John Eby: Will amnesia settle over America like a fog?Published 6:59pm Sunday, January 9, 2011
A lot on my mind Jan. 8 as I clear snow from my driveway, but I make a gratifying discovery.
We have a snow blower I seldom use. I prefer, if I must work up a sweat moving a mountain of fluffy white powder, to do it the old-school way with a shovel because it stokes more of a sense of accomplishment.
I think we got this shovel last winter.
It’s the best I’ve ever used.
Holds a lot, high sides so the load doesn’t shift and splat errantly. Wet snow doesn’t cling to its blade.
We have such short memories as Americans that it borders on amnesia if we’re counting on the same guys who created record deficits to whirl back through the revolving door and offer themselves as arbiters of fiscal probity.
The real battle is between the Wall Street and corporate plutocracy, of which Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary, and everyone else — the 90 percent who control less than 30 percent of wealth.
If health care reform is a jobs killer, that disparity heralds the death of democracy.
When Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi Jan. 5 presents House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio a croquet mallet-sized gavel that resembles Thor’s hammer from my old Marvel comic books, they have the good sense not to use it on each other.
Not so unstable people carrying real guns and marinating in this 24/7 demonization of our government officials with rabid rhetoric and Web sites that “target” them for removal.
Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, 40, a pro-gun mother of two and wife of a space shuttle astronaut, conducts her first “Congress on Your Corner” townhall meeting outside a Tucson Safeway grocery store.
She’s shot point blank in the head. Six die in this broad daylight Arizona massacre, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old born on 9/11.
Nineteen are hurt, including some of her aides.
The Army in 2008 rejected the 22-year-old suspect.
I’m thinking about the report under the headline “funds squandered” that the U.S. military spent $2 billion in the last six years on 16,000 humanitarian projects, including roads and schools — like we can’t afford in America — for Afghanistan nation-building. According to an audit obtained by the Washington Post, these projects go neglected once under local control.
Joe Klein returns from Afghanistan wondering, “After 10 years of fighting a war that now costs the U.S. upwards of $100 billion — $1 million per soldier — per year, where do we draw the line? … what should the Afghans be doing for themselves?”
It occurs to me $100 billion is what Republicans pledge to cut in the first year on page six of their ballyhooed Sept. 23 pledge to America. Now that they’ve got control, they’ve begun backpedaling to half that amount or as little as $30 billion. They pass a rules package absent the provision making committee meeting attendance public.
So much for transparency bitterly complained about during the run-up to midterms.
Republicans also love to holler that they weren’t allowed to add amendments to health care reform. “Right out of the box you’re not doing it,” Greta Van Susteren scolds Dave Drier on Fox. “You promised.”
Turns out the GOP is again parodying fiscal responsibility.
They will whack only at things near and dear to progressive’s hearts, like education, job training and investments in infrastructure while willing to add more trillions to the deficit with rules that say all that counts is spending. Democrats’ pay-go is supplanted by cut-go.
If you want to spend a dime on anything, it must be offset, not with a revenue increase, but with a cut somewhere — with defense off the table.
Leaving only programs that help the middle class and shredding the safety net.
Was that their mandate?
Budget guru Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the same guy who cast the decisive vote for President Bush’s unfunded Medicare Part D.
More jobs were lost in the 2007-June 2009 recession than in the previous four recessions combined.
Climbing out of a crater like that could take until 2015 to get to a 6-percent jobless figure.
The Obama administration will allow 13 companies to resume deepwater-drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Greece accounts for 90 percent of all illegal immigrants entering the European Union.
Athens announces plans to build a 7.5-mile fence along its border with Turkey. In 2010, some 100,000 people illegally entered Greece, fleeing war-ravaged Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. We’re not alone!
I read Time’s cover story about jobs, structural vs. cyclical unemployment, the two-headed trend monster, technology growth and the rise of globalization, with manufacturing jobs gone lost forever. Or are we still in denial about that?
Companies sitting on mountains of cash because they boosted productivity through layoffs and technological efficiencies become more profitable than ever as unemployment has grown by tapping an emerging global middle class in places like India, China and Brazil for consumers and cheaper labor.
They have money to hire, but need to see sales surge to justify it. Groupon, which adapts social networking to discount shopping, hires 150 people a month in Chicago.
IBM has more employees outside America than in it.
Instead of admitting the existence of structural issues, we keep priming the financial system with more money in the form of tax cuts and stimulus and endlessly extending temporary jobless benefits at $60 billion a pop.
The piece starts in Detroit, unemployment 13.3 percent, yet mechanical engineering jobs go unfilled. General Electric also needs engineers to expand in Louisville and three other “centers of excellence” in Indiana, Alabama and Tennessee in refrigeration technologies for a $1 billion appliance sector investment that will create 1,300 jobs over four years.
The line is being “insourced” — love that word! — from South Korea.
GE’s new generation of hybrid water heaters, washing machines, fridges and freezers relies on “lean manufacturing.”
Everyone involved in making a product — design and manufacturing engineers, suppliers, labor, marketers and salespeople — work together on it from concept through production, with continuous improvement shrinking costs as much as 30 percent, plus further energy cost savings by not transporting goods such long distances.
Deloitte, the world’s largest professional-services firm with 170,000 employees, finds itself on a “hiring mission” for all lines of its business because it sees the global economy accelerating.
Like a third of the Fortune 500, it earns more than half its revenue from those fast-growing markets abroad. “It doesn’t want to be caught short of talent.”
Recovery will be “cruelly uneven,” the magazine reports, favoring college-educated over blue-collar workers and cities which develop industry clusters in which skills match demand.
It will favor the Dakotas over sandy states such as Florida, California and Nevada. Export industries will flourish.
Men are such a drag on the economy it’s been dubbed the “he-cession.”
Guys are 60 percent of the long-term jobless with all those former construction and auto workers.
Locked into homes they can’t sell, they’re not very mobile.
Women are better educated and dominate parts of the employment universe that are growing, such as health and education.
North Dakota’s 3.8 percent unemployment is lowest in the nation because of demand for ore, coal and gas in China and India.
Leaning on my marvelous snow shovel for a breather, I make my discovery.
It’s made in America!
Since I can’t remember the last time I saw the little red-white-and-blue flag tag on a product, it heartens me.