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Over 50 and unemployed

I know it's tough, very tough. But please do not give up. Fight even if you are excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape."  "No man is a failure who has friends". Like with Arctics "isolated person is a doomed person": in the situation of unemployment you need to overcome huge odds relying of your social network.

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IT Outsourcing/Offshoring Skeptic: Fighting Outsourcing Myths Commodization of IT: "IT does not matter" fallacy and what in Nicholas Carr views matter Bootlickocracy: "Kiss up, kick down" style in corporate IT Cargo cult programming Alienation in neoliberal society Neoliberal rationality The role of automation and AI in decimation of workforce Secular Stagnation
Office Slaves: the rise of bullshit jobs Tactful communication Diplomatic Communication  Negative Politeness Dealing With Negative Criticism Six ways to say No and mean it Rules of Verbal Self Defense   Avoiding Anger Trap 
Programmers and sysadmins health issues Marriage and unemployment Coping with prolonged joblessness Adverse Selection Bosos or Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers) The Fiefdom Syndrome Female Sociopaths The Hare Psychopathy Checklist
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Introduction

"Don't tell people you're unemployed. Tell them you're semiretired.
It changed my self-identity. I still look for jobs, but I feel better about myself."
 

Age discrimination has been standard operating procedure in IT at least since 2000. And there are no significant consequences, if any consequences at all, for doing it in the USA under "neoliberal occupation", so to speak.  Outsourcing, offshoring and abuse of  H1B visas were increasing annually since year 1990.

That's why many IT professionals, who are over 50, recently found  themselves excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." (Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism).  For example, IBM has laid off hundreds of thousands in the last few decades.

Typical feelings experienced after loss of employment included emptiness, inadequacy, humiliation, rage, shame, envy, and worthlessness. Additional aspects include  grief over the additional losses that followed the job loss, such as loss of social connectedness,  professional status, and hardships for the family. For some people, unresolved conflicts vis-a-vis former employers produce strong revengeful feelings.  For others, self-loathing, contempt, self-criticism, and insecurity or fear of trying new things are more prominent.

That might affect common activities such as attending children's graduations, weddings, getting through major holidays,  sustaining interest in former leisure activities or hobbies. As the period of unemployment exceeds one year most males usually experienced increased and sometimes overwhelming sadness and grief at what had been lost. Paradoxically, reentering workforce now led to comparisons of "there and then" with "here and now". Reactions including rage and feelings of unfairness  are not uncommon. The toxic mixture of shame and anger is especially notable.

As the period of unemployment exceeds one year most males usually experienced increased and sometimes overwhelming sadness and grief at what had been lost.  Please continue to fight. Those who fight preserve human dignity, no matter what. Such feeling of sadness and grief, replaying actual of imaginable mistakes, are "new normal" and just yet another obstacle to overcome.

The key question here is how to survive this prolonged slump, which is very similar to the situations that often happened in Arctic expeditions at the beginning of XX century: the ship squeezed by ice goes down and survivors face life in tents in Arctic weather.  With limited supplies and a long time before the rescuers can reach them. Often forced to survive in those tents the whole Arctic winter. Dr. Sidney Blair, the Navy psychiatrist who coordinated personnel selection for the Operation Deep Freeze voiced the following opinion (BOLD ENDEAVORS. p. 260):

When I am asked, "If you want to be 100% sure that a person will adjust [ to Antarctic duty], what do you look for?"

My usual answer is that I look for somebody who loves their work. This is probably the most important thing on the list of positive factors, they have to love their work. It is almost all right, if they love their work to the exclusion of everyone else.

Another important factor is ability to survive isolation and confinement inherent in long unemployment. Neoliberalism tried to atomizes employees, destroy social bonds between them, propagating " under the disguise of competition old "Man Is Wolf to Man " mentality( from Latin "Homo homini lupus est" . Which, in essence, is an old style "divide and conquer" strategy, applied to labor force.

Moreover, there was never a trade union of IT administrators of programmers so they are by definition pretty isolated specialty, without much inter-employee solidarity. But as Mark Twain aptly said "No man is a failure who has friends". 

As Mark Twain aptly said "No man is a failure who has friends". Like with Arctic, in the situation of unemployment an isolated person is a doomed person. You need to rely of support of other people and you better start cultivating them (as well a funds) before the blow strikes.

Like is the case with Arctic, in the situation of unemployment an isolated person is a doomed person. You need to rely of support of other people and you better start cultivating them (as well a funds) before the blow strikes.

Again this is a very similar to situations that occur in Arctic expeditions; in case of loss of power in older types of ships, etc. IT specialists over 50 who succeed after long unemployment belong to the same type people who would survive in case of crash of the ship in Arctic expedition. This is a real life experiment on what we do in moments of great challenge. Do we rise to the occasion or fail? Are we heroes or cowards? Are we loyal to the people we love most or do we betray them? Are the most close people remain loyal to you in such a challenging circumstances, or they are ready to betray? What is the right thing to do in such difficult circumstances?

Like Arctic explorers in the past you need to face the danger and difficult decisions. It is easy to say that one had to be brave and strong and keep moving forward despite hardships. It is quite difficult to do. It's about ordinary people drawn into circumstances beyond their control and the choices they must make to take back some of that control... avoiding impulsive choices, dangerous choices, heart wrenching and even catastrophic choices that can't be undone. It's more complex that just bravery vs. cowardice.

People who are rated low in impatience and irritability and low in the characteristics associated with creation interpersonal conflicts (e.g. egotistic, boastful, hostile, arrogant) have better chances in this situation. People who are more concerted with well-being of other paradoxically typically fared better in situation of Arctic expedition crisis. Other-directiveness helps to survive is such harsh environment. Traits like social compatibility or likability, emotional control, patience, tolerance to others, self-confidence without egotism, ability to subordinate your own interests to the interests of the team, a sense of humor, and  are extremely valuable and are now checked for potential members of long duration expeditions that involve severe hardships.  To those scientifically established traits for selection of people into Arctic expeditions one can add

People who are more concerted with well-being of other paradoxically typically fared better in situation of Arctic expedition crisis. Other-directiveness helps to survive is such harsh environment.  The ability to take job loss "cool" without excessive negative emotions (as in "sh*t happens" attitude)  is also very important. Use Stoicism and
  1. The level of self-control. There are powerful "animal" mechanisms that are still active within us and due to them we tend to display some behaviors typical for "cornered animal" in the situation of long unemployment and unsuccessful search for a job.  Emotionally the hit of losing job is comparable with the hit of losing close relative. The ability to take those behaviors under control are critical. See also Avoiding Anger Trap. The ability to take job loss "cool" without excessive negative emotions (as in "sh*t happens" attitude)  is very important. Otherwise Job loss can cause heart issues, and the stress as well as bad habits that frequently come with unemployment and can build up over time. There is even danger to your mental health with long unemployment as depression is more common among long term unemployed:.
    Michael McKee, a psychologist and stress expert at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, agreed that attention needs to paid to the body blow that job loss can inflict on any individual’s sense of identity and self-respect.

    “If you keep trying to find a job and don’t,” he noted, “or if you find a job and then lose it, and that pattern repeats and repeats, you not only lose identity, you lose income, the structure to your day, your sense of achievement, your friends from work, your other friends because you are embarrassed to be around them, your self-confidence, your self-respect. Then you start to lose hope and meaning and purpose, [and] feel alienated and hopeless and helpless.”

    So, McKee added, “Well-meaning programs, public and private, which help people find jobs, need to add caution to eagerness. Caution that they not set people up for repeated failure, for long times between jobs, which is likely to accelerate the ride to depression. Always finding another job quickly lets you keep your hope up, but struggling [can] often lead to increased fear and anxiety.”

    Related to that is the ability to use physical exercise to control your emotional state. Consider it as an effective medication for excessive aggressiveness and anger. See also Avoiding Anger TrapThe ability to maintain your physical and emotional  tonus, which now is especially important. Stretch exercises are known to help is such situation for many people.  So called 4 x 4 running/walking (fast running for 4 minute then walking 4 minutes; and so one 4 times -- 32 min total ) also is very helpful exercise to reduce the level of aggressiveness and anger. Swimming is another highly recommended exercise.  Generally spending some time near the water tend to help many people.
     

  2. Tactfulness in interpersonal relations (see Tactful communication, Diplomatic Communication, Negative Politeness). This trait can't be overestimated. For married couples, tact can avoid one of the main problem in long unemployment - stress and possible dissolution of the marriage. No matter how hard your try to compensate this is a huge hit for your self-esteem and the truth is such a hit encourages some maladjusted compensation mechanisms and first of all excessive aggression toward family members. You need to resist this tendency. The single best prediction of marital longevity is that both partners are kind and emotionally generous to each other. But this is easier said that done is such situation as long unemployment. Those who feel appreciated and valued by thier spouse may feel more committed to their marriage and have more positive outlook on overcoming existing difficulties. 
     
  3. Effective conflict resolution skills, especially in marriage, as marriage comes under stress during period of long unemployment. See Conflict Couple A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace.  It is better to assume part of household hours to help the other partner. Nothing destructs a person so much and so quickly as prolong period of idleness and even routine tasks related to home that you can take from your spouse are beneficial in adaptation. Consider it to be a new part time job.  Expect and prepare to problems in your marital life (Marriage and unemployment). In fact, unemployment stimulates transition of a pre-existing marital conflict into the state when spouses are separated emotionally but not physically, or  became “upstairs/downstairs” couples who are estranged, but share the same house. This is a real danger during long unemployment.
     
  4. Stoicism, ability to withstand hardships with honor, without betrayal of yourself and those who are close to you. The key idea if stoicism is that  "virtue is sufficient for happiness". Such an attitude stresses the value an inner freedom in the face of the external, often hostile world. Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions such lust and greed; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to better understand yourself and thus overcome hardships without betrayal of yourself and those who are close to you. As Seneca said "The point is, not how long you live, but how nobly you live."

    Admiral James Stockdale, who was shot down over North Vietnam, held as a prisoner and repeatedly tortured was deeply influenced by Epictetus after being introduced to his works while at Stanford University. As he parachuted down from his plane, he reportedly said to himself "I'm leaving the world of technology and entering the world of Epictetus!"

    The same phrase can be repeated by IT specialist who are over 50 and became unemployed. 
    Practicing  Stoicism is an active process of preparation to overcome negative influence of hardships with honor  (and viewing hardships as a test that God send to evaluate a person) and acquiring deeper self-knowledge in the process (see below)
     
  5. The sense of humor.  The sense of humor is really important for survival in such circumstances. Sense of humor  serves as an important safety valve, helping to prevent the slide into depression.  The future can be scary, but people with the sense of humor adapt easer to harsh conditions.  We often cannot predict how we will be feeling – our level of emotional stability.  And sense of humor serves as a safety valve in this cases, channeling emotion into the safe path.  Even reading  humor stories can help in such cases.
     
  6. The ability to be easily entertained and  fight the sense of boredom.   This is an interesting observation: the easier one can fight the sense of boredom, the better are chances he/she has to survive long unemployment without emotional scars.  As Nansen frequently wrote in his journal, to survive isolation and confinement, one must learn to be idle without feeling guilty (BOLD ENDEAVORS, p.261)  See below You will survive: Fight the sense of isolation and related higher level of aggression I remember the story of one prisoner whom only entertainment in solitary confinement to observe a female rat in his cell. He observed how she behaved, gave birth, etc and noted that he probably would not survived without this strange companion of his confinement.  And this situation with excessive boredom is not limited to people with the long term unemployment problem.  It is pretty common for example for actors too.  Linda Fiorentino  who played the famous female sociopath character in  The Last Seduction once observed "As actors, the thing we have to fight, more than even the business part of making movies, is boredom."   Temporary work, or even volunteering are important for the same reason. You can't wait for your best chance forever. This is also very similar to the situation actors find themselves. As Linda Fiorentino noted  "Sometimes I have to work because I need the money. You weigh the issues and ask yourself, "Can I wake up every morning and do this?"
     
  7. Interest in keeping a regular log of events. That can be done either on computer on or by writing it in the form of lab journal (writing a regular journal make it easier to keep it private; in case of computer you need to use encrypted USB drive which is unlocked, for example, using fingerprint or code combination). That helps to view that situation as pretty cruel experiment that neoliberal society staged upon you, and gives you an ability see a bigger picture. The picture on the level above your personal problems. See Start a log book
     
  8. Maintaining proper (or may be even slight upscale) attire and useful work habits.  Well dressed people have higher self-esteem. As simple as that. That's an important fact that dictates that you need to be dressed up. For the same reason regular visits to the library revive your work routines. That also forces you to dress properly and helps with self-confidence  Public library can serve as a substitute for working place just for few hours a day and along with positive influence on self-confidence helps to fight the sense of isolation. The same role can play a course in your local community college (if you enroll in one course in it it is tax deductable; highly recommended). People are social animals in many respects (see Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are Amy Cuddy TED Talks - YouTube :-)  See also The importance of keeping yourself occupied
  9. Learning to cope with chronic stress coused by long-term unemployment. The most dangerous factor here is chronic stress caused by long-term unemployment. It really endanger your health and create multitude of additional problems starting from insomnia.

Like Arctic explorers with ship squeezed by ice which went down, you need to became an expect in survival in hostile environment and keeping the friendship of a few people you can rely upon. Isolated people die in Arctic really quick. The value of the ability to manage conflicts and to communicate tactfully in your current relationships increase tenfold in such situations:

It takes more skill, effort and commitment--and, at least in the short run, more stress--to face the challenge together with the other person involved in the dispute. Certainly it seems as if it would be easier to fight, withdraw, or give in. Yet in the long run, working through difficulties together will help us live a less stressful and more fulfilling life.

The value of stoicism in fighting consequences of a job loss


The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. – Socrates

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. – Seneca

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Serenity Prayer - Wikipedia

Admiral James Stockdale, who was shot down over North Vietnam, held as a prisoner and repeatedly tortured was deeply influenced by Epictetus after being introduced to his works while at Stanford University. As he parachuted down from his plane, he reportedly said to himself "I'm leaving the world of technology and entering the world of Epictetus!" The same words can be repeated by  IT specialist who are over 50 and became unemployed: it is the ability to fight adversity that distinguishes real men from fakes.

Stoics teach us that not everything is under our control, not it should be. There are some things we have control over (our judgments, our own mental state) but for a  lot of things we do not exercise much control -- this is what the concept of destiny is about (external processes and objects, transformations of the society, like the USA conversion to neoliberalism in 1980th with banks running amok for quick profits, resulting from this social cataclysms like Great Recession or, worse,  civil war in some countries (all wars are bankers wars)). Part of our unhappiness can be traced to confusing these two categories: thinking we have control over something that ultimately we do not.

The wisdom can can be viewed as the ability to distinguish things that we can control and those that we can not. This stoic attitude was aptly captured by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr[ (1892–1971) in his famous Serenity Prayer:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Loss of job is a severe hit for a person no matter young or old. A hit comparable in its effects with the dissolution of the marriage or a death or a jail term of a close relative. In other words it is a traumatic event with negative long term consequences.  Among them:

But you have the ability to minimize them. Stoicism is a philosophy of life that might help, at least for some people,  is those circumstances. It tried to address the problem of loss of self-esteem but reformulating it from the the "dimension" of possession to the dimension of personal courage.  After all if everything if gone a man can quit the life voluntarily. That means that he should be able to fight to last breath against even uneven adds.  The key idea of stoicism is that  "personal virtue and courage in adversity, courage in fight against uneven odds is sufficient for maintaining high self-esteem". 

In other words stoicism reasserts  human dignity as the ability to fight the external, often hostile world. Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions such desperation, lust and greed; the philosophy holds that the ability to see clearly your circumstances and fight them to the extent you can  is an achievement in itself, toward which we all should strive.  No matter what is the outcome of this fight. The Stoics taught that we fail far more often than we succeed, that to be human is to be fearful, selfish, and angry far more often than we’d like. But they also taught a realistic way to be less fearful, less selfish, and less angry.  It also teaches to prepare for adversity and do not expect that your life with be smooth sailing to the very end.

In addition to this "glorification of human courage in fighting adversity" stoics also strive  "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy" (The Stoic ideal of dispassion is accepted to this day as the perfect moral state by the Eastern Orthodox Church). AS value of a person is in his inner properties , stoics teach to accept everybody as "equals, because all men alike are products of nature." In ancient world this was an innovative, rebelous postulates. Related to social status of unemployment is remains to be so even now. In their view the external differences which are considered of such primary importance in Western civilization, such as rank and wealth should not be primary criteria of judging others, not they should the primary goals in your life, or of primary importance in social relationships

After all it is the idea of capitalism to deprive part of the population from meaning full employment to increase obedience of theirs. Neoliberalism requires that employees sell their labor as a condition of survival. Nothing more, nothing less. The "entrepreneur" can exert power by denying access to work, hence income, hence survival. Watch "Office space" which provides a pretty realistic picture how fear of loss of employment paralyzes even young, rebellious people, making the easy prey to any corporate sociopath. The state has the ability to enforce this social order by "brute force”  and in modern times, when social safety nets are weak routinely destroys efforts of the remnants of organized labor to defend employees rights. And neoliberalism  is certainly remains the preferred order among Western elites. All in all "it is not your fault". Seriously.

In the words of Epictetus (note that the word happiness here has slightly different meaning then in regular English language), you can be  "sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy..." If we assume that "happiness" means here the ability to maintain high self-esteem this quote might be more understandable. Stoic ethics stressed the rule: "Follow where reason leads." One must therefore strive to be free of the distortions caused by "passions", bearing in mind that the ancient meaning of "passion" was more close to contemporary words "emotions",  "anguish" or "suffering", that is, "passive reaction to external events, which is different from the modern use of the word. In other words you need the ability to dispassionately and persistently "stay the course" after you had chosen it with all the wisdom you are capable of; it is about "who controls whom.": either you control your your emotions, or your emotions control you. 

The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy are: wisdom (Sophia), courage (Andreia), justice (Dikaiosyne), and temperance (Sophrosyne).  The ability to fight in adversarial conditions considered to be a virtue.  This stoical sentiment with more stress on desire to fight the adversity to the bitter end despite uneven odds was expressed in old Russian song Varyag (the cruiser  that became  became famous for her crew's stoicism at the Battle of Chemulpo Bay when she alone tried to break the blockade of the port by the whole Japanese fleet)

All to the upper deck and man your battle posts,
The last battle for our ship is coming
Our proud "Varyag" will not surrender to the enemy,
And none of us want their mercy.

But this situation needs a different type of courage, then military courage required to face overwhelming enemy force and fight to the bitter end despite low or even non-existent odds of the victory and survival. Unlike military battles, unemployment can last for years. So endurance comes to the front. This is more like prolonged war, then a single battle.

Unemployment also press people to get into compromises they would never get otherwise. Stoics teach that a person should strive to be just and moral in an unjust and immoral world (see also Reinhold Niebuhr's book Moral Man and Immoral Society) despite all odds:

"Moral Man and Immoral Society", by Reinhold Neibhur, was published during the years of the Great Depression. In this work, Reinhold asserts the requirement of politics in the fight for social justice because of the depravity of human nature, that is, the arrogance of human beings. Neibur sees the flaws of the mind when it comes to solving social injustice by moral and wise means, "since reason is always the servant of interest in a social situation". This is his judgment of liberal Christian doctrine, which fully believes in the intellectual ability of humans to make themselves be good, and he admits this vulnerability as our existence. In other words, Neibhur accurately saw the evil of systems in society and its empty endeavors to better individuals and their insufficiencies.

Neibhur warns us about adopting "herd mentalities." According to him, individuals are morally able to think of the interests of others above themselves. That is, human beings can be kind. Societies, however, find it essentially impossible to manage intelligently the competing interests of subgroups. Societies, he contends, effectively gather up only individuals' selfish impulses, not their abilities for charitable thoughtfulness toward others.

According to Niebuhr, this group egocentricity of individuals-in-groups is immensely powerful. "In every human group there is less reason to guide and to check impulse, less capacity for self-transcendence, less ability to comprehend the needs of others, therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals, who compose the group, reveal in their personal relationships".

Avoidance of fight for justice is viewed by stoics a rejection of one's social duty. Stoic philosophical and spiritual practices included  contemplation of hardship, training to value the life as it is (similar to some forms of Eastern meditation), and daily reflection on everyday problems and possible solutions (by keeping a diary). Practicing  Stoicism is an active process of preparation to overcome  hardships that your destiny could send upon you with honor and courage  (and viewing hardships as a test that God send to evaluate a person). As well as acquiring deeper self-knowledge and the knowledge of the society in the process.

In his Meditations (which were not written for print, but as a  personal diary) Marcus Aurelius defines several such practices. For example, in Book II.I:

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of the ignorance of real good and ill... I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together...

It was stoicism that gave mankind the idea if equality of all men. In this situation it applies to those who suffer from the long term unemployment. Below are some quotations from major Stoic philosophers, selected to illustrate common Stoic beliefs:

Epictetus:

Marcus Aurelius:

Seneca the Younger:

A good introduction to Stoicism can be found in A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine. Here are some Amazon reviews of the book:

...Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune.

We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have.

Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own life. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life...

David B Richman (Mesilla Park, NM USA)
The Best Introduction to an Ancient Philosophy, December 23, 2008 See all my reviews

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (Hardcover)

I first read Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" while flying to the eastern United States for a scientific meeting. It was during a rather difficult period in my life and I had picked up on "Meditations" because of a mention of this work by Edwin Way Teale in "Near Horizons" as a book he turned to in times of trouble.

I was not disappointed by these insightful notes written for his own use nearly 2000 years ago by the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher. It was thus that I was primed to read William B. Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy." This is one of those books that can be really life changing, if the reader is ready for it.

Irvine briefly discusses the history of Stoic philosophy and its relationship to other philosophies in ancient Greece and Rome. He concentrates most of the book, however, on the Stoics of the Roman Empire, namely Seneca, Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus and, of course, Marcus Aurelius. After his historical review Irvine spends some time on the practical aspects of Stoicism, including

  • negative visualization (visualizing how your life could be worse),
  • dichotomy of control (what we can and cannot control),
  • fatalism (about the past and present, not the future),
  • self-denial (putting off pleasure so as to appreciate it more when you have it),
  • duty (what we owe to others),
  • social relations (how we relate to others),
  • insults (how to react to them),
  • grief (how to deal with loss),
  • anger (how to turn it to humor),
  • personal values (how to deal with fame and fortune, or the lack thereof),
  • old age (how to deal with the aging process),
  • and dying (how to prepare for this certainty).

The last part of the book is devoted to the practice of Stoicism in the modern world, with both its pluses and minuses.

Although I would have to practice a modified Stoicism (I doubt that most of us would like to sleep even occasionally on a board or give up sex except for procreation), there is much of Stoicism that we can use in the modern world.

Unlike the Cynics who slept on boards all the time and generally followed ascetic practices, Stoics wanted to enjoy life and followed something akin to the Middle Way of Buddhism.

This attitude could certainly be of use to counter the worst of this "me first" society of rampant consumerism. In truth you really cannot take it with you when you die and to act like you can is the height of folly.

This book is a fascinating exposition of Stoic philosophy and its possible uses in the present day. The current economic collapse and other disasters of modern living could be a fertile ground for a revival of Stoic ideas. I also recommend it as a refreshing antidote for the hectic modern world in general. Take what is useful, and leave the rest, but read it if you would live deliberately and thus be free!

Secular stagnation of the economy

The world  entered a period of economic stagnation. American middle class families now earn less and have a lower net worth than before the Great Recession.  For individuals, this translates into less savings at the age of 50. Both in 401K and in accounts outside 401K, such as Roth or regular investment account, such as Vanguard. That means that "downsizing" in case of chronic unemployment need to go deeper and be more painful. To raise funds you not only need to change your house for apartment (a good move when you children are grown up in any case) bu take other measures, like getting rid off of extra car, boat, etc. 

Rising unemployment level of IT professional over 50 is just a tip of the iceberg of multiple problems caused by secular stagnation.  Here is a short description:

Secular Stagnation is a term proposed by Keynesian economist Alvin Hansen back in the 1930s to explain America’s dismal economic performance — in which sluggish growth and output, and employment levels well below potential, coincide with a problematically low (even negative) real interest rates even in the face of extraordinarily easy monetary policy. This is stagnation that lasts longer period then the business cycle (also called Japanification of economy). It looks like a suppression of economic performance for long (aka secular) period of time.

The global stagnation we are experiencing is the logical result of dominance of neoliberalism and a sign of its crisis an a ideology, somewhat similar to the crisis of Bolshevik's ideology in the USSR in 60th when everybody realized that the existing society cannot fulfill the key promise of higher living standards and that over centralization of economic life naturally lead to stagnation.  Analogy does not ends here, but this point is the most important.

Neoliberalism replaced over-centralization (with iron fist one party rule) with over-financialization (with iron fist rule of financial oligarchy), with generally the same result as for the economy ( In other words neoliberalism like bolshevism is equal to economic stagnation; extremes meet).  End of cheap oil did not help either. In a sense neoliberalism might be viewed as the elite reaction to the end of cheap oil, when it became clear that there are no enough cookies for everyone.

This growth in the financial sector's profits has not been an accident; it is the result of  engineered shift in the elite thinking, which changed government policies. The central question of politics is, in my view, "Who has a right to live and who does not".  In the answer to this question, neoliberal subscribes to Social Darwinism: citizens should be given much less rather than more social protection. Such  policies would have been impossible in 50th and 60th (A Short History of Neo-liberalism)

In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today's standard neo-liberal toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage at or sent off to the insane asylum. At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian, a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist.

The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection--such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time. Even if someone actually agreed with these ideas, he or she would have hesitated to take such a position in public and would have had a hard time finding an audience.

And this change in government polices was achieved in classic Bolsheviks coup d'état way via forming first the Party of "professional neoliberal revolutionaries" who pushed for this change. The crisis of "New Deal capitalism" helped, but without network of think tanks and rich donors, the triumph of neoliberalism in the USA would have been impossible:

...one explanation for this triumph of neo-liberalism and the economic, political, social and ecological disasters that go with it is that neo-liberals have bought and paid for their own vicious and regressive "Great Transformation". They have understood, as progressives have not, that ideas have consequences. Starting from a tiny embryo at the University of Chicago with the philosopher-economist Friedrich von Hayek and his students like Milton Friedman at its nucleus, the neo-liberals and their funders have created a huge international network of foundations, institutes, research centers, publications, scholars, writers and public relations hacks to develop, package and push their ideas and doctrine relentlessly.

Most economists are acutely aware of the increasing role in economic life of financial markets, institutions and operations and the pursuit of profits via exotic instruments such as derivatives (all this constituted  financialization). This dominant feature of neoliberalism has huge the re-distributional implications, huge effects on the US economy, international dimensions and monetary system, depth and longevity of financial crises and unapt policy responses to them.

They have built this highly efficient ideological cadre because they understand what the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci was talking about when he developed the concept of cultural hegemony. If you can occupy peoples' heads, their hearts and their hands will follow.

I do not have time to give you details here, but believe me, the ideological and promotional work of the right has been absolutely brilliant. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, but the result has been worth every penny to them because they have made neo-liberalism seem as if it were the natural and normal condition of humankind. No matter how many disasters of all kinds the neo-liberal system has visibly created, no matter what financial crises it may engender, no matter how many losers and outcasts it may create, it is still made to seem inevitable, like an act of God, the only possible economic and social order available to us.  

Neoliberalism naturally leads to secular stagnation due to redistribution of wealth up. which undermines purchasing power of the 99%, or more correctly 99.9 of the population. In the USA this topic became hotly debated theme in establishment circles after Summers speech in 2013.  Unfortunately it was suppressed in Presidential campaign of 2016. Please note that Sanders speaks about Wall Street shenanigans, but not about ideology of neoliberalism.  No candidates tried to address this problem of "self-colonization" of the USA, which is probably crucial to "making America great again" instead of continued slide into what is called "banana republic" coined by American writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter 1862–1910). Here is how Wikipedia described the term:

Banana republic or banana state is a pejorative political science term for politically unstable countries in Latin America whose economies are largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. bananas. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country's economy.[2]

... ... ...

In economics, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by a collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, in which the profit derived from the private exploitation of public lands is private property, while the debts incurred thereby are a public responsibility.

This topic is of great importance to the US elite because the USA is the citadel of  Neoliberalism. It also suggest that the natural way neoliberal economic system based on increasing of the level of inequality (redistribution of wealth up) should behave: after the initial economic boom (like in case of steroids use) caused by  financialization of economy (as well as dissolution of the USSR), helped by off-shoring of manufacturing, the destructive effects of this temporary boost come into foreground. Redistribution of wealth up increases inequality which after a certain delay starts to undercuts domestic demand. It also tilts the demand more toward conspicuous consumption (note the boom of luxury cars sales in the USA).  

But after  inequality reaches certain critical threshold  the economy faces extended period of low growth reflecting persistently weak private demand (purchasing power of lower 90% of population).  People who mostly have low level service economy jobs (aka MC-jobs) can't buy that much.  Earlier giants of American capitalism like Ford understood that, but Wall Street sharks do not and does not want.  They operate under principle "Après nous le déluge" ("After us, the deluge").

An economic cycle enters recession when total spending falls below expected by producers and they realize that production level is too high relative to demand. What we have under Neoliberalism is Marx's crisis of overproduction on a new level. At this level it is intrinsically connected with the parasitic nature of complete financialization of the economy. The focus on monetary policy and the failure to enact fiscal policy options is the key structural defect of Neoliberalism ideology and can't be changed unless neoliberal ideology is abandoned. Which probably will not happen unless another huge crisis hits the USA. That might not happen soon.  Bolshevism lasted more then 70 years. If we assume that the "age of Neoliberalism" started at 1973 with Pinochet coup d'état in Chile, Neoliberalism as a social system is just 43 years old (as of 2016). It still has some "time to live"(TTL) in zombies state due to the principle first formulated by Margaret Thatcher as TINA ("There Is No Alternative") -- the main competitor, bolshevism, was discredited by the collapse of the USSR and China leadership adoption of neoliberalism. While Soviet leadership simply abandoned the sinking ship and became Nouveau riche in a neoliberal society that followed, Chinese elite managed to preserved at least outer framework of the Marxist state and the political control of the Communist party (not clear for how long). But there was a neoliberal transformation of Chinese economy, initiated, paradoxically, by the Chinese Communist Party.

Currently, no other ideology, including old "New Deal" ideology can  compete with neoliberal ideology, although things started to change with Sanders campaign in the USA on  the left and Trump campaign on the right. Most of what we see as a negative reaction to neoliberalism in Europe generally falls into the domain of cultural nationalism.    

The 2008 financial crisis, while discrediting Neoliberalism as an ideology (in the same way as WWII discredited Bolshevism), was clearly not enough for the abandonment of this ideology. Actually Neoliberalism proved to be remarkably resilient after this crisis. Some researchers claim that it entered "zombie state" and became more bloodthirsty and ruthless.

There is also religious overtones of Neoliberalism which increase its longevity (similar to Trotskyism, and neoliberalism can be called "Trotskyism for rich"). So, from a small, unpopular sect with virtually no influence, neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest the revealed truth.  Like in most cults adherents became more fanatical believers after the prophecy did not materialized. The USA elite tried partially alleviate this problem by resorting to military Keynesianism as a supplementary strategy. But while military budget was raised to unprecedented levels, it can't reverse the tendency. Persistent high output gap is now a feature of the US economy, not a transitory state.

But there is another factor in play here: combination of peak (aka "plato" ;-) oil and established correlation of  the speed of economic growth and prices on fossil fuels and first of all on oil. Oil provides more than a third of the energy we use on the planet every day, more than any other energy source (How High Oil Prices Will Permanently Cap Economic Growth - Bloomberg). It is dominant fuel for transport and in this role it is very difficult to replace. 

That means that a substantial increase of price of oil acts as a fundamental limiting factor for economic growth. And "end of cheap oil" simply means that any increase of supply of oil to support growing population on the planet and economic growth now requires higher prices. Which naturally undermine economic growth, unless massive injection of currency are instituted. that probably was the factor that prevented slide of the US economy into the recession in 2009-2012.  Such a Catch-22.

Growth dampening potential of over $100-a-barrel oil is now a well established factor. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true. Drop of oil price to below $50 as happened in late 2014 and first half of 2015 did not increase growth rate of the USA economy. It might simply prevented it from sliding it into another phase of Great Recession. Moreover when  economies activity drops, less oil is needed.  Enter permanent stagnation.

