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Ear to the Ground

The Dirty Secret of the Jobless Recovery

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Posted on Jul 3, 2011

A shot from director Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropolis.”

Have you ever asked yourself what makes a “jobless recovery” possible? Since the beginning of the recession, American companies have trimmed their staffs and shifted work to remaining employees, largely without increasing pay, and those workers are not reaping the benefits. On the contrary, while employed Americans have labored to make their industries more productive than they were before—to the tune of a 22 percent increase in corporate profits—the majority of those gains have gone to company executives and those involved in the financial services industry.

The article below evokes the famous “Let ’er roll!” scene from “I Love Lucy” in which Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance are made to wrap chocolates at impossibly accelerating speeds. But this clip from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” captures the true mental and physical cost paid by employees forced to work longer, harder, faster and smarter than should be required of them. —ARK

Mother Jones:

Mind racing at 4 a.m.? Guiltily realizing you’ve been only half-listening to your child for the past hour? Checking work email at a stoplight, at the dinner table, in bed? Dreading once-pleasant diversions, like dinner with friends, as just one more thing on your to-do list?

Guess what: It’s not you. These might seem like personal problems—and certainly, the pharmaceutical industry is happy to perpetuate that notion—but they’re really economic problems. Just counting work that’s on the books (never mind those 11 p.m. emails), Americans now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans. The differential isn’t solely accounted for by longer hours, of course—worldwide, almost everyone except us has, at least on paper, a right to weekends off, paid vacation time (PDF), and paid maternity leave. (The only other countries that don’t mandate paid time off for new moms are Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Samoa, and Swaziland. U-S…A?)

... In all the chatter about our “jobless recovery,” how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.

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By robot, July 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

The tea party doesn’t want to take us back to 1860, I don’t know anyone who wants that.  We want to take the country back to constitutional principles, including all of the amendments. 

If most of the white people wanted slavery/segregation, I suspect we would still have it.  Fortunately moral people, majority white,  prevailed over that argument. 

Socialism is just a form of slavery however, you work for a master (the government) and they only give you what they deem you need.  That is the worst kind of slavery, you don’t get to acheive your potential. 

I must point out that there is still slavery in the middle east and Africa.  Don’t get me started on the way women area treated in this country and in others.  If you want to fix something, fix that. 

Our constitution has as a fundamental premiss that the people who represent us will be honest and moral people.  But who of our politicians fit that description?  It also depends on an informed/interested electorate.  Most of the people in this country expect their politicians to lie to them.  How can we expect them to do the right thing if they can’t even tell the truth? 

If we lie to them, it’s a crime…...but they can lie to us with impunity. 

Calling groups deragative names does not add to the debate.  I wish you could just present your case without the name calling.

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By robot, July 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

Hulk, what an how do the progressives want to change it?  If I knew what they were after, I might join them.  So far I have not been able to get someone to explain it to me. 

I also don’t see how taking away our freedoms and opportunities will make it better.  I thought it was the progressives who were persuading everyone to buy a home and having Freddie and Fanny back those mortgages.  That didn’t work out so well.

Do they have a better plan for our government?  If so, I’ld love to hear it.

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By Yasmin Dixon, July 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Try a backward bending labor supply curve.  Technology creates unemployment.

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By Rodney, July 5, 2011 at 9:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The profits are up, the jobs and wages are down.
The corporate boys wised up. They found new slaves.
Over in China,Mexico,and Latin America. No labor
laws,no environmental laws, no health care or
workman’s compensation to worry about. If you can’t
lower the standards here, then go somewhere where
there are no standards.That is what the corporate
boys have done. They have transported slavery
overseas. Those jobs are never coming back. The
Masters I mean corporate boys are not trying to come
back. They have no patriotism. They love money more
than America. Plus they have created laws through
bribes I mean campagn contributions to the
polititians to allow the substandard junk that is
made overseas to come back into this country with
little or no tariffs.  They have permanently
disenfranchised the American worker for their own
personal greed. They can always blame the unions. But
the fact is they are no longer happy being
millionaires, they need to be billionaires. Two homes
no longer suffice,they need ten homes all over the
world with a private jet. And all of the tax breaks
they received did not create a single job in America.
It did create more of their slaves overseas.Americans
have been sold out to overseas corporate slavery.The
owners of this country decided to move their slave
operations overseas where Dictators and regimes are
easily bribed and corruption runs rampant.
They are now seeking to destroy what’s left of
American manufacturing through lowering wages
pensions and health benefits of the factory worker’s
that are left here. And the next step is to bring
school teachers, police and firemen under the same
low wage no benefit system of slavery. So the owners
can keep it all for themselves. So they pay little or
no taxes. It’s the new tea bagger agenda of taking
their country back. Back to 1860!

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Hulk2008's avatar

By Hulk2008, July 4, 2011 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

Reminder to robot et al:

If “government” is evil, the people are therefore corrupt - remember “WE THE PEOPLE…..” etc.?

The Constitution said the forefathers were forming their own GOVERNMENT…..not some loose gaggle.  It was tobe a necessarily stronger union than proposed by the Articles of Confederation.

WE have a government.  Join the progressives who hope to improve it, not take it back to the 18th century.

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By robot, July 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

Company profits, like the stock market in general are up in part due to the printing of money, Aka. Quantitative easing (QE I & QE II). 

Likewise social security recipiants have already taken a cut in there benefits via the same mechanism.

People have taken part in the profits if they participate in the stock market.  But alas, so many of us were encouraged to take out the equity in our homes to buy new cars, ipods and vacations.  We now have no savings and are drowning in debt.  Many of us are unemployed.  Who’s fault is it? 

Again all I can do is point to government.  Whether you say it was the de-regulation of republicans, or the community organizers who insisted that banks lend to unqualified home buyers, it is government interference that led to this and every other meltdown.  The passage of one law or another to favor one sector or another leads to destruction.

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By the worm, July 4, 2011 at 6:51 am Link to this comment

Like the effects of the last election and the distancing of voters from their
government, the effects of the current ‘recovery’ continue to distance voters
from their nation.

Virtually all communication mechanisms are corporate owned/controlled with
the result that corporations, rather than voters, control the message.

Even our response to the media tracks our responses to candidates, election,
economic recovery: We are distanced from their message, it sounds hallow,
even false.

Why? Because our reality is so distant from what we’re being told. Just as those
we vote for reject the voters and economic gains are absorbed into the pockets
of others.

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LostHills's avatar

By LostHills, July 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Welcome to hell…..

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By bpawk, July 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

Nobody complained decades ago when the jobs were going to other countries - you distracted yourselves with celeb worship and false consciousness - most working people considered themselves too good to identify with losers who lost their jobs. Now more and more of you are the losers losing your jobs. Should have said something years ago - now it’s too late.

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By Robespierre115, July 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Marx was right, if you don’t like it too bad.

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By Awi, July 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Supply Side economics defies the laws of gravity.  Money goes up but does not come back down.

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