Friday, October 03, 2003

Who Says There's An Unemployment Problem? 

Good news from the NYTimes:

The nation's unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 percent in September as businesses added to payrolls for the first time in eight months, suggesting a turnaround in the weak job market.

A survey of U.S. companies showed a net increase of 57,000 jobs last month in wide-ranging industries, the Labor Department reported Friday, and there was new hope for recovery in the slumping manufacturing sector. Some 29,000 factory jobs were lost, but that was considerably fewer than in previous months.


Job losses in August, initially reported at 93,000, were sharply revised to 41,000, a positive sign, he said.

Wall Street extended its gains into a third day on the encouraging data, which reinforced investor hopes that the economy was recovering. In morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 103 points and the Nasdaq gained 11 points.

But this President is not about to rest on such narrowly based laurels. No siree.

The Bush administration said the reports were positive news. But President Bush will not be satisfied because ``people are still looking for work,'' said his chief spokesman, Scott McClellan.

As long as there is a single American who can't find work, this president will not rest from the arduous task of promoting exactly the same economic ideas with which he took office.

Bush is touting the job-creating power of small businesses as he looks to blunt news about an economy that is not generating enough jobs. He was meeting Friday with small business leaders in Milwaukee before giving a speech on the economy.

Bush was to renew a call for six steps that he has said would build confidence among employers and strengthen the economy, ranging from health care measures, streamlined regulations and restrictions on medical lawsuits to a comprehensive energy plan, expanded trade and tax breaks. Bush also has challenged Congress to make recently enacted tax cuts permanent rather let them expire on schedule.

On the other hand:

The number of jobless people looking for work for 27 weeks or more rose to 2.1 million last month. Also, people working part time because they can't find full-time work increased to nearly 5 million, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

If my arch tone suggests some skepticism about the president's sincerity, it's not meant to. What the president does or does not genuinely feel about unemployment seems to me to be an irrelevancy, and surely one of the more obnoxious aspects of this administrations policies is its insistence that George Bush's personal, deeply felt commitment to this or that program is precisely how that policy should be judged.

Is it not the sourest of ironies that two of the most persistent raps on Bill Clinton, that there was something unseemly about his public display of "caring," and that such caring was a function of his own narcissism which meant that it was always about himself, turn out to be far more applicable to George W. Bush? What could be more narcissistic than the White House's schedule of events around the country, designed entirely to present evidence that the president cares about this or that issue, followed by an evening fund raiser at which the faithful are reassured for whom his true heart will always beat.

What matters is that Bush is continuing the madcap economics of the Reagan era, cut taxes, cut social spending, increase beyond all sense military spending, ignore deficits, but make sure their true dimension isn't ever glimpsed by using the surpluses of Social Security receipts to obscure that fact, yes that same supply side theory that Clinton won his first term by criticizing as a failed economic theory, and then spent the next eight years trying to clean up the mess that theory had made not only of the economy but of the social contract.

Since the SCLM always writes most about the large overarching storylines, as the economy picks up steam, that SCLM is going to create an illusion of growing economic strength, however unevenly is the distribution of its benefits, and however oblivious this administration remains to long-range problems like the underfunding of private pensions, or the continued reliance on non-rewnewable resources, all investment in renewable resources limited exclusively to lip service.

So it's not too soon for all of us who think that the advances in the quality of lilfe for growing numbers of Americans accomplished by Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, none of which even Nixon dared undo, are worthy of defense, to begin to consider how we at the grassroots level can assure that to the drumbeat we can expect from the finely tuned Republican propoganda machine, a countervailing flow of information will be getting out to the voters, even if it means a lot of us standing outside of supermarkets passing out flyers that reproduce stories that tell it like it is for far too many Americans, like this one published recently in the CSMonitor:

Underemployed: a euphemism for violent lifestyle change

By Barbara Card Atkinson

In our house, Bush's child-tax rebate checks went to past-due utility bills, groceries, and a full tank of gas. So much for stimulating the economy.

My husband and I are two of the almost 1 million "underemployed" in this country - a demure label for a violent lifestyle change. We, with our college degrees and previous incarnations as latte-swilling yuppies, are now attempting - and failing badly - to keep our family of four afloat on an average combined income of substantially less than $1,000 a month.

Like those others, we're holding our breath, waiting for the economy to rebound. For us, it's been more than a year. Our personal trajectory in the high-tech flameout happened to so many others that it's now cliché: the faltering of a dotcom job, the bankruptcy of a software company. We had great connections, my husband and I, so finding another job wouldn't be a problem, we thought.

Read the whole thing, it's a story worth remembering.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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