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The Jobs Crunch 1307

randall_burns writes "Neither major party is accurately describing or combatting the Jobs Crunch that Americans are facing. Bad immigration policy-and bad trade deals are combining to decimate the middle class in America."
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The Jobs Crunch

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  • All I know is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:08AM (#10346955)
    For the first time in my life, within 4 weeks of one another, my sister lost her job, my friend lost his job, and his wife lost her job.
    These are NOT good times...although Bush would have us believe otherwise.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:19AM (#10346982)
      Ah, the old saying:

      A recession is when someone you know is out of work.
      A depression is when you are out of work.
      • Ah, the old saying:

        A recession is when someone you know is out of work.
        A depression is when you are out of work.

        Then we are in a MAJOR depression.

      • by dlelash ( 235648 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:57AM (#10347279)
        ...and a recovery is when George Bush is out of work.
      • Re:All I know is... (Score:5, Informative)

        by yo303 ( 558777 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:50AM (#10347659)
        A recession is when someone you know loses his job.
        A depression is when you lose yours.

        Yeah, good saying.

        Let me add what Reagan said in 1980: "A recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his." (sorry, I'm really a Democrat.)

        But just so you know, there is actually a big difference. In a recession, the value of the dollar in your pocket goes DOWN. In a depression, the value of the dollar in your pocket goes UP. It's astounding how few [people|economists] know this.

        You think inflation is bad? Try deflation, the oppostite, when prices go down.

        Loans are defaulted, because people suddenly owe more, and can't pay. Interest rates go up, since cash itself is more likely to increase in value than an investment. You're used to getting raises, to keep up with inflation... how would you like it if your boss gave you a timely drop in salary, to keep up with the drop in the cost of living? That's deflation, and it happened during the last US depression in the 30s. There has not been a depressed economy since then (possibly excepting New Zealand and Finland.)

        A recession is not a small depression.


        • Re:All I know is... (Score:5, Informative)

          by nyri ( 132206 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @10:34AM (#10348260)
          That's deflation, and it happened during the last US depression in the 30s. There has not been a depressed economy since then (possibly excepting New Zealand and Finland.)

          Japan was depressed economy just a few years ago. Here is a brief of Japan's economy from the economist:

          Japan's economic slump began with a stockmarket crash in 1989; persistent deflation then lowered wages and discouraged investment. For years the Bank of Japan took a passive approach before aggressively boosting the money supply to keep the yen weak in February 2003. That, combined with cost-cutting by Japanese exporters, has led to a rise in business profits and in the stockmarket. The government now believes it can halt deflation by 2006 (the OECD disagrees). Some companies have been able to clean up their debt, banks are looking healthier, and there are even signs that consumer spending, low during the slump, might rise again.

          In the long run, however, Japan needs reforms: an ageing population will shrink productivity, raise health-care costs and further burden the costly public pension system (though some economists have argued that Japan's public debt--161% of GDP in 2003--is not as crippling as it looks). Junichiro Koizumi, the prime minister, promised painful economic reforms in 2001, but his efforts have been half-hearted. Reformed and galvanised, Japan's unproductive service industries could take up the slack of future economic slowdowns and lessen the burden on export-led manufacturing.

    • Re:All I know is... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:33AM (#10347022) Homepage Journal
      Personal anecdotes may suffice for a lot of people, but for it to be a reasoned argument, personal anecdotes alone don't cut it as it falls under the fallacy of insufficient sample. This is because it could be explained as horrible luck for a small group of people, you need national stats to make such a case, and of course, an alternative canidate with a clear plan.

      Being jobless is rough though, and very unfortunate if it hits both wage earners in a household.

      Personally, I think Kerry needs to give out specifics on how he expects to fix things. It just seems to me that he's hedging, he still hasn't offered real solutions during his campaign. I do seriously want to vote Kerry, but it seems that the best argument for doing so is that he's "not Bush".

      If someone does have a clear statement on Kerry's proposed economic policy, I'd like to read it. Seriously.
      • Re:All I know is... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @05:04AM (#10347301)
        Here [johnkerry.com] is his "official" policy in PDF format from his website.

        Lots of big, simple, promises. I don't like those. Mind you, I can not imagine anyone doing a worse job with our economy than GW has. So I don't know what to think.
    • by Crazieeman ( 610662 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @05:22AM (#10347344) Journal
      Look, the rate of unemployment is 5.4%. It was 5.5% when Bill Clinton ran for reelection in 96. Amazingly, 5.4% for Bush is considered bad, 5.5% for Clinton is considered good. Go figure. Now if you're going to rant about job losses, you must remember the average rate for unemployment is roughly 6%. The mid-4s when Bush entered office were downright unusually low rates.

      Then enter the dot-com bust, the accounting fraud crisis that boiled over after it festered under the Clinton years, as well as 9/11.

      • Re:All I know is... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @09:26AM (#10347949)

        Look, the rate of unemployment is 5.4%. It was 5.5% when Bill Clinton ran for reelection in 96. Amazingly, 5.4% for Bush is considered bad, 5.5% for Clinton is considered good. Go figure. Now if you're going to rant about job losses, you must remember the average rate for unemployment is roughly 6%. The mid-4s when Bush entered office were downright unusually low rates.

