Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cutting holes in the safety net

Initial unemployment claims shot up for last week to 479,000 while continuing claims were down slightly but that comes only from still more 99’ers running out of benefits. A survey of economists predicts tomorrow’s jobs report will show a smaller number of jobs were lost in July than in June when another 125,000 Americans were put out of work, but this same survey predicted unemployment claims would be down instead of up sharply. President Obama continues to make speeches on how the economy he inherited was shedding 750,000 jobs a month and now it isn’t, which is true but this steady drip, drip will kill us just the same.

There is no turn around in sight with scheduled layoffs announced by major corporations, charities and local governments up 6% in June to 42,000 and hiring announcements totaled just 8100 jobs down a third from the previous month. These numbers are compiled by private industry and don’t tell the whole story on jobs but simply show the trend of large employers that cooperate with their survey. But, the government numbers aren’t “real” numbers either and are just attempts to estimate what is happening based on the data available.

The Commerce Department has been revising numbers going back three years since the Bush Administration put very little emphasis on accuracy. (or maybe they just lied) Republicans are still saying Bush created millions of jobs. In fact the only jobs he created were another million government employees, something the tea baggers constantly complain that Democrats do. In fact no Democrat since LBJ has increased government but the Republicans sure did.

Food inflation is picking up as the Wall Street banks look for some place to make money. People have got to eat, so why not gouge them. Success is measured by what percentage of people starve, then you know you are maximizing demand. Grain is up, led by a sharp increase in wheat prices following Russia’s halt of grain exports due to the ongoing drought and wild fires. Russia says they have plenty of grain but aren’t about to allow the transnational corporations hoard it..

                                                                              The US is expecting a bumper crop but with so much of it tied up in the futures market the price you pay in the store has little to do with whether the farmers make any money so expect to pay more for food. This will impact the 99’ers who will join the seven million Americans whose only income is food stamps.

The only bright spot is that today the Senate overrode a Republican filibuster to appropriate $10 billion to keep 140,000 teachers and 85,000 police and firefighters on the job. The bill is not nearly as generous as the funding made available under the Stimulus Package that is running out. Other than pure mean-spiritedness the Republicans opposed it to the bitter end because it’s partly paid for by no longer allowing US companies to deduct overseas taxes that they pay when outsourcing US jobs.

However in order to get the token Republican votes to end the filibuster they had to give a $12 billion cut to the food stamp program starting in 2014. The Democrats are playing a dangerous game by putting this cut into law with the assumption they can repeal it before it takes effect.

The Clinton Administration had similarly built in cost of living factors to the Food Stamp program to insure slowly declining benefits in order to pump up his long term budget numbers to get votes. Remember the “ending welfare as we know it” slogan of the Clinton balanced budget.  Once the Republicans got full control they simply did nothing and people went hungry.

While there were modest reforms near the end of Bush’s term with the Democrats back in Congress after 12 years, the program is still subject to administration by the states and the red states apply the rules in the most heartless way possible with the intent of driving people from their states or simply killing them.  When you add to canned goods to your survival pantry, take some of the old ones down to your local food bank.


Andrea said...

I noticed today Yahoo Finance headlines included something like "Stocks Decline After Jobs Report." They need a report?? That shows how out of touch the big investors are. I think.

prairie2 said...

When the the unemployment rate goes up the stock market goes up as that means cheap labor. They aren't dependent on the US market, their profits are still high. When the news ties a decline in stocks to unemployment they are lying, they don't want to tell you that investors are fleeing market in anticipation of deflation.