The Widdershins

Activist Monday: WWOD?

Posted on: September 8, 2014

Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend and enjoyed all the football, both college and pro.

I came across an article this weekend that caught my eye. Despite all the happy talk about the improving economy, the sense that we never recovered from the 2008 crash has always been with me, and with many readers of this blog as well. This feeling was not only reflected in my own experience, but also by some of the more truthful stories and posts about the effects of long-term unemployment, and the changing of the job market to a much more part-time/no-benefits model.

Per the linked article, it seems that these feelings have a basis in reality.

The number of long-term unemployed in the world’s major economies has increased by 85% since the financial crash, according to the latest employment monitor by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

More than 16 million people have been out of work for at least a year in the first quarter of 2014, up from 8.7 million before the crisis, or more than one in three of all unemployed across the OECD‘s 34 member countries, the report said.

The Paris-based forum gave a stark warning to countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, which recorded the biggest increases in unemployment after the 2008 crash. It said there is growing evidence that part of what was originally a cyclical increase in unemployment has become structural and “will thus be more difficult to reverse during the economic recovery”.

It said: “Therefore, tackling unemployment where it remains high and driving down long-term unemployment remain key policy priorities.”

Paul Krugman warned that this would happen. Does he ever get tired of being completely right, and having no one pay attention? From an April 21, 2013 NY Times post entitled “The Jobless Trap:”

… Five years after the crisis, unemployment remains elevated, with almost 12 million Americans out of work. But what’s really striking is the huge number of long-term unemployed, with 4.6 million unemployed more than six months and more than three million who have been jobless for a year or more. Oh, and these numbers don’t count those who have given up looking for work because there are no jobs to be found.

It goes without saying that the explosion of long-term unemployment is a tragedy for the unemployed themselves. But it may also be a broader economic disaster.

The Krug’s bleeding liberal heart feels for the long-term unemployed, and he writes from their perspective. The article in the Guardian takes a wider view, and focuses more on how the members of the EOCD should fix the structural issue of long-term unemployment from a policy perspective. To me, the recommendations are a little confusing.

The main message from the report is that governments need to work harder to equip workers with the skills needed to cope with a fast-changing economic landscape.

Um, huh? I like the idea of investing in job training, but I remember hearing this trope from both GWB and Obama and not buying it then. How difficult is it to learn to say “Welcome to Wal-Mart, how may I help you?”

This comment is even more disturbing.

The OECD was a supporter of workers in southern European countries taking a hit to their wage packets and argues that “wage adjustments have played an important role in helping the labour market weather the deep cyclical downturn, reducing job losses in the downturn and promoting employment growth in the recovery”.

Well sure, if you accept a wage cut to stay in your job, it doesn’t hurt the employment numbers. It only hurts the people who have to take the loss. And by the way, I wonder if the OECD data analysts factored in the likely increase in government assistance that could have been necessary for those forced to make too little money to live?

But finally, the OECD recommends the only thing that works, that has ever worked, to stimulate the economy in a recession/depression/whateverthef*ck you want to call it. As we often note here at TW, the truth has a liberal bias.

The OECD noted that most workers had seen a decline in incomes folowing cuts in overtime and bonuses rather than hourly wage rates. Nevertheless, it urged governments to promote demand by creating more jobs with better wages.

“Promoting aggregate demand and job creation remains a key policy priority going forward,” it said.

This is all the more urgent because of the growing risk that for the many who have accumulated long jobless spells, discouragement and loss of human capital make their reintegration more difficult, that is, their unemployment risks becoming structural in nature.

“This latter risk also suggests that policies to stimulate demand should be accompanied by reinforced measures to overcome structural obstacles to finding work. In particular, governments should give priority to providing employment and training measures for the long-term unemployed who experience a range of difficulties in finding jobs and are most likely to drop out of the labour force,” it added.

Now, we all know what needs to be done, and more and more well-respected economic authorities are coming forward and admitting it. The question is, WWOD?

So far, he shows no signs of giving a sh*t. Per Yves Smith on July 31, 2014:

Obama needed a visual to show that, no, really, truly, jobs really are being created somewhere in America for yet another one of his exercises in trying to pretend that he’s on the side of ordinary Americans. But it’s hard finding any really good success stories in an economy with 12.2 million counted as unemployed and over 28 million as “disemployed” which is the number of people out of work relative to normal labor force participation rates when the economy is in good shape. So Obama chose as his backdrop an American success story, Amazon, which is opening a new a warehouse in Chattanooga and hiring 7,000 people.

But Obama in trying to tout this as a success story revealed either that he’s completely out of touch or that he’s conditioning American to regard a state of peonage as middle class. Not all that long ago, “middle class” meant you could after a few years of work and savings, buy a house in the suburbs, afford to have children and have a reasonably comfortable family life, and send those kids to college. “Middle class” also generally meant college educated, white collar employment plus the higher-skilled, better paid blue collar jobs.

