Friday, August 05, 2011

In a bad economy, don't piss people off

Bill Whitaker (CBS Evening News -- link has text and video) reports on veterans efforts to find jobs. It is known that young male veterans of the current wars are the hardest hit.

I don't doubt that high rate of unemployment. I do wonder about the figures now being used. Generally, the news media uses employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And a friend who is a disable veteran from an earlier war brought up the issue this week wondering how many of the unemployed young veterans were disabled or challenged?

Good question. In 2010, the Bureau noted that the rate for disabled veterans was the same as for those with no disability. But that was all veterans, of all age groups.

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are set to be released later this morning. That'll be July's data. Currently, we have June's data and there's not a break down by age. But male veterans of the current wars, of all ages, had an unemployment rate of 13.5% (up from 10.8% in June of 2010).

Though women are repeatedly ignored by the media, they had a 12.1% rate (down from 15.8% in June of last year). It's interesting that in the summer of 2010, women veterans of the current wars had the highest unemployment rate but no one called for hearings on that. It's interesting and it's telling and the true unemployment rate needs to be known and not a figure here or there. The number's been bandied about in Congress, it's always changing. And I mean within a 30 day period.

To be very clear, we champion for veterans to get what was promised them. That means the health care and any other benefits. We do not, at this site, put any class of Americans above another class. This isn't a military junta, this is supposed to be a democracy. In a democracy, all are supposed to be created equal.

What's my point?

Alexandra Alper, Matt Spetainick and Eric Walsh (Reuters) report, "President Barack Obama on Friday will propose a $120 million package of new tax credits for businesses that hire U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at a time of stubbornly high unemployment at home." UPI adds, "The proposal, which Obama was to make at the Washington Navy Yard at 11 a.m. EDT Friday, will call for a $4,800 'Returning Heroes' tax credit to companies that hire veterans unemployed for six months or more and a $2,400 tax credit if they hire one without a job for less than six months, the adviser told the Examiner."

You might look the other way if veterans were facing huge unemployment in a time of prosperity. But the entire country is facing unemployment.

As most of grasp hearing Barack repeatedly lie about the military service of his grandfather (the White one), he's really sensitive to the fact that he didn't serve in the military. So he overcompensates and exaggerates. And that's fine in his own remarks but he can't do that with policy.

A) It's not fair. B) It's not smart.

Let's deal with the second one because we all know Barack wants to be re-elected. Young veterans of today's wars is a small sample of the overall population. That's why we're repeatedly told that most people don't even know anyone that's served in Iraq or Afghanistan. So a policy that will anger the largest pool of voters isn't a smart policy if you're trying to shore up votes.

Now the fairness issue, why is a subclass of male veterans getting this? African-American males over the age of 20 have an unemployment rate of 17.0% (seasonally adjusted, June 2011). Where is the program for that classification?

For today's veterans, the Congress has proposed post-service training programs and licensing and certification programs to give veterans the paperwork they need to market the skills they learned on the job. There's no problem with that. It should be done.

But when you're offering tax breaks to hire one group of people at a time of massive unemployment across the country, you better be able to justify it and you damn well better be sure it doesn't end up pissing off most people. When the unemployment lines across America are so massive, you're offering a tax incentive to hire one group means every other group of unemployed Americans are now at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a job.

That's reality. In a struggling economy with massive unemployment, jobs become a zero sum game and Blaine getting a job due to being a veteran means non-veteran Alex isn't getting that job
because there's no tax incentive to hire Alex.

In a prosperous time when jobs abounded, you could argue employment wasn't a zero sum game. But that's not the realities the US currently faces. But the reality is that Barack has not created jobs and that more jobs have been lost and continue to be lost. His approval ratings continue to drop because excuses aren't cutting it. And now with an increasingly angry electorate, worried about food and housing and facing the inflation that is going on (but no one wants to talk about), he's presenting a plan that will help very few people but provides every American who can't find a job with an excuse as to why?

This was a stupid move politically. Jobs are his weakest issue. Jobs are what he's failed to provide. Jobs are what Americans count on to pay the bills. It was a stupid move.

And it will portray him as further out of touch with Americans.

Training centers or any number of things he could have proposed for veterans and Americans wouldn't have been taken aback. But when you tell citizen A that they're going into a job interview opposite citizen B and that the government will provide the company a tax break for hiring citizen B, you're creating an unequal playing field and you're creating ill will. Not really good to do with an angry electorate which feels that government -- at all levels -- is no longer responsive to their needs.

This morning Wally and Cedric put up their latest joint-post:

And swiping from that, for Wednesday and Thursday these were the community posts:

"The wake up call"
"Day 2 with Cleaver"
"David Walsh breaks it down"
"The continued Great Recession"
"3 men, 2 women"
"4 men, 2 women"
"where is the outrage?"
"gene jones: fake and coward"
"While you looked for your comfort zone . . ."
"The wasteful lies"
"Through the mirror of my mind, time after time . . ."
"Too hot"
"The real racism"
"Message from Michael"
"FSRN earns praise"
"Iraq and the 'crisis'"
"Matthew Rothschild is worthless"
"A rough age for divas"

We'll close with this from Glen Ford's "Ruin-Nation: The Obama Catastrophe" (Black Agenda Report):

The most pitiful picture to emerge from the mega-debacle just witnessed in Congress, is that of Black Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, standing on the House floor in mid-July, asking “Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully” by Republicans, in the debt debate. As if insults to Obama’s dignity were the crisis ravaging her constituents and the rest of Black America. A report had just confirmed that 30 years of (meager) Black gains were wiped out between 2005 and 2009. One-third of Black America is without assets or has negative wealth, including half of Black single women, the people that raise the majority of Black kids, one-third of whom live in poverty. Black unemployment sits at Depression levels. But Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee was upset because of perceived disrespect to Obama, who offers nothing to Black people but the corporate crap-line, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The entire structure of social support for poor and working people was at issue, yet the Black congresswoman could think only of Obama: “Why is he different?” Jackson-Lee assured her audience that, “in my community, that is the question that we raise.”

To the extent that that is true, to the degree that Black America remains more concerned about how Obama is doing as he seeks another term in office, rather than how the African American people are doing under Obama’s center-right, Wall Street- and war-loving regime – Blacks are doomed to a period of suffering unprecedented in the modern age.

Presumably to protect the dignity of First Black President – her highest priority – Jackson-Lee joined the 95 House Democrats that voted for the certainty of losing trillions of dollars for tens of millions of needy citizens, rather than risk the possibility of unknown financial dislocations. The same number of Democrats said “No” to the president and his GOP interlocutors. Among the 40 full-voting, Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the split was 15 “Yes,” 24 “No” and one Non-Voting (NV).

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends