Intravenous Caffeine

Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

Great, now I can solar power my refrigerator box…

A solar panel is used to heat a refrigerator box homeless shelter..

Now if we can afford the space heater ...

I am still recovering from my bout of whatever crud I have, though now it’s more had than have. I should really not be working at all, but it’s so near the end of the year and my Christmas break that I can’t see not keeping to schedule. In any case, my last cartoon of the year will be next Thursday’s, and I will begin again on the 11th of January.
President Obama did present his Main Street recovery plan, and I can only hope that this is just a warm-up to use up the moneys that were left over from the bank bailout. Seriously, falling to 10 percent unemployment from 10.2 is not a necessarily a sign that things have turned around, especially with so many underemployed. As Robert Reich said in HuffPo, the real October story wasn’t the dip in unemployment but the number of people who dropped out of the labor force. And Obama’s proposals are such a hodge-podge–a few initiatives to make it easier for small businesses to get loans–not that the banks have started making them yet since after they shored up their bottom lines, they paid themselves bonuses. Some green-incentive thingies–which, of course, mean you can AFFORD to go green before you can get any benefit from the incentives. And finally, $50 billion in infrastructure building–something that actually may produce some jobs.
The Republicans, on the other hand, have suddenly waxed wroth on the deficit–something that hardly mattered to them when George Bush was President. Paring down that deficit is more important than creating jobs. After all, the banks were saved, we’re already in recovery, right? Obama’s anemic jobs initiative can be seen as another one of his compromises, trying to spend just enough to stimulate employment while trying to please the Republicans by not spending too much and thus running the risk of not spending enough. Whether he spends enough or not, it won’t help matters before the end of ’09, a year that will be ended without engendering much nostalgia by its passing.

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ARE Self-congratulations in order?

Three homeless people discuss the jobless recovery

Hey, Goldman Sachs is doing fine...

The other week, President Obama decided he deserved a pat on the back so he gave himself one. The unemployment figures for July showed an amazing drop of ONE-TENTH of ONE PERCENT!. Ahhh, the stumble-us–errrr–stimulus has worked and we have avoided a major financial catastrophe. Kudos to my administration!
Well, Mr. President, I think you might be being a bit premature here. Granted we NEED some good news, what with the economy bouncing along the bottom like it has, but a tenth of a percent is really nothing to write home about. Hey Mom, I got a 65.1 instead of a 65 on that test–I didn’t flunk AS BADLY. I’m sure my mom would’ve just hugged the daylights out of me–or got the daylights out of me some other way. Robert Kuttner points out that the job market still hemmorhaged nearly a quarter of a million more jobs and that the drop in the unemployment rate was due to the fact that more people have stopped looking for work. You see, after you’ve given up looking for work after months and months of fruitless job interviews, the people who figure the unemployment rate decide that either you’ve retired or you’re a skid row bum living on mashed potatoes and Heaven Hill. One of the so-called “hardcore unemployed”. In other words, not worth counting anymore. But, if you manage to find a part-time job cleaning the parking lot at the local MickeyD’s–hey, you’re employed again! According to Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute if you add in all the “marginally attached” and “involuntarily part-time” workers, a staggering 25.6 million people–or over 16 percent of the population (nearly 1 in 6) is either unemployed or underemployed.
The good news is that at least one policy is showing success–the Cash for Clunkers–so much so that it had to be given more money. That at least helps people who HAVE jobs. And gets some of the gas hogs off the road. But mostly, the stimulus has only helped people with large offices…with windows…in banks. And one thing you know about bankers–they don’t give away money without giving themselves a bonus first! Yacht sales were booming last February. You can see some of the best of them here: 10 CEO Mega-Yachts (PHOTOS, POLL). Trickle down in action! Ronald Reagan would be proud.

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