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There's a growing political phenomenon out there of Democrats saying nice things about the economy because unemployment seems to be going down somewhat. That's a big mistake.

Americans who aren't part of the economic elite and the asset class can see and feel that the economy is still terrible. The official unemployment rate may be decreasing, but it doesn't feel that way to most--either because the unemployment rate isn't being measured like it used to, or simply because underemployment is so prevalent that it barely matters if you're making $30,000 a year at a service job if you used to make $70,000 a year at a skilled one that no longer exists. You may be "employed" per the official records, but the economy isn't going to feel any better to you.

The country still hasn't recovered from the worst economy since the Great Depression caused by Wall Street's reckless greed and overleverage. The economy would be worse today under McCain/Romney, but both parties have been far too obsequious to the wealthy elites in general.

The entire economy is run on behalf of the asset class. Wage earners have been getting dumped on for the last 40 years, at least since Ronald Reagan if not before. Democrats have better than Republicans, certainly, but not even Democrats have done a great job of addressing these issues over the last 40 years or so.

That's why it's important that the Democratic Party rally behind the banner of Elizabeth Warren and others like her. We need to acknowledge the reality that the system is still broken, and that while six years of a Democratic President have saved us from the depredations of the Tea Party, they still haven't begun the right the ship of state. We need to acknowledge that both parties have frankly been far too cozy with the economic elite, and haven't done the work to put the needs of Main Street ahead of the needs of Wall Street.

We need to boost wages in this country, and stop the runaway flood of money away from the middle class and into the coffers of the 1%. We need to either stop corporations with record stock prices making record profits from abusing and slashing their workforce, or we need to figure out a way to reorient the economy so that it works for regular people in spite of the challenges in the labor market.

It may well be that globalization, mechanization and deskilling of the labor market means that the new "natural" employment rate is only 90%. It may well be that companies simply don't need to hire workers at decent wages anymore to make profit.

That doesn't mean we have to put up with it, or shrug our shoulders as all the money pools at the very top where only skilled workers with advanced degrees can live decent lives.

Just as we changed the rules to prevent child labor, prostitution and the heroin trade, we can prevent the abuse of the American worker by the financial sector, too. Our economic rules were artificially constructed for the industrial economy of the 20th century. We can--and should--change them for the information economy of the 21st.

Cross-posted from Digby's Hullabaloo

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Comment Preferences

  •  x1000 (7+ / 0-)

    "Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." - Woody Allen

    by blueoregon on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 02:26:28 PM PST

  •  "Median Income Rises, but Is Still 6% Below Level (6+ / 0-)

    at Start of Recession in ’07"

    •  Just for the record: (4+ / 0-)

      Median wage for U.S. workers is nearly $1,000 less than in 2007 when the Great Recession began:

      New numbers from the Social Security Administration show that the inflation-adjusted median wage of American workers for 2012 was 14 percent higher than in 1990. But it's also lower than it's been at any time since 1998. Measured in those real (that is, inflation-adjusted) dollars, the median wage of $27,519 last year was $980 less than in 2007 when the Great Recession began. In fact, the median fell by $4 between 2011 and 2012. Half of workers are below the median, half above.
      The real average (mean) wage at $42,498 was also below what it was in 2007, by $423. But it grew in 2012 by by $484.

      This widening separation between the average and median wage means something we're all-too-familiar with: Income inequality is worsening. The average is being drawn upward not because everybody is doing better but because earnings are increasing for those in the top tiers of the economy, while workers in the lower tiers are seeing stagnation in their paycheck.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:31:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  is there any politician on the horizon (7+ / 0-)

    that espouses this view?  Point them out to me, and I will work my fucking ass off for them.  They don't even need to bring in pizza.  

    I know the GOP isn't on this page, but I doubt you could find a Democrat with national aspirations who is even if you had a geiger counter, metal detector, night vision goggles or satellite imagery.

    They don't exist.  I am in that underclass.  And trust me, we have been both abandoned and forgotten about.  We simply don't exist as far as Washington is concerned.

    The only people who exist in today's political landscape are those who have money, and are willing to write checks.  That is the truth.  Everything else is a repulsive lie.

    Through early morning fog I see visions of the things to be the pains that are withheld for me I realize and I can see...

    by Keith930 on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 02:36:46 PM PST

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      And we know Warren's viewsnabout Wall Street, but what does she think about the wars, the drones and the US hegemony?  
      And if she is so anti WS, why did she vote to confirm the corrupted Jack Lew?  
      We can't settle on a one policy person, imo.

      SORRY FOR THE TYPOS. Ziggy fingers on an Ipad :)

      by snoopydawg on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 03:26:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, there is a very strong movement (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      underway to find candidates who are running outside both parties...look for Independents to play a bigger role in the upcoming elections.

      I've said this before and I'll keep repeating it until people on this site catch up (and they are way behind the curve on this one)...Taegen Goddard nailed it when he said that he is seeing a very strong trend to the "anyone but the two main political parties" movement. Arguing over Hillary's coronation or Warren's populist support might become moot if a strong Independent candidate arises...(although, I think Warren would win if she chooses to enter the race).

      Remember, the Democratic establishment was caught by surprise when a socialist candidate won and when Bill de Blasio took the reins away from the Democratic frontrunner...

      There is no way to underestimate the anger that is brewing among middle class Americans...the upcoming elections are going to be different. Populist anger is going to determine the winners this time, not big moneyed interests.

  •  The Great Crash only accelerated (10+ / 0-)

    employment trends that have been underway since the 90s and even before that. Incomes have stagnated and as you point out many people have been shifted from good paying skilled labor to low paying service work. We now have a generation that has entered the job market since all that happened and they have never known anything but low paying jobs.

    Both the Clinton and Obama administrations have a very poor track record of doing anything to fix the fundamental problems. They have supported neoliberal trade policy that is a major contributor to the problem.

  •  Anyone who tries to put unemployment (9+ / 0-)

    in the best light possible just because their party is in office has prima facie cult mentality.

    Suggestion for Facebook: 50 free "starter friends" automatically as soon as you sign up.

    by dov12348 on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 02:37:57 PM PST

    •  Thank you!!! eom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home." - James Madison

      by gharlane on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 11:09:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Start By Getting Barack Obama To At Least (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, TracieLynn, gharlane

    Use the term 'NAFTA' and by the way … good luck with that 'cause Congress fast tracked and he signed the three so-called 'free trade' agreements that George Bush had sat on for eight years and he's currently going balls out on the TPP.

    I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

    by superscalar on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 02:51:35 PM PST

    •  All the "Free Trade" has really, really wrecked (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots, TracieLynn

      the economy here in the old rust belt.  This town was once thriving but now has unemployment that is running in the 11% to 15% range not considering those who have dropped out of the stats.  There have been an influx of retail jobs in the last year, but two manufacturers shut down their local operations (both union) and moved the jobs away.  The poverty rate is at 29% and that isn't because we have college students here.

      Most of the remaining manufacturing, and there is still quite a lot, tends to be highly technical and highly automated and not suited to most of the unemployed people here.

  •  It is noteworthy in the context of your diary that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    first-time claims for UE Insurance jumped by 68,000 in the past week, (from 300,000 to 368,000). Consensus of economists was that they would only increase modestly to 325,000.

    A better metric to look at than the U3 unemployment rate is the workforce participation rate which is lower now, I believe, than at any point since the metrics were first started.

    I've been calling Obama's economy a 'dead-cat bounce' since about January 2010. Today's unemployment numbers only reinforce my claim.

  •  'Ask yourself: are you better off than (6+ / 0-)

    you were four years ago?' said Reagan. The voters answered 'no' and Ronnie gave us the Four Horsemen of Supply-Side: Trickle-Down, Deregulation, Free Trade, and Privatization.

    Of course, these 'ideas' have been proven fully delusional. Everything is worse with them in place. Inarguably.

    Five years ago we were in a position for a whole-hearted refutation, repudiation, and mockery of 'voodoo economics' but we didn't take that route. And we're still in that position where we could trounce this crap. But the Dem establishment doesn't.

    Sure, you might dig up a quote where the President says something about trickle-down, but you can't dig up an action, or appointment, which shows he isn't thinking 'fix the top of the money hierarchy and all will be well.'

    I can find the quote from a few days ago where the President said 'the economy is moving in the right direction.' I tell people this and they either laugh or spit.

    Until these lunatic notions are entirely, soundly, even obsessively, addressed the Dems will, at best, skim by the narrowest of margins in winning elections. At best, while the nation goes down the tubes.

    Supply-side Eek!onomics, implicitly accepted by the party's establishment, are killing us. And the people know it. Now show them you're not completely out of touch with reality.

    PS: overheard a worker complaining on the bus here in NYC. Asked her, 'what's the problem?' Her hours were cut back at her restaurant to almost nothing. 'And I work at a classy Italian restaurant, but there are NO customers.'

    I don't know what people know about NY, but Italian restaurants? In NYC? In winter? Usually packed. Need a reservation. Now empty. 'Moving in the right direction' my a--!

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 03:37:08 PM PST

  •  Who precisely is "crowing"? (0+ / 0-)

    In the real wor;d, no one is. There is little to "crow" about when everyone I know sees that virtually ALL decent mid-level jobs have evaporated and all that's left are bottom feeding jobs and ones that require extraordinary and very specific levels of talent and education.

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

    by anastasia p on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 12:11:52 AM PST

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