Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

09.20 Al Gore Is Still Optimistic [24:06 video; rather than future Frankenstein governments, how can we better ensure having brilliantly efficient & competent governments?]

09.20 Florence sparks pollution fears after excrement-filled 'hog lagoons' overflow

09.20 EU must end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 to meet climate targets – report

09.19 Air pollution linked to much greater risk of dementia

09.19 Shell and Exxon's secret 1980s climate change warnings [that capitalists suppressed this for continuing profit is the most unforgivable crime ever]Trump administration rolls back methane pollution rule despite harmful health impacts [continuing in the tradition of stupid capitalism at all costs]

09.18 'I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school' [if your government isn't working, change it!]

09.17 California plans to show the world how to meet the Paris climate target

09.16 Universal healthcare was unthinkable in America, but not any more

09.16 Air pollution particles found in mothers' placentas

09.16 Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?

News Media Matters

09.20 Morning Edition’s Think Tank Sources Lean to the Right

09.19 Taibbi: Bernie Sanders’ Anti-Amazon Bill Is an Indictment of the Media, Too

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

09.18 Voters Are Ready for a Green New Deal. Are Democrats?

09.18 'This Election Is Last Chance to Stop Them': Kudlow Confirms Trump and GOP Ready to Gut Safety Net After Midterms [Yes, there are far too many sociopaths]

09.18 You'll miss Trump one day

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

09.16 Merchants of Death Profit from the Bombing of Children as a US-Backed War Goes Largely Ignored

Economics, Crony Capitalism

09.16 If Jeff Bezos wants to help low-income people why not just pay them better?

09.16 Central Banks Have Gone Rogue, Putting Us All at Risk

International & Futurism

09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [We are all mixed-race after 10,000 generations. Helping suffering people makes us feel good, so become their friends instead.]

09.18 'Unconscionable' and 'Appalling': In Affront to Those Fleeing US-Backed Wars and Persecution, Trump Slams Door on Refugees

09.17 For Whom the Climate Bell Tolls

09.17 How to Humanely Solve Europe's Migration Crisis

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Employers are Undermining the Economic Stimulus Program
Newspaper logo

ARE CORPORATIONS PATRIOTIC?

Employers are Undermining the Economic Stimulus Program

by Dave Lindorff
Originally published on Monday, 22 June 2009

Are employers using the economic crisis as an excuse to further attack and undermine workers and their incomes?

Reports are starting to appear suggesting that laid-off or underemployed Americans, and the long-term unemployed, are losing patience with the Obama administration’s and Congress’ economic stimulus plan, which thus far has not done anything to arrest the growth of unemployment, now at close to 20 percent of the US workforce, at least as unemployment used to honestly be counted in the 1970s and early 1980s.

While millions of jobs have been lost since the beginning of this year alone, the number of jobs that have been created as a result of the Obama administration’s signature $780-billion stimulus spending package is under 150,000—a far cry from the 3.5 million that were promised when the bill was being put before Congress.

There has been a lot of hype from Washington sources, dutifully reported with little analysis or criticism in the corporate media, suggesting that the recession is bottoming out. One example was a report last week that the number of people receiving unemployment had, for the first time in six months, dropped slightly. Unmentioned was the hard reality that the reason for this drop was that many laid-off workers are now reaching the end of their 26 weeks of unemployment benefits in states that do not offer any extended benefits program. On inspection, that is hardly good news.

There is also a mantra, trotted out regularly by administration officials, that unemployment figures are a “lagging indicator,” and thus are no indication that the recession is continuing to worsen. The problem with this sleight-of-hand is that unemployment itself, when it is rising rapidly as it has been now for a year, is a cause of deepening recession. When one in five workers is unemployed or unwillingly underemployed, that represents not only a huge drop in consumer demand for everything from basic necessities to luxuries, but also a huge dark cloud of anxiety that hangs over most of the rest of the public, leading everyone to cut back on their spending, thus dragging down the economy further.

But there is another factor at work, which is not getting much attention, and that is the negative role being played by employers, both public and private, in worsening the recession and undermining the stimulus effort, such as it is, by actually using economic crisis as an excuse to further attack and undermine workers and their incomes.

Take Temple University, where I live. The university, a largely publicly-funded institution, has received $10 million in federal stimulus funds, largely replacing the state funding that it lost when the state cut back on its educational budget, and though those funds were specifically intended by Congress to be used to improve student achievement and to put people to work quickly, Temple, which has also seen student admissions and tuition revenues increase during the recession, has done the opposite—laying off staff, including departmental staff and other personnel. The university for the past year has also been engaged in a classic union-busting campaign against one of its staff unions, which has been working 0n an expired contract for a year, and its faculty union, which has been working on an expired contract since last October. The school last year hired an outside law firm, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, that on its website touts its expertise in “union avoidance,” to handle the school’s “bargaining” with faculty.

In this, Temple is hardly alone. Across the country, companies and public institutions have been taking brutal advantage of the economic crisis as an opportunity to attack their workers, slashing employment, demanding pay cuts (the New York Times, for example, has cut employee paychecks by 5%), reducing long-held benefits, and generally contributing to the impoverishment and insecurity of the broader American workforce. According to a recent report, one-quarter of employers who had historically been offering their employees a match for their own contributions to 401(k) retirement plans have eliminated that matching money since last September.

These cutbacks and layoffs are bad enough when made by private firms, many of which are still quite profitable and which have benefited over the years and recently from tax incentives aimed at boosting employment, but they are particularly obscene when they are made by institutions that are receiving public stimulus money, like schools, public transit agencies, and state and local governments. Indeed, it’s probably the case that much of the potential stimulus of the taxpayer-funded stimulus plan has been negated by job cuts and pay cuts being made by the state and local entities that have received the bulk of that money. If a state, for example, uses $50 million in stimulus funds to repair a bridge, in the process providing jobs to perhaps 100 construction workers, and then lays off 200 state workers, that stimulus money is completely wasted in terms of boosting the economy.

So far, most of the frustration and anger over this undermining of the economic stimulus program is coming from the unemployed. Taxpayers, who will end up paying for this stimulus (all of which was borrowed money) in future years, have so far not raised a fuss, perhaps because they have not gotten the news that employers are busy undermining the program. That could change if unemployment, as expected, keeps rising inexorably. Maybe at that point people will start demanding that their taxes be used by the federal government to directly employ people, instead of trusting employers to pass it through to their workers, or that at a minimum, organizations receiving stimulus program funds be barred from laying workers off or cutting their pay.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on June 23, 2009.
 

Public Service Ads: