Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category
The NYT’s block of editorial blockheads have had quite a week for themselves. First Tom Friedman embarrasses himself by writing about economics as if he knew what the word meant, and now David Brooks notices the country isn’t in very good shape after years of the austerity and corporate theft he’s been championing as solutions without actually realizing that’s what he’s doing. Pretty good trick for a normal person but a necessary skill for right-wingers. Without it their heads would explode collectively.
First, he does a brilliant job (well, he doesn’t but the source he’ ripping off did) drawing a word picture of the economic devastation that is trickle-down America. The excuse for the column is his concern that Americans lack the “energy” they used to have, which is proved for him by a study that says we don’t move as often as we used to. A slim reed to be sure, but in the process of discussing various theories about why, look at he detail he comes up with. And the explanations they led him to.
It’s also true that labor markets are getting more homogeneous. It used to be that the jobs found in Pittsburgh were different than the ones found in Atlanta. But now they are more similar, so there is less reason to move from one city to another. But that also fails to explain the tremendous drops over decades.
No, a big factor here is a loss in self-confidence. It takes faith to move. You are putting yourself through temporary expense and hardship because you have faith that over the long run you will slingshot forward. Many highly educated people, who are still moving in high numbers, have that long-term faith. Less-educated people often do not.
This loss of faith is evident in other areas of life. Fertility rates, a good marker of confidence, are down. Even accounting for cyclical changes, people are less likely to voluntarily vacate a job in search of a better one. Only 46 percent of white Americans believe they have a good chance of improving their standard of living, the lowest levels in the history of the General Social Survey.
So we’ve lost faith in capitalism. We no longer believe it’s going to make our lives better or that the “better” job we might move to look for actually exists. To David, this is an attitude problem. We’ve gotten lazy and don’t want to move because nobody’s guaranteeing us a soft landing when we get…wherever we’re going. And this doesn’t faze him:
Fifty percent of Americans over 65 believe America stands above all others as the greatest nation on earth. Only 27 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe that. As late as 2003, Americans were more likely than Italians, Brits and Germans to say the “free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.” By 2010, they were slightly less likely than those Europeans to embrace capitalism.
Thirty years ago, a vast majority of Americans identified as members of the middle class. But since 1988, the percentage of Americans who call themselves members of the “have-nots” has doubled. Today’s young people are more likely to believe success is a matter of luck, not effort, than earlier generations.
This, as all of us stuck down here rather than in the rarefied atmosphere of private schools, limousines, gated communities, and private jets can attest, is a simple acknowledgment of reality in corporate-run America. We don’t “embrace capitalism” because it’s perfectly clear to us that capitalism is tying to kill us. David runs down all the reasons we feel that way and then acts like it’s, like, a fad. He even calls it a “trend”, like pink Ipads or sneakers with lights on the heels. Those kids today…
His solution when he finally gets to it? Vouchers.
I kid you not.
No one response is going to reverse the trend, but Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute believes government should offer moving vouchers to the long-term unemployed so they can chase opportunity. If we could induce more people to Go West! (or South, East or North) in search of opportunity, maybe the old future-oriented mind-set would return.
Vouchers, tax cuts, and no govt regulations are the three answers the right-wing has for every problem you can think of. And btw, looking for solutions from anybody that works for AEI is like asking an arsonist to take over the fire department.
It’s amazing to me that at his level of disconnection from reality David Brooks has the mental capacity to dress himself in the morning. OTOH, maybe he doesn’t. Hmmm. That could explain one or two things….
A few little tidbits:
1) Thomas Friedman isn’t just an idiot, he’s ignorant too. But then he’s an ideologue and ideologues are professional morons.
2) The 1% can justify every single policy in their (financial) favor…but only if they lie their asses off.
3) Jeff Bezos has just made Amazon a CIA asset and himself The Bagman. In retrospect, it was predictable if not inevitable.
4)Exxon CEO and Frackmeister extraordinaire Rex Tillerson is a strong advocate, even a champion of fracking technology but only until it’s his backyard getting fracked. Then, not so much.
Rex Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to stop construction of a water tower near his $1.3 million estate on Dove Creek Road. That water would be used in fracking, a process to drill oil and gas.
Tillerson even appeared at a Bartonville Town Council meeting to speak against it.
The lawsuit claims the project would create a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.
Yah. Well. You know.
5) Budget hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – two of Pete Petersen’s most reliable anti-SocSec thugs, set up an anti-deficit group. In the Irony of Ironies category, this group is now, um, broke. (scroll down)
The sterling-silver New York Times took a break from its long series of tear-stained stories covering the tragic consequences on the rich of our economic disintegration to notice – briefly – how destructive our attitudes toward the unemployed have become.
