Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

Reid: It’s government jobs we need to create

Posted by Richard on October 20, 2011

It’s obvious to anyone who looks at how the 2009 stimulus bill spent $800 billion and how this year’s so-called jobs bill would spend another $450 billion that the jobs the Obama administration wants to “create or save” are government jobs and government contractors’ jobs. The only thing surprising about today’s outrageous statement by Sen. Harry Reid is that he’d admit this — and offer an absurd justification (emphasis added):

The Senate Majority Leader dropped this stunner in the context of explaining why Congress must drop everything and spend more money we don’t have to prop up public sector jobs.  Because, Reid apparently believes, government workers are the real victims of the great recession.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Democrat Party mentality, distilled:

“It’s very clear that private sector jobs have been doing just fine.  It’s public sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers.”

The private sector’s official unemployment rate has been stuck above 9%, and the real rate (accounting for all the people who’ve given up and left the labor force or are involuntarily working part-time) is at least 16% and maybe over 20%. Sen. Reid thinks that’s “just fine.”

Meanwhile, the government worker unemployment rate is 4.7%. And that’s where Reid and the Obama administration want to “create or save” more jobs, by spending another few hundred billion dollars we have to borrow from the Chinese — or take away from people whose spending and investments might otherwise create private sector jobs.

I’ve tried in the past to remember Hanlon’s (or Heinlein’s) Razor (“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”). But the Socialist Democrats have demonstrated through both their words and their actions that their purpose is to create more jobs in government, where unemployment is at 4.7% (effectively full employment), and that they don’t give a rat’s ass about the 9-16% (or higher) unemployment in the private sector.

In fact, their massive new regulatory schemes can only make private sector unemployment worse.

Shrinking the private sector while growing government: The sum total of the evidence strongly suggests that this isn’t stupidity or happenstance — it’s their intent.

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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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Stimulus spending necessarily costs jobs

Posted by Richard on January 25, 2010

Veronique de Rugy graphed employment and labor force changes against the government's "stimulus" spending, and the results aren't pretty:

Using data from the administration’s website Recovery.gov and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this accompanying chart shows the monthly increase in the number of unemployed workers and the shrinkage of the civilian labor force in tandem with the administration’s stimulus spending. In other words, it shows how not only that many workers have lost their jobs since the administration started spending stimulus funds, but also that many more workers have exited the labor market. The civilian labor force shrinks when individuals who were looking for work or were employed decide that their labor market prospects are not good enough to keep looking for a job or to stay employed. For instance, some people might decide to go to grad school instead of keeping a poorly paid job, while others might decide to not seek a job and instead stay home with their kids. One reason for the shrinkage could be that the current economic state is so bad that workers feel it is not worth their time and energy to keep looking for a job when there is no hope in sight.

Two things are sure. First, if it weren’t for workers’ mass exit from the labor force (600,000 workers exited in December alone), the unemployment numbers would look even worse that they already do. Second, government spending cannot create jobs.

(HT: Instapundit)

This shouldn't surprise anyone with a modicum of economics education. In fact, it's an utterly predictable result. A study released last March by researchers at Madrid's Juan Carlos University determined that each "green" job created by Spain's rush to embrace "alternative" energy (at a cost of $750,000 apiece in subsidies) cost the Spanish economy 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

The problem isn't specific to "green" energy, and it doesn't matter whether you're talking about direct government hiring, government contracts, government mandates on private activities, or government subsidies.

When government takes resources out of the economy (by increased taxing or borrowing) to fund any of these activities, it redirects resources from a more productive use to a less productive use. If that weren't the case, the heavy hand of government wouldn't have to forcibly redirect of those resources.

Ipso facto, these activities make us as a society poorer — although they certainly enrich the special interests who benefit from the redirection of those resources.