Also there is not much oil left that can be profitably extracted at prices below $80. So the current oil price slump is a temporary phenomenon, whether it was engineered, or is a mixture of factors including temporary overcapacity . Sooner or later oil prices should return to level "above $80", as only at this level of oil price capital expenditures in new production make sense. That des not mean that oil prices can't be suppressed for another year or even two, but as Herbert Stein aptly noted   "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop,"

Move to the cloud, lumpenization of IT and degeneration of IT brass

Currently the "conversion to the cloud" in the latest IT fashion. and under this sauce a lot of salaried jobs in IT are eliminated.  Technically speaking this just a new flavor of outsourcing.  While such a move have some technical merits:

But for everything else this is not "one size fit all" type of solution. As soon as the service requires considerable bandwidth (such as backup) it became really brittle after move into the cloud.  Also large provider which enjoy economy of scale (such a Google with Gmail or Amazon cloud, Microsoft or Web hosting companies) typically often experience periodic catastrophic outages just became of their huge scale: at such scale even minor mistake can has unpredictable consequences.  And there is nothing, absolutely nothing that you can change in such a situation, if your services are outsourced.  You is just one of many customers and as such there is no special loyanty toward you from the cloud provider staff. Unless you regular employees they do not care much about your company.  See "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia

But it does not matter for IT brass. In reality this conversion is used as an opening salvo in an attack of "traditional", salaried  IT workforce. Which are first transferred to the "cloud provider" and them partially eliminated when datacenter change hands due to "move to the cloud". Many of the older folds choose to retire (and that doubles the value of sound handling of your 401K -- think about it not so much as retirement fund, but more as a private unemployment insurance).  Combining some income stream from 401K and a low paying job helps to survive this adversity

The trend  under Neoliberalism is unmistakable: temps and contractors gradually displace permanent (salaried) employees, top brass gets richer and richer.  Less qualified and lower paid personnel with less benefits gradually is replacing old workforce, whenever such change is even marginally possible. Management gets outsized bonuses.  That's why large companies now are hunting for the opportunity to "convert datacenter to the cloud". 

In reality the conversion to the cloud is used as an opening salvo in an attack of "traditional", salaried IT workforce. Which are first transferred to the "cloud outsourcer" and them partially eliminated  when datacenter change hands. Many older folds choose to retire (and that double the value of sound handling of your 401K -- think about it not so much as retirement fund, but more as a private unemployment insurance).  Combining some income stream from 401K and a low paying job helps to survive this adversity.

The trend toward less qualification in IT (aka "lumpenization of IT") as also connected with the fact that as university graduates get into mature stage of development of major technologies and did not experience the emerging of all those technologies as old-timers did, unless they were amateur enthusiasts who tried to build their own computers and experimented with such OSes as MS DOS and Linux in school. That often means that they have less unique,  "in-depth" knowledge of technologies and processes that old-timers, which they acquired  by being the first hand witnesses of the  evolution of IT to the present level. As such they are more predisposed to use "packaged" solutions.

But of course there are old-timers and old-timers. Large swat of IT old-times are accidental people which moved to the field during boom years of IT (say, 1990-1998). Many of them  have neither native talent which drove "real" old-timers into IT from other specialties (often physics, or electrical engineering), nor computer science university degree which allow to see a bigger picture. Such people are just barely competent despite all the advantages cited above that their entrance at the field at the early stage of development of many important technologies (and first of all web-based technologies) provides. 

At the same time the concerns about reliability and downtime are not as simple as having old seasoned workforce on the payroll. A new generation of IT workers (mostly part-time and lower paid guys from outsourcers) is not greatly affecting network or server reliability in a negative way. May be something does happen on the margins. But major business disruptions coused by the ground floor incompetence looks completely remote to me. More often such cases are caused by gross incompetence of the top brass.

Paradoxically with the current level of hardware and software technology this new temp workers and contractors might be adequate to maintaining status quo. Its completely other game with the development of something new, but just maintaining existing services much like maining electrical network does not requires much talent and dedication. Business can survive with completely outsourced IT, if all they need are basic services. And many businesses unfortunately belongs to this type.  Of cause, everything became slow like running in the dense mud, but services somehow function and the enterprise does not collapse. Also both hardware and software architecture itself became more resilient for reasons external to the datacenter technologies used. For example, if company mail and phone network are down, people still can communicate using their cell phones SMS messages and web based personal accounts (which is bad but those are extraordinary circumstances which require extraordinary measures are better then nothing)

Another trend is that due to commodization of the technology the IT support on the level of the firm now matters less. Actually much less: any complex issues are delegated and solved by vendor support, or professional consultants. Enterprise software also became more or less standardized. Of course this is not applicable to research labs and such, but regular corporate office now runs predictable mixture of standard software suits and components including Microsoft Office, some database (Oracle or Microsoft SQL of both), backup software and storage area network, helpdesk software, datacenter monitoring software, videoconferencing software, and so on. Operating systems re also pretty much standardized: only a half dozen of operating systems such as VMware, Windows, RHEL, and SLES (with some remands of Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and remnants of mainframes OSes). Mail, DNS, proxy, firewall, NFS servers now are often implemented as appliances. 

Where  huge, damaging to the company, blunders are now made is at senior level, where the IT brass became completely detached from technology (and often from reality). In large companies, now there are way too many technically illiterate bean counters who were promoted to senior IT positions. What is important to understand is that they rely mainly on fashion (and vendor hype as well as good old bribing) in adopting new technologies for the firm. Recently misguided security efforts became a major threat to stability of the enterprise IT. In somw cases causing almost paralyses. And security for some reason attract the most incompetent careerists and "good-for-nothing" type of specialists. One typical "corporate excess" is preoccupation with firewalls. 

But contrary to the speculation about the demise of IT from the IT brass incompetence, the net result of that looks stupid and highly questionable from the ground floor are just modest cost overruns almost unnoticeable for the firm.  Nothing to be exited about. Something that should probably cost  $100K is bought for $200K or, in rare cases (if you buy from IBM ;-)  $300K. Plus additional 10-20% in annual maintenance fees. That's about it. So the level of inefficiency is not that great. Nothing in comparison with DoD. 

Please remember the cost of IT is generally around 1% of the total cost of the operation of a large company. Most often slightly less then 1%. So at the scale of the firm all those cost overruns is just a rounding error.

You should not consider your situation as your personal fault


You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again.

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor...I am Pagliacci."

You should view your situation is as a fight against unjust and cruel neoliberal society  which put you into neoliberal Gulag. In which human beings are considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. And the guards is no less cruel and much better equipped then under Stalinism. Like prisoners in Gulag "masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." (Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism)

The social forces working toward shrinking of middle class have been building up for a while with the growth of neoliberalism. Among the the first and foremost factor here was the complete financialization of the economy (casino capitalism) and the steady rise in health costs and cost of university education. Due to this neoliberal transformation which meant redistribution of profits in favor of for the top 1% (much like in Gilded Age), not on the larger society,  outsourcing pressures are now huge. All those factors have hastened the demise of the safe, secure white-collar jobs, especially in IT.

Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and completely impoverish poor limiting payment to them to what is needed for bare survival (actually for some category of worker Wal-Mart and other retailers already pay less then that). In other words they promote under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak a type of economy which can be called a plantation economy. Or XIX century economy if you want. 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. And 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. Neoliberals like a system that rewards them for their loyalty to the top 1% with an easier life than they otherwise merit (look at academic economists as a good example of this trend ;-).  In a meritocracy where individuals receive public goods and services that allow them to compete on a level playing field, many neoliberal toadies would be losers who cannot compete.

Despite the neoliberal obsession with wage suppression via outsourcing, history suggests that such a policy is self-destructive, especially in high-tech industries. High wages promote both loyalty and rapid technological change that the US Information technology industry was famous for.  Now smell of "socialist enterprise" with its slogan "they pretend that they pay us, we pretend that we work" is distinctly felt in many large corporation with outsourced/offshored IT. Helpdesk tickets travel for several days, instead of resolution problems are swiped under the carpet, employees are unable to get qualified help and resort to creation of "shadow IT". And so on.

There are two major trends in job market under neoliberalism that hit especially hard older IT professionals:

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.  From this point of view we could describe the current economic system as Crapitalism, which treats ordinary people and lower level professionals as crap.

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.).

We live in a society where it's hard to maintain self-respect if you don't have a job. If you've been unemployed and are over 50 you already know this, but if you haven't, here's a news flash: Coping with prolonged joblessness is a very challenging and personally difficult task. Being unemployed is a stigma in the US neoliberal society, and being unemployed and over 50 is a double stigma. Those who are over 50 need to face subtle -- and not so subtle -- biases including hidden caveats on job ads for positions. 

Being unemployed is a stigma in the US neoliberal society, and being unemployed and over 50 is a double stigma (being young is a virtue under neoliberalism). Those who are over 50 need to face subtle -- and not so subtle -- biases including hidden caveats in job ads for relevant  positions.

And BTW the current laws don't prohibit discrimination against the jobless. As was aptly observed in Even Harvard couldn't protect me

Strikingly, no other circumstance triggers a larger decline in well-being and mental health than involuntary joblessness.

Only the death of a spouse compares.

The quest for ever higher degree of efficiency and dominance of neoliberalism as an ideology makes such a  society (and by extension the economy) extraordinarily brittle. And IT is on the forefront of this process. They essentially are destroying IT as we know it. Good, long lasting, full time jobs IT start to disappear, while percentage of IT temp jobs and low paid entry level jobs increased dramatically. Often the attitude toward older It professionals is highly negative:

"...older people are too much trouble.” When pressed on that statement, she continued, “You older folks know too much. You call us out on the BS — that every big outfit uses to keep the kids in line. Face it, you’re a threat to the system.” Evidently, overqualified also means having a social conscience today. I do pity the young folks today though. They’re growing up in a new Dickensian Age.

It does not help that white collar and professional jobs in general and IT jobs in particular are now being lost in the USA due to outsourcing. In a very deep sense many things in IT become either based on external support (and sometimes external infrastructure like in overhyped "cloud computing") or project-based with people hired at the beginning and said good by at the end. In this environment, losing a full time IT position for a person over 50 means significant hardship, as he is essentially forced by the new employment situation into temp labor pool.  As a result older IT specialist suffer a double hit -- a dramatic decline of earnings and effects of adverse selection of unemployed professionals over 50 making finding any new job a real challenge. 

A person over 50  is essentially forced by the new employment situation into temp labor pool.  As a result older IT specialist suffer a double hit -- a dramatic decline of earnings and effects of adverse selection of unemployed professionals over 50 making finding any new job a real challenge. 

The term adverse selection refers to a market process in which "bad" results occur when buyers and sellers have asymmetric information (i.e. access to different information). In this case the "inferior" products or services are more likely to be selected. As AARP noted: 

One report citing September figures noted, “Good News for Older Jobseekers Remains Elusive.” That’s one way to put it. Depressing might be another—especially if you’ve been out of work for more than a year.

“Will I ever work again?” is a common thought for unemployed people over 50, many of whom have been jobless for an average of 55 weeks. A group called Over 50 and Out of Work featuries 100 video stories on its web site to help others understand the plight of the unemployed at 50+.

Perma-temp is now a new perm for those who no longer can find full time job. You can't change the society in which you live. At least by yourself (that does not mean that you should vote for those who promote neoliberalism, which is the root case of this situation). And while you can and probably should make your voice and frustration heard via voting, on the individual day-to-day level the best philosophy to deal with this situation is Stoicism.

The fact on the ground is that IT environment as a whole seems to be thumped by "ageism" in a higher proportion than even racism or sexism. Age discrimination in the private sector IT is growing as range of candidates is vast when unemployment is high and younger employees are more malleable and controllable. Look at composition of staff of Google and, previously, at Microsoft.  It's all young people...

So situation when you are over 50 and unemployed is now pretty typical. In other word there is mass unemployment among IT professionals over 50 years old. If, despite all efforts, you got into this situation, you should try to take it easy. You are not the first and not the last who was thrown under the bus... 

Neoliberalism as a social system came as a replacement of New Deal and is about lowering standard of living of the middle class and dramatic raising the standard of living of the top 1%. This is what is happening now and It is just a part of bigger picture. You can change the society you live in. so don't take it to the heart. Other have been in this situation and survived, you will too.

This is the key point. You was thrown under the bus by neoliberal financial institutions of the country. Highly paid full time job in general and in IT  especially, are disappearing. Looks like the top 1% does not need middle class anymore and is content with Latin-American social structure of the society. So the process of Latin-americanization started we situation in It is a part of more general process of shrinking middle class.  The process which actually started decade or more ago. In other words, there is a profound, age-neutral economic transformation of the US economy: shredding large chunk of middle class jobs. For IT there are several additional powerful factors in play: commodization of IT, automation, which also affect IT jobs and, of course, outsourcing.

So people who are 50 now had the bad luck to reach their peak earning years during an economic perfect storm. Which was the recent "Great Recession" and its aftermath.

Also IT itself changes and despite the fact that most of the "cloud hype" is just hype, new technologies are gradually displacing older as hardware (especially Intel hardware) becomes more and more powerful and cheaper. Look at consolidation of OSes in Unix world into Linux as a telling example. "It's a true paradigm shift," says Karen Hochman, chair of the New York City chapter of MENG, all of whose 550 members have held top corporate jobs and half of whom are out of work.

"You've got hundreds of thousands of obsolete professionals who can't find employment in positions where they've been successful. These are people living off retirement savings 15 years before they were supposed to retire. They don't know what they're going to do."

Such understanding and mentality of a fighter for just cause can give one some additional moral strength which helps overcome the adverse situation. Mentality of a fighter for just cause, for human dignity,  greatly helps to maintain self-discipline, morale and physical condition. It gives another dimension to your physical exercises, attempt to maintain dignity and preserve a healthy lifestyle. And you should consider other is the same situation as allies that can help you, not as adversaries fighting like animals for few spots on the job market. Although you can't inflict even minor damage to neoliberals in Congress by your voting  in two party system, when both candidates competing for the job were already vetted by financial oligarchy via party "nomenclatura" (apparatchiks) mechanisms borrowed by neoliberalism from bolshevism (As George Carlin explained in his famous monologue the two party system protects interests of oligatchy extremly well  and you are f*cked no matter how you vote), it is your duty to explain to your friends and family that the situation in which you found yourself and help to navigate their choice  unless others, more radical, political actions can be taken (which sometimes is possible although such movements are either quickly "institualized" like Tea Party or suppressed like Occupy movement).  

You need to be aware that deindustrialization of the country and related job cuts often lead to long periods of unemployment, intermittent employment and/or underemployment, and the effects transcend simply the loss of pay, medical benefits and purchasing power. Financial strain creates stress, depression and family tensions, which can manifest in a variety of ways, from increased use of drugs and alcohol to suicide and domestic violence (The Social Costs of Deindustrialization):

...unemployment correlates with increased physical health problems. Reduced access to health care makes it less likely that displaced workers and their families will receive appropriate care. The mental and physical health costs of deindustrialization do not harm only pa­tients; increased demand for health care combined with decreased eco­nomic resources leads to health care workers and systems that are overburdened and ultimately unable to meet the community's needs.

Displaced workers, especially primary breadwinners, are likely to feel significant pressure and anxiety about providing for their families. But job loss causes more than just financial distress; work plays a key role in shaping individual identity and social relations. The loss of work can disrupt an individual's sense of self and his or her value and competence. As Al Gini writes, "To work is to be and not to work is not to be."42

... "anxiety, depression, and other forms of anguish may be the normal result of rational calculation of these life chances," according to Hamilton.47 Finding a new job does not entirely alleviate these fears, because the experience of being laid off can generate persistent fear about losing the next job. The security that workers once felt, especially those who worked for local companies that seemed to be dependable employers, disappears.

Neoliberalism as killing of human solidarity to enforce the rule of elite

Neoliberalism -- the ideological doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action -- has become dominant in both political thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. It helped to crush communism in the USSR and largely displaced Marxism.

These problems are exacerbated by the loss of social networks under neoliberalism which openly process the law of jungel, the survival of the fittest for everybody execpt financial oligarchy ("masters of the universe" under neoliberalism). In other words they instill real "Homo homini lupus est" (a Latin saying  meaning "man is a wolf to [his fellow] man.")  ideology. And are pretty effective in that. 

Pope Francis recently took issue with neoliberalism and related pseudo theory called "trickle-down economics", which is designed to mask abject inequality usually created by neoliberal regimes (and resulting National Security State, where under the disguise of protecting citizens from terrorism  protects top 1% financial gains). He stressed that so-called supply side economics is a smoke screen for redistribution of wealth up by the financial oligarchy. As Eugene Patrick Devany noted in his comment to Paul Krugman's post The Case for Techno-optimism (Nov 27, 2013. NYT):

It seems that, "a persistent shortfall on the demand side" is a euphemism for the fact that half the population will remain near bankruptcy for quite sometime.

Pope Francis said two days ago

"To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others ... a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion ..."

One may consider the Pope less qualified to "pontificate" about technology than Prof. Krugman who "tracks technology" and sees that "smart machines are getting much better at interacting with the natural environment in all its complexity ... [and concluding] that a real transformative leap is somewhere over the horizon" Pope Francis said,

"This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power."

"This epochal change" seems to be a reference to "fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries" and to people forced to live "with precious little dignity".

The best description of supply side or “trickle down” economics I ever heard was by JK Galbraith:

“trickle down economics is the idea that if you feed the horse enough oats eventually some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

Here are several more relevant Pope Francis quotes:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. 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”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

The shift toward neoliberalism occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political self-organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and influence to achieve dominant political power and to capture administration.  As David Swan noted in his review  (E. David Swan's review of A Brief History of Neoliberalism)

From its founding America's wealthy have feared democracy recognizing that the majority, being poor and middle class, could vote to redistribute wealth and reduce the control held by the elites. After World War II, the middle class in the United States grew dramatically somewhat flattening the countries power base. As a reaction to this dispersal of power the early 1970's saw the formation of groups like The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEO's who were `committed to an aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation'. As the author writes, `neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power'. T

The neoliberal plan was to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values. It fell on well funded think tanks like The Heritage Foundation to sell neoliberalism to the general public using political-philosophical arguments.

Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle which mimics the Bolsheviks organizational muscle. And  a bunch of Trotskyite turncoats such as James Burnham, who knew the political technology of bolshevism from the first hands, were probably helpful in polishing this edifice.  Carter and Clinton sold Democratic Party to the same forces.

This rise of special interests politics has been at the expense of the middle class including IT professionals.  And the neoliberal plan was "to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values" proved to be a huge success. The whole generation is now completely poised/brainwashed by those ideas. No longer the USA can be viewed as a Christian county by any objective observer. Neoliberalism became a new dominant enforced by the state religions which displaced Christianity. Now we have what we have.

Understand your situation as a part of civil war inflicted on the society by neoliberalism

Consider yourself in war zone now. In a sense it is true as your survival is at risk and you can lose you "living space". That means that you need to access all resources you have and try to make the best of them. In more then one way a way you view yourselves to be in  a war zone now.  This is a civil war for the destruction of New Deal capitalism (Neoliberal Capitalism destroying Society)

It is a form of terrorism because it abstracts economics from ethics and social costs, makes a mockery of democracy, works to dismantle the welfare state, thrives on militarization, undermines any public sphere not governed by market values, and transforms people into commodities. Neoliberalism’s rigid emphasis on unfettered individualism, competitiveness and flexibility displaces compassion, sharing and a concern for the welfare of others. In doing so, it dissolves crucial social bonds and undermines the profound nature of social responsibility and its ensuing concern for others. In removing individuals from broader social obligations, it not only tears up social solidarities, it also promotes a kind of individualism that is almost pathological in its disdain for public goods, community, social provisions, and public values. Given its tendency to instrumentalize knowledge, it exhibits mistrust for thoughtfulness, complexity, and critical dialogue and in doing so contributes to a culture of stupidity and cruelty in which the dominant ethic is organized around the discourse of war and a survival of the fittest mentality. Neoliberalism is the antithesis of democracy. – Henry A. Giroux

Like in any war, for civilian to survive one need to rely on resources you managed to accumulate in "peace time" and first of all your savings. Nothing is sacred in this situation: neither you401K not your house. They are just source of funds to survive. They should not be viewed via the usual prism "Keeping up with Jones" anymore. forget about it.   Move might be necessary, and not necessary to the place with more jobs -- move to place with much loser expenses also makes perfect sense

The "buck up and get over it" is useless advice. It's silly to assume most people aren't doing the best they can. For people who are over 50 it's not about trying or not trying. This is about premature switch to part part employment., Possibly for the rest of  your working life (that means before you can get Social Security which is around 67 years old now). There's just so little available IT jobs out there, that your chances of getting one are not that great. That does not mean that you should not try your best. You should do you best and continue trying despite disappointment. Never give up.  But some modest attempt to create income stream should proceed outside your specialty after your unemployment benefits expire. Even  reselling something like used books, cellphones or computers on eBay beats feeling hopeless. That actually allow you to write one room of your house as business expense. Think about it.

Analyze available funds and view them as bullets left

Most fold at 50 have some equity in the house and some sizable 401K. This is now two sources of supplementary income that can tremendously help if all you can get is a low paid job.

Create spreadsheet with your current expenses (see Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime).  Cutting your current expenses to bare bones is a necessary step and the earlier you can do it, the better. It is important to not to go too far here and determine what percentage you can save without dramatically lowering your standard of living. Much depends what "emergency fund" you currently have. Please not that you can also "borrow" from 401K without penalty based of "hardship" provisions of US tax code.  It is a much better move that accumulation of credit card debt. 

You usually can sell some unused staff that you accumulated over the years on eBay. While it's not much money, there are some benefits for this as small business activity which can improve the level of your psychological comfort as you are feel engaged in some systematic activity.

Create a spreadsheet of your monthly expenses and analyze each item. Some steps that help to cut your expenses are easy.

There are several other ways to make your balance sheet more healthy depending on your situation and whether you rent or own the house or apartment.  For example, if community library is nearby, using it in can slightly cuts your air conditioning or heating costs.  Adding a thin film on your windows is another good step in the same direction. Now you have time to do this, at last. Amazon has a lot of low cost offering under such titles as  "Heat control Residential Windows Film",  "Sun control Window Firm". For example Gila LES361

For the examples table below shows monthly expenses obtained by downsizing your life style:

Item Monthly Annual
Total expenses 2470 29640
Rent 800 9600
Food 800 9600
Electricity and heating (if not in rent) 100 1200
Books and once course at community colledge 50 600
Medical Insurance (hospital only) 150 1800
Car amortization/repairs/etc (one car) 100 1200
Car insurance (one car) 100 1200
Gas/transportation 60 720
Other expenses (meals, washing cloth, dry cleaning, etc) 80 960
Drugs, Doctor visits and dental costs 100 1200
Job search expenses 50 600
Cable internet 40 480
Cell phone or tablet with cell connection plus 1GB traffic a month 40 480

The importance of keeping yourself occupied, the danger of social isolation

Volunteering is must for people who lost job and are over 50, as it helps to fight social isolation. For many people job was the main social setting. Especially for thos who are divorced or with little or no extended family. That's a real danger. Slide into opiod abuse, alcoholism, etc are real danger in such circumstances

Volunteering is must for people who lost job and are over 50, as it helps to fight social isolation. The latter along with suppressed anger are real dangers. Volunteering a couple of day a month for a local politician who is critical about neoliberal is one way to channel your anger in a constructive way.

Unemployment means boredom and it destroys the person morale and self-worth assessment. That means that it is important to keep yourself occupied. It does not really matter with what activity: Creation of personal website, carving some wood, teaching free classes in the library, helping relative and neighbors. Fred Glogower, the Navy psychologist who was responsible for screening all the US Antarctic personal in 90th, stated this point in a very clear way: "The key to successful winter-over at a station is to keep the people busy."

Fred Glogower, the Navy psychologist who was responsible for screening all the US Antarctic personal in 90th, stated this point in a very clear way: "The key to successful winter-over at a station is to keep the people busy."

Experienced Antarctic managers strive to identify and assign worthwhile projects to crew members that can be completed within the period of isolation and confinement. Working towards an established goal, such as writing a new program or participating if creation of documentation for some open source project provides sense of accomplishment when the goal is achieved.

Clearly defined interim goals help to maintain the focus. Self-checks of your knowledge of Unix and scripting languages, rehearsing interview with family members, passing certification exam for RHEL or their Linux distribution, etc also can help to create that sense of mission. For this reason one need to to be aware of danger of low workloads and prepare countermeasures.

Some retraining should be considered, but without too much zeal

Among other things this new situation means that you might benefit from getting some new skills or improving an old one to be more viable on the marketplace to get back to work. But please do not bite nonsense about everyone needing to reinvent themselves.  The last think you need is $40K in student debt. 

In no way you need to reinvent themselves. Especially via expensive collage program. The last thing you need is $40K in student debt. Your problem are mnostly connected with neoliberalism not you. Be critical about all those rosy promises: colleges, especially private colleges, now are an educational shark and they will devour you without mercy. See Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

In this case  taking a minimum wage position is out of the question for me since all my salary would actually go to pay my debt and I would not have money even for transportation back and forth to work.

EconomistNC,  May 5, 2015

As a former public servant teaching University Level Econometrics for nearly 15 years and possessing numerous 'Excellence' awards, this development is nothing short of shameful. I have had dozens of recruiters and HR 'specialists' debase my public service as not being 'Real World' experience despite the fact that without my commitment to 'Real World Applications' education, many of those with whom I apply for employment would not hold a college degree. Indeed, I find many of the hiring managers with whom I speak regarding positions for which I have both technical and applications experience, there is impenetrable discrimination once they meet me in person.

The point made in several articles of this nature revolve around lack of knowledge and experience with newer technologies. In an effort to address this issue, I went back to school (again) to obtain expertise in IT Networking and Security, PMP Path Project Management and ITIL. Now I am being told that my education is of no value since I do not have the requisite 'Real World' experience using these newly acquired skills.

Indeed, to meet the criteria for many positions I find open requires that I be a 'recent college graduate.' When I point out that I have been continually retraining and taking online courses to keep my IT skills current, I am once again met with the lack of 'Real World' experience requirement. For a society that purports itself to value education and hard work, for those among us that have worked very hard for substandard pay and benefits to be so casually cast aside is absolutely inexcusable.

Sill some, modern steps to adapt can and should be taken. For example, fashion rules in programming and system administration and getting a course or two for the latest fad can improve your prospects getting back to work. In community college it does not cost much money and expense is tax deductible. It is also interesting opportunity professionally as often in the corporate environment longtimers are pushed to the niche which is far from being interesting and sometimes represents a dead end for their former skills.

There are several programs which might  provide some minor financial assistance, but don't count on them too much. In any case tax deduction for one couse in the community college is yours to get.

Please understand that colleges also changed and "neoliberalized"  with money becoming primary driver of their activities. That means that many of them now are greedy money extracting machines which can capitalize of your distressed situation. Don't believe hype of magical retraining courses that charge $10K or more for a summer and teach almost nothing. This is a popular brand of  educational scams, nothing more, nothing less. And those "courses" are typically run by really ruthless education sharks. Time when in films college professor was a positive hero are long gone. Now they can well be just another variety of white color criminals. Please read the notes at Slightly Skeptical View on University Education.

In other words, if you are over 50 accumulation of education debt is gambling -- it does not really improve your chances of getting back to workforce due to age discrimination issues. Making a sizable investment in re-training with an uncertain outcome, without understanding full consequences and chances to get an entry level position in newly acquired field (and forget about any other level), might make your situation dramatically worse. See comment from hen3ry below.  You are warned...

Still there are several ways of getting positive return from educational institutions without spending much money:

I would like to mention also two related educational opportunities not directly connected to the college:

You can also try to find special federal and state programs that aid adults in returning to college. Look at website of Workforce Professionals, Employment & Training Administration (ETA) - U.S. Department of Labor. They usually provide better conditions and lower interest rate then private funding (see for example Trade Act Program TAA for Workers, Employment & Training Administration (ETA) - U.S. Department of Labor). Several community organizations and foundations provide assistance to adults going back to school. You may be eligible.  Check out associations and societies that offer scholarships and grants to older students.  If you are a female and/or a single parent there are programs and awards especially for this category.

Start a log book 

With the current complexity of the environment memory is no longer reliable store of your experience.  So create a log book and write down each evening the steps you have taken. Once a week write the review of the week and once a month write the review for the month. You will be surprised at the amount of times you step on the same rake and repeated unnecessary mistakes ;-).

Also that helps you to remember key things from one encounter from another. Logbook helps you to organize your memory and avoid repeating the same mistakes again and again.

You you use regular logbook put is somewhere were nobody else can read it. If you use computer put it on electronic USB drive with built-in encruption and iether fingerprint authentication or numeric code authentication. Log should remain private and never shared with anyone.  That extremely essential. 

Learn to get to the library each (or some) of mornings as a new working place

Use library as your new "temporary working place".  It can be a community library or nearby college library but you need to get out of house at  least for the first half of the day. This will help you in a way you don't anticipate.  First of all you can meet people, the second you preserve a resemblance of your usual schedule which positively affected your general psychological state and prevent depression which often accompany long tome unemployment. People need community just of preserving psychic health.

Just the fact you still need to get up in the morning, take a bath, have breakfast and your morning coffee, dress up and go has a strong positive influence. People are creatures of routine; don't break your current routine.  You can also save on air-conditioning going to the library at summer.

Pay attention to your attire when you are going to the library. Try to dress the way you used to dress going to work or slightly better. That keeps you in tonus as being well dressed provide strong implicit feedback to you and improve your self-confidence. Like people used to say "form liberates".

Electronic libraries as Oreily Safari is also a possibility but cost money. O'Reilly provides a short trial period that you can use as additional source of books. But nothing can substitute a real library when you are unemployed.

Enroll into one course in community college

This is a tax deductable expense. And for $400-$800 this is another opportunity to meet people and learn new skills. That also a very helpful for your psychological condition and greatly helps you stay mentally sharp.  If you worked in IT for a long time, you usually lost a lot of your knowledge due to limitations of your regular corporate job.

Now there is a chance to get some of those losses back. Programming course such as Unix shell course or C++ course while not necessary for you employment actually is a great way to relearn many useful thing and feel much better about yourself as you can compare yourself with other students.  In other words attending a college course increases your self-esteem, which is an important thing in your situation.

What is also extremely important is that your status as a student gives you access to the community college computer lab and community college library.  This is a pretty powerful learning environment in itself.

 

Create a home lab

Skilled became rusty if not used on a regular basis. You can recreate part of your former environment (and actually learn few new things is the process) by creating a home lab. Used tower computers from Dell such as Optiplex and workstations. They are very inexpensive and quite reliable. They can be bought for less then $150 each on eBay (with shipping).  4GB of RAM is more then enough to have very complex Linux setups including virtual machine setup. You can also buy used CISCO router or switch if this is part of your skills.

It is more difficult to accommodate your needs if in-addition to linux you managed Solaris o, AIX or HP-UX. But still it is possible, especially with Solaris on UltraSparc (and you can use Solaris on Intel instead).   Still even if you limit yourself to Linux it is better then nothing. 

In any case creating home linux infrastructure is no-brainer. You can have two or three linux boxes and one Solaris box. Install local DNS, DHCP, sendmail and other services. Create a "lab website". Install helpdesk or ticket tracking software. And you can enroll the help of your former colleagues for thing that you currently do not understand. 

Now you are ready to run some small development project or at least tinker with the boxes to prevent losing your skills.

You will survive: Fight the sense of isolation and related higher level of aggression

  It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend the peaces of my broken heart
I spent so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high

Gloria Gaynor

Sense of isolation and desperation in finding a new job increase the level of aggressiveness in people. It's much like an animal which is being cornered. And this is strongly felt by family members, if any. Obeying simple guidelines might help

Humans can endure almost anything, but you need to be aware of typical pitfalls that develop in your situation. Material below is based on the book  BOLD ENDEAVORS, Chapter 18)

The primary lesson that can be learned form studying cases of long term unemployment is that humans are capable of enduring conditions far more austere financially and more challenging morally that initially planned. Your self-worse does not depend on the size of your salary. This is an important point.

People can adjust from change to living in a comfortable cabins on the ship to living in tent in Arctic. Their diaries reveal that members can remain cheerful and even had to remind themselves about their desperate situation.  Arctic expeditions prove that humans can endure unimaginable hardships when the survival is in stake. Humans also exhibited a remarkable capacity to adaptation to living on greatly reduced standard, incomparably lower that any unemployed face. Description o of the life in Nancen't hat on Frans Josef Land illustrate the extremes of human mental and physical endurance and should be a required reading.

the polar whaling industry during nineteen and early twentieth century is another example of people surviving under extremely austere and dangerous conditions,, The crews of sealing and wailing ships endure crowed and anti-sanitary conditions, bad food, harsh treatment and long period of boredom punctuated by now and then by hard work and danger.  Midshipman William Reynolds of the Wilkes Expedition described adaptability of sailors on one of his letters home in 1839 (BOLD ENDEAVORS, p 305):

As for bodily inconveniences, they are easily endured, and as long as extremes of endurance are not called for, all are disposed to make light of the present and trust to better luck in the future. Sailors are your true philosophers in these cases and never employ themselves in fancying their situation worse that it is,.

When you thing about such austere and difficult conditions as described in  BOLD ENDEAVORS,  long term unemployment does not look too bad of a situation anymore.

 

Church can be a valuable meeting place with people in the same situation

If you are a church goer, you can utilize this institution too. Church is one of the few place when your current situation does not have any stigma attached to it: religion is was created as an antipode to the Homo homini lupus est  attitude of the marketplace.

Moreover you can use it to create a group of people in similar situation which can a little bit help each other. Just communication with people in similar situation helps.

Checking your friends for job opportunities in their companies

It is a trivial advice, but important nuance is that you should not do it as the first step without talking to recruiter and understanding your situation better. You need to prepare for each such talk, as if you go to the interview, despite the fact that this is your friend.

If position in his/her company does exist, those are usually more reliable and valuable lids, that those from recruiter.  Create the list and call starting from the most promising, not in alphabet order. Those who will take your calls and at least formally try to help can be left on the list. Purge others. Inform those who responded about your the new plans and situation as you understand it now.

Often people do not do anything unless they are more informed about the roadblocks you face, your next steps and plans. This way they become more involved. Expect that some of your friends will do nothing.  Those who will try are kind of virtual team that you can use. Look for opportunities based of your LinkedIn account and you address book; some companies might be looking for consultants, if not permanent staff.  

Volunteer for some community work

Volunteering for some community work is an important source of keeping you skills in shape. Try to help some small business near you for free. Your church, your municipality, and small business around you are suitable targets if they have the infrastructure you know about and can improve.

This can greatly help to stay you sharp and even improve the skill valuable in the marketplace.

Adapt to the fact that you are now can exprience midlife crisis

Unemployment excsabates midlife crisis in individuals. For approximately 10% of individuals the condition is most common from the ages of 41 through 60 (a large study in the 1990s  found that the average age at onset of a self-described midlife crisis was 45). Mid-life crises last about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. If a  mid-life crisis coincides with losing your job it can form potentially toxic combination. Mid-life is the time from years 45 to 60 where a person is often evaluating his or her own life. Loss of employment creates an "overload" of stressors and exacerbate mdlife crisis. Especiallly in women who often experience additional multiple stressors because of their simultaneous roles as wives, mothers, and  daughters,. Personality type and a history of psychological crisis are believed to predispose some people to  a variety of negative symptoms and behaviors.  by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

An American cultural stereotype of a man going through a midlife crisis may include the purchase of a luxury item such as an exotic car, or seeking affairs with a younger woman.  A woman's crisis is more related to re-evaluations of their roles. In both cases the emotions can be intense.

One of the main characteristics of a mid-life crisis  is the reavulation of self-worth. Moreover, the age period, between 50 and 60 if often the time when some chronic illness such as diabetes can come to the forefront. Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

If  individual lacks introspection capabilities they often exhibit a non-healthy response to such a crisis including:

Watching movies about unemployment can provide emotional support

There are several really insightful movies about unemployment. And first of all (Unemployment at the Movies 15 Films for Tough Times - Bloomberg):

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
Director: John Ford
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1940: 14.6%

The epic tale of the Joad family's search for jobs in Depression America. Tom (Fonda) returns from prison just in time to see his family kicked off their farm. They strike out for California, where it's rumored there are plenty of jobs. Instead they wind up in an itinerant camp with other desperate families. Tom finds more trouble than work and delivers an immortal speech against injustice.

On the Waterfront (1954) Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Director: Elia Kazan
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1954: 5.6%

Terry Malloy (Brando) is the ex-prizefighter who has to choose between a cushy, no-show job and the hard work of doing the right thing. Terry provides muscle for Johnny Friendly's mobbed-up union thugs, but he falls for the sister of one of Johnny's victims. When he decides to testify about waterfront corruption, he is cast out of the gang. Kazan directs heavyweights who include Rod Steiger and a real-life fighter, "Two Ton" Tony Galento.

On the Waterfront (1954) Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Director: Elia Kazan
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1954: 5.6%

Terry Malloy (Brando) is the ex-prizefighter who has to choose between a cushy, no-show job and the hard work of doing the right thing. Terry provides muscle for Johnny Friendly's mobbed-up union thugs, but he falls for the sister of one of Johnny's victims. When he decides to testify about waterfront corruption, he is cast out of the gang. Kazan directs heavyweights who include Rod Steiger and a real-life fighter, "Two Ton" Tony Galento.

The Godfather Part II (1974) Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1974: 5.6%

It all began with a layoff in turn-of-the-century New York City. In Coppola's strong sequel to The Godfather, young Vito Corleone (De Niro) steals away to America and takes a job in a grocery store. He is fired when a local mob boss forces the store owner to hire his nephew. Thwarted by nepotism, Vito takes up a life of crime with pals Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio. And the rest is cinema history.

Gung Ho (1986) Starring: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe
Director: Ron Howard
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1986: 7.0%

Hunt Stevenson (Keaton) is foreman of a Pennsylvania car factory that's been shut down; he has to convince Japanese auto executives to reopen it. They agree, but only if they can subject the American workers to lower pay and new work rules. Conflict and cultural confusion ensue. Worth watching if only to confirm that there once was a time when Japan seemed unstoppable and unions had power. \

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin
Director: James Foley
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1992: 7.5%

Just imagine how cutthroat this crew would be in today's housing market. Blake (Baldwin) has been sent to light a fire under the salesmen at a tough Chicago real estate office. His pitch: a sales contest in which only the top two sellers will keep their jobs. The salesmen in this film version of David Mamet's play are matched in desperation only by their would-be clients. To quote Blake: "Only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted." 

Everything Must Go (2010) Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace
Director: Dan Rush
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 2010: 9.6%

No hiding the indignity of a layoff in this one. It's all out in the open—literally—for Nick Halsey (Ferrell). Nick has hit the misery trifecta: A relapsed alcoholic, he's been fired and his wife has left him. His solution? Live in his front yard with his "stuff," or at least hold a yard sale as long as he can legally pull it off. The tale is adapted from a Raymond Carver short story published in the late 1970s, yet the theme of a man's struggle for dignity seems very much of these times.

Among more modern firms we can recommend the list by Arun Kumar  (Best Movies about Unemployment - I - CreoFire)

It is often referenced in the media that a country is progressing by leaps and bounds in the matter of economy, but at the same time there is always a sharp increase in the number of unemployed. Growing population, inflation, corruption, despotism and various other factors might play a role in spawning unemployment. But, let’s forget the causes of unemployment and how it affects society on the whole. What does unemployment does to an individual and to his immediate family? In this recession era, the psychological effects of involuntary unemployment look daunting. Our societies have buried a thought that only our job defines our worthiness. For many of us job isn’t what we do to pay our bills — it defines who we are. And when that socioeconomic identity is taken away, the emotional consequences can be severe. The movies mentioned below in the list explore the various emotional stresses a person faces due to joblessness. If I have missed out any great movie, dealing this subject, please mention it in the comments section.

Up in the Air (2009)

 Jason Reitman’s part funny, part serious work is about the corporate layoffs. Its protagonist Ryan Bingham, played charmingly by George Clooney, makes his living by ending the careers of others. His baritone voice and authoritative manner makes him to fly around US to downsize employees for companies whose HR departments are too cowardly to do the task themselves. It has got a bit touchy storyline and a script that loses some fire, but captures contemporary angst of the economic fallout with wit and humanity.

Tokyo Sonata (2008)

Famous J-horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s bleakest indictment of modern Japan looks at the ripple effects caused within a family by corporate downsizing. The protagonist Ryuhei is cast out when his administrative job is outsourced to China. The humiliated breadwinner hides his unemployed state from his wife, Megumi and two sons. He suits up as usual and wanders around the city like a zombie and learns the routine of maintaining face over downsizing. The recession-era shows how out dignity is stripped away by a job and how the corporations turns our mind into vegetative state, devoid of basic human connections.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

 This unsentimental Chris Gardner biopic takes an honest, intense look at the day-to-day survival that too many Americans must contend with. Every one of us could at least see some portion of the film and remember being faced with similar obstacles in their lives. Will Smith played Gardner and scored some great emotional points through his portrayal of an African-American male who turns out to be an extraordinary single-parent. The film convincingly asks us to never give up on our dreams, even when we are staying financially afloat.

Time Out (2001)

Laurent Cantet’s French psychological drama tells the story of an executive who conceals, from his family that he has been fired from his job. He later invents a phony investing scheme, calling up old friends to invest in it. The film seriously conveys absurdity behind a white-collar corporate life and showcases how words like ‘emerging markets’ can draw in even smart guys to invest huge load of money. Unlike a Hollywood protagonist, the central character here avoids over-the-top performance giving way to subtle emotions. The strain and scenarios exhibited can be understood by anyone who has held a job.
Starring: Aurélien Recoing, Karin Viard, Serge Livrozet
Director: Laurent Cantet
French Unemployment Rate, 2001: 7.8%

Vincent (Recoing) has lost his job—he's just not telling anyone. Also unclear is what he's up to now: a new consulting job with the U.N.? An investment scam? As his fantasy life ropes in a widening circle of friends and family members, the pressure builds and Vincent's calm facade begins to crumble. Vincent drives from dreary office to bland apartment complex, watching family and former colleagues through windows in the dark, having lost his identity when he was shown the door.

Office Space (1999)

 Mike Judge’s satirical comedy must be dedicated to everyone, whose life and soul is stomped out by an uncaring corporate entity. The story revolves around a frustrated corporate employee Peter Gibbons, who through an accidental session of hypnotherapy is freed from chronic anxieties and fears of unemployment. Stephen Root playing the fat, mumbling employee, Milton and three workers bashing a fax machine with a baseball bat are some of the memorable situation in the movie. Even though the movie offers enough fun, you can’t miss out the bitter truths beneath those gags.

Random Tips

The key here is to understand the your current situation is not the end of the life. You need to survive the current slump. Even if you are forced to take job at much lower salary, if this is a job that corresponds to your qualification and allow to improve them, you might be able to find something better later on.  You can also learn a few new things on a new job and such knowledge is money. You can also work less hours. Often much less hours.  Time is money after all.  Here is one relevant comment:

In worst case you will find itself in "semi-retirement" situation when the only type of jobs that are available as McJobs and entry level temporary jobs.  If you put enough efforts to adjust your cost of living with the new nasty reality you will survive even this situation.

Here are tips for getting back on your feet and into the IT job market from someone who's been there and back By Ron Nutter , Network World , 08/25/2008

Editor's note: On Feb. 20, IT manager and Network World columnist Ron Nutter was called into his boss's office and told he was being let go — that day. Once the initial shock wore off, Nutter launched an aggressive search for new employment in the Kansas City area. Over the next 76 days, Nutter applied for 85 jobs, and had 16 interviews before landing a new position. He chronicled the job search in a daily blog. Now that he has had some time to reflect on the experience, Nutter offers these 20 tips for surviving a layoff.

1. As you're getting laid off, be sure to take notes

This can be difficult to do, since losing a job can be a very emotional experience. But while everything is still fresh in your mind, write down all the details that you can remember.

For example, I was told that I would be paid for the full two-week pay period, plus my remaining vacation and sick time. When my last check arrived, there were discrepancies. Having written notes helped me when I went back and reminded my former boss and the HR folks of their commitment.

2. Take some time for yourself

Take a few days for yourself. A traumatic event has just happened to you and you need to get over the initial shock before jumping into the fray to search for a new job.

3. Review the papers from the company that laid you off

Several important things need to be attended to rather quickly. One is how to file for unemployment. Another is how long your company-paid health insurance will be in force before you have to consider paying for COBRA.

4. Update your resume

This is something that we should all do, but it doesn't always get the attention that it should. I was told a long time ago that your resume should be more than two pages with a max of three bullet points per employer. That may work in some cases but not all.

I have found that some recruiters/employers use software that does a "word count" to look for how many times a particular word, such as Cisco, or a word describing a certain type of experience is listed. I can attest that this is happening to a degree. When I was looking for a prior job, a recruiter had me just about totally rewrite my resume to specifically list all the different Cisco hardware that I had worked with. It was interesting to note how the callbacks increased after I did that.

You may find that it may be necessary to keep more than one type of resume depending on the type(s) of jobs you are looking for, so that the resume is specifically tailored to the type of job you are pursuing.

5. Get a handle on monthly bills

Even though I had a little money put back for a "rainy" day, I went through all my recurring bills to see if there was any room for saving money. One area I looked at was car and home insurance. I found that by shopping around, I was able to keep the same level of auto and homeowners coverage while reducing the amount of both bills. I had been thinking about doing it for a variety of reasons, but being unemployed helped push it to the top of the list.

6. Cut food costs

If you live by yourself, this will be easier to do. If you have a family, everyone will need to sit down and understand that they will all have to help out until you can get another job. ... ...

7. Look at health insurance options

Your company supplied health insurance will come to an end. If it was like my former employer, the health insurance ended a few days after I was separated from the company. Worse yet, I wasn't "due" to receive the COBRA information until after my company health insurance had lapsed. Because my previous employer had also been doing the claims processing for my health insurance, I wasn't comfortable with them having any further access to my medical records. Doing a little research on the Internet, I found a single health insurance policy from Blue Cross/Blue Shield for half the price and better coverage than the COBRA policy my former employer was going to offer me. 

... ... ...

10. File for unemployment compensation

This is something that I delayed a little bit. Partially because of pride and partially because I didn't anticipate the job hunting process to take more than three months. As someone pointed out to me, you earned this money and you should take advantage of it. In my case, filing was complicated by the fact that I had moved from another state in the past 18 months. The unemployment folks go back that far in figuring out where you need to file for unemployment. That potentially had me talking with three different state unemployment departments.

I spent several days on the phone with two states that would be involved in my situation. As painful as it may be to deal with this part of your unemployment process, the sooner you start, the sooner the money will start coming in to help pay the bills until you get another job.

11. Check the job boards

During my job search, I looked at CareerBuilder, Craigslist, Dice and Monster. I found no job leads from Monster in my career area. Several of the HR folks that I talked to during the process told me that they used Monster very little due in part to the higher fees that Monster charged for a job posting compared with other job boards, and the generally poorer quality of applications they received. I found some new job postings on Dice, but with a significant number of jobs cross-posted on different boards, I didn't find Dice to be a significant source of potential job leads. One source I wouldn't have thought to check for jobs was Craigslist. More than one recruiter told me that he had good results from posting new jobs on Craigslist. Set aside time each day to do this.

12. Make the job boards work for you

Dice has a feature where you can make your resume searchable by recruiters/companies looking to fill a position. I did get some calls from that. CareerBuilder recently followed suit by offering that feature as well. While Dice allows companies/recruiters to repost the same job each day so that it looks new, this makes the process of truly identifying the new jobs a little harder in some cases. Turn the tables in your favor by making periodic changes to your resume, so that when it is being searched it will show up as being new/changed and possibly get you looked at by a company or recruiter that might have passed you by the day before.

13. Prepare for the interview

One thing that I have done when preparing for an interview with a company is to do research on the company, the companies/sectors/industries that they serve. If it is a publicly listed company, do a little reading on the past quarter or two of press releases to see what changes have occurred at the company and what new directions they are heading in. From the response I have received from several companies, it seems to make a good impression that you show interest in finding out about the company when going to interview with them. It may seem like a small thing or something that you should do anyway but there seems to be quite a few people looking for a job that don't do this.

Also, have several copies of your resume printed out and with you when at an interview. This becomes even more important once you see your resume as the client/recruiter sees it, when they have downloaded it or printed it out from the job board that you applied for the position through. The formatting is pretty much gone. To make matters worse, the paragraphs or bullet points that you had in the resume will look like a series of poorly written run-on sentences that may cause distinctive or unique information about you to be overlooked.

14. Deal with recruiters

I encountered a couple of recruiters that would give used car salesmen a bad name, but as a general rule I found the recruiters pretty decent to work with. Several positions that I was approached for were not on the job boards and sometimes were only from a single recruiter. The trick I had to learn to develop was to identify the same end job when it coming from different recruiters. One situation that you want to avoid is to not have more than one recruiter pitching you to the same client. Most recruiters will usually tell you early on who the actual end client is.

15. Accept help from family

While your pride may make it hard for you to accept help, keep in mind that the unemployment situation you are dealing with is affecting them to a degree as well. Depending on the age of the family, this is something that may be new to them and that they may have never had the need to deal with. There was a time, unfortunately long gone now, when the company you first went to work for was the only company you would work for your entire career. How much help you accept from family is something that you will have to decide. Look at it this way, whatever help they do give you is that much less you will have to spend for food.

16. Keep good records

This suggestion came from a letter I received from the Department of Unemployment telling me that I would need to provide some basic information. I set up a spreadsheet in OpenOffice with three tabs. The first tab was where I kept track of the jobs I had applied for. I tracked the date, source of the job, how the job was applied for, company name (if known), job name, contact name and job number if provided. The next tab was where I kept track of the recruiters I talked to, HR folks that I had contact with for the jobs I had applied directly on, and anything else such as job fairs that I attended. This information was helpful when I got audited by the Department of Unemployment folks to make sure I was looking for another job. The last tab was where I recorded when I filed my unemployment claim each week, when I received the check, the check number, when it was deposited.

17. Get your personal records in order

When you do get an offer and accept it, one of the things that you will have to deal with is the lovely I-9 form that says you are allowed to work in this country. You will need a variety of things. If you can't find your Social Security card, now would be an excellent time to order a replacement card. This will take several weeks to get processed and get it to you. The sooner you get it, the sooner you will have it ready to produce when starting that new job. If you haven't seen a copy of the I-9 form lately, get a copy of one so you can see what documents will be needed. Another document that you want to make sure that you have a copy of, even if you don't need it for the I-9, is your birth certificate. This is one that might take a little while to get a copy of. I didn't know until recently that, depending on when and/or where you were born, there are two types of birth certificates – one that the hospital does and one done when the birth is registered with the local authorities. You will want to get one that is a copy of what is on file with the local authorities.

18. Don't wait for the phone to ring

This may be one of the harder things to do. Keep in mind that recruiters and HR types move at their own pace. That pace can be slow, very slow. When you first apply for a job, it could be several days or more before you get the first contact. Waiting for the phone to ring will have you climbing the walls in short order. Sometime you will get a call within hours of applying for a job, but expect that to be the exception. There are always things that you can do while waiting for movement on the job front and some of them may be done at little to no cost – doing that little bit of touch-up painting you have never gotten around to, do that trimming around the yard that always needs to be done. The point I am trying to make here is that you need to stay active, don't just sit around and watch the clock move forward.

19. Get out the house at least once a day

At some point you will run out of things to do around the house or just simply need to get out. There will be the occasional job fair, but that won't take a large amount of your time. While you can knock on some doors at some companies that you would like to work at, with the price of gas hovering around $4 a gallon, depending on where you live, that can be an expensive trip to make for an unknown return. Do some things that you like to do, such as going to a museum or sports game. The main thing is to get out to keep from getting cabin fever.

20. Never give up

Don't leave any stone unturned. You may just find that a company that passed you by today for another applicant may come back to you when that person leaves to move onto greener pastures. I would have never thought that could happen but I have seen it happen twice in the past year.

 


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Unemployment Bulletin, 2009 Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 Unemployment Bulletin, 2011 Unemployment Bulletin, 2012 Unemployment Bulletin, 2013 Unemployment Bulletin, 2014

[Jun 30, 2020] Older Workers Targeted in Trump's Lawsuit to End Obamacare by DEAN BAKER

Notable quotes:
"... This would be bad news for anyone with a serious health condition, but it would be especially bad news for the oldest pre-Medicare age group, people between the ages of 55 and 64. This group currently faces average premiums of close to $10,000 a year per person for insurance purchased through the ACA exchanges. Insurers could easily charge people with serious health conditions two or three times this amount if the Trump administration wins its case. ..."
"... The 55 to 64 age group will also be hard hit because they are far more likely to have serious health issues than younger people. Just 18 percent of the people in the youngest 18 to 34 age group have a serious health condition, compared to 44 percent of those in the 55 to 64 age group, as shown in the figure above. ..."
Jun 30, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Anne , June 30, 2020 12:49 pm

https://cepr.net/older-workers-targeted-in-trumps-lawsuit-to-end-obamacare/

June 30, 2020

Older Workers Targeted in Trump's Lawsuit to End Obamacare
By DEAN BAKER

The Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit which seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. The implication is that a large share of the older workers now able to afford health insurance as a result of the ACA will no longer be able to afford it if the Trump administration wins its lawsuit.

Furthermore, if the suit succeeds it will both end the expansion of Medicaid, which has insured tens of millions of people, and again allow discrimination against people with serious health conditions. Ending this discrimination was one of the major goals of the ACA. The issue is that insurers don't want to insure people who are likely to have health issues that cost them money. While they are happy to insure healthy people with few medical expenses, people with heart disease, diabetes, or other health conditions are a bad deal for insurers.

Before the ACA, insurers could charge outlandish fees to cover people with health conditions, or simply refuse to insure them altogether. The ACA required insurers to cover everyone within an age bracket at the same price, regardless of their health. If the Trump administration has its way, we would go back to the world where insurers could charge people with health issues whatever they wanted, or alternatively, just deny them coverage.

This would be bad news for anyone with a serious health condition, but it would be especially bad news for the oldest pre-Medicare age group, people between the ages of 55 and 64. This group currently faces average premiums of close to $10,000 a year per person for insurance purchased through the ACA exchanges. Insurers could easily charge people with serious health conditions two or three times this amount if the Trump administration wins its case.

And, since a Trump victory would eliminate the ACA subsidiaries, people in this age group with health conditions could be looking to pay $20,000 to $30,000 a year for insurance, with no help from the government. That will be especially hard since many people with serious health conditions are unable to work full-time jobs, and some can't work at all.
[Graph]

The 55 to 64 age group will also be hard hit because they are far more likely to have serious health issues than younger people. Just 18 percent of the people in the youngest 18 to 34 age group have a serious health condition, compared to 44 percent of those in the 55 to 64 age group, as shown in the figure above.

The ACA has many inadequacies, but it has allowed tens of millions to get insurance who could not otherwise. Donald Trump wants to take this insurance away.

[Jun 16, 2020] "That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." by George Carlin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job. ..."
"... A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business. ..."
"... There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost ..."
"... Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money. ..."
Jun 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Dave C , 4 days ago

"That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -George Carlin

Robert Schupp , 4 days ago

You can't just move to American cities to pursue opportunity; even the high wages paid in New York are rendered unhelpful because the cost of housing is so high.


Dingo Jones
, 3 days ago

@JOHN GAGLIANO Cost of living is ridiculous too.

Dirtysparkles , 4 days ago

Our country has become the American Nightmare

Jean-Pierre S , 4 days ago

Martin Luther King, Jr. was vilified and ultimately murdered when he was helping organize a Poor People's Campaign. Racial justice means economic justice.

John Sanders , 3 days ago

Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job.

Adriano de Jesus , 4 days ago

A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business.

Ammon Weser , 4 days ago

There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost

crazyman8472 , 4 days ago

Night Owl: "What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"

Comedian: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it."

-- Watchmen

David Tidwell , 4 days ago

Nailed it. As a millennial, I'm sick of being told to just "deal with it" when the cards have always been stacked against me. Am I surviving? Yes. Am I thriving? No.

D dicin , 4 days ago

When the reserve status of the American dollar goes away, then it will become apparent how poor the US really is. You cannot maintain a country without retention of the ability to manufacture the articles you use on a daily basis. The military budget and all the jobs it brings will have to shrink catastrophically.

farber2 , 4 days ago

American trance. The billionaires hypnotized people with this lie.

Michael D , 4 days ago (edited)

...and sometimes you CAN'T afford to move. You can't find a decent job. You certainly can't build a meaningful savings. You can't find an apartment. And if you have kids? That makes it even harder. I've been trying to move for years, but the conditions have to be perfect to do it responsibly. The American Dream died for me once I realized that no matter the choices I made, my four years of college, my years of saving and working hard....I do NOT have upward mobility. For me, the American Dream is dead. I've been finding a new dream. The human dream.

B Sim , 3 days ago

This is a very truncated view. You need to expand your thinking. WHY has the system been so overtly corrupted? It's globalism that has pushed all this economic pressure on the millennials and the middle class. It was the elites, working with corrupt politicians, that rigged the game so the law benefited them.

This is all reversible. History shows that capitalism can be properly regulated in a way that benefits all. The answer to the problem is to bring back those rules, not implement socialism.

Trump has:

  • - Ended the free trade deals
  • - Imposed Protective tarriffs to defend American jobs and workers
  • - Lowered corporate taxes to incentivize business to locate within us borders.
  • - Limited immigration to reduce the supply of low skilled labor within US borders.

The result? before COVID hit the average American worker saw the first inflation adjusted wage increase in over 30 years!

This is why the fake news and hollywood continue to propagandize the masses into hating Trump.

Trump is implementing economic policies good for the people and bad for the elites

Sound Author , 3 days ago

The dream was never alive in the first place. It was always bullshit.

Julia Galaudet , 4 days ago

Maybe it's time for a maximum wage.

Scott Clark , 4 days ago

Private equity strips the country for years! It's the AMERICAN DREAM!!!

Siri Erieott , 4 days ago

A dream for 1%, a nightmare for 99%.

andrew kubiak , 4 days ago

Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money.

[Jun 16, 2020] Krystal Ball: The American dream is dead, good riddance

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Debt-free is the new American dream ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.

About Rising: Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen.

It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.

Owen Cousino , 4 days ago

Debt-free is the new American dream

poppaDehorn , 4 days ago

Got my degree just as the great recession hit. Couldn't find real work for 3 years, not using my degree... But it was work. now after 8 years, im laid off. I did everything "right". do good in school, go to college, get a job...

I've never been fired in my life. its always, "Your contract is up" "Sorry we cant afford to keep you", "You can make more money collecting! but we'll give a recommendation if you find anything."

Now I'm back where i started... only now I have new house and a family to support... no pressure.

[Jun 04, 2020] The Gig Economy: WTF? Precarity and Work under Neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
"The gig economy is just a way for corporations to cut the cost of employees, by turning them into subcontractors. They blur the line between employee and subcontractors by having tight rules like an employer, and since most people have a employee mentality, the company nurtures the idea that they somehow are more like employees, then they get mostly good workers, working hard for very little compensation. The Gig economy is just another sign of our failing way of life."
Notable quotes:
"... The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in ..."
"... Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs. ..."
Jun 04, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Unlike most developments in the employment market, the Gig Economy has received a great deal of press attention and established itself firmly as a point of reference in the popular consciousness. In recent years, increasing numbers of people have turned to services such as Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo, Just Eat, TaskRabbit and Fiverr as either a side hustle or their main source of income.

Following on from my video on neoliberalism and neoliberal capitalism, in today's episode of What the Theory?, we look deeper into how the gig economy (or sharing economy) works and what differentiates it from the rest of the economy. We ask whether the gig economy is truly an opportunity for those wanting a more flexible work arrangement or whether it is simply a means for multinational corporations to circumvent hard-won workers rights and labour laws.

Finally, we also consider whether there might be some historical precedents to the sharing economy in the early industrial period and look at some of the challenges facing those attempting to organise Deliveroo riders, Uber drivers and other gig economy workers into trade unions in order to negotiate for better rates of pay and conditions.

If you'd like to support my channel then please do check out my Patreon page at http://patreon.com/tomnicholas


Simple Things , 5 months ago

Unregulated capitalism? You mean like child labor and passing the hat when a worker dies in an accident? They don't want workers. They want people who are desperate.

Tom Nicholas , 5 months ago

Well, how far it all goes is something that remains to be seen. I don't think we'll get as far as child labour but the curation of dependence is something that's definitely in progress.

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

They don't want people who are desperate, they want slaves.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Tom Nicholas but if they could they would have kids gigging. The gig economy is a scam, I'd rather pay more for an Uber and have unionized drivers.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Daxton Lyon except the majority of entrepreneurs and business owners didn't come Into their business ownership via merit. You are forgetting that most of these people are born into a situation where they have access to capital, access to legal services and education. Sure there are a minority of people who make it from nothing but that number is diminishingly small.

John Jourdan , 3 months ago

I notice not one of you mentioned immigrants. lol

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "You don't like the gig? Do something else." Too bad the economy is currently setup to where around half of individuals are limited to gig and don't have the resources and money to do anything else.

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "If any of you did, your panzy responses regarding corporate greed would be squashed!" No, they wouldn't, but keep performing those red herrings and hasty, extremely-worshipping generalizations about entrepreneurship to distract from the point; I'm sure they'll catch on.

Justin Goretoy , 5 months ago

Neoliberalism is the religious belief that markets are magical and will regulate themselves.

User Name , 4 months ago

The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs.

[Jun 02, 2020] Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge

Jun 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

  1. anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country.

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

THE WAY BACK -- THE ONLY WAY BACK -- BOTH ECONOMICALLY AND POLITICALLY (pardon me if I take up a lot of space -- almost everyone else has said most of what they want to say)

EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be -- $15/hr.
http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/who-makes-15-per-hour/

The minimum wage itself should only mark the highest wage that we presume firms with highest labor costs can pay* -- like fast food with 25% labor costs. Lower labor cost businesses -- e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!

That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.

Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%. Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%. Keeping the math easy here -- I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.

Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit! Don't forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers -- reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants -- the exception that actually proves the rule).

Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
* * * * * *

If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act -- mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced "turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit" by the date of the enactment -- and for all time from thereafter. Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2723/text

Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now. Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces -- and vice versa.
* * * * * *

Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it -- some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains. How else can you explain the perfect pitch's neglect. I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: "Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America", that I might not get one taker. FWIW.

Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street -- just to get a reaction -- is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about. Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.

Here is Andrew Strom's take:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

[see just below for last link -- can't lay more than three at a time :-)]

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today's per capita income.
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196801&year2=202001

rick shapiro , June 1, 2020 10:46 am

econ101 should tell you that the eitc is a subsidy to the corporations that hire droves of low-paid workers, with meagre spillover to the workers themselves. More effective and persistent improvements to social justice would come from significant increases to the minimum wage, societal support to unionization, and other efforts to increase the threshold of what is considered by society to be the bare minimum of compensation for work.
The concomitant decline in the value of the dollar and the terms of trade would be small compared to the reduction in inequality.

Bernard , June 1, 2020 5:21 pm

such a third world country as America , riots are the only way to get heard for some. the Elite have been looting us blind for decades, the Covid bail outs to Corporations by the Elites in DC as the latest installment of Capitalist theft know as Business as Usual.
it's all about the money.
sick,sick country praising capitalism over everything else.
the comfortable white people are afraid of losing what they have. Divide and Conquer is the Republican and now Democratic way they run America.

to the rich go the spoils. the rest, well. screw them .

the Lee Atwater idea to use coded language when St. Reagan implemented the destruction of America society, coincided with St. Thatcher's destruction of England.

the White elites post Civil War in the South knew how to divide the poor whites and the poor blacks.

that is how we got to where we are now.

Did you see any of the bankers go to jail for the 2008 ripoff?
not one and they got bonuses for their "deeds."

America, such a nation of Grifters, Thieves and Scam artist. like Pelosi , McConnel and all the people in DC and the Business men who sold out our country and the American people for "small change".

God forbid Corporations should ever have to pay for the damage they have done to America and its" people. My RIGHT to Greed trumps your right to clean air, water, safe neighborhoods, says Capitalism!

the Rich get richer and the poor get poorer, Everybody Knows!!!

