they are out to nickel and dime us to death. Here in my home town
the traffic and parking department has been prevailed upon to “step
up” its enforcement activity - and maneuvering to have parking meters
work far into the night - in order help cover some of the city’s
budget deficit. In
Massachusetts, legislators have slapped a tax on candy. The California
state legislature recently endorsed a $1.50 tax on a bottle of alcohol
and added an additional $15 to the vehicle license fee.
astonishing thing is that such measures, being undertaken across
the country, are being approved and even plotted by some liberals
and progressives. It’s high time we all recognize that the people
who get hit by traffic fines are the ones without garages and “sin
taxes,” by and large, target working people. They are not the ones
who got the economy into the current mess but if some people have
their way, they will pay through the nose for it. This, at a time
when unemployment is soaring, working hours are being cut and paychecks
is there anything good to be said for pitting the budgets for police
and fire services against health and welfare services. That’s not
the way to nurture the progressive political majority needed to
really address the current crisis. Yet, in the absence of measures
to bring in new sources of revenue to run our cities and states,
well-meaning people are maneuvered into challenging each other for
pieces of the shrinking pie.
across the nation, schools are being shuttered, senior meal programs
decimated, community health centers eliminated and legal aid for
the poor hammered. We are being told there is no other way and that
we should stoically accept this austerity and count what blessings
we have left. The problem is that if the sacrifices being forced
upon our families and communities are really necessary, then they
are not being doled out with anything approaching equity. They’re
still living it up big time in some parts of town.
mood among financiers is suddenly more cheery,” wrote John Plender
in the Financial Times the other day. In London and New York
“trading profits are up and bonuses are back” And, rather than being
reduced to something more reasonable, executive compensation packages
are on the way up. “There is also a growing suspicion on both sides
of the Atlantic that bankers, a lethal breed whose activities have
pretty much throttled the global economy while causing government
deficits to balloon, are going back to business as usual – a frightening
prospect for taxpayers everywhere,” he wrote.
the country’s employment crisis continues to worsen. When wandering
in the desert, beware shimmering water on the horizon,” read the
Financial Times’ Lex Column, July 2. “If May’s better than
expected jobs report offered the dehydrated US labor market hope
of succor, June’s miserable effort was a mouthful of sand.” The
June jobs data from the Labor Department contained “few signs of
life at all,’ it said adding, “Slowing growth in weekly earnings,
now at 2.7 per cent year on year, is another serving of angst. And
falling hours plus sluggish wages mean a further drag on US consumption
– already constrained by debt-laden household balance sheets and
tight credit. The mirage, and with it hopes of a speedy recovery,
entire growth in jobs over the last nine years has now been
wiped out – the economy currently has fewer jobs than it had in
May 2000,” says Economic Policy Institute economist Heidi Shierholz.
“The labor force, however, has grown by 12.5 million workers since
then. “This is the only recession since the Great Depression to
wipe out all jobs growth from the previous business cycle, a devastating
benchmark for the workers of this country and a testament to both
the enormity of the current crisis and to the extreme weakness of
jobs growth from 2000-2007.”
economist Dean Baker notes in his Jobs Byte column, the percentage
of the unemployed who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks
increased by 2 percentage points to 29.0 percent in June and “Many
of these workers will soon be exhausting even their extended unemployment
drawing up the economic stimulus plan, the Obama Administration
relied on a projection of an 8 percent jobless rate this year. It
became clear a couple of months ago that figure would miss the mark.
It now stands at 9.4 percent and the consensus is that it will reach
10 percent by Christmas. Pimco CEO and chief investment officer,
Mohamed El-Erian, now suggests that it may go as high as 10.5-11
percent sometime next year. “Economists are currently spreading
the word that the recession may end sometime this year, but the
unemployment rate will continue to climb,” Bob Herbert wrote in
the New York Times last week “That’s not a recovery. That’s
are now more than five unemployed workers for every job opening
in the United States,” wrote Herbert. “The ranks of the poor are
growing, welfare rolls are rising and young American men on a broad
front are falling into an abyss of joblessness.
“broad front” to which Herbert refers may relate to what I consider
some of the worst mumbo jumbo floating around out there: the idea
that education guarantees a good job or any job at all. One of the
striking aspects of the job stats so far this year is the number
of out-of-work college graduates. It keeps on growing. The percentage
of unemployed people with some college or an Associate degree was
4.4 percent last June, 7.7 this May and now stands at 8.0 percent.
For those under 27 years old with a Bachelors degree or better,
it’s 5.9 percent. “Everyone is worse off in the current downturn,
and young college grads are no exception,” writes Kathryn Edwards
of the Economic Policy Institute. adding, “Although still better
off than their peers without a higher education, young college graduates
face challenges unique to their age and situation - it is likely
that they have considerable debt from financing school, have had
no time to build up savings, and, if looking for their first job,
are not eligible for unemployment benefits.”
tough economy and tight labor market have tarnished the luster of
a bachelor’s degree for young college graduates seeking employment,
wrote Tony Pugh for the McClatrchy newspapers. “New monthly
survey data from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern
University in Boston finds that during the first four months of
2009, less than half of the nation’s 4 million college graduates
age 25 and under were working in jobs that required a college degree.
That’s down from 54 percent for the same period last year.”
problem is most acute in the 25-and-under age group among Asian
female graduates and black and Hispanic male graduates,” wrote Pugh.
“The survey, of 60,000 households, found less than 30 percent of
Asian female grads, 32 percent of Hispanic male grads and just over
35 percent of young black male grads working in jobs that require
a bachelor’s degree.”
course, a young graduate working at a low-paying job means one less
job opening for a kid with no degree.
figures for unemployment among college graduates are, of course,
relatively low percentages; the greatest burden of joblessness is
falling on those without a high school diploma (15.5 percent) and
high school graduates (9.8 percent) – especially young African Americans
(37.9 percent – seasonally adjusted) and Latinos (31 percent in
May). The figure for 20-24 year old Latinos was 16.5% in May.
this rampant joblessness is not viewed as a crisis and approached
with the sense of urgency and commitment that a crisis warrants,
is beyond me,’ wrote Herbert, one of the very few mainstream commentators
to consistently deal with this crisis in minority communities. “The
Obama administration has committed a great deal of money to keep
the economy from collapsing entirely, but that is not enough to
cope with the scope of the jobless crisis.”
a clear and hard hitting piece July 2, Nobel Prize winning economist
and New York Times Columnist, Paul Krugman, laid out the
challenge the worsening jobs picture places before the Obama Administration
and the nation. He wrote that “as in the 1930s, the opponents of
action are peddling scare stories about inflation even as deflation
looms” and “So getting another round of stimulus will be difficult.
But it’s essential.”
administration economists understand the stakes,” wrote Krugman.
“Indeed, just a few weeks ago, Christina Romer, the chairwoman of
the Council of Economic Advisers, published an article on the “lessons
of 1937” - the year that F.D.R. gave in to the deficit and inflation
hawks, with disastrous consequences both for the economy and for
his political agenda.
I don’t know is whether the administration has faced up to the inadequacy
of what it has done so far.”
here’s my message to the president: You need to get both your economic
team and your political people working on additional stimulus, now.
Because if you don’t, you’ll soon be facing your own personal 1937.”
he prepared to depart on a foreign trip last week, the President
issued a Fourth of July Message to the country that contained the
words: “as long as some Americans still must struggle, none of us
can be fully content.” So
true. As the Times put it in an editorial a few days earlier:
“The jobs report for June should put a chill on hopes for an economic
recovery anytime soon.” And it makes a compelling case for more
government stimulus, as unpopular as that idea may be in Washington.
Americans all over the country are struggling.”
and punitive taxes falling on working people is not the answer.
Nor is robbing Peter to pay Paul. What’s needed to get us out of
this mess is a unified message to the people who run our cities,
states and those in Washington charged with protecting the general
welfare, that we need a new deal.
Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member
of the National Coordinating Committee of
the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
and formerly worked for a healthcare union. Click here
to contact Mr. Bloice.