Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Quick Hit: Job Growth During Bush’s Term

I’ve known for some time that the number of jobs created while George W. Bush was in office would rank among the lowest since WWII.   The Labor Department released numbers recently that confirmed that view and solidified Bush’s domestic legacy.  During George W. Bush’s terms in office, the fewest jobs in post-war American history were created.  During those terms:

3.0 millions jobs were created.

The population grew by 22.0 million people.

3.0 million jobs = 2.3% payroll expansion.

22.0 million people = 7.7% population growth.

Thus, job creation did not keep up with population growth.

There were only 2 Presidencies when fewer jobs were created than during the past eight years.  Unfortunately for the modern American worker, those Presidencies lasted 2.5 years and 4 years, not the 8 that Bush was in office.  This is most evident when the number of jobs created per year is compared between Presidencies.  Only 375,000 jobs were created, on average, per year during Bush’s terms.  That’s 60,000 fewer per year than Dwight Eisenhower’s terms.

In short, it’s a terrible track record.  It’s a terrible track record for the American worker who has been under assault since St. Ronnie’s Revolution begain in the 1980′s.  For those of you who are more visual, like me, go look at the graph in this diary.


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Weekend News Roundup: 2/20-21/09

I was disappointed to read that President Obama has taken NAFTA renegotiation of the table.  American workers are suffering because of failed “free-trade” policies.  If he wants high employment and a strong economy, protecting our workers is a primary way to get there.  This is a result of the people Obama has put into power.

Congratulations go to formor President Bush for allowing Iran to become another nuclear state.  It joins North Korea as a country that can threaten our allies for years to come, just as the War industry wanted.

Hexcel Corporation broke ground on a 100,000-sq-ft facility in north-eastern Colorado that will manufacture epoxy-resin components for wind blades.  They moved here because Vestas manufactures those wind blades at an adjacent location.  While the gas and oil industry cuts jobs in Colorado due to lack of demand for their products, the wind and solar industry enjoys new businesses and new jobs.

Another 627,000 jobs were lost in the Economy Bush Built.  Net job losses could total 700,000 for February.  Good thing corporate profits were setting records as late as last year.  I’d hate to think the economy was bad or something.

About one in four people with a mortgage owe more than their homes are worth.  One of Obama’s solutions is to force lenders to re-negotiate mortgage terms.  The lending industry, who got us into this mess in the first place, is objecting to the plan.  As usual, they’re also not proposing any kind of solution.  Doing nothing will all but destroy our economy.

David Harsanyi continues his crusade against America with his op-ed this week.  He claims taxes, extreme government spending and wealth redistribution are patriotic in an attempt to slam President Obama’s recovery plans.  In Con Fantasy Land, it seems tax reductions are now called tax increases.  Similarly, the past 8 years of keeping occupations off the budget and creating the largest government program in 30 years (that doesn’t work with its peers) went by uncommented since it was a Con “president” who proposed the “extreme government spending”.  Last but not least, Harsanyi’s characterization of wealth redistribution comes across as pathetic after we’ve seen the effects of Bush’s “tax cuts”.  Americans were sure glad to get one two grand back (the first year only) they were passed weren’t they?  Oh, except for the richest 1%.  They’re keeping hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year thanks to Bush’s tax cuts.  Wealth redistribution indeed.  And what’s up with this:

Yes, the same Freddie and Fannie — once implicitly guaranteed by government and now explicitly run by government — that helped, through social engineering, to push us into recession.

I wish the rest of us had figured out what the great sage Harsanyi did – Fannie and Freddie (with Cons leading them right up through the beginning of this horrible recession) were so unbelievably powerful.  Cons love their conspiracy theories.  I learned an important lesson during the Bush years.  When a Con says something, the reality is exactly opposite.

Breckenridge ski resort may not be allowed to expand onto Peak 6.  At issue is a lynx recovery plan.  It’s nice to see more honest consideration of all factors with something like this.

A Colorado constitutional rewrite is being seriously considered by more and more people.  State spending is affected by numerous, conflicting amendments.  Colorado can either lose out on education, health care and prisons or a group of adults (hopefully) can come together and implement realistic solutions.  If a Constitutional Convention is called, one potential flaw is they can rewrite any part of the Constitution they want.  It would be nice if people who were convinced government can’t operate weren’t put in charge of that government.  It simply makes no sense.

The Colorado House Agriculture Committee killed a proposal to limit the involvement of the Division of Wildlife in issuing oil and gas drilling permits.  The CDoW became involved in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission only after a Democratic Governor was elected.  Not surprisingly, this pro-business article ony quoted a proponent of the bill.  Unlike climate change articles, where the denyers’ point-of-view in nearly sacrosant, opponents of HB-1255 didn’t get their comments published.

On a positive note for science, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory is scheduled to launch Tuesday.  The polar-orbiting satellite will measure oxygen-to-carbon ratios to indicate where carbon sources and sinks are at.  My fear is that carbon sources will be found to be larger and more prevalent than carbon sinks.  There are already indications that the warming oceans are soaking up less carbon every year, allowing the atmosphere and oceans to warm up even further.


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Job Losses in Context

How do the job losses during this horrible recession compare to past recessions?  There are a couple of graphs at this post at Calculated Risk that provide some context.  More people have lost their jobs in this point in the recession than any other recession since WWII: 3.6 million.  That’s actually more than any other maximum loss.  The 1982 recession came close with 2.8 million people.

When job losses as a percentage of work force is examined, this recession is in the top 30%.  We just passed the percentage reached in the 1981 recession: 2.5%.  At this same point in time, only three recessions were worse: the 1953, 1958 and 1948 recessions.  The total number of workers has obviously increased since then, so more people would have to lose their jobs before the percentage in this recession got to 4% or 5%.

I doubt undocumented workers were counted in any of these calculations.  I would imagine the actual total of people who have lost their jobs, documented and undocumented, would come much closer to previous steep job losses.

Also clear in the graphs: the last three recessions took much longer to recover from than did previous recessions.  Maybe because we don’t actually make things in this country the way we did in the immediate post-WWII era.  If things aren’t made in the U.S., U.S. workers have nothing to do, limiting the job recovery that would otherwise occur.  How patriotic of the pro-job off-shoring crowd.


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Good & Bad Employment News

I’ll start with the bad news: a record number of Americans are drawing unemployment benefits.  4.8 million Americans are currently on the rolls.  With this month’s slew of announced layoffs, that number is sure to rise.  This is one of the results of Cons running the country for eight years.  The number of Americans getting unemployment insurance as a ratio of total Americans is the highest since 1983.  That number will likly get higher.  Weekly jobless claims are double what they were just one year ago.  As big as the Reinvestment Act is, is it big enough?  I don’t think so.

Now for the good employment news: President Obama has signed his first piece of legislation – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  The measure is designed to make it easier for workers to sue for decades-old discrimination. It nullifies one of 2008′s most shameful Supreme Court decisions that stated workers only had 180 days after the initial decision by employers to discriminate to file a pay-discrimination lawsuit.  It was one of many pro-corporate rulings the Supreme Court handed down last year – the very thing I and other progressives were trying to prevent by pressuring Senators to not allow Roberts and Alito to ascend to the court.  Their anti-worker, anti-citizen ruling history was well established.  Instead of localized effects, they now have the power to harm American workers for the next generation.  Thankfully, citizens do have some measure of recourse: electing pro-worker and pro-citizen legislators to establish moral laws protecting their interests.  While the LLFPA has been passed, which will help women achieve more pay equity in the future, Ledbetter will never see the money she was owed by Goodyear.


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Denver’s Major Papers Hate Workers

The editorial boards of Denver’s two largest newspapers penned screeds that once again displayed a stunning hatred of workers that stand up for their rights this weekend.

The Rocky Mountain News was the more overt of the two, which comes as no surprise to local progressives.  Their conservative bent has grown stronger over the years as they cheer on the race to the bottom America’s workers are facing.  Their lede: Caving to the UAW.  Their secondary lede: Concessions should precede bailout.

I have but one question for the Rocky and every other group that hates workers: what concessions have executives of America’s major auto manufacturers given in this crisis?  The auto labor unions of America have conceeded on every issue possible in the past 20 years.  What have executives given up for the privilege to continue in their positions?  It’s been those executives’ decisions that have placed their corporations at the precipice of failure, not the workers’.  The Rocky places all of the blame at the feet of the labor-friendly Democratic Congress.  What about the corporate-friendly Republicans that threatened to filibuster the deal or the corporate-friendly Republican supposedly running the country?  How many times has Bush issued executive orders in the past 8 years?  If he (his handlers) wanted to save the auto industry from itself, he would have done it already.

The Denver Post came no closer to trying to address some real issues associated with the Big 3′s failures.  They called out Michigan Gov. Granholm’s assessment of the vote in the Congress as un-American.  I don’t remember the Post chastising the Cons who called anti-invasion and anti-occupation Democrats as anti-American.  It’s actually much more applicable to those same Cons vis-a-vis the failed vote.  Con Senators from the South would rather see American auto manufacturers fail (their true goal is to break up the UAW) than help them out.  Con Senators from the South would rather see foreign auto manufacturers succeed – foreign car plants have begun to really populate the American South, instead of American car plants as they do in Michigan and other northern states.  Con Senators would rather see the world plunge into a second Republican Great Depression just so they can teach Big, Bad Labor the lessons they deserve than stand up as proud Americans and preserve some of our last in-country manufacturing.  Con Senators (and their un-American supporters) would literally rather have workers make no wages or receive any benefits than support what little Americans’ actually end up making today.  If that’s not un-American, I don’t know what is.

Why isn’t the Rocky or the Post supporting workers?  Because their right-wing benefactors don’t support workers.  Because they don’t receive anti-corporate messages from Con “think-tanks”.  Because they practice exactly what those Con Senators supported: they’ve shifted their “news” coverage from solid journalistic standards to focusing on entertainment instead.  An uneducated population of workers won’t want to stand up for their rights.  Instead, they’ll blame those workers who dare to do so just like their major corporate media outlets tell them to.

This race to the bottom must stop.  Stand up for your fellow worker, Coloradans and Americans.  Or get used to double-digit unemployment and another Depression.

***

In a related vein, the Rocky’s Ed Stein had a cartoon appear next to their screed that dealt with the nationwide collapse of the newspaper corporate industry.  Depicting newspapers as pillars of democracy that were falling over, Stein blatently ignored newspapers’ failure to uphold democracy these past 8 years under the worst president this country has suffered under.  Due to the corporate newspapers’  stunning lack of holding Con officials responsible for their actions, Bush leaves this country in much worse shape than he found it.  The media’s latest attempts to tie President-elect Obama to the corrupt Illinois Governor despite no evidence to support their witch-hunt is all the more disturbing when Bush’s actions remain univestigated.   For this reason and others, I honestly have zero pity that corporate newspapers are failing.  Just like the auto industry, they make their bed all too willingly.  Now they get to lie in it.


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U.S. House Approves Auto Bailout

The House yesterday voted to approve $14 billion in below-market loans to the major U.S. automakers.  Some discussion has revolved around the term to use for this situation and I’m going to provide support for why I call it a bailout.  It’s not the giveaway that the financial industry has received under Paulson, that’s for sure.  But anytime an industry receives conditions that living, breathing Americans can’t get, I don’t see how you can call it anything but a bailout.  The taxpayers, under this legislation, are bailing out the auto industry.  GM, Ford and Chrysler aren’t going to banks to get these loans.  Why?  Because they wouldn’t qualify.  So they turn to their crack dealers in the government and beg for them instead.  These loans have provisions that Americans aren’t getting from their government.  It’s a bailout.

It’s also important to realize where this money is coming from: not as part of the $700 billion Congress authorized Paulson to give away however he saw fit.  No, the $14 billion is coming out of the $25 billion authorized to go to the automakers for the explicit purpose of developing more fuel efficient cars to meet the higher CAFE standards passed recently.  The auto corporations said they couldn’t afford to change their operations to meet those standards (despite selling cars with better efficiency in Asia and Europe already), so Congress was going to bail them out from that too.  That’s why I have a hard time swallowing the $14 billion bailout.  Money was going to be spent to increase efficiency of U.S. sold vehicles.  56% of it is now being directed somewhere else, which means the corporations will be 56% less capable of delivering on their responsibilities.  If they survive the crisis of their own making at all, they’ll be less able to make the kinds of vehicles necessary for 21st century operations.  Which means they’ll be back before too long begging for more bailouts.  When will it stop?

I’d like to shift focus to what’s really going on with respect to this bailout.  In the same Yahoo article I link to above, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Con-KY) provides a request that is stunning in its chutzpah.  The Kentucky Republican also called for a different bill — one that would force U.S. automakers to slash wages and benefits to bring them in line with Japanese carmakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda — in return for any federal aid.  Did you get that?  Mitch thinks American workers make too much money since there are foreign automakers that pay their workers less.  That statement should be the focus of future discussion of this bailout and make its way into even greater discussion about U.S. workers as a whole.  I heard the same argument from a caller to a local talk show this morning.  Just reduce the worker’s wages so our companies can “be more competitive”.  That’s a race to the bottom.  Why not see if they’ll work for a dollar a day?  Why not pay them nothing?  Then the automakers wouldn’t have any labor costs to worry about.  The problems with this are obvious.  Is the question then, “How low can wages go?”  No.

The U.S. government should protect its markets.  Do you know why fewer American cars are sold abroad than foreign cars are sold here?  Because other countries protect their markets.  They support their own workers.

The U.S. workers should protect themselves.  All workers, not just auto workers.  It amazes me that instead of trying to replicate the successes of unions – increased wages, benefits and working conditions – so many Americans instead want to punish those union members for having the foresight to fight for themselves.  Americans’ anger and hatred of its own workers is an amazing paradox.  Auto worker unions will make additional concessions as part of the bailout proceedings.  What about executive and director compensation?  Yes, a couple have offered to be paid $1 in 2009.  Big deal.  It’s an insult to Americans that they would offer that because it exploits Americans’ ignorance of how executive compensation works.  Move beyond the salary and get at the compensation: giving up less than 1/10th of your total compensation isn’t noteworthy, especially when auto workers will be forced to give up more than 1/10th of theirs.  Did the executives offer to slash their benefits too?  No.  Well, then why do workers have to give up more of theirs?

This conversation needs to happen in America.   I have hardly touched on the breadth and depth of material that that discussion should contain.  In the meantime, I dare Sen. McConnell and his Con-colleagues to filibuster this bill.  Go ahead – don’t just vote against it, fight it with everything you’ve got.  It’s apparent to me that the Cons haven’t figured out how frustrated the American people are with them.  While I’m not a huge fan of the bailout, I understand the arguments for it.  Stronger requirements surrounding the money should be made – on the part of executives and Boards who have run these corporations into the ground, not the workers.  If it doesn’t pass, the industry does face the very real chance of collapse.  Millions more jobs are at risk.  (On a small tangent, millions of other jobs have already been lost economy-wide and I don’t see any bailout offers to other industries.  More to the point, I don’t see any relief to actual Americans (not corporations) from the government.  That’s a failure.)  If millions more people go unemployed, the Cons can kiss their future goodbye.  Of course, Democrats would have to actually work at maintaining the narrative of who forced those job losses to happen, but that’s a different story.

[Update: CP had a recommendation on loan restrictions a few days back:]

These restrictions should include protection of workers and retirees health care and pensions; limits on executive compensation; independent oversight; commitment to continue research, development and production of significantly more fuel efficient cars; and, an agreement that the Big Three will cease their legal and lobbying efforts to block or weaken motor vehicle fuel economy or greenhouse gas standards.

It was good advice.  Unfortunately, Democrats didn’t pay attention to anythink like it in their mad dash to appease Mr. 23%.

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