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Reich writes: "We are in the most anemic recovery in modern history, yet our political leaders in Washington aren't doing squat about it."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)


The Jobs Report, and Why the Recovery Has Stalled

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

01 February 13

 

e are in the most anemic recovery in modern history, yet our political leaders in Washington aren't doing squat about it.

In fact, apart from the Fed - which continues to hold interest rates down in the quixotic hope that banks will begin lending again to average people - the government is heading in exactly the wrong direction: raising taxes on the middle class, and cutting spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that American employers added only 157,000 jobs in January. That's fewer than they added in December (196,000 jobs, as revised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The overall unemployment rate remains stuck at 7.9 percent, just about where it's been since September.

The share of people of working age either who are working or looking for jobs also remains dismal - close to a 30-year low. (Yes, older boomers are retiring, but the major cause for this near-record low is simply the lack of jobs.)

And the long-term unemployed, about 40 percent of all jobless workers, remain trapped. Most have few if any job prospects, and their unemployment benefits have run out, or will run out shortly.

Close to 20 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed.

It would be one thing if we didn't know what to do about all this. But we do know. It's not rocket science.

The only reason for employers to hire more workers is if they have more customers. But American employers have not had enough customers to justify much new hiring.

There are essentially two sources of customers: individual consumers, and the government. (Forget exports for now; Europe is contracting, Japan is a basket case, China is slowing, and the rest of the world is in economic limbo.)

American consumers - whose purchases constitute about 70 percent of all economic activity - still can't buy much, and their purchasing power is declining. The median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation. Most can't borrow because they don't have a credit record sufficient to allow them to borrow much.

And now their Social Security taxes have increased, leaving the typical worker with about $1,000 less this year than last.

The Conference Board reported last Tuesday consumer confidence in January fell its lowest level in more than a year. The last time consumers were this glum was October 2011, when there was widespread talk of a double-dip recession.

The only people doing well are at the top - but they save a large part of what they earn instead of spending it.

Overall personal income soared by 8 percent in the final three months of 2012 compared to an increase of just over 2 percent in the third quarter, but this income didn't go into the pockets of the middle class. It went into the pockets of people at the top.

Wages and salaries grew a measly six-tenths of one percent.

Most of the rise in personal income in the last quarter was from companies rushing to pay dividends before taxes were hiked in 2013, and from an upturn in personal interest income. Both these sources of income went mostly to the well-to-do.

This explains why consumer spending is dropping. The Commerce Department said Thursday consumers' spending rose 0.2 percent last month. That's slower than the 0.4 percent increase in November.

So if we can't rely on consumers to stoke the economy, what about government? No chance. Government spending is dropping, too.

The major reason the economy contracted between the start of October and end of December 2012 was a major reduction in government spending in the fourth quarter.

Government spending has declined in nine of the last ten quarters, but it took a precipitous drop in the last quarter. This was mainly because military spending fell 22.2 percent. That's the largest fall-off since 1972 (mainly due to reduced spending on the war in Afghanistan, and worries by military contractors about further pending cuts). State and local spending also continued to fall.

Personally, I'm glad we're spending less on the military. It's the most bloated part of the government. Major cuts are long overdue. But the military is America's only major jobs program. Cutting the military without increasing spending on roads, bridges, schools, and everything else we need to do simply means fewer jobs.

What's ahead? More of the same. So what possible reason do we have to suspect the recovery will pick up speed? None.

Don't count on consumer spending. Wages and benefits continue to drop for most people, adjusted for inflation. States are hiking sales taxes, which will hit the middle class and the poor hardest. Deficit hawks in Washington are contemplating additional tax hikes on the middle class.

Housing prices are stabilizing, thankfully. But one out of five homeowners is still underwater, and the ranks of people renting rather than owning are rising. Health-care costs are also rising for most people in the form of higher co-payments, deductibles, and premiums.

Don't count on government, either. Government spending continues to head downward. The White House has already agreed to major spending cuts, some to go into effect this year. Coming showdowns over the next fiscal cliff, appropriations to fund government operations, and the debt ceiling will likely result in more cuts.

More jobs and faster growth should be the most important objectives now. With them, everything else will be easier to achieve - protection against climate change, immigration reform, long-term budget reform. Without them, everything will be harder.

Yet we're moving in the opposite direction - following Europe's sorry example of failed austerity economics.



Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

 

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-47 # thethinker 2013-02-01 17:29
An economy based on consumers spending money that either they or their government have borrowed is a hollow economy indeed. I think the reality is that the days of economic growth as we've traditionally known it are over - it doesn't matter whether we do stimulus spending or austerity. The "old" economic rules don't work anymore.

The one thing we could do to help the situation is to ensure every job that becomes available goes to a U.S. citizen. The "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" proposal legalizing 7 million illegal workers and opening the door for millions more should be dead on arrival. We need less immigration, much less to help put American citizens back to work. No amnesty, a timeout on legal immigration, and long-term reductions on immigration. Lets all get real.
 
 
-74 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 19:13
Yes, but how would any Democrat get elected if there wasn't a huge Welfare-Addict crowd?
Sadly, you have an efficient solution--mirro ring one I wrote in the article ABOUT that Amnesty--but it is not politically expedient.
Why, if Americans get outnumbered by foreign parasites, the Democrats can lock out all other parties, be they Republican or any other group that rises to challenge them in the future!

And if they're not swayed be economic terms now, or ecological terms in Clinton's era, what will possibly sway them? Rising crime rates don't really affect them, the people being "generous" with American resources have the high ground, gated communities, and bands of private security that outclass our police in every possible category!
 
 
+23 # robniel 2013-02-02 00:09
Obviously a student of the misinformation media spawned from an earier foreign parasite invasion.
 
 
+44 # Virginia 2013-02-02 03:50
Let me tell you the truth about why there is no recovery. Like it or not it is the loss of the housing industry, the raid on pension and retirement funds across the country and around the world created and sustained by the Wall Street banks has desecrated our entire nation's economy. Wall Street created the loss of jobs by raiding the retirement fund coffers of nearly every major company, state and union - and for what - to eat caviar and fund wars that no other country wanted to support?

Stabilization will not occur until a righteous administration and Congress convenes and stops the foreclosure and eviction movement that has been invading and taking our country's properties like Nazi storm troopers.

Frankly, it's not going to stop as long as politicians and the judiciary are lining their pockets with Wall Street investments. It has been like feeding the watch dogs tranquilizers and expecting them to guard the house...forget it - Congress is compromised and the judiciary is just as afraid to make decent law because they will be risking their portfolios.

It isn't jobs that will fix the economy. It's stopping the banks dead in their tracks! Iceland arrested their bankers and it hurt for a while but now they are on the road to recovery. We're nearly 6 years under water - facing another 10 years at the same pace...because, why?!
 
 
+3 # Sweet Pea 2013-02-03 11:55
Jobs "will" fix the economy - - if we would start limiting imports. If we imported only from countries that had a standard of living that is close to ours,then we would be playing on a level playing field. However, if we import mainly from countries with no controls on hours worked or wages paid, no rules regarding safety of the work environment, no regard for the ecological environment then we will "buy" ourselves right out of the ability to be at all competitive and will have taken a good step towards the destruction of the good life we have known for many years.
The wealthy are destroying the working class in this country by investing in countries that can provide higher return on investment. At what point will it completely destroy the wonderful system that took care of us for the last 50 or more years?
 
 
+32 # Todd Williams 2013-02-02 10:35
Welfare-addict crowd? More racist talk. Mexicans crossing into the US do it for mainly one reason; to work. And they work for less money that US citizens. They are not crossing for welare. Many Republicans want to keep the system the way it is, particularly for owners of large farms who need cheap labor to maximize profits. Many of these same farms receive Federal ag subsidies. In fact, 70% of the farm labor is immigrant (legal and illegal) . So we are, in effect, subsidizing cheap labor. The GOP doesn't want any unionization of these workers on farms or in the construction, landscaping, and hospitality businesses. Foreign parasites, indeed. I think the only parasites here are of the home grown variety who are living off the sweat of undocumented workers who are marginalized because they are afraid of being sent back to a crime-ridden, corrupt society. Wake up EPGAH3 and learn some facts before you post.
 
 
-5 # MidwestTom 2013-02-02 23:02
The availability of the hard working Mexicans has facilitated the creation and expansion of the American born "Welfare Addict Crowd". Take away the Mexicans and the welfare crowd will not take their place, they simply don't like workin, and they don't have to, thanks to us.
 
 
+3 # dkonstruction 2013-02-04 08:51
"Welfare-Addict Crowd"?

Even when Welfare was not time-limited most were on it for a relatively short period of time. Most were not immigrants. And, most welfare in this country is corporate and or "benefits" that go to middle- and upper income Americans via tax breaks (from the mortgage tax deduction to the lower tax rates paid on capital gains for individuals to huge subsidies that go to corporations from defense contractors to the big pharma to the oil industry etc).

Interesting and very tellling that you scapegoat low-income immigrants for our economic decline but are completey silent about the "Welfare Addict crowd" that exists among corporate America as well as middle- and upper income Americans.

Do you see, at the very least, no double-standard here?
 
 
+16 # A_Har 2013-02-01 23:25
We are in resource depletion and *all the cheap oil is gone.* This is what drove growth. There will be no recoverty. People like Reich can't think out of the economic paradigm he and others built and stuck themselves into all their lives. We are entering into the unknown.

Besides, consumption is killing the ecosystem. It has to stop.
 
 
+9 # Billsy 2013-02-02 13:17
Ya lost me with the xenophobia. Where i live, most of the kitchen workers, hospitality staff and nursing assistants are immigrants taking jobs that few native americans seem willing to do for current pay rates. I would however, agree that the cost of economic growth is perhaps too great to continue ad infinitum. Before we choose that path there ARE considerable amounts of work to be done on infrastructure and in improved education.
 
 
+3 # thethinker 2013-02-02 16:19
What's the unemployment rate where you live? How about paying a living wage to native Americans instead of having them unemployed and getting government benefits while we have immigrants do the work? A society that won't do its own hard work is destined for failure.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2013-02-04 08:55
You are correct that consumer debt is a huge problem and that an economy that is propped up by consumer borrowing cannot last but why is not your suggested answer to raise wages for all instead of scapegoating the lowest wage workers in the country?

Americans have had to borrow to support their standard of living beginnning in the early 1970s when wages began to stagnate (which they have now for 40+ years except for those at the top) and virtually all of the profit from productivity gains have gone to the top 1-2% as well.

And, just precisely how is providing "much less to help put American citizens back to work" supposed to help the economy overall not to mention those out of work?
 
 
+46 # leedeegirl 2013-02-01 20:31
to thethinker and EPGAH3: when American citizens are ready to work stooped over in fields picking produce for 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week, in sweletering heat for pennies, or when they are ready to live 18 people in a one bedroom one bathroom "home," THEN you can talk about ending immigration ...
 
 
+36 # thethinker 2013-02-01 21:28
Quoting leedeegirl:
to thethinker and EPGAH3: when American citizens are ready to work stooped over in fields picking produce for 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week, in sweletering heat for pennies, or when they are ready to live 18 people in a one bedroom one bathroom "home," THEN you can talk about ending immigration ...


Actually, I don't think any human being should be forced to work or live in such conditions. Pay a decent wage with benefits and good working conditions and Americans will do the work.
 
 
+11 # leedeegirl 2013-02-01 22:40
Quoting thethinker:
Quoting leedeegirl:
to thethinker and EPGAH3: when American citizens are ready to work stooped over in fields picking produce for 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week, in sweletering heat for pennies, or when they are ready to live 18 people in a one bedroom one bathroom "home," THEN you can talk about ending immigration ...


Actually, I don't think any human being should be forced to work or live in such conditions. Pay a decent wage with benefits and good working conditions and Americans will do the work.


and then we will all pay 10 times as much for the items we now get dirt cheap ... watch as "American citizens" scream about THAT
 
 
+19 # thethinker 2013-02-01 23:04
Quoting leedeegirl:
Quoting thethinker:
Quoting leedeegirl:
to thethinker and EPGAH3: when American citizens are ready to work stooped over in fields picking produce for 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week, in sweletering heat for pennies, or when they are ready to live 18 people in a one bedroom one bathroom "home," THEN you can talk about ending immigration ...


Actually, I don't think any human being should be forced to work or live in such conditions. Pay a decent wage with benefits and good working conditions and Americans will do the work.


and then we will all pay 10 times as much for the items we now get dirt cheap ... watch as "American citizens" scream about THAT


The labor cost of most items is a small percentage of the total. I am willing to pay more.

I find your attitude disturbing, as you seem to think it is OK to exploit people to save a few bucks.
 
 
+13 # Todd Williams 2013-02-02 10:41
Nope, I dfoln 't think so. I think Americans are more generous than you say. Again, I would have no trouble paying a little extra for my food if I knew the workers were paid a living wage and that their families are properly fed, clothed, sheltered and educated. ALL the residents in the US deserve a fighting chance at sucess, even Juan and Maria!
 
 
+14 # Todd Williams 2013-02-02 10:38
We need a strong, expanding United Farm Workers Union. I'm willing to pay an extra 50 cents a pound for tomatoes if I knew they were being picked by union labor. How about you guys?
 
 
+5 # Susan1989 2013-02-01 21:07
If there is so much unemployment, why is it that so often I am faced with rude and incompetent behavior in stores, restaurants, and from customer service employees.
 
 
+3 # robniel 2013-02-02 00:19
Have you looked at the competence level of many (certainly not all) of today's minimum and sub-minimum wage employees? Most do not look at these jobs as a career. Your location is also suspect; northeastern big city?
 
 
+23 # raclis 2013-02-02 02:45
Sadly, this is often true. It may be because we are a much less civil society where manners have become obsolete. Another reason might be the terrible pay with no benefits and scheduling related to most jobs. This is set up as part time work with different schedules every week, which means these workers cannot get a 2nd job. Bottom line: these people cannot make a decent living. Their lives are wracked with fear as they try to survive.
 
 
+2 # Sandy G 2013-02-02 07:25
Aw, naw, thinker. It ain't outsourcing and illegal immigration. What we need is: TORT REFORM so doctors can quit worrying about those outrageously huge damage-suits they have to buy from greedy insurance-men with their expenxive lawyers, and can afford to buy more new Benz's. Any Texas Legislator can tell you that!!
 
 
+17 # pbbrodie 2013-02-02 09:50
Because they are working at crappy jobs, with crappy pay, not enough hours to make enough to live on, and they are treated like dirt by their employers. In addition to this, their hours are scheduled all over the place so that they can't work a second job to make up for the low wages from the one they have. What would you be acting like?
 
 
+4 # Billsy 2013-02-02 13:27
They're ill treated and underpaid Susan. They're managed by jerks and working another part time job to pay bills. They have to pay for day care and then care for a disabled spouse at home. The corporate HQ merged with another firm, laid off staff to cut costs and boost the stock price, so now your support staff are overworked and burned out. A professional attitude would certainly help, but then, you get what you pay for.
 
 
-31 # dick 2013-02-02 00:53
Millions of Americans are not trained or educated for today's good jobs. Millions more would rather collect FULL unemployment for YEARS rather than seek training, part time work, & partial unemployment. Guv should do more about construction, but Bob, people have to get up off their butts. They have to relocate. They have to retrain. They have to do work not of their preference. We have to educate, train, innovate, improvise, bust our butts to get things going again. Some are are spoiled, soft. They may need a kick in the butt.
 
 
+16 # pbbrodie 2013-02-02 09:45
What good jobs?!
You have obviously never tried to live off of unemployment or had to seek a new job, after being laid off (fired for no reason). When you have had a decent job and are suddenly trying to pay your bills with about a quarter of what you were being paid, you are definitely busting your buns to find another job, whatever it takes. Just how much do you think they pay for unemployment, anyway?
You are the one who needs a kick in the butt!!!
 
