The title kind of sums up the depressing US economy reality. This has more charts and info on the US Pay data report as a follow up to this post. The charts of each industry compared to the average are interesting. The US needs about 10 million jobs to be back on track with low unemployment and a happy workforce. So how do you go about creating 10 million jobs?
This disturbs me as it seems that unjust laws are becoming more and more common to target specific events or protests that the powers that be are not happy about. I grew up thinking that the right to protest while perhaps wasn’t expressly stated in the Bill of Rights, must fall under that freedom of speech concept and was a protected right in America. However, it seems laws are popping up that make it more and more difficult to protest legally. You need permits and notice and this and that… when generally something worth protesting is kind of a NOW type thing and not something where you want to take the time to petition for the right. I guess the widespread freedom of speech and expression on the internet kind of makes up for the lessening freedom of speech on the street, but I am not sure it really sends the same kind of message to the powers that be. Also freedom of speech on the internet is by no means a sure thing as the repeated attempts of the Australian government to try to censor the internet have shown.
This isn’t surprising, but it is still concerning. Money, money, money. It seems in the US today, it is all about the money. Very few people have it, and you do not. Even if you think you are doing okay, I doubt you are playing with the folks that can contribute tens of thousands of dollars to an unpaid school board position vote.
If you think that governments doing things generally result in more harm than good, a system in which one party can completely stall the other resulting in complete gridlock might seem like a good idea, but at a time like now which the government really does need to step in and do a lot of things, the system is preventing anything from happening. I used to think better of the GOP, but my faith is lost. I see that they have no incentive for anything good to happen in America until the next election. It is sad, but not completely unexpected that the good of the party is now held in much higher esteem than the good on the country. I wonder if it was always so? Since most of my life the GOP has been in control either entirely or mostly, it is hard for me to know.
Apparently my home state is determined to be a front runner on destroying civil liberties on all front: allowing the TSA to roam free out of the airports and onto the roads where they can compete with the various drug enforcement agencies on who is going to stop which truck or car and search and seize anything of interest without cause or charging a crime. This does not make me happy about my home for Christmas plans.
These recent articles on the working conditions inside some US plants and warehouses make me wonder if US labor conditions are so much better than in the third world sweat shops that consumers are always being warned against. Now, I know that US working conditions are better, but I am beginning to wonder how much better. Hard labor is of course hard, but it seems that there are things that can be done to make it easier such as having realistic throughput goals, cooling, and regular breaks.
So you take Americas hidden manufacturing industry with less than ideal working conditions, add young, college attending guest workers from those nations with horrible working conditions that we are always being warned about, and throw in some corruption just for fun where the guest workers are charged excessive rent and board, and what do you get? Some pretty miserable guest workers who do NOT get the positive impression of the US that I hope the federal government was aiming for when it set up the program.
These kids may not be the ultra elite from their home countries as many young foreign students who come to the US for education, but they obviously aren’t factory workers kids either if they can raise up to $6000 to come for the program. Turning a cultural exchange program into a factory worker program where the kids have no excess money to travel is shameful. Actually, it is rather shameful that conditions is US factories have gotten to be so much hard work for so little financial gain.
I somewhat wonder if conditions have deteriorated as this time of work has declined in the US because unskilled labor has fewer and fewer job choices, and none of them pay well.
More depressing charts and pay data from the US that helps explain what the Occupy Wallstreet protests are all about. I am sure that some of the protesters are opportunistic deadbeats who are just going along with the movement, but the reason the protests strike a chord with so many Americans is that there are a lot of hard working Americans who can’t find work or can’t make enough to make ends meet at the jobs they do have. Yes, some of this is a result of a debt culture that demands buy it now and pay for it later, but even financially responsible people are being hurt by the current economy and the fact that wages have not gone up for most workers in 30 years.
This article is a few months old, but I just ran across it when I saw the more current article on Rick Scott’s view of liberal arts majors. I have to say that I don’t completely object to the premise of this experiment though intuitively I wouldn’t put the majority of drug users on welfare anyway because drugs are expensive and welfare does not pay that well. Giving welfare recipients an incentive to not be on drugs seems like a reasonable idea though the practical implication raises some red flags in how are these impoverished people going to travel to a drug testing clinic, pay for the test, ect. Also welfare is supposed to be a safety net to assure that no Americans go without food, shelter, and warmth regardless of their addictions or perhaps that is merely my opinion.
Anyway, while it doesn’t seem a completely horrible experiment in theory, and the point that it is costing more money that it is saving in these horrible economic times, I think it is time to acknowledge that the goal of saving money was not achieved and stop the experiment thus stopping the testing.
This news story is a few months out of date (July), but I just came across it, and it made me really angry because it is another example of prosecutor abuse and abuse of the poor in the US. A poor mother jaywalks with her three children from a bus stop to her apartment complex at a known problem spot because the bus stop is located half a mile. A man who had been drinking and on painkillers mows them down and kills her 4 year old, and the mother is prosecuted and convicted for homicide! My mind boggles.
Now as this article clearly shows, apparently the judge’s mind also boggled because while the mother could have been sentenced to more jail time than the drunk driver, her actual sentencing was quite lenient and the judge offered a new trial. However, the fact that this poor woman was ever put on trial to begin with is a mockery of justice.
