Monday, December 20, 2010

The Stimulus that Isn't

The Stimulus that Isn't

Posted: December 19, 2010 07:41 PM

"...It is astonishing how the Beltway echo-chamber, most egregiously the editorial page and news columns of the Washington Post (hard to tell the difference), thinks this deal is good for the Republic. The Post has become a cheerleader for policies that fail to cure the economy and show off Obama as a weakling waiting to be rolled again."

"The tax deal, re-branded as a stimulus program, is paltry and ineffective as economic tonic. What hardly anyone seems to have grasped is that the deal basically continues the status quo with almost no stimulus.  If the tax rates on the books in 2010 did not produce a recovery, why should we expect that the very same rates will change the economy in 2011?"

Read rest of article

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

In the bleak midwinter, poverty looms for the long-term unemployed

Long-term unemployment: In the bleak midwinter

Poverty Looms for the Long-Term Unemployed
The Economist, 12/16/10

"...No recent recession has seen so many Americans out of a job for so long. Now, with millions fallen from the ranks of the employed, the federal government has deployed its imperfect safety net to catch them..."

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Tax Cut Plan Doesn't Help Long-Term Unemployed

Tax Cut Plan Doesn't Help Long-Term Unemployed
Anyone who's used more than 99 weeks of benefits won't be helped by the extension of benefits.
Associated Press.  Posted: 11:37 AM Dec 17, 2010

WASHINGTON -- The tax-cut bill President Barack Obama is expected to sign Friday renews unemployment benefits for millions of unemployed people. But it does nothing for hundreds of thousands who have been unemployed so long they've used up all benefits available to them.

In the 25 states with unemployment of at least 8.5 percent, people can receive up to 99 weeks in aid. In other states, the unemployed get less than 99 weeks -- in some cases just 60 weeks, according to the Center for Budget 
and Policy Priorities.

The bill keeps 99 weeks as the maximum anyone can receive. It doesn't provide any more weeks of benefits to people who have reached the limit in their state. Those who have exhausted all benefits are sometimes known as "99ers," even though the duration of their benefits varies by state.  
The legislation renews federal programs that extend benefits beyond the 26 weeks states always provide. The extended benefits expired Nov. 30.

The Labor Department says it doesn't know how many Americans have already used all jobless benefits.  But the number reaches well into the hundreds of thousands.  

In California, 5,000 unemployed people use up their extended benefits each week. And 274,185 will have exhausted 99 weeks of benefits by the end of the year.  In Florida, 105,011 people have run out of benefits. In New York, 125,284 out-of-work people have stopped receiving unemployment checks because they've exhausted their 99 weeks of benefits.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in August introduced legislation that would help the 99ers by tacking on another 20 weeks of benefits. But her bill has gone nowhere in a Congress that's been reluctant to spend more federal money to jolt the economy.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

17% of workers can't find the amount of work they want

Chart: 17% of workers can't find the amount of work they want:

Economic Policy Institute
Reliable Plant Magazine

"...The current unemployment rate of 9.6 percent does not reflect the millions of people who are working part time because they cannot find full-time work, or those “marginally attached” workers who are able and want to work but are so discouraged they have given up looking. These three categories comprise the underemployed, and in October, the most recent month for which data are available, the official underemployment rate stood at 17 percent."

"The [graph], from EPI’s forthcoming State of Working America Web site, shows how the number of unemployed, involuntary part-time, and marginally attached workers has changed since 1994. As it shows, all three categories have seen sharp rises, particularly since the start of the recession in 2007."

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Desperate times for millions: No jobs, no benefits

Desperate times for millions: No jobs, no benefits
By Christine Owens, Executive Director
National Employment Law Project
Special to CNN

"...What's more alarming than the grim jobs report, however, is the fact that Congress allowed the federal unemployment insurance lifeline to millions of jobless Americans expire earlier this week. If these programs are not renewed through 2011, 2 million people will be cut off in December alone, and at least 7 million more next year..."

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Alternative Fiscal Blueprint Proposes Options for Job Creation and Economic Recovery

Demos, the Economic Policy Insitute and the Century Foundation have released a progressive alternative to the draconian recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Visit to read the report and download fact sheets about progressive options for federal policies.

Our Fiscal Security - Fiscal Blueprint:

"...Putting our nation on a path of broad prosperity will require generating new jobs, investing in key areas, modernizing and restoring our revenue base, and greatly increasing the cost efficiency of the health care system. Achieving these goals, however, will require an informed and engaged public to help set national priorities."

