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Chronic Unemployment

Neoliberalism as the Cause of Chronic, Structural Unemployment in the USA

News Over 50 and unemployed Recommended Links Chronic stress Computers eat people Underemployment Eroding Western living standards
The neoliberal myth of human capital Perma Temps Adverse Selection Scapegoating and victimization of poor Productivity Myth and "Rising labor costs" hypocrisy Neoliberalism and Christianity The problem of inequality
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Corporatism Casino Capitalism If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths Toxic Managers Office Stockholm Syndrome Learned helplessness
Unemployment after graduation Fake Employment Statistics Destructiveness of GDP Mania   Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability

Economics Pseudo Theories

Notes on Republican Economic Policy
John Kenneth Galbraith Invisible Hand Hypothesis Inflation vs. Deflation Lysenkoism Financial Humor Humor  Etc

Unemployment offices, homeless shelters,  hospitals, prisons and casinos. and are the only real growth industries of Obama Administration. In Jan 2010 35 millions, or one in eight Americans, were on food stamps.

Obama's  biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military


When I was a kid they told us that automation would "free" us from working long hours. What they didn't tell us what that they weren't going to pay us for all this leisure time we'd get.

Mass unemployment is the primary indication of the collapse of a given form of society -- James Burnham


Introduction


"Unemployment" statistics has been the political advertising media for every Administration in modern times

From comment in
The Rise of Invisible Unemployment
 The Atlantic, Nov 9, 2014

 

Chronic unemployment is an immanent feature of neoliberalism, which requires the army of unemployed to suppress wages in order to increase share of profits for the top 1$ and, especially, the top 0.01%.  Another problem is secular (long-term) stagnation of the economy due to destruction of consumer demand, which comes with the deterioration of the standard of living and high level of unemployment.  As Pope Francis noted:

...Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

... ... ...

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

The institutions of neoliberal capitalism, while promoting an expanded role in the economy for "market forces" (read "financial oligarchy")  simultaneously transform labor relations. The “market” under neoliberalism certainly no longer refers to competition as a form of the production and distribution goods and services. Instead, it means something more along the lines of international financial monopolies protected by collusion between captured vassal state institutions (including neoliberal fifth column domination in the all major branches of government, especially executive and  legislative branches, educational institutions and media) and multinationals, which pay money to sustain this social order. The term “Free markets” under neoliberalism means letting rich people do what they want, not promoting efficient allocation of resources through competition and the price mechanism. The core of the fifth column are local oligarchs and so called "Chicago boys": sons and daughters of local elite who are trained for and indoctrinated for this purpose in Western universities. As aptly noted Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems ( The Guardian,  April 15, 2016)

We internalize and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

Under neoliberalism labor relations assumes the form of full domination of labor by capitalists. Unions are officially suppressed and large part of middle class is brainwashed to hate using set of propaganda stories about unions corruption, welfare quinsy, lack of competitiveness in unionized industries (with Detroit as a prime story), etc.  In this sense crushing by Reagan of the strike of air controllers was one of the first manifestation of this dominance. Workers again are downgraded to the role of debt slaves, who should be glad to get subsistence wages. And, for example, wages in Wal-Mart are really on subsistence level, no question about it (Making Change at Wal-Mart » Fact Sheet – Wages):

Wal-Mart jobs are poverty-level jobs.
Wal-Mart's average sale Associate makes $8.81 per hour, according to IBISWorld, an independent market research group. This translates to annual pay of $15,576, based upon Wal-Mart's full-time status of 34 hours per week1. This is significantly below the 2010 Federal Poverty Level of $22,050 for a family of four. The Wall Street Journal reported that the average Wal-Mart cashier makes just $8.48 an hour, far below the $11.22 national average for all cashiers.

This contrasts with the capital-labor compromise that characterized the state capitalism that existed several post-WWII decades and that was crushed by neoliberalism in 1970th. Neoliberalism also brought change in the relation between financial and non-financial capital: financial capital now again like in 1920th plays a dominant role dictating the rules of the game to manufacturing sector and controlling it via banks.

Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. University professors of economics form the most corrupt part of intellectual elite – they are nothing more than employees of the financial oligarchy paid to administer intellectual anesthetic to those among debt slaves, who still have enough time to ask what’s going on. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and impoverish poor.  That's an officially state goal. Then in 1992, when asked what Iran-Contra was really all about, Bush I replied that it was done for "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."

The upward redistribution of wealth requires high unemployment to weep prols into unconditional obedience.  In other words neoliberalism and high unemployment are twins.

Under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak  neoliberals promote a type of economy which is often called a plantation economy. In this type of the economy all the resources and power are in the hands of a wealthy planter class who then gives preference for easy jobs and the easy life to their loyal toadies. The wealthy elites like cheap labor: it's much easier to  dictate their conditions of employment when unemployment is high.

Keynesian economics values the middle class and does not value unemployment or cheap labor, so it is incompatible with neoliberal ideology and needs to be suppressed.  Neoliberals created the system which richly reward stooges of neoliberalism for their loyalty to the top 1%  bestowing on them an easier life than they otherwise merit. In a meritocracy where individuals receive public goods and services that allow them to compete on a level playing field, many neoliberal academic toadies would be losers who cannot compete.

One of the most important measures of the health of an economy is the following criteria: how many fulfilling, living-wage jobs are created or destroyed (most other economic factors can be distilled to this.). For example, widely used measure of economic growth, GDP is too influenced by financial masturbation and does not distinguish useful activity from harmful or irrelevant. 

Under neoliberalism the elite revived Roman emperor Septimius Severus advice to his sons before he died at Eboracum (York) on  February 4, 211:

"Avoid infighting, pay well the soldiers, and ignore everybody else" . 

So during the Great Recession Congress simply tuned backs to unemployed. With the implicit message you just need to die out folks ;-).

Military budget at the same time was greatly expanded and several unnecessary wars were launched.  Brainwashed American public eats all those neoliberal policies like real lemmings, demonstrating the level of groupthink and lack of critical thinking that is typical for high demand cults. So the myth about highly conscious "proletariat" that Marxists cherished remains a myth. Moreover quite opposite tendencies to creation of "enlightened lower classes" show their ugly face (Chris Hedges America is a Tinderbox naked capitalism):

ictus92, July 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

To paraphrase Madeline Albright: “What’s the point of creating a totalitarian police state if you’re not going to use it?”

So where is the American totalitarian state going? If you look at the NDAA and the discussion around repealing the Posse Comitatus Act, the key words include quelling “domestic civil unrest”… So what are the “deep government” types anticipating so hysterically?

Well, the financial crisis keeps grinding away and is about to enter another phase of collapse as “quantitative easing” has run its course. Interest rates are rising, posing “technical insolvency” of the Federal Reserve itself. What this means is that time’s up for the 46 million in the Food Stamp Supplemental Program; 56 million getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and at least 20 million more needing full time employment. Obviously there’s some overlap, but the total number of people living on the margins of subsistence pushes 30% of the population.

For these, they face an immediate “Final Solution”… not exactly direct extermination, but death by deprivation, illness etc. Can work camps be far off for these tens of millions and the many millions more living paycheck to paycheck? This population and their sympathizers comprise the tinder for “civil unrest”. Hence the corollary to the famous “Collect it all” (communications) is “control it all” (civil disorder following further economic collapse).

Furthermore, prolonged neglect of key infrastructure will lead inevitably to severe food, water and electric power access shortages — another source of civil unrest potential.

Of course, overseas the totalitarian police state eliminates all expression of opposition that can change policies in the quest for “Permanent War” and “full spectrum” military dominance. This ends in global military confrontation… just as the financial crisis of the 30’s gave rise to another World War… only this time around world war will pitch towards thermonuclear war in short order. That’s how totalitarian regimes collapse into catastrophe, dragging the rest of us to an unpleasant demise.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a damn thing any of us can do to arrest this beserk Levithan…

tongorad, July 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness.

They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they’re listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.

The left won’t accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix “if only the people knew the Truth.”

But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber and meaner the lie, the more the public wants to hear it repeated.”

“We, The Spiteful” by Mark Ames

http://exiledonline.com/we-the-spiteful/

Dave, July 20, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Please consider that the “right” is far more realistic in their assessment of human nature. The “left” wants things to be according to what they think it should be, mostly because of their left wing educators. The majority of humans are not perfectible.

Even Asians, with their highly socialized societies, have behaved very badly towards those outside their country.

This tendency of self-deception of "blue color America" and resonating of Republican Party ideas within "working poor" and lower middle class, two strata of the US society that typically votes against its own economic interests is analyzed in   What's the matter with Kansas  And to fight neoliberal machine is not easy as media dominance is total, and on a new technological level, which does not require silencing of opponents, just ignoring them, approach the level typical for the USSR or Nazi Germany.  And even if some people question the system, like (at the very beginning) Tea Party did, or later "Occupy Wall Street" movement did, they are mercilessly co-opted or crashed by well paid guard labor. The latter is one of the few  types of employment which prospers under neoliberal empire. See  The Rise of Guard Labor (dollarsandsense.org)

The reality is that many rich countries including the USA now face two problems. One is a shortage of jobs, especially middle class jobs.  The other is stagnant (or falling) wages for those outside top 1%.  This is not a temporary problem. Despite all the propaganda smoke this is an immanent feature of neoliberal regimes that now dominate in the USA and most other countries.  Neoliberalism requires high unemployment as a way to keep workers in check and prevent attempts to slow down redistribution of wealth toward the top.

As George Bush Sr . noted in November 1992 neoliberalism is "the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands". The essence is  the consolidation of money and power to the top 0.1% or even 0.01%.  In a very deep sense our new lords from financial and political oligarchy are not that different from feudal aristocracy, may be only less educated, more prone to avoid military service and much more greedy. 

Unlike Keynesian economy which put middle class in the center of society serving a buffer between rich and poor,  under neoliberalism  middle class is no longer needed as a buffer between aristocracy and proles, as repressive power of the state and regime of total surveillance (National Security State) makes an organized opposition practically impossible. The fate of "Occupy Wall Street" movement is nice illustration here.

On the other hand neoliberalism as an ideology, while discredited by event of 2008 still does not have any viable alternative.  Socialism was discredited by collapse of the USSR (which in reality was a neoliberal counterrevolution by Soviet nomenklatura including part of KGB).  Authoritarian versions of state capitalism does not look too attractive, despite being quite effective as was proven by economic progress of "Asian tigers".

Other important factors are also in play. Technology has stripped away the ability for many to hold a job and the trend continues.  In other words automation eats jobs. Outsourcing eats jobs too. Between those two trends almost no job growth left. This is a structural situation, not transitional caused by recession due to aftermath of 2008 financial bubble bust.  In other words jobs that disappeared will never return. And jobs in construction sector and finance were artificial and unsustainable in any case, crisis or no crisis (as in "what can't last forever eventually stops." )

We are in the midst of slow motion employment collapse. Eurozone unemployment recently reached 12%. The US has probably 20% rate of involuntary unemployment now. The official unemployment "rate" is lower, but that is because both 60-65 years old and 20 to 24 year olds are dropping out of the wage force.

Add to this "peak energy" problem and the situation looks really bleak. That's the funny thing about oil and modern civilization -- almost everybody in large western urban centers is dependent on mass produced technology (much of which was invented before we were born) and cheap oil (and generally cheap energy), Those who live in those urban centers no longer have any direct control or ability to produce own food or transportation energy or heating. those three activities are completely outsourced. See Peak Oil Demand is Already a Huge Problem.

Globalization is yet another problem. I was actually surprised by how many jobs large corporations managed to shred during 2008-2013 without negatively affecting  profitability.  The impression is that it is no low limit.  Usual wisdom is that if you shred too much, this labor shortage will bite you in a couple of years. This is no longer the case in the USA. No visible backlash at all.  Even consumption that should be suffering due to destruction of middle class in this process is no suffering much, because it was already mostly top 1% game and, as such, is recession proof. Here is one interesting comment form Krugman column Globalization and Macroeconomics - NYTimes.com

Floxo Australia

The analysis is flawed. The issue is not goods trade - on its own, this is relatively benign. The real problem is the associated capital drain. Owners of capital will transfer productive capital abroad for better returns. This process creates deep structural problems for all developed economies. Here are some basic predictions:

Recessions are difficult to manage and may become protracted. In a downturn, capital formation dries up but the capital drain continues. This erodes the output gap. A fiscal stimulus now has less headroom for expansion. On top of that, an increase in domestic demand may be met by investment in productive capital abroad; the domestic investment response is missing. This may even cause a fall in labor productivity ( UK productivity puzzle?).

In short, globalization IS the problem.

Unemployment and well being

Recessions generate inequality in both income and well-being: people who lose their jobs bear a disproportionate burden of the recession.  As Kathleen Geier noted the impact of unemployment on well-being it’s even worse than you thought

While reading this odd and meandering New York Times op-ed this morning, I stumbled upon a link to a fascinating study from last year on the impact of unemployment on non-monetary well-being. It was conducted by Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young, who discovered that unemployment has an even more catastrophic effect on personal happiness that we thought.

The study produced three major findings. The first is the devastating impact job loss has on personal well-being. Job loss, says Young, “produces a large drop in subjective well-being”:

Job loss into unemployment, however, is a different matter; this brings on deep distress that is greater in magnitude than the effect of changes in family structure, home-ownership or parental status. The distress of job loss is also hard to ameliorate: family income does not help, unemployment insurance appears to do little and even reemployment does not provide a full recovery [italics mine].

The second finding is that while unemployment insurance (UI) is successful as a macroeconomic stabilizer, it doesn’t make unemployed people any happier. UI, says Young:

is not central to their sense of well-being… [Snip] …[ I]t does little to support their identity, sense of purpose or self-regard.

Third, job loss has a strong, lasting negative impact on well-being that may persist for years:

[J]ob loss has consequences that linger even after people return to work. Finding a job, on average, recovers only about two thirds of the initial harm of losing a job. It is not clear how long it takes for the nonpecuniary effect of unemployment to heal.

Other research suggests that what Young refers to as “the scarring effect” of job loss can last from three to five years, or even longer. He also notes that “the more generalized fear of becoming jobless” may persist.

Young’s discussion of these findings stresses the inequality theme. He points out that “recessions generate inequality in both income and well-being: people who lose their jobs bear a disproportionate burden of the recession.” He suggests job-sharing as a way to reduce the concentrated misery of unemployment. That’s a great idea that unfortunately never seems to go anywhere. Employers today seem more interested in squeezing as much labor out of employees as possible for the lowest cost. They’re looking to shrink their payroll rather than expand it. And unfortunately, there are very few public policies that promote job-sharing, let alone do it effectively.

The sheer human misery created by the economic downturn has been stunning. The economic damage is, in some ways, the least of it. Another study shows that the long-term unemployed experience shame, loss of self-respect, and strained relationships with friends and family. They even suffer significantly higher rates of suicide.

Yesterday, Paul Krugman and others discussed the impact of economic inequality vs. unemployment on income. Krugman argued that inequality has had the greater impact, and I agree. Among other things, inequality is also the root cause of the unemployment problem. Special interests which have disproportionate power in our political system prevented more stimulus and inflicted an austerity agenda, which has had a disastrous effect on employment. Enacting an economic equality agenda will be huge political challenge, but it’s the only way I can see of ultimately resetting the priorities of our government so that it starts working on behalf of ordinary Americans again.

Official measures of unemployment

There are two popular unemployment measured U3 (commonly cited as "official unemployment rate", which dramatically understates real unemployment) and U6, which is close to actual unemployment rate as was measured during the Great Depression. U3 is often as low as half of U6 (that's why it sometimes called 50 cents unemployment rate). As The Big Picture note in the entry Unemployment Reporting

Its been pretty obvious for sometime that the Financial Media are doing a disservice to their readers by only reporting U3, given how dramatically it understates Unemployment. Indeed, consumer sentiment reports are at deep negative levels that only occur when Unemployment is much than what U3 has been saying. It is painfully obvious that U3 does not paint an accurate view of the Employment situation.

Here's the experiment I propose: Let's start reporting both, with appropriate descriptions of each. Report U3, add U6, provide monthly and year over year changes. Let the reader see the full picture, via BLS data.

See Table A-12. Alternative measures of labor underutilization

Factors that make the current unemployment structural

I would like to stress it again: many factors point to the fact that the current level of unemployment is mostly structural. In other words jobs eliminated will not be coming back. Among the most important factors we can mention:

  1. Neoliberal ideology, which prevents strong government action and direct employment by government on infrastructure projects like during New Deal. Related to the dominance of neoliberalism the hypertrophy of financial sector lead to games with "Main street" after which high, self-sustainable (aka structural) unemployment for in now a destiny for millions. Making the whole society sick.
     
  2. Outsourcing (which partially is due to much better communication channels available and computerized navigation)
     
  3. Computerization (which directly "eats jobs" much like during industrial revolution in the UK).
     
  4. High price of energy, which serves as strong depressing factor. If I remember correctly, a decade ago price of oil above $100 was considered an equivalent to permanent recession. This is never mentioned today, but still might be as true today as it was ten years ago: with the high price of oil the economic recovery is simply impossible. The only option, the only trajectory for economy is permanent stagnation.
     
  5. Growth of "lumpen-proletariat". Narcoaddicts, alcoholics, single mothers from poor families with just high school diplomas,  people with "generosity-based" high school (considerable part of Afro-Americans) and university diplomas from "diploma mills" (essentially fake diplomas),  various categories of handicapped, people with criminal records (substantial part of Afro-American male population), etc.  

The first three factors changed the distribution of power between labor and capital in favor of capital; and those guys are not inclined to take prisoners, when there is a chance to fatten their pockets.  None of the first three factors will probably be reversed soon, although neoliberal ideology is after 2008 entered a zombie state.

Also computerization and Internet allowed capital and political forces behind it much better organize politically. So like in in previous human history well organized and wealthy minority dictates its will less-organized poor majority.

I think that financial capital might eventually experience some setbacks. This bacchanalia of greed with those hedge fund  which hack financial system left and right  might come to an abrupt end with the rise of the price of oil. Even now price of oil indirectly pressure "masters of the universe".  And remember famous slogan of 2008 "Jump suckers" ;-). It reflects the society attitude to financial oligarchy and as such entail certain dangers of "blowback" for all those derivatives games.

Not under Obama watch as he is essentially a sock puppet of financial oligarchy. But eventually setback for "big finance" can happen. At the end of the day it is oil that is the real convertible currency and when oil production is diminishing or flat,  financial oligarchy will be pushed back. 

Measures taken by political elite to save financial institutions after 2008 collapse means that unemployment is a part of a general political problem with neoliberalism as a social system. Under neoliberal regime the elite can't care less about long term unemployment. National Security State ensures the security of the neoliberal elite. Elections in the USA are a sham as two party system effectively blocks candidates outside the list approved by the current elite.  The latter might even see sharp division of the society into "have" and "have nots"  as a solution of oil depletion problem (Economist's View):

bakho:

Exactly.

Monetary policy does not operate in a vacuum. Monetary policy operates in an economic system that includes fiscal and regulatory tools. It is a mistake to lock the fiscal and regulatory tools in a shed.

Fiscal policy ALWAYS operates in a recession, at least in the form of automatic stabilizers, (UI, etc.) and sometimes in the form of additional stimulus.

The meagre automatic stabilizers currently in place are enough for a mild recession, but are woefully short of what is needed in a recession like the recent one.

The primary objection to fiscal policy manipulations is that fiscal policy is more easily politicized. This overlooks the fact that monetary policy is not only political, but bankers (who constitute a wealthy special interest) have an agenda that tilts monetary policy to their own self interests.

The primary objection to using fiscal stimulus to address our unemployment crisis is POLITICAL. Wealthy special interests want pay less taxes and short term stimulus would interfere with their political agenda to roll back spending and reduce spending as a percent of GDP.

Wealthy special interests have the upper hand at the moment because enough politicians are dependent on their campaign donations. However, this politicalization of fiscal policy, doing too little to address unemployment, is the prime force behind the Fed keeping interest rates low. If enough fiscal stimulus was enacted to quickly return to full employment and inflation at or slightly above the target, the Fed would not have to consider extraordinary measures.

Anyone unhappy about extraordinary monetary measures should be urging Congress to fix unemployment now. This is not what our elites are doing. They are complaining about extraordinary monetary measures AND about additional stimulus. This suggests that these policy elites care nothing about social problems of long term unemployment, are content to have the US become a divided nation between haves and have nots and are content to oversee the creation of an underclass in order to concentrate wealthy upward.

When one is saying that unemployment became a structural problem that means that it is immune to the business cycle. For example, during the last economic expansion (Jan 2002 -Dec 2007), the median US household income dropped by $2,000. In other words many Americans were worse off at the end of an economic cycle as jobs went outsourced to low wage countries due to wage arbitrage... 

Collapse of Casino Capitalism and unemployment

The collapse of “casino capitalism” model in 2008-2009 was so profound that all sectors of the economy became depressed. As securitization mess exploded in the face of their creators as it became clear to everybody that the king is naked. Debt overhand of financial industry is tremendous and it was just socialized, not removed. Essentially it became the problem of the USA government debt. In many ways problems the USA faces now are more serious then the problems the country faced during Great Depression because economic crisis doubles as the crisis of dominant ideology -- the ideology of neoliberalism.  And the Great Recession, despite Economic Cycle Institute premature desire to bury it, is still with us. Five years in the making as of 2013.

Ideology on which FIRE sector dominance was based is now questioned and that creates additional problems both nationally and internationally, much more internationally. Internationally it means a substantial loss of the USA "soft power", the factor that played tremendous role in the decade of 1990-2000.  When other country laugh at the US financial oligarchy tribulations it is difficult to open new markets selling old neoliberalism doctrine. due to debt overhand the US dollar is replaced by currency swaps in national currency for several major trading partners of China such as Brazil and Russia.   First of all that makes the crisis even deeper and analogies between the USSR and the USA more sinister. As with Stalinists in USSR who destroyed the country economically, there is a powerful block of republican dead enders and democratic supporters of financial oligarchy (blue dogs) who  will continue to promote the current neoliberal course with its deification of "free markets" (free as in "free shooting zone"), oblivious to consequences of neoliberal policies which eat the society and protected by the size of their accounts. There is nothing new here. Oligarchic  democracies can commit suicide. Actually none lasted long. And with such a formidable political wrecking crew in action and gridlock in Congress even over minor reforms that became less probable.

For all practical purposes two party system actually works like one-party system: democrats were also captured by FIRE industries to the extent that they should not be considered an independent party, but as a slightly more moderate wing of the Republican Party. Similarly by all accounts Obama is a moderate Republican with the policies to the right of such Republican Presidents as Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt. In a way, Democratic Party perform the role of spoiler: it exists for the sole purpose of attracting disgruntled left-wing electorate away from more radical parties. Republicans play symmetrical role for right wing crazies. None can or want to became the agent of change. In this sense Obama electoral slogan "change we can believe in" was a nasty, cruel joke of political insiders over political outsiders.  Note how unceremoniously Obama dumped labor after his reelection, while courting it during his reelection campaign.

As private sector is still downsizing, and government can't be the employer of last resort due to dominance of neoliberal ideology, the whole situation looks more and more like Japanese lost decade. The only area where government can expand workforce are defense contractors (military keysianism):

Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

It is important to understand that the USA is not just coping with the largest financial crisis in history, the USA is also going through a major restructuring of the American economy as well as the world economy due to plato in oil extraction. This transformation, which was postponed by two decades due the collapse of the USSR (which gave the USA companies half billion of new consumers and huge area to dollarize and buy assets for pennies on a dollar), will be very long, very painful and very slow. One additional factor that complicates the picture of "peak oil", is that it is  more properly can be called "end of cheap oil", as at higher prices more oil became economically available. So this is  not a peak but long plato.

As GDP is highly correlated with the energy consumption, the side effect of peak oil will probably be stagnant (close to zero after inflation) growth and with it speed up in permanent decline of the standard of living for middle class 

Also complicating the situation is the status of baby boomers which lost significant part of their savings during last two bubble bursts and now need to retire or will be pushed out of workforce. Pensions are already cuts either directly or indirectly (via inflation). For example, defined benefit pensions almost disappeared outside of government job force. After housing crash middle class no longer has a realistic prospect to fund their retirement and need to work longer: that increases competition for jobs. For middle aged professionals who are unemployed now the odds of finding reasonably paid work are low and they create additional competition for young people entering work force from universities. People over 50 now face especially poor job prospects.

At the same time corporate executives became corporate aristocracy (with differences in pay raising from 10-20 to 100-200 more of average corporate salary; this is the differences close to what used to exist in feudal societies). Most corporations are taking a lazy way out of the crisis with relentless cost-cutting.  This is a self-defeating strategy as cost cuttings eventually returns back via supply chain and bite the corporation which performs it. But so far this did not happened.

In addition productive sectors of economy are now under pressure of rampant financial speculation which serves as a huge tax on productive sectors of economy. Financial system is controlled by small number of large firms that permanently shifted their main activity into gambling and hacking of the financial system. There is some justice that computers which fueled all this crazy gambling on the strength of global reserve currency led to outsourcing of IT professionals to the extent that this part of US economy was destroyed and became a shadow of its former self in just ten years (2000-2010).

Another important sign of stagnation is that new college graduates face extremely bad job market which squeezes out anybody without substantial experience so for them it's Catch 22. Only graduates form Ivy League colleges has real prospect to get a job after graduation. Plus those with good family connections. In a way education is no longer a guarantee for better paying job, the same situation what was typical for the USSR and other countries of Eastern block during Brezhnev's stagnation.

There is also an interesting transformation of the quality of the education that also parallel transformation  experienced by the USSR in post-war period, but in especially acute form, three decades before the collapse. Private education became more like subprime lending.  It's quality became fake, as the term "diploma mills" suggests.  This rat rate to the lowest possible quality (quality instead of quality) was the central tendency in Brezhnev's USSR. 

In the USA in addition to devaluation of education caused by low quality "everything passes, everybody graduates, just pay" modus operandi of diploma mills, graduates from lower middle class families are now overloaded with debt, which creates for them really difficult situation and push many of them into low level service jobs like waiting. In other words excessive debt after college make getting into workforce using acquired specialty even more difficult as there is no space for long job search, relocation is more difficult and so on and so forth. 

There is also huge criminal industry that flourished around people desperate attempts to find well paying jobs. Many educational scams like "we will make you an ultrasound technician in six month; 90% of our graduates found jobs that pay over $60K in the first month after graduation"  or " software tester in four month; 100% of our graduates find jobs" are trying to capitalize of people desperate to find job, any job and getting into crushing debt trying to improve their chances in job market. Those criminals are not prosecuted.  For more information see:

The main source on new jobs is service sector and the lion share of new positions are McJobs

The employment growth comes mainly from the service sector which feeds off of consumer spending. It was hit by outsourcing especially in such areas as IT. Manufacturing no longer create jobs – outsourcing and computers eat them and you no longer need more people to make more stuff. 

Peter Dornan at EconoSpeak has the following comment which perhaps looks deeper at why the elite is so indifferent to mass unemployment and growing poverty in the U.S.

“…The process is more complicated: where one sits in society and the kinds of problems one typically has to solve leads to a way of thinking, and this manner of thinking then informs politics.

For centuries, the finance perspective has played a central role in economic theorizing, and there is ordinarily a body of research to support it. What I am proposing is this: economic orthodoxy is regaining control over policy because it reflects the outlook of those who occupy the upper reaches of government and business….”

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2010/05/a-political-economy-moment.html

IMHO to get the economy out of this mess, government should concentrate on direct job creation (like was the case with Roosevelt administration), not on propping zombie banks hoping that they will generate credit necessary for creation o new jobs. Growth of credit will not happen and if it will happen it will not generate new jobs: most of it  is pushed into speculation.  Spectacular rise of S&P500 in first half of 2013 is a pretty good illustration of the process.

Long term high unemployment is a disaster for the country and disaster for the people, despite the fact that it is irrelevant for banksters, too busy playing in the huge casino they created. Failure to address this problem directly by Obama administration (which in economic terms is the second Summers-Bush administration making a joke in the slogan "change we can believe in") make Obama a real serial betrayer of people who elected him, the role he seems enjoy playing. 

Additional factors the complicates the picture

There are several additional factors that makes addressing the problem of chronic, structural unemployment even more difficult:

  1. The economic crisis coincides with deep ideological and political crisis.

    One can't solve the current problems the US are facing without the reform of the political system and institutions. Power of lobbyists need to be curtailed. Senate needs to be reformed.  Republican Party probably should be dissolved or temporary prohibited like Communists after the dissolution of the USSR as it is unable to reform. As there is no political will for political changes the crisis is structural and little people have to suffer.
     

  2. Real economy was damaged by excessive growth of  FIRE sector and associated "fictional" economy.  Real economy can't support the current size of FIRE sector and it needs now to downsized. There is no smooth, painless route back to the easy-money based false prosperity of Reagan-Clinton-Bush era (age of leveraging). A new economy needs to be created for sustainable recovery because the old, FIRE-based was unsustainable. In 2010 housing probably will decline further. Both commercial and residential construction continues to decline. States continue to cut back budgets creating negative feedback loop. Personal bankruptcies are up, more defaults are on the horizon. The U.S. economy needs to be re-structured, both on the "technical" and inter-sectoral level. That amounts to a collective, system-wide Chapter 11 re-organization. Obama administration has totally failed to sell the public on the validity of "stimulus", however named. Suspicion that this administration is a puppet of big banks had grown sharply. Trying to kick the can down the road will yield Republican Congressional majorities in both houses.
  3. The USA is experiencing the process of separation of workforce into two-tiers, with an elite class of highly paid employees at top companies and a subclass of minimal wage and part time laborers who work for less pay, have less job security and receive fewer benefits.
  4. Foreign wars have substantial financial costs and are an important drag on the USA economy. In the book True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, Joseph Stiglitz was estimated he cost at three trillion dollars of which probably only one trillion was offset by looting of Iraq resources. Afghanistan is about  $2 billion a week, and unless all heroin trade is controlled by CIA there is little that can offset those costs. This is the longest ongoing conflict in U.S. history.  And since Joseph Stiglitz book was written things became worse.

    The disability rates are higher. The cost of caring for the disabled are higher. Almost one out of two people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are disabled. This is an unfunded liability of—we calculate now to be almost a trillion dollars, over $900 billion. So, one of the big ways of reducing our deficit is a—is cut back some expenditures....

    With Libya and Syria added to the list, the hidden costs of foreign wars will weight on weakened economics more heavily. Annual cost per soldier oversees is approximately $1 Million per year.
  5. Rent that hypertrophied financial sector  extracts from the rest of the society continues to be a serious drag on the economy. This drag adds to substantial drag caused by foreign wars and military bases as well as huge military industrial complex. While parasites are omnipresent in nature, two large parasites instead of one might spells trouble for the host. Moreover the ascendancy of the financial sector and the decline of manufacturing in the U.S. ("Casino Capitalism" ) has implications similar to consequences of an organized crime running the country.  The creation of tangible products whose utility/quality can be more or less objectively measured were phased out in favor of "financial products," whose utility/quality is much easier to conceal behind legal/technical jargon and junk economics. That created a huge new class of white collar criminals. While Blankfein is out claiming that GS is doing God’s work, the reality is quite different: it became a training ground for new type of ruthless criminals, much more dangerous then bank robbers. Killing of Glass-Steagall by Clinton and leverage obtained by financial sector operating without regulatory limit created prerequisites to the financial panic of 2008. Glass-Steagall enshrined two principles that were abandoned:

    The violation of the second principle directly leads to a regulatory capture in which anything goes and a corresponding observed "need" to accommodate indiscretions, as with the Greenspan/Bernanke put. It perhaps should be identified as THE primary cause, since it left Wall Street with the well-founded (LTCM, Latin America debt crisis, etc. ) and since-proved belief that prudence and capital were quite unnecessary, and that reckless, sociopathic deal making is profitable. Four examples :

  6. Capture of the government and the media by financial sector makes the necessary reforms unlikely. “Failed Regulatory Oversight” is a politically correct term for corruption. The latter was probably the second reason of the current high unemployment . See Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry by John C. Stauber
  7. Effects of coming CRE crash on unemployment and economy in general might be underestimated of official forecasts.  The occupancy rate is the malls and commercial buildings is still declining. Many strip malls in the country are still are empty. Nice office buildings with signs "for rent" are feature of landscape in 2013. Many buildings, even large well designed buildings with datacenter infrastructure are vacant for years and eventually are demolished.  A full scale commercial real-estate crash can also hurt the economy in a way similar to residential home estate crash. Loans that were made in 2005-2007 were refinanced for three years in 2009-2011. And again in 2012-2013. But eventually they will be coming home to roost.  This also affects the construction  sector.  Only $400 billion of loans came due by the end of 2009, but nearly $2 trillion was refinanced by 2012.  

    The collapse in the U.S. commercial real estate market is fought by the government will maximum force but government resources to fight the crisis are diminishing too. in 2011 state financial crises led to cuts in state budget. In addition, in June 2013 municipal bonds came under fire, making financing more costly.  Commercial debt is approximately one third of the size of the total residential debt and it is concentrated in the same places creating double whammy. In Florida commercial loans, broadly defined, are bigger then residential. Unlike residential real estate, problem with commercial real estate are not solved by growth of population and creation of new families.

    Retail and white-collar positions will be directly impacted by CRE crash. As stores and offices close, mall and office building owners suffer from cuts in cash flow and severely limited prospects for new tenants. Insurance companies, hedge funds and regional banks are heavily invested in CRE and are next in line so some financial jobs will be lost too. Extend and pretend might work but the question is if there is enough liquidity to stretch loans.
     

  8. Computers eat people jobs. Automation and the recent advances in robotic and computers make more and more workers redundant.  The latest victims are cashiers in supermarkets. Manufacturing jobs continue to disappear not only due to outsourcing, but also due to new computerized technologies. The reality is that manufacturing employs a mere 11.5 million workers in the U.S.A., or 9% of the workforce and this percentage will never increase substantially.

    My feeling is that even in corporate IT after drastic cuts that were the standard game for large corporations in 2008-2009, additional cuts are possible. But the situation on the ground is somewhat paradoxical as real cuts runs deeper that you would assume from headcount: a lot of current IT personnel belongs to "untouchable" caste -- wives of somebody higher up in this or linked by the supply chain company, sons of somebody important and so on. I can't give you percentage, but probably 10%-20% of "untouchables" would be an educated guess. So removing of at least 10% of the current IT workforce means removal of 12% or more those who do actual work. 

    Another factor is that cuts in IT are one way street as they stimulate replacing of people with technology and there are still tremendous potential for computerization of many areas including first of all IT itself.

    For example all this cloud initiatives are in disguise politically correct way to move things in the direction of higher automation and outsourcing because under the surface there is not much innovation in those "new" technologies.
     

  9. Oil prices despite coming down in September 2011 are back to $85-$90 level.  That level is putting additional stress on manufacturing, transportation and agriculture. Solid US growth of the past decade and earlier was dependent on two factors:

    With the rising oil all bets for re-inflating the economy (aka kicking the can down the road) are off.
     

  10. Indirect job creation strategies via stimulus to businesses seized to produce meaningful job generation. Reaganomics has put the U.S. economy into a high-unemployment equilibrium when the high-rate of labor unemployment is reinforced by the shortage (or absence) of idle, but useful capital stock due to offshoring and  outsourcing as well as chronically low consumer demand due to high level of debt. Only service sector and financial jobs can be generated with minimum capital infrastructure (for financial jobs internet connection and computer are almost all that needed). Automation of production lead to less and less workers.
     
  11. Confidence is really low.  Businesses have no confidence that customers ever return, therefore are not hiring much and scaling down the production. This chicken-egg-chicken-egg cycle has to be broken, but I am really puzzled how that is going to happen without large government role in the economy, which is big no-no for ideological consideration (the USA preaches neoliberalism as a "civil religion" similarly like USSR and other "communist" countries preached Marxism). Without large government projects employees have no confidence in their jobs, therefore are not consuming much.
     
  12. In the face of growing unemployment the current administration proved to be as incompetent as Bush administration in case of Hurricane Katrina. And that means totally incompetent.

Effects on population

Unemployment is a very harsh condition, that traumatize the workers greatly (Sliding into the Great Depression)

At first the unemployed searched eagerly and diligently for alternative sources of work. But if four months or so passed without successful reemployment, the unemployed tended to become discouraged and distraught.

After eight months of continuous unemployment, the typical unemployed worker still searches for a job, but in a desultory fashion and without much hope.

And within a year of becoming unemployed the worker is out of the labor market for all practical purposes: a job must arrive at his or her door, grab him or her by the scruff of the neck, and through him or her back into the nine-to-five routine if he or she is to be employed again.

The USA as a whole is facing the worst labor market prospects since 1929. In terms of duration of elevated unemployment we already rival the early 80s. But in no way we can expect a steep decline in the rate of unemployment in the way that happened in 1983 when unemployment declined at a brisk 2%. And permanent high unemployment creates economic conditions that feel like the USA brought back slavery. The new reserve army of the unemployed drives wages down, while average productivity continues to rise, as a way to generate surpluses to be channeled into executive bonuses. The whole sectors like IT were decimated by outsourcing. Unfortunately given the current overcapacity and ample supply of qualified job seekers in many occupations, I certainly don't expect labor arrangements and employment conditions to become more favorable.

Looks like 7% unemployment is going to become the "new normal". In any case government statistics is very suspect (see Fake Employment Statistics) and actually unemployment is higher. For example, the declining participation in work force means that actual unemployment rate is higher then reported.

Obama-Bush administration saved banks waiting most of taxpayers money and piling up debt in hopes that they restore credit flow in the economy. But this was a fallacy: banks aren’t lending to prospective home buyers, small businesses and real estate developers because bankers recognize the obvious — many of those loans won’t get repaid. Of course, as bankers refuse to lend, the stagnation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But since society is burdened with too much debt, piling on more debt would not be the solution in any case.

There is no smooth, painless route back to the easy-money based false prosperity of Reagan-Clinton-Bush era (age of leveraging). We entered the age of deleveraging. Obama’s “you owe us” message to the banks is the height of naïveté’ and tells us a lot about him. In 2013 our problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis. Peak credit is as dangerous for the economy as peak oil...

Corruption of economic profession

The inability of the economics profession to forecast unemployment in the short, medium, or long run would be downright comical, if not for the human tragedy involved. While the Occam Razor approach suggests incompetence as a culprit, I think it's a manifestation of the corruption of the profession by financial interests (with some "don't rock the boat" variations).  First of all, economists much like elected officials and Wall Street executives have a vested interest in keeping the perception of a robust economy. The employment data announced each month are critical to this perception. That's why government "prints up jobs out of thin air" the same way the Federal Reserve prints money. This is economic propaganda and as such it is not that much different from the over-stated earnings practiced by companies of all striped and colors.

The second problem is that fiscal policy cannot solve the problem of job creation in all circumstances, especially in deleveraging environment. Position of people like The Fed Can Help, But Fiscal Policy Is The Key To Job Creation ) is a step in right direction. But without something like Jobs Corps to get out of the current situation is very difficult. In 1982 SETH S. KING wrote in NYT (PROPOSAL FOR JOB CORPS RECALLS ROOSEVELT PLAN):

Few of this city's recent celebrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 100th birthday have passed without nostalgic references to the Civilian Conservation Corps, that President's cherished vehicle for getting thousands of jobless, hungry youths off the streets and putting them to work refurbishing the nation's parks and forests.

With today's unemployment rate nearing a postwar high and new thousands of young people again unable to find work, Congress is preparing to wrestle with the Reagan Administration for money to start a new youth job training program and reconstitute the Job Corps, the pale copy of the old C.C.C. that emerged in the Carter days.

But there is little in these plans that is likely to reproduce those Depression era pictures of sturdy, bare-chested young men planting trees, building bridges and saving the nation's battered farmlands.

Nor is today's procedure-encumbered Washington, where a year usually elapses between idea and action, likely to duplicate the astonishing start on the C.C.C., which four months after being conceived had been approved by Congress and had more than 300,000 young men being clothed, housed, fed and paid $30 a month while they breathed all that fresh air.

In this crisis the main lesson was that theologically captured by free market fundamentalism government can destroy economy at a really staggering rate. This is "Back in the USSR" situation. Eight years of Clinton and eight years of Bush administration (see The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, by Joseph E. Stiglitz) are as good proof of this as one can ever get. Clinton and Bush regimes (especially Rubin-Greenspan alliance and "vice president from an undisclosed location" activities)  proved to be a real wrecking crew. But that does not mean that government cannot put it weight on easing the unemployment burden. Incentives such a investment tax credit matters. Not tax cuts for the rich, but direct investment credit. direct job creation which is anathema to market fundamentalism would be even better and less costly. Roosevelt administration did it, so why not capitalize on positive experience and develop it further ?

In this crisis the main lesson was that theologically captured by free market fundamentalism government can destroy economy at a really staggering rate.

In any case socializing losses and privatizing gain (crony capitalism) should be downsized. Insurance for gambling by big banks should be cut.

As long as economists believe their report card is the rise in GDP (GDP Mania), we will remain in a failure mode. A country is not defined by GDP but by the quality of life of its citizens. And quality of life cannot be assessed by a simplistic, one-dimensional metric such as GDP. The key dimensions for well-being are: employment, earnings, wealth, health, infrastructure, and living conditions. In that particular order. With employment as the critical factor: the USA looks like an underdeveloped banana republic by the current measure of unemployment and in many respect has became such.

It looks like high persistent unemployment became the defining feature of this recession. Jobs creation prospect in 2014 look pretty grim -- there is no sector other then government that can absorb redundant workforce and automation in manufacturing makes sure that those who are unemployed right now will stay unemployed in the foreseeable future. Most jobs cut are permanent, not temporary, especially in such sectors as IT (structural shift). As Robert Reich noted:

...The basic assumption that jobs will eventually return when the economy recovers is probably wrong. Some jobs will come back, of course. But the reality that no one wants to talk about is a structural change in the economy that's been going on for years but which the Great Recession has dramatically accelerated.

Under the pressure of this awful recession, many companies have found ways to cut their payrolls for good. They’ve discovered that new software and computer technologies have made workers in Asia and Latin America just about as productive as Americans, and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently outsourced abroad.

This means many Americans won’t be rehired unless they’re willing to settle for much lower wages and benefits. Today's official unemployment numbers hide the extent to which Americans are already on this path. Among those with jobs, a large and growing number have had to accept lower pay... Or they've lost higher-paying jobs and are now in a new ones that pays less.

The current crisis also means that financial services and real estate (FIRE) economy, this gigantic casino that the US government was trying to build for the last 25 years is now in trouble and shed workers in vast numbers (although working condition in financial industry are still good or very good depending on your position in the food chain). But the profitability of large banks and can achieved only by oversees expansion and derivatives games with foreign assets. The most profitable essentially converted themselves into hedge funds, getting most profits from trading operations, not from the traditional banking activities.

The simplest and the most obvious solution in the current situation is to cut work week and hours of work (4 days six hours a day). That will put enough people to work to make unemployment bearable and it might slightly help entertainment and hospitality industries which now is suffering more that others. From the other point of view if lower standard of living is inescapable, why not to make the transition smoother and more fun by cutting work hours.

Military Keynesianism no longer works

But that's not enough. The USA needs drastically cut military budget. Military Keynesianism no longer works as expected.  As John Maudin in his e-letter proposed (see Thoughts on the Economy- Problems and Solutions):

Mauldin: Unemployment is likely to continue to rise and last longer than ever before. We have to take care of the basic needs of those who want work but can't find it. Unemployment insurance should be extended to those who are still looking for work past the time for benefits to expire, and some program of local volunteer service should be instituted as the price for getting continued benefits after the primary benefits time period runs out. Not only will this help the community, but it will get the person out into the world where he is more likely to meet someone who can give him a job. But the costs of this program should be revenue-neutral. Something else has to be cut.

Mish: Can we deal with 15 million volunteers? Somehow I doubt it.

Mauldin: We have to re-think our military costs (I can't believe I am writing this!). We now spend almost 50% of the world's total military budget. Maybe we need to understand that we can't fight two wars and support hundreds of bases around the world. If we kill the goose, our ability to fight even one medium-sized war will be diminished. The harsh reality is that everything has to be re-evaluated. As an example, do we really need to be in Korea? If so, why can't Korea pay for much of the cost? They are now a rich nation. There are budgetary fiscal limits to being the policeman for the world.

Mish: Bingo. We can easily slash our military budget by 70% and still be the most powerful nation in the world. Moreover, it is time to declare the war in Iraq and Afghanistan over, pack our bags and leave. Gradually, over the next 5-8 years we should bring home all our troops from literally every county they are stationed.

This chart shows the absurdity of our spending.

Chart courtesy of Global Issues - World Military Spending.

By the way that chart does not include the latest increase in the US military budget. Please consider US lawmakers pass 680-billion-dollar defense budget bill

The US House of Representatives passed a 680-billion-dollar defense authorization bill on Thursday that includes funds to train Afghan security forces and more mine-resistant troop carriers.

Lawmakers defied President Barack Obama's veto threat and approved 560 million dollars to continue work on an alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet built by General Electric and British manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

The compromise legislation would also raise military pay by 3.4 percent -- half a percentage point higher than Pentagon recommendations -- and assign 6.7 billion dollars for mine-resistant armored vehicles known as MRAPs, which is 1.2 billion dollars more than the administration had proposed.

Nearly $700 billion dollars of "defense" spending. The amount needed for actual defense is 20% of that at most, and more likely 5%. Balancing the budget is easy if you start here.

Mauldin: Glass-Steagall, or some form of it, should be brought back. Banks, which are subject to taxpayer bailouts, should not be in the investment banking and derivatives-creating business. Derivatives, especially credit default swaps, should be on an exchange, and too big to fail must go. Banks have enough risk just making loans. Leverage should be dialed down, and hedge funds selling what amounts to naked call options in any form, derivative or otherwise, should be regulated.

