Oct 21, 2009
- On the topic of lesser evilism, there's one thing that's now certain: Obama is worse than his predecessor. It's possible that McCain would have managed to be even worse. It's possible he would have had a stroke and President Palin would be in charge. Again, so what? A crank and a loon could as easily have managed to accidentally make things better.
What we have now is a bright, rational, thoroughly competent man who is continuing the very same policies that made Cheney/Bush so damaging. He does it in complete sentences, without the twitching and unnerving irritability of the last president. The lurid freak show is outsourced to Biden...
At the New America Foundation, James Galbraith, Randall Wray and Timothy Bartik offer their policy proposals for dealing with the jobs crisis. These three gentlemen apparently believe that the jobs crisis is merely a symptom of some mysterious financial or structural crisis that itself needs to be addressed by "better government regulation" or something like that there.
How to treat the symptom? Spend money! Bartik advocates a New Jobs Tax Credit and wage subsidies targeting 'disadvantaged' workers. Wray promotes his version of Hyman Minsky's Job Guarantee idea. Galbraith offers a laundry list of good things the government can spend money on: public sector jobs, higher education, early retirement, weatherizing houses, elder care, rehabilitating foreclosed houses, funding non-profits and last but not least a federal jobs pool such as Wray also advocates.
Galbraith calls the Job Guarantee idea "the last taboo". He is wrong. The last taboo is something none of the three mention: work time reduction. In French it is "la solution interdite." Ironically, Jamie's "last taboo" comment brings to mind his father's more salient insight about "the forbidden question" of resource conservation from some fifty years ago.
Government spending on all those nice things is all very well and good... as long as you don't have to worry about an exit strategy. The spending cure also ignores the real nature of the jobs crisis. Unemployment is not a symptom of the financial crisis. The financial crisis is a symptom of the employment crisis.
To put it as simply as possible, industrial economies have failed to collectively adjust the hours of work to reflect the new realities of much higher levels of productivity. Standard full-time hours of work have remained static over the last 30 years even as productivity has almost doubled in the last 30 years -- an increase of 84 percent -- while average weekly hours have fallen only 7 percent, notwithstanding sectoral and demographic changes in the workforce that have increased the incidence of part-time employment from 16.3 percent of the workforce in 1979 to 19.7 percent in 2009.
Most hours of work adjustment has taken place has been at an individual level rather than a collective one. That is to say more unemployment and underemployment. And this increasing precariousness of work has acted as a drag on wages. Adjusted for inflation, hourly wages have remained virtually flat. In today's dollars, the average hourly wage in September 1979 was three cents higher than the average wage today.
Let me repeat that: an 84 percent increase in hourly labor productivity and a 0 percent increase in hourly wages. WHAT PART OF 84 - 0 DO BARTIK, WRAY AND GALBRAITH NOT UNDERSTAND? So, how did all the extra stuff get bought? Credit. Personal debt mushroomed over the last 30 years.
Bartik, Wray and Galbraith's solution to the collapse of a debt-bubble is... wait for it... DEBT! Undoubtedly, some government deficit spending may be necessary to lubricate the transition. But deficits sufficient to prop up employment cannot go on forever.
With Bartik's, Wray's and Galbraith's non-solutions, huge deficits would have to continue indefinitely.Growth is not the answer. Thirty years of debt-fueled economic growth has eroded the job-creating capacity of growth. In hindsight, we would be a lot better off if workers had taken half of the productivity gains of the last 30 years in shorter working time. With a four-day workweek and a six-hour day, workers could have had roughly the same incomes they had in 1979. That's not a feasible policy solution right now. It takes time to make the adjustment.
Any and all of the policy prescriptions offered by Bartik, Wray and Galbraith may be useful during the transition. But put forward as stand-alone cures, they are worthless. A spending policy without an exit strategy is like applying a band-aid where a tourniquet -- and then restorative surgery -- is needed.
More - related news of today: 1 in 6 Americans in poverty.
" ...“If a few executives in New York make millions pulling the levers of our way of life, then, well, it’s a shame and they’re a bunch of assholes, but at the end of the day, what can we do about it?” This, I think, is sort of a distillation of the communal mind’s point of view at a subliminal level.
There is nothing in this crisis to grab on to — intellectually and ideologically — for most people. Just a stewing frustrated rage that something isn’t right with the big picture. And so we have a bewildering range of targets for rage including too much government, too little government, taxes too low, taxes too high, not enough bank lending, too much bank lending.
There’s no center, no point of communal traction that could be sloganeered into a reference point to rally around.
And so people acquiesce to a state of affairs that they know is messed up, but they don’t know quite why or what to do about it– other than tune out the morons on TV and try to survive the night in the jungle. And they don’t want to risk a wholesale upheaval that might make things worse.
It’s truly a policy wonk’s crisis. A crisis that requires some real statesmen and women who have political power, to step up and steer. Sadly, they seem few and far between...
...“Ah, the sewing of hoplessness and disillusionment so thte people turn to defeatism or nihilism: It’s a method of social control as old as the hills, the ruling classes having deployed some of their finest thinkers to its engenderment and perpetuation.
