Ten Conditions for Change I

“Rise up, O God, and save us from ourselves…”


A great nation brought low by its dysfunctional politics


Over the past 40 years, the United States has become a strange fantasy land where many politicians think deficits don’t matter, regulators are closely entwined with their charges, and the Federal Reserve manages the economy through high-stakes, high-risk experimentation. The financial turmoil of the past few years is just a glimpse of what lies at the end of the road we’re on, [David] Stockman warns….What Stockman has written is a book that makes clear we are that future generation of the past, inheritors of all the wishful thinking, simple illogic and flawed compromises that produced the near-term benefits our parents and grandparents worried about but ultimately wanted.


In 1864, Chaplain Lyman D. Ames wrote in his diary:

June 28— He [George Williams, 29th OVI] ran down fast during the day. I was with him in his last hour. Reason returned at last; he said “Chaplain do you think I’m going to die.” Being told he could not live but a short time he said, “Will you pray for me”? Prayer was offered, he appeared calm, clasped his arm around my neck like a child clinging to a father. Attempted to raise himself up, he had not strength & failed, not able to speak distinctly again, soon life ebbed out & the soldier boy’s spirit had fled forever from the Earth & all its scenes of war & strife & death.

334, 335

“I was thinking of the irony that these men who fought to preserve the Union flew over a United States last night that they couldn’t even have comprehended in 1862…”


Somebody’s Darling

“To America, my new-found land: the man that hates you hates the human race.”

Brendan Behan 1923 – 1964 Irish playwright

President should lead

Genuine negotiation on spending would avoid debt-ceiling fight

As noted in the Sunday Dispatch by reporters Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman, by 2025, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and interest on the national debt will consume every tax dollar collected by the federal government. Everything else the government does, including national defense, education, housing, transportation — will have to be paid for on credit, supercharging the national debt.


The budget was due, by law, the first Monday in February; now, it probably won’t be out until sometime in March [April].

The White House says that the delay is due to fiscal-cliff wrangling and the cumbersome process of updating discretionary spending numbers once the deal was struck. But the document ought to have been out by now — not because failing to have the president’s budget delays action on Capitol Hill but because the public is owed an overview of the president’s blueprint for governing.

Second, and related, how precisely does the president propose to rein in entitlement spending? The White House points to its offer from the last negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner and says that remains on the table. It cites earlier budget proposals on Medicare and puts it all together in a blog post that confirmed its willingness to change the formula for calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases. But, really, a blog post? What about a plan that the president himself explains, and sells, to the country?

“He never gives the public an honest account of what he’s willing to do on entitlements,” Ryan said of the president. “Trimming a statistic,” he sniffed of the proposed Social Security tweak, “is not entitlement reform.”


Obama’s ‘try anything’ bid to woo GOP moves from dinner to golf course


Turning on the charm, Obama tries to end gridlock

Cliff Owen/AP – From left, Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., left, Tom Coburn, R-Ok., Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., leave the Jefferson Hotel after a dinner meeting hosted by President Obama.


Obama to visit Capitol Hill four times next week

WASHINGTON | Fri Mar 8, 2013 4:36pm EST

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama rarely makes the short trip to Capitol Hill from the White House, but next week his motorcade will be tying up traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue as he tries to convince Congress to come to a deficit deal.


Based upon the available evidence from Chicago, I concluded in September 2008 that Barack Obama was not a leader. He did not get my vote. Leaders establish relationships to facilitate requisite trust and confidence in order to make deals. Like visiting at the same restaurant frequently, familiarity produces ease and good will.

Sequester spin: Obama’s false claim of Capitol janitors receiving ‘a pay cut’


The president’s claim that janitors at the Capitol would receive a pay cut and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s report that some teachers have already gotten pink slips both were awarded four Pinocchios by The Post’s “Fact Checker” columnist, Glenn Kessler. This roughly translates as “not even remotely true.”


Many of these claims were ultimately deemed false — but Obama didn’t give up on his “sequester” scare campaign. As students prepared for spring-break trips to the nation’s capital, the president hastily canceled self-guided White House tours. He didn’t cancel his own vacation to Hawaii or avoid golfing with Tiger Woods in February. But he did deny children the chance to see the White House for one reason: to ensure that sequestration hurt average Americans.


Neighbor: The national government, the factions, have let US down. In the real world in which we live, there is common sense. In DC, the Beltway Planet, there is the next election. One day the bond markets will say that’s enough, interest rates will rise to their historic levels, and the people will object to the oppressive tax burden thrust upon them.

And yet, the debt picture hasn’t improved. Interest payments and a contracting economy (gross domestic product) mean that the debt burden is worsening, notes Jeffrey Anderson of the Institute of International Finance, an industry think tank.


We laugh at the Italians, but give us another four years of fiscal cliffs, government shutdowns and debt limits, and the famously optimistic and forward-looking American people may surprise us with their cynical response to Washington’s refusal to govern rationally.


The week ended as it began, with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Obama trading sound bites rather than actual proposals.


Obama’s Fault

Published: March 3, 2013

Our feckless leaders may be incapable of passing a budget, but, boy, can they pass the buck. The White House spent last week in full campaign hysteria, blitzing online followers with the message that heartless Republicans are prepared to transform America into “Les Misérables” in order to protect “millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, vacation homes, and private jet owners.” Republicans retort that the budget-cutting Doomsday device called sequester was actually invented by the White House.

In fact, the conceptual paternity of sequester was bipartisan. Both sides agreed that Congress should set in motion an automatic deficit-cutting scheme so draconian that it would force a divided Washington to come together around some sane compromise. The scandal is that Washington is so incapable of adult behavior that it can do the right thing only if it is staring down the barrel of a shotgun — and, it turns out, not even then.

[But see below – Bob Woodward]

Prof.Jai Prakash Sharma, Jaipur, India

Behind all the fake ideological confrontation in Washington, that has led to the current sequester centric fiscal deadlock, the common pretense of concern seems to be the highly imbalanced fiscal situation of the state, and how to restore such balance. Put in a different way, the whole American politics has come to be defined by a manufactured politics of scarcity. But, isn’t it an open secret that, it was clearly the mega fiscal crisis of 2008, allowed to be built up beyond control under the Republican administration, that was at the back of this sudden fiscal meltdown, and resource crunch? In the current blame game on sequester, why this important question, the root cause of the current fiscal deadlock, seems to be going unanswered? If, it goes like this only, the sequester and its aftermath might not only prove socially disruptive, but also be indicative of an end of the democratic dialogue, rather the cessation of democratic politics
March 4, 2013 at 1:16 a.m.

Anetliner Netliner Washington, DC area

I agree that the White House and the Congress share the blame for the sequester, but my agreement with this piece stops short there.
The immediate problem facing America is economic growth and employment, an agenda item that is still pending. The U.S. economy is still stagnant and unemployment and underemployment stand at least 14% of the workforce. The safety net expenditures and reductions in federal tax revenues caused by the ongoing slump are a critical factor in the size of the deficit.
The logical course of action would be to focus on the economy and job growth first, and then turn to long-term deficit reduction. Instead, we’ve got both parties locked in a battle over the debt, while the sequester is poised to reduce employment by at least 700,000 jobs and quite possibly 1 million or more, as well as reduce the salaries of hundreds of thousands of federal employees.
Mr. Keller, many of his fellow pundits, and the nation’s leaders are focusing on the wrong problem. The immediate threat is economic contraction and growing unemployment– not deficit spending. It’s time for the chattering class to wise up.
March 4, 2013 at 12:02 a.m.

T Straus Springfield Missouri

“Instead, he built a re-election campaign that was long on making the wealthiest pay more in taxes, short on spending discipline, and firmly hands-off on the problem of entitlements.”
Why do we consistently refer to Social Security and Medicare as “entitlements.”
Are the benefits from my Life Insurance policies “entitlements?’
Is my Medical Coverage through my employer an “entitlement?”
Social Security and Medicare are insurance policies that are funded from premiums that are paid by each and every paycheck a person receives from their first part time job to their last check before retirement.
A typical policy holder pays premiums for 40+ years before making their first “claim for benefits.”
These are not entitlements . . . they are fully negotiated contracts with few lapsed payments. In fact, these premium payments are absolutely the first in line as employee and employer deposits are made at the time each paycheck is cut.
March 3, 2013 at 11:02 p.m


Governing means getting things done. Common sense, the sense of the people, resides outside the Washington DC Beltway. Politicans, like CEOs who are programmed to look no further than quarterly profits, are conditioned to function for the next election, in their own self-interest — p-o-l-i-t-i-c-s. Their version of reality is like Picasso painting a battlefield. Politicians respond to the imperative for prudent change and action with reflexive orthodoxy in search of the short-term political advantage.

The national government must initiate a dialogue with the citizens residing in the several states. There must be a debate between the political class and the American people to determine the course of action that confronts unpalatable truth concerning taxes, spending, and the course of the economy. No more important problem exists than recovering the progress of the middle class. The opportunity to achieve the American Dream, a slice of the pie, begins with the real economy and that includes education as well as effort, exclusive of the paper economy — financialization, which re-distributes wealth. Manufacturing creates wealth.

Poll: Congress less popular than colonoscopies, cockroaches


Congress cannot seem to reach consensus on legislation to revamp the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service. But lawmakers sure have spent a lot of time on other urgent business involving the nation’s teetering mail agency: Naming post offices.

That’s the conclusion of an report Tuesday in the Courier Express and Postal Observer, which took data from 1973 to 2012 compiled by Noah Veltman and found a huge increase in the number of laws to name post offices and in their relative share of the legislation passed by recent congresses.

The postal blog says that more than 15 percent of all bills passed and signed into law in the last five congresses named a post office. The practice spiked after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and has continued during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The naming of post offices to honor American heroes is a powerful tradition. But its spike in recent years, as Congress has been unable to make postal reform a top priority because of ideological differences and other priorities (fiscal cliff, anyone?) is a delicious irony for some.


But then, on Sunday, the spell snapped when the knee snapped. Coach Mike Shanahan committed malpractice, letting a hobbled young quarterback lurch around “like a pirate with a peg leg,” as The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins wrote. The autocratic, crusty 60-year-old, who makes $7 million a year, risked the kid’s career and the team’s future trying to win a wild-card playoff game — the opposite of what the Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg. At that moment, the Redskins became like the rest of Washington, and the rest of our self-centered, grasshopper attention-span culture — going for short-term gain and avoiding long-term pain.

Everything they do on Capitol Hill is about getting through the next few months, or next few minutes, or next confrontation. John Boehner, after making a mess of the negotiations with the president, is now talking about raising the debt limit in monthly increments. What’s wrong with weekly, or how about hourly?

Like Congress patching gaping fiscal wounds, the Redskins didn’t seem to fathom that they were damaging the franchise long term. “Trying to win that game, they risked 120 victories over the next 10 years,” the writer David Israel told me. “That’s crazy.”


The late congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.) used campaign money to pay for near-weekly grocery runs. Former senator Rick Santorum’s political action committee supported the Pennsylvania Republican’s prodigious Starbucks habit and various forms of retail therapy. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) spent more than $80,000 over five years at a Morton’s steakhouse in Washington.

Jackson’s problem was that he did what everybody else does — but he took it to a new level of excess. And that’s why he sat, in a fine blue suit, in court Wednesday in the matter of United States of America v. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. The judge made sure Jackson was fit to enter his guilty plea, asking him about his “employment experience” (his father’s presidential campaigns, 17 years in Congress) and his psychiatric care.





Obama was reelected less because he inspired the nation than because he discredited his opponent. Most Americans still think that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and just one in five trust their government to do the right thing.




Mexicans did not smell powder at Bunker Hill battling the Lobsterbacks or taste powder biting a cartridge at Shiloh — fighting Americans.

The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury and useless labor, he has passed to toils of a very different nature rewarded by ample subsistence. This is an American.

Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, an immense country filled with decent houses, good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges where an hundred years ago all was wild, woody, and uncultivated! What a train of pleasant ideas this fair spectacle must suggest; it is a prospect which must inspire a good citizen with the most heart-felt pleasure.

J. Hector St. John deCrevecoeur

Letters From an American Farmer

J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur Essay

…I see the importance of the work for our times. This work provides useful information and understanding of the way America used to be centuries ago. This work is also maybe the first place where the unique American identity is tried to be created. This is also a first time when America’s innocence and simplicity is celebrated. Finally, Crevecoeur is the first writer to explore the concept of the American Dream and put forward the question about “Who an American is?”


Family farming is gone, yet democracy and Western civilization remain, the creations of agrarianism.


American farmers, black and white, settled, established, and developed this country, a nation conceived in liberty for self-determination. DeCrevecoeur describes the nascent American middle class, rooted in agriculture, like Western civilization, which is founded upon the New Testament, the individual freedom to choose a Spiritual path.

Western culture began with the rise of this ideology of agrarianism. It was the notion that communities of small farmers would craft their own laws, fight their own wars, and own land on which to do as they pleased, inventing the concept of a citizen and freedom itself. No other culture had free citizens before the city-state emerged—the very word “citizen” does exist in the non-Greek vocabulary of the Mediterranean world Few have had them since But within two centuries of the discovery of the polis, the Greeks were facing the contradictions of their own success. They were now free, increasingly prosperous, often educated—and not hungry. Agricultural surpluses and the stability of the countryside under this revolutionary decentralized and private regime thus gave way to trade, commerce, urbanism, and travel—and then the beneficiaries then in turn created leisure, affluence, and liberality as rural egalitarianism became radical urban democracy, freedom smugness and at times cynicism, independence self-centeredness, and prosperity over-indulgence—such are the wages when men are free to think, work, and prosper, by law safe from thug pharoah, or prophet.


Analysis: A nation moving further apart

11:29 AM, Nov 7, 2012

President Obama walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia to deliver his victory speech on election night in Chicago. / Win McNamee, Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama made history again.

Four years ago, he became the first African American elected president, riding a wave of hope and promises of change. On Tuesday – with victories in such crucial states as Iowa, Wisconsin and then Ohio – he became the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second term when unemployment was so high and voters so uneasy about the nation’s future.

He achieved that by forging a coalition of America’s rising electorate: African Americans, Hispanics and young people from the Millennial generation, plus some whites, especially women. The fact that Republican rival Mitt Romney carried solid majorities of older voters and whites, and that he was preferred by voters on the economic issues that dominated the election, didn’t seem to be enough to carry this new day.

Indeed, Romney won the biggest majority of the white vote of any presidential candidate in U.S. history who then failed to win the White House.

Obama’s first election in 2008 demonstrated the possibilities of a coalition of this emerging electorate. His re-election shows that coalition is here to stay, says analyst Ruy Teixeira, co-author of The Emerging Democratic Majority. “Even in a pretty difficult economy, it’s got staying power; it sticks with the incumbent enough to re-elect him.”

The changing U.S. electorate split in two Tuesday – not only along lines of political party and ideology but also by race and ethnicity, gender and marital status, region and religion, education and age. The divisions are even sharper than they were four years ago, when Obama attracted broader support, especially among whites.

But this time the contest was much closer in a country that is undergoing tectonic shifts in its demography. “We have never had a more polarized electorate,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres says.

If there was one thing that seemed to unite the nation, it was a sense that the stakes were high and the election mattered. Voters stood in lines for hours in South Florida; polling places in some parts of Virginia were held open hours after the scheduled 7 p.m. closing to accommodate waiting voters.

“We’re all in this together,” Obama said in a tweet he sent just after 11:20 p.m., when the TV networks declared him the winner. “That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you. – bo”

The economy swamped every other issue. Six in 10 called it the most important issue in deciding their vote and 15% cited the federal budget deficit, according to surveys of voters as they left polling places. A majority of both sets of voters backed Romney.

So it was a testament to the strength of the president’s support that those economic concerns didn’t simply settle the election in Romney’s favor – although it was a much closer election than his easy victory over Republican John McCain four years ago.

On Obama’s side this time: More than nine of 10 African Americans and nearly seven in 10 Hispanics. A solid majority of women and two-thirds of unmarried women. About six in 10 of voters under 30. More than 90% of Democrats and nearly 90% of liberals. More than six in 10 of those who never attend religious services.

On Romney’s side: Six of 10 whites and nearly six of 10 seniors. A solid majority of men and of married women, and nearly two-thirds of white men. More than 90% of Republicans and of conservatives. He won high-income voters, evangelical Christians, and those who attend who attend religious services every week or more often.