 
+10 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 09:59
employers are already playing the game with health care. Cutting the hours, raise the pay to the equivalent hours cut...but now part time, and no benefits. Cheaper overall.
 
 
+7 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 10:05
what's happened is retraining is not concentrated in all the places needed. let's say you want to be a HVAC technician. Those schools are located in major cities...how do you move to a large city, find a place to live, eat and go to school? Loans i suppose, but the pay doesn't cover the expenses...so now more upside down. Read the story about the law school enrollments down fifty percent. Because- the jobs don't pay enough to cover the loans and new start expenses. What happened? The majority of what people need from lawyers is now ONLINE. Corporations don't want traditional trained lawyers...they aren't going to court.

the world has changed, but the world is still bilking millions from people by slick sales tactics that really have no merit. We can go online, for training, but you need massive training centers, that make access a priority...and a follow up pipeline that shows them a place to go after finishing the coursework...no w it's just a crapshoot.

Which- there are no guarantees, but now it's like being struck by lightning.
 
 
+9 # Todd Williams 2013-02-02 10:47
Yes indeed. I also wonder why the government isn't investing in massive training programs for the energy sector in order to grow the alternative energy industry? What would be the reaction of a coal miner who is offered a job building wind turbines instead of going down into a fucking coal mine everyday? I think you'd have a whole lot of workers real fast.
 
 
+1 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 17:47
The govt is afraid now due to the negative press made by solyndra.

No one understands risk now and it's incredibly harder to compete with Asia. Case in point- a wood burning stove made in china shipped here with 40 to 50 percent profit is $235. A stove made in the USA and due to emissions capture requirements by EPA for cast iron is $2100. Which will you buy ? There is no decision to make no one throws away almost $2000.

THEN you see the article about the millionaire selling cans of air in Beijing where particulate amounts are twenty five times above safe levels. People will soon die making stuff for us because they don't care. There must be a balance between the extremes so we can produce and survive as a nation.
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-04 17:01
But Exxon oil spills and BP Gulf blowup/oil spills no longer get/deserve negative press? or are those expensive tv ads getting you to believe in their 'benevolence'??
 
 
0 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 17:48
You can drive thru West Virginia to this day and see the coal dust covered faces behind the wheels of cars as they come off shift....
 
 
+17 # California Neal 2013-02-02 04:00
"On the basic issue that Robert Reich is discussing, we need government spending, not austerity or deficit reduction, to provide employment & bring the economy back to where we can turn our attention to deficit reduction."
I should have said that increasing employment directly works to decrease the deficit, as well as providing the opportunity for further deficit reduction."
I should have said that increasing employment works directly to decrease the deficit, as well as creating the opportunity for further deficit reduction. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/opinion/krugman-looking-for-mister-goodpain.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130201&_r=0
 
 
0 # California Neal 2013-02-03 01:02
"On the basic issue that Robert Reich is discussing, we need government spending, not austerity or deficit reduction, to provide employment & bring the economy back to where we can turn our attention to deficit reduction."
I should have said that increased employment leads directly to deficit reduction, as well as creating the opportunity for further deficit reduction. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/02/paul-krugman-deficit-feedback-loop_n_2600378.html?utm_hp_ref=politics
 
 
+22 # WestWinds 2013-02-02 04:58
#thethinker: I don't think immigration is the problem. The problem is that the "job creators", the NeoCons, haven't been creating jobs here in America. Their focus has been on creating jobs in other parts of the world.
 
 
+8 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 09:57
as long as we keep consuming and allowing chinese/Korean/ Sri Lanka/Vietnam imports to overrun this nation, there will be no jobs created here. It's tough for me to see Mahindra, kubota etc take over the once robust industrial equipment market while John Deere just sells hats reminding us of the great days of the past.
 
 
-1 # thethinker 2013-02-02 11:05
Quoting WestWinds:
#thethinker: I don't think immigration is the problem. The problem is that the "job creators", the NeoCons, haven't been creating jobs here in America. Their focus has been on creating jobs in other parts of the world.


Globalization and offshoring send good jobs overseas, thus reducing jobs for Americans. Mass immigration brings people in to compete for scarce jobs and push the wages of workers down.

