Where is the movement to turn around this economy?

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For the month of February the U.S. economy added , according to government figures, 175,000 jobs. Of those jobs 99,000 were gained by women, but they can be described as  jobs marked by very low pay and bad working conditions. To really keep up with just population growth some 200,000 good jobs, ones that pay a living wage, need to be created each month.

For January the job creation stood at 129,000 and for December only 74,000 jobs were added to the economy. Where then is the recovery?

To be quite frank, the Obama administration is doing next to nothing to create jobs for the unemployed. The administration keeps proposing "toddler steps" to address the problem.  Just these past weeks we hear rumblings of proposals to change overtime rules and then the ever-present battle to raise the minimum wage. While these are steps in the right direction they are "toddler steps" nonetheless , considering the gravity and extent of the economic situation.        

In November, 2013 some 203,000 jobs were created and in October 204,000 were added. Typically, the quality of these jobs has been deplorable. All through 2013 and during the last four years of the current Administration the same has been true. Essentially low-paying jobs have been created rather than the types of jobs on whose income one can sustain a family.

Low paying restaurant, retail , bar or warehouse jobs have comprised most of the so-called job gains. As a result, many are toiling at two or more such jobs to make ends meet. The result, as one worker lamented , is "We don't even have a life." Low paying jobs have provided 61 percent of U.S. employment growth. Part-time work has been 77 percent of job growth for 2013. This is no recovery!

The lower-paying jobs such as those performed by waiters , hotel workers, bartenders, and health care aides, have not declined because they can't be automated as with other sectors. For for the media and the administration to tout such so-called job growth represents a shoddy attempt to perpetuate fraud on the American people. Indeed, with such huge swaths of suffering rampant throughout the land, the people - metaphorically speaking - should be ready to march on Washington with pitchforks and torches, doing it with the alacrity of enraged townsfolk in an old Frankenstein movie. Poverty is at its highest level in U.S. history.  But, the people need to be organized ! Where is the peoples movement ?  

In mid-2013 , Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called this a "terrible, terrible economy."  He said the economy was at best "creeping along,  just treading water." Even with a huge injection of capital at that time- $ 85 billion a month in bond buying- the economy was still only growing at less than 2 percent per quarter.   

In May only 175,000 jobs were created , but  this was considered a positive report, only because there was such depression about the economy that even low figures were celebrated or - as the media always croons -  " a better than expected report. " But, honest economists considered the May report  lackluster job numbers - not positive economic growth.

Not doing enough

At present the Obama administration is not doing enough to help the poor and the working class. There are tremendous swaths of poverty  and suffering throughout the cities , and the country in general.  For this journalist, who is an Obama supporter,  this inaction has become hugely frustrating. The president has had more than four years to take decisive action on the economy.

For over 90 percent of the American people in the last 15 plus years there has been no positive movement in economic status - the only movement has been in a downward direction; 95 percent of the country is not benefiting from the stock market boom.

Jobs that are created are not paying enough for a worker to provide food and housing for his or her family on a weekly basis. For the government and the mainstream media to hail these monthly jobs reports is simply to perpetuate a farce on the people. An economic recovery can't be based on such flimsy employment,  But , quite frankly , the people are not fooled by these fraudulent reports. What the people need is to be organized !

It has been contended by some economic analysts  that manufacturing is making a comeback. Let's take a look. Since 2007 the U.S. has lost 2 million manufacturing jobs (keep in mind that the economic news  often tends to be very bipolar and contradictory) and 7 million have been lost  overall in this sector since 1979. These jobs went overseas. Some economists classify the loss of manufacturing jobs as "stunning."  

Treasury Secretary  Jack Lew said in late July of last year that  manufacturing was "growing." But not according to  job figures from other sources, which disclosed that this sector lost 6,000 jobs in the same time period. This administration is playing loose and reckless with the figures  to tamp down public discontent.

But some factory jobs have returned to the U.S. - jobs that had gone to Japan , Mexico   and China. Why the return? Surely, not because of the goodness of corporate hearts. Some jobs are returning because  wages  are rising overseas, a good example is China, and because factory wages are continuing to fall in the U.S. This is not a recovery!

The rapacious corporations are pursuing profits like slobbering, predatory beasts pursuing hapless prey. This time, again, the prey is the U.S. working class.  

Economists now estimate that 345,000 to 400,000 jobs a month for several years  are needed to significantly reduce unemployment. Moreover, these need to be good jobs , not just in the retail and service sectors. Again, jobs at a  living wage.       

In June, 2013, 195,000 jobs were created . The news  media , lowballing again, said job creation exceeded expectations. This is nonsense and the most ignominious of frauds !

Some commentators have opined that Mr. Obama wants to be seen as the jobs president. But, so far his administration has followed a hands-off policy on the economy, hoping that the system will rebound on its own. But, at this stage of the ongoing general crisis of capitalism, this will not happen. Further, Congress has likewise refused a hands- on policy for the economy.     

The economic growth rate of only 2 percent per year is considered by many economists to mean that the economy is actually falling further behind. It is seen as no recovery at all.. There is no plan by the Obama administration to deal with the ongoing jobs crisis. This , at a time when the economy has the lowest labor force participation since 1979. 

There is gross , grotesque, obscene inequality with  agonizing suffering increasing exponentially daily. Left and progressive leadership is needed. When will  there be the needed organizing  for decent jobs and economic equality?

Photo: Workers struggling to turn low-wage jobs into family-supporting ones. AP

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  • I, for one, would like to thank Brother Bender for his piece. I think that he has put his finger exactly right on the point. He is spot on! This is the question so many are in our nation are asking now!

    Bea is also correct as to some issues of "fault." However, I believe, unfortunately, with the ending of TUAD, other intermediary forms the party helped build and the "new" approach of "not being a leading party," that this question of "whose fault it is" has become our discussion, rather than the essential discussion of how to build that needed movement. As well, so many discussions have been internal, discussing "changing our name," "Stalin," "what kind of communist/socialist/progressive should I be," rather than the tough tasks of really discussing how to build the real movement, involve our allies and push the labor movement to take the lead.

    In my opinion, at least, I tend to think that Obama has tremendous faults, that he negotiates with himself, trying to "move to the center" and he has at almost every point dismissed better, progression/left solutions in favor of so called "free market reforms." This has helped create cynicism, demoralization and greatly harmed his & the Democrat's base.

    Saying the above, I also believe that Obama is the very best that we could get from a ruling class party at this time & that he'd probably respond positively (& has) when/if WE (left/party/allies/labor/mass mvmt.) create pressure from our side.

    This is a very important disstenction. The "fault" ultimately is right here, on our own doorstep. If we do not see ourselves as having the power that our working class science/experience has given us to intervene in history, then all we get is what others give to us.

    Further, when this is raised, the answer is always that "we cannot do it alone," which is absolutely correct, but also absolutely not dealing with the question. Why do we not call an emergency conference of the party and allies, to discuss building a much bigger one of all allies that can help push organized labor/the wider movement allies to build the needed movement. The civil rights movement in Carolina, Georgia has begun a fight, but needs our help. This needs to be part of the discussion.

    There is a conscious factor to history. If WE do not take up history's challenge (WITH OUR ALLIES) history, future generations, will forever hold us up to shame!

    Posted by bruce bostick, 04/13/2014 12:07pm (9 months ago)

  • I appreciate Albert Bender's passion and I agree with him that the Obama administration is not creating jobs. But whose fault is that?

    Do you remember the jobs legislation that Obama inspired and got shot down in Congress? Was that Obama's fault? We have to name those who did shoot it down, the Republicans in Congress. OK, if it passed it would not have been enough but at least it would be a turn in a progressive direction.

    Representative Jan Schakowsky had a better jobs bill. And she has reintroduced it. It's tied up in committee. She is fighting for job creation and many of us supported her bill. But not enough to change the balance of forces that's tilted against workers.

    Bender asks, "When will there be the needed organizing for decent jobs and economic equality?" Well we have the chance this November to change that balance of forces that's tilted against workers. And that's by putting everything we have into defeating that tea party led Republican House and making sure they do not capture the Senate. Let's turn some of that passion that Bender is expressing to winning for labor in November

    Posted by Beatrice Lumpkin, 04/03/2014 11:17pm (9 months ago)

  • Thanks for this and these burning questions brother Albert Bender.
    The movement to turn around this economy is in the fractured Obama supporters, the dis-unified left and center forces, labor, women, the unemployed, the homeless, the hungry, immigrants, African American liberationists, Latinos, women liberationists, the sacked and wretched, abandoned and despised, youth and students, and all their organizations.
    We must always emphasize the action of the working class-M L K did this, calling it "direct action", making it clear that we must do real actions which can be felt and seen by both the oppressors and the oppressed-to lead to further action.
    When these actions are supported in greater and greater numbers, we have rediscovered our "movement", which will lead, in turn, to positive action to "..turn around this economy?".
    This movement, now, is in some kind of abeyance, but the experienced organizers and activists are now doing the spade work of: educating, writing, calling, checkup, canvassing, visiting, marching, striking, picketing, voting, testifying, lobbying, meeting, campaigning and boycotting, discussing, and the thousands of other actions which make a movement.
    We must demand that the halls of power, including the paltry policies and responses of president Obama respond, recognizing these actions and address them with appropriate, massive, deliberate governmental action to address these, in all their growing magnitude.
    This movement will involve actions which people's movements have stressed strongly for the last half century:
    PEACE, JOBS AND FREEDOM, on that massive scale which will eliminate poverty, rebuild our destroyed infrastructures, city and country, and restore our devastated environment.
    We have no choice but to fight for a brand of democracy which promotes this peace, jobs and freedom, for the health of our posterity and of nature itself, depend on it.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 04/01/2014 3:28pm (9 months ago)

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