If you had any doubts that that vision of middle class life was on its way to extinction, the Obama speech made it official. Amazon has been repeatedly cited here and abroad for abusive conditions in its warehouses…

More training, my *ss. If Obama had any compassion in his hard little heart, he would write a New New Deal and force it down Congress’ throat with an Executive Order. Hey, if you’re going to get impeached by Burnt Orange Boehner, at least make it for something important, you coward! Sometimes I do think that we in America are far too used to peaceful political change, and perhaps the only thing that will break the plutocrats out of their smug somnolence would be the sound of a guillotine falling. ***NOTE: I AM NOT ADVOCATING VIOLENCE AGAINST ANYONE IN THIS POST. THIS IS A RHETORICAL POINT ABOUT POLITICAL CHANGE IN AMERICA.****

This is an open thread.


13 Responses to "Activist Monday: WWOD?"

In more bad news, I found out from personal experience that huge multi-national corporations (major federal contractors, no less) can require their employees to go to Catholic-owned medical facilities for all worker’s compensation covered injuries. No matter how deep a conviction a woman may have that she has a right to government by democracy and not divine right, there is nothing to bar an employer from forcing the latter on her.

The worker’s only other choice is to somehow convince a private doctor to see her or him without charge and then file for reimbursement from the huge multinational corporation. Not much hope of that happening.

Trust me – I’ve been up and down the “rights” ladder from my state government’s worker’s comp. division to the receptionist at the federal office for help with this. The federal guy merely referred me back to the state government, blandly ignoring everything I had said about the person at that office saying my only option was as listed above – and then insultingly asking why I still worked for this company!

“Democracy, not divine right” is not, apparently, a legitimate conviction worthy of even the same federal protection as the dogma and laws of religions that overtly, proudly and harmfully discriminate against women. Needless to say, any issue that affects men as well as women, such as race or national origin, has equal standing under the law (Section 1981, or the Men’s Equal Rights Amendment) and so much greater standing in popular culture that the law need never be invoked.

MB, how serendipitous (?) you saw that article. Saw this on yahoo and I had to wonder why the hell hasn’t the country recovered if he’s done so well on jobs growth. Hell even the govt, when listing the jobs created and the unemployment numbers mention the unemployment # being down was probably due to the long term unemployed just sorta giving up.

Off-topic but the Ravens and the NFL have shit canned the wife beater. Good.

Welcome, Pat. Your points are well made.

Excellent post MB. The middle class is being squeezed out. What jobs has Obama created? My husbands job was created by Bill Clinton in the late 90s and we are very grateful for it.

Do you guys believe the polls about the rethugs taking over the senate?

I thought the wife beater got 2 days suspended? I think it was TMZ that posted the elevator video first, and it went viral. Harvey Levin will be getting even more of an ego than he has now. I wish he would use his website to go after republicans and cause some of them to lose their jobs.

Thanks, Chat.

I should mention that said huge multi-national corp. is a shipping company, where I work in an environment similar to Amazon’s, although not quite as bad. It’s also in a “Right to Work” (aka Right To Be Worked To Death) state, North Carolina, where an employer can legally work you 24 hours in any day, without breaks, in any temperature – so long as they pay you overtime after forty hours. That is, if you’re still alive after forty hours.

I’ve checked out all these issues with the NC labor department as they came up at work, although the answers I was given in the telephone calls may have been more lazy than right. My coworkers’ attitudes have gone from “That’s bullshit!!!” to acceptance to (presumably, since they’re gone) finding work somewhere else. As the Republican majority in the legislature begins to revoke the laws and policies that mitigated this, I expect to see NC become much like Tennessee as a haven for the Amazon type employer.

Loved the post, and especially the video clip. I do feel that if Hillary were to win in 2016, she’d be in the position of that poor schmuck in the video – it’ll be her head on the guillotine paying for all the ruin Obama brought about in the preceding eight years.

@PDX Pat: My sympathies for being in NC. The rethuglican majority & guv there have certainly put it to the working class there. I’m from La. and now in Bama and it’s not like anything is better in either of these two states. 😦

annie said: Do you guys believe the polls about the rethugs taking over the senate?

I think it’s possible annie. For whatever reason, people in La are just absolutely in a froth over Mary Landrieu voting in favor of Obamacare. Now to get that vote, the administration had to whip up some kind of special thing for medicaid in La because the state was going to get hit with a huge cut in dollars. So Mary saved lil booby jindal’s ass on medicaid in the state and then when the repubs took over the House somehow the special deal got wiped out. They love calling her “liberal Mary Landrieu” but she’s about as far from a liberal as you can get. She’s a southern centrist Democrat if anything but the folks there don’t believe it. 🙄

Mary’s fate lies with Mitch’s ability to turn out Dems south of I-10.

Hey Pat, good to see you and read your comments!

Socalannie asked “What jobs has Obama created?” I remember making a big fuss about how he said he had “saved or created” a certain amount of jobs a while back. Talk about aiming low…he eventually stopped catapulting that propaganda.

Thanks, MB!

Fredster, it sounds like Louisiana got worked over both ways: the deal sweetener for the Republicans and then no Medicare anyway. Here, they just went right for it and turned down Medicare expansion up front.

chat@10: Unfortunately for Mary, there aren’t enough “dems” (read A.A. votes) post Katrina to make that much of a difference anymore. And no one, to my knowledge, has really polled the “hipsters” that have moved into nola to gauge their political leanings.

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