        The way the rate is calculated was changed after Bush took office, so 5.4 is not comparable to 5.5 12 years ago. You're probably missing a whole 2 or 3 percent.

    • All I know is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @05:41AM (#10347379) Journal
      before that, your sister, your friend, and his wife were thinking ... hmmm... perhaps we can go to Europe for a nice vacation, and never realize that their own jobs were hanging by a rope.

      Wake up, people.

      Don't blame "bad immigration", or "globalization", blame YOURSELVES for being COMPLACENT !

      This world we live in is increasingly interconnected. Whatever we'd seen playing in the halls of UN 20 or 30 years ago today is playing right at our doorsteps - and that is, we aren't compete against other Americans for our own survival, but against THE WORLD !

      Yes, globalization goes both ways. While the third world countries are whinning about "Developing world conspire to re-colonize us", we, who live in FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES, must realize that while those sons-of-bitches are whinning, their cheaper labor is taking away our jobs.

      Usually, we single-minded Americans will yell and shout and demand our "representatives" to "DO SOMETHING" - which, more than always, mean "closing our borders", "stop outsourcing" etc, which in itself WILL NOT WORK ANYMORE IN THIS WORLD WE ARE LIVING.

      Instead of closing up, we SHOULD be OPENING UP EVEN MORE, and yes, that means, we should roll up our sleeves and COMPETE AGAINST THE CHEAPEST LABOR IN BANGLADESH, by using OUR BRAIN.

      Our plush lifestyle is at threat. If we don't do something, our high cost of living ain't gonna last. We gotta figure out ways to be BOTH the CHEAPEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO DO SOMETHING, and THE COUNTRY WHERE WE CAN LIVE In WHATEVER LIFESTYLE WE WANT.

      I am saying this base on my experience of a guy who have traveled and worked in all over the world. I am not that type of "Americans" who coccoon himself in the "protection of Uncle Sam". Rather, I go out into the WORLD and see what's going on, and btw, making money at it.

      Yep, there are people in the third world countries who will accuse me of "exploitation", but I don't mind. If they won't let me exploit them, then they won't get jobs. It's that simple.

      And then, there are Americans who accuse me of "exporting jobs to other countries". Again, I don't mind.

      You see, if I can't make a toaster oven in America under U$ 2.25, then I won't make money selling them not only in America, but also all over the world. I gotta find the CHEAPEST PLACE IN THE WORLD to do what I need to do, and if that means doing it OUTSIDE AMERICA, I'll do it in a jiffy.

      In the same token, the money I earned, I sent back to my good ol' U. S. of A. for safekeeping. No matter how I like the world outside America, America is still my country.

      To to those who want to close our borders - please don't buy any clothing, any furniture, any electrical appliances, any thing, in fact, because 90% of them are MADE OUTSIDE America !

      You can close the border to "immigrant, but you can't stop those things from coming in. It's us, the Americans, who demand CHEAP but QUALITY goods, so something gotta give.

      Until the day you realize you can't live the way you did, you wouldn't understand which world we are living in, my friend.

  • Outsourcing (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0lt ( 729408 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:09AM (#10346959)
    What about the state sponsored outsourcing? The US government is actively supporting outsourcing, examples here [upi.com], here [washingtontechnology.com], and
    • Re:Outsourcing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N3WBI3 ( 595976 )
      This is the *only* thing of worth Kerry has said, Now what he might do about it I dont know, and how business will react to having outsourcing clipped and taxes hiked at the same time also remains to be seen.

      How I long for a candidate who actually cares about both workers and business owners...

      • Re:Outsourcing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:13AM (#10347162)
        Now what he might do about it I dont know

        Believe it or not, he's actually got a plan for this. Unlike so many of his other proposals, this one doesn't revolve around ludicrously jacked revenue projections or unfunded mandates. Kerry's plan is to get Congress to pass a tax penalty on companies that send jobs overseas.

        Might sound good to some, but the net result will be increased labor costs (or increased tax and tax-compliance costs) for business, which will have the net effect of putting the breaks on an economy which right now is growing at a nice, sustainable rate. Since Kerry's spending plan already calls for nothing less than a wildly unsustainable 12.5% GDP growth per year for 10 years, the additional labor and compliance costs will make little difference in terms of tax revenues and a balanced budget. But it will mean that those businesses are generating less overall economic activity, which will have a net negative effect on domestic job growth.

        "Backfire," I think is the word I'm looking for here.
        • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @08:45AM (#10347826) Journal
          Labor costs are the PROFITS of the worker. You don't hear business owners complaining when their profits get too high, do you?

          Look, the highest standards of living in the world are in the social demcracies of Europe, and they have HIGH labor costs--they have minimum wages levels of like $12/hour. High lahor costs are a GOOD THING...IF, and ONLY if you are a WORKER. Now, if you are an investor or business owner, that is a Bad Thing.

          Fortunately, over 90% of Americans are WORKERS. Your problem is that you have been tricked by investor/corporate propaganda into thinking that YOU are an INVESTOR. Well, you AIN'T an investor. YOu are a WORKER. Deal with it. Accept it, and then help organize your country to HELP THE WORKER, like they do in Scandanavia.

          The reason the 3rd world IS the 3rd world is that they have LOW LABOR COSTS. That is the DEFINTION of being 3rd world.

          The reason many of the countries in NW Europe have the highest quality of life is because they have the HIGHEST COST OF LABOR. And it aint no accident. The two concepts are DIRECTLY RELATED.

  • by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:15AM (#10346968)
    Since it's so fashionable to compare our policy to the European powers, let's look at some of the numbers. In France, unemployment was 9.3% as of last year. Germany's unemployment rate was 9.7% as of 2 years ago. We had a bubble during the 90s, and it's only expected to pay the price now. The economy moves in cycles and is an extremely complex nonlinear system. To conclusively blame immigration and trade policy as the cause for an increase in unemployment is easy, but unfortunately also meaningless.
    • by dmayle ( 200765 ) * on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:27AM (#10347005) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, let's take a moment to look at those numbers. In the U.S., unemployment numbers are doctored so that they don't represent the actual cases. If you've been unemployed for more than 6 months, you drop off the charts because you're considered a lost cause.

      In the (mostly socialist) European nations, the government has a responsibility towards you. Many of those unemployed are on state-sponsored education and self-improvements tracks so that they'll be ready to re-enter the job market better prepared for the future.

      So, yeah, while other nations are experiencing the same job crunch that we are, most of them are actually doing something about it...

      • Well, then let's look at a time history of France's unemployment rate (source: economagic.com): 1990 9.1 1991 9.5 1992 9.9 1993 11.3 1994 11.8 1995 11.3 1996 11.9 1997 11.8 1998 11.3 1999 10.6 2000 9.1 2001 8.4 2002 8.7 2003 9.3 They'be been doing something about it for 14 years, with little to show for it, if you ask me. The original article references Japan as a model, and it's economy has been in the dumps for just as long (just look at a chart of the Nikkei). It's what happens when the g
      • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:03AM (#10347127)
        If you've been unemployed for more than 6 months, you drop off the charts because you're considered a lost cause.

        That's not actually correct. It's been repeated a lot, but it's false. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses a number of methods to determine the nationwide unemployment figure, not just unemployment insurance claims. They also use something called the CPS, the current population survey. It's a statistical sample in which respondents are divided up into three groups. If you've got a job, you're employed. If you don't have a job but are available to take one and actively seeking one, you're unemployed. If you don't have a job and you aren't unemployed, you're out of the work force.

        The 5.4% number, which is the one we're talking about here, does not come from unemployment insurance claims. It comes from the CPS, which means it counts people as unemployed for as long as they are looking for work.

        The BLS has a web site, and on that site they publish the monthly employment report, a document called the "Employment Situation Summary." It's got the percentages (5.4% unemployment, employment-population ratio of 62.4%, etc.) but it also has all the raw data you could possibly want. Go look it up sometime. It's pretty interesting.
      • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:51AM (#10347256) Homepage Journal
        Frankly it is tiring, Western Europe and what is today's EU has always respected free enterprise and private ownership, cornerstones of a capitalist economy.

        People in the US have no idea what they are talking about when they say EU countries are socialist.

        They may be more socially responsible than the US goverments perhaps, but private property and free enterprise has never been stopped.

        If you want examples of Socialist countries look at Cuba or North Korea, where everything is Socialized by means of state control and ownership.
  • by redhotchil ( 44670 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:18AM (#10346976) Homepage Journal
    Oh no neither party is helping? Gee.. wouldn't it be great if there were other parties besides the Dems and Reps? OH WAIT
  • by lowell ( 66406 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:20AM (#10346989)
    The problem is that these men who represent our presidential canidates, are the best that the parties could come up with. Out of everyone in the whole country. These four pricks. Thats insane. If this is the best that the dems and republicans can come up with then we need some different parties invovled in politics.
  • Wow, we're fucked (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:28AM (#10347011)
    I am one of the folks who is unemployed but not counted. I get sporadic work, so I forego even bothering with unemployment during the gaps. This whole situation sucks, there's no way out, and I'm depressed.
  • by Epeeist ( 2682 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:31AM (#10347016) Homepage
    It is difficult to be sure from a distance (I live in the UK), but what seems to be happening in the States is a move to what I can best call a neo-feudal society.

    At the top end you have the rich and super-rich, with limited call on their wealth in terms of taxes.

    At the bottom end you seem to have people who have to hold down more than one job to make ends meet, have limited access to medical care and whose children receive only a poor quality education.

    This leaves your middle classes, who are being squeezed. If they don't work in a service that requires personal contact then they are in danger of being outsourced to cheaper locations elswhere on the globe.