"The following report puts forth a blueprint that invests in America and creates jobs now, while putting the federal budget on a long-term sustainable path. We document the hard choices that need to be made and suggest specific policies that will yield lower deficits and a sustainable debt while preserving essential initiatives and investments."

The report is available for download (PDF), and viewable below. Click here to download the executive summary (PDF)."

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Admiration of New Deal works of art flourishing

USA Today discovers something interesting about public job creation...

Hey, this is all very nice, but we're in a serious economic crisis here!!

How about a new public jobs initiative in the current economic crisis? One prong of the program could support artists, writers, and filmmakers, AND conserve and appreciate the art created by the public jobs initiative of the previous Depression?

Oh yes, and keep our libraries, schools, museums and other cultural institutions operating.

Admiration of New Deal works of art flourishing -

"...On the 75th anniversary of the creation of the WPA, appreciation is growing for the art it subsidized, the history behind the pieces and for a U.S. Treasury Department program that commissioned post office paintings during the same period. Many artworks have been destroyed or misplaced, but communities from South Pasadena, Calif., to St. Petersburg, Fla., are trying to rescue them. The U.S. Postal Service is working to conserve surviving post office art. The U.S. General Services Administration is cataloguing art created with WPA funding — all of it still is owned by the federal government — and recovering works that are for sale in auction houses or online..."

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Where are the Green Jobs you've been hearing so much about?

Here's a good article about the challenges to growing the number of green jobs -- underfunding, no cap-and-trade bill or carbon tax to put a high price on carbon, and outsourcing of production to other countries.

Green Job Search | The American Prospect:
By Monica Potts
November 8, 2010

"...The $500 million for green jobs provided by the stimulus, along with a host of state grants, is going to training programs, but not enough financing is going to the struggling companies that will one day employ the graduates of those programs. Of the oft-cited $90 billion in the Recovery Act devoted to 'clean energy,' less than a third went directly to renewable-energy generation. And solar and wind projects had to split that amount with more established and less environmentally friendly industries like hydropower and biofuels. Much of the direct grant money for non-research projects comes from a program scheduled to end in January that allows companies to trade future tax credits for cash now."

"The unfulfilled promise of stable, well-paying green jobs is probably best represented by the wind turbine: The United States has the capacity to both build the turbines in unused factories and get as much as 30 percent of our power from wind -- but we aren't doing either..."

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Compromise on Social Security and Medicare? Hell No.

Compromise on Social Security and Medicare? Why My Center-Left Friends are Wrong

By Dean Baker
TPMCafe Cafe (Talking Points Memo)

"...In recent days several center-left blogger/columnists have suggested that progressives should be happy to cut a deal now on Social Security and other issues related to the budget. The argument is that the cuts being put forward by the commissions are not that onerous, they don't involve privatization, and we could be facing much worse in the future."

"While politics always requires compromise, this position misreads the economic and political landscape in four important ways..."

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Majority of 2010 Voters Support Spending For Infrastructure to Create Jobs

Zogby Interactive: Poll of 2010 Voters Finds Majorities Still Support Spending For Infrastructure to Create Jobs

On Other Issues, Voters More Likely to Favor GOP Positions

UTICA, New York - "Fifty-six percent of people who voted in the mid-term election favor federal spending on infrastructure projects that create jobs, but they are also more likely to side with the Republican position on other key decisions the next Congress may face, according to the latest Zogby Interactive poll.

The poll of 2,185 voters was conducted from Nov. 3-5, 2010."

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Midnight grocery runs capture economic desperation

Midnight grocery runs capture economic desperation | Tulsa World

Tulsa World / Associated Press, 10/10/2010

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Once a month, just after midnight, the beeping checkout scanners at a Walmart just off Interstate 95 come alive in a chorus of financial desperation.

Here and at grocery stores across the country, the chimes come just after food stamps and other monthly government benefits drop into the accounts of shoppers who have been rationing things like milk, ground beef and toilet paper and can finally stock up again.

Shoppers mill around the store after 11 p.m., killing time until their accounts are replenished. When midnight strikes, they rush for the checkout counter....

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Letting Unemployment benefits expire could slow recovery

Failure to pass unemployment insurance extension could cost billions, reports say


"...Letting the nation's unemployment benefits expire could drain billions from the economy and cost millions of jobs, according to two reports out this week. On Thursday, House Republicans voted to deny an unemployment benefits extension, unhappy with the method planned to fund it.

Ending federal extensions would drain the economy of $80 billion of purchasing power, according to a report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. Every dollar spent on benefits increases the gross domestic product by $1.60, the report said.

'Workers receiving unemployment insurance payments are typically cash-strapped and will spend their benefits quickly,' the report said. They spend about $6.5 billion a month on the local economy to buy essentials such as food, clothing and utilities.

'A failure to extend the unemployment insurance program could hamper the fragile recovery,' the report said. It predicts that consumer spending will fall by $50 billion over the next year if benefits are not extended, and that economic growth will be reduced by 0.4 percentage points by February 2011."

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Friday Vigil for Jobs in New York City

“First Fridays — Vigil for Jobs” – New York City

Local community groups, labor unions, civil rights organizations, and unemployed activists concerned about the high unemployment rate plan to hold a vigil and media briefing in front of Sen. Charles Schumer’s office at 757 Third Avenue (between 47th and 48th Streets) on the First Friday of each month from 12:30 to 1:30 PM.

Our first two vigils will be on Friday, December 3, and Friday, January 7.

Our goal is to call attention to the unemployment crisis, and the need for urgent federal action to reduce unemployment, including a national federal jobs program similar to the WPA. During the last serious economic depression in the 1930’s, President Roosevelt put millions to work doing useful jobs that made a lasting contribution to our country — roads, bridges, schools, libraries, housing, theater, painting, road guides, parks, and much more.

For more information, and to endorse the NYC vigil, click here

This effort is part of a national call for local First Friday actions sponsored by the National Jobs for All Coalition. In December, vigils will be held during "Jobs and Human Rights Action Week" in at least 8 cities on December 3 and December 10.

For more information on national actions and organizing a vigil in your community, contact Logan Martinez at loganmartinez2u [at] or (937) 275-7259

Cross-posted from:

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

US Lagging in Green Jobs

US Lagging in Green Jobs | The Energy Collective:

November 10, 2010 by David Levy

"...A recent Clean Tech Jobs Outlook Report estimated that in 2009 there were more than 3 million jobs in the renewable energy field globally. The report indicates, however, that the US is falling further behind in this field; the bulk of these jobs are now in China and Brazil.

"The CleanEdge report points to several trends that suggest that, while the world is moving toward a green economy, the United States may be lagging. Solar panel production is expanding in Mexico where some U.S. companies have outsourced manufacturing for the lower wages. In the automobile and other sectors, Mexico has been a very attractive destination for outsourcing because its proximity to the U.S. enables logistical integration of supply chains, and because of the NAFTA free trade area."

"About 70 percent of hardware and technology used in U.S. clean-energy installations are constructed overseas, according to the report. “Essentially, clean-tech manufacturing has run up against the same economic realities as countless industries that came before, from clothing to computer chips to cell phones: it’s very hard for the U.S. to compete with overseas labor costs, particularly in the developing world.” For example, BP Solar closed its Frederick, Maryland, PV plant in March 2010 and moved most of the 320 jobs abroad. This is also a sign of the surprisingly rapid maturation of the industry, as solar panels rapidly become low-value added commodities..."

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Deficit Commission Co-Chairs Ignore Economic Reality

Cross-posted from

Dean Baker: Deficit Commission Co-Chairs Ignore Economic Reality

Statement on Deficit Commission Proposals

WASHINGTON - November 10 - Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) released the following statement on the proposals offered by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the President's deficit commission:

"Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles appeared to have largely ignored economic reality in developing the proposals they presented to the public today.

"The country is suffering from 9.6 percent unemployment with more than 25 million people unemployed, underemployed or who have given up looking for work altogether. Tens of millions of people are underwater in their mortgage and millions face the prospect of losing their home to foreclosure.

"This situation is not the result of government deficits, contrary to what Mr. Bowles seemed to suggest at the co-chairs’ press conference today. The downturn was caused by the bursting of an $8 trillion housing bubble. This bubble was the basis of the construction and consumption demand that drove the economic expansion through 2007.

"The large government deficits are the only factor sustaining demand following the loss of this bubble wealth. If today’s deficit were smaller, we would not be helping our children; we would just be putting their parents out of work. Simpson and Bowles somehow think they have covered this concern by delaying their cuts until fiscal year 2012, 11 months from now. Virtually all projections show the unemployment rate will still be over 9.0 percent at the point when the Simpson-Bowles cuts begin to slow the economy further. This leaves the economy like a plane with one engine already out and Simpson Bowles prepared to knock out the other engine as well.

