Texas Liberal

All People Matter

2000’s Warmest Decade On Record—You Can Advocate For Your Kids’ Future Or Not

NASA reports that the years between 2000 and 2009 were the warmest decade in the world on record so far.

(Above—Fallen Angels in Hell. Painted in 1841 by John Martin.)

From the New York Times story on the issue—

“The decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record, new surface temperature figures released Thursday by theNational Aeronautics and Space Administration show. The agency also found that 2009 was the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement began. The warmest year was 2005. The other hottest recorded years have all occurred since 1998, NASA said…James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that global temperatures varied because of changes in ocean heating and cooling cycles….“When we average temperature over 5 or 10 years to minimize that variability,” said Dr. Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists, “we find global warming is continuing unabated.”

Here is the full Times story.

Here is the NASA press release on the matter.

From the NASA release—

“Climate scientists agree that rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap incoming heat near the surface of the Earth and are the key factors causing the rise in temperatures since 1880, but these gases are not the only factors that can impact global temperatures….Three others key factors — including changes in the sun’s irradiance, oscillations of sea surface temperature in the tropics, and changes in aerosol levels — can also cause slight increases or decreases in the planet’s temperature. Overall, the evidence suggests that these effects are not enough to account for the global warming observed since 1880.”

I don’t have kids. I’m 42. I’ll be here for whatever remaining amount of time. Many years hopefully. I’ll get by one way or another. And I will remain involved because I think it is important to remain involved.

For those of you with kids, you can decide to take part in politics or not. You can have your kids live in a good world or a bad world. You can ask people you know to be involved in politics and advocacy.

You can leave your kids a world of rising oceans and a nation where nobody has health insurance, or you can do your best to make our nation and our world a decent place to live.

It is your call.

Here is a BBC story about the risk of food and water shortages around the world poised  by climate change.

Greenpeace is addressing global issues of climate change.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are American Workers Overpaid?—We Need To Find A Viable Economic Future

A recent New York Times story suggests that the wages Americans earn for manufacturing work may have to decline as much as 20% to remain competitive with global rivals.

From the story—

“Of course, workers in the United States should earn more than their peers in China, Moldova or Vietnam. Americans take advantage of the higher productivity that makes their country rich: better education and infrastructure, abundant capital and a strong work ethic. But how much higher should American wages be? The answer depends in large part on two measures: the difference in productivity in making goods that can be traded across borders, and the quantity of such goods. Both measures point to a narrowing wage gap. Many factors are raising productivity in poor countries. Fast development, cheap capital and more efficient shipping all help. Cheap communication via the Internet reduces costs and makes it easy to trade many more goods and especially services.The global wage gap has been narrowing, but recent labor market statistics in the United States suggest the adjustment has not gone far enough.

One indicator is unemployment, which has risen unexpectedly rapidly. The 7.3 million jobs lost are more than triple the 2 million during the 1980-82 recession. Some of that huge increase reflects the sharp decline in gross domestic product, but there could be another factor: the recession shows that many workers are paid more than they’re worth. Another possible sign is the huge surge in reported productivity, which has begun while output is declining. That suggests that some production is being outsourced, often to lower-paid foreign workers.

The big trade deficit is another sign of excessive pay for Americans. One explanation for the attractive prices of imported goods is that American workers are paid too much relative to their foreign peers.

Global wage convergence is great for the poor but tough on the overpaid. It’s possible to run the numbers to show that American manufacturing workers should take average real wage cuts of as much as 20 percent to get into global balance. The required cut may be smaller. But if American wages get stuck above global market-clearing levels, as in the 1930s, the result could well be something approaching Depression-era levels of unemployment. Anything would be better than that. Both moderate inflation to cut real wages and a further drop in the dollar’s real trade-weighted value might be acceptable.”

It is hard to look at the future and see good prospects for the average American worker. Most folks are never going to be able to find jobs in “knowledge industries” or whatever term is used at the moment to denote jobs for the relative articulate and skilled few in a country that has no real interest in educating all people. Why would our elite pay the taxes needed to create competitors for their children for the shrinking supply of good jobs? Where would a fully educated workforce find jobs?

This fact of a hard-pressed American labor force is one of many reasons the health care reform “debate” is so maddening. Where do people think they are going to find good benefits in the future? If government does not help provide good health insurance, where do people think it will come from as employers cut back?

The American Prospect, a liberal magazine of politics and views, has a series of articles that discuss the role regulation,  organizing by workers, and sound public policy can play in helping maintain a supply of good jobs in our country.

Regardless of one’s politics, how can anybody in this country look at the economic future and feel hopeful about the path ahead? The issue is not people in other countries who have a right to decent lives no different from anyone in the United States. The issue is what we do as working people here in America to make sure that we have  a viable future in a changing world.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments