Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Germany to immigrants: keep on truckin’!

Posted by Richard on May 22, 2018

A couple of years ago, Shikha Dalmia wrote an important column about why immigrants in America are by and large much more likely to assimilate than those in Europe:

Immigrants don’t need job programs. They need jobs. …

Jobs offer immigrants not just a paycheck, but also an entry into their new society, providing them with both the means and motive to learn its language and customs, all of which eliminates the need for formal programs. …

Yet many European countries have gone out of their way to deny or severely limit job opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees. Until a few years ago, most European Union countries prohibited asylum seekers from any employment until their application was processed, which could take years. Even now, Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh points out, Germany legally bars them from working for the first three months, Italy six, France nine, and England an entire year. Many countries, including Germany, restrict their employment to “shortage” sectors—and some even ban self-employment.

Even after refugees obtain work permits, their upward mobility is greatly restricted in Europe, thanks to the exceedingly rigid labor market in many countries. The unemployment rates of France and Belgium are nearly twice that of the United States. This dismal job market affects immigrants much more than the native born, thanks to Europe’s tough minimum wage laws and other labor regulations that protect incumbents at the cost of newcomers.

As a result, Muslim immigrants in Europe are much more likely to be filled with resentment, anger, and hatred toward their supposed benefactors. So Germany, where “officials estimate that more than 75% of the new arrivals are unemployed, collecting benefits and are ‘unlikely to find work’ in the next ten years,” [!] should be applauded for taking even small steps to address this problem, right?

Well, maybe. But given that both ISIS and al Qaeda have encouraged the use of vehicles as weapons of terror, and many such attacks have since taken place, this may not be the best choice of jobs programs for Muslim immigrants:

… Big problems such as this call for big solutions and the Germans think they’ve come up with a winner. What better job to give to these unemployed migrants than that of… being a truck driver. (Voice of Europe)

This plan is not only bound to make some Germans, especially those in Berlin, somewhat nervous, it will surely cause many to wonder why it would take three years to train someone to drive a truck. Perhaps the curriculum runs something like this:

  • Three months of commercial truck driving training
  • Nine months of intensive language learning
  • Twenty-four months of teaching the students how and why not to mow down infidels

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Pass this bill instead

Posted by Richard on September 15, 2011

When the President addressed Congress a week ago and exhorted them 17 or 18 times to "Pass this bill!" there was no bill to pass. No actual written legislation. Nothing at all on paper, only talking points on his teleprompter. After that was pointed out, staffers hastily drafted a bill, and the President has been waving the 150-page document ever since as he endlessly repeats "Pass this bill!"

The title of that belatedly drafted bill is the "American Jobs Act of 2011." But here's the funny thing: A dozen or two times a day, the Prez calls on the House (where it must originate) to pass that bill — now, not later! — and exhorts his followers to call their congresscritters and tell them to pass that bill. But no Democrat ever introduced the bill. The Prez keeps urging the House to pass a bill they can't pass. 

Yesterday, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1) decided to rectify that situation. He introduced his own bill, only two pages long, named the "American Jobs Act of 2011." It changes the corporate tax rate (and alternative minimum tax) to 0%. 

Brilliant. I love it. Call or email your congresscritters and urge them to pass Rep. Gohmert's "American Jobs Act of 2011" (H.R. 2911). It would create far, far more jobs than the President's amalgam of recycled tax increases, tax incentives for favored groups/behaviors, and "stimulus" spending. 

Warner Todd Huston thinks either Obama is incredibly incompetent or cynical and duplicitous: 

If Obama were an effective president Rep. Gohmert would never have been able to appropriate Obama’s bill name for his own. If Obama was effective he’d have crafted his jobs bill, delivered his speech that night, and lined up at least one Democrat, if not the whole Democrat Party, to introduce his bill the very next morning after the speech.

But Obama did no such thing. Not only was there no bill when he delivered the speech, even this many days after the speech the bill has never been introduced in the House of Representatives where such bills might begin the legislative process.

Of course, it is also possible that President Obama never intended to submit any bill named the “American Jobs Act of 2011″ in the first place. It is possible he never wanted such a bill debated for real because all he was doing was using it as a political ploy for his reelection campaign.

Whichever is the case, the best defense is a good offense, and Rep. Gohmert has mounted a marvelous offense. Let's help him out by talking up his "American Jobs Act of 2011" (H.R. 2911) as a sensible alternative to the President's as-yet unintroduced, as-yet unnamed "Son of Stimulus" bill. Contact Congress!

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More shovel-ready spending

Posted by Richard on September 9, 2011

I got home just a bit ago from a wonderful Stock Show sponsors dinner, which beat the heck out of watching the President's jobs infomercial. On the way back, I heard the bottom-line on the radio: another $450 billion for all the stuff that he spent $800 billion on already — infrastructure, teachers, high-speed trains — only to enventually admit that "those shovel-ready jobs weren't so shovel-ready." But this time, it'll work. Really!

