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A rather stunning opinion column has been hitting the blogs late tonight; it’s an op-ed from Nobel Prize-winner and Columbia University economics professor Joseph Stiglitz in tomorrow’s Financial Times, entitled: “The US labour market is still a shambles.

To get a sense of reality (at least from Stiglitz’ viewpoint) about the level of over-the-top spin on our economy that’s pervasive throughout our society right now--and I happen to agree with that assessment of the spin, at this point—I strongly urge you to read his entire piece.

In it, he doesn’t just cover our nation’s jobless fiasco; he provides a solid overview of the current state of our entire economy. It flies in the face of much of the spin, “proofiness” and “disestimation” that is commonplace throughout both major political parties' propaganda, the MSM, and even with some in this community.

Frankly, and from a purely and politically pragmatic standpoint, talk of the U.S. economic “recovery” is all but meaningless to almost half of our country’s population: the 40%-45% and/or 140,000,000-plus Americans living in, near, or just a couple of paychecks away from poverty.  To many (voters) just struggling to survive it’s, dare I say it, even disaffecting.

Stiglitz provides us with a very concise economic synopsis for this election cycle; and it’s a wake-up call as to why Democrats should be laser-focused upon our number one opponent in the Fall. (Hint: It’s not the pitiful excuse that we refer to as the opposition party.)

(h/t to University of Oregon economics professor Mark Thoma, who strongly agrees with Stiglitz’ assessment this evening.)

The US labour market is still a shambles
By Joseph Stiglitz
Financial Times
March 12, 2012 7:21 pm

It is understandable, given the number of times green shoots have been seen since the downturn began in December 2007, that there might be some scepticism about claims the recovery is finally under way. To me the question is what does it imply for policy? Does it mean we can be more relaxed about the demands for budget cuts emanating from fiscal conservatives? Or that the US Federal Reserve should start paying more attention to inflation, and begin contemplating raising interest rates? Even if this is not one of the many green shoots that soon turn brown, the economy will almost certainly need more stimulus if it is to return to full employment any time soon.

This is the inevitable conclusion from looking at the state of the labour market today. It is a shambles. In Friday’s US employment report, the proportion of working-age American adults in a job moved up only 0.1 percentage points, to a miserable 58.6 per cent – numbers not seen since the downturn of the early 1980s. There are still 23m Americans who would like a full-time job but who cannot get one. The jobs deficit, the number of extra jobs that would have been required to keep up with new entrants to the labour market, is 15m. Employment has yet to return to its level of December 2008. Male employment is still below what it was in February 2007 – meanwhile, the working-age population has grown considerably.

Let’s assume that job creation continues at the rate of 225,000 jobs a month. That is only about 100,000 beyond the number required to provide jobs for the average monthly number of new entrants into the labour force. At that pace, it would take 150 months to reach full employment – 13 years, some time around 2025. The independent Congressional Budget Office is more optimistic, forecasting the return of full employment by 2018.

With labour-force growth normally about 1 per cent per year and productivity growth about 2-3 per cent, it takes sustained output growth in excess of 4 per cent to bring unemployment down. No one expects growth at that pace for long enough to return the US economy to full employment any time soon…

He discusses a return to “’normal’ growth rates,” once the public has concluded deleveraging; but, by definition, this requires increased consumer demand. And as Stiglitz sees it, that’s not happening anytime in the near future.  In fact, Stiglitz flat-out states that we shouldn’t “expect the ‘return’…of American consumers – indeed, we should worry at their reappearance, for what it says about both their rationality and a financial system that facilitates such profligacy.”

He reminds us of the blatant propaganda inherent in ANY discussion of consumers' savings’ rates, since it’s “…the top 20 per cent of Americans saving 15 per cent of their income and the bottom 80 per cent spending an abnormal 110 per cent of their income.”

He talks of ongoing weakness in the property/housing sector. Another topic that I’ve spent a lot of time covering, both recently and for many years.  And, he points to “constrained” state and local governments, hampered by draconian budget cuts and falling tax revenues as a result of the mortgage/housing mess.

