Saturday :: Jun 27, 2009

Underutilized


by paradox

It is a dry, wonkish, awkward word found only in Economics, describing the perfectly ordinary circumstance of being unemployed. You’re out of a job, you’re on the bus, your last girlfriend was 18 months ago, you need a haircut with clothes for shit, living in your parent’s granny cottage because even she has it together more than you, but why really care when you haven’t worked in a year with never a job to be found anywhere? What is that? Underutilized.

Keynes is a hero to Krugman, myself and legions of other not because he correctly identified economic reality and real means to put people back to work, but because he truly knew a human being without a job in America is to be without dignity, without a chance and likely prescribed a life of horrible pain and trial. That is why we employ our people, to prevent the manifest suffering, to demonstrate in real time we can make the system work on a basic level for all.

Without employment there is no life in America, not for the person without a job. Keynes knew it and spent his career trying to get little people back to work. One of the best comments I will ever read at Daily Kos came last year, an extremely wise Kossarian said there is only one relevant econ statistic/variable: unemployment.

It’s the primary reason I can’t let my stimulus resentment go. Tax cuts were a foolish buy-in to Republican worldview and solutions, yes, but holy Jesus every penny we had was and is needed for jobs! Whaddaya know, unemployment estimates came in way low—it’s been known to happen in life, we should have been ready—and we really, really could use that tax cut money now. Uh huh, I told you so, can this be the last time we as a party endorse tax cuts?

Helpful text for Party, community and teamwork, I know. All right, now that the primary economic driver has been indentified, Bob Herbert very astutely asks this morning why the hell it isn’t the primary political driver for the Democratic Party, too? It sure used to be, what happened?

President Obama changed his radio address today at the last minute to emphasize jobs, and has been pretty good at focusing on unemployment in the past, so it can be fairly argued that unemployment never lost focus with President Obama and the Democratic Party.

It can be truly said, however—just as Herbert does—that we as a country seem awfully ho-hum about the millions of unemployed among us when in fact jobs mean everything.1 Why isn’t there a “war” on unemployment with some almighty badass “czar” leading the charge to get all of our people back at work with well-paying jobs?

I am The Left, right, a loony pot-smoking hippie, so I possess the extreme radical idea of extracting $100 billion annual dollars from Pentagon instruments of death and switching it to social spending, for stuff like building schools, getting backups on our vaccines, fixing levees. There are many, many jobs in the DOD mine, oh yes.

I’m a liberal, not a progressive, eh, so I have the crazed perspective that US trade policy has been great for multinational corporations and an unholy disaster for employing little people. Do we really have to accept a trade system that is terrific at producing a lot of pollution and plunging wages?

At the end of the day in America, however, CNN is a very corporate entity, and who do we have to pass on these universal truths on a daily basis? Lou Dobbs. Y’all see the problem.

That would be my answer to Herbert to our seemingly trite acceptance to high unemployment: taking on the Pentagon and big business is way, way too hard for a political system that cannot pass campaign finance reform, coupled with a lousy corporate media.

I would also emphasize in the strongest possible terms, however, that President Obama possesses a brilliant intellect, and he did change his radio address emphasis today for employment. It’s that kind of ability to learn and instinct for crucial political moves that made Obama President and bode well for the future, as well as can be in these grim times. The final judgment of how President Obama handles unemployment is not here yet, not by a long shot.





[1] It has been widely noted by myself and many others in the liberal community how much Bob Herbert has changed in the last 12-18 months, his writing is much more bitingly colloquial, his topic instinct and flow attuned to a pretty good developing natural style, damn.

I have an enormous amount of respect for that, the positive ability to change. When President Obama was elected I realized that all the change I kept bitching about didn’t mean much to me if I didn’t change myself, isn’t that what the election really was about?

I quit smoking and took on a different element of public service for Michelle Obama. I doubt very much relevant effects of my efforts are apparent in any sense, but I am trying.

paradox :: 8:31 AM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!