Friday, November 22, 2013

Knit two, purl one

New Unemployment Claims dropped by more than expected last week, down 21,000 to 323,000. This is approaching a post-Bush Crash record, and that was where we were before the Tea Seditionists tried to end Western Civilization by bringing us to the precipice of default. It's been revealed that the major banks spent 100s of millions on contingency planning and had set up 'war rooms' in an attempt to hold things together had the Tea Bag actually burst.

The markets reacted well to improvement in the jobs outlook despite the usual crazy talk from 'Fed taper' crowd. The disaster capitalists keep saying the Federal Reserve will surely stop printing money if the economy should start to improve the least little bit and we should all panic immediately! This scary talk is starting to have very little effect since people are catching on to how stupid it is.

There is also improved confidence because of the certainty of Janet Yellen's appointment as Fed Chairman, now that the right-wing crazies can't stop Presidential appointments anymore. Besides eliminating uncertainty about who will be in charge, Yellen also has a better record than the current Chairman in her response to the last banking crisis.

Remember how the Republicans had been blocking Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board forcing Obama to do recess appointments in order to have a functioning agency? Well the NLRB is finally starting to do its job and is bringing action against Walmart for its pattern of blatant union busting. This news should encourage the fledgling union movements by the employees of the wage slave operations in big box stores and the fast food industry.

Now that the Republicans can't block nominees this could allow the government work much more effectively. Not only will the top jobs now be filled in a timely manner, but there won't be the pressure to reappoint Bush cronies just to have somebody keeping the lights on. With competent people in charge it opens things up to reorganization and the elimination of corrupt Republicans that have been embedded deep in the government.

Just being able to fill Appeals Court positions should shift the Courts away from the hard right corporate rulings that have been coming down. The only fly in the ointment is that Supreme Court nominees weren't included in the filibuster crack down, so we're still in danger of having a hard right court run from the top down.

The right-wing noise machine is trying to claim (yet again) that Obama has been faking the unemployment rate by simply rigging the numbers, specifically they claim to have an insider that says this was done in the lead up to the election. The percentage rate of the unemployed is based a large phone survey of households to determine how many people are actually working. This is opposed to the Employer Establishment Survey that gives you the most often quoted number of new jobs, or during the Bush Crash, how we were losing 800,000 jobs per month. The household survey is considered to be the more accurate of the two surveys, but the media doesn't seem to grasp this, or more likely chooses not to.

The thing is, all of the raw survey data is available to researchers. It would take the complicity of everybody who worked in the Dept of Labor Statistics to pull off faking the numbers without getting caught. But if you're a right-wing ditto head you already believe everybody that works for the Federal Government is part of a vast conspiracy, and every storage lot with a chain link fence was built by FEMA to use as an extermination camp just as soon as Obama ends the filibuster.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - where I'm learning to knit in the manner of Madame Defarge

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fries with that? Or, Do we Hang together?

There has long been a debate about how slaves were treated in colonial America, records kept by slave holders suggested that they were grossly under fed. Archaeological digs however suggest that the 'masters' provisions were only a supplement to what slaves could grow for themselves, or harvest from the wild. But those were different times, land was plentiful, extensive gardens presented no problem, game and wilderness plantlife were plentiful.

Today we live in a much more dystopian landscape. While today's slave might be called a 'sales associate' or 'your server', they must still try to find enough to eat. This sage advice comes from the McDonald's 'employee only access' website, "to keep from feeling hungry, break up your available food into small portions and spread them out". Ronald McDonald doesn't even bother to have a canned food drive for his employees like the starving workers at Walmart get.

Mickey D's does have a number of tips for how its employees can get government assistance, no mention of the fact that a business that profits billions should at least be able to feed its slaves. In fact McDonald's could double its wages and only add 17 cents to a Dollar Menu item. At this pay scale McDonald's employees could afford to eat and have disposable income to stimulate the rest of the economy.

This "workers should have enough to eat" concept isn't in the billionaire's game plan, the whole point of high unemployment is to drive down wages to the point that people will not just work for food, but that in order to have enough to eat they are willing to kill those who oppose the billionaires. Jay Gould, a 19th century Railroad Baron, is quoted with articulating this concept, he said, "I can hire half of the 'working class' to kill the other half." It really wasn't a new concept with him, this has always been the Conservative way. Liberals fought the British East India Company in the 18th century and the Confederates in the 19th over this very idea.

Conservatives constantly conflate 'free markets' with a 'free people', citing Communism and other nonsense. In an actual 'free market' you can buy slaves, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were fought and won by Liberals over this concept of 'freedom'. It has always been an imperfect implementation, but now we're in danger of going back to a truly 'free market'. You could wake up in factory complex with the slogan, "Work will set you free" above the gate, ("Arbeit macht frei" in German). The sign above the drive-though might not actually say, 'Arbeit macht frei, and would you like fries with that'. But that is exactly what they mean.

Twitter @BruceEnberg -  "we will all hang together, or hang separately" - attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Monday, November 18, 2013

The poor are the most generous givers to charity

It's a well known phenomenon that it's always those with the least that are most likely to share. It took a new twist last week as photos leaked out of a Food Drive conducted at a Walmart store in Cleveland OH. It wasn't supposed to be made public as it was conducted in the employee breakroom for the benefit of other Walmart employees who couldn't afford Thanksgiving dinner. The poor feeding the poor in the belly of corporate greed.

Walmart is having problems meeting sales goals, and they've issued a laundry list of excuses for why this is. The newest excuse is that their customers are fearful of the cost of the ObamaCare mandate to buy insurance. The reality is that their own business model is destroying the economy so that their target demographic simply can't afford to shop at Walmart. People are too poor to go to Walmart so they go to the Dollar stores (they're booming) or the Food Bank and Thrift stores. Mostly they just don't buy much, and the whole economy is dragged down.

New Unemployment claims continue to edge downward as the damage done by the Tea Confederates attack on the Government of the United States slowly heals. Some economists are predicting that the average family will spend less for the holidays than last year. The National Retail Federation however is predicting total sales volume to increase by 4.6%. Inventories have been built up in anticipation of a good retail season so that would be a double hit if the goods don't move. Excess inventory will require cutbacks even larger than what you would get from weak sales.

The stock market is flirting with 16,000 and the right wing can't say it often enough that it's from the Federal Reserve printing money. They're wrong about that, just like they're wrong about everything else. There is one problem with the Fed keeping interest rates so low, it's helping fuel the Dark Money lending market. Non-banks are using hedge fund money to make high interest loans to businesses that don't qualify for bank loans. There is an awful lot of it going on, and it's only speculation what sort of problems this will lead to if there is a crash in 2016, but it's not going to be anything good.

Gold is down again. It's been yo-yoing up and down and everytime it jumps up a $100/oz people actually buy more. They think this is the time that the Gold Bugs are going to be right, and the price will hit $10,000/oz as the USD collapses. There are stupider things that you can buy than gold, but I have a hard time thinking of any.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - don't forget to take your canned goods to the Food Bank before they expire