Saturday, February 08, 2014

But None For The Rest Of You

(Cartoon by Jack Ohman/Sacramento Bee (2/7/14) and featured by McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

So unemployment has dropped to 6.7%, and there was cheering throughout the land.  Well, big freakin' whoop.  As the Los Angeles Times has pointed out, that figure doesn't tell the whole story, and there are fewer jobs and fewer employed people than this "wonderful" set of reports seems to be implying.

From the L.A. Times:

Despite last month's sluggish job growth, the nation’s unemployment rate again edged lower, to 6.6% in January from 6.7% in December. That is the lowest since October 2008. The jobless figure has dropped sharply since October when it was 7.2%.

The unemployment rate is calculated using a separate survey of households, which sometimes doesn’t match up with the payroll job counts that come from a survey of employers. Based on the household survey, the employment picture for January looked considerably brighter. Unlike previous months, workers did not drop out of the labor force in January, according to this survey.

However, analysts put more weight on the larger survey of payroll job changes. By that measure, the last two months suggest that the economy and jobs recovery are slowing again, which could complicate the policy decision-making for the Fed.  [Emphasis added]

So, those in Congress who voted against extending unemployment benefits will point to this report and say, "See, See?"  To those unfeeling (and wealthy -- see Ohman's cartoon above --)  monsters I would reply, "Get your spectacles adjusted!"

As if that wasn't bad enough, those same greedy bastards voted in a Farm Bill which cut the Food Stamp program.  A trip to  Open Secrets will provide some insight into the bill which President Obama cheerfully signed:

Last year, the farm bill was the sixth-most heavily lobbied measure on Capitol Hill, with 350 organizations spending cash to get their voices heard as it was being shaped. Much of that lobbying was done by agricultural groups like the American Farm Bureau and the International Dairy Foods Association, which listed the bill on a combined 34 of their disclosure reports in 2013; crop insurance was the issue that appeared the most frequently on these reports. And the two groups weren't alone in their push. Since 2006, the American Association of Crop Insurers and the National Association of Wheat Growers, for example, have each mentioned crop insurance in lobbying disclosure reports more than 60 times.

Together, the agricultural services (in the case of AACI) and crop production (in the case of the wheat growers) industries have some serious lobbying heft. In 2013 alone, the industries combined to spend more than $57.5 million on lobbying. Leading the charge among those groups were chemical giant Monsanto and the American Farm Bureau, which over the past five years have spent $36 million and $27.9 million, respectively.

But crop producers and other agricultural groups haven't just been using their cash for lobbying; they've also sunk money into the campaigns of much of the congressional leadership in charge of crafting this year's farm bill.  [Emphasis added]

I left in all of the links (which I hope work!) from the cited article in case you'd like to check further and to use this data if/when you call your reps in Congress and scream loudly and long.

It's a terrible time to be among the 99%, isn't it.

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