Towards the end of his piece, Stiglitz focuses upon worsening U.S. income inequality and the notion of  full employment in our “new normal.” He continues upon a theme he’s been discussing for many months (actually, throughout his career), and it regards the “natural rate of unemployment.”

He also discussed this in a post over at Project Syndicate, in mid-January, entitled: “The Perils of 2012.”  In it, he noted, that it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that our country “will solve its political problems and finally adopt the stimulus measures that it needs to bring down unemployment to 6% or 7% (the pre-crisis level of 4% or 5% is too much to hope for).  But this is as unlikely as it is that Europe will figure out that austerity alone will not solve its problems.”

So, on February 8th and 9th, while the White House was busy putting the finishing touches on their revised spin about much “rosier” employment projections between now and Election Day, Ben Bernanke was making MUCH more cautious public pronouncements about unemployment expectations.

Our nation’s devastating, long-term unemployment nightmare--a subject that many in the Democratic blogosphere have also attempted to outspin of late by focusing upon the first couple of truly decent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly unemployment/employment reports in almost four years—has escalated to the point where Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke has just highlighted this even greater, inconvenient fact about our nation’s record-breaking, long-term jobless reality for millions of us, which, reiterating, has now surpassed levels we experienced during the Great Depression. But, as Bernanke is now acknowledging it publicly, there’s something else, perhaps even worse, going on here: “With many more people no longer considered part of the workforce, Bernanke said that January's 8.3 percent unemployment rate ‘no doubt understates the weakness of the labor market in a broader sense.’”

Bernanke continued on to warn us of a “…modest increase in the sustainable long-run rate of unemployment.” What he’s talking about is a rise in what used to be referred to as the ”natural rate of unemployment”…“for the foreseeable future,” from 4% to 6%. As in: permanently. (Actually, this mainstream economic thinking has now evolved into what economists call the "NAIRU," which is the acronym for the "Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment." Per Wikipedia: this "refers to a level of unemployment below which inflation rises." To read more about Bernanke’s commentary, see this Bloomberg story: “Bernanke Says 8.3% Unemployment Understates Weakness in U.S. Labor Market.”)

So, we now have Bernanke and Stiglitz discussing best-case scenarios about a “new normal” where somewhere around 6% or 7% will be the “natural rate of unemployment” for the foreseeable future. How do you think this bigger truth, about our nation’s OTHER long-term unemployment nightmare, is going to play on Main Streets across America in coming months once the 99% read about this reality, confirming what they’re already witnessing in their day-to-day lives as you read this?

#            #            #

Some really good follow-up reading, IMHO, on much that is covered, above…

In “The Precarious Jobs Recovery,” Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich posted a very incisive analysis  of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) February 2012 Employment Situation Report (and the current state of our economy, in general), just hours after it was made public this past Friday morning.

Chrystia Freeland, the former US editor of the Financial Times, and now the editor of Thomson Reuters Digital is quickly becoming one of my new favorites for economic commentary, in general. Checkout her Thursday piece on income inequality, “The 1 percent recovery.

For some excellent charts on all of this, I’d suggest you take a few minutes and see Robert Oak’s latest at his Economic Populist blog, from Friday, “The Bloom Comes Off the Unemployment Report Rose.”

From the Wall Street Journal blog, on Friday: “Jobs Data Improve, but Growth Picture Darkens.”

And, speaking of growth, from earlier on Friday, also via Mark Thoma’s Economist's View blog, a piece by fellow economist Lane Kenworthy: “The Great Decoupling of Income Growth for Middle-Class Households.” It’s all about “…the disconnect between economic growth and the growth of median or other measures of middle-class household income.” And while some claim it “…can be explained away by measurement errors…Lane Kenworthy says no matter how you measure it, ‘Decoupling is real and sizable.’”

Re: All of those “housing-has-bottomed” memes you’re now reading about (which conveniently don’t even reference, let alone discuss or acknowledge, an unreported massive “shadow inventory” in U.S. housing that’s not covered in the common metrics used nowadays in the MSM, or even in the blogosphere), HERE’s the latest from Michael Olenick, a favorite of Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism: “Beware of Housing Market Cheerleading.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hi bob. You know I am really worried. (26+ / 0-)

    If my neighbors, friends and family are an unofficial random sample, things are not going well.

