Tag Archives: jobs

The Economy or The People?

Watching parts (I have a weak stomach) of the GOP debate on the “economy” I think I finally figured out the problem. I am slow, I admit.

The first question by the Fox Business/ Wall Street Journal panel exposed the issue pretty clearly. Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour? Which is about $31,000 per year according to the panelist.

The answer, across the board, was NO. It would hurt “the economy” to raise the wages of people now making maybe 7 or  10 or 12 bucks an hour. It would devastate the economy to have poor working people making a little more to spend.

Trump, by is own admission a billionaire, sees nothing but ruin if a fast food worker were to get a few more bucks. And Carson agrees.  The end of the US “economy” as we know it. Catastrophe.

Another question asked by the panelists was about the great disparity between a CEO average pay and that of one of his workers. It used to be 20 to 1. Now it is 300 to 1. I don’t think any candidate ever actually responded to that one. The non answers were clear. No problem.

So, what seems clear to me now (as I said, I am slow) is that the GOP candidates have a completely distorted world view of what an “economy” is and what an “economy” does. Or is supposed to do.

Simply put, an economy is how goods and services are organized and distributed in a given society. The purpose of an economy should be what? To be organized so all members of a society have a chance to benefit from the wealth of that society. If not, then we must assume the “economy” has, as it’s central purpose, the organization of goods and services to benefit only a portion of the society.

The GOP concept of an “economy” seems to accept the second concept, that the economy should be organized to help only portions of society.. The economy to them seems to mean only one thing. How much profit is generated for the investor class. While they talk about “job creation” they are really talking about cheap labor so that investor profits will be higher. Not job creation so workers can have a decent life. Or participate in the overall economy in the broadest sense.

Now there is nothing wrong with investors making a profit. That is how the capitalist system (flawed though it is)  works. Since investors are allowing others to use their money  they deserve a reasonable return. But what is not reasonable is defining the “economy” ONLY in terms of investor profits. It skews the argument and is not a realist view of what an economy is all about.

When the GOP candidates say that a higher wage for workers hurts the “economy’, what they mean is a higher wage for workers cuts into investor profits. Which is true. Of course, taken to it’s logical conclusion one could argue that slavery is the best system for the “economy” because it reduces all labor costs for the investor. Hence, a slave economy, by definition, would be the “strongest” economy under the GOP world view. Tried that once, if I recall.

The GOP candidates, with real concern for the plight of poor Americans, pointed out that 1 in 5 kids now live in poverty. But their solution to this is NOT to raise the minimum wage so these children and their parents can escape poverty. Somehow, this system of keeping poor people underpaid is “good” for the economy. And it is, if you define the economy as the GOP does. A system designed to promote investor profits.

For the Democrats the challenge is simple. Help folks understand that the GOP definition of the economy is narrow and incomplete. Not evil. Not anti- poor.  Not racist. But simplistic and wrong. An economy is more than profits for investors. It is a system that is supposed to work for ALL members, not just a few.

A productive economy is one that is balanced so that workers who provide the labor to create profits benefit from that labor. And they benefit to such an extent that they can take advantage of the wealth they create. Investors also benefit by making a reasonable rate of return on their investments. A balanced system that recognize both halves of the equation.

Back in the days when the CEOs made only 20 times as much as the average worker the economy was better than it is today.  Investors made good profits and paid their fair share of taxes. Guess what? The economy worked for most people. Yes, some were poor. But the investor class did ok.  Not a single member needed food stamps.

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Kim Davis Employment Agency

Kim: Welcome to the Kim Davis Employment Agency.  May we,  with the help of the Good Lord, find you a job?

Joe: Yes. I see you have an opening for a Social Studies teaching position. I would like to apply.

Kim: Good. Do you agree with all the terms of employment?

Joe: Well. Not really.I am supposed to teach about Buddhism and Islam but I don’ want to do that.

Kim: No problem. It is your right not to teach about heathens.

Joe: Also. I find it against my beliefs to show up for work on Mondays or Thursdays. Is that okay?

Kim: No problem. You should not have to  compromise your beliefs.

Joe: But I still get full pay, right?

Kim: Of course, no one should be denied pay because of their beliefs.

Joe: A minor problem, perhaps. I am not a certified teacher. I never went to college because all colleges are full of atheists and communists. It was against my firmly held beliefs to associate with intellectuals.

Kim: No problem. We cannot punish you for your desire to remain ignorant and narrow. It is your constitutional right under the 2nd Amendment. So, do you want the job?

Joe: Let me consider. Full pay. No work  on Mondays or Thursdays. No degree needed and teach whatever I want . Praise Jesus.  By the way, it is also against my religion to pay employment placement fees.

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Contestant #7: Carly, We Hardly Know Ye and Never Will

Part of an ongoing series of biased reports about the increasingly humorous group of people who think they have the qualifications to be President of the United States. This is not a joke. Really. They do.

Carly Fiorina.

Let me start with this. Most. Actually ALL the other candidates have well organized websites. You can click on a link to their “issues” section. And even if they are vague and sometimes silly you can actually read what their ideas are.

Not so with Carly. While she did run a computer company (into the ground) her website lacks the most basic political information. Like. What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What do you want to do?

Since she has never held public office we have no record of her votes, speeches in Congress, etc. So, we depend heavily if not exclusively on her own website.  Nada. Nothing. See:

http://carlyforamerica.com/meet-carly/

Well, you can MEET Carly. You can DONATE. You can VOLUNTEER. And there is a “NEWS” section. But nothing on her goals, ideas, plans, etc. In her “news” section she does criticize those who have criticized her. And she tries to make a case that she was a great CEO. Even though she was fired. So, I guess we will go with that.

Carly says that in her tenure at HP she created thousands of jobs. Others say she fired or laid off between 15,000 and  30,000 employees.

Carly says that when she took over HP had revenue of about $45 billion and she DOUBLED it’s worth to almost $90 billion.

Carly says that when she started at HP there were 84,000 employees and they almost DOUBLED to over 140,000 employees by the time she left (was fired).

So. That’s it. That is her SOLE qualification for being President of the US. For dealing with ISIS. Russia. The vast social services bureaucracy. That, and the fact that she was chairman of CPAC, the radical right wing fundraising organization.

OK. Let’s look at her claims. The first year at HP she actually cut jobs. But, in 2002 there was a 60,000 person increase in employment ! Almost doubled in ONE year. And the revenues DID increase  to almost $90 billion by the time she left.  Sounds like she is a WIZARD! A real job creator, par excellence! So, why did they fire her?

Something peculiar happened in 2002. HP bought another company called Compaq. So, those new “jobs” were simply the additional Compaq employees. That new “revenue” was simply what happens when you combine two massive companies. These increases had nothing to do with management..they were BOUGHT. It was not the result of good old American know how…it was the result of a good old American MERGER.

So, Carly is being a bit devious when she touts her management skills. So, why DID they fire her.

According to figures from a book about her”success”:

“After the 2002 merger the company’s results suffered. Yes, Fiorina did double HP’s revenues by buying Compaq, but at what cost? Let’s take a look at the numbers. In 1999 when she arrived at the company, HP had $42 billion in sales and $3.1 billion in net earnings. When she left in 2005, HP had $87 billion in sales but only $2.4 billion in earnings.”

(Read more at http://wonkette.com/584307/did-carly-fiorina-run-hewlett-packard-into-the-ground-or-did-sexism-do-it#OcKe28B8eRJUr2le.99)

So, she took a company earning $3.1 billion a year, bought another company, and managed to make only $2.4 billion in profits by the time she left. A financial genius. This is her sole qualification to be the President of the United States.

Of all the losers on the GOP side Carly is the “losingest”. No issues. No experience. Fuzzy math. The only thing she has going for her is that she was a CEO . A failed CEO.

Contestant #7. GONG! You’re out.

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Filed under candidate, Carly Fiorina, CEO, Conservatives, cpac, Elections, Republicans

The Job Creators Strike Again

The 114th Congress, controlled by the GOP , has now voted to approve the XL Pipeline. The Senate will probably follow suit. It is not clear if this vote actually means anything, since the State Department has not yet completed it’s required study of the pipeline. And the POTUS cannot act to approve it until the State Department makes it’s recommendations. And it is quite possible that President Obama would approve the pipeline anyway, if the State Department so recommends.

But facts and the law will not stand in the way of the Job Creators. The GOP Job Creators. Their dedication to creating jobs has no bounds. The policies of Reagan’s Supply-Side Economics (called “VooDoo Economic”s by former POTUS GHW Bush) have created millions of jobs since the 1980s. That is the good news.

The bad news is that those jobs were created overseas. China. Vietnam. Mexico. Or in states well below poverty level wages. Alabama. Georgia. Tennessee. Good for CEOs and the upper 1 %. Not such a great deal for the middle class or workers. Not such a great deal for taxpayers since so many full-time employees are also on Food Stamps. We may pause at this point to recall that these Job Creators fought very hard to prevent the US from helping the auto industry keep the jobs already created. Tens of thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs with no one on Food Stamps. Saved by the bail outs and TARP. Job Creators hated them. Predicted the end of freedom in America if we saved these jobs. (That catastrophe was somehow averted.)

So the XL Pipeline is not a new triumph for the Job Creators. They have created short term low wage jobs before. For the honor of piping the filthiest oil on the planet across the water tables of the plains states the US will be rewarded with thousands of jobs. Over 1,000 miles of 36 inch pipe. Carrying unprocessed, unrefined thick crude oil . Across water resources. Across farmland and grazing land. What could go wrong?

The pipeline will create 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. Good jobs. Unless they are given to non-unionized, low wage immigrant labor. And these jobs will last a long time. Well. Two years. Then they end. Then the housing built for the temporary workers lies vacant. The boom in the small towns goes bust. But there are more jobs. Permanent ones. Jobs that are here to stay.

The best estimate of the long term permanent jobs servicing the pipeline is 35. And 15 more part time jobs, as well. 50 jobs. The economic impact of these 50 jobs is hard to gauge. The GOP Job Creators have been beating their chests and thumping their …well…their whatevers, for 50 permanent jobs. For 6 years they have battled to get these 50 jobs.

While infrastructure rots and schools crumble, the Job Creators are narrowly focused on 50 jobs for their oil company donors. Not thousands of police officers to make cities safer. Not thousands of teachers to help our students. Not firefighters. Not computer technicians or scientists. Not increased training for new doctors and nurses. Nope.

The Job Creators have spent 6 years whining about 50 jobs. That’s about 9 jobs per year. Fewer than one per month.

A great start. At this rate the Job Creators will have the US economy booming along with full employment by the time the sun burns the Earth to a crisp in 1.1 billion years. But, hey. You gotta start somewhere.

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, economics, Economy, GOP, government, jobs, Neoconservative, Politics, Republicans, Senate, Society, Taxes, US

American Schools, Part 1: The Great Leap Forward

After Mao Tse-tung (or Mao Zedong) the communist dictator took control of China he decided to develop industrial production as quickly as possible. His goal was to catch up with the nation of Great Britain, a hated imperial power, in the production of food and iron and steel. He did this by instituting a series of 5 year plans…the most important  called the “Great Leap Forward”. China was going to “leap” over a century of industrial and agricultural production in a few short years.

To do this,  the Mao bureaucracy assigned production goals of food stuffs and raw iron to  every commune. The commune  leader was responsible for meeting those goals. One of the ways to meet the production of iron ore was a multitude of “backyard” furnaces. Small furnaces in which the communes throughout China purified iron ore, pots, pans and scrap metal  for pig  iron, later to be used in the production of steel. The peasants and communes “enthusiastically” responded. (The toll in human life to these policies is well documented elsewhere).

Now, if a commune failed to meet it’s yearly quota the leader of the commune was demoted and a new bureaucrat took his place. If the commune did meet the quota the government often increased the quota slightly more the next year. After a couple years of this system the Chinese communes were producing massive amounts of pig iron. The Great Leap Forward was a great success. Or was it?

As it turned out the production of food and iron was pretty much a fantasy of the bureaucracy. In order to keep your job you had to turn in production totals. People lied. All the production was on paper, not in reality. After all, the government gave them no help and had production goals that were unreachable. In reality. And the iron that was produced was of such low quality that it was virtually useless.  But on paper all was well. After three years the Great Leap abruptly ended. A massive failure.

Which brings us to the current Great Leap Forward in American public education. We have heard ,  well,  forever, that US schools are “failing”.  Despite the fact that the US has one of the best educated work forces in the world. Just look at test scores. Look at those failure rates. Bring up those test scores. Demolish those failure rates.

Once, teachers were expected to teach youngsters. How to read, write, think, express and do all those other things educated folks are supposed to do. Teaching is hard work. Learning is harder work. It isn’t easy getting 14 year old boy to study . Video games, sports, the internet are all much more interesting than Pythagorean’s theorum. Or the causes of WW1. Or Darwin’s theory. Learning is an active process, after all. And if a youngster does not put in the time he will not get the reward. Should he?

Except. Those test scores. Those failure rates. If the test scores are low we have to blame someone. If the failure rates are high we have to find a scapegoat.  And the principals and superintendents and media and politicians and parents know exactly who is to  blame. The teachers. The unionized, lazy teachers. The overpaid peons. The peasants. The commune workers struggling to make pig iron in those backyard furnaces. Without much help.

So, what do we do? Have a Great Leap Forward. Just like Chairman Mao. Tell the peasants to “produce ” more with less. Just give us those “test results”. And raise those “passing rates”. And we will be happy. Lower the passing requirements. Make the tests easier. Produce test grading systems that boggle the mind (Like 40 out of 50 correct equals a 95). Do whatever it takes. Or heads roll. Superintendents get replaced. Principals get fired. But those damned teachers have tenure. Not what do we do?

Massive dishonesty. If  a student fails it is the teacher’s fault. Or the school’s fault. Or the parents’ fault. Never the student’s responsibility. The numbers look bad. Fix them. Some teachers and administrators cheat. Better to produce good test scores than lose your job. Keeps the community happy. No teacher is ever criticized for having too many passing grades. Drill, baby, drill. Forget about learning. Forget about the process of discovery. Focus only on the test. And then wonder why real students get bored. Doesn’t matter. It is all about the test scores. The production quotas. The pig iron. Forget quality, just produce the pig iron.

And when the Great Leap Forward (No Child Left Behind; Race to the Top) fails miserably, we know what has to be done. Blame the peasants. Blame the teachers. Privatization.

Next essay: The Great Privatization Scheme.

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