Lonesome Hobo Economics ‘Well, once I was rather prosperous, There was nothing I did lack. I had fourteen-karat gold in my mouth And silk upon my back. But I did not trust my brother, I carried him to blame, Which led me to my fatal doom, To wander off in shame.’ Dylan, John Wesley Harding, 1967 This week, July 4, 2009, on the road to economic recovery.
The official unemployment rate now exceeds 9.5%–the worst in at least 25 years. The unofficial — including discouraged, underemployed, and otherwise discarded workers — rises above 15%. African-American and Latino men are taking the hardest hit. Urban unemployment among young men now nears 50%. Some call unemployment a ‘lagging indicator’ — but unchecked, it will become the leading, and controlling, indicator. My employer just cut the pay of all contractors by 10%, killed paid OT, and promised to give me a good recommendation if I kick ass until my expected layoff in September. So I got that going for me.
I’m part of the group that has been shot, but not yet dropped below the grass. Bill Murray’s classic greens keeper character in ‘Caddyshack’ got a promise of ‘total enlightenment’ from his gig caddying for the Dalai Lama. But, ‘there will be no tip.’ I can relate. California will be paying social service and prison food workers with I.O.Us. The state has the worst credit rating in the nation. ‘Centrist’ Democrats joined Republicans and stripped aid to state and local governments from the stimulus bill. But none of them are apologizing yet–not even an I.O.U.
The first stimulus will create, if all goes as promised, about 3.5 million jobs — but we have lost 8.5 million already with the blood-letting unstaunched. Paul Krugman — the working peoples’ best professional economist advocate — says we are headed for a reprise of 1937. That was the year Roosevelt made concessions to conservative critics wanting to slow down public employment and spending — and got another crash in reply. WWII — economically — saved the country then with effective spending exceeding 100% of GDP. What will save it now. So here’s a plea, and a warning, to you middle of the road Dems, Nelson, Neb.; Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; McCaskill, Mo.; Carper, Del.; Lincoln, Ark. Udall and Bennett, Co.; Begich, Ala.; Hagan, N.C; Kohl, Wis.; Nelson, Fla.; Shaheen, N.H.; Landrieu, La.; Warner, Va.; — and Lieberman the scoundrel — I’m on the road and looking for work — and everywhere I see work needing to be done. Don’t do the 1937! We need MORE, not LESS stimulus.
I’m planning on stopping at your Road Kill restaurant — and if you serve me up any more Moose Turd Pie — ‘trust the free market’ — meals, me and my new friends are going to start doing some cooking ourselves!