Since we're on the subject, I thought I'd contribute a few dirty secrets of my own that Umair missed.
Here's the first one - there are not enough jobs for everyone and there are never going to be.
My local corporate-funded establishment fishwrap today trumpets "288,000 jobs created; Unemployment falls to 6.3 percent!!!" Nice propaganda for the desperate rubes who read it. But here's the real truth - even though "job creation" has been way above what it has been for the past few months, the workforce is still shrinking!
Happy jobs day everybody! First, the good news: the BLS reports that the economy added 288,000 jobs in April, which “crushed expectations,” as Business Insider put it with typical understatement. Better yet, the totals for February and March were revised up, so we now appear to have added 200,000 jobs or more for three straight months, which is all the more impressive (and slightly puzzling) considering that the economy barely grew over the winter.We Added Tons of Jobs in April, but the Labor Force Still Dwindled (Slate)
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate tumbled 0.4 points to 6.3 percent. That's where the iffy news comes in—much of the drop happened because the labor force shrank by 800,000, driving the participation rate down to 62.8 percent. It hasn’t been that low since 1978, when women were still in the process of joining the workforce.
There is currently an all-time-high of 6.2 million missing workers (potential workers who are neither working nor actively seeking work due to the weak labor market). Almost a quarter of them (1.4 million) are under age 25. The ... unemployment rate for young workers would be 18.4 percent instead of 12.8 percent if the missing young workers were in the labor force looking for work and thus counted as unemployed.Number of Missing Workers Jumps to All-Time High (EPI)
And I can inject here about the idiocy of basing our economy on these apparently mystical things called "jobs" that supposedly just generate themselves by some magical power? We talk about "jobs" as if they are these these generic things even though we're talking peoples' actual careers here - you know, the things that are supposedly necessary for an economy to function and what we spend most of our time doing. Why is everything dependent upon jobs? We've been obsessing over every jobs report since 2008, as if one's going to come along that will fix everything. Before 2008, we didn't obsess over jobs reports like primitives reading entrails to determine when the rains will come. What does that tell you?
Here's the second one - the majority of jobs created are abysmal.
The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones (Economists View)
In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of a new report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.
“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”...
The third I've been meaning to mention for a while, and have before, but bears repeating - we already spend as much "government money" on health care as every other country in the world (except Norway), except all those other countries cover everyone and no one goes bankrupt from health care costs. Really. Here it is:
Why U.S. Health Care Is Obscenely Expensive, In 12 Charts (Huffington Post)
Healthcare spending in US dwarfs the OECD (DailyKos): "In other words, we’re spending more on government-provided health care than most countries where government-provided health care is pretty much all there is."
So "we can't afford it" is patently untrue, "we" are already paying for it, and with relatively low tax rates compared to other wealthy industrialized nations. In addition, we pay far, far, far more for health care than anyplace else on earth, yet have a sicker population:
The Singular Waste of America's Healthcare System in 1 Remarkable Chart (The Atlantic)
It costs $13,660 for an American to have a hip replacement in Belgium; in the U.S., it's closer to $100,000.'Paying Till It Hurts': Why American Health Care Is So Pricey (NPR)
And the final one I have mentioned before too - we already spend enough "government money" to give everyone a free education if we wanted to. Instead we turn 18 year olds into debt donkeys and indentured servants for life.
Here's a little known fact: With what the federal government spent on its various and sundry student aid initiatives last year, it could have covered the tuition bill of every student at every public college in the country. Doing so might have required cutting off financial aid at Yale, Amherst, the University of Phoenix, and every other private university. But at this point, that might be a trade worth considering.How Washington Could Make College Tuition Free (Without Spending a Penny More on Education) (The Atlantic)
So if anyone tells you how "we can't afford" this stuff, they are, to put it bluntly, a blithering idiot. The fundamental problem is, we need to pretend that the "private sector" is doing these things, because government is bad, so we turn health care and education over to predatory industries that have us over a barrel and are bleeding us dry. Collages are effectively toll booths to the middle class, so they can charge what they want with impunity. And health care, well that's essentially a hostage racket. Sure would be shame if you couldn't afford those pills and cancer treatments...
So there are just a few dirty secrets about the U.S. economy. And we've not even covered how all "economic growth" is going directly into the pockets of the richest Americans and not the rest of us: Wealthiest Households Accounted for 80% of Postrecession Rise in Incomes (WSJ)
Contrary to nearly everything you hear on the subject, my humble suggestion is this: fixing the U.S. economy isn’t impossible. It’s not even that difficult. It’s straightforward; about as complicated as tying your shoelaces if you’re wearing Velcro sneakers.
The US is a rich country that’s beginning to resemble, for the average person, a poor one. Its infrastructure is crumbling. Its educational systems barely educate. Its healthcare is still nearly nonexistent. I can take a high-speed train across Europe in eight hours; I can barely get from DC to Boston in nine. Most troubling of all, it is poisoning its food and water supplies by continuing to pursue dirty energy, while the rest of the rich world is choosing renewable energy. The US has glaring deficits in all these public goods — education, healthcare, transport, energy, infrastructure — not to mention the other oft- unmentioned, but equally important ones: parks, community centers, social services.
So the US should invest in its common wealth. For a decade, and more. Legions of people should be employed in rebuilding its decrepit infrastructure, schools, colleges, hospitals, parks, trains. To a standard that is the envy of the world — not its laughingstock.
Why? If the US invests in the public goods it so desperately needs, the jobs that it so desperately needs will be created — and they will be jobs that (wait for it) actually create useful stuff. You know what’s useless? Designer diapers, reality TV, listicles, reverse-triple-remortgages, fast food, PowerPoint decks, and the other billion flavors of junk that we slave over only to impress people we secretly hate so we can live lives we don’t really want with money we don’t really have by doing work that sucks the joy out of our souls. You know what’s useful, to sane people? Hospitals, schools, trains, parks, classes, art, books, clean air, fresh water … purpose, meaning, dignity. If you can’t attain that stuff, what good are five hundred aisles, channels, or megamalls?
So: invest in public goods; employ armies to build them; create millions of jobs. And they won’t be the dead-end, abusive, toxic McJobs that have come to plague the economy; they will be decent, well-paid, meaningful jobs which people will be proud to have.
Dirty secret number two: This is a bogus recovery—and it’s going to poison society, unless we are wise enough to recover from the recovery. The rich are getting vastly richer, to the point that it’s absurd that anyone should be so rich. But the average household is getting poorer; and the poor are getting trampled. The US is becoming a caste society; and the divisions between the castes are widening. Investing in basic goods is the only way—the only way — to lift millions out of the ruins of imploded lives, and into prosperity again. Yes; the only way.
Selling doggy dating apps for billions while the average household can’t afford healthcare and education isn’t an economy — it’s a travesty. Too many of our growth industries produce low-paying service “jobs” that amount to essentially being being maids and butlers to the super-rich. Sound like a healthy economy to you? I didn’t think so. Hence: invest in the basic building blocks of society — if, that is, it’s a functioning society we wish to enjoy.
Where will the money come from? Dirty secret number three: It doesn’t matter. Print it. Borrow it. Tax it from the super-rich, in whose coffers it’s merely sitting idly. It does not matter one bit. It’s a second order question. If the U.S. doesn’t invest in public goods, it will not prosper; and if it doesn’t prosper, it cannot pay off the debts it already has. Conversely, if it does invest in public goods, and creates millions of decent jobs, the source of investment will matter little; for the economy will have grown and people will be prosperous. We can debate until kingdom come whether to borrow; print; tax; and we should. But we are having a fake “debate” if we pretend that we cannot invest in society first; and then wring our hands that society is falling apart.
Key word: pretend. Here’s dirty secret number four. The pundits don’t want you to know any of the above...