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Discussion in 'The OT' started by phrelin, Aug 6, 2009.
I think it was around the time that the lovely "Jobs Saved" measurement was created.
Apparently TIME chose to ignore the memo about keeping headlines about the economy positive. This is from this week's cover:
The small print says:
The thoughtful long cover article with the headline Jobless in America: Is Double-Digit Unemployment Here to Stay? includes the following:
Despite the real situation, this morning these two headlines greeted me:
Recession 'Very Likely Over'
Retail sales driven sharply higher
The first story is summarized best in its second paragraph:
Benanke does keep pointing out that the recession is over for bankers - nobody else. The second story requires you to read down to the 8th and 10th paragraphs to find out what the story is reporting:
The numbers are about the change over July. Yes, we all knew auto sales would jump. I've already posted about how bad September is for dealers on the Clunker's thread. Gee, gas prices went up in August as did vacationers. And clothing sales went up in August over July. I wonder if "Back to School" and fall/winter...oh never mind.
Let's all be happy for bankers and pretend the recession is over. What's the difference if you or a family member or a neighbor or former fellow worker is still unemployed along with the many millions of others who can't find work.:nono2:
Excellent point. This is why bank reform is needed immediately. This country needs to re-learn how to produce something other than stocks and bonds.
My feelings exactly, Stuart. Bankers and brokers just produce and store information.
Sadly, at the beginnings of the "information age" in the 1970's as I started using computers to generate more and more paper, I wondered what we could do with it - make paper clothing? Now that we have our information in accessible PDF's or whatever, I realized the guy who figures out how to put mustard and ketchup on them will be the real information age genius.
I know information is useful. But you can't eat information, you can't wear information, you can't live in information, you can't drive information.... A nation of people that produces food, clothing, shelter, transportation vehicles, etc., can also produce information. I'm not so sure about the other way around.
I haven't seen many bankers and brokers out in the fields or in the assembly lines. And in the past decade in this country many even focused on passing information just to each other in the form of "exotic paper" instead of financing the folks in this country who own the fields and assembly lines. And why wouldn't they. It was an activity not fraught with all those cumbersome regulations.
When a company can make more money pushing paper around on wall street rather than hiring people and producing a product, that is precisley what they will do. If you raise the taxes on corporate capital gains and cut tax rates for producers we would be out of this mess. Then we need to not let commercial banks get involved with investments and not let investment banks get involved in commercial banking... Simple concept and it worked from the depression until the changed that in the 90s and cut capital gains taxes to a rediculously low rate.....
phrelin: I firmly believe in the principle that most everyone has something they can do very well - a 'talent' for something that comes from who-knows-where, but they're good at it.
In my case, I can write really good software and it's easy for me. Ask me to diagnose a plumbing problem and I'll look at you like you have three heads. I write software that manages information - that keeps track of things and alerts people to circumstances that might otherwise go unnoticed. I've written software that helps keep health care costs down, that track usage patterns so stores can order more of what's making money, that coordinates other software projects keeping track of 6 million lines of code, that analyzes the performance of mutual funds worth billions.
Don't make the mistake that, for example, Microsoft doesn't "make" much because it's just shiny discs. I grant you that it's harder to quantify the value of information than something you can put your hands on - like a car or a toaster.
Djlong I agree with your view,also nice to meet another programmer.
Programming has always been a long term hobby of mine but most likely I should have made it my career long ago.here are a few of the major projects I've coded.
Omni-Com BBS (1981), Thousands of lines of basic code and assembly language input/output routines.
Menuet OS all assembly language OS,Merged official 32 bit version and the Russian version into one kernel that supported hard drives call the Grid Works EZ version,also converted many of the Russian Kolibri versions into english.
Maxi-Disk program and directory tree compression utility, CGP 4 (1979) color graphics and plotter print utility,Mail 3 data base sort and print program,also many other utilities including some card/dice games.
I think the USA should lead the way in producing new innovative green products and services that enhance life on this planet.
When I commented that
I was acknowledging much of an adult life spent with computers - including programming in COBOL and Fortran at the beginning with the IBM 360, then owning a service, custom software, and consulting business in the early 1980's using Tandy's, and then introducing and pushing for intensive computer use into government venues.
I was acutely aware the entire time that what I was doing should not be regarded as an end product but a system to support production of tangible goods and services. I don't minimize the technology or those who work in it, including myself before I retired. But I was troubled by the term "Information Age." Information when organized and presented properly can help me eat better, but I can't eat it.
I'm perhaps too much of a worrier. But I just had to keep remembering that information wasn't a real product by itself, even if the economy values it and many wondered around asserting "information is power."
We still need food, clothing and shelter before we need to know instantly about the missteps of Kanye West and Serena Williams. And the support of the use of power to the detriment of others is never a neutral act.
Interesting comparison of food/clothing/shelter to Kayne West.
You need sustenance before you need Twinkies. You need clothing before you 'need' "bling". You need shelter before you "need" a McMansion.
In the same way, you need to know when your investments are taking a dive before you need to know about Kayne West.
There is "fluff" in all industries. The thing is, *anyone* can raise a potato. It's a commodity. As more and more countries are better able to provide for themselves, more advanced countries have to capitalize on what they have that the "latecomers" don't - and that's experience.
I'm old enough to remember everyone complaining about cheap, shoddy Japanese imports.
After that, it was the Koreans (with the Japanese complaining about them as well).
Today it's China. In my own industry, the complaint is about Indians and it's taken a few years for employers to understand what Americans have that Indians don't. Just becuase you can replace that $75/hr specialist with a $15/hr 'body' doesn't mean you're going to get the same kind of productivity - even if you hire 5 of them. Only now are companies beginning to realize what one particular specialist I know said when he was replaced - "When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys".
