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Downscale Work and the Unemployed
The harsh new American debate over unemployment benefits. Should the unemployed just grab a shovel? Dig a ditch? Are those jobs even there?

Members of a road maintenance crew try to control a grass fire near Lincoln, Neb., using their shirts and boots, July 17, 2007. Dry conditions and 99 degree temperatures contributed to the fire. (AP)

Americans in huge numbers are out of work. Many for a long time. Now, unemployment benefits for the longest unemployed are running out.

Congress hasn’t extended the support. Republicans say no extension unless the new round is paid for now.

Some Republicans and tea partiers say the unemployment benefits themselves are a bad idea. That the unemployed won’t dig ditches – won’t take whatever job is out there – if they’re getting a government check.

With five unemployed Americans for every available job, that’s a hard line.

This Hour, On Point: When unemployment runs out.

- Bob Oakes


Barry Bluestone, labor economist and Dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. He is also founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern.

James Sherk, labor economist and senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Katherine Newman, professor of sociology at Princeton University. She is author of “The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America” and “Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low Wage Labor Market.”

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  • Chris

    When I was laid off for over 1 year, we had to remove our kids from childcare because we couldn’t handle the cost with no income on my end. I couldn’t have picked up a shovel to “work” as I was at home caring for our kids. The unemployment helped us to stay afloat, but anyone who thinks it is incentive to just “stay home & relax” is kidding themselves. We could pay our bills & bought food, but NO EXTRAS! We did better than most because both our cars were payed off & we didn’t have any credit card bills. I can understand wanting to have people earn the check, but in some cases that just isn’t a reality.

  • cory

    Ah yes, the Heritage foundation. Gotta love the conservative think tanks. He will probably suggest that the unemployed act as indentured servants for the wealthy to “earn” their unemployment benefits. Gopher, nanny, caddy, whatever the beautiful people at the top need.

  • jeffe

    There is an illusion here of what is happening in this country. We are in victim mode, that is people are scared the economy is bad so we look for scapegoats. Well it’s the illegal workers and the unemployed.

    What ditches are the Republicans talking about?
    I know in my city the work is done using contractors or city workers. This is not day labor work.

    I’m sure if you are healthy and fit enough you could try to look for landscape work but chances are if you have been sitting in a office and are in your 40′s or older this kind of work is not going to be easy to come by.

    What is happening here and I see how this show is seeming to be set up, is the demonetization of the unemployed. It’s that simple, and recent comments by a bunch of Republican millionaires sitting in their nice plush offices telling people they are lazy when the statistics are clearly saying that there are 4 to 5 people for every job opening show me that these people are nasty, and should maybe stop using the unemployed as pawns in their political games.

  • Lara

    I offended a friend last week when I said it’s better for people to take SOME job than to just keep drawing off our taxes while they look for the perfect opportunity. Her husband is a multi-post-doctoral decorated physicist and like many of his peers cannot find a teaching or research position right now. She told me if he were to teach for a community college- which he has finally applied for- he would not be hired in the future at a Georgetown or Columbia. It’s more prudent in the long run for professionals who have invested a great deal in their careers not to settle in the short run just to “earn” that monthly check. My friend added that unemployment is like insurance, we all pay into it – nobody grumbles about people who make a claim on medical or auto insurance.

  • JP

    Stimulate the economy by cutting payrol taxes! This would give incentive for companies to hire people.

    Nightmare! Here Is How The UK’s Emergency Budget Would Look In The U.S.


  • Patrick

    Unemployment is an emergency!!! Taking money from Peter to pay Paul is a zero sum game!!! If money comes out of state/community funding then THEY lose their jobs…and join us on the unemployment line!!!! Republicans are just living in their Americans are lazy world…

  • David Youhess

    Its a shame that Republicans aren’t being blasted more in the media about their blocking of unemployment benefits. Not only is it absurd to label to such spending as “out of control” or “irresponsible” but it goes against the capitalist ideology they espouse. How do they expect the economy to recover when they keep money out of the hands of consumers. An act such as this only reduces cash flow and deals a blow to an already struggling consumer-goods sector of the economy.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The legislators need to consider whether jobs WILL BE available in future. It used to be a few hundred dollars a week would sustain you while you looked for a job, or figured out you’d have to create your own work. Now it seems people are waiting for whole new industries to materialize. You can’t exactly expect John Doe to start the next Gulf Oil (Gulf Wind?) while he’s licking his wounds. It’s not his swag, to use a word I just learned. He’s a helper, not a mover and shaker. So it’s up to the legislators to help enable those new industries.
    It’s kind of up to John Doe to be ready to up and move to where the jobs are. Which seems to invoke the housing fiasco.
    John Doe doesn’t want to sell his house when it’s worth 30% less than it was two years ago. He’s sitting on his remaining assets.
    Am I right?


    Isn’t it funny how the people who caused the downfall of our economy & lost the regular folks their life savings & retirement accounts, moved our manufacturing jobs overseas, and have been waging war on the middle class are now the ones leading the charge against the unemployed. Looks like they need fodder for the wars and for people to accept slave-wage labor so they can keep raking in their millions. How do they possibly think cutting off people’s lifelines(unemployement) will make them popular is beyond my comprehension. Guess they only care about those entities to big to fail. Maybe they should be looking for jobs instead!

  • tom in texas

    Voters need to be reminded that the stimulus plan passed by the Democrats in 2009 included significant tax cuts for both businesses and individuals. Republicans voted against this.


  • jeffe

    The other red herring is the deficit.
    Extending unemployment benefits adds very little the deficit. This argument is just political posturing at it’s worse.

    We need jobs and we need support for people looking for jobs.

  • Jen

    Don’t forget the COBRA subsidies, which the newly laid off can no longer apply for. It’s the only thing that keeps many, many people insured. The uninsured still incur health expenses, which turn into either Medicaid funds, or higher insurance premiums and medical bills for everyone else, due to hospitals trying to cover for uncompensated care.

  • EmRose

    According to the following link:
    See Table A in the above PDF from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
    The unemployment rate for college grads with at least a bachelors degree and aged over 25 years old was 4.4% in June 2010.
    In June 2010, the overall unemployment rate was 9.5%.
    That means a very large percentage of the unemployed do not have a college degree.

    On July 2, 2010, The NY Times reports “Factory Jobs Return but Employers Report Skills Shortage.”

    Given the two facts above, what is to be done about unemployment? What kind of stimulus package can help those without college degrees? And deficit reduction certainly won’t help these people.

  • Valkyrie607

    I’d like to hear what Mr. Sherk thinks about the absolutely offensive rhetoric coming from Congressional Republicans about unemployment making workers lazy. I understand there is some data to suggest that during good economic times, unemployment benefits can prolong a worker’s time spent looking for jobs slightly, but that during bad times, this slight increase in time spent out of work disappears. Some have said that the increased time out of work is due to the fact that workers can look for a job they really WANT, rather than grabbing the first thing that comes along. I know, for myself, that unemployment benefits allowed me to get a job using my environmental science skills, that pays fairly well, rather than doing data entry for $11/hour. It seems like the rhetoric from right wing politicians has a tiny nugget of truth, but when combined with calls for drug testing all beneficiaries of unemployment insurance, it paints a picture of out-of-touch plutocrats who have nothing but contempt for the least fortunate of their constituents.

  • jeffe

    There are now companies who will not hire people who are currently unemployed, and the are advertising this.
    How do the Republicans who think the unemployed are lazy deal with this?

  • JP

    We are currently on pace to have a worse debt to GDP than Greece in less than 2 years. I know people have a short memory, but do you remember what happened to Greece this year?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Does Katherine Newman know WHY the Obama didn’t duplicate the 4 million jobs (I believe she cited) created in the New Deal? Did our administration TRY?
    I sort of assumed jobs would be created, if we the people were shelling out that much in Unemployment, and since so much infrastructure needs to be shifted to new energy (and broadband).

  • Terry Brewster

    I hereby challenge all of the Tea Partiers, and those that disparage Unemployed, to provide four-fifths of their income and assets for jobs (at equitable pay scales, and benefits) for those they consider lazy unemployed.
    This will prove that they are right, or that they know little about what they are saying. Either way, it will help the nation.
    Rush Limbaugh just got a hundred-million dollar contract, and is selling a 13 million dollar apartment, he can afford to do some good, instead of damage.

    Sincerely, Terry

  • Josef

    If a mine can be operated with ten men who use big machines this would take a tousend workers, automatisation kills jobs, my house was built by hamer and was the last one with it the wood had time to dry

  • tom from boston

    We need WPA kinds of programs. This will succeed if the work is very targeted toward helping the economy in the long term. For example, hire workers to help improve public transportation, roads, communications systems, energy conservation and alternative energies. Improvements in these areas help business run more efficiently and hence help the economy.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Make-work jobs might open up some of these dead town where I’d like to live because they aren’t super gentrified like some of the cities in the East. Somebody could build out communities designed for the new century. I look for the city with a windfarm and wired so my solar roof can feed back into the city. That sort of thing. The guy in charge of Google was wanting to build the national grid to where it could do this. He had the money. Well, he dropped it. Why can’t Obama take it up.
    And when our private industry finds its sea legs, those who built the new grid can get those real jobs.

  • JP

    Why are we not talking about doing what we did in the early 20s and again in 1946 to avoid depressions? They were successful and the great depression is what we are currently modeling our response by and it was already proven to be a bad idea.

  • jeffe

    JP we are not Greece. Get real please. It’s not good but we had a larger debt to GDP after WW2 and the nation was able to work it’s way out of it. Of course we had the advantage of being the only industrial country to come to of WW2 unscathed, and this is an issue.

    James Sherk is an a liar. My grandfather was out on the street selling apples and the he got a WPA job in the Brooklyn Navy yard.

    James Sherk, FDR put food on the tables and put millions of displaced youth to work. He is wrong, wrong wrong.

  • Matt R.

    I’m all for reducing the debt/deficit, but the UE needs to be turned back on. I’m an engineer who’s been unemployed for 16 months and have applied for 345 jobs to-date. I put myself through college (Cum Laude) and Vanderbilt grad school. I have 22 years’ experience, have never called in sick, and always work OT. And I have not had ONE job offer.

  • Carol Bundy

    Digging holes and filling them in again: Actually the CCC recovered the devastated landscape that made the Dust Bowl aspect of the Depression! It was a huge massive federally funded effort to restore land, both public and private so that farmers could go back to work, so that erosion did not destroy our farmland, and to preserve the fertility and beauty of our landscape! This is exactly what we need now. Particularly in the areas of the country that are most vulnerable to storm damage, rising water levels, etc.

  • Steve T

    The powers that be are hoping that our memories are short.

    They vote for war and spend billions to kill off hundreds of thousands.

    You think they’ll vote to save you from their stupidity?

    No they spent more money on “Home Land Security” so when you get out of line they can lock you up!

    Ive not had a raise in pay for more than twenty five years in my profession. Now I’m offered much less, due to so many that will do the job for less.

    Thanks we all loose something at the bottom, while congress voted themselves a raise.

  • JP

    Obama’s war on corporate profits is in large part why companies are not hiring and they are hording cash. If you reverse his anti-business policies we will again return to boom time!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Barry Bluestone cites World War II, run by the Defense Department, which brought unemployment (finally) down to 1.2 percent in 1943.
    Well, this reminds me to suggest that we all disinvest from any defense-related industry. Not that it’s bad in itself. But right now those who are thriving are those with war-related investments (per something I heard on TV yesterday). Retirement funds are keeping themselves on an even keel with America’s imperialistic efforts abroad, no matter how ridiculous the cost and effect.
    It would force us to a more productive nation, a less destructive one (globally destructive).

  • Tom Johnson

    There are millions of us in the trans-55 age bracket. Do you expect us to pick up a shovel and dig holes? How?
    The employers will not hire an ex executive who is 19 months out of work. I cannot get a job greeting at Walmart, and believe me I’ve tried.

    I’ve got a solution for the Democrats on getting the Unemployment passed: let the Republicans pull the filibuster they threaten. They won’t. Why? Because the Democrats could not BUY the negative publicity that a filibuster against the unemployed.

    The solution is not to make it easier to send jobs to Columbia with some new trade agreement: the solution is to get America Manufacturing JOBS. And enough with the shovel ready nonsense.

  • mogl

    Great show. Maybe the best I have heard. Thanks.

  • Valkyrie607

    JP, if continuing a Republican program of granting trillions of dollars in almost no-cost loans to big business amounts to a “war on corporate profits,” then what does being PRO-business look like in your world? Just turning over all the tax revenues the treasury collects for corporations to administer for us?

  • Eric

    In context of engineers taking jobs as ditch diggers – shouldn’t the effects of illegal immigration (the folks digging the ditches and picking the crops right now) be discussed as part of the job picture in the U.S.?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think the caller is saying that Hoover’s administration was holding off the Great Depression, while FDR only made it worse.
    Herbert Heaver???
    And he says the problem was in the 1930s the job creaters were afraid to do so. My own grandfather got a manufacturing company started during the Depression. My family doesn’t have much to tell about how exactly he did that. Some investor helped with the startup costs. Actually I think the family started a couple of industries back then.
    So I’m skeptical about the discouraging climate during the 1930s.