But let's not focus on things lest some uncomfortable truths.

and wonder why riots happen, Not at All!

[Jun 01, 2020] It didn't happen overnight

Jun 01, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Dan Crawford | May 31, 2020 9:12 am

US/Global Economics by Ken Melvin

3 rd World

--

It didn't happen overnight.

The nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in, say, Southeast Asian, African, South American, countries, invariably refer to the tenuous hold on life of their working poor; they don't really have a job. Each day they rise and go forth looking for work that pays enough that they and their family can continue to subsist. It is, in some countries, a long-standing problem.

Sound too familiar? Sometime in the late 80s (??) Americans began to see day labors line up at Home Depot and Lowe's lots in numbers not seen since The Great Depression. Manufacturing Corporations began subbing out their work to sub-contractors, otherwise known as employees without benefits; Construction Contractors subbed out construction work to these employees without benefits; Engineering Firms subbed out engineering to these employees without benefits; Landscapers' workers were now sub-contractors/independent contractors; Here, in the SF Bay Area, time and again, we saw vans loads of undocumented Hispanics under a 'Labor Contractor' come in from the Central Valley to build condos; the white Contractor for the project didn't have a single employee; none of the workers got a W-2. Recall watching, sometime in the 90s (??), a familiar, well dressed, rotund guest from Wall Street, on the PBS News Hour, forcefully proclaiming to the TV audience:

American workers are going to have to learn to compete with the Chinese; Civil Service employees, factory employees, are all going to have to work for less

All this subcontracting, independent contractors, was a scam, a scam meant to circumvent paying going wages and benefits, to enhance profit margins; a scam that transferred more wealth to the top. Meanwhile back at The Ranch, after the H1B Immigration Act of 1990, Microsoft could hire programmers from India for one-half the cost of a citizen programmer. Half of Bill Gates' fortune was resultant these labor savings; the other half was made off those not US Citizens. Taking a cue, Banks, Bio-Techs, some City and State Governments began subcontracting out their programming to H1Bs. Often, the subcontractors/labor contractors (often themselves immigrants) providing the programmers, held the programmers' passports/visas for security.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, friends of Bush/Cheney made fortunes on clean up contracts they subbed out for next to nothing; the independent/subcontractor scam was now officially governmentally sanctioned.

By about 2000 we began to hear the term gig-workers applied to these employees without benefits. Uber appeared in 2007 to be followed by Lift. Both are scams based on paying less than prevailing wages, on not providing worker benefits,

These days, the nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in America, shows footage of Food Banks in California with lines 2! miles long. Many of those waiting in these lines didn't have a real job before; they were gig-workers; they can't apply for Unemployment Benefits. It is estimated that 1.6 million American workers (1% of the workforce) are gig-workers; they don't have a real job. That 1% is in addition to the 16 million American workers (10% of the workforce) that are independent contractors. Of the more than 40 million currently unemployed Americans, some 17 million are either gig-workers or subcontractors/independent contractors. All of these are scams meant to transfer more wealth to the top. All of these are scams with American Workers the victims; scams, in a race to the bottom.


Denis Drew , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

Ken,

Read this by the SEIU counsel Andrew Strom -- and tell me what you think:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

Democrats in the so called battle ground states would clean up at the polls with this. Why do you think those states strayed? It was because Obama and Hillary had no idea what they really needed. Voters had no idea what they SPECIFICALLY needed either -- UNIONS! They had been deunionized so thoroughly for so long that they THEMSELVES no long knew what they were missing (frogs in the slowly boiling pot).

In 1988 Jesse Jackson took the Democratic primary in Michigan with 54% against Dukakis and Gephardt. Obama beat Wall Street Romney and red-white-and-blue McCain in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. But nobody told these voters -- because nobody seems to remember -- what they really needed. These voter just knew by 2016 that Democrats had not what they needed and looked elsewhere -- anywhere else!

Strom presents an easy as can be, on-step-back treatment that should go down oh, so smoothly and sweetly. What do you think?

  • Matthew young , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

    Not overnight, but a few days in 1972 when Nixon fouled the defaults and none of us knew how badly at the time.

    Reseting prices takes a long time, it is not magic and Nixon had fouled the precious metals market, overnight. That and all the commodities market needed a restructure to adapt to our new regime.

    Our way out was to export price instability to Asia. My suggestion this time is to think through the math a bit before we all suddenly freak and do another over nighter. Think about how one might spread the partial default over a 15 year period.

    All of us, stuck with 40 years of flat earth economic planning without a clue. Now we have a year at best to nail down the Lucas criteria and get a default done with some science behind it.

    I doubt it. I figure we will all go to monetary meetup with our insurance contracts ready to be confirmed. That is impossible and Trump will be stuck doing a volatile, overnight partial default, like Nixon.,

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:02 pm

    Dennis,

    The states you mentioned have overwhelmingly voted Rep for the last 3 decades in their state races. One of them has instituted right to work laws, and the other two have come very close to doing the same.

    The white working class cares nothing about unions at all. They have been voting against them for decades. It's why union rights and membership has deteriorated for 5 decades.

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 12:32 pm

    EM:

    Notably, I had posted the 2016 presidential election numbers numbers for MI, PA, and WI which resulted in an "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" and gave th election to Trump. The "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" resulted in a historical high for the "others" category and was anywhere from 3 to 6 times higher than previously experienced in other presidential elections. It also resulted in those three states casting Electoral votes for a Republican presidential candidate since 1992 – MI, 1988 – PA, and 1988 – WI. While this does defeat your comment above on those states voting Republican, it does not take away from your other comment on Sarandon. People punished themselves with Trump in spite of every obvious clue he demonstrated of being a loon. In this case the white working class voted against themselves for Trump and those of Sarandon's ilk helped them along by voting for "others."

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:45 pm

    Run, I stated in "state elections".

    Y'know one other thing I have seen in MI voting is that the amount of people who voted did not cast a voted for President also was the highest ever. Thinking these are the same people like Sarandon. It was close to 90,000 in MI.

    "87,810: Number of voters this election who cast a ballot but did not cast a vote for president. That compares to 49,840 undervotes for president in 2012.

    5 percent: Proportion of voters who opted for a third-party candidate in this election, compared to 1 percent in 2012."

    https://www.mlive.com/politics/2016/11/michigans_presidential_electio.html

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 1:58 pm

    EM:

    I am going to put the numbers out here for Presidential Election 2012 and 2016. It is easier to look at them and the percentages.

    Michigan Presidential Vote 2012 and 2016

    In this site, you can look year to year on the vote. US Election Atlas

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:04 pm

    Denis

    Thanks for your comment and the link. Wow! Where to start, huh?

    SEIU was a player from the get go, but I don't want to go there just now.

    Before Reagan, there was the first rust belt move to the non-union south. Why was the south so anti-union? I think this stuff is engendered from infancy and most of us are incapable of thinking anew when it comes to stuff our parents 'taught' us. MLK was the best thing that ever happened to the dirt-road poor south, yet they hated him and they hated the very unions that might have lifted them up. They did seem to take pleasure in the yanks' loss of jobs.

    I think the Reagan era was prelude to what is going on now, i.e., going backward while yelling whee look at me go. No doubt, Reagan turned union members against their own unions. But, the genesis of demise probably lay with automation and the early offshoring to Mexico. By Reagan, the car plants were losing jobs to Toyota and Honda and automation. By 1990, car plants that had previously employed 5,000, now automated, produced more cars employing only 1200. At the time, much of the nation's wealth was still derived from car production.

    Skipping forward a bit, the democrats blew it for years with all their talk about the 'middle-class' without realizing it was the 'disappearing middle-class'. They ignored the poor working-class vote and lost election after election.

    I've come to not like the term labor, think it affords capital an undeserved status, though much diminished, I think thought all workers would be better off in a union. Otherwise, as we are witnessing, there is no parity between workers and wealth; we are in a race to the bottom with the wealth increasingly go to the top.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:15 pm

    Matthew – thanks for your comment

    I think that we are into a transition (about 45 yrs into) as great as the industrial revolution. We, as probably those poor souls of the 18th and 19th centuries did, are floundering, unable to come to terms with what is going on.

    I also think that those such as the Kochs have a good grasp of what is going on and are moving to protect themselves and their class.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:21 pm

    EMichael, thanks for the comment

    Are you implying that the politicians are way behind the curve? If so, I think that you are right.

    Let me share what I was thinking last night about thinking:

    Descartes' problem was that he desperately wanted to make philosophy work within the framework of his religion, Catholicism. Paul Krugman desperately wants to make economics all work within the Holy Duality of Capitalism and Free Markets. Even Joe Stiglitz can't step out of this text. All things being possible, it is possible that either could come up with a solution to today's economic problems that would fit within the Two; but the odds are not good. Better to think anew.

    We see politicians try and try to find solutions for today's problems from within their own dogmas/ideologies. Even if they can't, they persist, they still try to impose these dogmas/ideologies in the desperate hope they might work if only applied to a greater degree. How else explain any belief that markets could anticipate and respond to pandemics? That markets could best respond to housing demand?

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:48 pm

    Ken Melvin,

    Interesting and fine writing.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:49 pm

    https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1267060950026326018

    Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

    Glad to see Noah Smith highlighting this all-too-relevant work by the late Alberto Alesina 1/

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-30/racism-is-the-biggest-reason-u-s-safety-net-is-so-weak

    Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak
    Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last week, found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.

    7:50 AM · May 31, 2020

    The Alesina/Glaeser/Sacerdote paper on why America doesn't have a European-style welfare state -- racism -- had a big impact on my own thinking 2/

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism was treated as "shrill" and partisan. Can we now admit the obvious? 3/

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 1:53 pm

    Ken,

    Half the politicians are behind the curve. When George Wallace showed the GOP how to win elections (Don't ever get outniggerred) the Dem Party failed to see and react to it. Then the Kochs of the world stepped in with the John Birch society (fromerly the KKK) and started playing race against class, which resulted in the white working class supporting anti-labor pols and legislation.

    The election of Obama caused the racists to go totally off the reservation with the Tea Party (formerly the KKK and the John Birch Society) and lead us to where we are now.

    Of course, the corporate world followed the blueprint.

    Way past time for the Dem Party to start attacking on a constant basis the racist GOP. And also to start appealing more to workers, though the 2016 platform certainly did that to a large degree, and the 2020 platform looks to be mush more supportive of labor than ever.

    "It's a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.

    If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition.

    A big minimum wage increase

    Biden's commitment to raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 an hour is one of the least talked-about plans at stake in the 2020 election.

    In the 2016 cycle when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders disagreed about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the debate was the subject of extensive coverage. By the 2020 cycle, all the major Democratic candidates were on board, so it didn't come up much. But it's significant that this is no longer controversial in Democratic Party circles. If the party is broadly comfortable with the wage hike as a matter of both politics and substance, Democrats in Congress are likely to make it happen if it's at all possible.
    Noji Olaigbe, left, from the Fight for $15 minimum wage movement, speaks during a McDonald's workers' strike in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 23, 2019. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

    The $15-an-hour minimum wage increase is also a signature issue for Biden. He endorsed New York's version of it in the fall of 2015, back when he was vice president and his boss Barack Obama was pushing a smaller federal raise.

    A big minimum wage hike polls well, it aligns with Biden's thematic emphasis on "the dignity of work," and it's a topic on which he's genuinely been a leader. It reflects his political sensibilities, which are moderate but in a decidedly more populist mode than Obama's technocratic one.

    Biden has a big Plan A to support organized labor, and a Plan B that's still consequential and considerably more plausible politically.

    Beyond a general disposition to be a good coalition partner to organized labor, the centerpiece of his union agenda is support for the PRO Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

    That bill, were it to become law, would be the biggest victory for unions and collective bargaining since the end of World War II -- overriding state "right to work" laws, barring mandatory anti-union briefings from management during organizing campaigns, imposing much more meaningful financial penalties on companies that illegally fire workers for pro-union activity, and allowing organizing through a streamlined card check process. Separately, Biden and House Democrats have lined up behind a Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act that would bolster public sector workers' collective bargaining rights. "

    https://www.vox.com/2020/5/26/21257648/joe-biden-climate-economy-tax-plans

    One of the big issues here is Biden not committing to killing the filibuster, in addition to Dem Senators not in agreement either. That would be a disaster for any legislation.

    Makes sense not to run on ending the filibuster now, as there is a chance trump can win and teh GOP keeps the Senate. But if the opposite happens and Biden wins and Dems take the Senate, they will have to pivot quickly to getting rid of the filibuster. Apply any and all possible pressure to those Dem Senators who do not agree with that. Threaten them with losing committee posts; primary opponents; the kitchen sink.

    Yes, it poses a risk in the event the Reps get a trifecta again, but it is time to flood progressive legislation into law, and getting rid of the filibuster is the only way.

    And if they can hit the trifecta and bring this platform to fruition, they won't have to worry about a GOP trifecta for a long, long time. Possibly forever.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:56 pm

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    September, 2001

    Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?
    By Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote

    Abstract

    European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:07 pm

    This dynamic is not limited to low-skill jobs. I have seen it at work in electronics engineering. When I was a sprat, job shoppers got an hourly wage nearly twice that of their company peers, because they had no benefits or long-term employment. Today, job shoppers are actually paid less than company engineers; and the companies are outsourcing ever more of their staffing to the brokers.
    Without labor market frictions, the iron law of wages drives wages to starvation levels. As sophisticated uberization software eliminates the frictions that have protected middle class wages in the recent past, we will all need to enlist unionization and government wage standards to protect us.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:29 pm

    Rick

    The big engineering offices of the 70s were decimated and worse by the mid-90s; mostly by the advent of computers w/ software. One engineer could now do the work of 10 and didn't need any draftsman.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:40 pm

    I was speaking of engineers with equal skill in the same office. Many at GE Avionics were laid off, and came back as lower paid contract empoyees.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:46 pm

    Rick

    Die biden

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:52 pm

    beiden

    The both

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 3:05 pm

    EMichael

    Minimum wage, the row about the $600, all such things endanger the indentured servant economic model so favored in the south. Keep them poor and hungry and they will work for next to nothing. 'Still they persist.' On PBS, a black woman cooking for a restaurant said that she was being paid less than $4/hr.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 9:39 pm

    anne:

    If you rcomments are not appearing they are going to spam, Just let me know and I will fish them out of spam. Just approved 4 of yours.

  • Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

    The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

    This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

  • Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

    It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country. Post Comment Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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    [May 16, 2020] Reopening Isn't only about Reopening -- It's also about forcefully removing people from unemployment insurance by Peter Dorman

    May 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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

    Donald Trump, cheering on his "warriors" who demand that states lift their lockdown and distancing orders (where they have them), would have you believe this is about bringing the economy back to life so ordinary people can get their jobs and normal lives back. Elitist liberals who work from home and have country estates to retreat to don't care, but "real" people do.

    The reality is different. The shuttering of stores, restaurants, hotels and workplaces didn't begin with government orders and won't end with them. If the rate of new infection and death is too high, a lot of people won't go along. Not everyone, but enough to make a huge economic difference. Ask any small business owner what it would mean for demand to drop by 25-50%. Lifting government orders won't magically restore the economic conditions of mid-winter. So what's it about? Even as it makes a big PR show of supporting state by state "liberation" in America, the Trump administration is advising state governments on how to remove workers from unemployment insurance once orders are lifted. Without government directives, employers can demand workers show up, and if they refuse they no longer qualify. And why might workers refuse? Perhaps because their workplaces are still unsafe and they have vulnerable family members they want to keep from getting infected? Not good enough -- once the state has been "liberated".

    How should we respond to this travesty? First, of course, by telling the truth that an anti-worker, anti-human campaign is being conducted under the guise of defending workers. If the Democrats weren't themselves such a tool of business interests we might hear that narrative from them, but the rest of us are free to speak out and should start doing it, loudly, wherever we can.

    Second, one of the laws of the land is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which gives workers the right to refuse imminently hazardous work. This hasn't been used very often, nor is there much case law around it, but the current pandemic is a good reason to pull it out of storage.

    If there are public interest law firms looking for something useful to do during distancing, they could advertise their willingness to defend workers who need to stay home until work is safe -- while still getting their paycheck. If employers thought the choice was between public support for workers sitting out the pandemic or their support for them we might hear less about "liberation".


    none , May 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

    They want to throw people off of unemployment while using the virus threat to stop any serious protests against that. It is literally biological warfare against working people. Same class war as before, but now with CBW.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Taught it for years. This is the biggest net and is the # 1 Cited Violation for 1910/1926 and MSHA–ever.

    OSHA 654 5(a)1 The General Duty Clause.

    OSHA Laws & Regulations OSH Act of 1970
    OSH Act of 1970
    Table of Contents
    General Duty Clause
    Complete OSH Act Version ("All-in-One")
    SEC.
    5.
    Duties
    (a)
    Each employer --
    (1)
    29 USC 654
    shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
    (2)
    shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
    (b)
    Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

    And 'Recognized' totes a lot of water.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Quick Take –Two way street.
    Employers mus t mitigate hazards. Employees must comply with mitigation.
    No Employer Mitigation=Breaking the Law=No Employee requirement to work in Unsafe Conditions.

    L , May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

    "Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of. There was not and has never been a plan by the Conservative Movement to lift all boats. Only a plan to feign interest in doing so.

    Librarian Guy , May 15, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with most of your comment except the "smarter" part.

    They don't seem smart to me, they openly plunder and loot and spit in the populace's faces. They don't even pretend to believe in or work for a "common good" anymore, really. That is the story of the 21st Century in the US, starting with Baby Bush II. (Okay, I get that the Obama crew seemed "smart" or sophisticated to the PMC and comfortable liberals, but how smart were they if they led to the open Kleptocratic Disruption of Trumpism and the God Emperor?)

    What the Elites have that the proles don't is in-group solidarity. (And a captured Media establishment.) They protect their own, while the hoi polloi fight one another for scraps.

    Hoppy , May 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    What is the death rate among the working age population?

    Seem like a tough hill to die on given the curve has flattened, hospitals are not overflowing, and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression.

    No one has a vaccine, this isn't going away any time soon. It's time to focus on protecting the most vulnerable instead of pretending this effects everyone equally.

    Allow states to cut benefits? Come on, UI benefits are taxed for pete's sake. 'Available to work' basically means you have start at 8am the next day which is doesn't align with any reality of hiring except in low end service sector jobs.

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    > and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression

    This was baked in the cake already, COVID was simply the spark that ignited all that dead wood on the forest floor.

    cripes , May 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

    campbeln:

    Yes.

    I thought the quiet transfer of trillions in helicopter money to the banksters in the last half of 2019, way before the covid craze was telling.

    How convenient.

    Wally , May 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    The other really significant thing is that 're-opening' doesn't necessarily mean returning to business. For example, Musk insists on re-opening Tesla the assumption being that sales are there to be had if they re-open. But if not no sales, no need for employees back down the drain we go.
    Same for restaurants. retail, hotels, transit and white collar jobs – attorneys, architects, CPAs

    DHG , May 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Yup, the smart and shrewd will conceal themselves as much as possible and live, the stupid will rush out and most likely die.

    JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 1:20 am

    The poorest and the most desperate actually. Some people still have not received any money from the state or federal governments. The quarantine started about two months ago. So no job, no income, no money, and no joke. No matter how shrewd or smart you are sometimes you are not making the decisions. Reality makes them for you.

    KFritz , May 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    There's another possible reason to reopen. If the country officially reopens, there's no need for any more federal stimulus!

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Bankers got their TRILLIONS?

    Pack it up, boys! We're done here.

    J.k , May 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Well till the markets crashes again and they need to save the assets of the wealthiest.

    I just got a text from a buddy who is an electrician. His company just told him they are not expecting to take any major work till second quarter of next year. They will only be taking emergency calls. This is in Chicago.

    LawnDart , May 14, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Your buddy might be able to use this link:

    https://wepoweramerica.org/hotjobs.cgi

    Granted, it's a union site, but one point that they make is how union saturation raises the wages for all workers within a given region.

    In Appalachia, I was offered $15hr. to work as an electrician. In Chicagoland, starting wages were close to or more than double that. Guess where I went in order to establish a salary history? And no, the cost of living is really not too different between those two places, but opportunities sure were.

    (moderators: in response to an "Eat the Rich!" comment, I posted a link with recipes: I apologize for this. Admittedly, it was in poor taste.)

    [May 15, 2020] US Unemployment Update

    Notable quotes:
    "... @apenultimate ..."
    May 15, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:50am The past week's unemployment claims came out today, and add another 2.98 million to the pile. This brings total unemployment claims for the past 8 weeks (two months or so) to 36.5 million.

    Determining unemployment percentages depends on what data you use. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the employment numbers for the United States in August 2019 as ~157 million ( https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm ). Admittedly, that's not March 2020 statistics, but employment numbers would not change all that much in half of a year.

    The St. Louis Federal Reserve has a different set of statistics that show 205.5 million Americans employed in March 2020 ( https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LFWA64TTUSM647S ). (They show the August 2019 period with employment at 206 million.)

    Why the huge difference? I have no idea. But going forward, I'll use both to determine unemployment numbers. Remember that in early March 2020, unemployment was already around 3%.

    Using the BLS statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 23.16% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 26.16% unemployment.

    Using the St. Louis Fed statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 17.76% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 20.76% unemployment.

    The peak rate of unemployment during The Great Depression was 24.9%. The peak rate of unemployment during the the Great Recession in 2008 was 10%.

    According to BLS statistics, we are already greater than Great Depression unemployment numbers.

    According to the St. Louis Fed, we are already more than double Great Recession numbers and only about 4 percentage points away from Great Depression peaks.

    The Labor Department last week reported April unemployment for the United states at 14.7%, but this according to their own admission was undercounting the real rates. Be careful of any numbers coming out of the mainstream media or government sources.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Coronavirus-job-loss-Weekly...

    Some jobs will definitely come back, but many will not. For example, JC Penny's reported that they are permanently closing 200 of their 850 nationwide stores. Those jobs will not be coming back. There are weekly reports of many cafes, restaurants, and small businesses shuttering their doors for good. Those jobs will not be coming back.

    Even for the companies that do not shut down, it may be a long haul before economic activity has picked up enough to bring workers back. In most cases, it will not be a quick recovery.

    Hang on for a very rough ride. 2 users have voted.

    ggersh on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:52am
    This is the place to go for stats

    @apenultimate and like everything else our govt does, the unemployment number is just pure BS

    http://www.shadowstats.com/article/csfu1435

    • Headline April 2020 Unemployment Really Was Around 20%, Not 15%
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics Disclosed Erroneous Unemployment Surveying for a Second Month
    • About 7.5 Million People in the April Household Survey Were Misclassified as Employed Instead of Unemployed, per the BLS
    • Headline April U.3 Unemployment at 14.7%, Should Have Been 19.5%
    • The BLS Had Disclosed the Same Surveying Error Last Month; Where Headline March 2020 U.3 Was 4.4%, It Should Have Been 5.3%
    • Per the BLS, Headline Data Will Not Be Corrected: "To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses."
    • Nonetheless, Headline April Unemployment Soared to Historic Highs from March: U.3 from 4.4% to 14.7%, U.6 from 8.7% to 22.8% and ShadowStats from 22.9% to 35.4%
    • More Realistic, Those Same Unemployment Numbers, Corrected: U.3 from 5.3 % to 19.5%, U.6 from 9.6% to 27.7% and ShadowStats from 23.7% to 39.6%
    • April 2020 Payrolls Collapsed by an Unprecedented 20.5 Million Jobs
    • Annual Growth in April 2020 Money Supply Measures Soared to Historic Highs
    • U.S. Economic Activity Has Collapsed to Great Depression Levels, with the Federal Reserve Creating Unlimited Money

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:58am
    Nice

    @ggersh

    Thanks for that. Seems like a large percentage of the difference is that BLS says 7.5 million were mis-classified as employed.

    At the very least, it seems the BLS does a bit of correcting, whereas the Fed does not.

    gulfgal98 on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:13pm
    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

    stated in the very beginning of this video, that of people who were employed in February of this year, nearly 40% of those earning $40,000 or less have become unemployed. This is an unprecedented human tragedy that Congress in all their bailouts now totalling about $8 Trillion have seen fit to throw a one time pittance of $1,200. With mountains of cash going to corporations and lobbyists, Congress insultingly gave real suffering Americans a few pennies and in effect told them that their lives do not matter to Washington DC.

    //www.youtube.com/embed/AROXMTDOkjw?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

    [May 12, 2020] 'Immediate danger' Half of world's workforce could lose livelihood due to Covid-19, UN agency warns

    www.defenddemocracy.press
    The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that around half of the world's workforce, or 1.6 billion workers, are at imminent risk of losing their livelihood because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest report, the UN agency stated that those hardest hit by the financial effects of the Covid-19 outbreak have been 'informal economy' workers, including the self-employed and those on a short-term contract.

    "The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 percent in the income of informal workers globally," the ILO said of the economic damage already caused by the pandemic.

    The deepening crisis in many parts of the world has left more than 436 million businesses facing financial hardship and possible closure, the ILO stated, which will inevitably hurt workers. The report listed the worst-hit sectors as manufacturing, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.

    "For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said of the stark impact of an economic dip.

    He added that, according to ILO data, there is expected to be a "massive" rise in poverty levels worldwide, unless governments recognize the need to reconstruct their economies around better working practices and "not a return to the pre-pandemic world of precarious work for the majority."

    Since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, over 3.1 million cases have been confirmed around the world, and more than 216,000 people have died. Drastic lockdowns to limit its spread have taken a dire toll on the global economy, prompting market turmoil and numerous projections of the heavy recession to strike this year.

    [May 10, 2020] Lockdowns May Aggravate America's Next Health Crisis An Explosion Of Deaths Of Despair, Study Finds

    Notable quotes:
    "... Polls of life satisfaction taken since the outbreak began have reflected a rapid erosion as 33 million Americans have joined the unemployment rolls over the last months. NY Gov Andrew Cuomo said during a recent daily briefing that NY is seeing a spike in drug and alcohol abuse as people sit around all day with nothing to do and nowhere to go. ..."
    "... But of course the tremendous levels of financial uncertainty coupled with the unique characteristics of this crisis make it pretty much impossible to model - any research is really an educated guess, at best. ..."
    "... "Unemployment is going to have a very important impact on deaths of despair." ..."
    "... His proposed strategies including investing more resources in helping unemployed people find meaningful work, and/or training the armies of contact tracers that de Blasio has now promised to hire to spot people at risk of self-harm. ..."
    May 10, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    Doctors , scientists policymakers and even 'non-experts' posting on social media have argued that shuttering the health-care system to all non-emergency care risks sparking other public health crises from a spike in heart attacks and advanced cancer diagnoses, to so-called "deaths of despair."

    In some areas, a spike in suicides has already been recorded since the start of the outbreak. And now, a newly published paper released Friday has attempted to quantify deaths that might occur because of the mental-health ramifications of widespread economic chaos caused by the crisis. The research - which hasn't yet been peer-reviewed - found the isolation, grief and economic hardship related to COVID-19 are conspiring to supercharge America's already-burgeoning mental-health crisis, likely setting the stage for tens of thousands of suicides down the line.

    Specifically, the researchers tabulated that as many as 75k additional "deaths of despair" could be caused by the outbreak and the economy-crushing measures implemented to stop the spreads. "Deaths of despair" typically refer to suicides and substance-abuse-related deaths, according to Bloomberg .

    The research was carried out by the Well Being Trust and researchers affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians. One of the report's authors said he hopes the research is eventually proven to be incorrect.

    "I hope in 10 years people look back and say, 'Wow, they way overestimated it,'" said John Westfall, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, who co-wrote the report.

    But the sizable spike in suicides, overdoses etc since the last major crisis (the financial crisis) is reason to be concerned.

    Even as the American economy rebounded after the last recession, suicides and overdoses cut into Americans' life expectancy. Mental health experts worry that the economic uncertainty and social isolation of the pandemic will make things worse at a time when the health care system is already overwhelmed. The suicide rate in the US has already been rising for two decades, and in 2018 hit its highest level since 1941, Bloomberg reported, citing a piece published by JAMA Psychiatry (a prestigious medical journal) back in April.

    "There's a paradox," said Jeffrey Reynolds, president of a Long Island-based nonprofit social services agency, the Family and Children's Association. " Social isolation protects us from a contagious, life-threatening virus, but at the same time it puts people at risk for things that are the biggest killers in the United States: suicide, overdose and diseases related to alcohol abuse."

    Polls of life satisfaction taken since the outbreak began have reflected a rapid erosion as 33 million Americans have joined the unemployment rolls over the last months. NY Gov Andrew Cuomo said during a recent daily briefing that NY is seeing a spike in drug and alcohol abuse as people sit around all day with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

    "One of the main things people should take away from this paper is that employment matters," said Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at the Well Being Trust and a clinical psychologist who worked on the paper. "It matters for our economic livelihood, and for our mental and emotional health."

    But of course the tremendous levels of financial uncertainty coupled with the unique characteristics of this crisis make it pretty much impossible to model - any research is really an educated guess, at best.

    Still, the researchers believe it's a useful warning, and something important for policy makers to keep in mind.

    "It's useful to have a wake-up call," said Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Unemployment is going to have a very important impact on deaths of despair."

    Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at the Well Being Trust and a clinical psychologist who worked on the paper, proposed several solutions that could be enacted to, uh, depress the number of suicides.

    His proposed strategies including investing more resources in helping unemployed people find meaningful work, and/or training the armies of contact tracers that de Blasio has now promised to hire to spot people at risk of self-harm.

    [May 06, 2020] Deaths of Despair

    May 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    c1ue , May 6 2020 15:54 utc | 86

    I'm sure this has been mentioned, but Angus Deaton talking about his "Deaths of Despair" work Boston review article

    JC: In the book you focus on these deaths of despair: 158,000 in 2018, about 100,000 of which are above and beyond what we would normally expect, an excess that is almost entirely among white non-Hispanic men and women without a college degree. The category covers three different causes of death: alcohol, opioids, and suicide. Could you talk about why you group them together?

    AD: Initially, "deaths of despair" was a label of convenience. It helped express the sense that these deaths were sort of caused by your own hand -- unlike COVID-19, say.

    ...

    these previous drug epidemics -- in the United States after the Civil War, or in China when the empire was disintegrating -- tended to arise during periods of social disintegration. The simplified story is that some bad Big Pharma manufacturers started pushing opioids on all of us. But in reality, Purdue Pharmaceuticals and other companies went to places where there was already lots of despair. They were looking for despair. They were looking for regions where you could harass doctors into prescribing these drugs.

    Our claim in the book is that without this underlying despair -- pain, morbidity, people not going to church, people's lives coming apart -- there wouldn't have been this open field for opioids. On the other hand, if the FDA had not been so much in the hands of the industry, and if we were not operating a rent-seeking, capitalistic health care system, then we wouldn't have got those efforts to capitalize on the despair. Other countries didn't get them to anything like the same extent.

    ...

    JC: One of the issues that you emphasize in the book is the generational aspect of deaths of despair: how it keeps getting worse for younger generations. The idea that this is a process that is worsening over time resonates strongly with Raj Chetty's account of the fading American dream. I am thinking of the study by Chetty and colleagues about absolute mobility, guided by the question: Are you going to do better than your parents? When I was born in 1951, there was a 90 percent chance of doing better than your parents. If you were born in 1980, chances had fallen to 50 percent.

    ...

    The Democrats largely decided to abandon the working class and build a coalition of educated elites and minorities (including working-class minorities), and the Republicans basically followed business and religious organizations.

    And the health care crises make things worse. Health care costs were 5 percent of GDP back in 1970, and now they're 18 percent of GDP. Everything is heaping up on these people.

    ...

    The pillars that structured working-class life seem to have gone, or at least been eroded. And we see the fundamental force of that in the labor market. Decent wages and jobs help to bring respectability and meaning into life. We're not against some of the explanations that focus more on social norms. I think the birth control pill was very important, changing the norms about when and whether you could have children, whether you'd live together without being married. We write about how the pill was very socially divisive. For women who could get educated, it enormously enhanced opportunities to have relationship fulfilment and children as well as really good jobs. But for many working-class women for whom college was not an option, it did the opposite.

    But declining wages were an incredibly important part of the loss.

    ...