"The failure to understand current deficits contributes to a misunderstanding of the debt burden. For example, Simpson and Bowles raised fears of an exploding debt reaching 90 percent of GDP by the end of the decade. There is no reason that the Fed can’t just buy this debt (as it is largely doing) and hold it indefinitely If need be, the Fed can use other tools at its disposal to ensure that this expansion of the monetary base does not lead to inflation.

"This creates no interest burden for the country, since the Fed refunds its interest earnings to the Treasury every year. Last year the Fed refunded almost $80 billion in interest to the Treasury, nearly 40 percent of the country’s net interest burden.

"This means that the country really has no near-term or even mid-term deficit problem, just paranoia being spread by many of the same people who led the economy into its current disastrous situation.

"Over the longer term, the country is projected to face a deficit problem but this is almost entirely attributable to the projection that private sector health care costs grow at an explosive rate. This projected growth rate of health care costs would eventually lead to serious budget problems in addition to leading to enormous problems for the private sector. However, the underlying problem is the broken health care system, not public sector health care programs. For some reason, though, Simpson-Bowles never directly addresses these of the health care system.

"Simpson and Bowles apparently never considered a Wall Street financial speculation tax (FST) as a tool for generating revenue. This is an obvious policy-tool that even the IMF is now advocating, in recognition of the enormous amount of waste and rents in the financial sector. Through an FST, it is possible to raise large amounts of revenue, easily more than $100 billion a year, with very little impact to real economic activity. The refusal to consider this source of revenue is striking since at least one member of the commission has been a vocal advocate of financial speculation taxes. It is also worth noting that Mr. Bowles is a director of Morgan Stanley, one of the Wall Street banks that would be seriously impacted by such a tax.

"Finally, it is striking that the Co-Chairs felt the need to address Social Security, even though it was not part of their mandate. The commission’s mandate was to deal with the country’s fiscal problems. Since Social Security is legally prohibited from ever spending more than it has collected in taxes, it cannot under the law contribute to the deficit. Their proposal would cut benefits for tens of millions of middle class workers who are overwhelmingly dependent on Social Security for their retirement income. It would also raise the retirement age for lower income workers who have seen little increase in life expectancy.

"While there are some positive items in the report (it would limit the mortgage interest rate deduction get rid of the deduction for cafeteria benefit plans), it suffers from the fact that the co-directors never reflected on their basic economic assumptions. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this exercise was a waste of time and that we should go back to having Congress determine our budgets through the normal process rather than secret commissions."
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"The Ghost of Full Employment" (9/29 American Prospect)

The Ghost of Full Employment
by Jefferson Cowie
American Prospect, September 29, 2010

In the 1970s, Americans also faced a global recession and double-digit unemployment -- but back then politicians had the courage to think big.

Hubert Humphrey, 1974 (AP Photo)

"..After nearly two years of bad economic news, which topped off three decades of economic insecurity, perhaps it's understandable that we've grown indifferent to labor-market pains. We shrug at long-term double-digit unemployment. We greet the news of record-breaking poverty with a national yawn. We've come to believe that unconscionable levels of inequality are something natural to the social order.

The government's direct response to the jobs and poverty crisis has been simple indifference. Wedded to the idea that propping up the market will naturally lead to job growth, officials have responded with "solutions" drawn only from the narrow menu of economic fundamentalism -- tax cuts and stimulus. Now that gross domestic product is positive, the unemployment problem is mostly considered "structural" -- a skills mismatch -- and thus beyond our capacity to solve.

Yet not that long ago, in the midst of another long-term economic meltdown, politicians dared to think beyond the idea that growth alone would solve all problems. National leaders, including mainstream politicians in both parties, went so far as to propose a federally mandated and legally enforceable right to a job for every American.

That's right -- the federal guarantee of a job.

Read rest of article

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class"

INTERVIEW: Labor's love lost - News Articles - Rochester City Newspaper:

Jefferson Cowie traces the roots of blue-collar conservatism

By Ron Netsky
October 13, 2010

"...In his new book, 'Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class,' Cowie weaves popular culture into the narrative of labor history.

The book traces the way some traditionally Democratic workers gravitated to the Republican Party as the left embraced minorities, feminists, and countercultural youth in the 1970's.

As the country braces for another election in which many workers appear poised to once again vote against what would seem to be their best interests, the reverberations of the 1970's continue to be felt.

The book also deals with the more liberal outlook on labor in the 1970's that made it possible for Congress to pass the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act in 1978. The bill, sponsored by then Senator Hubert Humphrey and Representative Augustus Hawkins (whose district included the turbulent Watts area in Los Angeles), called for the right to a job."

