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  • bjspokanimal bjspokanimal Mar 27, 2013 1:32 PM Flag

    Mort Zuckerman on Obama's "Grand Illusion"

    To the un-initiated, Mort Zuckerman is Editor in Chief of US News & World Report. Here are key points in his Article:

    The Great Recession is an apt name for America's current stagnation, but the present phase might also be called the "Grand Illusion" - because the happy talk and statistics that go with it, espeically regarding jobs, give a rosier picture than the facts justify.

    The country isn't really advancing. By comparison with earlier recessions, it is going backward. Despite the most stimulative fiscal policy in American history, and a trillion-dollar expansion to the money supply, the economy over the last three years has been declining. After 2.4% annual growth rates in GDP in 2010 and 2011, the economy slowed to 1.5% growth in 2012. Cumulative growth for the past 12 quarters was just 6.3%, the slowest of all 11 recessions since World War II.

    February's headline unemployment rate was portrayed as 7.7%, down from 7.9% in January. The dip was accompanied by huzzahs in the news media claiming the improvement was "outstanding" and "amazing". But when accounting for "discouraged" workers no longer looking for a job, involuntary part-timers, etc. - then the "real" unemployment rate is somewhere between 14 and 15%.

    The number of Americans unemployed for 6 months or longer went up by 89,000 in February to 4.8 million. Most importantly, the "labor force participation" rate dropped to 63.5% in february, the lowest level in 30 years!

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    • Mort's full article can be viewed in yesterday's WSJ as well.

      • 1 Reply to bjspokanimal
      • Disability is a defacto new welfare program... Excerpt: By Barbara Raab, Senior Producer, NBC News

        When President Clinton signed "welfare reform" into law in 1996, he promised to end welfare as we know it. Now, some new reporting suggests we've created a new kind of welfare -- only most Americans aren't aware of it.

        The number of people who depend on checks from Social Security's disability programs has soared in recent years, according to NPR's series "Unfit for Work: the Startling Rise of Disability in America." The reports, which began over the weekend and continue this week, raise the question: How disabled are the recipients, really? As you might imagine, they have touched a nerve.

        A quick primer: the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly cash assistance to people who are poor and disabled, including families with disabled children. The basic monthly SSI cash benefit is a set amount -- currently $710 for an individual and $1,066 for a couple. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program also provides monthly cash assistance, to disabled people who have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. People who leave the workforce and go on disability also qualify for Medicare.

        After six months of investigation, NPR reporter Chana Joffee-Walt concluded that Social Security's disability programs have become "a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills." In the past three decades, she reports, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed:

        Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.

        The federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. [...]

        [And] story of these programs -- who goes on them, and why, and what happens after that -- is, to a large extent, the story of the U.S. economy. It's the story not only of an aging workforce, but also of a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net.

        Joffee-Walt's report takes listeners to Hale County, Ala., where one in four working-age adults is on disability, a local doctor is the go-to-guy for people in pain, and on "the day government checks come in every month, banks stay open late, Main Street fills up with cars, and anybody looking to unload an old TV or armchair has a yard sale" because people are relatively flush with cash.

        She takes us inside "the disability industrial complex," including one of the private call centers that states pay to scrutinize their welfare rolls, contact as many people as possible who might qualify for federal disability payments, and move them off the state's rolls and into the federal disability system.

        The PCG [Public Consulting Group] agents help the potentially disabled fill out the Social Security disability application over the phone. And by help, I mean the agents actually do the filling out. When the potentially disabled don't have the right medical documentation to prove a disability, the agents at PCG help them get it. They call doctors' offices; they get records faxed. If the right medical records do not exist, PCG sets up doctors' appointments and calls applicants the day before to remind them of those appointments.

        Joffee-Walt also reports on the 1.3 million kids on SSI, and says that some parents in Hale County told her they want kids who can "pull a check" so the family gets extra income. She suggests that some families who are surviving on that check may be holding their kids back from overcoming disabilities because they don't want to lose the money.

    • Here is more of the text of the Mort Zuckerman piece:

      Other numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have deteriorated. The 236,000 net new jobs added to the economy in February is misleading - the gross number of new jobs included 340,000 in the part-time, low-wage category. Many of the so-called net new jobs are second or third jobs going to people who are already working, rather than going to those who are unemployed.

      Since World War II, it has typically taken 24 months to reach a new peak in employment after the onset of a recession. Yet, the country is more than 60 months away from it's previous high in 2007, and the economy is still down 3.2 million jobs from that year.

      Just to absorb the workforce's new entrants, the U.S. economy needs to add 1.8 million to three million new jobs every year. At the current rate, it will be seven years before the jobs lost in the Great Recession are restored. Employers will need to make at least 300,000 hires every month to recover the ground that has been lost.

      What the administration gives us is politics. What the country needs are constructive strategies free of ideology. But the risks of future economic shocks will multiply so long as we remain locked in a rancorous political culture with a leadership more inclined to endless public relations than hardheaded, pragmatic recognition of what must be done to restore America's vitality.

    • I"m guessing that neither you, for posting this, nor Mr Zuckerman for writing it, will be on Obamahussein's Christmas card list. Those whose eyes are open thank you for this piece, and for so many other informative, thoughtful postings..

      Sentiment: Strong Buy

      • 1 Reply to svblair
      • Assuming that you're referring to Tony, I don't see him, blair. I iggy any alias he creates as soon as I recognize it as Tony... and it's EASY to recognize him.

        The 3 most important things to understand about Tony are:

        1. He vehemently HATES caucasians.

        2. He was sympathetic to the Trade Center disaster and made light of it's victims.

        3. He feeds off any attention you give him, negative or positive, and he talks to himself.

        If you like this board for it's constructive thought and useful posts, then you're way ahead of the curve if you iggy any hint of it's most significant cancer. You'll end up seeing a FAR more robust array of good posts on page 1 of this board if you do.


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