"That which does no earthly good cannot be heavenly minded." R. Rivera

Friday, August 5, 2011

Heavenly Minded & Earthly Good Dictionary: Job

Extinct job: telephone operator.
From SaskTel Historical Photos, 1960.
Job (noun):
1. Any occupation, work, task, or assignment done as part of one's employment for an agreed monetary wage, salary and/or other compensation.

Such as in the statement: I had a job at XYZ Corp and before I was laid off, I was doing more work, for less money than I was 10 years ago.   

Or: I'm 55 years old. Now nobody wants to give me a job. So I'm on unemployment and Medicare, but these politicians keep talking about people like me as if I deserve to be poor because I'm lazy and just want to push socialism of the highest order. What's socialism?

2. Any such employment done on a "full-time, "part-time," "one-time" or independently contractual basis for an agreed compensation.

Such as in the statement: I have two part-time jobs, neither of which will give me any benefits like health care. So I'm hoping to get Medicare, which some people call socialism of the highest order. What's socialism?

3. Anything that is considered to be one's responsibility, obligation, call, or duty.

Such as in the statement:  It is the legally constrained duty of the worker to work, and when there are no jobs, to find a job anyway and not depend on any government help or subsidies, as that is just socialism of the highest order.   

Or: It is not the legally constrained duty of profitable businesses that receive government help or subsidies to guarantee that they will create jobs with that windfall in taxpayer money. It would be ideal if they did, but we must leave that up to the free market that will work perfectly on its own if only we can stop government from trying to institute socialism of the highest order. 

Or: It is the duty of the government to continue to give tax breaks even to the über wealthy because they are the "jobs creators," though government should not compel them to create jobs in return for the windfall in taxpayer money, as that would just be socialism of the highest order. 

4. Any such employment no longer available or extant.

Such as in the statement: Sorry, that Bachelors degree is now worthless. There are no longer any jobs available in that field. We had to send them to Irian Jaya, otherwise our CEO could never have bought the state of Montana so he could plink vermin in the wide open spaces he loves so much. May I suggest you get a Bachelors degree in Plinking Vermin. I'm sure that job won't be shipped overseas for at least a year. But I'm making no guarantees, as that would just be socialism of the highest order. And don't ask me what socialism is. That you were born after the end of Cold War is no excuse.
The above writing (clearly some of it done with tongue planted firmly in cheek) is intended to show how confusing is the current debates about the financial crisis, its causes, and the best way to create jobs in America. It is also intended to show how labels like "socialism" or "socialist" are hurled about in these debates in ways and for reasons that actually have little to do with the concerns and intentions of normal Americans who (studies show, are good capitalist consumers) just trying to find consistent, livable employment, and many of whom have paid all their lives into social security and Medicare only to be called social parasites, socialists, or even anti-Christs for expecting that those benefits will be there upon retirement.

Let me end with some questions.
A. How did it become un-American and un-Christian to ask if millionaires, billionaires and wildly profitable corporations can pay a little more in taxes, even though in the last 30 or so years they have enjoyed the greatest wealth accumulation in human history while at the same time having their income taxes decreased by over 10% since 1980, including a tax cut during war time under President G. W. Bush (see 1)? Tax rates for capital investments (that most Americans do not have) have also greatly declined. I don't believe the rich are to blame for every problem in our world. I do believe that government spending and the ballooning of the deficit have gotten out of control.  But both parties are to blame for that, indeed the American people in general, who in poll after poll say they want things like good education, safe bridges, clean water, social security and Medicare, and those things cost money, lots of it. I just think that if people at the bottom have to sacrifice, why not people at the top? They can certainly afford it. Even if all we did was allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, the rich would still enjoy an overall significant tax decrease since 1980, and one of the lowest tax rates among the developed countries of the world.