    But there's a much more negative scenario, too, which economic historian Robert Allen writes about. In the early nineteenth century in Britain, real wages stagnated for fifty years. Handloom weavers were being replaced by machines in factories in the Industrial Revolution, and wages could only rise when they were all gone, and the way of life and around handloom weaving had been destroyed.

    [c1ue note: the putting out system was a major cause of the above]

    ...

    A lot of evidence suggests that in recessions, mortality rates typically go down. The Great Depression was a very good time for life expectancy. But suicides do go up. It's not a simple story. They say in New York that what would normally be filling hospital beds would normally be filling with traffic and construction accidents, and there aren't any.

    [May 06, 2020] Richard Wolff US jobless totals are about to get WORSE than during the Great Depression. It's time for a RADICAL new approach

    May 06, 2020 | www.rt.com

    By Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, NYC. Wolff's weekly show, Economic Update, is syndicated on over 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV and his two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism both available at democracyatwork.info . We are entering an even Greater Depression than the 1930s, with hundreds of millions thrown out of work across the world. Capitalism is a broken, unstable system that is beyond repair – but there are alternatives. Ninety-one years after the start of the Great Depression (capitalism's worst downturn until now), we are entering an even Greater Depression. The 1930s were so awful that leaders of capitalist economies ever since have said they had learned how to avoid any future depressions. All promised to take the steps needed to avoid them. Those promises have all been broken. Capitalism remains intrinsically unstable. Read more Richard D. Wolff: Viruses like Covid-19 are a part of nature we must accept. But Capitalism-2020 must be destroyed Richard D. Wolff: Viruses like Covid-19 are a part of nature we must accept. But Capitalism-2020 must be destroyed

    That instability is revealed in its recurring cycles, recessions, downturns, depressions, crashes, etc. They have plagued capitalism wherever it has settled in as the prevailing economic system. Now that the whole world's prevailing economic system is capitalism, we suffer global instability. To date, capitalist instability has resisted every effort (monetary and fiscal policies, Keynesian economics, privatization, deregulation, etc.) to overcome or stop it. And now it is here yet again.

    Across the world, hundreds of millions of workers are unemployed. The tools, equipment, and raw materials in their factories, offices and stores sit idle, gathering dust and rust. The goods and services they might have produced do not now emerge to help us through these awful times. Perishable plants and animals that cannot now be processed are destroyed even as scarcities multiply.

    Workers lose their jobs if and when employers – mostly private capitalists – fire them. Employers hire workers when workers add more value to what the employer sells than the value of those workers' wages. Hiring then adds to profits. Employers fire workers when they add less than the value of the wages paid to them. Firing then reduces losses. Employers protect and reproduce their enterprises by maximizing profits and minimizing losses.

    Profit, not the full employment of workers nor of means of production, is "the bottom line" of capitalists, and thus of capitalism. That is how the system works. Capitalists are rewarded when their profits are high and punished when they are not.

    No-one wants unemployment. Workers want their jobs back; employers want the workers back producing profitable output; governments want the tax revenues that depend on workers and capitalist employers actively collaborating to produce.

    Yet the capitalist system has regularly produced economic downturns everywhere for three centuries – on average, every four to seven years. We have had three crashes so far this century: 'dot.com' in 2000, 'sub-prime mortgage' in 2008, and now 'corona' in 2020. That averages out at one crash just under every seven years – capitalism's 'norm'. Capitalists do not want unemployment, but they regularly generate it. It is a basic contradiction of their system.

    Read more ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus

    Today's massive US capitalist crisis – over 30 million unemployed and counting, a quarter of the workforce – shows dramatically that maximizing profit is not maximizing society's well-being. First and foremost, consider that the unemployed millions continue much of their consumption while ceasing much of their production. A portion of the wealth produced by those still employed must be redistributed to sustain the unemployed. Society thus suffers the usually intense struggles over the shares of profits versus wages that will be redistributed to the unemployed. These struggles, both public – over tax structures, for example – and private – for instance, over household budgets – can be profoundly destabilizing for societies.

    Redistribution struggles could be alleviated if, for example, public employment replaced private unemployment. If the state became the employer of last resort, those fired by private employers could immediately be rehired by the state to do useful social work.

    Then any government paying unemployment benefits would instead pay wages, obtain in return real goods and services, and distribute them to the public. The 1930s New Deal did exactly that for millions fired by private employers in the US. A similar alternative (not part of the New Deal) would be to organize the unemployed into worker co-ops performing socially useful work under contract with the government.

    This last alternative is the best, because it would develop a new worker co-op sector of the US economy. That would provide the US public with direct experience in comparing the capitalist with the worker co-op sector in terms of working conditions, product quality and price, civic responsibility, etc.

    On that concrete, empirical basis, societies could offer people a real, democratic choice as to what mix of capitalist and worker co-op sectors of the economy they prefer.

    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

    [Apr 28, 2020] The Meditations, by a Roman emperor who died in a plague named after him, has much to say about how to face fear, pain, anxiety and loss by Donald Robertson

    Notable quotes:
    "... First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what's "up to us" and what isn't. Modern Stoics tend to call this "the dichotomy of control" and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely ..."
    "... Marcus likes to ask himself, "What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?" That naturally leads to the question: "How do other people cope with similar challenges?" Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. They try to exemplify these virtues and bring them to bear on the challenges they face in daily life, during a crisis like the pandemic. They learn from how other people cope. Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models. ..."
    "... fear does us more harm than the things of which we're afraid. ..."
    "... Finally, during a pandemic, you may have to confront the risk, the possibility, of your own death. Since the day you were born, that's always been on the cards. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. Avoidance is the No1 most popular coping strategy in the world. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. ..."
    "... "All that comes to pass", he tells himself, even illness and death, should be as "familiar as the rose in spring and the fruit in autumn". Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past. ..."
    Apr 25, 2020 | www.theguardian.com
    T he Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. During the last 14 years of his life he faced one of the worst plagues in European history. The Antonine Plague, named after him, was probably caused by a strain of the smallpox virus. It's estimated to have killed up to 5 million people, possibly including Marcus himself.

    ss="rich-link tone-feature--item rich-link--pillar-arts">

    ="rich-link__link u-faux-block-link__overlay" aria-label="'What it means to be an American': Abraham Lincoln and a nation divided" href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/11/abraham-lincoln-verge-book-ted-widmer-interview">

    From AD166 to around AD180, repeated outbreaks occurred throughout the known world. Roman historians describe the legions being devastated, and entire towns and villages being depopulated and going to ruin. Rome itself was particularly badly affected, carts leaving the city each day piled high with dead bodies.

    In the middle of this plague, Marcus wrote a book, known as The Meditations, which records the moral and psychological advice he gave himself at this time. He frequently applies Stoic philosophy to the challenges of coping with pain, illness, anxiety and loss. It's no stretch of the imagination to view The Meditations as a manual for developing precisely the mental resilience skills required to cope with a pandemic.

    First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what's "up to us" and what isn't. Modern Stoics tend to call this "the dichotomy of control" and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely up to me, but my own thoughts and actions are – at least the voluntary ones. The pandemic isn't really under my control but the way I behave in response to it is.

    Much, if not all, of our thinking is also up to us. Hence, "It's not events that upset us but rather our opinions about them." More specifically, our judgment that something is really bad, awful or even catastrophic, causes our distress.

    This is one of the basic psychological principles of Stoicism. It's also the basic premise of modern cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the leading evidence-based form of psychotherapy. The pioneers of CBT, Albert Ellis and Aaron T Beck, both describe Stoicism as the philosophical inspiration for their approach. It's not the virus that makes us afraid but rather our opinions about it. Nor is it the inconsiderate actions of others, those ignoring social distancing recommendations, that make us angry so much as our opinions about them.

    Many people are struck, on reading The Meditations, by the fact that it opens with a chapter in which Marcus lists the qualities he most admires in other individuals, about 17 friends, members of his family and teachers. This is an extended example of one of the central practices of Stoicism.

    Marcus likes to ask himself, "What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?" That naturally leads to the question: "How do other people cope with similar challenges?" Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. They try to exemplify these virtues and bring them to bear on the challenges they face in daily life, during a crisis like the pandemic. They learn from how other people cope. Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models.

    With all of this in mind, it's easier to understand another common slogan of Stoicism: fear does us more harm than the things of which we're afraid. This applies to unhealthy emotions in general, which the Stoics term "passions" – from pathos , the source of our word "pathological". It's true, first of all, in a superficial sense. Even if you have a 99% chance, or more, of surviving the pandemic, worry and anxiety may be ruining your life and driving you crazy. In extreme cases some people may even take their own lives.

    In that respect, it's easy to see how fear can do us more harm than the things of which we're afraid because it can impinge on our physical health and quality of life. However, this saying also has a deeper meaning for Stoics. The virus can only harm your body – the worst it can do is kill you. However, fear penetrates into the moral core of our being. It can destroy your humanity if you let it. For the Stoics that's a fate worse than death.

    Finally, during a pandemic, you may have to confront the risk, the possibility, of your own death. Since the day you were born, that's always been on the cards. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. Avoidance is the No1 most popular coping strategy in the world. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. The Stoics believed that when we're confronted with our own mortality, and grasp its implications, that can change our perspective on life quite dramatically. Any one of us could die at any moment. Life doesn't go on forever.

    We're told this was what Marcus was thinking about on his deathbed. According to one historian, his circle of friends were distraught. Marcus calmly asked why they were weeping for him when, in fact, they should accept both sickness and death as inevitable, part of nature and the common lot of mankind. He returns to this theme many times throughout The Meditations.

    "All that comes to pass", he tells himself, even illness and death, should be as "familiar as the rose in spring and the fruit in autumn". Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past.

    Donald Robertson is cognitive behavioural therapist and the author of several books on philosophy and psychotherapy, including Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

    [Apr 22, 2020] Replacing Workers Has Many Costs by Cheryl Carleton

    Apr 22, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    It goes without saying that the consequences to workers are damaging to catastrophic. Normally, being unemployed for more than six months is a near-insurmountable barrier to getting hired again. Perhaps coronavirus will create a better new normal on this front, of companies taking a more understanding view of crisis-induced resume gaps.

    By Cheryl Carleton, Assistant Professor of Economics, Villanova University. Originally published at The Conversation

    The labor market is changing rapidly with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Many organizations are laying off almost all of their workers , while others are considering which workers to lay off, which to furlough and which to keep. Alternatively, some are expanding their labor forces .

    When the economy starts to open up again, employers will need to consider rehiring or replacing workers, or hiring workers with a different mix of skills. The cost of replacing an employee is high for employers, and being out of work is harmful for workers, who may be replaced with artificial intelligence or contractors and risk losing their skills.

    I'm an expert in labor economics , and my work with a colleague investigates the increase in people engaging in alternative work arrangements such as contract or gig work, along with the implications such jobs have for all workers' well-being .

    There is no denying that the U.S. was experiencing a tight labor market and a low rate of unemployment before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. For some fields, particularly health care and services deemed essential by local governments, the labor market continues to be tight.

    A sudden massive loss of demand for their goods and services is forcing companies to make quick decisions, and some employers may underestimate the cost to replace good employees. Knowing these costs may encourage them to keep more of their workers on the payroll.

    Where Are the Costs?

    There are costs involved in losing a worker and replacing them, such as completing paperwork when they leave, advertising the open position, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and training the new worker.

    Once a new worker is hired, others must also spend time training them, and it will take some time for the new worker to achieve the same level of productivity as the worker who left.

    Another cost is the loss in social capital . Social capital is the relationships between individuals at work that take time to build and add to the productivity of the firm.

    The Society for Human Resource Management found that departures cost about one-third of a worker's annual earnings .

    The Center for American Progress drilled in deeper. They found the costs of replacing workers who earn less than US$30,000 per year to be 16% of annual salary, or $3,200 for an individual earning $20,000 per year.

    For those earning $30,000 to $50,000 per year, it is estimated to cost about 20% of annual salary, or $8,000 for an individual earning $40,000. For highly educated executive positions, replacement costs are estimated to be 213% of annual salary – $213,000 for a CEO earning $100,000 per year.

    The much higher cost for replacing CEOs is partly due to the fact that they require higher levels of education, greater training, and firms may lose clients and institutional knowledge with such turnovers.

    Employee Alternatives

    This high cost of losing and replacing workers has important implications for organizations, consumers and workers, especially now with an estimated 15 million unemployed .

    For those workers where the costs to replace them are high, firms will try to accommodate them. Strategies may include maintaining pay, increasing benefits and retraining. These actions are also costly, so firms will weigh them against the cost of simply hiring new workers .

    This means businesses face high costs to replace workers in the future, and high costs to retain current workers, leading to higher costs for consumers who buy the firms' goods and services.

    While the above consequences might sound great for workers that organizations choose to keep, these are not the only ways in which firms can respond.

    The high cost of replacing workers, along with the increased uncertainty about the economy may cause businesses to use more automation and robots . Though such switches may entail a significant upfront cost, once they are made the firms then have more control over their production processes.

    Another alternative for firms is to hire fewer permanent employees and turn instead to contract workers . With contract workers, employers are not responsible for benefits, and they can more simply increase or decrease the number of workers as needed.

    While this may increase employment for some workers, it will decrease it for others and it has serious implications for the availability of health and pension benefits as well as unemployment benefits, as the current crisis has revealed.

    Businesses might also consider limiting the scope of what some workers do to limit the cost of replacing them. If the scope of a worker's job is limited, then fewer areas will be impacted by the individual leaving, and the costs to train a replacement will be lower. For workers, however, it means fewer opportunities to gain experience.

    For example, instead of training workers on several or all parts of the production process, the business may limit them to one specific aspect. It will then be less costly for the firm to replace them and the worker will have less experience to add to their resume. This also means less bargaining power for employees.

    Some Win, But Others Lose

    The high cost of losing and then hiring new workers along with increased restrictions on hiring nonresidents might mean higher wages and increased benefits for some workers.

    However, the high degree of uncertainty in the current labor market, along with the potential increase in contract workers and automation means that some workers will not realize these potential gains, and all of us as consumers will most likely end up paying higher prices for the goods and services we buy.

    [Jan 19, 2020] Death and Neglect in the 7th Fleet

    Jan 19, 2020 | www.propublica.org

    . A firsthand account from a U.S. Naval officer is eye opening (emphasis mine).

    He'd seen his ship, one of the Navy's fleet of 11 minesweepers, sidelined by repairs and maintenance for more than 20 months. Once the ship, based in Japan, returned to action, its crew was only able to conduct its most essential training -- how to identify and defuse underwater mines -- for fewer than 10 days the entire next year . During those training missions, the officer said, the crew found it hard to trust the ship's faulty navigation system: It ran on Windows 2000.

    Sonar which identifies dishwashers, crab traps and cars as possible mines, can hardly be considered a rebuilt military. The Navy's eleven minesweepers built more than 25 years ago, have had their decommissioning continually delayed because no replacement plan was implemented. I'll await the deeper understanding of 'deterrence' from b, even as I consider willingness to commit and brag about war crimes as beyond the point of no return.

    Posted by: psychedelicatessen | Jan 19 2020 9:14 utc | 98

    [Jan 19, 2020] The Quiet Crisis Deaths Caused By Alcoholism Have More Than Doubled

    Jan 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    The Quiet Crisis: Deaths Caused By Alcoholism Have More Than Doubled by Tyler Durden Sat, 01/18/2020 - 21:15 0 SHARES

    Opioid overdoses may have leveled off last year after soaring over the last ten, but Americans are still dying in droves from another, far more popular substance: alcohol.

    According to a series of studies cited by MarketWatch , the number of Americans drinking themselves to death has more than doubled over the last two decades, according to a sobering new report. That far outpaces the rate of population growth during the same period.

    Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism studied the cause of death for Americans aged 16 and up between 1999 and 2017. They determined that while 35,914 deaths were tied to alcohol in 1999, it doubled to 72,558 in 2017. The rate of deaths per 100,000 soared by 50.9% from 16.9 to 25.5.

    Over that 20-year period, the study determined that alcohol was involved in more than 1 million deaths. Half of these deaths resulted from liver disease, or a person drinking themselves to death, or a drug overdose that involved alcohol.

    For more context: In 2017 alone, 2.6% of roughly 2.8 million deaths in the US were alcohol-related.

    One doesn't need to be a chronic alcoholic to suffer from alcohol: Nine states - Maine, Indiana, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia - saw a "significant" increase in adults who binge drink, a dangerous activity that can lead to deadly car crashes and other fatal accidents, according to a report released Thursday by the CDC.

    And across the country, Americans who binge drink are consuming more drinks per person: That number spiked from 472 in 2011 to 529 in 2017, a 12% increase.

    Historically, men have been more predisposed to "deaths of despair" than women: But a study published in "Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research" found that the largest increase in recent years in these types of deaths occurred among non-hispanic white women.

    Public health crises tied to substance abuse have been plaguing American for decades. So, what is it about our contemporary society that's causing deaths to skyrocket?

    There's some food for thought.


    VodkaInKrakow , 1 hour ago link

    This happens in poor economies. Happened in Russia from 1992 on. Not every area is affected in The US. Just those with the functional equivalent of a 3rd world or developing world economy.

    Add in a Japanese-style lost-growth decade.

    Double-whammy for parts of The US.

    sekhars , 1 hour ago link

    about 2000 die each year in NYC due to alcohol directly. 4 to 5 times more than opioids and more than all the drugs related death combined.

    Ms No , 2 hours ago link

    I'm watching somebody kill themselves with alcohol as we speak. People have catered to her alcaholism for 15 years. Her original ezcuse was a family death. Her husband has died now. Alcaholics always have an excuse though. Alcaholism always seeks excuse.

    I am a callous bitch and just cut right to the point. "All of us have to decide to live or die. Life is a choice. If you decide to die, you will. I hope you havent already aubconsciously made that decision (can tell by dreams). You should search for a reason to live. Whatever you choose I will respect that."

    TerryThomas , 2 hours ago link

    Liver deaths? You mean Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease caused by sugary drinks laced with HFCS has made a spike in liver disease death, so naturally the lazy investigator blames it on alcohol.

    sirpo , 4 hours ago link

    adults who binge drink, a dangerous activity that can lead to deadly car crashes and other fatal accidents, according to a report released Thursday by the CDC.

    a dangerous activity CORRECTION STUPIDITY or CHEAP CHARLIE for not willing to take a UBER or YELLOW CAB home

    What are we talking here $50 at most

    Any idea what a DWI will set you back cause I know for a fact in stupidity and 1980's USD and it taught me

    Don't do the crime if you can't spend the dime for a taxi

    Erwin643 , 1 hour ago link

    Just thinning the herd, Baby!

    pods , 4 hours ago link

    Some people have a hard time living in crazy town.

    I mean, constant war, dollar value sinking, inflation sucking the life outta you, **** food and a fake society. All the while everywhere you look people are pretending they're killing it while up to their eyeballs in debt.

    I'm actually pretty happy these numbers are this low.

    PersonalResponsibility , 4 hours ago link

    Spot on pods. It's nice I have a dream and a good job while following the dream but the pressure is huge explained by what you wrote.

    Pull , 1 hour ago link

    Absolutely DEAD NUTS ON!

    [Jan 11, 2020] Atomization of workforce as a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
    "... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
    "... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
    "... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
    "... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
    Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
    Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

    George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

    A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

    But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

    And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

    That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

    Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I particularly liked this point:

    In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

    With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

    DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

    So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

    [Jan 10, 2020] America's Hamster Wheel of 'Career Advancement' by Casey Chalk

    Notable quotes:
    "... Getting Work Right: Labor and Leisure in a Fragmented World ..."
    "... The problem is further compounded by the fact that much of the labor Americans perform isn't actually good ..."
    Jan 09, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    We're told that getting ahead at work and reorienting our lives around our jobs will make us happy. So why hasn't it? Many of those who work in the corporate world are constantly peppered with questions about their " career progression ." The Internet is saturated with articles providing tips and tricks on how to develop a never-fail game plan for professional development. Millions of Americans are engaged in a never-ending cycle of résumé-padding that mimics the accumulation of Boy Scout merit badges or A's on report cards except we never seem to get our Eagle Scout certificates or academic diplomas. We're told to just keep going until we run out of gas or reach retirement, at which point we fade into the peripheral oblivion of retirement communities, morning tee-times, and long midweek lunches at beach restaurants.

    The idealistic Chris McCandless in Jon Krakauer's bestselling book Into the Wild defiantly declares, "I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don't want one." Anyone who has spent enough time in the career hamster wheel can relate to this sentiment. Is 21st-century careerism -- with its promotion cycles, yearly feedback, and little wooden plaques commemorating our accomplishments -- really the summit of human existence, the paramount paradigm of human flourishing?

    Michael J. Noughton, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, and board chair for Reel Precision Manufacturing, doesn't think so. In his Getting Work Right: Labor and Leisure in a Fragmented World , Noughton provides a sobering statistic: approximately two thirds of employees in the United States are "either indifferent or hostile to their work." That's not just an indicator of professional dissatisfaction; it's economically disastrous. The same survey estimates that employee disengagement is costing the U.S. economy "somewhere between 450-550 billion dollars annually."

    The origin of this problem, says Naughton, is an error in how Americans conceive of work and leisure. We seem to err in one of two ways. One is to label our work as strictly a job, a nine-to-five that pays the bills. In this paradigm, leisure is an amusement, an escape from the drudgery of boring, purposeless labor. The other way is that we label our work as a career that provides the essential fulfillment in our lives. Through this lens, leisure is a utility, simply another means to serve our work. Outside of work, we exercise to maintain our health in order to work harder and longer. We read books that help maximize our utility at work and get ahead of our competitors. We "continue our education" largely to further our careers.

    Whichever error we fall into, we inevitably end up dissatisfied. The more we view work as a painful, boring chore, the less effective we are at it, and the more complacent and discouraged. Our leisure activities, in turn, no matter how distracting, only compound our sadness, because no amount of games can ever satisfy our souls. Or, if we see our meaning in our work and leisure as only another means of increasing productivity, we inevitably burn out, wondering, perhaps too late in life, what exactly we were working for . As Augustine of Hippo noted, our hearts are restless for God. More recently, C.S. Lewis noted that we yearn to be fulfilled by something that nothing in this world can satisfy. We need both our work and our leisure to be oriented to the transcendent in order to give our lives meaning and purpose.

    The problem is further compounded by the fact that much of the labor Americans perform isn't actually good . There are "bad goods" that are detrimental to society and human flourishing. Naughton suggests some examples: violent video games, pornography, adultery dating sites, cigarettes, high-octane alcohol, abortifacients, gambling, usury, certain types of weapons, cheat sheet websites, "gentlemen's clubs," and so on. Though not as clear-cut as the above, one might also add working for the kinds of businesses that contribute to the impoverishment or destruction of our communities, as Tucker Carlson has recently argued .

    Why does this matter for professional satisfaction? Because if our work doesn't offer goods and services that contribute to our communities and the common good -- and especially if we are unable to perceive how our labor plays into that common good -- then it will fundamentally undermine our happiness. We will perceive our work primarily in a utilitarian sense, shrugging our shoulders and saying, "it's just a paycheck," ignoring or disregarding the fact that as rational animals we need to feel like our efforts matter.

    Economic liberalism -- at least in its purest free-market expression -- is based on a paradigm with nominalist and utilitarian origins that promote "freedom of indifference." In rudimentary terms, this means that we need not be interested in the moral quality of our economic output. If we produce goods that satisfy people's wants, increasing their "utils," as my Econ 101 professor used to say, then we are achieving business success. In this paradigm, we desire an economy that maximizes access to free choice regardless of the content of that choice, because the more choices we have, the more we can maximize our utils, or sensory satisfaction.

    The freedom of indifference paradigm is in contrast to a more ancient understanding of economic and civic engagement: a freedom for excellence. In this worldview, "we are made for something," and participation in public acts of virtue is essential both to our own well-being and that of our society. By creating goods and services that objectively benefit others and contributing to an order beyond the maximization of profit, we bless both ourselves and the polis . Alternatively, goods that increase "utils" but undermine the common good are rejected.

    Returning to Naughton's distinction between work and leisure, we need to perceive the latter not as an escape from work or a means of enhancing our work, but as a true time of rest. This means uniting ourselves with the transcendent reality from which we originate and to which we will return, through prayer, meditation, and worship. By practicing this kind of true leisure, well treated in a book by Josef Pieper , we find ourselves refreshed, and discover renewed motivation and inspiration to contribute to the common good.

    Americans are increasingly aware of the problems with Wall Street conservatism and globalist economics. We perceive that our post-Cold War policies are hurting our nation. Naughton's treatise on work and leisure offers the beginnings of a game plan for what might replace them.

    Casey Chalk covers religion and other issues for The American Conservative and is a senior writer for Crisis Magazine. He has degrees in history and teaching from the University of Virginia, and a masters in theology from Christendom College.

    [Jan 02, 2020] The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It s Usefulness Happiness as an achievable goal is an illusion, but that doesn t mean happiness itself is not attainable by Darius Foroux

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ..."
    "... Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer. ..."
    Aug 22, 2019 | getpocket.com

    For the longest time, I believed that there's only one purpose of life: And that is to be happy. Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It's to achieve happiness in some way. And I'm not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

    That's why we collectively buy shit we don't need, go to bed with people we don't love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don't like.

    Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don't care what the exact reason is. I'm not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

    We are who are.

    Let's just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don't live fulfilling lives. I don't necessarily care about the why .

    I care more about how we can change.

    Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

    But at the end of the day, you're lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: "What's next in this endless pursuit of happiness?"

    Well, I can tell you what's next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

    It's all a façade. A hoax. A story that's been made up.

    Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

    "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

    I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that's kind of what the quote says as well.

    But here's the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

    Happiness can't be a goal in itself. Therefore, it's not something that's achievable. I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness. When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I'll give it a try here. Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

    Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You're not creating anything. You're just consuming or doing something. And that's great.

    Don't get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it's not what gives meaning to life.

    What really makes me happy is when I'm useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

    For the longest time I foud it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots connected.

    Emerson says:

    "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

    And I didn't get that before I became more conscious of what I'm doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it's actually really simple.

    It comes down to this: What are you DOING that's making a difference?

    Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don't have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than you were born.

    If you don't know how, here are some ideas.

    That's just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

    You see? It's not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

    The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there's zero evidence that I ever existed.

    Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

    It's a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

    "Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad."

    You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

    Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat . I've been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show , he's doing something.

    He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says "Do More."

    Most people would say, "why would you work more?" And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

    A different mindset.

    Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

    And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

    Don't take it too seriously. Don't overthink it. Just DO something that's useful. Anything.

    Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.

    More from Darius Foroux

    This article was originally published on October 3, 2016, by Darius Foroux, and is republished here with permission. Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

    Join his newsletter.


    [Jan 02, 2020] Since 2008, we've been witnessing a "reverse stagflation", i.e. low unemployment with low wages (a phenomenon which is impossible according to modern bourgeois economic theory).

    Jan 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    vk , Dec 31 2019 18:38 utc | 32

    Here's another evidence capitalism has reached a stagnant level of both technological progress and birth rates:

    Over-65s to account for over half of employment growth in next 10 years

    Workers aged 65 and older will be responsible for more than half of all UK employment growth over the next 10 years and almost two-thirds of employment growth by 2060, according to new figures.

    Since 2008, we've been witnessing a "reverse stagflation", i.e. low unemployment with low wages (a phenomenon which is impossible according to modern bourgeois economic theory).

    The reason for this is what I mentioned earlier: no more technological progress and negative birth rates. The USA is still benefitting from mass immigration from Central America, but this demographic bonus won't last for much: now even the Third World countries are barely above the minimum 2 children per woman (including most of Latin American nations). Only a bunch of African nations (which have high mortality rates either way, so it doesn't matter) and India still have the "demographic bonus" in a level such as to be capitalistically viable.

    This problem is not new in cotemporary history. It happened once: in the USSR.

    In the 1970s, only 6% of the Soviet population was necessary to produce everything the USSR needed, so the only solution available was to expand the economy extensively, i.e. by reproducing the same infrastructure more times over.

    The problem with that is that the USSR had reached its limits demographically. Its population growth entered into stagnant to negative territory. Decades passed until the point where it didn't even matter if they came up with a revolutionary technology, since there were simply not enough children to teach and train to such new tech. Add to that the pressure from the Cold War (which drained its R&D to the military sector), and it begun to wither away.

    Now we can predict the same thing is happening to capitalism. Contrary to the USSR, the capitalist nations had the advantage of having available the demographic bonuses of the Third World - specially China - to maintain their dynamism even when some countries like Japan and Germany reached negative birth rates. Now China's demographic bonus is over and also much of Latin America. To make things even worse for the capitalists, China managed to scape the "middle income trap" and go to the route of becoming a superpower, thus adding to the demographic strains of the capitalist center.

    The solution, it seems, is to do pension reforms and force the old people back to work. France is going to destroy its pension system; Brazil already did that; the USA was a pioneer in forcing its old population to work to the death; Italy destroyed its pension system after 2008; the UK is preparing the terrain now that its social-democracy is definitely destroyed.

    Patroklos , Jan 1 2020 2:49 utc | 65

    Posted by: vk | Dec 31 2019 18:38 utc | 32

    As always I find your application of Marxist critique succinct and correct. This coming decade, with its unravelling of the financialization phase of our current phase of capitalism (i.e the US consolidation phase following British imperialism, c.1914-2020s), will be its terminal decade. The signal that we had entered the financialization phase were the shocks of 1970-73, and the replacement of industrial manufacture (i.e. money>commodity>money+x, or M-C-M') with finance/speculation (i.e. money>money+x, M-M') has unfolded more or less according to Marx's analysis in Capital vol.3. This is as much a crisis of value creation as anything else. In Australia (where I am) the process is particularly transparent: we have almost no manufacturing sector left and so we exchange labour-value created in China for mineral resources and engage in the ponzi-scheme of banking and property speculation, which produces no value whatsoever. Either way the M-C-M' phase in Australia has vanished and government dedicates itself to full-spectrum protection of the finance economy and mining. All the while a veneer of productivity is created by immigration, which destroys cities (because there's no infrastructure to accomodate them), inflates prices and creates the illusion of 'growth'. This is propped up by a media who perpetuate xenophobia by creating panic about refugees (5%) while saying zip about the fact that Australia only has economic growth at all because we bring in 250K new consumers every year. This collapsing financialization phase will only accelerate this decade and we will wake to find we don't make anything and have crumbling 1980s-era infrastructure: Australia will suffer badly as the phase plays out, not least because of a colonial-settler looting mentality around the 'economy' that persists at every level of government.

    What I like about the point you're making in your post (#32) is the wider expansive question of productivity -- or, how do we continue to produce value? It is often overlooked that Marx sought to liberate human beings from expropriative labour of every kind (which occurred as much under the Soviets as it does today); this means that capital's aorta connecting labour to value via money must be severed (rather than the endless attempts to reform capitalism to make it 'fairer' etc, a sell-out for which Gramsci savaged the union movement). The relation between work and value must be critiqued relentlessly. To salvage any kind of optimism about the future we need to invest all our intellectual energy in this critique and find a radically new way of construing the link between time, labour and value that does not include social domination.

    In the meantime the scenario to which you have drawn our attention -- the parasitic vampirism now attacking the elderly and the retired -- is an inevitable consequence of our particular moment in late capitalism, hurtling at speed toward a social catastrophe of debt, wealth inequality, neo-feudalism and biopolitical police state, all characterized by an image of 70-year-olds trudging to work in an agony of physical suffering and mental meaninglessness which will end in a forgotten grave.

    [Jan 01, 2020] FDA Failed to Police Opioids Makers, Thus Fueling Opioids Crisis

    Jan 01, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    FDA Failed to Police Opioids Makers, Thus Fueling Opioids Crisis Posted on January 1, 2020 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

    I had hoped to welcome 2020 with a optimistic post.

    Alas, the current news cycle has thrown up little cause for optimism.

    Instead, what has caught my eye today: 2019 closes with release of a new study showing the FDA's failure to police opioids manufacturers fueled the opioids crisis.

    This is yet another example of a familiar theme: inadequate regulation kills people: e.g. think Boeing. Or, on a longer term, less immediate scale, consider the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency, in so many realms, including the failure to curb emissions so as to slow the pace of climate change.

    In the opioids case, we're talking about thousands and thousands of people.

    On Monday, Jama Internal Medicine published research concerning the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) program to reduce opioids abuse. The FDA launched its risk evaluation and mitigation strategy – REMS – in 2012. Researchers examined nearly 10,000 documents, released in response to a Freedom of Information ACT (FOA) request, to generate the conclusions published by JAMA.

