The Atlantic has an interesting article on the “post-work” future, when automation (and probably outsourcing) has eliminated so many jobs that massive unemployment is structurally unavoidable, at least as far as traditional corporate employment goes. It covers far too much territory for me to attempt to summarize, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts of my own.
In the section on government “makework,” why no mention of infrastructure renewal except in the past tense? The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated the total cost of fixing our infrastructure at $3.6 TRILLION– I find it very hard to believe that that would not translate into an enormous amount of construction and engineering jobs, but perhaps the assumption is that most of the construction and engineering tasks would be performed by robots.
The most direct approach would be for the government to raise taxes on corporations and the rich in order to give everyone a “universal basic income,” which both Nixon and Milton Friedman supported back in the 60s. If there isn’t enough work to go around, this will be absolutely imperative, not just from a humanitarian perspective, but from an economic perspective as well: Corporations still need consumers to be able to afford their products.
There were also sections on the possibility of people becoming independent artisans, or the government helping them start small businesses, which is all well and good, but it will be a lot easier for people to make that leap if they’re not desperately clinging to or searching for a job (or two), or wondering where their next meal – or roof – is coming from.
The bottom line is that until we finally repudiate the conservative Randian belief that the unemployed are worthless, lazy parasites who must be punished economically (in the guise of “tough love,” of course) rather than reduce the winnings of the “job creators,” the post-work future will be about desperation and misery instead of creativity and opportunity.
This is why all the both-sides-do-it/both-sides-are-equally-at-fault arguments are bullshit, and have always been bullshit:
While both parties have extreme elements, he suggested, only in the G.O.P. did the extreme element exercise real power. “The extreme right has 90 seats in the House,” Mr. Echevarria said. “Occupy Wall Street has no seats.”
Hilarious bonus quote:
“We have got to quit worrying about the next election, and start worrying about the country,” said [House Tea Party caucus member Randy] Neugebauer, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee and is a recipient of significant donations from Wall Street.
Riiiight. I’d hate to see what it looks like when you guys aren’t worrying about the country.
Okay, sure, I can sort of buy Krugman and Lemieux’s premise that horrible ideas like austerity, torture, and endless war all stem from the same macho impulse to to prove oneself a Manly Serious Man Of Action Who Can Make The Hard Choices, but why is it that it always seems to be someone else who pays the price for those “hard choices”?
It’s kinda hard to respect the machismo and courage of a pundit or politician who calls upon complete strangers to make sacrifices instead of themselves or their family, friends, or peers. If I saw Cheney and Dubya personally ducking bullets in Baghdad, or Paul Ryan urging tax increases for himself and his wealthy benefactors as the first step to shrink the deficit, then I would be impressed.
Maybe Atrios has it right after all, and they really are sadists.
First and foremost, rich people care about the deficit. More than 85 percent of the survey participants said they considered the nation’s budget deficit to be a “very important” problem facing the country, the researchers found. In addition, nearly one-third of those surveyed said the budget deficit and too much government spending is the nation’s biggest issue.
That stands in contrast to the rest of the country, only 7 percent of which focused on the budget deficit, instead zeroing in on jobs and the economy, according to a 2011 CBS survey cited by the researchers.
“Why did policymakers focus so intently on the deficit issue?” Page and Bartels wrote in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. “One reason may be that the small minority that saw the deficit as the nation’s priority had more clout than the majority that didn’t.”
Rich Americans also have ideas about how to cut that deficit that differ from the less wealthy. Compared to others, the survey found the rich are more likely to want to cut government-subsidized health care and social welfare programs like Social Security. They’re also less supportive of initiatives that help the unemployed and raise the standard of living for low-wage workers than the rest of the country.
Wow, if it weren’t for this study, I would have had no idea that rich people have completely different priorities and far more political influence than everyone else. Thanks, Science!
Yves makes a good case for calling the billionaires who control our country “oligarchs” instead of “elites” – my only hesitation about endorsing the switch is that it clears the field for the right to continue accusing progressives of being “out-of-touch ivory tower elitists”. I think it’s valuable to point out who the real elites are in this country, but I do agree that “oligarchs” is a better descriptive term, and immediately conjures up all the right overtones of power, avarice and corruption.
It’s apparently also okay as long as you have a whole bunch of innocent, hardworking hostages employees that would lose their jobs if your company got prosecuted out of existence. Of course, if you sent the individuals responsible to prison, that wouldn’t put everyone else out on the street. I can only assume that Breuer was worried that aggressive prosecution would drive those delicate souls to suicide like it did to Aaron Swartz.
I’d like to think Breuer is out at DOJ because of gross incompetence, but it’s probably more like he’s completed his mission of escorting the fraudsters safely across the statute of limitations threshold and is now ready to collect his reward.
