The Ultimate Form of Waste

dump Waste, these days, is alleged to be a creature of public, not private, enterprise.

The suppressed fact, of course, is that this is a huge case of excessive protestation.  Corporate capitalism, with its scattered McMansions and its 95 percent idle 4,000-pound grocery fetching machines and its omnipresent packaging-for-marketing efforts, is 2/3 waste.

And the waste isn’t confined to the use of materials and space, either.  In a nation of billowing, softening, clogging bodies, with vast fields of work needed in reconstructing towns and rehabilitating ecosystems, how sick is this?:

108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or “Not in the labor force”. This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

If you count the “Part time employed for non-economic reasons”, you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or “Not in the labor force”. That represents 53% of working age Americans.

Hat-tip: Doug Pressman

Small Business History

gumby Here is a table listing the U.S. unemployment rate for three different years:

1940 14.6%
1942 4.7%
1944 1.2%


Here, meanwhile, is today’s “analysis” from William C. Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business, as quoted in a New York Times story explaining why “at least through the rest of President [Zer]Obama’s four-year term” it is entirely unreasonable to expect current unemployment levels to drop much:

“You can’t recover quickly from a disaster like we’ve been through.”

Yes, clearly impossible.


Dolts in High Places

homer brain Among the rules described by Herman and Chomsky is the one that says, to rise to a position of power in our market-totalitarian society, you either have to be a moron, or unfailingly pretend you are one.

Want proof? Consider the answer Christina Romer, the recently departed Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, provided to Bloomberg Business Week when it asked why unemployment is “higher than expected”:

BBW: Why do you think that is?

Romer: My guess is the main reason has to do with…the fact that [the recession] was caused by a financial crisis. Since it was such an unusual event, firms may have reacted more forcefully than was usual out of a fear of the unknown. Also, firms that couldn’t get credit may have had to lay more people off than normally.

What an absolute crock. First of all, Romer, a supposed world-class scholar on this very topic, wants you to believe that the current Great Depression III is the cause, rather than the consequence, of the widening gulf between economic production and employment.

Worse, her proffered explanation is a meaningless cloud of farts covering an exceptionally simple and powerful fact: Between 1990 and 2008, U.S. businesses tripled their computer investment/labor spending ratio. Computers are used for administration and communication, but they are also the core means of automating production processes. So, the simple fact is that capitalists are continuing to be capitalists. Their system works, for them. Over time, it employs fewer and fewer people per unit of output.

Being too stupid to track (or too well-trained to mention) this elementary process is the kind of thing that gets you the Presidency and the American Economic Association and a seat in the White House.

Romer is a Homer (Simpson).