Mish: What we need to do is get rid of the Fed, FDIC, and fractional reserve lending. Regulation has failed every step of the way. Regulation created Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Fed. Regulation by the SEC anointed Moodys, Fitch, and the S&P as debt rating companies. We do not need more regulation, we need less regulation, a sound currency, and no Fed. Regulation is clearly the problem, yet the cries for still more regulation come from nearly every corner save the Austrian economists.

Mauldin: Let me see, is there any group I have not offended yet? But something like I am suggesting is going to have to be done at some point. There is no way we can continue forever on the current path. At some point, we will hit the wall. The fight between the bug and the windshield always ends in favor of the windshield. The bond market is going to have to see a credible effort to get back to a reasonable deficit, or we risk a very difficult economic environment. The longer we wait, the worse it will be.

Mish: "Is there any group I have not offended yet?" Yes. You failed to offend those on public pension plans. Not to fear, I did that myself in Five Major Pension Problems - One Simple Solution.

Unsolvable Problems


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[Nov 08, 2019] Bank Report Reveals Where Ruling Class Lives by Gary Engler

Nov 08, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
While clearly not intended as a tool for the subversion of capitalism, the 2019 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report provides a fascinating glimpse at the inequality that the neoliberal era has produced, who has benefitted and those who have been left behind.

According to the tenth edition of the report, recently released, "The bottom half of wealth holders collectively accounted for less than 1% of total global wealth in mid-2019, while the richest 10% own 82% of global wealth and the top 1% alone own 45%." (Note that this a study about wealth and not income. It measure assets [housing, stocks, bonds etc.] minus debts.)

Further evidence of the incredible inequality generated by neoliberal capitalism:

The importance of knowing where rich people are and might be popping up next is what has produced this annual "most comprehensive and up-to date survey of household wealth".

In ancient Greece people would consult the oracles in order to choose the fruitful path, but today the most common source of such divination is the wisdom of the dollar and its associated deities. Rather than seek advice from experts at interpreting the various Hellenic gods, we consult those who specialize in illuminating where "the money" has been and is going. The ancient oracles could be found at shrines to the various gods; the modern version of these advice givers reside in universities, think tanks, mutual fund companies, brokerages, banks and the ever-present business media. The offerings of those seeking the guidance of today's financial gods support a multi-billion dollar information and advice industry.

This seems "rational" behavior only because we live in an economic system that distributes power on a one-dollar-one-vote basis. To divine where the dollars are is to learn where best to seek the power that comes from them. In other words, the rich get richer and those who want to catch the crumbs as they fall off the banquet table need to be present at the court of King Capital.

Like the royal courts of feudal Europe that moved around its realm from castle to castle, money, in the form of capital, travels around its planetary realm from country to country, city to city, economic sector to economic sector, searching for the highest profit. This movement of capital creates real estate and other booms in favored locations then financial crises when the wealthy decide it is time to move on.

According to supporters, capitalism is supposed to be all about competition. The system is supposed to reward merit. Winners and losers are legitimate because everyone has an equal chance to succeed. But this is clearly not true in the actual world as described by the Credit Suisse report.

How can the 2.9 billion adults who own less than $10,000 in net assets compete fairly against 47 million millionaires, let alone the 168,030 who own $50 million or more?

The system is rigged. In a neoliberal capitalist competition to buy the most profitable companies, processes, patents, ideas, and anything else that can be made "property" the winners will always be those with the most money.

This report illustrates the pyramid of capitalist wealth and the peculiar property of money that guarantees most of it floats to the top.

The only way for billions of people, most countries and entire continents to escape the inevitable "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is by using the power of collectivity (call it government, socialism or mutual aid) to counter the power of one-dollar-one-vote capitalism.

Gary Engler is a veteran Canadian journalist and author of American Spin , first novel in the FAKE NEWS Mysteries series, exploring journalism, propaganda, politics and murder in the Trump era. Read other articles by Gary .

[Nov 06, 2019] America Will Keep Losing Its Middle Class as Long as "The Free Market" Dominates the Economic Debate

Notable quotes:
"... By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute ..."
"... Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy ..."
"... When the government subsidize R&D here, what reason would there be for the resultant products that come from that R&D, be made here? In Canada the SRED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) tax credits are used by companies to develop products that are then manufactured in China. No Canadian production worker will ever see an hour of labor from those subsidies. That result is baked into the R&D cake. ..."
"... As you point out, "many of the large International Corporations moved their software development and R&D offshore too". What stops them from co-mingling the subsidies and scamming the system for their benefit, since everything done to favor big business resolves to a scam on the peasants. ..."
Nov 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on November 5, 2019 by Yves Smith By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

National industrial policy was once something you might read about in today's equivalent of a friend's Facebook post, as hard as that might sound to believe. It was in newspapers; it was on the radio. Taxi drivers had opinions about it. That all changed in the last 35 years, when the rise and fall of the stock market and a shallow conversation about unemployment rates took over. Industrial policy became an inside-baseball conversation, and to the extent that it was discussed, it was through the prism of whether it imperiled the golden gospel and great economic distraction of our time, "the free market."

The decades of free-market propaganda we've been exposed to are basically an exercise in distracting the public from the meaningful choices that are now made behind closed doors. The two big political parties that outwardly represent symbolic issues like gun rights and school prayer spend the bulk of their time and political energy on complex industrial and regulatory questions.

But much like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, they'd better start considering the question of a national industrial policy before there's no industry left to manage. Manufacturing is now at its smallest share of the U.S. economy in 72 years, reports Bloomberg . Multinational supply chains undermine the negotiating power of workers, thereby exacerbating inequality.

Are there ways to bring back manufacturing, or should we just capitulate to a mindset that argues that these jobs are gone for good, that software retention is good enough, even as we shift what's left of our manufacturing sector overseas to sweatshop economies? That seems short-sighted. After all, it's pretty easy to steal IP; it's not so easy to steal an auto manufacturing facility. The real question is: In the absence of some sort of national industrial strategy, how do Western societies retain a viable middle class?

Decades of American middle-class exposure to favor China and other Asian countries' industrial capacity have foisted it right back from elite circles into our politics and the ballot box, in spectacular fashion, through the unlikely Donald Trump, who, in his typically blunderbuss fashion, has called attention to some serious deficiencies in our current globalized system, and the competitive threat posed by China to which we have remained oblivious for all too long.

Not that Trump's 19th-century protectionism represents the right policy response, but his concerns about Beijing make sense when you compare how much China invests in its own industrial base relative to the U.S.: Robert D. Atkinson and Caleb Foote of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation write that a recent Harvard Business School " study estimated that the Chinese governments (national, provincial, and local) paid for a whopping 22.2 percent of business R&D in 2015, with 95 percent of Chinese firms in 6 industries receiving government cash -- petrochemicals, electronics, metals and materials, machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and information technology."

In addition to the direct government grants on R&D, Atkinson and Foote estimate that "the Chinese R&D tax credit is between 3 and 4.6 times more generous than the U.S. credit. To match China's R&D tax credit generosity, the U.S. rate for the Alternative Simplified Credit would have to be increased from 14 percent to between 35 and 40 percent." Atkinson and Foote also note that " 97 percent of American federal government funding went to just three sectors: transportation equipment, which includes such as fighter jets, missiles, and the like ($14 billion); professional, scientific, and technical services ($5 billion); and computer and electronic products ($4 billion)."

Taken in aggregate, Atkinson and Foote calculate that "nearly 25 percent of all R&D expenditures in China come in the form of government subsidies to firms." That's the sort of thing that must enter the calculations of antitrust advocates when they call for breaking up big tech, without considering the ramifications to research and development, especially relative to their Chinese counterparts. (Statistically, as Anne Marie Knott and Carl Vieregger find in a 2016 paper "Reconciling the Firm Size and Innovation Puzzle," there are ample studies illustrating that R&D spending and R&D productivity increase with scale.)

Why does this matter? Robert Kuttner, writing at the Huffington Post at the inception of Barack Obama's presidency, made a compelling argument that many of America's great industrial enterprises did not simply spring up spontaneously via the magic of the "free market":

American commercial leadership in aerospace is no naturally occurring phenomenon. It reflects trillions of dollars of subsidy from the Pentagon and from NASA. Likewise, U.S. dominance in pharmaceuticals is the result of government subsidy of basic research, favorable patent treatment, and the fact that the American consumer of prescription drugs is made to overpay, giving the industry exorbitant profits to plow back into research. Throwing $700 billion at America's wounded banks is also an industrial policy.

So if we can have implicit industrial policies for these industries, why not explicit policies to rebuild our auto industry, our steel industry, our machine tool industry, and the industries of the next century, such as green energy and high-speed rail? And why not devise some clear standards for which industries deserve help, and why, and what they owe America in return?"

In fact, Kuttner describes a problem that well preceded Barack Obama. America's belief in national industrial planning has been undermined to the extent that the U.S. began to adhere to a doctrine of shareholder capitalism in the 1980s and beyond, a philosophy that minimized the role of the state, and gave primacy to short-term profitability, as well as production growth through efficiency (i.e., downsizing) and mergers. Corporate prioritization of maximizing shareholders' value and the ways American corporations have minimized long-term R&D expenditures and capital investment, all of which have resulted in the "unproductive disgorging of corporate cash profits -- through massive dividend payouts and unprecedented spending on stock repurchases -- over productive investment in innovation," write Professors Servaas Storm and C.W.M. Naastepad .

Although European companies have not gone quite as far down that route, their "stakeholder capitalism" culture has been somewhat subverted to the same short-term goals as their American counterparts, as evidenced via Volkswagen's emissions scandal and the erosion of workers' rights via the Hartz labor "reforms" (which actually undermined the unions' stakeholder status in the companies, thereby freeing up management to adopt many of the less attractive American shareholder capitalism practices). The European Union too is now belatedly recognizing the competitive threat posed by China . There's no doubt that the European political classes are also becoming mindful that there are votes to be won here as well, as Trump correctly calculated in 2016.

In the U.S., industrial policy is increasingly finding advocates on both the left (Elizabeth Warren's policy director, Ganesh Sitaraman ) and the right ( Professor Michael Lind ), via the convenient marriage of national security considerations and with international investment and trade. If trade policy is ultimately subordinated to national security concerns, it is conceivable that industrial policy could be "bi-partisanized," thereby giving primacy to homegrown strategic industries necessary to sustain viable national defense and security.

But this approach is not without risks: it is unclear whether the "national security-fication" of the industrial policy renaissance will actually enhance or hinder creativity and risk-taking, or merely cause these firms to decline altogether as viable civilian competitors vis a vis Beijing. The current travails of Boeing provide a salutary illustration of the risks of going too far down the Pentagon rat hole.

And there are a number of recent studies illustrating that the case for "dual-use" (i.e., civilian and military) manufacturing does not substantially enhance civilian industrialization and, indeed, may retard overall economic growth. On the other hand, as the venture capitalist William Janeway highlights in his seminal work, Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy , there are advantages at times to being "[d]ecoupled from any direct concern with economic return [It allowed] the Defense Department [to] fund numerous alternative research agendas, underwriting the 'wasteful' search for solutions that inevitably accompanies any effort to push back the frontiers of knowledge." So there's a balance to be struck here. But, as Janeway notes , "the strategic state interventions that have shaped the market economy over generations have depended on grander themes -- national development, national security, social justice, liberation from disease -- that transcend the calculus of welfare economics and the logic of market failure."

Furthermore, to the extent that national security considerations retard offshoring and global labor arbitrage, it can enhance the prospects for a viable form of " national developmentalism ," given that both mean tighter labor markets and higher wages, which in turn will likely push firms toward upgrading R&D spending in order to upgrade on the high end of the technology curve ( as Seymour Melman argued years ago ), as well as enhancing productivity gains. As author Ted Fertik observes :

Higher productivity makes possible more generous welfare states, and helps national industries compete to supply the world with high-tech products. If technological leadership and a prosperous, patriotic citizenry are the surest guarantees of military preponderance, such an economic policy represents the best military strategy in an era of great power competition.

Both the left and the right are beginning to recognize that it makes no sense to make war on wage-earners while claiming to protect the same wage earners from Chinese competition. But governments need to do more than act as a neutral umpire, whose role never extends beyond fixing market failures. As Janeway has illustrated , governments have historically promoted the basic research that fueled innovation and nurtured the talent and skills that "became the foundation of the Innovation Economy"; "the central research laboratories of the great corporations were first supplemented and then supplanted by direct state funding of research." But in spite of providing the foundational research for a number of leading commercial products (e.g., Apple's iPhone), the government has proved reticent in considering alternative forms of ownership structure (e.g., a " government golden share ," which gives veto rights on key strategic issues, such as relocation, offshoring, special voting rights, etc.), or retaining intellectual property rights and corresponding royalty streams to reflect the magnitude of their own R&D efforts, as Professor Mariana Mazzucato has proposed in the past . At the very least, we need to consider these alternative ownership structures that focus entrepreneurial development on value creation, as opposed to capitulating to the depredations of rentier capitalism on the spurious grounds that this is a neutral byproduct of the market's efficient allocation of resources.

Within the U.S., national industrial policy also suits green advocates, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, whose Green New Deal plan , while failing to address domestic/local content, or manufacturing in the broadest possible sense, at least begins to move the needle with regard to the federal government building and owning a national renewable grid.

Likewise in Europe, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier recently published a " National Industrial Strategy 2030 ," which, according to Dalia Marin of Bruegel think tank in Brussels , "aims to protect German firms against state-subsidized Chinese competitors. The strategy identifies key industrial sectors that will receive special government support, calls for establishing production of electric-car batteries in Europe, and advocates mergers to achieve economies of scale." It is striking that EU policymakers, such as Lars Feld of the German Council of Economic Experts , still apparently think it is a protectionist step too far to consider coordinating with the car companies (where there is already a high degree of trans-European policy coordination and international consolidation), and other sectors, to help them all at the same time -- as Beijing is now doing . Of course, it would help to embed this in a manufacturing-based Green New Deal, but it represents a healthy corrective to offshoring advocates who continue to advocate that their car industry should migrate to China, on the short-term grounds of cost consideration alone .

Essentially, the goal should be to protect the industries that policymakers think will be strategically important from outsiders, and to further integrate with allies and partners to achieve efficiencies and production scale. (Parenthetically, it seems particularly perverse right at this juncture for the UK to break away from all this continental European integration, and to try to go it alone via Brexit.) The aim should not be to protect private rent-seeking and increasing private monopolization under the guise of industrial policy, which, as Dalia Marin notes , is why EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager blocked the proposed merger between France's Alstom and Germany's Siemens. The two companies "rarely compete with CRRC in third countries, because the Chinese company mainly focuses on its home market." Hence, the grounds for creating " heavyweight champions " was really a cover for developing an oligopoly instead.

Much of the focus of negotiation in the seemingly endless trade negotiations between the U.S. and China has been on American efforts to dismantle the wave of subsidies and industrial support that Beijing furnishes to its domestic industries. This seems both unrealistic as well as being the exact opposite of what the U.S. should be doing if it hopes to level, or at least carve up, the playing field.

Likewise, the problem in both the EU and the U.S. is not the size of these companies generated by national developmentalism, but a size-neutral form of national regulation that precludes these companies from stifling competition. The goal of a truly successful and workable industrial policy should be to create an environment that supports and sustains value creation and that socializes the benefits of the R&D for society as a whole, rather than simply licensing it or selling it on to private companies so that it just becomes a vehicle that sustains rent extraction for private profits alone.

We are slowly but surely starting to move away from market fundamentalism, but we still have yet to make the full conceptual leap toward a sustainable industrial policy that creates an economy for all. At least this is now becoming a fit discussion as far as policy making goes, as many of the neoliberal shibboleths of the past 40 years are gradually being reconsidered and abandoned. That is a start.


Ignacio , November 5, 2019 at 6:13 am

Another way –and more precise in my opinion because it identifies the core problem– to frame the issue, would be this:

Why Trade Wars Are Inevitable

Repressed consumption in a few countries with sustained huge current account surpluses naturally drives manufacturing outside the US (and other deficit countries). Interestingly, Pettis says that those imbalances manifest today, not as a conflict between surplus/deficit countries, but between economic sectors: bankers and owners in surplus/deficit countries vs. the rest. According to Pettis this can be addressed internally in the US by tackling income inequality: Tax transfers, reduced health care & educational costs, raising minimum wages and giving negotiating power to unions. BUT BEFORE DOING THAT, THE US SHOULD IMPOSE CONTROLS ON FOREIGN CAPITAL INFLOWS (by taxing those) INSTEAD ON TARIFFS ON FOREIGN PRODUCTS. From the article:

It would have the additional benefit of forcing the cost of adjustment onto banks and financial speculators, unlike tariffs, which force the cost onto businesses and consumers.

If the US ever does this, other deficit countries, say the UK, France or Spain for instance, should do exactly the same, and even more abruptly if these don't want to be awash with foreign capital inflows and see inequality spiking even further.

Marshall Auerback , November 5, 2019 at 8:29 am

Not a bad way to frame the issue at all.

Winston , November 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm

It is financialization which is causing this. Please read Michael Hudson. As he has pointed out it is financialization that is key. There is a reason his book was titled "Killing the Host". Boeing's decline is also because of financialization.
https://evonomics.com/hedge-fund-activists-prey-companies/
How Hedge Fund Activists Prey on Companies

Private equity and hedge are responsible for US manufacturing decline since the 1980s, along with desire not to innovate-example why Deming's advice ignored by US automakers and absorbed by the Japanese-who then clobbered the US automakers.

Hudson also knows that rising expenses for homeowners reduced their consumption capacity. A main cause is rise in housing costs, education, and health.

Before manufacturing went to cheaper foreign shores, it went to the no union South. Has that made its workers better off? If so how come South didn't develop like Singapore? For a clue please read Ed Week article about what Singapore did and South failed to do.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2016/01/the_low-wage_strategy_continues_in_the_south_is_it_the_future_for_your_state.html
The Low-Wage Strategy in the South: Is It the Future for Your State?

Melman's main message is that focus on national security destroyed civilian sector. Today most of US Govt R&D spending still in defense sector, while R&D disappearing in private sector because of financialization.

Industrial strategy is useless for US unless housing costs come down, unless robots are used. Hudson has already pointed out US cannot compete with Germany because of housing cost differences. As Carl Benedikt Frey who focusses on tech has pointed out Midwest revolt was because most automation was there.
"Frey argues that automation, or what he calls the third industrial revolution, is not only putting jobs at risk, but is the principal source of growing inequality within the American economy."
https://nationalinterest.org/feature/technology-trap-more-automation-driving-inequality-89211

" there are more robots in Michigan alone than in the entire American west. Where manufacturing jobs have disappeared is also where US dissatisfaction is the greatest"
https://voxeu.org/article/automation-and-its-enemies
Automation and its enemies
Carl Benedikt Frey, Ebrahim Rahbari 04 November 2019

https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2017/09/06/rise-of-the-robots-buffalo-retail-workers-should.html

Winston , November 5, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Major industrialized countries are also heavy users of automation. Forget idea that industrial policy will lead to jobs at scale used to.:

https://www.therobotreport.com/10-automated-countries-in-the-world/
10 Most Automated Countries in the World

https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/news/robots-japan-delivers-52-percent-of-global-supply
Robots: Japan delivers 52 percent of global supply
Japan is the world´s predominant industrial robot manufacturer

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/04/business/tech/japans-farming-industry-poised-automation-revolution/
Japan's farming industry poised for automation revolution

John Merryman. , November 5, 2019 at 9:18 am

I don't know that it's so much"free markets," as the financialization of the economy, where money has mutated free a medium of exchange and necessary tool, to the end goal of creating as much notational wealth, as the purpose of markets.
Money largely functions as a contract, where the asset is ultimately backed by a debt. So in order to create the asset, similar amounts of debt have to be generated.
For one thing, it creates a centripedial effect, as positive feedback draws the asset to the center of the community, while negative feedback pushes the debt to the edges. Since finance functions the value circulation mechanism of society, this is like the heart telling the hands and feet they don't need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get. The Ancients used debt nubiles to reset this process, but we lack the long term perspective.
The other consequence is the government has been manipulated into being debtor of last resort. Where would those trillions go otherwise and could Wall Street function without the government soaking up so much excess money. The real elephant in the room is the degree public debt backs private wealth.

John Merryman. , November 5, 2019 at 10:49 am

Further note; Since this borrowed money cannot be used to compete with the private sector for what is a finite amount of profitable investments, it is used to blow up whatever other countries incur the wrath of our despots.
As Deep Throat explained, if you want to know what's going on, follow the money.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , November 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Whenever I see the term "free markets" bandied about I know it's a framing that fits an ideology but in no way fits the actual facts.

Just like we now have two criminal justice systems, we now have two market systems: crony capitalism, and actual capitalism.

Crony capitalism is for Exxon Mobil; Verizon; Amazon; Raytheon; JP Morgan. Actual capitalism is reserved for the plebes, who get "creative destruction". Mom slipped and fell; the hospital bill arrived and there wasn't enough cash; so they took the house.

It's the obverse of the "socialism" argument. We have socialism across the length and breadth of the economy: more Federal dollars are spent subsidizing fossil fuels than are spent educating children. But heaven forbid Bernie should utter the "S" word, because he's talking about the kind of socialism for you and me.

John Merryman , November 5, 2019 at 5:43 pm

The problem is avoiding that us versus them polarity and show why what is going on is BS. That the markets NEED government debt to function and then waste that collective value. Not that government is some old nanny, trying to quell the 'animal spirits" of the market.
Maintaining infrastructure just isn't as glamorous as guns and bombs. Probably doesn't threaten to kill you, if you don't give it the money, either.
It should be obvious to most that simply pouring more vodka into the punch bowl does not create a healthy economy, just a bunch of vultures picking at the carcass.
Finance does function as the circulation mechanism of the body of the community, just as government, as its executive and regulatory function, is the central nervous system. We had private government before, called monarchy. Now finance is having its 'let them eat cake' moment.
As a medium, money is a public utility, like that other medium of roads. You can have the most expensive car out there, but you still don't own the road.
It's not that society should be either private, or public, but an intelligent mix of both.

rtah100 , November 5, 2019 at 7:20 pm

I want me some o' them debt nubiles! They sound like fun gals / guys/ humans. No wonder you're merry, man!

I'd also like a policy of debt jubilees and I imagine you would too. :-)

The Rev Kev , November 5, 2019 at 9:24 am

Just winging it a bit here but perhaps it might be an idea to map out money flows to help decide how to strengthen America's industrial health. As an example, it might be time to end some subsidies. I understand that there are deliberate tax breaks for corporations that move their manufacturing overseas. Cut them now for a start. Yeah, I know. Closing the barn door too late.
To free up cash for R&D, turn back the clock to 1982 and make stock buybacks once more illegal. Give tax credits to companies that pay for a younger generation of machinist's education. Have the Federal government match dollar-for-dollar money spent on R&D. If the government really wants to free up resources, bring out a law that says that it is illegal for the government to give any subsidies for any corporation with a net worth of $1 billion or more.
But we all know that none of this will ever happen as there are far too many rice bowls involved for this to be done – until it is too late. Oh well.

Leftcoastindie , November 5, 2019 at 11:04 am

"I understand that there are deliberate tax breaks for corporations that move their manufacturing overseas. Cut them now for a start. Yeah, I know. Closing the barn door too late."

Better late than never!

Personally, I think that is the only way to get a handle on this situation – Change the tax laws.

rd , November 5, 2019 at 9:52 am

Some thoughts:

1. Designate industries as targets to retain/recreate significant manufacturing capability in the US – semiconductors, flat screens, solar panels, and pharmaceuticals come to mind. Give them preferential protection with quotas, tariffs etc. instead of just shotgun tariffs. These industries should be forward looking instead of recreating mid 20th century.

2. Integrate this into NAFTA and maybe add Central American countries to it. If we need to use cheap labor, then do it in countries that otherwise provide illegal immigrants to us to build up their economies. Far better than sending the jobs to China, a major global competitor.

3. Fund big science such as NASA etc. A lot of discoveries come out that can then be commercialized with manufacturing inside the US and NAFTA.

Arizona Slim , November 5, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Seconded. Good thoughts, rd.

David J. , November 5, 2019 at 10:03 am

It's very refreshing to read articles of this kind. Thank you.

I'm recently retired and my career consisted of a healthy portion of managerial and executive responsibilities as well as a long denouement of flat out proletarian, worker-drone, pseudo-Taylorized work. (Think Amazon but not at Amazon.) I've experienced, in some detail, what I consider to be both sides of the post WWII dynamic as it relates to technology and who controls the shop floor. Now that I have some time on my hands I've decided to see if I can better understand what appears to be a central contradiction of modern industrial practice and especially what I believe to be misguided efforts by non-industrial corporations to employ industrial-work-process techniques in day-to-day practice.

I'm re-reading David F. Noble's 1984 book, Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation , as well as Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy , as a beginning foray into this topic.

It does seem to me that we can do a lot better. A well developed industrial policy should include both a strategy for improving our productive capacity while simultaneously more fairly distributing the fruits of productivity more broadly throughout the population.

This article and the comments are very helpful in pointing the way.

Sam , November 5, 2019 at 10:42 am

For those who have used up their free access to Foreign Policy there's a non-paywalled version of the Pettis article on the Carnegie endowment website.

steven , November 5, 2019 at 12:11 pm

There is so much to like in this post I am going to concentrate on the few points with which I had problems:
1. Any time I hear an economist bemoaning policies which "may retard overall economic growth." I am tempted to just tune out. 'nega-growth', a variant of Amory Lovins' 'Nega-Watts' maybe. But surely not more military Keynesianism, speeded up planned obsolescence and just plain junk!
2. Then there is "the convenient marriage of national security considerations and with international investment and trade." If national security considerations involve insuring circuit boards for more exceptional (SIC) fighting machines like the F35 or for that matter more hydrogen bombs that might actually work, count me out. OTOH if they include, for example, insuring the country has the capability to produce its own medicines and generally any of the goods and services required for national survival, sign me up.

(national security) Then there is 'climate change', brought to us by Exxon Mobile and the century-long pursuit of The Prize in the Middle Eastern deserts.

lyman alpha blob , November 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm

The title hits the nail right on the head.

An anecdote regarding this free market for everything all the time mentality –

My small city's council recently debated whether to pay several tens of thousands of dollars for a "branding" campaign with a PR/marketing company who in the past has dealt with Conde Nast, so read high end clientele. My better half, who is a councilor, argued that spending all that $$$ to attract more tourists wasn't the best use of the city's funds and that we weren't a "brand" to begin with, but a city. We've already had big problems will illegal Airbnb's removing significant amounts of housing from the market and housing costs have skyrocketed in recent years while wages, of course, have not. The city had until relatively recently been a blue collar suburb but that has changed rapidly. My wife tried to make the case that the result of this "branding" was likely to push housing costs even higher and push more long time residents right of of town. The council is pretty liberal, whatever that means these days, and I don't believe there is a pro-business Republican among them. She was still on the losing end of a 6-1 vote in favor of the "branding".

Very good article, however I don't think trying to bring manufacturing back by framing it in terms of 'national security' is a good idea. Although the idea itself is correct, explicitly promoting it this way would just hand more power over to the national security industry and that has not served us well at all in the last two decades.

Susan the Other , November 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm

This was a great summary of rational thinking. Thank you MA. I've been almost depressed this last year or so by the relentless undermining of national sovereignty. Trying to replace it with everything from global supply chains to the ECB to Brexit-free-trade (even without Europe) to private property rights to you name it. Sovereignty is a very basic thing – we agree to it like we agree to our currency. And by that agreement we certainly imply an "Industrial Policy to create an economy for all." How this wisdom got systematically gaslighted is a whole nuther story. I'm glad China didn't get hooked.

Ford Prefect , November 5, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Make America Great Again.

Apparently, Americans don't need flag-making jobs as they will not Make America Great. Trump campaign making banners in China – moving fast to beat tariffs deadline. Although there is the possibility that these are for domestic consumption in China to help rally Chinese hackers to the cause of supporting the Trump campaign, including voting for Trump. That would prove there is No Collusion with Russia.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-2020-campaign-banners-are-being-proudly-produced-in-china-2018-07-25?mod=MW_story_top_stories

Jeremy Grimm , November 5, 2019 at 7:35 pm

This post started off suggesting it's time to toss the "the free market" and I would add that it's time to toss "free trade/globalization" too, but it shifted to discussions of R&D spending, cautions to anti-trust advocates, and considerations of industrial policy and national security.

If R&D spending and productivity increase with scale, and many sectors of the US economy are dominated by a handful of large International Corporations does that mean that US R&D spending and productivity are close to full-scale -- as are the Corporations? How does scaled-up R&D spending reconcile with "massive dividend payouts and unprecedented spending on stock repurchases" and the Corporate prioritization of "short-term profitability"? Should I read the claims about how R&D spending and productivity increase with 'scale' to mean the scale of the R&D spending -- not the scale of the firm? If so what sort of calculations should be made by "antitrust advocates when they call for breaking up big tech" if I separate the scale of a firm from the scale of the R&D spending? Does it matter where the R&D is done? Haven't many of the large International Corporations moved their software development and R&D offshore too? ["Software retention"? -- What "software retention"?]

"Likewise, the problem in both the EU and the U.S. is not the size of these companies generated by national developmentalism, but a size-neutral form of national regulation that precludes these companies from stifling competition." What sort of industrial policy will compel International Cartels to play nice with domestic small and medium-sized businesses? Will that industrial policy be tied with some kind of changes to the 'free market' for politicians, prosecutors, courts, and regulators?

If we sell it here, but we don't make it here any more then what kind of industrial policy will rebuild the factories, the base of industrial capital, skills, and technical know-how? It will take more than trade disputes or currency rate of exchange tricks, or R&D spending, or targeted spending on a few DoD programs to rebuild US Industry. Shouldn't an industrial policy address the little problem of the long distance splaying of industries across seas and nations, the narrowing and consolidation of supply chains for the parts used the products still 'made in the usa'? If the US started protecting its 'infant industry' I think that might impact the way a lot of countries will run their economies. This would affect a basis for our international hegemony. And if we don't protect our industry, which will have to be re-built and raised from the razed factory buildings scattered around this country, how would it ever reach the size and complexity needed to prosper again?

cnchal , November 5, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Lots of great questions, with no real answers.

When the government subsidize R&D here, what reason would there be for the resultant products that come from that R&D, be made here? In Canada the SRED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) tax credits are used by companies to develop products that are then manufactured in China. No Canadian production worker will ever see an hour of labor from those subsidies. That result is baked into the R&D cake.

As you point out, "many of the large International Corporations moved their software development and R&D offshore too". What stops them from co-mingling the subsidies and scamming the system for their benefit, since everything done to favor big business resolves to a scam on the peasants.

[Oct 31, 2019] The Political Parties and the Media Have Abandoned the Working "Middle Class"

Oct 31, 2019 | www.oftwominds.com

October 31, 2019

Where is the line between "working class" and "middle class"? Maybe there isn't any.

Defining the "middle class" has devolved to a pundit parlor game, so let's get real for a moment (if we dare): the "middle class" is no longer defined by the traditional metrics of income or job type (blue collar, white collar), but by an entirely different set of metrics:

1. Household indebtedness, i.e. how much of the income is devoted to debt service, and

2. How much of the household spending is funded by debt.

3. The ability of the household to set aside substantial savings / capital investment.

4. The security of the households' employment.

5. The dependence of the household wealth on speculative asset bubbles inflated by central bank policies.

6. The percentage of the household income that is unearned, i.e. derived not from labor but from productive assets.

7. The exposure of the households' employment to automation, AI or offshoring.

8. How much of the household income is government transfers: benefits, subsidies, etc.

After writing about the middle class and America's class structure in depth for over a decade, it seems to me the actual, real-world class structure is something along these lines:

1. No formal earned income, dependent on government transfers, possibly supplemented by informal "black market" income; no family wealth.

2. The Working Poor, those laboring at minimum wage or part-time jobs with few if any benefits. This class depends on government transfers to get by: EBT (food stamps), housing subsidies, school lunch subsidies, Medicaid, etc. Highly exposed to reductions in hours, tips, gigs, etc. and layoffs.

3. The "muddle class" which muddles through on earned income, much of which goes to debt service (student loans, auto loans, mortgages, credit cards) and skyrocketing big-ticket expenses: rent, healthcare, childcare, etc. Unable to save enough to move the needle on household capital, any net worth is dependent on speculative asset bubbles continuing to inflate. Highly exposed to layoffs or destabilizing changes in employment status: from full-time to part-time, loss of benefits, etc.

This article from WSJ.com describes the Muddle Class: Families Go Deep in Debt to Stay in the Middle Class

4. The Protected Class with secure income/earnings and benefits: this includes the nomenklatura of government employees, mid-level technocrat / managerial employees in academia, government-funded non-profits, etc., and retirees with Medicare, Social Security and other income (pensions, unearned investment income, etc.) and family assets (home owned free and clear, substantial 401K nest eggs, etc.)

5. "Winner Take Most" Corporate America / market-economy households: top managers and salespeople, entrepreneurs, successful business owners, speculators in financialization/asset bubbles, marketers, those earning substantial royalties, etc. Most work crazy-hard and make sacrifices, as per this article from The Atlantic: Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore : Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society.

6. The wealthy and super-wealthy. Many continue working hard despite being worth tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, as per this article from NYT.com: Why Don't Rich People Just Stop Working? Are the wealthy addicted to money, competition, or just feeling important? Yes.

7. The upper reaches of this class constitute a Financial Aristocracy / Oligarchy / New Nobility, those who have leveraged mere wealth into political, social and financial power .

8. The Mobile Creatives Class , currently small but expanding, which essentially obsoletes the entire status quo of working for an employer (often to get benefits), going heavily into debt for a college degree, vehicle, house, wedding, etc., hiring employees and paying outrageous prices to live in an overcrowded, soul-destroying city, etc.

I've written often about Mobile Creatives , but the basic idea is multiple income streams and forms of capital provide security rather than depending on the state or an employer: Career Advice to 20-Somethings: Create Value as a Mobile Creative .

Where is the line between "working class" and "middle class"? Maybe there isn't any. The old definitions of working and middle class were social more than financial--the middle class was better educated (school teacher, etc.) than the working class (factory worker, skilled tradesperson) but both could aspire to owning a home and giving their children a more secure life than they had started with.

The working class was not limited to the working poor : working-class jobs provided security and social mobility, just like white-collar middle class jobs.

What differentiates classes now is debt, employment security and the ability to build household capital that isn't just a sand castle of speculative bubble "wealth." The worker with tradecraft skills (welding, logger, etc.) has more security and earning power than a college graduate with few skills that can't be outsourced or automated.

Many college graduates work in sectors that are highly exposed to layoffs and downsizing once the economy contracts: food and beverages, hospitality, etc.

All of which leads us to a highly verboten conclusion: both political parties and the corporate media have abandoned the 2/3 of the workforce that is working/middle class. The bottom 20% dependent on government transfers has more security than those earning just enough to disqualify the household for transfers, while the top 15% in the Protected Class are doing just fine unless they're over-indebted.

The winner take most class and the wealthy dominate both political parties and the media which is now dependent on advertising that appeals to the top 10% of households that collect more than 50% of the national income.

The political parties take care of the government dependent class to keep the rabble from rebelling, and they keep the government gravy train flowing to the Protected Class (healthcare, national defense, academia, government employees) to insure their support at election time, but they take their marching orders from the Aristocracy / Oligarchy that fund their campaigns and enrich them with $100,000 speaking fees, seats on the board of directors, etc.

The Working/Middle Class gets nothing but lip-service, and that's been the case for decades. The political parties and the media abandoned the Working/Middle Class long ago, buttering their bread with the soaring wealth of the Aristocracy / Oligarchy and relegating everyone outside the Protected Class who labors for their livelihood to the servitude of politically impotent tax donkey / debt-serfdom.

Please examine these charts closely. They look busy but show that income inequality has been rising for over three decades.

Here's income by quintile. The top 5% have done extremely well, the Protected Class 15% below them have done just fine, and the bottom 80%, well, who cares about them as long as they're politically passive and make their loan payments?

Cumulative income reveals the widening gap between the bottom 80% and the top 5%. The gap was not very big in the early 1990s, but look at it now:

Another chart of the top 5% pulling away from the rest of us:

No wonder the media depends on luxury/aspirational advertising: the top 5% are the only ones with the money and credit to blow on status-signifying fripperies:

Where does this lead? To this--a collapse of buffers: debt is not income, and eventually the buffers of borrowing more to keep afloat thin and break down. When the financial buffers of the middle two-thirds of working / middle class households break down, the economy and the social-political order will break down, too.

Don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet.

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[Oct 26, 2019] The Famous Baseball-Watching Equality-Equity Graphic, Scrutinized by Peter Dorman

Notable quotes:
"... The real world politics of affirmative action, targeted (as opposed to universal) benefit programs and the like reside in these complexities. The equity graphic conveys the initial insight, but the assumptions packed into its story make it harder rather than easier to think through the controversies that bedevil equity politics. ..."
"... This goes back to what I call justice vs fairness. Justice is supposed to be blind, with the same outcome for all. It ain't so at the moment, but let's suppose we'd get a perfect justice. It still would not be fair. Fine of 1k may mean bankruptcy for some, and way beyond the level of recognition for someone else. ..."
"... But if you start getting into "fair", it has its own problems. Namely, fair depends on the context, and the context may vary – what is fair in one context may be deeply unfair in another, and it's possible that there's no solution where something is "fair" in all possible (or even majority) contexts. ..."
"... Precisely a point. Abstract words require context when applied to concrete cases. The main case for 'equal' is likely "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence. The context there especially is a retort to the divine right of royalty. ..."
"... I think this argues for why a human element – judges – are indispensible for taking into account context and setting consequences appropriately. So Yves' introduction about the co-optation of the judiciary by Law & Economics is pertinent. It is vital for society to require the judiciary to act in the public interest. ..."
"... The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Anatole France ..."
"... Another angle: all three are cheating, trying to watch the game without paying. If everybody did that. The point of the pictures is to simplify the concepts enough to provide a working definition – though as Studebaker wrote, it isn't a very good definition. ..."
"... Neo-liberal economics has resulted in more and more Americans finding themselves on the ' outside' , looking in, and a great many of them are quite upset about that because they remember a better time, and understand that in a very real sense, they're situation is the result of the callous, and willful behavior of elites who've profited in ruining their quality of life. ..."
"... Indeed. "The baseball game is dependent on the wall." Because, for one, who wants to run all the way to the river and wade in after the stupid ball? Baseball is an enjoyable distraction. So, to carry this metaphor, is the economy. Equity, to me, was always an equal share of something. A stake in something. Equal justice under the law. Without equity, as is now dawning on me, there can be no hope of equality. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is "accumulation by dispossession" (David Harvey) so there's no equity there. Hence no equality. ..."
Oct 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. To give you a bit of break rom the loud warble coming from far too many news outlets, here's a point of entry into a classic debate about fairness, or more specifically, equality versus equity.

In case you missed it, there's been a war on equity in the form of the law and economics movement. From ECONNED:

The third avenue for promoting and institutionalizing the "free market" ideology was inculcating judges. It was one of the most far-reaching actions the radical right wing could take. Precedents are powerful, and the bench turns over slowly. Success here would make the "free markets" revolution difficult to reverse.

While conservative scholars like Richard Posner and Richard Epstein at the University of Chicago trained some of the initial right-leaning jurists, attorney Henry Manne gave the effort far greater reach. Manne established his "law and economics" courses for judges, which grew into the Law and Economics Center, which in 1980 moved from the University of Miami to Emory in Atlanta and eventually to George Mason University.

Manne had gotten the backing of over 200 conservative sponsors, including some known for extreme right-wing views, such as the Adolph Coors Company, plus many of the large U.S. corporations that were also funding the deregulation.

Manne is often depicted as an entrepreneur in the realm of ideas. He took note of the fact that, at the time, the University of Chicago had one of the few law schools that solicited funding from large corporations. Manne sought to create a new law school, not along conventional brick-and-mortar lines (his efforts here failed), but as a network. He set out to become a wholesaler, teaching law professors and judges. However, although Manne presented his courses as teaching economics from a legal perspective, they had a strong ideological bias:

The center is directed by Henry Manne, a corporate lawyer who has undertaken to demolish what he calls "the myth of corporate responsibility." "Every time I hear a businessman acknowledge public interest in what they do," Manne warns, "they invite political control over their activities." At Manne's center in Miami, interested judges learn how to write decisions against such outside political control couched in the new norms of market efficiency.

Manne approached his effort not simply as education, but as a political movement. He would not accept law professors into his courses unless at least two came from a single school, so that they could support each other and push for others from the law and economics school of thought to be hired.

The program expanded to include seminars for judges, training in legal issues for economists, and an economics institute for Congressional aides. A 1979 Fortune article on the program noted that the instructors "almost to a man" were from the "free market" school of economics. Through 1980, 137 federal district and circuit court judges had finished the basic program and 56 had taken additional "advanced" one-week courses.

It is hard to overstate the change this campaign produced, namely, a major shift in jurisprudence. As Steven Teles of the University of Maryland noted:

In the beginning, the law and economics (with the partial exception of its application to antitrust) was so far out of the legal academic mainstream as to be reasonably characterized as "off the wall." . . . Moving law and economics' status from "off the wall" to "controversial but respectable" required a combination of celebrity and organizational entrepreneurship. . . . Mannes' programs for federal judges helped erase law and economics' stigma, since if judges -- the symbol of legal professional respectability -- took the ideas seriously, they could not be crazy and irresponsible.

Now why was law and economics vantage seen as "off the wall?" Previously, as noted above, economic thinking had been limited to antitrust, which inherently involves economic concepts (various ways to measure the power of large companies in a market). So extending economic concepts further was at least novel, and novel could be tantamount to "off the wall" in some circles. But with hindsight, equally strong words like "radical," "activist," and "revolutionary" would apply.

Why? The law and economics promoters sought to colonize legal minds. And, to a large extent they succeeded. For centuries (literally), jurisprudence had been a multifaceted subject aimed at ordering human affairs. The law and economics advocates wanted none of that. The law and economics advocates wanted none of that. They wanted their narrow construct to play as prominent a role as possible.

For instance, a notion that predates the legal practice is equity, that is, fairness. The law in its various forms including legislative, constitutional, private (i.e., contract), judicial, and administrative, is supposed to operate within broad, inherited concepts of equity. Another fundamental premise is the importance of "due process," meaning adherence to procedures set by the state. By contrast, the "free markets" ideology focuses on efficiency and seeks aggressively to minimize the role of government. The two sets of assumptions are diametrically opposed.

By Peter Dorman, professor of economics at The Evergreen State College. Originally published at Econospeak

Here's the graphic, widely used to explain why equity outcomes require unequal treatment of different people.

Benjamin Studebaker (hat tip Naked Capitalism ) doesn't like it at all: "I hate it so much." But his complaints, about the way the graphic elides classic debates in political theory, strike me as being too redolent of grad school obsessions. The graphic is not trying to advance one academic doctrine over another; it just makes a simple case for compensatory policy. I agree in a general way with this perspective.

Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which mandates special facilities in public buildings to accommodate people in wheelchairs or facing other mobility challenges. This is unequal treatment: extra money is spent to install ramps that only a few will use, rather than for amenities for everyone. But it's a great idea! Yes, compensation is concentrated on a minority, but it aims to allow everyone to participate in public activities, and in doing this it embodies a spirit of solidarity that ought to embrace all of us. By making a simple, intuitive case for focused compensation, the graphic captures the spirit behind the ADA and many other policies that take account of inequalities that would otherwise leave some members of the community excluded and oppressed.

Unfortunately, however, there are serious limitations to the graphic; above all, it embodies assumptions that beg most of the questions people ask about compensatory programs. Some are challenges from conservatives of a more individualistic bent, others might be asked by friendly critics on the left, but all are worthy of being taken seriously.

1. Watching the game over the fence is binary: either you can see it or you can't. In the real world, however, most activities are matters of degree. You can learn more or less of a particular subject in school, have a better or worse chance of getting the job you want, live in a bigger or smaller house or apartment. How much compensation is enough? At what point do we decide that the gains from ex post equity are not large enough to justify the other costs of the program, not only monetary but possible conflicts with other social objectives? Every teacher who has thought about how much extra attention to give those students who come to the classroom with extra needs has faced this problem.

2. Watching the game is passive, an act of pure consumption. Things get more complex when inequalities involve activities that produce goods of value to others. For instance, how would the graphic address compensatory programs for the baseball players ? Yes, a player from an underserved, overlooked community should get an extra chance to show they should be on the team. But should the criteria for who makes the team be relaxed? How and how much? In case you haven't noticed, this gets to the core of debates over affirmative action. Again, I am in favor of the principle of taking extra steps to compensate for pre-existing inequalities, but the graphic offers no guidance in figuring out how far to go in that direction.

3. Height is a largely inherited condition, but what about differences in opportunity that are at least partly the result of the choices we make ourselves? This is red meat to conservatives, who denounce affirmative action and other compensatory policies on the grounds that they undermine the incentive to try hard and do one's best. I think this position is too extreme, since inherited and environmental conditions are obviously crucial in many contexts, but it would also be a mistake to say that individual choices play no role at all. Again we are facing questions of degree, and the graphic, with it's clear intimation that inequality is inborn and ineluctable, doesn't help.

4. The inequality depicted in the graphic is height, which is easily and uncontroversially measured. Most social inequalities are anything but. Student A went to a high school with a library; student B's high school didn't have one. That's a meaningful inequality, and if an opportunity can be awarded to only one of them, like entrance into a selective college program, it ought to be considered. But how big an effect should we attribute to it? Damned if I know.

5. There is no real scarcity facing the three game-watchers in the graphics. There are enough boxes to allow everyone to get a good view and enough fence space for everyone to share. In the real world neither tends to be true. Resources that can be devoted to compensatory programs are limited, especially on a global scale, which, if you're really an egalitarian, is how you should think about these things. Even locally, the money often runs short. The college I used to teach at could be criticized for not doing enough for students from low income and rural backgrounds with weak K-12 systems (I certainly did), but even with the best of intentions the money was not there. Of course, where the goods to be distributed are competitive, like slots in a school or job openings at a company, the problem is that there's not enough fence space to go around. Yes, we should take action to provide more opportunities and reduce the competitive scarcity. No, this won't make the scarcity go away completely.

