Keith Olbermann is a BOOB (open thread)

It’s national BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH YOU IDIOT!!!!  Keith Olbermann, today’s biggest boob in the world!!!

Well, the NFL was trying to do something nice by supporting Breast Cancer Awareness month with their Real Men Wear Pink Campaign. Leave it to Keith Olbermann to something completely Freudian on National TV.


Some times being Right doesn’t always make you Feel Good

wayne-stayskal-30-septemberYou may remember back in January that I was not happy and very outspoken about the size of the Obama Stimulus plan. I was not impressed by the content or with the mix between tax cuts and direct government spending. You may recall that the Blue Dogs interminable resistance to do anything that might wake their sleeping Republican voters and the desire on the part of POTUS to appease the unappeasable remnants of the Republican party led to a very watered down plan. At the time, all that I could hope was that it might be enough to get the ball rolling. However, I felt that the historical multiplier –especially for taxes– was not going to kick in the way it had in the past.

The release of the miserable unemployment data yesterday (not all that unexpected as you’ll recall) as well as an estimate of our output gap now clearly squares with my earlier view as well as the earlier views of Brad deLong, Paul Krugman, Mark Thoma and Joseph Stiglitz among others. The stimulus was clearly not the blue pill the economy needed. (That last link is from me saying this same thing in July.)

The Washington Monthly says the decision to appease centrists and Republicans looks even worse in retrospect. Now, the media gets it. Color me completely unsurprised because I told you so back then that it wasn’t going to be enough. I even mentioned it recently when it appeared the stimulus plans of German, France, and Japan had already lifted those economies from the worst of it last spring. These countries emphasized direct government spending. We mostly shuffled a few funds as stop gaps and the created a bunch of tax cuts that no one really needs right now.

In February, when the debate over the economic stimulus package was at its height, a handful of “centrist” Senate Republicans said they’d block a vote on recovery efforts unless the majority agreed to slash over $100 billion from the bill.

The group, which didn’t have any specific policy goals in mind and simply liked the idea of a small bill, specifically targeted $40 billion in proposed aid to states. Helping rescue states, Sen. Collins & Co. said, does not stimulate the economy, and as such doesn’t belong in the legislation. Democratic leaders reluctantly went along — they weren’t given a choice since Republicans refused to give the bill an up-or-down vote — and the $40 billion in state aid was eliminated.

At the time, it seemed like a very bad idea. That’s because it was a very bad idea.

In the past, government hiring had managed to somewhat offset losses in the private sector, but government jobs declined by 53,000, with the biggest number of cuts on the local and state levels. Even the Postal Service, which is included in the public-sector job statistics, dropped 5,300 jobs.

“The major surprise came from the public sector, where every level of government cut back,” Naroff said. “The budget crises at the state and local levels have caused an awful lot of belt-tightening.”

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It’s still about the Jobs!

dwig-female-help-wanted-humorI keep repeating this like a mantra, but an economy that relies on households buying 70% of it’s production, and households that rely on wages for 67% of their income, is not going to get healthy until it creates more jobs. That’s why Robert Riech, Paul Krugman, and this Cajun Country Economist are still stuck on job creation and the unemployment rate. It appears the DJ and other stock indexes are taking notice too. This is from today’s Gray Lady.

The American economy lost 263,000 jobs in September — far more than expected — and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, the government reported on Friday, dimming prospects of any meaningful job growth by the end of the year.

The Labor Department’s monthly snapshot of unemployment dashed hopes that the pace of job losses would continue to slow as the economy clawed its way back from a deep recession. Economists had expected 175,000 monthly job losses.

“People have been celebrating that we’re through the financial crisis, but the underlying issues are all still there,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “We’ve lost trillions of dollars in housing wealth, and consumption’s going to be weak. It’s not the ’30s, but there’s really nothing to boost the economy.”

You’ll recall that it’s been two years since the NBER dated the beginning of this Great Recession. That means the U.S. economy has been hemorrhaging jobs for TWO years now. We’ve got it bad and that ain’t good. Robert Reich, President Clinton’s former Labor Secretary has the “Truth about Jobs” in his blog entry today.

Unemployment will almost certainly in double-digits next year — and may remain there for some time. And for every person who shows up as unemployed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, you can bet there’s another either too discouraged to look for work or working part time who’d rather have a full-time job or else taking home less pay than before (I’m in the last category, now that the University of California has instituted pay cuts). And there’s yet another person who’s more fearful that he or she will be next to lose a job.

In other words, ten percent unemployment really means twenty percent underemployment or anxious employment. All of which translates directly into late payments on mortgages, credit cards, auto and student loans, and loss of health insurance. It also means sleeplessness for tens of millions of Americans. And, of course, fewer purchases (more on this in a moment).

Unemployment of this magnitude and duration also translates into ugly politics, because fear and anxiety are fertile grounds for demagogues wielding the politics of resentment against immigrants, blacks, the poor, government leaders, business leaders, Jews, and other easy targets. It’s already started.

That’s right! Because of the way we actually count the unemployed, there are actually a lot more problems out there 3143191300_b139907778_othan the unemployment rate measures. All you have to be is employed 1 hour of paid work and that dumps you into the ranks of employed. So that means if you’ve been furloughed, had your hours cut, or had to take up part time employment, you may be miserably underemployed, but your still employed. You also have to be have been actively searching for a job if you don’t have one for the last four weeks to stay in the ranks of the unemployed. You start giving up, you’re considered not in the labor force and by definition not eligible to join the numbers of the unemployed.  (These are so-called discouraged workers.)

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