    As the Gray Lady tells the story in As Tens of Thousands Died, F.D.A. Failed to Police Opioids :

    In 2011, the F.D.A. began asking the makers of OxyContin and other addictive long-acting opioids to pay for safety training for more than half the physicians prescribing the drugs, and to track the effectiveness of the training and other measures in reducing addiction, overdoses and deaths.

    But the F.D.A. was never able to determine whether the program worked, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found in a new review, because the manufacturers did not gather the right kind of data. Although the agency's approval of OxyContin in 1995 has long come under fire, its efforts to ensure the safe use of opioids since then have not been scrutinized nearly as much.

    The documents show that even when deficiencies in these efforts became obvious through the F.D.A.'s own review process, the agency never insisted on improvements to the program, [called a REMS]. . .

    The FDA's regulatory failure had serious public health consequences, according to critics of US opioids policy, as reported by the NYT:

    Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis, said the safety program was a missed opportunity. He is a leader of a group of physicians who had encouraged the F.D.A. to adopt stronger controls, and a frequent critic of the government's response to the epidemic.

    Dr. Kolodny, who was not involved in the study, called the program "a really good example of the way F.D.A. has failed to regulate opioid manufacturers. If F.D.A. had really been doing its job properly, I don't believe we'd have an opioid crisis today."

    Now, as readers frequently emphasize in comments: pain management is a considerable problem – one I am all too well aware of, as I watched my father succumb to cancer. He ultimately passed away at my parents' home.

    That being said, as CNN tells the story in The FDA can't prove its opioid strategy actually worked, study says :

    Although these drugs "can be clinically useful among appropriately selected patients, they have also been widely oversupplied, are commonly used nonmedically, and account for a disproportionate number of fatal overdoses," the authors write.

    The FDA was unable, more than 5 years after it had instituted its study of the opioids program's effectiveness, to determine whether it had met its objectives, and this may have been because prior assessments were not objective, according to CNN:

    Prior analyses had largely been funded by drug companies, and a 2016 FDA advisory committee "noted methodological concerns regarding these studies," according to the authors. An inspector general report also concluded in 2013 that the agency "lacks comprehensive data to determine whether risk evaluation and mitigation strategies improve drug safety."

    In addition to failing to evaluate the effective of the limited steps it had taken, the FDA neglected to take more aggressive steps that were within the ambit of its regulatory authority. According to CNN:

    "FDA has tools that could mitigate opioid risks more effectively if the agency would be more assertive in using its power to control opioid prescribing, manufacturing, and distribution," said retired FDA senior executive William K. Hubbard in an editorial that accompanied the study. "Instead of bold, effective action, the FDA has implemented the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy programs that do not even meet the limited criteria set out by the FDA."

    One measure the FDA could have taken, according to Hubbard: putting restrictions on opioid distribution.

    "Restricting opioid distribution would be a major decision for the FDA, but it is also likely to be the most effective policy for reducing the harm of opioids," said Hubbard, who spent more than three decades at the agency and oversaw initiatives in areas such as regulation, policy and economic evaluation.

    The Trump administration has made cleaning up the opioids crisis – which it inherited – a policy priority. To little seeming effect so far. although to be fair, this is not a simple problem to solve. And litigation to apportion various costs of the damages various prescription drugmakers, distributors, and doctors caused it far from over – despite some settlements, and judgements (see Federal Prosecutors Initiate Criminal Probe of Six Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors ; Four Companies Settle Just Before Bellwether Opioids Trial Was to Begin Today in Ohio ; Purdue Files for Bankruptcy, Agrees to Settle Some Pending Opioids Litigation: Sacklers on Hook for Billions? and Judge Issues $572 Million Verdict Against J & J in Oklahoma Opioids Trial: Settlements to Follow? )

    Perhaps the Johns Hopkins study will spark moves to reform the broken FDA, so that it can once again serve as an effective regulator. This could perhaps be something we can look forward to achieving in 2020 (although I won't hold my breath).

    Or, perhaps if enacting comprehensive reform is too overwhelming, especially with a divided government, as a starting point: can we agree to stop allowing self-interested industries to finance studies meant to assess the effectiveness of programs to regulate that very same industry? Please?

    This is a concern in so many areas, with such self-interested considerations shaping not only regulation, but distorting academic research (see Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Ruling that George Mason University Foundation Is Not Subject to State FOIA Statute, Leaving Koch Funding Details Undisclosed ).

    What madness!

    [Jan 01, 2020] Gig workers getting screwed

    Jan 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    c1ue , Dec 29 2019 16:19 utc | 3

    Gig workers getting screwed. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it - the modern gig economy is nothing more than the "putting out" system redux from the early days of the industrial revolution.
    And much like the looms and thread from the putting out system, the owners control pricing for gig workers as well as cut off any possibility of upward advancement.
    Vice article on gig workers
    Note this isn't one company - it is all of them. When Uber first started, they were paying over $1/mile for drivers - it is now down to $0.60. Equally, the various other gig startups pay more to lure workers in, then cut when they need/want to.
    When she initially joined Instacart a year ago, Dorton says she could earn up to $800 during a 40 hour workweek picking up groceries at Costco and Sam's Club and dropping them off at customers' homes. But in recent months, her weekly income has fallen to $400 for 60 hours of grocery shopping. "I made more delivering pizza and waiting tables," Dorton told Motherboard.

    Yes, but with the delivery services contributing to the everlasting restaurant crunch, there are fewer jobs delivering pizza and waiting tables. That's a feature.

    [Dec 30, 2019] Economic Possibilities for Ourselves by Robert Skidelsky

    Notable quotes:
    "... In Praise of Idleness ..."
    "... Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained ..."
    "... Project Syndicate ..."
    "... Rise of the Robots ..."
    "... ad infinitum ..."
    Dec 30, 2019 | robertskidelsky.com

    The most depressing feature of the current explosion in robot-apocalypse literature is that it rarely transcends the world of work. Almost every day, news articles appear detailing some new round of layoffs. In the broader debate, there are apparently only two camps: those who believe that automation will usher in a world of enriched jobs for all, and those who fear it will make most of the workforce redundant.

    This bifurcation reflects the fact that "working for a living" has been the main occupation of humankind throughout history. The thought of a cessation of work fills people with dread, for which the only antidote seems to be the promise of better work. Few have been willing to take the cheerful view of Bertrand Russell's provocative 1932 essay In Praise of Idleness . Why is it so difficult for people to accept that the end of necessary labor could mean barely imaginable opportunities to live, in John Maynard Keynes's words, "wisely, agreeably, and well"?

    The fear of labor-saving technology dates back to the start of the Industrial Revolution, but two factors in our own time have heightened it. The first is that the new generation of machines seems poised to replace not only human muscles but also human brains. Owing to advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, we are said to be entering an era of thinking robots; and those robots will soon be able to think even better than we do. The worry is that teaching machines to perform most of the tasks previously carried out by humans will make most human labor redundant. In that scenario, what will humans do?

    The other fear factor is the increasing precariousness of wage labor – though this concern is seemingly belied by headline statistics suggesting that unemployment is at a historic low. The problem is that an economy at "full employment" now contains a large penumbra of what economist Guy Standing calls the "precariat": under-employed people who work less and for lower pay than they would like. A growing number of workers, seeming to lack any kind of job (and pay) security, are thus forced to work well below their ability.

    It is natural that one would interpret the onset of precariousness as the first stage in a broader trend toward workforce redundancy, especially if one pays attention to alarmist predictions of the next category of "jobs at risk." But this conclusion is premature. The penetration of robotics into the world of work has not yet been sufficient to explain the rise of the precariat. So far, "cost cutting" in the West has largely taken the form of offshoring to the East, where labor is cheaper, rather than replacing humans with machines. But "onshoring" work that was previously offshored will offer cold comfort to workers if machines get most of the jobs.

    ROBO-RAPTURE

    According to the first view – let us call it "job enrichment" – technology will eventually create more, better human jobs than it destroys, as has always been the case in the past. Simple, mundane tasks may increasingly be automated, but human labor will then be freed up for more "interesting" and "creative" cognitive work.

    In late 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) published Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained , which claimed that as much as 50% of working hours in the global economy could theoretically be automated; the authors suggested, however, that not more than 30% actually would be. Further, they estimated that less than 5% of occupations could be fully automated; but that in 60% of occupations, at least 30% of the required tasks could be.

    In line with the usual mainstream assessment, MGI believes that while there will be no net loss of jobs in the long run, the "transition may include a period of higher unemployment and wage adjustments." It all depends, the authors say, on the rate at which displaced workers are re-employed: a low re-employment rate will lead to a higher medium-term unemployment rate, and vice versa .

    MGI's proposal for massive investment in education to lower the unemployment cost of the transition is also conventional. The faster the labor reabsorption, the higher the wage growth. Lower re-employment levels will cause wages to fall, with a greater share of the gains from automation accruing to capital, not labor. But the authors hasten to add:

    "Even if the particulars of historical experience turn out to differ from conditions today, one lesson seems pertinent: although economies adjust to technological shocks, the transition period is measured in decades, not years, and the rising prosperity may not be shared by all."

    This assessment is typical, and it has led many to call on governments to invest heavily in so-called "upskilling" programs. In a commentary for Project Syndicate , Zia Qureshi of the Brookings Institution argues that, "with smart, forward-looking policies, we can ensure that the future of work is a better job." In this view, automation is simply the continuation of the move toward more, higher-quality jobs that has characterized capitalist growth since the Industrial Revolution.

    History is on the optimists' side. Mechanization has been the durable engine of productivity and wage growth as well as reductions in working hours, albeit usually with a considerable lag. Although the Roberts loom cost hundreds of thousands of handloom weavers their jobs in the nineteenth century, the broader wave of new industrial technologies enabled a much larger population to be maintained at a higher standard of living.

    ROBO-REDUNDANCY

    But, according to the second view – call it "job destruction" – this time is different. The programming of machines to perform ever more complex tasks with ever-increasing speed, accuracy, precision, and reliability will result in mass unemployment. In Rise of the Robots , author and entrepreneur Martin Ford addresses the techno-optimists head-on. "There is a widely held belief – based on historical evidence stretching back at least as far as the industrial revolution – that while technology may certainly destroy jobs, businesses, and even entire industries, it will also create entirely new occupations often in areas that we can't yet imagine." The problem, Ford argues, is that information technology has now reached the point where it can be considered a true utility, much like electricity.

    It stands to reason that the successful new industries that will emerge in the years ahead will have taken full advantage of this powerful new utility and the distributed machine intelligence that accompanies it. That means they will rarely – if ever – be highly labor-intensive. The threat is that as creative destruction unfolds, the "destruction" will fall primarily on labor-intensive businesses in traditional areas like retail and food preparation, whereas the "creation" will generate new industries that simply don't employ many people.

    On this view, the economy is heading for a tipping point where job creation will begin to fall consistently short of what is required to employ the workforce fully. We will soon reach the stage where the machine-driven destruction of existing human jobs far outpaces the creation of new human jobs, resulting in inexorably rising mass "technological unemployment."

    THE UPSKILLING MIRAGE

    Optimists' response to such concerns is that the workforce simply needs to be trained or upskilled in order to "race with the machines." Typical of this outlook is the following headline on a commentary published by the World Economic Forum: "How new technologies can create huge numbers of meaningful jobs." According to the author, concerns about "the looming devastation that self-driving technology will have on the 3.5 million truck drivers in the US" are "misdirected." Augmented-reality technology, we are told, can create loads of new jobs by enabling people to work from home. All that will be needed is training of the kind offered by "Upskill, an augmented reality company in the manufacturing and field services sectors," which "uses wearable technologies to provide step-by-step instructions to industrial workers."

    The author, himself the co-founder of an augmented-reality company, goes on to argue that, "With the pace of technological progress only accelerating and with increasing specialization becoming the norm in every industry, reducing the time necessary to retrain workers is pivotal to maintaining the competitiveness of industrialized economies." There is no mention of the wages that will be offered to these "upskilled" workers in their "meaningful" new jobs. We are simply told that they will be relocated to "lower cost areas more in need of job creation." Only at the very end of the commentary does the author acknowledge that, in fact, "Technology is a force that has the potential to eliminate entire industries through robotics and automation, and for that we should be concerned."

    The retraining argument should give us pause. In portraying upskilling as the solution to the labor displacement caused by new technologies, optimists rarely admit that if predictions about "thinking robots" turn out to be anywhere near true, workers would need to be trained in technical skills to an extent that is unprecedented in human history.

    Moreover, the time it takes to upgrade the skills of the workforce will inevitably exceed the time it takes to automate the economy. This will be true even if claims about an imminent deluge of automation are greatly exaggerated. In the interval, there will be under- and unemployment. In fact, this has already been happening. Although automation is not yet bearing down on workers to the extent that has been predicted, it has nonetheless pushed more of them into less-skilled jobs; and its mere possibility may be exerting downward pressure on wages. There are already signs of the new class structure envisioned by the pessimists: "lovely jobs at the top, lousy jobs at the bottom."

    A more fundamental question is what we mean by upskilling, and what its consequences might be. Often, heavy emphasis is placed on the importance of better technological education at all levels of society, as if all people will need to succeed in the future is to be taught how to write and understand computer code.

    As the technology writer James Bridle has shown , this line of argument has a number of limitations. While encouraging people to take up computer programming might be a good start, such training offers only a functional understanding of technological systems. It does not equip people to ask higher-level questions along the lines of, "Where did these systems come from, who designed them and what for, and which of these intentions still lurk within them today?" Bridle also points out that arguments for technological education and upskilling are usually offered in "nakedly pro-market terms," following a simple equation: "the information economy needs more programmers, and young people need jobs in the future."

    THE MISSING DIMENSION

    More to the point, the upskilling discourse totally ignores the possibility that automation could also allow people simply to work less. The reason for this neglect is twofold: it is commonly assumed that human wants are insatiable, and that we will thus work ad infinitum to satisfy them; and it is simply taken for granted that work is the primary source of meaning in human lives. 1

    Historically, neither of these claims holds true. The consumption race is a rather recent phenomenon, dating no earlier than the late nineteenth century. And the possibility that we might one day liberate ourselves from the "curse of work" has fascinated thinkers from Aristotle to Russell. Many visions of Utopia betray a longing for leisure and liberation from toil. Even today, surveys show that people in most developed countries would prefer to work less, even in the workaholic United States, and might even accept less pay if it meant logging fewer hours on the clock.

    The deeply economistic nature of the current debate excludes the possibility of a life beyond work . Yet if we want to meet the challenges of the future, it is not enough to know how to code, analyze data, and invent algorithms. We need to start thinking seriously and at a systemic level about the operational logic of consumer capitalism and the possibility of de-growth.

    In this process, we must abandon the false dichotomy between "jobs" and "idleness." Full employment need not mean full-time employment, and leisure time need not be spent idly. (Education can play an important role in ensuring that it is not.) Above all, wealth and income will need to be distributed in such a way that machine-enabled productivity gains do not accrue disproportionately to a small minority of owners, managers, and technicians.

    [Dec 22, 2019] After the Eviction Notice

    Dec 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    smoker , December 21, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Re: After the Eviction Notice

    So disturbing, and this problem is only going to increase in the US as people realize they can no longer afford to rent anywhere, and there are millions of Boomers who rent, with no available affordable housing to move into, and no livable wage jobs (despite education) for those who would gladly continue working – due to an as yet to be headlined age discrimination which started during the dot.com boom Clinton/Gore ushered in, and exploded during Obama's reign. Sickeningly, in Silicon Valley, 35 year olds feel over the hill.

    None of the candidates want to even address this rental housing issue (for all ages) with Federal Tax Policy even? Renters are the only ones who invest major sums of money into housing, with no equity whatsoever?

    newcatty , December 21, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Yes, it is the canary growing fainter and struggling for life in the dark gloom of the coal mine. The most basic human requirement for survival is shelter, after food and water. Clothing is also in that category. The poor and homeless ( absolutely including the working poor) at first , when attention started to be given to the " national crisis and (in some people's minds) and national disgrace", was just, you know, the usual suspects. From hobos ( whom many saw as romanticized free spirits or stubborn old guys) to including the abandoned mentally ill, drug addicts, criminals, people with "something to hide", teens on the run from neglect or abuse to? The numbers of people who are essentially w/o shelter is not going to remain out of sight, out of mind. Now, we know that mothers, fathers, grandparents, children and grandchildren are homeless. And, if they are not, many are living in what , once upon a time, poor or desolate housing. Many are living in ,what was once called a boarding house, in a room with their kids. They supposedly have access to "common areas". This is not people who often even have more than a casual aquaintanceship with their "landlords". This is not the "Golden Girls" living the high life in sunny Florida with the owner, who is an adorable rascal. No doubt, some examples of older, single women housing together is a good fit for some.

    Most older people on limited incomes don't live in a golden fantasy world. Besides young people not being able to afford outrageous rents, now include the older people. Couple this with the "reports" that there are people hungry in this country. Age has become no restrictor on this tragic fact. This can not stand. Trickle down the ,as was mentioned , breads and circuses in all of their guises. Cheap, junk fast food will become not so cheap when in dire poverty. Housing is just cold, hearted cash for the owners. Who gets to watch the circuses and gladiators ? Got cable tv( even if you personally choose not to not the point)? Afford the cost of any pro sports tickets ? Attend any cultural events that include paying for tickets? Yep, am not going to include the all American past time of watching a game at the local pub. Many people can not afford the luxury of the food and drinks OK, it's time to stop now with my pov. I am fortunate to not be in the above circumstances. Too many are, though.

    smoker , December 21, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Your point of view seems valid to me.

    God knows what's being planned behind closed doors for this increasing tragedy, the reality is too clear for Congress not to be aware of it. Meanwhile, I'm fully sure that amoral predators who are investing in those areas they're betting the homeless will be forced to dwell and die in, or choose to be euthanized at.

    Meanwhile, Congress does absolutely nothing about putting a stop to obscenely biased, corrupted and deadly in its blatant discrimination AI, which is increasingly decimating millions of jobs, and virtually tagging people with social scores they'll never get out from under, no matter how false. This, ever since Obama glibly announced there would be many jobs lost, and some pain, due to technology The Technocracy . A Bipartisan, Horrid Congress accepted it as a necessary reality.

    The Rev Kev , December 21, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    The only thing missing was a police officer going in after with a drawn gun. When millions of people were being kicked out of their homes about a decade a go, I saw a photo that won an award at the time. It showed a cop, with pistol drawn, going into a house that had the family kicked out from it. Surrounding him was all the left overs from a family's life and it was very sad.

    smoker , December 21, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    It is heart rending. Even watching renters who leave before being evicted is heart rending, they're forced to throw away many belongings, like perfectly good mattresses and basic necessities. Lived at an apartment complex turned into ratty ass condos for mostly foreign property 'flippers' who continued renting them out, then 'flipping' them. The despair, fear, and loss during a huge job downturn was horrid to witness, as many had lived there over ten years. I was lucky to be on my feet somewhat at the time, no longer.

    Every fricking sign, particularly in Silicon Valley, that advertises Apartment Homes ™ should be torn down and destroyed. The average US renters have always been treated as second class leechers, I've witnessed it my entire adult life, now they're being treated even worse.

    Thanks Clinton/Gore, Obomber/Biden, Nanny Pelosi , et al; and we thought that was only the mark of Republicans busy at work.

    smoker , December 21, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Thinking on this subject even more, it occurs to me why the powers that be are so invested in pitting each generation against the other. An empowered US renters' 'lobby' could be enormous. It would cross all age – along with race, gender, religion, and geographic – spectrums. Renters, along with the homeless are increasing in vast numbers of all ages. The last thing the powers that be would want, is for those vast millions to stick together against them, and age is the easiest barrier for the powers that be to keep renters separated by.

    [Dec 07, 2019] Fake goverment statistics as interpreted by Dean baker

    Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

    anne , December 06, 2019 at 08:34 AM

    http://cepr.net/data-bytes/jobs-bytes/jobs-2019-12
    December 6, 2019

    Economy Adds 266,000 Jobs in November, Unemployment Edges Down to 3.5 Percent
    By Dean Baker

    The share of women in payroll employment is likely to exceed 50 percent in December.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 266,000 jobs in November. While this figure is inflated by the return of roughly 50,000 striking GM autoworkers, upward revisions to the prior two months' data brought the three-month average to a solid 205,000. The unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent, returning to a 50-year low.

    The job growth was widely spread across industries. Manufacturing added 54,000 jobs, somewhat more than the number of returning strikers. It appears that the sector may again be on a modest growth path, with the number of jobs up 13,000 from its level three months ago and 76,000 from its year-ago level. Food manufacturing is providing the bulk of these gains, adding 19,300 jobs in the last three months and 25,900 over the last year.

    Health care added 45,200 jobs in November after adding just 11,900 in October. Job growth for the two months together falls slightly below the 34,500 average for the last year. Restaurants added 25,300 jobs, roughly its average for the last year. The high-paying professional and technical services sector added 30,600 jobs, after three months of weak growth.

    Construction employment remains weak, with the sector adding just 1,000 jobs in November. Job growth has averaged just 5,600 a month since June. Support activities for mining, which has been losing jobs since February, lost another 5,700 jobs in November. Employment in that sector is now down 23,700 (6.6 percent) over the last year. Retail added 2,000 jobs for the month, but employment is still down 31,400 (0.2 percent) over the last year.

    In spite of the strong job growth and low unemployment rate, there continues to be no evidence of accelerating wage growth. The average hourly wage increased 3.1 percent over the last year. The annual rate of growth over the last three months (September, October, and November), compared to the prior three months (June, July, August), was just 3 percent.

    Women's share of payroll employment edged closer to 50 percent in November, with the figure now standing at 49.992 percent, up from 49.977 percent in October. This should mean that the share will cross 50 percent in December.

    The data in the household survey was generally positive. The overall employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) remained at a recovery high of 61.0 percent for the third straight month. The EPOP for prime-age workers (ages 25 to 54) also remained at its recovery high of 80.3 percent. The EPOP for prime-age men edged up 0.2 percent to 86.7 percent, a high reached in March, while the EPOP for women slipped 0.1 percentage point to 74.1 percent, which is still a full percentage point above its year-ago level.

    The average duration of unemployment spells fell in November, as did the share of the long-term unemployed. There was a modest increase of 0.1 weeks in the median duration.

    Perhaps the most disturbing item in this report was the dip in the share of unemployment due to voluntary quits from 14.5 percent to 13.3 percent. This is extraordinarily low, given the 3.5 percent unemployment rate. On the other hand, it is consistent with what we're seeing with wage growth, which remains modest, and with no evidence of acceleration.

    Another discouraging item in the household data is the decline in the share of the workforce that chooses to work part-time. This fell by 15,000 in November. For the year average to date, this figure is up by less than 0.5 percent, meaning that it is dropping as a share of total employment. The share of voluntary part-time employment had increased sharply after the Affordable Care Act took effect, the recent decline is likely an indication of the increasing difficulty of getting health care coverage outside of employment.
    [Graph]

    This should be seen as a mostly positive report. The pace of job growth clearly has slowed some from its 2018 rate, but with the economy presumably approaching full employment, this was inevitable. The major downside is that workers seem to remain insecure about their employment prospects, as evidenced by the low quit rates and the relatively modest pace of wage growth.

    anne -> anne... , December 06, 2019 at 08:40 AM
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mRhq

    January 4, 2018

    United States Employment-Population Ratio for Women, * 2007-2018

    * Employment age 25-54


    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mRhs

    January 4, 2018

    United States Employment-Population Ratio for Men, * 2007-2018

    * Employment age 25-54

    anne -> anne... , December 06, 2019 at 08:41 AM
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=lMlh

    January 15, 2018

    Real Median Weekly Earnings for men and women, * 2007-2018

    * Full time wage and salary workers

    (Percent change)


    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=lMlk

    January 15, 2018

    Real Median Weekly Earnings for men and women, * 2007-2018

    * Full time wage and salary workers

    (Indexed to 2007)

    likbez -> anne... , December 07, 2019 at 01:39 AM
    Anne,

    The truth is that good, middle class jobs are very difficult to get. Almost impossible. You are very lucky being a retiree with Vanguard funds chest ;-)

    Recent graduates are in a very bad position, with only graduates from Ivy league colleges resume not being instantly tossed into waist basket.

    McJobs, Amazon warehouse jobs, Home Depot jobs, low level construction jobs (in $15-$20 per hour range), etc are available for graduates. But that's it. Looks like the USA is looking now like a big amazon warehouse.

    People over 50 are actually doomed, if they lost the job, to much lower standard of living. Even if they are professionals.

    likbez -> likbez... , December 07, 2019 at 01:43 AM
    And please understand that this a period when baby boomer leave workforce. So theoretically this should be a very low unemployment period.

    [Dec 04, 2019] Trump and Trade: He s Not All Wrong by Dean Baker

    Notable quotes:
    "... "Employment in the United States has increased steadily over the last seven years, one of the longest periods of economic growth in American history. There are about 10 million more working Americans today than when President Obama took office. ..."
    "... "David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., estimated in a famous paper that increased trade with China did eliminate roughly one million factory jobs in the United States between 2000 and 2007. However, an important implication of his findings is that such job losses largely ended almost a decade ago. ..."
    "... It is also worth noting that even though our trade deficit has declined from its 2006 peak (the non-oil deficit has recently been rising again), workers are constantly being displaced by imports. The Bureau of Labor Statistic reports there have been an average of 110,000 layoffs or discharges a month in manufacturing thus far this year. If just a quarter of these are trade-related, it would imply that more than 300,000 workers a year are losing their jobs due to trade. ..."
    "... The second point is the wage effect, which can go beyond the direct impact of job loss. The oil market can give us a useful way of thinking about this issue. Suppose that Saudi Arabia or some other major producer ramps up its oil production by 1 million barrels of oil a day. This will put downward pressure on world prices, which will have the effect of lowering prices in the United States as well. This could mean, for example, that instead of getting $50 for a barrel of oil, producers in North Dakota will only get $40 a barrel. This will mean less money for workers and companies in the oil industry. In the case of workers, it will mean fewer jobs and lower pay. ..."
    "... This can happen even if there is very little direct impact of trade. The increased supply of Saudi oil may result in some modest reduction in U.S. exports of oil, but the impact on price will be much larger. The analogous story with trade in manufactured goods is that the potential to import low cost goods from Mexico, China, or other countries can have the effect of lowering wages in the United States, even if the goods are not actually imported. ..."
    "... Finally, the balance of trade will have an impact on the overall level of employment in the economy when the economy is below its full employment level of output. Until the Great Recession, most economists did not think that trade could affect the overall level of employment, but only the composition. This meant that trade could cause us to lose manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, but these job losses would be offset by gains in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. This could still mean bad news for the manufacturing workers who lost their jobs, but the net effect for the country as a whole would still be positive. ..."
    "... The Great Recession changed this view, as many economists came to believe that the United States is facing a period of secular stagnation: a sustained period in which lack of demand in the economy constrains growth and employment. In this context, the trade deficit is a major cause of the lack of demand since it is spending that is creating demand in other countries rather than the United States. If we could reduce the annual trade deficit by $100 billion then as a first approximation it will have the same impact on the economy as a stimulus of $100 billion. ..."
    "... There is no generally accepted explanation as to why so many prime age workers would suddenly decide they didn't feel like working, but one often invoked candidate is the loss of manufacturing jobs. The argument in this story is that the manufacturing sector provided relatively good paying jobs for people without college degrees. With so many of these jobs now gone, these workers can't find jobs. If this argument is true, then it means that trade has cost the country a large number of jobs even if the economy is back at full employment. ..."
    Oct 11, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

    anne : October 11, 2016 at 06:46 AM , October 11, 2016 at 06:46 AM

    http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/trump-and-trade-he-s-not-all-wrong

    October 11, 2016

    Trump and Trade: He's Not All Wrong

    Given his history of promoting racism, xenophobia, sexism and his recently exposed boasts about sexual assaults, not many people want to be associated with Donald Trump. However that doesn't mean everything that comes out of his mouth is wrong.

    In the debate on Sunday Donald Trump made a comment to the effect that because of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals, "we lost our jobs." The New York Times was quick to say * this was wrong.

    "We didn't.

    "Employment in the United States has increased steadily over the last seven years, one of the longest periods of economic growth in American history. There are about 10 million more working Americans today than when President Obama took office.

    "David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., estimated in a famous paper that increased trade with China did eliminate roughly one million factory jobs in the United States between 2000 and 2007. However, an important implication of his findings is that such job losses largely ended almost a decade ago.

    "And there's no evidence the North American Free Trade Agreement caused similar job losses.

    "The Congressional Research Service concluded in 2015 that the 'net overall effect of Nafta on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest.' "

    There are a few things to sort out here. First, the basic point in the first paragraph is absolutely true, although it's not clear that it's relevant to the trade debate. The United States economy typically grows and adds jobs, around 1.6 million a year for the last quarter century. So any claim that trade has kept the U.S. from creating jobs is absurd on its face. The actual issue is the rate of job creation and the quality of the jobs.

    Here there are three issues to consider.

    1) The direct job loss – the jobs that were displaced due to imports substituting for domestically produced goods and services;

    2) The wage effects – the downward pressure on the wages of workers that retain their jobs that can result from job loss and also the threat of job loss;

    3) The impact of a trade deficit on the level of demand in the economy.

    Taking these in turn we now have some pretty solid evidence on some of the job loss attributable to trade. David Autor's work ** found that imports from China cost the economy more than 2 million jobs in the years from 2000-2007.

    "Estimates of the net impact of aggregate demand and reallocation effects imply that import growth from China between 1999 and 2011 led to an employment reduction of 2.4 million workers" (page 29).

    These are workers who are directly displaced by import competition. In addition, as the article goes on to note, there were more workers who likely lost their jobs to the multiplier effect in the local economies most directly affected by imports.

    The impact of trade with China was more dramatic than trade with Mexico and other countries because of the huge growth in imports over a short period of time. However, even if the impact from trade with other countries was smaller, it still would have a substantial effect on the communities affected.

    It is also worth noting that even though our trade deficit has declined from its 2006 peak (the non-oil deficit has recently been rising again), workers are constantly being displaced by imports. The Bureau of Labor Statistic reports there have been an average of 110,000 layoffs or discharges a month in manufacturing thus far this year. If just a quarter of these are trade-related, it would imply that more than 300,000 workers a year are losing their jobs due to trade.

    Of course people lose jobs for other reasons also, like increased productivity. So the fact there is job loss associated with trade doesn't make it bad, but it is not wrong to see this as a serious problem.

    The second point is the wage effect, which can go beyond the direct impact of job loss. The oil market can give us a useful way of thinking about this issue. Suppose that Saudi Arabia or some other major producer ramps up its oil production by 1 million barrels of oil a day. This will put downward pressure on world prices, which will have the effect of lowering prices in the United States as well. This could mean, for example, that instead of getting $50 for a barrel of oil, producers in North Dakota will only get $40 a barrel. This will mean less money for workers and companies in the oil industry. In the case of workers, it will mean fewer jobs and lower pay.

    This can happen even if there is very little direct impact of trade. The increased supply of Saudi oil may result in some modest reduction in U.S. exports of oil, but the impact on price will be much larger. The analogous story with trade in manufactured goods is that the potential to import low cost goods from Mexico, China, or other countries can have the effect of lowering wages in the United States, even if the goods are not actually imported.

    Kate Bronfenbrenner, a professor of industrial relations at Cornell, documented one way in which the potential to import can have the effect of lowering wages. She found *** that employers regularly used the threat of moving operations to Mexico as a way to thwart unionization drives. While most workers are not typically involved in unionization drives, it is easy to imagine this dynamic playing out in other contexts where employers use the real or imagined threat from import competition as a reason for holding down wages. The implication is the impact of trade on wages is likely to be even larger than the direct effect of the goods actually brought into the country.

    Finally, the balance of trade will have an impact on the overall level of employment in the economy when the economy is below its full employment level of output. Until the Great Recession, most economists did not think that trade could affect the overall level of employment, but only the composition. This meant that trade could cause us to lose manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, but these job losses would be offset by gains in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. This could still mean bad news for the manufacturing workers who lost their jobs, but the net effect for the country as a whole would still be positive.

    The Great Recession changed this view, as many economists came to believe that the United States is facing a period of secular stagnation: a sustained period in which lack of demand in the economy constrains growth and employment. In this context, the trade deficit is a major cause of the lack of demand since it is spending that is creating demand in other countries rather than the United States. If we could reduce the annual trade deficit by $100 billion then as a first approximation it will have the same impact on the economy as a stimulus of $100 billion.

    From this perspective, the trade deficit is a major source of job loss. Our current trade deficit of $500 billion a year (@2.8 percent of GDP) is a major drag on demand and employment. For this reason, a politician would be absolutely right to cite trade as a big factor in the weakness of the labor market.

    It is worth noting that many economists (including many at the Federal Reserve Board) now believe that the economy is close to its full employment level of output, in which case trade is not now a net cause of job loss even if it had been earlier in the recovery. There are two points to be made on this view.

    First, there are many prominent economists, such as Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, who argue that the economy is still well below its full employment level of output. So this is at least a debatable position.

    Second, if we accept that the economy is near full employment it implies that close to 2 million prime age workers (ages 25-54) have permanently left the labor market compared to 2007 levels of labor force participation. (The gap is close to 4 million if we use 2000 as our comparison year.)

    There is no generally accepted explanation as to why so many prime age workers would suddenly decide they didn't feel like working, but one often invoked candidate is the loss of manufacturing jobs. The argument in this story is that the manufacturing sector provided relatively good paying jobs for people without college degrees. With so many of these jobs now gone, these workers can't find jobs. If this argument is true, then it means that trade has cost the country a large number of jobs even if the economy is back at full employment.

    In short, there are good reasons for a politician to complain about trade as a major source of our economic problems. There is much research and economic theory that supports this position.

    * http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/us/elections/fact-check-debate.html#/factcheck-25

    ** http://www.ddorn.net/papers/Autor-Dorn-Hanson-ChinaShock.pdf

    *** http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=cbpubs

    -- Dean Baker

    [Dec 04, 2019] Perfect Storm Trump Admin To Cut 750,000 From Food Stamps Ahead Of Recession

    First they cut unemployment benefits. Now they are cutting food stamps. Great...
    Dec 04, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

    In a bid to end the massive welfare state, the Trump administration is expected to announce new measures Wednesday that would end food stamp benefits for nearly 750,000 low-income folks. The new rules will make it difficult for "states to gain waivers from a requirement that beneficiaries work or participate in a vocational training program," according to Bloomberg sources.

    Republicans have long attempted to abolish the welfare state, claiming that the redistribution of wealth for poor people keeps them in a state of perpetual poverty. They also claim the welfare state is a system of command and control and has been used by Democrats for decades as a political weapon against conservatives, hence why most inner cities vote Democrat.

    House Republicans tried to cut parts of the federal food assistance program last year, but it was quickly rejected in the Senate.

    The new requirements by the Trump administration would only target "able-bodied" recipients who aren't caring for children under six.

    Sources said the measure would be one of three enacted by the Trump administration to wind down the massive federal food assistance program.

    The measures are expected to boot nearly 3.7 million recipients from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Though it comes at a time when employment is in a downturn, manufacturing has stumbled into a recession , and the US economy could be entering a mild recession in the year ahead. As to why President Trump wants hundreds of thousands of low-income folks off SNAP ahead of an election year while the economy is rapidly decelerating could be an administrative error that may lead to social instabilities in specific regions that will be affected the hardest. Then again, no turmoil could come out of it, and it's hailed as a success during the election year.

    The Department of Agriculture estimates that the new measures could save the agency $1.1 billion in year one, and $7.9 billion by year five.

    Nearly 36.4 million Americans in the "greatest economy ever" are on food stamps. At least half of all Americans have low-wage jobs, barely enough to cover living expenses, nevertheless, service their credit cards with record-high interest rates . The economy as a whole is undergoing profound structural changes with automation and artificial intelligence. Tens of millions of jobs will be lost by 2030. It's likely the collision of these forces means the welfare state is going nowhere and will only grow in size when the next recession strikes.

    Cutting food stamps for low-income folks is the right move into creating a more leaner government, but there are severe social implications that could be triggered if the new measures are passed.

    And while President Trump wants to slash the welfare state for poor people, his supply-side policies and bailouts of corporate America have been record-setting in some respects.

    Actions by the administration clearly show that corporate welfare for Wall Street elites is more important than welfare for low-income folks. Perfect Storm: Trump Admin To Cut 750,000 From Food Stamps Ahead Of Recession


    naps8906 , 23 seconds ago link

    this is one of the most shameful acts for any president, especially a billionaire. If he wants to save a billion/year, cut it from military. Or increase staff at SNAP to check for fraud, but this is really shameful. I think it would've been better to raise tariff on China and use that money to increase SNAP not decrease it

    cheka , 1 minute ago link

    i have a better way. over BMI = no taxpayer funded food handouts

    taking money from the working class, at the point of a gun....to give free food to fat *****.....clown world

    Wild Bill Steamcock , 4 minutes ago link

    What's the need in cutting foodstamps? You can take every able-bodied recipient and have them work a reasonable number of hours per week in a fair exchange. Plenty of work to be had and you could do it WPA style where those of certain skills could apply them.

    And if you want to cut welfare, START WITH CORPORATE WELFARE

    Dr Anon , 4 minutes ago link

    This is a positive development in terms of the nuclear family. Women can't just abscond with the kids and her husband's alimony if she knows she will have to actually get a job to pay for her own food. I'm sick of paying taxes to support whore women and their bastard children.

    Zeusky Babarusky , 6 minutes ago link

    "The Department of Agriculture estimates that the new measures could save the agency $1.1 billion in year one, and $7.9 billion by year five."

    Today's Repo operation by the Fed is $70.1 Billion. The $1.1 Billion in annual savings due to this cut is about 1.5% of what the Fed pumped into the Repo market just today. I'm all for cutting out the fraud. If you can work, then you should work. Don't work? Don't eat! But our economy is a Service Sector for the most part now, and the wages suck for a big part in the Service Sector. Wages overall have been nearly flat for about 30 years. How about we cut the welfare **** to the banks, Wall Street? That would save trillions not just billions. Typical DC. Fix problems while ******* over the little people, and continuing corporate welfare all the while. This **** so needs to burn up!

    same2u , 7 minutes ago link

    In the meantime, the Fed keeps on giving to the billionaires and banksters...

    Stock market is the food stamp program for the super rich...

    Omega_Man , 6 minutes ago link

    great... outsource manufacturing, sign new trade deals to off shore more jobs, ramp up the stock market for the rich, waste trillions on destabilizing other nations, give israel all they want, print money to infinity, ask for zero interest rate.. and a billion per year to feed poor people is too much.. Trump is in touch with the little guy

    Trump will lose 2020... give the 750,000 guns and ammo and some food and water... and a map to DC... Soros can provide the buses...

    Rusticus2.0 , 7 minutes ago link

    In a bid to end the massive welfare state, the Trump administration is expected to announce new measures Wednesday that would end food stamp benefits for nearly 750,000 low-income folks

    and yet Trump is crying for negative interest rates so the 0.1% can continue getting the welfare they deserve ?

    Just Take It All , 7 minutes ago link

    Do lampposts dream of central bankers?

    Fishthatlived , 10 minutes ago link

    A Bloomberg story? Isn't that guy running for President? What a coincidence.

    NoDebt , 4 minutes ago link

    The new rules will make it difficult for "states to gain waivers from a requirement that beneficiaries work or participate in a vocational training program," according to Bloomberg sources.

    And... those are actually the OLD rules, which are still on the books, but which Obama waived by EO. I'm glad 750,00 are being cut from the roles.

    NoDebt , 1 minute ago link

    Trump Admin To Cut 750,000 From Food Stamps Ahead Of Recession

    OK, so I have to ask: What recession? Well, the coming one, obviously! So let's logic this out. You wouldn't cut food stamps IN a recession (political suicide), so what's your alternative? You're either in a recession or you're on your way to the next one which will happen eventually, right? So, when would you be able to cut food stamps? I guess never by that logic.

    RiskyBidness , 7 minutes ago link

    If you like your foodstamps .You can't keep your foodstamps

    [Dec 04, 2019] Your Uber Driver Is 'Retired' You Shouldn't Be Surprised by Paula Span

    In other words older people are pushed to the boom of the ladder. To thankless jobs like Uber, and janitorial type of jobs.
    Oct 25, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

    Despite spending 40 to 60 hours a week picking up riders in his 2015 Subaru Forester, Mr. Ellenbogen is barely surviving financially. He had to give up his apartment and move into his mother's condo in Verona, N.J. He relies on Medicaid for health care.

    "It's something I'm accepting because I'm in need of money," he said of his Lyft gig. "I'm capable of better things, but this is what's available to me."

    Economists debate how to define this kind of employment, often categorized as "nontraditional jobs" or "alternative work arrangements," and how to calculate the proportion of the older work force engaged in it.

    Popularly seen as the province of the young, it now provides work for a growing number of people in their 50s, 60s and beyond.

    The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics includes independent contractors (who may be self-employed but well compensated) and estimates that 11.4 percent of those aged 50 to 62 have nontraditional jobs. The Government Accountability Office, using an even broader definition including part-timers, says the figure is 31.2 percent.

    Among workers over 62, economists at The New School's Retirement Equity Lab have found that 9 percent were in "on-call, temp, contract or gig jobs" in 2015; the researchers believe the percentage has grown since then .

    In a just-published report, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College put the number of nontraditional job holders at about 20 percent of 50- to 62-year-old workers , using data from the national Health and Retirement Study.

    Their study defines nontraditional jobs as those that provide no health insurance or retirement benefits. "They're probably low-paid," said Alicia Munnell, director of the center. "Some have erratic schedules."

    ... ... ...

    The majority of those in nontraditional jobs at ages 50 to 62 rely on them for most of their employment, and their retirement income at 62 is 26 percent lower than that of employees holding traditional jobs. (Nontraditional jobholders have somewhat higher rates of depression, as well.)

    ... ... ...

    Nontraditional jobs include food service and retail, as well as gig jobs; among the fastest growing categories are janitorial work, and personal care and health aide positions. "They're not easy on older bodies," Dr. Ghilarducci pointed out. "They require a lot of physical stamina."

    ... ... ...

    Mr. Ellenbogen, for instance, has a master's degree in social psychology from the University of Vermont. After getting laid off from sales positions and finding a return to business coaching unprofitable, he became a commission-only sales rep for Home Depot, with no base salary or benefits.

    The company let him go, he said, when retina surgery left him unable to drive for two months. After he recovered, the only work he could find was with Lyft, where about a quarter of drivers are over 50, the company reported last year.

    Mr. Ellenbogen has searched for jobs on LinkedIn, on Indeed, in local newspapers. The New Start Career Network at Rutgers University has provided free weekly sessions with a coach.

    Nothing has materialized, so Mr. Ellenbogen keeps driving, trying to delay claiming Social Security to maximize his benefits.

    [Dec 01, 2019] Federal Prosecutors Initiate Criminal Probe of Six Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

    Fetanil smuggling from China also played an important role
    Dec 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Federal Prosecutors Launch Criminal Probe of Opioid Makers, Distributors :

    The investigation, if it results in criminal charges, could become the largest prosecution yet of drug companies alleged to have contributed to the opioid epidemic, escalating the legal troubles of businesses that already face complex, multibillion-dollar civil litigation in courts across the country. Prosecutors are examining whether the companies violated the federal Controlled Substances Act, a statute that federal prosecutors have begun using against opioid makers and distributors this year.

    By using statutes typically used to target drug dealers, prosecutors are finally seeing these companies for what they are: drug pushers. This approach is unusual but not unprecedented, according to the Journal:

    Earlier this year, federal prosecutors filed major criminal cases in Manhattan and Ohio that, for the first time, employed criminal statutes that are more commonly applied to drug dealers, legal experts say.

    When prosecutors from the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges against a pharmaceutical distributor and two executives earlier this year, the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office said the case was unusual.

    "This prosecution is the first of its kind," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in April, "executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking."

    CNBC notes in Federal prosecutors open criminal probe of opioid makers and distributors, report says :

    The investigation marks a significant broadening of the federal government's focus on pinpointing which parties contributed to the opioid crisis.

    The six companies to receive subpoenas from the US attorney's office for the eastern district of New York are: AmerisourceBergen Corp., Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, McKesson Corp. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., as reported by the WSJ, citing regulatory filings.

    This investigation is in its early stages; whether or not other companies have thus far also received subpoenas is not apparent. As federal prosecutors proceed, they will likely widen their probe, drawing in more companies and individuals.

    Separately, most states, as well as roughly 2,600 city, county, and municipal governments have sued major players throughout the opioids supply chain. Despite intense pressure on parties to settle, these negotiations have stalled and numerous lawsuits remain pending (see Four Companies Settle Just Before Bellwether Opioids Trial Was to Begin Today in Ohio .)

    One manufacturer, Purdue Pharma has already filed for bankruptcy (see Purdue Files for Bankruptcy, Agrees to Settle Some Pending Opioids Litigation: Sacklers on Hook for Billions? ).

    As yesterday's WSJ further reports:

    Purdue separately faces civil and criminal probes from the U.S. attorneys offices in New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut and U.S. Justice Department in Washington and has said that a proposed plan to turn over its operations to creditors is contingent on resolving the federal investigations .

    Opioids have made it onto Trump's personal radar screen. AP reports in Trump donates 3rd-quarter salary to help fight opioid crisis:

    President Donald Trump is donating his third-quarter salary to help tackle the nation's opioid epidemic.

    A White House official says Trump has given the $100,000 he would be paid in the quarter to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, which oversees federal public health offices and programs, including the surgeon general's office.

    The White House says the funds are being earmarked "to continue the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis."

    Jerri- Lynn here. Well. Thanks for your concern!!

    More from AP:

    Trump has made tackling the misuse of opioids an administration priority. More than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses, the bulk of them involving opioids.

    Trump is required to be paid, but he has pledged to donate his salary while in office to worthy causes. Trump donated his second-quarter salary to the surgeon general's office.

    This I didn't know.

    Deaths of Despair

    In separate news today, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study affirming that American life expectancy continues to decline, Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017 .

    The US trend is in contrast to the state of play in other advanced countries; US life expectancy began to lose pace in the 1980s, according to the JAMA study, and by 1998, had declined to a level below the OECD average. Since 2014, US life expectancy rates have declined for three consecutive years.

    Naked Capitalism has covered the rise in "deaths of despair" extensively: the decline in US life expectancy, especially for poorer and less educated Americans, see these posts drawn from numerous examples: Stunning" Rise in Death Rate, Pain Levels for Middle-Aged, Less Educated Whites) ; Credentialism and Corruption: The Opioid Epidemic and "the Looting Professional Class" ; US Life Expectancy Declines in 2015: Unintentional Injuries Rise ; and American Life Expectancy Continues to Fall: Rise in Suicides, Overdose Deaths the Big Culprit .

    The latest JAMA figures show that the decline extends throughout the country, as the New York Times reports in It's Not Just Poor White People Driving a Decline in Life Expectancy :

    But a new analysis of more than a half-century of federal mortality data, published on Tuesday in JAMA , found that the increased death rates among people in midlife extended to all racial and ethnic groups, and to suburbs and cities. And while suicides, drug overdoses and alcoholism were the main causes, other medical conditions, including heart disease, strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also contributed, the authors reported.

    From the JAMA study's abstract:

    Findings Between 1959 and 2016, US life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years but declined for 3 consecutive years after 2014. The recent decrease in US life expectancy culminated a period of increasing cause-specific mortality among adults aged 25 to 64 years that began in the 1990s, ultimately producing an increase in all-cause mortality that began in 2010. During 2010-2017, midlife all-cause mortality rates increased from 328.5 deaths/100 000 to 348.2 deaths/100 000. By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases. The largest relative increases in midlife mortality rates occurred in New England (New Hampshire, 23.3%; Maine, 20.7%; Vermont, 19.9%) and the Ohio Valley (West Virginia, 23.0%; Ohio, 21.6%; Indiana, 14.8%; Kentucky, 14.7%). The increase in midlife mortality during 2010-2017 was associated with an estimated 33 307 excess US deaths, 32.8% of which occurred in 4 Ohio Valley states.

    This trend has occurred despite the US spending the highest per capita on health of any country in the world – a point made in a JAMA editorial published simultaneously with the study, Confronting the Rise and Fall of US Life Expectancy.

    Now, no one would dispute that the US health care system is a mess. From the NYT:

    "The whole country is at a health disadvantage compared to other wealthy nations," the study's lead author, Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, said. "We are losing people in the most productive period of their lives. Children are losing parents. Employers have a sicker work force."

    The study makes for depressing reading; you can download the full version for free by registering at the above link.

    If you lack time for that, some summary from the NYT:

    "Mortality has improved year to year over the course of the 20th century," said Dr. Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania. "The 21st century is a major exception. Since 2010 there's been no improvement in mortality among working-aged people."

    Death rates are actually improving among children and older Americans, Dr. Woolf noted, perhaps because they may have more reliable health care -- Medicaid for many children and Medicare for older people. Jerri-Lynn here: my emphasis.

    But the problem isn't wholly related to the dysfunctional US health care system. Extreme inequality doesn't just harm the poorest and weakest among us. Over to the NYT:

    "The fact that it's so expansive and involves so many causes of death -- it's saying that there's something broader going on in our country," said Ellen R. Meara, a professor of health policy at Dartmouth College. "This no longer limited to middle-aged whites."

    The states with the greatest relative increases in death rates among young and middle-aged adults were New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Ohio.

    Dr. Woolf said one of the findings showed that the excess deaths were highly concentrated geographically, with fully a third of them in just four states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana.

    "What's not lost on us is what is going on in those states," he said. "The history of when this health trend started happens to coincide with when these economic shifts began -- the loss of manufacturing jobs and closure of steel mills and auto plants."

    What do the billionaires and their toadies have to say to that?

    And, to return to where I began, note that Ohio is ground zero for the opioids epidemic.


    Matthew G. Saroff , November 27, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    When are we going to start seeing asset forfeiture of the companies and the executives?

    If a couple of senior execs end up having to wash dishes for a living, and having to rely on public defenders, and maybe there will be deterrence.

    Also, maybe it will prompt a reevaluation of the asset forfeiture laws.

    Ford Prefect , November 27, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    A former Obama official was interviewed today about these investigations. When asked point-black on whether or not pharma executives should go to jail on these charges, there was tremendous hemming and hawing about the "goal is to prevent this from happening again in the future" which is the same stance regarding financial executives after the GFC. https://www.npr.org/2019/11/27/783223378/feds-may-pursue-criminal-charges-against-opioid-makers

    So the drug laws incarcerate millions of poor and minority people for minor drug possession offences but effectively running a drug cartel inside US corporations would not be worth jailing somebody for? No wonder people are simply ready to toss the entire system.

    Annieb , November 27, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Here's an excellent article about fentanyl smuggling from China. The opioid crisis is not just about US companies. The larger question is why our government largely ignored fentanyl smuggling for years during the Obama administration despite warnings from DEA.

    http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-china-fentanyl-20181019-story.html

    albrt , November 28, 2019 at 2:59 am

    "The larger question is why our government largely ignored fentanyl smuggling for years during the Obama administration"

    Umm, because Barack Obama was one of the worst criminal accessories in the entire history of the world across every economic sector?

    Do I win a prize for answering that question correctly?

    David , November 27, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Terrific read. Thank you.

    Pain patients who function quite well with medication are caught between the more strident of the War on Drugs Crusaders and the addicts who use opioids recreationally, causing most to think of anyone on pain medication as drug abusers. Pain patients using medication as prescribed are not drug abusers and a safe harbor needs to be created to protect this vulnerable population. They are genuinely in fear and despair has set in. They are consciously and openly stating an intent to commit suicide. We should not forget them as this war continues. They saw what Duarte promoted and understand they are powerless in a fight where their lives are at stake.

    Cutting off the supply through criminal prosecutions of manufacturers will harm the most vulnerable. Perhaps that is the plan.

    Synoia , November 27, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    The issue appears to be "prescription" and "control"

    You intimate the drugs will be removed from the market, as opposed to being subject to proper and necessary stringent controls.

    The issue at hand with the manufacturers is: Have the Manufacturers caused bypass on controls. As I understand it, the drugs are not banned at this point in time.

    The manufacturers appear to be investigated for promoting mis-prescription of their products.

    Annieb , November 27, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Most deaths are caused by fentanyl overdose, and most fentanyl is imported from China through Mexico. The manufacturers are Chinese companies.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/09/04/757089868/fentanyl-as-a-dark-web-profit-center-from-chinese-labs-to-u-s-streets

    The Obama administration didn't take serious action. Why?

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-hlth-obama-fentanyl-20190313-story.html

    David , November 27, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    There have been unintended consequences from the war on drugs. To your point, we have seen providers, insurers, and pharmacies set their own limits to avoid liability. Going after the risk-averse pharmaceutical manufacturers will force them to decide whether the profit is worth the risk of financial ruin and possible prison. And legitimate patients are caught in the middle.

    Anecdotally, we have this result that impacts the most vulnerable – not the powerful, who will always get their drugs, whether they need them or not:

    The misconception that opioid prescriptions lead to opiate addiction has been widespread, and overarching state and federal measures to combat the opioid overdose crisis are reaching a fever pitch. There's the Oregon Health Authority's (OHA) now-tabled proposal to force-taper all Medicaid patients on opioids for certain chronic pain conditions; Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Gardner's controversial proposal to limit all acute pain medication prescriptions to a seven day fill, which sparked massive pushback from the chronic pain and disability communities; and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who favors a three-day fill limit. In contrast, the American Medical Association (AMA) has come out against arbitrary pill limits, as has a group called Health Professionals for Patients in Pain (HP3).

    Very few opioid addictions begin with a patient who has a doctor's prescription: Up to 80 percent of people with an opioid addiction illegally obtained pills from another source like a friend or relative first. While the opioid overdose epidemic from illegal heroin and fentanyl is a serious problem, federal and state actions to decrease the number of opioid prescriptions and/or pills in circulation overall will have -- and are already having -- a hugely negative impact on chronic pain patients who take opioid medications. While the number of pain prescriptions has declined since 2010, the number of deaths due to overdoses involving heroin and synthetic fentanyl has increased.

    According to Thomas Kline, MD, a physician in North Carolina who maintains a list of chronic pain patients who committed suicide after being forced off of their medications, the anti-opioid hysteria that has taken root in the medical field and the federal government has resulted in "people [being] killed."

    https://talkpoverty.org/2019/05/17/chronic-pain-opioid-crisis

    Protect the vulnerable in this clash.

    notabanktoadie , November 28, 2019 at 2:44 am

    +100

    And I'm reminded of this besides Proverbs 31:6-9, etc.

    even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10

    CoryP , November 28, 2019 at 6:15 am

    "Very few opioid addictions begin with a patient who has a doctor's prescription".

    This is very similar to the original marketing line of OxyContin, and I have a hard time believing it. But it's only a gut feeling along with vague memories of educational materials I've seen before but would have to look up.

    I think there are pretty forceful (though not equally funded) agendas on both sides of the issue that would want to down- or over-play the impact of prescribed opioids.

    Either way, I don't think it's necessary to use that quote in order to make the case that people in pain still deserve access to these drugs.

    Yves Smith , November 28, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Other sources flatly contradict this claim. This is from an article by a professor of medicine:

    According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four in five new heroin users started out by misusing prescription painkillers, and 94 percent of opioid-addicted patients said that they switched to heroin because prescription opioids were more expensive and harder to obtain.

    https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/oxycontin-how-purdue-pharma-helped-spark-opioid-epidemic/

    And:

    Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, at Brandeis University, has worked with hundreds of patients addicted to opioids. He told me that, though many fatal overdoses have resulted from opioids other than OxyContin, the crisis was initially precipitated by a shift in the culture of prescribing -- a shift carefully engineered by Purdue. "If you look at the prescribing trends for all the different opioids, it's in 1996 that prescribing really takes off," Kolodny said. "It's not a coincidence. That was the year Purdue launched a multifaceted campaign that misinformed the medical community about the risks." When I asked Kolodny how much of the blame Purdue bears for the current public-health crisis, he responded, "The lion's share."

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/the-family-that-built-an-empire-of-pain

    CoryP , November 28, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks. I knew I wasn't going crazy but don't always have references at hand.

    CoryP , November 28, 2019 at 3:49 am

    I work as a pharmacist in northern Ontario, where the opioid problem is quite acute. To be fair, this region had some insane narcotic prescribing habits -- dose/increases that seemed unreasonably high (since well before I started practicing 10 years ago).

    Now we're seeing a combination of new grad physicians seemingly afraid to prescribe opioids, and older doctors either under investigation by their regulatory body, or retiring as fast as they can to avoid getting nailed.

    Their patients in the (sadly frequent) worst case, suddenly find themselves without a doctor in an area which already has a shortage. Or they're put through a forced rapid taper off these meds which seems only a bit less stressful.

    Chronic pain patients can definitely benefit from tapering their dose, as opioid-induced hyperalgesia is definitely a thing, and overdose risk increases with dose even taking into consideration tolerance.

    A lot of patients with pain can benefit from methadone or Suboxone, which is often the only option remaining as addiction treatment centres are everywhere. But even if those drugs work for them there's still a lot of inconvenience and stigma attached to them.

    I wish the attitude was more accomodating to the patients who have been on these huge doses for years. (usually in their 50s or 60s). Like, say to doctors "try not to get anybody else hooked on opiates, but be gentle with the patients that already are".

    But it seems like the approach taken is mostly based on avoidance of liability. And the profits of addictions chains that provide dubiously valuable treatment.

    I guess there's no perfect solution. It's a shitshow up here.

    eg , November 28, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Thank you for doing what you can -- it must be very stressful. I wouldn't blame those who fled such responsibility.

    notabanktoadie , November 28, 2019 at 4:44 am

    There's no perfect solution but certainly an ethical finance system is part of an optimum solution.

    CoryP , November 28, 2019 at 5:32 am

    Yeah, off the top of my head the biggest financial issues that could be helped by a government that gave crap would be:
    1) increase the welfare/disability payments which have lost ground to inflation since the 90s I believe
    2) do something for the awful living conditions and opportunities for our first nations reserves, which are (were?) the biggest centres of despair and addiction
    3) free pharmacare would help, though our most vulnerable do already have coverage
    4) actually fund mental health programs/psychotherapy

    The vaunted Canadian healthcare system doesn't cover much that doesn't happen in a doctor's office or hospital. It's it's not heading in the right direction.

    notabanktoadie , November 28, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Not to discount generous welfare for the needy by any means but those things don't address the fundamental problem which is economic injustice.

    CoryP , November 28, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    It occurs to me now you might have meant something entirely different by 'finance system' but I was on a tangent.

    notabanktoadie , November 28, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    I did; the need for extensive welfare is, by itself, an indication of an unjust economic system.

    The indicators are piling up, btw. The latest I've heard is the US birth rate is below replacement of the population.

    notabanktoadie , November 28, 2019 at 12:52 am

    What do the billionaires and their toadies have to say to that? Jerri-Lynn Scofield

    Certainly toadies, intentional or otherwise, must include those who support unethical finance – the means by which so many jobs were outsourced in the first place.

    Our finance system was designed or evolved to only create wealth – not to share it justly – and we are reaping the bitter fruit of that shortsightedness.

    William Beyer , November 28, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Can't wait to see how this will all be blamed on the Russians

    Robpost , November 28, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Better late than never, I suppose. But, to look only to preventing such things from recurring in the future is to give the current crop of miscreants a pass, as was done with torturing and financial crimes since the turn of the century.

    JimTan , November 28, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    A criminal probe is definitely appropriate. It's already been established that drug companies and their distributors have flooded the country with 76 billion opioid pills between 2006 through 2012. 76 billion pills amounts to approximately 33 opiate pills per year for every man woman and child in the United States during the 7 year time period covered in this article. And that's only oxycodone and hydrocodone – it doesn't include the various types of fentanyl.

    That can't be a mistake.

    Gordon , November 29, 2019 at 11:35 am

    There is good evidence that providing treatment for the addicted rather than criminalising them is the way to go with a big fringe benefits in terms of less crime etc for the rest of the community, for example the work of Dr John Marks in Widness, England.

    I haven't read the book mentioned but the Liverpool Echo tells of his success – until, that is, the US leaned on the UK to stop him.

    Can anyone shed any light on why the US would do that?

    Myron , November 30, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Methadone destroys your bones. They become brittle and crumble. Suboxone does very little for pain relief. Suboxone only blocks the craving for opioids. It is obvious most of you posters have little contact with addicts and rely on articles published by individuals who use govt' info to BS the population.

    WHY have there not been at least Criminal Manslaughter charges filed against some of the actors in the dreadful life drama. The doctors, The manufacturers, the distributors. If I give scrip opioids to another and thy die from taking them , I will be charged with a Homicide.

    [Dec 01, 2019] A Wicked Cocktail Of Corporate Greed, Social Media, Opioids Is Slashing US Life Expectancy Rates

    Notable quotes:
    "... Why is a guy much over 50 going to work for? **** that. 55 is pushing it for any sort of manual labor. ..."
    "... Even top US citizen STEM grads can't find jobs. Or get interviews. That's pretty much all you need to know about how good the economy is. ..."
    Dec 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

    A Wicked Cocktail Of Corporate Greed, Social Media, & Opioids Is Slashing US Life Expectancy Rates by Tyler Durden Sun, 12/01/2019 - 22:30 0 SHARES

    Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    Following decades of increased life expectancy rates, Americans have been dying earlier for three consecutive years since 2014, turning the elusive quest for the 'American Dream' into a real-life nightmare for many. Corporate America must accept some portion of the blame for the looming disaster.

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/N33X92zic5Y

    Something is killing Americans and researchers have yet to find the culprit. But we can risk some intuitive guesses.

    According to researchers from the Center on Society and Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, American life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now in fact decreasing.

    The National Center for Health Statistics reported that life expectancy in the United States peaked (78.9 years) in 2014 and subsequently dropped for 3 consecutive years, hitting 78.6 years in 2017. The decrease was most significant among men (0.4 years) than women (0.2 years) and happened across racial-ethnic lines: between 2014 and 2016, life expectancy decreased among non-Hispanic white populations (from 78.8 to 78.5 years), non-Hispanic black populations (from 75.3 years to 74.8 years), and Hispanic populations (82.1 to 81.8 years).

    "By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases," wrote researchers Steven H. Woolf and Heidi Schoomaker in a study that appears in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

    At the very beginning of the report, Woolf and Schoomaker reveal that the geographical area with the largest relative increases occurred "in the Ohio Valley and New England."

    "The implications for public health and the economy are substantial," they added, "making it vital to understand the underlying causes."

    Incidentally, it would be difficult for any observer of the U.S. political scene to read that passage without immediately connecting it to the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    Taking advantage of the deep industrial decline that has long plagued the Ohio Valley, made up of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Trump successfully tapped into a very real social illness, at least partially connected to economic stagnation , which helped propel him into the White House.

    Significantly, thirty-seven states witnessed significant jumps in midlife mortality in the years leading up to 2017. As the researchers pointed out, however, the trend was concentrated in certain states, many of which, for example in New England, did not support Trump in 2016.

    "Between 2010 and 2017, the largest relative increases in mortality occurred in New England (New Hampshire, 23.3%; Maine, 20.7%; Vermont, 19.9%, Massachusetts 12.1%) and the Ohio Valley (West Virginia, 23.0%; Ohio, 21.6%; Indiana, 14.8%; Kentucky, 14.7%), as well as in New Mexico (17.5%), South Dakota (15.5%), Pennsylvania (14.4%), North Dakota (12.7%), Alaska (12.0%), and Maryland (11.0%). In contrast, the nation's most populous states (California, Texas, and New York) experienced relatively small increases in midlife mortality.

    Eight of the 10 states with the highest number of excess deaths were in the industrial Midwest or Appalachia, whereas rural US counties experienced greater increases in midlife mortality than did urban counties.

    A tragic irony of the study suggests that greater access to healthcare, notably among the more affluent white population, actually correlates to an increase in higher mortality rates. The reason is connected to the out-of-control prescription of opioid drugs to combat pain and depression.

    "The sharp increase in overdose deaths that began in the 1990s primarily affected white populations and came in 3 waves," the report explained: (1) the introduction of OxyContin in 1996 and overuse of prescription opioids, followed by (2) increased heroin use, often by patients who had become addicted to prescription opioids, and (3) the subsequent emergence of potent synthetic opioids (eg, fentanyl analogues) -- the latter triggering a large post-2013 increase in overdose deaths.

    "That white populations first experienced a larger increase in overdose deaths than nonwhite populations may reflect their greater access to health care (and thus prescription drugs)."

    In September, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, reached a tentative settlement with 23 states and more than 2,000 cities and counties that sued the company, owned by the Sackler family, over its role in the opioid crisis

    Other factors also helped to drive up the U.S. mortality rate, including alcoholic liver disease and suicides, 85% of which occurred with a firearm or other method.

    The United States spends more on health care than any other country, yet its overall health report card fares worse than those of other wealthy countries. Americans experience higher rates of illness and injury and die earlier than people in other high-income nations.

    Researchers were perplexed but not surprised by the data as there existed clear signs back in the 1980s that the United States was heading for a cliff as far as longevity rates go.

    So what is it that's claiming the life of Americans, many at the prime of their life, at a faster pace than in the past? The reality is that it is likely to be an accumulation of negative factors that are finally beginning to take a toll. For example, apart from the opioid crisis, there has also been an almost total collapse of union representation across Corporate America, which has essentially crushed any form of workplace democracy. This author, a former member of three worker unions, witnessed this egregious abuse of corporate power firsthand, which is apparent by the total stagnation of wages for many decades.

    Today's real average wage – that is, after accounting for inflation – has about the same purchasing power it did about half a century ago . Meanwhile, in the majority of cases, increases in salary have a marked tendency to go to the highest-paid tier of executives.

    In a report by Pew Research, "real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today."

    One needs only consider the growing mountain of tuition debt now consuming the paychecks of many university graduates, many of whom have yet to land their dream 6-figure job from their relatively worthless liberal education, to better understand the quiet desperation that exists across the country.

    At the same time, the exponential rise in the use of social media, which has been proven to trigger depression and loneliness in users, also deserves serious consideration. What society is experiencing with its massive online presence is a total overhaul as to the way human beings relate to each other. Presently, it would be very difficult to argue that the changes have been positive; in fact, they seem to be contributing to the early demise of millions of Americans in the prime of life.

    Taken together, abusive labor practices that ignores workplace democracy, the epidemic of opioid usage, compounded by the anti-social features of 'social media' suggests a perfect storm of factors precipitating the rise of early deaths in the United States. Since all of these areas fall in one way or another under the control of corporate power, this powerful agency must find ways to help address the problem. The future success of America depends upon it.


    ohm , 1 minute ago link

    A Wicked Cocktail Of Corporate Greed, Social Media, & Opioids Is Slashing US Life Expectancy Rates

    In short, capitalism

    Pfeffernusse , 2 minutes ago link

    With a college degree and half a brain things are still pretty good. They look pretty good for trades guys too, as long as they are honest hard workers. I just got a quote from some guy to dig up a 70 foot driveway and replace it with topsoil... $14,000. Nobody is hurting too bad where I am except serious white trash with no job skills. Well, blacks and latinos without job skills are hurting too, the difference is, they're resigned to their fate after 300+ years of getting abused. It's the Trump trailer trash who are mad that they aren't throwing around big money any more for stealing copper or whatever the **** these trash did before now.

    Indelible Scars , 3 minutes ago link

    Opioids have been around for 2500 years+. The culture is what has changed. For the worse.

    systemsplanet , 3 minutes ago link

    Slashing US Life Expectancy Rates

    "We saved the Social Security Trust Fund by supporting programs to shorten American life spans"

    - Leftist Bureaucratic Social Engineers

    RDouglas , 5 minutes ago link

    You think life expectancy has dropped off now? Give it 10 or 20 years. Fentynal+a cheap plastic mask with nitrogen or co2 emitter will be easily available on the internet...Most people over 50 are ill equipped to deal with burgeoning economic realities. I'm 51 and I see it all around me in NW Montana, dudes that are 50 or 100 pounds overweight, smoking, drinking whisky and taking pills, not showing up for work. The economy here is booming and yet there are men and women, mostly my age or older wandering around with tombstone eyes all day, bumming money in front of the grocery stores. I spend more time than I like in Portland OR, and it's even more apparent there. There are kids that panhandle, but 90% of the people camping on the street are 45+. Dis Eases of dispair.

    dibiase , 2 minutes ago link

    When the reality you live is has been engineered to be **** what would you expect.

    Possibly a sane reaction to an insane world?

    Indelible Scars , 1 minute ago link

    Why is a guy much over 50 going to work for? **** that. 55 is pushing it for any sort of manual labor.

    Demeter55 , 13 minutes ago link

    When men abandon their families to pursue money and fame, their families move on, and then, when the men found they were chasing fool's gold, they despaired and died, since they had fucked themselves, their children and the women who were willing to love them.

    There wasn't any reason to live, if one doesn't believe in repairing such social crimes, or second chances. And there's a time limit for such rehabilitation; wait too long to get smart, and your chances are gone.

    I know of three such cases in my immediate family.

    Helix6 , 14 minutes ago link

    In "Democracy in America", Alexis de Tocqueville commented on Americans' obsession with money and means of procuring it. I would hypothesize that the deteriorating economic means of ordinary Americans is behind the increase in midlife mortality. The pursuit of money has resulted in a lifestyle that is not conducive to a happy and healthy life.

    Rashomon , 13 minutes ago link

    Stress kills.

    Is-Be , 2 minutes ago link

    Stress causes the body to release cortisol which responds by building up belly fat for the emergency times ahead. Sleep and stress reduction can reduce the waist line, slowly.

    PedroS , 17 minutes ago link

    "there has also been an almost total collapse of union representation across Corporate America, which has essentially crushed any form of workplace democracy. This author, a former member of three worker unions, witnessed this egregious abuse of corporate power firsthand, which is apparent by the total stagnation of wages for many decades." This cracked me up. companies are NOT Democratic and never should be.

    dibiase , 15 minutes ago link

    Actually workers unions are quite a capitalist concept. It's a shame they turned into what they are today.

    Is-Be , 20 minutes ago link

    Isn't Capitalism wonderful? We mandate that a company may not make a decision not in the interests of the shareholder. And then whinge because Big Pharma does just that. It makes drugs that maximize profits. Why did you expect anything different?

    And what about insurance companies? How are shareholders of insurance companies served if the insurance companies pay up for claims? Anyway, let me present a physicians point of view , that the AMA represents the shareholders of Big Pharma, not the doctors. BTW. Black salve works against Big C. (I have to use euphemisms because it is illegal to utter the words "Cures Big C". Why? I dunno. ( Bloodroot , a common plant.)

    How unpatriotic it would be to praise Unions! So I shan't. Instead I recommend Guilds. A complete monopoly of particular trades by their own Guild House. The guild controls the training of their members. It controls who gets to work where. It controls their accommodation and pension. It controls for the benefit of it's members. It is Vast.

    It negotiates with politicians on protecting it's own interests by Law. (Hey, why should only multi-national companies lobby in their own interest!)

    For instance. A electrical guild would negotiate a contract with a builders guild for cheap housing. (You scratch my back, I scratch yours.) It would negotiate with the teacher's guild for the correct education of their children.

    Big international companies are going to love it. But why do we need to consider their emotions?

    steverino999 , 21 minutes ago link

    This rampant social illness is why Trump ran for President. He knew there were a lot of hurting people out there who needed to believe in something, anything, and most importantly he knew they would devour every scoop of manure he shoveled their way.

    pitz , 24 minutes ago link

    Even top US citizen STEM grads can't find jobs. Or get interviews. That's pretty much all you need to know about how good the economy is.

    PedroS , 20 minutes ago link

    Due to wholesale outsourcing of the jobs they planned for. You left that out so I helped you...

    rejectnumbskull , 24 minutes ago link

    U might be right...and I'm sad about it

    free corn , 12 minutes ago link

    Strongman or strong woman whoever leave the cage.

    dibiase , 10 minutes ago link

    Even better. A woman might be more cruel and demeaning to our enemies.

    free corn , 31 minutes ago link

    "real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today."

    No big drama here considering growth in wealth inequality for the period.

    Tillyoudrop , 35 minutes ago link

    A Wicked Cocktail Of Corporate Greed, Social Media, & Opioids

    Nope. What you listed is just a bunch of the symptoms not the root cause.

    HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 38 minutes ago link

    Alex Jones named it years ago: drugs, bad food, lack of good nutrition, lack of exercise, and mass demoralization.

    misgivings , 9 minutes ago link

    And increasing surveillance, 5G and AI - with no input from the sheep.

    Oliver Klozoff , 39 minutes ago link

    Of course the author conveniently avoids the main cause, neoliberalism, courtesy of the dems.

    artistant , 40 minutes ago link

    There's a spiritual decay gnawing away at America's soul.

    The EveryThing Bubble , 40 minutes ago link

    Stupid people are supposed to die

    [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 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 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:

    • Location bound jobs (sales, marketing, legal, HR, administration, ..., also functions attached to those or otherwise preferring "cultural affinity") - which are largely staffed with locals, also foreigners (visa as well as free agent (green card/citizen))
    • "Technical functions" and "technical" back office (i.e. little or no customer contact) - predominantly foreigners on visa (e.g. graduates of US colleges), though some "free agent" hiring may happen depending on circumstances

    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.

    • 15-20 years ago it was testing and "low level" programming, perhaps self contained limited-complexity functions or modules written to fairly rigid specifications, or troubleshooting and bug fixes implemented here or there.
    • Then 10-15 years ago it advanced to offshore product maintenance, following up on QA issues, small development projects, or assisting/supporting roles in "real" projects (either conducted offshore or people visiting the domestic offices for weeks to months).
    • This went on in parallel with domestic visa workers from the first 15-20 years ago wave either being encouraged or themselves expressing a desire to go back home (personal, career, family reasons etc.) and "spread the knowledge" and advancing into technical/organization management roles.
    • Then 5-10 years ago with clearly grown offshore skills (my theory is that people everywhere are cut from the same cloth, and we are now at 10+ years industry experience in this narrative), the offshore sites started taking on ownership of product components, while all the "previous" functions of testing, R&D support, tech pub (which I didn't mention earlier), etc. remained and evolved further. Also IT (though IT support is more timezone bound and is thus present in all time zones).

    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 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 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 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 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

    • real jobs that might last through 12 quarters
    • gigs
    • and surfdumb/$lavery gigs where your hours are messed with, your schedule is messed with & you are expected to pay for the stupid uniform some bean counter thinks is branding

    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] 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.

    [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 22, 2019] BOLD ENDEAVORS Lessons from Polar and Space Exploration

    Notable quotes:
    "... A lesson of use at job interviews, schools and even in families. I am thankful for an added knowledge and understanding of the many problems associated with these Endeavors. This book should be a "must" to all young people. ..."
    Oct 16, 1999 | Amazon.com
    Britta Sahlgren, October 16, 1999
    An intriguing story of human relationships in the extreme.

    Bold Endeavors by Jack Stuster proved to be a real page-turner! Since childhood reading about adventures and explorers had been my favorite literature. In this book the persons behind these endeavors came to life.

    They were of flesh and blood and you as a reader took part of their everyday life, their hardships and personal problems. A thrilling experience. A lesson in the importance of relationships not only among people in isolation

    A lesson of use at job interviews, schools and even in families. I am thankful for an added knowledge and understanding of the many problems associated with these Endeavors. This book should be a "must" to all young people.

    [Aug 21, 2019] Losing a job in your 50s is especially tough. Here are 3 steps to take when layoffs happen by Peter Dunn

    Unemployment benefits currently are usually is just six month or so; this is the time when you can plan you "downsizing". You do not need to rush but at the same time do not expect that you will get job offers quickly, if at all. Usually it does not happen. many advertised positions are fakes, another substantial percentage is already reserved for H1B candidates and posting them is the necessary legal formality.
    Often losing job logically requires selling your home and moving to a modest apartment, especially if no children are living with you. At 50 it is abut time... You need to do it later anyway, so why not now. But that's a very tough decision to make... Still, if the current housing market is close to the top (as it is in 2019), this is one of the best moves you can make. Getting from your house several hundred thousand dollars allows you to create kind of private pension to compensate for losses in income till you hit your Social Security check, which currently means 66.
    $300K investment in A quality bonds that returns 3% per year is enough to provides you with $24K per year "private pension" from 50 to age of 66 when social security kicks in. That allows you to pay for the apartment and amenities. The food is extra but with this level of income you qualify for food assistance.
    This way you can take lower paid job, of much lower paid job (which mean $15 per hour), of temp job and survive.
    And if this are many form you house sell your 401k remains intact and can supplement your SS income later on. Simple Excel spreadsheet can provide you with a complete picture of what you can afford and what not. Actually the ability to walk of fresh air for 3 or more hours each day worth a lot of money ;-)
    Notable quotes:
    "... Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives. ..."
    "... The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving ..."
    "... Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. ..."
    "... Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom. ..."
    Feb 15, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

    ... ... ...

    Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives.

    Assuming you can clear the mental challenges, the financial and administrative obstacles can leave you feeling like a Rube Goldberg machine.

    Income, health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, bills, expenses, short-term savings and retirement savings are all immediately important in the face of a job loss. Never mind your Parent PLUS loans, financially-dependent aging parents, and boomerang children (adult kids who live at home), which might all be lurking as well.

    When does your income stop?

    From the shocking moment a person learns their job is no longer their job, the word "triage" must flash in bright lights like an obnoxiously large sign in Times Square. This is more challenging than you might think. Like a pickpocket bumping into you right before he grabs your wallet, the distraction is the problem that takes your focus away from the real problem.

    This is hard to do because of the emotion that arrives with the dirty deed. The mind immediately begins to race to sources of money and relief. And unfortunately that relief is often found in the wrong place.

    The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving . That's how much time you have to defuse the bomb. Your fuse may come in the form of a severance package, or work you've performed but haven't been paid for yet.

    When do benefits kick in?

    Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. However, in some states severance pay affects your immediate eligibility for unemployment benefits. In other words, you can't file for unemployment until your severance payments go away.

    Assuming you can't just retire at this moment, which you likely can't, you must secure fresh employment income quickly. But quickly is relative to the length of your fuse. I've witnessed way too many people miscalculate the length and importance of their fuse. If you're able to get back to work quickly, the initial job loss plus severance ends up enhancing your financial life. If you take too much time, by your choice or that of the cosmos, boom.

    The next move is much more hands-on, and must also be performed the day you find yourself without a job.

    What nonessentials do I cut?

    Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom.

    The idea of diving into your spending habits on the day you lose your job is no fun. But when else will you have such a powerful reason to do so? You won't. It's better than dipping into your assets to fund your current lifestyle. And that's where we'll pick it up the next time.

    We've covered day one. In my next column we will tackle day two and beyond.

    Peter Dunn is an author, speaker and radio host, and he has a free podcast: "Million Dollar Plan." Have a question for Pete the Planner? Email him at AskPete@petetheplanner.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

    [Aug 17, 2019] Bankruptcy-related job losses are rising at rates not seen since 2009

    Aug 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

    im1dc , August 07, 2019 at 05:44 PM

    "Bankruptcy-related job losses are rising at rates not seen since 2009"

    Grim foreshadowing of what may come and quickly...

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bankruptcies-cause-the-highest-number-of-job-losses-since-2009-when-the-us-was-in-the-depths-of-the-great-recession-2019-08-06

    "Bankruptcy-related job losses are rising at rates not seen since 2009, invoking grim reminders of the Great Recession"

    By Quentin Fottrell, Personal Finance Editor...Aug 7, 2019...8:24 p.m. ET

    "The recent spate of bankruptcies in corporate America is taking its toll.

    In the first seven months of the year, U.S.-based companies announced 42,937 job cuts due to bankruptcy, up 40% on the same period last year and nearly 20% higher than all bankruptcy-related job losses last year, a report released Tuesday concluded. Despite record-low unemployment, bankruptcy filings have not claimed this many jobs since the Great Recession.

    "It is the highest seven-month total since 2009 when 50,258 cuts due to bankruptcy were announced," according to the report by outplacement and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "In fact, it is higher than the annual totals for bankruptcy cuts every year since 2009."...

    [Aug 08, 2019] Revised Profit Data Are Good News But Don't Reverse Decades of Wage Stagnation

    Notable quotes:
    "... corporations were able to increase their share of income at the expense of labor, even with an unemployment rate below 4 percent. ..."
    Aug 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

    anne , August 05, 2019 at 11:03 AM

    http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/revised-profit-data-are-good-news-but-don-t-reverse-decades-of-wage-stagnation

    August 5, 2019

    Revised Profit Data Are Good News But Don't Reverse Decades of Wage Stagnation
    By Dean Baker

    In July, the U.S. Department of Commerce released data showing GDP growth had slowed sharply in the second quarter. Most economic reporting appropriately highlighted the data showing that we were not getting the investment boom that the Republicans had promised would result from their tax cut.

    But there was also an important item in the annual GDP data revisions that many overlooked in the report: The revised profit data for 2018 showed that the profit share of corporate income had fallen by 0.4 percentage points from the prior year. This is a big deal for two reasons: It means that workers are now clearly getting their share of the gains from growth, and it tells us an important story about the structure of the economy.

    On the first point, we know that the wages of the typical worker have not kept pace with productivity growth over the last four decades. While productivity growth has not been great over most of this period (1995-2005 was the exception), wages have lagged behind even the slow productivity growth over most of this period.

    The one exception was the years of low unemployment from 1996 to 2001, when the wages of the typical worker rose in line with productivity growth. With unemployment again falling to relatively low levels in the last four years, many of us expected that wages would again be keeping pace with productivity growth.

    The earlier data on profits suggested that this might not be the case. It showed a small increase in the profit share of corporate income, suggesting that corporations were able to increase their share of income at the expense of labor, even with an unemployment rate below 4 percent.

    The revised data indicate this is not the case. The low unemployment rate is creating an environment in which workers have enough bargaining power to get their share of productivity gains and even gain back some of the income share lost in the Great Recession.

    This brings up the second issue. Most of the upward redistribution over this period was not from ordinary workers to profits, but rather to high-end workers. The big winners in the last four decades have been CEOs, hedge fund and private equity partners, and at a somewhat lower level, highly paid professionals like doctors and dentists.

    The shift to profits takes place only in this century after much of the upward redistribution had already occurred. One obvious explanation was the weak labor market following the Great Recession. With unemployment remaining stubbornly high, wages were not keeping pace with productivity growth or even inflation. An alternative explanation was that growing monopolization of major sectors (think of Google, Facebook and Amazon) was allowing capital to gain at the expense of labor.

    The revised profit data seem to support the first story. In the last four years, the profit share has fallen by 3.2 percentage points. (It had dropped another percentage point in the first quarter of 2019, although the quarterly data are highly erratic.) At this rate, in four more years, the run-up in profit shares in this century will be completely reversed.

    If the weak labor market following the Great Recession is the story of the rise in profit shares, there is still the problem of the run-up in profit share in 2003-2007, the years preceding the Great Recession. One explanation is that the profits recorded in these years were inflated by phony profits recorded by the financial sector.

    Banks like Citigroup and Bank of America were recording large profits in these years on loans that subsequently went bad. This would be equivalent to a business booking large profits on sales to customers that did not exist. Their books would show large profits when the sales were recorded, but then they would show large losses when the business had to acknowledge that the customer didn't exist, and therefore write off a previously booked sale.

    Profits that are based on sales to nonexistent customers don't come at the expense of workers, nor do profits that are booked on loans that go bad. (The subsequent recession was, of course, very much at the expense of workers.) For this reason, we should be somewhat skeptical of the shift from wages to profits in the years of the housing bubble.

    In any case, the revised profits data are good news. They show a tight labor market is working the way it is supposed to. But this doesn't mean everyone is doing great. You don't reverse four decades of wage stagnation with four relatively good years.

    However, things are at least moving in the right direction now, and that is good news. That has not generally been the case over the last 40 years.

    [Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
    "... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
    "... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
    "... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
    "... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
    "... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
    "... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
    "... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
    "... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
    Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

    However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

    BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

    We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

    In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

    A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

    In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

    Worrisome Numbers

    Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

    According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

    Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

    Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

    More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

    World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

    We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

    The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

    There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

    Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

    The Economics of Stress

    This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

    Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

    Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

    The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

    And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

    The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

    Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

    The Race Enigma

    One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

    The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

    According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

    In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

    Trump's Faux Populism

    The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

    White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

    The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

    As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

    This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

    And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

    Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

    Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"

    Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.

    The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.


    Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.

    DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.

    JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.

    The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.

    I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.

    sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.

    dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.

    Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

    I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?

    Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!

    Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

    We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®

    https://mobile.twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1140998287933300736
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apxZvpzq4Mw

    DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

    This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.

    Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    " if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
    amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
    and I'll add Hispanics to that.
    My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
    Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
    I recommend it.
    on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
    all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
    ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
    that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.

    David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

    What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.

    Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Actually, in the article it states:
    "There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."

    jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.

    Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am

    obese cracker

    You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?

    rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms

    Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.

    The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".

    Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

    I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.

    In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.

    B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

    As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.

    B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

    One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.

    [Jun 11, 2019] Open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage.

    Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

    MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129

    @donkeytale

    You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "

    This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.

    [Jun 05, 2019] America's Demise In One Simple Chart - The Path To A FIRE Economy

    Notable quotes:
    "... finance...is not value added....it is value SUBTRACTED! ..."
    "... A job at McDonald's then was merely a job you had to make a little money on the side while attending colleges that were FREE to very low cost. Now, McDonald's is one of many low wage jobs in this GIG economy that are utilized as life sustaining. ..."
    "... Production of debt instead of production of things. US is one of the largest producers of debt. Financialization as planned by the bankers. ..."
    Jun 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

    venturen , 2 hours ago link

    finance...is not value added....it is value SUBTRACTED!

    venturen , 3 hours ago link

    when you can create $10 Trillion out of thin air and then give it to a select few...what did you think would happen. Instead of arresting the criminal bankers....we rescued them!

    They are criminal by nature and are programmed to steal ever more! I know hundreds of NYC bankers and lawyers.....they are NOT NICE PEOPLE!

    Handful of Dust , 2 hours ago link

    +1,000

    Between Bush and Obama bailing them out, and then destroying the middle class with regulations, Obamacare, ZIRP, offshoring, etc.....

    CatInTheHat , 2 hours ago link

    ...Narcissists/sociopaths in America now outnumber empaths

    exlcus , 2 hours ago link

    America's Demise In One Simple Chart

    This is one time that a ZH headline was not click bait. Not only is FIRE bigger than manufacturing, even .GOV is bigger than manufacturing now too. We're fucked, big time.

    CatInTheHat , 2 hours ago link

    Another boomer who lives in a state of alternate reality. Boomers were privy to government jobs and manufacturing in the US aplenty. They also were privy to government subsidies that don't exist today.

    A job at McDonald's then was merely a job you had to make a little money on the side while attending colleges that were FREE to very low cost. Now, McDonald's is one of many low wage jobs in this GIG economy that are utilized as life sustaining.

    Offshoring, the disappearance of government subsidies and social programs (thanks to boomers love for BILL CLINTON), wealth inequality (See the FED/Obama bank bailout/QE), stagnant wages, student loan debt, 22 TRILLION US DEBT, & 9/11 & 17 years of WAR & MORE WAR, has caused this country to become BANKRUPT.

    Living in your parents basement, or with roommates, one paycheck from the streets to living on the streets is how it is for that kid YOU destroyed through your voting for sociopaths who took away the very jobs and entitlements YOU were privy to that no longer exist.

    RasinResin , 1 hour ago link

    I like your sarcasm, but the truth is something different entirely. Median home in 2000 - 164K. Now - 313K. Median income during the same period rose 3k. Clarified.

    Handful of Dust , 1 minute ago link

    If interest rates ever correct, those houses will be $164k again.

    Expat , 3 hours ago link

    LOL. All hail Donald! Our Real Estate Over-Lord and King of Low Interest Rates!

    ... ... ...

    j0nx , 1 hour ago link

    Bs. If they feared that then they wouldn't have ever raised rates effectively killing the refi market and putting downward pressure on prices for the past 2 years.

    yogibear , 1 hour ago link

    Production of debt instead of production of things. US is one of the largest producers of debt. Financialization as planned by the bankers.

    desirdavenir , 1 hour ago link

    Financialization as embraced by the boomers, eager to go for the fast money with no skills and no hard work.

    CatInTheHat , 27 minutes ago link

    Yeah it is. I wouldn't have a kid and raise it in this country today if my life depended on it. May be that's why birth rates in the US are at historic lows.

    besnook , 1 hour ago link

    if the country was run by shoe shine boys there would be shoe shine palaces on every corner and a law requiring everyone to get a shoeshine 3 times/day. the usa is run by banksters. you get the result described.

    wonger , 1 hour ago link

    ADP just missed by 153,000 jobs, bye bye real estate

    HideTheWeenie , 1 hour ago link

    Real Estate:They're mot making more of it ... Because they made too much of it.

    BuyDash , 3 hours ago link

    It happened in the blink of an eye. I told you, soon Caucasian areas will just start dying out. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

    Teja , 1 hour ago link

    Curse of consumerist car-focussed societies everywhere. Same for Japan, China. Don't think that skin pigments will protect against it, though.

    The only counter-trends are societies like the Amish, or maybe orthodox Jews. Their inoculation against most aspects of consumer society has the side effect of exponential population growth.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_Amish_population

    TeethVillage88s , 1 hour ago link

    Via Global Macro Monitor,

    We originally posted this chart in February 2011 , which we just updated also breaking out the real estate industry from FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate). It is still just as shocking as it was back when we first produced it.

    Economy Jumps The Shark. The U.S. economy jumped the shark in 1990 when FIRE overtook the manufacturing sector in terms of its contribution to GDP.

    So... Finance Capitalism is real, Mises?

    [May 15, 2019] Tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs...

    The key factor here is that the USA is a neoliberal state which means profits before people and outsourcing to area with lower labor cost. Like leopard can't change its spots, neoliberalism can't change it "free movement of goods and labor" principles, or it stop being neoliberalism.
    No jobs will come back to the USA as financial oligarchy is transnational body that uses the USA military as an enforcer for their gang. It does not care one bit about the common people in the USA.
    May 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

    Originally from: Pepe Escobar Warns Over US-China Tensions The Hardcore Is Yet To Come

    ... ... ...

    Where are our jobs?

    Pause on the sound and fury for necessary precision. Even if the Trump administration slaps 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, the IMF has projected that would trim just a meager slither – 0.55% – off China's GDP. And America is unlikely to profit, because the extra tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs to the US – something that Steve Jobs told Barack Obama eons ago.

    What happens is that global supply chains will be redirected to economies that offer comparative advantages in relation to China, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. And this redirection is already happening anyway – including by Chinese companies.

    BRI represents a massive geopolitical and financial investment by China, as well as its partners; over 130 states and territories have signed on. Beijing is using its immense pool of capital to make its own transition towards a consumer-based economy while advancing the necessary pan-Eurasian infrastructure development – with all those ports, high-speed rail, fiber optics, electrical grids expanding to most Global South latitudes.

    The end result, up to 2049 – BRI's time span – will be the advent of an integrated market of no less than 4.5 billion people, by that time with access to a Chinese supply chain of high-tech exports as well as more prosaic consumer goods.

    Anyone who has followed the nuts and bolts of the Chinese miracle launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in 1978 knows that Beijing is essentially exporting the mechanism that led China's own 800 million citizens to, in a flash, become members of a global middle class.

    As much as the Trump administration may bet on "maximum pressure" to restrict or even block Chinese access to whole sectors of the US market, what really matters is BRI's advance will be able to generate multiple, extra US markets over the next two decades.

    We don't do 'win-win'

    There are no illusions in the Zhongnanhai, as there are no illusions in Tehran or in the Kremlin. These three top actors of Eurasian integration have exhaustively studied how Washington, in the 1990s, devastated Russia's post-USSR economy (until Putin engineered a recovery) and how Washington has been trying to utterly destroy Iran for four decades.

    Beijing, as well as Moscow and Tehran, know everything there is to know about Hybrid War, which is an American intel concept. They know the ultimate strategic target of Hybrid War, whatever the tactics, is social chaos and regime change.

    The case of Brazil – a BRICS member like China and Russia – was even more sophisticated: a Hybrid War initially crafted by NSA spying evolved into lawfare and regime change via the ballot box. But it ended with mission accomplished – Brazil has been reduced to the lowly status of an American neo-colony.

    Let's remember an ancient mariner, the legendary Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng He, who for three decades, from 1405 to 1433, led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, reaching Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Mogadiscio, Mombasa, bringing tons of goods to trade (silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, iron tools, leather utensils).

    That was the original Maritime Silk Road, progressing in parallel to Emperor Yong Le establishing a Pax Sinica in Asia – with no need for colonies and religious proselytism. But then the Ming dynasty retreated – and China was back to its agricultural vocation of looking at itself.

    They won't make the same mistake again. Even knowing that the current hegemon does not do "win-win". Get ready for the real hardcore yet to come.


    Tachyon5321 , 35 minutes ago link

    The Swine fever is sweeping china hog farms and since the start of 2019 200+ millions hogs have been culled. Chinese hog production is down from 2016 high of 700 million to below 420 million by the end of the year. The fever is not under control.

    Soybeans from Ukraine are unloaded at the port in Nantong, in eastern China. Imports of soy used to come from the US, but have slumped since the trade war began. Should point out that the Ukraine soy production matures at a different time of the year than the US soybean. The USA planting season starts in Late april, may and june. Because of the harvest time differences worldwide the USA supplies 80% of the late maturing soybeans needed by October/Nov and December.

    A propaganda story by the Asian Times

    BT , 46 minutes ago link

    Orange Jesus just wants to be re-elected in 2020 and MIGA.

    Son of Captain Nemo , 52 minutes ago link

    Perhaps this is one of the "casualties" ( https://www.rt.com/news/459355-us-austria-embassy-mcdonalds/ ) of economic war given the significance of China and just how important it is to the U.S. in it's purchases of $USD to maintain the illusion of it's reserve currency status and "vigor"...

    Surprised this didn't happen first at the U.S. Embassies in Russia and China?... Obviously Ronald McDonald has turned into a charity of sorts helping out Uncle $am in his ailing "health" these dayz!...

    SUPER SIZE ME!... Cause I'm not lovin it anymore!... I'm needin it!!!!

    joego1 , 52 minutes ago link

    If Americans want to wear shoes they can make them or have a robot make them. Manufacturing can happen in the U.S. **** what Steve Jobs told Oblamy .

    ElBarto , 1 hour ago link

    I've never understood this "jobs aren't coming back" argument. Do you really think that it will stop tariffs? They're happening. Better start preparing.

    ZakuKommander , 1 hour ago link

    Oh, right, tariffs WILL bring back American jobs! Then why didn't the Administration impose them fully in 2017? Why negotiate at all; just impose all the tariffs!?! lol

    Haboob , 1 hour ago link

    Pepe is correct as usual. Even if America tariffs the world the jobs aren't coming back as corporations will be unable to turn profits in such a highly taxed country like America would be. What could happen however is America can form an internal free market again going isolationist with new home grown manufacturing.

    Gonzogal , 41 minutes ago link

    You VERY obviously have ZERO knowledge of Chinas history and its discoveries/inventions etc USED BY THE WEST.

    I suggest that you keep your eyes open for "History Erased-China" on Y Tube. The series shows what would happen in todays world if countries and their contributions to the world did not happen.

    here is a preview: https://youtu.be/b6PJxuheWfk

    [May 11, 2019] America s Industrial Gold Rush is Over

    Notable quotes:
    "... I see a lot of people saying, "They should just move to where the jobs are." 1) They would need accurate and defined information about where the jobs are that are looking for their skills 2) They would need some money to get there 3) They would need a place to stay and the rents and mortages are sky high 'where the jobs are' 4) They would have to be welcome. Two previous mass migrations within the USA come to mind: Black Americans out of the South and the dust bowl migrations to California. They were not welcomed with "open arms". ..."
    "... I think the author understates the importance of Corporations being Good Citizens and Good Persons. ..."
    "... My father was selected to go to Akron for training and if he passed the tests and did well in the training he might get a chance at Managing a Firestone Store. He was gone for weeks at a time for this process and was even required to go to Akron for more training after becoming a store manager. My father was an intelligent person but did not have a college degree. But I can see now that Firestone did an outstanding job training their store managers in all aspects of the job. Just think about that for a while. ..."
    "... Corporations today hate themselves becaus