I think He might be making a point about conservatives who call themselves Christians, but it’s very subtle…
Seriously, this has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time: How can anyone wear their “Christianity” on their sleeve while simultaneously rejecting the message of the Testament which puts the “Christ” in Christianity?
An organization founded by Erskine Bowles and Al Simpson announced Tuesday that it has raised more than $25 million to launch a national campaign to encourage policy makers to pass debt legislation in the coming months.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt has collected contributions from corporate CEOs and others for a national media campaign and advertising campaign to urge lawmakers reach a solution to the debt crisis.
A more accurate name would be “The Campaign to Fix the Debt without Making the Rich Pay More Taxes”. See also: The supposed need to cut Social Security in order to save it, instead of simply raising or removing the income cap on payroll taxes.
Funny how the people who argue that corporations will do the right thing in the absence of regulation and government oversight are usually the same people who believe that atheists can’t be moral without the fear of divine retribution.
Despite what conservatives would have you believe, unfettered capitalism is not actually a force for good. The profit motive, at its core, is all about charging the highest possible prices you can get away with, at the lowest possible cost. Which is an open invitation to cheating, corruption, price gouging, union-busting, and shoddy (if not downright dangerous) goods and services.
True, some companies have consciences or strive to differentiate themselves with quality service, but the free market does not guarantee either, and such companies are the exception rather than the norm.
Zappatero has made the eminently sensible suggestion that we reduce all tax rates to zero. Since conservative tax theory suggests that this would result in infinite tax revenue, it will put Republicans in an interesting catch-22 situation.
On the one hand, eliminating taxes has always been their fondest dream, and all that revenue would allow us to easily pay off the national debt, which they insist is a bigger existential threat to America than al Qaeda, communism and gay marriage squared.
On the other hand, think how much bigger the government could get, and how much more it could spend on lazy undeserving lucky duckies like old people and Cadillac-driving welfare queens. And that’s before we even talk about all the abortions, gun-confiscation squads, and FEMA re-education camps it could afford!
So you see, as much as the right might hate to admit it, those of us who oppose massive tax cuts are only doing it for their own good.
A weak labor market, like the one we’ve experienced since the financial crisis in 2008, imposes enormous stress on people. Given the added anxiety created by a weak economy, you might think life expectancy would decline. Oddly, though, during recessions, exactly the opposite tends to happen: Life expectancy rises.
Now we know: Obama’s stimulus was actually a stealth death panel! Why does Obama hate Grandma so?
Obamacare shill Jonathan Gruber, on Bell Curve author Charles Murray’s latest book about the moral decay of working class white America:
Charles Murray took the economic concept of moral hazard – the concept that if you reward people for bad behaviour then they behave badly – and turned it into prose. Reading the book moved me a notch to the right. It posed a challenge to liberals – to get more rigorous in our analysis. It showed the simple facts didn’t look so good for us and that we needed to address questions like, “Is welfare causing women to become single mothers?” Murray really challenged the way I thought.
What about questions like “Are bailouts and deregulation causing corporations to become more reckless and criminal?” Or “Are lax campaign finance laws giving politicians more incentive to betray their constituents than to represent them?”
“I’m in this race because I care about Americans,” Romney told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien this morning after his resounding victory in Florida on Tuesday. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”
“I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”
It’s kinda hard to believe that he has any intention of fixing the poor’s safety net if he’s not concerned about them. Not to mention the fact that he is, well, a Republican, and cutting up the safety net is kind of what they do.
Also apparently the very poor are not the heart of America, and are not struggling. (True, he says the very rich aren’t the heart of America either, but unlike the poor they have our entire political system at their beck and call, so I think they’ll be okay.)
Mitt Romney’s response to a guy who went bust on real estate investments and is considering leaving the country so he can afford his retirement:
Yeah. It’s just tragic, isn’t it? Just tragic, just tragic. We’re just so overleveraged, so much debt in our society, and some of the institutions that hold it aren’t willing to write it off and say they made a mistake, they loaned too much, we’re overextended, write those down and start over. They keep on trying to harangue and pretend what they have on their books is still what it’s worth.
The banks are scared to death, of course, because they think they’re going to go out of business. They’re afraid that if they write all these loans off, they’re going to go broke. And so they’re feeling the same thing you’re feeling. They just want to pretend all of this is going to get paid someday so they don’t have to write it off and potentially go out of business themselves.
It’s probably not a great idea to pivot your expression of sympathy to those poor terrified banks. Not if you actually want to get elected. I’m just sayin’.
A former top executive at Citigroup who participated in the deregulation of Wall Street during the Clinton administration and recently was tapped by President Barack Obama for a top White House post told a Senate panel last week that deregulation didn’t lead to the recent financial crisis.
Jacob “Jack” Lew, Obama’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, the White House agency entrusted with ensuring that federal regulations reflect the president’s agenda, was asked Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee by Sen. Bernie Sanders whether he believed that the “deregulation of Wall Street, pushed by people like Alan Greenspan [and] Robert Rubin, contributed significantly to the disaster we saw on Wall Street.”