    Barons, serfs and guilds is the way it appears to be. It isn't quite as extreme here in Britain, but we are going the same way.
  • Ohio is a mess... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:35AM (#10347032)
    Data just came out showing that Cleveland, Ohio has the largest unemployment rate of any major city in the US. Cincinnati is on the brink of (and has fallen into) racial and class conflict. The whole state is an unbelieveable mess and it appears that even with an inept Republican govenor that Ohio will vote Republican and give the rich and corporations more and more tax cuts which they, in turn, will use to buy more foreign products and fund more outsourcing projects.

    Distribution of wealth is an nasty necessity that is created by the greed in all of us (once I hit the million dollar threshold I will give to the less fortunate - then it's once I become one of the 331 billionaires in the US -- well you get the drift...). Anyway, the Republicans have never and will never talk about redistribution of wealth. Flat taxes and sales taxes are rigged against the poor, but people seem to think they are a great idea because of conservative thinktank spin.

    The Democrats may have become as much of the problem as the Republicans, but at least they are still talking about these issues. I can't for the life of me undersand why a the population of a state on the brink of disaster would vote for a party that still talks about supply side economics and trickle down. I shake my head and then realize that to be a politician these days you have to be rich already -- it's no wonder that we are where we are.

    There will never be another farmer from Illinois in the Whitehouse, and I just don't see any solutions on the horizon...
    • Re:Ohio is a mess... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:55AM (#10347097)
      There was a study done recently that showed the people in the worst economic conditions tended to vote republican even though the bad economic conditions were caused by republicans. So places like Montana which have been controlled by republicans for over a decade and still have the some of the lowest wages and worst economies continue to vote for republicans overwhelminly.

      The author thought that it was due to cultural issues. I guess if somebody is doing bad you can always blame the homosexuals and the fornicators.
    • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:57AM (#10347105)
      "Data just came out showing that Cleveland, Ohio has the largest unemployment rate of any major city in the US. Cincinnati is on the brink of (and has fallen into) racial and class conflict."

      Thats an interesting observation.

      European nations can probably tolerate a much higher unemployment level before getting this sort of social unrest; in the US the unemployed have so much less to lose by being, uh, antisocial in one way or another.
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:25AM (#10347200)
      Anyway, the Republicans have never and will never talk about redistribution of wealth.

      That's not true. We Republicans talk about it whenever the subject comes up. We say that the redistribution of wealth by the state is (a) immoral and (b) unconstitutional. The conversation rarely goes beyond that, granted.

      Cleveland is a mess because its economy is shot. For more than twenty years the city has had a distinctly business-unfriendly fiscal plan, and consequently has failed to attract any significant outside investment. It's a slippery slope, because a city that's seen as bad for business is going to have a hard time correcting that image. But it's not impossible. It just take sound fiscal planning.

      The seizure of private property by the state is not the answer. Not only is it not the answer, it's not even an answer. It's immoral and wrong, before you even get into a discussion about whether it's good or bad.

      Flat taxes and sales taxes are rigged against the poor

      Sales taxes do, in fact, hurt the poor more than the wealthy, because poor people spend a bigger fraction of their income than wealthy people spend. This is offset to an extent by exemptions. Proposals to replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax--proposals which have never gone anywhere--have traditionally included a fixed credit that effectively establishes a minimum taxable income level.

      Flat taxes, of course, are not "rigged against the poor" at all. All citizens pay precisely the same fraction of their income in taxes. The only way you can come to the conclusion that they're rigged is if you start with the assumption that the wealthy should pay a bigger percentage, which is circular reasoning at its finest.

      I can't for the life of me undersand why a the population of a state on the brink of disaster would vote for a party that still talks about supply side economics and trickle down.

      'Cause it works? Nice job with the "brink of disaster" line, though. That's a play right out of Terry McAuliffe's book. Good job.
      • by SofaMan ( 454881 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @09:34AM (#10347976) Homepage
        Flat taxes, of course, are not "rigged against the poor" at all. All citizens pay precisely the same fraction of their income in taxes.

        Flat taxes *are* rigged against the poor, since any given fixed percentage of a person's income in going to mean a lot more to a poor person than a rich one. Let's pretend the rate is 15% - A person who only earns $10,000 a year is going to be hurt a lot more losing $1500 a year, than some who earns $100,000 losing $15,000. The rich guy still has $85,000, the the poor guy now only has $8500.
  • I graduated in May with a degree in Education and another in Computer Science. I can't get permanent work in either. In Houston. The epicenter of Bushism.

    All the layoffs of recent times have flooded the teaching ranks with people getting alternative certification. Add to that a recent flood of people who spent years in other roles in education just now finishing their degrees, and the new teachers are getting pushed out. That whole ETS scoring fiasco [theadvertiser.com] didn't help either.

    Read again to understand this: there are too many teachers. People in other countries may not understand the gravity of this, but for people who are used to teachers being the most pissed on of American professionals, this should be the ultimate sign of how bad things are right now.

  • Immigration policy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:50AM (#10347079)
    Yeah, it's always the fault of those pesky foreigners [thinkquest.org]...
  • Racismdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lurker McLurker ( 730170 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} ... semanloocehtlla}> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:50AM (#10347081)
    Well, I never expected to see this story on the front page of slashdot. What next?
  • Sad Day For /. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by R.Caley ( 126968 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:53AM (#10347087)
    When the rantings on a xenophobic loonie site are presented as fact.
  • Indeed So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MMMDI ( 815272 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:54AM (#10347091) Homepage
    The job market in this particular state (Delaware) is completely shot to hell and back. In February of 2002, the local DuPont plant laid off almost half of the entire work-force, including myself. I have been unemployed since then, and those unemployment benefits ran out back in November 2002... not fun. At first, I was a bit picky about my next job, I'll admit; having just lost a $15/hour job (with no college education, which is another rant for another time), I really didn't want to drop down to a McDonalds job due to the obvious decrease in the weekly check. After I realized that finding a similar-paying job wasn't going to happen, I went out to the usual teenie-employers to try my luck... Wal*Mart, Burger King, etc etc. I've been unsuccessful even with these places, and have been since I've started my job-hunting two and a half years ago. For the record, there's nothing about me that would lead someone to not hire me, such as criminal records, disability, race, any of that nonsense. (Obviously, those aren't supposed to matter, but speaking for this state, it does). Wrapping up my sob-story, moving to a new state is out of the question due to personal reasons involving my daughter, so we're stuck here. Always nice to hear Bush on TV saying that the economy is great, hah.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:23AM (#10347192) Journal
    "Bad Immigration Policy"? My ancestors let your ancestors move to North America, so don't bitch if we let other people move here too. Meanwhile, when I moved to California from New Jersey, I came twice as far as a typical Mexican immigrant, and I only speak one of the four or five main languages used here in SF, but nobody made me ask permission from some bureaucrat to move here.

    Yes, we've got a job crunch in this country, and we had a severe job crunch in the dot-bomb technology industry, with an estimated 49% of San Francisco's high-tech jobs disappearing, so my friends were affected much more strongly than the average American, and there's a non-trivial chance I'll get laid off next week.

    • One reason we're having trouble is that technological change created a lot of temporary opportunities for jobs until the market figured out what the web business was really worth and the VC money all dried up.
    • Another reason has to do with rapidly rising interest rates in Y2K, which _is_ something politicians had a lot of influence on, which happened as the Y2K-conversion software boom jobs dried up and the dogfood-on-line.com companies were running out of their early funding rounds.
    • Another reason is that Bush's protectionism raised the price of steel, hurting any American manufacturers who used steel, harming a lot more business than it saved.
    • Moore's Law really zapped the telecommunications industry, by suddenly giving us near-infinite fiber bandwidth when everybody's construction funding had depended on selling it at slowly declining prices, and the "Internet capacity demand doubling every 15 minutes" phenomenon only slowed down the crash a bit.
    • Information wants to be free and the Internet lets anybody work from anywhere in the world. That seemed like a good reason for everybody to move to San Francisco, but in fact anybody in the world who's reasonably educated can compete with us, even if the xenophobes don't let them move here. That's not just the software business - almost any white-collar job is really about either manipulating information or talking to people face to face; the cost of phone calls dropped to near-zero once government monopolies in most of the world realized that white-collar jobs were more important than ripoff telephone prices.
    • Container shipping means that not only can information go anywhere in the world, physical stuff can be transported cheaply too, so manufacturing jobs can easily be done around the world.
    • The American Education System has been declining over the last 30 years, just in case you thought this was a purely Libertarian rant. School systems aren't putting out the quality of education they used to, which means that students aren't prepared for high-value jobs, but schools also aren't teaching mechanical skills that laborers would use.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:34AM (#10347217)
    Thank god for that article. I was beginning to wonder if *I* might be the one responsible for my unemployment due to my choice of remaining in a one factory town, with my limited skill-set, narrow education, zero-ambition and unwillingness to take any job that was far beneath my abilities that can apparently be replicated by someone who grew-up in a third world country without indoor plumbing while educated in a classroom with a dirt floor. I'm so glad I can blame them foreigners and people in Washington. I was almost thinking that I was some kind of loser slacker who spent all my time on message boards downloading music (cause it was meant to be free!) and not trying to make myself into someone with valuable assets. Not my responsibility. There's no way you can convince me otherwise now. Forget the "data", this economy sucks because all my loser friends are out of work too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:46AM (#10347246)
    I have to say that a lot of issues presented in that article are the same sort of crap that's been tossed around for decades.

    For instance, mining and metallurgical refining are extremely high-risk cost-dependent ventures, and they always go wherever is cheapest. My dad's been designing mines for decades, works around the world, and sometimes you can't even get a gold mine going in a place with incredibly low labour costs like Costa Rica! So to point to a shift of refining work to Canada and Mexico as being a fault with NAFTA is just incorrect-- it's exactly what NAFTA was designed to do, in order to make it cheaper for Americans to buy products.

    As for Visas, many people on HB-1s, J-1s, etc... leave the U.S. after a few years. They're here for training, and that's it-- and when you consider the legal hurdles that companies have to go through in order to get foreigners (like moi) into the country in the first place, you should realize it's not going to happen if companies could easily find adequately skilled people here in the U.S.

    No, I'm afraid what's really wrong with the U.S. job situation is very simple-- there are extreme disincentives for companies to hire new employees if they can make current employees work overtime.

    'Fess up. How many of you work overtime for little or NO pay? 50% of you? 75%? How many of your companies had massive layoffs in the past decade, then been very slow to rehire even as the bottom line improved?

    I'm good at what I do, and I'm willing to work hard, but realistically, the company I work for should have hired half a dozen more people instead of just me.
  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:53AM (#10347267)
    Bad immigration policy-and bad trade deals are combining to decimate the middle class in America.

    In the country where I live now I'm an immigrant, having settled and got citizenship about 8 years ago. I have been through many arguings and blind quarrels over the years over "immigrants take our jobs" and the like.

    What I've found is the people who complain the most are those who are just down in the dumps, not necessarily because they couldn't get a job, but because they didn't want to accept any job, or just politicians who are what they are, anyplace, or just bloody ignorant.

    It's the most easy to blame increasing uneployment rates on others who have jobs, especially if they come from abroad.

    Really no offence and forgive my ignorance, but I have to tell, U.S. people also have their history on intolerance, racism and xenophoby.

    You also have to take into account that some effects of the late dotcom boom and blow are still showing today. I mean there was a continuing very large over-employment of IT "professionals" , very many of which are dismissed even today.

    What I want to point out is that there are very many aspects that lead to the given rising unemployment rates in the U.S. (and just that you know, that is _not_ that high if you consider other countries as well, which americans tend not to do), and only one of them may be connected to immigration of qualified professionals (I intentionally don't mention seasonal uneducated workers, that's another area of the problem).

  • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:53AM (#10347662) Journal
    The main reason we are in this mess is that our leaders, our elite, operate not in the best interests of the general welfare, as the Constitution requires them to, but in the best interests of the corporations and the investor class. Bush is the most extreme example of this, but Clinton did it, too, as did Reagan. Bush the Elder may have been the worst. Carter practically started it.

    The reason our leaders have been able to do all of this is because some ultra-rich people and the multinational corporations spent billions of dollars over the last 30 years or so to convince all of America that liberalized trade and immigration policies would benefit Americans. In a way, they obtained our consent to do this, but they actually "manufactured" our consent.

    For a more detailed explanation of this 30-year propaganda blitz, See this September 2004 article in Harpers magazine about these "Tentacles of Rage." [mindfully.org]

    The massive propaganda machine was built around think tanks and foundations that literally from the ground up built a vocabulary and worldview favoring free trade (and liberal immigration, which just one part of "free trade"), all designed to drive down wages and taxes for corporations and the rich, and increase corporate profits and increase unemployment and underemployment, and in general disempower the average worker.

    It worked! Corporate profits are way up, and they pay less in taxes, while the average worker is scrambling.

    What do you call politicians and bureaucrats who willingly go along with such a scheme?

    I call them traitors, guilty of treason. I think our leaders, including our Presidents, present and past, should be held accountable in a court of law for this treason.

  • A Lousy Article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amigori ( 177092 ) <eefranklin718&yahoo,com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @08:02AM (#10347686) Homepage
    Stylistically, this is a terrible article to read. Since when did one sentence equal an entire paragraph? (Yes I know the newspapers often do it.) Although, after checking other articles on this site, they all seem to be written this way. The author could have written the entire page using bullet points.

    All he did was state data, interpret, and generalize. He indicts rebuplicans and the current administration for corporate decisions; democrats for their failure to understand their constituents. He is assuming the Kerry-Edwards campaign will succeed in November by advising them in what they should be doing, manage the trade defecit and immigration. By doing so will magically grow the middle class and their disposable income.

    For being an economist, why doesn't he understand that and unemployment rate of 5.4% is very good and one of the lowest in the world. Its certainly better than the double-digit numbers in most of the world and certainly this [rupe-india.org] overall number from India.

    As for the shifting of capital and the growing divide of the classes, name one successful society, where the controlling power had a monetary policy will divide the currency exactly among its citizens. Just one... Nope? I didn't think so. The closest example I can think of is the USSR, and they still had the rich elite controlling the working class; and it only lasted 70 years.

    Last time I checked, my blue-collar, low-wage friends and I all have the same opportunity of wealth as the rich kids we tend to resent. Notice, I did NOT say that it would be easier because often capital is more difficult to obtain, but we have the same basic opportunity to start a business as the next person. We have the greatest entrepreneurial environment in the world and its ours to take advantage of. People from other countries see this and other advantages our country offers and immigrate. Is the global playing field level? No, it never has been and it never will be. Life is not fair. Life is hard. Get over the idea of being employeed in one place for your entire life in a job that a trained monkey or robots can do.

    Will the election in November help? No. Its just a corporate sponsored figurehead with a puppet administration. Either one. What about a third party? Well, we effectively shut them out a generation ago and now, they're just a talking point.--Amigori

  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @10:01AM (#10348097) Homepage
    It's easy to blame immigration and say, "Look at all the foreigners coming into our country and stealing all our jobs."