I had forgotten that old adage.
I just hope by the time my 13-year-old granddaughter is 33, she'll be buying food, clothing and shelter made in North America from materials produced in North America using energy derived from sources involving no imports from outside North America, all created from the work of people sufficiently well compensated that the term "peanuts" would never enter someone's mind upon seeing the salary and benefits of the person receiving the least compensation.
I realize that makes me a reactionary since the conventional wisdom today favors a single, "we are the world" international economy. But producing the basics for day-to-day living should be from sources somewhat "at hand," IMHO. I don't care who makes my cell phone.
As some of you know, I've been carefully keeping track of the employment data particularly for California. Today is the day the state-by-state figures are released by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). And today I ran into a mind-boggling discrepancy.
If you read this AP story via Yahoo you are told that California lost 12,300 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in August. This information came from a news release by the State Employment Development Department (EDD).
The only problem is that the DOL spreadsheets show that California lost 116,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) or 91,862 jobs (not seasonally adjusted). Here's what the EDD news release has to say about this:
From what I can gather, both do their monthly numbers based on surveys which presumably are based on models. But the federal number of jobs lost in August is around 116,000 and the state's number is around 12,300, with the feds number being 9.4 times higher.
I guess this all works out somehow sort of, since I'm watching these numbers as compared to November 2007. The feds spreadsheet shows a job loss of 986,078 (seasonally adjusted) or 955,837 (unadjusted) while comparing EDD news releases 1,040,000 jobs were lost in the same period. I guess we've lots a million or so jobs. Or not.
But both say our unemployment rate is 12.2%, but that doesn't mean much because of the underemployed and those who quit looking.
All I know is that a bunch of people are out of work and I have no idea how the current situation compares to the Great Depression. :nono2:
Once in a while, someone says what we're all thinking. From the New York Times:
In other threads, I've mentioned a program I saw last year called "the People's Republic of Capitalism". It was on Discovery, hosted by Peter Jennings, about what's going on in China. When I saw the people who are making the things you mentioned, it was an eye-opener.
I will never again moan and complain about "cheap imported clothing". These people are coming out of conditions that migrant workers wouldn't touch. All they want is what we would call a "lower middle class" lifestyle.
When I hear people in this country complaining that the jobs are gone, etc. I ask them just how much they want to pay for a pair of jeans. Because you're going to have to pay a fortune if you want American workers on the job. What we need to do is forget about things that we can't do that cheaply anymore and concentrate on what our assets really are.
Competition seems to be good for everyone until someone's particular ox is being gored. Then they get all protectionist on you - and I used to have those kinds of reactions.
We've got a lot of know-how in this country, despite what some will tell you. We've got a batch of workers who are out of work because we don't feel like paying $50 to put the left door handle on a chevy anymore. But tell me these people wouldn't be in better shape if they were assembling wind tubine parts, or working on infrastructure improvements, or any industry that actually has "growth" in it's future. Clothes are commodities. Do you remember reading about the riots that the introduction of the sewing machine trigerred? Seamstresses and tailors went NUTS over what they viewed as an apocalyptic assault on their livelihood.
We're human. We evolve. We adapt. There is no way that we're going to go back to the days of the single-income head of family household that we so 'fondly' remember from the 1950s because I don't think we want the circustances that brought that around. remember - we were the ONLY industrial country left standing at the end of World War 2. The industrial base of the rest of the world was bombed out of existence. I think re-enacting that would be too high a price to pay just so we could go back to the Ward/June Cleaver lifestyle.
Here, here, DJ. Well said!
You're right, of course. Those in "third world" poverty situations would like a bit more from their labor. To make that happen, we Americans, Western Europeans, and Japanese who make up the "first world" middle class may have to compromise our expectations to permit a more general middle class throughout the world. But that's a tough transition. Sharing resources and energy with "the other" isn't natural to our way of doing things.
"Adapting" is a process in human history. In the past, it has involved the rise and fall of different civilizations, economic systems, and cultures. Those that are unable to adapt to new ways because they are stuck in belief systems fall.
Just keep in mind, that GE long ago automated wind turbine part manufacturing and, except for on-site assembly, producing an additional 100,000 wind turbines over the next five years won't create a lot of new jobs. Overhauling our power distribution system might require a significant number of construction workers, but we're still puzzling over how to pay for that mostly because to pay for it we're going to have to give up something right now.
As far as I know, the 1950's in the U.S. were pretty unique for the reason you describe. And we obviously won't be able to go back. The number of single-parent households, first-marriages-after-30 couples, and first-child-at-40 parents indicate that probably most really don't want to.
It's troublesome that in 2009 there appear to be many Americans who are stuck believing in "the Ward/June Cleaver lifestyle." In the '50's I was aware that they were caricatures selling a superficial social structure offering an ideal just out of reach for most of us with our behavioural defects. ("Mad Men" portrays well all the undesirable factors required to make it appear the world was full of Cleavers.)
But knowing all this doesn't keep me from worrying about what my generation has left my 13-year-old granddaughter to work through when she is 33 even if she as an individual can adapt easily.
I have a 22-year-old daughter who just graduated college and is starting her life in Philadelphia. She has her plans, and they'll take a lot of time and effort to make them work, but she's on her way.
My 17-year-old may be a different story. Bit less positive attitude but when she gets something in her head, she's doggedly determined to do it.
I know what you mean when you talk about worrying about them.
From the AP via Yahoo:
Bet there's not many bank and brokerage executives among this group.
The Department of Labor news release on September employment data is now being discussed in the press. According to the tables beyond the news release, since November 2007 nationally we've lost 7,801,000 (seasonally adjusted) or 8,039,000 (not seasonally adjusted) jobs including the 250,000+ jobs lost in September.