    The downward spiral: selling off 401s, paying more for housing, education, care of our parents, transportation, fuel and food, and the big one, medical care.

    Doing more with less. It is not abstract, the economy hits each of us every day.

    Thank you.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 11:23:45 PM PDT

  •  in my social stratification class (20+ / 0-)

    we are talking about legitimation of inequality through big institutions like media and educational structures. It is a pretty interesting conversation, and it makes me wonder how the media will spin the new normal unemployment to sell it to the masses. People are already struggling and pissed off about it, how can the media even begin to justify a new structured (or natural) unemployment rate of 6% or more? How can they continue to call this a "recovery"? Its obvious to all who are not in the "1%" (or, in the lower strata of the American class structure) that this recovery is complete bunk. How many of these supposed jobs "created" in the recovery are part time, low paying, low wage jobs? How many people are not being counted in the "8.3%" Nat'l unemployment rate because they have given up hope, or are hopelessly underemployed but still earning enough to barely hang on economically? And yet, the media, politicians, and economists alike will spin this as "GREAT NEWS!" for the economy. But I have to call bullshit.

    god, it has only been a term since I became a sociology major, but I have learned so much depressing stuff since I started going to the University :/

    They call me Gato, I have metal joints. Beat me up and earn 15 silver points. -- Gato the Robot, Chrono Trigger

    by rexymeteorite on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 11:30:30 PM PDT

    •  Capitalist propaganda will simply redouble (10+ / 0-)

      its message.

      People out of work are lazy.

      SUV's are a measure of success.

      The super-wealthy aren't greedy, they're visionary leaders, etc... etc... etc...

      The "great news for the economy" is that the rich are still making a lot of money but paying less for labor.

      Just wait til gas prices hit or exceed $5/gal in a couple months (due to speculation and price gouging) - the economy will cool off a a lot of people - like me -  will curtail 'discretionary" spending.

      #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 03:30:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "trickle down" employment (3+ / 0-)

      is the current answer from the Government . . . "we saved the wealthy so they could employ you (cleaning their toilets)".  

      That's how it works in a "class" society . . . not new, just (relatively) new to Americans (there has always been someone "on the bottom" to do the shit work, but that has historically been the province of slaves and the immigrant "others").  The presumption is that we'll learn to "suck it up" just like generations of slaves before us, and come to appreciate how much worse off we would be without the generosity of "the masters".  I don't know how much of it you'll read about in sociology books, but there's plenty on the subject in history books . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 07:30:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well at least you're learning something. (0+ / 0-)

      Many aren't.

      H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

      by Knarfc on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 11:10:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting read. T & R'd (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, Nulwee, KJG52

    Just curious what your thoughts are about President Obama's Making Homes Affordable plan? Is it bold enough to get things churning, or too modest in your opinion?

    Thanks for linking to your other diary. I will be heading off to medical school in a year and want to start looking for an affordable home, but I don't know much about the system. More diaries about the housing market please! ;D

    Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

    by YoungArizonaLiberal on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 11:31:33 PM PDT

    •  If You Said "Obama" You Answered Your Own (6+ / 0-)

      question about "bold enough."

      The question being asked is "is it bipartisan enough?"

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:47:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The government's policies to keep folks in... (3+ / 0-)

      ...their homes, from the Making Homes Affordable program to HAMP, and everything in-between, have been woefully ineffective, providing nominal assistance to only a small fraction of the millions on Main Street in need at the expense of placating the banks.

      It hasn't been until just the past month, give or take, wherein the state AG's have settled with the banks--and then through a series of tens of billions of dollars in program enticements comprised mostly of pre-approved, taxpayer money that's been sitting around for this purpose since 2009--that these programs have shown any potential.

      Sadly, this money is now being used to prop up the banks, too; since Wall Street should be paying for the settlement out of non-taxpayer funds (i.e.: their own money). And, sadly, it's ONLY potential, because the inaction and the will to actually carry out the intended purpose of these already allocated funds--the very effectiveness of these 3-plus-year old programs--is yet to come to fruition as we blog.  