American prosecutors need to be reigned in and there needs to be some system of punishment when they act inappropriately as this one has. Instead they are rarely punished at all even when they have put a man wrongly on death row for decades.
This article mention’s Caylee’s Law which was a term I was not familiar with so I dug up the below article to both explain what it is and why it is not at all a good idea. With a Caylee’s law in place, more prosecutors could prosecute more grieving parents of felonies which isn’t good for anyone. Bad choices are regrettable, but everyone makes them. Bad choices that lead to a child’s death is not the same thing as murdering a child.
This is a bit long as it has 41 charts, but they are really good charts to help you visualize the problems with the US economy that have lead to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The movement does not seem to be well organized, and some of the complaints and demands are ridiculous, but there are real problems at the heart of the movement.
Yes, Americans have taken on too much debt and made other poor choices, but the average American has not had any control over the fact that wages have not been increasing and jobs are few and far between while corporate profits are off the charts. Perhaps these things are a failure of the American labor movement, but they are not a failure of the individual workers who are feeling extremely frustrated and screwed.
While I think STEM degrees offer a lot of advantages to students because you graduate with better defined skills than a lot of liberal arts majors and STEM careers in recent years have been more reliable at getting graduates higher paying jobs, I think that liberal arts majors are still important and should definitely not be eliminated. I do think that liberal arts degrees should probably include some technology and math components because it is almost impossible to get by in the modern world without computer proficiency and an understanding of math at least as it relates to finance. However, not all students are not interested in most STEM topics, and that is okay. There are a lot of places in the world for liberal arts majors and not an infinite number of jobs in the STEM fields. Cutting university funding because of bad economic times isn’t a bad thing, but attacking all liberal arts as a waste of time is pure stupidity.
I do think that students should do a basic economic analysis before they enroll in any program to make sure that it is financially viable for their situation. Having 200k of debt when you are aspiring to a 30k a year social worker position is not good math. Though it is not in the universities best interest, I think schools should track graduates and post statistics about their earnings by subject majored in to prospective students so they can do a fair economic analysis. This would show the universities strengths and weaknesses a little too clearly for their preference, I fear.
Apparently, if you want to beat your spouse, head to Kansas…
Seriously, I can’t believe this kind of stuff is going on in America. I understand that there are budget problems, and this seems more a fight between the city and the county as there are states laws that still make domestic violence illegal, but regardless of the legality, it doesn’t sound like anyone has been prosecuting domestic violence misdemeanors in Topeka lately either.
Also of the misdemeanor crimes to stop prosecuting, don’t you think you would neglect drugs and shoplifting before domestic violence? Oh no, you get civil seizure for drugs so that is more money, right? <rolls eyes>
The below Forbes article has an update that indicates the county plans to pick up the domestic violence charges, but with their complaints of reduced resources I wouldn’t expect too many people to be prosecuted.
This is a good, short article to remind people that although the 99% movement represents a lot of people that have made some bad choices by taking on too much debt or getting not very useful degrees, at the same time the 99% also represents a lot of upset and very scared people. You can criticize each individual case for the poor decisions involved, but the reality is there are not enough jobs currently in the US compared to the number of workers so better decisions could have lead to that person having a job, it would mean someone else would be out of work.
As one of the people who has read some of the 99% signs and thought not very nice things about someone who would make those decisions this article was a good reminder that while bad decisions have been made, there are also structural problems with the American economic and job situation that means a huge number of people would be screwed no matter how good their decision had been.
Tennesee Law Enforcement Stealing Money from out of state innocent motorist
What a disgrace from my home state. The drug seizures have made me angry for a long time because in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty you money has become guilty until proven innocent. If you want to talk about class warfare, this is a perfect example as the people who carry a lot of cash and aren’t drug dealers are the extremely hard working people who run small cash based businesses: convenience stores, restaurants, small shops, manual labor. These people often do end up carrying large amounts of cash, but they do not have the safety net of the wealthy. There is no 401k, no huge savings account, no stock investments, and no mutual funds which means when the government steals these people’s money, they have nothing to hire a lawyer with to get it back.
Stealing money without charging someone with a crime is so nasty because it is saying either, “I know you aren’t involved with drugs, but I want your money” or “I don’t give a damn about stopping to drugs because that means I can take your money next time too.” The incentive scheme that allows these law agencies to profit from seizing money is so wrong. Seizures should only be allowed when charges are filed and the money should be held until you are prosecuted. If you are successfully prosecuted, then the money should be turned into some federal pot and help pay off the deficit or something.
This amendment really scares me. It doesn’t seem to take into consideration that high number of fetuses that are miscarried naturally, ramifications on invitro fertilization, or having a fetus diagnosed with downs syndrome or another incurable genetic disorder. And all of that isn’t even getting into the abortion issue.
A fetus may be a person, but it needs someone to love and care for it for at least 18 more years. I continue to not understand where the religious right thinks the resources will come from to care for more unwanted/ abused babies when the foster system does not do a very good job caring for the unwanted/ abused babies we have now.
Update: Here is an excellent article that explains some of the possibly unintended ramifications of this amendment with respect to miscarriages, birth control, and in vitro fertilization.