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The dirty 'D' word is coming back

Robert Reich

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This is a follow up to my initial comment.

I am not an economist, so my ability to research these topics is less than efficient, but if the following website is to be believed, then we are closer to the Great Depression unemployment figure than is claimed.

The website: http://ageconseeds.blogspot.com/2008/12/unemployment-during-great-depres...

According to this information, unemployment included:
(1) people who wanted work, but were too discouraged to continue looking
(2) people with part-time employment
(3) peopl working temporary jobs in emergency programs

New unemployment figures game out today. Unemployment is 8.1%, 12.5 million people. However 731,000 are discouraged workers (not counted as unemployed) and 8.6 million work part-time, but would like full-time employment (not counted as unemployed).

This is a total of 21.8 million "unemployed" not quite by the Great Depression standards.

The labor force for the 12.5 million unemploeyd is 154.3 million people (12.5 million is 8.1% of 154.3 million people). Add to that 0.7 million discouraged workers and 8.6 million part-time workers looking for full-time work and that gives a labor force of 163.6 million people.

The "unemployment" rate by roughly Great Depression measures is 13.3%, not 8.1%.

The point is, our current measure of unemployment cannot be compared with the Great Depression rate as they are calculated using different standards.

An open letter to President Obama:

Dear President Obama:

When I was growing up, a long time ago, there was a kid in my neighborhood who was very good at playing marbles. He was so good that he eventually won all of the marbles from the rest of us. Nobody saw it coming. Since our parents didn't have the money to buy more marbles to "bail us out," marble playing came to an abrupt halt.

Over the years I have found that it works the same way with economics. When only a few people hold all of the "marbles" no one else can play the game.

That marble hoarding kid has grown up. Over the years, he and a few of his friends worldwide have "played the game" with economics. They have manipulated the game so that they have collected all of the "marbles."

A search of the Internet for "Wealth in the United States," reveals that over the years this manipulation has resulted in more then 90% of the wealth now being concentrated in the hands of less then 10% of the people. An article that appeared in The New York Times states: "If the statements recently made in this city by Henry Laurens Call before the American Association for the Advancement of Science are true, the concentration of wealth in this country has reached such a pitch that the most radical measures might well be invoked. Mr. Call holds that 99 per cent. of the wealth of the United States is in the hands of 1 per cent. of its population. This, he declares, is a complete reversal of the conditions existing fifty years ago, when there were only fifty millionaires in the entire country, and their fortunes, with those of the men worth $500.000, did not exceed 1 per cent. of the total wealth of the Nation. To-day, he says, there are 800,000 persons in the millionaire class, who hold over 90 per cent. of the National wealth."

As you may have guessed by the numbers, this article appeared some time ago. It appeared on January 6, 1907. That's twenty years before the collapse of Wall Street and the Great Depression. Current statistics reveal that we reached that same financial critical mass some time ago. (see: www.lcurve.org ) The real estate collapse is only a symptom of the greed that has taken over our financial institutions. If we are to avoid another great depression, we must all get back into playing the economic game. To do that, we have to redistribute the "marbles." If 90% of the wealth is in the hands of less then 6% of the people, that means that the rest of us, 94% of the population, are battling over the 10% that's left. It also means that all we have to do is get that small percent of rich people to give back 10% of the national wealth and the rest of us will all have twice as much! They will still have 80% of the wealth, nothing to sneeze at, while the rest of us will now have twice as much to work with.

We have all seen that trickle down economics has been a big lie to justify the collection of all the marbles by a greedy few. It gives hope to those who think that they too can make it rich. Unfortunately, over time, the wealth has become more and more concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. This leads to a form of royalty for the privileged few while the infrastructure of the country falls into ruin. This is the type of situation that led to the French Revolution! What we need is trickle up economics. You are correct to tax the rich with a progressive tax.

Perhaps Willie Sutton said it best. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton simply replied, "Because that's where the money is." When we have Billionaires making over 65 Billion dollars a year, they are the ones who can best afford to bail out the economy. (Why aren't they doing more on their own? Or, are they really the ones who are trying to get even more money from the rest of us through these devious manipulations of the economy?) This concentration of wealth is nothing new. If you read Leviticus 25:8-55, you will find that God outlined a series of seven year plans; a fifty year plan; and a hundred year jubilee plan. It appears that we are at the point where we need a hundred year jubilee, where all debts are forgiven, if we are ever to get back to a stable economy.

Sincerely yours,

Frederick Hart
5413 Deerfoot CT
Orlando, FL 32821
407-239-5490
I.am.Frederick@ATT.net

The Liverwurst Solution

While searching for this informative yet entertaining 2/27/09 interview with Robert Reich to share with a friend, I discovered that Liverwurst was also used as a substitute for "vouchers" in an earlier interview with Dr. Reich almost seven years ago. While somewhat taken back, I must realize that Liverwurst is still clever after all these years. (Robert B. Reich | November 30, 2002)

For months, I have attempted to find the data supporting the claim that unemployment reached 25% during the great depression. I have not succeeded. I have learned that the measures currently used for unemployment were not made during the Great Depression. Therefore, I think it disingenuous to compare the current economic situation with the Great Depression.

An important difference is our current unemployment does not include those who want work, but are too discouraged to look. To the best of my knowledge, the estimate for unemployment during the Great Depression included this category of worker.

Also, before going so far as to say that people are not standing in bread lines, it would be wise to actually ask food pantries and soup kitchens if they have had an increase in food requests during this "liverwurst."

If possible, I would like to hear Robert Reich explain where the measure for unemployment from the Great Depression comes from and what would our measure of unemployment be if we used the same criteria.

"Economic Winter"
It's the consequence of the deregulation and financial abuses of the last decade.
Similar to the the use of "nuclear winter" to describe the aftermath of a major nuclear assualt.

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