      So, yes, as even Tim Geithner's acknowledged it in front of Congress, the government's efforts to help underwater and foreclosed homeowners, up until now, has been woefully inadequate.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 09:01:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "woefully ineffective" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobswern, YoungArizonaLiberal

        Covers most attempts at truely changing the fundamentals. Derivatives regulations, keeping families in their homes, job creation, reversing wealth disparity.

        Crap, we can hardly talk about actual solutions, the national conversation is just not happening.

        TNr

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 11:55:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a resident of Southern Nevada (23+ / 0-)

    who is long-term unemployed, and surrounded by other long-term umemployed, it has dawned on me over time that my situation is "the new normal". Over 40 and fucked. Too old to get the minimum wage slave gigs, and not old enough for the safety net to break my fall.

    It's not that things are getting better for me, and people like me, it's that I'm, and they are, an acceptable loss.

    We have two political parties. One that is so awful, so wretched, that anything and everything that they touch turns to shit. We have a second, that is frankly pathetic. That uses the the fact that the other party is so awful, so wretched, that anything and everything that it touches turns to shit, to escape being held to a higher standard of performance.

    You can't expect better, because... the shit monster.

    Well, then the damned shit monster is either outright in charge or enabled when it's not.

    I'm a partisan Democrat. I'll take the time to dig, to cut through the spin and bullshit, and refuse to get bamboozled.

    Most people in my situation are most certainly not. I can feel the resentment rising. It's palpable. Sometimes I think I can smell it in the air like that ozone stink in the air before or after a thunderstorm.  

    And I certainly can't say that I'm proud of the Democratic Party. It's better than 'I quit'.

    But it's hard not to lose hope.  

    If things are actually getting better, that just might mean its time to talk about fear of inflation, worrying about the confidence fairy, and needing to get back to talking about austerity again.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 11:52:36 PM PDT

    •  I've been a lifelong Democrat...36 years... (16+ / 0-)

      ...and, the administration is making the same mistakes they made in 2010. This year, however, the GOP is truly imploding...but, I do NOT expect that to continue past the Spring. Our Party must focus upon the economy, even to the point of somewhat (not completely, but somewhat) ignoring the opposing party, and going deep into the minds of the voters. There's an enthusiasm gap, and it's caused by an economy that is, simply, not "improving" ANYWHERE CLOSE to our own party's talking points about same.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 12:01:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Man, I sure hate to hear that. (12+ / 0-)

      I got laid off 10 years ago from a civil service position.

      It's been a run of shitty jobs and delivering pizza.

      I FINALLY got my professional licence, for which I worked years, got a master degree and all that.  2 more years of shitty jobs, believe it or not and I just happened to stumble onto a 'proper job' about 2 years ago, just as even my pizza gig crashed (stupid owner).

      I've gone nearly a year - twice - with broken teeth because I wanted to keep them and not have them pulled, worried that my wife would leave and return to her country - Viet Nam - because she says things are actually easier there (wrap your head around that...)

      Long and short I have muscled my way into a fulltime gig and that gig is about to be sold to another company.

      I'm 51.

      Like the Samurai and the 'resolute acceptance of Death", I have the resolute acceptance that each day on any job could be my last.

      Last night I dreamed I was in a car that slid off the road in a snow storm and slid way down a mountainside.....

      I wish you much luck.

      #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 03:50:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I hear you (0+ / 0-)

        I have five broken teeth. Five. It's fucking ridiculous. Only one of them really gets bad from time to time, but I wonder about the long term health consequences. I haven't been able to afford to go to the dentist in the last decade, and everytime I see a story about how "scientists and researchers are concluding that dental problems may contribute to heart disease and chronic inflamation" I cringe.

        I've had trouble getting a new job because of my age, because I'm longterm unemployed, and because I now have pretty shitty credit. Anybody who thinks that the guys with the hiring and firing power aren't looking at your credit rating and making a call that you will steal or be a fuck-up if your credit rating is below a certain point is fooling themselves. Having bad credit is the new having a criminal record.

        My old man came to this country from Norway and got his citizenship in 1964. He's pushing 90. The last time I visited him, he apologised to me for not taking my mom back to Norway when Nixon was re-elected. I was shocked. But, I probably shouldn't be. He reads the paper and he checks in with his brothers and sisters in Norway and they are doing great by comparison. Nobody is unemployed, everybody has housing and affordable healthcare. It kills me that they feel like the American Rightwing's punching bag, because they feel like nobody who is helping to trash our middle class should be casting a narrowed eye at them.