The debate over the role of government was perhaps the starkest dividing line: Eight in 10 of those who believe “government should do more to solve problems” voted for Obama. An almost equal number of those who believe “the government is doing too many things” voted for Romney.

All that underscores the challenges ahead for governing in what will continue to be a divided government. Republicans were poised to maintain control of the House of Representatives. In the Senate, hopes Republicans once harbored to gain control were dashed as Democrats picked up GOP-held seats in Indiana and Massachusetts.

In some ways, nothing will change in Washington: President Obama facing a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate. Negotiations will instantly redouble over the “fiscal cliff” that looms at year’s end, threatening tax hikes and broad spending cuts.

Tuesday’s divisions in the electorate will resonate in those debates and others. Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution notes the battle between older and white voters on one side, younger and minority voters on the other. “That divide, you’ll see it every day in the House, and in the House vs. the Senate,” he predicts.

Here’s a look at some of the new realities of American politics.

Nobody is firmly in charge

Not in the past century has the country gone so long without giving a firm hold on power to one party.

Consider the narrow margins in the presidential race. Since 1920, when women got to vote, there hadn’t been more than three elections in a row without a candidate winning the White House by more than 10 points. But in the seven elections since 1984, not a single candidate managed to win by double digits.

Tuesday’s election was likely to be the third time in the past four elections that the race was decided by fewer than four points. Before that, only four elections in the past 100 years had been decided by such a narrow edge.

The House and Senate also have been more closely divided over the past two decades that at any point since 1920. In eight of the past nine elections, the minority party was able to garner at least 190 seats in the 435-seat House. In the previous 40 elections, that sort of strong standing for the opposition was the exception, occurring only 13 times.

Not happy, but better

There’s no consensus that happy days are here again, but the nation’s mood is considerably better than it was four years ago. Then, the nation was spiraling into the fiscal crisis.

In 2008, only 7% said the economy was excellent or good; now that number has tripled. Then, almost half said the economy was poor; now a third say that. Four years ago, only one in five said “things in this country are generally going in the right direction.”

Now close to half say things are heading in the right direction; more than nine of 10 of those voters backed Obama.

Even so, one in three voters said they were worse off than four years ago, more than the one in four who said they were better off. For the first time in several elections, the economy as an issue did not work in the Democrat’s favor.

Six in 10 called the economy the most important issue influencing their vote, and a majority of them favored Romney. In 2008, 63% named the economy as their main issue, and 53% had backed Obama.

The surveys of voters as they were left selected polling places were conducted for the Associated Press and the TV networks by Edison Research. They were supplemented by phone interviews with those who cast early or absentee ballots.

Hispanics on the rise

Latinos increased their share of the electorate, to 10% from 9% in 2008. They supported Obama even more solidly than they did four years ago, when 67% backed him. This time, 69% did.

Romney’s 29% share of the Hispanic vote was lower than that for any Republican presidential candidate since Bob Dole in 1996.

African Americans made up a record 13%; more than nine of 10 backed Obama, the nation’s first black president.

Put another way, 72% of the electorate was white, the lowest ever and a stunning drop in just two decades. In 1992, it had stood at 87%.

The rising number of minority voters will challenge the GOP.

“If Romney was going to win, it was by getting a larger and larger share of the white vote,” Ayres says. “At some point, you run out of votes to get that way. A larger-and-larger piece of a smaller-and-smaller share of the pie ultimately becomes a losing proposition. The only question is when it becomes a complete non-starter.”

“This may be the last ‘white’ presidential candidate – in the sense of a candidate appealing to only white voters,” Frey says of Romney.

White voters still majority

Whites still make up 73% of the electorate, though, and Democratic strategists express concern about the decline in the party’s standing with them. Obama’s share of the white vote, 43% in 2008, dropped about five percentage points.

“Republicans are the aging party; Democrats are the younger party built around the new demography of the country,” says Simon Rosenberg of the NDN, formerly called the New Democratic Network.

“You’d much prefer to be where the Democrats are, strategically. But clearly the Democrats have to be concerned about the erosion of white voters.”

Obama did well among highly educated white women, and a populist appeal against Romney as a corporate boss helped him hold a share of blue-collar whites in the battleground Midwest, Frey says. But he adds: “You can’t just get by on these very small segments of the white population and hope minorities will carry you through, at least in the short term.”

Seniors vs. Millennials

Then there’s age. Romney was backed by double digits among seniors, those 65 and older, while Obama carried voters under 30 by double digits as well.

Obama had focused on energizing younger voters; many of his campaign rallies took place on college campuses. Even so, he suffered his biggest drop-off among voters 18 to 29 years old.

Those under 30 had backed Democrat John Kerry over George W. Bush in 2004 by 54%-45%, and the Democratic edge jumped to 66% for Obama in 2008.

This time, though, he got about six in 10 votes of these younger voters.

Among younger voters, African Americans and Hispanics slipped slightly in their support; the significant erosion was among whites under 30. In 2008, they had backed Obama by 10 points. This time, they support Romney by eight.

Overall, the country was divided between those under 40 (who supported Obama by double digits) and those over 40 (who supported Romney by nine points).

Super PACs trump parties

The new breed of super PACs and their billionaire backers shaped the presidential race at every point in the campaign.

In the GOP primaries, the groups that allow unlimited contributions from donors enabled Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to stay in the Republican nomination contest even after disappointing showings in primaries would have forced them out in previous times. Pro-Romney super PACs provided a crucial counterweight to Obama campaign ads in the summer. And they kept Romney competitive in ad spending in the fall.

“These outside groups, essentially acting as shadow campaigns of the candidates, are going to be a dominant part of election campaigning for the foreseeable future,” says Anthony Corrado, a campaign-finance expert at Colby College in Maine. “You have party-aligned groups and non-profit organizations essentially approaching these elections as a team sport.”

That has undermined the political parties, which face legal limits that the super PACs don’t.

“Political parties are laughably anachronistic,” says Nathan Daschle, former executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and a founder of ruck.us, an online political engagement organization. “Voters are increasingly behaving like consumers, and modern-day consumers have far less brand loyalty than they did a decade ago.”

On that and other aspects of American politics, the times are changing.




Do Americans cause accidents that kill citizens of Mexico — Guatemala — El Salvador?

Wanted: Police are looking for Julio Acevedo, 44, in connection with the deaths of an expectant couple



This is Wrong.

Rep. Edward Acevedo is congratulated by Rep. Lisa Hernandez on the passage of his bill to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.(Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune/ January 8, 2013 )

Illegal immigrants cleared to hit the roads

By Rafael Guerrero and Antonio Olivo, Chicago Tribune reporters

January 9, 2013

The simple act of driving his 7-year-old daughter to school creates anxiety every morning for Juan Vicente Urbina, who has no driver’s license and knows getting behind the wheel could lead to being deported.

“It’s scary,” said Urbina, 29, who has been in the country illegally since 2001 and sees driving as a necessary risk. “If they stop us and we get arrested, we could lose everything, you know?

On Tuesday, Urbina was among many who expressed joy and relief upon learning that Illinois is poised to join a handful of states that offer legal driving privileges to those in the country illegally.

After failing by just two votes in 2007, legislation to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants passed the Illinois House by a vote of 65-46. Gov. Pat Quinn’s office issued a statement shortly afterward saying he plans to sign the bill, which cleared the state Senate in December.

The vote came after a lengthy debate that reflected the passions over illegal immigration nationwide. Supporters had mounted a monthslong campaign citing the dangers of allowing the estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants of legal age in Illinois to drive without passing tests to show they are qualified — and most likely without automobile insurance.

“Whatever your position on immigrant issues, what we can all agree on is there are millions and millions of undocumented people in this country living with us, working for us, driving for us,” said state Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago, who sponsored the measure in the House. “We have failed because some of these individuals cannot be trained to drive the roads of Illinois.”

Opponents voiced concerns that the licenses could lead to fraud and abuse and had said the measure should require fingerprints from applicants. Backers argued that such a requirement would cost too much money and deter people who are fearful of having their fingerprints recorded in a federal database.

“One has to wonder whether people are going to feel comfortable submitting to fingerprinting knowing that their fingerprints could wind up going to federal immigration authorities if all they’re applying for is a driving document,” said Fred Tsao, policy director for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which spearheaded support for the measure.

“All this is good for is driving,” Tsao said. “It’s not even a valid ID.”

Under the legislation, Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses, already available for foreigners here legally, would also be available for illegal immigrants, Illinois secretary of state spokesman Dave Druker said. Those licenses, renewable every three years, could not be used for other identification purposes, such as boarding a plane, buying a gun or voting, Druker said.

To be eligible for a license, a person would have to live in Illinois for at least a year, a provision that would require applicants to provide a copy of a lease, utility bills or other proof that they’ve been in the state.

While cast primarily as a safety issue, the bill’s passage quickly took on the political overtones of broader efforts to pass federal immigration reforms in Congress, with advocacy groups on both sides of that debate either celebrating or sounding warning bells.

Within an hour, the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform sent out an email alert that urged constituents nationwide to phone Quinn’s office immediately with a list of reasons that it should not be signed into law.

“It all relies on less-than-reliable documentation to establish who they (license applicants) are,” said FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman, listing among his agency’s concerns a potential for would-be terrorists to get an Illinois license.

“The state of Illinois should not be in the business to make it easier for people to violate federal immigration law,” Mehlman said.

At an early evening rally in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood attended by about 100 people, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the bill’s passage should advance the argument for comprehensive federal immigration reform.

“We have been clear in setting a national pattern,” said Emanuel, who reflected on his grandfather’s passage to Chicago from Eastern Europe. “This will be noticed around the country.

“This is a great accomplishment to allow people on a very practical basis to take their kids to school, places of worship and get themselves to work,” the mayor said. “I want to take this victory, savor what it is and use it as the energy to move and bring comprehensive immigration reform.”

Yuridia Diaz, 29, originally from Mexico, stopped driving three years ago when she was pulled over by police. Fearing deportation, she chooses to take an hourlong bus ride to work instead.

With legal driving imminent, she said “a weight has been lifted off” her shoulders.

“Now my dreams are growing,” said Diaz, who lives in Little Village.

Ashley Moy-Wooten, an organizer at the Southwest Organizing Project, an immigrant advocacy group, said scores of people have phoned her office inquiring about the licenses after the measure cleared the Senate last month.

Martha Estrella, 47, of west suburban Stone Park, is among those eager to apply for a driver’s license. About six months ago, she was arrested for driving without one after she got into an accident with, of all vehicles, a police squad car, Estrella said.

Though the infraction only resulted in a fine, it scared Estrella enough to swear off driving until it’s legal, she said.

“I’ve lost a lot of jobs (as a temporary factory worker) because I can’t drive,” said Estrella, who has been in the country illegally for more than 20 years.

Before the accident, “I had 23 years driving and never had I been arrested,” including a few years in Washington state, where a state law there allowed her to drive legally.

Now, she said, “I’m going to start looking for a car.”


This is Stupid: one of many self-inflicted problems.

Gov’t spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement

January 7, 2013

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration spent more money on immigration enforcement in the last fiscal year than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined, according to a report on the government’s enforcement efforts from a Washington think tank.

The report on Monday from the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan group focused on global immigration issues, said in the 2012 budget year that ended in September the government spent about $18 billion on immigration enforcement programs run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US-Visit program, and Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol.

Immigration enforcement topped the combined budgets of the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Secret Service by about $3.6 billion dollars, the report’s authors said.

Since then-President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 — which legalized more than 3 million illegal immigrants and overhauled immigration laws — the government has spent more than $187 billion on immigration enforcement. According to the report, “Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery,” federal immigration-related criminal prosecutions also outnumber cases generated by the Justice Department.

The 182-page report concludes that the Obama administration has made immigration its highest law enforcement priority.

“Today, immigration enforcement can be seen as the federal government’s highest criminal law enforcement priority, judged on the basis of budget allocations, enforcement actions and case volumes,” MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, a co-author of the report, said in a statement released with the report.

Critics are likely to bristle over its findings, especially those who have accused the administration of being soft on immigration violators.

“There has been some progress,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas. “But the bottom line is that we are far from having operational control of our borders, particularly the Southwest border, and there are no metrics to quantify progress.”

Meissner said since the 1986 law was passed, immigration enforcement “is a story of growth. The sum of its parts is growth.”

Demetrios Papademetriou, MPI’s president, said that the authors reviewed immigration enforcement policies and spending from 1986 on amid ongoing disagreements in Congress on whether border security and enforcement efforts needed to be solidified before reform could be tackled.

“No nation anywhere in the world has been as determined, has made as deep and expensive a commitment to or has had as deep a reach in its enforcement efforts as the U.S. has had,” Papademetriou said. “The reach spans from local court rooms and jails all the way to the ability of goods and travelers to the United States to actually be able to travel to the United States.”

According to federal budgets reviewed by MPI, CBP spent about $11.7 billion on its enforcement operations while ICE had a budget of about $5.9 billion in 2012. US-Visit accounted for about $307 million.

As spending has risen in recent years, the number of arrests at the border has steadily dropped. In 2011, agents made about 327,000 arrests at the southern border, the fewest in nearly 40 years. The Homeland Security Department also removed a record 396,906 immigrants that year. In 2012, nearly 410,000 people were removed from the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has repeatedly touted those statistics as evidence that the border is now more secure than ever.

Experts have attributed the drop in arrests to a combination of factors, including record numbers of Border Patrol agents stationed along the Mexican border. Meissner said that the growth of illegal immigration in the U.S. is now at a standstill.

The report also highlighted workplace enforcement changes from raids targeting illegal immigrants to paperwork audits designed to root out employers who routinely hire illegal immigrant workers and the volume of people removed annually.

The report by MPI’s Meissner, Muzaffar Chishti, Donald Kerwin and Claire Bergeron, comes amid renewed interest in immigration reform from Congress and the White House. In the immediate aftermath of the November election, congressional Republicans suggested the time was right to begin reform talks anew. President Barack Obama, who won a record share of Hispanic voters, renewed a previous pledge to make immigration reform a priority.



Comments: Local push to change laws on immigration


In Mexico, rising tension at shelter for migrants
Travelers from Central America keep coming, despite the danger of the journey and the lower odds of finding work in the U.S. And locals are feeling the strain.


Mexico town split over Central American drifters
Migrants fall prey to kidnappers and worse while the Mexican government does little to protect them, rights groups say. But others say the migrants are forming criminal bands and should be deported

By Tracy Wilkinson
October 15, 2009

Reporting from Tultitlan, Mexico—

Gathered below an overpass on Independence Avenue, dressed in the multiple layers typical of homeless travelers, the migrants watched for the next northbound freight train through Tultitlan.

Many of them, mostly young men and boys, prepared to hop aboard, hobo-style, on an ever-more-precarious trip that might get them as far as the United States.

But fewer migrants are achieving that goal. Central Americans who for years have passed through Mexico en route to the U.S. are increasingly cutting their trips short as they run out of cash or become discouraged by fewer opportunities farther away from home.

The lingering presence of the migrants in this town, about an hour’s drive outside Mexico City, is tearing the small community apart, with some residents providing migrants with food, clothes and aid and others complaining of their alleged crimes, plus a new local government maneuvering to get rid of them.

The treatment of immigrants has become a divisive and embarrassing issue for Mexico. A country that has historically sent millions of its own people to the U.S. and elsewhere in search of work, Mexico has proved itself less than hospitable to Central Americans following the same calling.

Church and human rights groups say the migrants passing through are falling prey to kidnappers, extortionists and killers while the Mexican government does little to protect them. The national Human Rights Commission says it has recorded, in the last three years, 10,000 kidnappings of migrants, who are most frequently seized by predatory gangs who demand money from the victims’ families in their home countries.

In Tultitlan, migrants also complain of being beaten, rousted and robbed, often by police officers.

Jose Juan Hernandez, a state human rights officer, said he is investigating 30 formal complaints from the first half of this year. Hernandez, who regularly visits the migrants in their squalid, temporary encampments, provides water and tips on how not to fall into the hands of kidnappers and thieves.

“Very few want to stay in Mexico,” he said, adding that he sometimes sees women or entire families with children as young as 5 trying to make their way north. “They suffer a lot and risk everything. They see the economic situation is bad here and they don’t like the way they are treated.”

But many migrants stay because they fear that life would be worse in the U.S., where they could be arrested if caught after entering illegally and where job opportunities have withered. Money often is tight and many relatives in Central America or in the U.S. who might have helped are themselves strapped.

Hernandez has seen the number of arriving migrants increase by about 30% in the last year, with a huge uptick in Hondurans after the coup d’etat on June 28 that ousted their president and threw their country into political turmoil.

Among some residents of Tultitlan, there is sympathy. Nearly every day, bread distributor Jose Manzano drives by the knots of men sheltering under the overpass. When he can, he stops and hands out pallets of surplus bread from the trunk of his car.

“I see hunger, I see need, and I see gratitude in their eyes,” said Manzano, 55. “If I can help a little, why not?”

Patricia Camarena, an activist who works with the advocacy group Apoyo al Migrante, or Migrant Support, also brings help and basic first aid. She scolded authorities for what she sees as historical inaction.

“I feel angry because how can Mexico ask for immigration reform [of the United States], as well as talk about human rights?” she said as she washed the feet of a young migrant and gave him a pair of fresh socks. “I cannot stay quiet about what’s happening.”

A new city administration that took office in August, however, feels differently. Mayor Marco Calzada said he wants the federal government to deport the migrants. When they were just passing through, it was a manageable problem, he said, but now large numbers are staying and forming criminal bands.

Officials say the Tultitlan municipality, with a population of more than 432,000, sees hundreds of immigrants arriving each week.

“The numbers are over the top,” Calzada said. “They have invaded neighborhoods. They steal, they kidnap, they rape.”

City Hall is fielding complaints, the mayor added, but neither he nor his public security director, Jose Luis Medina, could provide statistics. Asked about complaints from migrants about police harassment and robbery, Medina would say only that about 10% of the previous municipal administration’s police department was fired for abuse, corruption or other infractions.

Advocacy groups counter that the Central Americans are being made scapegoats for all local crime.

By the overpass, the migrants sit in small groups or around rudimentary campfires. Some beg, some use drugs and some pick up legitimate day labor.

“I don’t want to go to the U.S. They arrest you there,” said Edil Alberto Perdomo, 24, of Honduras, who gets by on handouts. “We aren’t bothering anyone. We only want respect, we don’t want problems. I want to remain here but be left in peace.”

Douglas Martinez, a 29-year-old Salvadoran with a green bandanna on his head, has stuck around to earn a bit of money working in a junkyard. He seemed to be something of a leader in the group, directing others to stand in line to receive donated water.

Martinez said he’s been deported from the U.S. twice but still wants to try to reach Los Angeles to see his wife and children, who live there. “You know the need to see your family,” he said.

Like Martinez, Kevin Eduardo, a 13-year-old Honduran, and many others said they were trying to reach the U.S. Whether they will make it is anyone’s guess.


On the Border, in a Fix
Nogales, Mexico, feels overrun by migrants: the ones booted by the U.S. Officials say they boost crime, fill shelters and strain services.


Mexicans are feeling the strain caused by Illegal Immigrants


In Mexico, rising tension at shelter for migrants
Travelers from Central America keep coming, despite the danger of the journey and the lower odds of finding work in the U.S. And locals are feeling the strain.


Mexico a hazardous path for migrants
Many Central Americans heading to the U.S. aren’t heard from again. Now gangs are upping the ante.


12 minutes ago
alfred doyle Wrote:

Of adult immigrants from Guatemala, 55% have not completed high school; 8% have college degrees. Only 40% are proficient in English. Over half speak indigenous dialects. Their median income is $17,000/yr, compared to $20,000 for all Hispanics, $32,000 for U.S. Whites, about $35,000 for U.S. Asians.
Of immigrant households from Mexico and Central America, 54% use some form of welfare, 45% food assistance, 43% Medicaid. Comparable figures for Asian immigrants, 23%, 10%, 19%; for U.S. Whites 18%, 10%, 14%. But the Hispanic cohort is not a monolith; the comparable figures for Colombian immigrants are 28%, 16%, 22%.
Over 70% of our 11-12 million illegal aliens are from Mexico and Central America. Amnesty will put a lot of them on welfare and Medicaid at considerable expense; right now they can generally access these programs only through their U.S.- born children, whom by legislative inertia we still deem citizens, or by their 350,000 pregnancies each year (citizens in the womb). The giant expense of amnesty will come decades from now when these low-income folks age into Medicare and Social Security.
Statistics on the voluntary returns of Mexicans from the U.S. to their homeland are in part from Mexican government employment surveys. Of interest, the 1.4 million Mexicans returning home from 2005-2010 brought (for the most part voluntarily), 300,000 U.S. born children with them. So it may not always be cruel to ask illegal immigrants in the U.S. to leave, even though their children may have been born here.
The truck with the Guatemalan illegal immigrants was traveling at high speed, and did not obey orders to stop. The agent in the helicopter shot out its tires, and in crashed into a ditch. The people in the truck were not shot.
Even in a lean year, 260,000 Mexicans were caught at the border. Some of these apprehensions, departing from usual terminology, were called deportations. When polled later, 80% said they would try to enter again. (Pew Hispanic Center).



The problem: demasiado Mexicanos in this country is one of our many self-inflicted problems. No longer a melting pot, Ameican culture has become a salsa salad bowl con sprouts. Or maybe a crockpot.


How Mexico Got Back in the Game

“Today, Mexico exports more manufactured products than the rest of Latin America put together,” The Financial Times reported on Sept. 19, 2012. “Chrysler, for example, is using Mexico as a base to supply some of its Fiat 500s to the Chinese market.” What struck me most here in Monterrey, though, is the number of tech start-ups that are emerging from Mexico’s young population — 50 percent of the country is under 29 — thanks to cheap, open source innovation tools and cloud computing.


Barely 49 percent of Montgomery’s 972,000 residents are non-Hispanic whites, down from almost 60 percent in 2000 and 72 percent a decade before that. Hispanics rose by two-thirds and make up about 17 percent of the county’s population.


Latinos are the largest ethnic minority group in the country and are expected to become the majority in the United States by 2043. They already are the majority in 28 large U.S. cities, according to the U.S. Census, and Ohio’s Latino numbers have grown 64 percent in the past decade.


U.S. Latino population up 47% in 11 years

The Latino population in the U.S. rose 47 percent from 2000 to 2011. By far the largest segment of Latinos are people of Mexican descent, representing about two-thirds of all Latinos.


GREAT link – view the status of your on state.


The 14th amendment has been manipulated to defend the putative rights of illegal immigrants and establish in law that corporations are persons. The intent of the 14th Amendment addressed the issue concerning the legal status of freed slaves appropriately.

A HuffPo citizen cited this case to defend illegal immigration but the legal reasoning does not include anchor babies.

IF as many believe that the 14th was ONLY meant for the benefits of freed slaves you might want to explain this already decided Supreme Court decision: The clause’s meaning was tested again in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark 169 U.S. 649 (1898). The Supreme Court held that under the Fourteenth Amendment a man born within the United States to Chinese citizens who have a permanent domicile and residence in the United States and are carrying on business in the United States—and whose parents were not employed in a diplomatic or other official capacity by a foreign power—was a citizen of the United States. Subsequent decisions have applied the principle to the children of foreign nationals of non-Chinese descent.[19]


Outside of the rhetoric produced by the journalist in the mainstream press, the truth is our there? You cannot convince me as a Independent voter in any way, that the American people want to incessantly keep paying for the children smuggled across our borders or pregnant mothers who use the airlines to also smuggle their unborn past unsuspecting Customs and immigration officers. This situation is despicable because once reaching sovereign America the female claims citizenship for the child. Relating to food stamps these households have a combination of illegal aliens (often parents) and citizens (usually kids); only the citizens are technically entitled for the benefits of the program, but if groceries purchased by Food Stamps are on the table, the common-sense conjecture is that all those in the family circle will benefit from it. Large illegal alien families with two or three progeny, with even more citizen children can apply for a cornucopia of food stamps, free breakfast and lunch, free education, free medical care and other citizen entitlements.


The 14th Amendment has also been employed by the Supreme Court to promulgate personhood “extralegal manner” for corporations.



The Great Recession May Be Over, but American Families Are Working Harder than Ever


The large and growing wealth gap separating white and black families is the product of stubborn barriers that disproportionately consign African Americans to less-valuable real estate and lower-paying jobs, according to a new study.


Without a flourishing, growing and vital middle class, citizens who have a perceived stake in society, as opposed to the power elite who control and the poor who wish for balance, there is no democracy or a free market. Without economic freedom, life is unfair, unequal, and futile for the majority.

Manufacturing the weapons of war to combat the Axis Powers erased the Depression and following World War II, production, along with consumerism, generated a thriving middle class. The millions of jobs that have been sent to Mexico and China have sliced the middle class: people and their communities are suffering.

To Americans, some aspects of deglobalization will seem delicious. Take manufacturing. Globalization has sucked factory jobs from the United States. Now, the tide may be turning. Just recently, Apple announced a $100 million investment to return some Mac computer production home. Though tiny, the decision reflects a trend.

General Electric’s sprawling Appliance Park in Louisville once symbolized the United States’ post-World War II manufacturing prowess, with employment peaking at 23,000 in 1973. Since then, jobs have shifted abroad or succumbed to automation. But now GE is returning production of water heaters, refrigerators and other appliances to Appliance Park from China and Mexico. Year-end employment is reckoned at 3,600, up 90 percent from a year earlier, writes Charles Fishman in an excellent article in December’s Atlantic.

Nor is GE alone, Fishman notes. Otis is moving some elevator production from Mexico to South Carolina. Wham-O is shifting Frisbee molding from China to California.
The changes are harbingers, contends the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which predicts a manufacturing revival. China’s labor cost advantage has eroded, it argues. In 2000, Chinese factory wages averaged 52 cents an hour, but annual double-digit percentage increases will bring that to $6 an hour in high-skilled industries by 2015. Although wages of U.S. production workers average $19 an hour, BCG argues that other non-wage factors favor the United States. American workers are more productive; automation has reduced labor’s share of expenses; and cheap natural gas further reduces costs. Finally, higher oil prices have boosted freight rates for imports.

By 2015, China’s overall cost advantage will shrivel to 7 percent, BCG forecasts. As important, it says, the United States will maintain significant cost advantages over other developed-country manufacturers: 15 percent over France and Germany; 21 percent over Japan; and 8 percent over Great Britain. The United States will be a more attractive production platform. Imports will weaken; exports will strengthen. BCG predicts between 2.5 million and 5 million new factory jobs by 2020. (For perspective: 5.7 million manufacturing jobs disappeared from 2000 to 2010.)


China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1980, has already started to erode the labor supply. In 2005, there were 120.7 million Chinese people between the ages of 15 and 19, according to estimates from the United Nations. By 2010, the number had fallen to 105.3 million. By 2015, it is expected to drop to 94.9 million.


Recapturing the American dream starts with the manufacturing middle class: Carlos M. Cardoso

Gina Johnson performs leak tests on hydraulic fittings at the Eaton Corp. plant in Berea in January.

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, manufacturing gross domestic product dropped 40 percent from 1980 to 2007. After-tax income for the middle 60 percent of Americans fell 7 percent during the same time period.”


In N.C., Obama starts his policy campaign by pledging to shore up manufacturing

12:14 AM EST

WASHINGTON, DC. — “Scott Wilson began his story today from intellectually deprived Washington, D.C., as he traveled outside the Beltway for the first time since he started shaving several years ago.”
And his lede was the most trite, incorrect, and laughable line I’ve read in the WaPo in years (and that’s saying something).
Asheville is hardly “economically depressed Appalachia.” It is a thriving, liberal city in the Blue Ridge Mountains, known as the Paris of the South as well as the Beer Capital of America (with its world-renowned microbrewery community and a new New Belgium brewery opening in 2014); a foodie’s paradise and one of the restaurant capitals of the country, where the locavore movement was born and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) has created an heirloom vegetable industry that has spread across the country; home to a professional opera company as well as numerous theaters, a thriving book publishing industry, and superb art museum; and the home of the President’s favorite restaurant in the United States, 12 Bones barbeque. Its public university, UNC Asheville, has been listed at least six times as one of the “best buys” and “top colleges” for liberal arts in the country; its private college, Warren Wilson College, is renowned for its Master of Arts in Literature program; the local community college, praised by the president in his remarks today, has won or placed second in nearly every natilonal culinary competition held for the past dozen years, to say nothing of its degrees in mechatronics & mechanical engineering; its graduates are snapped up by restaurants and resorts all over the world. And if you ever travel to the Russian Tea Room, order some Mountain Trout caviar served there; they buy it from the local Sunburst Trout company. Oh, yeah, and Asheville has the Grove Park Inn and the Biltmore House.
PLEASE hire a real reporter before you buy the next one a plane ticket to this “economically depressed Appalachian town.”


And the bigger problem – which both presidents and CEOs are uncomfortable admitting – is that the manufacturing jobs coming back pay $14 to $18 an hour. These are not the classic auto jobs of U.S. manufacturing’s heydey that paid $40 an hour plus ample health and pension benefits.


Two kinds of middle-class Americans are struggling today — people who can’t find any work or enough work, and full-timers who can’t seem to get ahead.


Weak job creation has become the new normal


There is no doubt that America’s manufacturing base has declined, peaking at 19.6 million jobs in 1979 and now at just over 11 million jobs. Despite this economic transition, however, U.S. manufacturing jobs are still worth having. On average, full-time manufacturing work pays 20 percent more than full-time service-sector jobs. In my recent travels across the country, I met electronic technicians with only a high school diploma who had risen through the ranks of manufacturing companies to earn more than $100,000 a year. High school grads in retail or service-sector jobs rarely reach six figures….Of course, manufacturing alone cannot solve our unemployment problem. For the foreseeable future, the lion’s share of America’s job growth will be in the service sector. By 2014, employment in services is expected to reach 129 million jobs, with education and health care growing most quickly.


Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2012

Manufacturing rebounds, but is it a renaissance?

Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. — Don’t tell Michael W. McLanahan that manufacturing in the United States is dead. His family-owned, privately held company has made mineral processing and farm equipment since its founding way back in 1835 — and is enjoying a boom.

“It was our best year ever,” said McLanahan, during a tour of the busy factory in central Pennsylvania that illustrates why manufacturing is growing twice as fast as the broader economy.

McLanahan, 73, is the fifth generation of his family to run the capital-intensive company. It builds equipment to help mining companies separate product from waste, the dairy industry to remove manure from sand and the energy sector to segregate gravel from silica sand used in fracking — the process of drilling through shale deposits thousands of feet below ground to reach natural gas.

McLanahan Corp. boomed even as U.S. economy struggled to gain momentum in 2011 and the global economy was panicked and fearful that Europe’s debt problems would drag everyone down. One important reason for McLanahan’s success — and for U.S. manufacturing’s rising luster — is an export revival.

McLanahan Corp. is no outlier. The manufacturing sector as a whole bounced back in 2011, adding more than 287,000 new positions over the past 13 months and shifting into higher gear after a summer slowdown brought on by Europe fears.

During 2011, exports of U.S. goods and services were up by 14.5 percent over 2010, to a record $2.1 trillion, the Commerce Department reported Friday. And despite Europe’s economic problems, U.S. exports to Europe rose 3.6 percent in December.

In the 1990s, as environmental regulation stiffened on the U.S. mining industry, McLanahan refocused the company to take advantage of export opportunities. Back then, about 10 percent of the company’s product went overseas. Today it’s about 70 percent.

Mineral-rich Australia is a big customer, and McLanahan has benefited greatly from that country’s high labor costs and weaker manufacturing base.

“We can build here and ship into Australia for cheaper than they can make it there,” said McLanahan. He laments that mining in the United States has shrunk so much and with it, domestic sales opportunities. “I knew that the future of our company depended on a robust export effort.”

During a recent visit, the Pennsylvania manufacturer was busily filling orders from Iceland and Colombia, as well as actively building log washers for the timber industry and equipment for dairy farmers. It recently installed equipment in Glen Rose, Texas, to prepare fracking sand for shipment. Natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania are consuming so much silica sand, he said, that the price now varies between $240 a ton to $400 a ton, compared to $10 a ton for sand used in concrete mix.

Other data also signal a nationwide manufacturing rebound. December orders for durable goods — big-ticket items such as cars, refrigerators and industrial equipment — rose by a better-than-expected 3 percent. That was on top of November’s upward revision to a 4.7 percent increase.

Similarly, Federal Reserve data for December show manufacturing output rose nine-tenths of a percentage point. For the final three months of 2011, industrial production rose at an annualized rate of 3.1 percent, the 10th straight quarter of growth.

It’s good news for a sector that accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy but lost more than 6 million jobs over the past decade. There’s even anecdotal evidence that some companies that had shifted production overseas are beginning to come home, a process known as in-sourcing or re-shoring. Some orders for iron castings that McLanahan had lost to China are returning because of quality and supply issues.

How many firms are moving back? It’s hard to know.

“It’s a hard number to quantify — the notion of out-sourcing and in-sourcing. There’s a hype to both of those numbers,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers. “We have a lot of foreign companies that are locating here. It’s a global decision-making process right now.”

Right now many factors are combining to make American manufacturing more attractive than it’s been in quite a while. These include rising production costs in China, flat wage growth in the United States, corporate borrowing rates near historic lows, a weakening of the dollar against the currencies of competitors in hot emerging economies and a boom in U.S. natural gas production that’s lowering a key cost for U.S. factories.

“Labor cost is not the only factor that is under consideration when you are locating. Taxes, energy costs, the advantage of being closer to the customer,” said Moutray. “A sea-change in our thinking, at least globally, is that the U.S. is now on the map when it comes to these decisions.”

Not everyone buys the trend.

“I think it feels better than it is. The data itself looks to be very seriously flawed, and although dead-cat bounce is too strong a term, there is a kernel of truth in it,” said Alan Tonelson, a research fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, which represents smaller U.S. manufacturers who do not operate abroad.

Tonelson points to a widening deficit in manufactured goods, noting that even as exports grow, ground is being lost to foreign competitors. A USBIC study released Feb. 7 found that Chinese exporters had captured 7.5 percent of American purchases of 108 different capital-intensive segments of U.S. high-tech manufacturing in 2010.

“It is very difficult to see how the manufacturing sector could be excelling as it is losing market share in its own backyard,” said Tonelson, author of the book ‘Race to the Bottom.’

Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, an industry research group, sees conditions for sustained improvement for U.S. manufacturers.

“The exchange rate is 20 percent lower if you look at the broader trade-weighted dollar, cheapest natural gas prices in the world, modest compensation increases, unit labor costs declining over the five years,” he said. “You could expect that in a current decision, firms would be more likely to purchase domestic than from a foreign supplier. That’s, I think, the good news.”

A less-discussed factor in the rebound of American manufacturing is last year’s horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and devastating flooding in Thailand later in the year. The two natural disasters forced multinational corporations to rethink how they purchase parts from across the globe.

“The bigger issue is do you want long supply chains now,” said Meckstroth, pointing to the auto sector that normally gets shipments twice a day to allow for production in 12-hour cycles. The process is called just-in-time manufacturing. While popular over the past decade, it is now less so, since natural disasters exposed the weaknesses in holding skimpy inventory.

“You can’t afford a ship not getting there, being delayed. The ideal situation is to have a factory closer to your supplier,” he said.

While good numbers of late point to improvement in demand for U.S. manufactured goods, there’ve also been significant gains in productivity, or the per-hour output of U.S. workers. It increased by an average of about 4 percent annually during the past decade, and reached a 5 percent increase from June to September last year. For durable goods, manufacturing productivity was up 9 percent.

Put simply, manufacturers are doing a lot more with fewer workers. This helps explain why the bounce-back of manufacturing employment is less than it appears, partly because it comes off a very steep decline. The U.S. economy contracted by about 5 percent during the Great Recession, but had recovered the lost terrain by last September.

“Manufacturing has only half-recovered, it’s 56 percent recovered,” said Meckstroth, noting that his sector fell 20 percent and has recovered about 11 percentage points. “It has to grow another 9 percent to get back to where it was before the recession.”


Why U.S. economic policy is paralyzed

By Robert J. Samuelson, Published: July 8, 2012

Wondering why government can’t restart the sluggish economy? Well, one reason is that we are still paying the price for the greatest blunder in domestic policy since World War II. This occurred a half-century ago and helps explain today’s policy paralysis. The history — largely unrecognized — is worth recalling.

Until the 1960s, Americans generally believed in low inflation and balanced budgets. President John Kennedy shared the consensus but was persuaded to change his mind. His economic advisers argued that, through deficit spending and modest increases in inflation, government could raise economic growth, lower unemployment and smooth business cycles.

None of this proved true; all of it led to grief.

Chapter One involved inflation. Increases weren’t modest; by 1980, they approached 14 percent annually. Business cycles weren’t smoothed; from 1969 to 1981, there were four recessions. Unemployment, on average, didn’t fall; the peak monthly rate — reached in the savage 1980-82 slump — was 10.8 percent. Americans lost faith in government and the future, much as now. Confidence revived only after high inflation was quashed in the early 1980s.

Now comes Chapter Two: How the retreat from balanced budgets has weakened America’s response to today’s downturn, the worst since the Great Depression. It has limited government’s ability to “stimulate” the economy through higher spending or deeper tax cuts — or, at least, to have a meaningful debate over these proposals. The careless resort to deficits in the past has made them harder to use in the present, when the justification is stronger.

The balanced-budget tradition was never completely rigid. During wars and deep economic downturns, budgets were allowed to sink into deficit. But in normal times, balance was the standard. Dueling political traditions led to this result. Thomas Jefferson thought balanced budgets would keep government small; Alexander Hamilton believed that servicing past debts would preserve the nation’s credit — the ability to borrow — when credit was needed.

Kennedy’s economists, fashioning themselves as heirs to John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), shattered this consensus. They contended that deficits weren’t immoral and could be manipulated to boost economic performance. This destroyed the intellectual and moral props for balanced budgets

Norms changed. Political leaders and average Americans noticed that continuous deficits did no great economic harm. Neither, of course, did they do much good, but their charm was “something for nothing.” Politicians could spend more and tax less. This appealed to both parties and the public. Since 1961, the federal government has balanced its budget only five times. Arguably, only one of these (1969) resulted from policy; the other four (1998-2001) stemmed heavily from the surging tax revenue of the then-economic boom.

We are now facing the consequences of all these permissive deficits. The recovery is lackluster. Economic growth creeps along at 2 percent annually or less. Unemployment has exceeded 8 percent for 41 months. But economic policy seems ineffective. Since late 2008, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low. And budget deficits are enormous, about $5.5 trillion since 2008.

Only one group of economists has a coherent response: Keynesians. Led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, they argue that the deficits haven’t been large enough. If consumers and businesses aren’t spending enough to revive the economy, government must substitute. Its support would be temporary until more jobs and profits strengthened private spending. Sounds convincing.

But it collides with the 1960s’ legacy. Running routine deficits meant that the federal debt (all past annual deficits) was already high before the crisis: 41 percent of the economy, or gross domestic product (GDP), in 2008. Huge deficits have now raised that to about 70 percent of GDP; Krugman-like proposals would increase debt further. It would approach the 90 percent of GDP that economists Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard and Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute have found 015 is associated with higher interest rates and slower economic growth.

Since 1800, major countries have experienced 26 episodes when government debt has reached 90 percent of GDP for at least five years, they find in a study done with Vincent Reinhart of Morgan Stanley. Periods of slower economic growth typically lasted two decades.

Now, imagine that the country had adhered to its balanced-budget tradition before the crisis. Some deficits would have remained, but the cumulative debt would have been much lower: plausibly between 10 percent and 20 percent of GDP. There would have been more room for expansion. Balancing the budget might even have forced Congress to face the costs of an aging society.

The blunder of the Sixties has had a long afterlife. Economic policy is trapped between weak demand and the fears of too much debt. Yesterday’s Keynesians undercut today’s Keynesians. “In the long run we are all dead,” Keynes said. But others are alive — and suffer from bad decisions made decades ago.


The US economy and jobs: the basic arithmetic
Economics pundits veer wildly from elation to despair. The reality is that jobs and growth will improve – just not nearly enough


FOR RELEASE: March 1, 2013

  • “Automotive is still going strong, which allows budgeting for capital equipment.” (Machinery)
  • “Overall business is good.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • “Starting to pick up after a slower than normal year-end.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • “Continuing slowdown in defense spending.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • “More RFQs coming in than the past three months.” (Nonmetallic Mineral Products)
  • “Workload is growing; need qualified machinists.” (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • “Europe is still a concern in the auto sector.” (Transportation Equipment)
  • “Business seems to be on an uptick. The normal seasonal downturn for us has been much shorter and not as severe as in the past four years.” (Furniture & Related Products)
  • “Demand indicators are robust. Supply is constrained. Pricing is escalating.” (Wood Products)
  • “Customer demand has softened. At first, that decline was consistent with seasonal patterns but has persisted beyond historical periods.” (Chemical Products)

    FEBRUARY 2013




    PMI™ 54.2 53.1 +1.1 Growing Faster 3
    New Orders 57.8 53.3 +4.5 Growing Faster 2
    Production 57.6 53.6 +4.0 Growing Faster 6
    Employment 52.6 54.0 -1.4 Growing Slower 41
    Supplier Deliveries 51.4 53.6 -2.2 Slowing Slower 4
    Inventories 51.5 51.0 +0.5 Growing Faster 2
    Customers’ Inventories 46.5 48.5 -2.0 Too Low Faster 15
    Prices 61.5 56.5 +5.0 Increasing Faster 7
    Backlog of Orders 55.0 47.5 +7.5 Growing From Contracting 1
    Exports 53.5 50.5 +3.0 Growing Faster 3
    Imports 54.0 50.0 +4.0 Growing From Unchanged 1
    OVERALL ECONOMY Growing Faster 45
    Manufacturing Sector Growing Faster 3

    *Number of months moving in current direction.



    Where the nation’s highest earners live


    The following are the top-to-bottom rankings of America’s 102 major markets in terms of 2013 small-business vitality, as calculated by The Business Journals:

    Feb 4, 2013, 1:00am EST

    2013 rankings of small-business vitality

    Oklahoma City
    Salt Lake City
    Durham, N.C.
    New York City
    San Jose
    San Francisco-Oakland
    Boise, Idaho
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Dallas-Fort Worth
    Portland, Maine
    Portland, Ore.
    Provo, Utah
    Miami-Fort Lauderdale
    Wichita, Kans.
    Lancaster, Pa.
    Minneapolis-St. Paul
    Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.
    New Orleans
    Tampa-St. Petersburg
    San Antonio
    Ogden, Utah
    Albany, N.Y.
    Los Angeles
    Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.
    McAllen-Edinburg, Texas
    St. Louis
    Harrisburg, Pa.
    Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
    San Diego
    Palm Bay-Melbourne, Fla.
    Madison, Wis.
    Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
    Knoxville, Tenn.
    Charleston, S.C.
    Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Calif.
    Allentown-Bethlehem, Pa.
    Kansas City
    Baton Rouge, La.
    El Paso, Texas
    Columbia, S.C.
    Little Rock, Ark.
    Colorado Springs
    Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
    Grand Rapids, Mich.
    Virginia Beach-Norfolk
    Rochester, N.Y.
    Las Vegas
    Greensboro, N.C.
    Greenville, S.C.
    Syracuse, N.Y.
    Jackson, Miss.
    Akron, Ohio
    Youngstown, Ohio
    New Haven, Conn.
    Worcester, Mass.
    Chattanooga, Tenn.
    Toledo, Ohio
    Fresno, Calif.
    Stockton, Calif.
    Lakeland, Fla.
    Springfield, Mass.
    Dayton, Ohio
    Bakersfield, Calif.
    Augusta, Ga.
    Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
    Modesto, Calif.


    4:16 AM EST

    “Growing the Middle Class?”
    Manufacturing output rose in the fourth quarter at an Annual Rate of 1.9 percent. Barclays Capital estimate growth will likely pick up in the January-March quarter to an annual rate of 1.5 percent, analysts forecast. Still, unemployment remains high at 7.9 %. Americans are seeing smaller paychecks this year because of an increase in payroll taxes, which could offset any benefits from stronger hiring.
    1.5 or even 1.9% AR is not what a recovery is supposed to look like. In the President’s 1st term Fed Quantitative Easing (QE-1, 2 and 3) of banking, energy, and auto industries have proven that government deleveraging of private debt doesn’t guarantee economic growth. In 2010, QE-2 did more for banks as printed money was used to strengthen balance sheets, rather than to provide business loans. Government backed loans given to emerging green energy projects for research and development did not create the immediate jobs Americans so desperately needed. Since QE-3 was established last September, the Feds continue to pump money into the system keeping short-term interest low indefinitely. This could threaten the fragile economy with destabilizing inflation, again stifling the middle class.
    The middle class has traditionally benefited from business expansion and private investment. The President’s left leaning economic agenda will bring America down just like Japan, unless someone turns off Obama’s borrowing taps very soon. The depth of the recession was made longer by his wrong-headed use of Keynesian economic theory. Obama, and the Federal Reserve, think that the problem is that there is not enough money in circulation and that the answer is to create more by the latest Fed policy of buying gov- ernment bonds using interest from mortgage bonds in their portfolios. The very middle class Obama meant to help will be pushed down even further.




    Abandoned baby out of hospital; CPS searches for relatives


    Updated February 2, 2013, 7:10 p.m. ET

    America’s Baby Bust

    The nation’s falling fertility rate is the root cause of many of our problems. And it’s only getting worse.


    Forget the debt ceiling. Forget the fiscal cliff, the sequestration cliff and the entitlement cliff. Those are all just symptoms. What America really faces is a demographic cliff: The root cause of most of our problems is our declining fertility rate.



    Without thriving families, generations that flourish based upon values and ecomomic opportunity, society decays. The nation suffers.

    Census: U.S. Poverty Rate Spikes, Nearly 50 Million Americans Affected
    November 15, 2012 10:01 AM

    WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – As President Barack Obama is set to begin his second term, new statistics on America’s poverty rate indicate that nearly 50 million Americans, more than 16 percent of the population, are struggling to survive.

    New figures released by the Census Bureau this week found a spike in poverty numbers last year, going from 49 million in 2010 to 49.7 million last year. The numbers may come as a surprise to Congress, which estimated in September that the poverty rate would drop to 46.2 million. One of the most startling findings showed that almost 20 percent of American children continue to live in poverty.

    The Associated Press reports that the new figures are based on an updated formula devised by the Census Bureau to help give the government a better understanding for how to use safety-net programs.

    The numbers found that Hispanics and people living in urban areas had a higher chance of struggling to make it financially. Poverty among full-time and part-time workers also saw a jump from its 2010 numbers.

    Based on the formula implemented by the Census Bureau, California tops the list as the sate most likely to bring about poverty. The top five is rounded out by the District of Columbia, Arizona, Florida and Georgia.

    “We’re seeing a very slow recovery, with increases in poverty among workers due to more new jobs which are low-wage,” Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison economist who specializes in poverty, told The Associated Press. “As a whole, the safety net is holding many people up, while California is struggling more because it’s relatively harder there to qualify for food stamps and other benefits.”

    Adults in the age groups of 18 to 64 and 65 and older saw spikes in their poverty rates. Hispanics and Asians saw greater spikes than white people, according to the statistics. Black people saw a slight decrease in poverty, but still have a rate of 25.7 percent.


    Middle Class Homeless – Families in Trouble

    The Trends.

    The age at which men and women marry is now at historic heights—27 for women, and 29 for men—and is still climbing. The age at which women have children is also increasing, but not nearly as quickly as the delay in marriage. Knot Yet explores the positive and negative consequences for twentysomething women, men, their children, and the nation as a whole of these two trends, as well as their economic and cultural causes.


    Study: Delaying marriage hurts middle-class Americans most

    By Carol Morello, Published: March 15

    The tendency of young adults to put off marriage has taken a harsh toll on Americans without college degrees, according to a new study by a group of family researchers.

    The study, titled Knot Yet, belies the mythology popularized on shows such as “Girls,” with characters spending their 20s establishing careers and relationships before deciding to settle down and have children. While that scenario portrays the experiences of many college-educated Americans, women with only high school degrees or a year or two of college are more likely to have their first child while cohabiting with a man who struggles to find a stable job that pays enough to support a family, the study said.

    The study was conducted by researchers for the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and the Relate Institute. It is part of a growing body of research into the impact of delayed marriage as the median age when people marry has risen to 27 for women and 29 for men.

    The study found a large educational and class divide. College-educated women typically have their first child two years after marrying. The high school graduates as a group have their first child two years before they marry.

    In a statistic that runs counter to the image of unmarried mothers as reckless teenagers, the study said 58 percent of first births to women who have graduated only from high school are out of wedlock.

    “Everyone is pushing marriage to their late 20s and early 30s, the Wal-Mart cashier as well as the Wells Fargo executive,” said W. Bradley Wilcox of the University of Virginia, one of the authors of the study. “But the Wells Fargo executive is getting married in her late 20s and having her first child in her early 30s. The Wal-Mart checkout guy is having his first kid in his early 20s, and often marries in his late 20s, often to someone who is not the mother of his first child.”

    The Knot Yet study says economic and cultural forces are responsible for current attitudes toward marriage.

    The decline in real wages for men lacking college degrees has eroded the economic foundations of marriage. And young adults, many of them children of divorce themselves, are inclined to view marriage less as a cornerstone to their future lives than a capstone to put in place after they have built a foundation, the study said.

    “Progressives stress the economics, conservatives stress the culture,” said Wilcox. “We say both matter. They both are undercutting the viability of marriage for young adults today.”

    Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California at Hastings, said the trend for working-class Americans to delay marriage and have children before they marry echoes behavior that was noticed in lower-income people several decades ago. As did the Knot Yet study, Williams blamed it on the de-stigmatization of out-of-wedlock births and shrinking blue-collar wages.

    “The people who used to have good-paying union jobs, those jobs are going, going gone,” she said. “As the missing middle was robbed of financial stability, it also has been robbed of stable family relationships, exactly as happened to the poor.”

    Americans of all classes are more willing to hold out for the ideal, she said — even if it makes the goal more difficult to attain.

    “Marriage is linked with the white picket fence in your head,” she said. “When they can’t get the white picket fence, and a certain level of stability,” they defer marriage and have higher rates of nonmarital births. That in turn fuels more poverty, and takes them further away from the white picket fence.”


    March 6, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    The Dow and our great divergence

    Posted by Jon Talton

    The Dow Jones Industrial Index is a great indicator of the great divergence facing America today. The Dow hit a new record on Tuesday — although adjusted for inflation, it’s still below its 2000 level — and was still rising this morning. The index has its critics simply as a market measure, but there’s no doubt that thanks to easy money from the Federal Reserve and record corporate profits, the stock market has enjoyed a good four years. So much for Obama “socialism.” Meanwhile, unemployment remains stubbornly high, middle-class wealth is devastated from the housing crash and years of stagnant wages, while economic mobility is largely stuck. The hangover from the Great Recession includes a $1 trillion gap in output. Nearly 48 million are on food stamps. Political paralysis makes it impossible to engage in the stimulus, especially infrastructure spending, that would help. Instead, we’re doing austerity, which has failed across Europe. Naked Capitalism comments:

    The Fed has been trying to reflate asset values to goose the real economy. What it has done instead is goose the incomes of the top 1% while everyone else is on the whole worse off. But the central bank is suffering from a very bad case of “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” syndrome. It’s unwilling or unable to admit that its program is working only for a very few. It has convinced itself that if it just keeps on the same failed path long enough, things will turn around. As we can see from Japan, “long enough” can exceed 20 years, and it is not clear that the latest Japanese pump priming will finally pull the economy out of the ditch.

    Stock ownership is heavily concentrated among the wealthy. About 21 million households own stocks directly. Most own stocks indirectly, through mutual funds, often from their 401(k) accounts, many of them small. According to the Investment Company Institute, an industry group, 44 percent of American households were invested in mutual funds in 2011 vs. a record 45.7 percent in 2000.

    For this group that isn’t wealthy, that makes most of its money from wages rather than investments, the calculus is complicated. Each wears several hats: Investor, shareholder, employee, “consumer” and citizen. They often conflict. For example, that merger that makes the Dow go up might also cost you your job. Your vote by buying as a “consumer” might help proto-monopolies buy votes in Congress to further the power of the oligarchs, to your disadvantage. Meanwhile, you wonder what happened to that locally owned small business. And given the composition of most jobs being created now — part-time, few benefits — many Americans don’t wear so many hats.

    And that’s if you can get a job. The shortfall between payroll employment and the number of jobs needed to keep up with growth in the labor force is 9.1 million. That’s a more important data point than the Dow.


    Earnings are at record levels, and corporate balance sheets have never been stronger. Corporate insolvency, especially of the big, household name variety, is comparatively rare, making this a very unusual downturn by past standards. Normally, during a prolonged credit squeeze, companies go out of business in their thousands. Others slash their dividends to stay afloat. But it’s not happened this time on anywhere near the scale you’d expect for such a prolonged economic malaise.

    Why? One reason is zero interest rates, allowing companies which, in a conventional recession, would have gone bust, to stay in business. At the same time, banks have been bailed out, so that bad debts have in effect been nationalised. Taxpayers rather than investors are being made to pay the price for past excesses. The insolvency problem has been transferred from the private to the public sector.

    In this sense, action by policymakers has ensured that this time really is different. It’s labour rather than capital which has been most damaged by the downturn. In sending stock prices to record highs, investors are only just beginning to catch up with this reality.


    Financialization of the economy has led to what economists call “rent seeking,” focusing on making government change the rules to make a business more profitable rather than investing in the production of real goods and services. It also offers the very wealthy a casino including $600 trillion worth of derivatives rather than having them invest in job-creating enterprises.

    Highly consolidated industries also use their semi­monopoly power to drive down wages and make unionization more difficult.

    Intergenerational wealth has diverged, with the rich doing better than ever while most households, struggling since 2000, saw a huge part of their wealth destroyed in the Great Recession.

    In addition, educational attainment has faltered since 1980. What’s our response? Lay off teachers and raise tuition for universities.

    But none of this just happened because of a supposedly flawless free market. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz writes in his book, “The Price of Inequality,” “Markets are shaped by laws, regulations and institutions.”

    Whatever the causes, little is being done to correct our trajectory into historic high inequality that is greater than other advanced nations.

    Things may have to get worse before change happens. One thing is clear: Our situation is unsustainable and un-American.


    1 in 3 Illinoisans lives in or near poverty level: report


    Baltimore’s poverty rate unchanged at 1 in 4 residents


    Number of working poor families rises by 200,000 in one year

    1/16/2013 12:13am by Chris in Paris

    Not that many people in power are paying attention, but the problem of “the working poor” is serious, and growing.

    Instead of continuing to focus on expensive military toys and free money for Wall Street, this deserves a lot more attention.

    What’s interesting to note is that the problem is greater in the South and Southwest, which are typically Republican voting areas. (Not that that’s a surprise to most of us who have been paying attention.) It seems all that GOP concern over gay marriage, abortion, and Mexicans (though really, any Latino freaks them out) hasn’t done a lot to address the actual problems facing Red State families.

    The big question remains: Will Red Staters ever figure out that the Republican party doesn’t represent their best interests?

    But at least the bankers got what they wanted, right?

    The number of U.S. families struggling with poverty despite parents being employed continued to grow in 2011 as more people returned to work but mostly at lower-paying service jobs, an analysis released on Tuesday shows.

    More working parents have taken jobs as cashiers, maids, waiters and other low-wage jobs in fast growing sectors that offer fewer hours and benefits, according to The Working Poor Project, a privately funded effort aimed at improving economic security for low-income families.

    The result is 200,000 more such working families – the so-called “working poor” – emerged in 2011 than in 2010, according to the report, based on analysis of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.


    Fathers disappear from households across America
    Big increase in single mothers

    By Luke Rosiak – The Washington Times Tuesday, December 25, 2012

    Nicole Hawkins‘ three daughters have matching glittery boots, but none has the same father. Each has uniquely colored ties in her hair, but none has a dad present in her life.

    As another single mother on Sumner Road decked her row-house stoop with Christmas lights and a plastic Santa, Ms. Hawkins recalled that her middle child’s father has never spent a holiday or birthday with her. In her neighborhood in Southeast Washington, 1 in 10 children live with both parents, and 84 percent live with only their mother.

    In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.

    America is awash in poverty, crime, drugs and other problems, but more than perhaps anything else, it all comes down to this, said Vincent DiCaro , vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.

    People “look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help in the first place?’ And the answer is often it’s because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father,” he said.

    Dangerous spiral

    The spiral continues each year. Married couples with children have an average income of $80,000, compared with $24,000 for single mothers.

    “We have one class that thinks marriage and fatherhood is important, and another which doesn’t, and it’s causing that gap, income inequality, to get wider,” Mr. DiCaro said.

    The predilection among men to walk away from their babies is concentrated in the inner cities. In Baltimore, 38 percent of families have two parents, and in St. Louis the portion is 40 percent.

    The near-total absence of male role models has ripped a hole the size of half the population in urban areas. Tiny selfless deeds trickle in to fill that hole as the natural human desire for intimacy is fulfilled: One afternoon last week as a girl hoisted a half-eaten ice cream sandwich high over her pigtailed head, Larry McManus, the father of the girl’s sister, bent down to eat out of her hands as he picked up the girls from school.

    “I know dads that say they ain’t their kids. I see dads being disrespectful of the mothers. And I see ones who take other men’s kids to football games because they know their fathers aren’t around,” said Mr. McManus , an ex-felon who said he is “trying to make a lot of changes right now.”

    Asked his daughter’s age, he consults with her sister.

    “Five. She’s in pre-K,” the girl answered.

    “She’s 5,” he echoed. “Mmm, that was good,” he said gently of the ice cream sandwich. “Can I have another bite, please?”



    “American society is dysfunctional, characterized by a faulty understanding of the male-female relationship,” reflected [Pat] Fagan.

    The institute’s data is similar to that of the November Time-Pew Forum poll surveying Americans’ thoughts and behaviors related to marriage and family.

    The three-part poll’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data showed that traditional experiences of marriage and family are changing to favor co-habitation and un-wedded families.

    More than half of single respondents reported that they lived with, and in some cases are still living with, a partner. Among unmarried parents cohabitating with their partners, 62 percent believed marriage was obsolete.


    Romney, Obama must address crisis of U.S. families

    Both presidential candidates are now seeking to polarize, the author says. | AP Photos


    The decline of the American family is the hidden issue in our election. Sadly, neither presidential candidate is talking about our family structure or traditional values in any positive or constructive way. But we are now facing a crisis of serious proportions that affects all Americans, regardless of race and class.

    Charles Murray details the breakdown of working-class white families in his recent book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” It amplifies what Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote almost 50 years ago about the implications of the disintegration of the black family for American life.

    This problem requires affirmative policies that strengthen the nuclear family, enhance traditional values and develop inclusive social and economic policies. Yet both presidential candidates are now seeking to polarize on the basis of sexual preference, marital status or lifestyle.

    We cannot achieve our national goals, much less reach a broad-based national sense of purpose, without addressing the issue of the family and the related challenges that flow from it. It is just not the Democrats and Republicans who have ignored the issue — our cultural institutions, the media and, in large measure, our elites have failed to address this problem, as well.

    President Barack Obama has used his presidency only to be a governmental and political leader. He has failed to offer moral leadership, much less address the issue of the American family — an issue he successfully addressed in his own personal life.

    Obama’s recent announcement of support for gay marriage was just his latest assertion of a Hollywood-Big Money-friendly campaign position. It follows his recent announcement that religious-affiliated health care institutions must condone contraception — notwithstanding the preference of those institutions or their leadership.

    Yet the president has been virtually silent about the wide range of issues concerning family structure, education and job training, as well as youth unemployment. He has certainly not mentioned the high rate of black teenage unemployment.

    Mitt Romney has similarly avoided offering a specific vision for America’s future — unlike Ronald Reagan. Romney has failed to suggest that his candidacy offers anything but a set of fiscal principles divergent from those Obama and the Democrats have advanced. In fact, Romney has said he is “not concerned about the very poor.” Though he tried to clarify his remarks the next day, Romney has not presented any comprehensive social and economic policies that could enhance family structure and benefit all Americans.

    Romney’s support for traditional family values has been driven more by his attack on gay marriage and support for anti-abortion rights than any acknowledgement of the challenges facing families today. He has offered no new policies to strengthen and help families.

    Both parties’ apparent willingness to ignore this major issue is disheartening. No one is discussing the fact that divorce, in large measure, is driven by the challenges families face trying to support themselves, their children and their aging parents. Neither party has acknowledged the challenges created by the disintegration of both black and white families, nor have they offered a pro-family agenda to strengthen and rebuild those families.

    This crisis requires immediate attention, however. Only one in five U.S. households consists of a married mother, father and at least one child, according to the 2010 census. In 1950, 43 percent of households fit the traditional mold.

    Marriage rates are down, divorce rates are up and more babies are being born out of wedlock. The proportion of married U.S. adults dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2009, the lowest percentage the Census Bureau has ever recorded. Meanwhile, U.S. divorce rates are between 40 percent and 50 percent.

    Forty-one percent of U.S. babies are born out of wedlock, and more than half of all births to women younger than 30 are to single mothers. Out-of-wedlock childbearing varies by race, with 72 percent of black babies born out of wedlock, and this number exceeds 80 percent among low-income, inner-city blacks. For Latinos, 53 percent of births are out of wedlock; while among whites, 29 percent of births are outside marriage.

    Census data show a high correlation of single parent homes to social, health and economic instability. Marriage rates have declined most steeply among young adults ages 25 to 34 whose education does not exceed a high school diploma. Approximately 45 percent of children raised by divorced mothers, and 69 percent of children raised by never-married mothers lived at or near the poverty line, with few prospects of economic success.

    Growing up in a single-parent family can greatly affect children as they become teenagers and young adults. More than 50 percent of all youths put in jail for criminal behavior grew up in one-parent families. Three-quarters of teenage pregnancies are to adolescents from single-parent homes.

    We need clear policies that emphasize the primacy of the nuclear family and encourage families to stay together. We also need policies that encourage young people to become responsible adults and successful employees by improving the overall quality of education and job training. Non-high school graduates are almost four times as likely to become unemployed as college graduates. For those who do find jobs, they will most likely make less than half of what college graduates do.

    Such policies offer Americans the best chance for success in life — both individually and collectively. The first presidential candidate to address this issue in a way that seeks not to divide but to unite — based on the common goal of strengthening families and promoting family values — will likely gain a decisive advantage in a presidential race that is essentially deadlocked.


    American Families in Crisis

    Monday, 31 Mar 2008 07:57 AM
    By Pat Boone

    Just a few days ago, I had the encouraging privilege of participating in the installation of Kenneth Canfield as the new executive director of the Boone Center for the Family, launched 12 years ago at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

    The purpose of this Center is to analyze all the factors contributing to happy and productive families and to teach them in many ways to people who are already married, whose marriages and families may be in trouble and looking for help, and especially to young people who aren’t married, but who seriously want to create and nurture happy families.

    Obviously, this is something very important to me, Shirley my wife of 54 years, and to a growing host of expert observers of America’s social fabric.

    The meeting, attended by a large crowd of influential educators, business leaders, ministers, psychologists and counselors, started in a very upbeat manner. In its relatively brief existence, it’s already made significant strides and is being recognized as an important resource in the preservation of society’s basic foundation. And while the Center has had able leadership already, the new director has very impressive credentials and the endorsement of knowledgeable experts all the way to the upper reaches of our government.

    As all these positives were underscored, there was a feeling of elation, of hope. But then we heard from Keith Phillips, founder and director of World Impact, an inner city organization.

    Keith exudes an electric urgency whenever he speaks, but his short remarks shocked us a lot more than usual. We all knew that after the 1992 L.A. riots, Keith moved his all-white family into Watts, determined to do something himself to assuage the anger and poverty and deterioration of the whole social structure in the black community.

    It had taken almost unthinkable courage — and faith. And since then, he and World Impact have moved into more of the worst, most run-down and needy cities in America, improving situations dramatically. He’s a genuine hero, and we looked forward eagerly to what he might say. But we weren’t ready for “75 percent of the children born in urban hospitals this year will be born out of wedlock.”

    Or “50 percent of children born in inner-city hospitals will be born addicted.”

    Or “There are more African American young men in prison in the U.S. than in colleges and universities. There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S.”

    Or for this: “In L.A. County there are 90,000 homeless; and close to 40 percent are women and children!”

    We were all stunned. For a moment, many of us were tempted to feel “Well, then it’s over. What’s the use of our even going on with our efforts? We can’t undo this horrible situation; it’s totally out of hand, and getting worse every day. American society has developed a deadly cancer, and it’s spreading exponentially!”