  • Ray

    Anti-business climate indeed! How many corporations don’t pay taxes in this country? What does corporate welfare cost U.S. taxpayers? The idea that getting rid of the regulatory framework that prevents companies from screwing its workers and the public is absolutely ridiculous.

  • maureen reilly meagher

    It is my understanding that the military is set up to train people on some of the most cutting edge jobs.
    Military bases could be the core locations for retraining work force and bridge some of the gaps between military and citizenry.Many jobs are not coming back,people know that and until it is acknowledged publically and forcefully by politicians and business leaders people will continue to be uncertain and reactionary.

  • http://www.optimafish.com James Carlson

    The idea that unemployment keeps people from working is asinine. I have applied for more than 100 jobs in the last 12 months, with as many as 40 interviews in 60 days. Employers are able to cherry pick candidates, getting PHDs where they used to get only bachelors candidates. Employers and politicians don’t care whether you’re already living in your vehicle, they care about their longevity in business or politics. So, until unemployment is reduced such that this top down pressure against hiring me eases, unemployment keeps my child support paid and me fed. God forbid that should happen, for those not supporting extention of benefits!

  • Ray Jefferson

    It’s amazing every single day when I see links from the major financial websites like Forbes, NY Times, and even Yahoo Finance when they have articles that tell about the “jobs where you can make lots of money” or the “jobs that are out there”. The problem I see is that these jobs are being advertised to persons who aren’t already in these fields.

    I have been without a full-time job since July 2007. The reason why was that the job I had I started exactly a month before on my birthday. A month later, I had a car accident. Not having another vehicle available to replace the one I had, the job itself was an hour and 30 minute drive and being a 3rd shift job, living in the rural area of South Carolina, plus with having been out of work 2 months before I got the job and I was literally out of money, I couldn’t keep the job…so I had to resign from it. I am an IT worker. And at that time in 2007, my co-workers at the jobs I worked on prior, we all could see where the economy was going.

    The almost 3 years I’ve been out of work, I’ve only been able to find contracting work and some consulting working. I had not worked at all in 2008. In 2009, I worked on one contract job near the end of the year. This year, I’ve been working sporadically, but not enough to survive. If I wasn’t living with family, I would be done for. It really gets under my skin how there are so many IT jobs out here. There maybe, but they aren’t hiring IT people. It’s so very frustrating me when I hear people say that I or others like me should have no problem finding work, but we are. And it’s the employers who are hiring persons who don’t have IT experience (in my case). What can I do when I have to compete with people who don’t have the knowledge or experience..but they are being hired anyway…

  • Andrew R

    I understand the necessity for consumer spending. It IS vital and thus I don’t oppose continuing unemployment. However, I am concerned how we’re going to pay back this liability we’re taking on. My generation has to pay that back. We have a record for not paying it back. As long as we get a legitimate “IOU” from the gov’t, I’m reluctant…

  • Jeff ODonnell

    I think it might be very enlightening for Republicans and others touting the “won’t work for less line” to be unplugged from their comfort and forced to coldly be dropped into a $7.25 an hour job-40 hours a week- but no benefits for a year. Or just be bounced into the unemployment line and forced to try to maintain their household at that pay level and that amount of personal depression. How about signing up for that Mr Heritage foundation- don’t just do it on paper-do it for life and see what an entertaining life of leisure you will lead.
    This is a continuation of class warfare -not a future protection of our children- this is establishing serfs and indentured lives without economic freedom and viability.

  • Susan Walter

    Please address the fact that unemployment is taxed!!!!!! That began in the 1980′s under Reagan. He and his supporters believed that those receiving unemployment compensation were merely slackers. What a slap in the face!

  • Jim

    Obama and his administration do not want to extend unemployment benefits, because if they do, it will show the true number of unemployed – how in the world will they keep on bragging about our great recovery if the unemployment # is 15% or more? They want people to stop receiving benefits so it looks like the unemployed # is going down, since those people are then no longer counted. And they figured out a way to do this where the republicans get the blame for it – by refusing to pay for it. The republicans have repeatedly said they will support any bill for extensions that is paid for and doesn’t add to the deficit. Ever wonder why the democrats won’t agree to this? I think it’s pretty obvious.

  • JP


    What government program has given business loans at under market rates? What bill did Obama pass to extend these loans?

    FYI there is no bill!

  • Martha

    I’ve been unemployment for 9 months. With the money I get I’m only able to live nothing more. I’ve applied for every job I can possibly do. The jobs range from a quarter of my previous salary to comparable and some are over an hour away even in different states. I’ve been declined jobs because I’m too far away. What more does the government want me to do?

  • Catherine Etheridge

    Why don’t the republicans who oppose extending unemployment benefits unless we cut back some place else, start looking at the 740 military bases that the US has around the world. That’s about 5 bases for every country in the world. We can’t possibly need all thoses bases to fight a few hundred al quida members. It is our military spending which is as large as that of every other country combined, which is strangling our economy. A robust economy with well trained and motivated workers will make us strong.

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    What a tremendous service you do us, OnPoint, by having guests like James Sherk spout his Heritage Foundation nonsense so broadly and boldly over the airwaves. The man is like a robot made of glass — all his innards stand out like the mindless spinning gears, wheels, belts and blinking lights that they truly are. Thanks also to the other guests and most callers who took Mr. Sherk down with all the ease of wrestling a three-year old.

  • tom from boston

    stop arguing over what happened in 1940. We are in much different times. The U.S. economy is nothing like it was then. Neither is the world economy.

  • Bigsby

    Some please ask the guests why it is that the republicans insist that spending on unemployment benefits be offset but there is not a similar Bush’s tax breaks for the rich (678 billion)? This is especially relevant given that these tax breaks are set to phase out shortly.

  • yar

    As your caller just pointed out, the business community wants the right to exploit. Business owners are not the source of the economy, it is their workers that are providing the energy for growth. Our economy is shrinking because we have fewer worker bees. Government spending and business spending both stimulate growth. High taxes and high spending will expand the economy. I would like to have asked the caller if business owners should pay for current unemployment benefits through higher taxes?

  • http://ginnyrizzo@comcast.net Virginia Rizzo

    The system is definitely broken. I took a part time job last year in the hopes that it would lead to a full time job. Well it didn’t and because of it my unemployment benefit has been cut by more than 2/3rds this year. If I hadn’t worked in 2009, I would be better off. The system encourages people not to work. This is why people think that those that are on unemployment are milking the system and are lazy to find work……they are not. They are the smart ones. I on the other hand am trying to pay the bills on less than $300 a week between my part time job and unemployment now. So I guess if my benefit ends…it really wouldn’t make that much of a difference!

  • Jim Bourque

    Don’t forget the impact of the GI Bill after WWII – huge government spending that built millions of middle class houses and educated thousands of middle class people.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Beth says in going to interviews she finds it’s pay-to-play, and employers are looking for the upper middle class “look,” the certain clothes, the certain degree (costly degree).
    And by the way, that works in reverse, where an employer looks at your degree, the way you talk, and says oh, that’s not a local, she doesn’t know where the bodies hereabout lie, she should go elsewhere. Go do your class-appropriate climbing. Why are you here?

  • Valkyrie607


    1. What the hell are you talking about?

    2. Can you please quantify exactly what a “pro-business” environment would look like to you?

    You border on incoherence.

  • jeffe

    Were does this nonsense come from that people who work in the government are not contributing to the economy?

    Government taking wealth from the economy is also a red herring argument.

    Right now government is the last resort.
    Private business is not hiring! They are not investing.
    The top 2 to 1% of the wealthy got the bulk of the Bush tax cuts. There was not much of job growth that came out of this.

    I don’t see a lot of businesses hiring, if they were unemployment would be going down. So the argument that the private sector will create growth seems to me not be working right now. So here’s the question to the James Sherk’s out there. What now? Do you have any ideas other than tax cuts?

  • Chris

    All these experts are weighing on what’s wrong with the economy, what we need to do to fix the economy and create more jobs but none of them agree! If the experts can’t agree on what to do or how to do it then how in the world can we get the idiots up in Washington, who never agree, to come together and find a solution! The real problem is no one knows how to fix this situation.

  • Patrick

    I just wanted to thank WBUR for talking about this important issue. I tried to call in but couldn’t get in. Please follow this issue for the next 12 months at least!!!!

  • Greg

    Well I see lots of ire here for Republicans on this superficial issue of whether or not to extend unemployment benefits. Look at the bigger picture though. The abundance we should all be enjoying (in good times too) is being hoarded. I think Robert Reich lays it out pretty convincingly:


  • Ray Jefferson

    I think one of the callers on the show said something about one of their friends who did temporary work could not get unemployment. Depending on the company you do temp work for, you may or may not being able to be qualified and get unemployment once their work is over. Ever since I’ve done contracting work, the companies I contract for they don’t get supply unemployment insurance. And because of that, I can’t apply for unemployment. SO, the extended unemployment benefits can’t help me at all!!!

    Why can’t I and people like me get unemployment?? If the company doesn’t supply it, then the government should make accommodations for that.

  • Mari

    We, the unemployed, need to find a way to consolidate our skills, energies and experience in order to survive this latest man-made economic depression.

    It’s an emergency of massive proportions and the old, isolating, dividing order, “you’re on your own”, will not dig us out of it.

    WE must band together and make new work for ourselves and for our out-of-work neighbors. Call it “forging new communities” if you like. Big business has not and will not help. Nor will the government. Now’s the time!

  • Alvin Lyckman

    The US debt issue is a moronic ruse based on fear politics. The US will always have a very large debt. The US itself was created out of massive debt spent on the war of independence that Jefferson had the US finance. If you are so concerned about THE DEBT, then stop the wars. US wars consume more “money” than any other enterprise of any other government. Imagine if the US pursued humanitarian, clean energy, and urban planning ventures with the same gu$to.

    The unemployment benefits debate is nothing but class and pseudo-morality politics. The political problem is that there are still more (frightened and conservative) employed than unemployed. Helping people is anathema to conservative thought, and they will do anything to rationalize this. For example, Engel’s illogical comment was typically self-contradictory: “people make more money on unemployment, and should take the jobs that pay less than unemployment [sic]“. No one is saying unemployment benefits create jobs, it just helps people who can’t find work – the horror.

    Stop the wars, help people help each other, spend the stimulus.

  • Tom Johnson

    Greg, you could not be more correct. Has ANYONE seen a single article documenting the decline of the Wealthy Class in this country? No. Why? Because almost more millionaires have been made by the recession than during the dot-com boom.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Greg, not having read the Robert Reich article yet (but I know more or less how he thinks), it seems the well-to-do are doing well. They could be urging Congress to take remedial action, jump-start some projects that need attention and where private industry has not taken the lead (along the lines of the interstate highway system of the 1950s).
    But do they? No, the well-to-do SEEM to be stonewalling instead, telling Congress to Just Say No to the unemployed. Maybe they’ll starve and that’ll be the end of that.
    What are they thinking? Let the good times roll? It’s Numero Uno talking. No hobos are currently breaking the locks on my house? Tent cities are not on my city park?

  • Gina

    There is a dominant theme going on here vocalized by the GOP and the banks to label middle class families hard hit by their abuses – that of the deadbeat homeowners who are leaving their homes and the lazy jobless reaping the awards of those lavish unemployment checks. Until people at large stand up to this rhetoric and hold those accountable, nothing will change. What’s worse, businesses hold the cards and they know it. So people with a job are scared, those without a job are scared. It’s an ongoing scare tactic that’s worked for so many years now it’s commonplace. I’m still numb and completely dumbfounded that banks were given the awards for completely wrecking this country. They earned more in the past two years than at any other time prior to while everyone else sank lower/lower. Seems pretty obvious to me: tax those who created this mess; fine them; throw them in jail and put our politicians on unemployment for a year so they can see how wonderful it is to be unemployed. If people would turn out in massive droves and demand what’s due, maybe, just maybe things would change.

  • Tom Johnson

    Ellen: Wait for it. The tent cities are coming.

  • Ray Jefferson

    To Ellen Dribble…

    I couldn’t agree more to what the caller Beth said. I know several persons who have gotten jobs within the past 2 years in fields that they don’t have the background or education in. While I don’t know of their look is part of the reason they got the jobs, I wouldn’t doubt that it was a factor. And it’s so unfair.

  • JP


    I see that since you can’t substantiate your inaccurate comments you are trying to belittle me.

    Your ignorance is obvious and this is no place for insults.

    Since you are obviously not capable of understanding economics 101 I will not justify your comments by using any more of my time.

  • jeffe

    Sorry typo, Where does this nonsense come from that people who work in the government are not contributing to the economy?

    I should also remind people that is your working you pay taxes and buy stuff. You pay rent and mortgages. So how is it that a person working for the government is not doing this?

    The right wing rhetoric on the great rescission we are in does mirror what was being said about FDR in the 30′s, history does repeat itself on some ways.

    If it keeps going the way it is we will see a spike in violence, domestic, suicides, and eventually the possibility of riots.

  • Deb

    I have been unemployed for over a year and my only request…no demand! is that Congress – Democrat, Republican, Independent – actually do the WORK of getting the nation BACK TO WORK!

    Instead I feel like we, the electorate are “served” a toxic combination of crap – partisanship, egoism, fear-mongering, media-hysterics, etc. – all which result in NOTHING! And the experts, such as your panel today, do nothing but reiterate old, tired theories, which often are aligned with partisan politics AND FRANKLY DON”T MATTER!

    I am an educated professional, whose family has been devastated by this economic crisis – including my daughter (young lawyer), brother (master’s degreed engineer and master’s degreed teacher), and sister (master’s degreed social worker)…all the “right” levers that are supposed to mitigate the length of unemployment, our employability…yet here we are – educated talent and NO work. And everytime we apply for employment that requires less education/experience, we are told “we are over-qualified”!


  • JP


    Government employees are paid by the taxpayers and their job duties are for the benefit of the taxpayer, so it would be more accurate to say government workers are a net wash on the economy since they return what they take in another form

  • Margaret Painter

    Regarding the unemployment debate: (tried to get through on the phone; lines are very busy – no surprise!) I have been unemployed or underemployed for over 3 years now. I lost my last “career” job in April of 2007, abruptly, 10 days after telling my manager I had skin cancer and needed surgery. I was a single mom of 3, not too long divorced. I have an MS from an ivy league school in my profession and I *had* a great resume. I could NOT BUY A JOB. After my unemployment ran out after 6 months, I tried to sell my house. I started working as a sales clerk, in 3 different stores — 3 part-time jobs. It was tough; very tough and I still couldn’t make ends meet. I have applied for 1000s of jobs. Two years ago, I couldn’t get a simple office job because I was overqualified; I’ve become less “qualified” in the past 3 years. I had a contract job for a year with a big insurance company; I wanted to be hired permanently. I did an excellent job, but I was still ultimately “overqualified.” Bottom line: I could go on and on, but I will just say that I have worked hard and given my best EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE. I always thought that *surely* a decent job would happen if I kept working my hardest. It hasn’t. I continue to work in a hodge-podge of jobs that I am “overqualified” for, making nowhere near enough $. Unemployment benefits, for me, were a God-send. Benefits do not foster laziness; they allow us to feed our kids and give us hope. Maybe some people abuse the system, but I have never met any. Everyone I’ve ever met — rich or poor, whatever color — would rather work for their money. Thanks.

  • Gina

    Thanks for the article Greg; question now is this: how does one implement reform, when the reformers are being paid by those they’re supposed to be reforming? Many of the actions needed to turn this around are quickly labeled as “socialist” but when democracy is no longer available to all let alone working, how can reform help? Unemployment is just one more hit to the people and those 1% are starting to look more/more like a regime IMO.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Ray, it might be helpful to the Commonweal, our general well-being, if we came to a general recognition that “the look” doesn’t necessarily guarantee big contribution to the business.
    Example: In the county where I live there are several Ivy League colleges within a few miles, and one state university. Guess which institution supplies virtually ALL the judges in our courts? The state university. Apparently it supplied plenty of useful education.
    It is also known as a given that one starts out at the two-year community colleges (for the grounding, for one), and then if you want the feather in your cap of an Ivy League degree, switch to one of those. Supposedly the expensive colleges provide a better network of “connections,” but the connections cannot make up for real working skills.
    I’m thinking of Ms. Chapman, the Russian spy. Her degree was in higher finance. I can’t recall exactly what. But the way she really got her wings was by networking on the ground. Selling NYC apartments would be a good start. One might say the skill is the ability to network. But in her case, the objective was the networking itself, not the opportunity to target and deploy some skill set.
    One has to look hard to find out what skill will be needed and where to find the time and space to teach oneself that skill. But I think that’s where it’s at. Then, if someone needs that skill, they won’t care so much how you dress.

  • http://www.fantasticdimensions.com Marlin May

    Republicans, small “l” libertarians and Tea Partiers all say that the long term solution to the unemployment problem is creating new jobs through entrepreneurs creating new businesses, industries, etc.

    I propose the following experiment to see if, and how quickly this will work:

    1. Large tax breaks to venture capitalists based on the
    number of new ventures they fund, and the amounts of the funding.
    2. Federal tax relief to entrepreneurs creating new business not affiliated with existing businesses, ensuring the creation of truly new businesses.
    3. Federal assistance to states, counties and municipalities who provide similar assistance to truly new business.

    To satisfy the deficit spending hawks, funding for this could come through cuts in subsidies to large established industries.

  • Eugene Binda

    The reality is the jobs are not here they are over seas. When the banking institutions are only giving loans to new businesses with a business plans to build their products in China and abroad because of the low labor costs and health and safety regulations, then workers in the US will continue to be unemployed.

    These banks are the same institutions where we invest in them to reinvest in our communities and business. Instead the banks make it difficult for the small business to expand and jobs sit on the sidelines!

  • Greg

    Ellen, Tom: The fact that THIS audience is distracted by politics does not inspire hope that we’ve even begun to wrap our heads around the problem. All we’re talking about are band-aids.

    Maybe a future OnPoint can try to shed some light on how humanity’s bounty gets divided up.

  • Udo

    Let’s look at successfully deployed programs such as “Kurzarbeit”, the German word for a government subsidized program to prevent lay-offs, keep employment high, teach new skills and add stability to the labor market http://www.ing.com/ezonomics/showdoc.jsp?docid=422436_EN
    The cited Johns Hopkins University paper gives the details. “Kurzarbeit” is a civilized way to deal with unemployment in an economic crisis and far preferable to the barbaric methods we use here. Not only that – it also works.

  • JP


    There is no need to do a show on how humanity’s bounty gets divided up. It gets divided by how much good one does for humanity, if you are in the free world. If you are in a socialist country, the bounty is divided equally. The drug addict on the street is equal to the doctor in the hospital.

  • Elizabeth Dorsey

    I have 3 points to make re this mornings show. 1. I’d like to have asked JUDD GREG who commented that increased unemployment benefits will add to the problem–what evidence can he put forth to support his view? Or is the listening audience supposed to gain comfort or strength from his publicizing their honestly believed, but similarly unsubstantiated, view? Mr. Greg, you are too experienced to suggest we value your view simply because it is your view. 2. Jobs will be created in Mass when utilities and construction companies provide flagmen they hire for their jobs on or near roads and highways–jobs currently used to buffer employment of already adequately employed and often over deployed policemen–a win-win for cities and towns as well.3. Job loss in Ma largely affects while collar and skilled workers. Why do not these bolster their resumes by banding together to provide nontraditional tutorial services for private pay. Seems like a win-win. Let’s spend our energies thinking progressively? Tom, can we devote a program solely to ideas to jump start positive thinking?

  • Rob

    The discussion in Washington, the media and among the academics is discusting and misleading. The concept that the government has any ability to creat the needed jobs is pure political theater. I’ve been unemployed from an executive level job, for over 3 years. For the last 18 months I’ve been involved in developing an energy project in Kentucky, (without pay by the way). The state has done everything they can to encourage the project because they want to create jobs, but they cannot finance the project (they are broke too). The numbers work like this for our project. We are trying to create 55 jobs with average pay of $30/hr. We need 3 years and $550MM to build a factory to do this, or $10MM per job which stimulates 4-5 jobs in the local economy or about $2MM per job. So for the government to create jobs for all the unemployed we need to spend about $1 Trillion…every year. NOT POSSIBLE. They spent $1 trillion on the financial bail out and the banks and Wall Streed are actually not lending ANY of it. (this from high level executives at the investment banking instutions who tell us they have been directed to NOT LEND OR INVEST IN ANY PROJECT). Therefore our project cannot get the money to create those jobs. SO SORRY! Hedge funds will provide money at the equivelent of 15% interest, which essentially steals all the profits from future operations and precludes organic growth that would create more jobs down the road from new projects that could be funded from revenue from operations of this project.
    Our grovenment has TOTALLY FAILED to protect our people from the excesses of globalization and we need it fixed NOW. The labor and enginuity of the America People is the only real source of wealth for this country. The rest is a lie. Here’s a simple perscription:

    1. Extend unemployment benifits, there is no other short-term solution.
    2. Create new sources of income to run the Government while keeping investment money at home, (after all we don’t want 0 government like some countries that are in total shambles) Here’s two possibilities: 5% tax on all imports, ignore the dam treaties, and a 10% tax on all offshore investments to incourage money made in America to stay in America to stimulate organic economic growth.
    3. Make the Government smaller: Decrease Federal head-count (including contractors), except military, by 5% per year until the budget ballances. This forces the least valuable rats to walk the plank first.
    4. Make money available to re-develop American industry through a Federal direct lending agency like FrediMack at reasonable interest rates. 4.5% beats 15% hands down and generates lending at the state and local level.

    In 3-5 years, we would be back on our feet again and stronger than ever.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Non-socialist countries divide the spoils according to how much the individual contributes? Tell that to Tony whoever-it-was at BP. Tell that to the creators of short-selling self-serving bank shenanigers. How fair are we?
    Elizabeth, when my business had a slow spell in the late ’90s, I spent a few years helping out with an afterschool program in a public housing project. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It was so sad when my business picked up, and I had loans by then to pay off, so I was back in the saddle full-time, nonstop.
    But I’m not sure I understand how being unemployed creates such a disaster for one’s resume. There are plenty of nonpaying things that society needs, and in the salaried-type job I’d had for 20 years, there were a huge accumulation of deficits in my knowledge and experience. I needed to reconnect to the world in so many ways. A resume that shows you showed up and were responsible and grew with your field for x number of years, it doesn’t show that you lost during that time all other relevant citizenship scars and stars. Some are gainfully employed in ways that provide more than steady income. Some lucky people.

  • jeffe

    JP you will need to show me how people who work for the government are a wash on the economy. Taxes are a necessary part of the country. I need to see how the numbers add up.

    Also how does this theory of yours work with government subsides for industries such oil and gas and agriculture and the all the tax loopholes that wall street and the big banks enjoy. Not to mention big pharma.

  • Mari

    “I’ve been declined jobs because I’m too far away. What more does the government want me to do?”-Posted by Martha

    They want you (all of us,actually) to shut up, quit (y)our whining, stay out of sight and die very quickly. That’s all.

    Is that too hard a concept to grasp? Easy in theory, of course, like Hitler’s “final solution”, but difficult to implement if we’re actually paying attention to what’s happening all around us.

    Too bad there is no USA, anymore, to come to our rescue when we need it the most. The US government, Inc. is too busy playing “pottery barn” around the globe (U smash it- U own it) to give a damn about Americans at home.
    Let’s face it:
    We are a nation divided along economic/class lines. It’s all going to come to a very bad end, for everybody, eventually, even with the best and brightest “positive thinkers” cranking out the same old rhetoric ad infinitum. We need WORK, NOW! Nothing else will reverse this desperate trend.

  • jonas

    Some of your guests seem single mindedly focused on the idea that “entrepenours” are the best way to create jobs. And Bluestone, as is typical, is unwilling to challenge that unproven allegation. Atually what private business does is to use every excuse possible to lay people off, to cut wages and to downgrade benefits. As you must remember, during the so called clintonian boom, industry was laying people off like crazy, was cutting wages and was demanding give-backs of benefits.
    Yes, some jobs were created but they were all almost lesser jobs, without any job security and w/o benefits. And many of the unions, showing their lack of guts, went along.

    And, of course, the same happens during recssions.

  • TomK

    This is just another front in the long-term war on the middle class by the right. They steered all the income to the top with their tax cuts and deregulation, they shipped the middle-class jobs offshore with their bogus free trade, they turned clinton’t surplus into a huge deficit with their tax cuts and spending, they crashed the economy, and now they claim that the only way out is to cut the safety net.

    Forget the rhetoric, look at the results – the middle class will be smaller and poorer. The only mystery is why anyone but the wealthy would vote for anyone advocating such policies.

  • Mari

    “The only mystery is why anyone but the wealthy would vote for anyone advocating such policies.”-Posted by TomK

    No mystery, Tom. The word is “ignorance”. We are the dumbest people in the world, on purpose. Simple mathematics: There are 1% of Americans who are filthy rich. That leaves 99% at the bottom of the heap.
    Brother, can you spare a pitchfork?


    You are right on the money TomK. The rich realized that the govt providing for college & housing to the returning GI’s from WW2 created a decrease in their personal wealth. Those uppity middle-class folks were trying to break into the upper classes and their kids started stealing spots at colleges that are reserved for their entitled kids. More people living a better life left to little over for the rich. They have been fighting to reverse those gains ever since and ruin the middle-class. They will do whatever is neccessary to return the slave-labor/robber barons times. Guess what, they are winning too.