        I'm glad I didn't have a kid. It sucks to say that, but that's how I feel. I don't know what I would say to a 17 year old right now.

        Maybe "I'm sorry".

        I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

        by LeftHandedMan on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 09:16:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't argue, but ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, Deep Texan, Nulwee

    I do ask, what's the point here? Things still suck and will for years -- and? Obama can't do anything about it; damn him anyway for not using that magic wand. Do you expect in an election year that Democrats should be making your 'argument' or whatever it is? Again -- what exactly is your point, and your advice?

    •  Can't speak for bob, but I think one huge thing (13+ / 0-)

      Obama could do right now is to denounce acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Edward DeMarco for his refusal to allow principle balance write downs on underwater mortgages. He should then recess appoint his replacement.

      He has the power to do this. It doesn't take a magic wand. Fannie and Freddie control half of all home loans in the country. DeMarco's abject refusal to even consider any kind of write down is a major impediment to improving the economy.

    •  First of all... (16+ / 0-)

      ...what is it with this "advice" thing? I'm sure there may have been a few exceptions, but I do NOT give "advice" about our economy. I report about it and I offer my opinions as a byproduct of that. (I have, occasionally, discussed what I'm doing, economically speaking, as far as my personal investing is concerned. But, that's pretty inconsequential, because it's been quite nominal, throughout the roughly six years that I've been blogging.)

      Secondly, the idea here is to (not so?) subtly point out to fellow Democrats that, just perhaps, hyping the "recovery" runs the risk of becoming a repeat of our party's strategy in 2010...supporting talking points which fly in the face of what folks in Main Street are experiencing (i.e.: a different reality that they're seeing playing out before their eyes).

      Third, I'm not an economist and have never pretended to be one. Contrary to some other (obsessive and pitiful) parties in the blogosphere that are, apparently, making it their life's work to grossly contort/distort what I write (heh...do folks ever check the links that these people reference to see if what they say I'm saying is actually what I said, including the context of my comments), I do not offer up investment advice. (Securities markets have little or nothing to do with our economy, at least as far as the 99% are concerned.) And, I do not cut and paste government charts to reinforce a bias towards the corporatocracy. Frankly, it's just opposite.

      My "point," always, is that I merely report upon the opinions and data of highly respected economists, academicians, and other pundits and specialists who, for the most part (although not always), happen to be speaking to us about related subjects/truths; and then drilling down through/past the misinformation and propaganda about our economy that is incredibly pervasive (both in the MSM, our government, and even in the blogosphere) everywhere.

      Hopefully, in the process of doing what I"m stating I'm doing, my efforts also happen to align with common sense, and Progressive Democratic goals, etc., etc. per my other comments, above. (And, my overall critique of our Party's current policies.)

      Was this helpful?

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 01:20:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I agree that "hyping" the recovery... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        ...is problematic, rMONEY is asserting that he "would have done it better." It's difficult for honest assessment by this WH of this version of "green shoots" to be anything but "POTUS agrees rMONEY better for the economy" in "MSM Village-Speak."

        POTUS and his team pretty much have to bet the farm on these "green shoots" being resilient this time. And trust that events in Europe continue to make our situation look "less miserable" by comparison. Good policy (from our perspective) is going to be subordinate to the calculations of political positioning, at least for the next couple of months.

        My big wildcard is that the resurgence of OWS this Spring  changes that calculus.

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 02:55:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are too many things that are either out... (0+ / 0-)

          ...of our control, or, for which there is too much pressure by others for us not to want to control...gasoline prices--which could undermine the entire economy, and may very well do just that, come to top of mind in this category. But, there are other matters...Europe, etc.

          "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

          by bobswern on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:02:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Better? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KJG52
          rMONEY is asserting that he "would have done it better."
          Better for whom? rBot (R) consistently shows no interest in anyone or anything outside his immediate crony circle.

          When he says 'better', you can be sure his definition isn't going to be the same as most peoples'.

