How to end the ending of jobs

In Jewish culture one of the highest ranking “mitzvahs” (good deeds) is to give someone a job. The old adage about “give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime” is in the same vein.

Yet, the most highly paid fishing instructors in this country could care less about anybody eating- except themselves, and the impact of their decisions is leading to the possible fall of our country. Yep, while Rome is burning- these idiots aren’t just fiddling, they’re throwing themselves birthday parties where the entertainment costs a million bucks– and laughing it off.

Our global financial system has teetered on the brink of collapse for the last three years, with countries defaulting on debt, getting downgraded, the U.S. taxpayers bailing out the “too big to fail banks” and in the meantime, the CEOs who “run” these monstrosities continue to get paid millions for failing.

Take Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan, who in 2010, his first year, made $2 million, (who was also granted $5 million in stock options in ’09) – and is at the center of the housing industry collapse, is laying off people left and right. From the New York Times:

The beleaguered financial firm, which continues to struggle under the weight of bad mortgage assets, is planning to cut 3,500 jobs, on top of the 2,500 reductions year to date, according to an internal memo written by the company’s chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan. And more could follow, with the total number of layoffs potentially reaching 10,000.

via Bank of America Layoffs Continue – NYTimes.com.

While libertarians and Republicans will say he’s getting highly compensated (and yes, anything over $500K a year is highly compensated – when the average family of 4 is living on around $50k a year) to “reel in costs” and “rightsize” the banking behemoth, the reality is that these layoffs are costing the rest of us serious money- in unemployment costs, and the resulting financial failings that go along with being jobless: home foreclosures, decreased consumption, loss of health benefits etc.

In the modern economy, no major business decision is done in a vacuum, and decisions like huge layoffs become risks to our national security. Look to the costs of the riots in the U.K.- a man-made national disaster with epic real costs. Sooner or later, the costs of allowing Wall Street to play with our economy as if they were playing Monopoly, while the rest of us are struggling with real money will be huge- with riots in the U.S., where guns are readily available.

Somewhere along the line- our financial system stopped looking at financial dealings as contracts between real people- and turned it into a casino game, and no one has looked twice at which house we have to live in. The United States is our house, the house of the people- Wall Street and Congress have become the owners of a giant casino, where the owners guarantee they make money and everyone else will pay dearly.

Who cares about having a military with global reach, when we can no longer make magnets in this country? Or anything else for that matter. China is holding $1.3 trillion or so in U.S. dollars- what’s stopping them from buying up Google, Apple and Exxon- and then taking those companies’ profits and buying up everything else of value? National defense isn’t just having better and more bullets- it’s about keeping the flag and what it stands for.

Much has been said about presidents not getting re-elected when unemployment is above 8% or whatever number economists want to use (unemployment figures have become as farcical as the “compensation” of Wall Street- with many people no longer counted because they’ve “stopped looking for work”) but the real question is, what kind of country we will have left after years of high unemployment coupled with years of exorbitant compensation of the game masters.

If the true costs of “laying off” employees is charged back to the corporations that don’t care, and compensation of the corporate leadership is linked to the average pay of their employees, we would see dramatically different actions being taken in this country – ones that would help guarantee that America doesn’t lose any more of its AA+ rating, or global leadership.

The American Dream requires jobs. The American economy requires jobs. Unfortunately, the American government is standing idly by while a small percentage of greedy idiots are being allowed to do as they please, while we all pay.

That Congress and the President stand idly by while this happens, is more than just the ending of jobs for Bank of America workers, it’s the beginning of the end of America.

It’s time to reward the mitzvah of making real jobs pay real money, and to end the benefits of playing with play money- that’s how we’ll end the ending of jobs in this country.

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20 Responses

  1. J Dziwulski August 20, 2011 / 10:19 am
    The english folk rock singer Robb Johnson, in his ballad “The Herald of Free Enterprise”, sang ‘where profits come first people come last”.  Which is a pithy way of saying employees are a cost, so you should employee as few as possible and work them as long and as hard as possible.  