    Let me ask you this? Why must we have immigration?

    The answer is that you want you society to resemble a pyramid with the youngest at the base of the pyramid, the middle aged in the middle, and the eldest at the top of the pyramid. If your society is not shaped like a pyramid, social programs and the system of collecting taxes completely fall apart.

    In order for society to maintain a balance, every woman needs to have on average about three kids. How many kids did your parents have?

    How many kids are you going to have?

    Because citizens don't have enough kids to fill in the bottom of the pyramid we must have immigration or, we have to re-engineer our social systems and methods of tax collection. Take your pick.

    This is why France has the largest muslim population in Europe. Native France citizens didn't have enough kids to support the country. SOo to supplement they had to allow immigration.

    This is why Japan is doomed without immigration. Women there are now refusing to marry and having kids later and later (post 35). Pretty soon the population pyramid of Japan will be inverted with the oldest at the top. I predict they will allow immigration soon.

    Africa's population has no middle. Only the very young and very old. The middle was wiped out by AIDS.

    So that's the long and short of immigration. If you want something different, you have three choices:

    1. Have more kids.
    2. Change your system of collecting taxes (shift the tax burden higher up the pyramid).
    3. Change your system of social programs. Maybe public education is no longer free. Maybe social security vanishes. Lot's of cuts will have to be made since there are fewer older people to pay taxes and usually they pay less.

    The sad thing is that our politicians don't explain the social engineering of our country and let everyone jump to their own conclusions. The Repulicans know that if they do not capture the Hispanic/Latino/Mexican vote that they will NEVER win an election again. That is why Bush speaks spanish and was going to open the immigration flood gates to Mexio prior to 9-11. Right now, it's a giant mess and we really need some good social planners to figure out how best to manage our society in the direction that we want it to go.
  • by heby ( 256691 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @10:04AM (#10348112) Homepage

    did anybody read the article or is this just about comiserating about unemployment?

    American trade policy has been pro-"free trade" without requiring that the trading partner have equivalent environmental or employee protections. These blind spots have, for example, caused the export of almost all American non-ferrous metals processing jobs to Mexico and Canada.

    while "made in china" might mean this, i can't believe how this article tries to take a shot at the NAFTA countries. Mexico might not live up to US standards (but i want to see the American consumers pay the prices for "made in USA" DVD players etc. ...), but it certainly does not apply to Canada. yes, i'm sure, you can always find one or the other rule where Canada's rules are looser but the next thing you look at, it will be the other way.

    immigrants are an important economic factor in the western world.
    -look at Europe: europe is struggeling because of its aging population which causes health and old age pension costs to skyrocket; not so the US. the birth rates are no higher in the US but immigration keeps the average age at bay because young people enter the country.
    -immigrants are not only workers; they are also consumers. so they don't take jobs away from americans, they simply increase the population.
    -legal immigration should be simpler because legal immigration is much better than illegal immigration - legal immigrants work under the same labour and health standards as Americans and they pay taxes. none of this can be said of illegal immigrants. they are at high danger of abuse in many ways by their "employers" (or slave drivers) and they have no way of defending themselves because any legal action would cause them to be kicked out.

    in my opinion, this article is full of xenophobia and uses the current anxiety about jobs to try to convince people that immigration and immigrants (clearly one of the weakest groups of society who have little or no political voice) are the root of all evil. this is simply disgusting.

  • by MS_leases_my_soul ( 562160 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @10:54AM (#10348347)
    Does this take the self-employed into account? I read tha article and saw nothing about the self-employed mentioned anywhere in there.

    From what I have read from the federal government's figures, once you take the self-employed into account, Bush is creating jobs, not losing them. Since the self-employed are not being taken into account by the "left", I can not trust anything they have to say about avarage salary since they are not taking millions of workers into account.

    Now don't take this to mean that I support Bush either. The whole Homeland Security continues to rub me the wrong way. And the federalizing of the airport screeners?!?

    As far as outsourcing goes, every company I have personally been involved with that has outsourced to India (5 in the IT arena) have all seen it as a huge failure and pulled it back in-house. 2 where development and 3 were tech support.

    I do agree with their take on worker visas. If you want to work and live in America, become a citizen.

    The lowering "disposible income" figure is very misleading. This has been torn apart by the "Right" because you look at what is considered "essential" today as compared to 30 years ago. Who doesn't have a washer, a dryer, a television, and a telephone today? Today they count as essential. Decades ago they didn't. Thus, the "cost of living" goes up and the "disposible income" goes down.

    Economics is the easiest thing to understand at a systemic level and the hardest thing to actually implement at the individual level. "Economies" do not change, the earning, spending and investing of individuals changes.

    But when you get right down to it, you need the American people to keep more of their own money and for them to spend that money buying products from American companies that employ American workers. Those workers need to invest in those American companies and thus increase their personal wealth while giving the companies more capital to expand.

    Oh, and those of you blaming the President for the economy need to remember that it is CONGRESS, not the President, who rules the country's taxes and spending. While the President provides the leadership, CONGRESS is to blame. Vote accordingly.