    Mari, you are funny in such a sad way! You speak truth to those who refuse to listen!! We (americans) are going to be our own downfall because of our stupidity.

  • d m nolan

    Isn’t the Heritage Foundation just a propaganda organ of the Republican Party? The religion of the market. What rubbish.

  • mark

    All part of the plan! Destroy the poor and wipe out the middle class! Economic warfare!

  • JP


    When you take your first college level econ course you will be taught within the first two weeks that corporations and other non living entities can not pay taxes, they can only pass taxes on to the consumers of their products.

    So any tax loopholes or other tax breaks for companies are passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices.

  • Mari

    “We (americans) are going to be our own downfall because of our stupidity.” -Posted by CHRIS M

    Make that “willful stupidity” and you’ve got my vote, Chris. “There are none so deaf and dishonest as those who WILL not listen to the truth.”
    It may be gallows-humor but anything that makes a smile appear on the faces of us down-and-outers is better than enduring the grim realities we’re all up against alone and scowling. The Republicans have trademarked the “American scowl”, you know, and they’ll sue your butt for billions if they catch you using it without their licensed permission. Oh, and don’t forget to give ‘em your credit card number, up front :)

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com MOHAMMED N. RAZAVI

    Other than the fact, mentioned above, that only defense related companies are making money, the stimulus is failing because the companies are increasing profits by improving productivity , i.e. laying of workers and moving jobs and factories overseas, where the stimulus money is going anyway.
    After world war II, there were unmet needs, people wanted cars, refrigerators, washers,air conditioning, all produced in this country, and they were buying houses made by American laborers. Now housing is down and no one really needs a car or a fridge or air conditioner immediately, and most of the stuff is made overseas any way. You can not buy any of these things that made here. So no jobs are created. Back then marginal tax rates were 75% range, thus the money was returned to the government to be recycled over and over again. A consumer economy can not prosper, and we lost our country watching reality TV and buying things we do not need. Education can not get you a job because we live on a “flat earth” what you want to do an Indian or a Pakistani or a Chinese will do it for one tenth of the cost, First thing we need to do is to ban all the MBA’ courses that have brought us to this misery. Why do we still believe these professors and the economists have a solution, they have caused this wreck in the first place.

  • William

    I don’t think many of the jobs lost will be coming back anytime soon. We were in a massive real estate bubble and that bubble still working itself out. I would think those that are unemployed for long term are going to have to move to a state that is actually growing and creating jobs without government assistance. Any of these “make work” jobs will be short term at best. I just visited Houston and that city is doing very well and most people that want to work seem to be able to find it.

  • Jacob

    100 billion dollars a year is too much money to borrow from the Chinese etc…The Democrates need to cut back on other spending plans to fund any extension of unemployment payments.

  • CBK

    No one is talking about the larger problem which is the growth of disparity in the distribution of wealth among those who ARE in the labor force. “Jobs” are definitively NOT the answer; “good jobs” – which have been on the way out since the early 1970s – are what is required.

    First, one needs to be aware of the longitudinal decline of the average worker’s wealth since the early 1970s. The real dollar value of min. wage in 1968 was $9.47 (2007 USD), now – and only after a bitter fight in Congress – it it’s real dollar value is less than $7.25. In parallel to this downward shift in min. wage, the median real dollar value of wages has fallen by over 30% since the late 1960s. By comparison, using 2010 USD equivalents, the hourly minimum wages of many other developed nations currently outstrip those of the United States. For example: Australia (12.42 USD), Canada (Ontario: 9.89 USD), France (11.11 USD), Ireland (10.89 USD), New Zealand (9.02 USD), Netherlands (10.16 USD), UK (8.69 USD).

    By 2007, 1% of the population owned 34.6% of total net worth, the next 15% owned 50.5% of net worth and the last 80% claimed but 15.0%. Net worth parity peaked in 1976 and has been consistently falling since then. In 2010, just 400 individual US citizens own 1.27 Trillion USD (down from 1.57 Trillion USD at the start of 2009). In 1982 the combined net worth of the 400 represented 2.8 percent of the GDP. By 2006 that figure had risen to 9.5 percent (the percentage actually reached 12.2 percent of the GDP in 2000, during the Internet boom). To summarize it differently, in 1985, the combined wealth of the Forbes 400 was $238 billion, adjusted for inflation. In 2005, the 400 richest people in America were together worth $1.13 trillion. To put that number in perspective, $1.13 trillion was in 2005 more than the gross domestic product of Canada (as well as the G.D.P. of Switzerland, Poland, Norway and Greece – combined).

    As one would expect, during the boom era of great American prosperity, from 1933-1983, the highest marginal income tax bracket fledged between 75% – 80%. Since 1990, it has sat at a mere 35% and median wages have continued to fall while managerial salaries have shot through the roof. In 1980, the ratio between the average worker’s pay and the highest paid worker’s pay in a Fortune 500 company was 1:42 (this is a similar ratio to, until very recently, that of our greatest competitors, Germany and Japan). By 2000, this pay gap had widened to 1:500 in the US. In 2007, the ratio was 1:411. Big surprise.

    Unsurprisingly, it was only in the late 1920s – the height of the first American gilded age, the age before the social democracy initiatives of the New Deal and the tax hikes and corporate regulation initiatives it instituted – that such disparity figures had been previously seen in this country. The “middle class” phenomena was built on the mandates of the New Deal which allowed, for a few decades, the engine of American capitalism to return, with at least some measure of consistency, to those who built and ran it: the workers, professionals, engineers, experts, intellectuals.

    Thus, in the last 4 decades, while poverty has increased, while real wages declined, while retirement benefits were cut, while tuition and health care costs quadrupled, real dollar GDP has skyrocketed, productivity has boomed and profits have gone through the roof. The statistics speak squarely against the trickle-down “supply side” economic policies that began to take center stage in the early 1980s – overall growth has NOT meant greater wealth for the average working person (even as this individual has become increasingly specialized and more educated since the early 1980s). The tide does NOT raise all boats. For this, regulation of the corporate compensation system, of financial markets, and the public insurance of opportunities and basic benefits is required.

    Since the great economic collapse of 2007-2009, some who pride themselves as Centrists speak of the need for “shareholder responsibility” or, more controversially, the need to regulate the runaway derivatives market. But who owns these shares? The very ones who so “irresponsibly” tried to inflate earnings reports and hide liabilities in order to generate quick spikes in share prices. Are they to be made responsible to themselves? In 2007, in terms of types of financial wealth, the top 1% of households had 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, it can be said that just 10% of the people own the United States of America. Thus, while regulations of trading practices would undoubtedly induce more stability into the financial markets, would this translate into prosperity for the majority of workers? Would it even ensure that the downward wealth trend would not continue?

    Not only is the average citizen more wealthy and is wealth more evenly distributed in the industrialized nations with strong traditions of social democracy and labor justice, these countries populations are not burdened with the enormous entry cost to higher education, and out-of-pocket health care expenses. During any 17-year period from 1958 to 2001 in the US, the average annual tuition inflation rate was between 6% and 9%, ranging from 1.2 times general inflation to 2.1 times general inflation. On average, US tuition tends to increase about 8% per year. An 8% college inflation rate means that the cost of college doubles every nine years. This of course stands in stark contrast to publicly funded higher ed. systems of Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, etc., which are competitive with our own system but which burden the citizenry with a fraction of the cost.

    Similarly, the US currently spends over TWICE the amount $ per capita on health care costs of any nation in the world – with far worse returns. Of those 75% of Americans who do have access to some form of coverage, high deductibles, coverage gaps, caps, cutoffs and other limitations make medical bankruptcy the leading cause of financial ruin in the US today, where this problem does not exist for any of our competitor nations. Not only are many “covered” individuals severely limited in their care options, in 2009, 14.8% of the population had no coverage at all! Furthermore, the burden of this cost is, in comparison to the publicly funded systems of the civilized countries, drastically shifted to the average worker, as very little regulation is in place in most states to control rate increases. As the Obamacare reforms have not gone fully into effect, only 1 state in 2010 has a mandate of any kind to ensure the coverage of its inhabitants. Instead of talking about limiting rates of return for insurers and hospitals, why not propose the even more radical proposal in place in the majority of our international competitors: no rate of return whatsoever!

    To corporate-purchased politicians (the entire Republican caucus), EVERY TAX is a job killing tax: this couldn’t be further from the truth. The consumer economy was built on the “middle class” created by the institution of the min. wage, the GI bill, the 40 hour work week, unemployment and workplace safety regulations. Not surprisingly, since the mid-1960s, union membership has fallen by more than half by 2010. With this decline in organized labor and the accompanying outsourcing of American production to low-to-no-wage slave zones overseas, we have seen wages and wealth fall for the great majority of the population in the United States. Meanwhile, though marginal rates have been more than halved for the wealthy since the early 1980s, taxes for the masses – those whose wealth has plummeted in the same period – have remain mostly unchanged.

    Those backbone policies which ensured that the capitalist engine would work to transform serfs into homeowners are under fire on every front. As more and more people slip into low or no wage poverty, their buying power will vanish and with it the wealth engine that created the empire of the superrich. But the superrich who own us today do not care about expanding their legacy to the anonymous profiteers of tomorrow. As the population climbs from 308 million in 2010 to 438 million in 2050, wages will continue to fall, benefits cut, higher ed. costs increase and opportunities to climb into the famed “middle class” made sparer and sparer. With it – fewer will be buying, those that buy will buy less – the numbers of the plutocracy will also dwindle and the splendor of their fortunes…but those that do rule will rule with an even tighter fist.

    Citizens of the wealthy nation states need to demand just remuneration from their employers through a few essential measures:
    1. A higher minimum wage – I suggest we mimic Ontario with $11.11 – pegged with iron bolts to the Consumer Price Index (like Oregon, Missouri and Montana).
    2. Minimum to maximum wage ratios within companies. The lowest compensated employee should make no less than 1/45 of the highest compensated employee. Contracting laws should be adjusted and/or strictly enforced to ensure that companies don’t attempt to utilize an army of “non-employee” workers.
    3. The enforcement of compensation guidelines and fair labor standards for all overseas contractors and employees of US companies. No company that operates or sells within the US should be able to employ sweatshop labor. I suggest setting the base remuneration rate for such contracted factories and employees at 1/2 to 2/3 the Purchasing Power Parity value of US min. wage. Maximum hours should be limited to 48/wk for any such worker. Any company that violated such laws would be not only fined, but dissolved. This would be not only to serve a humanitarian end, but to put a stop to Global Wage Arbitrage, which is a major contributing factor to unemployment and compensation decline in the US.
    4. Vigorous anti-trust, anti-monopoly measures that seek to preserve maximal competitiveness in key sectors of the US economy: banking and finance, digital technology, food production, retail, etc. Corporate tax breaks, exemptions, grants and very low to no interest loans should be dished out generously to co-operatively owned companies, small to med. sized businesses with strong ESOP agreements and small operations in general. Shifting back the value of the US economy away from the owner class and into the hands the innovators and hard-working masses who generate it begins with increased competitiveness. Otherwise, the wealth siphons upward towards management and a few giant investors (who are often themselves managers).
    5. Universal, public health insurance with optional private insurance (like Canada, France, Germany and the UK. We’ll end up paying, collectively, 1/2 per capita than we already pay with much better outcomes). We need to put an end to the era in which we require children to learn to read but do not provide for their basic survival, should they come down with TB, acute tonsillitis, etc.
    6. In addition to a significant increase in funding for primary and secondary education (I suggest increasing the compulsory ed. budget by at least 20% per capita) we need to institute public subsidizing of higher ed., with tuition fees regulated to levels that can be payed off with a 7% – 10% salary contribution of minimum wage income within 10 years. The entry cost to what may very well end up being a low-end job should not supersede the remunerative value of that very job! By any reasonable assessment, what we have in place is a large-scale program of indentured debt servitude.

    Public (and private) universities should be freed from unnecessary regulations to pursue innovative fund-raising opportunities that can simultaneously create jobs for their graduates and local communities. In addition to various forms of tax exemption, state universities could be permitted and encouraged to develop or acquire a wide variety of commercial outlets – with ensured just wages and benefits – consulting firms, retail and technology operations to generate the funding necessary to maintain high quality faculty and instructional quality while ensuring much more affordable tuition rates than currently.
    7. To fund such mandates – RESTORE the pre-1980 income tax levels to the top 3 quintiles that were stripped away during Reaganomics. The rates served us well for over 50 years of growth and widening prosperity…a little stagflation from the late 70s-early 80s (which probably had a lot to do with the 1973 oil crisis, the overspending of the Vietnam war, as well as the rapid increase of the $ supply associated with the shift off the Gold Standard and collapse of the Breton-Woods System) should not have caused the baby to be thrown out with the bath water.