Vodkapundit's drunk-blogging of the event provided more detail, and certainly more entertainment than the actual speech. Obama promised that all those new shovels-full of spending would be paid for. Stephen summarized how: 

4:23PM It will be paid for by future, unspecified spending cuts, that the GOP congress will have to come up with.

4:24PM And it will be paid for by tax increases “on the wealthiest Americans.”

So he's going to create jobs with more of the same profligate spending that has utterly failed to create jobs, and he's going to pay for it by penalizing the people who could, if unshackled, really create jobs.

And those unspecified spending cuts that the House Republicans are expected to come up with? I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that, during the election campaign, the Dems will berate the Republicans endlessly over every dime of those spending cuts, trotting out the geezers eating dog food, the children with no shoes, the lepers who can't afford their medicine, etc., etc., etc. 

Aw, to hell with politics. There's a football game on. 

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Bad jobs needed

Posted by Richard on July 10, 2011

Walter Russell Mead thinks the inner city today faces three key problems, and one of them is lack of jobs. But it's not more good jobs our large cities need, according to Mead, it's more not-so-good jobs:

Think of the path to successful middle class living as a ladder; the lower rungs on that ladder are not nice places to be, but if those rungs don’t exist, nobody can climb.  When politicians talk about creating jobs, they always talk about creating “good” jobs.  That is all very well, but unless there are bad jobs and lots of them, people in the inner cities will have a hard time getting on the ladder at all, much less climbing into the middle class.

Many sensitive and idealistic people in our society work very hard to keep from connecting these dots and admitting to themselves that bad jobs are something we need. Quacks abound promising us alternatives (“green jobs” is the latest fashionable delusion), but ugly problems rarely have pretty solutions.  We need entry level jobs that will get people into the workforce, and we need ways that they can learn useful skills at affordable prices that will help them climb the ladder and move on.

To get these jobs, we have to change the way our cities work.  Essentially, we have created urban environments in which the kind of enterprises that often hire the poor — low margin, poorly capitalized, noisy, smelly, dirty, informally managed without a long paper trail — can’t exist. …

Read the whole thing.

HT: Rand Simberg, who notes that, in addition to the factors Mead mentions, the minimum wage is part of the problem.

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Few jobs at a high cost

Posted by Richard on July 6, 2011

The President's Council of Economic Advisors released a jobs report on Friday, right before the holiday weekend, so you know they hoped no one would pay attention to it. And with good reason. According to Jeffrey H. Anderson, it shows that the jobs "created or saved" by the almost $900 billion in "stimulus" spending cost nearly $300,000 each (emphasis added):

The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.   

In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead. 

Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the “stimulus” had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs — or 288,000 more than it has now.  In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the “stimulus” has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs.

That's the good news! The bad news is that the economy lost many more jobs than originally reported

From 2007 to 2010, initial reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) told us that the economy lost 4.201 million jobs. BLS revisions have thus far ramped up the number of jobs lost by 2.43 million. The four-year total is now 6.631 million — a stunning 58% increase. As seen above, the bureau’s revisions to the 12 months of the real recession (July 2008 through June 2009) have shot reported job losses up by almost 1.9 million, a jaw-dropping average of 158,000 per month.

They’re not done yet. Every February, BLS performs a comprehensive “benchmark revision.” The next one will affect the period from March 2010 through December 2011. Considering the results of the past four years showing average additional job losses of 415,000, the next benchmark revision seems destined to push the figures even higher.

Is this sort of depressing jobs data revision typical? Well, no, not during the Bush administration:

By contrast, from 2003 to 2006, initial BLS reports told us that the economy added 5.103 million jobs. After all revisions, the four-year total rose by 1.605 million to 6.708 million — a 31% increase. The sum of all benchmark revisions during that time was a positive 675,000.

The observant reader might conclude that if the government's statistics are off by 58% in one case and 31% (in the other direction) in another, maybe they're just not very good at this econometrics crap. And the observant reader would be correct. 

Be that as it may, there's a more fundamental problem with the administration's claims regarding jobs "created or saved." It's the "broken window fallacy" identified by Frédéric Bastiat in his 1850 essay "That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen." Newsmax quoted a nice modern formulation from the Richmond Times-Dispatch (emphasis added): 

The effects of the stimulus have long been argued. Writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, A. Barton Hinkle reported that nobody could seriously argue that it had had no effect on the economy.

However, he likened it to a purse snatcher who took a handbag containing $500 and spent the money on a new television.

“It is categorically undeniable that the theft has created a sale for the TV store. Conservatives who pretend the stimulus has not created any jobs whatsoever stand in the position of an observer trying to deny the TV has been sold,” Hinkle wrote.

“Yet the liberal analysis lacks any recognition that the purse owner now has $500 less to spend on the laptop computer she was going to buy. The theft has generated one sale only by destroying another.

“The first effect is easily seen. The second is not,” Hinkle added. “But only the economically illiterate would conclude that just the first effect occurred, and that therefore the way to increase consumption is to encourage more purse-stealing.”

Exactly right. The Obama administration's strategy for improving the economy amounts to promoting purse-stealing. 

