v'ܩ 2010 July


Archive for July, 2010

U.S. Unemployment: When Can We Expect to See Real Job Growth Again?

July 13th, 2010

The following is a guest post from Cesar Zambrano. If you are interested in guest posting at Geek Politics, check out the guidelines here.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published a discouraging jobs report before the July 4th holiday weekend. For the first time in 2010, the U.S. economy actually shed, instead of gaining, 125,000 jobs in the month of June. The primary reason given was the termination of 225,000 temporary Census Bureau jobs. The “silver lining” in the report, however, was that the unemployment rate actually dropped from 9.7 to 9.5%, driven by disappointed workers who gave up looking for jobs.

Excuses from government officials, followed by accusatory attacks from the conservative right, emphasized once more that the politics of unemployment are alive and well. Liberals point fingers at Republicans for blocking new jobs initiatives and extensions of unemployment benefits. Conservatives are crying for heads to role in the Obama Administration since over $1.5 trillion have been spent on bank bailouts and economic stimulus packages with little job growth in the balance. The Congressional Budget Office, the official arbiter of numbers that both parties have agreed to support, has found that the stimulus actually created up to 1.6 million jobs.

Why is unemployment data so contentious and difficult to understand? Job growth has not been material and permanent, as we would prefer. Pain is particularly acute at lower income levels and for minorities, as was detailed in a recent study produced by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northwestern University. The Northwestern study highlights the key political issue in our society, the growing differences between the haves and the have-nots. Battle lines are already being drawn early for this November’s campaign, still four months away and counting. Fear and obfuscation will reign down on a public that only wants results, not political infighting.

The economic fact is that unemployment rates have leveled off. However, during the recession, 8.4 million jobs have been lost. Trying to reconcile a rate with total jobs is like comparing apples with oranges, or from a purely financial perspective, like comparing a balance sheet with a revenue and expense statement. An unemployment rate is like a snapshot in time, when the public is more concerned and impacted by job gains (revenue) and job losses (expense). Net earnings, or net job gains, are what is really important. However, the rate announcements each month draw all the publicity. The relevant data is buried in the small print and left to a diligent reporter to perform his real investigative duty and let everyone know what is really happening.

In any event, job recovery of late has been painfully slow. Is this economic recession that much different than others? We have had two other recessions since 1990. In 90/91, unemployment peaked at 7.8%, versus a GDP drop from peak-to-trough of 1.4%. In 2000/2001, the relative figures were 6.3% and 0.3%. Our recent recession had unemployment peak at 10.2% versus a 3.9% GDP drop, definitely larger in magnitude on all counts. However, strong capital flows from forex trading and have helped to bolster the economy this time around. In both previous recoveries, it took well over three years in both cases for the unemployment rate to return below 5%. Employment is a lagging indicator during recovery. Material hiring returns gradually, only after confidence markedly returns.

The “elephant in the room”, however, is that many of the 8.4 million jobs lost will never return due to outsourcing trends. The IMF’s recent “World Outlook Report” highlights what is transpiring on a global stage in the following chart:

Although many may argue the finer points, the impact of outsourcing can be visibly seen following 1990 as the GDP for emerging and developing economies began to eclipse and double the respective growth rates of advanced economies. The human eye can easily craft a trend line for the blue line above, and the future direction is disconcerting as well. Jobs sent overseas were not burger-flipping jobs at McDonald’s. They were hardcore, middle class jobs that are gone forever.

Elections are less than four months away. The political rhetoric is already heating up daily. The focus will be jobs and which party do you trust to generate them. Hopefully, the economy will not be held hostage for the next four months while campaign slogans and political finger pointing dominate the airwaves pre-November. Our elections cannot come quickly enough.

Author: Derek Clark Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

What Can You Do for America?

July 3rd, 2010

The following is a guest post by Mackenzie Howard. If you are interested in guest posting at Geek Politics, check out the guidelines here.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ─Deuteronomy 6:5–9

This Fourth of July marks a significant anniversary for my family and friends. Last year on Independence Day, my best friend’s husband was deployed to Iraq. The irony of leaving for war on that day was not lost on us.

I’ve always had a huge appreciation for America, but when my friend entered the war zone, that appreciation became very personal. While politicians and political hosts bickered about bailouts and health care, he was flying over foreign soil defending the cause of freedom.

Oddly enough, I’ve always loved politics. There were times in my life when I thought maybe I should even consider a career in it, but as of late, I can’t say that I’m that interested. I look at the world around me, and I become very disillusioned with a government who continues to climb deeper into debt and people who expect someone else to take care of them.

Don’t get me wrong, America has made a lot of progress over the past couple centuries, but in many ways, it would seem we’re regressing. When greed wins out over common sense and when apathy rules over ambition, we’re in trouble. When God is tossed out of our lives and our culture, we’re in big trouble.

I sat, rather disheartened, the other evening at a political dinner, where I wondered what I could do about this. What can any one person do to fix this mess? But then this thought came to me:

We can teach the children.

We can teach them about the values of forefathers. We can teach them about the principles our country was founded on. We can teach them about heroes who were larger than life, instruments of God, and warriors for millions unborn. We can teach them to work hard, tell the truth, and not spend more money than they have.
My parents taught my brother and I to love God, love people, and love America. Because of them, I have a huge appreciation for the country of my birth. They took us on road trips all over this country so we could charge the hills of Gettysburg, walk down Freedom Trail, and stand in the rooms where some of the greatest men and women in history lived and died and changed the world.

And you know what? It really means something to me. It’s personal. I can’t see a soldier’s grave or read about George Washington without being overcome with gratitude.

If we really want to change America, we need to make it personal for our kids. We need to make God personal; we need to make our heritage personal. And when they are older, they will not depart from it.

The great thing is, if you can’t travel all over this great nation to walk where these folks walked, you and your family can learn about them and experience them from your home. When I was little, my mother bought flash cards and taught my brother and I all of the presidents. To this day, we can recite them forward and backward. And they’re more than names on a list. They’re distinct personalities who all played a role, good or bad, in shaping the nation we call home.

You can do the same for your kids. Read books together, visit interesting places, talk about the colorful people who crafted our nation. Pray for our leaders . . . when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

This Fourth of July, I hope between the hot dogs and the fireworks, you’ll stop for a moment with your family and give thanks. I hope you’ll salute a soldier when you see one. I hope you’ll take a moment to learn something new about America, and I hope you’ll stop to share it with your children. We have a fascinating history—I hope you’ll make it personal.

This weekend, I’ll fly my flag on my porch, probably eat way more than I should, and give my friend a big hug—as long as there are men and women like him, making it personal and defending our freedom, we’ll be okay.

Teach your kids!
On July 4, 1826, two of our nation’s greatest leaders breathed their last. Fifty years to the day of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams whispered “Thomas Jefferson survives” shortly before he slipped into eternity. What he didn’t know was that Jefferson had already passed away just a few hours earlier. These two men dedicated the whole of their lives to America.

Author: Derek Clark Categories: General Politics Tags: