Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

We’re Writing Off the Unemployed (Another Reason Why I Reject the Republican Party Absolutely and Completely)

00.00k Politics Through a Cartoonist's Eyes 09.11.11

THIS is the attitude of the Republican Party and their oligarch paymasters… any questions?

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Back in 1987, my Princeton colleague Alan Blinder published a very good book entitled Hard Heads, Soft Hearts. It was, as you might guess, a call for tough-minded but compassionate economic policy. Unfortunately, what we actually got… especially, although not only, from Republicans… was the opposite. Moreover, it’s difficult to find a better example of the hard-hearted softheaded nature of today’s GOP than what happened last week, as Senate Republicans once again used the filibuster to block aid to the long-term unemployed. What do we know about long-term unemployment in America?

First, it’s still at near-record levels. Historically, the long-term unemployed… those out of work for 27 weeks or more… usually, are from 10 to 20 percent of total unemployment. Today, the number is 35.8 percent. Yet, we allowed extended unemployment benefits, which went into effect in 2008, to lapse. As a result, few of the long-term unemployed receive any support. Second, if you think the typical long-term unemployed American is one of Those People… non-white, poorly educated, etc… you’re wrong, according to research by the Urban Institute’s Josh Mitchell. Half of the long-term unemployed are non-Hispanic whites. College graduates are less likely to lose their jobs than those with less education, but once they do, they’re actually a bit more likely than others are to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Workers older than 45-years-old are especially likely to spend a long time unemployed. Third, in a weak job market, long-term unemployment tends to be self-perpetuating, because employers, in effect, discriminate against the jobless. Many people suspected that this was the case, and, last year, Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University provided a dramatic confirmation. He sent out thousands of fictitious résumés in response to job ads, and found that potential employers were drastically less likely to respond if the fictitious applicant was out of work more than six months, even if they were better qualified than other applicants.

What all of this suggests is that the long-term unemployed are mainly victims of circumstances… ordinary American workers who had the bad luck to lose their jobs (which can happen to anyone) at a time of extraordinary labour market weakness, with three times as many people seeking jobs as there are openings. Once that happened, the very fact of their unemployment made it harder to find a new job. Therefore, how can politicians justify cutting off modest aid to their unlucky fellow citizens? Some Republicans justified the filibuster with the tired old argument that we can’t afford to increase the deficit. Actually, Democrats paired the benefits extension with measures to increase tax receipts. In any case, this is a bizarre objection at a time when federal deficits aren’t just falling, but clearly falling too fast, holding back economic recovery.

For the most part, however, Republicans justify their refusal to help by asserting that the real cause of long-term unemployment is because people aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs, and that extended benefits are part of the reason for their lack of effort. People who say things like this… like, such as, US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)… probably imagine that they’re being tough-minded and realistic. In fact, they’re peddling a fantasy at odds with all the evidence. For example… if unemployment is high because people are unwilling to work, reducing the supply of labour, why aren’t wages going up?

However, evidence has a well-known liberal bias. The more their economic doctrine fails (remember how the Fed’s actions were supposed to produce runaway inflation?) the more fiercely conservatives cling to it. More than five years after a financial crisis plunged the Western world into what looks increasingly like a quasi-permanent slump, making nonsense of free-market orthodoxy, it’s hard to find a leading Republican who’s changed their mind on, well, anything. This imperviousness to evidence goes along with a stunning lack of compassion.

It’s striking how hard it is to find anyone on the Republican side even hinting at sympathy for the long-term jobless. Being unemployed is always presented as a choice, as something that only happens to losers. One often gets the sense that contempt for the unemployed comes first, that the supposed justifications for tough policies are rationalisations. The result is that they’ve written off millions of Americans… potential employers reject them; politicians whose fuzzy-mindedness matches the hardness of their hearts abandon them.

10 February 2014

Paul Krugman

New York Times

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/02/10/3488407/were-writing-off-the-unemployed.html

Editor’s Note:

I’ll keep this short. If you support the Republican Agenda, you reject the Lord Christ and all that He taught. The Republicans support greed, torture, spying on ordinary folks, warmongering, and grasp for global hegemony… they worship Mammon. As Our Lord Christ said, No man can serve two masters (Gospel according to St Matthew 6.24)… neither can you. You can serve Christ or the Republican Party, but not both. That’s a “’Nuff said”…

The Republicans despise you as “lazy”… you’re not worth much in their eyes. Indeed, since 1981, they’ve done their best to erode your economic and political rights (PRISM and extreme rendition, anyone?). Then, why vote for them?

BMD

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

VOR Best of the Blogs. 16 January 2014

00 inflatable rat moneybags

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Editor’s Note:

I must admit that I dislike most people who call themselves “progressives”. I’m a no-holds-barred leftist. I’ve walked a picket line or two, I’ve been on public assistance (no longer, but I was on it due to America‘s nasty-ass parsimonious UIB laws), I’m proud that I belonged to the CWA, and I’ve worked in unregulated non-union shops. Therefore, I know a thing or two about the pressures facing most ordinary folk first-hand. I’ll be blunt… I hate “limousine liberals” and their cockamamie notions. They’re going to tell us what to do as they know so much better than we do, dontcha know, their oh-so-“caring” condescension just oozes out all over the place. Please, do spare me. It’s also why I have no respect for the so-called “Pro-Life” movement. They wave placards and support the most feral GOP politicians of the lot… those who favour perpetual warmongering and brutal union-busting. No way for this gal! I won’t support a movement that supports the most vicious members of Congress. That’s that.

We need a real discussion between the various classes in America… we don’t need nostrums from the Upper Middles (who see themselves as Saviours, whether from the right or from the “left”). I don’t see that happening. Until it does, we’re heading for a train wreck. I don’t want to see that, but that’s what I see. Shall we avert it? God alone knows…

BMD

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Unemployment Insurance Fails In the US Senate

Arthur Delaney and Sam Stein wrote on the Huffington Post that legislation to bring back unemployment insurance for over a million long-term jobless Americans failed to clear the US Senate. Benefits lapsed for 1.3 million workers on 28 December due to congressional inaction. Each week since the lapse, another 70,000 laid off workers reach the end of their state benefits, which in most cases last six months, and find that the federal benefits that previously helped millions of workers won’t help them. Lawmakers knew about the looming deadline for a whole year but did nothing until it was too late. Marcia Carroll, 43, of Staunton VA, one the people whose benefits stopped last month, said, “None of them care about the working person”.

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”Worse than Bush”: Green Groups Sound Alarm over Obama’s Trade Deal

Citing a report by WikiLeaks, Jacob Chamberlain, writing for Common Dreams, reported that the draft environmental chapter of the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal renders any potential environmental protections “toothless”, as it lacks enforcement mechanisms between countries, such as penalties or criminal sanctions, and is largely “a public relations exercise”. A joint statement issued by the Sierra Club, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Natural Resources Defense Council, who analysed the document, stated, “Instead of committing TPP countries to ‘adopt, maintain, and implement’ the laws, regulations, and all other measures to fulfil its obligations under [Multilateral Environmental Agreements] and subject those obligations to dispute settlement, each TPP country is merely committed to ‘affirm its commitment’ to implement the MEAs to which it is a party”.

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Congressman’s New Jobs Plan: Deny Women Access to Abortion So They Can Make More Babies

According to Tara Culp-Ressler writing on ThinkProgress, US Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) suggested that Republicans support restricting access to abortion because it’d ultimately benefit the economy if women have more children. During a debate over an anti-abortion bill currently advancing in Congress, he said, referring to the bill that he’s promoting, that carrying pregnancies to term “very much promotes job creation. It very much promotes job creation for all the care, and services, and so on that need to be provided by a lot of people to raise children”. The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act would dramatically restrict women’s access to affordable abortion care by imposing restrictions on insurance coverage and tax credits for the procedure.

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Leaked Walmart Documents Reveal Propaganda Campaign to Fight Workers Attempting to Organise

According to Aaron Cantú writing on AlterNet, Walmart is attempting to win the hearts and minds of its employees by scaring them out of joining OUR Walmart, a Walmart workers’ collective that has organised strikes on behalf of all the company’s most vulnerable employees. The propaganda campaign is aimed at Walmart’s managerial staff, the corporation’s last line of defence in barring its low-wage workers from organizing for higher pay and better conditions. Walmart, the largest employer in the country, racked up 447 billion USD (15 billion Roubles. 490 million CAD. 590 million AUD. 330 million Euros. 272 million UK Pounds) in revenue in 2011, yet its workers’ wages are so low the taxpayers actually have to pay a significant amount each year for workers’ public assistance.