6. The graphic shows us three individuals and asks us to visually compare their heights. America has a population of over 320 million, and even "small" communities can have a cast of thousands. Surely we are not expected to make individual calculations for every person-by-person comparison. No, those using the graphic usually have in mind group comparisons -- differences requiring compensatory interventions according to race, class, gender, ability status, etc. But while that makes things easier by reducing the number of comparisons, it makes everything else much harder to figure out: How do we measure group advantages and disadvantages? How do we account for intersections? Are they additive, multiplicative or something else? Do all members of the group get assigned the same advantage/disadvantage rankings? If not, on what criteria? These are tremendously difficult questions. I am not suggesting that they force us to abandon an egalitarian commitment to substantive, ex post equality -- quite the contrary, in fact. We do have to face them if we want to reduce the inequality in this world. My point here is that, by depicting just these three fans watching a baseball game over a fence, one tall, one medium, one short, the graphic is a dishonest guide to navigating actual situations.

My bottom line is that, while I agree with the spirit of the graphic that policies, whether at a single office, a large institution or an entire country, should take account of the inequalities people face in real life and try to compensate for them, how and how far to go is difficult to resolve. Achieving ex post equality is complicated in the face of so many factors that affect our chances in life, and on top of this, equality is only one of many values we ought to respect.

The real world politics of affirmative action, targeted (as opposed to universal) benefit programs and the like reside in these complexities. The equity graphic conveys the initial insight, but the assumptions packed into its story make it harder rather than easier to think through the controversies that bedevil equity politics.


vlade , October 25, 2019 at 4:22 am

This goes back to what I call justice vs fairness. Justice is supposed to be blind, with the same outcome for all. It ain't so at the moment, but let's suppose we'd get a perfect justice. It still would not be fair. Fine of 1k may mean bankruptcy for some, and way beyond the level of recognition for someone else.

But if you start getting into "fair", it has its own problems. Namely, fair depends on the context, and the context may vary – what is fair in one context may be deeply unfair in another, and it's possible that there's no solution where something is "fair" in all possible (or even majority) contexts.

Justice is blind really means it declaratively sets the context and recognises no other. But if we lock the context for fairness, we'll generate some unfair outcomes.

That all said, the fact that the perfect outcome is unachievable doesn't mean we'd not strive for a better one.

Steve H. , October 25, 2019 at 7:31 am

> context may vary

Precisely a point. Abstract words require context when applied to concrete cases. The main case for 'equal' is likely "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence. The context there especially is a retort to the divine right of royalty.

Abstractions are particularly subject to korinthenkacking, "questions of degree". Commitment to decisions tend to binarism, and (imo) usually based on one or two factors, with a third for nuance.

For all the dithers, there is an egalatarianism inherent in the image; universally, everyone has been a child and at some point has felt the pain of being too small. That emotional impact is part of its success.

Oguk , October 25, 2019 at 11:41 am

I think this argues for why a human element – judges – are indispensible for taking into account context and setting consequences appropriately. So Yves' introduction about the co-optation of the judiciary by Law & Economics is pertinent. It is vital for society to require the judiciary to act in the public interest. Manne's framing of this as "political control" is not completely wrong. The kind of judicial reform we (I) would like to see needs to articulate what "public interest" means. I find Dorman's grappling with this graphic to be a helpful start. The left seems deficient in thinking about this kind of complexity (though perhaps I've missed it).

Katniss Everdeen , October 25, 2019 at 8:13 am

Wow, hadn't seen this before. Kinda fun to think about. Maybe the whole point is just to illustrate the difference in the definitions of the two words in an Ikea sorta way. Haven't seen the Studebaker critique so I don't know what his issues are.

I also have no idea what the "classic debates in political theory" wrt this graphic are. But a few thoughts occur to me–can the short guy cut a hole in the the fence, or do the "rules" say that the only way to see the game, without buying a ticket of course, is by looking OVER the fence?

Is there a legitimate reason for the fence at all? If so, what is it? If not, why is it there? Why are there no wheel chairs in the picture, when the discussion involves disabled accommodation? Why do the kibitzers in the graphic appear to be minorities, no whites?

Gotta take the dog to the vet now. Will look for the Studebaker piece later. Maybe he answers my questions.

Greg Gerner , October 25, 2019 at 8:36 am

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Anatole France

James Fox , October 25, 2019 at 8:45 am

I have always found this graphic both confusing and troubling. Why are the three central figures watching the game outside the park? Isn't the difference between the outside the fence watchers and the comfortably seated audience inside the park a question of equality and equity? Are equity standards only applied to people relegated to not only 'second class seating' but standing room only areas? Finally, do the people inside the park get to decide not only who gets into the park but also how well or poorly the excluded fence watchers execute a workaround to subvert the exclusionary practices implied by the presence of a fence?

Oregoncharles , October 26, 2019 at 12:33 am

Another angle: all three are cheating, trying to watch the game without paying. If everybody did that. The point of the pictures is to simplify the concepts enough to provide a working definition – though as Studebaker wrote, it isn't a very good definition.

In simplifying it so much, it leaves a tremendous amount out and dodges a legion of questions – both our writers seem to agree that it dodges crucial questions.

In the end, it's just a cartoon. You're right: the field would have guards out there to prevent this sort of thing, unless they were consciously offering charity.

Watt4Bob , October 25, 2019 at 9:21 am

Why has no one made note of the fact that the people in the graphic are all excluded, presumedly because of lack of the price of a ticket?

And is that lack of money due to the fact that they are all people of color, and so subject to the economic inequality, based on racial prejudice, that plagues our system?

To me, the graphic portrays, in sub-text, the notion that people with less can/should be happy with less than full participation in the culture in which they live, so long as that austerity is ' properly' distributed amongst those ' outside ' the fence.

Neo-liberal economics has resulted in more and more Americans finding themselves on the ' outside' , looking in, and a great many of them are quite upset about that because they remember a better time, and understand that in a very real sense, they're situation is the result of the callous, and willful behavior of elites who've profited in ruining their quality of life.

To take my analysis a bit further, IMO, it is the ' nouveau poor ' who, because of their belief that they deserve the better life they clearly remember, and so recently lost, insist that the ' equality ' portrayed in the left panel is reasonable, and should be accepted because it is obviously evenly distributed.

This misinformed opinion might be attributed to their lack of experience with their new life ' outside ', where people over time learn to cooperate in making do with less.

There is a rich literature dealing with this reality, think The Prince and the Pauper, or even the teachings of Jesus, and the Buddha.

The folks who believe in MAGA, are refusing to adjust, and believe that somehow, they will regain their rightful place in an economy that has clearly decided to leave them behind, and ' outside '.

Our job then, is to help them understand that their only real hope for a better life is in solidarity with the rest of us, in our fight to get everyone a place inside the fence.

This job is obviously a long, up hill battle, largely because of the long history of the PTB stigmatizing socialism, dividing to conquer, and of course the MSM's total abandonment of their civic duty.

It's Bernie or bust!

Dan , October 25, 2019 at 12:56 pm

And, that the little kid will, unless they are a midget, grow to the point where they can see over the fence?

Oh, and poor white people, who outnumber blacks? What about them?

Will Shetterly , October 25, 2019 at 10:02 am

Socialism flattens the fence so anyone who wants to watch can take a seat in the stadium.

Watt4Bob , October 25, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Exactly!

Cuba is a baseball-crazy country, how many people in Cuba are watching from over the fence?

Joe Well , October 25, 2019 at 5:48 pm

I odce spent a few months in Cuba. It is absolutely not a model for most things. One anecdote: an employee of the film industry (ICAIC) told me she gave some desperately poor friends movie theater tickets. They ended up not going because they couldn't afford the bus fare.

A bigger issue: the daily struggle to get enough to eat beyond rice, beans, and sugar. We can debate the role of the US in turning Cuba into a near prison, and all sanctions need to stop now, but it is what it is.

witters , October 26, 2019 at 12:57 am

We can debate the role of the US in turning Cuba into a near prison, and all sanctions need to stop now, but it is what it is.

And we can debate why, without sanctions, the US has the largest prison population in the world at the highest rate of imprisonment. Tthough, of course, there is "no daily struggle" for food or healthcare )

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2019.html

Joe Well , October 26, 2019 at 10:15 am

Cuba is an actual country with 11 million real people in it, not just a set of talking points or a hypothetical. Of all the manifestations of North American arrogance, being made into fairy tales pisses off Latin Americans, including the left, about as much as any. We can abolish the current prison model and also abolish the sanctions on Cuba and do other things not to make their already difficult lives worse.

A country a hundred miles from Disney World has the boot of the US state pressing down on its suffering people and most American leftists only talk about it in terms of an internal US political debate. Exhibit 10000 of why the American left sucks.

And yes, Cuba today distributes what resources it does have so unequally that it is not a great model of social justice.

Anarcissie , October 25, 2019 at 11:41 am

In the graphic, there are at least three games going on: the baseball game, about which we don't learn very much; the game of the fence, which is solved with box arrangements, or by taking it down; and the game of the definitions of 'equality' and 'equity', which comes through the fourth wall into the world in which the cartoonist is trying to prove something. According to my communistic prejudices, I would have said the only just solution would be to remove the wall, but it could be that the baseball game is dependent on the wall -- I would think most goods produced by labor, especially performances, would require some defining structure -- and certainly the word game requires the wall as part of its raw material.

PKMKII , October 25, 2019 at 11:45 am

Or, replace the wall with clear plexiglass, thus retaining the nature of the game but removing the market barriers that keep people without access to funds from enjoying the game.

Susan the Other , October 25, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Indeed. "The baseball game is dependent on the wall." Because, for one, who wants to run all the way to the river and wade in after the stupid ball? Baseball is an enjoyable distraction. So, to carry this metaphor, is the economy. Equity, to me, was always an equal share of something. A stake in something. Equal justice under the law. Without equity, as is now dawning on me, there can be no hope of equality.

Little Manu Macron, in a burst of hypocrisy, told Trump that the difference between France and the US was that France was based more on social justice. Justice. I really don't see that as fundamentally French. But I definitely don't see it as fundamentally USA. "Equity" is as much verbiage as "Equality". We might want to start looking at the antonyms. Neoliberalism is "accumulation by dispossession" (David Harvey) so there's no equity there. Hence no equality.

Appleseed , October 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm

A version of this graphic was used at a civic engagement seminar on multi-modal transportation accessibility I attended last night. It featured one twist – the replacement of the slotted fence with a chain link fence so that all could see the game "because the cause of the inequity was addressed. The systemic barrier was removed." In the context of the presentation about accessibility in the city, the presenter mentioned universal design . This reminded me of Bucky Fuller's anticipatory design since both seek to think comprehensively (i.e. inclusively) about design challenges and to accommodate the maximum number of beneficiaries while doing harm to the least number possible. Seem equitable to me! The designer of the equity meme has a great post at Medium that provides a thorough overview of how the graphic has evolved (including the the chain link fence addition), the variety of interpretations, and how the "famous" meme has spread far and wide.

William S , October 25, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Is Mr. Dorman damning this image with faint praise? I think it's a brilliant way of illustrating how an issue can be turned on it's head and looked at from a different perspective.

It presents the difference between equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome. Even some self-labeled progressives (perhaps in order to appease conservatives?) have claimed they are only interested in the former, not the latter. The graphic shows how meaningless that way of judging results is.

The first step in trying to achieve good outcomes for all is to listen to all. This gets my goat:

"Surely we are not expected to make individual calculations for every person-by-person comparison."

Well, that's what individuals do, and if you respect them you take their perceptions of inequity as data for your distributed computation. Not everyone wants the same thing. Some people don't even like baseball.

And yes, that fence around the field is a good starter for a conversation about the problems of enclosure. You wouldn't need the damn boxes if you hadn't blocked the view.

Katniss Everdeen , October 25, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Wow, hadn't seen this before. Kinda fun to think about. Maybe the whole point is just to illustrate the difference in the definitions of the two words in an Ikea sorta way. Haven't seen the Studebaker critique so I don't know what his issues are.

I also have no idea what the "classic debates in political theory" wrt this graphic are. But a few thoughts occur to me–can the short guy cut a hole in the the fence, or do the "rules" say that the only way to see the game, without buying a ticket of course, is by looking OVER the fence?

Is there a legitimate reason for the fence at all? If so, what is it? If not, why is it there? Why are there no wheel chairs in the picture, when the discussion involves disabled accommodation? Why do the people in the graphic appear to be minorities, no whites?

Gotta take the dog to the vet now. Will look for the Studebaker piece later. Maybe he answers my questions.

rd , October 25, 2019 at 6:32 pm

I think a big challenge in the US is the general assumption that equality, equity, etc. are a zero-sum game. If somebody gets something, then other people have lost. I think this thinking is one of the reasons that we have seen low productivity growth over the past couple of decades.

If the lower-class elements in society can get better conditions and opportunities, they also have the opportunity to contribute more to society which increases the total size of the pool for everybody to split. High inequality, such as now, means that many people are not able to contribute to their full potential, which means the total size of the pool can be smaller than it otherwise might be.

I don't think it is accidental that one of the great economic booms of all time occurred from about 1950 to 2000 when the US:

1. Helped fund reconstruction of Europe and Japan after WW II;
2. Instituted the GI Bill which allowed many people who would never have gone to higher education to do so;
3. Desegregated schools and generally allowed minorities to participate more fully;
4. Encouraged women to participate more fully in society; and
5. Disabled people could participate more fully.

All of these factors contributed to substantial growth in the 50s-90s period as more and more groups become economically prosperous. However, we are now going to the ultimate meritocracy where the economic winners are beginning to crush the people who have not done as well and concentrate wealth at the top. As a result, the growth has stagnated as mobility is decreasing and the upper pools are not growing.

witters , October 26, 2019 at 1:03 am

1950-2000? I think the key date is 1973, when labor productivity was detached from wage compensation. That's your neoliberalism kicking in, and it kicks on (and down).

Knute Rife , October 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Destroying the equity powers of the federal courts was a major goal of Rehnquist & Co. For the most part, mission accomplished.

[Oct 23, 2019] Goodbye Middle Class 50% Of American Workers Make Less Than $33,000 A Year

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts. For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not. ..."
Oct 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, but you hardly ever hear this from the mainstream media.

Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts. For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not.

According to the Social Security Administration , the median income in the United States last year was just $32,838.05. In other words, 50 percent of American workers made more than $32,838.05 and 50 percent of American workers made less than $32,838.05 in 2018. Let's be generous and round that number up to $33,000, and when you break it down on a monthly basis it comes to just $2,750 a month. Of course nobody can support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four on $2,750 a month before taxes, and so in most families more than one person is working these days. In fact, in many families today more than one person is working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, and it still is often not quite enough.

If you want to look at the Social Security wage statistics for yourself, you can find them right here . As you will see, I am not making these numbers up.

These days many would have us feel bad if we are not making at least $100,000 a year, but according to the report only about 10 percent of all American workers make that much money.

Instead, most Americans are in what I would call "the barely getting by" category. Here are some key facts that I pulled out of the report

-33 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-46 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-58 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-67 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That means that approximately two-thirds of all American workers are making $4,000 or less a month before taxes.

Ouch.

But these numbers help us to understand why survey after survey has shown that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck . After paying the bills, there just isn't much money left for most of us.

And for an increasing number of Americans, even paying the bills has become exceedingly difficult. In fact, a brand new report from UBS says that 44 percent of all U.S. consumers "don't make enough money to cover their expenses"

Low-income consumers are struggling to make ends meet despite the "greatest economy ever," and if a recession strikes or the employment cycle continues to decelerate -- this could mean the average American with insurmountable debts will likely fall behind on their debt servicing payments, according to a UBS report, first reported by Bloomberg .

UBS analyst Matthew Mish wrote in a recent report that 44% of consumers don't make enough money to cover their expenses.

That means that about half the country is flat broke and struggling just to survive financially.

Of course those at the top of the economic food chain often don't have a lot of sympathy for those that are hurting. Many of them have the attitude that those that are struggling should just go out and get one of the "good jobs" that the mainstream media is endlessly touting.

But most jobs in the United States are not "good jobs".

Today, the poverty level for a household of four in the United States is $25,750. More than 40 percent of the workers in this country make less than that each year.

Starting a business is always an option, but that takes money, and thanks to government regulations it is harder than ever to run a small business successfully.

Just look at what is happening to our dairy farmers. There are few occupations that are more quintessentially "American" than being a dairy farmer, and since most people drink milk and eat cheese, you would think that it would be a pretty safe profession.

But instead, dairy farms are shutting down at a pace that is absolutely chilling all over the nation. For example, just check out what has been going on in Wisconsin

Wisconsin lost another 42 dairy farms in July, and since January 1, has lost 491 farms, reports the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

At this rate, the Dairy State could lose 735 dairy farms this year, which would be a decline of 9%. In 2018, the state lost 691 farms, a rate of decline of 7.9%.

Over the last decade the state has lost more than 5,000 farms, or 40% of its licensed dairy farms. To state the obvious, the current rate of exits is more than double that of the last decade.

... ... ...

[Oct 20, 2019] Growing Secularism Is Pushing Religion, Traditional Values Aside, AG Barr Warns by Janita Kan

Notable quotes:
"... "Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic," he said. ..."
Oct 12, 2019 | aim4truth.org
Share U.S. Attorney General William Barr raised concerns about the increase in secularism in society in a speech on Oct. 11, speaking about how that has contributed to a number of social issues plaguing communities across the nation.

Barr, who delivered his remarks to students at the University of Notre Dame's law school, drew attention to the comprehensive effort to drive away religion and traditional moral systems in society and to push secularism in their place.

"We see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism," Barr said.

He said that the forces of secularism are using mass media and popular culture, the promotion of greater reliance on government intervention for social problems, and the use of legal and judicial institutions to eliminate traditional moral norms.

Barr explored several of the consequences of "this moral upheaval," highlighting its effect on all parts of society.

"Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic," he said.

"Over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses," he said. "But I won't dwell on the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has coincided, and, as I believe, has brought with it, immense suffering and misery."

Barr said religion has come under increasing attack over the past 50 years, underscoring how secularists are using society's institutions to systematically destroy religion and stifle opposing views.

"Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values. These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy but also to drown out and silence opposing voices," he said.

He said that people are moving away from "micro-morality" observed by Christians, a system of morality that seeks to transform the world by focusing on their own personal morality and transformation. Instead, he said the modern secularists are pushing a "macro-morality," which focuses on political causes and collective actions to address social problems.

"In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct become so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path it is on," Barr said.

"But today, in the face of all the increasing pathologies, instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have cast the state in the role as the alleviator of bad consequences. We call on the state to mitigate the social costs of personal conduct and irresponsibility. So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility but abortion; the reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites."

"The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage, and while we think we are resolving problems, we [actually] are underwriting them."

He also pointed out how the law has been used to "break down traditional moral values and establish moral relativism as the new orthodoxy," giving the example of how laws have been used to aggressively force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith .

"The forces of secularism have been continually seeking to eliminate the laws that reflect traditional moral norms," he said.

Barr also highlighted the role of religion in society, saying it promotes moral discipline while it influences people's conduct.

"Religion also helps promote moral discipline in society. We're all fallen. We don't automatically conform our conduct to moral rules, even when we know that they're good for us. But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what's good," he said.

"It doesn't do this primarily by formal laws -- that is, by coercive power -- it does this through moral education and by framing society's informal rules -- the customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages. In other words, religion helps frame a moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline."

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

[Oct 15, 2019] the failure of the American Dream)

Oct 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , October 13, 2019 at 05:47 AM

Contrived generational wars disguise the failure of the American Dream https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2019/10/11/beware-labels-contrived-generational-wars-disguise-failure-american-dream/BwpcAnlGfHVsctTkpCX8tK/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Margaret Morganroth Gullette -October 11

In a nation grappling with growing inequality, stagnating social mobility, crushing personal debt, and crumbling job security, efforts to set America's generations against one another persist. Don't blame the system, blame the "greedy" boomers. Or the "slacker" Gen Xers. Or "entitled" millennials. But who gains from such discourses?

Efforts to foment that warfare, intentionally or not, serve specific agendas. Numerous writers warn that age-group hostilities are "coming." And then, pitting generations against one another, aside from their war metaphors, writers reach for doomsday predictions, lachrymose empathy for "our kids," and questionable data. All this relies on the invention of mendacious attributes, conferring on millions of diverse people implausible character flaws or virtues. Karl Mannheim, the 20th-century sociologist known for explaining the uses of generational units, would be rolling over in his grave.

Here is the hidden history of a perverse political discourse: It started with the so-called boomers. As they aged toward peak midlife wages in the 1980s, they got saddled with a reputation for being rich and greedy. The media concocted a lie that made it seem as if they wouldn't ever need Social Security.

Bill Gates was born in 1955. That makes him what is commonly called a boomer. Rene Lavoie was also born in 1955. The Globe recently recounted the problems that led this white Army vet to spend time in Boston's homeless shelters. According to the principal investigator of a recent study, Dennis Culhane, many people of Lavoie's age are indeed part of a boom -- "a boom in aging homeless people." They were "less well educated people who faced economic challenges in their youth -- falling wages and rising housing costs -- and never recovered financially. ... Now in their 50s and 60s, they are biologically older than most people their age. ... The average lifespan for a homeless person is 64."

Unlike Gates's co-billionaires in the .01 percent, 29 percent of people 55 and over have nothing at all saved for retirement, according to the Government Accountability Office, and many of the rest have little. Ageism in the workforce is one reason they lose a job and then can't find an equally good one -- or find any work at all. Boomers are often treated as "deadwood." Corporations drop them by the thousands. Even Xers are now old enough to be at risk of having their resumes discarded. When people suffering from middle ageism stop looking for work they are omitted from the unemployment data. At midlife, some submit to deaths of despair.

Succeeding cohorts (all containing the same disparities -- of class, race, gender, and education) have also been treated as if they were a single human with a character flaw. During the 1990s recessions, when the so-called Xers couldn't find work, they too were branded with a slur -- "slackers" -- while boomers were represented as the horde bullies who held onto all the good jobs.

The baleful technique is still at work today. Given the same problem -- lack of decent jobs for all ages, especially people without college degrees and people over 50 -- it's the turn of the millennials. One of them complains about the stereotypes, defensively, in Vox: "We demand participation trophies, can't find jobs, and live with our parents until we're 30." His response is to bash -- you guessed it -- the boomers, who "have a ton of maladaptive personality characteristics."

In the Atlantic, pundits Niall Ferguson, from the Hoover Institution, and Eyck Freymann defend millennials because their "early working lives were blighted by the financial crisis" -- but ignore how home foreclosures, sluggish growth, and job losses also blighted people around Ferguson's own age (55).

Millennials are supposed to be so ignorant and cruel that they would dismiss old people's needs because of the boomers' alleged wealth. "Cutting old-age benefits for boomers would be an easy call if millennials are anywhere on the line of fire," write the original concoctors of the age-war distraction, Neil Howe and William Strauss, in their latest pandering assault, "Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation."

We frequently hear that our elders' retirement needs will "break the bank" despite their lifelong pay-ins. If Republicans manage to destroy the whole system of social trust, cutting Social Security could indeed be one of the dire outcomes of the lies of generational warfare. Otherwise, experts say, its financial failure is not remotely in the cards. For families it has always been the most popular government program, because it provides a measure of dignified independence for older people and a measure of relief for their adult children.

Younger people should support the expansion of Social Security for another reason, writes one millennial who doesn't take the bait. Nick Guthman argues in The Hill that because of student debt, "Millennials and Generation Z will need Social Security even more than our parents and grandparents do."

The 2100 Act, now before Congress, would raise the cap on taxable-wage contributions. Conservatives reject this easy fix, but it is overwhelmingly popular with the public.

Manipulating cohort characteristics damages far more than attitudes toward Social Security, bad as the effect of that contrived skepticism could be. Blaming an older generation that is already maligned allows many real perpetrators to smugly hide from their irresponsibility. Will the climate movement find youngsters blaming the boomers for ecological destruction, because some drove big cars? Wouldn't it be better to turn on the CEOs of Exxon, who hid the dangers of burning fossil fuels that their scientists discovered so thoroughly that few of us knew to stop flying?

Persistent precarity is indeed the historical issue that is obscured by these discourses. The fact of American decline is this: Most people in each generation have had it worse than their parents. According to a report on The State of Working America, the United States lags behind its peer countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in measurements of father-son mobility. In the United States, the "sons" have been receiving stagnant wages, fewer benefits, jobs in the insecure gig economy. Many women too have lost the progress narrative of rising expectations. That progress narrative, when upward mobility was more widespread, supported the American Dream. It gave hope that democracy would work for increasing numbers.

Don't blame your parents. Every article manipulating cohort stereotypes lets the government and corporations off the hook for outsourcing abroad, the crash of rust-belt industries, de-unionization, and the decades of cascading downward mobility we now endure. You can't even want to get justice until you know the true sources of injustice.

How do imaginary reputations and hostile emotions get nailed onto struggling groups, decade after decade, in this pernicious way? Naming each imagined age cohort makes it possible. The process is called reification. Naming makes vague temporal proximity into a thing.

Only the name baby boomers had an adequate demographic and historical reason to exist. These millions were born (from 1946 to 1964) of the relative affluence that spread after World War II. Their numbers did give them unifying experiences as they grew up -- made their elders build new schools for them, made their working lives more competitive. Now they are confronted by a president who, after promising not to, is cutting their security and health care in devious ways.

But, even undergoing historical events together, age-peers don't build the same memories, share the same beliefs, behave uniformly. During Vietnam, some young men were conscripted into the war while others fought to end it. Stark differences likewise mark the current group of young people (unimaginatively called "post-millennials"). Some of them are woke and ready to take on racism, sexism, homophobia, gun control, global warming. At the same age, neo-Nazis are setting fire to synagogues.

Once cohorts are reified by name, the labels become dog-whistles. Envy and fear can divide a nation and abet destructive political changes. Malice can turn one generation against another.

We could mitigate the divisiveness. Editors could stop soliciting age-war articles by second-rate phrasemakers. We ordinary people need to defy the lies, and build intergenerational bonds. Let us understand that capitalist and neoliberal choices have worsened life, for decades, for every later, unequal subculture. And a comforting, unifying cross-age coalition should eject politicians unwilling to maintain and repair our precious communal institutions.

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , October 13, 2019 at 06:04 AM
The Social Security 2100 Act
https://larson.house.gov/social-security-2100

Social Security isn't in
crisis. It just needs a tune-up
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-08-13/social-security-2100-act-congress
LA Times - Nancy Altman - August 14

This bill could extend Social
Security's solvency for the rest
of this century. Here's what stands
in its way https://cnb.cx/2XRluSu
CNBC - June 1

The Personal and Fiscal
Impact of the Social Security 2100 Act https://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/report/the-personal-and-fiscal-impact-the-social-security-2100-act via @
Heritage Society - June 11

Eight Revealing Numbers
from the Social Security 2100 Act
https://economics21.org/eight-revealing-numbers-social-security-2100-act
Manhattan Institute - July 22

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , October 13, 2019 at 06:17 AM
Rene Lavoie was also born in 1955. The Globe recently recounted the problems that led this white Army vet to spend time in Boston's homeless shelters.

Once on the street,
1,000 vets have found a home
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/05/26/once-street-vets-have-found-home-according-walsh/DteN0irryyLA3Acd3EII6J/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

[Oct 15, 2019] Economist's View The Opportunity Cost of Computer Programming

Oct 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

From Reuters Odd News :

Man gets the poop on outsourcing , By Holly McKenna, May 2, Reuters

Computer programmer Steve Relles has the poop on what to do when your job is outsourced to India. Relles has spent the past year making his living scooping up dog droppings as the "Delmar Dog Butler." "My parents paid for me to get a (degree) in math and now I am a pooper scooper," "I can clean four to five yards in a hour if they are close together." Relles, who lost his computer programming job about three years ago ... has over 100 clients who pay $10 each for a once-a-week cleaning of their yard.

Relles competes for business with another local company called "Scoopy Do." Similar outfits have sprung up across America, including Petbutler.net, which operates in Ohio. Relles says his business is growing by word of mouth and that most of his clients are women who either don't have the time or desire to pick up the droppings. "St. Bernard (dogs) are my favorite customers since they poop in large piles which are easy to find," Relles said. "It sure beats computer programming because it's flexible, and I get to be outside,"

[Oct 08, 2019] Job Growth Remains Slow in September

Oct 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , October 04, 2019 at 09:24 AM

http://cepr.net/data-bytes/jobs-bytes/jobs-2019-10

October 4, 2019

Job Growth Remains Slow in September, but Unemployment Rate Falls to 3.5 Percent
By Dean Baker

Manufacturing employment hit a record low as a share of private sector employment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 136,000 jobs in September, after adding 168,000 in August. The 157,000 average for the last three months is considerably slower than the 179,000 average for the last year, but this slowing is expected in a tight labor market.

The September job growth led to a 0.2 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent, a fifty-year low. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) rose 0.1 percentage point to 61.0 percent, a new high for the recovery that is 0.6 percentage points above the year-ago level.

The EPOPs for both prime-age (ages 25 to 54) men and women rose by 0.1 percentage point in September. The 74.0 percent rate for women is a new high for the recovery, although still below the peak of 74.9 percent hit in April of 2000. The 86.4 percent rate for men is 0.3 percentage points below the March level and 1.6 percentage points below the prerecession peak.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest on record, 0.6 percentage points below the year-ago level. The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree also fell sharply to 4.8 percent, 0.8 percentage points below the year-ago level. The share of unemployment due to voluntary quits, a measure of workers' confidence in their labor market prospects, jumped 1.7 percentage points to 14.6 percent, a level more typical for a strong labor market.

Other data in the household survey were more mixed. While the mean duration of unemployment spells edged down 0.1 weeks to 22.0 weeks, the median duration rose 0.5 weeks to 9.4 weeks. The share of long-term unemployed also rose by 2.1 percentage points to 22.7 percent.

The number of involuntary part-time workers edged down by 31,000. The number of workers choosing to work part-time also fell, dropping by 124,000 in September. The percentage of the workforce choosing to work part-time has been dropping over the last year, after rising sharply following the implementation of the ACA. This likely due to workers having greater difficulty getting health care outside of employment.

Another negative item is an increase in the number of multiple job holders, especially among women. The share of employed women who have multiple jobs rose to 5.9 percent, 0.5 percentage points above the year-ago level. The vast majority of these women report that they work a second job in addition to a full-time job.

The picture on the establishment side is more negative. Slower job growth is to be expected in a tighter labor market, but it has virtually stopped altogether on the goods-producing side. The goods-producing sector has added a total of just 2,000 jobs over the last three months, with construction adding 8,000 jobs, manufacturing adding 4,000, and mining and logging losing 10,000. A big part of this is the fallout from the trade war and the resulting drop in investment. Also, lower world oil prices are a big hit to the mining sector. The manufacturing share of private sector employment sunk to a new all-time low in September of 9.96 percent.

On the service side, job growth in the high-paying professional and technical services sector has slowed sharply in the last two months, added an average of 13,900, compared to an average of 23,900 over the last year. Restaurant employment has also slowed sharply, with the sector adding an average of just 1,500 jobs over the last four months. This should be expected in a tight labor market, where workers have higher-paying options. Retail lost 11,400 jobs in September, bringing its losses over the last year to 60,900, just under 0.4 percent of total employment.

A big job gainer in recent months is health care, which added 38,800 jobs in September after adding 37,200 in August. The sector has accounted for almost a third of job growth in the private sector over the last two months.

In contrast to the evidence of a tight labor market in the household survey, wage growth appears to be slowing slightly. The average hourly wage rose 2.9 percent over the last year, although the annualized rate of wage growth, comparing the last three months (July, August, September) with the prior three months (April, May, June), was a slightly higher 3.4 percent.

[Graph]

This is a generally positive report with some serious warning signs. The goods sector is very weak and likely to get weaker, according to a wide variety of measures of manufacturing. The evidence of slowing wage growth is also striking in a labor market with 3.5 percent unemployment.

[Oct 06, 2019] Devop created huge opportunities for a new generation of snake oil salesman

Highly recommended!
Oct 06, 2019 | www.reddit.com

DragonDrew Jack of All Trades 772 points · 4 days ago

"I am resolute in my ability to elevate this collaborative, forward-thinking team into the revenue powerhouse that I believe it can be. We will transition into a DevOps team specialising in migrating our existing infrastructure entirely to code and go completely serverless!" - CFO that outsources IT level 2 OpenScore Sysadmin 527 points · 4 days ago

"We will utilize Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, Cloud technologies, python, data science and blockchain to achieve business value"

[Sep 29, 2019] Deng famously declared it's all right if some advance before others

Sep 29, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> Plp... , September 28, 2019 at 09:18 AM

Branko loves his
Metric inequality

But it has limits

And internal system inequality
is very different
From inter system inequality

Deng famously declared it's all right if some advance before others
Internally

He understood development involved greater internal inequality at not just one initial stage
But at various stages ie domestic inequality
Is not constantly subject to improving Gini
On the path to the technical frontier ...


[ This is a very important comment. ]

[Sep 26, 2019] The Two-Income Trap Why Middle-Class Parents Are (Still) Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren, Amelia Warren Tyagi

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, greed -- once best known for its place on the list of Seven Deadly Sins -- became a point of pride for Wall Street's Masters of the Universe. With a sophisticated smile, the rallying cry of the rich and fashionable became "1 got mine -- the rest of you are on your own." ..."
Sep 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

And yet America's policies were headed in the wrong direction. The big banks kept lobbying Congress to pass a bill that would gut families' last refuge in the bankruptcy courts -- the same bill we describe in this book. (It went by the awful name Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, but it should have been called the Gut the Safety Net and Pay OIT the Big Banks Act.). The proposed law would carefully preserve bankruptcy protections for the likes of Donald Trump and his friends, while ordinary families that had been crushed by debts from medical problems or job losses were thrown under the bus.

When we wrote The Two-Income Trap, it was already pretty clear that the big banks would win this battle. The fight kept going for two more years, but the tide of blame-the-unlucky combined with relentless lobbying and campaign contributions finally overwhelmed Congress.

In 2005, the Wall Street banking industry got the changes they wanted, and struggling families lost out. After the law was rewritten, about 800,000 families a year that once would have turned to bankruptcy to try to get back on their feet were shut out of the system.1

That was 800,000 families -- mostly people who had lost jobs, suffered a medical catastrophe, or gone through a divorce or death in the family. And now, instead of reorganizing their finances and building some security, they were at the mercy of debt collectors who called twenty or thirty times a day -- and could keep on calling and calling for as long as they thought they could squeeze another nickel from a desperate family.

As it turned out, the new law tore a big hole in the last safety net for working families, just in time for the Great Recession. Meanwhile, the bank regulators kept playing blind and deaf while the housing bubble inflated. Once it burst, the economy collapsed. The foreclosure problem we flagged back in 2003 rolled into a global economic meltdown by 2008, as millions of people lost their homes, and millions more lost their jobs, their savings, and their chance at a secure retirement. Overall, the total cost of the crash was estimated as high as S14 trillion.2

Meanwhile, America's giant banks got bailed out, CEO pay shot up, the stock market roared back, and the investor class got rich beyond even their own fevered dreams.3

A generation ago, a fortune-teller might have predicted a very different future. With so many mothers headed into the workforce, Americans might have demanded a much heavier investment in public day care, extended school days, and better family leave policies. Equal pay for equal work might have become sacrosanct. As wages stagnated, there might have been more urgency for raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, and expanding Social Security. And our commitment to affordable college and universal preschool might have become unshakeable.

But the political landscape was changing even faster than the new economic realities. Government was quickly becoming an object of ridicule, even to the president of the United States. Instead of staking his prestige on making government more accountable and efficient, Ronald Reagan repeated his famous barb "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are Tin from the government and I'm here to help."'8 After generations of faithfulness to the promise of the Constitution to promote general welfare, at the moment when the economic foundations of the middle class began to tremble, our efforts to strengthen each other and offer a helping hand had become the butt of a national joke.

Those who continued to believe in what we could do together faced another harsh reality: much of government had been hijacked by the rich and powerful. Regulators who were supposed to watch out for the public interest shifted their loyalties, smiling benignly as giant banks jacked up short-term profits by cheating families, looking the other way as giant power companies scam mod customers, and partying with industry executives as oil companies cut comers on safety and environmental rules. In this book we told one of those stories, about how a spineless Congress rewrote the bankruptcy laws to enrich a handful of credit card companies.

Meanwhile, greed -- once best known for its place on the list of Seven Deadly Sins -- became a point of pride for Wall Street's Masters of the Universe. With a sophisticated smile, the rallying cry of the rich and fashionable became "1 got mine -- the rest of you are on your own."

These shifts played nicely into each other. Every' attack on "big government" meant families lost an ally, and the rules tilted more and These shifts played nicely into each other. Every attack on "big government" meant families lost an ally, and the rules tilted more and more in favor of those who could hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. Lower taxes for the wealthy -- and more money in the pockets of those who subscribed to the greed-is-good mantra. And if the consequence meant less money for preschools or public colleges or disability coverage -- the things that would create more security for an overstretched middle class -- then that was just too bad.

Little by little, as the middle class got deeper and deeper in trouble, government stopped working for the middle class, or at least it stopped working so hard. The rich paid a little less and kept a little more. Even if they didn't say it in so many words, they got exactly what they wanted. Remember the 90 percent -- America's middle class, working class, and poor -- the ones who got 70 percent of all income growth from 1935 through 1980?

From 1980-2014, the 90 percent got nothing.9 None. Zero. Zip. Not a penny in income growth. Instead, for an entire generation, the top 10 percent captured all of the income growth in the entire country. l(X) percent.

It didn't have to be this way. The Two-Income Trap is about families that w'ork hard, but some things go wrong along the way -- illnesses and job losses, and maybe some bad decisions. But this isn't what has put the middle class on the ropes. After all, people have gotten sick and lost jobs and made less-than-perfect decisions for generations -- and vet, for generations America's middle class expanded. creating more opportunity to build real economic security and pass on a brighter future to their children.

What would it take to help strengthen the middle class? The problems facing the middle-class family are complex and far-reaching, and the solutions must be too. We wish there could be a simple silver bullet, but after a generation of relentless assault, there just isn't. But there is one overriding idea. Together we can. It's time to say it out loud: a generation of I-got-mine policy-making has failed -- failed miserably, completely, and overwhelmingly. And it's time to change direction before the entire middle class has been replaced by hundreds of millions of Americans barely hanging on by their fingernails.

Americas middle class was built through investments in education, infrastructure, and research -- and by' making sure we all have a safety net. We need to strengthen those building blocks: Step up investments in public education. Rein in the cost of college and cut out- standing student loans. Create universal preschool and affordable child care. Upgrade infrastructure -- mass transit, energy, communications -- to make it more attractive to build good, middle-class jobs here in America. Recognize that the modem economy can be perilous, and a strong safety net is needed now more than ever. Strengthen disability coverage, retirement coverage, and paid sick leave. And for heavens sake, get rid of the awful banker-backed bankruptcy law, so that when things go wrong, families at least have a chance at a fresh start. We welcome the re-issue of The Two-Income Trap because we see the original book as capturing a critical moment, those last few minutes in which the explanation of why so many hardworking, plav-by- tho-mlcs people were in so much trouble was simple: It was their own fault. If only they would just pull up their socks, cinch their belts a little tighter, and stop buying so much stuff, they -- and our country -- would be just fine. That myth has died. And we say', good riddance.

[Sep 25, 2019] Michael Hudson Asset-Price Inflation and Rent Seeking

Notable quotes:
"... The main culprit for the economy's falling growth rate and the general middle-class economic squeeze is debt - or more specifically, the burden of having to pay it back, with penalties, fees and lower credit ratings. The mainstream press depicts the rising market price of homes as a benefit to homeowners, a capital gam as if they almost were real estate speculators or capitalists in miniature, not wage-eamers running up debt. GDP statisticians include the rise hi valuation of owner-occupied real estate and the rising rents it saves homeowners from having to pay as adding to GDP. ..."
"... "What has occurred is an inversion of values about the proper aim of economies. Today, it is to get rich by means of a financialized rentier economy. From the point of view of rentiers and other investors, the production-and-consumption economy is the overhead. The costs of labor and capital are to be minimized by squeezing out more economic rent. By contrast, our approach treats the production-and-consumption sector as primary, and the FIRE sector and other rent extracting sectors as overhead." ..."
"... "Each debt is a credit on the other side of the balance sheet, because behind each borrower is a lender." ..."
Sep 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Those who praise the post-2008 economy as a successful recovery point to the fact that the stock market has soar ed to all-time highs, while the unemployment rate has fallen to a decade-low. But is the stock market a good proxy for how the overall economy is doing? The low reported unemployment rate sidesteps the predominance of minimum-wage jobs. part-time "gig'' work, and the fact that the Federal Reserve's Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 201S reports that 39% of Americans do not have $400 cash available for a medical or other emergency, and that a quarter of adults skipped medical care hi 2018 because they could not afford it. 1 The latest estimates by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that nearly half (48 percent) of households headed by someone 55 and older lack any retirement savings or pension benefits.2 Even in what the press calls an economic boom, most Americans feel stressed and many are chronically angry and worried. According to a 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association, financial worry is the "number one cause of stress in America today."3 The Fed describes them as suffering from '•financial fragility." What is fragile is their economic status and self-worth, teetering 011 the brink of downward mobility. Living hi today's fmancialized economy creates stresses that seem more damaging emotionally than living hi a poor country. America certainly is not a poor counfry, but it has become so debt-ridden, and its wealth and income growth so highly concentrated, that much of its population is emotionally worse off than that of almost any other country hi the world.

The U.S. economy's soaring wealth and income finds its counterpart on the liabilities side of the balance sheet. Rising stock prices have been fueled by corporate stock buyback programs and debt leveraging, not earnings from new tangible investment and employment. And rising real estate prices reflect the decline hi interest rates, enabling a given rental flow to be capitalized hito higher bank loans and market prices. Additionally, the wave of foreclosures 011 junk mortgages and debt- strapped new home buyers has reduced home ownership rates, forcing more of the population into a rental market, whose rising charges for housing have supported general real estate prices. Thus, these capital gains do not reflect a thriving economy, but a higher-cost one that is polarizing between creditors and debtors, property owners and renters, and the financial sector vis-a-vis the rest of the economy.

The main culprit for the economy's falling growth rate and the general middle-class economic squeeze is debt - or more specifically, the burden of having to pay it back, with penalties, fees and lower credit ratings. The mainstream press depicts the rising market price of homes as a benefit to homeowners, a capital gam as if they almost were real estate speculators or capitalists in miniature, not wage-eamers running up debt. GDP statisticians include the rise hi valuation of owner-occupied real estate and the rising rents it saves homeowners from having to pay as adding to GDP. But

2 William E. Gibson, "Nearly Half of Americans 55+ Have No Retirement Savings or Pension Benefits," AARP, March 28, 2019. https://www.aarp.org/retirement/retirement-savings/info-2019/no-retirement-money-saved.html

3 Source: American Psychological Association (2015). "American Psychological Association survey shows money stress weighing on Americans' Health Nationwide," February 4, 2015. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/02/monev-stiess.aspx.

Steve H. , September 25, 2019 at 8:17 am

"What has occurred is an inversion of values about the proper aim of economies. Today, it is to get rich by means of a financialized rentier economy. From the point of view of rentiers and other investors, the production-and-consumption economy is the overhead. The costs of labor and capital are to be minimized by squeezing out more economic rent. By contrast, our approach treats the production-and-consumption sector as primary, and the FIRE sector and other rent extracting sectors as overhead."

"Each debt is a credit on the other side of the balance sheet, because behind each borrower is a lender."

[Sep 25, 2019] The share of U.S. households making at least $100,000 has more than tripled since 1967, when just 9 percent of all U.S. households earned that much (all figures are adjusted for inflation).

Sep 25, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Paine , September 22, 2019 at 09:07 AM

"According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau,

The share of U.S. households making at least $100,000 has more than tripled since 1967, when just 9 percent of all U.S. households earned that much (all figures are adjusted for inflation).

In 2018, the share of households earning less than $50,000 (i.e., the lower class) dropped below 40 percent for the first time since the U.S. Census data on this metric started to be collected in 1967. Back then, 54 percent of households earned less than $50,000.

So the next time you hear someone allege that the economy is leaving an increasing share of American households behind or see a pundit bemoan the "shrinking middle class," take a closer look at the data and keep in mind that a "shrinking middle class" may actually be a sign of growing prosperity."

This is Cato crap. What are the real facts?

Plp -> Paine... , September 24, 2019 at 08:49 AM
No respondents

Well

First off the measure should be compensation per job hour, not per household

Households may increase income simply by selling more hours

[Sep 24, 2019] Education in the past and in neoliberal era

Sep 24, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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The Failure of Higher Education: A Tale of Two Diplomas Posted on September 24, 2019 by Yves Smith By David Barber, a Professor of History at the University of Tennessee at Martin and is the author of A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why it Failed

I am struck by the variety of ways in which the actual spiritual state of Americans is denied by people who have every reason to know what that state is: our educators, artists, and politicians. It is hard for me to believe, for example, that educators do not know the sorry truth behind the lack of real education here. It seems very clear to me that until the educators themselves believe in what they teach, there is no hope for their students. But the educators cannot accept this, because in order to do so they would have to overhaul every aspect of their private lives, which effort would hurl them forever beyond the bounds of the academic life.

James Baldwin, 1961

The catastrophe which is education in this country is not new. For the majority of students in the United States, black students in particular, education has never meant anything more than a training to stay in one's place. Over the past several decades, however, with the American Empire in an accelerating free-fall, American education, ever the handmaiden of society's rich and powerful, has in tandem spiraled downward: our schools endlessly drill our children with boring and meaningless "worksheets"; we subsidize and celebrate the digital economy by "teaching" children with computers and computer programs; we script our teachers to guarantee a minimum of human interaction in the classroom; we strip our schools of art and music, making sure that our students never see beauty or truth in the world; and, of course, we drill our students for weeks and months on end with testing, and more testing, and still more testing, lest our students find any joy whatsoever in learning. In short, our schools dull the intelligence and curiosity of our young people such that they will never question the meaningless and unpleasant lives they will be forced to lead in a society that is everywhere falling apart around them.