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Trying to fix what they don’t understand

Posted by Richard on December 3, 2009

Last week at AEI's Enterprise Blog, Nick Schulz posted about the astonishing curricula vitae of Obama cabinet members:

A friend sends along the following chart from a J.P. Morgan research report. It examines the prior private sector experience of the cabinet officials since 1900 that one might expect a president to turn to in seeking advice about helping the economy. It includes secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Housing & Urban Development, and excludes Postmaster General, Navy, War, Health, Education & Welfare, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security—432 cabinet members in all.

Obama cabinet's private sector experience

When one considers that public sector employment has ranged since the 1950s at between 15 percent and 19 percent of the population, the makeup of the current cabinet—over 90 percent of its prior experience was in the public sector—is remarkable.

Remarkable, indeed — especially since cabinet officers who arguably don't need private sector experience (plus the Postmaster General, who arguably does, given the USPS's financial woes) were excluded from the data. But I suppose they're the perfect fit for a president who's proud of having turned his back on productive private-sector work.

These people have neither the experience, nor the temperament, nor the mindset to effectively deal with our current economic woes. They and their union buddies, academic associates, lackeys, and sycophants are exactly the wrong crowd to conduct Thursday's "jobs summit." As Investor's Business Daily observed:

The government, from lawmakers to bureaucrats, does not create jobs. It can move jobs from the private sector to the public through tax-and-spend wealth redistribution policies. But because government spending crowds out private investment, it is not a wealth creator and therefore cannot be a job creator.

Government is often a job killer. Economist Richard Rahn noted during the last Bush presidency that "government spending reduces more jobs in the private sector than it can create in the government sector."

"Countries with large government sectors," such as France and Germany, Rahn said, "tend to have much higher unemployment rates than countries with smaller government sectors."

Economic reality won't matter at the summit, though. What matters are appearances.

The White House wants to make a show of doing something, especially after its policies have done nothing to boost growth or stop the job losses. It would like to erase from public memory the utter failure of the $787 billion stimulus legislation approved just after Barack Obama took office. The administration knows its claim that thousands of jobs have been created or saved by the stimulus is bunk. And it knows the public knows.

But the stench of failed government solutions will remain.

Read the whole thing

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“Laid off and loving it”

Posted by Richard on February 27, 2009

Try to imagine a mainstream media outlet publishing a story about the upside of unemployment and the joys of joblessness while a Republican sits in the White House. Can't do it, can you?

Six months ago, I bet the Boston Globe had its reporters out documenting the growing number of homeless families, the long lines at soup kitchens, and the bare shelves at food charities.

But in this brave new world of hopenchange, they're explaining how getting canned can give people a wonderful respite from the "success spiral" in which they were previously trapped: 

As the ranks of the nation's unemployed grows [sic], more Americans are facing the reality of life without work. Despite the grim task of making ends meet (firing the nanny, bailing on Whole Foods, applying for unemployment), there is a newly forming society of people who are making the best of being laid off. They are rediscovering hobbies. They are greeting kids at the school bus. They are remembering what daylight actually looks like. 

Ah, yes, the grim parts: making do without a nanny; foregoing the fair trade coffee; giving up the arugula salad with walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and maytag bleu dressing; cutting back on the organic bison filets. Despite the advantages, unemployment isn't a bed of roses after all.

As bad as it feels to lose a job, temporary unemployment can provide a much-needed intervention to workaholics who can benefit from such a break, said Douglas T. Hall, a professor at the Boston University School of Management.

"It's the success syndrome. You work hard, you do well. It's very satisfying and that gets you more involved to start working even harder," Hall said. "It's a success spiral that people get into. And sometimes it takes some extreme experience to get out of that spiral."

Kendra Winner, who in September lost her $95,000-a-year job designing teacher professional development training, described her escape from the spiral: "I'm loving being home because I no longer feel like the Eiffel Tower is crushing my skull. I was squeezing so much into limited bandwidth as a working mom. Now, I don't feel like I'm chronically overcapacitated."

Ah, the relief that comes from escaping the success spiral and no longer being overcapacitated. Maybe we need more joblessness. And extended unemployment benefits. And refundable nanny credits.

Give me a break!

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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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