          "Be kind" - is that a religion?

          by ThatBritGuy on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:21:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, countries that are ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mygreekamphora, Deep Texan

        ... as big as ours require confidence in the economy to function, and all I ever see you do, bobswern, is try to erode the confidence.

        And when you give the advice that "hyping the 'recovery'" is potentially wrong, then I have to question if you can do any good at all. First, I have never seen an administration official "hype the recovery" without saying something along the lines of "but we need to do more for the people and continue to turn this around...." Secondly, what you suggest is that the Democrats not mention good news -- news that is especially good because any rational person would realize that we're in this economic funk because of Republican de-regulation of everything including the chicken coop.

        So, I also have to ask:  What is your purpose?  

        Republicans, like Zombies, just want to get a head.

        by Tortmaster on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:12:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The more I think ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan

          ... about it, the more I believe your "advice" to be absurd, bobswern. In an election that most rational beings understand will be hugely affected by the economy, one way or another, you want the Democrats to avoid "good news" about the economy.

          The administration is mentioning the good news and also letting the American people know that they're still working on the problems, and that they understand people are really suffering out there, while still promoting a growing confidence in the economy. That seems to be a hell of a lot better strategy for Democrats.

          Oh, and reminding people that it was Republicans who put the car in the ditch in the first place.

          Republicans, like Zombies, just want to get a head.

          by Tortmaster on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:37:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, right . . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobswern, Jim P, joe shikspack

          sell the "sizzle" and ignore the fact that the steak was rotten green with maggots crawling on it before it hit the grill . . .

          That's the ticket . . . that will keep the voters on "your side" . . .

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 07:52:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Save your energy commenting with this one n/t (0+ / 0-)

            "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

            by bobswern on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 08:34:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's exactly right, Deward ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... Hastings! The steak was rotten green ... before it hit the grill, just like the Republicans had sent the economy into a total tailspin and near-Depression before President Obama took over.

            That's exactly the right message. That's good advice! Now we're getting somewhere!

            Republicans, like Zombies, just want to get a head.

            by Tortmaster on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 09:35:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Are you the tooth fairey, by chance? (0+ / 0-)

          H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

          by Knarfc on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 11:16:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah...I don't get the real point in writing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobswern, KJG52

      about how things are ACTUALLY worse...politicians do whatever it takes to win elections (even if it nets them only 1 additional vote)...POTUS can't campaign for 8 months simply talking about the long term unemployed or how unemployment is going to remain high for a long time....with no ability to get anything through Congress.  You need to do whatever you can to create a sense of positive momentum even if the economy is only marginally improving.

      Obviously the 2010 election was the watershed for screwing up a potential faster recovery.  I don't believe that you could have gotten a 1.5 trillion stimulus package through in 2009...but I do believe that things need to be continually reevaluated ...so if more stimulus was needed you could go for it...at least in a rational democracy...where you don't have to do so much heavy lifting just to persuade know nothings that you cannot implement austerity in the middle of a huge recession.

      Genius move...bring the country towards default immediately following a recession.  My main criticism is that the WH should have fought the narrative that 2010 was all about reigning in spending...b/c that wasn't good politics for 2012 nor was it good policy.  2010 was a knee jerk "I have no idea what I'm doing" election.  

      Simpson Bowles could have been proposed, debated and criticized at another time...but it was beyond silly to be talking like this was a national imperative during a period where stimulus was still needed.

      1964 Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston, 1997 Masters Tiger Woods vs Field, 2008 Barack Obama vs Field

      by ZenMaster Coltrane on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 04:43:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The theory is that good information and (0+ / 0-)

      sharing it, from the democratic point of view, is a better approach than bad information and not sharing anything else.

      Perhaps you have an opinion on that, or an alternative approach, given the situation. Or maybe you think people shouldn't have an opinion, or any information about the situation.

      H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

      by Knarfc on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 11:15:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I work with people struggling with mental illness (10+ / 0-)

    They have qualified for disability income (which is not La Dolce Vita as the GOP would have you think).

    They often live in squalor relative to the breathtaking rents they are charged by "personal care homes" and between that and the normal human desire to have a job and a proper income (and self-respsect and all that comes with it) they are often very focused on trying to get well enough to get a job.

    Some of them bounce back and forth between  being well enough' to consider a job hunt and falling apart.

    I am currently reminding them to cut themselves A LOT of slack when they become discouraged about the difficulty of getting even a lowly job.

    I tell them "the economy is still face down in the toilet despite whatever rosy things you are hearing on the TV and radio".

    This confirms I'm correct.

    #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 03:22:08 AM PDT

  •  Of course it depends (8+ / 0-)

    on how you define "full employment".  Over the years of my lifetime I've watched the percentage of unemployed that constitutes "full employment" creep relentlessly upwards.  It seems likely that  the "pragmatic, centrist" approach will be to redefine the "new normal" of "full employment" to be unemployment in the 7.5-8% range.

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 03:34:13 AM PDT

  •  Well, unemployment compensation is one (8+ / 0-)

    way of pumping dollars into the economy and getting the currency moving.  For all the dollars in circulation, the rate at which money moves through the economy continues to decrease:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/...

    The traders are taking their cut and not letting go.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 04:11:32 AM PDT

    •  Key point! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe shikspack

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:13:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We have a class of people who are (0+ / 0-)

        absolutely convinced that money is worth something sitting in their accounts.  They still haven't gotten used to the idea that disconnecting gold was a significant change and signaled the advent of what Galbraith the elder referred to as the "perfect" currency -- intrinsically worthless.
        Why people should give something of value just for using a symbol of value is a question that needs to be asked and answered with "they shouldn't."  It makes as much sense to pay to use a dollar or a yen or a euro as it would to pay to use the Arabic or Chinese lettering system.
        Of course, there was a time when reading and writing skills were restricted to certain select populations.  Restricting the use of currency now is no different.  But, the people who do it have to be weaned of the habit.
        We might start by weaning unearned income of its special status.

        No question, it's a good deal to lend the public sector dollars, rather than contributing them as taxes. It's also proved a convenient way for freeloaders who have no practical talents to contribute to survive.  But, when they accumulate and hoard the dollars, it's like draining the oil out of an engine.

        People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

        by hannah on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:32:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yup. It is around here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 04:18:17 AM PDT

  •  Joseph Stigliz's and R. Reich's views are ... (15+ / 0-)

    minority views in the "Washington Consensus" world of Larry Summers, et al, the "main stream" economists of Washington DC, New York, London and Frankfurt. The World Bank, IMF, Fed, Bank of England and Deutchesbank are filled with economists trained for the past thirty years in a paradigm that abetted and sustained a world economic system of devil take the hindmost exploitation and predation. The current economic paradigm, which President Obama and both major parties apparently supports, is that work is a commodity, debt is a null point as each man's debt is another man's asset, that financialization is a natural progression of economic activity and all actors both public and private are subject to "market" forces that preclude the use of government intervention on the behalf of all people that creates "artificial" economic results, e.g. "non-market based" solutions to economic issues.

    Health care does not result from making insurance available, health care and insurance are two different things, insurance is a system designed to pay for health care, not health care itself. Investment is not productive in itself, it is a mechanism to create a way for paying for the creation of productive results, in its best form and for gambling in its worst, but we make no distinction between these activities in either policy or the study of economics under the current paradigm. Employment also is not in itself truly an indicator of quality of life or economic benefit as the range of "employment" is so broad an indicator as we currently use it, that all "work" is counted equally, whether it is mopping floors for minimum wage or gene splicing in a laboratory. The language of policy and academic economics is, in its current form, useless.

    We have huge holes in the bucket we call the "American" economy, because we put them there. By allowing capital and labor to float freely about the world, we have eliminated the concept of national economies and we did that through governmental policy. Economics, especially "free market based" economics is not driving some worldwide historical trend toward globalization, government  policy is driving that process.

    The housing overhang, joblessness, wage depression, bubbles and the resultant catastrophes in people's lives that proceed from these factors are the result of policy, not economics. We have the economy we created through policy, not the other way around, we don't adapt policy to economics, we adapt our explanations of economics to existing or promulgated policies driven by politics.

