Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Hostages

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We’re all hostages.

Corporate profits are back to normal!

Hiring isn’t.

And clearly it will never be.

Lemme Break It Down For You,

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Jim Ledbetter: Your article on the economic woes of this country and the economists you quote completely miss the point.

Economists LOVE to make the argument that Americans must retool for a different marketplace because it means that all the blame for the anemic economy can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the working man: He costs too much. He knows too little. He’s not flexible enough. We need him to be fully qualified and experienced in our high-tech position but cheap enough to be competitive against his counterparts in India and flexible enough to work unpaid overtime after moving to a different city. Pardon me while I gag.

For the love of god, employers are not hiring because people aren’t buying their products and services. People aren’t buying their products and services because they, by being un- and under-employed, don’t have the money to.  It’s really as simple as that.

Obama’s problem is not that there is no government solution, as you suggest, but that governance and politics in general is the art of the compromise and as it stands the only thing compromised here was the obvious answer: A large, direct injection of cash into the economy through government works programs. FDR did it. China shrugged off this last economic bust by spending a trillion on infrastructure. But our current circumstance forces half-measures, and even those come at the cost of political expediency: Greasing the right palms, kickbacks to the right subcommittees and special interests, tax cuts for the rich and ever more corporate welfare.

The problem isn’t our stupid workers, it’s our stupid Congress, stupid.

How the World Turns

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The NYTimes reported that the numbers are in and NYC is now experiencing a 16-year high in unemployment at 10.3%.

A 16-year high, eh? What was 16 years ago?

Oh, right: Clinton’s first year in office, dealing with the recession the elder Bush left him.

Funny how that works.

Good news, though: The state bailed out the city of Philadelphia – the libraries stay open.*

Just minutes ago, the Pennsylvania State senate passed bill 1828 by a vote of 32 to 17. For all of you who have been following the saga over the city’s budget crisis, this is indeed the legislation that was needed for the City of Philadelphia to avoid the “Doomsday” Plan C budget scenario, which would have resulted in the layoff of 3,000 city employees and forced the closing of all libraries.

Posted yesterday at 4:26pm. Truly 11th hour saviors.

*And to hammer the point home of the importance of literacy, this is the first comment: “Good luck to you and your library’s..”

Ouch.

Is Anyone Actually Swayed

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by these “tea parties?”

The biggest irony of all is that practically all of the protestors the GOP staged in their astroturf campaign actually got tax cuts.

Court Jesters

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It’s only the court jester who’s allowed to be honest.

It remains to be see whether Jim Cramer’s capricious behavior will be curbed in a surprisingly amenable acceptance to be held at a higher journalistic standard, or if he’ll go like Tucker Carlson of Crossfire infamy after such a thorough grilling by Jon Stewart, but either way it was a breath of fresh air to see such honesty poured over the airwaves.

I don’t regularly watch TV (hell, I’ve been following Stewart’s ministrations online) but from what little I see I’d say there’s a little intelligence shining through all the usual marketing bullshit. Carlson was a fool; Cramer was still shown to be an intelligent and thoughtful person – at least capable of change – even after that drumming. An uplifting piece after all.

It’s nice to have a temporary reprieve of lucidity amidst the bile, invective and outright drive for destruction currently blasting on all channels. Cramer himself made some very salient points: In the beginning of the interview, he answered to Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC by saying, “he must have come from a different economic background than me.” Now that was pointing out a 500lb gorilla in the room, in an interview that was all about prescience.

That said, that the NYTimes deemed this spat worthy of the ‘front page’ of its online edition and NBC’s playing up the division (even to the point of having Martha Stewart interview Cramer, opening a whole new can of worms when it comes to hypocrisy) speaks to Jon Stewart’s point about the dissolution of journalistic integrity. After all, the heart of the issue is that Jon Stewart is on a channel devoted to comedy on basic cable. Jim Cramer is on a news network. The New York Times is a newspaper. Why is Jon Stewart the one making the news?

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