    In my opinion (and, since I am not an economist, it is just my opinion), we need to:

    - reduce federal spending (make Congress personally responsible for any deficit?).

    - lower taxes for those who pay taxes (the lower 50% of the earners in America pay no taxes!).

    - streamline the tax system with the Fair Tax. Once you get rid of most of the IRS, you lower federal costs, you lower the costs of businesses and individuals doing their taxes, you make your tax burden directly linked to your spending, you remove ALL tax burden from those living in poverty, and you lower the cost of American goods, thus making them more competitive in the world economy.

    - as individuals, buy products from American companies (preferrably made entirely in America if you can still find one).

    - phase out social security (the third rail of politics!). This will never happen, but it should. Over 12% of every worker's paycheck goes to retired people. Imagine if half that money went into your personal IRA account that would actually be worth something when you retired! (Also, as a side note, black men have the lowest life expectancy in America. White women have the highest. Statistically, social security takes money from young black men and gives it to old white women!)

    - get the government out of the charity business. Let groups like the Red Cross, the United Way, religious charities, etc. do this work and treat people as individuals instead of numbers.

    - put the government back on focus to what it MUST do, not what people WANT it to do. The government should not be a wealth redistribution plan. Government should provide the Common Good Required For Existence.

    - Without breathable air, drinkable water, and land that can support farming and ranching,
  • by Bobzibub ( 20561 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @03:26PM (#10350051)
    But that doesn't make it OK to blame foreingers for all your country's problems.

    The Labour force participation is dropping because baby boomers are retiring. This means that the generation younger will be paying a hefty bill for their retirement. Social Security will not withstand this problem--people do not have as many kids and the only way to "pay" for it is to have immigration. Grampa is not going to have the retirement he hopes for.

    Much of Europe has the same issue. Many of those countries have declining populations. How will the old be able to have a secure retirement? They won't without immigration.

    If you want to blame something for the unemployment rate, it is not sufficient to assume that every immigrant entering the US == one job lost to an American. It is simply a too simplistic view.

    To blame trade agreements for lost jobs is unfair. Every time a government negotiates a trade agreement they claim that they will train people with new skills for those who have lost their jobs. They should do it. This is the right policy, but how many governments have actually followed through with the promise? Not many.

    With free trade, those that have 3rd world skills will be offered 3rd world wages. Ask what your government has done to lower tuition lately?

    There is a classic economic discussion about economies: "Guns and butter" Essentially, the argument is that some societies place more emphasis on the Guns than Butter (or vice versa). These are just two products, but they have symbolic value: You folks spend more than the rest of the world combined on the military. Could it be better spent? Do you really want to be an empire, knowing the costs to your own society? One stealth bomber can pay for an awful lot of teachers. North Korea has made it's choices. They blame the evil south and the evil US oppresssors--bla bla bla. They have a militaristic outlook. Their people must eat bark and roots and possibly each other. Don't walk down their shoes, alright?

    To single out some arbitrary group, and then blame them for your ills, is a classic approach seen many times throughout history. It has never solved anything before, so why do they think it'll work this time? Sure it'll get one politician over another elected, but that doesn't really solve anything does it?

    For those that agree with the page's ideas: Instead of thinking about how to worsen someone else's situation, at least try to think about improving your own first.

  • by Randym ( 25779 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:41PM (#10350542)
    Libertarians: Start your own business. *Create* your own job, instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

    Greens: Organize your neighbors and start sustainable cooperatives, especially around "life necessities" (food, shelter, health care, education). Undercut the corporate monopolies.

    These are both viable alternatives. However, they both require determination, optimism, personal responsibility and hard work; therefore, they won't be popular with people who were brought up in an educational system that encouraged them to be passive workers, rather than active owners.

  • by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:52PM (#10350616)
    I love how in TFA, they say (under " Professional "Guest Workers.""):

    "Since the employer pays a token fee for a guest worker visa, the employer is essentially using the public resource of immigration rights as a partial compensation--a practice even pro-business economists like Milton Friedman admit is a de facto corporate "subsidy"."

    Friedman is *not* a "pro-business" economist. He is a pro-free-market economist -- and there is a difference. Pro-business economists prefer policy that explicitly favors businesses. Pro-free-market economists favor policy (or more-often, a deliberate lack of policy) that favors a freer, more-open marketplace, or the elimination of policies which oppose the goal of a free-market -- even if that more-open marketplace comes at the expense of the desires of some businesses.

    Friedman would support fewer regulations on the financial industry, for instance. Yet, having worked in a big financial firm myself (which shall remain nameless), some of these companies actually support increased regulation -- because they know it benefits their cause of making a profit. In this way, Friedman could be alternately described as anti-business -- or, more-correctly, a neutral onlooker who prefers a free-market to outright pro-business policies.

    Not that I would expect the illiterates of free-market economics (i.e. "progressives" or "socialists" or "Greens" or whatever they're calling themselves this week) to actually understand the difference between "markets" and "business"...

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