16 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_16/Blog-digest-January-16-Jobless-Deal-with-it-says-US-Congress-1944/

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

US Senate Narrowly Approves Debate on Controversial Jobless Aid Bill

00 Politics. Merry Christmas... There's No Room at the Inn. 02.01.13

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On Tuesday, the US Senate narrowly approved debate on a temporary extension of unemployment insurance benefits (UIBs) to over one million jobless Americans, giving some unexpected momentum in the new year to the Democrats and the Obama administration. The vote to approve debate was 60-37. With six Republicans and all present Democrats backing the move to begin formal debate on the bill, supporters reached the 60 votes required to advance it with no room to spare. The measure, sponsored by Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI), would retroactively restore federal aid payments to about 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans that expired at the end of last year. Previously, that aid kicked in after state benefits expired, after about 26 weeks in most states.

Five Republicans joined Heller to support moving forward on the legislation… Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Rob Portman of Ohio. Those lawmakers… who said they want leaders to find a way to offset the cost of the federal benefits… mightn’t support final passage of the bill. However, their support Tuesday kept the legislation alive, despite last-minute doubts that the procedural vote would pass. Senator Harry Reid told reporters after the vote, “It was in the balance until the last minute”. If the final bill does pass the Senate, it’s not clear that the GOP-led House would take it up. House Republican leaders painted the current proposal as fiscally irresponsible. In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that any extension of the program must be paid for and contain House-backed job creation plans, saying, “One month ago, I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits shouldn’t only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan”.

Senate opponents of the measure said that they never intended that the emergency aid programme, first enacted during the height of the economic recession, be permanent, and that spending cuts elsewhere in the budget should offset the aid. In a statement, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), said, “Spending 6.5 billion USD (216 billion Roubles. 7.03 billion CAD. 7.28 billion AUD. 4.8 billion Euros. 4 billion UK Pounds) in three months without trying to find ways to pay for it or improve the underlying policy is irresponsible and takes us in the wrong direction”. Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed paying for the insurance extension by delaying a key mandate in the president’s health care law, a major Republican aim, and a clear non-starter with Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Reid immediately rejected that proposal as a mere “guise to obstruct”.

Outside rightwing groups like the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and the anti-tax Club for Growth had also urged a “no” vote on Monday’s procedural measure, calling the extension proposal fiscally irresponsible. Supporters… including the White House… argued that the abrupt end to the benefits on 28 December plunged long-term jobless into further desperation and would hurt the American economy if it’s not reversed by a retroactive extension. Senator Reid said, “This investment in our fellow Americans is one of the most effective ways to spark and sustain an economic recovery”. He accused Republicans who opposed the legislation of “callously turned their backs on the long-term unemployed”. US President Obama planned to speak about the unemployment insurance extension shortly after the Senate vote. He’s sure to paint the GOP as out of touch with Americans concerned about income inequality and the plight of the working poor, issues that Democrats believe would mobilise their political base in 2014 and beyond.

7 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_07/US-Senate-narrowly-votes-to-advance-controversial-jobless-aid-bill-0634/

Editor’s Note:

There are three simple things that the Congress can do to get the money to fund UIB extensions:

  • Abolish the Bush tax cuts for all those making over 1 million USD (33.2 million Roubles. 1.08 million CAD. 1.12 million AUD. 736,000 Euros. 610,000 UK Pounds) a year from whatever source (earned, corporate, or capital gains)
  • Tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income
  • Remove the cap on FICA taxes (and extend them to capital gains earnings)

This won’t happen. The Republican Party has become the willing running dog of the rich… the so-called “conservative” movement is just a bunch of political hacks in the pay of the American oligarchs (through campaign contributions unleashed by the immoral and basically-illegal Citizens United decision… corporations AREN’T people, and anyone who says such is a loon). In short, the GOP has become a criminal organisation in objective terms… as it advocates policies that were illegal prior to 1980. Those regulations and laws were in place to prevent another Great Depression. What was the result of this Republican slide into criminality? The Great Recession, that’s what. Note well that the rich REFUSE to help those hurt by their rapacious policies. Indeed, they want to stamp on those hurt by their greed even more. Such policies are evil… and no Christian or decent person can support them, and it doesn’t matter how “pro-life” the Republican Party is. The GOP’s pro-life stance is hypocritical and empty… their intent to protect the rich and stamp on the poor to do so is all too real and all too heartfelt.

