Archive for ‘Work’

September 7, 2011

Venture Capitalism

by Vince
September 6, 2011

USPS Is Going Belly Up

by Vince

Thanks in large to their union clause of “no lay-off’s”. With such a clause paired with hefty benefits and 80% of the budget spent on wages, how can you possibly run a sustainable business?

September 6, 2011

Labor

by Vince

Infographic found here. A history of Labor Day below:

In 1884, when President Grover Cleveland signed the bill making Labor Day a national holiday on the first Monday in September, he and its sponsors intended it not as a celebration of leisure but as a promotion of the great American work ethic. Work, they believed, was the highest calling in life, and Labor Day was a reminder to get back to it. It was placed at the end of summer to declare an end to the season of indolence, and also to distance it from May Day, the spring event that had become a symbol of the radical labor movement.

September 6, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince

September 2, 2011

Paying CEO’s and Not Paying Taxes

by Vince

Among other things:

 

From the perspective of the board room, the fact that 25 corporations last year paid more money to their CEOs than they did in income taxes to the U.S. government is an achievement deserving applause.
 
But few people outside Wall Street are clapping at this news, which was published by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in its 18th annual Executive Excess report.
 
Among the 25 companies that rewarded their leadership while dodging the U.S. Treasury were Boeing, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, eBay, Ford, General Electric, Honeywell, Motorola, Stanley Black & Decker and Verizon. Eighteen of the 25 firms operated subsidiaries in offshore tax haven jurisdictions.
 
The average paid to the 25 leaders was $16.7 million. John Lundgren, the CEO of Stanley Black & Decker, took home $32.6 million while his company claimed a net loss and did not pay corporate income taxes.
 
The IPS report noted that executive compensation has continued to soar. In 2009, the ratio between worker salaries and CEOs was 263-to-1. By last year it was 325-to-1.
 
Of the 25 companies that paid their CEO more than they paid to the government, 20 also spent more on lobbying lawmakers than they paid in corporate taxes. Eighteen gave more to the political campaigns of their favorite candidates than they paid to the IRS in taxes.
The divide between worker and CEO pay as well as CEO pay and tax payments (if any) is mind boggling, isn’t it?
September 2, 2011

Zero Net Jobs Created in August 2011 – First since 1945

by Vince

Very ugly headline in itself, but when you dig deeper, it’s worse:

About 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in August, up from 2.4 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

This paragraph stood out to me because of the lack of nuance in the unemployment discussion. It is made out by some or not clarified by many that everyone who is unemployed is magically the same as the next, all being lazy bums who sit around and intentionally collect government dole. Is it ironic that a claim of laziness made against a whole group is in fact intellectually laziness?

August 29, 2011

Playing Hypoethicals with America’s Employment Rates

by Vince

Ezra Klein et al add some commentary to the above chart:

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office put out its revised GDP forecasts and predicted that the economy would expand at a healthy clip between 2013 and 2016, about 3.6 percent per year. That’s curiously upbeat, and even if the U.S. economy gallops along at that pace, we’ll only reach full employment by 2017—right in time for Rick Perry’s second inaugural.

And what happens if we grow at a slightly more sluggish rate, which is hardly implausible? Dave Altig, senior vice president and research director at the Atlanta Fed, has designed a chart of different growth scenarios, looking at how long it will take real GDP (what the economy is actually producing) to catch up to potential GDP (what the economycould be producing, given existing resources) under each.

The current economy is as bad as expected and shouldn’t be expected to rebound (as noted) for almost half a decade.

August 26, 2011

The Intangibles of Holding a Job

by Vince

Bloomberg describes job creation options, the intangible benefits of possessing a job, and the above chart that graphs the steep rise in those unemployed for longer than six months. The piece is worth a full read:

Long-term joblessness is reaching epic proportions. As of July, about 6.2 million job-seekers, or 4 percent of the U.S. labor force, had been out of work for more than six months — close to the highest level in more than six decades (see chart).

The skills of the long-term unemployed are atrophying and their motivation waning, making them increasingly likely to end up as wards of the state, collecting various forms of government assistance.

The intangible benefits of employment can also have a quantifiable value: Economists David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald, for example, have estimated that the increased happiness associated with having a job is worth about an extra $60,000 a year to the individual.

For me to find a job near full time in terms of hours from a non-profit all within a nation in a recession baffles me. In the end, I am very thankful. I have been employed and felt unemployed – that feeling of hopelessness that things will not change. A job really does bring a degree of purpose and connection to others.

August 21, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day II

by Vince

June 23, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince


“I didn’t create a single job,” said the former Governor of New Mexico.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Johnson said in a statement. “We are proud of this distinction. We had a 11.6 percent job growth that occurred during our two terms in office. But the headlines that accompanied that report – referring to governors, including me, as ‘job creators’ – were just wrong.”

“The fact is, I can unequivocally say that I did not create a single job while I was governor,” Johnson added. Instead, “we kept government in check, the budget balanced, and the path to growth clear of unnecessary regulatory obstacles.”

(…)

“My priority was to get government out of the way, keep it out of the way, and allow hard-working New Mexicans, entrepreneurs and businesses to fulfill their potential,” he said. “That’s how government can encourage job growth, and that’s what government needs to do today.”

Gary Johnson in quite candid and humble terms.

June 22, 2011

Should we trust the Job records for 2012 GOP Candidates?

by Vince

Some of the GOP candidates running in 2012 have executive experience (Johnson, Pawlenty, Huntsman). Conor Friedersdorf gives a good case for not trusting the job creating records these former exec’s had in their given state (New Mexico, Minnesota, and Utah, respectively). Conor even hones in on Gary Johnson, a candidate he most likely would endorse:

Every state has its confounding variables. And it’s unlikely that journalists or voters are going to accurately assign credit or blame for them, especially since a useful comparison requires attributing the appropriate credit to everyone. Plus there’s a huge time horizon problem. What if the best policy doesn’t produce jobs immediately, but does produce them eventually, and in much greater numbers than a shorter term fix? It isn’t as if it’s uncommon for a politician to inherit the consequences of a predecessor’s decision, or to saddle a successor with a problem that is more dire than it seemed when he left office.

Another problem with the jobs metric: success as a governor depends largely upon legislation signed or vetoed during one’s tenure. What if a governor has an intransigent legislature through no fault of his own? What if he owes his tremendous success to personal relationships in the state that he can’t rely on in Washington, D.C.? What if, like Gary Johnson, he vetoes bills aplenty when they’re passed by the other political party? Love or hate Johnson’s record, he amassed it largely through the veto mechanism. Elevated to the White House, but given a Republican rather than a Democratic legislature, would he be able to govern as successfully? Hard to say. A man’s success operating in one political context isn’t a reliable predictor of how he’ll perform in another. See all the successful governors who performed poorly after attaining higher office.

June 6, 2011

Biden on Auto Industry, Economy

by Vince

The economy is growing yes, but at a slow (and expectectly so) rate.

I don’t think those who didn’t want to bail out the auto industry didn’t care about those industries and workers but see the failing of some companies as creative for new industries to emerge (and not keeping certain industries on life support).

June 5, 2011

America is Exceptional and Hypocritical

by Vince

The first point is a horse beaten to death. Get your fill in the “sermon” by Tim Pawlenty above.

As for the second point, this deals not with politics but with agricultural work. I read this article in a different lens after working on the farm the past week. I have grown up working hard with my dad (who has been a landscaper for 30 years), with my Boy Scout troop creating 13+ feet high campfires and completing maintenance tasks, and now pulling out malta flora rose bushes that are entangled with vines overgrown for the past 10 years.

I take back my part about politics being out of this topic. It is at the center of it. Barack Obama is taking action by requiring all ag workers to be cleared as U.S. citizens before they can work. This sounds pragmatic, but troubling for a few sectors. 80% of the labor force in the ag field is made up of illegal immigrants.  An easy response to that glaring labor need is to hire Americans. The ironic point in all of this is that for as exceptional and great America is, how far advanced, smug, and pompous we are, we (to some large degree) refuse to do this kind of available work:

“We are headed toward a train wreck,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat whose district includes agriculture-rich areas. “The stepped up (workplace) enforcement has brought this to a head.”

Lofgren said farmers are worried that their work force is about to disappear. They say they want to hire legal workers and U.S. citizens, but that it’s nearly impossible, given the relatively low wages and back-breaking work.

“Few citizens express interest, in large part because this is hard, tough work,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak said this past week. “Our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers to do the right thing.”

Arturo S. Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers, said migrant farm workers are exposed to blistering heat with little or no shade and few water breaks. It’s skilled work, he said, requiring produce pickers to be exact and quick. While the best mushroom pickers can earn about $35,000 to $40,000 a year for piece work, there’s little chance for a good living and American workers don’t seem interested in farm jobs.

“It is extremely difficult, hard, dangerous work,” Rodriguez said.

Last year Rodriguez’s group started the “Take Our Jobs” campaign to entice American workers to take the fields. He said of about 86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs.

“That really was thought up by farm workers trying to figure out what is it we needed to do to show that we are not trying to take away anyone’s job,” Rodriguez said.

Several times in those sections Americans are hinted to be unwilling to take some of these available jobs. If such a glaring gap in inquiry and taking a job (86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs) is present, can anyone then blame the President and the crummy economy and not their own unemployed self?

Straying away from open jobs has pushed our country to strongly desire comfy, cozy work and benefits that are unsustainable in the long term.Yes, this may be a larger problem in the educational sector than many other jobs, but much of our IT work has too been outsourced.

America the great. America the exceptional. Figure this out (along with our huge prison issue) or continue to sound hypocritical.

May 31, 2011

America’s Fittest Cities

by Vince

Surprisingly are 1) mostly in cold regions of the country and unsurprisingly 2) correlated with income, wealth, and innovation. Richard Florida explains:

The fittest metro in America is Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to the annualAmerican Fitness Index™ (AFI), just released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The Twin Cities finished third last year; this year they pushed perennial winner Washington, DC into second place. Their winning rank reflects the cities’ relatively low (and rapidly-diminishing) smoking rate, their above-average percentage of regular exercisers, moderate-to-low rates of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and other chronic concerns, and rising share of farmers’ markets (indicative of a trend towards healthier dining). Boston takes the bronze, with Portland, Oregon fourth and Denver in fifth place. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Oklahoma City ranks as America’s least fit metro, followed by Louisville, Memphis, Birmingham, and Detroit.

Many people think fitness is better in warmer locations. Not so much. Each of the top five metros is pretty chilly, and the top ranked Twin Cities are among the coldest locations in the United States–certainly compared to warm and sunny LA, which languishes in 41st place. Our analysis found no correlation between fitness and January temp and a negative correlation between fitness and July temperature (-.49).

Money quote:

From The Biggest Loser to Oprah’s documented struggles with her weight, fitness is a signal obsession of American popular culture. We suffer from no dearth of health, fitness, and nutritional experts; celebrities, politicians, and even first ladies exhort us to eat better, exercise more, and get fit. But we need to face up to the fact that healthy or unhealthy lifestyles are not simply the result of good or bad individual decisions. They are inextricably tied up with the nature and structure of our culture and society. America’s increasingly uneven geography of fitness is perhaps the most visible symbol of its fundamental economic and class divide.

May 31, 2011

Picture of the Day

by Vince

Pictured: Afghan poppy farmer, Zareen (left) stands in his poppy field with son Azim, 8, in Faizabad, Badakshan, Afghanistan, on May 25, 2011. Local authorities in Badakshan use a tractor to destroy cabbage size poppy plants at their early stages as to lessen the burden on the farmer. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the cultivation of poppies in the Badakshan region has more than doubled this season. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001, and more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan, reportedly amounting to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

May 10, 2011

Blaming Obama, not the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich, when the Economy is bad

by Vince

When the economy is bad, everyone blames the president. This goes back, at least, to Martin Van Buren and the Panic of 1837, but recently happens time and time again with Barack Obama.

Obama is blamed when the job reports come out and all looks gloomy. When the unemployment rate hovers around 9%, it’s Obama’s fault. Obama is the president and is the only one who can answer to the criticisms. Past presidents are out of office and have handed over the torch to Barack.

Where I have issue is when Obama is solely blamed and the Bush Tax cuts for the rich (which Obama extended for 2 years) are given no blame at all. They have been in effect for almost a decade, have nothing significant to show for (in terms of job creation, as wishfully hoped by the rich on the Right), and are a form of an immoral domination system (even more so since they are not accomplishing their purpose).

Why are these tax cuts never criticized but often irrationally praised as the panacea to save American jobs?

March 18, 2011

The Middle Class v. GOP

by Vince
March 18, 2011

The Grey Areas of Unemployment Coverage

by Vince

Readers continue to write in to Andrew Sullivan. Here is a portion of one’s letter:

In an era when those who brought down our financial system get multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses, when the wealthy pay the lowest taxes in 50 years, when there are huge tax breaks for corporations with billions in profits, it blows my mind to see teachers, the poor, and those with disabilities attacked.

