Tag Archives: manufacturing jobs

Do Not Get Mad: Focus!

i'm mad as hellEverywhere you look, the media is telling us how angry, disaffected and totally bummed out the American electorate is. We are not happy with anything. We are behaving like infants with colic. Why? Why are we so ridiculously upset?

Fox News and the rest of the conservative media have been telling us for the last eight years that Barack Obama is a failure. He has not only failed to move the country forward, but he is actively working to drive the country into the abyss. President Obama hates the military. His policies have hampered and crippled big business. Wall Street is a shadow of its former self because of the policies of Barack Obama. ObamaCare has ruined healthcare and killed jobs. Nothing is better. Everything is worse. Billionaire Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” which clearly implies that America is not great now.

Hogwash! If we roll the clock back to 2008/2009, we see the American economy careening down the hillside as if in a Road Runner cartoon. We were losing 600,000 jobs per month. We were going over the cliff and were going to crash land like Wiley Coyote on the desert floor. Splat! Barack Obama and the Democrats prevented certain disaster. There was the stimulus and multiple other measures instituted in spite of heavy Republican opposition and, for the most part, every single one of his measures worked. The economy turned around. 5.6 million Americans have found work over the last two years. The economy has had 70 months of positive private-sector job growth. This is great. This is nothing to be upset or pout about. If George W. Bush had accomplished this feat, we would never hear the end of how great he is.

In spite of all the bellyaching and whining, ObamaCare has pretty much done what it was supposed to do. Remember, as ObamaCare was being crafted, blue dog Democrats and Republicans worked hard behind the scenes to limit the scope and effectiveness of this legislation. Instead, ObamaCare was supposed to be a small safety net for middle-class Americans who could not afford healthcare. This health-care legislation would also help some lower-class or poor Americans who had full-time employment. Approximately 12 million Americans have gotten insurance through ObamaCare. One of the best things about ObamaCare is that it has eliminated crappy healthcare insurance (Remember that Americans paid for some healthcare insurance that really did not cover any hospital expenses.) Nonpartisan economic think tanks have found no evidence that ObamaCare has killed jobs, nor forced widespread cuts in workers’ hours, which was widely forecast by conservatives. This is another win!

Now, I am not saying that everything is wonderful and that we should all hold hands and sing Kumbaya as we walk into the sunset. Instead, I think it is important for us to focus on real problems and work for real solutions. Wage stagnation is a real problem. The average American is making the same or less than they were making five, 10, 15 years ago. The reason for this is multifactorial. This is not a new phenomenon under President Obama. This happened under George W. Bush. Manufacturing jobs have packed up and gone to Mexico, Malaysia and other Third World countries. The jobs that are left are in healthcare, which pays pretty well, and in the service sector, which pays fairly poorly. The other thing that we have to take into account is the fact that unions help put more money into the pockets of the average American. Over the last 20-30 years, unions have been crushed by big business and Republicans. So, if you want to be mad, this is something to be mad about. Americans are more productive than ever, yet we seem to be rewarded less and less for our productivity. The only people who are getting rewarded are those in the financial sector and the top 1%.

College tuition is another reason for Americans to be frustrated and angry. There was a time, not too long ago, when the government subsidized a good portion of college tuition. In the 1960s, 1970s and through the mid-1980s, state college was affordable to almost everybody. Suddenly, the government began to slash those generous subsidies. College tuition began to skyrocket. Students began to take out more and more loans and acquire more and more debt. When you graduate from school and owe $50,000 or $100,000 in debt, you will spend the next 15 or 20 years trying to pay off that debt. You really cannot afford a house. You really cannot afford a reliable car. You are simply drowning in debt. The fact that only a few politicians are seriously putting out plans to attack this huge American problem is pitiful. Without an education, it is hard to get out of poverty. Education is the key. If we are really the land of opportunity, then we have to tackle this education problem.

When you are mad, really mad, your judgment is clouded. You make epically poor decisions, like voting for someone who is known more for firing Americans than for hiring Americans. Once we settle down and take a deep breath, we find out that America is actually heading in the right direction. The economy is creating plenty of jobs. We just need to figure out how to get those jobs to pay more. We need education and housing to be affordable. We need our society to be more racially just. We can fix these problems. We need to learn how to compromise and work together. It is that simple.

Inequality is up, way up

From Reuters:

The analysis found that inequality has risen not just in plutocratic hubs such as Wall Street and Silicon Valley, but also in virtually every corner of the world’s richest nation:

  • Inequality has increased in 49 of 50 states since 1989.
  • The poverty rate increased in 43 states, most sharply in Nevada, ravaged by the housing bust, and in Indiana, which saw a rise in low-paying jobs.
  • Twenty-eight states saw all three metrics of socioeconomic well-being worsen. There, inequality and poverty rose and median income fell.
  • In all 50 states, the richest 20 percent of households made far greater income gains than any other quintile – up 12 percent nationally.
  • Income for the median household – in the very middle – fell in 28 states, with Michigan and Connecticut leading the way.
  • The five largest increases in inequality all were in New England: Connecticut first, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The decline in manufacturing jobs hit New England’s poor and middle hard, while the highly educated benefited from expansion in the biotech and finance industries.
  • The only state that didn’t see a rise in inequality: Mississippi, which had an insignificant dip. The Magnolia State was one of the few to post a drop in poverty and a rise in income, but it still ranks worst in the nation on both counts.

Sunday Afternoon News Roundup

  • It seems that everybody on the planet is following the Casey Anthony trial. I actually had to do a Google search in order to figure out who Casey Anthony was. I think it’s far more interesting to follow the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the former head of the IMF. He’s been accused of the rape of a hotel maid. I thought the case was locked tight when his DNA was found on the maid’s clothing. But no! The prosecution’s case has begun to crumble. The maid was taped during a call with her boyfriend saying, “Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.” That doesn’t sound so good for the prosecution. She lied about being gang raped in Guinea. She told prosecutors that she had a single source of income, her maid job, but she has four different bank accounts with over $1000 each in four different states. All of a sudden the former IMF chairman seems to be looking less and less guilty.
  • Another week goes by and another Republican announces that he/she is running for president. This time it is Thaddeus McCotter, a congressman from Michigan.
  • A huge protest at the Georgia state capitol over their extremely restrictive immigration law. We need to get a handle on immigration. This is not something that the states need to undertake or should undertake, in my opinion. Instead, Congress needs to fix this.
  • According to a new poll, only 58% of Americans knew the answer to this question: “In which year did the United States declare its independence?” Seriously? Republicans are cutting education budgets throughout the country. When you see results like this, it is obvious that we need to increase education funding, not cut it. In case you’re wondering, the answer is 1776.
  • If you’re looking for a good reason why the American middle class struggling, just look at this article on a BMW plant which is closing. This is exactly what happened throughout the Midwest. Once good manufacturing jobs leave, members of the middle class, as a rule, are forced to take lower paying service sector jobs. I think I would feel differently if companies who are outsourcing jobs were losing market share or losing money, but neither is the case. Instead, companies want to make more money than they’re already making. I would feel better if this outsourcing and increased corporate profits would lead to increased salaries for workers, but it doesn’t. The only ones who win from this outsourcing are the corporate executives. When America begins to care about the middle class again, stuff like this will not happen.
  • A Pennsylvania congressman confronts his constituents over cuts to the middle class and protecting big business and the rich.
  • Michele Bachmann ended her gaffe-prone week by stating, “a dollar in 2011 should be the same as a dollar in 1911.” I’m not sure what Michele Bachmann meant by the statement. I think that she was implying that the Obama administration’s trying to stimulate the economy and injecting money into the system has caused the devaluation of our dollar. I guess she was suggesting that we should’ve done nothing and sat by as millions more Americans would’ve lost their jobs, pushing unemployment rates up to the 15-20% range. Is that what she is suggesting?
  • Leave it to Chuck Schumer, Senator from New York, to say what everyone else is thinking. The GOP is sabotaging the economy for their own political gain. I don’t know if this is true or not. I do know that a stimulus of some sort will help the economy and help drive down the unemployment rate. The GOP is resisting this with all of its might.