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Serial misinformer continues reign of error regarding benefits of stimulus

Serial health care misinformer McCaughey now misleading about stimulus | Media Matters for America:

"...Betsy McCaughey -- best known for repeatedly misleading about health care reform -- made numerous false or misleading claims in order to attack the effectiveness of the stimulus bill."

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Sustainable Bonds Hope to Help Fix the Planet

Sustainable Bonds Hope to Help Fix the Planet -

SINGAPORE — Financial experts may debate how much it would cost to shift the world to a low carbon economy, but they agree on one thing: the amount would be phenomenal. The International Energy Agency in Paris, for example, has estimated that it would take $46 trillion in additional clean-technology investments over the next 40 years to halve carbon emissions by 2050.

...Today, funds mobilized to address climate change are primarily coming from the private sector. While there is also some public investment, there remains a clear gap between what is needed to deal with climate change and what is available. How to close that gap has become a subject of intense debate.

For Ben Caldecott, head of the British and European Union policy department at Climate Change Capital, a London-based environmental investment manager, the answer is clear. “The only pool of capital deep enough to finance our low carbon transition is that held by institutional investors and players in the debt capital markets,” Mr. Caldecott said. “New green bonds are a way of accessing this pool of money.”
But, he cautioned: “Investors want to see a liquid market in long-dated asset-backed bonds that are investment grade and those criteria have yet to be met for green bonds. The market will buy these new debt products, but for this to happen at scale we need to create a liquid market first. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg story.”

Sean Kidney, chairman and co-founder of the Climate Bonds Initiative — an international network that advocates raising money through the bond market for climate protection projects — argues that “themed” bonds have long been a way to raise large sums of money for specific purposes.

For example, “the U.S. civil war was financed with war bonds,” Mr. Kidney told delegates at a carbon conference in Singapore last week. “Although these war bonds were targeted at retail investors, most of the money raised came from institutional investors.”

The retail investors’ campaign served to engage the population, creating political pressures that drew in the institutions, Mr. Kidney said, suggesting that themed climate change bonds could be used in a similar way to mobilize retail and institutional investors on the issue.

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Obama Economic Team Passes Out the Kool-Aid | BanksterUSA

Obama Economic Team Passes Out the Kool-Aid | BanksterUSA:

Submitted by Mary Bottari on November 3, 2010

"It’s the day before a hotly-contested national election, where it appeared the rabble was well positioned to deliver a colossal spanking to the elites who have too-long ignored their plight, so what does Team Obama do?

They have a press conference to talk about their eagerness to complete the Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiated by President Bush. 'The president has long said we want to try and address the outstanding issues regarding the Free Trade Agreement in order to bring it forward for approval,' said Mike Froman, Obama’s deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs. “[W]e're going to put every effort into achieving ... an acceptable agreement, a satisfactory agreement, by the time the president comes to Seoul,' he told a news conference on Monday.

Are these people nuts?"

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Where is today's FDR or Bevan?

Where is today's FDR or Bevan?
The Obama administration's healthcare act is a landmark of social reform, yet no Democrat seems willing to champion it

Nicholaus Mills
The Guardian

October 3, 2010

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's campaign address at Madison Square Garden, New York, 31 October 1936. Video: YouTube

In February 1945, with the 5 July implementation of Great Britain's new National Health Services Act still months away, Aneurin Bevan, Labour's minister of health, wasted no time challenging the opposition. Bevan believed that doctors and dentists receiving a salary equivalent to $1,200 a year plus $3 per patient for participating in the National Health Service were being fairly rewarded for their services. He wasn't about to shed tears on their behalf; nor was he willing let his Conservative opponents undermine Labour's achievement. Responding to the Conservative party's RA Butler, who declared the health programme a "great danger", Bevan insisted that the diehard opponents of National Health had "poisoned" parliamentary debate and, in the wake of their defeat, were engaged in a "squalid political conspiracy..."

"...Never have today's Democrats had more need for someone with the backbone of an Aneurin Bevan. The good news is that if Democrats don't want to look to England and its post-second world war battle for national healthcare, they always have the example of President Franklin Roosevelt. Faced with criticism from a Scrooge-like Republican party during the Depression, FDR was as outspoken as Bevan on what a governing party should do during hard times.  
Speaking before an overflow crowd at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the 1936 election, Roosevelt reminded his listeners that he had kept faith with those who first elected him. For anyone who doubted the political ground on which his administration stood, Roosevelt had an answer that left no room for ambiguity:

"Your government is still on the same side of the street with the Good Samaritan and not with those who pass by on the other side."

