New Accuser Claims Jerry Sandusky Raped Him in Penn State Office in 2004

Jerry Sandusky under arrest, Nov. 5, 2011

According to a just published Fox News story, a 19-year-old boy and his family have filed a civil suit against Jerry Sandusky, accused child sexual abuser and former Penn State football coach.

A teenager says he was raped by Jerry Sandusky inside his office in Penn State University’s football building in 2004 — two years after the ex-football coach was said to have had his campus keys taken away and was banned from bringing children into the building, the boy’s lawyer told FoxNews.com.

The now-19-year-old says Sandusky sodomized him when he was 12 years old and attending a summer camp program on the Penn State campus run by Second Mile, Sandusky’s charity organization. The accuser has initiated a civil suit against Sandusky, Second Mile and Penn State University.

The DA’s office is investigating according to the story, because the statute of limitations for this crime doesn’t run out until 12 years after the victims’ 18th birthday. Here’s the boy’s description of what happened to him at the age of 12, shortly after his mother died.

Sandusky targeted the boy during a question-and-answer session—part of the summer camp program and held inside the Penn State football building—that involved the coach quizzing the children on various topics. The camper with the correct answer received a prize, Schmidt said.

Near the end of the session, Schmidt said, Sandusky asked a trivia question relating to a quote from a U.S. president, and the boy was the only one who knew the answer.

“Sandusky said he was out of prizes but told him to follow him,” Schmidt said. “He gets him in a room. He’s on one side of the desk, the boy is on other. [Sandusky] proceeded to engage him in conversation — he had lost his mother, his mother died the year before, he had a very hard time, they were very close — they talked for a while about that. Then [Sandusky] pulled out a glass with alcohol in it and told him to drink it. Then he sodomized him.”

After the alleged assault, Schmidt said, Sandusky helped clean up the boy, gave him the two mementos and took him back outside to join the rest of the campers, passing him off to a counselor.

This was two years after Mike McQueary reported seeing Sandusky raping a young boy in the football building showers. Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley (now on leave) claimed he had banned Sandusky from bringing children into the football building. But Sandusky’s attorney said that Curley and Sandusky never discussed such and ban, and Sandusky apparently still had keys and an office to use during Second Mile camps.

Currently Sandusky is out on $250,000 bail and is confined to his home and required to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Sandusky secured his release using $200,000 in real estate holdings and a $50,000 certified check provided by his wife, Dorothy, according to online court records. He will be subject to electronic monitoring under the terms of his release.

Is anyone checking to make sure Sandusky’s wife doesn’t invite some kids over to visit him? It is impossible for me to believe that this woman didn’t know her husband was going into his basement in the middle of the night to sexually abuse the boys who frequently stayed with them. And if she didn’t know then, she does now.

Jerry Sandusky needs to be held without bail until his trial. He is an constant and ongoing danger to children.


Why don’t Science and Reason prevail over Superstitions and Ideological Wishful Thinking?

Paul Krugman asks one more time why over 80 years of economic study, data, and theory have been thrown to the wind for failed ideological hypotheses. He asks why conventional wisdom denies everything that thousands of economists have studied, researched, and debated that now has become accepted theory?  Our current experience shows that what we’ve learned over the years is correct. Why are failed hypotheses based on ideological wishful thinking running policy these days?  I ask this about my own discipline, but we could just as well ask about why we have to fight to keep iron age myths out of biology classes and fight to keep basic scientific theory like evolution and climate science in?  Why do people keep relying on disproved hypotheses, conspiracy theories, and absolutely outdated religious stories?

Here’s the narrative that applies to my discipline from Krugman.

Unfortunately, in late 2010 and early 2011, politicians and policy makers in much of the Western world believed that they knew better, that we should focus on deficits, not jobs, even though our economies had barely begun to recover from the slump that followed the financial crisis. And by acting on that anti-Keynesian belief, they ended up proving Keynes right all over again.

In declaring Keynesian economics vindicated I am, of course, at odds with conventional wisdom. In Washington, in particular, the failure of the Obama stimulus package to produce an employment boom is generally seen as having proved that government spending can’t create jobs. But those of us who did the math realized, right from the beginning, that the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (more than a third of which, by the way, took the relatively ineffective form of tax cuts) was much too small given the depth of the slump. And we also predicted the resulting political backlash.

So the real test of Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U.S. federal government to boost the economy, which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels. It has, instead, come from European nations like Greece and Ireland that had to impose savage fiscal austerity as a condition for receiving emergency loans — and have suffered Depression-level economic slumps, with real G.D.P. in both countries down by double digits.

The stupidity is killing our economy.  The stupidity is also forcing medical research back to the dark ages too.  Taliban-like forces in the US have made up research that says that fetuses with no developed central nervous systems ‘feel pain’.  They have invented bogus ‘partial birth abortion’ procedures out of thin air.  They’ve even based laws on these falsehoods.  We have crazies defining zygotes as fully functional human beings with some narrative that a fertilized egg is just some little microscopic person encased in a membrane.

We have tons of Taliban-like idiots trying to convince every one that the data on global warming is just some made up agenda.  Yet, tons of biologists have studied and published research articles on the radical changes in habitat and migration patterns.  Meteorologists have reams of data showing the extremes in weather and temperatures that have shifted significantly in statistical terms.  It is so pervasive and significant  that no scientist that’s not associated with some whacky religion denies global warming. Geologists have documented the changes in water levels and ice formations.  Yet, I can still read some one that notes one cold day in summer and on the basis of that anecdote declares global warming to be a hoax.  They obviously don’t understand that extreme cold in one area of the globe means extreme heat someplace else. However, some one without one college science course can get on TV and proclaim an entire discipline to be deluded.

One possible  answer to my question is there is an evil partnership of corporations and the rich who profit from ignorance and those who follow strict religious ideology who thrive on ignorance period.  These folks have overwhelming political power and access to media.  The media these days refuses to call out lies and fact check  blowhards.  They bring on a politician or a media pundit but NEVER an actual scientist with years of learning and research in the area.  The media even goes along by repeating the change in word meanings that have plagued us recently.  Radical ideas are being put forth as “conservative”.  Conspiracy theories are being held up as just another point of view.  Ever since media has been driven by profits, we have media more interested in ratings and not getting boycotted than actually putting out some useful information.  It is no wonder that we are seeing a systematic destruction of public schools and universities.  The only way this march of ignorance can continue is with a systematic destruction of institutions that actually teach science to people.  There has never been a time when this quote by Jonathan Swift is more relevant since the Dark Ages which were brought on by the same group of religious nuts that tanked scientific thought hundreds of years ago.

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

The same thing can be said about true and genius theories.  The confederacy of dunces will thump their books full of myths and conspiracies and deny people access to science, reason, and truth.

Here’s a pretty good list of how insane the Republican Party has become in terms of irrational, unscientific, and unreasonable positions per the UK’s The Economist.  Notice the use of the term “fatwahs” which implies they’re waging a religious war. Also please remember that this magazine is not exactly a bastion of socialist thought.

Nowadays, a candidate must believe not just some but all of the following things: that abortion should be illegal in all cases; that gay marriage must be banned even in states that want it; that the 12m illegal immigrants, even those who have lived in America for decades, must all be sent home; that the 46m people who lack health insurance have only themselves to blame; that global warming is a conspiracy; that any form of gun control is unconstitutional; that any form of tax increase must be vetoed, even if the increase is only the cancelling of an expensive and market-distorting perk; that Israel can do no wrong and the “so-called Palestinians”, to use Mr Gingrich’s term, can do no right; that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and others whose names you do not have to remember should be abolished.

These fatwas explain the rum list of candidates: you either have to be an unelectable extremist who genuinely believes all this, or a dissembler prepared to tie yourself in ever more elaborate knots (the flexible Mr Romney). Several promisingly pragmatic governors, including Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, never even sought the nomination. Jon Huntsman, the closest thing to a moderate in the race (who supports gay marriage and action to combat climate change), is polling in low single figures.

More depressingly, the fatwas have stifled ideas, making the Republican Party the enemy of creative positions it once pioneered. The idea of requiring every American to carry health insurance (thus broadening the insurance pool and reducing costs) originated in the conservative Heritage Foundation as a response to Clinton-care, and was put into practice by then-Governor Romney in Massachusetts. All this Mr Romney has had to disavow, just as Mr Gingrich has had to recant his ideas on climate change, while Rick Perry is still explaining his appalling laxity as governor of Texas in allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive subsidised college education.

WTF is wrong with our country?  Our religious freedom was enshrined in the first amendment.  Our scientific advances led to men on the moon, the elimination of some of the world’s worst plagues, and the lap top computer.  Our melting pot of people fleeing class systems and oppression all over the place evolved into a great democracy that provided public education for all and opportunity for any one that wanted it.  Why has it  come down to this?


Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

So, we’re getting close to yet another election year.  Our challenges are fairly clear but our choices are limited.  I only wish the opposite were true.

This Bronx factory turned school has evidently been in the news for a few months.  It’s just one horrifying story after another.  What would possess a school district to use a factory to house kids without testing it for toxic chemicals? A teacher is now suing the district after she had to terminate a pregnancy due to a horrible brain defect.

A TEACHER WHO worked at a toxic Bronx school lost her baby to birth defects linked to the contamination, she charged Wednesday in legal papers.

In October, five months into her pregnancy, Nancy Tomassi, a fifthgrade teacher at the shuttered Public School 51, learned her baby had a malformed brain, a condition called anencephaly, and would not survive.

The tests done in January showed that the sick school was laden with the carcinogen trichloroethylene, a toxin linked to defects, but failed to warn students or teachers until July.

“The whole tragic nature of the situation was made worse by the fact it could have been avoided if the Department of Education had acted properly,” said Tomassi’s lawyer Jeff Schietzelt, with the firm Silverson, Pareres & Lombardi. He notified the city of her intent to sue on Wednesday.

“How could they have known since January and not have told us?” said Mike Tomassi, Nancy’s husband. “You’re heartbroken and at some point you’re angry.”

For Tomassi, the diagnosis meant she had to end the pregnancy.

When researching possible causes, she found information to suggest the toxic chemical found at the sick school was responsible for her tragedy.

“If wed known about this, things could have been different,” said Tomassi, who worked at the school for five years.

A diligent nurse has evidently been documenting and reporting student illnesses since 2005.  She even took the steps to write a superior about possible immune deficiencies in students which she thought might be due to a faulty heating/ac system.  The reports of sick children number in the hundreds.

Students at a Bronx elementary school that relocated in September due to toxic contamination had for years complained of headaches, dizziness and other illnesses.

Records obtained by the Daily News under the Freedom of Information Law show that since 2005 nurses at the Bronx New School logged cases of kids suffering headaches, vomiting, abnormal gaits or even seizures nearly every month.

In May 2007, 16 students vomited at the Jerome Ave. school, records show. During one spell in November 2010, nurses listed five cases of students with heart “palpitations.” And in the late 1990s, one student suddenly died of kidney failure.

Toxic levels of TCE–in industrial degreaser–were found in the building. The school was closed in the fall but the report came in around January.  This is just one of those stories you think would’ve gone away after all of the work done in the 1970s to make buildings and the environment safer.  What do you want to bet that the PLUBS are more upset about the abortion of a nonviable fetus than the rest of the living sick children?

I’ve been calling Ron Paul a neoconfederate for years now.  It looks like White supremicist group Stormfront–with whom Paul has taken pictures with the leaders–thought  he was one of them too.  Paul’s been distancing himself from the newsletters since he developed presidential aspirations.

Ron Paul was a hot topic this week on the talk radio show hosted by prominent white supremacist Don Black and his son Derek. Mr. Black said he received Mr. Paul’s controversial newsletters when they were first published about two decades ago and described how the publications were perceived by members of the white supremacist movement. Former KKK Grand Wizard and Louisiana Congressman David Duke also phoned in to explain why he’s voting for Mr. Paul.

“Everybody, all of us back in the 80′s and 90′s, felt Ron Paul was, you know, unusual in that he had actually been a Congressman, that he was one of us and now, of course, that he has this broad demographic–broad base of support,” Mr. Black said on his broadcast yesterday.

Mr. Black is a former Klansman and member of the American Nazi Party who founded the “white nationalist” website Stormfront in 1995. He donated to Mr. Paul in 2007 and has been photographed with the candidate. Mr. Paul has vocal supporters in Stormfront’s online forum. Mr. Black has repeatedly said he doesn’t currently think Mr. Paul is a “white nationalist.

Mr. Paul’s newsletters contained threats of a “coming race war,” worries about America’s “disappearing white majority and warning against “the federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS.” He has since denied writing the newsletters, which appeared under his own name.

“I didn’t write them, I disavow them, that’s it,” Mr. Paul said in a tense CNN interview.

On Monday, Mr. Black said he originally believed the newsletters were written by Mr. Paul.

“They went out under his name in the first person and most people receiving these newsletters, including me, thought he really did write them,” Mr. Black said.

Paul continues to play down the newsletters and asserts his version of state’s rights isn’t that of the old confederacy.

Ron Paul on Thursday downplayed the fringe aspects of his old newsletters, saying on an Iowa radio program that the most offensive passages were probably only a small portion of the overall content.

“There were many times I did not edit the entire letter and other things were put in,” he told a caller on the Jan Mickelson radio show. “I was not aware of the details until many years later. These were sentences that were put in, eight or 10 sentences. It wasn’t a reflection of my views at all. It got in the letter and I thought it was terrible.”

He added that the newsletter content in question was “probably ten sentences out of 10,000 pages,” and that he only focused on producing the “economics” part of the publication.

But the promotional materials advertising the newsletter from the time indicate that the most out-there racist and homophobic lines were far from a rare sideshow.

One 1993 direct mail piece aimed at attracting potential subscribers name-checked “the coming race war,” “the federal-homosexual cover up on AIDS,” “the Israeli lobby that plays Congress like a cheap harmonica,” and described an elaborate conspiracy theory in which US officials would use newly introduced currency to impose martial law. All in just eight pages specifically devoted to summarizing the newsletter’s broader themes for new readers. That’s a pretty high density of fringe.

Jamie Kirchick, who compiled the newsletters four years ago, told TPM that the most incendiary parts were hardly stray cases.

“Ron Paul’s characterization of the newsletters as only containing ‘eight to ten sentences’ that can be characterized as ‘offending’ is preposterous,” he said in an e-mail. “As anyone can see from the scans of the newsletters available on the TNR website or posted elsewhere, the documents contain pages upon pages of bigoted statements and outright paranoia.”

Maybe we should send him some white sheets and see if he wants to make a fashion statement out of them.

Redistricing in Ohio will pit Democratic representatives Marcy Kaptur against Dennis Kucinich. Both are 65 years old and have served for some time.

U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur, both Democrats, will run against each other for their party’s nomination next year to represent a reconfigured Ohio congressional district.

Kaptur’s current district includes Toledo and extends east toward Cleveland. Kucinich represents parts of Cleveland and its suburbs. Both filed papers today with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland to run in the March 6 primary to be the Democratic nominee in the redrawn district, the election board said.

Ohio’s number of House seats was reduced to 16 from 18 following the 2010 U.S. Census.

Kucinich, 65, said he would try to avoid attacks on his fellow Democrat.

Economist Jared Bernstein has a great set of wonky graphs up that he’s called “Guideposts on the Road back to Factville”. He has a large number of them that demonstrate that the US is a low tax country, has extremely high income inequality, and that Dubya’s policies caused the huge federal deficit. Included is this advice as well as some interesting links. My favorite one is this one that shows how good the one percent have it here compared to the other developed nations.  Too bad our middle and working class Americans don’t have similar blessings.

Arm yourselves with the knowledge herein, and you’ll be immune to the fact-free hand-waving that too often passes for debate these daze.  Think of them not as wonky graphs, but as guideposts on the road back to the land where facts matter.


So, that’s my contributions this morning to get the conversations started off right.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


SDB Evening News Reads for 122911: Woman of the Year

Good Evening…

Pardon the lameness of this post, I was hit with a migraine and it is a bad one…so I will make it a short evening reads.

On Jezebel a big vote is going on!

h/t Wonk sent me this: Vote For Jezebel’s Woman of the Year

Vote For Jezebel's Woman Of The Year

Hillary Clinton
Mona Eltahawy
Leymah Gbowee
Gabrielle Giffords
Melissa McCarthy
Iman al-Obeidi
Elizabeth Warren
Dr. X

The nominations for Jezebel’s Woman of the Year are in, and while it was a tough decision, we’ve managed to narrow the field down to eight frontrunners. Read more about them below, then cast your vote!

Polls close at midnight on Thursday, Dec. 29, so make sure to cast your vote for Woman of the Year before then!

In Tennessee, another voter is being disenfranchised, this time it is a 93 year old woman who cleaned the Capitol for 30 years…

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that herold state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:

Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.

Thelma Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state drivers’ license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification.

A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus insisted that Mitchell was given bad information and should’ve been allowed to vote, even with an expired state ID. But even if that’s the case, her ordeal illustrates the inevitable disenfranchisements that result when confusing voting laws enable state officials to apply the law inconsistently.

This is bullshit!

As ThinkProgress reported, one 96-year-old Tennessee woman was denied a voter ID because she didn’t have her marriage license. Another senior citizen in Tennessee, 91-year-old Virginia Lasater, couldn’t get the ID she needed to vote because she wasn’t able to stand in a long line at the DMV. A Tennessee agency even told a 86-year-old World War II veteran that he had to pay an unconstitutional poll tax if he wanted to obtain an ID.

What a great way to pick and choose who gets to vote!

In other GOP news, Perry is just applying the PLUB mantra…he is pledging to ignore any decision from SCOTUS that will strike down “Personhood” amendments and laws.

At a radio forum sponsored by the anti-abortion and anti-birth control group Personhood PersonhoodGov. Rick Perry said that he would refuse to obey a Supreme Court decision striking down the group’s signature anti-choice proposal:

QUESTION: You have agreed to “endorse legislation making clear that Fourteenth Amendment protections apply to unborn children” . . . . What happens if the U.S. Supreme Court attempts to strike down this legislation, and replace it with one of its own edict denying the inalienable right to life for all persons born or unborn? Would you enforce the inalienable right to life or the Court’s opinion as the law?

PERRY: Well, obviously you enforce the right to life opinion.

Perry’s promise to openly defy the Supreme Court is disturbing, but it is also far from original. Fellow candidates Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have also pledged to treat binding Supreme Court opinions as if they were merely optional, and Gingrich even supports legitimizing his radical view of the Constitution through a campaign of intimidation against judges who disagree with him.

These candidates for the GOP are ridiculous, how the hell are they getting away with this kind of crap?

Last link for you tonight, and I am off to hide under my covers…Mystery behind Hitchcock’s Birds is solved at last!

It has taken 50 years, rather than the shorter running time of one of his famous horror films, but Alfred Hitchcock’s most enduring whodunit appears to have finally been solved.

Scientists at Louisiana State University claim to have discovered why thousands of seagulls began killing themselves along the coast of northern California in the summer of 1961.

The mysterious avian deaths, in which many of the birds flew, Kamikaze-style, into houses along the Monterey Bay shore, south of San Francisco, were cited as one of the major inspirations for Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds.

Now a team of marine biologists, who have been conducting post-mortems of seabirds killed during the 1961 incident, have reached a credible conclusion about their deaths: the creatures were poisoned.

I did not know there was an actual event where seabirds went berserk.

Writing in the latest edition of the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say that they examined the stomach contents of seagulls and turtles collected during the period, and discovered unusual quantities of a nerve-damaging toxin called domoic acid. The acid, which most likely came from anchovies and squid which formed part of the birds’ natural diet, can sometimes cause brain damage. In severe cases, it leads to them becoming confused, suffering seizures, and dying.

Sibel Bargu, leading the research, said domoic acid was found in 79 per cent of the plankton ingested by anchovies and squid. Over a short period, that would become sufficiently concentrated to cause fatal injuries to predators who ingested the creatures.

