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October 02, 2009

The Post-Jobs New Normal

Robert Reich is an economist. To say that Robert Reich is an economist is to say that Lance Armstrong is a bicyclist.

I disagree with him on political matters, but I always listen closely to him on economic issues, because he's brilliant, generally right, capable of explaining technical nuance in layman's terms, and he's willing to state contrarian views.

Although physically diminutive, his stature is such that in 1992 the Democratic wisdom on economic policy was "to get somebody in the Oval Office who will put Robert Reich in the basement".

In his blog on Thursday, Reich talks about The Truth About Jobs that No One Wants To Tell You.

America is productive and making money. Let me rephrase that.
Americans are productive and Corporations are making money.
They're making money (i.e. they're taking wealth) out of the population.
The workforce is suffering while the corporations are thriving.

The "new normal" is that the formerly-middle-class will not have high-paying jobs, benefits, unions, security, retirement, or certainty. We're entering a "post-jobs" economy, call it the Wal-Mart economy, and Reich points out that the corporate strategy is unsustainable.

Reich calls for a new Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the ongoing jobs program he recommends would dwarf the recent bailout and stimulus programs.

There's a lot of examples of Works Progress Administration projects around Pittsburgh. My favorite is the terminal building at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin.

We have an industrial policy which suggests that car companies are too big to fail. We have a financial policy which suggests that investors must be protected from market forces and responsibility.

We need to have a jobs policy that develops the middle class so that they can continue to bail out those corporations that the government deems worthy of our treasure.

China has a jobs policy. A major reason China is growing is they've adopted a policy of putting people to work. I'm no fan of Beijing, but they certainly have established and pursued employment as a priority, and right now they're doing better at it than we are.

I encourage you to read Reich.
(via Get The Flick.)

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