Tag Archives: unemployment

For America’s Worsening Joblessness, Detroit is the Canary in the Mine!

mine canary

Why is it that out of 245 million working age people in America, only 143 million are actually working? A good percentage of ‘non-working’ adults are those that care for children in the home.

According to a 2012 Forbes survey, 1 in 3 working age women stay at home with their children. 1 in three of working women that have children resent their husbands for not making enough to allow them to stay at home. 84% of working women with children wish they could stay at home. Stay at home dads make up 176,000 of the population.

With the addition of women to the workforce, the overall percentage of Americans working increased from 59% 1950 to 67% in 2010, with women gains displacing men in all age categories, and especially in youth and over 55 age categories.

From before WWII when 19% of women entered the workforce, the percent of women participation grew to 67% through 2008, the recent job implosion. During that time, men’s participation actually dropped from 88% to 73%. The majority of percentage men’s employment drop was in youth and over 55 age categories. But, even in the men’s prime 25-45 years, men lost about 5% between 1950 and 2010.

The effect of such labor shifts was to reduce labor costs, shifting wages from men who still enjoy a 20% wage differential, and older workers who also are paid more for similar jobs, to less paid women and younger workers.

Of America’s 245 million eligible workers, why are only 143 million working? The numbers break down:

Documented Workers………………..143.2
Stay at home parents……………….….40.3
Unemployed……………………….………….19.2
Disabled………………………….…….………11.0
Welfare……………….………….………..……5.0
Undocumented immigrant workers..5.0
Organized and career crime…………..5.0
Investors…………………….……………..…..4.0
Incarcerated…….………………….………..2.3
Homeless…………………………………..…..1.0
Institutionalized………………….……..…0.3
Slaves………………………………………..…..0.1
Dropped out/opt out/barter………..…8.6

Arguably, the level of other categories that should be employable such as the ballooning disabled population and the doubling of incarcerated individuals is substantial. However, the combination of unemployed and dropped out is double what was the case prior to the job implosion and investors’ transfers of jobs overseas.

Adding a reasonable number of the above categories, say 19 million unemployed, 5 million disabled, 5 million welfare, 1 million incarcerated, and 5 million dropped out, we have 35 million Americans that would want to work if there were jobs for them. In addition, of those that are working, 25% of American workers earn less than $10 per hour and 47 million are on food stamps.

Of those the 8.6 million workers that have lost their way, typically older or less educated that have long since stopped looking for any job, unlike in decades of recessions past, they have no jobs for which to return. Their forgotten lives will be the monument of America’s era of international capitalism.

When I visited the salt mines in Krakow Poland, they symbolized the tour with a mine canary. Canaries are more sensitive to mine gases and die before the miners are affected. They say that Detroit is the canary in the mine of the United States economy and that what happens to Detroit is a symbol of what is to affect us all.

Detroit is sliding into workless oblivion. We watch as the state of Michigan rushes in to chop the city up. Instead, America should be shouting for action to reverse the city’s joblessness before the canary dies. We are all continuing to slide into a workless oblivion and the canary is just trying to warn us.

The Fed is continuing to keep the slide from accelerating, which is temporarily a good thing. The same catastrophe that Detroit is dealing with now would be happening in other parts of the country if it were not for the Fed buying stock to support the pension plans of public unions around the country. Housing would have continued to slide if it were not for the Fed purchasing excess housing stock.

We are not adding enough jobs to make up for population growth. We are stuffing excess joblessness in other categories. For those jobs that are created, we are subsidizing them with food stamps and other ballooning welfare programs.

Will we decide as a nation to choose another path? Will we implement system wide strategies that bring back working wages? Will we slow the slide of the disintegrating family? Will we return our schools to priming our businesses of the future? Will we reverse the scourge of crime on our communities? When will we reach out in support of Detroit?

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US economy is as simple as US CH IOU.

Slide1Person U buys trinket H from Person C and gives a U IOU. Person C doesn’t want trinket S and instead saves U IOU from person U. With no demand for trinket S, person U is laid off. But he still wants another trinket H so he gives person C another U IOU, which Person C saves again.

After a few years, person C has more demand for trinket H and uses U IOUs to buy a factory from Person K, who then uses U IOUs that travel throughout the region but never go back to purchase trinket S from Person U. Meanwhile Person U continues to purchase more trinkets S with more IOUs.

U debt grows. U unemployment grows. U trade deficit grows. U economists suggest that to put person U back to work, government U will put other Persons U to work, pay them more IOUs that they can then give to Person U for trinket S and that then he can go back to work. So now to “fix” the problem, people are put to work in government instead of making trinket S, so that they can buy trinket S, yet the debt still grows.

Economist U says this is a perfect solution for Person U can now buy trinkets from Person C, Government person U can buy trinkets from Person U and the only thing that seems odd is that the U IOUs continue to grow. But IOUs represent work that must be done eventually to compensate those holding the IOUs. And if Person U holds more IOUs than he can possibly repay in his lifetime, person C eventually becomes concerned.

Eventually, Person C figures out that Person U can no longer repay the IOUs with the amount of labor available to Person U. Person C then decides that the IOUs circulating are not worth the amount of repayment labor originally intended. Person C then tells Person U in order to buy trinket H, Person U must give Person C two IOUs.

In this way, person C begins to make person U repay his debt. Person U must now labor twice as long to obtain trinket H. Person U becomes “poorer” due to now having to labor harder to repay decades of IOUs paid to Person C. This perfect solution touted by Economist U as a way to fix unemployment is not so perfect after all.

Person C has profited from not buying trinket S over the years. Person C has grown employment, bought factories, grown GDP, and increased real assets at home. Yet, Person C has paid a price in choosing eventually to not accept U IOUs at the same face value as before. For now, while choosing to make person U give two IOUs for trinket H, person C also accepts that all the IOUs he holds are only worth half of what they were a moment before.

Person C’s economy is now robust but his wealth is a little less now than before. Person U’s economy is now fragile and hollow. Person U must labor twice as hard now to buy trinket H. Even though his labor is worth less buying trinket H, he will still labor the same number of hours to repay his debt. Yet a pyrrhic victory is won for now other countries holding IOUs will buy his labor that is worth less.

In summary, for decades Person U bought trinket H thinking it was inexpensive but in reality it really bought him unemployment and borrowing to pay for trinket H. Then later, to repay his debt, Person U became poorer and sold trinket S cheaply into the market to repay Person C for the trinket H that he borrowed U IOUs to pay for earlier. Going forward, Person U has less GDP and less factories for decades as he attempts to catch up.

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Ironically, Trickle Down Economics Trickled Down America’s Future

America is a land of irony. We are filled with capitalists whose intent is to accumulate all the wealth the world has to offer, and at the same time, we also have an altruistic nature that tears at our capitalistic infrastructure. We defend our great society and fund outreach to other nations through our tax dollars. We support our dreams of a united earth through a funding of the United Nations and fund our version of world peace through 1,000 military bases dispersed throughout the world. To grow our middle class, for the past thirty years we have supplied enrichment to our upper class to have it trickle down.

Supply side economics is an irony of political invention as well. Its invention of thought intended to provide extra capital to America’s private sector, the sector that creates taxpaying, productive jobs that extends America’s know how, innovation, skills, and gross domestic product. In our world’s current economic system, when a venture is started, some seed capital that has been accumulated by the world’s elite is then combined with borrowed money created from thin air by banks through the venture’s promise to repay. This devised modern structure of government and banking thus provides the investment needed to fund the venture’s infrastructure and start up expenses, including the financial support for job creation.

The wealthier of our country are those that have traditionally been able to accumulate more money than they need to fund their daily expenses, and thus they have provided the seed capital for ventures through their investments. Instead of the entrepreneurs that risk all to build real wealth and create the jobs, Supply Side economics instead provides tax incentives to the wealthy, ironically giving credit to the capital providers for producing America’s jobs. However, capitalism knows no patriotic allegiance. Investment capital will flow to the highest risk adjusted returns regardless of national borders.

After America’s obsessive military buildup made international investments safer, international business became safer investments in the sixties. Opportunities grew wildly after China opened its borders to investment in 1978, creating a gold rush that attracted loose investment capital from the entire world, building tens of thousands of factories that enriched international investors dearly.

So when Reagan Supply Sider legislators passed tax breaks to the “rich”, their trickledown theory wasn’t wrong, it was just decades late in adjusting to the realities of risk adjusted investment opportunity. Ironically, instead of trickle down, America’s tax policy resulted in pouring out, not a trickle but a fire hose gushing toward foreign shores. Trillions of dollars, created by burdening our middle class with excessive debt, left our economy and were converted into factories and other infrastructure such as roadways, bridges, and cargo ships to enhance China’s economy and to increase their employment base.

It appeared at least temporarily that America profited from our supply side doctrine. An entire industry was born to find ways to collect the extra capital and distribute it to the East. America surely got interim jobs in the financial sector to support this fire hose of foreign directed money flow. Yet, decreasing taxes for the “rich” created much fewer permanent jobs in America than it could have, passing the greater load of jobs to the East. It provided America interim financial and deal flow processing while accomplishing the opposite effect than was hoped for to America’s real economic future.

Ironically, Trickle Down Economics Trickled Down America’s Future…page 2 of 2….Worse, when those permanent jobs left our shores, so did decades of investment in our schools and education that every American has paid for through our contract with America. Each of us has voted to contribute thousands of dollars to our school systems to educate our youth. We do not publicly fund our educational system out of altruism. Americans understand that in educating our youth, they will learn the lessons provided by educated Americans before them. They will carry forward the knowledge that grows in our businesses to learn new theories and methods and to discover new scientific breakthroughs that will extend American technical capabilities. We invest in our children to grow our country’s GDP and to support both those that have come before in their turn at retirement and those that will come after who will raise their families in freedom and who will extend our great country’s experiment in democracy.

Ironically, beyond those trade secrets and innovations that are deemed highly responsible for national security, America does not have a policy about those innovations created in America that have been funded by at least 12 years of public schooling if not more through Pell grants, student loans, state school subsidies and other methods. America has an equity stake in every innovation created by Americans and yet we let them go as freely as we let our commodities be dug up from our patch of earth and be sold out from under us through private, foreign country based businesses operating mines on our public lands today.

However, the greatest irony is yet to come. In letting our capital be funneled to China, in letting our jobs transfer to her, in freely handing over our trade secrets, our innovations, and our scientific breakthroughs, we have transferred decades of core skill and national wealth building capability that will now build in China and not in America. The tax base that would have supported our great society social needs will now support those of China. The extra funds that could have supported our government’s international outreach will now support hers. Our altruistic capability will diminish purely from our trickle down tax policies.

And the great investments that our capitalists hope will provide gold rush returns from the trillions of dollars of investment extracted from the debts of all Americans, turns out they may be the greatest Ponzi of the 20th century. Those trillions of dollars now rest on China’s soil as hard assets. They cannot be dug up from the earth and planted back in America. The financial returns that investors hope for count on China remaining strong to honor her commitments. If China defaults, no one will travel to China and take a piece of the infrastructure back home. There is no international bankruptcy court that can enforce repossessment or repayment.

China’s ability to produce repayments of direct foreign investments depends on America’s ability to stay solvent and to continue buying Chinese goods, yet our solvency rests close to the precipice. If our current economic crisis is thrust off the cliff by short sided, self seeking politicians, America’s default will lead to China’s default and all the profits that our investors dreamed of receiving will disappear in the crash. The underlying assets and intellectual capital that transferred to China in the 20th century gold rush will remain there for China’s eventual rapid recovery while the trickle down and fire hosed out financial capital that left America’s shores will have ironically vanished with our gold strike dreams.

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God Save Us from the Fish Mongers – An Allegory

A small, tropical isle fishing village sits across an inlet from a much larger fishing village to the east. Both villages want for little, spending their days either fishing or taking leisure. The western villagers choose to fish in deep-water, prime fishing grounds where catches are ample and large. They have much leisure, for long ago a western family learned to use the woodlands of their island to produce boats. The eastern villagers, lacking boat building skills, are forced however to cast long hours along their shores for smaller inlet fish. The boat building family enjoys even more leisure than most because their skills provide access to the deep waters so their villagers give them a bit of fish from every catch.

Desiring vessels for their people, eastern village elders approach the boat builders with head gear in hand, explaining that they will provide twice the fish of the western villagers if the boat builders will also supply them with boats. With such an agreeable offer, the boat building family begins to supply boats to the eastern village, and soon eastern villagers can be seen venturing out into the deep for fish.

Flush with fish from the easterners, the boat builders craft an idea. They will trade their excess to westerners in exchange for a return of fish later. To entice their villagers, they will agree to give more fish today than will have to be returned later. Westerners find the offer irresistible because they can enjoy leisure now knowing that some day when they must repay the debt, they will work fewer hours than the hours of leisure they gain today.

Having an abundance of both leisure and fish but now lusting for more, the boat builders unwittingly cast aside their future and that of their island as they craft another idea. They will teach eastern islanders the secrets their forefathers gave them about boat building in exchange for a bit of fish from every catch of the boats the easterners build. Yearning to harvest more of the deep waters, easterners agree to the terms. As the ambitious easterners flood the fishing fields with boats, the western boat building family’s fortunes become titanic.

Mongers now flood the shores with fish from the east, eventually causing a fourth of the western villagers to sit idly by, borrowing from the boat builder’s excesses. Without a need to fish, they slowly lose their knowledge of the seas, and without a need to venture into the deep their boats fall into disrepair. The western village elders, who had survived by taking a bit of fish from every villager as payment for administering the village, now find that with many of their villagers idly living on the fish of the easterners, that they cannot skim enough catch from their villagers to live.

They approach the uberwealthy boat building family for solutions. Lobbying that loans of fish to the idle westerners is good for the westerners because they are receiving more fish today than they will have to repay, the family also quietly agrees to supply ample fish to the elders in exchange for support of continuing eastern trades. Having provided the elders fish that can no longer be obtained from the villagers, the family feels justified in crafting yet another idea. They will give fish to eastern villagers so that they can stop fishing and build even more boats in the east that will return a bit of fish from every catch.

The eastern villagers now control the deep fishing fields and begin to weary of trading fish to the westerners, who must rely on eastern fish, as their boats are no longer sailable. With even more villagers sitting out the long hot days in their huts, western elders grow ever hungrier, so with head gear in hand they travel in weather worn boats to the eastern shore and meet with the eastern village elders by the campfire. Emboldened by their newfound wealth, the eastern elders chide the western elders for their lack of foresight but agree to provide fish in exchange for the promise that the western elders will demand a skim of their villagers’ fish to repay the easterners.

For awhile, this uneasy arrangement continues between the western villagers, their elders, the eastern villagers and the family of boat builders until the eastern village bulges with boats. No longer needing the skills of the boat builders, the eastern village does not desire to give another fish to the westerners but instead demands the western village return the fish they borrowed.

