Saturday, October 08, 2011

Best Reads of The Week: Labor, Employment, Economics and Politics

In this week's "Best Reads" I have included summaries of each as well as two articles I rate "Best of the Best." Special thanks to Alan Kostel, Bernie Koehne and Ken Karger for their contributions this week. Always interested in your contributions, thoughts and comments. To that end, let me know if you find this weekly addition worthy of continuation. It takes several hours a week and I am happy to continue if you find it valuable. Best, -Jim

Best of the Best

"The Fascist Threat"

"Fascism is the system of government that cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police state as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive state the unlimited master of society." Sound familiar? This brilliant piece comes from The Mises Institute, is highly recommended and can be found here:

"What This Country Needs Now Is Hope"

"The dialogue above occurred at the end of the dystopian movie V for Vendetta. It is a tale of revenge and restoring hope among citizens who had chosen safety and security over freedom and liberty. Even though this movie was fictional and adapted from a comic strip, its message and warnings should be heeded. Millions of middle class citizens in the U.S. sink deeper into despair every day. Day by day hope is being lost that the future for our children will be better than our past. The political, financial, and corporate leaders of our country are intellectually and morally bankrupt. The major Wall Street banks are bankrupt. Social Security is bankrupt. Medicare is bankrupt. The whole damned world is bankrupt. Anyone with an unbiased view of our planet would conclude that we are in unfathomable danger. The list of impending catastrophic issues that will blow up the world for millions in the U.S. and across the globe is virtually endless," and you will find them here:

Politics and Government

Secret Panel Can Now Put American Citizens On An Assassination List

Apparently, the Bill of Rights are now just "suggestions." Truly horrifying.

The American Empire: A Tragic Comedy in Three Acts

Do the Swiss get to send out drones to kill people they don’t know in countries they’ve never been? No! The poor yodelers go around with long faces and visit their shrinks. Americans have troops in 170 countries. Where are the Swiss? Only in Switzerland and the Vatican. Alas, they will never know the joys of nation building and people murdering.

Government Mandates GPS In Every Cell Phone

Under the auspices of needing to find you if you make a 911 call from your cell phone, the government can track you 24/7.

Our World Is Now Ruled By Finance

A glaring problem is hiding in plain sight. Although it towers over us all, the financial industry doesn't actually make anything. You can't eat a mutual fund or build a house with derivatives, and the glossy brochures don't burn very well. The sudden explosion of finance has displaced real value in the economy. It's arguably itself a kind of massive stock market bubble. Now we have continuous economic volatility and stock markets like casinos because at the very core of Western economies, there's just a glossy brochure.

So when we see the spectacle of people in streets of New York screaming "we have to stop being a debt economy and go back to being a production economy," they have a point.

This is a pretty short read... and it encapsulates all that is wrong with our world today. The short positions that the banks hold in commodities that I talked about at length above, is one of the more visible aspects of the problem. (Courtesy of the Doug Casey organization, this comes from the Montreal Gazette).

Solyndra Paper Trail Surfaces - Obama "Telling The Truth Slowly"

The White House has released its emails surrounding the Solyndra scandal, and they reveal new connections between the Obama administration and Solyndra—adding more questions to the heated political battle over the failed energy company. An Obama administration appointee, Steven Spinner, at the Department of Energy had pressured the White House for the $533 million loan for Solyndra—even as his wife, Allison Spinner, worked as a partner at the law firm that represented the company. The White House's fumbling response to the revelations has marred the image of a team that once promised to bring change to Washington, writes The Daily Beast's John Solomon.

Labor and Employment

Worker Confidence In Employers Plunges

U.S. workers are much less optimistic about their companies’ outlook than they were three months ago, according to a quarterly survey by, a website dedicated to workplace issues.

The Employment Report (Post Spin)

On Friday morning, the press was buzzing about the unexpectedly good employment number. By mid-day the market had parser it and found it's weaknesses, such as this one: "The number of workers only able to find part time jobs (or have had their hours cut for economic reasons) increased to 9.27 million in September from 8.826 million in August. This is the high for the year.". The real story is here:

CEO Pay: Still Skyrocketing - Still Undeserved

If you don't understand why people are marching in the streets, read this.

Say On Pay and What To Expect in 2012

Will shareholders start saying "no" to excessive executive compensation? Here's four reasons they will.

Cozy Relationships And 'Peer Benchmarking' Sends CEO Pay Skyrocketing

Makes me want to puke . . .

It Will Take 5 Years To Return To 2007 Unemployment Rate At 261,200 Jobs. A Month

"261,200. This means that unless that number of jobs is created each month for the next 5 years, America will have a higher unemployment rate in October 2016 than it did in December 2007. How realistic is it that the US economy can create 16.2 million jobs in the next 62 months? We leave that answer up to the US electorate."

Average Duration of Unemployment Rises to New All Time High

Over 40 weeks, enough said.

Layoffs In September Explode 126%

So much for the recovery . . .

Salary vs. Sleep - Which Would You Choose?

Which would you prefer: An $80,000 job with reasonable work hours and seven and a half hours of sleep each night, or a $140,000 job with long work hours and just six hours of sleep? A new study from researchers at Cornell, to be published in the American Economic Review, found that most people would pick the higher-paying job with more hours and less sleep.

Worker Quits And Wins After Boss Begins The "Guess Who Will Be Fired Next" Contest

Would be such fun to fire this guy . . .,0,2222631.story

12 Attributes Of A Truly Great Place To Work

Other than not having a "whose going to be fired next contest," more than 100 studies have now found that the most engaged employees--those who report they're fully invested in their jobs and committed to their employers--are significantly more productive, drive higher customer satisfaction and outperform those who are less engaged. What does these workplaces have that yours doesn't?


Greek Austerity Breeds A New Generation of Homeless

Two years into Greece’s devastating financial crisis, joblessness and homelessness are rife. For the first time, the middle class is having trouble making ends meet. More and more Greeks are finding themselves out of work, unable to pay their way, sleeping in their cars or even on the streets.

Resembling a youth centre or backpackers hostel, the independent Klimaka homeless centre is a rarity in Greece, where most non-state assistance is dominated by the church. Funded entirely by donations, even down to the soap and televisions, the centre is today busier than ever. People who have spent their adult lives employed and self-sufficient are now seeking refuge, food, and medication.

Is The US Monetary System On The Verge Of Collapse?

While the world’s many financial experts and economists sit around arguing about the direction of the ship of state, most are missing the point that the ship has already hit an iceberg and is taking on water fast.

California and Bust

A longish read, if you are interested in which States are going bust first, this is an essential read. The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops—the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society.

Study: Income Inequality Kills Economic Growth

Corporate chieftains often claim that fixing the US economy requires signing new free trade deals, lowering government debt, and attracting lots of foreign investment. But a major new study has found that those things matter less than an economic driver that CEOs hate talking about: equality.

Nearly Half Of Americans Live In Household Receiving Government Benefits

To all the neo-cons out there sucking the hind tit of Social Security, you are one of these.

Little Businesses Trying to Tough It Out

These are the hopes for America because this is where people are hired, or better said, not hired. Though many big companies have bounced back from the worst recession since the Great Depression, many small businesses—lacking the deep pockets of their larger peers—are still struggling.

12 Shocking Quotes From Insiders About the Impending Economic Crisis

The global financial system is a sea or red ink, and when we get to the point where there are hundreds of ships going under how is it going to be possible to bail all of them out?  The quotes that you are about to read show that quite a few top financial and political insiders know that things cannot hold together much longer and that a horrific economic crisis is coming.  We built the global financial system on a foundation of debt, leverage and risk and now this house of cards that we have created is about to come tumbling down.

Here's What Is Wrong With the Economy -- And How To Fix It

The 25-year debt-fueled boom of 1982-2007 has ended, and it has left the country with a stagnant economy, massive debts, high unemployment, huge wealth inequality, an enormous budget deficit, and a sense of entitlement engendered by a half-century of prosperity. What can be done?

The Economics Of Happiness

We live in a time of high anxiety. Despite the world’s unprecedented total wealth, there is vast insecurity, unrest, and dissatisfaction. In the United States, a large majority of Americans believe that the country is “on the wrong track.” Pessimism has soared. The same is true in many other places. Against this backdrop, the time has come to reconsider the basic sources of happiness in our economic life. The relentless pursuit of higher income is leading to unprecedented inequality and anxiety, rather than to greater happiness and life satisfaction. Economic progress is important and can greatly improve the quality of life, but only if it is pursued in line with other goals.

Obama's Millionaire Tax Collected Over Next 10 Years Will Plug 4 Months of Deficit

In order to keep the ongoing class warfare waged by the administration in perspective, today the CBO was kind enough to score the revenue impact of the proposed and much debated Buffett Tax, now appearing in non-populist literature as "Surtax on Millionaires."

How To Rescue The Economy

The economy doesn’t need anyone to fix it. It’s all that fixing for the last 40 years that is the problem. Unmolested, the economy will right itself. The only thing needed is for the Great Molester, the government, to surrender to a serious regimen of behavior modification and let the economy operate without suffocating interference. Then it would be able to shed its problems – not painlessly but quickly and with a minimum of pain. Here’s the protocol in an article by Terry Coxson.



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