It is a testament to the intelligence and thoroughness of the ruling elite that the ancient tactics of social control, long used in religion, have now been extended to the world of “science,” infusing the academe with pseudo-scientific dogmas such as the “finding” that nothing possibly can be done to correct the problem of free-riding in society...” Read all
By Toby Harnden Telegraph Oct. 22, 2009
It appears that the only reliably non-fraudulent vote in Afghanistan’s election was the one sitting president Hamid Karzai cast for himself. A picture in the Guardian of Karzai holding up his purple finger makes him look like he’s flipping off the universe. We haven’t seen a smirk like that on a head of state since our neoconservative lawn edging was in office.
The Guardian article says Karzai “will bow to international pressure today and concede that he did not win a clear majority in Afghanistan's bitterly contested election, and also accept there should be a second round of voting.” That sounds peachy at first listen, but what do we suppose will change in another round of voting? All the little Afghan crooks will run away and let the electoral process work like it’s supposed to? Jesus, Mary and Shemp, we can’t make that happen in Ohio or Florida.
On the Oct. 18 Sunday political gabfests, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel waxed willful about how the president and his national security team will not make any decision on whether or not to further escalate the Afghanistan war until the election results have been sorted out. I suspect this was a weak-breasted effort to toss a half-filled sandbag on the levee, to say, hey, we tried to turn the tide back, but alas. Tough guy Emanuel is as bloated with methane as everybody else in Washington, and he can hiss it out his keyhole as well as anybody else too.
It looks to me like the Obama crew is looking for an excuse to give Stanley McChrystal, the mad military scientist whose public affairs sycophants claim seldom sleeps or eats (how did that become something to brag about?) what he wants without seeming like they drove him downtown for dinner and a drink. (Make of that metaphor what you will.)
Whether Karzai does or does not come out on top of a run-off election doesn’t matter. Either way, he sucks like the vacuum over the Moon. Anybody else we plop in his place will suck just as hard.
As an Oct. 20 New York Times story explains, it’s too late to hold another election before the bitter Afghan winter sets in, so the administration is trying to convince Karzai to form a coalition government with his main political opponent, Abdullah Abdullah. But that arrangement will make for a government as puppet-like as the one Afghanistan has now. A “senior administration official” says that, “some American diplomats and allies were pressing for a negotiated settlement, but were trying not to be too involved for fear of looking as though they were interfering.”
As the unnamed official said, “If you jam it, it has no legitimacy and you’re further behind.” So, the unnamed official said, the administration is “creating conditions” so Afghans see a coalition deal as being in their own interests.
What puppy twaddle.
We Americans have thought of ourselves as gods for far too long.
Witless Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says President Obama needs to quit worrying about how the Afghan process is going and just give McChrystal what he wants, which may involve sending up to 80,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Gates, a bureaucrat savant, has made a career out of accommodating up and down, out of knowing how to keep his subordinates and superiors alike happy. He knows how to “get along to get along,” as we used to say in the Navy.
Among Obama’s most foolish choices was to keep Gates in place, along with the rest of the long war mafia, a motley crowd that includes “King David” Petraeus, Mike Mullen, Ray Odierno and McChrystal who, as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, was a three-star assassin who tracked down and killed “high value targets” and whoever else happened to be in the neighborhood.
You have to wonder how much longer Obama will put up with the velvet junta he inherited. The long war mafia has been waging an information war against President Obama since he was Candidate Obama. With help from its access-poisoned media sources, Tom Ricks being a notable example, the Pentagon has been dropping shells on its commander in chief regarding the Afghanistan situation since an Oct. 18 McClatchy article that suggested McChrystal might resign if he doesn’t get his way.
As founding father and our fourth president James Madison said, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.” President Dwight David Eisenhower warned us that the “unwarranted influence” of the military industrial complex would persist, and it has.
Thomas Jefferson admonished us to be a country that promoted "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none."
George Washington told us to “ avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.”
We need to flip off our overgrown military establishment, and learn to conduct a kinder, gentler flavor of foreign policy. Source
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. thtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.
With all these new controllers, I should see a nifty increase in this blog's traffic. Thanks big brother! Feel free to click on my ads too! but please don't send me the beetle-cyborg!
- Big Brother Britain: £380 a MINUTE spent on tracking your every click online
An astonishing £380 a minute will be spent on surveillance in a massive expansion of the Big Brother state.
The £200million-a-year sum will give officials access to details of every internet click made by every citizen - on top of the email and telephone records already available.It is a 1,700 per cent increase on the cost of the current surveillance regime.' Read more...
Say you are a frequent flier and you check in faster than most people. A network of advanced cameras at the airport can measure your speed and alert the control room. The system knows terrorists tend to be nervous and almost never stop for coffee. This makes a speedy traveller a suspicious traveller.You may also want to think twice about using the airport bathroom more than once. There is a good chance you will be picked out for an extensive security check.
These are some of the things being studied by an EU-funded project for detecting suspicious behaviour, Adabts (Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in Crowded Spaces.)' Read more...
[my comment]: non-state terrorists thanks for the information. So they will mind to act very calmly and use the toilet only once.
Under conditions of growing unemployment and deepening social misery for working people throughout the US, President Barack Obama flew into New York City Tuesday to raise millions of dollars in campaign donations from America’s financial elite. He was expected to clear at least $3 million, largely from a Manhattan bash with an entry fee of $30,400 per couple--the maximum contribution allowed by law.
According to the Los Angeles Times, four of the seven co-chairs of the event and about a third of the guests come from the big banks and Wall Street. Read all
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