Without the skills or boats to repay their debt, the western villagers look aghast as their elders call them to the camp fire. They no longer can sit by the shore gorging on borrowed fish, nor can they linger leisurely. They must now work long hours catching inlet fish to repay the eastern village. Their previous agreement to pay for earlier leisure with less work hours today was unfortunately sold off by the boat builders. For now, the westerners have no boats to venture into the deep and their labor will be spent casting from the shores. This tranquil village in paradise has unwittingly indentured its future to the easterners.

The family of boat builders, attempting to revive its lost fortunes, now sheepheadishly offers to build boats for the western villagers, but their offer is rebuffed. The easterners are now the preeminent boat builders and one by one, the villagers must meekly travel to the east with head gear in hand, hoping to acquire boats today in exchange for a bit of fish from every catch.

So….Why were the villagers allowed to borrow fish that they could never pay back? Why were the boat builders allowed to give the secrets of the island to the easterners, not only giving away their claims to the island’s boats of survival but the rights to the deep fishing fields that were not theirs to give? Why were elders allowed to borrow from the easterners while so many villagers sat idly? Why did the villagers not see that their elders would yield to the boat builders as a means of their own survival? Why didn’t the western village foresee that letting their skills and boats diminish was unsustainable for their island’s survival? Why didn’t they understand that by borrowing leisure, they would end up fishing for scrub fish along the inlet shore? Why?

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How Could America Have Squandered the Gold of Ancient Egypt and the Incas?

Gold has been the store of human endeavor since ancient times. While each ounce of gold can hold only a finite amount of labor, perhaps 1,000 hours in non-industrialized nations, some of the gold locked in Fort Knox has touched millions of hours of labor from civilizations untold. For gold’s greatest benefit, as with all money, is not its storage of value but its lasting ability to temporarily hold value in the exchange of non-coincidental barters.

For millenniums, money was the interchange commodity for simple trades as between farmers and herders. The farmer gave the herder a coin in winter for meat, and the herder returned the coin at harvest time for a bushel of vegetables. Farmers and herders relied on the value of gold because precious metals took effort to mine and purify, were tested for weight and purity, and could be stamped, coined and carried. With such a universal appeal, precious metals became synonymous with storage of value and dominated the world’s choice for money.

At one point, America held within its coffers 70% of all the gold that has ever been purified from ancient Egypt and the Incas through modern times. But it was our misjudgment as to the true value of gold that robbed our forts of ingots and brought America to the precipice of ruin. As history’s greatest superpower, why did America not learn from ancient empires that tumbled down the path to insignificance, and why did we allow our government to amass more debt than has ever been owed by every other soul that has ever lived?

1964 marked an accelerating turning point in America’s misfortunes. In 1964, President Johnson was elected to enact Great Society reforms just as America was increasing her involvement in Viet Nam. Baby boomers were entering the work force just as multinational corporations were beginning an upsurge of direct foreign investment and the transfer of jobs to overseas markets. America’s use of oil was peaking just as political undercurrents were coalescing around oil as a geopolitical force.

Six simultaneous assaults on the American dollar joined to fuel the American financial malaise; a lack of fiscal adherence to a gold standard, military excursions in support of American interests, funding of the great society, a lack of will to respond to oil cartels, multinational corporate indifference to the plight of the American worker, and a financial industry gone wild.

America did not Steward Its Gold

Even though, for 600 decades of recorded history, gold was the stable base of transactions, the world has temporarily abandoned this gold standard for the last 5 decades. Our abandonment was not because of the world’s enlightenment that gold is an unnecessary physical impediment to the electronic age of finance. It is because, with no viable alternative, the world has clung to the hollowed out American dollar that inflated beyond the discipline of the gold standard.

In the 20th century, industrialized nations twice attempted to redistribute wealth through great wars that left all of Europe bankrupt. Afterward, America held 70 percent of the world’s processed gold, and became through Bretton Woods the gold-backed, paper money guarantor of the free world. During the next 15 years, America squandered her gold to cover currency imbalances, until by 1960 the dollar lost its legitimacy. Interestingly, it took Spain over a hundred years to squander its 20,000 tons of Inca gold.

From 1971 until now, America and the rest of the world have had little choice but to allow our currencies to float, giving up the imperfect discipline imposed by a gold standard. As a result of America’s freewheeling monetary policies, it is now encumbered by a spend drunk Congress and an obliging central bank that have conspired to reduce the value of America’s 1971 fiat dollar to a mere 17 cents today.

Scholars suggest that the reason for the dollar’s fall was the inevitable Triffin dilemma which requires America to carry a current account deficit to provide the world with reserve currency. Yet debt financed trade imbalances are not required to provide reserves. Reserves could just as well have been sold to other countries as given to them through trade shortfalls. No, America’s post war monetary policies quickly gambled away the historical hegemony that was bestowed on us at the end of two world wars.

This five decade hiatus from a gold standard will prove only temporary. Gold’s appeal as the engine of financial growth has not been lost on China. At the end of World War II, U.S. gold reserve was over 18,000 tons but has since reduced to 8,000 tons. China is executing a strategy of purchasing approximately 250 tons per year and, as the world’s largest producer of gold, producing 320 tons per year, and now has surpassed all but the U.S. as the second largest holder of gold with 2,000 tons.

Military Excursions Drained America’s Coffers

Without the ability to borrow vast moneys, earlier civilizations relied on warring, exploration and conquest to quickly expand their stores of gold. This strategy was not without consequences. To fund war, Rome engaged in coin clipping and smelting with lesser metals to reduce size and value of denarius in attempts to pay soldiers with coins of veiled value. After 200 years, the Roman denarius reduced from 100 percent silver to only 5 percent just prior its army leaving Rome unprotected from invasions and fall. Interestingly, it has taken less than 100 years for America’s dollar value to plunge that amount.

As all empires have before, America found that its wars must be financed with inflation. The Fed supported an excessive expansion of the money supply (dollar clipping), creating debt to fund each of America’s wars. The Civil War added 2.8 billion. WWI added another 21 billion. WWII created another $216 billion. The Korean War was financed with taxes. Viet Nam increased the debt $146 billion. Cold war expenditures cost 1.6 trillion. The first Gulf War cost a mere $7 billion. In contrast, Iraq cost $786 billion and Afghanistan cost $397 billion. Not including the 700 foreign soil U.S. military bases that contribute greatly to America’s balance of payments deficit, her major wars added a total of $3.4 trillion dollars of carried debt.

The Great Society Became the Broke Society

President Johnson outlined The Great Society in his State of the Union Speech on January 4, 1965, saying “The great society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it.” Notwithstanding the good that was done by these programs, they drained America’s future potential GDP growth and the money that would fuel her economic engine.

46 years later, Great Society initiatives touched education, health, urban renewal, transportation, arts and culture, Medicare and Medicaid, the Food Stamp program, Project Head Start, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and federal aid to public education for a total expenditure of $9.5 trillion dollars.

America’s Addiction to Oil Made Us Slaves to the Oil Cartel

Oil enabled powerful nations to create a world order that flowed money from agrarian nations to those that controlled hydrocarbon powered machines. Oil was the catalyst that propelled the 20th century’s world leaders into fortune and thrust the world into war. Oil is a finite fuel, controlled by a few nations that are barely separated geopolitically and have common ancient civilizations and modern goals.

Already struggling from Viet Nam and Great Society debts, America found herself the object of a politically motivated oil embargo in 1973. Fuel prices soared and supplies tightened to cause the 70’s stagflation in America. From then until now, America has not found the political will through fluctuating fuel prices to organize an intervention away from oil dependence.

Since the embargo, America has consumed 250 billion barrels of oil at a total cost of $11 trillion dollars. This debit line in our national budget has only one trade, oil for dollars. Had America given our energy war a smidgeon of the effort of placing a man on the moon, we could have easily reduced energy consumption by 20 percent for the same productive output, transportation, and environmental comfort, and saved 2.2 trillion dollars. Surely, the costs to achieve such a modest conservation would have to be netted from the gross, but those costs could have been internally generated and added to America’s GDP.

America’s Multinational Corporations (MNC) were Indifferent Citizens

While America fought the war on poverty, her political leaders surrendered to the war on American jobs. Certainly, with the relative world peace supported by America’s military, globalization was bound to occur. With the risk of direct foreign investments reduced, the last five decades have unleashed an acceleration of money flow and intellectual capital from America to other countries.

While over 4 trillion dollars have been invested overseas by American uberwealthy, America has also been a receiver of investment, so that the net outflow has only been 0.7 trillion. However, the loss of America’s wealth and jobs has been much greater, contributing to a stagnant workforce where one in four able Americans has been idled. MNC direct foreign investment has indirectly added $4 trillion dollars to America’s debt.

The Fed Financed MNCs and Saved Banks but Failed to Keep America Employed

During most of the 17th century, Europe embroiled itself in wars that killed 30% of its population. Some of the world’s largest banking houses failed as royal debtors defaulted, including England in1672. Finally, in 1694, the king agreed to give the Bank of England authority to print all of England’s bank notes in exchange for bank loans to support his war with France. The newly created Central bank, having transferred its risk of loss to British subjects, profited simply by printing money for the monarchy. However, this excess printing did not stop the emptying of England’s coffers.

After America revolted to escape the monetary control of the Bank of England, Hamilton, the United States’ Secretary of the treasury, proposed a charter to a create a similar central bank for America. Against Thomas Jefferson’s insistence, the First Bank of the United States became the precursor to America’s Federal Reserve. Some say major banks manufactured a bank run in 1907 to destabilize the Treasury and instigate support for the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 establishing the Fed, a quasi-agency, private enterprise with a quasi-public board.

From the establishment of the Fed until today, many have argued that major Fed decisions have enriched banks at the expense of the American People. An example is the erroneous decision the Fed made to keep interest rates high for an extensive period of time as America and the World clearly were entering the Great Depression. Also of heated debate was the decision to bail out the banking industry at the start of the Great Recession.

Nonetheless, Fed decisions combined with lobbied efforts to reduce financial regulations, allowed Wall Street to orchestrate multiple financial bubbles that consecutively destroyed value in American portfolios. It cost taxpayers $88 billion to bail out the S&L crisis. The boiling and bursting of the dot.com bubble evaporated $5 trillion dollars. Notwithstanding that the credit default bubble lost the world $30 trillion in value, it has thus far cost America $51 billion in bank bailouts, $787 billion in stimulus, $1.5 trillion in quantitative easing, $5 trillion in lost property values, and with over 5 million bankruptcies and 5 million foreclosures, ruined trillions of dollars worth of wealth generating credit.

In Conclusion

Adding up the numbers versus our $15 trillion dollar debt, it is amazing that the resiliency of the American economy is thus far holding ground:

10,000 tons of gold: $0.5 trillion
Wars: $3.4 trillion
Great Society: $9.5 trillion
Lack of Energy Policy $2.2 trillion
MNC DFI: $4.0 trillion
Banking Debacles: $12.4 trillion +
Total $32.0 trillion

The idea of currencies unsupported by gold reserves is not in itself troublesome. Whether Crowley shells, tally sticks, or paper money, if the market has trust in its role as a place holder for non-incidental barter, any money will do. However without the external discipline imposed by a gold standard, America must instead substitute gold’s imposition for a President strong enough to stand for American sovereignty, a Fed subjugated to defend a stable currency, a Congress selfless enough to impose its own financial discipline, and a willingness of American businesses to defend American jobs. Otherwise, America’s five decade reign over this short lived worldwide fiat money dollar system will come to an end.

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Unemployed 99er Population Rises Dramatically in March

As reported in The “Real” Long-term Unemployment Report. from the blog http://www.layofflist.org

The March Employment Report was again pumped as another victory in the war against unemployment. But for millions of long-term unemployed, it’s still a brutal battle to find work. That’s why it’s unfortunate that most main stream media outlets and politicos seem incapable of understanding, or chose to ignore the “real” unemployment numbers.

The BLS reported that unemployment (U3) for March was 8.8%, which is a slight improvement from February’s 8.9%. 216,000 jobs were created, but that’s a relatively small monthly number of jobs for what is supposedly a strong economic recovery from the Great Recession. In comparison, during the 2004 economic recovery, 338,000 jobs were created in March.

The Obama administration and media mouthpieces seem preoccupied with the U3, 8.8% measure of unemployment, but you need to dig into the numbers to reveal the “real” state of unemployment.

A disconnected news media conveniently forgets to mention that the US needs to create about 125,000 jobs a month to simply keep up with new entrants to the workforce. If you subtract 125,000 from 216,000 jobs created in March, you end up with 91,000 “extra” jobs for 13.5 million unemployed.

Underemployment remained quite high at 15.7%, or 8.2 million workers who want full-time work, but are forced to work part-time jobs of 34 hours a week or less. Yes, full-time work is considered 35 hours or more per week, although many “real world” workers consider jobs of less than 40 hours a week as part-time.

But what was most striking about the March jobs report was the continuing increase in the number of long-term unemployed. According to the BLS, March showed 1,899,000 workers who have been out of work for 99 weeks or more, an increase of 127,000 from February. The real 99er population is growing quickly and shows no signs of abating.

NELP estimates (PDF) that “throughout 2010, 3.9 million unemployed workers exhausted all of their unemployment benefits without finding new work.” Exhausting unemployment benefits also includes those unemployed that exhausted benefits after 60, 73, 79, or 93 weeks, so NELP’s estimate is larger than the BLS estimate for those out of work 99 weeks or more.

Not only are more unemployed out of work 99 weeks or longer, but those out of work 52 and 27 weeks or more are increasing as well. Those out of work 27 weeks or more now accounts for a record 45.5% (6.14 million) of all unemployed, while for those out of work 52 weeks or more the rate is 31.5% (4.25 million) of all unemployed; again a record high.

The participation rate is another employment issue rarely discussed on the national media stage. According to the BLS, “the participation rate is the share of the population 16 years and older working or seeking work.”

The labor force participation rate was unchanged, 64.2%, the same as the previous two months. This is the lowest labor participation rate since March 1984.

The March Employment Report showed some job gains, but not nearly enough jobs were created to put a dent in the long-term unemployment problem. Media talking heads and politicians looking for 2012 votes touted the March jobs report as a winner, but it was a loser for millions of increasingly desperate long-term unemployed who are struggling without jobs or unemployment benefits. Let’s not hang those “Mission Accomplished” banners just yet…

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Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.2% in Mid-March, Underemployment was also Unchanged from the end of February, at 19.9%

REPRINT FROM GALLOP

March 17, 2011
by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist
PRINCETON, NJ

— Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, was at 10.2% in mid-March — essentially the same as the 10.3% at the end of February but higher than the 10.0% of mid-February and the 9.8% at the end of January. The U.S. unemployment rate is about the same today as the 10.3% rate Gallup found in mid-March a year ago.

The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work was 9.7% in mid-March — essentially unchanged from the 9.6% in both February measurements and higher than the 9.1% at the end of January. The percentage of the U.S. workforce that is working part time but wanting full-time work is the same now as was the case a year ago.

Broader Underemployment Was Unchanged in Mid-March

Underemployment, a measure that combines the percentage of part-time workers wanting full-time work with the percentage who are unemployed, was 19.9% in mid-March. Not surprisingly given the lack of change in its components, this is identical to the end-of-February reading, and is virtually the same as the 20.0% of mid-March a year ago.

Jobs Situation About the Same as It Was a Year Ago

The government’s February report on the U.S. unemployment situation suggests that 192,000 jobs were created last month and the unemployment rate declined to 8.9%, down from 9.7% a year ago. Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley and others said they were encouraged by this report.

However, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures have not shown the same gains in early 2011. Gallup finds an unemployment rate (10.2%) and an underemployment rate (19.9%) for mid-March that are essentially the same as those from mid-March 2010.

In part, the difference between Gallup’s and the government’s current job market assessments may be due to the government’s seasonal adjustments. Gallup’s U.S. unemployment rate is also more up-to-date — its mid-March data include jobless figures for much of March, whereas the government’s latest unemployment rate is based on the jobs situation in mid-February.

Most importantly, a key reason the government’s unemployment rate is dropping apparently has to do with the so-called participation rate: the percentage of Americans who are counted as being in the workforce. The government’s participation rate in February was at its lowest level since 1984. In essence, this tends to suggest that the government’s unemployment rate may be declining because many people are becoming discouraged and leaving the workforce — not because they are getting new jobs.

If this is the case, then neither Gallup’s unemployment report nor that provided by the government is good news for the economy. It is equally bad news if people are out of work and looking for a job or just too discouraged to say they continue to do so. Either way, a lack of sufficient job creation to increase employment among those who want to work remains a major obstacle to U.S. economic growth in the months ahead.

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Why Can’t I Get Real Numbers on Unemployed?

During an interview on NBC’s Today show on April 5, 2011, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy saying we’ve lost 26 million jobs since he’s been president. Of course he was quickly criticized. I have a hard time finding real job numbers well documented anywhere.

My father told me never to cheat at golf, because if I didn’t count every swing or miss, I would never know if my game was getting better. I quit golf a long time ago when my game stalled out but it would be nice to really know the score on unemployment.

So I pieced together numbers from various websites to make a “educated” guess. My guess is that the cost to the taxpayers of these unemployed and underemployed is about $500 billion dollars a year or about $3,800 for every employed worker. Imagine the good they could do if that 500 billion was put through a job voucher program.

Total Americans (millions)…………………………307

over 18……………………………………………………..226

Less
over 65……………………………..36
In college…………………………….5
In military……………………………2
Stay at home………………………..6
Severe Work Disability…………6
On welfare …………………………..5
Homeless not working…………..2
Institutionalized……………………1
in jail……………………………………3
Available to work……………………………………….160

Less Working……………………..133

Unemployed……………………………………………….27

Plus Underemployed……………..9

Unemployed
and underemployed…………………………………….36

Percent Unemployed ………………………………..17%
Percent underemployed and unemployed……23%

Of course if we add in social security, welfare, disability, welfare, and the institutionalized that figure per working person goes up to $10,600 per working person. Interestingly however, if we add the cost of government employees and divide the number by working private employees the number jumps up to over $24,000 per working private employee per year. Considering that the average wage in America is about $43,000, well that is alot of cost to cover. Just figuring……

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Tariffs are a Winning Political Strategy Unless A Political Party Counters with a Solution that is both Populist and Effective

The relative world peace established by the United States’ rise as the world’s sole super power has for several decades lulled the potential for global war. By spending more than all other nations combined on war capability during the previous decades, America effectively eradicated multinational corporations’ (MNCs) only known natural predator. In the absence of other governments organizing their citizens to wage war for control of another country’s resources, multinational corporations have had no natural predators in third world countries for the past 40 years.

In third world countries, where developed and complex economies do not exist, dictators have been easily influenced to enter into one sided contracts and socialist countries’ have had few alternatives to the purchasing power of corporations but to enter into monopolistic contracts as well. Therefore, just as in any ecosystem that is devoid of natural predators, MNCs have proliferated during the previous three decades. While U.S. corporations have led the growth of MNCs, industrialized countries throughout the world have competed for direct foreign investments worldwide.

Two results of this explosion of MNCs have been the driving down of consumer goods prices and loss of jobs in industrialized nations. Since America consumes a quarter of the world’s output, jobs have been lost in countries across the globe to support our consumption. Other industrialized countries have partially subsidized the price benefits that America has received.

However, America has also lost jobs as a result of the transfer of investment to other countries. Some in America claim that we should have imposed limits on our country’s corporations’ foreign investments to limit American job losses. Limiting our investment would have only allowed other countries’ corporations to invest without competition from U.S. corporations. As a result, our corporations would miss opportunities as other nations’ corporations increased worldwide market share. Therefore, America correctly acquiesced to the notion that we must share the burdens of globalization to ensure our corporations maintain world market share of global investments.

Globalization is a worldwide phenomena created by America’s overwhelming military goals. Our military is an economic catalyst transferring the wealth of industrialized nations toward creating household purchasing parity around the globe. And this economic disparity of household incomes is so great that it will continue to provide overseas investment opportunities for America’s wealthy for decades to come unless the disaffection of industrial nations’ middle classes creates another predator. While China is quickly gaining long term worldwide contractual relationships with third world countries and building military defenses for a future military threat to its hegemony, war does not seem a threat to globalization for several decades at least. The more eminent threat to globalization is the political opportunity that MNCs have caused by their increasing structural unemployment in industrialized countries.

America’s Republican Party is now attempting to capitalize on the high unemployment of our middle class by touting tariffs as a way increase employment and to win the 2012 elections. Tariffs do increase employment and America is ready for a populist employment platform. Unfortunately, history has shown that as a government centric solution, tariffs are ineffective and ultimately cost a nation more than they benefit it. However, unless political parties are prepared to counteract waves of populist sentiment, America is destined to repeat detrimental policies. Remember what happened in Great Britain in 1945. Even though Winston Churchill had 83 percent support after the war, his party was overwhelmingly rejected when the Labour Party touted full employment, health and housing platforms.

To win against the party that supports tariffs, the competing party must support full employment that does not raise costs to Americans and that ultimately makes our goods and services more competitive in the world marketplace, two things that tariffs cannot accomplish.

My job voucher plan is a solution that can give the political party that retains it as part of its 2012 platform a winning populist strategy. It makes America competitive without raising costs of foreign goods to our consumers. It creates full employment without creating more social costs than our current unemployment and welfare solution. My job voucher plan does reduce the cost of American goods, does provide full employment for our labor force, does reduce our trade deficits, and ultimately pays back America for its investment in our people.

If you have a member of your political party that would be interested in more details, I would be happy to engage a discussion

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The Wisconsin Battalion Fired the Loudest Shots in the Battle of the Bulging Government

Our country will soon be jolted by successive economic shockwaves that will ratchet down consumer confidence as our states and local governments are constitutionally forced to remedy historic revenue short falls.  With public opposition rapidly mounting against tax increases, most governments will be faced with the monumental task of slashing budgets.  The state of Wisconsin fired one of the first nationally heard shots across the bow of this newest American crisis.

In the state of Wisconsin, senators are attempting to bring to the floor a bill to give maximum flexibility for crafting a workable budget.  One line item of the bill caused half the senate to walk out, and sparked a teacher rally that filled the senate floor.  Public primary education teachers in Wisconsin make approximately $100,000 compensation, including salary and benefits. They can retire after 25 years service and receive a one time payment of $950,000, plus approximately $100,000 each year for life after that.

The Wisconsin state senate has 19 Republican senators who have vowed to reduce this budget line item.   However senate rules require 20 out of 33 senators to be physically present for a quorum to vote. All Democrat state senators staged a walk out and left the state for Illinois to avoid wounding the state teachers union. However, they must physically step onto the Senate floor to collect their checks. If even one Democrat defects, a vote will occur. Makes interesting politics.

In Sarasota, Florida where I live, the county’s tax revenue will not cover public employee retirement benefits this year. How did Sarasota, Wisconsin, and the rest of the country reach this seemingly overnight crisis?  During the economic bubble decades from 1980 until recently, government spending grossly outpaced our population and grew to spend revenues that had been inflated by economic bubbles and consumer borrowing. 

When the Great Recession hit, state revenues from most sources shrank, including federal transfer, sales, and income taxes.  All these sources had been artificially buoyed by successive bubbles, and now popped simultaneously along with our latest and greatest housing bubble.  With shrinking housing prices, plunging ad valorem revenues just added to the fray.  When tax revenues shrank to fit our sustainable private industry job base, decades of excessive government spending left an overwhelming shortfall that exposed both our governments’ lack of understanding of bubble risks, and their willingness over thirty years to spend increasing tax windfalls rather than reduce tax rates.

As an example, our local and state governments escalated public employee ranks and pay scales to match escalating revenues; increases that well outpaced our population increase.  During the last three decades, the U.S. population increased 37 percent, but our local government employment increased 56 percent, and state government employment increased 68 percent. 

State and local budget line items increased well beyond our population growth as well.  As an example, while an increasingly older and poorer population could partially explain a 100 percent increase in health/welfare spending in real dollars, the vast majority was spent to increas staffing, compensation, and programs.  Also, educational spending increased 50 percent in real terms when the school age population only increased 11 percent. In the last five years of the great housing bubble, total state spending increased 30 percent in an attempt to keep pace with accelerating home prices. 

Because of 30 years of escalating state and local government spending during the boom years, we now face yet more waves of economic crises, the first of which will be successive slashing of state and local budgets that will cause economic backlash and social unrest as a poorer public is forced to adjust to fewer government services.  Governments will have little choice but to reduce public employee ranks by 20 percent to right size government to our population size.  To balance budgets, remaining public employees will be forced to take 20 percent compensation cuts to match resulting sustainable GDP.  When the suds clear from this latest bubble burst, 4 million public servants will lose their jobs and an additional multiplier of parasitic jobs will be lost as well, exposing America’s latest of its coming destructive waves.

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