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01.17 As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe' [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.17 Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization? [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]
01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total per-capita costs]
01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]
01.08 Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California [0:58 video; Do You Care?]
01.08 Carbon emissions up as Trump agenda rolls back climate change work [Making America Less Great Again]
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
01.19 Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth [Sociopaths have little or no conscience, empathy or morality...]
01.19 Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants [morality is against the law]
01.18 With Mattis Gone, Trump Is Already Sowing More Global Chaos [Trump plays General—what could go wrong...]
01.18 Impeach Donald Trump
01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]
01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.17 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasts US government shutdown in first House speech [3:27 video; Intelligent government is desperately needed]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]
International & Futurism
01.17 White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not [More equality requires us to fix ignored and distorted problems]
01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]
The Ugly Truth about Jobs
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier today, 17 November 2009
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has given Americans a glimpse of the ugly truth about their future job prospects. Simply put, companies have found that they can shed workers and rely on technological advances and overseas factories to operate with a lot fewer U.S. employees.
Bernanke told the Economic Club of New York on Monday that some U.S. companies might begin to add workers to meet rising demand, but he added that “other firms, facing difficult financial conditions and intense pressure to cut costs, seem to have found longer-lasting, efficiency-enhancing changes that allowed them to reduce their workforces. ...
In other words, Americans – from blue-collar manufacturing workers to white-collar office employees – won’t be needed as much in the future by companies that are squeezing more productivity out of the workers that remain and are shifting more jobs overseas.
That means U.S. unemployment can be expected to stay high and wages low, Bernanke said.
Yet, while American jobs were falling off a cliff, productivity – defined as output per hour of work – was soaring, rising at a 5.5 percent annual rate this year, Bernanke said.
Put all this together and average Americans might want to rethink how they feel about their “free-market” economic system, now that many of them have been made surplus to it. High unemployment also may cause a double-dip recession – and even more layoffs – because jobless Americans won’t be able to pay their mortgages or buy new cars or other consumer goods.
What to Do?
So what can be done? The obvious answer is for the government to intervene in creating infrastructure jobs directly and encouraging the private sector to spread the available work around (and not ship so much work abroad).
However, with the federal government deeply in debt (thanks to George W. Bush’s massive tax cuts tilted to the rich and because of his two open-ended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), there isn’t much money to devote to any additional economic stimulus.
Thus, the Obama administration is faced with the dilemma of either borrowing more money or raising taxes on the rich to help pay for programs to increase jobs. Neither prospect is politically attractive, since Democratic “deficit hawks” keep banding with Republicans to block any more borrowing and many politicians are terrified of raising taxes, even if only on millionaires.
Ironically, the current crisis could have one silver lining, if Americans finally opted for an economic strategy that raised taxes on the rich, who have benefited most from the technological advances and the expansion of international commerce, and shared those productivity gains with more people.
That might allow Americans to begin enjoying the future that seemed to be beckoning years back, when people thought that machines would make life easier for humans, not harder.
But many Americans have been sold on the right-wing and neoconservative message that any government effort to address the nation’s domestic needs is dreaded “socialism” and that the government’s primary -- if not only -- role must be to lavish money on the military to “keep us safe.”
That widespread belief system is the result of three decades of having drummed into their heads Ronald Reagan’s catchy phrase that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” a theme repeated endlessly on right-wing talk radio, at Fox News and in a host of other conservative media outlets that dominate the American landscape.
Simultaneously, the American Left has done little to counter the Right’s propaganda. During those same three decades, progressives invested relatively little in building a message machine that could compete with the Right’s giant megaphone. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Left’s Media Miscalculation.”]
This media asymmetry has had devastating consequences for the American political process. In the 1980s, Reagan had a relatively free hand to go after “big labor”; in the 1990s, working with the triangulating Clinton administration, Republicans pushed through “free-trade agreements” and bank deregulation; and in this decade, Bush slashed taxes for the richest Americans.
The results are now apparent in home foreclosures, bankruptcies, crumbling infrastructure and neglected cities, as Michael Moore graphically demonstrated in his new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story.”
But today’s U.S. political/media process doesn’t allow these problems to be seriously addressed. The Washington conventional wisdom is still shaped by the powerful right-wing think tanks and defined by the vast right-wing news media. Mainstream journalists mostly go along to save their careers.
Many laid-off “Joe the Plumbers” parrot the Right’s fury about the “class warfare” of imposing higher taxes on millionaires. Other rank-and-file Americans tie teabags to their hats and descend on Washington to participate in anti-government rallies, partly organized by corporate interests.
Over several decades of covering Washington’s neoconservatives, I have marveled at their cynical but not-entirely-false view of the American people as cattle to be herded, corralled, occasionally stampeded and ultimately led to the slaughterhouse.
The hyped case for war with Iraq was a marvelous example of how the neocons could use lies and deceptions to get young men and women from small towns and big cities across America to go kill – and be killed by – troublesome Arabs in the Middle East, the neocons’ favorite enemies.
These neocons’ propaganda successes are directly attributable to their dominance of the Washington echo chamber, where they craft cleverly framed arguments from their positions at influential think tanks and then watch as their messages are amplified across the country by right-wing radio hosts, Fox News, the Internet and an array of print publications, including mainstream outlets like the Washington Post.
Only now – as the unemployment lines stretch, as medical insurance is denied, and as the sheriffs show up with foreclosure notices – are some Americans sensing the end of this strange journey, with the whiff of an unpleasant fate behind the doors of the slaughterhouse.
[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “To Save the Republic, Tax the Rich.”]
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on November 17, 2009.