A week of travel ahead. So, few if any posts until I return. . .
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Tags: cartoon, Cheney, Obama, Putin, Republicans, Russia, Ukraine, war
Tags: cartoon, Cold War, Crimea, film, information, internet, media, merger, Monopoly, Russia, slavery, Ukraine, United States
More than 1,000 workers have gone on strike this week at an IBM factory in Shenzhen in southeastern China in the latest sign of labor activism as companies’ acute shortage of blue-collar workers makes employees increasingly willing to take to the streets.
According to Rick Smith,
Many people carried signs and banners while at one time they also sang the Chinese national anthem.
Slogans on the banners included:
- “Sweat Shop”
- “We are not merchandise; we have dignity; and we have human rights”
- “Give me back my youth! Change the labor terms”
Tags: Afghanistan, Bitcoin, cartoon, environment, free market, incentives, invisible hand, Iraq, military, Obamacare, war, water, workers
Tags: cognitariat, education, proletariat, skills, technology, wages, working-class
Liberals and conservatives agree on one thing: the answer to the declining fortunes of the American working-class is more college education.
As workers’ wages have stagnated over the course of the past three decades, and as the real wages of workers with a high school education have actually declined, the solution offered by countless politicians and economists on both wings of the mainstream political spectrum has not been structural change but, instead, more education. “Get a college education,” they pontificated in unison, “and your problems will be solved.”
The increase in wages and employment of college-educated workers during the technology boom of the 1980s and 1990s appeared to confirm their view, and to excuse the escalating costs of a college education (and the growing indebtedness on the past of college students). Now, the fortunes of the cognitariat have gone bust. They have increasingly joined the ranks of the proletariat, and added to the already-enormous pressures on those below them in the educational hierarchy. The result, in the past decade, has been wage stagnation across the board.
That’s the central thesis of recent research by Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Benjamin M. Sand. Their argument is that the Information Technology revolution ended in 2000 and that, as a result, there has been less need for cognitive workers, which not only led to stagnating wages for college-educated workers but had a cascading effect through the rest of the labor market.
The reduction in demand for cognitive jobs during this period implies that high-educated workers switch, in part, to accepting routine jobs. This movement of high-educated workers into the less skilled occupations amplifies the push of less educated workers toward non-employment. In fact, less educated workers move out of cognitive jobs because of the decrease in demand for those tasks, and they move out of routine jobs both because of decreased demand and because of increased supply to those jobs by the higher educated individuals. In this sense, employment has what we think of as a cascading nature, with more skilled workers flowing down the occupation structure and pushing less skilled workers even further down. Hence, even though the major change in the bust period relative to the boom period is the shift in the demand for cognitive jobs, non-employment increases among the less-educated as this is the main escape valve for the labor market.
The net result has been stagnating wages and decreased employment in both the cognitive and routine sectors, an increase in employment in the low-wage manual sector (as the rising fortunes of the tiny minority at the top led to increased demand for the services performed by manual workers), and decreased employment rates as the least educated have been forced out of the labor market altogether.
So, what does this mean for the idea that a college education is the solution to all our problems? According to the authors,
having a BA is less about obtaining access to high paying managerial and technology jobs and more about beating out less educated workers for the Barista or clerical job.
According to the ADP National Employment Report, U.S. private employers added 139,000 jobs in February—a slight improvement over January’s figure (which was revised down to a gain of 127,000 from the previously reported 175,000) but far below the average of the previous twelve months (which is 186,000).
If as is expected the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on Friday that a total 150,000 new jobs were created in February, and if that trend continues, it will take more than 7 years to close the “jobs gap” (according to the Hamilton Project calculator)* In other words, the United States would return to the December 2007 level of employment in August of 2021!
*The jobs gap is defined as the number of jobs the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.
Tags: AIPAC, Cold War, foreign policy, Great Depression, Israel, media, politicians, Russia, Second Great Depression, Students for a Democratic Society, Ukraine, United States, war
It just so happens, in the midst of the march to war over Ukraine, this week we’re teaching Berkeley in the Sixties and The Port Huron Statement in the Tale of Two Depressions course.
In 1962, the Students for a Democratic Society were concerned about the effects of “a half-century of accelerating destruction,” especially the policy of nuclear deterrence.
Deterrence advocates, all of them prepared at least to threaten mass extermination, advance arguments of several kinds. At one pole are the minority of open partisans of preventive war —who falsely assume the inevitability of violent conflict and assert the lunatic efficacy of striking the first blow, assuming that it will be easier to “recover” after thermonuclear war than to recover now from the grip of the Cold War. Somewhat more reluctant to advocate initiating a war, but perhaps more disturbing for their numbers within the Kennedy Administration, are the many advocates of the “counterforce” theory of aiming strategic nuclear weapons at military installations — though this might “save” more lives than a preventive war, it would require drastic, provocative and perhaps impossible social change to separate many cities from weapons sites, it would be impossible to ensure the immunity of cities after one or two counterforce nuclear “exchanges”, it would generate a perpetual arms race for less vulnerability and greater weapons power and mobility, it would make outer space a region subject to militarization, and accelerate the suspicions and arms build-ups which are incentives to precipitate nuclear action. Others would support fighting “limited wars” which use conventional (all but atomic) weapons, backed by deterrents so mighty that both sides would fear to use them — although underestimating the implications of numerous new atomic powers on the world stage, the extreme difficulty of anchoring international order with weapons of only transient invulnerability, the potential tendency for a “losing side” to push limited protracted fighting on the soil of underdeveloped countries. Still other deterrence artists propose limited, clearly defensive and retaliatory, nuclear capacity, always potent enough to deter an opponent’s aggressive designs — the best of deterrence stratagems, but inadequate when it rests on the equation of an arms “stalemate” with international stability.
As we know, history is repeating itself, as “the world alternatively drifts and plunges towards a terrible war when vision and change are required.”
Thus, we would do well to consider Stephen Cohen’s argument that the American media are misrepresenting Putin and Russia.
The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines—particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin—is an indication, this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.
There are notable exceptions, but a general pattern has developed. Even in the venerable New York Times and Washington Post, news reports, editorials and commentaries no longer adhere rigorously to traditional journalistic standards, often failing to provide essential facts and context; to make a clear distinction between reporting and analysis; to require at least two different political or “expert” views on major developments; or to publish opposing opinions on their op-ed pages. As a result, American media on Russia today are less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.
And we should remember that Senator John McCain’s shameless denunciation of President Obama, as responsible for a “feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore,” was delivered in a speech the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful foreign policy lobby in Washington. As John Hickman explains,
McCain fulminated about Russian annexation of Crimea and possibly of the Russian speaking eastern half of Ukraine. Yet he was speaking to an audience that had endorsed the annexation of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, and endorses the ongoing annexation of the West Bank. Hypocrisy more complete would be difficult to conceive.
American journalists allow politicians like McCain to get away with such nonsense because many fear reporting anything critical about either Israel or the Israeli lobby. They are also captives of the news frames constructed by official sources in Washington. For the Crimean Crisis the consensus news frame is that Russian behavior is a violation of a strong post Second World War international norm against territorial annexation. The historical reality is that the norm has been frequently and successfully violated: Poland annexed East Prussia, East Brandenburg, Lower Silesia, and Pomerania; Russia annexed Bessarabia and Bukovina; India annexed Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli; India and Pakistan partitioned Kashmir; Indonesia annexed West Irian; Ethiopia annexed Ogaden; Turkey annexed northern Cyprus; Morocco annexed Spanish Sahara, and Israel annexed the majority of Palestine. Yes, of course some sort of justification could be offered for each of these events. There are always justifications. What is important but ignored in the outrage currently being performed about Crimea is that “the world community” did not protest strongly or effectively.
The consensus news frame also excludes reference to the complexities of Russian and Soviet history. When reporters deploy the propagandistic phrased like “Ukraine’s Crimea” they ignore the fact that Russian sovereignty over the peninsula predates American possession of the Mississippi Valley and ignores the rather artificial transfer of sovereignty over the peninsula from Russia to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev, at a time when both Russia and Ukraine were part of the same country (the Soviet Union). Forget about sympathy for the difficulties faced by ethnic Russian minorities in the post-Soviet near abroad.
Between the irresponsible pandering of politicians and the cockeyed international news coverage it seems likely that many will be deceived by a simplistic narrative of Ukrainian nationalist good guys and Russian bad guys. What a pity that it always seems to take so long to realize we are being failed by our political and news media leaders.
In both cases, the march to war was prepared by simplistic narratives produced and disseminated by feckless media and politicians.
Tags: Comcast, corporations, internet, map, media, merger, Time Warner
These are maps of the United States of Comcast—before (above) and after (below) the proposed merger with Time Warner.