    In addition to this and other taxes that can and absolutely should be devised to ensure a competitive, just and sustainable social, technological and and financial infrastructure, the increase of consumer spending that will result from the added wealth given back to the average worker through higher wages, lower ed. and healthcare costs will stimulate the economy far faster than leaving the coffers of the behemoths unscathed. If that increased wealth is, through serious anti-trust/pro-competitive measures, allowed to be spent at small-to-med. sized operations instead of large, publicly traded corporations (whose stock prices often INCREASE in direct proportion to DECREASED wages and benefits), a natural self-replenishing distribution will take place, as $ is transfered into more hands than those of the monopoly capitalist plutocracy. The rise of the consumer sector made the US an economic superpower and it was based upon, along with a large, war-free territory with plenty of natural resources and a relatively developed infrastructure, a broader distribution of wealth than had been previously attainable in the western countries. We need to TAKE BACK THE GDP that we continue to create instead of getting pushed, little by little, into the alleyway or, if lucky, a transitional housing unit that we fight to maintain by working tirelessly at a dead-end without overtime or benefits.
    7. Congress should be required to set a pre-established cap to military and defense appropriations for conflicts not engaged in response to direct attacks on US soil, to be adjusted no more than biannually, regardless of the conditions that may or may not develop on the ground. It is now firmly established that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on Dick Cheney and the CIA’s fabrication of “evidence” (the Habbush letter, etc.) falsely linking Sadaam Hussein’s regime to the training of Sept. 11th Al-Queda combatant Mohammed Atta, as well as illusory shipments of uranium from Niger for non-existent weapons of mass destruction (see the Pulitzer Prize winning NYT reporter Ron Suskind’s 2008 book, The Way of The World). It was an oil war, a war to garner lucrative private contracts (Haliburton, Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp International, Draper Labs, Lockeed Martin, etc.), a war for covert US interests but not a war of self-protection, humanitarian concern or anything remotely resembling justice. Perhaps such a pre-established budget cap for military expenditures would force congress to reign in such useless and devastating warfare initiatives and instead spend our $ improving our society, our prosperity, our contribution to humanity at large.
    8. A public works administration should be revived that specifically works with economists, business experts and sector specialists to create “starter operations” comprised of newly hired unemployed workers that work in a variety of capacities – some commercial – under public supervision and funding for a time and are then strategically transformed into self-sustaining for or not-for-profit organizations that continue to employ those involved in the publicly funded starter operation. Those larger projects that are by nature not directly monetizable in a private setting should be devised in light of goals for large scale, long-term infrastructural and social improvement: a massive, high-speed bullet train connecting Boston to DC; an upgrading of our air-traffic control system to satellite GPS versus ground tower signaling. “Shovel-ready” projects run the risk of leaving negligible or even results while depleting precious public assets, without the promise of long-term added value to the economy, society or potential for innovation and development.

  • TomK

    Yes, CHRIS M, Reaganomics really is nothing more than the elite deciding that they were sick of contributing to a society with broad prosperity.

    The propaganda has been brilliant. Cutting taxes was going to stimulate the economy so much that it wouldn’t lead to deficits and cancelled programs. “Free trade” was going to stimulate the world economy so much that better new jobs would replace those boring old mfg jobs with good wages and benefits shipped overseas. Dismantling the regulations put in place to guarantee that the Great Depression couldn’t happen again was going to provide even more prosperity.

    Nothing but lies. If you look over time at how the middle class was doing and what the tax rates were, sticking to the facts and ignoring theories from the American Enterprise Institute, you can only conclude that all these tax cuts have helped the elite and hurt everyone else.

    Now that we’re in the mess they created, the clever voodoo economists are not rethinking and apologizing, but using the disaster to even further advance their class war. They have spun up the illusion that America’s #1 concern is the deficit, and to fix it we must cut the safety net. Make no mistake, like unemployment, SS, medicare, and everything else will be under attack.

    One really interesting thing to me is that the tax cuts for the rich would have been impossible if the gvt had not been borrowing from SS, but the right goes berserk when it’s suggested that taxes might need to be raised at the top to honor the SS bonds.

  • Brett

    The only poetry I’ve ever taken the trouble to memorize enough to recite by heart has been Dylan Thomas’; it is very musical, after all. I have probably memorized at least 500 songs for performance, though!

  • Brett

    Oops, sorry, wrong forum! ;-)

  • William

    The caller that talked about the increasing anti-business attitude by the Obama administration has a very good point. FDR had the same type of anti-business attitude and prolonged the Great Depression for years.


    By 1935 the Nation had achieved some measure of recovery, but businessmen and bankers were turning more and more against Roosevelt’s New Deal program. They feared his experiments, were appalled because he had taken the Nation off the gold standard and allowed deficits in the budget, and disliked the concessions to labor. Roosevelt responded with a new program of reform: Social Security, heavier taxes on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed.
    Home • About the White House • Presidents

    What was that William? Seems like FDR was doing pretty well helping out the REAL Americans, but not with Bankers & Businessmen, go figure?? Not much has changed.

  • TomK

    Wow, Obama is “anti business”!! Funny how health care stocks surged after he failed to deliver national health care, and funny how the banks are bigger and more powerful than ever. Those “anti-business” radicals like Summers and Geithner are practically communists, right?

    On the political scale, I think Obama and Mitt Romney are about the same. I was hoping for a liberal and I got a moderate republican!

  • William

    CHRIS M – FDR seems like an odd duck when you study his “experiments”. Did they reduce unemployment or just prolong the depression? He could not even be honest enough to call Social Security a tax, and sold it as “insurance”. Who are those ‘REAL” Americans? I always thought Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Gordon Moore, Steve Jobs were “REAL” Americans. They created a huge amount of jobs and wealth.


    William, I’m sorry but FDR did not prolong the Depression, being forced to ease up on his policies prolonged the Depression. What got us out of it was WW2 and the boom it brought, but we already have 2 wars going and we don’t manufacture anything is the good ole USA anymore so that won’t work for us now. And yes, I believe giving people a leg up out of poverty will only improve our society in general. The REAL AMERICANS are folks who live,work,& breathe to support our wonderful country. I have more respect for the farmer,the carpenter, otr a CSR who earn their living from the sweat of their brows than any of the folks you referenced. These are the middle-class people who are being screwed right now and no one seems to care.

  • http://www.onpointradio.org Tom

    I just heard former Republican senator Alan Simpson complaining that in order to fly first class from his home in Cody, WY, to Washington, DC, when working on government business, he had to pay the difference between coach (for which the U.S. Government reimbursed him) and first class. And then it got worse. Our government is so penurious, that his per diem did not cover the costs of his lodging and meals. Again, he had to cover the difference. And all this on his guaranteed, inflation-proof, government pension. I’m sure he is well taken care of in terms of his medical coverage. He manifested little sympathy for those who, through no fault of their own, had lost their jobs and medical coverage (largely owing to his support of policies which put them there). His advice? We just have to learn to live within our means.

    As a man of substantial means, that’s easy for him to say.

  • William

    CHRIS M – FDR economic ideas failed and he prolonged the depression. He should have lowered taxes and got out of the way. We have signed one too many ‘free trade” agreements and now we pay the price. It is interesting to see none of the MSM even attempts to look at the “free trade” agreements and see if we should dump them. The problem with the slogan “real Americans” tends to bring on the class war idea which is pointless. We need more Bill Gates and Gordon Moore more than Johnny Plumber or Sally the truck driver. Johnny and Sally don’t create wealth, hire anyone, build a business.

  • informed American

    That 787 billion dollar stimulus package (that was jammed down our throats) did a really great job of putting Americans back to work.

  • Harry Toder

    I want to respond to Lara(10:13 a.m.). What makes his wife think this guy is ever going to get employed at Georgetown or Columbia? If I were him, I’d go for whatever is out there, including the community college option. I think it looks worse to have a gap in one’s resume than to take a job that maybe is not quite commensurate with one’s education.

    Harry Toder

  • Bill

    I think Katherine Newman has it right, with several additional comments. If the government hires unemployed workers (using the equivalent unemployment compensation to pay the hired workers), not only can permanent, useful infrastructure (and other) projects be accomplished, but those workers will have incomes that they can use to spend in the economy, pay mortgages, etc.- as well as pay taxes. If those jobs have enough “long term” security (ie, until the economy is well on its way to recovery, including lowering unemployment in non-government jobs), and there are enough of those jobs, that should give many businesses (old and new) significant confidence to expand. This would create an upward spiral of businesses hiring again, workers (both old and newly hired) feeling more secure with their jobs (the economy is indeed improving if businesses are hiring), and therefore more willing to spend- furthur improving the economy.
    I can’t see how businesses (old or startups) are going to hire and make investments in their businesses (much less banks make loans) if they perceive there is unacceptable risk that they can sell their products/services when consumer confidence is so very low (many people are reluctant to spend, due to job insecurity, confidence in the economy, etc.) I don’t see how tax breaks to businesses or entrepeneurs, decreased regulations, subsidies, etc. are going to entice businesses to hire in the short term if they don’t think they can sell their products/services. In the long term when the economy and uneployment are more stable, such policies will help, but even then, it can take significant time before they have the desired effect.
    Again, large scale, relatively long term hiring NOW can fulfill the desired conditions for improving the economy and reducing unemployment. Since private and public businesses (and banks) are unlikely to take the risk, only the government can do it. As much as I would like the government (and politicians) keep out of busineeses, I think this is the only way to make significant progress in as short a time as possible; and perhaps avoid a double dip recovery much lass a depression.

  • engineer

    I listened to this morning’s program and thought about the time when I was unemployed after graduating with an engineering degree in 1971. Engineers were a dime-a-dozen back then and after three months of searching for a job, I decided to take anything. So I worked three jobs: drove school bus during the day, worked for an insurance company part-time evenings, and sold plants and other garden materials on the weekends. I had disposable income but no benefits and little free time, remaining in this situation for two years until I was able to get a full-time engineering job. The way I see it, if all those unemployed took as many of the lowest paying jobs that they could handle, several things happen: they are not unemployed, they take the jobs away from illegal immigrants, and they develop a work ethic that shines through on a resume. Let’s face it, if you land a job interview in your chosen profession, the employer is already interested in you based on your resume. What the employer is looking to do in the interview is separate out the the ideal candidate from the rest, so chatting about your resume accomplishments doesn’t get you anywhere. But proudly explaining how you cobbled together a decent income by working hard and long hours goes a long way towards convincing your prospective employer that the search has ended and you’re the one they need and want. I don’t buy the excuses that not working in your career field hurts you professionally. If nothing else, it gives you a clue about life from a different perspective and you make friends that you might not otherwise ever have had the chance to meet. All situations are not the same, of course, but if you want to work, the work is out there whether it be dog-walking, house-cleaning, gutter-cleaning, elder care, tutoring, house painting …

  • Alison Devi

    I’m guessing the guests all have tenure? From their standpoint, it’s all academic. Easy for them to ‘observe’.

  • jeffe

    JP so you are claiming that corporations do not have to pay taxes on the profits they make. Interesting concept.

    So if you’re correct than why are all these corporations paying all these high priced accountants to find loopholes and lobbyist to find subsidies, pork projects and ways of getting out of regulations.

  • Jim Rubin

    I have been out of work for over a year, now. I’m over sixty and have been doing my part for over 50 years: working, paying taxes and educating myself. I’ve sent resumes to companies wherever there was a job listing and heard nothing back. I find it really disturbing when these welfare job politians and their allies call unemployed people names or tell them to pick up a shovel. I would venture to say that the majority of the unemployed would accept most jobs if they were available, unfortunately millions of jobs have been exported and will probably never return.

  • Greg

    Listening to your show, as Katherine suggested, there is much human capital that is going to rot. I love her suggestion of direct job creation, and I saw a Facebook posting a couple of weeks ago that suggested that we reinstate the Civilian Conservation Corps, giving them jobs doing things like cleaning up the Gulf, or transforming our energy grid to a more sustainable system.

    But we can’t do that, because our political and social environment is so toxic, because anytime anyone suggests that the government create jobs, the Republicans scream “SOCIALISM”. Now James suggests that unemployment was high (15%), but as Katherine rightfully points out, 15% unemployment may look high compared to any other time, but it looks great compared to the 25% unemployment that we had under Republican Herbert Hoover.

  • Liz

    I have to wonder whether someone who thinks unemployment benefits today are a disincentive to go back to work is living in the same world I’m in. 1st: that position assumes that jobs are there. In the professional world that I’m in, the jobs are definitely NOT there. 2nd: unemployment benefits in most instances are not the equivalent of someone’s previous full-time salary. Unemployment barely pays the bills, so why would it be more attractive than one’s previous salary? 3rd: if someone can make more money on unemployment than a lesser-paying “honest” job yet unemployment barely covers your monthly expenses, what makes someone think that a person who takes a lesser-paying “honest” job would be able to make ends meet? 4th: when someone is on unemployment, one is essentially putting one’s career on hold. I know very few people — people who have worked hard at building their careers — who would prefer to let all that effort go for naught and stay “on the dole,” further damaging their career progress. 5th: new college graduates, particularly those who have been able to do internships in their chosen field, are usually eager to put their education and skills to use and begin their careers. These kids are not stupid, and realize that the longer they are forced to wait to enter the workforce, the more difficult it will be for them in the long run.
    The people I know who are out of work are desperate to go back to full-time employment in their field. They are putting in the equivalent of a full-time workweek in searching for a job: networking, rewriting resumes and cover letters to fit each individual opening, attending job-search seminars, and often doing volunteer work to keep their hand in, in their professional field. This is not the era where welfare was a life-long paycheck for generations of families; these are different times. Thinking that cutting unemployment benefits will force people back to work
    makes a number of assumptions that I do not believe are valid, and further punishes people who are already the victims of a bad economy. It’s too bad that banks and financial institutions that helped push the economy down the tubes through shady and sometimes unethical practices cannot be forced to help supplement what the government needs to spend to provide extended benefits.