Explicit fraud should never be tolerated, and the Obama administration efforts to root out Medicare fraud are necessary and admirable.  However, when there are gray areas (instances where abuse seems obvious but can be difficult to prove), percentages matter.  When the percentage in the gray area is relatively small, the moral and financial costs of rooting out abuse far exceed any benefits to society.

It is sad when those who have never needed unemployment coverage (minus Rush Limbaugh) paint all who need or use it as parasites.

March 11, 2011

How Rush Limbaugh Sees Our Recession

by Vince

I have off school today so I am able to relax a bit (I really need to), have some coffee with cream, and write about an article that stuck out to me. I am sometimes so drained during the week that it is hard for me to put together my thoughts and churn out a piece. However, when someone explains something to a T, its hard not to

write about it.

I don’t think I have ever been in my car and listened to Rush Limbaugh. You could count me as lucky. However, from time to time I catch glimpses of his screeds on his website. Andrew Sullivan highlighted one particular screed of his that captures Rush’s true essence:

We all know Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, but unemployment compensation? The payment of unemployment benefits is almost as high as Social Security in this country.  Folks, we are not going to survive as a nation, not the way we’ve been founded, with this kind of sloth and laziness and feeding at the public trough. It just cannot happen.  And to even call this “wages” — I’m actually kinda glad they did because it points out how ludicrous this is and how dangerous it is.  “Handouts,” handouts, the redistribution of wealth “makes up one-third of US wages.”  Social welfare spending has increased three and a half times since 1960.

We declared war on poverty, and it’s given us this.  We declared war on poverty, and what do we have?  Thirty-five percent of our people living on the dole!  Thirty-five percent of American citizens living on “handouts,” and where are the handouts coming from?  Their fellow citizens… I know it’s depressing, folks.  I mean some people are so lazy that they will only be unemployed if they’re paid to be unemployed.

After his min-sermon, a listener dialed in to share his real (not abstract) story of battling cancer, being unable to work, and collecting unemployment benefits. Rush’s response:

Do you think I actually think you ought to be denied stuff? Okay.  I don’t think that.  I’m not talking about people like you, but there are people who fudge this disability business.  I had a story not long ago about a bunch of drunks in jail getting disability payments because they were alcoholics. Well, we are a compassionate country.  There is not a person in this country that does not want somebody who cannot provide for themselves to go empty.  There’s not a person in the world who wants that. You don’t fall under the headline definition freeloader or what have you.  And if you’re bothered by it, it’s life.

A lot of things affect a lot of people.  But we’re not talking about you.  And you are not the majority of that 35% on the dole anyway.  You’re a small percentage of it.  You’re not the problem we’re talking about.

Sullivan sums up Rush’s general caricature of those unemployed as jailed drunks, lazy sloths, and the like. As Sullivan put it, Rush backs down from his abstract tirade when faced with a real life case.

What does this show us? Maybe we shouldn’t allow bigots such as Rush dictate the conversation every time unemployment benefits come up for renewal in Congress. Maybe we shouldn’t let a multi-millionaire tell us how every person on unemployment acts, behaves, or uses their money. Maybe we should turn off the radio and step into the actual world of someone whose life is decaying because of being without a job.

March 10, 2011

The Wisconsin Deal

by Vince

The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill last night:

But the Republicans used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to force the collective bargaining measure through: they removed elements of Governor Walker’s bill that were technically related to appropriating funds, thus lifting a requirement that 20 senators be present for a vote. In the end, the Senate’s 19 Republicans approved the measure, 18 to 1, without any debate on the floor or a single Democrat in the room.The remaining bill, which increases health care and pension costs and cuts collective bargaining rights for public workers in the state, still needs approval from the State Assembly on Thursday morning, but that chamber approved the measure once before, and many in Wisconsin’s Capitol now consider approval a foregone conclusion.

This is causing an uproar because essentially 18 Republican Senators undid 50 years of civil rights progress in 30 minutes. However, I don’t let the Democratic Senators off the hook. They absconded to Illinois so that the bill wouldn’t be brought to a vote.

I believe both sides have dirt on their hands but this still seems to be a shot in the heart to unions in one of the most unionized states in the nation. A good stat to know is that out of the top 10 states in America with the lowest budget deficits, 8 of them are unionized.