Friday, March 4, 2011

Jesse James can't get a seat in a restaurant

Nearly 200,000 jobs were created in February (based on a survey of employers, not hard data) and the official unemployment rate has dropped below 9% (based on a survey of households and not hard data), but initial unemployment claims are still too high to be good news even though that number has declined to “only” 368,000 for last week. Initial claims would need to drop at least another 100,000 each week to indicate that we have turned the proverbial corner on jobs.

Even with the relatively large number of jobs created last month we aren’t keeping up with population growth. This is reflected in that 90,000 additional people who entered extended unemployment benefits last week alone. That number is perhaps misleading because they don’t publish how many people left the program as 99ers or found jobs, this is just how much the program grew in total.

Since jobs are being created this means that the high number of weekly claims can be put almost solely on companies firing higher paid workers and replacing them on the cheap. This explains the stagnation of wages overall with the average wage in the US increasing exactly one cent in 2010 over the previous year.

The participation rate in the US workforce continues to decline and is at a 25 year low of 64.2%. If it were to return to the pre-crash level of 66.1% the unemployment rate would be 11.6%. Real unemployment as it was calculated back in the pre-Reagan years would be closer to 20% of the workforce.

State and local governments shed 30,000 jobs in February bringing the total to 450,000 since 2008. Governor Walker of Wisconsin is threatening to layoff 1500 workers next month if Democrats don’t give into his threats. His budget if adopted will cut 21,000 jobs to pay for massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations including total elimination of capital gains tax.

Capital gains tax cuts are a favorite of so-called capitalists who make money with money which allows hedge-fund managers to pay a top Federal rate of 15%. The top 25 fund managers took home an average of a billion each in 2009. This also works for corporate executives who take the bulk of their compensation in stock. No capital gains tax also encourages small and medium business to sell out to the big monopolies as they won‘t be taxed, this also drives the leveraged buyout business that buy companies and sell the assets to China and leave the shell of the company with the debt.

This is why tax revenue is at a fifty year low, if we merely returned to the good old days of Bill Clinton’s tax collection levels we would be again be running huge surpluses. Every Republican that stands up and says we have to do away with pensions, slash wages, cut benefits and do away with all safety net programs because “we are broke” is lying and he knows it. Everybody but them is broke, it’s like the small town bank that is broke after a visit from the James gang and then Jesse James lectures the town on the need for austerity.

Governor Walker can’t go out in public in Wisconsin without being booed and can’t get a seat in a restaurant. The towns folk are tired of being robbed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The push for non-certified teachers

There is a renewed  push in many Red states to use non-certified school teachers. Of course this is union busting. The economics of this is that thanks to the out sourcing of manufacturing, research and engineering jobs to China and India there are many well educated 99ers that are ready to work for food. I wouldn't be surprised if they want to have English taught by H1B visa workers from India, but maybe not, even they expect to make a living.

Gym class can be replaced by "work to learn" programs down at the packing plant for the kids who can't afford the tuition at the "public" school. Nothing will be FREE under the new permanent Republican majority. Pull your self up by your bootstraps kids! That's what those hides you've been tanning will be turned into.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Canned Pizza

In a desperate move to cling to power Governor Walker of Libya (I mean Wisconsin) has upped the ante by making still more ridiculous budget claims. He says he needs to layoff thousands of workers if the Senators don’t pass his so called emergency bill but this crisis revolves around the reselling of State debt. He doesn’t mention that he wants to convert one year notes to ten year notes at a much higher interest rate costing taxpayers a ton of money. The Governor calls this “saving money in the fiscal year”, most people would call this kicking the can way down the road and paying through the nose to do it.

He keeps saying that the previous Governors had made pension promises the taxpayers can’t afford to pay. He doesn’t mention that most of the Governors in the past were Republicans and he doesn’t mention that the Pension Fund is 99.7% funded even after Wall Street tanked. The last Governor was a Democrat and not a fool so the State isn’t in bad shape at all, Wisconsin State workers took two weeks of unpaid furloughs to balance the budget. Walker’s punch line to every story he tells is “we’re broke”, this is not true of course, but Walker says what David Koch wants you to hear.

By far the largest amount coverage of the pro-union protest in Madison Wisconsin has come from Fox News who portray it as a violent mob of union thugs, a hundred thousand came on Saturday and not one arrest. Madison is know for its sense of humor and somebody is passing out signs for the little kids to carry saying “I’m a union thug”.  NBC is the only corporate news to give it much coverage but this seems to be shifting as the second major poll has come out showing that Americans favor the unions by 60% to 30% against.

This survey commissioned by CBS and the NY Times also showed taxpayers overwhelmingly favor tax increases over cuts to public workers. Katie Couric confronted union buster NJ Gov Chris Christie with these numbers and while initially taken aback he quickly countered with words to the effect that CBS is just making the numbers up and he speaks for the people.

Governor Walker tried to present his official budget in a closed meeting to a Republican crowd who could get tickets, but he couldn’t get around the Wisconsin Constitution how ever and must do it in the Capitol. Among the crowd refusing to leave by the ultimatum given by the Governor were hundreds of off duty police, Sheriffs deputies and prison guards. Not to be bothered by those pesky protesters he tricked most of them into leaving Sunday night by promising they could come back in the morning and then locked the doors. The doors remained locked all day Monday with only Republican staffers and lobbyists granted entrance. Elected Democratic Assembly Representatives who couldn’t produce official IDs were not allowed in. He even had the windows welded shut to keep pizzas from coming in hoping to starve out the remaining protesters. If you go to a sit-in remember to take canned pizza with you.

Cold Pizza

Madison Wisconsin: Capitol Police lied about reopening the building Monday morning and are starving out the remaining protesters by welding the windows shut to keep anybody from passing in food.

Democratic Assembly members have been turned away if they can't produce their ID.  Lobbyists are waived through by Republican staffers. You can't get into the people's house unless you're one of the Koch brothers.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pizza triumphs

Protest organizers announced at 7:30 pm that the police are refusing to obey the Governor of Wisconsin's orders to clear the Capitol as he has repeatedly threatened. The large numbers were given as the reason but Gov Walker's candid remarks recorded when he thought he was speaking to tea bag party backer David Koch that he and Republican leaders had seriously considered sending in thugs to cause violence is probably the real reason for their soft mutiny.

Capitol building Police have said no additional people will be allowed in until the official opening at 8:00 am. Pizza will be allowed to cross the lines however.