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Call it the painfully long tail of the Great Recession: about two of every five people who lose a job these days, according to census figures, cannot find another one for six months or longer.
Even as overall unemployment has been improving, this long-term unemployment hasn’t been getting better – and it’s far worse than at any other time since the government began keeping track after World War Two.
Why, of all the places you could have been writing about, did you pick Janesville?
For starters, I wanted a place that had never been part of the Rust Belt, so that I’d be looking just at the effects of the country’s recent economic crisis and not at decades of accumulated economic decay. Janesville definitely fit the bill. Two days before Christmas of 2008, the Janesville Assembly Plant shut down. It belonged to General Motors and was a 4.8 million square foot behemoth that had begun turning out Chevrolets in 1923. When it closed, it laid off about 3,000 people and took thousands of other jobs with it, because Janesville also had local companies that had supplied goods and services to the plant, and when GM went away, they went away too. And after that, some small businesses couldn’t make it either.
So, what does it look like in a community when thousands of good, middle-class jobs go away and they don’t come back?
I think the main thing I’ve been learning is that falling out of the middle class is very different than having been poor all along. If you’ve grown up poor – been in generational poverty, it’s called – you are used to it. Often, people around you are poor and, even if there are not great options, you pretty much know what to do: apply for what used to be known as food stamps, for instance, or go to the local emergency room if you’re sick. But when you’ve always thought of yourself as middle class, and suddenly you’ve tumbled downhill, well, that can be a real stunner. You don’t want your neighbors to know, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. You don’t even want to ask for help, because you never saw yourself as someone who would need it.
You wrote an article about job retraining for the dislocated workers of Janesville. As you pointed out, the idea of retraining has a lot of bipartisan political support, and it sounds like a great idea – teach people how to do the jobs that are available so they can get back on their feet. Does retraining work?
I think retraining can work, but it doesn’t always. I looked at a two-year college in Janesville, called Blackhawk Tech, which was deluged with former factory workers. It’s been doing basically everything that policymakers recommend: working closely with local employers, steering students into fields where jobs seem most likely to exist, providing extra help for these people who’d been thrown out of their jobs and, sometimes, were scared, angry, depressed and nervous about whether they could succeed in school. Still, not everyone who has retrained there has found a good job – or any job at all. As one counselor at the college told me, “Retraining, yes. But retraining for what?”
The 33-Year Plague Called Reaganomics: The Rule, The Gospel, The Way of Life.
What do we do to change it? I say "we", because short of having a million dollars, it's quite evident we're on our own.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Fri Apr 26, 2013, 12:46 PM (59 replies)
What's happening now is that on CNBC, there's Hagel trying to drum up a reason to invade Syria . .. you got that whole mess with the War Criminal getting his own library and his flesh-rotted legacy literally being reanimated by pundit after pundit as if nothing bad ever happened during the Decade of Decline . . . . you got a background check bill that just got flipped off by a talking turtle and his merry band of geriatric cackling thugs five months after 20 first-graders get taken apart by a Bushmaster . . . you have a country that refuses to move into the 20th century on three basic human rights (education, health care and marriage) . . .
I'm trying to fish, to dig for some kind of hope that economics, the environment, culture, labor rights, human rights, senior citizen's livelihoods, our children's futures, our national resources and infrastructure . .. are going to improve for the better (and dear God, they all need to).
Then I look at just about every avenue of power and think that it's all far too gone to be repaired.
Nearly EVERYONE that has any kind of power in America, whether it's in the government or the private sector, subscribes to either counter-productive glad-handing of conservative business and economic policies at best or, at worst, embraces and wholeheartedly believes in wealthmongering, plutonomy, laissez-fail, complete corporate fealty and austerity as sound and sturdy life practice.
Who in corporate America values their labor enough to domestically employ them; forget the notion of paying them a living wage comparable to the costs of living and offering benefits that will allow the retirement-to-new-worker cycle to continue? Who in corporate America DOESN'T believe in the long-standing myth of "fiduciary duty to the shareholders being the ONLY thing corporations should care about"?? Who in corporate America isn't constantly playing the "persecuted victim" card? Who in corporate America isn't trying to game the system?
Look at your wealthy. I could devote three paragraphs to their destructive behavior in terms of the environment, the electoral process, wealth inequality, governmental productivity, labor rights, human rights, etc. . . . but I'm not going to.
Out of the three branches of government, HOW many Sherrod Brown/Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren Progressives are there? You could count them on your hands. Likely, ONE of them.
Look at your media channels. Are there ANY domestic channels that have truly OBJECTIVE voices and aren't trying to underhandedly push toxic narratives?
Police? Don't we both have the same oppressors? Yet who do they brutalize? Who do they assault? Whose protests do they break up? Don't even for ONE SECOND tell me that they don't collectively dislike and hold in contempt anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman. It's still, by and large, a very conservative institution. See them at any Tea Party events? See them at any Glen Beck gatherings? Why do they come in riot gear to our protests? Do we have caches of heavy weaponry?
Democrats? Except for the ones I mentioned and a few others, the lot of them are Third Way appeasers who worship at the altar of Milton Friedman, don't believe in basic human rights like Universal Health Care and cry "powerless" when it comes to getting even a simple gun background check Bill passed. They're doing absolutely nothing at all to disprove the "both parties are the same" people when it comes to economics and only care about social issues when they're being pushed to do so.
The Republicans are nothing but obstructionist, greedbag, fundamental-religion-poisoned, oblivious, know-nothing, do-nothing, inaffectual, warmongering, selfish, lying, immoral failures filled with sour hatred and blackened hearts. Looking for help from them is like looking for talent in 2013 pop music. They're not looking for the next bridge to repair, they're looking for the next nation to blow up and markets to vacuum. They don't want you to retire, they want you to be unemployed, starving and DEAD. Let's not pretend these pig resource hogs don't have a herd to cull.
Where do we turn when everyone's purchased?
Is it nature or nurture that institutions absolutely HAVE to be run by authoritarians who don't care about the fate of mankind and only live in the quarterly short-term?
How is there a future for America when these above-mentioned institutions will try everything in their power to obstruct and prevent that from happening?
Where's the PROMISE? WHERE'S THE HOPE??
When are we going to get a progressive or a hundred to change things?
Posted by HughBeaumont | Thu Apr 25, 2013, 01:32 PM (18 replies)
If there were ever a definition of "uncomfortable", it's Thomas "Milton" Friedman trying to bob-and-weave his way out of an actual journalist's questioning of his flimsy, overassumptive theories that he learned from "random chai wallahs while waiting for his plane in the Dehli airport", or something along those lines. Among the things you learn from Tommy's squirm-a-thon:
* It's either live with what we have or North Korea/Totalitarianism, and there is no in-between, fairer economic happy medium anywhere in the world that has any kind of success.
* Don't shoot the messenger.
* He really . . . REALLLLLLLLLLY doesn't like his personal wealth being called out.
* We're not in Kansas anymore.
* He's never heard of the word "neo-liberal".
* Tommy's a tad blind to pachyderms inside rooms.
* We need balance and cooperation (and hey, while we're throwing out pipe dreams, I want a new car).
* Our economy is NOT zero-sum and Americans AREN'T losing their jobs when third world nations are lifted out of poverty.
* Anyone who questions him has an "agenda".
No, Thomas. What you just experienced is called "Objective JOURNALISM". You want softball-lobbing Trickle-down fawning, go on CNBC.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Wed Apr 24, 2013, 09:35 AM (1 replies)
Some snippets . . .
You know your empire's crumbling when just about your entire military land force is tied up in a worse-than-useless war launched on the basis of complete fabrications, that every day is actually making you less - not more - secure from external threat.
You know your empire's crumbling when almost half the soldiers in that war are high-paid mercenaries, and you don't dare institute a draft.
You know your empire's crumbling when a member of the Axis of Evil can test missiles and explode nuclear warheads, and all you can do about it is mumble some pathetic warnings about how they better not do that again or there will be consequences.
You know your empire's crumbling when you even think that there is an Axis of Evil.
You know your empire's crumbling when a rag-tag military hodge-podge of irregulars has you pinned down in an endless fight you can't win, but also can't lose.
You know your empire's crumbling when you're the richest country in the world, but nearly 50 million of your people don't have basic health care coverage.
You know your empire's crumbling when the World Health Organization ranks your healthcare system 37th best in the world, just above Slovenia, and just below Costa Rica. (And far below Colombia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.)
You know your empire's crumbling when instead of making it easier for citizens to obtain a higher education, you're making it harder and more expensive.
You know your empire's crumbling when your government gives tax breaks to industries as a reward for exporting your jobs elsewhere.
You know your empire's crumbling when your middle class has been stagnant for three decades, while the wealth of the hyper-rich continues to climb through the roof.
You know your empire's crumbling when the predatory class has taken over your government and is stripping the country of everything not bolted down to the floor. And then it sells the floor itself, as well, to your rivals.
You know your empire's crumbling when gays and immigrants are used as diversionary issues to keep people from thinking about the pillaging of their country and their wallets actually taking place. And it works.
You know your empire's crumbling when people are getting more religious and less scientific, not the other way around.
Have we learned absolutely NOTHING? Will we EVER? I don't have to ask will THEY ever learn, since, you know, "they got theirs" and learning from mistakes they don't even know or care that they're making isn't really part or parcel in their bubbles.
Must be nice to be able to relegate a planet to a scorched Earth, piecemeal, dumpster scrap, shipping-crate-home future. Greed is a hereditary plague that we're all going to pay dearly for.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Fri Apr 12, 2013, 01:41 PM (15 replies)
2. Get it instilled that making a living with a living wage, a pension and stability is far more fruitful in the long run than "get-rich-quick" and a more probable and reasonable solution than relying on "STARTYEROWNBUSINESS/BEYEROWNBOSS!" as the cure-all for America's chronic joblessness.
3. ACE Marty Feldstein's HBS Laissez-Fail CRAP from our business schools. The reason corporations are ruthless and uncaring is because this little bastard's right-wing teachings have been poisoning student's minds since the 1980s and they go on to RUN these corporations . . . into the ground. We're creating a generation of short-term, profit-happy Hank Kravises, Michael Milkens, Lloyd Bankfiends and Jamie Dimons and it's KILLING us.
4. Guaranteed basic income combined with maximum wage. Nobody NEEDS more than a billion dollars when there are people with degrees fighting for former high-schooler jobs.
5. Universal Health Care.
6. End ridiculously expensive and painfully useless folly wars and have the military help rebuild our badly crumbling infrastructure. I can't think of a better plan for national security than that.
7. Shore up public transportation to European standards and get some goddamned high speed RAIL in this country.
8. Reinstate Glass-Stegall.
9. Reinstate The Fairness Doctrine.
10. Equal rights for all humans.
This is in no particular order, but it's a start.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Mon Apr 8, 2013, 03:41 PM (1 replies)
Now that it's a given that we have two parties that are pretty much only divided by social issues and the third parties are either
* well-funded, 1%er-friendly Republicans who own bongs (Libertarians) or
* a group that has approximately zero financial backing, zero media support, almost zero governmental representation and, unfortunately, very little support among mainstream America (progressives),
. . . what exactly do we DO?
A. Where would we head?
Washington, where nearly everyone is purchased, or sit-ins at corporate offices, which are in various locations across the country? And what would Washington do? This problem is a long-standing and complex one largely caused by two elements: Big (name industry here) and their lobbyists and 32 straight years of Friedmanomics practiced by Repubs in both parties. It affects nearly everything from elections to environmental policy to public policy.
Our still-Republican-controlled Congress and over-filibustering Senate leaves us kind of helpless in this matter. Other than a small handful of Sherrod Browns and Elizabeth Warrens and Bernie Sanders, our government has proven they're really not interested in taking corporations and their leaders to task and many are willing to make life even easier for them, hard as that is to fathom. I'm finding more and more each election cycle that, economically, there is NO OPTION.
B. Who'll broadcast it without casting a smarmy, sneering eye?
News anchors are, by and large, one-percenters hired by the one-percent of the one percenters, and we have arguably the most conservative, corporate-controlled media among industrialized nations. Exhibit A: Erin Burnett and half of her CNN co-horts. Exhibits B and C: nearly every anchor on Faux and CNBC. Exhibit D: Morning Joke.
Like it or not, Cable News, Inc. is still influential. In the age of the internet, cable news and its opinionated anchors should be fossilized. Yet people still watch it. Yet it's ubiquitous . . . how many times do you see Rupert Murdoch's garbage channel on in dentist's & doctor's offices, hospital waiting rooms, bars, restaurants, auto repair places, etc?
C. Who'd be able to participate in a protest for even one day, let alone several?
I think the greatest reason why Americans don't/can't protest is also one of the greatest reasons for it's vast inequality: No Universal Health Care. You cannot risk losing your job primarily because there are so few good jobs to be had and losing insurance means having to buy it on your own; ask anyone who does, any small business owner how costly that is. On the other hand, if we HAD Universal Health Care, it'd be an employEEs market and corporations know this. How many people can't start their own businesses due to health insurance costs? How badly are wages being suppressed because of health insurance costs?
D. Who'd listen?
I'm willing to bet nearly half of America clings to this Horatio Alger myth and this "American Dream" crap; both of which have largely been lost thanks to corporatization, free trade and suppressed real-dollar wages. But, thanks to reason "B" above, they're still hypnotized into believing it even though it's painfully evident that economic mobility in America is worse than any time in the modern era. They're still in absolutist "It's either THIS or SOSHULISM" mode, not even accepting that there could be a happy medium.
I would love, LOVE to participate in a march on the important issue of worker rights and think it's far overdue; I'm just wondering, with all of the venom directed towards the Occupy movement (even among supposed Democrats), how effective it would be and how it would happen.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Fri Mar 29, 2013, 08:55 AM (1 replies)
Warren Buffett aside, have you ever known a billionaire NOT compelled to say something completely douchebaggish and straight off of a Fox News cue card when put in front of a camera?
Like, do any of them say -
"All I can tell you is try, give it your best shot, don't be afraid to ask for help and help your fellow human being when he or she has fallen on hard times. After all, everyone who is where I'm at asked for help along the way."
as opposed to -
"I'M THE GREATEST, SMARTEST AND HARDEST WORKING FUCKER ON THIS PLANET AND GOT THIS SHIT COMPLETELY ON MY OWN WITH NO HELP FROM ANYONE! OH AND I'M LAYING OFF 20,000 OF YOU USELESS COMMIE EATERS SO YOU CAN PLAY SOCIALISM WITH YOUR MARXIST PRESIDENT AND I'M GOING TO BUY THE NEXT ELECTION BECAUSE I CAN!!!"
These guys make more money per week than most people will see in their entire lives.
What's in it for them to be SUCH DICKS?? It's almost as if they're smugly mocking us and they just don't care that they are.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Thu Mar 21, 2013, 06:27 PM (4 replies)
I have always been a big proponent of following your heart and doing exactly what you want to do. It sounds so simple, right? But there are people who spend years—decades, even—trying to find a true sense of purpose for themselves. My advice? Just find the thing you enjoy doing more than anything else, your one true passion, and do it for the rest of your life on nights and weekends when you’re exhausted and cranky and just want to go to bed.
Say, for example, that your passion is painting. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy a canvas and some painting supplies! Go sign up for art classes! And when you get so overwhelmed with your job and your personal life that you barely have enough time to see your girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife, let alone do anything else, go ahead and skip classes for a few weeks. Then let those paint brushes sit in your room untouched for six months because a major work project came up and you had a bunch of weddings to go to and your kid got sick and money is tighter than you thought it would be and you have to work overtime. And then finally pick those brushes back up again only to realize you’re so rusty that you begin to question whether this was all a giant waste of time, whether you even want to paint anymore, and whether this was just some sort of immature little fantasy you had as a kid and that maybe it’s finally time to grow the fuck up, let painting go, and join the real world because, let’s face it, not everyone gets to live out their dreams.
Not only does that sound fulfilling, but it also sounds pretty fun.
Really, the biggest obstacle to overcome here—aside from every single obligation you have to your friends, family, job, and financial future—is you. And I’ll tell you this much: You don’t want to wake up in 10 years and think to yourself, “What if I had just gone after my dreams during those brief 30-minute lunch breaks when I was younger?” Because even if it doesn’t work out, don’t you owe it to yourself to look in the mirror and confidently say, “You know what, I gave it my best half-hearted shot”?
I really cannot laugh at this because it just hits too close to home. "Do What You Love and The Money Will Follow" is the biggest crock of horseshit ever sold to people.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Thu Mar 21, 2013, 08:55 AM (40 replies)
LONDON -- London's famed Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has canceled an experimental concert by extreme metal band Napalm Death, fearing the noise level could damage the 104-year-old building.
Ceramic artist Keith Harrison from the V&A, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, collaborated with Napalm Death on a set to be played through a sculptural sound system which would disintegrate under decibel stress.
But museum officials said the one-off performance, scheduled for Friday in the V&A's Europe Galleries, had been canceled out of concern it was not only the intended sculpture that would be damaged.
"A further safety inspection has revealed concerns that the high level of decibels generated by the concert would damage the historic fabric of the building," a museum statement said.
Posted by HughBeaumont | Wed Mar 20, 2013, 10:43 AM (1 replies)
Posted by HughBeaumont | Sat Mar 16, 2013, 02:13 PM (5 replies)