Orthodox people should watch the Unholy Trinity… Bilirakis, Issa, and Amash… watch ‘em all vote against UIB extension in the House. None call it evil, none call it satanic, none call it godless… but it is, and in spades. It’s time for REAL Orthodox Christians to oppose these jerks and their konvertsy supporters. Don’t forget that Orthodox people were in the forefront of the labour movement. Some of us haven’t forgotten that (and I’m not alone… the Obama bumper stickers outnumbered the GOP ones by a huge margin at St T’s on Memorial Day)…

BMD

 

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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Extended UIBs to End Courtesy of Republican Slimeballs… Over One Million to Be Thrown into Penury by These Anti-Christian Greedsters

01-unemployed-worker-in-las-vegas

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More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, with potentially significant implications for the recovering American economy. A tense political battle likely looms when Congress reconvenes in the new midterm election year. Nudging Congress along, a vacationing President Obama called two senators proposing an extension to offer his support. On Friday, the White House said, that Obama pledged to push Congress to move quickly next year to address this “urgent economic priority”. For families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government’s “emergency unemployment compensation” will mean some difficult belt-tightening as people lose their average monthly stipend of 1,166 USD (38,000 Roubles. 1,250 CAD. 1,315 AUD. 850 Euros. 708 UK Pounds).

Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy might suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the “emergency” program expire as part of a budget deal, it’s unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew. An estimated 1.3 million people would lose benefits when the federally-funded unemployment payments end Saturday. The Labor Department said that some 214,000 Californians would lose eligibility, a figure expected to rise to more than a half-million by June. In the last 12 months, Californians received 4.5 billion USD (146.7 billion Roubles. 4.8 billion CAD. 5.1 billion AUD. 3.28 billion Euros. 2.74 billion UK Pounds) in federal jobless benefits, much of it ploughed back into the local economy. In addition, more than 127,000 New Yorkers would get the chop this weekend. In New Jersey, 11th among states in population, 90,000 people would immediately lose out.

Started under President George W Bush, the benefits were supposed to be a cushion for the millions of American citizens who lost their jobs in the Great Recession and failed to find new ones whilst receiving state jobless benefits, which in most states expire after six months. Analysts expect another 1.9 million people across the country to exhaust their state benefits before the end of June. However, Obama has no quick fix. He hailed this month’s two-year budget agreement as a breakthrough of bipartisan cooperation whilst his administration worked with Democratic allies in the House and Senate to revive an extension of jobless benefits for those unemployed more than six months. The Obama administration said that those payments kept 11.4 million people out of poverty and benefited almost 17 million children. The cost of them since 2008 totalled 225 billion USD (7.34 trillion Roubles. 241 billion CAD. 254 billion AUD. 163.8 billion Euros. 136.5 billion UK Pounds).

At the depth of the recession, laid-off workers could qualify for up to 99 weeks of benefits, including the initial 26 weeks provided by states. The most recent extension allowed a total of up to 73 weeks, depending on the state. According to the Congressional Budget Office, restoring up to 47 extra weeks of benefits through 2014 would cost 19 billion USD (619.5 billion Roubles. 20.4 billion CAD. 21.5 billion AUD. 13.8 billion Euros. 11.5 billion UK Pounds). House Democrats led by Sander Levin (D-MI) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) sought to include an extension through March by offsetting the costs with potential farm bill savings. The Republicans rebuffed them. Senate Democrats and some Republicans plan another push in 2014. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced a bill offering a similar three-month extension and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to bring it up. However, as with much in Congress, an extension is no sure thing. In phone calls on Friday, Obama told Reed and Heller that he was glad that they were working together to address the problem. Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling said in a statement, “It defies economic sense, precedent, and our values”.