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

As Gas Prices Soar, Elderly Face Cuts in Aid -

My friend Harriet pointed out this good article from the 2008 New York Times that shows how precarious our safety net is, and how rising gas prices were affecting services for the elderly, as well as working conditions for home health aides and volunteers.

As Gas Prices Soar, Elderly Face Cuts in Aid -
July 5, 2008

"...Faced with soaring gasoline prices, agencies around the country that provide services to the elderly say they are having to cut back on programs like Meals on Wheels, transportation assistance and home care, especially in rural areas that depend on volunteers who provide their own gas. In a recent survey by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, more than half said they had already cut back on programs because of gas costs, and 90 percent said they expected to make cuts in the 2009 fiscal year."

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Home Health Aide Blasts Long Hours, Low Wages, and Elusive Benefits

Personal Story of a Home Health Aide

Long Hours, Low Wages and Inadequate Benefits Lead to "Poverty Merry-Go-Round" and "Psychological and Social Isolation”

We recently received a powerful personal essay written by an anonymous home health aide working in the northeastern region of the United States.  Because she wants to keep her job, she asked that her identity be kept confidential.

While this dedicated home health care aide finds her work to help disabled and elderly patients "gratifying and rewarding," she also feels isolated and impoversished by the tough physical and emotional requirements of the job, which involves long hours, low wages and phantom benefits with high-cost sharing requirements. 

Unpredictable hours leave the aide in a precarious financial position, making it hard to consistently afford monthly bills for rent, food and recurring expenses like car insurance. 

At the time she wrote the essay, she had recently bounced several checks -- and was immediately socked by her bank with nearly $200 in overdraft fees.

According to her essay:

"...A Home Health Aide who is a single person has to work 50+ hours a week in order to make a paycheck that they can pay their living expenses with. Starting pay is about $10 an hour and raises are between 3 and 6% a year, if you are lucky. Thus, it is extremely difficult to maintain a house and the car that gets you where you need to go without earning at least $500 a week take home pay..."

"Although [healthcare] benefits are offered by both of the employers that I work for, affording them is next to impossible. That is because paying for healthcare benefits would mean spending nearly one entire paycheck each month.  For someone who is married, or has another income to rely on, that works, but for a single Home Health Aide who cannot rely on making the $2000 a month, to afford the costs of living because their schedule can change on any given day leaving them with few, or no work hours for a week, or more, well, there is the gliche.  ($2,000 monthly expense estimate is based on the cost of living in the region I currently reside in)."

"There have been days when I have had to bring a bologna sandwich with mustard on it to work and have not had money to even buy a piece fruit or a drink. So I drink the best drink of all -- water. Often, my problems, due to low pay, leave me feeling isolated, like many of the clients I care for..." 

"Certainly, the poverty I am being subjected to is not for lack of trying. I often feel as though I am riding a merry-go-round as those who have problems with addiction ride, since low wages force me to seemingly work more than I rest, in order to barely eek out a living. But why must I carry this feeling when what I do is so needed by others and is critically important to those who need the help of a Home Health Aide?"

She concludes the rank-and-file worker is not respected, unlike the CEOs who are earning "gobs of money."  She also argues that home health care jobs, as they are currently designed, are unsuitable for single women "with normal desires."  Married couples with two incomes may be in a somewhat better position for to cope with the conditions of unpredictable hours and poor wages for one household member, but single people have no other wage earner in the household to absorb the economic strain.

Many women workers in the home health care and nursing industries face similar unfair working conditions. The story raises the question whether the owners of home health companies are exploiting women in general and single women in particular, who can’t afford to live on the low wages that are paid, and are unable to pay into health insurance or 401-K retirement plans with high cost-sharing requirements.

We thank this hard-working and dedicated worker for sharing her personal story. It is a powerful reminder that all jobs should pay decent wages and offer good benefits, including health care, paid vacation and a pension or retirement plan.

Drive for Decent Work and the National Jobs for All Coalition encourages other workers to share their personal stories about unemployment and inadequate wages and benefits. Please send your story to: cbell [at]

To read the full story, click here

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

$50 billion Obama Infrastructure plan

Paul Krugman
September 7, 2010, 5:30 AM


Some bleary-eyed thoughts from Japan on the reported administration proposal for $50 billion in new spending:
1. It’s a good idea
2. It’s much too small
3. It won’t pass anyway — which makes you wonder why the administration didn’t propose a bigger plan, so as to at least make the point that the other party is standing in the way of much needed repair to our roads, ports, sewers, and more– not to mention creating jobs. Once again, they’re striking right at the capillaries.

"...[T]here’s a pretty good argument to be made that we are, in fact, starved for public goods in this country, so that it would actually be a good idea to shift some resources to public goods production even if we were at full employment; in that case, we should definitely give priority to public goods when trying to put unemployed resources to work."

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Can infrastructure-led growth save the economy?

Can infrastructure-led growth save the economy?

Forget "stimulus." The U.S. needs more public investment paid for by more borrowing and higher taxes
by Michael Lind

"...The debate about American economic policy can best be understood with the help of a remark by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes: 'When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' When you have eliminated impossible policy options, whatever options remain, however difficult, must be pursued..."

"...To avoid competing with private enterprise, the government should produce public goods that increase overall productivity and that the private sector has no incentive to provide, in good times or bad, such as infrastructure and social services like policing, health care, education and care for the young and old. In addition to mobilizing idle resources and labor directly, both infrastructure and public service spending could help business in general by boosting the purchasing power of Americans who are now unemployed..."

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Renew Push for Full Employment

Robert L. Borosage: Reality Check:
Huffington Post
July 28, 2010

"...It is time to reassert that full employment is the primary measure of our economy: 'Continuous and useful employment for those willing and seeking to work.' Mass unemployment is an unacceptable failure. We will not learn to live with it. We will keep pushing until we eliminate it. Government will strive to create the conditions for the private market to create the jobs we need. But it will act as an employer of last resort for those unable to find work over a long period of time."

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

United Steelworkers negotiate green jobs deal for Texas wind farm

What’s Green, White and Blue? American Jobs - The Hill's Congress Blog:
By Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers International


"... In a deal with the United Steelworkers (USW), two Chinese companies have agreed to build as much of the wind turbines as possible in America, using American-made steel, and creating perhaps 1,000 American jobs."

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

House moves to help teachers, public workers

The Associated Press: House moves to help teachers, public workers:

August 10, 2010

WASHINGTON — Hoping to show disenchanted voters that they are the party that cares about jobs, House Democrats are convening an emergency session to pass a bill aimed at saving hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public workers from unemployment....

...Democrats say [the bill] could save the jobs of more than 300,000 teachers, police officers and other public health workers. Republicans see it as more profligate government spending and a pre-election gift to teachers' unions and other public service unions that are crucial to helping keep Democrats in the majority.

The legislation provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won't be let go before the new school year begins. The money could keep more than 160,000 teachers, including 16,000 in California and 14,000 in Texas, on the job, advocates say.

The other half of the bill has $16 billion for six more months of increased Medicaid payments to the states. That would free up money for states to meet other budget priorities, including keeping more than 150,000 police officers and other public workers on the payroll. Some three-fifths of states have already factored in the federal money in drawing up their budgets for the current fiscal year.

The National Governors Association, in a letter to congressional leaders, said the states' estimated budget shortfall for the 2010-12 period is $116 billion, and the extended Medicaid payments are "the best way to help states bridge the gap between their worst fiscal year and the beginning of recovery."

But House Republican leader John Boehner contended, "The American people don't want more Washington 'stimulus' spending — especially in the form of a payoff to union bosses and liberal special interests."

Pelosi responded, "Why wouldn't House Republicans want to keep 310,000 teachers, first responders and private-sector workers on the job instead of on the unemployment lines?"

Read rest of article

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oct 2 - National March for Jobs & Fair Economy

For more info, visit: One Nation
Link to Flyer

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Like New Deal, Stimulus Should Create Jobs Directly

Economic View - Like New Deal, Stimulus Should Create Jobs Directly -

"ACROSS the United States, thousands of federally financed stimulus projects are under way, aimed at bolstering the economy and putting people to work. The results so far have not been spectacular.

"Why not? There’s nothing wrong with the idea of fiscal stimulus itself. We need more stimulus, not less — but we need to focus much more on actually putting people to work..."

"...So here’s a proposal: Why not use government policy to directly create jobs — labor-intensive service jobs in fields like education, public health and safety, urban infrastructure maintenance, youth programs, elder care, conservation, arts and letters, and scientific research?"

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Conyers' Deficit-Neutral Jobs Bill - Blog - OpenCongress

Conyers' Deficit-Neutral Jobs Bill - Blog

July 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

"...If I had to pick the top three factors in U.S. politics right now I would say the unemployment situation, concern about the deficit, and distrust of the financial industry. Remarkably, Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] (pictured) has introduced a bill this session that seems to fall on the popular side of all three of these issues. It would be deficit neutral, dramatically reduce unemployment, and levy a new tax on the riskiest Wall Street transactions.

The bill is called
the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act. (HR 5204) Here’s how it would work.

First, the bill sets a series of binding unemployment-rate targets that over a ten-year period would bring the rate down to 4%. Here are the targets:

  • 9% unemployment after 6 months of the bill being enacted
  • 8% unemployment after 2 years
  • 6% unemployment after 5 years
  • 5% unemployment after 8 years
  • 4% unemployment after 4 years

If, according to data from the Labor Department, any of the above targets are not met, money would be automatically disbursed from a new “National Full Employment Trust Fund” that would be set up under the bill to fund new job positions around the country."

That money would go primarily to city governments in areas with exceptionally high unemployment rates, but some of it would also go to state governments (30%) and indian tribes (5%). Those funds would then be disbursed to public and private projects that directly address the needs of their communites. Examples spelled out in the bill include repairing schools, revitalizing abandoned property, expanding emergency food programs, and increasing staff at programs that help disadvantaged youth.

All jobs created under the bill would have to be designed to last for 12 months or more at at least 30 hours per week. They would also have to meet some minimum pay requirements to ensure that employees funded by the bill earn rates equivalent to regular employees.

You’re probably wondering how anything like this could possibly be deficit neutral. Well, the answer is that the bill calls for a new financial transactions tax to be levied on companies that engage in high-risk trades. Stock trades, futures contracts and credit default swaps would all be included. More exotic transactions would likely be taxed several times over under the bill, and the impact on short-term, risky speculation would be more significant than that on long-term investing and hedging. The idea behind this financial transaction tax is twofold — it raises money to fund the jobs trust fund and it discourages financial companies from getting involved in too much short-term speculation.

This bill has not moved an inch in the legislative process. It was introduced on May 4, 2010 and has been stuck in committee since. But that’s really no surprise. Congress right now can hardly pass a 6-month extension of unemployment insurance, let alone a massive new jobs program. And they can’t pass a financial reform bill that contains a relatively modest $19-blilion-over-ten-years tax on big banks and hedge funds, let alone a sweeping financial transactions tax that could cost the industry as much as $100 billion per year. But support for the bank tax is steadily growing — see the work of Dean Baker and Bankster USA — and the unemployment situation is set to take a turn for the worst, so a legislative package like this may look different to us in the coming months and years.

Read HR 5204

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Government should put unemployed back to work

Government should put unemployed back to work

July 23, 2010

State unemployment agencies are set to resume sending unemployment checks to millions of people after Congress voted this week to restore lapsed federal benefits.

Almost 5 million people who have been out of work for six months or more have seen their benefits lapse. Under best-case scenarios, people can expect retroactive payments starting next week. For others, it will take longer.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke characterized the job market Wednesday as showing continued weakness.

In particular, the 100,000 or so private jobs being created each month so far in 2010 is 'a pace insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate materially,' he said.

With a brutal job market and fears of a double-dip recession, these millions of people are in dire need of unemployment benefits. Many rely on these payments to put food on the table for their families.

With the economy in the tank, the Obama administration should take a lesson from the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and create a government-run jobs program.

During the Great Depression, Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of April 1935, with the purpose of creating public jobs for the unemployed.

During the WPA's tenure, workers constructed 651,087 miles of roads, streets and highways; and built, repaired or refurbished 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 landing fields, according to Workers also cleaned slums, revived forests and extended electrical power to rural locations.

If this worked in the 1930s, it can work now. Obviously, some modifications would need to be made but there is plenty of work that could be done through a government program.

Many of our nation's bridges are in dire need of repair. Roads, streets and highways could be repaired; and public buildings and parks could be cleaned and refurbished.

Also, broadband Internet access could be extended to rural locations.

The WPA employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.41 million projects. The agency was terminated in 1943 because it became difficult to justify with wartime prosperity rising in the 1940s.

A 21st century version of the Works Progress Administration could put millions of people back to work.

Let's stop paying bailout money to large corporations and put that money where it belongs, in the pockets of the American people.

When people have money to spend, it provides a real shot in the arm to the economy.

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It's a one-and-a-half dip recession, for sure

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WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.