B. On tax cuts and job creation. In light of all of this wealth accumulation and tax reduction enjoyed by the rich, justified by the argument that this is how the private sector creates jobs, then why has America, as a whole, been steadily losing private sector jobs not just since the Great Recession began in 2007/2008, but for over ten years (see 2)? In fact, if it were not for jobs created by the government, the overall jobs picture would look even more bleak. This begs two related questions: (a) Why do some people so hate one of the net job creators in America: namely, government? (b) Can it be that focusing only on tax breaks for the rich is missing many other factors to explain why jobs disappear and why the middle class is declining? Note this statement in a recent article in "Seeking Alpha":
Corporations and small business alike are hiring temps and part-timers to push for more productivity, while boosting the bottom line. That's why you see record gains in productivity far outpacing the unit labor cost, or the cost of workers per units produced, in the past two years.

Now that companies are used to those nice profits, hiring most likely is not a priority in meeting their quarters.(3)
C. Has anyone noticed that while some politicians try to convince the masses that (in addition to spending cuts) we can tax cut our way back to a prosperous middle class, Madison Avenue advertisers and investment firms are banking on the assumption that this will not happen? Instead, they openly admit that: (a) the undeniable trend in America and other nations (Great Britain and Canada) is toward plutocracy (Citigroup's global strategist Ajay Kapur coined the term "Plutonomy"): i.e., that wealth is accumulating in fewer hands; (b) that there is no such thing as "mass wealth" (i.e., a middle class) in America any more that is the primary driver of wealth creation and consumption as it once was; and (c) that the best bet for savvy investors is to invest in the new primary drivers of wealth creation and consumption: the über rich and the things they luxuriate in (see 4). Thus, there is no concern by Wall Street to do anything about poor, diminishing Main Street. It's simply time to adjust investments.

D. Finally, have we now come to a point where to try to be heavenly minded AND earthly good is seen as being un-American and un-Christian?
(1) Jeffery Sachs, "How the Wall Street Journal Distorts the Truth About Taxes", Huffpost Business (April 19, 2011)  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/how-the-wall-street-journ_b_851285.html

(2) Michael Mandel, "A Lost Decade for Jobs," Bloomberg Businessweek (June 23, 2009) http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/economicsunbound/archives/2009/06/a_lost_decade_f.html.  See also, Harold Meyerson, "Corporate America's Chokehold on Wages," Washington Post, Opinions (July 19, 2011) http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/corporate-americas-chokehold-on-wages/2011/07/19/gIQAL2ieOI_story.html

(3) "U.S. Economy: 12 Years to Fill the 12.4 Million Job Gap?" (Feb 6, 2011) http://seekingalpha.com/article/251018-u-s-economy-12-years-to-fill-the-12-4-million-job-gap

(4) Robert Frank, "Plutonomics," Wall Street Journal (Jan 8, 2007) http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2007/01/08/plutonomics/


Palomasea said...

Good Morning Ruben!

THANK YOU for for expressing so eloquently and creatively the current truth of our collective psychological state as American People. Would you run for President please???

Anonymous said...

Its over Rube.
The Dude Abides.
Learn Chinese.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Ruben!

First: Would you believe my first job at the phone company was on that extinct wooden cordboard??? Yes! LOL
I really laughed when I saw it. But it launched me on a career in which I would be trained in whatever the job was... ending in a nice engineering job that I loved. Ah the good old days... GONE!

Second: what a fabulous post Ruben! Oh how wonderfully you have said all the things that all of us out here want to say!! I'm one of the moldy oldies that is now on Soc Sec and some of these politicians are making me feel like I'm on welfare... need I say more. I worked for 30 years at my career and almost had to retire because my job was going to go to Timbuck2 sometime in the future and then I worked many part-time jobs in retirement after the economic bomb hit everyone after 911. I've worked since I graduated from High School and now feel like I'm taking something I should not be depending on and made to feel like the money I put into Soc Sec should just be offered up to the Govt like a sacrificial lamb. Me thinks not.

Third: I'll get off my soapbox now. I don't even know if I'm on the right soapbox anymore!! LOL

Forth: You're awesome!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

"Number Pleeyaze"

Edie Marie's Attic said...

"Number Pleeyaze"