Corporations and their puppet politicians push for both "free trade" and offshoring, and mass immigration to push down labor costs for corporations so that they can maximize profits.

Mass immigration is part of the problem and certainly isn't needed when we have 25 million of our own citizens unemployed, growing poverty, stagnant wages, and growing income gap between the haves and have nots.

Robert Reich writes a lot, but I haven't seem him address the impact of mass immigration on the unemployed and poor.
 
 
+4 # California Neal 2013-02-02 21:11
You've got some things right & immigration wrong, thinker. Before the recession, undocumented workers from Latin America were filling jobs that US citizens & legal immigrants wouldn't even apply for. The effect of the recession has slowed & even reversed that immigration flow.

So Reich doesn't address your problem because it isn't one. Moving jobs out of the country, as you say, IS a problem. The biggest problem right now is that without government spending, we've lost a huge number of public sector jobs, & there are no programs to build a green economy or to repair infrastructure, etc.
 
 
+3 # thethinker 2013-02-02 14:36
Quoting WestWinds:
#thethinker: I don't think immigration is the problem. The problem is that the "job creators", the NeoCons, haven't been creating jobs here in America. Their focus has been on creating jobs in other parts of the world.



The government currently issues about 125,000 work visas to foreign workers every month. This is about equal to the number of jobs being created each month. Hence, we are not making a dent in unemployment. This has happened for 3 years now. What is going to change? Where are all the jobs going to come from to help reduce unemployment for our current unemployed and provide jobs for 125,000 foreigners each month? It's not going to happen. So, what do you want? Do you want to help unemployed Americans - youth, minorities, unemployed tech workers, less educated Americans workers who especially hard hit. Or do you want to continue to flood the labor market with foreign labor? Something has to give.
 
 
+5 # flippancy 2013-02-02 05:55
Because ignorance is bone deep in some people.
 
 
+9 # kitster 2013-02-02 08:45
what happened to jobs, jobs, jobs? that's all you heard from the two political parties before the november elections. now obama's moved on to gun control and immigration and the pachy's have moved on to whatever else will thwart "blackenstein."

and the media...while the jobs report used to be quoted and analyzed almost hourly (on the boob toob, that is), we're talking about the size of everyone's magazine clip (since statistics show we all are packing heat).

it no longer matters what the people need or want. it only matters what our congressional representatives want (as defined by what their major political contributors want). and the president, well...he's almost reached lame duck status and he evidently wants to go down as a republican president, it seems.

so the american people are stuck with squat. and don't fool yourself, if the spending continues to be curtailed, unemployment will continue to hover above 7.5 percent into god knows when.

we never had to be greece, never should have been greece...but now we are. we had a friend in john maynard keynes, but our "leaders" kicked him to the curb.

and with him, went the american economy.
 
 
+2 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 09:53
how can we expect Keynesian theory to work, when we delude ourselves into buying things, that put us into debt, that we don't need? If we stay on that track the hole grows deeper. yes we all know that 70 percent of the economy depends on consumption, but what if we've consumed all we NEED? What next?
 
 
+5 # Virginia 2013-02-02 10:09
The jobs had to be eliminated because the companies invested in fraudulent Wall Street unregulated securities and lost billion$. The layoffs and closures we have witnessed and experienced were due to huge financial losses particularly in the pension trust departments.

Finance Directors, CEOs, Governors, union leaders and their investment agencies need to be interrogated because these bad investments might as well be considered terroristic acts. Unfortunately, if you follow the money, what isn't found in offshore accounts was probably funneled to the American war effort(s). Maybe that's why American banksters are being protected?
 