Although this theory has previously been cited as a potential explanation for the 1961 event, Ms Bargu writes, no direct evidence has been obtained by scientists to support it. Until now. “Here we show that plankton samples from the 1961 poisoning contained toxin-producing Pseudo-nitzschia, supporting the contention that these toxic diatoms were responsible for the bird frenzy that motivated Hitchcock’s thriller,” she writes.

The toxic domoic acid is connected with runoff of pesticides. The report notes that there was a large housing boom in the area at the time, and that leaking domestic septic tanks could be the reason behind the large amounts of acid that were found in the birds food sources.

Have a good evening, and go vote for Jezebel’s Woman of the Year!


Our Future is Calling

The massive loss of economic value that has occurred so far this century should give us pause when we hear about both austerity agendas and slightly improved conditions. Economist Dean Baker reminds us that we’re not looking at clear steering ahead even if we slowly mend.  Here are some things to consider. The incredible loss of wealth on the kinds of investments made by  average Americans and from the collapse of the housing market has severely weakened millions of Americans and decreased their net worth. Statistics like these are likely to keep older workers on the jobs far past their prime.  Baker responds to Daily Beast writer Zachary Karabell.

The unemployment rate for the year is likely to average above 9.0 percent. The number of people who are involuntarily underemployed has generally been 8.5 and 9.0 million, close to double the pre-recession level. Millions more have given up looking for work altogether. Real wages have been stagnant or falling for the last 4 years, with little prospect of turning around any time soon as the high rate of unemployment continues to depress wages.

In addition, tens of millions of baby boomers are approaching retirement with almost nothing to support themselves other than their Social Security. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the median older baby boomer (ages 55-64) had just $162,000 in wealth. This is roughly enough to buy the median home. This means that if this household took all of their wealth, they can pay off their mortgage. They would then be completely dependent on their Social Security to support them in retirement. And, half of older baby boomers have less wealth than this.

In short, most of the country is looking at a situation where they are desperate for work or fearful about losing their job. Older workers are looking at a retirement where they are not far above the poverty level, even after spending a life working in middle class jobs. The bad attitudes toward this situation are not the result of “groupthink” as the column asserts, they are the conclusion of people better able to understand the economy than Karabell.

For extra credit in the acting up department Karabell throws in a few broad assertions that are simply wrong. For example he tells us that:

“Overall growth for the next year is shaping up to be 2 percent, give or take. That is pretty lame compared to the heady days of the 1990s or even the mid-2000s. But those seemingly halcyon periods benefited from bubbles, whether the stock market and telecom spending in the 1990s or the housing and debt-inflated growth of the mid-2000s. So while activity now doesn’t look so good by those comparisons, it is actual economic activity undistorted by bubbles. It’s as if the economy of the past 20 years was wearing platform shoes (“Wow, she’s like 6 feet tall”); it looked a lot bigger than it was.”

Actually 2.0 percent annual growth would look bad compared to the 80s, the 70s, the 60s, and the 50s. It is simply a very bad growth rate. Trend productivity growth in the U.S. is between 2.0 and 2.5 percent. Labor force growth is averaging around 0.7 percent. This means that we need growth of around 2.5 -3.0 percent just to keep even with the growth of the labor force. At a 2.0 percent growth rate unemployment will be rising, not falling. This has nothing to with platform shoes, it’s arithmetic.

Furthermore, given the severity of the downturn we should be seeing growth in a 5-8 percent range to get the economy back to its potential level of output. People should be outraged at the thought that the economy might only grow at a 2.0 percent rate.

Lengthened work lives and growth too small to replace jobs lost over the last five years is likely to keep pressure on younger workers.  Even younger workers that are well educated and should have decent job skills are not able to find decent, well-paying jobs in this economy. They also have made huge investments in their educations and are carrying high levels of student loan debt.   The Atlantic Wire says that we may have a ‘lost generation’ in the making.

During the last decade, the unemployment rate for young people spiked to the highest levels since World War II–only 55 percent of Americans aged 16 to 29 have jobs, a 12 percent drop from the employment rate in 2000. Faced with a grim outlook, many young people aren’t leaving home until their 30s–the number of Americans aged 25 to 34 living with their parents jumped 25 percent during the recession. Last month, The New York Timescalled the collective youth “Generation Limbo,” but after seeing the new census data, Harvard economist Richard Freeman takes it a stage further. “These people will be scarred, and they will be called the ‘lost generation’–in that their careers would not be the same way if we had avoided this economic disaster,” Freeman told The Associated Press. The world has seen a number of lost generations in the past century. Gertrude Stein first coined the term in 1920s in reference to the Europeans who grew up during World War I, but it’s most recently referred to Japanese youth who grew up during that country’s recession in the 1990s. In Japan, the lost youth are referred to as the hikikomori, and the decade of widespread unemployment meant that many of them never had the chance to start careers. In the 10 years of recession in Japan the number of young people working temporary or contract jobs doubled, and the collective hopelessness lead to a sky-rocketing suicide rate.

A country with an economy that relies heavily on household spending cannot thrive and grow under these scenarios.  It is well known in macroeconomic research that high, sustained levels of unemployment have a multiplying impact on the rate of economic growth.  An economic forecast prepared by Goldman Sachs considers government policy an “impediment to growth”.  Fiscal tightening on both the state and national level will make things much worse.

Given the fiscal outlook remains difficult, we believe we’re unlikely to get further stimulus, and that government will continue to be a modest drag on growth. We believe we will see an increase in the rate of fiscal tightening at the federal level over the next couple of years. Fiscal policy was a boost in 2009, roughly neutral in 2010, and in 2011, roughly a 1 percentage point drag. In 2012, the impact depends on upcoming policy decisions. At best from a short-term perspective, if the Obama administration’s package passed, which seems quite unlikely, fiscal drag would be neutralized; at worst, if all temporary stimulus expires, we’d expect a fiscal drag of more than 1 1/2 percentage points of growth in early 2012. The more likely, middle ground outcome: the administration and Congress agree on tax-related proposals and probably extend the one-year payroll tax cut for one more year. There will be a bigger problem in 2013 with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, as well as any fiscal stimulus measures.

I think it’s rather telling to characterize our government as a drag on economic growth.  It’s clear that partisan politics have put elections and ideology ahead of any concern for the future of our country.  Nothing we’re talking about here is something that shouldn’t be known by folks who had an introductory university economics courses.  We’re unfortunately captured by a group of people in power that have no concern for the good of the country as a whole.

Paul Krugman put up this graph showing the level of Gross Investment by State and Local Governments.  This would be the kinds of infrastructure that support modern life as we know it and include things like roads, bridges, new school buildings, sewers, airports, and other things that also drive local business growth.  As you can see, there is a serious lack of infrastructure investments by state and local governments this century. Since interest rates are cheap, now is a good time to do these kinds of long term projects that would provide jobs and incentives for local businesses to expand.  The majority of our states have balanced budget amendments which disallow deficit spending and in some cases, borrowing.  Long term investment is nearly impossible in many states.  Krugman argues that the timing is right to invest in roads, bridges, airports, and other important public projects. It’s a perfect time to look at an Infrastructure Bank which had broad bipartisan support during the Bush/Cheney years. President Obama has proposed such an institution.

The proposal, modeled after a bipartisan bill in the Senate, would take $10 billion in start-up money and identify transportation, water or energy projects that lack funding. Eligible projects would need to be worth at least $100 million and provide “a clear public benefit.” The bank would then work with private investors to finance the project through cheap long-term loans or loan guarantees, with the government picking up no more than half the tab — ideally, much less — for any given project.

There is still this insane argument out there that the US is going broke and can’t afford to spend any money.  This confuses the institution of government with households and businesses.  A government has the ability tax and the national government has the ability to print money and borrow in perpetuity.  This country spent far more of its future output during the Great Depression and World War 2 and the results speak for themselves.  We’ve had most of this decade’s fiscal policy using taxes to encourage gambling for paper profits, not actual production of goods and services.  Europe’s policy makers are stuck in the same mindset.  You would think that the experiences between the two world wars would’ve made an impression on them.  We’ve spent trillions of dollars propping up the world’s gambling houses without telling them they must lend for productive purposes as a condition of those bailouts.  I have no idea how many more years that economists will have to scream that it’s the aggregate demand stupid at policy makers, but I have a feeling we won’t be stopping any time soon.