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Shovel-ready capes

Posted by Richard on April 21, 2011

In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up. Workforce Central Florida is helping out the unemployed in the Orlando area by offering them superhero capes:

The region's federally funded jobs agency is spending more than $73,000 on a media campaign to raise awareness of its services.

As part of a superhero theme, it has created a cartoon character named "Dr. Evil Unemployment" and spent more than $14,000 on 6,000 satiny superhero capes.

It plans to distribute the capes to jobless residents who participate in the agency's "Cape-A-Bility Challenge."

I wonder if they're spending federal stimulus funds on this campaign. If so, do you suppose there's a big sign that says, "Capes funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act"?

I wonder why they feel a need to raise awareness of their services. Are there so many competing federally funded jobs agencies in the Orlando area that they have to aggressively market themselves?  

But mostly I'm thinking: They're fighting Dr. Evil Unemployment with capes. With stagflation looming on the horizon, how long until someone brings back WIN buttons?

Whip Inflation Now button

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Another unexpected jobless claims report

Posted by Richard on September 23, 2010

Reuters is reporting that "New claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week." AP says "claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week" — although they've now rewritten the story to put the emphasis on a "modest rise in home sales." [Yeah, monthly home sales went from the worst in over a decade (July) to the second-worst in over a decade (August). Whoop-de-doo!]

Has any mainstream media source had a bad-news story about the economy in the past year or so that didn't include the modifier "unexpected" or "unexpectedly"? I don't know to what extent that's a conscious effort to manipulate public opinion; the liberal intelligentsia seems honestly puzzled that the administration's "brilliant" Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies aren't working. Their faith in big government solutions is as unshakable as a snake handler's faith that the Lord will protect him (and as rational).  

I've frequently thought to myself, "If I had a dollar for every story about "unexpected" unemployment news, I could retire to the south of France." I decided to take a minute with Google to test the theory: "unemployment+unexpected" (sans quotes) returned almost 2.5 million hits, and "jobless+unexpected" (sans quotes) returned almost 4 million. 

OTOH, if I restrict those searches to news from 2008-2010, they return only about 8,000 results. But a number of those listings reference multiple sources, and some conclude with links like "all 787 news articles»" — so maybe I'd have trouble swinging a villa on the Riviera, but I'll bet I could take a nice long vacation there. 🙂

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High-priced jobs

Posted by Richard on September 20, 2010

The City of Los Angeles used its $111 million in ARRA "stimulus" money to "create or retain" 55 jobs. That's $2 million per job. They'd better get those printing presses cranked up in Washington, because at that rate they're going to need another several trillion dollars to "put America back to work."

I wonder how many jobs are created for every $111 million in private sector investment. 

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Hiding unemployment

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2006

In Budapest, Hungarians rioted overnight because the government lied about the economy and unemployment. In Sweden, voters just elected a center-right government in part because the socialists have been massively fudging the numbers, claiming 6% unemployment when independent estimates are in the 15-20% range. Sweden’s Social Democrats had their worst showing since 1914. The Bullwinkle Blog and Rossputin.com connected the two events. The latter observed:

Maybe even true Socialists are seeing the light…just not American socialists. As George Will says, there are more Marxists on the faculty at Harvard than in all of Eastern Europe.

Publius Pundit, true to form, provided pictures of pro-freedom Swedish babes along with the election news and commentary:

As you may imagine, Sweden’s stock market went hog-wild, creating tons of wealth for lots of people across the board. Markets are forward looking and they see something they like in this victory that could unleash the energies of Sweden’s intelligent and itching to work young people.

It’s a great victory for markets and progress in a peaceful country that’s been socialist for way too long.

Meanwhile, over at TCS Daily, Nima Sanandaji of the Swedish free-market think tank Captus provided a fascinating look at one of the techniques used by the Swedish socialist government to "fight" unemployment. Jessica Petterson, an out-of-work 25-year-old Swede was pressured by the unemployment agency to meet with a work psychologist, who gave her some tests:

To her surprise the psychologist said that Petterson should be classified as disabled since she wasn’t good enough at mathematics. Jessica was shocked to hear this: "I might not be a math genius, but I know how to count," she told the paper.

The unemployment agency explained that it was simply a matter of changing a code in her status as unemployed. If she agreed to be classified as mentally disabled she would be entitled to a range of government subsidies and programs. In fact, she could begin working at "Samhall" – a government project aimed at providing employment for the disabled. There she could get a job cleaning and building wheelchairs.

Alarmingly, what happened to Petterson is not an isolated incident in Sweden. The state unemployment agency is constantly attempting to force people to "admit" to being disabled. Today 19.3 percent of those seeking jobs at the unemployment office are being classified as disabled.

Stockholm University professor Mikael Holmqvist, who has done research on the subject of Samhall’s workers, believes that most of these people are in fact not disabled at all. They have been lured or threatened into agreeing to become classified as such. The reason for this is simply that if you are disabled you are removed from the statistics of open unemployment, something that the current Social Democratic government greatly appreciates.

Classifying job-seekers as mentally disabled? Well, I do know a few places where you’d have to be crazy to want to work there. 😉
 

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