  • Jim

    When Happiness Ended

    It’s finally caught up to us, what has, you ask, the exporting of American jobs. What do I mean it finally caught up to us? Well it goes like this, when we have what is considered full employment, everybody is fat and happy, we are all working and paying our taxes and our bills, and getting services that the tax money provides, and Happiness covers the land.

    Out there, somewhere deep in the bowels of Greedy Corporate America, big business and Wall Street, an Evil is being devised to deprive the middle class and the working class people of this Happiness. This Evil is in the form of the Sharks, (these are the executives of Corporate America looking for more ways to make more money which will make their bottom line look bigger so their companies will appear richer, and they will receive larger salaries and ridiculous bonuses (the Greed Game)), and the Leeches, (these are the unscrupulous politicians that will do anything for the Sharks to stay in political office, all the Sharks need to do is contribute to Leeches re-election campaign funds). So the Sharks seek out the Leeches to create and cement deals. One of these unfortunate deals was to export American jobs. Since then, big business has gotten its way and the American worker has suffered, loosing their jobs weekly. There have been millions of jobs lost and jobs exported. With the lose of jobs, workers could lose their self respect, or their dignity, but with certainty they loose their ability to pay there bills, also, there is no Federal or State tax revenue to pay for services. The State must now lay off employees in the form of Teachers, Police, Fire Fighters, Health care professional and more. Cities and States are on the verge of collapse, but guess what, the Sharks have made large profits and the Leeches are still in politics.

    The corporate executives have made and are making millions of dollars in bonuses, whether they were dismissed from their job or not, and big business is still not paying its fare share in taxes.

    Even when the government tries to help some big businesses stay afloat some politicians (the Leeches) cry foul and say that you can’t spend tax payers money to help the economy and the country from becoming worse off.

    Even when politicians try to create new legislation to control some of the Sharks and protect the economy and country the Leeches are against it. However, seeing that this would be an unpopular political position with elections coming up the Leeches backed off.

    We can now see whose jobs are most important, the workers, the middle class. Just open your eyes and look at the horrible recession were are in, Cities and States on the verge of collapse; teachers, fire fighters, police and healthcare professionals losing their jobs because there is not enough tax revenue coming in to cover there expenses, and this is due to the high unemployment rate of American Workers due to the exportation their jobs. The beneficiaries of the profits of exported jobs are the Sharks, who received ridiculous salaries and bonuses for this.

    By exporting jobs the Sharks are weakening the moral, social and economic fabric of the U.S.A.

    Here in California there is a person running for the Republican Parties senatorial candidacy, Carly Fiore. This person was the CEO of Hewlett Packard who laid-off thousands of workers and had their jobs exported. This person was dismissed from the company, but still walked away with millions of dollars in bonuses. Part of this person campaign slogan is to create jobs, How does she plan on doing that, by creating them in another country.

    By giving more tax breaks to business will only make their bottom line look better because they will not hire new workers.

  • Franci

    I have been unemployed since March 2008 and I would take any work rather than collect unemployment! When politicians and “experts” say we remain on jobless benefits rather than take less pay just have NO experience doing this. My benefits are done, so I am living on $0 per month. My savings will run out this year and my small retirement fund will be depleted quickly because I will pay a penalty for taking money out before 59 1/2.
    I am frustrated and discouraged.
    I hope to get work, but if you were a hiring manager, would you hire a 56 year old who hasn’t worked full time since 2008? I think not.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Sarah Palin — at SarahPak, as I recall it reported — is supporting candidates in the way presidential candidates do in advance of starting to campaign. I suppose she has some money now, thanks to the sale of her book last fall. Anyway, Jim, one of the politicians she is “helping” is Carly Fiorina, formerly CEO of HP, who is not especially in need of financial support, at all.
    I think a short-cut to finding out who the Sharks and Leeches are would be to see a list of who-all Sarah Palin is supporting financially.
    But look too at who is voting and why. Senator Feingold in Wisconsin is being challenged for not standing against the growing deficit sufficiently (per All Things Considered this evening).
    We will all be shooting ourselves in the foot — in the vote, if we don’t get very vocal and very explanatory, because blind anger can be pretty potent politically, and very, very dangerous to the future.

  • BrettG

    No one mentioned the loss of a healthy workforce that comes with unsupported unemployment.

    No mystery why Corporations aren’t “investing” is that they don’t have consumers/workers creating demand.

    The “gentleman” from The Heritage FDN should have his medications checked.

    The discussion is missing Dean Baker, Paul Krugman & his column today, Jeff Madrick, Simon Johnson, etc.

    It doesn’t matter how big the GOP/Soviet model of “Supply Side Economics” Supply is when no one has the money to buy down that supply inventory of goods/services, etc.

  • http://none Bill Zavatsky

    Is there no connection between the financial catastrophe that we find ourselves in and the two wars that we are fighting? Please speak to this issue!

  • BAS

    A completely timely and relevant discussion. More on this please.

    I can’t help but think that the chaos seemingly ahead of us requires stepping out of the tidy boxes and identities that guide our conversations- to take on more than one compartment (re cultural discourse / societal challenge) at a time.

    A luxury we can longer pretend?

  • david

    I have argued with some in this group that LIBERALISM DOES NOT WORK and that the course Obama has chosen will bankrupt the country. I have warned about the coming disaster, but it falls on deaf eyes. The liberals are so intoxicated that they have power once again, they can’t see the disaster coming, I do!
    Obama’s debt Commission results, former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, A DEMOCRAT, has stated that if Obama continues on his course we are headed for collapse. The accumulation of our annual deficits, he said, is “like a cancer” that is “truly going to destroy our country from within.”
    The next disaster will now be that Obama’s bunch will try to tax it’s way out of this, redistribution time!

    I talked to a lady who lived for 12 years in Canada.
    The reason they moved back to America was the Healthcare system. She states the system is crappy and some of her friends died while waiting to get medical help. A friend with colon cancer, had to wait 6 mns. to get treatment, she saved the system money, she died.

    And we wonder why big and small companies are spooked!

  • Walter

    I have been unemployed since July, 2009. I have been working some temp jobs, so I still have a few weeks of my initial 26 weeks of unemployment insurance left. I work in IT, and am highly experienced, but I cannot find full-time work. All IT jobs are being shipped overseas (mostly to India), or being filled by low-paid visa holders who have brought in to replace well-paid Americans.

    I am willing to take a considerable pay cut, up to 50 percent. However, no one will hire me for substantially less than I have been making. They are working on the obsolete idea that I will leave the job “as soon as things get better.” What they don’t understand is that thing won’t get substantially better for years, if ever.

    We don’t want unemployment insurance benefits; We want jobs. But until the new jobs are created, we need the benefits, that we have earned, to survive.

    The idea that unemployment benefits discourage people from working is absurd. The Republicans know this, and they are cynically trying to inflict as much pain on Americans as they can. They believe that if people are angry, they will vote out the Democratic incumbents. The Republican strategy is evil, and cold-hearted; I hope their strategy backfires on them in November.

  • BillJ

    Entrepreneurs create no wealth without employees, and yet they rule autocratically over their private dictatorships. All corporations should be converted by their employees into cooperatives, so that we all have the same democratic rights in the workplace that we have in our system of government. Then we can talk about enacting “pro-business” policies and not before.
    Check out the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives site for more info.


  • Mark

    I’m a member of the new “lost generation” of young adults who exited college into unemployment. I’d like to say I’m in favor of extending UI, but as someone who never got a full-time job out of the gate myself (and many friends) haven’t had the luxury to collect it!

  • Joel Pettlon

    I think unemployment benefits should be extended for now. The argument that unemployment benefits are keeping people from looking for cheaper jobs just doesn’t hold water. There aren’t any cheaper jobs to be had. We need to create jobs.

    I Agree with one caller that businesses need some types of government interference should be removed. The first obvious target is the tax system. Second, as the caller said, our government should clarify the rules instead of continually changing them. Third to change is the corporate lobbying system. Fourth, government should increase subsidizing of companies who’s products promote our national security.

    The payroll taxes raise the cost of labor compared to mechanizing. Get the money for Social Security and Medicaid from income taxes on high earners. This is a short-term fix.

    Medium-term, end the practice of calling subsidizing certain behaviors “tax breaks”. They’re subsidies. Many, especially in the Republican party, make a big dealabout people needing to fend for themselves, but they’re just choosing different people to re-distribute the wealth to and calling it something else. Making people do more work by having them file for the subsidies after the fact in their taxes instead of at the point of sale just makes more work for individuals and businesses.

    Long-term, a good possibility is flattening the tax system and going to a version of the “Fair Tax”, which has been sponsored by many representatives in both parties but currently needs more work to be viable. Much of the infrastructure for it is already there, since many states already collect sales taxes. You’d avoid how many of the rich currently shirk their duty to pay their share of taxes through loopholes and shelters in the tax code, lessening the burden for the honest citizens who do their part.

    Rules Clarification:
    After a crisis, many proposals are made for oversight of business practices. These are then watered down before any laws are passed. The things which get loop-holes or are removed completely invariably cause problems later. Later, they are watered down even further, causing even more problems.
    The safety provisions shouldn’t get watered down, but made in full.

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/07/downscale-work-and-the-unemployed#comments Bob VerBurg

    Extending unempl’t is a fraction of our economy. What about the two wars we’re fighting? Are those totally financed? The Republicans are willing to pay for two wars with deficits, but not unempl’t?

  • Harry Toder

    Thanks, “engineer”(7:10 p.m.).

    I think you’re absolutely right and your experience shows through.

  • Karen

    I am one of the millions unemployed attempting to find work within the United States and overseas, if they do not extend the benefits to those who can PROVE they are attempting to find work will cause more issues with the economy due to like in my case as many others loosing your home, banks will go under, the homeless rate will go up as will the crime rate. The unemployment payments will not pay all my bills and being over qualified for the small jobs causes longer unemployment. The government should also be looking into and legally charging the companies that advertise FAKE jobs on the internet which is a waste of time for the unemployed.

  • no one important

    Economic Slavery:Eroding Americans freedoms and independence
    Is this recession more than just an economic malaise? What results is the loss of independence and as I sit here reading Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That”, I can’t help but draw a parallel. What have we the unemployed lost, that the employed have not: Control and ownership of our lives. We have moved into a segment of the population that suffers the same losses as a drug addict, an abused partner, a marginalized citizen. I suppose this group has always existed in time, molded by various forces but the result is always the same. We no longer have the same privileges as the other. Ripped away is the society, the dream, the liberties determined not by documented guaranteed freedoms, but by a created, evolving, economic architecture that has been built for the purpose of creating a population easily exploited. Just as it suits a controlling, dominating, “owning” partner to subjugate the other, our American economic tiers of society have created a vast group of people that no longer have rights to American promises and what results is the loss of our constitutional rights, by a loss of our economic power. How convenient to those looking to make an extra buck on the back of the disadvantaged. How disruptive to a nations progress towards its maturity, its truth. Are our liberties, our freedoms our rights to be taken away from us, purchased and only for those with wealth? Do only those in the higher incomes deserve the dream? Is this no longer a nation, but a business enterprise, faking it, convincing us that all is still good and as was? I am not content to be swept into this population of owned. I am not satiated by temporary work and poverty, while those that hold the purse strings acquired in dirty dealings manipulate and take advantage of me. Slavery is still alive and well in America. It is economic slavery. It has been built into the architecture of our economy and it will ruin the promise of our nation if it is not dismantled. Economic sustainability is due to every American citizen and unfair advantage given to large and controlling corporations must be managed for the sustainability of our nation and to prevent the return of slavery and abuse. I don’t want unemployment, a low paying temporary job, a false loan that will end up with me losing my house. I want a real job, a real loan, a real mode of living in MY country, not some magnates’ empire where I am shoveled around to suit their purpose; I want leaders who believe in the promises of this country and who believe that economic slavery is wrong.

  • Bush’s fault

    Another predictable segment and comments. All Republican’s fault, raise taxes, limit profits, legislate pay, at least one caller trying to scare us with riots in the streets (probably the same staffer every time), and on and on. The real problem evidenced here today and everyday seems to be that the President has failed to bring the extremes together to move this country forward, and instead has pursued a drive to ram the Democrat’s agenda through. Until there is some reconciliation and compromise, we’re stuck. But that’s a good thing rather than create bigger problems with hasty initiatives. And yes, benefits could have been extended as a standalone bill.

  • H. Kahrobai

    The problem is that our politicians have a warped understanding of the term “patriotism”!

    I bet you if you put a war bill in front of our senators instead of healthcare or unemployment bills, you get an approved in no time at all and with no fanfare as we have seen in the past few decades.

    This country will not exist in the near future if our political system does not have a major overhaul with the nation’s priorities focused on domestic matters rather than our wars abroad.

  • Brian

    Please consider this:

    American CEOs are sitting on record amounts of cash on their balance sheet. Most US companies do not expect to spend any of their cash according to a recent survey. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/56e5f858-8228-11df-938f-00144feabdc0.html)

    Sitting on mountains of cash is the worst use of capital. Period.

    CEOs should be investing in the business, new products, or they should pay out dividends, or they should buy back their own stock. That would be best for their shareholders BUT also best for the U.S. Economy.

    The Association for Financial Professionals, surveying corporate financial planning executives in May, found that 80 per cent of groups expected their cash holdings to expand or stay the same over the next six months, contrary to expectations that cash could soon be used to fuel a further growth economic spurt.

    Why don’t you call American CEOs out on being bad for business by sitting on all this cash? I can hear the “sucking sound” as holding all this cash sucks out all of the stimulus and more by holding on to cash.

    This is corporate America’s dirty little secret about how UN-American they are — even in a time of economic crisis. They are not serving shareholders by sitting on this cash; they are not being good corporate citizens either.

  • no one important

    I would like to ask what happened to our economy to ask an Engineer to take a job digging a hole. An engineer should have a job being an engineer in this country. There should be opportunity for creation, innovation, for business building and I would like to address what got us to this point. No- An engineer should take a job as an engineer, not a hole digger, not for the engineer’s sake, but for AMERICAs sake. America should be healthy, innovative, creative and those forces that prevent that should be dismantled. The problem is not that there are no jobs, the problem is that we have become dysfunctional. My father was an engineer whose patents sold all over the world 40 years ago. Do you know what barriers an engineer faces today that prevent that from happening? Do you know how crushing it is to the economy to be holding its people back as, the system does now? It is not because America does not have bright and willing people, it is because the system is corrupt and broken and needs to be fixed. Our engineers need to be engineers. We have the ability, we have just been land locked by destructive policies. Made in American, designed by American, purchased in America; it is very simple, it is the answer, corporations are just focused on making their money overseas and our politicians are worker for corporations, NOT CITIZENS.

  • Joel Pettlon

    I think unemployment benefits should be extended for now. The argument that unemployment benefits are keeping people from looking for cheaper jobs just doesn’t hold water. There aren’t any cheaper jobs to be had. We need to create jobs.

    I’m not a fan of personal subsidies. In the long run, I think unemployment benefits should be eliminated completely. People should be encouraged to save money to use in hard times. Saved money can be used by banks to loan to businesses and create jobs. That’s how banks are supposed to work. (Nowadays they’re private debt facilitators instead, promoting financial irresponsability with easy to get, high rate credit cards. Recent legislation has partially fixed this.)

    I also think the government should carry no debt, that we should work toward a surplus until our debt is paid off. I think that we should balance our taxes and spending.

    I Agree with one caller that businesses need some types of government interference should be removed. The first obvious target is the tax system. Second, as the caller said, our government should clarify the rules instead of continually changing them. Third to change is the corporate lobbying system. Fourth, government should increase subsidizing of companies who’s products promote our national security(a stimulus).

    The payroll taxes raise the cost of labor compared to mechanizing. Get the money for Social Security and Medicaid from income taxes on high earners. This is a short-term fix.

    Medium-term, end the practice of calling subsidizing certain behaviors “tax breaks”. They’re subsidies. Many, especially in the Republican party, make a big dealabout people needing to fend for themselves, but they’re just choosing different people to re-distribute the wealth to and calling it something else. Making people do more work by having them file for the subsidies after the fact in their taxes instead of at the point of sale just makes more work for individuals and businesses.

    Long-term, a good possibility is flattening the tax system and going to a version of the “Fair Tax”, which has been sponsored by many representatives in both parties but currently needs more work to be viable. Much of the infrastructure for it is already there, since many states already collect sales taxes. You’d avoid how many of the rich currently shirk their duty to pay their share of taxes through loopholes and shelters in the tax code, lessening the burden for the honest citizens who do their part.

    Rules Clarification:
    After a crisis, many proposals are made for oversight of business practices. These are then watered down before any laws are passed. The things which get loop-holes or are removed completely invariably cause problems later. Later, they are watered down even further, causing even more problems.

    The safety provisions shouldn’t get watered down, but made in full. This way there’s no need for businesses to worry about wether or not new regulations are going to change the marketplace and they don’t have to go into the shady areas deregulation allows them in to be able to compete with other competitors who are going to do so.

    Corporate Lobying:
    Many of the shareholders don’t want to spend their money on lobyists and politicians. If they did, they could give it to lobying groups and politicians themselves. Corporate lobyists are, by definition, theft facilitators and democracy underminers. The money they are using belongs to the shareholders of the companies.

    It wastes businesses’ time and money. For company A to keep company B from using government contacts from screwing it, A has to pay for government contacts too. Company C which tries to do business just on it’s merits and would be more efficient than A or B from not spending time and money on lobbyists gets screwed by both A and B and has to either join in or fold.

    Corporations are not people. They’re collections of contracts, resources, and people put together to make or do something for people in exchange for money. Power is being given not to “the company”, but to the corporate leaders to spend the shareholders’ money on politics. It is a criminal act, it should be considered one.

    Security subsidy:
    We subsidize food growth in this country because we don’t want somebody to be able to cut us off. We also don’t want a bad year or three to cause us shortages. Electricity has become almost as necessary, yet we rely on imports for a large portion of it. Without it, both our civilian and military capabilties would crash.

    Oil, coal, and even nuclear aren’t going to fix that for us. Even if you don’t believe in global warming, the other polution from these power sources costs us heavily in health problems. and they’re getting harder, more dangerous, and more expensive to extract as we use up the most accessable deposits.

    Until recently, we didn’t have anything that could compete in price. Generators in dams (the most famous of which is the Hoover Dam built durring the great depression) have proven to have too many bad consequences for the areas around them. Wind is only strong and reliable enough in certain parts of the country, with transport to points of use wasting portions of it. biofuels are a long-standing bad joke, though another good attempt. Solar just couldn’t quite compete.

    Recently, thin film solar technology has made solar economical, but the production levels just aren’t there yet. The government recently put some money toward it, but it’s not nearly enough. We should be cranking out these production facilities all over the country. We’d finally be able to get off foreign energy saving us vast sums in the long run and we’d have jobs. I would like to see a few hundred billion put into this, maybe more, even if we have to run the deficit higher in the short-term.

  • Ellen Dibble

    No one important, reading your 9:25 post, I thought, there is information under these conclusions, and if the underlying information were laid out, that would be like added testimony, not a closing argument. We have lots of closing arguments. What is your specific experience that lets you see this.
    And I remind ourselves that children and adults under the Communist USSR and in China under Mao Tse-Tung were told to extol their system, that it was as good as religion, the unity, the belief in themselves and in progress. Their system was the greatest, worth fighting for and so on. It is hardly patriotic to be unquestioning, especially when so much is going wrong.
    So now I want to question in particular about engineers. It seems to me if the government came up with some infrastructure jobs — railway tracks, bike paths, bidirectional electric lines to carry my building’s energy out as well as your energy to me — that would not only employ those who wear hardhats but also engineers in great numbers. Not in permanent industries, but jobs that could last several years. Ditto for rebuilding Haiti. I hear that there is now a commission to help stream the pledged money in, and the people there now living in tent camps for the first time in their lives have running water, and are unlikely to want to leave the tent cities for their old quarters without these conveniences. And so, there will be money shelled out for re-engineering Haiti, and at a pretty quick clip.
    The mortgage deduction will not be available for people who need to move pronto, landing in apartments, and selling their homes at what might seem fire-sale prices, but the dream of the past coming back dies hard. I don’t hear a lot about outsourcing of jobs becoming illegal. Whoever posted that all businesses should be co-ops, owned by the workers — that was the basic communist idea. The means of production owned by the workers. But I don’t think the workers would outsource their own jobs. Unless they could make a big profit.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Joel, get me 450 times two congressmen/women to run on your platform. Give me one of those magic fishes that grants you three wishes. That’s wish one.

  • informed American

    The fact is that the economy is not going to improve until Barack Obama is either voted out of office, or impeached.

  • BillJ

    To Ellen Dibble:

    Cooperatives were not the basic communist idea. In Communism the Vanguard Party controls the state and substitutes itself for the workers and the corruption metastasizes from there. This is why the early Soviet cooperatives were suppressed and absorbed into the state apparatus within a few years of the revolution.

    I’m not talking about any government takeover Tea Party fantasies – I’m talking about, let’s say Wal-Mart for example being taken over and owned and managed by it’s employees and making the decisions they see fit, just like we all do every November. And you can bet their decisions would be very different than the current owners.

  • BillJ

    To no one important :

    Thank you for your posts. they very eloquently describe my experience, both externally and internally, after 2 years and counting of unemployment. I got a Masters in Library Science and Archives, and I’m about to start looking for supermarket jobs.

    Your style reminds me of a great book I just read, a non-fiction book by the mystery writer Walter Moseley called “Workin’ On the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History-”

    “These new systems of injustice wear the trappings of freedom, but they are just as unacceptable as their forbears. The only difference is that under these systems we all suffer. This time everyone is the potential victim.”

    All the more reason why I say we need to reclaim our democracy from the “Divine Right of Capital” (another great book by Marjorie Kelly)and have it in our workplaces where we spend 40+ hours a week instead of once every four years in the election booth.

  • Ellen Dibble

    BillJ, I didn’t mean to criticize you, if you thought that. And I wasn’t speaking of communism with a capital C; I was speaking of the way Karl Marx was trying to understand what was going awry in a rapidly industrializing 19th century Europe. It wasn’t so much the monarchy any more that was cramping the style of everyone. It was more the way the power of money coagulating among the factory owners was corrupting the entire system.
    I think we are grappling with something similar, and the approach of employee ownership could be a very good solution. Not something theoretical like Karl Marx (which could be warped beyond recognition by a power-hungry tyrant like Stalin). It was a lie, an outright lie, to say that the workers owned their own resources in the USSR. At least as far as I can tell.
    But the idea of shared responsibility is pretty democratic (small d), and I believe I’ve lately read that we’ve engaged in taxation of ourselves way back into colonial times, in essence acknowledging our common interests.

  • NicK

    My background:
    B.Sc, US Veteran, 20-years in the workforce, 10 in professional IT (Hist/Philosophy degree).

    I have been unemployed for more than 2 years, I had to use my savings to survive (no assistance, I didn’t ask for it, I assumed it would be shor-term and I felt it was taking from someone else that needed it), I then ended up running out of money, then maxed the credit cards, again to survive, in an attemtp to “buy time” and at the end of that my 803 credit rating went, I moved into my car, and I sold, donated, or trashed eveything that wasn’t a “needed essencial” – I have been in my car now since Aug of 08 and in the last month I finally got an EBT card for food. I have sold things for gas funds, I just got a gym membership to allow showers… I have a PC, no phone, no address, no mail, no means of even contacting people other that email.

    My days are taken up with caring for myself, my cat and making sure things are workable… the few “jobs” I have had, have been far below my skills, provided no stability, and only lengthened the time I have been in the car.

    THE VA has DONE NOTHING for vets… My degree hasn’t proved ANY openings, and I have stopped looking over a year ago…

    I see two options, I can simply die/suicide myself to remove one “excess person in the population” or I can keep at this with now way out.

    Simply put the situation is beyond hope, I only post as I see a great many people are following in my wake. I hope not, but it does look like and end of our “republic” is close at hand. Good luck all.

  • BillJ

    To Ellen Dibble:

    Thanks for clarifying, and I agree with you. I’m just leery of using that word in today’s atmosphere because many people don’t know or care about distinctions between “c” & “C.” But yes the workers should own the means of production. Directly, and at the enterprise level. Not by the state or the Party in the name of the workers. That was/is Communism and Social Democracy, and I think we need to come up with some new isms and ditch these worm out old 20th century ones. Maybe “democracism.”

  • Michael Drew

    Actually, Rob, $1T per year for new-business capital-development loans like you mention (conditioned on hiring), market guarantees (i.e. gov’t ordering from private business), direct government job creation, payroll and other work-tax cuts and other hiring incentives, financed by intentional deficits at the very low rates the U.S. gov’t currently pays, until the momentum of recovery that would result became self-sustaining (probably 2 or 3 years at most) would be ENTIRELY doable, and an almost ideal Keyensian solution to the demand/liquidity trap we fins ourself stuck in now. If you down in Kentucky could get your two Senators, and perhaps a few more, to announce they would support such a three-year spending/loan/tax-cut job creation program, it would probably be law in less than a week. The resulting recovery would more than pay for the real cost of the programs.

  • Michael Drew

    NicK’s story, if true (and I’m not suggesting it isn’t), is a PERFECT illustration of why assistance to skilled (and unskilled) workers facing this economic meltdown is SO essential to preserving the human capital that builds up in the populace during the good times. His story is not necessary – by his own account he refused early assistance that is in place precisely to prevent him from experiencing the deterioration in his condition for work and finding work from joblessness due to economic downturn that he did. This is the destructive, pointless side to the American obsession with rugged individualism, whatever its moral upsides might be.

  • Bob G

    Re: unemployment there is some disincentive in extended unemployment as for me personally with unemployment it is worth about $10 an hour in that SS and medicaid is not deducted from these benefits. Consequently while I am looking I can be more selective and not look for lower wage jobs. A better approach might be to have extended benefits, after a time, serve as vouchers to employers to supplament higher wage jobs as this would both stimulate job creation as well as provide jobs for job seekers.

  • Bob G

    And how about finding ways to punish the multinational corporations which have sent most of our manufacturing and even IT jobs to China, India and other countries, by requiring that a certain percentage of jobs by companies being done here, before they can do business, to provide more jobs for our workers?

    Our political leaders need to remember that the goose that lays the golden egg is the private sector job. So how can we create more private sector jobs which pay taxes instead of the public sector which creates more deficites and weakens our economy?

  • tworivers

    “This is just another front in the long-term war on the middle class by the right. They steered all the income to the top with their tax cuts and deregulation, they shipped the middle-class jobs offshore with their bogus free trade, they turned clinton’t surplus into a huge deficit with their tax cuts and spending, they crashed the economy, and now they claim that the only way out is to cut the safety net.

    Forget the rhetoric, look at the results – the middle class will be smaller and poorer. The only mystery is why anyone but the wealthy would vote for anyone advocating such policies.”

    Well said, TomK!

    This process has been under way since 1980 (the beginning of Reagan’s presidency, and the beginning of the ascendancy of Milton Friedman’s economic theories). Every president since, including Clinton (under whom Glass-Steagall was repealed) have turned back many of the reforms that occurred during FDR’s presidency, and embraced deregulation. The end result? Boom and bust cycles that benefit only the wealthiest Americans, and a Middle Class whose standard of living is steadily decreasing.

    People like John Kyl (who doesn’t want to roll back Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, but is against extending unemployment benefits for long out of work people) are anti-Robin Hoods. They want to steal from the poor to give to the rich. And the Roberts-led court is right there with them, giving corporations unlimited spending power in political elections.

    At some point, the gap between the haves and have-nots is going become so great that there’s going to be a breaking point. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if change is not made soon…

  • jeffe

    I’m not a fan of personal subsidies. In the long run, I think unemployment benefits should be eliminated completely. People should be encouraged to save money to use in hard times. Saved money can be used by banks to loan to businesses and create jobs.

    OK this idea works if you make enough to save. After mortgage, bills, health insurance, I don’t even make enough to put money into my IRA let alone save for 18 months of unemployment. As to the banks, yeah that’s how it is supposed to work but it does not.

    Your other points are kind of interesting.
    We are sinking as country, and we are sinking fast.
    I’m underemployed and if I lose my job I’m done.
    the guy who lives in his car, well I wont let that happen to me. I’ll just do myself in before I’m homeless.
    Sorry, to me becoming homeless is worse than dieing and at my age it would most likely mean being dieing in the streets anyway. It’s about control for me.

  • TomK

    Yes, tworivers, Robert Reich summarizes nicely:

    “America’s median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class could boost its purchasing power was to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn’t pay their bills, and banks couldn’t collect.”

    The housing bubble kept the suckers happy while they were losing the war.

    “Each of America’s two biggest economic downturns over the last century has followed the same pattern. Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation’s total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America’s total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928–with 23.5 percent of the total.

    We all know what happened in the years immediately following these twin peaks–in 1929 and 2008.”

    The Bush crash wasn’t a “black swan” – it was exactly what we know we get when we let the capitalists run wild.

    “A second parallel links 1929 with 2008: when earnings accumulate at the top, people at the top invest their wealth in whatever assets seem most likely to attract other big investors. This causes the prices of certain assets–commodities, stocks, dot-coms or real estate–to become wildly inflated. Such speculative bubbles eventually burst, leaving behind mountains of near-worthless collateral.

    The crash of 2008 didn’t turn into another Great Depression because the government learned the importance of flooding the market with cash, thereby temporarily rescuing some stranded consumers and most big bankers. But the financial rescue didn’t change the economy’s underlying structure — median wages dropping while those at the top are raking in the lion’s share of income.

    That’s why America’s middle class still doesn’t have the purchasing power it needs to reboot the economy, and why the so-called recovery will be so tepid–maybe even leading to a double dip. It’s also why America will be vulnerable to even larger speculative booms and deeper busts in the years to come.”

    Extreme inequality is bad, bad, bad. We used to be committed to a middle class society. Now the right won’t even accept republican T. Roosevelt’s rationale for an estate tax.

  • Jeff Shires

    Maybe if we could get away from terms like “unemployed” and “foreclosure” and “economy” and focus on your brother who lost his job; or your friend who cannot pay the increased interest payment on her mortgage because she is working three part time jobs to feed the kids; or the fact that most Americans, who only have investments as part of a retirement package (and only if they have a retirement package)don’t care about the Dow Jones and instead care about how much the milk cost and if the Farmer’s Market has a good deal on vegetables.

    The economy is like the Afghanistan War right now–everyone is talking about the conditions on the ground and trying to change the conditions on the ground, but no one has a clue as to what those conditions are.

    Think tanks–pppffffttttt!!!!!

  • jeffe

    Just wait until wall street starts to speculate with the agricultural futures. Like they did in 2008 which made the cost of wheat go up to 25 a bushel. Which caused food riots all over Africa and India. There are some who are hoping the price of beef will go up by 400% making a pound of hamburger go up to about $20 a pound. Wait until this happens in the next few years and well will see food riots here.


  • Ellen Dibble

    jeffe, I always thought millionaires were the ones who went around living in their cars. It seemed a sense of entitlement and immortality, somehow linked to the car culture. My particular model was a biologist with an MA, and enough inheritance to coast, and the money was from a loss of both parents when she was about 20. She would go on research trips protecting tropical frogs and things like that. There always seemed to be something that would “turn up,” as so specifically DID NOT happen in Dickensian experiences of Mr. Micawber (right?). For this person, she simply never felt rooted and was content to call her car home; it matched her sense of belonging, not anymore to her forebears but to the world at large. And it makes a certain sad sense to me that a veteran would seem to feel both disowned (by the VA) and owned by the nation, by virtue of his/her service.
    I’ll see you at the soup kitchen in a few years. Hang in there.

  • Brett

    Oh, great, now there are at least two people ahead of me in the soup line!

  • wavre

    Somebody please tell me,

    If the banks and the corporations with the TARP money, are making more profits speculating and gambling in Wall Street at no risks to them at all,( but the rest of us!), how will the country gets out of recession????

    They have been given money to lend to restart the economy, That was the only reason for the bailout, but they have no incentives to lend, speculations with”Sophisticated instruments”,derivatives and other bogus “securities” are more profitable!!They’re paying themselves real money, based on fake wealth and phony accountings.With the complicity of the FED. It’s a bank robbery…but by the bankers, an inside job!

    We gave their sorry%$#@##$$ the bailout money, but now that they’re plundering it in big bonuses. Obama, Geitner, Emmanuel, Summer, the Congress, the courts are telling us that there is nothing they can do???!!!

    It seems to me that wall street and its practices are more a danger to our security than a bunch of terrorists on monkey bars in some remote desert.

  • jeffe

    What is interesting is how a lot of people are angry, scared, and on the way to being homeless and yet we are not taking to the streets. I’m as guilty as the next person in this regard. I’m scared to lose my job, everyone one I work with is. The management uses this against us and uses fear as a management style. Everyone is stressed out. A few weeks ago the people of Greece took to the streets in huge numbers to protest their governments austerity plans. In France the took to the streets over the government wanting to raise the retirement age to 62! I wish we had their problems. Alas here we sit, we the huddled masses, doing nothing. Well the Tea party bunch is protesting but it seems to me they have lost steam and you know what they can have the country back. If things keep going the way they are going it wont be much to have.

    I do think their will be riots in the next few years. I think the Republicans will gain enough seats in the house to stop the Democrats form doing anything. Government will fail, which is what they want. How patriotic.

  • Sally

    Just listening to this program now. I find all the talk of WWII and how it boosted the economy and lowered unemployment interesting in one aspect of the war that’s going unmentioned – the draft. A significant portion of the population was involved in the War, either serving or having a family member serving in combat. That is simply not the case nowadays, so while we may be at war as a country, it’s not the least bit comparable to that particular time and the economic “benefit” of WWII.

  • Philip Combs

    It says it all about this ‘show’ that it feels constrained to have a paid liar, for that is what he is, from the Heritage Institute, the ‘heritage’ of slavery perhaps, to fill the airwaves with assertions, mis-information and outright lies. Tom, you and your producers need to realize that we all out here in Citizen land are no longer Subjects ready to believe any sort of b.s. Corporate Slave State American asks you to put on. I listen to this show less and less because the folks who actually do know what they are talking about are being drowned out by you softball questions and the braying of the fools on the right you choose to provide ‘balance’.

    Go on over to Fox where you belong, pal.

  • tworivers

    Is it me, or does James Sherk’s voice sound almost like a parody of a blue-blooded country club Republican? He and Tucker Carlson and the ghosts of William Buckley and Thurston Howell III should hang out and have drinks at a tony Upper East Side watering hole.

  • http://FlusterCucked.blogspot.com Frank the Underemployed Professional

    Our politicians need to stop squabbling over how exactly to finance unemployment benefits and instead address the economic problems that cause unemployment–foreign outsourcing, H-1B and L-1 visas, and mass immigration.

    Almost none of our politicians will even acknowledge these problems, probably because they understand that the wealthy benefit from Americans being poor (cheap labor). Both of our political parties are almost exactly the same in these regards; they might as well be one party.

    We could institute tariffs and a zero-dollar trade deficit policy, and we could end the H-1B and L-1 visa programs and mass immigration, but that would force business owners to pay workers a larger fraction of a worker’s contribution to the act of wealth production. Instead, the wealthy and our politicians have chosen that a small percentage of the populace will be rich while the rest of us will be poor.

    Global Labor Arbitrage — Exporting American prosperity, importing third world poverty — one lost middle class job at a time. Are you ready to join the third world?

  • joshua

    Katterhen newman at prineton is way out of touch–not surprising since she hails from the elite out-of-touch classist Princeton–american have always struggled to put food on thetable–americans have always struggled to pay the bills and have always had to choose between bills, helath, and food—

    what you want to say is the privileged “middle-class” is not used to struggling to pay the bills.

  • joshua

    “not dignified to take unemployment”–nonsense–i know a lot construction workers who depend on unemployment in a job field that is always spotty.

    In a situation like this–where the elite government of corporations robbed us and are responsible for the death of many Americans, and large-scale suffering–unemployment is necessary in conjunction with creating new jobs–out of the box.

    End the wars. close down Pax American bases around the world. Regulate corporations and the environment. Create work-forces weatherizing America. Bring jobs back to america–regulate off-shoring and outsourcing so that is is very very difficult for corporations to rape america. Create universal health care. create rehab skill centers for the poor and disenfranchised. transform the farm bill–create new local organic farmers etc etc

    The truth is and is never mentioned–the elite–the corporations do not want to change the status quo–as long as there is a surplus of people they eep us in competition for our jobs–reducing us to wage-slaves willing to work for less and less–thats why they go to china. They will never never compromise. Thety will sooner kill us than build a green equal society.

    The fascist capitalist system must be destroyed! Resistance. revolution. Stop playing theri game–make you own way–make your jobs. opt out of their deceptive market–start a farm and start trading with neighbors. create a website where people with special skills can reach out and organize and create alternative markets out side the fascist capitalists that rule you! Link up! Start your job pools and cooperative businesses. What we need is a shadow society within the mainstream very very sick and poisonous society that is against us. NO to Nafta! NO to Cafta! No to China! No to WTO! Keep it local. get to know your neighbors and pull each other up! Wealth is not the goal. Community and happiness and health is! Life is a process not a race!

  • joshua

    Katherine newman is a complete stooge–the caller who said americans cant pay to play and corporations should train employers is Right-on. Education costs money nemwan-Stooge! Newman–voice for the elite status qou–voice against the people!

    Education is not making jobs–getting an education means nothing–you dont gain skills at university!!! Newman-stooge–do you know how many college graduates cant find a job–because there are no jobs and connections mean more than merit?!! Newman is of the elite and is sooooooooo out of touch! Voice of the elite–against America!

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

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Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

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