Sunday, January 10, 2010

December's unemployment numbers

The actual unemployment number for December 2009 hit 17.3%, basically unchanged from the previous two months. Note that I am counting everybody who is available to work full time, who wants to work full time, who is not currently holding a full-time job. This is how unemployment was measured during the Great Depression (not with the bullshit statistical corrections currently applied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

So, where are we on the Great Depression Scale? Well, closing in on 1932. But not there. And hopefully won't get there, but that depends on continued stimulus, which has at least stopped the numbers from going upwards.

Sooo.... what about all this news about economic upturns yada yada yada? Utter nonsense. The economy can't turn up until consumption turns up. Government consumption has increased since January 2009, but that was more than offset by a reduction in private consumption as people lost their jobs. In other words, until people have jobs, and until people who DO have jobs feel secure in consuming rather than saving to create their own ad-hoc unemployment insurance since this country's system of unemployment insurance sucks donkey dicks, the economy can't turn up.

At which point you say, "hold it -- isn't this chicken and egg? You need jobs before the economy to turn up, but you need the economy to turn up before you can have jobs!" Oh bullshit. There's tons of things that can be done. First of all, you can un-outsource some of the jobs that have been outsourced overseas. Start taxing companies on their overseas operations on a level that would make it just as expensive to build shit overseas as it would be to build shit in America, and you'll see them swarming back to America like flies to a cow patty. It's a myth that overseas workers can build shit better than Americans can -- Toyota's American-built cars are just as good as their Japan-built cars, in fact, they export cars from the USA to Japan -- overseas is just cheaper, usually. Well, make it stop being cheaper, dammit! Now I hear you saying, "but... but... Smoot-Hawley! It made the Great Depression worse!" Oh bull fucking shit, imports during 1929 were only 4.2% of the United States' GNP and exports were only 5.0%, meaning that the most that the tariff could have affected the economy by was 0.8% net exports. US GDP fell by *30%* in the period 1929-1933. In case you can't add, 30% is a helluva lot more than 0.8%. And today the U.S. is a net *importer*, not a net *exporter*, so it would have *positive* effect on the U.S. economy to reduce imports by pulling back more manufacturing to the USA.

And even if we can't get the jobs back, we can get people spending again by making it *seem* like they have jobs, money-wise. Just set unemployment benefits at 80% of previous income, *for the duration of the recession plus six months*, and people will breathe a sigh of relief and start spending again, content that if they *do* lose their job, they'll have to cut back a bit but will still be able to keep their homes and cars. Unemployment payments in many states are bullshit. For example, Arizona's maximum unemployment benefit is $240/week, or $12,480 per year. Crap, that isn't even poverty level, the only thing you can rent for that little money is a cardboard box under a freeway aqueduct. Who the fuck is going to spend money right now when they know that they will be homeless if required to rely on the bullshit that is U.S. "unemployment insurance"? Instead, they're going to shovel every dollar they can get their hands on into savings as their own ad-hoc "unemployment insurance", basically seeming like they're *already* unemployed as far as the economy is concerned.

And that's just two ideas off the top of my head. Give me ten minutes and I can come up with a hundred more ideas. In short, there's a lot that could be done to increase employment and consumption and get the economy moving, either directly or effectively. But none of it's getting done, because politics in America has turned into partisan bullshit where nobody gives a damn about America and Americans, just about how many political points they can score. People who attack Americans are enemies of America, period. Remember that, next time you turn on Faux News and see "news" anchors attacking Americans...

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin


  1. Well. that's not the way
    sees it.

    I think I mentioned New Deal Denialism here recently. Rauchway has consolidated his responses into a short article, found


  2. Ron Paul is a pediatrician, not an economist. And a moron besides. WTF does he know about economics other than some plausible-sounding bullshit that he apparently ran across 100 years ago and has never bothered to learn more about?

    And hey, everybody knows that FDR caused the Great Depression, right? That Hoover dude? Bogus, man, just bogus, nothing to do with it.

    - Badtux the Tongue-in-beak Penguin


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