Earlier this month, House Speaker John Boehner spoke with Obama about an extension. Boehner and said his caucus would consider the possibility “as long as it’s paid for and as long as there are other efforts that’ll help get our economy moving once again”. He said that the White House has yet to introduce a plan that meets his standards. For other Republicans, the bar is higher. Many of them look at signs of economic growth and an unemployment rate now down to 7 percent and expected to drop further as evidence the additional weeks of benefits are no longer necessary. For decades, there’s been a fierce debate on the effect of jobless benefits on the unemployment rate. To qualify, people have to be seeking work. Tea Partiers such as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) argue that the payments aggravate rather than relieve unemployment. The benefits allow some jobseekers to hold out for higher wages. Without the benefits, they might accept lower-paying jobs, reducing the unemployment rate. Others may be looking for work only to keep the benefits flowing and would drop out of the job market entirely once the checks stop. In theory, that also would push the unemployment rate lower.

In addition to alleviating suffering, the flip side is that the benefits get spent on consumer goods, stimulating the economy, and creating jobs. Maurice Emsellem, policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, argued that extended unemployment insurance “is really a lifeline to help pay the bills, put food on the table, and put gas in the tank, so people can look for work”. Michael Feroli, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase, said ending the extended benefits would lower the unemployment rate by half a percentage point as the long-term unemployed leave the labour force. Whilst that statistical change might look good superficially, Feroli cautioned that a similar decrease in consumer spending could accompany the drop. That would also hurt clothing retailers, car dealers, and other Main Street businesses. On the other hand, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that extending the programme would boost GDP growth by some 0.2 percent and increase full-time employment by 200,000 next year, but at the price of increasing government debt. Advocates of extended benefits say communities hardest hit by the recession would feel the sudden loss of cash in circulation the most. They cite a set of their own troublesome figures… three jobseekers still competing for each opening, some 4 million people in the ranks of long-term unemployed, and unemployment lasting on average 37 weeks, two months longer than most states provide insurance.

Bradley Klapper

Associated Press

http://news.yahoo.com/1-3-million-losing-unemployment-benefits-saturday-172757185.html

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00 US Military Spending 1962-2015. 28.12.13

Gross War Spending 1962-2015

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00 US Military Spending per capita. 1962-2015. 28.12.13

Per Capita War Spending 1962-2015

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Editor’s Note:

The Republicans are liars… full stop. There’s plenty of “give” in the budget. However, the Republicans want to enrich the Affluent Effluent at all costs… if that means that people of little means get smashed in the process, well, so be it. Let them die and decrease the surplus population! The Republicans wish to give MORE to a class that REFUSES to invest in the USA, a class that hides its money in overseas tax havens… but demands the right to dictate American economic policy. In short, a criminal and unpatriotic class leads the Republicans by the nose. When Marx said, “Capital has no homeland”, he meant that crapitalists don’t give a damn about their homeland… they’d sell it out for filthy lucre, as Wet Willy Romney did (and received the Republican nomination for President as a reward).

Look at the above graphs… there’s PLENTY of FAT in the DoD budget. It’d be simple to find 19 billion USD… but Congress won’t… for it’d mean that fatcat corporate donors would lose business. You see, if the fatcats lost business, their political running dogs would lose some of their bribes and “campaign donations”… and that can’t be! Do note that war spending is UP, compared to the Cold War. Where’s the money going? It’s going to political and corporate corruption, on both sides of the aisle, but more so on the Republican side.

I’ll tell you what angers me. The men who die and who suffer grievous wounds in current wars are mostly men from families of small means, whilst the Affluent Effluent doesn’t shoulder any of the burdens of service. As Dick Cheney put it, “I had better things to do”… and Willy Romney hid in France for two years during the height of the Vietnam War. That should tell you something of the character of the Republican Party (or, rather, its lack of same).

Orthodox people should beware Victor Potapov, Alexander Webster, Rod Dreher, John Whiteford, Patrick Reardon, and Josiah Trenham… they all cheerlead for the Godless Amoral Right… yet, they deck their idol in the robes of the Church, thereby blaspheming Our Lord Christ and what He really did (do recall that the powers-that-be tacked him up for being a pesky rebel). They’re in total opposition to HH and Pope Francisco, who see eye-to-eye on social justice matters.

You can follow the above-named worthies or you can follow HH… I choose His Holiness… who’s friends with Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz and who just gave a high Church decoration to Iosif Kobzon. The Church is NOT a friend of the Right… no matter how much the contemporary teabagger chernosotentsy konvertsy rant and rave. Keep it focused and don’t let the bastards grind you down…

BMD

 

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