Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

The big news yesterday seems to be that the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all time high! Hooray!

Unemployment remains at 7.9% and half the damn country is crumbling under our feet, so what do you say we put the champagne away and do something about those things?

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I went into this article expecting a mildly offensive train wreck, as most pieces about generational differences of millenials tend to be. It wasn’t as bad as anticipated, except for this (my emphasis):

While a young Gen X grad might recoil at the prospect of long hours in an unpaid internship for the elusive potential to perhaps, one day, be gainfully employed, most millennials I know wouldn’t dream of not doing so — despite what you see on Girls. Resume-building work for little to no compensation is par for the course for young people entering the workforce today. It’s not worth complaining about. It’s simply a necessary step to compete when jobs are few and far between.

I’m not arguing the reality of this trend. I recognize it. I am, however, stating that it is, in fact,  something to complain about. Loudly. It is exploitative and as far as I know illegal. “A gray area”, at best. Worse than that, though, it perpetuates inequality.

Want a good career? You’ll have to work with no pay or benefits for two years, so I sure hope you come from a wealthy family able to support your unpaid existence in a high rent city. Don’t come from a wealthy family? Ah well, take some classes at your local for-profit outfit along with your free labor, then you can cover it all with high risk, predatory student loans that can’t be discharged in default. Can’t do either? Target might be hiring, get in line. 

So yea, it is so very much worth complaining about. 

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This is your semi-regular reminder that we continue to ignore an actual, immediate problem in order to Get Very Serious about a hypothetical, future problem.

That is all.

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Don’t much care about any of the substantive points raised here, but I do want to point out that online grocery shopping is not about protecting the environment. I find it very hard to believe that such a system would be more environmentally friendly than our current system. I suspect they would net out roughly the same, as each system has different exploitable energy efficiencies not possible in the other.

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Crisis averted for now! The House miraculously did something last night, and the cliff is over!

Until next month.

The deal did not reach a decision over the sequester cuts, just delayed them for two months, setting up yet another crisis deadline next month. It also did nothing about the debt ceiling. Crisis deadline number two. Finally, the continuing resolution for the federal budget expires at the end of March. Crisis deadline number three.

Now that the tax cuts part is dealt with and were on to spending, though, you can expect a return to full on freak out mode over spending and debt. We’ve spent two years hearing about how wonderful and virtuous and Serious austerity is, followed by two months of apocalyptic hysteria because austerity was about to happen, and now its all aboard the austerity train once again.

Because otherwise, there would be no reason to invite the smug assholes at FixTheDebt, and all their Very Serious enablers, onto Meet the Press. That, friends, would be the real crisis.

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Lots of good stuff floating around the tubes today and I’m lazy and have a bottle of wine to finish so I’ll let everyone else speak for themselves.

Yglesias kicks off with the myth of the bond vigilantes!

You can imagine a kind of cult in the ancient Middle East in which the villagers are expected to make regular sacrifices to the gods in order to stave off their wrath. Well one year the proper sacrifices aren’t made and yet no suffering seems to be imminent. The priestly caste now has a problem, since their livelihoods depend on the perpetuation of the cult. So they sneak out of the temple at night, burn a bunch of crops, and the next morning warn that even worse is to come if the sacrifices aren’t renewed. Not because the priests are bad people, mind you, they very sincerely believe that the gods are just lying in wait to destroy the village so they’re actually doing everyone a favor.

Next, Paul Campos exposes Antonin Scalia’s entirely unprincipled hackery. I love it.

Scalia’s theory of constitutional precedent could be summarized as, “Supreme Court decisions should be followed in future cases, except when they shouldn’t be.” Indeed in recent years Scalia’s opinions have come to reflect no discernible legal theory, unless “outcomes that Antonin Scalia likes” counts as a legal theory.

And finally, Atrios perfectly encapsulates the last two years of media narrative surrounding fiscal / budget issues.

After telling us for years that what we need is Austerity Now, austerity is somehow a bad thing, except it’s also good because unicorns.

What’d I miss?


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In my previous post, it seems I misunderstood Jastonite’s post as an attack on Keynesian economics, when he meant simply to make the point that a job is a cost to be avoided rather than a benefit to be realized. I disagree, and I think this goes a long way to explaining why so I’ll outsource (irony duly noted) my rebuttal and instead address some other points.

Jastonite provides an example of a hypothetical factory that can choose to locate itself in either Mexico or Texas. In his example, all things are considered equal except that the Mexico sit would be cheaper. He argues that it is thus the superior choice because costs can be reduced and thus the Texans that buy the product will have more money left at the end of the day, and there are other employment opportunities in Texas anyways, they didn’t need the jobs. He goes on:

If it still feels wrong, replace the work Mexico with Arizona. Does it feel better now? How about replacing the word Mexico with Houston and the word Texas with Dallas? I understand there is an emotional attachment to jobs.

There is, of course, an emotional attachment to jobs, and for very good reason. But, the changing of Mexico to Arizona is important for plenty of non-emotional reasons as well. One of those is mobility. Our unemployed Texan friend will face a lot of very high barriers if she wants to work at the plant in Mexico. She will probably have to stop being a US citizen, and maybe she doesn’t speak Spanish, for example. But if the plant is located in Arizona, these are not problems. It is far simpler to move from one US state to another US state than from the US to Mexico (As an aside, this phenomenon was largely responsible for the comparatively impressive economic situation in Texas that Rick Perry never shut up about).

Next, Jastonite asks:

Does zero percent unemployment sound good? Maybe at first glance, but how does one start a business in that world? Presuming that everybody is doing something productive, the entrepreneur would have to convince people with existing jobs to quit and join him. That would mean the other business that lost its employees would have to cut back on production, potentially closing down. Wouldn’t it be hard to take a risk bringing something new to market?

Well, I agree. Zero percent unemployment is absolutely not a good thing, and for the very reason that Jastonite mentions. But high unemployment, as we are currently experiencing, is not a good thing either. We should do something about it.

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