    The consequences, in the song, was a shipwreck. Lyrics here:
    http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=117

    But there is the larger economic shipwreck that ensues if “work” doesn’t need “people “, especially for a consumer society that assumes people are not just costs but customers, and can make the money that can keep the economy going.

    Then things drop to subsistence levels or below, which might be were we are headed. 

    Funny you should post this David, as I just finished two books that touch on what you write about.  Books that were a slap in the face for me.

    First one starts in the early 1980s and goes through 2010.  It ends up hitting the same themes of work going away or not really paying enough to survive (assuming one adult of average intelligence=one job that provides enough for food and shelter)

    The book:  Someplace Like America  The authors: Dale Mahardige & Michael S Williamson
     http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/144885-someplace-like-america-by-dale-maharidge/
    ( I should say I’m familiar with the writers since they worked for the Sacramento Bee while I was living in Califas)

    Second is sort of a memoir set in Morgan County WVA and Winchserter VA, which is personal but also talks about how people left their subsidence economy for consumer society and the consequences when things went bust, …resulting in the making of the white underclass.  A bit of Wendell Berry in this book, but lighter reading than the first one.  I recognize folks I know in Fairborn and East Daytonians here (in fact a bartender in one of our local gay dive-bars was from the same town the author lived in & writes about).
     
    The book: Rainbow Pie.  The author:  John Bageant
    http://www.amazon.com/Rainbow-Pie-Redneck-Joe-Bageant/dp/192164091X

    Anyway, good post David. After reading posts like these I am reminded that your heart is in the right place.

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  2. Gary August 20, 2011 / 11:10 am
    I wonder if putting more capital gains taxes, more income taxes and less tax abatements on big-corporate businesses would even stimulate our economy that much?  If the weatlthy Congressmen and the President would pay a little more taxes, yes, including Barack, would Congress be able to use that extra monies to create jobs like all those energy jobs they talk about.  I really doubt it, because they have debts that need to be paid back first – so yes, America is really in a pickle and several dilemmas. 
    But the majority of folks I encounter on my life travels are indeed lazy – maybe here enlies the real problem, or the biggest problem.  I know it’s not a lack of education either because having your degree doesn’t mean diddly squat anymore, so sad, but sometimes all that education makes you jaded and conceited.  Nevermind.

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  3. jstults August 20, 2011 / 12:09 pm
    David Esrati: with riots in the US, where guns are readily available
    That tends to make people more “polite”.  I was down in north Alabama after the spring tornadoes this year.  Most of that section of the state was without power for almost a month because the storms hit the lines coming out the nuclear power plant.  One night some idiot decide he was going to go on a looting spree.  The owner of the gas station he broke in to was sleeping on the floor, cradling his revolver.  Double tap, center of mass.  This event was well publicized the next morning by the county sheriff at the radio press conference (the only source of news for everyone since the power was out).  Nobody seemed much interested in looting after that…

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  4. David Esrati August 20, 2011 / 1:21 pm

    @J Dziwulski – there are a lot of things I could write about right now- like the insanity of the city hiring the former law director who is now married to the current law director- to work at odds-

    or the insane construction boom- while we are losing congressional seats-

    or….

    but, I write about what I think are the big issues at hand first- and the small stuff second. I write about the things we should be asking Mike Turner about- instead of re-electing him- and I write about what I see around me- where small businesses struggle while big business gets handed the keys to the money printing presses.

    None of this will get me elected- none of this will bring money in for my lawsuit against the city- but, at least, when one day, someone cares to review “his record on” there won’t be any room for waffling- it all came straight from the horses mouth,

    @jstults- looting and riots aren’t the same. One is what miscreants do as a crime of opportunity- and the other is what happens when the masses say enough is enough. Wake up if you think owning a six shooter is going to save your neighborhood- or this country when BofA decides to foreclose on more homes, GE lays off more people, and the Chinese buy up the few American companies worth anything….