Lew, a former OMB chief for President Bill Clinton, told the panel that “the problems in the financial industry preceded deregulation,” and after discussing those issues, added that he didn’t “personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t believe that deregulation was the proximate cause.“
Well, I guess that explains how the resolutely obstructionist GOP allowed him to be confirmed as the head of OMB…
Whenever a firm lays off workers, the Bureau [of Labor Statistics] asks executives the biggest reason for the job cuts.
In 2010, 0.3 percent of the people who lost their jobs in layoffs were let go because of “government regulations/intervention.” By comparison, 25 percent were laid off because of a drop in business demand.
So if Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) really want to do something about jobs, they should start putting some money in the hands of the people who are most likely to spend it (hint: not the rich).
Sadly, it also suggests that the leading cause of unemployment is… unemployment.
So let’s see… a member of the 1% (or close to it) recklessly or willfully causes harm to members of the 99%, and the cops just let him go without any consequences? Wow, sounds pretty much like the last 3-4 years in a nutshell, doesn’t it? Maybe he’ll end up paying a $20 fine or something.
The problem is not that there is a lack of game-changing ideas, the problem is that our political system is so corrupt and broken that it’s impossible to implement any game-changing ideas, unless they’re the shitty kind that benefit moneyed interests.
Really, how can anyone expect any kind of meaningful reform when the most ironclad rule of government is “First, do no harm to your biggest campaign contributors”?
1 commentOctober 14th, 2011 at 11:52amPosted by Eli
[Occupy Wall Street] has a 54% favorability rating compared to the conservative group’s 27%, according to a new Time magazine poll.
A sizable number – 23% – said they didn’t know enough about the Wall St. protesters to make a decision.
In contrast, 23% said they had a negative opinion of Occupy Wall Street compared to 65% who said the Tea Party’s influence has been negative or negligible.
Who ever could have guessed that a message about corrupt rich people and corporations hijacking our country for their own gain would be more popular than “Fuck the poor”?
(I also find it hilarious when teabaggers and Republicans indignantly complain about how the Occupiers are angry, rude, divisive and negative. Not like those nice polite people who were carrying guns and shouting down their elected representatives at healthcare town halls, or carrying misspelled signs portraying the President Of The United States as an African witch doctor with a bone through his nose.)
George Will is deeply offended by Elizabeth Warren’s obvious communism, clearly on display in this statement here:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. . . . You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.
Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.
Will thinks that “collectivists,” otherwise known as “people who want a functional country,” believe that the government should collect taxes from corporations and the wealthy solely as some sort of reward or payback for the generosity that made their individual successes possible. But that’s not it at all – we believe that the government should collect taxes from corporations and the wealthy in order to preserve and grow the foundation for future individual successes.
Starving the government to satisfy some misguided fetish of rugged individualism and self-reliance will make it increasingly difficult for future – and current – entrepreneurs to succeed, as they try to produce, sell and transport their products with poorly educated workers, slow internet connections, and crumbling roads and rail. More and more of them will either flee to or be out-competed by countries that recognize the value of investing in themselves.
Taxes are not a prize that government arbitrarily awards itself for being generous and awesome. Taxes are the revenue that government uses to build infrastructure and weave a safety net, making it easier to take risks and then make them pay off.
Will thinks that any government that collects taxes is socialist, that our system is hopelessly tilted against businesses. But the reality is the exact opposite – just ask Dwayne Andreas:
[Archer Daniels Midland CEO Dwayne] Andreas recently told a reporter for Mother Jones, “There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. Not one! The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians. People who are not in the Midwest do not understand that this is a socialist country.“
Hey, I guess we’re both right!
1 commentOctober 6th, 2011 at 10:12pmPosted by Eli
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal posted Wednesday, the up-and-coming GOP 2012 contender and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza summed up his bewilderment about recent demonstrations on Wall Street.
“Don’t blame Wall Street,” Cain said. “Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”
The conservative radio talk show host described the protests as “planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration, though he admitted he didn’t “have the facts to back this up.”
“It is not a person’s fault because they succeeded. It is a person’s fault if they failed. And so this is why I don’t understand these demonstrations and what is it that they’re looking for.”
Cain also has the Quote Of The Day:
“When I was growing up I was blessed to have had parents. That didn’t teach me to be jealous of anybody and didn’t teach me to be jealous of somebody,” Cain explained.
Herman Cain is obviously an al Qaeda infiltrator sent to destroy the United States from within, but I don’t have the facts to back this up.
Obama said he has been accused by Republicans of fomenting class warfare.
“You know what, if asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior, a warrior for the working class, I will accept that. I will wear that charge as a badge of honor,” the president said.
Awesome! I guess that means that Obama will grudgingly implement minor reforms and stop opposing major ones if the working class rises up as one and embarrasses the shit out of him.