Wednesday, August 13, 2014

(Bye Bye Dave, Hulloo Toddy) Third-World Status Envied Now (The De-Industrialization of America) One Rich Exec Gets Personal (Gives $$$$$ Back To Help Others) Robin Williams, Adieu

Some final thoughts on "Meet the Flesh."

‘Equally insufferable'

Who knew? National Review’s Jonah Goldberg is a Chuck Todd fan. No, really.

LucienCordier •

They should hire me and rename it "Meet the Cattle Prod".   Start filibustering, speechifying, spewing talking points or avoiding a simple yes/no answer and ride the lightning. Sure to be a hit.

NotBuyingItEvenForADollar •

This is like trying to stop a fire by throwing gas on it. Just put it out of its misery already!

I've said it over and over again (in classrooms, blogs, letters to editors, forums, etc.) for the last two decades (okay, three - since Raygun's initial blast - but NO ONE would listen to me then).

Now, finally, I've got big backup.

(Even my Mother caught on fairly early (last week) and sent me this newsy clip from her local paper (to make me feel better?). Does this help Dg?)

Not a 'Good Fit'?

I have been applying for work part time to generate some income. I never get a reply to most applications online.

I did have an interview recently with a very nice office. They were kind enough to call me to give me the news.

Seems I am overqualified. Now, in my opinion, if someone with a Ph. D. in physics wants to mop floors to generate some income, that person should not be rejected for being well-educated. I also think it is a term for "TOO OLD."

In addition, I was told that I am not a good fit. Not sure what that one means. But I do appreciate getting a phone call, even with bad news. I continue to look and the beat goes on.

Name withheld

Physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science?

Sorry. You're overqualified for all but a tiny number of U.S. stateside jobs.

And even then you'd better be just a few years out of university or you're overqualified too.

The De-Industrialization of America

August 11, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts, Dave Kranzler, and John Titus

On January 6, 2004, Paul Craig Roberts and US Senator Charles Schumer published a jointly written article on the op-ed page of the New York Times titled “Second Thoughts on Free Trade.

The article pointed out that the US had entered a new economic era in which American workers face “direct global competition at almost every job level – from the machinist to the software engineer to the Wall Street analyst. Any worker whose job does not require daily face-to-face interaction is now in jeopardy of being replaced by a lower-paid equally skilled worker thousands of miles away.

American jobs are being lost not to competition from foreign companies, but to multinational corporations that are cutting costs by shifting operations to low-wage countries.” Roberts and Schumer challenged the correctness of economists’ views that jobs off-shoring was merely the operation of mutually beneficial free trade, about which no concerns were warranted.

The challenge to what was regarded as “free trade globalism” from the unusual combination of a Reagan Assistant Treasury Secretary and a liberal Democrat New York Senator caused a sensation. The liberal think-tank in Washington, the Brookings Institution, organized a Washington conference for Roberts and Schumer to explain, or perhaps it was to defend, their heretical position. The conference was televised live by C-Span, which rebroadcast the conference on a number of occasions.

Roberts and Schumer dominated the conference, and when it dawned on the audience of Washington policymakers and economists that something might actually be wrong with the off-shoring policy, in response to a question about the consequences for the US of jobs off-shoring, Roberts said:  “In 20 years the US will be a Third World country.”

It looks like Roberts was optimistic that the US economy would last another 20 years. It has only been 10 years and the US already looks more and more like a Third World country. America’s great cities, such as Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis have lost between one-fifth and one-quarter of their populations. Real median family income has been declining for years, an indication that the ladders of upward mobility that made America the “opportunity society” have been dismantled. Last April, the National Employment Law Project reported that real median household income fell 10% between 2007 and 2012.

Republicans have a tendency to blame the victims. Before one asks, “what’s the problem? America is the richest country on earth; even the American poor have TV sets, and they can buy a used car for $2,000,” consider the recently released report  from the Federal Reserve that two-thirds of American households are unable to raise $400 cash without selling possessions or borrowing from family and friends.

Although you would never know it from the reports from the US financial press, the poor job prospects that Americans face now rival those of India 30 years ago.

American university graduates are employed, if they are employed, not as software engineers and managers but as waitresses and bartenders. They do not make enough to have an independent existence and live at home with their parents. Half of those with student loans cannot service them. Eighteen percent are either in collection or behind in their payments. Another 34% have student loans in deferment or forbearance. Clearly, education was not the answer.

Jobs off-shoring, by lowering labor costs and increasing corporate profits, has enriched corporate executives and large shareholders, but the loss of millions of well-paying jobs has made millions of Americans downwardly mobile. In addition, jobs off-shoring has destroyed the growth in consumer demand on which the US economy depends with the result that the economy cannot create enough jobs to keep up with the growth of the labor force.

Between October 2008 and July 2014 the working age population grew by 13.4 million persons, but the US labor force grew by only 1.1 million. In other words, the unemployment rate among the increase in the working age population during the past six years is 91.8%.

Since the year 2000, the lack of jobs has caused the labor force participation rate to fall, and since quantitative easing began in 2008, the decline in the labor force participation rate has accelerated.

Clearly there is no economic recovery when participation in the labor force collapses.

Right-wing ideologues will say that the labor force participation rate is down because abundant welfare makes it possible for people not to work. This is nonsensical. During this period food stamps have twice been reduced, unemployed benefits were cut back as were a variety of social services. Being on welfare in America today is an extreme hardship. Moreover, there are no jobs going begging.

The graph shows the collapse in the labor force participation rate. The few small peaks above the 65% participation rate line show the few periods when the economy produced enough jobs to keep up with the working age population. The massive peaks below the line indicate the periods in which the dearth of jobs resulted in Americans giving up looking for non-existent jobs and thus ceased being counted in the labor force. The 6.2% US unemployment rate is misleading as it excludes discouraged workers who have given up and left the labor force because there are no jobs to be found.

Labor force part rate since Jan 2000.002

John Williams of calculates the true US unemployment rate to be 23.2%, a number consistent with the collapse of the US labor force participation rate.

In the ten years since Roberts and Schumer sounded the alarm, the US has become a country in which the norm for new jobs has become lowly paid part-time employment in domestic non-tradable services. Two-thirds of the population is living on the edge unable to raise $400 cash. The savings of the population are being drawn down to support life.

Corporations are borrowing money not to invest for the future but to buy back their own stocks, thus pushing up share prices, CEO bonuses, and corporate debt. The growth in the income and wealth of the one percent comes from looting, not from productive economic activity.

This is the profile of a Third World country.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

So, the huge heaps of new money constantly bestowed on the already wealthy is getting this embarrassing? (That he's giving back some of his lottery winnings to help those waiting on him?)

. . . the former top-level executive at one of the world’s richest corporations acknowledges that income inequality is a growing problem.

Bloomberg recently reported that America’s richest 1 percent may be even richer than previously thought. Additional research from Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics and Philip Vermeulen of the European Central Bank shows that those with $20 million or more in net worth, or the richest 0.1 percent, actually control closer to 23.5 percent of all wealth.

The previous estimate of the 1 percent controlling 21.5 percent of all wealth didn’t account for the wealth hidden in overseas tax havens, according to Zucman. Vermeulen discovered that the world’s richest 1 percent control closer to 37 percent of the world’s wealth, rather than the previous estimate of 34 percent.
Nobel Economics Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz blames the greater concentration of wealth on the drop in consumer spending since the recession officially ended in 2009.

It’s pretty clear that there is a growing gap between the richest people in this country and everyone else,” Burse said of his fellow 1 percenters. “I think the data speaks for itself.”

Robin Williams will be missed by millions of fans who thought they were friends.

MoDo not so much. But she has used her personal acquaintance with him to score a direct Hillary hit.

If only.

He was 42 then, wearing his Popeye outfit, a blue-striped T-shirt and black baggy jeans. Surrounded by kids, a rabbit and an iguana, we talked about everything from John Belushi to his father, a stern Ford Motor Company executive.

As our interview ended, I was telling him about my friend Michael Kelly’s idea for a 1-900 number, not one to call Asian beauties or Swedish babes, but where you’d have an amorous chat with a repressed Irish woman. Williams delightedly riffed on the caricature, playing the role of an older Irish woman answering the sex line in a brusque brogue, ordering a horny caller to go to the devil with his impure thoughts and disgusting desire.

I couldn’t wait to play the tape for Kelly, who doubled over in laughter.

So when I think of Williams, I think of Kelly. And when I think of Kelly, I think of Hillary, because Michael was the first American reporter to die in the Iraq invasion, and Hillary Clinton was one of the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war.

The woman who always does her homework, the woman who resigned as president of Wellesley College’s Young Republicans over the Vietnam War, made that vote without even bothering to read the National Intelligence Estimate with its skimpy evidence.

It was obvious in real time that the Bush crew was arbitrarily switching countries, blaming 9/11 on Saddam so they’d get more vivid vengeance targets and a chance to shake up the Middle East chessboard, and that officials were shamelessly making up the threat as they went along. For me to believe that Hillary would be a good president, I would need to feel that she had learned something from that deadly, globe-shattering vote — a calculated attempt to be tough and show that, as a Democratic woman, she was not afraid to use power.

Yet, she’s still at it.

With the diplomatic finesse of a wrecking ball, the former diplomat gave an interview to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, a hawk, in a calculated attempt to be tough and show that, as a Democratic woman, she’s not afraid to use power.

Channeling her pal John McCain, she took a cheap shot at President Obama when his approval rating on foreign policy had dropped to 36 percent, calling him a wimp just as he was preparing to order airstrikes against ISIS.

As one Democrat noted, citing the callous Clintonian principle that unpopular things make foolish investments:  “If Obama was at 63 instead of 36, she’d be happy to be Robin to his Batman.”

