Big Smoke

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

Job Re-training


As I personally decide on whether to spend a pile of money to train as a health care technician on the suggestion of the Wall Street Journal in its series of articles on Electronic Health Records, I’ve come across an article on job training that argues that, on a macro level, a national job retraining program will not solve an economic crisis, since the problem is across the board.

“But retraining will not help with what economists call “cyclical” unemployment—the joblessness caused by an economy-wide lack of demand. And that’s the kind of unemployment that we have right now. Retraining might change who gets a job, but it does not change how many jobs there are.”

But it got me thinking about these Good Jobs™ that are only a training program away. According to Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute, “Unfortunately, these jobs require the most training and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to find existing talent to fill.” In other words, they’ve always been under-filled, despite our colleges pumping out trained professionals all the time.


I suspect because these employers have been throwing out the sorts of jobs I’ve been seeing in my job hunt of late. If I may paraphrase:

“We want you to have ten years’ experience in this very specific sub-field that we may or may not have invented six months ago. You will have a generalist’s responsibility at this job, despite its requirements, there is no job security, and you will be paid a wage only interns usually see.”

If these positions are so hard to fill, why aren’t the employers paying for the training? Why aren’t they paying the sorts of incomes that would prompt entrepreneurial go-getters to tailor their resumes for them? It’s with this question that I must bring pause to my consideration to spend over a grand to train for a specific position without any guarantee of employment in that position. After all, I’m already 80% there. I’m already certified IT with history in database work. Why wouldn’t these hospitals teach me how to do their medical records?

I’m kvetching, of course, but it just seems silly to put the cost of training on the person least capable of paying for it, and even if the federal government were to offer training (on anything more than the lowest level of pink-collar jobs, as it is now) why is the burden on the government? It seems like, if the government is going to pay for this, they should pay for it by taxing the businesses that directly benefit – maybe even twice what the training’s worth, just to press home the point that businesses should be doing this themselves. Hell, there’s a precedent: San Francisco pays for universal health coverage for workers by taxing local businesses.

And if anybody cares to say that I’m acting entitled, remember that the private sector are the kinds of folks who seem to feed off catch-22s like where they won’t hire people because they’re unemployed or have a bad credit history (because they’re unemployed). As I’ve said before, being loyal to a system that isn’t loyal to you is more than a little masochistic.

Capitalism, in a nutshell

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Dr Pepper Snapple Group posted record profits from its Motts processing plant in Rochester, NY. At the same time it’s seeking to cut wages and benefits from its employees, citing, among other things, that the job market is depressed, that other blue-collar employees are paid less, and because,

“as a public company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has a fiduciary responsibility to operate in the best interests of all its constituents, recognizing that a profitable business attracts investment, generates jobs and builds communities.”

ie: We are bound by our investors to maximize profits, no matter what.

None of this is exactly new – treating employees like a commodity, paying scabs to undermine strikes, using any excuse to cut labor, basically doing whatever the company thinks it can get away with – but the openness by which Dr Pepper Snapple Group is going about it brings pause.

Perhaps they forgot that the only public good private business offers is in tax money and wages. Without which it’s just a drain on society: A leech not unlike any other feudal aristocrat. Profit for its own sake – especially the faceless legal necessity for greed; the convenient inhuman source for corporate inhumanity – is a destructive, disastrous affair, and even the most cynical economist would first frame his argument by how private greed can benefit society overall.

Either way I hope Andrew Cuomo throws his support behind the union strikers and– I’d use the word “shame” but you cannot shame a corporation (look at BP), rather, uses his candidacy to remind the public just what it means when you let corporations run free.

The real job figures

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Bob Herbert points out the distressing and depressing truth on labor statistics (we’re closing in on 11% unemployed if we count those who, by dint of “no longer actively searching” or falling off the unemployment rolls, are no longer counted as part of the labor force) and the lack of decisive action by the Democrats in power.

The solution is easy. It always has been, though getting there requires the Democrats finally saying “fuck you” and stop dithering about: Raise taxes for the top bracket. Put ’em on a war-time footing. Raise ’em from the 30-odd percent they are now to 91%, like they were the last time this happened. Tax the rich. Now.

I am thankful for…

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…my students, whose friend had been shot on the way to school, destroying any faith in the system they possibly had.
…my co-workers, for teaching me what happens to campus liberals when they enthusiastically take on the real world.
…my superiors, for driving me to drink more than I did in college by administrating punitively to mask a lack of pedagogical experience.
…my union, for accepting my dues without representing me when I needed them most.
…my employers, for laying me and six others off at the beginning of the school year.
…my representatives, for running on an education platform while cutting education funds, and winning.
…my health, so that I could stay alive through this without getting bitter.

Y’know, it’s almost as sad as how GM and Ford destroyed the American cityscape to be entirely car-oriented so they’d have a massive permanent market for automobiles and STILL MANAGED TO GO BANKRUPT YOU BASTARDS YOU RUINED EVERYTHING

What the flux?

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Katie and Kristie Barry hold journalism degrees, make $800 weekly working only three days at a bar and live in a $2900 two-bedroom apartment in the west 70s, go to bars and Starbucks and vacation in Cancun.

This New York Times article is boohooing how they’re unemployed and disadvantaged. If that’s unemployed, sign me the fuck up.

Also, get off Obama’s nuts over whether he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Arafat won it. Kissinger won it. ‘Nuff said.

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..”


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