    But we caught our breath, prayed collectively and individually, and we responded something like King David, who, after his own family had been abducted by marauders, “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” We pressed on in our meeting, with renewed zeal and energy.

    Shirley and I joined the already formed and active Center for the Family some years ago, convinced that the family is the center of God’s whole plan for man on this earth. He started with a nuclear family, and directed the first man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply, and populate the earth.”

    When, after several hundred years, He saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” the Bible says “the Lord was sorry that He had made man; He was grieved in His heart.” But when He caused the great flood that all ancient civilizations record, He saved one family, eight people, to start all over again, and commissioned them to implement His plan.

    Still later, in the days of Abraham, God determined to completely destroy the corrupt cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, raining fire and brimstone on all the inhabitants — except one family, Lot and his wife and two daughters. On and on the story goes, the creator working with and through families, fathers and mothers and their children to perform his will . . . and in the process, become the eternal family with whom he plans to dwell eternally.

    These are my convictions, based on the best-selling book in the history of mankind, the Bible. I know some will scoff and reject the Bible accounts, but the scoffer is at a great disadvantage when confronted by eye-witness accounts. And then he must try to explain the continued, repeated corruption of society when the Bible is ignored; and he must try to conjure up some other solution for man’s failing, something other than returning to God’s original blueprint for humanity, the family.

    And in this election year, I feel compelled to pass along some data just provided to me by Frances Rice of the National Black Republican Organization.

    Quoting statistics combed from the 2004 University of Georgia Selig Center Study, the National Black Chamber of Congress, and the 2004 National Urban League’s “State of Black America” report: “In 1950, when most blacks were Republicans, 63% of blacks were married. By 2002, when most blacks were Democrats, only 35% of blacks were married.

    “In 1960, when most blacks were Republicans, 80% of black children were born in wedlock. By 2002, when most blacks were Democrats, only 25% of black children were born in wedlock.”

    There are many more sobering and revealing figures in these reports; but for this column the simple truth is that, in contemporary American politics, the party of Lincoln has always been the most committed to the traditional structure that made America great, most supportive of true civil rights and the black citizen—and most supportive of the family.

    Back in Biblical Ziklag, recounted in I Samuel 30, after David and his men found their city burned to the ground and their wives and families taken captive, and after he “strengthened himself in the Lord” and sought His directions, he and his men attacked their attackers and “recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away” — most notably their families.

    I’m convinced that the family is at the center of true conservative principles. Grounded in the eternal plan of our creator, they are our country’s only hope.


    Now straight couples will want to be civil partners
    The institution of marriage could be finished if cohabiters won equal rights, writes Cristina Odone




    Wiz kid: Brilliant young programmer Zora Ball, created a video game in a class about a ballerina searching for a jewel


    In my view, the purpose of education in the modern era of the nation-state serves to inculcate a national culture and common sense of identity that benefits the individual and society.

    Long Term Unemployment at Highest Level Since WWII


    While the unemployment rate for recent four year college graduates is 6.8%, according to researchers the unemployment rate for recent high school graduates is nearly 24%. Additionally, nearly 200,000 jobs for workers with at least a Bachelor’s degree were added during the recession; 2 million jobs for college-educated workers have been added during the recovery. At the same time, nearly four out of every five jobs destroyed by the recession were held by workers with a high school diploma or less.


    Highly skilled: A McDonald’s outpost in Winchedon, Massachusetts, pictured, has just posted a call-out for a full time cashier – but insists only college graduates need apply


    It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk

    Rich Addicks for The New York Times

    Megan Parker, right, a law firm receptionist, and Laura Burnett, a paralegal, are college graduates, as are all their co-workers.

    ATLANTA —The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.

    Consider the 45-person law firm of Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh here in Atlanta, a place that has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills.

    This prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” — the in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and the office — went to a four-year school.

    “College graduates are just more career-oriented,” said Adam Slipakoff, the firm’s managing partner. “Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures. They’re not just looking for a paycheck.”

    Economists have referred to this phenomenon as “degree inflation,” and it has been steadily infiltrating America’s job market. Across industries and geographic areas, many other jobs that didn’t used to require a diploma — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — are increasingly requiring one, according to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads from more than 20,000 online sources, including major job boards and small- to midsize-employer sites.


    With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection

    Daniel Rosenbaum for The New York Times

    Paul Sullivan, a video editor, has been invited for numerous interviews from the same company, but has not been offered the job.

    Published: March 6, 2013

    American employers have a variety of job vacancies, piles of cash and countless well-qualified candidates. But despite a slowly improving economy, many companies remain reluctant to actually hire, stringing job applicants along for weeks or months before they make a decision.

    If they ever do.

    The number of job openings has increased to levels not seen since the height of the financial crisis, but vacancies are staying unfilled much longer than they used to — an average of 23 business days today compared to a low of 15 in mid-2009, according to a new measure of Labor Department data by the economists Steven J. Davis, Jason Faberman and John Haltiwanger.

    Some have attributed the more extended process to a mismatch between the requirements of the four million jobs available and the skills held by many of the 12 million unemployed. That’s probably true in a few high-skilled fields, like nursing or biotech, but for a large majority of positions where candidates are plentiful, the bigger problem seems to be a sort of hiring paralysis.

    “There’s a fear that the economy is going to go down again, so the message you get from C.F.O.’s is to be careful about hiring someone,” said John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University who runs a human resources consulting business. “There’s this great fear of making a mistake, of wasting money in a tight economy.”

    As a result, employers are bringing in large numbers of candidates for interview after interview after interview. Data from Glassdoor.com, a site that collects information on hiring at different companies, shows that the average duration of the interview process at major companies like Starbucks, General Mills and Southwest Airlines has roughly doubled since 2010.

    “After they call you back after the sixth interview, there’s a part of you that wants to say, ‘That’s it, I’m not going back,’ ” said Paul Sullivan, 43, an exasperated but cheerful video editor in Washington. “But then you think, hey, maybe seven is my lucky number. And besides, if I don’t go, they’ll just eliminate me if something else comes up because they’ll think I have an attitude problem.”

    Like other job seekers around the country, he has been through marathon interview sessions. Mr. Sullivan has received eighth- and ninth-round callbacks for positions at three different companies. Two of those companies, as it turned out, ultimately decided not to hire anyone, he said; instead they put their openings “on hold” because of budget pressures.

    At one company, while signing into the visitor’s log for the sixth time, he was chided by the security guard.

    “He thought I worked there and just kept forgetting my security badge,” Mr. Sullivan said. “He couldn’t believe I was actually there for another interview. I couldn’t either! But then I put on a happy face, went upstairs and waited for another round of questions.”

    The hiring delays are part of the vicious cycle the economy has yet to escape: jobless and financially stretched Americans are reluctant to spend, which holds back demand, which in turn frays employers’ confidence that sales will firm up and justify committing to a new hire. Job creation over the last two years has been steady but too slow to put a major dent in the backlog of unemployed workers, and the February jobs report due out on Friday is expected to be equally mediocre. Uncertainty about the effect of fiscal policy in Washington is not helping expectations for the rest of the year, either.

    “If you have an opening and are not sure about the economy, it’s pretty cheap to wait for a month or two,” said Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University. But in the aggregate, those little delays, coupled with fiscal uncertainty, are stretching out the recovery process. “It’s like one of those horror movies, an economic Friday the 13th, where this recession never seems to die.”

    Employers might be making candidates jump through so many hoops partly because so many workers have been jobless for months or years, and hiring managers want to make sure the candidates’ skills are up to date, said Robert Shimer, an economics professor at the University of Chicago.

    But there’s also little pressure to hire right now, so long as candidates are abundant and existing staff members are afraid to refuse the extra workload created by an unfilled position. Employers can keep dragging out the hiring process until they’re more confident about their business — or at least until they find the superstar candidate.

    “They’re chasing after that purple squirrel,” said Roger Ahlfeld, 44, of Framingham, Mass., using a human resources industry term for an impossibly qualified job applicant.

    An H.R. professional himself, Mr. Ahlfeld has been looking for work since August 2011, and has been frustrated to find himself the “silver medalist” for a couple of jobs after six separate rounds of interviews totaling 10 to 20 hours for each position, not including prep work and transportation time. For both of those jobs, though, there still has been no gold medalist. After eight months, they remain unfilled, with the companies intermittently posting a job ad, taking it down, and then posting it again.

    In addition to demanding credentials beyond what a given position traditionally requires, employers have thrown up more hurdles as screening devices.

    In his job hunt over the last year, Mr. Sullivan has taken several video-editing tests, which he says he aced. But he has also been subjected to a battery of personality and psychological exams, a spelling quiz and even a math test (including a question that began, to the best of his recollection, “If John is on a train traveling from New York at 40 miles per hour, and Susie is on a train from Boston…”).

    He passed the math test with a 90 percent score, he said.

    “Sister Callahan would be very proud that I was able to remember math problems I learned in prep school,” he said. “But what on earth does that have to do with the job I was applying for? It was like something out of ‘Seinfeld.’ ”

    For the companies themselves, economists say, the gauntlets they have constructed may be wasting managers’ time and company resources. Besides, there are diminishing returns to interviewing candidates so many times; a recent internal analysis at Google, a company that developed a reputation for over-interviewing even when the economy was good, showed that the optimal number of interviews for any given candidate was four. But according to user reviews on Glassdoor.com, the average Google interview process has expanded in the last two years, to 30 days from 21. Google declined to comment.

    And for applicants, the expenses add up fast.

    Mr. Sullivan calculates that the three positions he applied for cost him $520.36 in parking fees, two parking tickets, gas and trips to Starbucks while waiting for his interviews. (He recently switched to taking a coffee thermos, he says.) That excludes the costs of producing and mailing his video work, dry-cleaning bills for the suits he dons for interviews and thousands of dollars of fees to become certified in new video-editing programs.

    Job seekers just have to hope that the investment pays off.

    Jameson Cherilus, 23, counts himself as one of the lucky ones. Since graduating at the top of his 2012 class at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, he has spent hundreds of dollars traveling from his home in Bridgeport to interview for jobs in New York. After about six weeks of interviews for an entry-level administrative position at a talent agency, he was finally offered the job in mid-December.

    There’s just one catch.

    More than two months later, he said, “They still haven’t given me my start date.”

    Underemployed Philadelphia

    I was given a third interview at a major retailer and told to bring a strategic plan for a particular issue they were facing. I prepared this plan. On the day of the interview, I got horribly lost and called the interviewer to apologize and say that I would be late and being late is unacceptable and a terrible first impression, so it was completely okay if she did not want to interview me. She said it was okay and that I should come ahead anyway.
    We had what I thought was a good interview. She told me about the next steps that I would be asked to take and who I would next interview with. She said she would call me next week.
    Long story short, there was no fourth interview. When next we spoke, she told me she could not hire me because I had not prepared what she had asked for–and then named a completely different assignment that was never mentioned to me. And then added, “And you were late.”
    This is just a more recent experience. I’ve had plenty of others like it. When I am in a position to hire someone, I will NEVER treat people the way I have been treated.
    March 6, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.

    Laughingdragon SF Bay Area

    “I was ….told to bring a strategic plan…”
    This is a trick to have people consult on issues without paying them for their work. Then the lower level management presents it to upper management as their own work.
    March 7, 2013 at 9:33 a.m


    Job Vacancies Taking Longer To Fill, Even As Millions Are Unemployed, Study Finds
    Posted: 03/06/2013 6:13 pm EST | Updated: 03/06/2013 6:18 pm EST

    Millions of unemployed workers are struggling to find jobs and employers across the country are looking to hire — but they’re having trouble connecting, according to a new study.

    The number of days a job vacancy sits unfulfilled has gone up since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. It currently takes an average of 23 business days for an employer to fill a job opening, compared to 15 days in 2009, according to an analysis of Labor Department data from economists at the University of Chicago and University of Maryland that was cited by The New York Times.

    There are a variety of ways to explain why the unemployment rate sits at 7.9 percent, but jobs are staying unfilled. Many companies argue that they would love to hire more workers, but the applicants they’ve seen don’t have the skills required for their openings. Tech companies like Microsoft say the problem of an unskilled U.S. workforce is so severe that the U.S. should allow more highly-skilled immigrants into the country to fill openings in science and technology.

    Still, U.S. companies could probably do more to ensure they get the types of workers they need. A July survey from the ManPower Group cited by Bloomberg found that American businesses were way less likely to train workers to fill job openings than their international counterparts.

    And there’s another reason those job openings are going unfilled that companies probably aren’t highlighting. Corporate America is reaping record profits — but instead of investing the cash in hiring more workers, they’re sitting on it and squeezing more out of the employees they already have.


    Mar 7, 10:17 AM EST



    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, driving down the four-week average to its lowest level in five years. The drop is a positive sign ahead of Friday’s report on February job growth.

    Applications for benefits fell 7,000 in the week ended March 2, the Labor Department said Thursday. And the four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 348,750. That’s the lowest since March 2008, just a few months into the Great Recession.

    Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they fall, it suggests that companies are shedding fewer jobs. More hiring may follow.

    The decline adds to other evidence that hiring may have been better last month than economists forecast. Analysts predict that employers added 152,000 jobs, according to a survey by FactSet. That’s about the same as in January. The unemployment rate is projected to fall to 7.8 percent from 7.9 percent.

    “The improvement is still gradual, but at least things are moving in the right direction,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.

    The economy generated an average of 200,000 jobs a month from November through January. That was up from about 150,000 in the previous three months. In January they added 157,000.

    Several reports this week suggest hiring remained healthy last month. Payroll services provider ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 198,000 jobs in February, above most analysts’ expectations. And January’s hiring was revised higher by 23,000 to 215,000.

    Services firms, including retailers, restaurants and construction companies added jobs at a healthy clip, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly survey. An index of hiring by service companies slipped but remained near January’s seven-year high.

    The ISM’s manufacturing survey found that factories also added workers in February, too, though at a slower pace than the previous month.

    The number of people receiving unemployment aid fell to 5.4 million in the week ended Feb. 16, the latest data available. That’s a drop of 362,000 from the previous week. Some of the decline is likely because people found work. But it is also because many have simply used up all the benefits available.

    Strong auto sales and a healthy recovery in housing are spurring more hiring and economic growth. Builders started work on the most homes last year since 2008. New-home sales jumped 16 percent in January to the highest level since July 2008. And home prices, meanwhile, rose by the most in more than six years in the 12 months ending in January, according to real estate data provider CoreLogic.

    Companies are laying off fewer workers despite concerns about the impact of higher taxes and government spending cuts. Social Security taxes rose two percentage points Jan. 1, reducing the typical household’s income by $1,000.

    And $85 billion in across-the-board government spending cuts kicked in March 1 after the White House and Congress failed to reach a deal to avoid the reductions.

    The cuts could slow economic growth and cost 700,000 jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. They could also reduce unemployment benefit checks for those out of work for more than six months by about 11 percent, according to the National Employment Law Project. Benefits average about $320 per week nationwide.


    Employers add a stunning 236,000 jobs in Feb.


    February’s jobs report only looks good because our expectations are so low


    Educators should identify promising students and nudge them toward STEM fields.

    Gender Studies addresses such issues as femininity and masculinity; gender and the body; gender and culture; gender and knowledge; current and historical inquiries into the relationships between the sexes; gender and aesthetics; gender as an organizing factor on social, political, and familial institutions and policy; gender role development and institutionalization; feminist theory; sexual orientation; sexual identity politics and history; queer theory, and lesbian cultural criticism and other interdisciplinary inquiries related to sex, gender, sexuality and reproduction, and feminist theory. It examines ideas of femininity and masculinity across cultures and historical perriods and how these concepts are represented within cultures (e.g., literature, popular culture, the arts, science, and medicine).


    Higher education, from which much of such diversity and sensitivity nonsense trickles down, cries poverty while spending lavishly on administrative overhead irrelevant to its teaching and research missions. The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald notes that in 2011, while the University of California at San Diego was pruning academic offerings, it created a “ vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion” to augment a diversity apparatus that included an assistant vice chancellor for diversity; faculty advisers, staff, graduate and undergraduate diversity coordinators and liaisons; a director of development for diversity initiatives; the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues; the Diversity Council; the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion; and much more. Perhaps tens of millions could be diverted from progressive gestures to academic purposes by abolishing on every American campus every administrative position whose title contains the words “diversity,” “equity,” “race,” “ethnicity,” “sustainability,” “green,” “gender,” “inclusion,” “identity,” “interconnectivity,” “globalization,” “climate,” “campus climate,” “cross-cultural” or “multiculturalism.”
    No corner of the country is immune to propaganda pretending to be pedagogy. Lincoln Brown of KVEL-AM in Vernal, Utah, says one student from the University of Utah showed him required reading that told students to “list ways your family may have colluded with or benefited from the exploitation of African-Americans.” Another reading was titled “White Privilege — Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.


    Feminism in the day of Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer has resulted in more employment opportunity for women and a more robust consumer economy – e.g. – His and Her cars. The quotation above is not education but indoctrination.

    Author and social critic Bruce Bawer, a homosexual who lives with his partner abroad, has produced a compelling work that examines identity politics taught in institutions of higher learning. His trenchant work examines Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, and.Chicano Studies. In sum, these clubs amount to collective intellectual masturbation and more importantly, in this time of fiscal scarcity and the need for education, an exemplary waste of resources.

    Channing had her students read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Their blog postings made it clear that they understood what was expected of them. Calling the Declaration “incredibly biased and slanted,” R. wrote that “when you scan the document all you see is ‘He.’…Immediately I think ‘Great, my founding fathers did not want to be apart [sic] of this nation.’” R. appeared not to notice that the reason why the word he recurs so frequently in the Declaration is that the document consists largely of a litany of charges against King George III, whom it refers to as “he”. “All people were not created equal when the Declaration of Independence was written,” R. lamented. H. seconded the condemnation: “The Declaration of Independence & the Bill of Rights…were written by a group of white, Christian, heterosexual males.”


    Then again, hyperbole is superfluous when real life is so absurdly over the top. Thanks to Judicial Watch, the conservative-leaning watchdog group, and the Daily Caller, we recently have learned about the Agriculture Department’s magical diversity training programs — i.e., “professional development opportunities” — wherein employees learn how they ought really to “think” about things. Lessons include such angst-inspiring tropes as: The United States has destroyed other nations, we all commit sins of discrimination and America should repent and stop being so proud of itself.

    …In other clips, Betances regales his audience with a little history lesson. Not only did the United States steal the lands that are increasingly being populated by illegal immigrants (Texas, California, Arizona) — hence, implicitly, they have a right to re-occupy — but also, America’s founding fathers took their governing cues from Native Americans. Oh, and they stole their symbol, too — the bald eagle.


    To the extent he thinks about national security Obama is transfixed by liberal nostrums. The U.S. causes many of the world’s problems. Israel is an oppressor. We spend too much on defense.


    Countering [Bill] Cosby, [Michael Eric] Dyson manintains that “body piercing and baggy clothes express identity among black youth. Yes, but what kind of identity—an individual identity marked by self-respect or a group identity marked by mindless copycatting? As for hip-hop, Dyson considers Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Russell Simmons good role models because they’ve “made millions from their clothing lines.” And he claims that “[n]ames like Shaniqua and Taliqua,” ridiculed by Cosby, “are meaingful cultural expressions of self-determination and allow relatively powerless blacks to fashion their identities out of the glare of white society.” Yes, and keeps them from finding jobs.

    164; 167

    Indeed, the hostility that rises up from the pages of The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader—and there’s quite a lot of it—is directed far less toward heterosexuals than men of whatever orientation.


    Should we care that US universities are ‘too liberal’?
    America’s top universities seem to offer everything except conservative views. That’s not healthy for political debate


    Eveleyn Alsultany, an assistant professor of American culture at the University of Michigan, cites as evidence of Ameica’s anti-Muslim bias a 2004 Cornell poll finding that “74 percent characterized Islamic countries as oppressive to women, ” and that “47 percent indicated that the ‘Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence among its believers.’” To Alsultany, these numbers do not reflect awareness of objective facts but “racism.”….She also complains about conservative criticism of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which she finds incomprehensible given its “work in condemning terrorism and educating the public about Islam.” (Never mind it’s a Hamas front group.)


    …College and graduate school forced me to read things that I probably would never have dipped into otherwise—the more obscure ancient epics, some of the less familiar Elizabethean and Renaissance plays—and that I’m now glad I’ve read. My graduate school reading in nineteenth- and twentieth-century English and American literature was especially thorough, providing me with a wonderfully detailed picture of the subject….This is why the identity studies and other postmodern phenomena I have written about is so excerable. They are a perverse betrayal of a rich and beautiful legacy. They throw away a gift we should all be thrilled at the opportunity to enjoy. We have reached the top of the mountain, and they are taking our children by the hand and urging them to jump into the abyss. The people who “teach” these postmodern subjects talk about power, but what they have done as alleged educators is as despicable an abuse of power as one could imagine—because they have used their power to rob young people of their priceless legacy as heirs to the riches of human civilzation.

    330, 331

    Caesar is a salad.

    Horatio Nelson ‘was French football captain’, say children

    Children’s ignorance of British history has been laid bare in a survey today that shows one-in-20 pupils believe the Spanish Armada is a tapas dish.


    …Such is the focus of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s new book The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. A respected historian and political advisor, Schlesinger passionately voices his concern for the future of the United States. Specifically, he fears that the “cult of ethnicity” manifested in ethnic awareness, Afro-centric curricula, and the continuing attack on the historical and literary canons will lead to increasing racial hostility, a loss of common values, and national disintegration. He wonders, “When does the obsession with difference begin to threaten the idea of an overarching American nationality?”


    …Within the overarching poltical commitment, people are free to live as they choose, ethnically and otherwise. Differences will remain; some are reinvented; some are used to drive US apart. But as we renew our allegiance to the unifying ideals, we provide the solvent that will prevent differences from escalating into anagonism and hatred.

    …Let us by all means in this increasingly mixed-up world [published in 1991] learn about those other continents and civilizations. But let us master our own history first. Lamentable as some may think it, we inherit an American experience, as America inherits a European experience. To deny the essentaillty European origins of American culture is to falsify history.

    Our schools and colleges have a responsibilty to teach history for its own sake—as part of the intellectual equipment of civilized persons—and not to degrade history by allowing its contents to be dictated by pressure groups, whether ideological, economic, religious, or ethnic….Above all, history can give a sense of national identity. We don’t have to believe our values are better than the other fellow’s or the next country’s, but we have no doubt that they are better for us, reared as we are—and are worth living by and dying for. For our values are not matters of whim and happenstance. History has given them to us. They are anchored in our national experience, in our great national documents, in our national heroes, in our folkways, traditions and standards.


    Common identity and values that distinguish Amercians is more dependent upon historical figures who achieved greatness, Washington and Lincoln, TR and FDR, Edison and Ford, than cultural figures like Lucy or the Brady Bunch. Understanding the trajectory of American history that begins with settlements in the future states of Virginia and Massachusetts is more important than learning about other cultures. Learning about the Pequot War in high school serves a smaller purpose than knowing the reasons that caused the French and Indian War, known as the Seven Years War in Europe. Exploring the lives of Americans — Jesse Owens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Washington Carver, and W.E.B. Dubois — serves a more united purpose than learning about Cesar Chavez, before college and advanced study. Elijah McCoy invented the “Real McCoy.” Mandatory multi-cultural enrichment must include black inventors who created products that made every day life easier

    Latino Student Struggles Challenge Connecticut School Reformers

    WINDHAM, Conn. — As a parent liaison in a school district with a fast-growing Hispanic majority, Ana Lozada navigates a deep cultural divide: Parents think teachers are racist. Teachers doubt parents’ commitment. And in many cases, one side speaks only English and the other only knows Spanish.


    Experts see peril as Latino boys fall behind


    According to the report, which examines data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often cited as the most reliable standard in academic testing, Hispanic students accounted for more than half of all eighth graders in California in 2011, the highest proportion in the country. But only 14 percent of those students were proficient on eighth-grade reading tests administered by the United States Department of Education.

    In Florida, 27 percent of Hispanic students (who represent just over a quarter of its public school students) scored at the proficient level or above. And in Illinois, 23 percent of Hispanic eighth graders were proficient in reading.

    In mathematics, Hispanic eighth graders in California similarly underperformed their peers in other states, with just 13 percent hitting the proficiency mark, compared with 22 percent in Florida and 31 percent in Texas, where Hispanics make up more than half the eighth-grade student population.


    Officials: 80 Percent Of Recent NYC High School Graduates Cannot Read


    The situation is even more alarming when you look at California’s Latino population, which represents the future of the state. Hispanic students in California perform no better than the average student in Mexico, a level similar to that of the typical student in Kazakhstan, according to Hanushek’s research.


    Basic education: reading, writing (minus cursive), and arithmetic, with a modicum of geometry and algebra, establishes the foundation for future learning and achievement. Knowledge of American history and world geography that demonstrates global inter-dependence should be taught. Music, The Last of the Mohicans, and art are part of the common culture. Students should be taught functions that are fundamental in daily life. Driving is an obvious example but there could be other lessons imparted that pertain to daily life, like getting a job. Creating a resume and interview techniques are important skills. Dressing appropriately, investigating the company and the position applied for can be decisive advantages. Role models, in particular for minorities, are also crucial. Some young people are unaware of the importance of arriving on time for work because they arrive late for class. Perhaps a good answer to the basic interview question, “Why should I hire you?” could be: “I am reliable, responsible, resourceful, and capable of working in a multi-task enivronment due to self-motivation.” A positive attitude in the work place and in daily life is vital.

    To compete in the modern world, perhaps an individual and national advantage can be gained through more time in school.

    The U.S. ranks 17th in educational performance

    1. South Korea
    2. Hong Kong SAR
    3. Japan
    4. Singapore
    5. United Kingdom
    6. Netherlands
    7. New Zealand
    8. Switzerland
    9. Canada.

    The U.S. ranks 11th in fourth grade math

    The U.S. ranks 6th in fourth grade reading


    Finland has an education system the US should envy – and learn from

    Finland’s test scores top global charts, but the country doesn’t obsess about tests like the US, and it pays teachers adequately

    Barack Obama at a charter school in Washington, DC. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    Linda Moore
    guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 February 2013 10.17 EST

    A new book has attracted much interest in the Washington DC, especially on Capitol Hill, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn From Educational Change in Finland?. The book arrives after Finland scored first in science and second in reading and math on the standardized test administered by the Program for International Student Assessment.

    Conducted among industrialized nations every three years, American students finished 25th in math, 17th in science and 12th in reading on the latest PISA assessment. Obviously, in our global economy, this nation’s international educational attainment is discouraging for our future prospects.

    What stands out to me is that Finnish students take only one mandatory standardized test, at age 16. Finland has the same number of teachers as New York City, but only 600,000 students compared to 1.1m in the Big Apple. Finnish teachers’ starting salaries are lower than in the US, but high-school teachers with 15 years’ experience make 102% of what other college graduates make. In the US, the figure is 62%.

    Some of Finland’s students’ outcomes should be especially interesting to US policy makers. Fully 93% of Finns graduate from high school – 17.5 points higher than American students. And 66% of Finns are accepted to college, a higher rate than the US and every European nation. Strikingly, the achievement gap between the weakest and strongest students academically is the smallest in the world.

    What might really interest some politicians is that Finland spends about 30% less per student to achieve these far-superior educational outcomes. For those who argue that a much smaller, less diverse country like Finland can’t easily be compared to the US, there is an inconvenient fact: Finland performs much better educationally when compared to similar Scandinavian nations with similar demographics. Plainly, something is right in the “Land of a thousand lakes”.

    Fortunately, US education policy is evolving in the face of our relative global underperformance. Federal policy continues to move away from the rigid certainties of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind legislation. The NCLB law set a hopelessly unrealistic target for 100% student proficiency in every school by 2014. It’s clear that won’t be achieved.

    Currently, 32 states and the District of Columbia have successfully applied for waivers from NCLB. To secure this flexibility, states had to have the US Department of Education approve credible plans to raise standards, strengthen accountability and undertake reforms to improve teacher effectiveness. Localizing education reform in this way should more effectively combine ambition and realism.

    Additionally, President Obama’s Race to the Top program provides federal incentives for states to reform their public education offerings. These education reforms include lifting caps on the number of public charter schools, innovative policies to turn around failing schools, and improving teacher and principal effectiveness.

    As an educator who opened one of the first public charter schools in Washington DC in 1998, — at the height of the crisis of our unreformed public education system — I’ve always had a different take on reform than the NCLB dogma. I could see that the predominantly disadvantaged students whom the status quo was failing would need more than standardized tests to ensure school success.

    We decided to create a school that would help students develop the habits, knowledge and skills that would be required in this new century, rather than limiting our students to learning reading and math, the subjects that students are most often tested on. We require our pre-K through sixth grade students to speak, read, write and think in two languages — either French and English, or Spanish and English.

    Our educational program invests in children early, to prepare them for the next step in their academic careers and beyond, into the world of work. We want them to gain the following: an understanding of how to use technology to enhance learning; an appreciation for, and facility in, the arts; scientific curiosity; an appreciation and knowledge of their cultures and those of others; and the capacity to think critically.

    We are proud of our alumni, including those who have earned Posse Scholarships (college scholarships for students who exhibit strong leadership and academic potential), those who are enrolled in prestigious colleges; and those who are flourishing at high-performing high schools, such as Capital City and Washington Latin.

    Our students — 69% of whom are economically disadvantaged — can perform at the highest-level academically. Traditional standardized tests fail to adequately assess our academically rich program. Yet our scholars outperform their traditional public school peers by 16% points, and charter peers by nine points. We’re not in Finland yet, but we are making progress.


    Will longer school year help or hurt US students?

    January 14, 2013 12:00 am Associated Press

    Did your kids moan that winter break was way too short as you got them ready for the first day back in school? They might get their wish of more holiday time off under proposals catching on around the country to lengthen the school year.

    But there’s a catch: a much shorter summer vacation.

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a chief proponent of the longer school year, says American students have fallen behind the world academically.

    “Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century,” he said in December when five states announced they would add at least 300 hours to the academic calendar in some schools beginning this year.

    The three-year pilot project will affect about 20,000 students in 40 schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee.

    Proponents argue that too much knowledge is lost while American kids wile away the summer months apart from their lessons. The National Summer Learning Association cites decades of research that shows students’ test scores are higher in the same subjects at the beginning of the summer than at the end.

    “The research is very clear about that,” said Charles Ballinger, executive director emeritus of the National Association for Year-Round School in San Diego. “The only ones who don’t lose are the upper 10 to 15 percent of the student body. Those tend to be gifted, college-bound, they’re natural learners who will learn wherever they are.”

    Supporters also say a longer school year would give poor children more access to school-provided healthy meals.

    Yet the movement has plenty of detractors — so many that Ballinger sometimes feels like the Grinch trying to steal Christmas.

    “I had a parent at one meeting say, ‘I want my child to lie on his back in the grass watching the clouds in the sky during the day and the moon and stars at night,’” Ballinger recalled. “I thought, ‘Oh, my. Most kids do that for two, three, maybe four days, then say, ‘What’s next?””

    But opponents aren’t simply dreamy romantics.

    Besides the outdoor opportunities for pent up youngsters, they say families already are beholden to the school calendar for three seasons out of four. Summer breaks, they say, are needed to provide an academic respite for students’ overwrought minds, and to provide time with family and the flexibility to travel and study favorite subjects in more depth. They note that advocates of year-round school cannot point to any evidence that it brings appreciable academic benefits.

    “I do believe that if children have not mastered a subject that, within a week, personally, I see a slide in my own child,” said Tina Bruno, executive director of the Coalition for a Traditional School Calendar. “That’s where the idea of parental involvement and parental responsibility in education comes in, because our children cannot and should not be in school seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

    Bruno is part of a “Save Our Summers” alliance of parents, grandparents, educational professionals and some summer-time recreation providers fighting year-round school. Local chapters carry names such as Georgians Need Summers, Texans for a Traditional School Year and Save Alabama Summers.

    Camps, hotel operators and other summer-specific industries raise red flags about the potential economic effect.

    The debate has divided parents and educators.

    School days shorter than work days and summer breaks that extend to as many as 12 weeks in some areas run up against increasing political pressure from working households — 30 percent of which are headed by women. These families must fill the gaps with afterschool programs, day care, babysitters and camps.

    “Particularly where there are single parents or where both parents are working, they prefer to provide care for three weeks at a time rather than three months at a time,” Ballinger said.