Ms. Barrington-Ward…was laid off from an administrative position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008; she had earned about $50,000 that year. With the recession spurring employers to dump hundreds of thousands of workers a month and the unemployment rate climbing to the double digits, she found that no matter the number of résumés she sent out — she stopped counting in the thousands — she could not find work.
“I’ve been turned down from McDonald’s because I was told I was too articulate,” she says. “I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn’t speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was ‘too pretty.’ I’ve also been told point-blank to my face, ‘We don’t hire the unemployed.’ And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.”
Apparently it’s finally dawning on Republicans that redistricting to win seats has its limitations. There comes a point when even your supporters have had enough destruction and death.
Their problems are threefold and intertwined. First, the GOP has become effectively agenda-less, advocating policies that lack popular support, and that they quite possibly couldn’t execute even if they controlled the government entirely.
Second, as Politico honchos Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen explain, “The party is hurting itself even more with the very voters they need to start winning back: Hispanics, blacks, gays, women and swing voters of all stripes.” That’s partially a consequence of theiragenda-less-ness, and partially a consequence of its members’ propensity to say things and advocate ideas that further alienate women and minorities.
Third, a combination of chance and poor decisions will turn the coming midterm into a referendum on issues custom tailored to energize Democratic demographics that tend to sit out midterms.
Actually there are four problems, not three. Number 4 is that it isn’t just that their policies “lack popular support”. It’s that their policies are batshit crazy and as destructive as a plague. Read the rest of this entry »
Twenty years ago, Michael Moore started asking, “If corporations won’t pay employees enough to live on, who do they think’s going to buy all the shit they make?”
The answer, when it came, was, basically, “The Chinese”. They thought “emerging markets” were going to take up the slack if they stopped caring about the home market, so they did. They froze wages and increased upper management incomes by some 800% in the last quarter of the 20th century and by more than 2000% over the past decade or so, most of which came directly out of the pockets of their employees. The middle class has been decimated and poverty has risen exponentially but so far there has been no corresponding rise in exports. Emerging markets have failed to emerge, at least they have failed to emerge in a way that would sacrifice their home consumers for the benefit of American corporations.
Finally, after almost 35 years of unfettered greed, the American business press (if not American business) is coming to the conclusion that it may just be possible that the deliberate corporate destruction of the American market by an American business theory that focused on short-term profits and dumped every other consideration was, well, just maybe, a mistake.
The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers. That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too. In a capitalist system, rising inequalitycreates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down.
Low-wage jobs are fast replacing middle-class ones in the U.S. economy. Sixty percent of the jobs lost in the last recession were middle-income, while 59 percent of the new positions during the past two years of recovery were in low-wage industries that continue to expand such as retail, food services, cleaning and health-care support. By 2020, 48 percent of jobs will be in those service sectors.
This from Bloomberg News, hardly a left-wing rag. What it means is that things have gotten so bad that even dyed-in-the-wool corporatists are at last attempting to face reality.
Be gentle with them. They’re new to it.
Step right up, folks, and take your chances in the Amazing New American Workplace. Constantly high unemployment! Low wages always! No employee bargaining power! A corporate paradise!
Indeed. They’ve got what they wanted: a paucity of jobs against a glut of workers making for a terrified workforce and a terminally insecure society, the destruction of the unions that were all that offered hope to laborers that they wouldn’t forever be trapped on the bony rack of the minimum wage, and a populace trained to think of corporate managers as heroes and Masters of the Universe even if the populace doesn’t particularly like to think of them that way. Read the rest of this entry »
OK, so you probably think that at least if you’re a dedicated cheerleader they won’t throw you under the bus even if you’re not their first priority. But you’re being naive.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November or what compromises Congress strikes in the lame-duck session to keep the economy from automatic tax increases and spending cuts, 160 million American wage earners will probably see their tax bills jump after Jan. 1.
That is when the temporary payroll tax holiday ends. Its expiration means less income in families’ pocketbooks — the tax increase would be about $95 billion in 2013 alone — at a time when the economy is little better than it was when the White House reached a deal on the tax break last year.
You don’t matter. The “deficit” they created matters. It’s your job to pay it off. This was never a priority, it was just a temporary gimme for show.
Independent analysts say that the expiration of the tax cut could shave as much as a percentage point off economic output in 2013, and cost the economy as many as one million jobs. That is because the typical American family had $1,000 in additional income from the lower tax.
But there is still little desire to make an extension part of the negotiations that are under way to avert the huge tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, that will start in January without a deal.