In higher education, too, we see this dramatic narrowing of the already slim chances that any of our students will achieve a real education. Our state legislatures, in the most telling example, cut state support for higher education requiring that university administrations jack up tuition, tuition that rises far more rapidly than does inflation. Higher tuition yields both higher student debt and more students working twenty, thirty, or forty hours a week in paying jobs while they attend school. Our indebted students then must hew as closely as they possibly can to career paths which enable them to minimize and pay back their debts; and the long hours of minimum wage work taken on by our students all but guarantee that they cannot be serious students, cannot devote the hours they need to study and reflection, cannot, in short, do the work most necessary for them to become educated, mature, human beings. But then educated, mature human beings do not fit well into our global economy.

In the face of this disaster, our university faculty refuse to take any stand against the strangling of education in this country. We mouth words in our classrooms about truth, and the search for truth, and the value and necessity of honesty and ethics, and democracy, and responsible citizenship. Privately, we condemn the various assessment schemes we're compelled to carry out; privately, we denounce the rapid multiplication of educationally meaningless administrative and compliance positions on our campuses. And privately, we bemoan the ignorance of our students, their lack of curiosity and their lack of academic preparation. But when it comes to denouncing all the various assaults upon education occurring across the entire spectrum of our educational landscape, when we are compelled to speak to the reasons why our students enter our universities uneducated, and still more seriously, why they leave our universities uneducated, we lose our voice. As more than one of my colleagues has said to me in explanation of his silence: "I don't want to stick my neck out."


ambrit , September 24, 2019 at 7:22 am

As one who never finished the 'official' "education" process, I can look back and see that I was reacting to an almost subconscious realization that I was 'there' for the wrong reasons, according to the received wisdom of that, and every other, time. This disconnect between the 'ideal' of education and the 'reality' of the "Paper Chase," is perennial.

Historically speaking, a 'proper' higher education serves the purpose of producing a 'well rounded' person. Traditionally, that process was reserved for those with a high amount of disposable income; the children of the wealthy. The "lower orders" beavered on in technical colleges and apprenticeships. The odd 'special' case was made in the 'proper' universities for the exceptionally bright and the token 'charity' student. Call it an institutional case of virtue signalling.

Today, those two disparite streams of education have been melded into one almost monolithic bloc. The original utilitarian view of education, previously reserved for the 'technical' fields has invaded and corrupted the "higher" educational sphere. Now, everything has a "price." Presumably, that formulation also applies to the students enmeshed in the new, magisterial 'education' instrumentality. Roughly speaking, the 'students' are now the 'product' of the universities, not the education.

Finally, all this might be a socially 'agreed upon' process to short circuit the production of intellectually and emotionally 'well balanced' individuals. There is nothing more fear producing in any ruling elite than the prospect of an 'aware' public.

John Mc , September 24, 2019 at 8:45 am

As a consumer, and producer of higher education curricula over 20 years in academia, this article is spot on in how it describes the bezzle. And the area of specialization for me (family finance – human ecology) is the prototypical example of the Neoliberal university coaxing students into believing that incremental change, small bits of knowledge/courses will change their lives for our students for the better -- while large institutions continue to cheat, obscure malfeasance, and promote the administrative culture. Its sickening on so many levels.

It is sickening to experience (teaching and learning). And if we remembered more than we forget, it would take about 20 seconds to remember how the market has changed higher education in terms content (what is studied), how we study (crammage), and why we study. Lastly, if we imagine the exact same degree type for two different eras we can see the main focus very clear:

1. Tuition at Cal Berkley in 1970? Around 1K 2019 – more like 1K per credit hour.
2. Paying for your future assumes that we have a future (climate change, job market opportunities)
3. Debt peonage and rentier education squatting requires the right mix of desperation and time

When I think about the time/money/energy that is wasted in this country (not just in universities – anyone just has to spend 1 minute with someone who participates in fantasy football or sports gaming to see how out of wack we are as a culture and as a people.

The hollowed out spaces in universities are now more about pretending to be competent, maintaining the status quo -- each unit within departments competing against one another for resources and students rather than we are all in this together (for the student).

If education can be seen in the lens of abuse, we have the profiteers abusers, and the admin enables with chaos for everyone else.

Crazy

As Regina Spektor says: Living in Den of Thieves – its contagious

Loneprotester , September 24, 2019 at 8:54 am

What Barber is saying: Teaching is hard, and my students aren't very bright (look in a mirror, sir, neither are you). Revolutions are fun. Let's do that instead.

DJG , September 24, 2019 at 9:02 am

Yes, most people are educated, especially these days, to be conformist, to adopt the current economic fantasies, and to be highly verbal.

But Barber does himself no favors: What can he possibly mean by the American Church? I am detecting someone who has spent too much time in the U.S. South (Tennessee) where the "church" is those nice Methodists down the street. Along with some required singing of Amazing Grace. So what he may think of as an insightful critique of Americans' flexible morals doesn't get to the center of the problem. The American "church" is utilitarianism. Whatever one can get away with one gets away with. Actions have no consequences among the perfected.

And the mention of the Greeks by Barber and Deneen is gratuitous. Neither of them has much use for the Greeks and Greek philosophy. Each of them likely considers Greek philosophy mainly to be the support that makes the American Church intellectually legitimate.

I understand the moral problem of anyone trying to get an education in the U S of A these days. My alma mater is one of the main cheerleaders for fundamentialist free-market fantasy. (Alma mater: What an idea.) Yet the diploma is only a start: Education has to go throughout one's life, and sentimental education (is that even a "thing" here in the U S of A?) has to go on everyday for the rest of one's post-diploma life.

Anon , September 24, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Actually, the diploma is the end of the beginning. The start is "the first five" years of life (talk, read, sing) which is likely to expose the growing brain to stimuli that allows for future "discovery". The beginning of formal education (K-12), unfortunately for many, starts with poverty (25% of all school children) and impoverished school resources (including underpaid, over-worked teachers) that conspire toward an assembly-line methodology (testing, and more testing). Those who make it to college (honestly) are well-versed in manufacturing "acceptable" papers on topics not understood. But then the college curricula (more demanding than H.S.) and the concept of "critical thinking" (ignoring the social implications of 18-20 y.o.'s on their own) makes the idea of "learning how to learn" a difficult grasp. Some get it, some don't.

It is after getting the college diploma, and maybe of few years of travel (for pleasure or a job) that a much broader, mature perspective of the world (Plato) emerges. (Hopefully those Classics, or an introduction to NC, comes across your path.) It is then the real learning starts.

John Hacker , September 24, 2019 at 9:07 am

Thanks Yves. Education has been a tender spot for me. All i have are complaints. Please point me in the direction of some solutions.

funemployed , September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am

I agree wholeheartedly with your diagnosis (not to mention greatly appreciate your lovely prose), however, I think your theory of change as stated here – "force the issue and meaning of education before American society" – misses the mark.

I have spent the better part of 2 decades studying, first history, then education, with the goal of becoming an educator (accumulating no small amount of debt in the process). So long as I stuck to diagnosing the problem as you did here, and keeping my calls to arms strictly in the rhetorical realm, I was welcomed as an "ally" and fellow traveler by a not insignificant portion of my colleagues.

Unfortunately for my career (not to mention mental health), I wasn't satisfied with that, and began to delve and a very focused and specific way into the actual structure of educational systems, and looking for levers to gain the power necessary to change them (or, more specifically, to shift power from those who hold it to those who do not). That was when I learned just how thin of a gruel "allyship" really is in academia.

I think you are assuming educators have real power. They do not. Power, real power, comes from control over the material necessities and niceties of life. The primary social function of our educational institutions, from pre-k through endowed chairmanship is to sort people into an unequal society. If the "real issue and meaning of education" (i.e. creating the conditions and connections necessary for truly democratic life) were to take hold in such an institution, it would either destroy the institution or turn it into something else entirely.

I agree "an educated people" is indeed our only hope, because to me an educated people is synonymous with a democratic people. Indeed, I think education is the inevitable result of people getting together to solve problems nonviolently with a coequal distribution of power. Where it has truly taken root (e.g. Freedom schools in the 60s, the meetings organized by populist party at the turn of the 19th/20th century), it has had a material function and base that is diametrically opposed to the way virtually all today's "educators" earn their daily bread.

IMO, the way people become true "educators" – those who "force the issue and meaning of education before American society" – is by serving the educational function in a democratic movement. They are people who are delegated authority democratically (i.e. without coercion) by those they serve because they, in essence, are effective hubs for the uninhibited flow of social information. In other words, they are authentically democratic leaders, whose power is entirely dependent on maintaining trust because trust is fundamental to the uninhibited flow of social information, and the temptation to violate social trust is, well, why human societies have more drama than ant colonies.

You are a professor, and no doubt do a great deal of good for a great many students (I did a brief stint of that as well, and in no way am trying to undermine how valuable and rewarding it can be), but you will never be, in that role, an "educator" in the truly democratic sense because every one of your students knows you could, if you wanted, completely screw them over and there's not a family blogging thing they could do about it.

You can, however, be a real educator (i.e. democratic leader) in your spare time, and are in a unique and special institutional position to prepare future (and support present) real democratic educator/leaders to manage one hell of a clusterfamilyblog of a global civilizational collapse that is coming whether we want it to or not. I hope you will do so with a hard-nosed evaluation of the relationship between power, information flows, democracy, and the material world, as I fear anything less will be far from adequate.

John Mc , September 24, 2019 at 10:00 am

These comments appear to me to be the epitome of neoliberal doctrine:

1. People have everything they need to excel
2. Its never been easier to study as information has been democratized
3. Invocation of Maslow, ambient culture (interesting view of life-stage development for young adults too
4. Individualistic lens – "addressing the big issues of your time"

Maybe I read this wrong, or it started with "NC folk" – but there is no mention of:

Debt peonage
Administrative culture
Global Labor Markets
Real Costs for Students – Tuition Inflation (higher than healthcare costs over last 30 years)
– Parking predation
– Textbook Bezzles
– Adjunct – itus
– Pay to Play Tenure
– Darwinian death struggle among college units in departments (Survival = Resources)
– Forgetting – a major theme (making meaning of one's education) – moving onto CV building
Social Costs of Expensive Higher Education (delay family formation)
Long term wealth implications for this generation's graduates

Education is not a solitary event, with isolated moments of brainstorming and individualistic memes of hardwork. It is a system with millions of parts -- and these parts have been bent to serve our neoliberal masters in about every domain imaginable.

And in my experience, (as Yves says) this is not a bug in the system -- it was a feature of a system reboot designed especially for these outcomes

Tom Pfotzer , September 24, 2019 at 10:38 am

Last year I went to the local library book sale, and bought a stack of college textbooks – chemistry, physics, elec engineering, calc, etc. The stack was 3′ tall, and it cost me $26.

A few months ago, I downloaded the latest Linux & Java development workbench onto the computer I built from components sourced from Ebay/Amazon. Full, up-to-date, latest edition of Java development workbench on killer hardware $650, including 21″ monitor. Software and how-to materials all free. I have done this several times during my career, and it's never been easier or cheaper to do.

To glean those textbooks, all I have to do is read, do the probs at the back of the chapter. To build salable skills, all I have to do is think up a problem to solve, and write the software to solve it. Effort. Those two things – ID useful problem, and the marshalling of components to solve it – gives me demonstrable evidence of competency, and I can parlay that into a good job.

When I look a the amount of time expended on smart phones, Facebook, etc. I become less sympathetic about people's plight – in general. One counter-example: the 450-year systematic repression of blacks is one issue that merits societal redress.

And whether this cultural malady of victimhood is by design (by the "elites", for ex), or by circumstance, it is not mandatory . No one is making people watch TV. There are choices, and some are making different, better choices, and benefiting from it.

Visit http://www.coursera.org . Tell my why I would go into debt to get what I need when it's available (from many of the elite schools and professors) for free.

So, if taking initiative to address my own needs is what you call NeoLiberal, then I'm all for neoliberalism. I get confused about all the political classifications afoot these days, so I'm not real sure what bin I fit into, exactly.

Lastly, I doubt anyone could name 100 parts (types, not instances) of their educational experience, let alone millions. It's not nearly as complex as all that.

Ankara Fuller , September 24, 2019 at 11:21 am

While there a many areas where the web and libraries do indeed offer the curious and disciplined an opportunity to better themselves with book knowlege of software. Much of what we hope to understand about our world – fundamental research, and many speciality areas of knowlege require a 'craft' or hands on component that no amount of book reading can replace. Skill crafts of cabinetmakers, tailors, chefs and and product designers, or in my field of biology. Lab 'bench craft' is fundamental to learning: microbiology, molecular biology and much of fundamental physics requires labs. I understand from engineering friends that trial test rigs during university are also fundamental to locking in skills. Many areas of STEM require significant funds to back the student, because the study work loads make academic excellence really challenging, and part time jobs nearly impossible. I know, I worked 20 hours in a lab on weekends during much of my undergraduate. At graduate school the extra hours 'spare' ideally are spent working on one's bench craft as free slave labour to the senior ranking (i.e. higher skilled, greater knowledgeable senior scientists). In biology labs, there is almost a medieval apprentice, journeyman, master craftsman route of skill acquisition. There is as much an art to casting an agarose gel as there is in knowing the tweak of the 'recipe' for the molecular attributes desired. It is with great relief that I am not part of the US system, but sitting in a well funded more democratic (free) educational system in Europe. Our world needs to radically think how to put much ore cash into STEM and fundamental research. Incentivise school students (everywhere on planet) to commit the insane hours needed for genetics, molecular biology and all the other emerging areas of life sciences. It requires countries to overhaul education to allow curious minds regardless of family finances. I agree with many NC readers that wide systematic overhaul is needed to untangle many of these difficult and decaying situations (not just US).

divadab , September 24, 2019 at 11:36 am

Yes. It is still possible to get an education if you are self-motivated and self-disciplined. Either inside or outside the academy – and which academy is secondary. But in my view education requires teachers – this is missing from your model and a very important part of the Academy.

However, Credentialling is only available if you pay the price of attaching yourself to the academy. DOn;t worry – credentials are becoming less and less important as changing times and institutional decay make truly educated and adaptable people more and more important and the obedient credentialled irrelevent and useless.

jrs , September 24, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Only how many hundreds of job ads on Indeed use "do you have a bachelors degree" as a screening question? And straight into the circular disposal unit your digital submission goes if you don't.

Ah well pesky reality of the job market and all, sure does reduce philosophizing about "the pointlessness of credentials and formal education" down to size. And no my position is not that noone can succeed without credentials, just that it's obviously harder.

inode_buddha , September 24, 2019 at 11:40 am

I've never had an employer, in the last 35 years, who would give you any credibility for stuff you learnt on your own.

If it isn't on your school transcripts or a diploma, you don't get to negotiate with it. If you have great knowledge, acquired on your own, and use it on the job, you will get no mention of it, no credit, nada. They will keep taking until they are made to stop, and nary so much as a "thank you".

But that's just my experience of 35 years on the job.

jrs , September 24, 2019 at 2:45 pm

"I've never had an employer, in the last 35 years, who would give you any credibility for stuff you learnt on your own."

+1 and most WILL NOT give any credibility for class you take either, under no circumstances.

There are two things employers give weight to:
1) on the job experience
2) credentialing, not taking a class in this or that but having a bachelors or a masters. And this #2 is only as a screening device, #1 is still paramount, #2 can be used to screen out but seldom is it by itself an "in". Now there are unique circumstances, if you are still in your 20s, some will let you start out with just a degree as "you have to start somewhere", but after that age, no you need #1 and best to have #2 as well.

Jesper , September 24, 2019 at 3:15 pm

+1 on this as well. My experience is that either you have the knowledge certified by diploma or you are considered to know nothing about the subject & that is even more true when dealing with people with neither diploma nor knowledge of/in the subject matter. They use what little they know and what they know is to look at a diploma.
Ignoring opinions/knowledge from non-certified people is something actively taught at universities and especially at business schools – if things go wrong then the defense can be: He/she was the expert and had the diploma to show for it. People in positions of responsibility are experts at avoiding responsibility, credentials help to deflect blame/responsibility so it is often used.

IT has been slightly different, in the older days, but now it is settling in and even IT recruiters no longer need to take chances on the uncredentialled.

AndrewJ , September 24, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Plinking away on a keyboard may feel like you're doing "real work", but there's a lot more that's necessary to keep any kind of civilization going than developing a new Java app. Training yourself to do any of these myriad other tasks takes more capital, financial and otherwise, than the $700 you've laid out above. Not to mention that staring at a computer screen is profoundly unhealthy and not suitable work for us jumped-up monkeys.
But that's where we are now, aren't we? The only work that Americans think of as "good real work" these days is on a family-blogging computer, and everything else that keeps things going has had the living wage taken away from it and the training ignored.

jrs , September 24, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Everything is a waste of time if it's not improving one's usefulness to the economic system I guess you would argue. And whether it's spending time on facebook and smart phones, or taking care of old people, or raising kids, or engaging in political activism, or increasing one's understanding of the world, or volunteering, or hanging out with friends which Americans increasingly don't even have, or etc.. Because you know it's not just Facebook people spend time on.

This is the philosophy of a tool. Your soul was bought on the cheap and you don't even have the inner spirit to miss it.

Tom Pfotzer , September 24, 2019 at 10:14 am

As I re-read my piece a key question descended upon me. Since Maslow's hierarchy is a guide, or a possibility, it's not a given that someone ever will "self-actualize", or will do so in some socially- or ecologically-useful manner. So what happened to make you "self-acualize" in a direction that might include an NC and the values it espouses?

A parent? A book? A Ken Burns documentary? Did you decide one day to sail outside the safe harbors of conformity, and got swept – with malice afore-thought, and cocktail in hand – into the currents of worldliness?

This is a key question for you democratic educators, ref. funemployed above: "Where's the launch button?"

xkeyscored , September 24, 2019 at 11:56 am

When I first encountered Maslow, I was puzzled, thinking I was missing something profound. Now I'm simply amazed that he can be celebrated as an intellectual with penetrating insight for stating the obvious.
"Food, clothes and shelter
All the poor man asking for"
Misty in Roots

KiWeTO , September 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm

None of the answers I have received when younger, about how society was organized made any sense in justice or fairness. Thus, the quest for better answers began. If that is an awakening, then perhaps it is genetic. Some just seek to know more. Or perhaps more have had that curiosity defeated by society's need for conformity earlier. The quest for knowledge often is the lonelier path, for conforming to thr tribe brings fellowship and norms to follow. There is safety in the middle of the pack.

Now, having observed a better understanding of the intrinsic unfairness of societal arrangements and structures, the question turns to what nudges to the body may be possible to limit the damage we bring upon ourselves as a species to strive for better returns (profits? Benefits?) without the understanding of what "better" or "returns" means.

Smokers know smoking is bad, but the nicotine calls are here and now answered.
Feed scrollers know it doesn't improve their lives, but the hope for just a bit of pleasure keeps the finger scrolling.

As to the digital opiate of the masses, is it because they have been conditioned/addicted to lose their own agency to said opiate? Perhaps the very discussions here in NC is but a different flavour of the same digital opiate. Or to paraphrase Mulder, "The answer IS out there", and we just have to discover it.

Ted , September 24, 2019 at 10:15 am

The more things change Check out Thorstein Veblen, The Higher Learning in America (1918) or John Dewey The Public and its Problems and other works. Formal education, divorced as it is from the practices of everyday life, presents these sorts of problems as a feature, not a bug. That said, it has been my experience over the past 35 years that education can be and is world opening for many young students. I have also found that the problem often rests with the educator as much as it does the system of education. Well recognized philosophies of education underlay a fundamental split teaching practice, (e.g., transmission of "facts" versus enlivenment of knowing). Those that don't take the time to learn how to teach end up frustrated that the "system" is failing. That a tenured full professor is lamenting thus, just as Veblen did a century ago, is suggestive.

flora , September 24, 2019 at 10:31 am

The prof can complain about students, but I think the students know what's going on better than does the prof. The problems are much higher up the ladder than lowly students readiness for college humanities courses. I expect the students are learning a great deal that's not in the official curriculum. See:

https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/ut-buyouts-over-past-10-years-top-24-million/51-548254549

and

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/02/congressman-duncan-disgusted-university-tennessee-buyouts/995413001/

Rod , September 24, 2019 at 11:04 am

tools for an economic system that prizes 'flexibility' (geographic, interpersonal, ethical
Learning tools to develope flexible ethics kind of creeps me out.
Yup, training up thinkers is tough, I agree.
I think this is corollary to the above article–and if you've been in the classroom any year for the past forty this should ring sickeningly familiar:

https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/08/22/whats-wrong-how-schools-teach-reading

Susan the other` , September 24, 2019 at 11:56 am

I loved the book about Summerhill – the alternative education option in the UK (back in the 70s). Everyone was aghast because they thought it was remiss not to educate children rigidly. It never got traction here in the US. But last night there was a segment on alternative education in the UK, allowing children to go at their own pace, find their own interest and above all learn that they didn't need an intermediary (teacher basically) to learn – they could be successful autodidacts. It sounds like it is taking off in England. How nice. Summerhill is still alive and kicking – it advertises itself as a student democracy. Choose what you want to study. I certainly still like the idea because I had my nose in a book from about the age of 7. I always read what interested me and it has been a true pleasure. That's gotta be worth somthin.

Arizona Slim , September 24, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Permit me to add three more books to your recommendation:

1. The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn. I don't think this one's in print anymore.

2. The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto. Still in print. Here's the author's website: https://www.johntaylorgatto.com/

3. The Day I Became an Audidact by Kendall Hailey. As far as I can tell, no longer in print.

Enjoy your self-education outside the system, everyone!

xkeyscored , September 24, 2019 at 12:17 pm

From the OED:
educate, v. [f. L. ēducāt- ppl. stem of ēducāre to rear, bring up (children, young animals), related to ēdūcĕre to lead forth (see educe), which is sometimes used nearly in the same sense.] 1 To rear, bring up (children, animals) by supply of food and attention to physical wants. Obs. 2 To bring up (young persons) from childhood, so as to form (their) habits, manners, intellectual and physical aptitudes. b To instruct, provide schooling for (young persons). 3 To train (any person) so as to develop the intellectual and moral powers generally. 4 To train, discipline (a person, a class of persons, a particular mental or physical faculty or organ), so as to develop some special aptitude, taste, or disposition. b To train (animals).
It would seem that Prof. Barber bemoans the demise of meaning 3, if that ever was the purpose or function of our educational system.
Meanings 2 and 4 are alive and well. A special aptitude for narrow-minded submission is successfully cultivated, the more so as the academic ladder is scrambled up.

chuck roast , September 24, 2019 at 12:51 pm

But it's in Deneen's characterization of our students as "individuals without a past cultureless ciphers".
I get that.
Americans have no use for History (with a capital H). American History is trail of carnage and savagery on the scale of Attila and Hitler. Any discussion of History is replete with irony, exceptions and contradictions. Things that Americans do not do well, and things that you do not want rattling around in the heads of right-thinking citizens. Critical thinking could be the catastrophic result.
OK then! Well enculturated Americans know that we have an exceptional past and we are an exceptional people. But, History meh!
What we do have is a future. That's what America is all about. The wonderful, wonderful future with it's myriad fabulous possibilities. Really, you could wet your pants just thinking about it!

Walter Antoniotti , September 24, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Essay applies to the academically superior. One quarter the HS graduates. hat do you propose to do for the rest?

Paul Jurczak , September 24, 2019 at 2:41 pm

This is not a bug, it is a feature of modern Education-Industrial Complex. As per design, its product is indebted cubicle fodder.

Mike Gualario , September 24, 2019 at 3:58 pm

By 8th grade students are well versed in basic math and language arts. At that point the student and family should have a choice between a college bound liberal arts education or a technical education where they have a choice of several knowledge disciplines to choose to study during High school. That way kids who leave high school and are not college bound at least have one skill they can take anyplace in the USA and get a job.. Auto Mechanic, Diesel Mechanic, Marine Mechanic, Chef, Software Development, Website Development, Cosmetology, Adobe Creative Suite (video and photo editing), etc. Not all of those careers would be offered at every high school. But at least 2 or 3 at a minimum and more choices the better. After 12 years of state schooling students should have a skill or a plan to attend college to acquire that skill.

[Sep 22, 2019] Is the Unemployment Rate Tied to the Divorce Rate

Yes it is, but only for couples with low level of marital satisfaction.
Notable quotes:
"... They also looked at marital breakup more generally, focusing on when couples decided to end their relationships (not necessarily if or when they got divorced). Their findings revealed that when men were unemployed, the likelihood that either spouse would leave the marriage increased. What about the woman's employment status? For husbands, whether their wife was employed or not was seemingly unimportant-it was unrelated to their decision to leave the relationship. It did seem to matter for wives, though, but it depended upon how satisfied they were with the marriage. ..."
"... When women were highly satisfied, they were inclined to stay with their partner regardless of whether they had employment. However, when the wife's satisfaction was low, she was more likely to exit the relationship, but only when she had a job. ..."
Science of Relationships
The first study considers government data from all 50 U.S. states between the years 1960 and 2005.1 The researchers predicted that higher unemployment numbers would translate to more divorces among heterosexual married couples. Most of us probably would have predicted this too based on common sense-you would probably expect your partner to be able to hold down a job, right? And indeed, this was the case, but only before 1980. Surprisingly, since then, as joblessness has increased, divorce rates have actually decreased.

How do we explain this counterintuitive finding? We don't know for sure, but the researchers speculate that unemployed people may delay or postpone divorce due to the high costs associated with it. Not only is divorce expensive in terms of legal fees, but afterward, partners need to pay for two houses instead of one. And if they are still living off of one salary at that point, those costs may be prohibitively expensive. For this reason, it is not that uncommon to hear about estranged couples who can't stand each other but are still living under the same roof.

The second study considered data from a national probability sample of over 3,600 heterosexual married couples in the U.S. collected between 1987 and 2002. However, instead of looking at the overall association between unemployment and marital outcomes, they considered how gender and relationship satisfaction factored into the equation. 2

They also looked at marital breakup more generally, focusing on when couples decided to end their relationships (not necessarily if or when they got divorced). Their findings revealed that when men were unemployed, the likelihood that either spouse would leave the marriage increased. What about the woman's employment status? For husbands, whether their wife was employed or not was seemingly unimportant-it was unrelated to their decision to leave the relationship. It did seem to matter for wives, though, but it depended upon how satisfied they were with the marriage.

When women were highly satisfied, they were inclined to stay with their partner regardless of whether they had employment. However, when the wife's satisfaction was low, she was more likely to exit the relationship, but only when she had a job.

[Sep 22, 2019] Game of musical chairs became more difficult: the US economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs.

Notable quotes:
"... A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction. ..."
"... More than that, it prevents the worst of behaviors that are considered an expression of dysfunction from occurring, as people across all social strata have other things to worry about or keep them busy. Happy people don't bear grudges, or at least they are not on top of their consciousness as long as things are going well. ..."
"... This could be seen time and again in societies with deep and sometimes violent divisions between ethnic groups where in times of relative prosperity (or at least a broadly shared vision for a better future) the conflicts are not removed but put on a backburner, or there is even "finally" reconciliation, and then when the economy turns south, the old grudges and conflicts come back (often not on their own, but fanned by groups who stand to gain from the divisions, or as a way of scapegoating) ..."
"... "backwaters of America, that economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs." ~~Harold Pollack~ ..."
"... Going up through the chairs has become so impossible for those on the slow-track. Not enough slots for all the jokers within our once proud country of opportunities, ..."
"... George Orwell: "I doubt, however, whether the unemployed would ultimately benefit if they learned to spend their money more economically. ... If the unemployed learned to be better managers they would be visibly better off, and I fancy it would not be long before the dole was docked correspondingly." ..."
"... Perhaps you are commenting on the aspect that when (enough) job applicants/holders define down their standards and let employers treat them as floor mats, then the quality of many jobs and the labor relations will be adjusted down accordingly, or at the very least expectations what concessions workers will make will be adjusted up. That seems to be the case unfortunately. ..."
Nov 23, 2015 | economistsview.typepad.com
Avraam Jack Dectis said...
A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction.

A bad economy moves people toward the margins, afflicts those near the margins and kills those at the margins.

This is what policy makers should consider as they pursue policies that do not put the citizen above all else.

cm -> Avraam Jack Dectis...
"A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction."

More than that, it prevents the worst of behaviors that are considered an expression of dysfunction from occurring, as people across all social strata have other things to worry about or keep them busy. Happy people don't bear grudges, or at least they are not on top of their consciousness as long as things are going well.

This could be seen time and again in societies with deep and sometimes violent divisions between ethnic groups where in times of relative prosperity (or at least a broadly shared vision for a better future) the conflicts are not removed but put on a backburner, or there is even "finally" reconciliation, and then when the economy turns south, the old grudges and conflicts come back (often not on their own, but fanned by groups who stand to gain from the divisions, or as a way of scapegoating)

Dune Goon said...

"backwaters of America, that economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs." ~~Harold Pollack~

Going up through the chairs has become so impossible for those on the slow-track. Not enough slots for all the jokers within our once proud country of opportunities, not enough elbow room for Daniel Boone, let alone Jack Daniels! Not enough space in this county to wet a tree when you feel the urge! Every tiny plot of space has been nailed down and fenced off, divided up among gated communities. Why?

Because the 1% has an excessive propensity to reproduce their own kind. They are so uneducated about the responsibilities of birth control and space conservation that they are crowding all of us off the edge of the planet. Worse yet we have begun to *ape our betters*.

"We've only just begun!"
~~The Carpenters~

William said...

"Many of us know people who receive various public benefits, and who might not need to rely on these programs if they made better choices, if they learned how to not talk back at work, if they had a better handle on various self-destructive behaviors, if they were more willing to take that crappy job and forego disability benefits, etc."

George Orwell: "I doubt, however, whether the unemployed would ultimately benefit if they learned to spend their money more economically. ... If the unemployed learned to be better managers they would be visibly better off, and I fancy it would not be long before the dole was docked correspondingly."

cm said in reply to William...

A valid observation, but what you are commenting on is more about getting or keeping a job than managing personal finances.

Perhaps you are commenting on the aspect that when (enough) job applicants/holders define down their standards and let employers treat them as floor mats, then the quality of many jobs and the labor relations will be adjusted down accordingly, or at the very least expectations what concessions workers will make will be adjusted up. That seems to be the case unfortunately.

[Sep 22, 2019] Paul Krugman: Despair, American Style

Notable quotes:
"... In a recent interview Mr. Deaton suggested that middle-aged whites have "lost the narrative of their lives." That is, their economic setbacks have hit hard because they expected better. Or to put it a bit differently, we're looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true. ..."
"... the truth is that we don't really know why despair appears to be spreading across Middle America. But it clearly is, with troubling consequences for our society... ..."
"... Some people who feel left behind by the American story turn self-destructive; others turn on the elites they feel have betrayed them. ..."
"... What we are seeing is the long term impacts of the "Reagan Revolution." ..."
"... The affected cohort here is the first which has lived with the increased financial and employment insecurity that engendered, as well as the impacts of the massive offshoring of good paying union jobs throughout their working lives. Stress has cumulative impacts on health and well-being, which are a big part of what we are seeing here. ..."
"... Lets face it, this Fed is all about goosing up asset prices to generate short term gains in economic activity. Since the early 90s, the Fed has done nothing but make policy based on Wall Street's interests. I can give them a pass on the dot com debacle but not after that. This toxic relationship between wall street and the Fed has to end. ..."
"... there was a housing bubble that most at the Fed (including Bernanke) denied right upto the middle of 2007 ..."
"... Yellen, to her credit, has admitted multiple times over the years that low rates spur search for yield that blows bubbles ..."
"... Bursting of the bubble led to unemployment for millions and U3 that went to 10% ..."
"... "You are the guys who do not consider the counterfactual where higher rates would have prevented the housing bubble in 2003-05 and that produced the great recession in the first place." ..."
"... Inequality has been rising globally, almost regardless of trade practices ..."
"... It is not some unstoppable global trend. This is neoliberal oligarchy coup d'état. Or as it often called "a quite coup". ..."
"... First of all, whether a job can or is offshored has little to do with whether it is "low skilled" but more with whether the workflow around the job can be organized in such a way that the job can be offshore. This is less a matter of "skill level" and more volume and immediacy of interaction with adjacent job functions, or movement of material across distances. ..."
"... The reason wages are stuck is that aggregate jobs are not growing, relative to workforce supply. ..."
"... BTW the primary offshore location is India, probably in good part because of good to excellent English language skills, and India's investment in STEM education and industry (especially software/services and this is even a public stereotype, but for a reason). ..."
"... Very rough figures: half a million Chicago employees may make less than $800 a week -- almost everybody should earn $800 ... ..."
"... Union busting is generally (?) understood as direct interference with the formation and operation of unions or their members. It is probably more common that employers are allowed to just go around the unions - "right to work", subcontracting non-union shops or temp/staffing agencies, etc. ..."
"... Why would people join a union and pay dues when the union is largely impotent to deliver, when there are always still enough desperate people who will (have to) take jobs outside the union system? Employers don't have to bring in scabs when they can legally go through "unencumbered" subcontractors inside or outside the jurisdiction. ..."
"... Credibility trap, fully engaged. ..."
"... The anti-knowledge of the elites is worth reading. http://billmoyers.com/2015/11/02/the-anti-knowledge-of-the-elites/ When such herd instinct and institutional overbearance connects with the credibility trap, the results may be impressive. http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2015/11/gold-daily-and-silver-weekly-charts-pop.html ..."
"... Suicide, once thought to be associated with troubled teens and the elderly, is quickly becoming an age-blind statistic. Middle aged Americans are turning to suicide in alarming numbers. The reasons include easily accessible prescription painkillers, the mortgage crisis and most importantly the challenge of a troubled economy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims suicide rates now top the number of deaths due to automobile accidents. ..."
"... The suicide rate for both younger and older Americans remains virtually unchanged, however, the rate has spiked for those in middle age (35 to 64 years old) with a 28 percent increase (link is external) from 1999 to 2010. ..."
"... When few people kill themselves "on purpose" or die from self-inflicted but probably "unintended" harms (e.g. organ failure or accidental death caused by substance abuse), it can be shrugged off as problems related to the individual (more elaboration possible but not necessary). ..."
"... When it becomes a statistically significant phenomenon (above-noise percentage of total population or demographically identifiable groups), then one has to ask questions about social causes. My first question would be, "what made life suck for those people"? What specific instrument they used to kill themselves would be my second question (it may be the first question for people who are charged with implementing counter measures but not necessarily fixing the causes). ..."
"... Since about the financial crisis (I'm not sure about causation or coincidence - not accidental coincidence BTW but causation by the same underlying causes), there has been a disturbing pattern of high school students throwing themselves in front of local trains. At that age, drinking or drugging oneself to death is apparently not the first "choice". Performance pressure *related to* (not just "and") a lack of convincing career/life prospects has/have been suspected or named as a cause. I don't think teenagers suddenly started to jump in front of trains that have run the same rail line for decades because of the "usual" and centuries to millennia old teenage romantic relationship issues. ..."
Nov 09, 2015 | economistsview.typepad.com

"There is a darkness spreading over part of our society":

Despair, American Style, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: A couple of weeks ago President Obama mocked Republicans who are "down on America," and reinforced his message by doing a pretty good Grumpy Cat impression. He had a point: With job growth at rates not seen since the 1990s, with the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance hitting record highs, the doom-and-gloom predictions of his political enemies look ever more at odds with reality.

Yet there is a darkness spreading over part of our society. ... There has been a lot of comment ... over a new paper by the economists Angus Deaton (who just won a Nobel) and Anne Case, showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans has been rising since 1999..., while death rates were falling steadily both in other countries and among other groups in our own nation.

Even more striking are the proximate causes of rising mortality. Basically, white Americans are, in increasing numbers, killing themselves... Suicide is way up, and so are deaths from drug poisoning and ... drinking... But what's causing this epidemic of self-destructive behavior?...

In a recent interview Mr. Deaton suggested that middle-aged whites have "lost the narrative of their lives." That is, their economic setbacks have hit hard because they expected better. Or to put it a bit differently, we're looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true.

That sounds like a plausible hypothesis..., but the truth is that we don't really know why despair appears to be spreading across Middle America. But it clearly is, with troubling consequences for our society...

I know I'm not the only observer who sees a link between the despair reflected in those mortality numbers and the volatility of right-wing politics. Some people who feel left behind by the American story turn self-destructive; others turn on the elites they feel have betrayed them. No, deporting immigrants and wearing baseball caps bearing slogans won't solve their problems, but neither will cutting taxes on capital gains. So you can understand why some voters have rallied around politicians who at least seem to feel their pain.

At this point you probably expect me to offer a solution. But while universal health care, higher minimum wages, aid to education, and so on would do a lot to help Americans in trouble, I'm not sure whether they're enough to cure existential despair.

bakho said...

There are a lot of economic dislocations that the government after the 2001 recession stopped doing much about it. Right after the 2008 crash, the government did more but by 2010, even the Democratic president dropped the ball. and failed to deliver. Probably no region of the country is affected more by technological change that the coal regions of KY and WV. Lying politicians promise a return to the past that cannot be delivered. No one can suggest what the new future will be. The US is due for another round of urbanization as jobs decline in rural areas. Dislocation forces declining values of properties and requires changes in behavior, skills and outlook. Those personal changes do not happen without guidance. The social institutions such as churches and government programs are a backstop, but they are not providing a way forward. There is plenty of work to be done, but our elites are not willing to invest.

DrDick -> bakho...

The problem goes back much further than that. What we are seeing is the long term impacts of the "Reagan Revolution."

The affected cohort here is the first which has lived with the increased financial and employment insecurity that engendered, as well as the impacts of the massive offshoring of good paying union jobs throughout their working lives. Stress has cumulative impacts on health and well-being, which are a big part of what we are seeing here.

ilsm said...

Thuggee doom and gloom is about their fading chance to reinstate the slavocracy.

The fever swamp of right wing ideas is more loony than 1964.

Extremism is the new normal.

bmorejoe -> ilsm...

Yup. The slow death of white supremacy.

Peter K. -> Anonymous...

If it wasn't for monetary policy things would be even worse as the Republicans in Congress forced fiscal austerity on the economy during the "recovery."

sanjait -> Peter K....

That's the painful irony of a comment like that one from Anonymous ... he seems completely unaware that, yes, ZIRP has done a huge amount to prevent the kind of problems described above. He like most ZIRP critics fails to consider what the counterfactual looks like (i.e., something like the Great Depression redux).

Anonymous -> sanjait...

You are the guys who do not consider the counterfactual where higher rates would have prevented the housing bubble in 2003-05 and that produced the great recession in the first place. Because preemptive monetary policy has gone out of fashion completely. And now we are going to repeat the whole process over when the present bubble in stocks and corporate bonds bursts along with the malinvestment in China, commodity exporters etc.

Peter K. -> Anonymous...

"liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate... it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people."

sanjait -> Anonymous...

"You want regulation? I would like to see

1) Reinstate Glass Steagall

2) impose a 10bp trans tax on trading financial instruments."

Great. Two things with zero chance of averting bubbles but make great populist pablum.

This is why we can't have nice things!

"3) Outlaw any Fed person working for a bank/financial firm after they leave office."

This seems like a decent idea. Hard to enforce, as highly intelligent and accomplished people tend not to be accepting of such restrictions, but it could be worth it anyway.

likbez -> sanjait...

" highly intelligent and accomplished people tend not to be accepting of such restrictions, but it could be worth it anyway."

You are forgetting that it depends on a simple fact to whom political power belongs. And that's the key whether "highly intelligent and accomplished people" will accept those restrictions of not.

If the government was not fully captured by financial capital, then I think even limited prosecution of banksters "Stalin's purge style" would do wonders in preventing housing bubble and 2008 financial crush.

Please try to imagine the effect of trial and exile to Alaska for some period just a dozen people involved in Securitization of mortgages boom (and those highly intelligent people can do wonders in improving oil industry in Alaska ;-).

Starting with Mr. Weill, Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Rubin, Mr. Phil Gramm, Dr. Summers and Mr. Clinton.

Anonymous -> Peter K....

"2003-2005 didn't have excess inflation and wage gains."

Monetary policy can not hinge just on inflation or wage gains. Why are wage gains a problem anyway?

Lets face it, this Fed is all about goosing up asset prices to generate short term gains in economic activity. Since the early 90s, the Fed has done nothing but make policy based on Wall Street's interests. I can give them a pass on the dot com debacle but not after that. This toxic relationship between wall street and the Fed has to end.

You want regulation? I would like to see
1) Reinstate Glass Steagall
2) impose a 10bp trans tax on trading financial instruments.
3) Outlaw any Fed person working for a bank/financial firm after they leave office. Bernanke, David Warsh etc included. That includes Mishkin getting paid to shill for failing Iceland banks or Bernanke making paid speeches to hedge funds.


Anonymous -> EMichael...

Fact: there was a housing bubble that most at the Fed (including Bernanke) denied right upto the middle of 2007
Fact: Yellen, to her credit, has admitted multiple times over the years that low rates spur search for yield that blows bubbles
Fact: Bursting of the bubble led to unemployment for millions and U3 that went to 10%

what facts are you referring to?

EMichael -> Anonymous...

That FED rates caused the bubble.

to think this you have to ignore that a 400% Fed Rate increase from 2004 to 2005 had absolutely no effect on mortgage originations.

Then of course, you have to explain why 7 years at zero has not caused another housing bubble.

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FEDFUNDS

Correlation is not causation. Lack of correlation is proof of lack of causation.

pgl -> Anonymous...

"You are the guys who do not consider the counterfactual where higher rates would have prevented the housing bubble in 2003-05 and that produced the great recession in the first place."

You are repeating the John B. Taylor line about interest rates being held "too low and too long". And guess what - most economists have called Taylor's claim for the BS it really is. We should also note we never heard this BS when Taylor was part of the Bush Administration. And do check - Greenspan and later Bernanke were raising interest rates well before any excess demand was generated which is why inflation never took off.

So do keep repeating this intellectual garbage and we keep noting you are just a stupid troll.

anne -> anne...
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/29/1518393112

September 17, 2015

Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton

Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up all-cause midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. If the white mortality rate for ages 45−54 had held at their 1998 value, 96,000 deaths would have been avoided from 1999–2013, 7,000 in 2013 alone. If it had continued to decline at its previous (1979‒1998) rate, half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013, comparable to lives lost in the US AIDS epidemic through mid-2015. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.

Abstract

This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.

ilsm -> Sarah...

Murka is different. Noni's plan would work if it were opportune for the slavocracy and the Kochs and ARAMCO don't lose any "growth".

Maybe cost plus climate repair contracts to shipyards fumbling through useless nuclear powered behemoths for war plans made in 1942.

Someone gotta make big money plundering for the public good, in Murka!

CSP said...

The answers to our malaise seem readily apparent to me, and I'm a southern-born white male working in a small, struggling Georgia town.

1. Kill the national war machine
2. Kill the national Wall Street financial fraud machine
3. Get out-of-control mega corporations under control
4. Return savings to Main Street (see #1, #2 and #3)
5. Provide national, universal health insurance to everyone as a right
6. Provide free education to everyone, as much as their academic abilities can earn them
7. Strengthen social security and lower the retirement age to clear the current chronic underemployment of young people

It seems to me that these seven steps would free the American people to pursue their dreams, not the dreams of Washington or Wall Street. Unfortunately, it is readily apparent that true freedom and real individual empowerment are the last things our leaders desire. Shame on them and shame on everyone who helps to make it so.

DeDude -> CSP...

You are right. Problem is that most southern-born white males working in a small, struggling Georgia town would rather die than voting for the one candidate who might institute those changes - Bernie Sanders.

The people who are beginning to realize that the american dream is a mirage, are the same people who vote for GOP candidates who want to give even more to the plutocrats.

kthomas said...

The kids in Seattle had it right when WTO showed up.


Why is anyone suprised by all this?

We exported out jobs. First all the manufacturing. Now all of the Service jobs.


But hey...we helped millions in China and India get out of poverty, only to put outselves into it.


America was sold to highest bidder a long long time ago. A Ken Melvin put it, the chickens came home to roost in 2000.

sanjait -> kthomas...

So you think the problem with America is that we lost our low skilled manufacturing and call center tech support jobs?

I can sort of see why people assume that "we exported out jobs" is the reason for stagnant incomes in the U.S., but it's still tiresome, because it's still just wrong.

Manufacturing employment crashed in the US mostly because it has been declining globally. The world economy is less material based than ever, and machines do more of the work making stuff.

And while some services can be outsourced, the vast majority can't. Period.

Inequality has been rising globally, almost regardless of trade practices. The U.S. has one of the more closed economies in the developed world, so if globalization were the cause, we'd be the most insulated. But we aren't, which should be a pretty good indication that globalization isn't the cause.

cm -> sanjait...

Yes, the loss of "low skilled" jobs is still a loss of jobs. Many people work in "low skilled" jobs because there are not enough "higher skill" jobs to go around, as most work demanded is not of the most fancy type.

We have heard this now for a few decades, that "low skilled" jobs lost will be replaced with "high skill" (and better paid) jobs, and the evidence is somewhat lacking. There has been growth in higher skill jobs in absolute terms, but when you adjust by population growth, it is flat or declining.

When people hypothetically or actually get the "higher skills" recommended to them, into what higher skill jobs are they to move?

I have known a number of anecdotes of people with degrees or who held "skilled" jobs that were forced by circumstances to take commodity jobs or jobs at lower pay grades or "skill levels" due to aggregate loss of "higher skill" jobs or age discrimination, or had to go from employment to temp jobs.

And it is not true that only "lower skill" jobs are outsourced. Initially, yes, as "higher skills" obviously don't exist yet in the outsourcing region. But that doesn't last long, especially if the outsourcers expend resources to train and grow the remote skill base, at the expense of the domestic workforce which is expected to already have experience (which has worked for a while due to workforce overhangs from previous industry "restructuring").

likbez -> sanjait...

"Inequality has been rising globally, almost regardless of trade practices."

It is not some unstoppable global trend. This is neoliberal oligarchy coup d'état. Or as it often called "a quite coup".

sanjait -> cm...

"Yes, the loss of "low skilled" jobs is still a loss of jobs. Many people work in "low skilled" jobs because there are not enough "higher skill" jobs to go around, as most work demanded is not of the most fancy type.

We have heard this now for a few decades, that "low skilled" jobs lost will be replaced with "high skill" (and better paid) jobs, and the evidence is somewhat lacking. "

And that is *exactly my point.*

The lack of wage growth isn't isolated to low skilled domains. It's weak across the board.

What does that tell us?

It tells us that offshoring of low skilled jobs isn't the problem.

"And it is not true that only "lower skill" jobs are outsourced. Initially, yes, as "higher skills" obviously don't exist yet in the outsourcing region."

You could make this argument, but I think (judging by your own hedging) you know this isn't the case. Offshoring of higher skilled jobs does happen but it's a marginal factor in reality. You hypothesize that it may someday become a bigger factor ... but just notice that we've had stagnant wages now for a few decades.

My point is that offshoring IS NOT THE CAUSE of stagnating wages. I'd argue that globalization is a force that can't really be stopped by national policy anyway, but even if you think it could, it's important to realize IT WOULD DO ALMOST NOTHING to alleviate inequality.

cm -> sanjait...

I was responding to your point:

"So you think the problem with America is that we lost our low skilled manufacturing and call center tech support jobs?"

With the follow-on:

"I can sort of see why people assume that "we exported out jobs" is the reason for stagnant incomes in the U.S., but it's still tiresome, because it's still just wrong."

Labor markets are very sensitive to marginal effects. If let's say "normal" or "heightened" turnover is 10% p.a. spread out over the year, then the continued availability (or not) of around 1% vacancies (for the respective skill sets etc.) each month makes a huge difference. There was the argument that the #1 factor is automation and process restructuring, and offshoring is trailing somewhere behind that in job destruction volume.

I didn't research it in detail because I have no reason to doubt it. But it is a compounded effect - every percentage point in open positions (and *better* open positions - few people are looking to take a pay cut) makes a big difference. If let's say the automation losses are replaced with other jobs, offshoring will tip the scale. Due to aggregate effects one cannot say what is the "extra" like with who is causing congestion on a backed up road (basically everybody, not the first or last person to join).

"Manufacturing employment crashed in the US mostly because it has been declining globally. The world economy is less material based than ever, and machines do more of the work making stuff."

Are you kidding me? The world economy is less material based? OK maybe 20 years after the paperless office we are finally printing less, but just because the material turnover, waste, and environmental pollution is not in your face (because of offshoring!), it doesn't mean less stuff is produced or material consumed. If anything, it is market saturation and aggregate demand limitations that lead to lower material and energy consumption (or lower growth rates).

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, several nations (US and Germany among others) had programs to promote new car sales (cash for clunkers etc.) that were based on the idea that people can get credit for their old car, but its engine had to be destroyed and made unrepairable so it cannot enter the used car market and defeat the purpose of the program. I assume the clunkers were then responsibly and sustainably recycled.

cm -> sanjait...

"The lack of wage growth isn't isolated to low skilled domains. It's weak across the board.

What does that tell us?

It tells us taht offshoring of low skilled jobs isn't the problem."

This doesn't follow. First of all, whether a job can or is offshored has little to do with whether it is "low skilled" but more with whether the workflow around the job can be organized in such a way that the job can be offshore. This is less a matter of "skill level" and more volume and immediacy of interaction with adjacent job functions, or movement of material across distances. Also consider that aside from time zone differences (which are of course a big deal between e.g. US and Europe/Asia), there is not much difference whether a job is performed in another country or in a different domestic region, or perhaps just "working from home" 1 mile from the office, for office-type jobs. Of course the other caveat is whether the person can physically attend meetings with little fuss and expense - so remote management/coordination work is naturally not a big thing.

The reason wages are stuck is that aggregate jobs are not growing, relative to workforce supply. When the boomers retire for real in another 5-10 years, that may change. OTOH several tech companies I know have periodic programs where they offer workers over 55 or so packages to leave the company, so they cannot really hurt for talent, though they keep complaining and are busy bringing in young(er) people on work visa. Free agents, it depends on the company. Some companies hire NCGs, but they also "buy out" older workers.

cm -> cm...

Caveat: Based on what I see (outside sectors with strong/early growth), domestic hiring of NCGs/"fresh blood" falls in two categories:

Then there is also the gender split - "technical/engineering" jobs are overweighed in men, except technical jobs in traditionally "non-technical/non-product" departments which have a higher share of women.

All this is of course a matter of top-down hiring preferences, as generally everything is either controlled top-down or tacitly allowed to happen by selective non-interference.

cm -> sanjait...

"You could make this argument, but I think (judging by your own hedging) you know this isn't the case. Offshoring of higher skilled jobs does happen but it's a marginal factor in reality. You hypothesize that it may someday become a bigger factor ... but just notice that we've had stagnant wages now for a few decades."

I've written a lot of text so far but didn't address all points ...

My "hedging" is retrospective. I don't hypothesize what may eventually happen but it is happening here and now. I don't presume to present a representative picture, but in my sphere of experience/observation (mostly a subset of computer software), offshoring of *knowledge work* started in the mid to late 90's (and that's not the earliest it started in general - of course a lot of the early offshoring in the 80's was market/language specific customization, e.g. US tech in Europe etc., and more "local culture expertise" and not offshoring proper). In the late 90's and early 2000's, offshoring was overshadowed by the Y2K/dotcom booms, so that phase didn't get high visibility (among the people "affected" it sure did). Also the internet was not yet ubiquitous - broadband existed only at the corporate level.

Since then there has been little change, it is pretty much a steady state.

BTW the primary offshore location is India, probably in good part because of good to excellent English language skills, and India's investment in STEM education and industry (especially software/services and this is even a public stereotype, but for a reason).

Syaloch -> sanjait...

Whether low skilled jobs were eliminated due to offshoring or automation doesn't really matter. What matters is that the jobs disappeared, replaced by a small number of higher skill jobs paying comparable wages plus a large number of low skill jobs offering lower wages.

The aggregate effect was stagnation and even decline in living standards. Plus any new jobs were not necessarily produced in the same geographic region as those that were lost, leading to concentration of unemployment and despair.

sanjait -> Syaloch...

"Whether low skilled jobs were eliminated due to offshoring or automation doesn't really matter. "

Well, actually it does matter, because we have a whole lot of people (in both political parties) who think the way to fight inequality is to try to reverse globalization.

If they are incorrect, it matters, because they should be applying their votes and their energy to more effective solutions, and rejecting the proposed solutions of both the well-meaning advocates and the outright demagogues who think restricting trade is some kind of answer.

Syaloch -> sanjait...

I meant it doesn't matter in terms of the despair felt by those affected. All that matters to those affected is that they have been obsoleted without either economic or social support to help them.

However, in terms of addressing this problem economically it really doesn't matter that much either. Offshoring is effectively a low-tech form of automation. If companies can't lower labor costs by using cheaper offshore labor they'll find ways to either drive down domestic wages or to use less labor. For the unskilled laborer the end result is the same.

Syaloch -> Syaloch...

See the thought experiment I posted on the links thread, and then add the following:

Suppose the investigative journalist discovered instead that Freedonia itself is a sham, and that rather than being imported from overseas, the clothing was actually coming from an automated factory straight out of Vonnegut's "Player Piano" that was hidden in a remote domestic location. Would the people who were demanding limits on Freedonian exports now say, "Oh well, I guess that's OK" simply because the factory was located within the US?

Dan Kervick -> kthomas...

I enjoyed listening to this talk by Fredrick Reinfeldt at the LSE:

http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=3253

Reinfeldt is a center-right politicians and former Swedish Prime Minister. OF course, what counts as center-right in Sweden seems very different from what counts as center-right in the US.

Perhaps there is some kind of basis here for some bipartisan progress on jobs and full employment.

William said...

I'm sure this isn't caused by any single factor, but has anyone seriously investigated a link between this phenomena and the military?

Veterans probably aren't a large enough cohort to explain the effect in full, but white people from the south are the most likely group to become soldiers, and veterans are the most likely group to have alcohol/drug abuse and suicide problems.

This would also be evidence why we aren't seeing it in other countries, no one else has anywhere near the number of vets we have.

cm -> William...

Vets are surely part of the aggregate problem of lack of career/economic prospects, in fact a lot of people join(ed) the military because of a lack of other jobs to begin with. But as the lack of prospects is aggregate it affects everybody.

Denis Drew said...

" At this point you probably expect me to offer a solution. But while universal health care, higher minimum wages, aid to education, and so on would do a lot to help Americans in trouble, I'm not sure whether they're enough to cure existential despair."


UNOINIZED and (therefore shall we say) politicized: you are in control of your narrative -- win or lose. Can it get any more hopeful than that? And you will probably win.

Winning being defined as labor eeking out EQUALLY emotionally satisfying/dissatisfying market results -- EQUAL that is with the satisfaction of ownership and the consumer. That's what happens when all three interface in the market -- labor interfacing indirectly through collective bargaining.

(Labor's monopoly neutralizes ownership's monopsony -- the consumers' willingness to pay providing the checks and balances on labor's monopoly.)

If you feel you've done well RELATIVE to the standards of your own economic era you will feel you've done well SUBJECTIVELY.

For instance, my generation of (American born) cab drivers earned about $750 for a 60 hour (grueling) work week up to the early 80s. With multiples strip-offs I won't detail here (will on request -- diff for diff cities) that has been reduced to about $500 a week (at best I suspect!) I believe and that is just not enough to get guys like me out there for that grueling work.

Let's take the minimum wage comparison from peak-to-peak instead of from peak-to-trough: $11 and hour in 1968 -- at HALF TODAY'S per capita income (economic output) -- to $7.25 today. How many American born workers are going to show up for $7.25 in the day of SUVs and "up-to-date kitchens" all around us. $8.75 was perfectly enticing for Americans working in 1956 ($8.75 thanks to the "Master of the Senate"). The recent raise to $10 is not good enough for Chicago's 100,000 gang members (out of my estimate 200,000 gang age minority males). Can hustle that much on the street w/o the SUBJECTIVE feeling of wage slavery.

Ditto hiring result for two-tier supermarket contracts after Walmart undercut the unions.

Without effective unions (centralized bargaining is the gold standard: only thing that fends off Walmart type contract muscling. Done that way since 1966 with the Teamsters Union's National Master Freight Agreement; the long practiced law or custom from continental Europe to French Canada to Argentina to Indonesia.

It occurred to me this morning that if the quintessential example of centralized bargaining Germany has 25% or our population and produces 200% more cars than we do, then, Germans produces 8X as many cars per capita than we do!

And thoroughly union organized Germans feel very much in control of the narrative of their lives.

cm -> Denis Drew...

"thoroughly union organized Germans"

No longer thoroughly, with recent labor market reforms the door has likewise been blown open to contingent workforces, staffing agencies, and similar forms of (perma) temp work. And moving work to nations with lower labor standards (e.g. "peripheral" Europe, less so outside Europe) has been going on for decades, for parts, subassembly, and even final assembly.

Denis Drew said...

Very rough figures: half a million Chicago employees may make less than $800 a week -- almost everybody should earn $800 ...

... putative minimum wage? -- might allow some slippage in high labor businesses like fast food restaurants; 33% labor costs! -- sort of like the Teamsters will allow exceptions when needed from Master agreements if you open up your books, they need your working business too, consumer ultimately sets limits.

Average raise of $200 a week -- $10,000 a year equals $5 billion shift in income -- out of a $170 billion Chicago GDP (1% of national) -- not too shabby to bring an end to gang wars and Despair American Style.

Just takes making union busting a felony LIKE EVERY OTHER FORM OF UNFAIR MARKET MUSCLING (even taking a movie in the movies). The body of laws are there -- the issues presumably settled -- the enforcement just needs "dentures."

cm -> Denis Drew...

Union busting is generally (?) understood as direct interference with the formation and operation of unions or their members. It is probably more common that employers are allowed to just go around the unions - "right to work", subcontracting non-union shops or temp/staffing agencies, etc.

cm -> Denis Drew...

Why would people join a union and pay dues when the union is largely impotent to deliver, when there are always still enough desperate people who will (have to) take jobs outside the union system? Employers don't have to bring in scabs when they can legally go through "unencumbered" subcontractors inside or outside the jurisdiction.

cm -> cm...

It comes down to the collective action problem. You can organize people who form a "community" (workers in the same business site, or similar aggregates more or less subject to Dunbar's number or with a strong tribal/ethnic/otherwise cohesion narrative). Beyond that, if you can get a soapbox in the regional press, etc., otherwise good luck. It probably sounds defeatist but I don't have a solution.

When the union management is outed for corruption or other abuses or questioable practices (e.g. itself employing temps or subcontractors), it doesn't help.

Syaloch said...

There was a good discussion of this on last Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl5kFZ-SZq4

Surprisingly, I pretty much agree with David Frum's analysis -- and Maher's comment that Trump, with his recent book, "Crippled America", has his finger on the pulse of this segment of the population. Essentially what we're seeing is the impact of economic stagnation upon a culture whose reserves of social capital have been depleted, as described in Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone".

When the going gets tough it's a lot harder to manage without a sense of identity and purpose, and without the support of family, friends, churches, and communities. Facebook "friends" are no substitute for the real thing.

Peter K. said...

Jared Bernsetin:

"...since the late 1970s, we've been at full employment only 30 percent of the time (see the data note below for an explanation of how this is measured). For the three decades before that, the job market was at full employment 70 percent of the time."

We need better macro (monetary, fiscal, trade) policy.

Maybe middle-aged blacks and hispanics have better attitudes and health since they made it through a tough youth, have more realistic expectations and race relations are better than the bad old days even if they are far from perfect. The United States is becoming more multicultural.

Jesse said...

Credibility trap, fully engaged.

Jesse said...

The anti-knowledge of the elites is worth reading. http://billmoyers.com/2015/11/02/the-anti-knowledge-of-the-elites/ When such herd instinct and institutional overbearance connects with the credibility trap, the results may be impressive. http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2015/11/gold-daily-and-silver-weekly-charts-pop.html

Fred C. Dobbs said...

White, Middle-Age Suicide In America Skyrockets
Psychology Today - May 6, 2013
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201305/white-middle-age-suicide-in-america-skyrockets

Suicide, once thought to be associated with troubled teens and the elderly, is quickly becoming an age-blind statistic. Middle aged Americans are turning to suicide in alarming numbers. The reasons include easily accessible prescription painkillers, the mortgage crisis and most importantly the challenge of a troubled economy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims suicide rates now top the number of deaths due to automobile accidents.

The suicide rate for both younger and older Americans remains virtually unchanged, however, the rate has spiked for those in middle age (35 to 64 years old) with a 28 percent increase (link is external) from 1999 to 2010. The rate for whites in middle-age jumped an alarming 40 percent during the same time frame. According to the CDC, there were more than 38,000 suicides (link is external) in 2010 making it the tenth leading cause of death in America overall (third leading cause from age 15-24).

The US 2010 Final Data quantifies the US statistics for suicide by race, sex and age. Interestingly, African-American suicides have declined and are considerably lower than whites. Reasons are thought to include better coping skills when negative things occur as well as different cultural norms with respect to taking your own life. Also, Blacks (and Hispanics) tend to have stronger family support, community support and church support to carry them through these rough times.

While money woes definitely contribute to stress and poor mental health, it can be devastating to those already prone to depression -- and depression is indeed still the number one risk factor for suicide. A person with no hope and nowhere to go, can now easily turn to their prescription painkiller and overdose, bringing the pain, stress and worry to an end. In fact, prescription painkillers were the third leading cause of suicide (and rising rapidly) for middle aged Americans in 2010 (guns are still number 1). ...

cm -> Fred C. Dobbs...

When few people kill themselves "on purpose" or die from self-inflicted but probably "unintended" harms (e.g. organ failure or accidental death caused by substance abuse), it can be shrugged off as problems related to the individual (more elaboration possible but not necessary).

When it becomes a statistically significant phenomenon (above-noise percentage of total population or demographically identifiable groups), then one has to ask questions about social causes. My first question would be, "what made life suck for those people"? What specific instrument they used to kill themselves would be my second question (it may be the first question for people who are charged with implementing counter measures but not necessarily fixing the causes).

Since about the financial crisis (I'm not sure about causation or coincidence - not accidental coincidence BTW but causation by the same underlying causes), there has been a disturbing pattern of high school students throwing themselves in front of local trains. At that age, drinking or drugging oneself to death is apparently not the first "choice". Performance pressure *related to* (not just "and") a lack of convincing career/life prospects has/have been suspected or named as a cause. I don't think teenagers suddenly started to jump in front of trains that have run the same rail line for decades because of the "usual" and centuries to millennia old teenage romantic relationship issues.

[Sep 22, 2019] The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters by Benjamin Wallace-Wells

Notable quotes:
"... If returns to experience are in decline, if wisdom no longer pays off, then that might help suggest why a group of mostly older people who are not, as a group, disadvantaged might become convinced that the country has taken a turn for the worse. It suggests why their grievances should so idealize the past, and why all the talk about coal miners and factories, jobs in which unions have codified returns to experience into the salary structure, might become such a fixation. ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC , April 12, 2017 at 06:41 AM
The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters

April 10, 2017

.....................

The arguments about Case and Deaton's work have been an echo of the one that consumed so much of the primary campaign, and then the general election, and which is still unresolved: whether the fury of Donald Trump's supporters came from cultural and racial grievance or from economic plight. Case and Deaton's scholarship does not settle the question. As they write, more than once, "more work is needed."

But part of what Case and Deaton offer in their new paper is an emotional logic to an economic argument.

If returns to experience are in decline, if wisdom no longer pays off, then that might help suggest why a group of mostly older people who are not, as a group, disadvantaged might become convinced that the country has taken a turn for the worse. It suggests why their grievances should so idealize the past, and why all the talk about coal miners and factories, jobs in which unions have codified returns to experience into the salary structure, might become such a fixation.

Whatever comes from the deliberations over Case and Deaton's statistics, there is within their numbers an especially interesting story.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/benjamin-wallace-wells/the-despair-of-learning-that-experience-no-longer-matters

[Sep 19, 2019] Form vs. substance in the neoliberal university

Highly recommended!
This is a classic catch 22 situation with this "oath" described below...
Also I think a lot of professors of neo-classical economics look like the member of Komsomol described below ;-) For them it is about opening new opportunities for advancement not about the truth and the level of corresponding to the reality of this pseudo-scientific neo-classical garbage, with the smoke screen of mathematics as a lipstick on the pig (mathiness)
Most such people will teach students complete garbage understanding that this is a complete garbage with a smile. Still, in in Soviet way it is possible for some to accept the position and work to undermine neo-classical economics acting within the institution using Aesopian language in lectures and papers.
The book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation (In-Formation) by Alexei Yurchak is a recommended reading for those who want to understand the perversion of neoliberal way of life in the USA today, as they mirror the perversions of Soviet life in a very uncanny way.
Notable quotes:
"... Consider an example from the contemporary United States. Today a number of private universities, colleges, and schools in several states require teachers and professors to take a "loyalty oath" to ensure that they do not "hold or foster undesirable political beliefs.... ..."
"... From a political standpoint she disagreed with the practice of taking loyalty oaths, and later, in her role as professor of the sociology of law, she voiced political positions counter to those mentioned in the oath and challenged the oath-taking practice itself. ..."
"... However, before she could do this, she first had to take the oath, understanding that without this act she would not be employed or recognized by the institution as a legitimate member with a voice authorized to participate in teaching, research, and the institution's politics (committees, meetings, elections, and so forth), including even the possibility to question publicly the practice of taking oaths. ..."
"... "The oath did not mean much if you took it, but it meant a lot if you didn't." ..."
"... However, "when a vote had to be taken, everyone roused -- a certain sensor clicked in the head: 'Who is in favor?' -- and you raised your hand automatically" (see a discussion of such ritualized practices within the Komsomol in chapter a). ..."
"... Participating in these acts reproduced oneself as a "normal" Soviet person within the system of relations, collectivities, and subject positions, with all the constraints and possibilities that position entailed, even including the possibility, after the meetings, to engage in interests, pursuits, and meanings that ran against those that were stated in the resolutions one had voted for. ..."
"... These acts are not about stating facts and describing opinions but about doing things and opening new possibilities. ..."
Sep 19, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation (In-Formation) by Alexei Yurchak

formal Shift

A general shift at the level of concrete ritualized forms of discourse, in which the formal dimension's importance grows, while the
informal, substantiative dimension opens up to new meanings, can and does occur in different historical and cultural contexts.

Consider an example from the contemporary United States. Today a number of private universities, colleges, and schools in several states require teachers and professors to take a "loyalty oath" to ensure that they do not "hold or foster undesirable political beliefs....

While the statutes vary, [these institutions] generally deny the right to teach to those who cannot or will not take the loyalty oath" (Chin and Rao 2003, 431 -32). Recently, a sociologist of law took such a loyalty oath at a Midwestern university when her appointment as a professor began.

From a political standpoint she disagreed with the practice of taking loyalty oaths, and later, in her role as professor of the sociology of law, she voiced political positions counter to those mentioned in the oath and challenged the oath-taking practice itself.

However, before she could do this, she first had to take the oath, understanding that without this act she would not be employed or recognized by the institution as a legitimate member with a voice authorized to participate in teaching, research, and the institution's politics (committees, meetings, elections, and so forth), including even the possibility to question publicly the practice of taking oaths.

Here, the informal, substantiative dimension of the ritualized act experiences a shift, while the formal dimension remains fixed and important: taking the oath opens a world of possibilities where new informal, substantiative meanings become possible, including a professorial position with a recognized political voice within the institution. In the sociologist's words, "The oath did not mean much if you took it, but it meant a lot if you didn't." 3 ^

This example illustrates the general principle of how some discursive acts or whole types of discourse can drift historically in the direction of an increasingly expanding formal dimension and increasingly open or even irrelevant informal, substantiative dimension. During Soviet late socialism, the formal dimension of speech acts at formal gathering and rituals became particularly important in most contexts and during most events.

One person who participated in large Komsomol meetings in the 1970s and 1980s described how he often spent the meetings reading a book. However, "when a vote had to be taken, everyone roused -- a certain sensor clicked in the head: 'Who is in favor?' -- and you raised your hand automatically" (see a discussion of such ritualized practices within the Komsomol in chapter a).

Here the emphasis on the formal dimension of organizational discourse was unique both in scale and substance. Most ritualized acts of "organizational discourse" during this time underwent such a transformation.

Participating in these acts reproduced oneself as a "normal" Soviet person within the system of relations, collectivities, and subject positions, with all the constraints and possibilities that position entailed, even including the possibility, after the meetings, to engage in interests, pursuits, and meanings that ran against those that were stated in the resolutions one had voted for.

It would obviously be wrong to see these acts of voting simply as informal, substantiative statements about supporting the resolution that are either true (real support) or false (dissimulation of support). These acts are not about stating facts and describing opinions but about doing things and opening new possibilities.

[Sep 18, 2019] Neoliberalism in action: Another School Leadership Disaster Private Companies Work an Insider Game to Reap Lucrative Contracts

Notable quotes:
"... By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. ..."
"... One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended. ..."
"... Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts. ..."
"... In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. ..."
"... By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired. ..."
"... "Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Lambert Strether

Lambert here: More corruption in the professional class.

By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In July 2013, the education world was rocked when a breaking story by Chicago independent journalist Sarah Karp reported that district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had pushed through a no-bid $20 million contract to provide professional development to administrators with a private, for-profit company called SUPES Academy, which she had worked for a year before the deal transpired. Byrd-Bennett was also listed as a senior associate for PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm run by the same individuals who led SUPES.

By 2015, federal investigators looked into the deal and found reason to charge Byrd-Bennett for accepting bribes and kickbacks from the company that ran SUPES and PROACT. A year-and-a-half later, the story made national headlines when Byrd-Bennett was convicted and sentenced to prison for those charges. But anyone who thought this story was an anomaly would be mistaken. Similar conflicts of interest among private superintendent search firms, their associated consulting companies, and their handpicked school leaders have plagued multiple school districts across the country.

In an extensive examination, Our Schools has discovered an intricate web of businesses that reap lucrative school contracts funded by public tax dollars. These businesses are often able to place their handpicked candidates in school leadership positions who then help make the purchasing decision for the same businesses' other products and services, which often include professional development, strategic planning, computer-based services, or data analytics. The deals are often brokered in secrecy or presented to local school boards in ways that make insider schemes appear legitimate.

As in the Byrd-Bennett scandal, school officials who get caught in this web risk public humiliation, criminal investigation, and potential jail time, while the businesses that perpetuate this hidden arrangement continue to flourish and grow.

The results of these scandals are often disastrous. School policies and personnel are steered toward products that reward private companies rather than toward research-proven methods for supporting student learning and teacher performance. School governance becomes geared to the interests of well-connected individuals rather than the desires of teachers and voters. And when insider schemes become public, whole communities are thrown into chaos, sometimes for years, resulting in wasted education dollars and increased disillusionment with school systems and local governance.

While media accounts generally frame these scandals as examples of corrupt school leaders who got caught and brought to justice, reporters rarely delve into the corporate-operated enterprises that undergird the whole system.

A Potent Business Model

Months before Byrd-Bennett's conviction, another individual connected to the Chicago scandal, SUPES co-owner Gary Solomon, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges related to a scheme that diverted over $5 million in public money from the Chicago contracts into his private pocket.

Solomon, who had been forced out of a previous job as a high school administrator after he was accused of racist comments and "preying" on female students, cofounded SUPES -- along with sister companies PROACT Search and Synesi Associates -- with his former student Thomas Vranas, who also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Chicago deals.

Although Solomon and Vranas got caught and were convicted for their scheme, they nevertheless stumbled on a potent business model that combined PROACT's superintendent search services with SUPES Academy professional development programs and consulting by Synesi Associates to help districts "implement reform strategies." Combining leader recruitment with leadership training and consulting gave Solomon and Vranas three ways into a business relationship with a school district and multiple ways to upsell clients into more expensive new contracts.

New administrators PROACT helped place in leadership roles could be reliable allies for pitching professional development services to the district. School districts that had employed SUPES might be more inclined to hire PROACT for a leadership search. And Synesi would have an inside track for its consulting services. Further, any of the firm's school leader contacts who became idle between full-time jobs, which often happens in this profession, would be able to work for the firm as "associates."

School districts may have welcomed this arrangement as a form of "one-stop shopping" for their needs, but it's not hard to see how it could lead to conflicts of interest and a veil for fraud.

Chicago was not the only district that fell for the pitch. Shortly after news of the Byrd-Bennett scandal broke, school districts in DeKalb County , Illinois; Fayette County (Lexington), Kentucky; and Lancaster , Pennsylvania ended their contracts with PROACT.

In Iowa City, Iowa, a local reporter found the district had a contract with Synesi Associates to conduct an audit of the district and then hired PROACT to recruit candidates for a vacant director position. At the same time, superintendent Stephen Murley took 34 days off work to do paid consulting for those two organizations and for SUPES Academy.

In St. Louis , superintendent Kelvin Adams started consulting for SUPES shortly after the school board awarded a $125,000 contract to the firm, Sarah Karp and Melissa Sanchez reported. The district also awarded a $16,500 no-bid deal to Synesi.

But Solomon and Vranas did not invent this money-making strategy, nor did it die when they were convicted and sent to jail.

From Retail Store to Mega-Mall

In June 2016, the Chicago Sun Times reported that in the wake of the Byrd-Bennett scandal, parts of SUPES Academy were purchased by Joseph Wise and his partner David Sundstrom. Their Chicago-based firm Atlantic Research Partners (ARP) had already gotten at least $5 million in recent business from Chicago schools. (Sundstrom would later contend ARP rescinded the agreement to acquire SUPES and that the "only remaining connection between the companies" was a licensing of training material.)

Wise founded ARP with Sundstrom in 2007 after both had been ousted from their jobs in the Duval County, Florida, school district due to alleged "serious misconduct." According to the ARP website, the project's mission was to launch a "teacher-training program focused on instructional coaching and school capacity-building."

Around the same time ARP was acquiring parts of SUPES, the company also merged with Jim Huge and Associates, a firm with deep experience in school superintendent and other talent searches. Huge had also served as chief strategy officer for PROACT Search. The announced rationale of the merger was "to maximize seamless delivery of the intensive executive services to schools and school leaders."

Undoubtedly, what Wise and Sundstrom assembled was similar to the three-part business model Solomon and Vranas put together. What was different, though, was Wise and Sundstrom would expand on the model with their subsequent acquisition of Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI).

According to Louisiana school teacher and wily blogger Mercedes Schneider , Sundstrom registered an entity called ERDI Partners as a business with a Florida address in 2017.

But an entity called ERDI had been in existence since at least 2005 when an article in Education Week described the company as an intermediary organization bringing together school administrators and education vendors to help companies improve the products and services they offer school systems. Specifically, ERDI arranged get-togethers by paying superintendents consulting fees plus expenses to travel to conferences at luxury resorts where they would meet with company representatives. The companies, in turn, underwrote the conferences with substantial fees paid to ERDI.

Critics of ERDI argue that the company's model for paying school administrators for their advice on education products inevitably leads to conflict of interest issues when those administrators are presented with offers to purchase products promoted by ERDI.

Byrd-Bennett had a relationship with ERDI dating back to at least 2014 and was listed as senior advisor on the firm's website while she was employed as Chicago schools' CEO.

With the acquisition of ERDI, Wise and Sundstrom could transform their business model from a lone retail operation to a mega-mall of education vendors of all kinds.

'The Search Was Manipulated'

One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended.

Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts.

Williams found Joseph had spoken at the company's conference and he had touted the company's software products in promotional materials while he was employed in his previous job in Maryland. Williams also unearthed emails showing Joseph began contract talks with Performance Matters two weeks before he formally took office in Nashville. What also struck Williams as odd was that despite the considerable cost of the contract, district employees were not required to use the software.

In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. With Joseph's backing, Discovery Education received an $11.4 million contract to provide a new science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program even though a smaller company came in with a bid that was a fraction of what Discovery proposed.

By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired.

Frogge also came to realize that all these enterprises were connected to the firm who had been instrumental in hiring Joseph -- Jim Huge and Associates.

"The search that brought Shawn Joseph to Nashville was clearly manipulated," Frogge told Our Schools in an email, "and the school board was kept in the dark about Joseph's previous tenure in Maryland and his relationships with vendor companies."

Frogge said some of the manipulation occurred when the search firm told school board members that disputes among current board members -- over charter schools, school finances, and other issues -- indicated the district was "'too dysfunctional' to hire top-level superintendents and therefore needed to hire a less experienced candidate."

But previous investigations of school leadership search firms conducted by Our Schools have found companies like these frequently forego background checks of prospective candidates they recommend, promote favored candidates regardless of their experience or track record, and push board members to keep the entire search process, including the final candidates, confidential from public scrutiny.

"Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions.

In the Youngstown City School District in Ohio, CEO Krish Mohip became mired in questions about his role as a paid consultant for ERDI while the district had a $261,914 contract with a partner company of ERDI. Under calls for his resignation, Mohip left before his contract was up.

Beaufort County School District in South Carolina became the subject of an FBI investigation because of contracts with ERDI and 30 other companies connected to the firm while superintendent Jeff Moss worked as a paid consultant for ERDI. He resigned from the district two years before his contract was up.

In Pittsburgh, superintendent Anthony Hamlet drew scrutiny when reporters found the district spent more than $14 million on dozens of no-bid contracts to firms connected to ERDI at the same time Hamlet was serving as a paid consultant with the company.

In Baltimore County, Maryland, Shaun Dallas Dance made national headlines when he was convicted of perjury committed during his time as superintendent of the district. Dance had concealed $4,600 he'd been paid by ERDI. After Dance participated in confidential meetings with vendors at an ERDI conference, the district extended contracts from companies connected to the firm.

Obviously, school board members could avoid these conflicts by avoiding leadership search firms and consultants connected to ERDI. But that is easier said than done.

After Baltimore County's troubles with Dance, it hired the independent firm Ray and Associates to conduct a search to find an interim leader. The search resulted in six finalists, from which the board chose Verletta White. Shortly after she took the job, the board's ethics review panel found she had violated financial disclosure rules and "used the prestige of her office or public position for private gain" by accepting compensation from ERDI.

Indeed, superintendent search firms frequently fail to find conflicts of interest and other problems in the candidate background checks they conduct. And some of these firms operate side businesses that also lead to conflict of interest issues.

A Revolving Door of Business Deals Funded by Taxpayers

One of the largest superintendent search firms in the United States, Schaumburg, Illinois-based Hazard, Young, and Attea (HYA), is part of the ECRA Group , a consulting firm providing an array of services to schools.

ECRA claims to have worked with over 1,000 districts, but a close examination of how the company worked with a number of school districts in Illinois reveals how the firm uses a revolving-door business model in which its search service rotates administrators into and out of leadership positions while the company uses those leadership connections to successfully upsell districts into expensive long-term consulting contracts funded by taxpayers.

ECRA's business relationships with Oak Park Elementary District 97 in Illinois go back to at least 2010 when it was hired to help replace outgoing superintendent Constance Collins. With HYA's help , the district hired Albert Roberts. In 2013, during Roberts' tenure, school board minutes show the district considered a plan to hire ECRA to analyze the district's achievement data at a cost of $74,000 a year. The following year, the district hired ECRA to produce an analysis of the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students in the district. Board minutes from 2015 show the district continuing to work with ECRA.

When Roberts retired, District 97 used HYA again for a superintendent search that resulted in hiring Carol Kelley. Kelley currently appears in ECRA's marketing literature touting the firm's Strategic Dashboard, which District 97 apparently employs.

Former superintendent Collins was hired to lead Round Lake District 116, also in Illinois, just before HYA and ECRA acquired the district's superintendent search and strategic planning contracts. Under her tenure, Round Lake paid ECRA $75,918 for consulting services in 2016 , 2017 , and 2018 . Collins retired from Round Lake in 2018, but, according to her LinkedIn page, she became an HYA associate in 2017. She also serves on the advisory board of ECRA, according to her bio at a nonprofit for developing school leaders.

Another Illinois district, Niles Township High School District 219, placed its superintendent on administrative leave after it became known she was the daughter of the president of ECRA, which had a contract with the district worth $149,419 and $120,389 in the final two years of her tenure. (She claimed that relationship with ECRA dated to before she was made superintendent, but she decided to resign anyway.)

Huntley Community School District 158, also in Illinois, had contractual arrangements with ECRA dating to at least 2009 when John Burkey was superintendent. When Burkey resigned in 2017, District 158 hired HYA to find a new superintendent at a cost of $17,500. At the end of a hiring process in which HYA kept all finalists confidential , District 158 announced it had hired Scott Rowe. Under his leadership, District 158 spent $94,980.11 on ECRA in 2018 alone.

One more example in Illinois: Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has hired ECRA for a variety of consulting services since at least 2010 when it paid the firm $22,737.50, according to state records, to survey the district's administrators. By 2013, Evanston/Skokie considered ECRA a "long-standing partner" and hired the firm to help pick its new superintendent. Outgoing superintendent Hardy Murphy also recommended the district hire the firm for teacher appraisal work.

Based on HYA's recommendations , Evanston/Skokie hired Paul Goren in 2014, and under his tenure, checks continued to flow to ECRA's consulting business, including $129,855.92 in 2015 . However, Goren's tenure was troubled and brief, and in 2019 he resigned with a $100,000 severance package. A local reporter noticed that unmentioned in the district's settlement statement was that under his leadership "the district's own progress reports [showed] declines in test scores across all groups of students and district losing ground against its own five-year targets."

ECRA's own leadership has also been embroiled in conflict of interest issues. Current ECRA president Glenn "Max" McGee resigned from his last superintendent job, in Palo Alto, California after an outside investigation found the district had mishandled claims of sexual assault. With a payout of roughly $150,000, McGee, on his way out the door, recommended the district hire HYA to conduct the search for his replacement, just after he had accepted the offer to become leader of ECRA. The district went with McGee's recommendation.

When asked whether this relationship among McGee, ECRA, and the Palo Alto district was a possible conflict of interest, McGee told Our Schools in a phone call that he "stayed out of the search" to fill his old position. Of his replacement, Don Austin from nearby Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in California, McGee admitted being an acquaintance of "many years."

Who's to Blame?

When controversies arise over superintendents and contracts with outside services, private firms that are responsible for pushing these hiring and outsourcing decisions are quick to blame school board members who signed off on the decisions. And critics of public schools frequently use these scandals to argue that democratically elected school boards are dysfunctional and need to be scrapped for other governance structures.

These criticisms leave a lot of context out.

First, being a school board member is customarily a part-time job paying very little money. And school board members are elected to serve as representatives of parents and voters, not to be experts on school finance and administration.

"School board members, although often well intentioned, are sometimes too unqualified and uninformed to exercise effective oversight of spending, and board members are not aware of the personal relationships and personal interests that may be driving decisions by administrative leaders," Nashville board member Frogge explained.

Also, there are multiple ways superintendents can keep board members in the dark about the inner workings of contractor relationships and district operations.

"From the beginning, Joseph surrounded himself with those who promoted him, including organizations he hired to 'train' the board," Frogge explained. "Joseph also prohibited all district employees from speaking to school board members, which prevented board members from recognizing leadership problems during the early days of his tenure. When board members finally began to confront Joseph about problems, including disturbing financial irregularities and his failure to follow board policy, Joseph lied to board members, exacted retribution from those questioning him, and stirred up controversy to distract from the issues at hand."

That said, Frogge noted school boards have alternatives to using private search firms that promote tainted candidates willing to feed the search firms' side businesses.

"School board members need to become better informed and more savvy about profit motives and organizations that seek to influence their selection," she wrote. "School boards can instead opt to hire a local school boards association (for example, the Tennessee School Boards Association) or a local recruiter with a reputation for personal integrity to conduct a search. They can also choose to hire from within."

How school boards decide to avoid conflicts of interest with school leaders and outside consulting firms is "critical" according to Frogge because decisions that are driven by these insiders "can lead to catastrophic outcomes for students and staff."

Among those negative outcomes are increased community acrimony, wasted education funds, and career debacles for what could perhaps have been promising school leaders.

In the case of Joseph and Nashville, controversies with his leadership decisions strongly divided the city's black community, and taxpayers were stuck with a $261,250 bill for buying out the rest of his contract. As a result of the fallout, Joseph lost his state teaching license, and he vowed never to work in the state again.

In the meantime, HYA continues to win contracts for high-profile superintendent searches, and ERDI's conferences bringing school leaders and vendors together continue to sell out .

[Sep 16, 2019] When Students Melt Down Over a 'B'

Sep 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

When Students Melt Down Over a 'B' Rampant grade anxiety is a reflection of deeper American social dysfunction, with our children the biggest victims. By David Masciotra September 17, 2019

By Marjan Apostolovic /Shutterstock The library on campus of a small Catholic university in Illinois was largely empty. Since the administrators had replaced most of the bookshelves with plush furniture, conference tables, and chairs, it better resembled an airport terminal just before a redeye. A handful of students were staring intensely into computer screens, while another pair talked loudly -- no more than 10 feet from the silent, visibly demoralized librarian -- about the rap song that one of them had just played moments earlier. Not one student was near a book. There wasn't a single newspaper or journal in sight. The university had canceled its subscriptions and removed the periodical section a few semesters earlier.

I was making my way toward the front door when one of the students from my Intro to Literature course stopped me, tears rolling down her cheeks, her body nearly convulsing as she attempted to suppress her sobs. Because any human contact is potentially criminal, I ignored my impulse to offer a consoling hand to the shoulder, and asked what was wrong. Expecting her to tell me about a personal tragedy -- perhaps the terminal diagnosis of a loved one -- I almost began to weep myself when she said, "You gave me a 'B' on the paper."

Her crying made the harangue that followed difficult to fully comprehend, but it seemed that she must maintain a certain GPA to remain in athletics. When I countered that a "B" is a good grade and that she would have plenty of time to aspire towards an "A" on other assignments, she began pleading with me for opportunities to "bring up the grade." I declined, and asked if some other, more personal factor was contributing to her stress over a passing grade on one paper in a course entirely unrelated to her major. She insisted that there was not. Helpless and baffled, I wished her well, offered her reassurance, and proceeded out of the library and into the parking lot.

Fielding an existential meltdown, complete with a crying jag, is not part of my professional training. Yet rarely does a semester go by without some kind of grade-related complaint, appeal for mercy, and panic attack. When a student appears as if he has just undergone a life-altering trauma because he's realized he is hanging over the edge of a "C," I think of my father, who at around the same age was in Vietnam. We all have our crosses to bear, whether surviving guerrilla warfare or dealing with a professor who will not give extra credit.

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"Grade anxiety," to use the more popular term, is not unique to my students or school of employment. Studies from Penn State and reports from Psychology Today , Boston University , and many other sources have confirmed that debilitating anxiety is now the leading mental health problem for college students. A quick Google search of "grade anxiety" reveals endless pages of advice to students apoplectic about their exam scores, the professors on the receiving end of their complaints and concerns, and the parents who cannot cope with anything other than perfection.

In all fairness, contemporary college students, contrary to Baby Boomer sanctimony, do have a tougher task than their predecessors. More of them work, often full-time, while completing their degree requirements, and must shoulder heavy financial burdens to acquire their education -- which they understand they will carry, in the form of student debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy, for the majority of their working lives.

Yet even acknowledging the peculiar injustice that exists in American higher education, there is no avoiding the conclusion that 20-year-old adults obsessing and crying over their grades is not a sign of societal health. It's a tornado siren blasting 100 yards away from a trailer park.

As tempting as it is to ridicule the students for their inability to put their lives in mature perspective, it's more instructive to recognize that they are products of American families, institutions, and culture. The overwhelming prevalence of severe grade anxiety indicts a society that is failing to strengthen children into thoughtful and resilient adults. As Gore Vidal once quipped, "I've never met a boring six-year-old in America, and I've never met an interesting 16-year-old."

Even before reaching the age of six, children are under the constant influence of their families. Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff document in their important book The Coddling of the American Mind how "helicopter parenting" has weakened us all. Paranoid about safety, aggressively committed to their children's achievement, parents aspire to protect their sons and daughters from all potential hardship, pushing them into closely monitored extracurricular activities. They treat school work as an accountant treats an actuarial table. The wealthier the parents, the more likely they are to enter their children into the vigilant competition of meritocracy. Some families even send their kids to elite preschools, believing that failure to do so will keep them off the Ivy League university trajectory.

The self-esteem movement has ensured that children will not only aspire to the materialistic measurement of the "best," but believe that they are innately worthy of it. Hearing for their entire lives that they are flawless specimens of Da Vinci-esque brilliance and creativity leaves them unprepared for even the mildest form of criticism. One of the most common rebuttals to a low grade from a student is an indignant "I think I did a great job," spoken as if the teacher should receive a pupil's opinion about his own work as a Catholic priest receives a papal encyclical.

Since the move toward standardized testing as the ultimate metric for student and school success, educational institutions in both rich and poor neighborhoods have relegated the learning experience to high stakes exam preparation, indoctrinating children to believe that they can reduce the value of their intellectual pursuits to a number on a results sheet. The testing model of education complements the American adult's inevitable entrance into a consumer culture with a hierarchy of social status and purchasing power. The earning power of the Kardashians or Waltons allows them to accrue more political influence and cultural value than the typical family in a city without a "Real Housewives" franchise.

Too many conservatives insist on demoting education to nothing more than job training, encouraging the prevalent anti-intellectualism in the United States with suspicion, or outright derision, towards the "impractical" liberal arts. Liberals don't help matters by too often transforming the humanities into conduits of leftist social theory, and before that making elementary and secondary schools too bureaucratic. Formulaic lesson plans and mechanical approaches to pedagogy prevent teachers from developing fruitful bonds with their students, or adjusting their class agendas according to student need and interest.

The Atlantic has run informative but also demoralizing reports on how elementary schools in Finland allow children plenty of free time for play, while also encouraging them to indulge their curiosities in the classroom. In the United States, organic and unrestrained learning is a privilege for children whose parents pay the high prices of a Montessori school. An American kindergartener has an average of 30 minutes of homework per night.

One of my favorite assignments as a child, at the Lutheran elementary school I attended from first through eighth grade, was the book report. Our teacher would walk us to the library and tell us to pick any book, read it, and write a page on it. Depriving children of choice robs them of any joy they might associate with learning. I now teach students in perpetual panic over their grades, and more times than not, the only questions I receive after attempting to facilitate a discussion on a masterpiece of literature is "Will this be on the test?" or "How long does the paper have to be?"

Standards of evaluation are necessary. But I often try to inculcate in my students the knowledge that, in any walk of life and in comparison with the development of passions and the need to sharpen one's ability to look at a complex world, grades are not that important.

This is a tough sell -- pun intended -- in a country that has so thoroughly degraded its public vision of life to an endless quest for wealth and power. There is now a handy measurement of everything. Are you successful? Check your bank account. Are you important? Check your social media followers. Are you attractive? Check the likes on your latest profile picture.

Grades, with the weight of an institution behind them, act as a final judgment in the minds of too many students. They equate A's not only with immediate academic success, but also the chance of having a successful life. Anything less than the optimum might lead to unhappiness.

All lives have moments of failure, pain, and agony. Real adversity is not a "B" on a paper, but your best friend in a coffin, your child's frightening medical condition, your injury that leads to a permanent disability. Education at its best can bequeath what Albert Murray called "equipment for living."

Students who panic and cry over less than perfect grades demonstrate that America has not given them equipment that is helpful and durable. America, in that respect, is worthy of an "F."

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing).