 
+3 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 09:50
when we add 10,000 a day to the rolls of SS and medicare to finally stabilize at sixty million, how do we all think we can sustain this? Takes ten people working to pay the one monthly check- which means eventually six hundred million people will need to work to support? How? When I read the article about the selling of cans of air in Bejing due to the unregulated production of consumer goods for apple, walmart, Target etc- and you wonder why there are no jobs here but "would like fries with that that burger?" We need to get real and understand that our current standard of living is not sustainable. Communications- never a part of our budget now consume up to $300 a month of income. Fuel, once priced at $.30 a gal-you worked one hour at min wage to put in five gallons, now you work to put in two at min wage. The pension plan discussions are valid. We don't know what the future holds for us anymore. You can't plan on any pension plan being solvent in the future. Illinois is now $100 billion in the hole and grows at $17 Million a day. - that is a STATE...now transition that to a corporation- even as large as the auto workers and the UAW. No guarantees. We MUST find a way to circumvent the current thinking and explain to all that "even though you suffered all your life, we've squandered our opportunities and change must start now- you will continue to suffer with the ones who benefit now." How do we start?
 
 
+6 # Vardoz 2013-02-02 11:21
According to the economist Dean Baker, Social Security is solvent until 2037. There is plenty of money in the trust. The baby boomers who are the largest population in our nation has been paying for SS for our entire working lives and we were the most successful generation. It should be a graduated system so that those who make more pay more.
Those making so much that they do not need SS would get less - As it is now they take out money from ss to [ay for Medicare and if you are under 66 your ss is cut. It's very unfair. A person making making 110,000 or a million pay the same amount into ss.
 
 
0 # letsfixit 2013-02-02 17:55
How many people look in the mirror and wonder how they became the age they are now? It goes by fast. And each year of doing nothing as 2037 drifts closer will make the problem worse. Look at the debtclock.com. What does it show? In excess of $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities?

And we know Medicare issues are just around the corner.
 
 
+1 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-04 17:05
Lower the exorbitant insurance 'industry' profits/take and Medicare costs will be lower!
 
 
+8 # Vardoz 2013-02-02 10:32
As Al Gore said on PBS the night before last, our reps have to ask the special interests permission on how to vote. The interests of the people are now irrelevent and he said this is no way to run a Democracy. So that's why we are now an Oligarchy and until this horrible situation changes, all gains will go to the top. Perhaps we can start by aggressively voting out those who don't vote for our interests. Bernis Sanaders and Elizabeth Warren did not have to raise tens of millions to get elected and even though Romney spent a huge amount he lost. We are not voting for our senator who voted for the NDAA when the other did not and we told him that we would not vote for him again because of this. We also told the state DNC about our internsions.
 
 
+8 # reiverpacific 2013-02-02 11:04
How the Hell is the government supposed to know what is needed by the grassroots majority when they are practically owned and run by those who's main interests are to keep things stagnant and slave wages are becoming the norm. I believe that they CHOOSE to remain distant and wantonly unaware or ignorant to make the truth invisible or palatable.
I know that the small businesses including mine where I live have had the WORST so-called "Holiday" season since I started here six years ago.
But the gun and military armament industries, big pharma, health non-care, insurance and the money laundering charnel houses named banks and investment houses (Wall Street should really move to 'Vegas) are doing fine, especially exporting to other countries allegedly called "allies" some of them quite dangerous to the US (as Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden's Mujahadeen became when they were no longer "our" bad guys).
And it's so obvious if common sense is brought into the equation that a massive injection of funds into infrastructure would put millions of people back to work from professionals to laborers.
Sometimes I want to bang my head on something solid in frustration!
 
 
0 # wjkolar 2013-02-02 13:36
The pickers only get a bit more than 40 cents a bucket (or about 32 lbs) now. So asking for a 50 cents a pound increase is based in ignorance.
 
 
+6 # engelbach 2013-02-02 19:48
All this angst ... and yet as Bob (and many of us) says, what is needed is simple: a government jobs program, a stimulus to jump start the economy.

And of course his needs to be accompanied by penalties for companies that offshore jobs. If you're based in the U.S., you must employ U.S. workers.

All else is just noise.
 
 
+2 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-04 17:06
And maybe stop bridges from falling down? for one example---
FDR knew what to do... .
 
 
+2 # Sweet Pea 2013-02-03 08:04
The wealthy get wealthier from investing in foreign labor. So-o-o-o our citizens lose jobs and have to buy imports (about the only products left in this country).
We "buy" ourselves right out of jobs.
Eventually, we won't have enough to even buy imports.
 

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