Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Pound Of Flesh from the Inside

The weakness of the economy is obvious, if you look at any financial news. The occupied White House will keep babbling about the strong fundamentals, and we all know it's lies. The old, old story about consumer confidence just doesn't hold water anymore, we know it is a lie that we are fine, and we know the reason for the lie is the executive branch's basic disrespect for the public.

Who voted them in? The public that hasn't taken to the streets to deny this criminal operation the powers they took from us. With an attorney general who takes the stand to point out he's not prosecuting known lawbreakers, the gang has declared it is ignoring laws unless and until they are taken in hand by a rival gang that will enforce them. Meantime, your laws are belong to them.

The economy is in the tank, and jobs are fleeing rapidly while the executive branch keeps babbling that jobs are up. If they count the multitudes of jobs many of the fringe workers hold, and the small numbers of hours those fringe workers can wrangle out of their employers, the numbers are up. The reality is much different.

On the surface, the job market is weak but hardly desperate. Layoffs remain less frequent than in many economic downturns, and the unemployment rate is a relatively modest 5.5 percent. But that figure masks the strains of those who are losing hours or working part time because they cannot find full-time work — a stealth force that is eroding American spending power.

All told, people the government classifies as working part time involuntarily — predominantly those who have lost hours or cannot find full-time work — swelled to 5.3 million last month, a jump of greater than 1 million over the last year.

These workers now amount to 3.7 percent of all those employed, up from 3 percent a year ago, and the highest level since 1995.

“This increase is startling,” said Steve Hipple, an economist at the Labor Department.

The loss of hours has been affecting men in particular — and Hispanic men more so. Among those who were forced into part-time work from the spring of 2007 to the spring of 2008, 73 percent were men and 35 percent were Hispanic.

Some 28 percent of the jobs affected were in construction, 14 percent in retail and 13 percent in professional and business services, according an analysis by Mr. Hipple.

“The unemployment rate is giving you a misleading impression of some of the adjustments that are taking place,” said John E. Silvia, chief economist of Wachovia in Charlotte. “Hours cut is a big deal. People still have a job, but they are losing income.”

Many experts see the swift cutback in hours as a precursor of a more painful chapter to come: broader layoffs. Some struggling companies are holding on to workers and cutting shifts while hoping to ride out hard times. If business does not improve, more extreme measures could follow.

If you are asked to work off the clock, as many are, this smarts even more. You need those hours, and to keep from giving you benefits, you aren't getting them. It's going to get worse. The above was from July 31, and business has gone even more sour since then.

The U.S. has lost more than 400,000 jobs in the first seven months of the year, and economists say more layoffs are coming as retailers and automakers endure their latest retrenchment. Even Fed officials who have been sounding the alarm about inflation are saying they expect to see the economy struggle, a development that won't be supportive of higher values for the dollar.

The candidacy of the right depends on lies and juggled statistics to hold onto the power they've misused so badly, to their own and our detriment.

Anyone who wants to pull the country through will have to start insisting on the truth, and refusing to accept the party line that is a lie.

It's not going to be easy, but we can insist on the truth and continue to tell it.

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