Texas Liberal

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Two Weeks After Election, Republican Focus Remains On Everything But Jobs & Economy

It has been two weeks since Republicans made significant  gains across the country on Election Day.

The focus of the election was jobs and the economy. 56% of folks in a recent CBS News poll say the most important issue for the new Congress is jobs and the economy.

Yet as millions of Americans still deal with unemployment and underemployment, the Republican focus is on everything but jobs and the economy. Where incoming Republican governors have addressed jobs, it is to kill jobs by refusing already approved federal dollars for high-speed rail infrastructure projects.

Examples—

* Republicans in control of the House of Representatives are planning nearly 300 investigations of President Obama. The last time a Republican House went after a Democratic President, it led to a destructive impeachment process. What excesses will we see this time?

* Newly-elected Republican Governors are killing high-speed rail projects that will create jobs. In Wisconsin, soon-to-be Governor  Scott Walker received large amounts of campaign cash from road builders who have a direct interest in stopping rail projects. Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 7.8% in September.

* The Republican President of the Kentucky State Senate, David Williams, declared his allegiance to the Tea party and said  he supported repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment allows for the direct election of  U.S. Senators. Mr. Williams believes that returning election of Senators back to state legislatures would move our nation back to the limited measure of popular sovereignty first written into the constitution.  Many Tea Party supporters back this position.

Do you want to give your vote for United States Senator away? This is Tea party extremism in action.  In September of 2010, Kentucky had an unemployment rate of 10. 1%. Yet what the Republican President of the State Senate is discussing is no longer allowing the public to vote for U.S. Senate.

* In Texas, Governor Rick Perry and Republicans in the state legislature are considering pulling out of Medicaid and out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is being considered even though 3.6 million Texans use these programs. You can be certain that many in Republican rural Texas use these programs. Is this what these folks were voting for earlier this month? We’ll see about that when people find out that benefits are being cut.

What about all the people in Texas who work in jobs connected to health care? With such drastic cuts in funding, where will these people find work? Isn’t it good and honest work to be employed in health care so people can get better and go on with life? Where will we have any jobs in this society if we go after everything?

The leader of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann, spent her time spreading a lie that President Obama’s trip to India was costing 200 million dollars a day. This assertion was simply not true.

What exactly  is the point of undermining the President of the United States as he goes to visit a globally important nation like India?

For Republicans in Washington and in states across the nation, this election was not about jobs and the economy. Instead, the election was about extreme ideology that puts the jobs and the health of the American people at risk.

Anger at Washington is not going to get you a job. It is not going to pay the bills if you get sick. The Republican bait-and-switch is in already in evidence. These folks have no constructive thoughts.  It is the same anger-driven politics that led to President Clinton’s impeachment and to the placement of Sarah Palin on the national ticket two years ago.

It’s up to all of us to be aware of what is taking place, and to make sure that Congress is focused on jobs and the economy and not on sideshow hearings and ideological tangents.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

If Legalized Gambling Will Cure Our Ills, Why Is Unemployment In Nevada 13.2%?

If legalized gambling is the cure to all our ills, why does Nevada have an unemployment rate of 13.2%?

(Above—Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge State Park.)

The national unemployment rate is 9.7%. Nevada is second in the nation in unemployment after Michigan.

There has to be some other solution as to how we will find work in the so-called new economy. We can’t just have working people losing money gambling, and casino and other gambling employees relying on the fleecing of fellow working people.

Here is information about unemployment rates around the nation from the Labor Department.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Have High Unemployment Rates

USA Today reports that 11.2% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are currently unemployed

From the article—

“The economic downturn is hitting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans harder than other workers — one in nine are now out of work — and may be encouraging some troops to remain in the service, according to Labor Department records and military officials.

The 11.2% jobless rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older rose 4 percentage points in the past year. That’s significantly higher than the corresponding 8.8% rate for non-veterans in the same age group, says Labor Department economist Jim Walker.”

This high unemployment is the thanks we offer as a nation for the service these veterans have offered.

Whether it be children, old folks, or veterans, the widespread expression of public sentiment in our society for any group of people is often the kiss of death. 

We often despise people who remind us of our potential weakness as individuals and who remind us of our obligations to others.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 7 Comments