Lonesome Hobo Economics: Recovery over? Not really

…but I did not trust my brother, I carried him to blame. Which led me to my fatal doom To wander off in shame….

Bob Dylan, ‘Lonesome Hobo’ 1967

The job news is confusing. Headlines are announcing ‘stabilization’, ‘unemployment rate falls’, ‘recession is over this month’. But step into your neighborhood bar — or coffee shop if you’re on the wagon — and a truer picture emerges, even if it’s under the influence of alcohol or caffeine.

Consider: new claims for unemployment ROSE in July; foreclosures are at an all-time high; the reduction in the unemployment rate reflect MORE people falling off the unemployment rolls, and long-term unemployment now exceeds anything in the past 70 years. While the insurance-industry inspired ‘tea-baggers’ and some other nincompoops with all the face cards missing from the deck scream about illegal aliens, creeping socialism, and ‘Obama the fascist’ — the ration of employed to total population continues to plummet.

First-time job seekers will be looking at either no job, or jobs with lower real pay than anytime since WWII. Those approaching ‘retirement’: forget it. Your retirement savings are already blown away by the financial industry and Walmart waits to hire you to hand out shopping brochures part-time.. And, of course, there’s a mighty effort underway to see to it that you don’t burden the ‘the best health care system in the world’ with ‘over-reaching’ coverage.

Here’s the Hobo’s prediction: if working-class employment and income do not rise — there will be no recovery. Period.

It’s easy to get derailed by the staggering losses working people are suffering. Our enemies know this: that’s why they are spending a fortune mobilizing folks to join the anti-immigration, red-baiting, race-baiting Churches of Confusion:. I listened to a complete fool at a town hall meeting in Maryland this week ranting against ‘government run’ health care reform while he himself was on Medicare. Dugh!! And there was another ranting against the stimulus — and I KNOW he’s working on a road project where there’s a sign that reads: ‘Funded by the American Recovery and Assistance Act’!!

Folks: Nothing can be left to chance. We have to take the truths from the bars and coffee shops to the streets, mass meetings, rallies, petition drives — whatever. Do not tarry: if the Obama reforms lose momentum — there will be hell to pay in short order.

Now, the Obama reforms are essential — but even they are not the full answer to recovery:

Here are the four keys to recovery: (Write me if you don’t agree.)

1. Government as employer-of-last-resort policies must replace the unemployment insurance system: Until it does — labor markets, and wages, will not be restored or gain ground. Look around your town or city: there is plenty of work that needs to be done.

2. Mass transit is the one public works domain that is key to so many economic development problems in the US: including housing, manufacturing, the environment, community. Note that China is investing huge sums in high-speed rail transport connecting all major cities and suburbs with trains running in excess of 250 miles per hour!! Imagine the incentives to sustainable economic growth that such investments provide!

3. National health care. It should be obvious — but talk to your neighbors — there is a lot of misinformation out there.

4. Massive investment in education: every worker with at least a 2-yr college degree: now that’s the foundation of innovation!

It’s time to take care of each other.


John Case
John Case

John Case is a former electronics worker and union organizer with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), also formerly a software developer, now host of the WSHC "Winners and Losers" radio program in Shepherdstown, W.Va.