Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Economic News

I'm going to bundle together interesting news from the last several days, sorted by topic. This batch is all stuff dealing with money.

Michael Moore | Goodbye, GM
Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com: "I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled. As I sit here in GM's birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned.


This has its ups and downs. I believe that mismanaged companies must be allowed to fail, so I'm pleased that the government has stopped pouring money down this particular rat hole. However, much distress and damage had already resulted from this company's collapse; more is to come; and I'm unhappy about that. I think the situation could have been handled better, and that our social support network is disgracefully shabby.

Dean Baker | Investigating the Collapse: Looking for the Killer We Already Know
Dean Baker, Truthout: "Congress may establish a commission to investigate the causes of the economic crisis. This may be a useful exercise in publicly shaming those who are responsible for an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering. That would be a good thing. These people should be held accountable. Those in the financial sector who broke the law should go to jail, or at the least, lose their ill-gotten fortunes. The public officials whose incompetence and/or corruption allowed for this disaster should lose their jobs and never again be given a position of public trust."


I really like Baker's core premises here: 1) Analyze failures to determine why they happened. 2) Ensure that those whose incompetence, greed, and/or other foolishness caused the problems are censured and prevented from repeating the performance elsewhere. 3) Establish protections to prevent future repetitions.

Robert Reich | The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers
Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog: "We should stop pining after the days when millions of Americans stood along assembly lines and continuously bolted, fit, soldered or clamped what went by. Those days are over.... Any job that's even slightly routine is disappearing from the US. But this doesn't mean we are left with fewer jobs. It means only that we have fewer routine jobs, including traditional manufacturing. When the US economy gets back on track, many routine jobs won't be returning - but new jobs will take their place."


The problem I see with this is that the jobs we're losing are substantially better than the jobs we're gaining. Manufacture is skilled labor that traditionally commands decent wages and regular hours plus a benefits package with health care, pension, vacation time, sick leave, etc. The job market is overwhelmingly swinging towards retail and service jobs with low wages, short and/or erratic hours, few or no benefits, and low job security. This is part of how we got from an economy where one job would support a household to an economy where it takes 2-5 jobs to support a household. People are overworked, underpaid, overstressed ... and it's making them sick and insane in ever increasing numbers. This is not sustainable. We need to fix it.
Tags: economics, news
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