    I was around to watch the Hough riots- and entire neighborhood burn- and we had a lot more cops then than we do now.

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  5. jstults August 20, 2011 / 2:09 pm
    <i>I was around to watch the Hough riots- and entire neighborhood burn-</i>
    Were the rioters armed?  Were the arson victims?  Of course you are right, rioting is different than looting (though the one often provides good opportunity for the other).
     
    Ha! Six shooter. Don’t worry, I don’t have any gun-slinging delusions of grandeur…

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  6. bobby August 20, 2011 / 11:49 pm
    China wanted to buy Potash,a Canadian fertilizer company, but they weren’t allowed. They offered way beyond market value, but were rebuffed.

      In 2005, corn was selling at $1.86 per bushel beforer the genius’s of Congress and George Bush’s think tank thought they would bring the Saudi’s to their knees by subsidizing ethanol. Ooops!   Today, the price of corn is $7.07 a bushel.  The Wall Street Journal reports that 25% of the soybean crop in the U. S. is being purchased by the Chinese……….. Hold on to your ass. They will take whatever they want , including dirty coal and blow it inour faces to balance the account………..How are we looking? Not good.

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  7. Colin August 21, 2011 / 12:15 am
    What is Wall Street? When you talk about Wall Street, Mr Esrati, what do you mean?

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  8. David Esrati August 21, 2011 / 7:49 am

    @Colin- I never thought I’d have to define it- but Wall Street would include any company involved with the buying and selling of publicly owned companies, the “too big to fail” banks, the insurance industry, mergers and acquisitions firms, corporate raiders, hedge funds, commodity traders, securities analysts like S&P, Moodys etc and a case could be made for the government organizations like the SEC and the Federal Reserve who oversee and interact with these greedy bastards (lol)

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  9. Gary August 21, 2011 / 1:50 pm
    Okay then, after taking a liberal side to all this, and getting all bozo marks, I’ll try taking the conservative side and see what happens … LEAVE US BIG BUSINESS PEOPLE ALONE!  We pay our share of taxes, too!
    Now I’m off to the Good Neighborhood House Agency for my meals and food stamps!

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  10. Gerald August 21, 2011 / 6:02 pm
    We can take steps to help create and keep jobs that pay real wages and pay decent benefits by making local and state laws that will ensure no more illegal workers come here and will deport those that are already here.  Illegal workers drive down wages for everyone and make it impossible for legal and decent business owners to pay their employees a fair wage because they cannot compete.  For example there is no way a legitimate Mexican restaurant could compete with a criminal enterprise like taqueria mixteca when taqueria can pay $5 in cash to their cooks with no benefits or overtime pay and stick us citizens with the medical bills if their workers get sick or injured.  Illegal criminal workers and the criminals that hire them put legal businesses out of business or force them to fire their citizen workers and hire criminals themselves.  Sadly as bad as corporate restaurants are that take money from our town and send it out of state these Mexican criminals take our community resources and send it out of our country.  Dayton cannout afford to have any more people from out of town or even worse out of our country taking our money out of our community.

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  11. joe_mamma August 22, 2011 / 7:33 am
    Charging back unemployment costs is just moving costs around.  A cost is a cost.  Businesses and governments don’t pay costs.  People (taxpayers and consumers) do.

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  12. David Esrati August 22, 2011 / 10:48 am

    @Gerald- people who bring up illegal immigrants as a reason for this country’s unemployment problem- are, quite frankly idiots. It’s more beneficial to give money to an illegal in the US- than it is to buy something at WalMart made in China that used to be made in America by Americans. At least with giving the money to illegals in this country- most of it gets spent here. Can’t say that for the WalMart product.

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  13. Gary August 22, 2011 / 11:40 am
    @ Businesses and governments don’t pay costs. Question for Joe_Mamma.  Don’t businesses have costs to run their business, like overhead: electric, payroll, materials and supplies – I’m not sure what you mean …
    The costs of paying out Unemployment does cost the Federal Government monies, but most companies pay into it; but if an illegal gets laid off, he or she is not qualified for Unemployment Compensation I would not think because they are working here illegally … Nevermind.