[Sep 15, 2019] Wall Street Ignores Cyclical Jobs Growth Downturn As Employment Indicator Hits Great Recession Levels

Notable quotes:
"... Most of the ads for good jobs are fake. ..."
"... Instead of submitting a general application, as used to be the case in the past, and have the ability to work with the company to find the role that works best. HR has ruined a lot of good companies and their recruiting processes by going to rigid job descriptions instead of just hiring smart people and letting them work. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Economic Cycle Research Institute's (ECRI) Lakshman Achuthan recently sat down with CNBC's Michael Santoli to discuss the jobs growth downturn. Keep in mind, this conversation was held on Wednesday, several days before Friday's disappointing jobs report.

Achuthan told Santoli there's a " very clear cyclical downturn in jobs growth, there's really no debating that, and it looks set to continue ."

Achuthan said January 2019 marked the cyclical peak in jobs growth, has been moving lower ever since, and the trend is far from over. Both nonfarm payrolls and the household survey year-over-year growth are in cyclical downturns, he said. While the economic narratives via the mainstream financial press continue to cheerlead that the consumer will lift all tides thanks to the supposedly strong jobs market, Achuthan believes the downturn in jobs growth will start to "undermine consumer confidence." And it's the loss in consumer confidence that could tilt the economy into recession.

He also said when examining cyclically sensitive sectors of the economy, there are already "questionable jobs numbers," such as a significant surge in the construction unemployment rate.

Achuthan said nonfarm payroll growth has plunged to a 17-month low, and the household survey is even weaker. He said the top nonfarm payroll line would be revised down by half a million jobs in the coming months, which would underline the weakness in employment.

Achuthan emphasized to Santoli that ECRI's recession call won't be "taken off the table. We've been talking about a growth rate cycle slowdown. We're slow-walking toward -- some recessionary window of vulnerability -- we're not there today -- but this piece of the puzzle [jobs growth downturn] is looking a bit wobbly. This is the main message that Wall Street is missing."

As Wall Street bids stocks to near-record highs on "trade optimism" and the belief that the consumer will save the day, in large part because of solid jobs growth. ECRI's Leading Employment Index, which correctly anticipated this downturn in jobs growth, is at its worst reading since the Great Recession .

And Wall Street's bet today is that the Fed can achieve a soft landing – as in 1995-96 – when it started the rate cut cycle the same month the inflation downturn was signaled by the U.S. Future Inflation Gauge (USFIG) turning lower.

However, this time around, the inflation downturn signal arrived in September 2018, the moment when the Fed should have started the cut cycle. With a ten-month lag in the cut cycle, belated rate cuts have always been associated with recession.

And now it should become increasingly clear to readers why President Trump has sounded the alarm about the need for 100bps rate cuts, quantitative easing, and emergency payroll tax cuts - it's because he's been briefed about the economic downturn that has already started.


GotAFriendInBen , 15 minutes ago link

Actually, MSM cheerleads rate cuts as the cure-all, instead of throwing shoes at Powell

Keyser , 41 minutes ago link

How do you continue to have jobs growth when the country is at full employment?

Typical ******** from C-NBC...

Alex Droog , 19 minutes ago link

The network that employs dotards like Jim Cramer to cheerlead the lemmings.

Build-It-Well , 1 hour ago link

Have we learned anything?

https://soundcloud.com/daniel-sullivan-505714723/little-saigon-report-170-have-we-learned-anything

Art_Vandelay , 1 hour ago link

I don't agree with him that the Fed can do anything to correct this, nor do they have an incentive to do so. The Fed is not on the consumer's side. They will appropriate funds to whoever they want to, just like 08, and give the middle finger to everyone else.

pitz , 1 hour ago link

Job quality is horrible, particularly for US citizen STEM workers. This has been the case since the downturn that began in the late 1990s. Trump needs to fully cancel the OPT program and almost eliminate the H-1B program. Major employers don't even bother considering US citizen STEM talent before they hire foreign nationals.

pump and dump , 1 hour ago link

Most of the ads for good jobs are fake.

pitz , 1 hour ago link

Yes, but they don't bother to come out and tell you its a fake ad. One of the tragedies of the online job application process is that it forces a person, with little to no knowledge of a company and its internals, to pick, out of potentially hundreds of roles, which one would be best for them.

Instead of submitting a general application, as used to be the case in the past, and have the ability to work with the company to find the role that works best. HR has ruined a lot of good companies and their recruiting processes by going to rigid job descriptions instead of just hiring smart people and letting them work.

ZD1 , 1 hour ago link

Congress first established the H-1B program with the The Immigration Act of 1990. It was supposed to be temporary.

Congress needs to abolish it.

Future Jim , 2 hours ago link

This seems to contradict the labor participation rate.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CIVPART

J S Bach , 2 hours ago link

"Wall Street Ignores Cyclical Slave Growth Downturn As Enslavement Indicator Hits Great Recession Levels"

Ahhh... what truth a few seconds of editing can convoke.

The EveryThing Bubble , 2 hours ago link

It's all rigged folks

don't believe anything you read

[Sep 14, 2019] Is it better to be poor in a rich country or rich in a poor country?

Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 13, 2019 at 06:31 PM

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-09-11/Should-we-worry-about-income-gaps-within-or-between-countries--JTDcnKWvII/index.html

September 10, 2019

Should We Worry About Income Gaps Within or Between Countries?
The rise of populist nationalism throughout the West has been fueled partly by a clash between the objectives of equity in rich countries and higher living standards in poor countries. Yet advanced-economy policies that emphasize domestic equity need not be harmful to the global poor, even in international trade.
By DANI RODRIK

At the beginning of classes every autumn, I tease my students with the following question: Is it better to be poor in a rich country or rich in a poor country? The question typically invites considerable and inconclusive debate. But we can devise a more structured and limited version of the question, for which there is a definitive answer.

Let's narrow the focus to incomes and assume that people care only about their own consumption levels (disregarding inequality and other social conditions). "Rich" and "poor" are those in the top and bottom 5 percent of the income distribution, respectively. In a typical rich country, the poorest 5 percent of the population receive around 1 percent of the national income. Data are a lot sparser for poor countries, but it would not be too much off the mark to assume that the richest 5 percent there receive 25 percent of the national income.

Similarly, let's assume that rich and poor countries are those in the top and bottom 5 percent of all countries, ranked by per capita income. In a typical poor country (such as Liberia or Niger), that is around 1,000 U.S. dollars, compared to 65,000 U.S. dollars in a typical rich country (say, Switzerland or Norway). (These incomes are adjusted for cost-of-living, or purchasing-power, differentials so that they can be directly compared.)

Now, we can calculate that a rich person in a poor country has an income of 5,000 (1,000 x 0.25 x 20) U.S. dollars while a poor person in a rich country earns 13,000 (65,000 x 0.01 x 20) U.S. dollars. Measured by material living standards, a poor person in a rich country is more than twice as well off as a rich person in a poor country.

This result surprises my students, most of whom expect the reverse to be true. When they think of wealthy individuals in poor countries, they imagine tycoons living in mansions with a retinue of servants and a fleet of expensive cars. But while such individuals certainly exist, a representative of the top 5 percent in very poor countries is likely to be a mid-level government bureaucrat.

The larger point of this comparison is to underscore the importance of income differences across countries, relative to inequalities within countries.

At the dawn of modern economic growth, before the Industrial Revolution, global inequality derived almost exclusively from inequality within countries. Income gaps between Europe and poorer parts of the world were small. But as the West developed in the 19th century, world economy underwent a "great divergence" between the industrial core and the primary-goods-producing periphery. During much of the postwar period, income gaps between rich and poor countries accounted for the greater part of global inequality.

From the late 1980s onward, two trends began to alter this picture. First, led by China, many parts of the lagging regions began to experience substantially faster economic growth than the world's rich countries. For the first time in history, the typical developing-country resident was getting richer at a faster pace than his or her counterparts in Europe and North America.

Second, inequalities began to increase in many advanced economies, especially those with less-regulated labor markets and weak social protections. The rise in inequality in the United States has been so sharp that it is no longer clear that the standard of living of the American "poor" is higher than that of the "rich" in the poorest countries (with rich and poor defined as above).

These two trends went in offsetting directions in terms of overall global inequality – one decreased it while the other increased it. But they have both raised the share of within-country inequality in the total, reversing an uninterrupted trend observed since the 19th century.

Given patchy data, we cannot be certain about the respective shares of within- and between-country inequality in today's world economy. But in an unpublished paper based on data from the World Inequality Database, Lucas Chancel of the Paris School of Economics estimates that as much as three-quarters of current global inequality may be due to within-country inequality. Historical estimates by two other French economists, François Bourguignon and Christian Morrison, suggest that within-country inequality has not loomed so large since the late 19th century.

These estimates, if correct, suggest that the world economy has crossed an important threshold, requiring us to revisit policy priorities. For a long time, economists like me have been telling the world that the most effective way to reduce global income disparities would be to accelerate economic growth in low-income countries. Cosmopolitans in rich countries – typically the wealthy and skilled professionals – could claim to hold the high moral ground when they downplayed the concerns of those complaining about domestic inequality.

But the rise of populist nationalism throughout the West has been fueled partly by the tension between the objectives of equity in rich countries and higher living standards in poor countries. Advanced economies' increased trade with low-income countries has contributed to domestic wage inequality. And probably the single best way to raise incomes in the rest of the world would be to allow a massive influx of workers from poor countries into rich countries' labor markets. That would not be good news for less educated, lower-paid rich-country workers.

Yet advanced-economy policies that emphasize domestic equity need not be harmful to the global poor, even in international trade. Economic policies that lift incomes at the bottom of the labor market and diminish economic insecurity are good both for domestic equity and for the maintenance of a healthy world economy that provides poor economies a chance to develop.


Dani Rodrik is Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Paine -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 07:22 AM
Yes yes yes


Trade and income distribution are related but the relationship can be determinative lay shaped by domestic institutions and country wide foreign trade policy

We need institutions run by and for common workng people

And foreign trade policy to shape impact patterns on domestic households in a pro common working people pattern

Too many well meaning Cosmo humanists assume the corporate message to be binding

A r
Trade off between foreign poor and domestic wage earners
Was part of global progress

Nope
Not necessarily so

Dani has several popularly written papers on tis point

Let's hope Anne can link to some of hem for us

likbez -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 06:38 PM
Dani Rodrik is wrong. The idea that poor in the USA live better then top 5% in the most poor counties is a kind of persistent neoliberal myth that needs to dispelled.

1. Purchase party essentially means that in poor countries dollar is overvalued twice or more. Which means that $5K in poorest countries is close to $10 or even $15K in the USA and other Western countries.

2. Access to education and medical care is incomparable. In the USA most poor live without medical insurance. That put them in severe disadvantage with top 5% of a poor country.

3. Top 5% in poor countries typically own very comfortable apartments, in many cases far superior to what is available in the USA even for middle income families. Cost of the rent on two bedroom apartment in the large city in poor countries is typically 5-10 times less then in the USA. Taking into account very low quality of apartment complexes in the USA, the apartments in poor countries for top 5% might well belong to luxury apartment class in the USA. I know for sure that in the capital of Tajikistan (2017 GDP per Capita: $777) they are better.

The low 5% in the USA actually live in the third world country with considerable level of segregation from the rest of population as for apartments in which they live (look housing of the low paid retail and WalMart employees for actual data; their standard of living is just horrible, especially for single mothers with children)

3. Level of education. Top 5% in poor country are mostly university educated or better. Low 5% in the USA and other Western countries usually are functionally illiterate.

https://brandongaille.com/us-literacy-rate-and-illiteracy-statistics/

1. 32 million adults can not read in the United States equal to 14% of the population.
2. 21% of US adults read below the 5th grade level.
3. 19% of high school graduates can not read.
4. 85% of juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are considered functionally illiterate.
5. 70% of inmates in America's prisons can not read above the fourth grade level.

4. Military industrial complex and Wall Street had taken ordinary Americans for a ride much like in the UK during the days of British Empire.

Which for one thing means that due to lack of affordable public transportation you need to own a car outside major metropolises. Which drops you standard of living. You will be fleeced three times: first by used car dealerships, then by insurance companies (low credit rating and high risk of default means high premium) and then repair shops which in some cases are really criminal enterprises exploiting the most poor and vulnerable parts of the population. Parts who has no access to quality cars.

Top 5% in poor countries has access to new small and midsize Japanese models (like Corolla, Nissan Juke, etc )

Also Rodrik method of calculation of income of top 5% of population is highly questionable. He never tried to verify his calculation with actual statistic of distribution of incomes in say top 10 poorest countries in the world (the list includes three the xUSSR "stans"; for them top 5% earns probably at least $20K a year, if not more )

IMHO for poor countries the income of the top 5% is probably two to four times higher then Rodrick estimate due to extreme values of GINI coefficient for such countries. Top 5% on such countries are mostly represented by people working for foreign companies (compradors), high level professionals and high level government employees. For the latter the salary is just the top of the iceberg of the real income.

[Sep 13, 2019] Clowns, AI and layoffs

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bugs Bunny , September 13, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Clowns should be increasingly used in redundancy (layoff, firing) meetings until it becomes the norm and employers start to compete with each other to offer the best clown redundancy experience and promote it as a benefit.

It would also create clown jobs, which would probably require more clown schools, meaning that the tuition prices would go through the roof and young people dreaming of becoming redundancy clowns would either have to come from wealth or take out massive clown loans to fund their education for clown universities and grad schools. Shareholders can only take so much top line costs and Wall Street pressure would force corporations to improve return on investment and reduce redundancy clown labor expenses. Sadly, redundancy clowns would find themselves training their own replacements – HB1 clowns from "low cost" countries. Employers would respond to quality criticisms of the HB1 clown experience by publishing survey results showing very similar almost ex-employee satisfaction with the new clowns.

Eventually, of course, redundancy clowns will be replaced by AI and robots. It's just the future and we will need to think about how to adapt to it today by putting in place a UBI for the inevitable redundant redundancy clowns.

[Sep 12, 2019] Amazing; I had no idea Betsy Voss advocate of for-profit charter schools (privatizing education) and The New Curriculum and Eric Prince (advocate for privatizing war) are brother and sister. Blood will tell.

Sep 12, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 3, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Amazing; I had no idea Betsy Voss – advocate of for-profit charter schools (privatizing education) and The New Curriculum – and Eric Prince (advocate for privatizing war) are brother and sister. Blood will tell.

Profiteering is naked and in the open now in the west, and public systems increasingly favour the wealthy – if you want better, you should be ready to pay for it. I guess that's what all those tax cuts were about – shifting a burden off of the wealthy, so that now public services are pay-as-you-go because the government can't afford to provide them for everyone. However, tax cuts also favoured the wealthy – gee, it almost makes you think the class system is coming back, dunnit?

Jen September 3, 2019 at 2:58 pm
I recall Jeremy Scahill mentioning in his book on Blackwater (before it started changing its name faster than you can change your socks) that Erik Prince was related to Betsy deVos. This was long before Scahill turned his own name and reputation into mud when he walked out of a London conference back in 2012 or 2013 because the Syrian nun Agnes Mariam de la Croix, who was known to support President Assad at the time, was a guest speaker at the conference.

[Sep 10, 2019] The Siren Song of Economic Opportunity

Notable quotes:
"... When the issues of poverty and inequality came up, a common neoliberal dodge was to invoke the Horatio Alger myth -- that in America, with hard work one can, or should be able to, raise oneself up by one' bootstraps. This switches the question from security ..."
"... As it happens, mobility has declined over the long term in the United States, but that aside, it's a two-way street. The escalator of life runs in both directions. Moreover, it's a separate issue from that of poverty or inequality. One can have more mobility and the same or worse poverty or inequality. The rising tide goes out as well as in. ..."
"... The neoliberal remedy for poverty and inequality is commonly held to be education, because workers lack the requisite skills to earn a living wage. It's kind of their fault. All that's needed is some reasonable public expenditure. No deeper structural factors are at issue. This mindset is contradicted now in two ways. ..."
Sep 10, 2019 | portside.org

Originally from: The Sunset of Neoliberalism

When the issues of poverty and inequality came up, a common neoliberal dodge was to invoke the Horatio Alger myth -- that in America, with hard work one can, or should be able to, raise oneself up by one' bootstraps. This switches the question from security made possible by the public sector to an individual responsibility for economic mobility.

As it happens, mobility has declined over the long term in the United States, but that aside, it's a two-way street. The escalator of life runs in both directions. Moreover, it's a separate issue from that of poverty or inequality. One can have more mobility and the same or worse poverty or inequality. The rising tide goes out as well as in.

The neoliberal remedy for poverty and inequality is commonly held to be education, because workers lack the requisite skills to earn a living wage. It's kind of their fault. All that's needed is some reasonable public expenditure. No deeper structural factors are at issue. This mindset is contradicted now in two ways.

First, the idea of education as an essential, missing ingredient is being supplanted by the idea that what's at issue is power , both political and economic . The wealthy control streams of income and institutions of credentialization that could be rerouted, via taxation, to finance education ("free college") that has an equalizing effect on wealth and enhances economic security.. .

[Sep 09, 2019] What's the True Unemployment Rate in the US? by Jack Rasmus

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. ..."
"... The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed). ..."
"... But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated. ..."
"... The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them). ..."
"... The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). ..."
"... The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. Here's why: the 3.7% is the U-3 rate, per the labor dept. But that's the rate only for full time employed. What the labor dept. calls the U-6 includes what it calls discouraged workers (those who haven't looked for work in the past 4 weeks). Then there's what's called the 'missing labor force'–i.e. those who haven't looked in the past year. They're not calculated in the 3.7% U-3 unemployment rate number either. Why? Because you have to be 'out of work and actively looking for work' to be counted as unemployed and therefore part of the 3.7% rate.

The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed).

But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated.

The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them).

The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). The labor dept. just makes assumptions about that number (conservatively, I may add) and plugs in a number to be added to the unemployment totals. But it has no real idea of how many undocumented or underground economy workers are actually employed or unemployed since these workers do not participate in the labor dept. phone surveys, and who can blame them.

The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%.

Finally, there's the corroborating evidence about what's called the labor force participation rate. It has declined by roughly 5% since 2007. That's 6 to 9 million workers who should have entered the labor force but haven't. The labor force should be that much larger, but it isn't. Where have they gone? Did they just not enter the labor force? If not, they're likely a majority unemployed, or in the underground economy, or belong to the labor dept's 'missing labor force' which should be much greater than reported. The government has no adequate explanation why the participation rate has declined so dramatically. Or where have the workers gone. If they had entered the labor force they would have been counted. And their 6 to 9 million would result in an increase in the total labor force number and therefore raise the unemployment rate.

All these reasons–-i.e. only counting full timers in the official 3.7%; under-estimating the size of the part time workforce; under-estimating the size of the discouraged and so-called 'missing labor force'; using methodologies that don't capture the undocumented and underground unemployed accurately; not counting part of the SSI increase as unemployed; and reducing the total labor force because of the declining labor force participation-–together means the true unemployment rate is definitely over 10% and likely closer to 12%. And even that's a conservative estimate perhaps." Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com .

[Sep 08, 2019] Academic freedom sometimes takes very perverted forms in a neoliberal university

Sep 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Miro23 , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:28 am GMT

Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets.

And what is permissible is becoming truly weird. These are comments on an article over at http://www.thecollegefix.com "Poll: 73 percent of Republican students have withheld political views in class for fear their grades would suffer".

https://www.thecollegefix.com/poll-73-percent-of-republican-students-have-withheld-political-views-in-class-for-fear-their-grades-would-suffer/

[MORE]

Blackbeagle Mark

I'm ABD (all but dissertation) in Econometrics because my adviser was a Marxist nutcase from the London School of Economics. I couldn't fight the communists forever; not when they held all the cards.

Reply: Medina-Merino

I left my PhD program in Anthropology when on a "field trip" , my advisor and his idiotic tie-dyed moron of a wife (former student of his) crawled into my tent on the first night of a 2 week research project in black leather bondage harnesses and informed me it was time for me to join them in a "night of pure pleasure".

Fast forward I got up, got into my car, drove through the night back to campus, parked outside of the Dean's office, stormed in with wide-blood-shot-eyes when he arrived in his 700-Series turbo-charged Special Edition BMW and told him I wanted to file a complaint against Professor "Bondo" and when he (Dean Bozo) did not respond to my request in over a week, I withdrew from my program (ABD also) before the "Drop Deadline" so I could get full refund of my hard-earned TENS OF THOUSANDS of tuition dollars and used the money to secure an attorney (who I later learned was on-the-take for the University's own legal counsel office of "Equity & Fairness") until I ran out of money and then left town to take a position in Scotland on a research team studying Celtic migrations to the Northern Coast of the Iberian Peninsula, known for centuries unofficially as the "Celtic Coast". I loved my work and worked with some amazing and HONEST and RESPECTFUL colleagues.

I learned a big lesson from this EFFIN nightmare be verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry careful of whose hands you find your career in there are a lot of filthy, abusive, corrupt "faculty" and even more dishonest and disingenuous and despicable "administrators" in the contemporary academy and many have brass name-plates on their doors and hold do-nothing-but-damage-to-the-lives-of those who are often powerless against their callous and deliberate abuses.

Even today, on my sleepless nights I can still hear Mr. Chips rustling in his grave

I went on to hold positions of academic renown in Europe and Latin America and eventually returned to the US when I knew I would be able to secure adjunct positions in the US and Canada and Puerto Rico to support myself and my family, whose lives I was able to maintain in a stable trajectory throughout this horror!

Revenge is sweet however today when I receive requests from my former "institution of higher learning" I respond in the SASE
"NEVER WILL I EVER GIVE YOU ONE CENT FOR NOT HAVING PROTECTED ME FROM ABUSE AT THE HANDS OF DR. "BONDO" YEARS AGO!" Even today, he is part of campus lore and is whispered about in hushed tones.

What happened to the "prof" he died of very painful brain cancer (poetic justice) and his idiot wife went full-tilt into drugs and is sitting in a pool of her own pee in a very dismal geriatric ward. And the "Dean"? He is likewise awaiting his last days in his luxury condo in Santa Barbara, CA surrounded by like-minded Lutheran do-gooders holding prayer circles and burning incense and rubbing crystals for each of their pathetic selves

[Sep 07, 2019] conservancy.umn.edu

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: Well, certainly it seems the way things are going. You take any particular subject that you are interested in and you try to see if somebody with an American high school education has learned it, and you will be appalled. You know, Jesse Jackson thinks that students know nothing about political science, and I am sure the chemists think that students don't know chemistry, and so on. But somehow they get it when they have to later. But I would say certainly the students now have been getting more of a superficial idea of mathematics than they used to. We have to do remedial stuff at Stanford that we didn't have to do thirty years ago.

Frana: Gio [Wiederhold] said much the same thing to me.

Knuth: The most scandalous thing was that Stanford's course in linear algebra could not get to eigenvalues because the students didn't know about complex numbers. Now every course at Stanford that takes linear algebra as a prerequisite does so because they want the students to know about eigenvalues. But here at Stanford, with one of the highest admission standards of any university, our students don't know complex numbers. So we have to teach them that when they get to college. Yes, this is definitely a breakdown.

Frana: Was your mathematics training in high school particularly good, or was it that you spent a lot of time actually doing problems?

Knuth: No, my mathematics training in high school was not good. My teachers could not answer my questions and so I decided I'd go into physics. I mean, I had played with mathematics in high school. I did a lot of work drawing graphs and plotting points and I used pi as the radix of a number system, and explored what the world would be like if you wanted to do logarithms and you had a number system based on pi. And I had played with stuff like that. But my teachers couldn't answer questions that I had.

... ... ... Frana: Do you have an answer? Are American students different today? In one of your interviews you discuss the problem of creativity versus gross absorption of knowledge.

Knuth: Well, that is part of it. Today we have mostly a sound byte culture, this lack of attention span and trying to learn how to pass exams. Frana: Yes,

[Sep 06, 2019] Understanding Literacy Numeracy

Level 4/5 is the ability to read complex information and glean information from it, or in numeracy, the ability to do algebra and above. You will note that only about 1 in 10 function at this level. The vast majority function at about 6th to 8th grade competency.
Sep 06, 2019 | www.cdc.gov

this is from Understanding Literacy & Numeracy

[Sep 04, 2019] Starving Seniors How America Fails To Feed Its Aging naked capitalism

Sep 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html

https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html

https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F09%2Fstarving-seniors-how-america-fails-to-feed-its-aging.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> By Laura Ungar, who health issues out of Kaiser Health News' St. Louis office, and Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for more than 45 years, and a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Originally published by Kaiser Health News .

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Army veteran Eugene Milligan is 75 years old and blind. He uses a wheelchair since losing half his right leg to diabetes and gets dialysis for kidney failure.

And he has struggled to get enough to eat.

Earlier this year, he ended up in the hospital after burning himself while boiling water for oatmeal. The long stay caused the Memphis vet to fall off a charity's rolls for home-delivered Meals on Wheels , so he had to rely on others, such as his son, a generous off-duty nurse and a local church to bring him food.

"Many times, I've felt like I was starving," he said. "There's neighbors that need food too. There's people at dialysis that need food. There's hunger everywhere."

Indeed, millions of seniors across the country quietly go hungry as the safety net designed to catch them frays. Nearly 8% of Americans 60 and older were "food insecure" in 2017, according to a recent study released by the anti-hunger group Feeding America. That's 5.5 million seniors who don't have consistent access to enough food for a healthy life, a number that has more than doubled since 2001 and is only expected to grow as America grays.

While the plight of hungry children elicits support and can be tackled in schools, the plight of hungry older Americans is shrouded by isolation and a generation's pride. The problem is most acute in parts of the South and Southwest. Louisiana has the highest rate among states, with 12% of seniors facing food insecurity. Memphis fares worst among major metropolitan areas, with 17% of seniors like Milligan unsure of their next meal.

And government relief falls short. One of the main federal programs helping seniors is starved for money. The Older Americans Act -- passed more than half a century ago as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society reforms -- was amended in 1972 to provide for home-delivered and group meals, along with other services, for anyone 60 and older. But its funding has lagged far behind senior population growth, as well as economic inflation.

The biggest chunk of the act's budget, nutrition services, dropped by 8% over the past 18 years when adjusted for inflation, an AARP report found in February. Home-delivered and group meals have decreased by nearly 21 million since 2005. Only a fraction of those facing food insecurity get any meal services under the act; a U.S. Government Accountability Office report examining 2013 data found 83% got none.

With the act set to expire Sept. 30, Congress is now considering its reauthorization and how much to spend going forward.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 45% of eligible adults 60 and older have signed up for another source of federal aid: SNAP, the food stamp program for America's poorest. Those who don't are typically either unaware they could qualify, believe their benefits would be tiny or can no longer get to a grocery store to use them.

Even fewer seniors may have SNAP in the future. More than 13% of SNAP households with elderly members would lose benefits under a recent Trump administration proposal.

For now, millions of seniors -- especially low-income ones -- go without. Across the nation, waits are common to receive home-delivered meals from a crucial provider, Meals on Wheels, a network of 5,000 community-based programs. In Memphis, for example, the wait to get on the Meals on Wheels schedule is more than a year long.

"It's really sad because a meal is not an expensive thing," said Sally Jones Heinz, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association , which provides home-delivered meals in Memphis. "This shouldn't be the way things are in 2019."

Since malnutrition exacerbates diseases and prevents healing, seniors without steady, nutritious food can wind up in hospitals, which drives up Medicare and Medicaid costs, hitting taxpayers with an even bigger bill . Sometimes seniors relapse quickly after discharge -- or worse.

Widower Robert Mukes, 71, starved to death on a cold December day in 2016, alone in his Cincinnati apartment.

The Hamilton County Coroner listed the primary cause of death as "starvation of unknown etiology" and noted "possible hypothermia," pointing out that his apartment had no electricity or running water. Death records show the 5-foot-7-inch man weighed just 100.5 pounds.

A Clear Need

On a hot May morning in Memphis, seniors trickled into a food bank at the Riverside Missionary Baptist Church, 3 miles from the opulent tourist mecca of Graceland. They picked up boxes packed with canned goods, rice, vegetables and meat.

Marion Thomas, 63, placed her box in the trunk of a friend's car. She lives with chronic back pain and high blood pressure and started coming to the pantry three years ago. She's disabled, relies on Social Security and gets $42 a month from SNAP based on her income, household size and other factors. That's much less than the average $125-a-month benefit for households with seniors, but more than the $16 minimum that one in five such households get. Still, Thomas said, "I can't buy very much."

A day later, the Mid-South Food Bank brought a "mobile pantry" to Latham Terrace, a senior housing complex, where a long line of people waited. Some inched forward in wheelchairs; others leaned on canes. One by one, they collected their allotments.

The need is just as real elsewhere. In Dallas, Texas, 69-year-old China Anderson squirrels away milk, cookies and other parts of her home-delivered lunches for dinner because she can no longer stand and cook due to scoliosis and eight deteriorating vertebral discs.

As seniors ration food, programs ration services.

Although more than a third of the Meals on Wheels money comes from the Older Americans Act, even with additional public and private dollars, funds are still so limited that some programs have no choice but to triage people using score sheets that assign points based on who needs food the most. Seniors coming from the hospital and those without family usually top waiting lists.

More than 1,000 were waiting on the Memphis area's list recently. And in Dallas, $4.1 million in donations wiped out a 1,000-person waiting list in December, but within months it had crept back up to 100.

Nationally, "there are tens of thousands of seniors who are waiting," said Erika Kelly , chief membership and advocacy officer for Meals on Wheels America. "While they're waiting, their health deteriorates and, in some cases, we know seniors have died."

Edwin Walker, a deputy assistant secretary for the federal Administration on Aging, acknowledged waits are a long-standing problem, but said 2.4 million people a year benefit from the Older Americans Act's group or home-delivered meals, allowing them to stay independent and healthy.

Seniors get human connection, as well as food, from these services. Aner Lee Murphy, a 102-year-old Meals on Wheels client in Memphis, counts on the visits with volunteers Libby and Bob Anderson almost as much as the food. She calls them "my children," hugging them close and offering a prayer each time they leave.

But others miss out on such physical and psychological nourishment. A devastating phone call brought that home for Kim Daugherty, executive director of the Aging Commission of the Mid-South , which connects seniors to service providers in the region. The woman on the line told Daugherty she'd been on the waiting list for more than a year.

"Ma'am, there are several hundred people ahead of you," Daugherty reluctantly explained.

"I just need you all to remember," came the caller's haunting reply, "I'm hungry and I need food."

A Slow Killer

James Ziliak , a poverty researcher at the University of Kentucky who worked on the Feeding America study, said food insecurity shot up with the Great Recession, starting in the late 2000s, and peaked in 2014. He said it shows no signs of dropping to pre-recession levels.

While older adults of all income levels can face difficulty accessing and preparing healthy food, rates are highest among seniors in poverty. They are also high among minorities. More than 17% of black seniors and 16% of Hispanic seniors are food insecure, compared with fewer than 7% of white seniors.

A host of issues combine to set those seniors on a downward spiral, said registered dietitian Lauri Wright , who chairs the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of North Florida. Going to the grocery store gets a lot harder if they can't drive. Expensive medications leave less money for food. Chronic physical and mental health problems sap stamina and make it tough to cook. Inch by inch, hungry seniors decline.

And, even if it rarely kills directly, hunger can complicate illness and kill slowly.

Malnutrition blunts immunity, which already tends to weaken as people age. Once they start losing weight, they're more likely to grow frail and are more likely to die within a year, said Dr. John Morley, director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University.

Seniors just out of the hospital are particularly vulnerable. Many wind up getting readmitted, pushing up taxpayers' costs for Medicare and Medicaid. A recent analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that Medicare could save $1.57 for every dollar spent on home-delivered meals for chronically ill seniors after a hospitalization.

Most hospitals don't refer senior outpatients to Meals on Wheels, and advocates say too few insurance companies get involved in making sure seniors have enough to eat to keep them healthy.

When Milligan, the Memphis veteran, burned himself with boiling water last winter and had to be hospitalized for 65 days, he fell off the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association's radar. The meals he'd been getting for about a decade stopped.

Heinz, Metropolitan's CEO, said the association is usually able to start and stop meals for short hospital stays. But, Heinz said, the association didn't hear from Milligan and kept trying to deliver meals for a time while he was in the hospital, then notified the Aging Commission of the Mid-South he wasn't home. As is standard procedure, Metropolitan officials said, a staff member from the commission made three attempts to contact him and left a card at the blind man's home.

But nothing happened when he got out of the hospital this spring. In mid-May, a nurse referred him for meal delivery. Still, he didn't get meals because he faced a waitlist already more than 1,000 names long.

After questions from Kaiser Health News, Heinz looked into Milligan's case and realized that, as a former client, Milligan could get back on the delivery schedule faster.

But even then the process still has hurdles: The aging commission would need to conduct a new home assessment for meals to resume. That has yet to happen because, amid the wait, Milligan's health deteriorated.

A Murky Future

As the Older Americans Act awaits reauthorization this fall, many senior advocates worry about its funding.

In June, the U.S. House passed a $93 million increase to the Older Americans Act's nutrition programs, raising total funding by about 10% to $1 billion in the next fiscal year. In inflation-adjusted dollars, that's still less than in 2009. And it still has to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, where the proposed increase faces long odds.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat who chairs the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee, expects the panel to tackle legislation for reauthorization of the act soon after members return from the August recess. She's now working with colleagues "to craft a strong, bipartisan update," she said, that increases investments in nutrition programs as well as other services.

"I'm confident the House will soon pass a robust bill," she said, "and I am hopeful that the Senate will also move quickly so we can better meet the needs of our seniors."

In the meantime, "the need for home-delivered meals keeps increasing every year," said Lorena Fernandez, who runs a meal delivery program in Yakima, Wash. Activists are pressing state and local governments to ensure seniors don't starve, with mixed results. In Louisiana, for example, anti-hunger advocates stood on the state Capitol steps in May and unsuccessfully called on the state to invest $1 million to buy food from Louisiana farmers to distribute to hungry residents. Elsewhere, senior activists across the nation have participated each March in "March for Meals" events such as walks, fundraisers and rallies designed to focus attention on the problem.

Private fundraising hasn't been easy everywhere, especially rural communities without much wealth. Philanthropy has instead tended to flow to hungry kids, who outnumber hungry seniors more than 2-to-1, according to Feeding America.

"Ten years ago, organizations had a goal of ending child hunger and a lot of innovation and resources went into what could be done," said Jeremy Everett, executive director of Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative. "The same thing has not happened in the senior adult population." And that has left people struggling for enough food to eat.

As for Milligan, he didn't get back on Meals on Wheels before suffering complications related to his dialysis in June. He ended up back in the hospital. Ironically, it was there that he finally had a steady, if temporary, source of food.

It's impossible to know if his time without steady, nutritious food made a difference. What is almost certain is that feeding him at home would have been far cheaper.

[Sep 02, 2019] Discrimination thru stupid job descriptions is catching up to the economy

Jan 11, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
cocomaan, January 10, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Coulnd't get the JOLTS, November 2016 links to work, but the skills gap is wild.

At an institution of higher ed I'm familiar with, both faculty and administrative positions continue to be unfilled. There are very few candidates even for entry level positions. Failed searches are now the norm. It's feast or famine: either people are perfect for the job and have many options, or have no related experience at all.

I wonder if the labor force participation rate is starting to catch up with the job market. That is, there are a lot of healthy adults who have dropped out of the workforce who would be the people you'd want in those positions.

Or that the job market is not nearly as liquid as they'd have you believe, and people can't relocate from where they are because of adult children who live with them, or things of that nature. All kinds of weird things now in the job market. I know someone who commutes a significant distance to work that has to look for another job because their workplace's health care plan only covers a geographic area close to that job.

alex morfesis , January 10, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Discrimination thru stupid job descriptions is catching up to the economy paying $12 per hour five years experience required nonsense job descriptions designed to help the accredited and credentialed have a leg up

There seem to be three types of employment categories

IMUO it is not a skills gap it is the demanding of irrelevant capacities and experience that almost always have very little to do with the actual tasks required

[Sep 02, 2019] Neoliberals often argue that people should be glad to lose employment at 50 so that people from other countries can have higher incomes

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberals often argue that people should be glad to lose employment at 50 so that people from other countries can have higher incomes, and leftists often agree because hey "free movement" and because after all the professional class jobs aren't at risk ..."
"... "I think Trump is afraid the imperial global order presided by the US is about to crash and thinks he will be able to steer the country into a soft landing by accepting that other world powers have interests, by disengaging from costly and humiliating military interventions, by re-negotiating trade deals, and by stopping the mass immigration of poor people." ..."
"... No one has literally argued that people should be glad to lose employment: that part was hyperbole. But the basic argument is often made quite seriously. See e.g. outsource Brad DeLong . ..."
"... To the guy who asked- poor white people keep voting Republican even though it screws them because they genuinely believe that the country is best off when it encourages a culture of "by the bootstraps" self improvement, hard work, and personal responsibility. They view taxing people in order to give the money to the supposedly less fortunate as the anti thesis of this, because it gives people an easy out that let's them avoid having to engage in the hard work needed to live independently. ..."
"... Attempts at repairing historical racial inequity read as cheating in that paradigm, and even as hostile since they can easily observe white people who are just as poor or poorer than those who racial politics focuses upon. ..."
"... The extent to which "poor white people" vote against their alleged economic interests is overblown. To a large extent, they do not vote at all nor is anyone or anything on the ballot to represent their interests. And, yes, they are misinformed systematically by elites out to screw them and they know this, but cannot do much to either clear up their own confusion or fight back. ..."
"... The mirror image problem - of elites manipulating the system to screw the poor and merely middle-class - is daily in the news. Both Presidential candidates have been implicated. So, who do you recommend they vote for? ..."
"... My understanding is trumps support disproportionately comes from the small business owning classes, Ie a demographic similar to the petite bourgeoisie who have often been heavily involved in reactionary movements. This gets oversold as "working class" when class is defined by education level rather than income. ..."
"... Eric Berne, in The Structures and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups, proposed that among the defining characteristics of a coherent group is an explicit boundary which determines whether an individual is a member of the group or not. (If there is no boundary, nothing binds the assemblage together; it is a crowd.) The boundary helps provide social cohesion and is so important that groups will create one if necessary. Clearly, boundaries exclude as well as include, and someone must play the role of outsider. ..."
"... I am somewhat suspicious of leaving dominating elites out of these stories of racism as an organizing principle for political economy or (cultural) community. ..."
"... Racism served the purposes of a slaveholding elite that organized political communities to serve their own interests. (Or, vis a vis the Indians a land-grab or genocide.) ..."
"... Racism serves as an organizing principle. Politically, in an oppressive and stultifying hierarchy like the plantation South, racism not incidentally buys the loyalty of subalterns with ersatz status. ..."
"... For a time, the balkanization of American political communities by race, religion and ethnicity was an effective means to the dominance of an tiny elite with ties to an hegemonic community, but it backfired. Dismantling that balkanization has left the country with a very low level of social affiliation and thus a low capacity to organize resistance to elite depredations. ..."
Aug 01, 2004 | crookedtimber.org

Rich Puchalsky 08.04.16 at 11:40 am 177

fn: "Of course there is a subtext to these racist hate campaigns that someone else here raised and rich ran with a bit, which is the hatred of the unemployed. I think a lot of people voting leave imagine that the next thing on the agenda is slashing the dole to force poor white people to do the work the Eastern Europeans did. "

Yes, in part. In part, also, people imagine that poor citizens will get jobs that previously were done by migrants. This has a hatred of slackers element that is bad, but as economics, it's pretty well-founded that if you reduce the size of the labor pool relative to the population then unemployment will go down and wages will go up. Neoliberals often argue that people should be glad to lose employment at 50 so that people from other countries can have higher incomes, and leftists often agree because hey "free movement" and because after all the professional class jobs aren't at risk. But strangely enough some people seem to resent this.

Layman 08.04.16 at 11:48 am 178

Lupita: "I think Trump is afraid the imperial global order presided by the US is about to crash and thinks he will be able to steer the country into a soft landing by accepting that other world powers have interests, by disengaging from costly and humiliating military interventions, by re-negotiating trade deals, and by stopping the mass immigration of poor people."

... ... ...

Rich Puchalsky 08.04.16 at 12:03 pm

"I can't recall any particular instance where someone made this argument."

No one has literally argued that people should be glad to lose employment: that part was hyperbole. But the basic argument is often made quite seriously. See e.g. outsource Brad DeLong.

engels 08.04.16 at 12:25 pm

While this may be the effect of some neoliberal policies, I can't recall any particular instance where someone made this argument

Maybe this kind of thing rom Henry Farrell? (There may well be better examples.)

Is some dilution of the traditional European welfare state acceptable, if it substantially increases the wellbeing of current outsiders (i.e. for example, by bringing Turkey into the club). My answer is yes, if European leftwingers are to stick to their core principles on justice, fairness, egalitarianism etc

http://crookedtimber.org/2005/05/31/talking-turkey-over-welfare/

Lupita 08.04.16 at 2:42 pm

Large numbers of low-income white southern Americans consistently vote against their own economic interests. They vote to award tax breaks to wealthy people and corporations, to cut unemployment benefits, to bust unions, to reward companies for outsourcing jobs, to resist wage increases, to cut funding for health care for the poor, to cut Social Security and Medicare, etc.

The same thing has happened in Mexico with neoliberal government after neoliberal government being elected. There are many democratically elected neoliberal governments around the world.

Why might this be?

In the case of Mexico, because Peña Nieto's wife is a telenovela star. How cool is that? It places Mexico in the same league as 1st world countries, such as France, with Carla Bruni.


Patrick 08.04.16 at 4:32 pm

To the guy who asked- poor white people keep voting Republican even though it screws them because they genuinely believe that the country is best off when it encourages a culture of "by the bootstraps" self improvement, hard work, and personal responsibility. They view taxing people in order to give the money to the supposedly less fortunate as the anti thesis of this, because it gives people an easy out that let's them avoid having to engage in the hard work needed to live independently.

They see it as little different from letting your kid move back on after college and smoke weed in your basement. They don't generally mind people being on unemployment transitionally, but they're supposed to be a little embarrassed about it and get it over with as soon as possible.

They not only worry that increased government social spending will incentivize bad behavior, they worry it will destroy the cultural values they see as vital to Americas past prosperity. They tend to view claims about historic or systemic injustice necessitating collective remedy because they view the world as one in which the vagaries of fate decree that some are born rich or poor, and that success is in improving ones station relative to where one starts.

Attempts at repairing historical racial inequity read as cheating in that paradigm, and even as hostile since they can easily observe white people who are just as poor or poorer than those who racial politics focuses upon. Left wing insistence on borrowing the nastiest rhetoric of libertarians ("this guy is poor because his ancestors couldn't get ahead because of historical racial injustice so we must help him; your family couldn't get ahead either but that must have been your fault so you deserve it") comes across as both antithetical to their values and as downright hostile within the values they see around them.

All of this can be easily learned by just talking to them.

It's not a great world view. It fails to explain quite a lot. For example, they have literally no way of explaining increased unemployment without positing either that everyone is getting too lazy to work, or that the government screwed up the system somehow, possibly by making it too expensive to do business in the US relative to other countries. and given their faith in the power of hard work, they don't even blame sweatshops- they blame taxes and foreign subsidies.

I don't know exactly how to reach out to them, except that I can point to some things people do that repulse them and say "stop doing that."


bruce wilder 08.04.16 at 5:50 pm

The extent to which "poor white people" vote against their alleged economic interests is overblown. To a large extent, they do not vote at all nor is anyone or anything on the ballot to represent their interests. And, yes, they are misinformed systematically by elites out to screw them and they know this, but cannot do much to either clear up their own confusion or fight back.

The mirror image problem - of elites manipulating the system to screw the poor and merely middle-class - is daily in the news. Both Presidential candidates have been implicated. So, who do you recommend they vote for?

There is serious deficit of both trust and information among the poor. Poor whites hardly have a monopoly; black misleadership is epidemic in our era of Cory Booker socialism.


bruce wilder 08.04.16 at 7:05 pm

Politics is founded on the complex social psychology of humans as social animals. We elevate it from its irrational base in emotion to rationalized calculation or philosophy at our peril.


T 08.04.16 at 9:17 pm

@Layman
I think you're missing Patrick's point. These voters are switching from one Republican to another. They've jettisoned Bush et. al. for Trump. These guys despise Bush. They've figured out that the mainstream party is basically 30 years of affinity fraud. So, is your argument is that Trump even more racist? That kind of goes against the whole point of the OP. Not saying that race doesn't matter. Of course it does. But Trump has a 34% advantage in non-college educated white men. It just isn't the South. Why does it have to be just race or just class?


Ronan(rf) 08.04.16 at 10:35 pm

"I generally don't give a shit about polls so I have no "data" to evidence this claim, but my guess is the majority of Trump's support comes from this broad middle"

My understanding is trumps support disproportionately comes from the small business owning classes, Ie a demographic similar to the petite bourgeoisie who have often been heavily involved in reactionary movements. This gets oversold as "working class" when class is defined by education level rather than income.

This would make some sense as they are generally in economically unstable jobs, they tend to be hostile to both big govt (regulations, freeloaders) and big business (unfair competition), and while they (rhetorically at least) tend to value personal autonomy and self sufficiency , they generally sell into smaller, local markets, and so are particularly affected by local demographic and cultural change , and decline. That's my speculation anyway.

T 08.05.16 at 3:12 pm

@patrick @layman

Patrick, you're right about the Trump demographic. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-mythology-of-trumps-working-class-support/

Layman - Why are these voters switching from Bush et al to Trump? Once again, Corey's whole point is that there is very little difference between the racism of Trump and the mainstream party since Nixon. Is Trump just more racist? Or are the policies of Trump resonating differently than Bush for reasons other than race? Are the folks that voted for the other candidates in the primary less racist so Trump supporters are just the most racist among Republicans? Cruz less racist? You have to explain the shift within the Republican party because that's what happened.


Anarcissie 08.06.16 at 3:00 pm

Faustusnotes 08.06.16 at 1:50 pm @ 270 -

Eric Berne, in The Structures and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups, proposed that among the defining characteristics of a coherent group is an explicit boundary which determines whether an individual is a member of the group or not. (If there is no boundary, nothing binds the assemblage together; it is a crowd.) The boundary helps provide social cohesion and is so important that groups will create one if necessary. Clearly, boundaries exclude as well as include, and someone must play the role of outsider. While Berne's theories are a bit too nifty for me to love them, I have observed a lot of the behaviors he predicts. If one wanted to be sociobiological, it is not hard to hypothesize evolutionary pressures which could lead to this sort of behavior being genetically programmed. If a group of humans, a notably combative primate, does not have strong social cohesion, the war of all against all ensues and everybody dies. Common affections alone do not seem to provide enough cohesion.

In an earlier but related theory, in the United States, immigrants from diverse European communities which fought each other for centuries in Europe arrived and managed to now get along because they had a major Other, the Negro, against whom to define themselves (as the White Race) and thus to cohere sufficiently to get on with business. The Negro had the additional advantage of being at first a powerless slave and later, although theoretically freed, was legally, politically, and economically disabled - an outsider who could not fight back very effectively, nor run away. Even so, the US almost split apart and there continue to be important class, ethnic, religious, and regional conflicts. You can see how these two theories resonate.

It may be that we can't have communities without this dark side, although we might be able to mitigate some of its destructive effects.


bruce wilder 08.06.16 at 4:28 pm

I am somewhat suspicious of leaving dominating elites out of these stories of racism as an organizing principle for political economy or (cultural) community.

Racism served the purposes of a slaveholding elite that organized political communities to serve their own interests. (Or, vis a vis the Indians a land-grab or genocide.)

Racism serves as an organizing principle. Politically, in an oppressive and stultifying hierarchy like the plantation South, racism not incidentally buys the loyalty of subalterns with ersatz status. The ugly prejudices and resentful arrogance of working class whites is thus a component of how racism works to organize a political community to serve a hegemonic master class. The business end of racism, though, is the autarkic poverty imposed on the working communities: slaves, sharecroppers, poor blacks, poor whites - bad schools, bad roads, politically disabled communities, predatory institutions and authoritarian governments.

For a time, the balkanization of American political communities by race, religion and ethnicity was an effective means to the dominance of an tiny elite with ties to an hegemonic community, but it backfired. Dismantling that balkanization has left the country with a very low level of social affiliation and thus a low capacity to organize resistance to elite depredations.

engels 08.07.16 at 1:02 am

But how did that slavery happen

Possible short answer: the level of technological development made slavery an efficient way of exploiting labour. At a certain point those conditions changed and slavery became a drag on further development and it was abolished, along with much of the racist ideology that legitimated it.


Lupita 08.07.16 at 3:40 am

But how did that slavery happen

In Mesoamerica, all the natives were enslaved because they were conquered by the Spaniards. Then, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas successfully argued before the Crown that the natives had souls and, therefore, should be Christianized rather than enslaved. As Bruce Wilder states, this did not serve the interests of the slaveholding elite, so the African slave trade began and there was no Fray Bartolomé to argue their case.

It is interesting that while natives were enslaved, the Aztec aristocracy was shipped to Spain to be presented in court and study Latin. This would not have happened if the Mesoamericans were considered inferior (soulless) as a race. Furthermore, the Spaniards needed the local elite to help them out with their empire and the Aztecs were used to slavery and worse. This whole story can be understood without recurring to racism. The logic of empire suffices.

[Sep 02, 2019] How Can Older Workers Compete In An Economy That Values Youth

May 28, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com

...

Workers of all ages are caught in a vice. Older workers need to keep working longer in an economy which values younger workers (and their cheaper healthcare premiums). Younger workers are caught in the vice of "you don't have enough experience" and "how do I get experience if nobody will hire me?"

Middle-aged workers are caught between the enormous Millennial generation seeking better jobs and the equally numerous baby Boom generation seeking to work a few more years to offset their interest-starved retirement funds. (Thank you, predatory and rapacious Federal Reserve for siphoning all our retirement fund interest to your cronies the Too Big to Fail Banks.)

Workers 55 and older are undeniably working longer. Here is the labor participation rate for 55+ workers:

... And here's why so many workers have to work longer--earned income's share of the GDP has been in a free-fall for decades as Fed-funded financiers and corporations skim an ever greater share of the nation's GDP.

I am 62, very much an older worker with a startling 46 years in the work force (first formal paycheck, 1970 from Dole Pineapple). (Thanks to the Fed's zero-interest rate policy, I should be able to retire at 93 or so--unless the Fed imposes a negative-rate policy on me and the other serfs.)

But I recall with painful clarity the great hardships and difficulties I experienced in the recessions of 1973-74, 1981-82 and 1990-91 when I was in younger demographics. My sympathies are if anything more with younger workers, as it is increasingly difficult to get useful on-the-job experience if you're starting out.

That said, here are some suggestions for 55+ workers seeking to find work in a very competitive job/paid work market.

1. Target sectors that haven't changed much. There's a reason so many older guys find a niche in Home Depot and Lowe's--power saws, lumber, appliances, etc. haven't changed that much (except their quality has declined) for 40 years.

The same can be said of many areas of retail sales, house-cleaning, caring for children, etc.

Everyone knows the young have an advantage in sectors dominated by fast-changing technology, so avoid those sectors and stick to sectors where your knowledge and experience is still applicable and valued by employers.

2. If at all possible, get your healthcare coverage covered by a spouse or plan you pay. Those $2,000/month premiums for older workers are a big reason why employers would rather hire a $200/month premium younger worker, or limit the hours of older workers to part-time so no healthcare coverage is required.

Telling an employer you already have healthcare coverage may have a huge impact on your chances of getting hired.

3. If you have any computer-network-social media skills, you can get paid to help everyone 55+ with fewer skills. Your computer skills may not be up to the same level as a younger person's, but they are probably far more advanced than other 55+ folks. Many older people are paying somebody $35/hour or more to help them set up email, fix their buggy PCs and Macs, get them started on Facebook, etc. It might as well be you.

4. Focus on fields where managerial experience and moxie is decisive. Even highly educated young people have a tough time managing people effectively because they're lacking experience. Applying biz-school case studies to the real world isn't as easy as it looks. (I found apologizing to my older employees necessary and helpful. Do they teach this in biz school? I doubt it.)

The ability to work with (and mentor) a variety of people is an essential skill, and it's one that tends to come with age and experience.

5. Reliability matters. The ability to roll with the punches, show up on time, do what's needed to get the job done, and focus on outcomes rather than process are still core assets in a work force.

Being 55+ doesn't automatically mean someone has those skills, but they tend to come with decades of work.

6. If nobody will hire you, start your own enterprise to fill scarcities and create value in your community. The classic example is a handyperson, as it's very difficult for a young person to acquire the spectrum of experience needed to efficiently assess a wide array of problems and go about fixing them.

#3 above is another example of identifying one's strengths and then seeking a scarcity to fill. Value, profits and high wages flow to scarcity. Don't try to compete in supplying what's abundant; seek out scarcities and work on addressing those in a reliable fashion.

Every age group has its strengths and weaknesses, and the task facing all of us is to 1) identify scarcities we can fill and 2) seek ways to play to our strengths.

Shizzmoney

That's easy: the elitist old people in power will start a war, force the young people into that war, where they will all be killed and the old people get their jobs.

Also, for those young people who protest the war, the government and corporate military security forces will detain and kill them, too.

Problem solved!

KnuckleDragger-X

Bob Seger: Ballad of the Yellow Berets

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP6Xt3GBhdQ

Syrin

Exactly. Value youth? Is that why we saddle them with $250,000 worth of student loan debt and a degree in women's studies to find no jobs because we let in illegals and skilled workers with Visas from foreign countries? Seems like we hate our youth. Of course, they deserve it since they have been focused on being social justice fucktards rather than getting any marketable skills and paying attention to what the gov't is doing to their future. Schadenfreude.

deja

No, they are stupid enough to saddle themselves with $250,000 worth of student loan debt for a degree in womens' studies.

cougar_w

The OP doesn't make much sense to me. Most of the work people my age do, the young people either don't want or are not qualified for. Maintaining vital COBOL apps or air traffic controller software from the 70's? Really? And the ones are, they don't mind working with older employees and seem to enjoy our "gravity".

I work in IT so maybe things are a bit different. Grey beards are huge around here and always will be.

But this has been a challenge for centuries, young people have to find their own way and "their way" (being probably a dream from childhood or an inspiration from a college professor) might not be practical at first. They bounce around a little until marriage hits them and then they find something that works for supporting a family. Same as it ever was. The idea that "their way" is some kind of unswerving life's mission is usually part of the corporate "just do it" meme that sells $400 specialty running shoes. Yeah whatever, just figure it out actually, life will tell you what you are supposed to be doing, and who you are supposed to be doing it with.

GeezerGeek

The market for COBOL programmers had a sudden surge around Y2K, but only certain industries still maintain their old COBOL apps. Curiously, a certain computer/software has recently tried pushing a visual version of COBOL, much like Gates did when he came out with Visual Basic back in the early 1990s. I retired after 40 years in IT in 2011, so I am a bit out of touch where COBOL is concerned. Does anyone even teach it anymore in college? Maybe if someone modified it to create phone apps and games it would once again be popular.

Abbie Normal

Then it's a good thing I didn't follow my undergrad English Prof's advice and switch my major from science to arts, because he thought there was some "real intelligence" in my writing style that even his grad students lacked. Maybe I should look him up....

eatthebanksters

I have two buddies, one a 61 year old attonery who has never lost a case and the other a 59 year old facilities director. The lawyer has been seeking work for 6 years and has pretty much given up...he can't even get hired at lesser jobs because he is overqualified and 'will leave when something better comes along'. The facilities director has a great resume and knows his stuff but has been out of work for almost two years. He has come in 'second' more times than I can count. He is working od jobs and living with a friends mother, exchanging work on the house for rent and meals. Welcome to Obama's economy.

N0TaREALmerican

He'd work if he'd accept less money, but he feels "entitled to earn what HE thinks he's worth". Just another lazy old-fart who feels the world owns him something. Welcome to a competitive economy old-fart, nobody said life was fair. Stop bitching and work for less.

mary mary

If you ever need an attorney, you might look for an experienced attorney who worked so hard that he never lost a case.

If you ever inherit a zillion bucks and buy a bunch of properties, you might confer with an experienced facility manager who actually managed a bunch of properties.

I doubt an attorney who never lost a case achieved that record by going around saying, "somebody owes me something".

I doubt a facilities manager who managed a bunch of properties achieved that by going around saying, "somebody owes me something".

Baa baa

What a load of crap. Most will take anything. I know, I am one. Don't lecture me about being "entitled" you punk. Your post reeks of the entitlement generation. Slug through 50 years of working, rearing a family, kids to college... I am beginning to wonder if the hundreds of thousands spent on the education and well-being of your ingrate ass was a misallocation of funds.

corporatewhore

Give credit where credit is due. This inability to find work at an older age has been going on for years and can't be blamed on Obama. Senior buyers at Macy's, older workers at Monsanto or television weather people at KSDK in St Louis all suffer the same fate. Labor cost and benefits are all less for the younger generation no matter what level of experience or capability. We develop a mindset throughout our productive career that we are indispensable and worth it because of our knowledge, contacts and industry wherewithal. It's all an illusion and we are NOT prepared or equipped to face the reality at an older age that we are completely dispensable.

At an older age if you want meaning you have to find it and think out of the paradigm that you've been led to believe is real. No one owes you anything for your experience or wealth of knowledge. Figure it out and rethink yourself as to what you love to do and want to do not what you must do to make money.

At 58 in 2008 I was fucked over by my corporation and wallowed in miserableness and poverty while i worked every contact and firm I knew. Nothing resulted. I had to work 3 part time jobs until I earned 2 full time ones and work over 90 hours per week because I enjoy it. It is work that covers the bills and allows me to create what I want to work on for the future while I still can walk think and breathe.

Best advice to your children: Go in business for yourself because just as it happened to me, it will happen to you when you become 55.

Nobody For President

Thanks for that, corporate whore. That sounds like an honest reprise of an incredibly hard time in your life, and I totally agree. I'm telling all (4) my grandkids, from 7 to 20, to live your life, not someone else's. The oldest one gets it, and I think the other ones will also, if I live long enough, because I walked that walk.

I'm old, and work full time (more or less) and make a living - not a killing, but a living - at it.

nuubee

Good news old people, the economy currently doesn't value anything you can produce, unless you can print money.

Cautiously Pessimistic

You get up every morning
From your 'larm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people shovin'
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train's on time
You can get to work by nine

... ... ...

mary mary

MSM says Baby Boomers "have stolen everything", but in fact Baby Boomers are having to extend their careers because they're broke. This is the easily foreseeable result of 20+ years of the Fed keeping interest rates artificially low, making Baby Boomers suffer the double-whammy of (1) not having their deferred income (pensions) grow, while (2) inflation in fact continued at 6% annual, thanks also to the Fed keeping interest rates artificially low.

Yes, someone "have stolen everything". That someone is the owners of the Fed.

[Sep 01, 2019] The Unsustainability of Inequality by James K. Galbraith

Notable quotes:
"... First, rising inequality reflects the economic rents captured in resource extraction and production, whether by the owners of those resources or by financiers acting as parasitic middlemen. Second, inequality fosters the extravagant excesses that some now call plutonomy – an economic system in which a small group, the ultra-wealthy, accounts for a large share of total consumption. Under such conditions, a rising tide lifts only yachts, and competitive consumption creates an escalating pattern of what Thorstein Veblen, perhaps the greatest American economist, called conspicuous waste. Lastly, rising inequality is a good indicator of financial instability, which increases the probability of an impending crash. ..."
nepal24hours.com

Rising inequality is symptomatic of a wide range of economic and political problems that are standing in the way of achieving a just and sustainable society. But for all the concern about the income and wealth gap within countries in recent years, there has been surprisingly little acknowledgement of the forces actually driving the trend.

"Sustainability" is a relatively new organizing principle in global policy. It is new partly because economists have long been largely hostile to the very idea. Postwar neoclassical growth theories deliberately ignored resource and environmental limits, disparaged and disdained ecologists, and promised what was effectively impossible: perpetual growth fueled by unlimited resources, the free disposal of wastes, and never-ending technological progress. Early warnings – notably the Club of Rome's pathbreaking 1972 report, The Limits to Growth – were ridiculed. More recently, the science of limits has gained acceptance, but most economists remain preoccupied with growth.

But there is at least one dimension of unsustainability that not even economists can overlook: inequality. Income and wealth disparities, along with other forms of inequality, are relevant to sustainability for at least three reasons.

First, rising inequality reflects the economic rents captured in resource extraction and production, whether by the owners of those resources or by financiers acting as parasitic middlemen. Second, inequality fosters the extravagant excesses that some now call plutonomy – an economic system in which a small group, the ultra-wealthy, accounts for a large share of total consumption. Under such conditions, a rising tide lifts only yachts, and competitive consumption creates an escalating pattern of what Thorstein Veblen, perhaps the greatest American economist, called conspicuous waste. Lastly, rising inequality is a good indicator of financial instability, which increases the probability of an impending crash.

For all these reasons, understanding and controlling the rise of inequality is an ecological, socioeconomic, and political imperative. It is, in other words, a sustainability issue.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

To get a grip on economic inequality, we must overcome two major sources of confusion. On the theoretical side, mainstream economics treats inequality largely as a byproduct of supply and demand in "labor markets." It is thus regarded as a "microeconomic" phenomenon, driven on the demand side by technological change, and on the supply side by a barely observable quantum that goes by the name of human skill.

When economists write about policies that affect inequality, they tend to work within this market framework. The labor market may be local, regional, or – at the very most – national. Proposed policies focus mainly on the characteristics and capabilities of individuals and how they can improve their positions in the market. These matters are undoubtedly important, particularly when it comes to education and health, but they ignore the broader "macroeconomic" forces – booms and busts, interest rates and debt, exchange rates and commodity prices – that affect individuals, firms, economic sectors, and entire countries.

On the empirical side, there is a question of information: What can we know from the available data? Most of the data we have come from surveys, and most surveys focus on households. These data are relevant for judging economic welfare – and also for thinking about how people with different characteristics (age, gender, race, education, and so on) interact with markets. Yet householders are not employees, and their income is not the same as the wages paid for particular kinds of work. So, data collected on households are several steps away from production, pay, and the forces of structural change.

When it comes to international and comparative analysis, there is yet another problem: surveys are expensive. More surveys are conducted in stable rich countries than in unstable poor ones. And they can be conceptually inconsistent, because the questions differ according to the choices made by those managing the surveys. Are we measuring income? Expenditure? Before or after tax? As with all surveys, the only answers one gets are to the questions asked.

An alternative approach that has become popular in recent years is to consult income-tax records. But these data are even more sparse and inconsistent than surveys, and such records are not available for all countries (indeed, not all countries have an income tax). So, in the effort to measure inequality within countries and around the world, there has long been less signal than noise.

INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS

For the past two decades, my students and I have been working on ways to address these measurement shortcomings. We have sought out payroll records that cover a diverse range of countries over many years, and in broadly consistent terms. With these data, we can measure economic inequalities in the structure of pay, which then allows us to estimate the associated inequalities of household income, both across countries and through time.

To explain the philosophy behind this approach, I often refer to a line from the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce's essay "The Fixation of Belief":

Kepler undertook to draw a curve through the places of Mars [ ] and his greatest service to science was in impressing on men's minds that this was the thing to be done if they wished to improve astronomy; that they were not to content themselves with inquiring whether one system of epicycles was better than another, but that they were to sit down to the figures, and find out what the curve, in truth, was.

We have attempted to follow this advice, and we have had a fair amount of success. Our measures have proven to be largely reliable and consistent with the existing survey record, while also sensitive to known historical events: wars, revolutions, and the like. Moreover, we have been able to look for patterns at the regional and even global level.

What would consistent patterns beyond the national level imply? I believe they are prima facie evidence that the main source of change in various forms of inequality lies in transnational developments, not in local conditions. To understand the problem of inequality, then, we need to study common developments across a continental or even global economic space.

As it happens, we have identified patterns showing a consistent gradient in levels of income inequality across both space and time. If one looks across space, there are not too many surprises. Income inequality within countries and regions rises as one moves from north to south, reflecting the concentration of advanced industry and middle-class welfare states in countries that were once the seats of empire. In Europe, inequality also rises as one moves from "East" to "West," reflecting the legacy of state socialism.

Moreover, countries in close proximity, and with similar income levels and neighborly diplomatic and trade relations, have relatively similar levels of inequality – as one can see very clearly in maps. Common sense tells us that if they did not have similar levels of inequality, regional migration patterns would sooner or later even things out.

Likewise, patterns of inequality change over time. In particular, there is a general movement toward higher inequality from the 1980s until 2000, after which inequality begins to stabilize. So far, all of this is what one would expect, which attests to the quality of the data. Our attempt to capture a much broader picture of inequality across the world has not been misguided.

WAVES OF INEQUALITY

These movements show, quite plainly, that levels of inequality once widely associated with the Third World are now quite generalized globally. The First World has not become poorer, but it has grown much less equal. There are a few exceptions, of course, and they should not come as a surprise. Measures of inequality in Denmark or Finland, for example, are not far from where they were a generation back. And some countries in Central and Eastern Europe – the Czech Republic stands out – have low levels of inequality (though higher than under their severe post-war communist regimes).

Now, consider another interesting pattern: the temporal movement of inequality within countries is very similar to that between countries. If one takes a standard measure of inequality between countries (not weighted for population, lest China and India dominate the data), one finds that it has risen both between and within countries at the same time. Again, this no surprise: rich countries comprise relatively wealthy people, whereas the people of poor countries are poorer. In a global economy, when inequality between people changes, it is natural that the inequalities between their respective countries change in a similar way.

But here it is important to remember that we are picking out the movement of inequality within countries, measured separately using national statistics, and standardized by an international statistical bureau. There are about 155 countries in our most recent data set, and the predominant patterns across all of them tell the essential story. From 1963 to 1971, no particular trend stands out. There is a bump in inequality within countries in 1973, followed by a modest decline. For much of the world – for poorer countries and poorer peoples alike, though not for the troubled rich – the 1970s were a time of growth and progress.

Then comes a key turning point. Beginning in 1981, inequality starts rising in waves around the world, increasing relentlessly until 2000, at which point the waves subside. In this era, the first major wave is dominated by Latin America and Africa, and subsequent waves are driven by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated regime changes in Eastern Europe. Finally, economic liberalization in Asia fuels another wave that culminates in the 1997 Asian financial crisis. From 2000, the rise in inequality slows, and inequalities even decline in parts of the world, including Latin America, China, and the Russian Federation.

A TALE OF FINANCIAL HISTORY

The message contained in these numbers is neither subtle nor obscure. This is a story about the relationship between debtors and creditors in the world economy. Under the post-World War II Bretton Woods framework, stability prevailed – until the system collapsed in 1971, when the United States ended the dollar's convertibility into gold. In 1973, the oil shock and a commodity boom led to a surge in credit in Latin America and elsewhere as countries took on commercial-bank debt to sustain growth in the face of higher fuel prices. As developing countries grew, their middle classes expanded and inequalities declined.

All of that ended in 1981 with the start of a worldwide debt crisis that emanated from monetary-policy changes in the US, where interest rates shot up to 22%. No longer able to pay their debts, developing countries were forced to pursue austerity measures and to abandon their independent industrial development strategies. Commodity prices collapsed, as did the Soviet bloc – much of it heavily indebted – a decade later. The Asian crisis of 1997 rounded out this period.

Inequality at the global level peaked in 2000. In the wake of the dot-com bust and the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates, and China, growing strongly and now a member of the World Trade Organization, increased its commodity purchases worldwide. Prices and credit conditions improved, and for a while global inequality stopped rising.

The trends in inequality over this period are in keeping with the commonsense insights of Simon Kuznets back in 1955. Kuznets surmised that inequality would rise sharply during the initial stages of economic development, and then decline at later stages. China and India reflect this pattern, but for other developing countries in Asia and Latin America, industrialization and urbanization have been far enough advanced for decades that rapid growth reduces inequality and depression increases it. In a very few rich countries – notably the US and the United Kingdom – rapid growth increases inequalities, because it concentrates income in globally dominant sectors, especially finance and high technology.

So, in the rough history presented above, there are two key elements to consider: the structure of the underlying economies and the effects of booms and busts on that structure. Global forces for boom and bust have tended to affect individual countries and their people in proportion to their ability to resist them. Countries with strong institutions that were able to maintain independence and manage their own affairs fared the best. Those that could not defend themselves against global forces were periodically ravaged by them. In our time, this is the difference between, say, China and Mexico.

These global forces can be identified by the big turning points. The first was the breakdown of Bretton Woods and the rush to private debt in the 1970s. The second was the debt crisis of the 1980s, which was followed by the collapse of oil and commodity prices, and then of Soviet-style socialist governments, and then by liberalization in Asia, culminating in the 1997 crisis – but not in China, which was poised for another decade of double-digit growth. The third big turning point occurred in 2000, when lower interest rates, higher commodity prices, and modest advances in social-welfare policies and national economic development strategies helped to reduce inequality and poverty in Latin America and Russia, while in China, too, inequalities peaked and started to decline.

In Europe, events played out somewhat differently. European countries did not reject neoliberal ideology and re-embrace social-welfare policies after 2000. The introduction of the euro was followed by nearly a decade of easy credit terms, which fueled a boom in housing and commercial construction in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Greece (where the boom included the 2004 Olympics, among other projects). This period was not unlike the 1970s in Latin America. But as Herbert Stein, a chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, famously observed, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." In 2009, the global financial crisis brought the happy early days of the euro to an abrupt end.

REIN IT IN

What the available evidence demonstrates is that economic inequality has been regulated over time by the behavior of global finance. The data even show that changes in levels of inequality within the smaller, open economies are closely related to exchange-rate movements. When currencies become overvalued, their countries are vulnerable to Dutch disease – eroding the competitiveness of industry – and to financial crisis. Financial crises and devaluations quickly reestablish the high level of inequality that human-development programs were meant to overcome.

Inequality is thus irreducibly a global and, contrary to what many economists like to think, macroeconomic issue. Labor-market considerations are secondary, crowded out by the dominant macro movements described above. As such, the only way to address inequality effectively is to bring the forces of financial instability, debt peonage, and predatory austerity under control. These forces can be tempered by financial regulation, a function of rich-country governments and central banks. But regulators are of course subject to capture by big finance, and central-bank mandates – whether to target full employment or only price stability – were drafted in an age of national economic policymaking. National central banks – as also the European Central Bank – are not set up to consider their policies' effects on peoples beyond their jurisdictional boundaries.

To be sure, there is still much that nation-states around the world can do to fight inequality when conditions permit. Useful measures include raising the minimum wage, strengthening trade unions, establishing social-insurance schemes, and building infrastructure and providing public goods. The problem is that these forms of progress can be – and regularly are – erased by financial crises and the subsequent imposition of severe austerity. This means that the capacity to reduce inequalities sustainably depends on the capacity for insulation from external financial pressures. However difficult it may be, the rest of the world needs to protect itself from the destabilizing forces of global finance.

In short, economic inequality is tied to the most unstable and unsustainable element of the world system, which is global finance. Achieving anything sustainably – especially, but not only, the reduction of extreme inequalities – requires a financial order that is broadly reformed and that can once again serve as a tool for other institutions and purposes, and not as their self-serving master. This is particularly important as humanity turns toward that other, more critical goal: the sustainability of human life on this planet. Global financial stability is a necessary step on the way to a clean-energy economy – as envisioned in the Green New Deal and similar proposals. At the end of the day, if we want to have a sustainable and civilized future, we need to get a grip on global finance.

James K. Galbraith is Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. His most recent books are Inequality: What Everyone Needs to Know and Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.

[Sep 01, 2019] NetSlaves: True Tales of Working the Web by Bill Lessard

Notable quotes:
"... Being an unemployed techie myself, I cannot begin to describe what a godsend this book is. NETSLAVES finally reveals the truth about what it is to be part of what is likely the most under-appreciated sect of the working class. ..."
"... It is a comment on upper and middle management corporate business practices in general, and the dismal fate of the vast armies of workers used as cannon fodder since day one for the follies of unscrupulous robber barons; or morons who just happen to find themselves in the right place at the right time to make market killings; or Scrooges who will never learn what it is to have a heart. Baldwin and Lessard are heirs to the muckrakers of the early 20th Century. Corporate E-merica, take heed. ..."
Apr 16, 2003 | www.amazon.com
Arthur Lindsey III , April 16, 2003
A 246 Page "Support Group"

Being an unemployed techie myself, I cannot begin to describe what a godsend this book is. NETSLAVES finally reveals the truth about what it is to be part of what is likely the most under-appreciated sect of the working class.

The stale stories of "dorm-room success" have been supplanted by the pathetically sad/darkly humorous accounts of those who have been saddled with with million-dollar job titles, bleeding ulcers, and ramen noodle grocery budgets.

NETSLAVES is an entertaining and enligtening read, written by two men who have actually been passengers in every sewer pipe that is the new-media industry. This book is a must for every modern library, as it can be considered a "warning shot" for those with IT aspirations, or as a source of vindication for those of us who have been dismissed and trampled on. Bravo!

A customer, November 24, 1999

Handwriting on the Wall

NetSlaves tells it like it is for the millions of us on the business end of the IPO and monopoly screwdrivers. Apply these lessons to the law, publishing, automotive, chemical, airline industries, etc., etc. This book is not just a cerebral and satirical indictment of the internet industry.

It is a comment on upper and middle management corporate business practices in general, and the dismal fate of the vast armies of workers used as cannon fodder since day one for the follies of unscrupulous robber barons; or morons who just happen to find themselves in the right place at the right time to make market killings; or Scrooges who will never learn what it is to have a heart. Baldwin and Lessard are heirs to the muckrakers of the early 20th Century. Corporate E-merica, take heed.

[Sep 01, 2019] On the continuing devaluation of the college degrees

Sep 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Andy Raushner , August 31, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Its just from slow growth and the Boomer deleveraging era. Its a global phenom and its impacts are global into the cultural realm. The college degree boom is a great example of this phenom. It was really based on the surge in consumer debt boom after WWII boosting these supply chains in the US to increased consumption to GDP and reduced manufacturing, which fell in real terms during the 1950-2000 period.

This created traditionally required college degree jobs into a nexus that was originally based around the Baby Boomer generation and strengthened afterwards. Once growth petered in 2007(and we developed a oversupply since 2000) we now have too many people with college degrees.

Even the rich aren't as rich as they were in 2007. Real profits are struggling this cycle and are showing up with weak job growth this year. The unemployment rates flaws are showing up this cycle as well, as total numbers mean little compared historically than the potential that is lowest unemployment can go.

Based on that, the current level of labor market saturation seems to be at a late 70's cycle level. In otherwards, if you adjust the population growth and total size this cycle is doing no better than the Carter era top in 1979 .then we see the whining.

Both the Reagan and Bush II era expansions were a bit better and probably onto a intro of a "boom".

Obviously it is noticeably the Korean, Vietnam and Tech era booms which would require unemployment to fall below 3% to reach, maybe down to 2.5%, which tells you something about potential unemployment drop peaks.

[Aug 31, 2019] US policy after WWII may not be corrupt in the sense of illegal, but it certainly seems corrupt in the sense of morally repugnant as it was designed to preserve welath disparty (especially with the USSR and Asia) which was the result of WWII

As it translated into similar impulses in internal policy, which led to neoliberalism and restoration of the rule of fiancial oligarchy within the USA. The USA experiment with democracy was actually over in 1945
Aug 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:37 am

'Sanders has said that we live in a "corrupt political system designed to protect the wealthy and the powerful." Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."'
Yet the rest of the article focuses almost entirely on internal US shenanigans. When it comes to protecting wealth and power, George Kennan hit the nail on the head in 1948, with "we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity."

This, which has underpinned US policy ever since, may not be corrupt in the sense of illegal, but it certainly seems corrupt in the sense of morally repugnant to me.

shinola , August 31, 2019 at 11:09 am

Approaching from the opposite direction, if someone were to say "I sincerely believe that the USA has the most open & honest political system and the fairest economic system in human history" would you not think that person to be incredibly naive (or, cynically, a liar)?

There has been, for at least the last couple of decades. a determined effort to do away with corruption – by defining it away. "Citizens United" is perhaps the most glaring example but the effort is ongoing; that Weiner op-ed is a good current example.

JBird4049 , August 31, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Shinola, I'm reminded of the statement "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." in the movie Manchurian Candidate . Much of what is said today just pops out as prepackaged propaganda.

It was possible twenty, thirty, forty years ago to make a reasonable case that the federal government, as well as many of the state and municipal ones, were fairly honest and functional. It is still possible that the writer believes what he wrote, but I think saying that the belief that our system is rigged is mere irresponsible cynicism is at best an example of charming naïveté and more likely cynical propagandistic fiction itself.

[Aug 31, 2019] Linux on your laptop A closer look at EFI boot options

Aug 31, 2019 | www.zdnet.com
Before EFI, the standard boot process for virtually all PC systems was called "MBR", for Master Boot Record; today you are likely to hear it referred to as "Legacy Boot". This process depended on using the first physical block on a disk to hold some information needed to boot the computer (thus the name Master Boot Record); specifically, it held the disk address at which the actual bootloader could be found, and the partition table that defined the layout of the disk. Using this information, the PC firmware could find and execute the bootloader, which would then bring up the computer and run the operating system.

This system had a number of rather obvious weaknesses and shortcomings. One of the biggest was that you could only have one bootable object on each physical disk drive (at least as far as the firmware boot was concerned). Another was that if that first sector on the disk became corrupted somehow, you were in deep trouble.

Over time, as part of the Extensible Firmware Interface, a new approach to boot configuration was developed. Rather than storing critical boot configuration information in a single "magic" location, EFI uses a dedicated "EFI boot partition" on the desk. This is a completely normal, standard disk partition, the same as which may be used to hold the operating system or system recovery data.

The only requirement is that it be FAT formatted, and it should have the boot and esp partition flags set (esp stands for EFI System Partition). The specific data and programs necessary for booting is then kept in directories on this partition, typically in directories named to indicate what they are for. So if you have a Windows system, you would typically find directories called 'Boot' and 'Microsoft' , and perhaps one named for the manufacturer of the hardware, such as HP. If you have a Linux system, you would find directories called opensuse, debian, ubuntu, or any number of others depending on what particular Linux distribution you are using.

It should be obvious from the description so far that it is perfectly possible with the EFI boot configuration to have multiple boot objects on a single disk drive.

Before going any further, I should make it clear that if you install Linux as the only operating system on a PC, it is not necessary to know all of this configuration information in detail. The installer should take care of setting all of this up, including creating the EFI boot partition (or using an existing EFI boot partition), and further configuring the system boot list so that whatever system you install becomes the default boot target.

If you were to take a brand new computer with UEFI firmware, and load it from scratch with any of the current major Linux distributions, it would all be set up, configured, and working just as it is when you purchase a new computer preloaded with Windows (or when you load a computer from scratch with Windows). It is only when you want to have more than one bootable operating system – especially when you want to have both Linux and Windows on the same computer – that things may become more complicated.

The problems that arise with such "multiboot" systems are generally related to getting the boot priority list defined correctly.

When you buy a new computer with Windows, this list typically includes the Windows bootloader on the primary disk, and then perhaps some other peripheral devices such as USB, network interfaces and such. When you install Linux alongside Windows on such a computer, the installer will add the necessary information to the EFI boot partition, but if the boot priority list is not changed, then when the system is rebooted after installation it will simply boot Windows again, and you are likely to think that the installation didn't work.

There are several ways to modify this boot priority list, but exactly which ones are available and whether or how they work depends on the firmware of the system you are using, and this is where things can get really messy. There are just about as many different UEFI firmware implementations as there are PC manufacturers, and the manufacturers have shown a great deal of creativity in the details of this firmware.

First, in the simplest case, there is a software utility included with Linux called efibootmgr that can be used to modify, add or delete the boot priority list. If this utility works properly, and the changes it makes are permanent on the system, then you would have no other problems to deal with, and after installing it would boot Linux and you would be happy. Unfortunately, while this is sometimes the case it is frequently not. The most common reason for this is that changes made by software utilities are not actually permanently stored by the system BIOS, so when the computer is rebooted the boot priority list is restored to whatever it was before, which generally means that Windows gets booted again.

The other common way of modifying the boot priority list is via the computer BIOS configuration program. The details of how to do this are different for every manufacturer, but the general procedure is approximately the same. First you have to press the BIOS configuration key (usually F2, but not always, unfortunately) during system power-on (POST). Then choose the Boot item from the BIOS configuration menu, which should get you to a list of boot targets presented in priority order. Then you need to modify that list; sometimes this can be done directly in that screen, via the usual F5/F6 up/down key process, and sometimes you need to proceed one level deeper to be able to do that. I wish I could give more specific and detailed information about this, but it really is different on every system (sometimes even on different systems produced by the same manufacturer), so you just need to proceed carefully and figure out the steps as you go.

I have seen a few rare cases of systems where neither of these methods works, or at least they don't seem to be permanent, and the system keeps reverting to booting Windows. Again, there are two ways to proceed in this case. The first is by simply pressing the "boot selection" key during POST (power-on). Exactly which key this is varies, I have seen it be F12, F9, Esc, and probably one or two others. Whichever key it turns out to be, when you hit it during POST you should get a list of bootable objects defined in the EFI boot priority list, so assuming your Linux installation worked you should see it listed there. I have known of people who were satisfied with this solution, and would just use the computer this way and have to press boot select each time they wanted to boot Linux.

The alternative is to actually modify the files in the EFI boot partition, so that the (unchangeable) Windows boot procedure would actually boot Linux. This involves overwriting the Windows file bootmgfw.efi with the Linux file grubx64.efi. I have done this, especially in the early days of EFI boot, and it works, but I strongly advise you to be extremely careful if you try it, and make sure that you keep a copy of the original bootmgfw.efi file. Finally, just as a final (depressing) warning, I have also seen systems where this seemed to work, at least for a while, but then at some unpredictable point the boot process seemed to notice that something had changed and it restored bootmgfw.efi to its original state – thus losing the Linux boot configuration again. Sigh.

So, that's the basics of EFI boot, and how it can be configured. But there are some important variations possible, and some caveats to be aware of.

[Aug 30, 2019] Over 50, Unemployed, Depressed and Powerless by D. A. Wolf

Notable quotes:
"... I know what it feels like to be marginalized because you're out of work. To be judged by others as if there's something wrong with you. To grow increasingly depressed, demoralized and despairing as three months turns into six months and that goes on for a year or more; as rejection after rejection becomes crushing, humiliating, and leaves you feeling worthless. ..."
"... All money-related impacts aside, you lose confidence. You wear out. You start to give up ..."
"... Now and then, an acquaintance will make an off-hand remark about those who borrow money or live on credit cards. The assumption is that credit purchases are frivolous, or that the person who racks up consumer debt does so out of irresponsibility and poor judgment. ..."
"... Never assume. Yours truly? I borrowed to put food on the table. I borrowed to pay for school supplies for my kids. I borrowed to enable them to take advantage of academic opportunities that they earned through their own hard work. I also counted my blessings. While I had no family to assist, my kids were healthy and doing well, I was basically healthy despite chronic pain, and I was able to use credit. Borrowing is a double-edged sword of course, especially if it continues for an extended period. But for my little household, debt was the only path to survival. For all I know, it will be again. ..."
"... These days? I still live on a tight budget, I dream of recovering from the years of financial devastation "someday," and I take every gig I can get. Willingly. I've gained new skills along the way and continue to refine them, I'm always looking for another project and thrilled when I nab one, and I'm accustomed to a 12- to 14-hour workday. I put in long hours throughout my corporate career and I have no problem doing so now. In fact, I'm grateful for these workdays and I take none of them for granted. Moreover, I suggest that few of us should take our sources of income as a given ..."
"... The longer that Americans are unemployed, the more likely they are to report signs of poor psychological well-being," says the study. "About one in five Americans who have been unemployed for a year or more say they currently have or are being treated for depression - almost double the rate among those who have been unemployed for five weeks or less. ..."
"... To be in this position - wanting to work, needing to work, knowing you still have much to contribute but never getting a foot in the door - is deeply frustrating, horribly depressing, and leaves us feeling powerless. Add up these elements and you have the formula for despair. ..."
"... One small act of compassion can breathe new hope into the worst situation. And here's what I know with 100% certainty. We may be unemployed, we may be depressed but we aren't powerless if we come together and try to help one another. ..."
Apr 30, 2016 | Daily Plate of Crazy

Are you over 50, unemployed, depressed and feeling powerless? For that matter, are you any age and feeling hopeless because you can't seem to land a job?

Frustrated Middle Age Man

The recession may be officially over, and for some segments of the population, things are looking up. But too many are still sinking or hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Long-term unemployment or underemployment has become a way of life.

This issue, for me, is personal.

I know what it feels like to be marginalized because you're out of work. To be judged by others as if there's something wrong with you. To grow increasingly depressed, demoralized and despairing as three months turns into six months and that goes on for a year or more; as rejection after rejection becomes crushing, humiliating, and leaves you feeling worthless.

All money-related impacts aside, you lose confidence. You wear out. You start to give up. And you don't even make it into the "statistics." It's been too long since your last employment relationship.

Overqualified, Over-Educated, Over 50

Despite my fancy educational background and shiny corporate career history, for a number of years I was unable to obtain work that was even remotely close to using my skills. Paying me a living wage? Let's not even discuss it. I must have applied to 100 positions over the course of several years, attended the usual networking events, and schmoozed every contact I could come up with.

No go. I suffered from the three O's: Overqualified, Over-educated and Over 50, though I may not have looked it. That last? If you ask me, age was the kicker. Throughout that period, as post-divorce skirmishes continued to flare (further complicating matters), I nonetheless took every project I could eke out of the woodwork, supplemented by debt.

Hello, bank bail-out? How about a few bucks for those of us who foot the bill in tax dollars?

The Borrowing Trap

Now and then, an acquaintance will make an off-hand remark about those who borrow money or live on credit cards. The assumption is that credit purchases are frivolous, or that the person who racks up consumer debt does so out of irresponsibility and poor judgment.

Never assume. Yours truly? I borrowed to put food on the table. I borrowed to pay for school supplies for my kids. I borrowed to enable them to take advantage of academic opportunities that they earned through their own hard work. I also counted my blessings. While I had no family to assist, my kids were healthy and doing well, I was basically healthy despite chronic pain, and I was able to use credit. Borrowing is a double-edged sword of course, especially if it continues for an extended period. But for my little household, debt was the only path to survival. For all I know, it will be again.

Fighting Your Way Back

These days? I still live on a tight budget, I dream of recovering from the years of financial devastation "someday," and I take every gig I can get. Willingly. I've gained new skills along the way and continue to refine them, I'm always looking for another project and thrilled when I nab one, and I'm accustomed to a 12- to 14-hour workday. I put in long hours throughout my corporate career and I have no problem doing so now. In fact, I'm grateful for these workdays and I take none of them for granted. Moreover, I suggest that few of us should take our sources of income as a given.

You know the expression - "There but for the grace of God go I." Misfortune can visit any one of us. Layoff. Accident or illness. Gray divorce. The phone call or email with no warning, saying "you're done" as you're replaced by someone 20 years younger.

And yes, I've internalized the wisdom of this little gem: "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." But I also know it isn't always possible, and the secret to success is not as simple as hard work. It's aided by the assistance of others, not to mention - luck.

Unemployed and Depressed

Forbes reminds us of the clear links between unemployment and depression, which isn't to say that underemployment or hating your job is a picnic.

Forbes staff writer Susan Adams cites a Gallup poll as follows:

The longer that Americans are unemployed, the more likely they are to report signs of poor psychological well-being," says the study. "About one in five Americans who have been unemployed for a year or more say they currently have or are being treated for depression - almost double the rate among those who have been unemployed for five weeks or less.

She goes on to note:

The long-term unemployed, unfortunately, have good reason to be depressed. They suffer plenty of discrimination in the job market. A 2012 study by economist Rand Ghayad found that employers preferred candidates with no relevant experience, but who had been out of work for less than six months, to those with experience who had been job hunting for longer than that.

.... ... ...

I'm certain that many of you have fought your way back; I'm still fighting after years, but I have seen progress. Slower than I'd like, but progress all the same.

If someone helped you out, have you paid it forward by making connections for others?

Please do read this comment from Cindy. I have responded as best I can. I'm sure she would welcome your suggestions.

A Note on Despair

To be in this position - wanting to work, needing to work, knowing you still have much to contribute but never getting a foot in the door - is deeply frustrating, horribly depressing, and leaves us feeling powerless. Add up these elements and you have the formula for despair.

It's brutally hard to fight your way back from despair. But sometimes, an act of compassion can help.

I've been on the receiving end of those incredible kindnesses - from strangers, from readers, and from one friend in particular, herself too long living on the edge.

One small act of compassion can breathe new hope into the worst situation. And here's what I know with 100% certainty. We may be unemployed, we may be depressed but we aren't powerless if we come together and try to help one another.

... ... ...

[Aug 30, 2019] Over 50 and unemployed: Don t panic!

Highly recommended!
Don't panic is always a good advice. Following it is another story...
Notable quotes:
"... Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. ..."
"... Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. ..."
Jan 03, 2012 | Palmetto Workforce Connections

When you find yourself over 50 and unemployed, the thought of finding another job may seem daunting and hopeless.

It is quite easy to become discouraged because many people fear being stereotyped because of their age, the tough job market, or the prospect of being interviewed by someone half their age. However, there are some things the older unemployed should keep in mind while on the job search. Using the following tips will increase your chances of a short job search and create an overall more pleasant experience.

  1. Quit telling yourself that no one hires older workers. This is simply just not true. In some cases older workers have to exert more effort to overcome discrimination, but this is certainly not the case for every employer. There are even entire websites with jobs posted specifically for older workers, and a quick Google search will render you a list of those websites. Take advantage of such resources!
  2. Take advantage of new technology. Learn to blog and micro-blog, via Twitter, about your profession and interests. You should even create a LinkedIn profile (a website similar to Facebook yet has a more career oriented function) to assist it meeting people in your desired field. All of which will help you stay fine tuned on your skills, while developing new ones. Learning to use social networking will indicate to potential employers that you can adapt to change and learn new things, particularly technology, fairly quickly.
  3. Use all those hard earned contacts. Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. It is completely acceptable to reach out to former colleagues, class mates, co-workers and employers for job possibilities. Using resources like Facebook or LinkedIn are great ways to find those long lost contacts as well. Chances are they would love to hear from you and help you out if possible.
  4. Don't clutter your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. This means keep it straight to the point and relate your past experience to the skills necessary for the job you are applying for. Essentially, don't do a history dump of every job you've ever had, instead, make each word count!
  5. Don't act superior to the interviewer. It is likely that the people interviewing you will be younger than you. But this does not mean you should look down upon them. Obviously they have earned their position, and if you play your cards right, in due time, you will earn yours! Even if you've worked more years than your interviewer has been alive, it's not okay to tell him or her that you can "teach" them anything. A better idea would be to state your experience working in a multi-generational work place.

Use these tips to help make your job search less stressful and more positive. Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel before you've even tried. Your experience and knowledge will be recognized. All you need is the right employer to identify it.

[Aug 29, 2019] Over 50 and out of work Program seeks to help long-term unemployed

This is essentially a scam. Help in landing $13 per hour job is not a big achievement.
Notable quotes:
"... Older workers like Lane make up a larger percentage of the persistently jobless than ever before. Nearly 40 percent of unemployed workers are over the age of 45 - a 30 percent rise from the 1980s. ..."
"... P2E is an intensive, individualized five-week bootcamp that teaches job skills and works to build job-seekers' confidence and emotional health. "We acknowledge that there are serious emotional issues for people who'd been unemployed for that long," Carbone said. ..."
"... The privately-funded program makes deals with businesses who hire P2E graduates for "internships," a few-week trial period for the would-be employee, whose salary is subsidized by the WorkPlace. Often, it leads to full-time work. According to P2E, 80 percent of their participants have been granted trial periods, and of those, more than 85 percent have been hired by employers. ..."
"... This acceptance of a new economic reality is at the heart of P2E; the program isn't solving the problems of precarity, real-wage decline, or manufacturing losses so much as doing damage control. ..."
"... "I'd say 100 percent of the people who went through Platform are making less than they did previously," said Carbone. "We get them prepared for the fact that their standard of living will go down, that they probably have to change careers." ..."
Nov 16, 2013 | NBC News
When Bret Lane was laid off from his telecommunications sales job after 16 years, he wasn't worried. He'd never been unemployed for more than a few days since he started working as a teenager. But months passed, and he couldn't find a job. One day, he heard the Purina plant in his Turlock, Calif., neighborhood was hiring janitors for $14 an hour. When he arrived early at 4 a.m., he counted more than 400 people lined up to interview.

"That's when I realized things had gotten serious," said Lane, 53, who called being out of work "pure hell."

Lane's experience is hardly unique. As of September 2013, 4 million people had been unemployed for six months or more. The economy has been slow to regain the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession, making prospects grim for many of the long-term unemployed.

Older workers like Lane make up a larger percentage of the persistently jobless than ever before. Nearly 40 percent of unemployed workers are over the age of 45 - a 30 percent rise from the 1980s. And for this group, the job hunt can be particularly long and frustrating. Unemployed people aged 45-54 were jobless for 45 weeks on average, and those 55 to 64 were jobless for 57 weeks, according to an October 2013 Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

Younger workers didn't have such a hard time, perhaps because many employers perceive them to be more energetic or productive than older workers, said Linda Barrington, an economist at Cornell University's Institute for Compensation Studies. Employers "acting on such inaccurate assessments or stereotypes is what benefits younger workers and disadvantages older workers," she said.

Addressing the emotional side of unemployment

An innovative program based in Bridgeport, Conn., is helping to get those who are over 50 and unemployed for long periods back into the market. Platform to Employment started in 2011 when a Connecticut job center called the WorkPlace was overwhelmed by calls from "99ers"-people who had been unemployed for 99 weeks, exhausting their unemployment benefits-many of whom were older workers.

The exact number of 99ers across the country is unknown; the Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn't distinguished between 99ers and those out of work for a year since 2010, an oversight that some say renders this group even more politically invisible. Already, the long-term unemployed face biases in hiring. It's both legal and common for employers to write "unemployed need not apply" on job postings.

There has been virtually no public policy tackling long-term unemployment since the recession hit, said P2E founder Joe Carbone, and his program seeks to fill that gap. "These people have lost access to opportunity, which is a basic American tenet," said Carbone. "We find a way to make them competitive and feel hopeful."

P2E is an intensive, individualized five-week bootcamp that teaches job skills and works to build job-seekers' confidence and emotional health. "We acknowledge that there are serious emotional issues for people who'd been unemployed for that long," Carbone said.

The privately-funded program makes deals with businesses who hire P2E graduates for "internships," a few-week trial period for the would-be employee, whose salary is subsidized by the WorkPlace. Often, it leads to full-time work. According to P2E, 80 percent of their participants have been granted trial periods, and of those, more than 85 percent have been hired by employers.

Accepting a new economic reality

Bret Lane washes out his coffee pot at his home after a shift at a call center in San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 31. Lane was laid off after 16 years as a salesman in telecommunications and was unemployed until he got a job at a call center. Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images for NBC News

The program has spread to 10 other cities across the United States, including San Diego, where Lane, a P2E graduate, has been employed full-time at a call center since May. After a year and nine months of unemployment, Lane sold his two-bedroom house, pared down his possessions to fit in a 5x10 storage unit, and drove to San Diego to live with his sister. That's when he saw an ad in the paper for Platform to Employment.

He learned how to make his online resume more searchable by adding keywords, as well as how to create an impressive LinkedIn profile. "It also occurred to me that I was being discriminated against" because of age, rather than being rejected for not being good enough. Lane now makes about half of his previous salary and still lives with his sister, but he's "happy to be working again."

This acceptance of a new economic reality is at the heart of P2E; the program isn't solving the problems of precarity, real-wage decline, or manufacturing losses so much as doing damage control.

"I'd say 100 percent of the people who went through Platform are making less than they did previously," said Carbone. "We get them prepared for the fact that their standard of living will go down, that they probably have to change careers."

This guidance is necessary, Barrington said. "A lot of [the long-term unemployed] came into the workforce still thinking you could work for the same company for your whole life," she said. "Someone has to sit you down and tell you that's not going to happen."

She added that businesses need to be reminded of the value of older workers, who often bring intangible skills, such as punctuality, responsibility, and "being able to write a memo," that younger employees may not yet have.

Heidi DeWyngaert, President of Bankwell, a holding company of several banks in Connecticut, said one of her banks hired an older worker from P2E who is succeeding on the job precisely for these reasons. "She's mature, reliable and responsible with a great attitude," said DeWyngaert.

The program has gained so much prominence that it's become competitive in its own right. Early last year, after P2E was featured on 60 Minutes, the Bridgeport office was flooded with inquiries. The program routinely gets 1,000 applicants for around 20 spots.

Hoping to spark a national conversation

Vanessa Jackson, 57, saw the segment and kept track of P2E's growth until it expanded to her area in Chicago. Jackson had been unemployed off and on since 2008, when she lost her $100,000 job as a marketing manager during a corporate downsizing. "I thought, of course, I would get another comparable job," she said.

But it didn't happen. She decided to get an MBA to "ride out the recession," but that just landed her more debt. She finally got a part-time job as a deli clerk, until she broke her arm and went on disability for 10 months. Her $300,000 401(k) account dwindled to $60,000. She sold her house in the suburbs and moved in with her boyfriend on the South Side of Chicago.

"It was the most desperate thing in the world," Jackson said. It pained her to remember the days when recruiters would tell her she was one of "the top African-American women in marketing."

P2E "revived my energy," she said. "It lifted the depression that was very much there."

Jackson now works part-time as a project coordinator at a home care service agency for $13 an hour, which she admits is inadequate for her level of education. Still, she almost missed out on the opportunity. When P2E came to Chicago earlier this year, she wasn't selected at first. "It felt like applying for a job in itself," she said. "I beseeched [Chicago program manager Michael Morgan]. He said 'I admire your ambition' and let me in."

Carbone is all too aware of P2E's limited reach. "We've helped hundreds of people, but that doesn't put even a small dent in the amount who need help," he said. Carbone hopes to spark a national conversation and, eventually, get the attention of Washington.

"Let's be clear," Carbone said. "I wouldn't be doing this if there were appropriate and relevant government policies."

[Aug 28, 2019] My Top 5 Movies About Unemployment

Apr 30, 2016 | Christianity Today
Erin Brockovich

2000 | Rated R
directed by Steven Soderbergh
Based on the true story of an unemployed mother of three who forced her way into a job as a legal clerk and built an anti-pollution case against a California utility company. Erin Brockovich has become a name for someone with tenacity and perseverance.

The Journey of Natty Gann

1985 | Rated PG
directed by Jeremy Kagan
Disney's family-friendly adventure demonstrates how tough the Great Depression was on kids, namely the teenage girl of the title who journeys across America to reunite with her father. Grounded by strong performances, including a young John Cusack, this gem serves as a fine introduction of a difficult subject to younger viewers.

Tootsie

1982 | Rated PG
directed by Sydney Pollack
This light-hearted, quirky comedy stars Dustin Hoffman as an unemployed actor who pretends to be a woman for a full-time role in a soap opera. Beneath the hilarity is a sobering reminder that landing a job sometimes requires thinking outside the box, to say the least.

Up in the Air

2009 | Rated R
directed by Jason Reitman
George Clooney is stellar as a veteran hatchet man who has lost his ability to form meaningful relationships, living a life on the road. Ultimately this is a poignant drama about identity and what defines us. If we are nothing more than our occupation, what remains when that is gone?

Russ Breimeier, a freelance film critic who lives in Indianapolis, was unemployed for two years until recently landing a part-time job.

[Aug 28, 2019] What do you call a 50 year old engineer?

Mar 03, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , March 3, 2016 at 10:25 am

Q: What do you call a 50 year old engineer?

A: Unemployed.

[Aug 27, 2019] The Death of the Professional: Are Doctors, Lawyers and Accountants Becoming Obsolete

Probably not. But the quantities necessary might diminish considerably...
Notable quotes:
"... Adapted from the new book The Future of the Professions by Richard Susskind & Daniel Susskind (Oxford University Press, 2015).Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... The proof is in how there is one premium cost if the medical provider is on their own and magically it is cheaper if theu are part of a group or hospital.. Same doctor same practices lower rates prima facia evidence of insurance company rate fraud ..."
"... Re solidarity, you might be surprised. One reason law school enrollments are down is that it is becoming public knowledge that employment for graduates in upwardly mobile career positions is way down ..."
"... Many are shunted into low level proletarian type legal work, churning out evidence for use in lawsuits owned and managed by large firms. Lawyers who do this earn less then a good paralegal with less job security and no benefits. ..."
"... So much of the 'grunt work' of professions – once the entry and training province of new graduates – is now being done overseas by shops that specialize in legal research, or reading x-rays, or accounting and tax preparation. ..."
"... The 'grunt work' that grounds one in the full knowledge of the profession and how it works is slowly removed from the profession. That omission leaves future practitioners with an incomplete understanding. ..."
"... This loss makes them more reliant on big data as both assistant and excuse/defense, and makes them less master craftsmen (if I may use the term without giving offense) and more the front-end interface of one-size-fits-all processes. Very good for corporate profits. Not so good for the professions or their clients. ..."
"... Long ago, firms started off-shoring basic, tedious, repetitive tasks, generally considered as unrewarding, such as software testing or error correction to India. The idea was to focus on "high added-value" jobs such as system architects or project management, and leave low-level operations, supposedly requiring less qualifications, to cheaper Indian contractors. Decades later, there is a shortage of qualified people for those high-skilled jobs - precisely because fewer and fewer young people have had the possibility ..."
"... The result? It is now necessary to import expensive project managers and system architects from foreign countries. ..."
"... Bottom line: the race to the bottom for wages is "on". ..."
"... Professionals would be the next logical choice of squeezing cost out of work; unions, middle management, big industry, airlines, manufacturing and construction have all paid their price at the alter of the 1%. ..."
"... I also agree with the concept of there being less for the bottom 90% to spend. And as more automation kicks in, there will be even less bad choice jobs for these folks to scramble for. Just waiting for truck drivers to be slowly replaced with auto-drive trucks. ..."
"... " . Prefer a fence at the top of the cliff to an ambulance at the bottom " ..."
"... The rich and the truly rich will always have skilled, artistic human professionals to serve their personally tailored bespoke needs. It is the rest of us who will be assigned the doctorobots, the lawyer machines, etc. ..."
"... Part of the "crapification of everything" except for managers and owners, it is part of their cost cutting plan. ..."
"... First they came for the blue collar workers, and I did nothing? Then they came for the white collar workers, and I did nothing? Now they are coming for the professionals, and they are laughing at my passivity? ..."
"... They have played all the classes, higher than the one they are currently discarding, and the remaining consumers are happy to throw their neighbors under the bus. But your turn will come. Karma. ..."
"... Once corporations start setting guidelines and dictating the drugs you can and can't use for treatment, do you think they'll do it according to what's cost effective and least risky for the patient based on current science or do you think they'll do it based on their own profits? ..."
"... The shift from reactive to proactive ..."
"... Proactive cannibalism ..."
Jan 09, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on January 9, 2016 by Yves Smith Yves here. Many members of the top 10% regard their role in society as relatively secure, particularly if the are in a niche that serves the capital-deploying 1% or better yet, 0.1%. But a new book suggest their position is not secure. And trends in motion confirm this dour reading, such as the marked decline in law school enrollments, and the trend in the US to force doctors to practice out of hospitals or HMOs, where they are salaried and are required to adhere to corporate care guidelines. For instance, my MD is about to have her practice bought out, and is looking hard as to whether she can establish a concierge practice. Mind you, she appears regularly on TV and writes a monthly column for a national magazine [not that is how I found her or why I use her]. Yet she has real doubts as to whether she can support all the overhead. If someone with a profile can't make a go at it solo in a market like Manhattan, pray tell, who can?

Adapted from the new book The Future of the Professions by Richard Susskind & Daniel Susskind (Oxford University Press, 2015).Originally published at Alternet

The end of the professional era is characterized by four trends: the move from bespoke service; the bypassing of traditional gatekeepers; a shift from a reactive to a proactive approach to professional work; and the more-for-less challenge.

The Move From Bespoke (Custom) Service

For centuries, much professional work has been handled in the manner of a craft. Individual experts and specialists-people who know more than others-have offered an essentially bespoke service ("bespoke" is British for "custom"). In the language of the tailor, their product has been "made-to-measure" rather than "off-the-peg." For each recipient the service has been disposable (used once only), handcrafted ordinarily by a solitary scribe or sole trusted adviser, often in the spirit of an artist who starts each project afresh with a blank canvas.

Our research strongly suggests that bespoke professional work in this vein looks set to fade from prominence, as other crafts (like tailoring and tallow chandlering) have done over the centuries. Significant elements of professional work are being routinized: in checklists, standard form materials, and in various sorts of systems, many of which are available online. Meanwhile, the work that remains for human beings to handle conventionally is often not conducted by individual craftspeople, but collaboratively in teams, sometimes collocated, but more often virtually. And, with the advance of increasingly capable machines, some work may not be conducted by human beings at all.

Just as we witnessed the "death of gentlemanly capitalism" in the banks in the 1980s, we seem to be observing a similar decline in bespoke professionalism.

The Bypassed Gatekeepers

In the past, when in need of expert guidance we turned to the professions. Their members knew things that others did not, and we drew on their knowledge and experience to solve our problems. Each profession acted as a "gatekeeper" of its own, distinct body of practical expertise. Today this set-up is under threat.

We are already seeing some work being wrested from the hands of traditional professions. Some of the competition is coming from within. We observe professionals from different professions doing each other's work. They even speak of "eating one another's lunch." Accountants and consultants, for example, are particularly effective at encroaching on the business of lawyers and actuaries. We also see intra-professional friction, when, for example, nurses take on work that used to be exclusive to doctors, or paralegals are engaged to perform tasks that formerly were the province of lawyers.

But the competition is also advancing from outside the traditional boundaries of the professions-from new people and different institutions. We see a recurring need to draw on people with very different skills, talents, and ways of working. Practicing doctors, priests, teachers, and auditors did not, for example, develop the software that supports the systems that we describe. Stepping forward instead are data scientists, process analysts, knowledge engineers, systems engineers, and many more. Today, professionals still provide much of the content, but in time they may find themselves down-staged by these new specialists. We also see a diverse set of institutions entering the fray-business process outsourcers, retail brands, Internet companies, major software and service vendors, to name a few. What these providers have in common is that they look nothing like twentieth-century doctors, accountants, architects, and the rest.

More than this, human experts in the professions are no longer the only source of practical expertise. There are illustrations of practical expertise being made available by recipients of professional work-in effect, sidestepping the gatekeepers. On various platforms, typically online, people share their past experience and help others to resolve similar problems. These "communities of experience," as we call them, are springing up across many professions (for example, PatientsLikeMe and the WebMD communities in medicine). We say more about them in a moment. More radical still are systems and machines that themselves generate practical expertise. These are underpinned by a variety of advanced techniques, such as Big Data and artificial intelligence. These platforms and systems tend not to be owned and run by the traditional professions. Whether those who do so will in turn become "new gatekeepers" is a subject of some concern.

The keys to the kingdom are changing. Or, if not changing, they are at least being shared with others.

Jim Haygood ,, January 9, 2016 at 8:57 pm

'medium and large corporations are also struggling to deal with increasing regulation'

My claim is that large corporations don't "struggle to deal with" regulation - they write it.

Case in point, Obamacare was drafted by Liz Fowler, formerly of WellPoint.

alex morfesis , January 10, 2016 at 12:05 am

You nailed it on medical professionals would like to add, that at least here in flori duh there seems to be massive pricing fraud by malpractice and liability insurance providers which state regulators allow to continue to force small or single practitioners to join groups by financial obliteration at least in floriduh, there is the usual massive distortion suggesting insurance companies are paying out huge amounts when there in fact seems to be collusion amongst insurance companies neglecting the legal requirement to try to settle on good faith and end up forcing people to settle for pennies on the dollar yet the insurance companies keep picking the pockets of medical professionals

The proof is in how there is one premium cost if the medical provider is on their own and magically it is cheaper if theu are part of a group or hospital.. Same doctor same practices lower rates prima facia evidence of insurance company rate fraud

jrs , January 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Yes some of it is only logical though, if masses of the population see their income declining and yet the costs of medical care keeps increasing eventually noone can afford to see the doctor never mind the ACA etc.. And it can get to be this way with a lot of professional services less urgent and distorted than medical care, like soon noone can afford an accountant, you use turbo tax, a lawyer – no middle class people start to make their own wills. Many professions seek ever further protections of government for their guilds (more and more requirements to practice to try to preserve their privilege) and yet with nothing protecting the income of the other 80% (read: unions, that would be their role) unless they plan to only serve the fellow 20%

So solidarity? Yea, but making the solidarity argument with many (not all) members of such professions is a waste of time as they instinctively side with the 1s.

Local to Oakland , January 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Re solidarity, you might be surprised. One reason law school enrollments are down is that it is becoming public knowledge that employment for graduates in upwardly mobile career positions is way down

Many are shunted into low level proletarian type legal work, churning out evidence for use in lawsuits owned and managed by large firms. Lawyers who do this earn less then a good paralegal with less job security and no benefits.

ilporcupine , January 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

It has been said Paralegals are being squeezed out, to make way for the huge increase in law graduates from prior class booms. Why not use cheap lawyers, with better credential, and desperate for employment?

flora , January 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm

So much of the 'grunt work' of professions – once the entry and training province of new graduates – is now being done overseas by shops that specialize in legal research, or reading x-rays, or accounting and tax preparation.

There are 3 downsides to this, in my opinion. New college grads have fewer entry slots. The 'grunt work' that grounds one in the full knowledge of the profession and how it works is slowly removed from the profession. That omission leaves future practitioners with an incomplete understanding.

This loss makes them more reliant on big data as both assistant and excuse/defense, and makes them less master craftsmen (if I may use the term without giving offense) and more the front-end interface of one-size-fits-all processes. Very good for corporate profits. Not so good for the professions or their clients.

guest , January 9, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Big Data is not a solution.

Your first two points (no entry-level jobs for beginners, no acquisition of professional basics) are essential - and their detrimental effects are already painfully felt in some professions.

Case in point: software development.

Long ago, firms started off-shoring basic, tedious, repetitive tasks, generally considered as unrewarding, such as software testing or error correction to India. The idea was to focus on "high added-value" jobs such as system architects or project management, and leave low-level operations, supposedly requiring less qualifications, to cheaper Indian contractors. Decades later, there is a shortage of qualified people for those high-skilled jobs - precisely because fewer and fewer young people have had the possibility to

(a) start in the profession at entry-level positions (when job postings all require qualifications as senior software engineer and five years experience, what do you do?)

(b) learn the ropes and practice the skills from the ground up (the necessary step before rising in the professional hierarchy).

The result? It is now necessary to import expensive project managers and system architects from foreign countries.

From what I read, the UK has been especially hit by this phenomenon, because it was particularly enthusiastic about off-shoring IT to India.

polecat , January 9, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Uhm ..oh wait uh ..I know .uh Brondo's got what plants need ..right?

Phil , January 10, 2016 at 2:34 am

Attorney's work is being automated and outsourced. For more on one aspect of outsourcing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?_r=2

I can't find the cite, but last year I read that some of the Indian companies that American law firms have outsourced to are now moving offices "stateside" to hire American attorneys, here.

Bottom line: the race to the bottom for wages is "on". Add to this job automation that will only get more efficient, over time.
http://www.futuretech.ox.ac.uk/news-release-oxford-martin-school-study-shows-nearly-half-us-jobs-could-be-risk-computerisation

armchair , January 9, 2016 at 5:17 pm

The Washington State Bar has initiated a legal technician program , and I find the timing questionable, even if the premise of the program is good-hearted. As the market is awash in underemployed, licensed attorneys, the Bar is going ahead and turning veteran paralegals into the people to undercut the market even further. It seems like bad timing to let someone who has years of experience, and no law school debt get over on a bunch law school grads who are facing a life of being hounded for their debts. I spoke to someone at the Bar who made a good defense, that the legal technician is like an ARNP. Only later did it occur to me that there are very few out-of-work doctors.

From another perspective, the legal technician answers another problem of the collapsing paralegal market. Much of the collapse has been driven by advances in document management, especially scanning that 'reads' the text and makes it searchable. But hey, here is a shiny new program. Go ahead and set up a parenting plan with your abusive ex for $75! What could go wrong?

The key to really get the legal field de-humanized would be robot judges and robotic juries. I hope someone is already working on it.

polecat , January 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Don't worry what's old is new again. At some point in the future we'll all be scratching glyphs on clay tablets .once the 2nd law of thermodynamics really kicks in ..plenty of work then!

armchair , January 9, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Work! What about George Jetson? The go west value system we are stuck with these days is almost perfectly incompatible with a future that requires very little human labor.

MyWag , January 9, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Professionals would be the next logical choice of squeezing cost out of work; unions, middle management, big industry, airlines, manufacturing and construction have all paid their price at the alter of the 1%.

Public sector unions are hanging on but as the majority of local & state taxpayers have less to give, these wages, benefits and especially pensions will be cut. Those earning less and less will gleefully pull down those public employees who are 'living like kings'.

I also agree with the concept of there being less for the bottom 90% to spend. And as more automation kicks in, there will be even less bad choice jobs for these folks to scramble for. Just waiting for truck drivers to be slowly replaced with auto-drive trucks.

This leads us to an enhanced confrontation at the Federal level on how to go forward. The earned income tax credit, a good concept also under siege, I believe, will have to be supplemented with a minimum guaranteed income.

By this time, 20 years, the DEMs will be the party of business and the GOP will be entirely dependent on fed govt subsidies. Oh the irony.

Brooklin Bridge , January 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm

By this time 20 years, the GOP will be saying, "I told you so", regarding Global Warming.

Ptup , January 9, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Reading Rise of a The Robots right now, and the law and accounting profession have and will continue to be hurt hard by computers armed with big data, and the education and medical profession are next. Has to be. It's already a travesty that education and medical costs continue to rise as incomes stagnate and drop, and that just cannot continue. Well, maybe it can, until all of those guns out there are used by the people as they rise up. Look at the buffoon who many are considering for the Republican nominee, more out of blind, misinformed anger, than anything. Scary.

RBHoughton , January 9, 2016 at 7:31 pm

" . Prefer a fence at the top of the cliff to an ambulance at the bottom "

You have a delightful way with words Yves. Many thanks.

different clue , January 9, 2016 at 9:19 pm

The rich and the truly rich will always have skilled, artistic human professionals to serve their personally tailored bespoke needs. It is the rest of us who will be assigned the doctorobots, the lawyer machines, etc.

James Koss , January 10, 2016 at 11:13 am

The French phrase "Everything changes and remains the same" remains true today.

Whereas today the top of society has its professionals to isolate and protect them from the remainder of the population and the rules nobility and the church had its knights, nobles, obedient serfs and peasants to fight and protect "their" nobility. Names and titles changed but the rules remained. Those who have will get those who don't will not.

Inverness , January 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

Correct. The same applies in education. The wealthy know what kinds of schools serve their children best: those with better teacher to student ratios, rich arts curricula, and a progressive approach to instruction. Just see what Obama's kids got at their fancy Quaker school. The rest get standardized lesson plans, big class sizes, deep cuts in music and the arts, and high-stakes testing.

They can privatize their lives; we cannot.

Disturbed Voter , January 9, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Part of the "crapification of everything" except for managers and owners, it is part of their cost cutting plan.

Why would you trust a medical system run by politicians and insurance companies a system promoted by those same managers and owners. Like hiring the Three Stooges as your plumber, electrician and roofer. Gullibility will be the death of us that and malice.

First they came for the blue collar workers, and I did nothing? Then they came for the white collar workers, and I did nothing? Now they are coming for the professionals, and they are laughing at my passivity?

They have played all the classes, higher than the one they are currently discarding, and the remaining consumers are happy to throw their neighbors under the bus. But your turn will come. Karma.

flora , January 10, 2016 at 2:19 am

In Oregon some doctors are unionizing to resist medical assembly line medicine.
From NYTimes:

Doctors Unionize to Resist the Medical Machine

"Dr. Alexander and his colleagues say they are in favor of efficiency gains. It's the particular way the hospital has interpreted this mandate that has left them feeling demoralized. If you talk to them for long enough, you get the distinct feeling it is not just their jobs that hang in the balance, but the loss of something much less tangible - the ability of doctors everywhere to exercise their professional judgment."

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/business/doctors-unionize-to-resist-the-medical-machine.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

digi_owl , January 10, 2016 at 4:12 am

I find myself thinking about an episode of the original Connections series, that was produced in the 70s.

There it was mused about how corporate management would idle their days away waiting for the computer in the basement to crunch the numbers and come up with company decisions they were then to implement.

Instead what happened was that the professional managerial class, the MBAs, dug in while computers instead replaced the laborers via robotics.

Jesper , January 10, 2016 at 6:55 am

Or shorter: The common argument that 'we (by that I mean you) have to become more employable' is about to hit home among the people with long education. Will they recognize the similarity to what has already happened to others and/or will they themselves make themselves more 'employable'?

financial matters , January 10, 2016 at 8:11 am

I think one of the major consequences we are seeing as a result of a misguided professional system is the lack of basic legal services for millions of people. This resulted in people being thrown out of their homes as the result of very obvious fraud and yet having no recourse unless they were able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees.

I think the popular new series 'Making of a Murderer' emphasizes this problem. I don't think a show that emphasizes the problems that the very poor have with justice from the lack of being able to pay for legal services would have been this popular 10 years ago.

financial matters , January 10, 2016 at 8:17 am

I think this would require a 'single payer' legal system similar to the need for a single payer medical system.

Wade Riddick , January 10, 2016 at 8:53 am

Once corporations start setting guidelines and dictating the drugs you can and can't use for treatment, do you think they'll do it according to what's cost effective and least risky for the patient based on current science or do you think they'll do it based on their own profits?

What happens when they own their own pharmacies – as they're all scrambling to do right now – and try to jack up reimbursement through that unit too? Do you think patients were served when Philidor started (criminally) altering scripts and making substitutions?

For profit healthcare is really sickcare, isn't it? Why cure a disease when treating it brings in more revenue? Why sell cheap human insulin when you can patent a variety on the molecule, jack up the price and carve up the market?

Keep the sucker paying the vig

These guys aren't adopting better guidelines for treating chronic disease based on the best available science. In fact, as they corporatize they're getting worse. I've talked to these clowns. They're typically ten years behind the state of the art in their field. Patients do the reading and then they stare at us like we're morons. Fifteen years later they swear they knew the truth all along.

If these corporate suits are setting the guidelines for care, how come there's no common national board standard for care, no portfolio investment model approach where they model the disease with the best available experts, determine how to intervene in the various genetic pathways that are perturbed and then pick the simplest, cheapest methods/chemicals to try first?

That sounds like a pretty reasonable, scientific approach to treatment – but, if that's your standard, then these people are in breech of fiduciary duty left and right and it all has to do with that old canard "maximizing shareholder value." What about maximizing customer service? Corporate medicine will lead to tobacco-level deaths. I know doctors who have been personally injured in this system already. Corporations want to avoid risk to their profit – *not* their patient. Imagine what *those* mandatory arbitration clauses are going to look like. Imagine what the sequel to _Merchants of Doubt_ will look like in the era of corporate medicine and Supreme Court decisions that bust doctors' unions.

I'm still burning from Peter Thiel's comments on monopolies in the New York Times this morning. Does he have any clue how bad the service is in regional hospital cartels already and how fast prices are rising?

It's not even a matter of price in the drug markets now. It's basic availability. Aside from the persistent shortages of cheap, effective generics due to the kickback scheme in PMOs/PBMs, we now have explicit regulatory interference. The FDA has been moving to withdraw entire lines of medication from compounding pharmacies even when there's no rival big pharma product competing against them or any indication of patient risk. These are decades-old treatments. (It's the CDC's job to set treatment guidelines, by the way, not the FDA's).

It's just a knee-jerk reaction at this point to protect imaginary future profits, I suppose. You can't make up this stuff. The FDA has even imposed a 30% sales volume rule for "safety." It has nothing to do with purity or contamination of compounded products. If Tesla sold exploding cars, how would restricting 30% of their sales volume to California improve consumer safety? It's clearly a market-rigging reg – and it's because the corporate medicine lobby wants it.

What does this have to do with corporate medicine? Compounding pharmacies in big chain hospitals – which are often pitifully narrow in their professional scope – are all magically exempt (oligopolistic and more expensive too). Isn't that wonderful?

The current corporatization of medicine rests on the notion that the chief challenge faced by those of us with serious illnesses is that we simply don't read enough fine print or fill out enough paperwork.

If you think that corporations have done a fine job handling your retirement investments in this era of lax accounting standards, wait until you see what they do with your actual body.

Brooklin Bridge , January 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Exceptional comment!

Brooklin Bridge , January 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm

This article is based on the faulty perception that this is all normal benign efficiency working it's way out of an antiquated system, perhaps with a few -to be expected- hiccups. It isn't.

What we are experiencing is wholesale greed and corruption on an international scale working it's way into the core of our civilization like mold or cancer, and perverting technology as well as the process of social change and adjustment to that change – for it's exclusive benefit – as it goes. It is unconscionable that we could call this progress or adjustment in anything but the most cruelly ironic sense.

The shift from reactive to proactive my foot! 60 years ago doctors were getting out proactive messages far better than today via education, television, the media and so on. And they gave a damn!!! Today, insurance companies are devising ever new ways to minimize what they spend on your care, maximize what they charge you for it, and call it, "proactive." Proactive theft, or genocide for fun and profit, would be closer to the mark.

Brooklin Bridge , January 10, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Proactive cannibalism also comes to mind

[Aug 26, 2019] Overshoot The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Secular stagnation of the US economy might be parcially driven by high (above $50 per barrel) oil prices. That nessesarity generates high level of unemployment, especially chromic unemployment and "perma-temps".
Apr 08, 2005 | www.amazon.com

Amazon.com

By J. Mann on April 8, 2005

Masterpiece, offers solution for THE problem of our time/div> I am astonished at the quality of this book, which is about the eighth book in a personal reading program that included Paul Roberts' The End of Oil, Kenneth Deffeyes' Beyond Oil, Jared Diamon's Collapse, Cottrell's Energy and Society, Michael Klare's Blood and Oil, and others, all extremely good and relevant books.

The task this author undertakes is to help readers find a new perspective from which to constructively and usefully interpret inevitable and major changes the world around us. By taking this approach, the author is providing the very essential tool we need to cope with these changes.

The issue is our ecological footprint.

Catton uses the term "Age of Exuberance" to represent the time since 1492 when first a newly discovered hemisphere and then the invention of fossil-fuel-driven machines allowed Old-World humans to escape the constraints imposed by a population roughly at earth's carrying capacity, and instead to grow (and philosophize and emote) expansively.

He then reminds us that we are soon to be squeezed by the twin jaws of excessive population and exhausted resources, as our current population is utterly dependent on the mining and burning of fossil energy and its use to exploit earth's resources in general.

In spring 2005, the buzz about "the end of cheap energy" is reaching quite a pitch, and when and if the "peak oil" scenario (or other environmental limit-event) is reached, the impact on our social / political world will be enormous. Already the US is brandishing and using its superior weaponry to sieze control of oil assets; this same kind of desperate struggle may well erupt at all levels of society if we don't find a way to identify the problem, anticipate its consequences, and find solutions.

Catton offers a perspective based on biology / ecology -- not bad, since we are indeed animals in an ecology and we are indeed subject to the iron laws of nature and physics.

With this perspective we can avoid ending up screaming nonsense at each other when changes begin to get scary. My urgent recommendation is, read this G.D. book and do it now.

[Aug 25, 2019] Chronic unemployment should not >lead to despair. It is now a new normal. I recommend Stoicism , which is the way Greeks and Romans coped with their own decline

Notable quotes:
"... It has to be explained that Stoics believe that nothing external to the individual is secure, and thus the truly important thing is virtue, based on ethics and moral. ..."
"... Stoicism is the appropriate philosophy for what awaits us. It brings out the best of us and it eases the anguish. The illusion of control is our worst enemy. Matters are completely out of our control and Nature will deal with them as she pleases. ..."
Jan 09, 2016 | peakoilbarrel.com
Javier , 01/09/2016 at 5:29 am

I wholeheartedly agree that even a cursory look at things reveals the overwhelming scope of things and quickly leads to despair.

It doesn't have to lead to despair. I recommend Stoicism , which is the way Greeks and Romans coped with their own decline.

In the words of Seneca:

"Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes." (De Provid. v.8)

It has to be explained that Stoics believe that nothing external to the individual is secure, and thus the truly important thing is virtue, based on ethics and moral. Virtue can not be taken from an individual whatever the circumstances, and helps him deal with adversity. That is what Seneca means with "nothing of our own that perishes" .

Stoicism is the appropriate philosophy for what awaits us. It brings out the best of us and it eases the anguish. The illusion of control is our worst enemy. Matters are completely out of our control and Nature will deal with them as she pleases.

[Aug 23, 2019] Nobody here wants to hire an over 60 IT worker

Notable quotes:
"... I am lucky in that I lived very frugally my whole life as I have always feared what was coming, and what in my opinion has now come. I am retired, and have been for over 4 years, but not by choice. ..."
"... For me, the misery index is High. I am lucky that I am not in danger of homelessness, but I have to be very careful about what I spend as prices keep going up and up and most things I consume. Meaning, food, utilities, taxes, etc. These days food doesn't go up by cents, but rather usually a dollar at a time. Carrots at my local Costco just went from $6.99 to $7.99 for example. ..."
"... I think that for everyone but the top 10%, the Misery Index is High ..."
Aug 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

BoulderMike , , August 23, 2019 at 4:19 pm

From just outside Boulder, CO: John Edwards said "there are two Americas". I am thinking he was more than correct, but that it should be 4 Americas: the top ,1%, the rest of the top 10%, the people who were prudent and saved and are older who are suffering but still can afford to live, and the truly poor who can't come up with $400 in an emergency, which would include the homeless. I am lucky in that I lived very frugally my whole life as I have always feared what was coming, and what in my opinion has now come. I am retired, and have been for over 4 years, but not by choice. Nobody here wants to hire an over 60 IT worker.

I measure the "economy" and the it's health by what I refer to as the "misery index". It isn't measured in numbers but rather in how one feels about their life and the world around them. For me, the misery index is High. I am lucky that I am not in danger of homelessness, but I have to be very careful about what I spend as prices keep going up and up and most things I consume. Meaning, food, utilities, taxes, etc. These days food doesn't go up by cents, but rather usually a dollar at a time. Carrots at my local Costco just went from $6.99 to $7.99 for example.

I think that for everyone but the top 10%, the Misery Index is High . But, around here, it is I believe one of the more affluent areas of the country. People are buying up $1.5 million dollar houses like crazy, and tearing down $1 million dollar old houses to build new custom houses. Tesla's and Mercedes are everywhere. Google has taken over Boulder and the young Tech workers are numerous. My little town of about 10,000 people is building new homes on every square inch of available land. They are talking about another 500 new homes of close to a million dollars to well over a million dollars. Traffic is outrageous, and bad air pollution days seem to be more and more numerous these days.

So, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times". Depends on who you are.

I think though that we are in the midst of a class war. The racial issues we are experiencing are to distract people and divide people. Divide people on race, divide people on age, divide people on ideology. No matter what, just divide people so while the common "man" is fighting each other, the rich plunder more and more.
Finally, from my perspective, as a student of history, especially Nazi Germany, and Russia under Stalin, I am more and more frightened each day by the acceptance of the Trump rhetoric. It is messianic and dangerous.

[Aug 23, 2019] There has always been a lot of poverty in the US

Notable quotes:
"... I actually walked out of a Popeyes chicken place last month over the treatment I received. I am usually extremely laid back concerning service, having done a lot of it over the years. Recently though, the service workers have become actively hostile, in several places. This low wage economy is finally having some deleterious effects on the society at large. ..."
"... Fricking BS neoliberal greed masquerading as public policy. ..."
"... The bigger problem is the multi dimensional conflict with China. If its rate of acceleration is not brought down a lot, it will do some real damage to businesses who clean up by exploiting cheap and efficient Chinese industry while selling widgets into wealthy western markets. All such businesses, could get hurt, real bad (and their Chinese counterparts too). Will this happen? I think there will be warning shots. Huawei being the elephant in the room. ..."
"... I thought the quote from Business Insider that dole queues have been replaced by low paid part-time work was insightful. In a few words it explains why poor life conditions for many people are invisible. They are working somewhere not hanging around at street corners. It also explains how the situation may be just bearable for those with the low paid jobs since they do earn some income. It also explains why they don't turn their difficult conditions into political demands for a better life. They don't have the time as they are too busy and tired just surviving. ..."
"... The low interest rates are needed for bigger stock buybacks to prop up the overinflated housing and stock markets. Float those fantasies of fake wealth. It's alll that's left of their dystopian dream ..."
"... One thing has been proven beyond denial and that is that neoliberalism doesn't work. Infusions of money are still going to the rich, connected people mostly for frivolous justifications. Recession and ecological devastation plague the rest of us. ..."
"... IMO the US economy is a house of cards. What is the US economy currently? In my view it is the FIRE (Finance, IT, Real Estate, and Energy) sector, Education, and Health Care. ..."
"... Many people are living large at the expense of education and healthcare and have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. What happens when the bubble bursts?? Many small cities are going to be ghost towns. ..."
"... Anecdotally, where I live in central WA I know quite a few young people in their 30s and 20s who patch together various crummy jobs to make ends meet. None of them can afford a house and it's hard to see much of a future for them other than endless part-time, low paying jobs ..."
"... The county I live in has an official poverty rate of 14%, about 1 out of every 7 people, but I think the actual amount is higher. We have a lot of Mexican immigrant workers here who likely are not counted, and in any case the federal definition of poverty is not very realistic. Same applies to official inflation stats. I would say that things are mixed, but for many under 40 the future isn't bright. ..."
Aug 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

jrs, August 23, 2019 at 10:39 am

I think much is just stuff that was ever thus and not new, there has always been a lot of poverty in the U.S.. Now that poverty may be creeping more into the middle class more and so becomes more noticeable, and homelessness has grown some places, but there was always much poverty.

This economic system especially without even a measly safety net, will not ever eliminate poverty and share the wealth. And of course it's going to destroy life on earth pretty soon if it keeps going.

Local experience: people who have not had an easy time getting stable jobs or sometimes work at all even recently are getting some now. But there are still perfectly decent people that can't find work.

ambrit, August 23, 2019 at 8:34 am

Here in the North American Deep South, "things" are sliding slowly down that slippery slope. The "Street Signs" I see about me are signaling a growth in the population of the truly impoverished. People with their belongings carried about in backpacks are now a regular sight on our streets. Panhandlers abound on the street corners. So much so that the local City Council has just passed an ordinance practically outlawing the practice. One of the local salvage store outlets, of which we have four in this town now, representing three corporations, now has some regular parking lot and front door panhandlers. A store assistant manager told me that it was "too much of a hassle" to run the panhandlers off, so the store tolerates their presence.

One of these panhandlers has a shtick of opening the front door to the store for customers with his hand out, as if he was a legitimate doorman. Five years ago, such now common sights were unknown around here.

On the small business front, today is the last day for our friendly local small vitamin and health food shop. She has given up after thirteen years. She has said that the internet killed her business off. For the last two months she has been looking for work. With her business background, she has had no "legitimate" offers of employment to date.

Another person who worked at the store while going to the local college just graduated with a Business and Communications major and minor. A sharp person, he told me two weeks ago before he went home to Gulfport to live with his parents again, he will be taking his little brother's room since the little brother just joined the military, that all he has received in the way of job offers in six months of searching are "bulls -- t job" offers, and one decent possibility over in Dallas. Even that job offer was on a recurring one year contract schedule. He would be a 'job shopper.'

I generally look at the faces of the people I pass by in shops and on the street to judge the tenor of the times. I have seen precious few smiling faces recently. Even the retail food workers are now surly and brusque.

I actually walked out of a Popeyes chicken place last month over the treatment I received. I am usually extremely laid back concerning service, having done a lot of it over the years. Recently though, the service workers have become actively hostile, in several places. This low wage economy is finally having some deleterious effects on the society at large.

Acacia, August 23, 2019 at 1:02 pm

FWIW, California cities have been working steadily on anti-homeless and anti-panhandling laws for years now. Some analysis here:

https://blogs.berkeley.edu/2018/10/18/business-improvement-districts-stop-punishing-the-homeless/

A primary vector of attack seems to be "Business Improvement Districts", i.e., the private control of formerly public spaces.

JBird4049, August 23, 2019 at 2:44 pm

What in the World is a "business improvement district?" And why does any California cities especially the large ones like L.A., San Diego, San Jose, or San Francisco? The smaller towns especially out in the peripheral Red areas could certainly use some economic help, but really housing is the single biggest problem state-wide with the possible exception of water, but that's only in long drought.

If people had dependable affordable housing, business would pick up.

Fricking BS neoliberal greed masquerading as public policy.

ptb, August 23, 2019 at 8:59 am

As another commenter said above, "fine" is a relative term. But I suppose this is in reference to this week's news-media theme of discussing recession fears. Thus the "fine" we are talking about means a combination of prices in stocks and real estate, and annual performance of big firms.

By that definition, the fears are a possibility, but just that. I mean the stock market is probably overvalued, but that isn't a crisis, and with the FED easing, what the heck they'll be overvalued more.

The bigger problem is the multi dimensional conflict with China. If its rate of acceleration is not brought down a lot, it will do some real damage to businesses who clean up by exploiting cheap and efficient Chinese industry while selling widgets into wealthy western markets. All such businesses, could get hurt, real bad (and their Chinese counterparts too). Will this happen? I think there will be warning shots. Huawei being the elephant in the room.

An even worse scenario for the rest of the world (but not the US) is if efforts to contain China succeed, and growth of Chinese industry is halted. The non-US world will have to pay significantly more for pretty much everything, and therefore economy will grow slower. Will this happen? I don't think so.

As far as locally in this reader's neck of the woods? I live in a locally wealthy college town, so kindof impossible to say from this vantage point, but I think things are actually going well. The place I work, a tiny scientific-industrial equipment maker in a very specialized niche, is looking at some of the bigger contracts we've had yet. My biggest fear in terms of external events is that we have an absolutely vital component supplier who is US-branded-made-in-China and a "dual-use" technology (we are the civilian use). That's a risk. There are Japanese-branded-Chinese alternatives but the US-branded-Chinese one is more advanced, I suspect due to patent protection, which should fortunately expire in a few years (reckoning based on how long it's been on the market).

a different chris, August 23, 2019 at 12:39 pm

>but I think things are actually going well.

Well duh. Your college has been suctioning money out of the pockets of kids for the last couple decades or so at a rate that is multiples of the general growth rate. Which means most (probably all) of the wealth you see around you is a shift from elsewhere, not a creation of such.

At best it is maybe repatriating some of the money going to Asia.

Heraclitus, August 23, 2019 at 9:15 am

I am also in the Deep South, but just barely. Our area is booming if you judge from the amount of construction taking place. However, there are loads more homeless people than there used to be, in a county that is hostile to them. It's easy to wind up doing thirty days in jail if you show up in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with no money. I employ a homeless guy to do yard work. He has plenty of skills and works for others too, so money isn't a problem, theoretically. However, he has found there are few rooms available where the homeowners do not have substance abuse problems. He's been through four since I've been employing him -- about nine months. He used to have a drinking problem, but no longer does, as far as I can tell. Life sobered him up. He has pointed out to me how many homes are unoccupied and falling down, and could be used to house people.

ambrit, August 23, 2019 at 9:38 am

We have a similar problem with "abandoned/unsafe buildings." The local response to this is to tear the buildings down. Salvable housing stock becomes empty lots, with the demolition bill sent to the last owner of record.

Rentals for the really poor are difficult at best. Very few rooming houses here. Most house rental contracts around here prohibit co-renters. The main exceptions are the college student rentals, and many of them have premium rents, essentially, gouging the out of towners.

Criminalizing poverty is an old and much honoured tradition.

Louis Fyne, August 23, 2019 at 10:04 am

The entire country sorely needs more rooming houses -- impossible nowadays, even in "liberal" towns, either because of land-construction prices or zoning or both.

William Hunter Duncan, August 23, 2019 at 9:29 am

Economists this time around seem to be oblivious to the "everything" bubble, be it the stock market, fracking, those darling tech companies worth billions having never made a profit, housing, student debt, debt generally

They seem mostly oblivious to structural pathologies, like the unchecked growth of monopoly, gross income inequality, unchecked automation, unchecked AI, resource constraints, ecological blowback, systemic pollution, eternal privatized warprofiteering.

This economy seems to me an epic disaster in the making. But I am a lowly manual laborer, so never mind me .

neo-realist, August 23, 2019 at 11:15 am

Another structural pathology I would add is the lack of low income housing for the working poor: In Seattle, and I'm sure this problem is replicated in other medium sized and bigger cities across the country, e.g., NYC, LA., A lot of SRO's and cheap apartments have been destroyed or bought up by developers and turned into expensive luxury apartments for high earning professionals. Much of the working poor ends up being stuck living in RV's and tents in business districts and residential neighborhoods, and under bridges, as well as shelters all over the city. The pathology extends to our citizens as well -- many believe they are nothing more than losers who didn't prepare themselves for better careers, takers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and criminals. Much of that fed by 40 years of corporate elite and media brainwashing: If you are poor in America, you deserve to die in the gutter; It's your fault.

Skip Intro, August 23, 2019 at 2:29 pm

I believe being oblivious is the main qualification for being a successful mainstream economist.

Mikerw0, August 23, 2019 at 9:48 am

As others h