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View Diary: The Future of American Jobs (96 comments)

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  •  Infrastructure (3+ / 0-)
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    Chi, koNko, HeyMikey

    Stiglitz is right about many things. The US has improved manufacturing efficiency so much that we'll never need many more workers doing those tasks. (Not to pimp my other diaries, you might take a look at "Promises Made, Promises Broken" and "The Dirty Truth About American Jobs.")

    I was brought up in the American South in the aftermath of the decline in agricultural employment and the bad news is that shift is still working itself out to this day. Same is happening for manufacturing which partially took agriculture's place in the Southern economy but now is steeply declining too. What can take their place? Nothing yet or as far as I can see.

    We should be doing massive infrastructure redevelopment in the US right now but we are not due to influence of corporate sector. Big business is concerned that big infrastructure investment would crowd out private investment and push up the cost of labor because "reserve army of the unemployed" would be serious depleted (people would go back to work, how awful).

    Long-term? Sure infrastructure spending makes sense even to Big Business. But accountability of current senior management is to Wall Street which focuses on short-term profits. Without big-time leadership from the White House and broad support from the American people will be difficuly row to hoe prsently. Things can and do change however.

    •  Indeed. (1+ / 0-)
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      A majority of value in infrastructure is local, even when much of the content is imported. Thus government have tended to rely on infrastructure, sometimes non-productively, to stimulate economies.

      However, there is no doubt the US is badly in need of renewing and modernizing it's infrastructure, so ow is a time to do it, and I would even posit that if it fails to do so it will become increasingly non-competative against countries that are doing so.

      Dial in $150 per barrel oil and the US transportation infrastructure crashes.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 06:09:30 PM PST

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      •  Infrastructure (2+ / 0-)
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        HeyMikey, koNko

        Hiring for infrastructure construction may not be from down the street but often by firms located less than a few hundred miles away. At least it's domestic spending. Even when foreign firms are infrastructure contractors they subcontract as close to job as they can. Local construction by local firms is certainly best from local multiplier point of view as I argue in this diary.

        As you say most of the value in use is local and that's all good.

        •  We have to measure value 2 ways (0+ / 0-)

          Investment, and return from investment.

          Good infrastructure spending tends to return a high multiple of initial investment including recurring tax revenue.

          And failure to invest often costs in terms of material loss, inefficiency and lost opportunity.

          And even when the business entities of an infrastructure project are not local to the site, there is always local spending that is immediately beneficial, and the share of that is typically negotiable.

          This applies anywhere in the world.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 12:50:16 AM PST

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          •  Infrastructure Benefits (1+ / 0-)
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            Agreed koNko. Seems to me ROI is the key. Alternate investments should be examined and best cost-benefit pursued but subject to that the question should be "does the project pay off?"

            You say "And failure to invest often costs in terms of material loss, inefficiency and lost opportunity."

            Yes, but I think the key is who pays the costs and who reaps the benefit. At one level we all do.

            Look beneath that and there's a pattern of winners and losers. Wall Street short-termism means they think they will be a loser. Over the long-run that's false even the big banks would agree but they see important thing as this quarter's earnings.

            Wall Street will underinvest in infrastructure so that's where the public comes in. An effective government will see to the long-term benefit of the people as a whole. Our "bought" system is too easily rigged though.

            •  Obviously (0+ / 0-)

              Much of the short-term benefits go to construction companies, but this is where state-owned construction can play a valuable roles. Returns to society are more long-term but lasting.

              I think a key point has to be the introduction of modern mass-transit (where appropriate) and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) or Redevelopment as the case may more commonly be to put the US on par with other nations in terms of transportation efficiency.

              In fact, if we consider the energy consumption profile of the US it is heavily biased toward transportation so there is a lot to be gained.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 12:16:42 AM PST

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              •  Constructive Comment (1+ / 0-)
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                I like the idea of state-owned construction companies. What better way to re-employ many workers in time of high unemployment? Job skills are broad spectrum--laborer, masonry, ... while doing something that greases
                the wheels for the entire economy.

                A state-owned enterprise would be in a better position to make sure construction labor force helped American workers. I hate to say that but I have heard private companies often employ foreign workers which is OK as long as American workers are helped first.

                •  A good US example is CalTrans (0+ / 0-)

                  I wonder how many conservatives refuse to drive on the highways they have built because they were made by government workers ... LOL.

                  What about my Daughter's future?

                  by koNko on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 06:25:33 PM PST

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                  •  Don't you know... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that conservatives think highways just spring up right out of the dirt. Or private companies build them for free because of better management and more highly motivated workers.

                    The government should keep its hands off my social security and my highways too.

                    Shows the power of blindered thinking can solve any problem; at least in conservative's minds.

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