    Joe_Mamma – could you please explain your screen name to me?  Are you working?

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  14. joe_mamma August 22, 2011 / 1:02 pm
    Gary…When you buy a doughnut at Dunkin Donuts you are paying for ALL the costs to make that doughnut plus an additional premium for the convenience of not having to do it yourself.   All “costs” are factored into the price of anything you buy.  So the person buying the doughnut is paying the unemployment costs whether its in the form of a payroll tax or a charge back to the company.

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  15. David Lauri August 22, 2011 / 2:40 pm
    On the blog of The Stranger today is a post, “Some More Sad Facts About American Jobs,” about an article in the Washington Post, “Corporations pushing for job-creation tax breaks shield U.S.-vs.-abroad hiring data.” From the article:

    Some of the country’s best-known multi­national corporations closely guard a number they don’t want anyone to know: the breakdown between their jobs here and abroad.
    So secretive are these companies that they hand the figure over to government statisticians on the condition that officials will release only an aggregate number. The latest data show that multinationals cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009.
    Some of the same companies that do not report their jobs breakdown, including Apple and Pfizer, are pushing lawmakers to cut their tax bills in the name of job creation in the United States.
    But experts say that without details on which companies are contributing to job growth and which are not, policymakers risk flying blind as they try to jump-start the hiring of American workers.

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  16. Bubba Jones August 22, 2011 / 2:59 pm
    David E – Like it or not, illegal aliens are PART of the unemployment problem, although not the total problem by a long shot.  The usual argument is that illegals are only here taking jobs that no one else wants.  While I think that’s partially true, a story from a few years ago paints a slightly different picture.  A meat packing plant (in Kansas, if I remember correctly) was raided by INS and the predominantly illegal work force was taken into custody.  The next morning there was a line of “English as a first language” people ready to apply for and fill those jobs.  So, that would paint a picture that illegals do take some jobs from legal citizens.
     
    On the other hand, Georgia just implemented one of the toughest anti-illegal-immigration laws in the country.  Rightfully, penalties were being imposed on employers who hire illegals.  Georgia’s ag business people begged for exemptions to the law citing that they would be put out of business if they couldn’t hire illegals.  The governor of Georgia came up with the brilliant idea of having farmers hire ex-cons to work the fields.  So, the farmers tried it for a couple of months.  What did they find?  That it took somewhere between 7-10 ex-cons to do the work that one illegal had been doing!!
     
    As far as most of the money that illegals make staying in the country, you might want to back off that claim too.  Have you read any articles on the amount of money that illegals send home via Western Union?  The amounts are staggering and represents a pretty fair percentage of what they make.  Of course, if the amount as a percentage is less than 50% of what they make, I guess ya got me on that one! ;)  It’s still a lot of money that goes back to Mexico though.

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  17. Gary August 23, 2011 / 11:35 am
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/business/dayton-jobless-rate-increases-for-third-month-1236713.html?cxtype=rss_business

    Tip for those applying at Behr Thermal Products: Be prepared to give a sample of your hair to them for testing (at least my friends have heard this).

    And from the article above: The state’s seasonally adjusted rate for July was 9 percent.  What is this supposed to mean, they sit out in the sun and do their analyses?  Just joking, I’ll research this one, too, and get back w/ you. 

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  18. jstults August 23, 2011 / 12:16 pm
    Gary:

    The state’s seasonally adjusted rate for July was 9 percent.  What is this supposed to mean…

    NIST has a great online handbook that covers lots of these sorts of modeling questions; section 6.4 is about time-series modeling, here’s the subsection on seasonality.

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  19. joe_mamma August 23, 2011 / 4:06 pm
    The latest data show that multinationals cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009. – WaPo

    Wow.  Perfect timing.  Start right before the dot com-9/11 busts and end in the middle of the current bust (at least I hope).

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