Tag: Unemployment

The CBO Thorn in Obama’s Side

Fresh off their recent report on Obamacare that predicted a decline in the workforce of 2.5 million (partially as a result of employer cutbacks, mostly as a result of people leaving jobs due to high effective marginal rates), the CBO today issued a report on the effect of raising the minimum wage.

Raising the U.S. minimum wage would lead to the loss of about half a million jobs by late 2016 but lift almost a million Americans out of poverty, the Congressional Budget Office forecast in a report on Tuesday that reignited debate over one of President Barack Obama’s top priorities this year.

Buoyed by polls showing three-quarters of Americans in favor of a minimum wage hike, Obama and his fellow Democrats advocate raising the minimum hourly wage to $10.10 from the current $7.25 in a move to boost the stagnant wages of millions of low-income workers.

In the long term, Democrats also want to tie future minimum wage increases to inflation, avoiding the legislative fights over wages for lower-paying jobs.

The political flacks at the White House and AFL-CIO are disputing this, claiming they know more about economics than the CBO does. In fact, much of the Left Wing has declared the debate on minimum wage and employment to be over. Last week, Bill Maher said the idea that raising the minimum wage cost jobs was completely discredited. This isn’t, of course, reflective of the view of any, you know, economists. The most they will argue — as Krugman has — is that the effect is small. But no honest economist will argue that the law of supply and demand is magically suspended when it comes to low-wage jobs.

In fact, the connection between the minimum wage and unemployment is so natural that one of the honest liberals, Matt Yglesias, had this to say:

If the White House genuinely believes that a hike to $10.10 would have zero negative impact on job creation, then the White House is probably proposing too low a number. The outcome that the CBO is forecasting—an outcome where you get a small amount of disemployment that’s vastly outweighed by the increase in income among low-wage families writ large—is the outcome that you want. If $10.10 an hour would raise incomes and cost zero jobs, then why not go up to $11 and raise incomes even more at the cost of a little bit of disemployment?

Yglesias is uncorking the argument many conservative have: if raising the minimum wage has “little to no impact” on unemployment, why not raise it to $20 or $50 an hour? If you can’t countenance such hikes, then you are implicitly admitting that raising the minimum wage costs jobs.

Anyone who is honest about the issue will admit that there’s a tradeoff: how many fewer workers are you willing to put up with for an increase in the wages of those still employed? I would argue, given the present labor market, that the number is zero; that we should, at minimum, hold off until the labor markets recover (if that ever happens). Of course, in a recovered labor market, wages will go up anyway because employees will be scarcer than jobs.

Supporters of the minimum wage like to point out that the low minimum wage means we are subsidizing jobs at places like Walmart, where some employees qualify for food stamps. This is circular logic, of course. Food stamps, Medicaid, EITC — these were expanded specifically to give access to the working poor. You can’t then turn around and complain that that more people are taking advantage of them when that was the entire point.

But setting that aside: isn’t having subsidized jobs for four million people better than having unsubsidized jobs for two million? Someone who has job — even it’s a bad one — has an opportunity to prove themselves, to advance, to aspire. But someone who doesn’t have a job has no opportunities and no hope.

We’ve seen this kind of snobbery before and we’ve seen it hurt poor people before. Building codes are designed to outlaw cheap apartments — and then we wonder why poor people can’t find anywhere to live. Health insurance regulations are designed to outlaw cheap insurance — and then we wonder why millions aren’t insured. And now we want to outlaw low-paying jobs. And then we’ll wonder why low-skill workers can’t find employment.

It’s easy for someone who already has a job to say that no one should have to take a job at Walmart for $7.25 an hour. It’s a lot harder to say that when you have no prospects and you’re falling further and further behind the rest of the country. For many people, that “bad” job can be a lifeline.

I sometimes think that Stephen Bainbridge is right when he says we are headed toward a society like Jerry Pournelle’s CoDominium where we have one group of citizens totally dependent on government and another who work. Only in our CoDominium, the welfare recipients get to vote.

We need to make sure everybody has skin in the game, not just the top few percent. Everybody ought to vote and everybody ought to pay taxes.

And everyone ought to work, too. Even it’s just part-time and pays a shit wage, no able-bodied adult should go through a week without putting at least a few hours into the grindstone (preferably around 40, but at least more than 0).

I’m somewhat supportive of programs that help the working poor — that give them the means to bring themselves up out of poverty. The minimum wage is not that. It benefits some working poor while putting other completely out of work at a time when jobs are very very hard to come by.

Making progress easier for low-wage workers is one thing — we’ve talked about the guaranteed income and negative income tax proposals circulating around. But throwing 500,000 more people into the jobless hopeless class is just a recipe for disaster.

The numbers are in. And it’s time to shelve this bad idea.

A Living Wage! … But Not For You

Liberal pundits and advocates are constantly talking about a “living wage”. The last few years have a been a constant drumbeat about how we need to raise the minimum wage, with some now advocating that Obama should just bypass Congress and do it by executive fiat. It’s even gotten to the point where America’s Dumbest Intellectual deceitfully disputes the basic economic consensus that increasing the minimum wage increases unemployment.

(That last part is not complicated. It’s called the Law of Supply and Demand. There’s room to argue about how much unemployment minimum wage hikes create. But to argue that that amount is zero requires some intellectual stretching to make the labor market behave differently than every other market in the world. This is particularly relevant given our current problem with long-term unemployment and the recent tendency of employers to increase productivity by getting more out of existing employees as opposed to hiring new ones.)

Today, many fast food workers are effectively striking to demand higher wages. And more power to them. If they want higher wages, they can demand them. They should be aware that there are many who will take those jobs at the current wages. And raising fast food worker wages will mainly transfer wealth from … um … the middle class who will pay more for their burgers or make less from franchises.

In the end, today’s strikes are less about benefiting workers than about increasing union membership. If fast food workers want higher wages, what they really need is job growth to create demand for workers and a middle class able to pay more for Big Macs. But, of course, to do that, they’d have to stop voting for people like Barack Obama (not withstanding November’s slightly less crappy job numbers).

I’m drifting from the point.

Vice has an amazing report this week on how liberal publications flog for a living wage on the backs of … unpaid or minimally paid interns. Keep in mind, this is coming from a liberal perspective, so you’ll excuse the Left Wing petito principii:

America’s leading liberal periodicals are aware of the obstacles to advancement the less privileged face in our decidedly not meritocratic society. Indeed, they often provide excellent coverage of the class war, from union-busting at Walmart to the fight for a living wage at fast-food chains. At the same time, though, many of them are exploiting workers in a way that would make corporate America proud: relabeling entry-level employees “interns” and “fellows” in order to dance around US labor laws.

Paying people little to nothing because you can—a practice aided by the awfulness of the job market and the desperation of people trying to make it in “glamour” industries like journalism—is both exploitive and discriminatory, but many good liberals do not appear to recognize it as such, even as they decry that behavior elsewhere.

What follows is so incredibly delicious I will not excerpt it for you. You have to go to Vice’s article and taste the sweet sweet hypocrisy for yourself. OK, just one bit, about America’s Smallest Communist:

Robert Reich served as labor secretary under Bill Clinton and is outspoken in his support for a living wage. But when I asked him about the trend of entry-level jobs being relabeled “internships” and being stripped of the pay, benefits, and legal rights they once offered recent college grads (by some estimates, half of the estimated 1.5 million interns in America are unpaid), he professed ignorance.

“This is not a topic I’ve given much thought,” said Reich.

Reich is a busy guy, but he should think about the issue more. His political advocacy group, Common Cause, is only one of the organizations he has a hand in that relies on free or near-free labor. In a recent listing, The American Prospect, a magazine founded by Reich and other veterans of the Clinton administration, announced it was looking for editorial interns to assist “with fact-checking and research.” The interns will be “encouraged to contribute editorially and participate in meetings in addition to pursuing their own projects.”

Sounds good, but, “This is a full-time internship and comes with a $100 weekly stipend,” according to the listing. That comes to about $2.50 an hour, or “not nothing” if you are a glass-half-full type. However, there is a catch: “Interns who receive full course credit are ineligible for the weekly stipend.”

Mother Jones even told their workers to apply for food stamps while working on articles decrying Walmart for … having workers who get food stamps.

This does not surprise me at all. I mean at all. Megan McArdle wrote many years ago about working for Ralph Nader’s organization and how they assigned her some of the worst and poorest areas of town to solicit donations from. They did this so that they could fire her for lack of collections and skip paying half her wages. A similar scam — hiring people at less than minimum wage on the promise of a balloon payment, then firing them before the balloon is due — was behind ACORN’s voter registration fraud. The conservative media missed the real scandal. ACORN was bound by law to turn in the bogus registration, which will promptly rejected. But they existed in the first place because ACORN volunteers were desperate to not get fired for a lack of registrations.

Doubtless, many of these organizations will say they are on a shoestring. But everyone is on a shoestring these days. Small business owners aren’t exactly rolling naked in stacks of cash. This does not, however, exempt them from paying minimum wage and respecting worker rights. No, this is standard issue liberalism: claim that your cause is so just and righteous that the rules should not apply to you.

(In fact, I’m open to a debate about whether unpaid internships should be legal at all. It’s clear that the system is being abused.)

Mother Jones, in response to this, increased their payments to interns. Other liberal orgs are changing policy or maintaining a stony silence. But it’s telling that some of the biggest liberals in the world think a living wage should be guaranteed … for other people.

More lies and manipulation

And as with most of this shit from Obama’s team, it just happened to come about right before the 2012 election! In this case it looks like the unemployment data was manipulated and continues to be manipulated to prevent people from seeing how bad things are:

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington. The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated. And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today. “He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census. Ironically, it was Labor’s demanding standards that left the door open to manipulation.

Labor requires Census to achieve a 90 percent success rate on its interviews — meaning it needed to reach 9 out of 10 households targeted and report back on their jobs status. Census currently has six regions from which surveys are conducted. The New York and Philadelphia regions, I’m told, had been coming up short of the 90 percent. Philadelphia filled the gap with fake interviews.

The sad thing is that I suspected this was going on already and am not even surprised. There are a lot of numbers that seemed to skew in favor of this administration and the demcorats before the 2012 election and continue to be skewed to help them pretend things are not as bad even today. My bet is that there will be even more of this before the 2014 election.

With these people it is all about lies and manipulation of the truth. For our own good, of course. You would think findings like this would have the media in a furor and reporting how our government was out of control. But the sad fact is that these people are doing the dirty for the liars. Why worry anyway? They are going to make beggars and paupers of us all so we can use the lies.

Another Month, Another Stagnation

Jobs again:

Job growth was less than expected in August as the U.S. economy added 169,000 positions, raising questions over whether the Federal Reserve will begin a pullback on its historically easy monetary policy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also said the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, its lowest since December 2008, but due primarily to fewer Americans in the labor force.

A more encompassing rate that counts the underemployed and those who have quit working also fell, dropping to 13.7 percent.

That’s a bit deceptive. The labor force shrank by almost half a million people. That’s people retiring, going to school or giving up completely. And revisions to previous months cancelled out some of this month’s gains

However …

It should be pointed out that the predictions from every economist in the country was that things would be far, far worse. Sequestration, recision, tax hikes and the 40% reduction in the deficit was supposed to plunge the economy back into a depression. As disappointing as Q2 and Q3 have been, they’ve actually been better than Q1 and better than the pundits were predicting before they abandoned their “Republicans are wrecking the economy” narrative in favor of the “Obama is saving the economy” narrative.

I think a big reason the economy is stagnant instead of crashing is because of the closing of the deficit. The likelihood of default is lower, we are closing in on a sustainable fiscal path, there is talk of entitlement reform and we haven’t had a self-created fiscal crisis in a few months. That’s creating a lot more certainty in the markets; more than enough to counter any supposed baleful influence of spending cuts.

That having been said, “economy not crashing” is not the same as “economy doing well”. This was not a good jobs report. If we want an actual recovery, we need to continue to hack at the deficit, fix-delay-repeal parts of Obamacare, overhaul the tax code and overhaul regulations. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of momentum for that on Capital Hill. But we can always hope.

Some real economic and unemployment numbers to help you put our situation into perspective

Mort Zuckerman has an awesome WSJ article about how the claims by the left of an economic recovery are bunk. For years now the LSM and the donkeys have been pretending we have been going through an economic recovery, but that the reason nobody but they saw it as such, was the fact that it was a jobless recovery. Zuckerman takes that idiotic meme apart in this spiffy article. From the article:

In recent months, Americans have heard reports out of Washington and in the media that the economy is looking up—that recovery from the Great Recession is gathering steam. If only it were true. The longest and worst recession since the end of World War II has been marked by the weakest recovery from any U.S. recession in that same period.

The jobless nature of the recovery is particularly unsettling. In June, the government’s Household Survey reported that since the start of the year, the number of people with jobs increased by 753,000—but there are jobs and then there are “jobs.” No fewer than 557,000 of these positions were only part-time. The survey also reported that in June full-time jobs declined by 240,000, while part-time jobs soared by 360,000 and have now reached an all-time high of 28,059,000—three million more part-time positions than when the recession began at the end of 2007.

That’s just for starters. The survey includes part-time workers who want full-time work but can’t get it, as well as those who want to work but have stopped looking. That puts the real unemployment rate for June at 14.3%, up from 13.8% in May.

The 7.6% unemployment figure so common in headlines these days is utterly misleading. An estimated 22 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed; they are virtually invisible and mostly excluded from unemployment calculations that garner headlines.

At this stage of an expansion you would expect the number of part-time jobs to be declining, as companies would be doing more full-time hiring. Not this time. In the long misery of this post-recession period, we have an extraordinary situation: Americans by the millions are in part-time work because there are no other employment opportunities as businesses increase their reliance on independent contractors and part-time, temporary and seasonal employees.

Even the federal government payroll is turning to part-timers: In June 2012, 58,000 federal workers were part-timers. This year it’s 148,000, and we still don’t know how the budget sequester will play out, for many agencies have resorted to furloughs rather than layoffs.

Our economic recovery seems to be generating mostly part time work, which affects many that would prefer full time employment, and the number of people dropped off the rolls that still can’t find employment is so large that the real unemployment number isn’t 7.6%, but a frightening 14.3%. Think about that hard. That’s some scary numbers, and no indication of any kind of economic recovery. As I pointed out before, the unemployment and part-time employment picture is massively impacted by Obamacare. A fact these leftists want to hide from the low information voters, at least until after the 2014 election. But the fact is that things are even worse than they seem. Speaking of those jobs being created, part-time or otherwise, the article says the following:

The latest unemployment report was as underwhelming as the Household Survey. The biggest gains in June came from leisure and hospitality industries, including hotels and fast-food restaurants. Of the 195,000 new payroll jobs, 75,000 were in restaurants and bars, where the average weekly paycheck is about $351, less than half the average for all other private industries. Not to mention that these positions offer fewer hours, especially in the restaurant world, which has averaged 26.1 hours per week versus 34.5 hours for all private employers.

What’s going on? The fundamentals surely reflect the feebleness of the macroeconomic recovery that began roughly four years ago, as seen in an average gross domestic product growth rate annualized over the past 15 quarters at a miserable 2%. That’s the weakest GDP growth since World War II. Over a similar period in previous recessions, growth averaged 4.1%. During the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, the GDP growth rate dropped below 2%. This anemic growth is all we have to show for the greatest fiscal and monetary stimuli in 75 years, with fiscal deficits of over 10% of GDP for four consecutive years. The misery is not going to end soon.

Oh, oh. So these jobs being created, in so far as the skillset needed to do them and the ability to earn big pay, are simple service sector jobs too? Low pay, fewer hours, and reduced career opportunities a recovery do not spell. Obamanomics has made our economy the fast food economy. The jobs created seem to all be about asking people if they would like fries with that. Not good. Zuckerman also brings the same concerns I constantly harp on – the cost of Obamacare and the unpredictability of the central planning government agenda the collectivists in charge favor – to the forefront in the article:

ObamaCare is partially to blame. The health-insurance law requires employers with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty per worker. Under the law, a full-time job is defined as 30 hours a week, so businesses, especially smaller ones, have an incentive to bring on more part-time workers.

Little wonder that earlier this month the Obama administration announced it is postponing the employer mandate until 2015, undoubtedly to see if the delay will encourage more full-time hiring. But thousands of small businesses have been capping employment at 30 hours and not hiring more than 50 full-timers, and the businesses are unlikely to suddenly change that approach just because they received a 12-month reprieve.

These businesses’ hesitation to hire is part of a larger caution among employers unsure about the direction of government policy—and which has helped contribute to chronic long-term unemployment that shows no sign of easing. Unlike those who lose a job and then find another one in a matter of weeks or months, fully a third of the currently unemployed have been out of work for more than six months. As they remain out of the workforce, their skills deteriorating, the likelihood rises that they will be seen as permanently unemployable. With each passing month of bleak job news, the possibility increases of a structural unemployment problem in the U.S. such as Europe experienced in the 1980s.

Can’t explain this to people that feel it is their duty to social engineer a better society, however. Leftists seem immune to economic facts, laws, and logic. No matter how often their meddling – be it truly to improve things or, as it practically always is to favor their political and ideological agenda, not to mention pocketbooks, – results in foreseen or unforeseen disasters, they refuse to accept that what they have done and continue to do causes far more harm than even a masochist could envision. Then again, I am not one of those people that believes the left does what it does to improve & expand anything but their hold on power, so the insanity of their meddling makes perfect sense to me. The end coal is a society comprised of the Alphas – the credentialed and leftist elites – and the workers. That’s why their policies are eroding the middle class while the level of lip service from the left about how much it wants to help the middle class keeps climbing. It’s easier to control a society where all are equally poor & miserable, and dependent on government for practically everything. Not to mention that such a society lends itself very well to holding onto power.

But back to the article and its salient point that our supposed recovery is bunk, and that the problem is the policies of the people in charge:

That brings us to a stunning fact about the jobless recovery: The measure of those adults who can work and have jobs, known as the civilian workforce-participation rate, is currently 63.5%—a drop of 2.2% since the recession ended. Such a decline amid a supposedly expanding economy has never happened after previous recessions. Another statistic that underscores why this is such a dysfunctional labor market is that the number of people leaving the workforce during this economic recovery has actually outpaced the number of people finding a new job by a factor of nearly three.

What the country clearly needs are policies that will encourage the modernization of America’s capital stock, where investment in modern production has plunged to the lowest levels in decades. Policies should also be targeted to nourish high-tech industries, which will in turn inspire the design and manufacture of products in the U.S. where they would be closer to the American market, spurring more hiring. This means preparing a skilled workforce, especially engineers suitable to work in manufacturing, and increasing the number of visas available to foreign graduate students in the hard sciences—who are now forced to leave America and who then work for foreign competitors.

Well, DUH! The popularism & envy based ideology of the left appeals well to both low information and credentialed elitist voters, and that’s why it is so successful. Too many people now prefer to give up freedoms for the promise – notice that word, “promise”, because that’s all it is – of protection from consequences of bad decisions and actions. The left’s hatred of profits and those that do things to make profits – unless they are of course leftists which while paying lip service to the dogma ignore the rules they straddle the serfs with, generate obscene amounts of money for themselves and their friends – stymies any and all actions that would actually positively affect employment and economic growth.

The lesson here is that while the social engineers have the upper hand only the well-connected will profit, while the rest of us all lose, and lose big. The class warriors love to pretend that it is those that oppose their policies & agenda that are the enemy of the common man, but that’s one of the most brilliant lies ever sold to a bunch of sheep. It’s not a coincidence that the people making out like bandits in these trying times all are well connect leftist and their friends, while the people they portend to help suffer, and suffer badly.

Obligatory post on the Unemployment bullshit from the LSM.

I am certain the LSM will be all happy to report that unemployment remained steady at 7.6%, and whilethey all were hoping for a drop to 7.5%, this is just great news still. Well, as this Zerohedge post neatly shows, focusing on reported unemployment number outside of the other real factors is stupid.

So much for any doubts about a September taper: with the street expecting a 165K NFP number for June, the actual print of 195K following an upward revised May print of 195K as well, means the Fed’s September flow fade, aka Taper, is now virtually assured. On the other side, the Household Survey printed a 160K increase in jobs. The Unemployment Rate stayed at 7.6% despite expectations of a drop to 7.5%, although the real action was in the underemployment rate which exploded from 13.8% to 14.3%.

Emphasis mine. Sure the LSM is happy to tell you that you should believe the bullshit that the economy is at a minimum steady, if not getting better, but the fact is that’s all bullshit. The number of people that want to be full time employed but can’t find full time jobs keeps climbing. And it will be going up even more as employers everywhere react to Obamacare. Things are not getting better. In fact, we should be happy they are not deteriorating as fast as they could be based on all the stupid from the credentialed elite running our nanny state.

Of Course, We All Know Regulatory Uncertainty Is A Myth

But is regulatory despair?

Nearly all development economists agree that good institutions—legislatures, courts, administrative agencies—are crucial. When poor countries improve their institutions, economic growth soon accelerates. But what about rich countries? If poor countries can get rich by improving their institutions, is it not possible that rich countries can get poor by allowing their institutions to degenerate? I want to suggest that it is.

Consider the evidence from the annual “Doing Business” reports from the World Bank and International Finance Corporation. Since 2006 the report has published data for most of the world’s countries on the total number of days it takes to start a business, get a construction permit, register a property, pay taxes, get an export or import license and enforce a contract. If one simply adds together the total number of days it would take to carry out all seven of these procedures sequentially, it is possible to construct a simple measure of how slowly—or fast—a country’s bureaucracy moves.

Seven years of data suggest that most of the world’s countries are successfully making it easier to do business: The total number of days it takes to carry out the seven procedures has come down, in some cases very substantially. In only around 20 countries has the total duration of dealing with “red tape” gone up. The sixth-worst case is none other than the U.S., where the total number of days has increased by 18% to 433. Other members of the bottom 10, using this metric, are Zimbabwe, Burundi and Yemen (though their absolute numbers are of course much higher).

We have discussed many times, on these pages, the massive regulatory burdens that have descended on American businesses. Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank and the pending crush of Obamacare, just to name three, tally over 2000 pages. And the cost of regulation, especially with the new insurance mandates, run into the hundred of billions. Is it any wonder why we’ve had a lost decade? Why unemployment stay high? Why wages are stagnant? Why Apple keeps its earning overseas? The article goes through many different measures and many ways of approaching the question and keeps coming up with the same answer: massive systemic institutional failure creating a hostile business environment for anyone who doesn’t play the Washington game. Overhauling our tax system alone would remove a couple of hundred billion in deadweight loss on our economy. So why isn’t it on the table?

Because the current system empowers the powerful. It brings rent-seeking businesses to Washington to beg and plead for special dispensations and subsidies. It gives those businesses billions in advantages over their competition. It lets politicians control the economy, punish businesses they don’t like and reward ones they do. It creates mass fortunes for the lawyers who interpret regulations, advise on regulations and file lawsuits when some company breaks them.

Your Daily AFL-CIO Headdesk

The only time I really have issues with Walmart is when they use the machinery of government to their advantage. They supported the ACA, for example, because it would benefit them. They’ve support eminent domain seizures in the past. Other than that, however, I really don’t understand the Walmart hatred. They provide cheaper products to the poor and middle class thanks to the economy of scale. They are known to hire people with little job experience of checkered pasts and give them a chance to move up. And, earlier this year, they announced a plan to hire 100,000 veterans and returning soldiers. Veterans have an unemployment rate that is a couple of ticks higher than the general population and could use a little bit of a boost.

This is a good thing, right? Giving entry-level jobs to people who’ve served our country? Well, it isn’t if you’re one of the biggest assholes on the planet:

Walmart’s recent announcement of a plan to hire returning honorably discharged veterans is more about public relations than honoring our heroes. That this effort was valorized by President Obama and Vice President Biden reflects an acceptance of economic failure out of line with America’s history or future.

We owe it to our returning veterans to make sure they are treated as the heroes they are, rather than as symbols used to “greenwash” Walmart’s eroding brand. After facing enemies abroad, is an $8.81 an hour part-time job the best we can offer returning veterans?

Already, working families and our economy are struggling against an epidemic of low-paying, low-benefit, part-time work. Instead of legitimizing that trend, we need to treat the talents of our veterans—and of all of America’s people—as a critical national resource.

We need businesses in this country to step up and make family-sustaining jobs available to returning veterans. Previous generations of heroes returned from overseas service to critical jobs in manufacturing, construction and public service, jobs that enabled veterans to help build the nation and support families. With the right policies, including those in President Obama and Vice President Biden’s American Jobs Act, we can live up to the standards of our past and empower our veterans for the future.

That’s Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, in case you didn’t recognize his style about three sentences in.

Yeah, it would be great if we had waiting jobs in factories for returning soldiers (although it bears noting that after World War II, a lot of those jobs were created by women leaving the workforce to become housewives again). But we don’t have that. We have an economy that is slowly creeping along thanks in part to the policies supported by Trumka’s allies and the debt-busting spending they have engaged in to try to “create jobs”. To the extent that manufacturing jobs have recovered it is because of innovation and improving living standards in foreign countries.

I would love for every veteran to come back to a $25 an hour job building solar panels. I would also love it if, every month, I were given two comely lasses of virtue true. But that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world were over 10% of honorably discharged veterans are unemployed. We live in a world where long-term unemployment is crippling: many employers simply throw out the resumes of those who’ve been unemployed for a couple of years. $8.81 an hour may not sound like a lot to Richard Trumka (current salary about $283,000 a year). But for someone looking to get a leg up into the job market and build up some experience, it could be a godsend.

OH NOEZ! It’s a surprise only if you are an Obama sycophant

The LSM is all aflutter with the “surprise news” that the economy is shrinking! It’s only a suspires if you are a leftard or a member of the LSM that was willing to pretend the economy was just fine because Obama is a genius, while the signs are everywhere that we where heading for another recession.

The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus. The economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. That’s a sharp slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter. The surprise contraction could raise fears about the economy’s ability to handle tax increases that took effect in January and looming spending cuts.

Still, the weakness may be because of one-time factors. Government spending cuts and slower inventory growth subtracted a total of 2.6 percentage points from growth. And those volatile categories offset faster growth in consumer spending, business investment and housing — the economy’s core drivers of growth.

Heh, covering up and excuse making on steroids. Stunning loss? Not really, in fact my surprise is that they have reported it for a change. Of course they did so with all kinds of excuses. One time factors! It’s those evil government spending cuts. We need more of that. Yeah, sure. The real story here is that the only reason our economy isn’t correcting so it can then reset is because government has spent trillions preventing that, and thus prolonged the pain. No way these Keynesian Marxists will ever admit that though.

The economy is going to get hammered by tax increases, more of the same travesty from the EPA, and most importantly from the “free” healthcare Obamacare promised, and no amount of government stealing from the productive to pretend they can hold back the tide, is going to stop that. Our economy will continue to contract for the foreseeable future, unexpectedly according to the leftards, because Keynesian economics are bullshit. All they have done is put us trillions more in debt, prolonged the pain, and prevented the needed correction.

Consumer confidence is down, and even the most biased of polls can’t hide that. Everything costs more, even though we keep getting told there is no inflation, the dollar is definitely worth less, and the employment landscape is so heavily mined that it is a wonder there aren’t more casualties. Everyone but the elite in DC are hurting, and hurting bad. Even the freeloaders are complaining that they haven’t gotten their Obamaphones.

Business spending is non existent outside the tax payer handouts by government to preferred leftists cliques like the green energy sector, because all businesses see what these fucking economic illiterate marxists have done for the last 5 years as business killing ventures. It is not accidental that all these big lefty donor companies are looking for exclusions from EPA regulation and Obamacare, while asking for handouts. No business owner in their right mind wants to work so socio-engineers in government can rob them blind in order to buy votes from non producers.

Let us not even get into the whole housing market problem. The framework for what caused the recent market implosion was not only kept in place by the Dodd-Franks bill, but the utopian wealth redistribution, leftard socio-economic tampering schemes and mechanisms have been tweaked in such a way that it guarantees to make the next crisis even more horrible than this last one.

This sort of drivel of a news article makes me pine for a republican in the WH. At least then the LSM would be pointing out things where bad. Of course with massive exaggeration of how bad too (just look at the way they reported 4% unemployment under Boosh and the 8+% under Obama). Can you imagine how the LSM would be decrying the stagnation and depression we are in then instead of the constant lies about how the bad news is unexpected? It is bad out there. And only liberal idiots think that after the last 5 years of stupid that is unexpected.

BLAME BOOSH!

There, all solved. It is always someone else’s fault, but this is our immediate future, and this is where we will end if we let these people keep making the decisions that adults should be making.

The Menace of a Double Dip

The initial numbers for 2012 Q4 show the economy shrank at 0.1%. Are we entering a double-dip recession? Ed Morrissey breaks the numbers down a bit:

In other words, much of this drop seems to be a lack of inventory expansion. Real final sales to end purchasers rose, even if it didn’t go up by much. That would indicate that inventory expansion in Q3 and prior periods was based on overly-optimistic views of the economy.

Government spending also fell dramatically by 15% in Q4, meaning that private spending was actually up. Of course, it was up in Q3, so if you average the two quarters out, we’ve got a slow economy, but not one in recession. Possibly.

A few reasons not to run for the hills just yet:

1) The numbers are preliminary and will be revised again and again over the next year and a half. Remember that the economy was actually in recovery when Bush was voted out in 1992 but it took a while for the numbers to become clear. By the same token, the economy was crashing badly in the final quarter of 2008 but that didn’t become clear until over a year later. The most dramatic revision is likely to occur at the end of February, but don’t be surprised if the numbers change a lot. That could mean the economy is better; but it could also mean it’s worse. It’s unlikely to be good.

2) A shrinking economy is at variance with a number of other economic indicators, notably falls in unemployment, jobless claims and job creation figures. Long-term unemployment is starting to fall for the first time in a while and housing is starting to recover. This may indicate the growth number is bad. Or may be a lagging indicator.

3) If the economy is slowing down, it means that the “Debt Truthers” like Paul Krugman and, alarming, Bruce Bartlett, are even more full of shit than they were a week ago. The idea that our budget is coming into balance is predicated on strong economic growth. If that isn’t happening, the debt is still a Big Fucking Deal.

4) Sniping about the media calling economic news “unexpected” is silly. Economic figures are very noisy and almost never come in at expectations. The news is always “unexpected”. That’s not media bias; that’s media ignorance of how economic figures work.

5) I suspect that the real reason Q4 was slow was because of the uncertainty created by the fiscal cliff combined with the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The last time we saw growth slow like this was … during the debt ceiling crisis. If Congress and the President would quit creating these self-induced economic crises, we might be in much better shape. And having a Katrina-level event — one that cause $60 billion in direct damage and God knows how much in lost productivity in the midst of this political mess was a huge blow. Sandy alone might have knocked a percentage point of our growth.

So we should be concerned, but I’m not ready to panic just yet. 2013 Q1 might also be a bit weak with the expiration of the payroll tax holiday and I do think this will get Congress to punt the debt ceiling and possibly the sequester just to keep the economy from any more shocks.

Update: More:

For one thing, most of the collapse was due to a stunning fall in military spending. That’s not good for GDP, but it doesn’t reflect the real underlying strength of the economy.

And it’s mostly due to war drawdown. That’s a good thing for everyone!

There was also a big decline due to a reversal of big inventory buildups.

What’s key is that the numbers that really reflect the strength of the economy were much better.

Personal consumption, fixed investment, and equipment/software all grew nicely. This is the real economy humming along.

I’m not quite that optimistic. We had a real problems last quarter with the fiscal cliff and Sandy — problems that have not magically gone away. I’m expecting Q1 to be mediocre if we’re lucky.