of a lot to diminish it.

I saw this article today and thought I'd share it. It's not great economic news, but I'm hardly surprised and I'll bet a lot of other people aren't, either:

Jobless rate jumps to 5-year high of 6.1 percent

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer 19 minutes ago

The nation's unemployment rate zoomed to a five-year high of 6.1 percent in August as employers slashed 84,000 jobs, dramatic proof of the mounting damage a deeply troubled economy is inflicting on workers and businesses alike.

The Labor Department's report, released Friday, showed the increasing toll the housing, credit and financial crises are taking on the economy.

The report rattled Wall Street again. The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 40 points in midday trading. All the major stock indexes tumbled into bear territory Thursday as investors lost hope of a late-year recovery. With the employment situation deteriorating, there's growing worry that consumers will recoil, throwing the economy into a tailspin later this year or early next year.

The jobless rate jumped to 6.1 percent in August, from 5.7 percent in July. And, employers cut payrolls for the eighth month in a row. Job losses in June and July turned out to be much deeper. The economy lost a whopping 100,000 jobs in June and another 60,000 in July, according to revised figures. Previously, the government reported job losses at 51,000 in each of those months.

So far this year, job losses totaled 605,000.

The latest snapshot was worse than economists were forecasting. They were predicting payrolls would drop by around 75,000 in August and the jobless rate to tick up a notch, to 5.8 percent. The grim news comes as the race for the White House kicks into high gear. The economy's troubles are Americans' top worry.

"With the unemployment rate over 6 percent, it is a clear warning sign that this economy is continuing to soften faster than we thought. It is a real concern," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. "Businesses have decided to hunker down. They are not hiring, and they are paring workers where they can. That is making things pretty tough out there."

The White House was disappointed, too.

"There is no question that the labor market is not as strong as we'd like," said press secretary Dana Perino. "We want to see the economy return to job growth, and we understand that this is a difficult time for many Americans. We want everyone who wants to work to be able to find a job."

Wachovia Corp., Ford Motor Co., Tyson Foods Inc. and Alcoa Inc. were among the companies announcing job cuts in August. GMAC Financial Services this week said it would lay off 5,000 workers.

Job losses in August were widespread, the government report showed.

Factories cut 61,000 jobs, with housing-related manufacturers and automakers among the hardest hit. Construction firms eliminated 8,000 jobs, retailers axed 20,000 slots, professional and business services slashed 53,000 positions and leisure and hospitality got rid of 4,000. Those losses swamped employment gains in the government, education and health.

Job losses at all private employers — not including government — came to 101,000 in August.

The government said workers age 25 and older accounted for all the increase in unemployment in August.

All told, the number of unemployed rose to 9.4 million in August, compared with 7.1 million a year ago. Economists predict more job losses ahead, pushing the jobless rate to 7 percent by the fall, according to some projections.

Workers saw wage gains in August, however.

Average hourly earning rose to $18.14 in August, a 0.4 percent increase from July. Economists were forecasting a 0.3 percent gain. Over the past year, wages have grown 3.6 percent, but paychecks aren't stretching as far because of high food and energy prices.

Caught between dueling concerns of slow growth and inflation, the Fed is expected to leave a key interest rate alone at 2 percent when it meets next on Sept. 16 and probably through the rest of this year. Concerned about inflation, the Fed at its last two meetings didn't budge the rate. Before that, though, the Fed had aggressively cut rates to shore up the economy.

With the Fed on the sidelines, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has called for a second round of government stimulus, while his GOP rival John McCain has favored free-trade and other business measures to spur the economy. Both candidates seized on the job figures Friday to take swipes at each other.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend