Now that Jim Bunning's quixotic assault on the unemployed has been stopped due to shame (unusual for a GOoPer, that), it might be time to look at what that unemployment situation is currently. The Obama Labor Dept has been saying it's been going down in the wake of their rescue of Wall Street from its own incompetence and greed to the tune of $$$Trillions$$$ of taxpayer bucks, thus allowing conservaDems like, well, Obama, to claim that his and Wall Street Timmy's trickle-down strategy (otherwise known as TARP and "the stimulus") is working.
Meanwhile, people like me have been insisting that without a sizable component aimed at directly creating jobs rather than saving banks in the hope that they'll loosen credit (which they didn't), thus encouraging Corporate America to expand (which they didn't) by hiring more employees (which they damn well didn't), the best you could say is that the trickle-down strategy bought us a little time. That time may be running out even as we speak.
This Friday may well bring the darkest piece of news yet, at least on the surface. Forecasters are predicting that the Labor Department will report that job losses accelerated in February, perhaps back above 100,000. The main reason will be the temporary hit from the big snowstorms last month. Yet there is reason to wonder if the economy also has bigger problems.
The weekly data on jobless benefits are narrower and less consistent than the monthly jobs report, but they have the advantage of being more current. From early January to late February, the number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose 15 percent. Over the previous nine months, this number was generally falling.
Yah. But it was always - and had to be - a temporary fall. There were no permanent structures in place to create jobs, no money going directly to job creation, and no real incentive to business to take the leap and hire people. Plus, we allowed the banks whose asses we'd just saved on the basis that they would loosen credit to tighten it instead - a surefire formula to strangle any urge on the part of corporate weenies (and there's nobody in the world more risk-averse chickenshit than a corporate exec) to hire more people they hate (ergo, employees). The cowards of Wall Street (Ayn Randian fantasies of strong, courageous, and filthy rich man-meat innovators notwithstanding) went instead back to proven revenue-producing leaders, like ripping us off with new derivatives schemes and then divvying up the massive profits as quickly as possible through bonus-baby handouts to each other. SOP.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone that the comfy, optimistic predictions that the worst was over that we were hearing from the Masters of the Universe just a short month or so ago have begun to to slant in a subtly different direction.
"The strength of data we saw at the end of last year exaggerated the strength of the underlying economy," Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley, says. "And now we're seeing some pullback."
Duh. And that would be because...?
This is especially troubling because the economy is still such a long way from being healthy. Lawrence Katz, the Harvard labor economist, estimates that 10.6 million jobs would need to materialize immediately to return the job market to its condition when the Great Recession began. For it to get there four years from now, the economy would have to add 316,000 jobs a month. That pace would be faster than in any four-year stretch of the 1990s boom.
Uh-huh. That's what I thought. That's what most economists thought. That's what everybody who didn't have his head up his ass thought.
The signs of another impending economic implosion are all there, just as predicted by idiots like me, and if I can see it there no reason in the world why they couldn't. So why didn't they?
My prediction of another free-fall by the end of summer holds. We're on track. Just once I'd like to be wrong about shit like this. What can we do about it? Well, here's an idea. If you don't have a job, join a union for the unemployed.
It's been only a month that a union for the unemployed has come into existence through an ingenious grassroots organizing campaign. In case you haven't heard about it, the union's name is "UR Union of the Unemployed" or its nickname, "UCubed," because of its unique method of organizing.
UCubed is the brain-child of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), whose leaders feel that the millions of unemployed workers need a union of their own to join in the struggle for massive jobs programs.
The idea is that if millions of jobless join together and act as an organization, they are more likely to get Congress and the White House to provide the jobs that are urgently needed. They can also apply pressure for health insurance coverage, unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits and food stamps. An unemployed worker is virtually helpless if he or she has to act alone.
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