Friday, February 3, 2012

Our turn to sweat, cry and bleed

A third of million new jobs were created in January according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s household survey. This exceeds the quarter million job gain shown by the employer survey. Historically these two surveys confirm one another except when unusual growth is seen. The household survey had been diverging from the employer survey by larger and larger numbers over the past year.

This divergence probably indicates exceptional growth in small business activity and among new entrepreneurs not adequately represented in the employer survey. This could be tied to the sharp growth in manufacturing jobs with 50,000 new workers added last month as reported by employers. Manufacturing is what is known as a “cluster economy”, the “finished product job” tends to support numerous other jobs that are somewhat off the grid. These can be everything from the small machine shop that does tool and die work, or a specialized factory with a few employees that makes small parts that don’t justify a major factory operation, and all manner of service and support jobs.

It can’t be stressed enough how important this kind of up tick in jobs in mid-winter really is. An economy has momentum, like a ship rising to meet the crashing waves or the wreck being driven to the bottom by it. Currently the ship of the economy is rising despite all efforts from the Republicans to drill holes in the hull. Red State Republicans eliminated 14,000 teachers, firefighters, police and highway maintenance workers just last month, crippling the recovery of their own states, and putting a drag on the national economy.

That’s the good news; the bad news is that real wages were down 2% last year as major corporations deliberately assaulted the wages of employees to tighten their grip on the economy and society in general. The six million long term unemployed have no chance of ever being employed by any major corporation as the universal corporate policy is to never hire them. The excuse is that their skills “are stale”, but really it is to make them an example for all who might resist.

A large scale recovery would throw this policy out the window of course. Obama made a point of chiding Republicans not to get in the way of the recovery saying, “don’t muck it up”.  (according to the right Obama can read the tele-prompter, but he seems to confuse his m’s and f’s)

That’s not to say we don’t have huge problems with insane trade policies, a lack of enforcement of anti-trust laws, and a long laundry list of laws and policies that have been gutted, ignored or decriminalized over the past 30 plus years. It speaks to the potential of American that it has taken the 0.1 percent this long to steal and corrupt enough of the economy to reverse the New Deal, and still they haven’t quite done it.

We can have it back again. All those thing our liberal grandparents gave sweat, tears and blood to accomplish can be ours again. All the things our liberal ancestors fought died for in order to wrest this continent from the British East India Company can be ours again. It’s our turn to sweat, cry and bleed to have these things again, or they will be gone forever.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will this movie ever end?

Did you watch the news this morning? A guy in top hat and tails (a billionaire, I guess) reached into a stinking hole and pulled out a large corpulent rat that squirmed and whined. Then Newt Gingrich declared six more weeks of campaigning. Tomorrow will be exactly like the last 10,950 days. (30 years)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

272 billion reasons to feel depressed

In case you’ve missed the good news on the corporate media; the total GDP of the US is now greater than it was before the Bush crash. Not surprisingly, President Obama gets no credit for this. Just saving the auto industry is a big deal. Let’s cut through the Republican crap on this; the loans to GM and Chrysler weren’t designed to save those companies per se.

Detroit automakers could have in theory recovered using traditional bankruptcy protections, in other words by stiffing their creditors. The problem with this “solution” is that it would have in fact killed not only GM, Chrysler and Ford; but Toyota had said flatly that they would cease North American operations under the Republican solution pushed by Mitt Romney and Senators from the southern states.

The reason for this bleak outcome was that the huge debt load that the car makers were carrying was mostly owed to their parts suppliers, and as creditors they would have been wiped out in bankruptcy. Why Toyota? They were using even more American made parts than the so-called US companies.

Entire industries have disappeared from the US economy over the past 30 years; Obama can rightly claim this hasn’t happened on his watch, at least not so far. There is a fly in the recovery ointment however. We are producing this larger GDP with 6 million fewer workers. Many of these jobs were lost from the housing collapse that began in 2006, but many more were given pink slips the day after the 2008 election. These were planned layoffs and they were replaced by workers in Asia that had been put in place well in advance. Still more jobs simply dried up with the recession.

Another supposed bright spot is that we are exporting 40% more to China than before the crash, but the bright light is really an onrushing bullet train (made in China). Our trade deficit with China is just as high now as before the crash. We import four times as much as we export to China for a net loss of $272 billion last year, and that‘s just China, there‘s the oil deficit too.

You shouldn’t make too much of the huge sums of money we owe or the massive deficits; it’s all just paper. The point is that this money really doesn’t exist; the goods and services it represents have already been produced, consumed and forgotten. It amounts to nothing more than an excuse for some rich guys who did nothing to earn the money, and paid no taxes on the profits, to keep screwing with us, and taking away our real wealth. If we would put people in charge who actually worked for us instead of the 0.1 percent, the books could be made to balance.

It’s true that rebuilding America will be a big job. Much of the industrial heartland of this country looks like we were the losers of WWII instead of the winners. The actual losers have rebuilt and are thriving, so it can be done. Of course their heavy machinery was salvageable in the ruins, where ours has been crated up and sold to China. Their workers still knew how to use the machines, as we’ve gone a full generation without training replacements for the retiring workers.

We still need to be “liberated” and the people responsible taken to trial. The problem is that most Americans don’t grasp their situation, the propaganda still flows, the criminals still wield great power, and millions believe the bad guys are really the good guys. The good news is that we have a growing “occupation“ that is making it clear to more Americans everyday who the bad guys really are. Can we move beyond that to a post war rebuilding period? It’s too early to tell.