It’s not that she’s too old, despite nasty cracks on conservative websites like the Washington Free Beacon. It’s that she’s too old-think, thrusting herself forward as a hawk at a time when hawks — in the season of Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul — aren’t so cool. Americans are sick of the idea that we should plunge in and plant our flag in the ground and work out the details later. It’s a complicated world, where you cross the border from Syria to Iraq and your allies are the enemy.

Hillary booed the president, who has been boosting her at the expense of his own vice president, and said that, as secretary of state, she had wanted to do more to help the Syrian rebels. She said that Obama’s “failure” in Syria led to the rise of ISIS and sniped about Obama’s slogan:  “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

Saying you can’t live by slogans is rich, coming from someone whose husband’s presidency was built on “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Besides, a Times article by Tim Arango and Eric Schmitt demonstrated that “at every turn” the rise of ISIS’s self-styled caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been shaped by the United States’ involvement in Iraq — putting the ball of blame back in Hillary’s court.

The neocon Weekly Standard gleefully printed her remarks with her byline under the headline:  “Special Guest Editorial:  Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures.”

David Axelrod tartly tweeted:  “Just to clarify:  ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision.”

Hillary may know that she seemed unseemly. She called Obama to assert that she wasn’t attacking him, trying to avoid an awkward encounter when they both attend a Vernon Jordan party Wednesday night at the Martha’s Vineyard golf course where the president has been relaxing while the world explodes.

After buoying Hillary, Obama is learning the truth of another unofficial slogan in politics:  “The Clintons will be there when they need you.”

Which reminds me of Tom DeLay's Clinton quote from Mark Leibovich's book, This Town:  Two Parties and a Funeral - Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! - In America's Gilded Capital, that I reviewed here previously:

The Clintons will kill you.

Publisher Comments:

Hailed as “vastly entertaining and deeply troubling” (The New York Times Book Review), “as insidery as Game Change” (The Washington Post), and a “hysterically funny portrait of the capitals vanities and ambitions” (The New Yorker), This Town captured Americas attention as the political book of 2013.

With a new Afterword by author Mark Leibovich, the book that is changing the national conversation about Washington is available in a stunning new edition. Washington, D.C., might be loathed from every corner of the nation, yet these are fun and busy days at this nexus of big politics, big money, big media, and big vanity.

There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation's capital, just millionaires. In This Town, Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, presents a blistering, stunning — and often hysterically funny — examination of our ruling class's incestuous “media industrial complex.”

Through his eyes, we discover how the funeral for a beloved newsman becomes the social event of the year. How political reporters are fetishized for their ability to get their names into the predawn e-mail sent out by the city's most powerful and puzzled-over journalist. How a disgraced Hill aide can overcome ignominy and maybe emerge with a more potent “brand” than many elected members of Congress. And how an administration bent on “changing Washington” can be sucked into the ways of This Town with the same ease with which Tea Party insurgents can, once elected, settle into it like a warm bath.

Outrageous, fascinating, and very necessary, This Town is a must-read, whether you're inside the Beltway — or just trying to get there.


"In addition to his reporting talents, Leibovich is a writer of excellent zest. At times his book is laugh-out-loud (as well as weep-out-loud). He is an exuberant writer, even as his reporting leaves one reaching for Xanax...[This Town] is vastly entertaining and deeply troubling." Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review


"Many decades from now, a historian looking at where America lost its way could use This Town as a primary source." Fareed Zakaria


"Here it is, Washington in all its splendid, sordid glory ... [Leibovich] seems to wear those special glasses that allow you to x-ray the outside and see what's really going on. Start to finish, this is a brilliant portrait — pointillist, you might say, or modern realist. So brilliant that once it lands on a front table at Politics & Prose, Leibovich will never be able to have lunch in this town again. There are also important insights tucked in among the barbs .... So here's to all the big mouths, big shots, big machers, and big jerks. In case you're wondering, Mark Leibovich is on to every one of you, and his portrayal of This Town is spot on." David Shribman, The New York Times

Oh, and I especially feel the pain perceived in one reader's comment on MoDo's doo.


Matthew Carnicelli - Brooklyn, New York

Maureen, while I'm presently of a mind to agree with your sentiments, I'm beyond flabbergasted that you thought it appropriate to use the tragic death of one of America's greatest entertainers as the appetizer in yet another "I hate the Clintons" column.

Robin Williams deserves better. He made us laugh, he made us cry. As of late, Madam Neo-Con just makes me angry - and eager to look extra hard for another candidate to support.

Ah, summertime!

Largess from the local farmers market resting on the kitchen window sill.

There is nothing better than a German Johnson or Cherokee Purple tomato sandwich!


TONY said...

RIP Robin Williams. A clever and a good man.

Cirze said...

Yes, friend.

I loved that guy.

I can't help seeing his death as one response to a country that refused to use its power and largesse to increase the well being (healthwise) of its citizens and instead used its huge ability for good to do evil and make war against the planet.

I think he would have agreed.

Love you,