Nope. Nobody on either side gives a shit.
Many Republicans vehemently opposed its passage last year, as it would divert money from the Social Security program. Many Democrats fervently supported it last year but show no such enthusiasm now. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat, has told reporters she thinks it should expire.
So don’t ever get your hopes up. No matter what happens, you’re never gonna be on anybody’s gift list.
One of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to the NAO’s is the fact that so many of them are, well, stupid. Todd Akin’s absurd belief that women have some sort of magical control over their bodies if only they’d decide to use it is just the tip of a very large, annoying, and dangerous iceberg. The Times’ Timothy Egan gives a chapter and verse or two that barely scratch the surface but make the point quite clearly: many of the most powerful people in the country, all of them major puppets of the oligarchs, have demonstrated again and again that they have great faith but zero actual knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »
Even the brightest of left-wing commentators can’t seem to see the forest for the trees even while they’re explaining what a forest is. Apparently our vaunted “reality-based community” just can’t get its head around the reality of the Dem sell-out to Wall Street.
Take Glenn Greenwald, a very smart guy who’s come closer than most to admitting the obvious. Here he has little difficulty figuring out the reasons for Republican pro-corporate policies.
There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party — controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country’s vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse — now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity.
Yet when it comes to the Dems, he just can’t bring himself to admit what it is so easy to see in the Pubs.
That crisis presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington — the central promise of his campaign — by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington. Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets. But, as John Judis argues in his excellent New Republic piece, they completely squandered that opportunity. Rather than emphatically stand up to the bankers and other oligarchical thieves, they coddled and served them, and thus became the face of the elite interests oppressing ordinary Americans rather than their foes. How can an administration represented by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers — and which specializes in an endless stream of secret deals with corporate lobbyists and sustains itself with Wall Street funding — possibly maintain any pretense of populist support or changing how Washington works? It can’t.
My dear Glenn, it isn’t supposed to. OK, it “maintained a pretense” for a number of years and still does play the kabuki you see through like glass when Republicans do it, a sort of pretense-dance that doesn’t fool anyone. So why can’t you see through it when the Dems do it and understand that the reason is identical: the New Democrat is owned and controlled by the exact same interests who own and control the GOP. Otherwise, nothing Obama and the New Dems have done makes any sense whatever, as you said yourself.
But the Democratic Party’s failure/refusal/inability to be anything other than the Party of Tim Geithner — continuing America’s endless, draining Wars while plotting to cut Social Security, one of the few remaining guarantors of a humane standard of living — renders them unable to offer answers to angry, anxious, resentful Americans.
“Failure/refusal/inability”? Just can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, eh? That’s too bad because your and other progressives’ failure/refusal/inability to face the Awful Truth about the New Right-wing Dems is simply going to prolong the agony.
Oh, dear. Well, we knew it was going to take a while for people to start recognizing that the transfer of wealth to the top by the political class was neither an accident nor mere incompetence but a deliberate sell-out masquerading as one, the other, or both. A couple of examples provided by Mark at Norwegianity should suffice to make the point.
Poor Pres Obama. As things stand, he is losing on all fronts. Nothing is working and nobody seems to appreciate that his Grand Sell-Outs Compromises on the Recession (bank bail-outs), healthcare (insurance corpo toadying) and deficit-cutting (say bye-bye to Medicare) are THE BEST THAT ANYBODY COULD DO. Rahm told him so. But there is one success he can brag about: he’s got whacko movement conservatives and liberals talking to each other. It’s bi-partisanship at last!
After a solid year of GOP refusal to help him do anything at all (a refusal any monkey with opposable thumbs could have predicted), Barry’s insistence on bipartisanship has finally borne some fruit, though not exactly the way he meant it to. See, the bipartisan committee on deficit-cutting got rejected by the Senate but the rejection was bipartisan. That counts, doesn’t it?
The Senate Tuesday rejected a plan backed by President Barack Obama to create a bipartisan task force to tackle the federal deficit this year despite glaring new figures showing the enormity of the red-ink threat.
The special deficit panel would have attempted to produce a plan combining tax cuts and spending curbs that would have been voted on after the midterm elections. The measure went down because anti-tax Republicans joined with Democrats who were wary of being railroaded into cutting Social Security and Medicare.
Now that’s bipartisanship, right? Working together for a common goal even if you have different reasons for targeting that goal. The Pubs just want to stop everything Obama is doing because he’s not a Republican and they’re against non-Republicans. The liberals want to stop what Obama is doing because it’s essentially Republican.
Wait. Maybe their reasons aren’t as different as I thought….