Monday, December 31, 2012

Mr. Merkley Goes to Washington

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Unemployment and the Deficit — Why Job Creation Is the Best Policy

Updated - with a Business Insider post from Dec. 28

This is reproduced from an email from the National Jobs For All Coalition

Unemployment creates a significant addition to the deficit because jobless taxpayers and businesses short of customers are poor sources of federal tax revenues. At the same time, government spends more on indispensable unemployment compensation, food stamps and other social programs. Further, in a high unemployment economy, real wages of employed workers stagnate or even fall, so their taxes also stagnate. Unemployment, moreover, afflicts state and local governments with declining tax revenues and rising costs. These state and local governments can't create credit or borrow as easily as the federal government. As a result public services are slashed and public sector workers are laid off. Attempts to cut our way back to prosperity won't work; it will harm our future and create even more suffering in the present. As Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz observes, "No large economy has ever recovered from serious recession through austerity."

There is a better way. Direct government job creation could put people work at jobs that need to be done--repairing infrastructure and providing human services. This is was the federal government did in the 1930s, and the result was a great benefit to the nation. Two bills introduced in Congress, HR 4277 and HR 6411, would create work that meets important needs as well as give jobs to the unemployed. These jobs would be funded without increasing the deficit through a Financial Transaction Tax [already introduced as HR 6411] that would also reduce the harmful financial speculation that was one of the causes of the Great Recession.


The graph is from Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider - charting the Federal deficit at a percentage of GDP, and the U3 unemployment rate for the past 50 years.

Read his article: "There's Only One Way To Fix The Deficit — And Actually It's Totally Painless"

Cliff-tossing, coast to coast

From the New York State Department of Labor:

Unless the U.S. Congress extends Unemployment Insurance Benefits, all Extended Benefits (EB) and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) will end on December 30, 2012.

From the State of California's Employment Development Department:

Regardless of when your regular claim or extension benefits start, December 29, 2012, will be the last week ending date that EDD can pay federal extension (Tiers 1 – 4) benefits to eligible unemployed workers, even if someone is currently unemployed or has a remaining balance on their federal extension.

As of December 26, the number of Californians who have run out of benefits is over 928,600.

That's in addition to the people in the states mentioned in the Ezra Klein video below:

Tennessee - 30,000
Nevada - 25,000
Michigan - 85,000
Florida - 119,000
Connecticut - 43,000
Oregon - 30,000

Let Them Eat Nothing

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

A thought experiment...

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Today's #NowIsTheTime Must-sees

  • "gassy clouds of fear" - read the full article about the NRA. The comments, especially from gun owners, are important additions to the conversation.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Question

Friday, December 14, 2012


Reposting this question originally asked in July:

"Can we all, as Americans, agree on a comon goal? No more innocent gun victims."

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Do I have your attention?

Five billion, nine hundred fifty-nine million, five hundred thousand dollars.

Per year.

That's what you get when you multiply the number of people currently employed in Michigan (3,973,000), by the amount of money lost in reduced wages ($1,500) per person, in one year, on average, after a state adopts "right to work" laws.

Six billion dollars, transferred out of middle- and lower-class paychecks, and transferred into profits.

Michigan, that's no way to build and sustain a middle class.

It's plutocracy.

Worse - it's kleptocracy - government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.

A moment of objectivity

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

- President John Adams

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

"Nate Silver was right, and I was wrong."

- Dean Chambers, "Unskewed Polls"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

(More) unemployed in danger of being pushed over fiscal cliff

From today's Melissa Harris-Perry show:

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True in 1961. Still true today. "Right to work" is a right to work for less.

Martin Luther King, speaking about right-to-work laws in 1961:

"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone… Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote."

Economists, discussing right to work laws today:

When right-to-work laws were first implemented decades ago, those first states benefited with increased employment because companies and jobs migrated there in search of the lower wages, Belman said. But that impact has faded over time, as more states have joined those ranks and as unions have agreed to concessionary demands from employers, he said.

The data on wages tell a fairly clear story: Of the top 10 states in per capita income in 2011, seven were not right-to work states. Of the bottom 10 states, seven were right-to-work.

"There is a lot of evidence that wages and benefits are lower in right-to-work states," Belman said. "There's a redistribution of wages and benefits toward owners' capital."

Timothy Bartik, senior economist with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center, agreed.

"I think the relevant issue that people should be asking themselves about right to work is, what impact does it have on employment and what impact does it have on wages? And both of those questions are important," he said.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chart of the Day: Overboard

As seen on Daily Kos:

Daily Kos writer Meteor Blades published this chart, showing how many people will be affected if Federal unemployment benefits are terminated at the end of this month.

Nine million Americans (not counting their dependents) will be left without a lifeline.

Corporations are making record levels of after-tax profits, while doing everything they can to cut salaries and full-time positions.

We have to fix this problem.