    We need a new language to speak about policy and economics, we have to break out of thinking about ourselves as units of production only given value by the amount we produce and consume. The stupidity of pitting everyone against each other in a catastrophic tribal race to supremacy or destruction calibrated in metrics by dollar accumulation has to stop before we are all consumed in a holocaust of greed.

    The number one problem on this planet is whether or not human beings are going to make it unliveable, yet there is no priority given to this by either policy or current economic theory. Population control is also given short shrift, even though by reducing the population we could give humanity a better chance of survival on this finite planet. Economic inequality is causing social and political upheaval throughout the world and yet we do not seriously address this issue. World health is rarely discussed as an "economic" issue and we treat "education" as if it has no other effect than to create nore efficient "workers" and "enrepreneurs". We are having the wrong discussions, in the imprecise and dated language of an outworn and tattered political and economic paradigm.

    Economics and politics are about humanity and where we are going, neither is immutable nor prescriptive in the sense of a physical force of nature, they are both mutable and subject to the will of the people. As people we have a choice about whether to continue using a language and paridigm that has produced crisis after crisis, with rare breathing space in between, or to discard that which doesn't work and reform our world. It is our choice and we can choose to change our political direction and replace a broken economic system with one that works, by exanging a broken political process for one that works. We are not the puppets of fate, we are human beings "endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," we formed a government to guarantee those rights, a democratic republic, it is time that we used the tools of that government to change its direction.

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 05:35:47 AM PDT

  •  Look (9+ / 0-)

    everyone I know who is still working is exhausted--putting up with nine miles of shit that they wouldn't have put up with even ten years ago, because

    they're lucky to still have a job
    If any thought process is pervasive in this economy, it's that one.

    Our economy is not that rosy scenario they're painting out there in The Media. Work to elect better Dems downticket and get those damned progress-impeding morons outta there...

    It is time to #Occupy Media.

    by lunachickie on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 06:25:34 AM PDT

  •  I wonder what is going to be at the end of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, WheninRome, Frank Knarf

    the globalization road. I think it's going to be the normalization of wages for every one in the world, which will mean the lowering of wages for almost every American. The reasons that a person in India, of whatever educational attainment, can't make as much money as an American are 1) time differences 2) language differences. This is the kind of thought I was having as I pondered the death of my profession (architecture). Almost all jobs can be outsourced, via technology (especially vidoeconferencing, which is already fairly cheap and is going to become cheaper). Translation software will only get better and will probably eventually eliminate the need for a lingua franca. There is no reason professions should remain immune from these trends. Architecture suffered an untimely demise, due to the housing bust, but is accountancy far behind? Why should there be an H&R Block in the corner mall if you can Skype yourself a professional in a country where $2/hr is big money and there are fewer taxes & regulations to add to that tax burden? It's hard to think of really safe jobs.

    •  You have identified the problem. Their are only (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plumbobb

      two effective solutions that I can see.  Either protect the domestic labor economy by political action and face the trade consequences or redistribute part of capital's share of output to the people in general through political action, such as tax policy.  I tend to favor the second option.

      Pension plans and 401Ks have been of some use but not for the majority of low-income workers or the unemployed and unemployable.  Ideas like a national income floor funded by capital taxation don't seem so radical these days.

      Where are we, now that we need us most?

      by Frank Knarf on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 10:09:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most of us know it's raining piss. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    Thanks for the diary. Many of us can see from the statistics, if not with our own eyes, that things are bad.

    But you know, "the other guys are worse" goes a long way toward making the future look brighter.

  •  Well keeping the true state of this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    economy hidden from public view may help Obama win the nomination for the President this summer, but if the truth gets out, or if voters in general decide things are not as rosy as Obama's administration is painting, we may be looking at a Republican president next year.

    H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

    by Knarfc on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 11:09:30 PM PDT

  •  Why do we insist that people have jobs (0+ / 0-)

    To survive? Seriously.

    I see that as the real problem, considering that automation is destroying so many jobs here in the US.

    Perhaps we need to decouple having a job with having a place to live, food to eat, and health care.

    That way those that can't find work because they are not able to do whatever is in the current job market won't become desperate and homeless.

    Please sign the White House petition to Flush Rush from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

    by splashy on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 12:32:15 PM PDT

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