Saturday, January 07, 2012

Getting Better--and Maybe Getting Healthier

Friday's surprise was the strong employment report, with more jobs created than forecast, and an unemployment rate that was expected to go up instead went down to 8.5%. 

Some 212,000 private sector jobs were added last month, including a healthy increase in manufacturing and even some increase in average wages.  Once again the only sector that lost jobs was government.

Politically it was of course good news for President Obama, especially in rising consumer confidence and spending.  It has reduced his GOPer rivals to obvious lies, which admittedly isn't much of a stretch for them.  There must be something different about conservative GOPer Christianity that encourages lying as well as hatred and cruelty than the brand I learned in Catholic school.  Although it might be different in Catholic school now (both Gingrich and Sanctimonious are Catholic.)

The lie--which was identified by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post and Paul Krugman in the NY Times--is claiming the economy has lost jobs under Obama, by conveniently counting the first few months after their hero GW Bush left the country in the toilet, and before President Obama's policies were enacted, let alone in effect for long enough to show results.  (Krugman also shows what a whopper Romney's claim is that he "created 100,000 jobs.")

They continue to repeat their lies, about big government as well, while government is shedding jobs.  That may also be politically to Obama's advantage, but for the economy and society, it's very bad news.  Jobs are jobs, first of all.  And these are mostly jobs that are necessary for the functioning of this economy and this country.  They are going to wind up costing everyone more in the long run.

There is a paradox in economic growth itself.  It is necessary to put bread on the table for millions of Americans.  But high consumption and wasteful practices also create enormous waste and ruins the environment we depend on for ultimate survival.  But at least some of the current growth is better because it arises from green energy development and manufacturing, and such anti-waste efforts as retrofitting.  Plus despite the government job losses and the criminal failure of Congress to support needed infrastructure construction and repair, there actually is some infrastructure work happening, and construction jobs are up.

The truth is that the Great Recession was so damaging, and so many jobs were lost, that even at the highest levels of growth we've had in the past 20 years or so,  this economy is not going to recover what it lost for years.  That sobering truth is one that the Obama campaign will have to introduce sooner or later.  The global economy is still fragile, and the big shocks from the Climate Crisis have barely begun.  We need to have a sounder, more ecologically responsible economy, and economic justice, because it is unlikely that the kind of prosperity this country squandered and is still squandering will be seen for a long time, if ever again.  That doesn't prevent a spirit of optimism, but optimism in achieving new goals--for a sustainable, resilient economy and society-- as well as again defining old, basic ones, of economic justice and the common good.      

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