Jan 31, 2011
Jan 09, 2011
The employment report that came out last Friday is a beautiful example of how to lie with statistics. The big number announced was the drop in the unemployment rate from 9.8 to 9.4 percent. The nation added 103,000 jobs in December and it is generally conceded that we need to add 100,000 to 125,000 jobs each month “just to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate from rising.”1
So how did the measly increase of 103,000 jobs in December result in the largest drop in the unemployment rate in months? It is because the unemployment rate is based on a fiction the Department of Labor calls the “labor force,” which consists of the number of people who are employed or who are looking for work. An estimated 260,000 unemployed people gave up their long pursuit of employment in December, and that would seem to be the sole reason the unemployment rate dropped so precipitously.
For better or for worse, that number is the one which people latch onto when assessing the general state of our economy, and now we can see how misleading it is. To not count among the unemployed those who have given up looking for work is not simply a statistical failing, it is a moral failing. It is, however, a particularly canny political strategy, as now the nation is under the impression that unemployment—the single greatest threat we face today—is suddenly on a speedy and healthy mend, when nothing could be further from the truth
Give us an unemployment rate that includes all those who want to work but are unemployed, then include those who are working part time but want to work full time, and the millions of employed who are working for less, sometimes considerably less, than a living wage, and you will see a number that will strike terror into your heart. And in 2011, when many unemployed will begin exhausting their 99 weeks of compensation and will be desperate to take on any work at any pay, that number will begin to skyrocket.
America as the economic powerhouse of the world is history. The only question now is how fast and how far we descend in the coming decade into a second-rate, two-class society consisting of the few super-rich and the rest of us. A paradigm shift in priorities on the order of A New American Vision points a way out of our predicament. This, or something equally radical, is all that can reverse the trends of the past thirty years. And if we don’t get started on this now, it may well be too late.
1 CPBB Statement: January 7, 2011, by Chad Stone, accessed Jan 8, 2011.
Jan 01, 2011
To reverse the dangerous social, political, and economic trends of the last thirty years;
To halt our lemming-like march to extinction via global climatological collapse;
To close the vast gulf between the obscenely super-rich and the billions of our fellow creatures who go to bed hungry every night and whose children die by the thousands every day from disease, infected water, and malnutrition.
I don’t know how we are going to do this. However, the world is full of brilliant, caring, and aware individuals who today are tilling their own plots of ground in pursuit of global justice. If we can coalesce into a cooperative force, we can bring our world back from the brink. This is something we must do and we must do it now. If we don't, all of our causes are lost.
2011 will be a pivotal year. As 99-week unemployment benefits begin to run out, millions of Americans will face destitution to a degree not felt in this country since the depths of the Great Depression. Home foreclosures will continue apace, with millions of those same Americans facing the double whammy of unemployment and homelessness. The new Republican majority in the House will initiate a full court press to bring down Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security with, apparently, the cooperation of the so-called opposition party and the White House. As Robert Reich says in his Dec 30 piece you will find on this month’s Noted with Interest, the rich will get richer, the poor poorer, the stock market will go up, and the misery for the average American will deepen.
In 2011, boomers will begin reaching retirement age in droves. After the hit they took in 2008-09 to their retirement accounts, many of them will be unable to retire, further freezing out young people who are already unemployed in numbers far higher than the national rate of 9.6 percent. Wages will fall as thousands more enter the labor force each month and the unemployed become increasingly desperate for work.
The American people have been abandoned by their representatives and by a suddenly global economy and an international corporatocracy that look elsewhere for both labor and markets. Housing prices—an important indicator of a society’s economic well-being—continue to fall,1 plunging additional hundreds of thousands of homeowners underwater with every drop of a percentage point.
In his piece noted above, Reich hopes that “[p]rogressives, enlightened Tea Partiers, Independents, organized labor, minorities, and the young [will] form a new progressive movement designed to reconnect America.” This is our hope as well, and has been our theme here at All Together Now since 2008. In 2011, we must begin to forge that movement. And we must do it without, at present, an obvious leader around which to assemble our forces. Until one arises, we must gather our forces around the task itself. We have leaders aplenty, as noted above, tilling important patches of soil around the globe. What we need now is followers, committed to the goal of working together. If you are willing to be one of them, send me your name, your email, and your thoughts on how we should proceed. No task is more important to the future of our planet and our species.
1 US house prices fall in October, set to tumble further, by Mark Trumbull, from the Christian Science Monitor, Dec 28, 2010, accessed Jan 1, 2011.
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