    The National Center on Time & Learning has estimated that about 1,000 districts have adopted longer school days or years.

    Some places that have tried the year-round calendar, including Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and parts of California, have returned to the traditional approach. Strapped budgets and parental dissatisfaction were among reasons.

    School years are extended based on three basic models:

    —stretching the traditional 180 days of school across the whole calendar year by lengthening spring and winter breaks and shortening the one in the summer.

    —adding 20 to 30 actual days of instruction to the 180-day calendar.

    —dividing students and staff into groups, typically four, and rotating three through at a time, with one on vacation, throughout the calendar year.

    At the heart of the debate is nothing less than the ability of America’s workforce to compete globally.

    The U.S. remains in the top dozen or so countries in all tested subjects. But even where U.S. student scores have improved, many other nations have improved much faster, leaving American students far behind peers in Asia and Europe.

    Still, data are far from clear that more hours behind a desk can help.

    A Center for Public Education review found that students in India and China — countries Duncan has pointed to as giving children more classroom time than the U.S. — don’t actually spend more time in school than American kids, when disparate data are converted to apples-to-apples comparisons.

    The center, an initiative of the National School Boards Association, found 42 U.S. states require more than 800 instructional hours a year for their youngest students, and that’s more than India does.

    Opponents of extended school point out that states such as Minnesota and Massachusetts steadily shine on standardized achievement tests while preserving their summer break with a post-Labor Day school start.

    “It makes sense that more time is going to equate to more learning, but then you have to equate that to more professional development for teachers — will that get more bang for the buck?” said Patte Barth, the center’s director. “I look at it, and teachers and instruction are still the most important factor more so than time.”

    The center’s study also found that some nations that outperform the U.S. academically, such as Finland, require less school.

    Many schools are experimenting with the less controversial, less costly interim step of lengthening the school day instead of adding days to the school year.

    Chicago’s public schools extended the school day from 5 hours and 45 minutes to 7 hours last year after a heated offensive by unionized teachers and some parents. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to Duncan’s boss, President Barack Obama, initially pushed an even longer school day — a major sticking point in this year’s seven-day teachers’ strike. He and other proponents argued that having the shortest school day among the nation’s 50 largest districts and one of the shortest school years had put Chicago’s children at a competitive disadvantage.

    Wendy Katten, executive director of Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education, said opponents held back a push for a 7.5-hour school day, and got an extra staff person assigned to each school to handle the additional hour and 15 minutes of school time.

    In San Diego, year-round school has been a reality since the 1970s.

    District spokesman Jack Brandais said the concept was initially intended to relieve crowding, not improve performance test scores. The student body and staff were divided into four groups, with three attending school at any given time.

    Through decades of fine-tuning, Brandais said the district now runs both traditional and year-round tracks simultaneously.

    A 2007 study by Ohio State University sociologist Paul von Hippel found virtually no difference in the academic gains of students who followed a traditional nine-month school calendar and those educated the same number of days spread across the entire year.

    Amid budget cuts and teacher layoffs, San Diego has cut five instructional days from both year-round and traditional schedules since last year.


    Unorthodox approach working for Reynoldsburg schools

    By Charlie Boss
    The Columbus Dispatch Sunday December 16, 2012 10:50 AM

    Reynoldsburg Superintendent Steve Dackin has his principals use innovative methods to improve student performance.

    Ask Reynoldsburg Superintendent Steve Dackin what’s behind the innovation in his district, and he’ll point to a set of beliefs shared by the school board, teachers and administrators.

    “You have to continue searching for what’s going to work for all kids,” he said.

    At Reynoldsburg, that has meant funneling resources to the classroom and giving educators the freedom to take risks, while rewarding them for their successes and holding those who aren’t successful accountable.

    “It’s really about having an unrelenting focus on results,” he said.

    The district continues to break new academic ground in the state and nation with its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) efforts, its initiatives to boost college and career readiness and, most recently, its plan to use data analytics to personalize student learning, officials say.

    Preliminary results on this year’s state report card affirm the schools’ work: The district earned an A-plus, its highest grade ever.

    And Reynoldsburg has done it with a bare-bones central office. The district doesn’t have positions most districts have, such an assistant superintendent or an administrator who oversees curriculum. It is operating with fewer teachers and less money now than in 2006. At the same time, its student body has become more diverse and more impoverished.

    How did Reynoldsburg do it? Dackin points to several things:

  • Principals have complete autonomy in their buildings, he said. They are responsible for staffing, managing the budget and overseeing curriculum. They are expected to know the names of all their students and should know at least one family member. They have to monitor students’ progress and meet with Dackin each month to discuss plans to help those who are struggling and those who need to be challenged.

    Principals are encouraged to think outside the box but prove that their efforts will benefit students.

    “When you think about strategic risk-taking … it’s one of the most progressive practices employed anywhere,” said Bart Anderson, superintendent for the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

    If students don’t make gains, Dackin will hold principals accountable.

    “I’m not patient,” he said. “I removed six principals in five years.”

  • District leaders have a collaborative relationship with the employee unions, both of which have agreed to contracts that have helped curb costs and allow the district to be innovative.

    For example, many teacher contracts stipulate that teachers can be reassigned based only on seniority. Reynoldsburg’s pact, however, doesn’t have that language and, as a result, allowed Hannah Ashton Middle School to match students to teachers who best serve their ability.

    “As teachers, we’re constantly looking for what’s going to work the best for the students,” said David Schottner, president of the Reynoldsburg Education Association. “If there a way to access new innovation and be team players for the sake of our students, we’re certainly going to do that.”

    Stable leadership in the superintendent’s office and on the school board has allowed the district to maintain its mission, Dackin said. Former Superintendent Richard Ross spent about 20 years at the helm before Dackin was hired.

    Both are strong advocates of choice. Beyond sponsoring four charter schools, the district also allows students to decide whether to attend a traditional neighborhood school or a STEM elementary or middle school. High-school students can choose one of four career-based academies.

    “Reynoldsburg has always had a sense of innovation,” Anderson said. “They are not afraid to try something before they’ve got the belief that it’s going to be perfectly implemented.”


    For various reasons, some individuals are not capable of higher education at university and indeed many high-wage middle class jobs do not require a four-year degree. The middle class would expand through apprenticeships or other paid training offered by employers.

    Surprising jobs with $100K salaries — after only a two-year degree

    Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor | February 11, 2013

    Think of some typical jobs that pay six-figure salaries, and you likely imagine careers that require four-year college degrees (if not four years plus advanced degrees). The common perception is that a traditional university degree is the only path to financial security and wealth for the average person.

    But that’s not necessarily true. While some fields require that you have a four-year degree just to get a job interview, there are many other high-earning careers in which typical professionals have two-year degrees — often known as associate’s degrees. According to the compensation experts at PayScale.com, here are five of those fields in which the top 10 percent earn more than $100,000 a year.*

    1. Executive Pastry Chef (90th Percentile Pay: $102,000; Median Pay: $45,100)

    Talk about the sweet life. Executive pastry chefs work at exotic resorts, on cruise ships and for luxury hotels. They’re also found in fine restaurants, specialty patisseries, and the homes of the famous and powerful (including the White House) — anyplace where there’s a need to create delicious, beautiful baked goods on a large scale.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), formal training for chefs can take place at a community college, technical school or culinary school, and two-year degrees are common. Pastry chefs with little formal education can still advance through the ranks to lead a staff. A growing number of chefs participate in training and/or certification programs sponsored by independent cooking schools and organizations; many large hotel and restaurant chains operate their own training programs as well.

    2. Master Plumber (90th Percentile Pay: $102,000; Median Pay: $60,000)

    As long as we want running water in our homes and business, plumbers will be in demand — job-outlook forecasts for plumbers are usually very favorable. Whether they work as sole entrepreneurs or for larger companies, plumbers typically spend their time installing and repairing water, waste-disposal, drainage and gas systems and related appliances.

    There are many paths to becoming a master plumber, but a common one is through a term of apprenticeship to another master plumber. According to the BLS, most plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters get their training in jointly administered apprenticeships or in technical schools and community colleges. Most states require that plumbers be licensed; licensing requirements vary, but most localities require workers to have a minimum of two years of experience and pass an examination on the trade and local plumbing codes.

    3. Radiation Therapist (90th Percentile Pay: $104,000; Median Pay: $77,100)

    Healthcare is commonly cited as an industry with high long-term growth potential, and healthcare jobs can be very rewarding for people who want to help others. Radiation therapists operate machines that help oncology teams diagnose and treat cancer. They work in hospitals or cancer-treatment centers, and unlike many people who work in healthcare, they normally work only during the day.

    The BLS reports that professionals in this field generally complete an educational program in radiation therapy or radiography — many of these are two-year programs that include courses on human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, precalculus, writing, public speaking, computer science and research methodology. In 2009, there were 102 accredited radiation-therapy programs in the US, according to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

    4. Intensive-Care Unit Nurse (90th Percentile Pay: $107,000; Median Pay: $71,100)

    Some nursing specialties require more training and education than others. However, PayScale.com reports that the typical intensive-care unit (ICU) nurse holds an associate’s degree in nursing. ICU nurses are critical-care nurses, according to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). In working with critically ill or injured patients, all critical-care nurses serve as patient advocates “responsible for respecting and supporting the basic values, rights and beliefs of a critically ill patient,” the AACN says.

    The BLS predicts that future job prospects for registered nurses will be excellent; currently, many employers report difficulty attracting and retaining an adequate number of Rns.

    5. Sheet-Metal Worker (90th Percentile Pay: $122,000; Median Pay: $63,100

    These workers make, install and maintain a wide variety of products made from metal sheets — heating and air-conditioning duct systems, roofs, siding, downspouts, restaurant equipment, railroad cars, precision equipment and much more. They do both construction-related work and mass production of sheet-metal products in manufacturing.

    Besides having mathematical aptitude, sheet-metal workers need to be in good physical condition and have good hand-eye coordination. (Compared with other skilled-labor jobs, there is a relatively high risk of injury in this profession). According to the BLS, sheet-metal workers learn their trade through both apprenticeships and informal on-the-job training programs. Apprenticeships are more likely to be found in construction.


    San Jacinto College ramps up maritime programs to meet demand


    General Motors to open tech center in Roswell, Ga.


    Ford, others step up hiring to meet demand


    The costs of rising economic inequality

    By Steven Pearlstein

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010; 2:51 AM

    Although much of the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” is given over to a discussion of economic issues, there is one topic that is never mentioned: the dramatic rise in income inequality. As with global warming, Republicans seem to have decided that the best way to deal with this fundamental challenge is to deny it exists.

    If you asked Americans how much of the nation’s pretax income goes to the top 10 percent of households, it is unlikely they would come anywhere close to 50 percent, which is where it was just before the bubble burst in 2007. That’s according to groundbreaking research by economists Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, and Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California at Berkeley, who last week won one of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants.

    It wasn’t always that way. From World War II until 1976, considered by many as the “golden years” for the U.S. economy, the top 10 percent of the population took home less than a third of the income generated by the private economy. But since then, according to Saez and Piketty, virtually all of the benefits of economic growth have gone to households that, in today’s terms, earn more than $110,000 a year.

    Even within that top “decile,” the distribution is remarkably skewed. By 2007, the top 1 percent of households took home 23 percent of the national income after a 15-year run in which they captured more than half – yes, you read that right, more than half – of the country’s economic growth. As Tim Noah noted recently in a wonderful series of articles in Slate, that’s the kind of income distribution you’d associate with a banana republic or a sub-Saharan kleptocracy, not the world’s oldest democracy and wealthiest market economy.

    In trying to figuring out who or what is responsible for rising inequality, there are lots of suspects. Globalization is certainly one, in the form of increased flows of people, goods and capital across borders. So is technological change, which has skewed the demand for labor in favor of workers with higher education without a corresponding increase in the supply of such workers. There are a number of other culprits that come under the heading of what economists call “institutional” changes – the decline of unions, industry deregulation and the increased power of financial markets over corporate behavior. Over time, more industries have developed the kind of superstar pay structures that were long associated with Hollywood and professional sports.

    And then there is my favorite culprit: changing social norms around the issue of how much inequality is socially acceptable.

    Economists spend a lot of time trying to quantify precisely how much responsibility to assign to each of these, but in truth the death of equality is much like Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”: They all did it.

    There are moral and political reasons for caring about this dramatic skewing of income, which in the real world leads to a similar skewing of opportunity, social standing and political power. But there is also an important economic reason: Too much inequality, just like too little, appears to reduce global competitiveness and long-term growth, at least in developed countries like ours.

    We know from recent experience, for example, that financial bubbles reduce equality by siphoning off a disproportionate share of national income to Wall Street’s highly-paid bankers and traders. What may be less obvious, but not less important, is that the causality also works the other way: Too much inequality can lead to financial bubbles.

    The liberal version of this argument comes from former Labor secretary Robert Reich in his new book, “Aftershock.” Because so much of the nation’s income is siphoned off to the super-rich, Reich says, a struggling middle class trying to maintain its standard of living had no choice but to take on more and more debt. I have some problem with the argument that the middle class had no choice, but it’s certainly true that the middle class and the economy as a whole would be in better shape today if households weren’t burdened with so much debt.

    The more conservative version of this argument comes from University of Chicago economist Raghuram Rajan. In his new book, “Fault Lines,” Rajan argues that in order to respond to the stagnant incomes of their constituents, politicians took a number of steps to keep the “American Dream” within reach, including subsidization of home mortgages and college loans. He might have added that politicians also were quick to cut taxes for the middle class even when it meant running up the national debt to pay for popular entitlement programs and government services.

    Concentrating so much income in a relatively small number of households has also led to trillions of dollars being spent and invested in ways that were spectacularly unproductive. In recent decades, the rich have used their winnings to bid up the prices of artwork and fancy cars, the tuition at prestigious private schools and universities, the services of celebrity hairdressers and interior decorators, and real estate in fashionable enclaves from Park City to Park Avenue. And what wasn’t misspent was largely misinvested in hedge funds and private equity vehicles that played a pivotal role in inflating a series of speculative financial bubbles, from the junk bond bubble of the ’80s to the tech and telecom bubble of the ’90s to the credit bubble of the past decade.

    The biggest problem with runaway inequality, however, is that it undermines the unity of purpose necessary for any firm, or any nation, to thrive. People don’t work hard, take risks and make sacrifices if they think the rewards will all flow to others. Conservative Republicans use this argument all the time in trying to justify lower tax rates for wealthy earners and investors, but they chose to ignore it when it comes to the incomes of everyone else.

    It’s no coincidence that polarization of income distribution in the United States coincides with a polarization of the political process. Just as income inequality has eroded any sense that we are all in this together, it has also eroded the political consensus necessary for effective government. There can be no better proof of that proposition than the current election cycle, in which the last of the moderates are being driven from the political process and the most likely prospect is for years of ideological warfare and political gridlock.

    Political candidates may not be talking about income inequality during this election, but it is the unspoken issue that underlies all the others. Without a sense of shared prosperity, there can be no prosperity. And given the realities of global capitalism, with its booms and busts and winner-take-all dynamic, that will require more government involvement in the economy, not less.


    The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import

    Competition in the United States


    The jobs numbers: never mind the quantity, check the quality

    Behind modest jobs growth, the real story is full-time jobs with good benefits are still disappearing. America’s going part-time

    Technology taking toll on work force

    Many middle-class jobs gone for good


    A robot paints brake drums at Webb Wheel Products in Cullman, Ala. Despite no new workers in three years, production is up 25 percent.

    By Bernard Condon Associated Press
    Paul Wiseman Associated Press
    Sunday January 27, 2013 11:45 AM

    NEW YORK — Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over.

    Even worse, most of the jobs never will return, and millions more likely will vanish, labor experts say. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.

    They’re being obliterated by technology.

    Year after year, the software that runs computers and other machines and devices becomes more sophisticated and powerful and capable of doing more efficiently many tasks that people always have done. For decades, science fiction warned of a time when we would be architects of our own obsolescence, replaced by our machines; an Associated Press analysis finds that time has arrived.

    “The jobs that are going away aren’t coming back,” says Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of Race Against the Machine. ‘‘I have never seen a period where computers demonstrated as many skills and abilities as they have over the past seven years.”

    The global economy is being reshaped by machines that generate and analyze vast amounts of data; by devices such as smartphones and tablet computers that let people work just about anywhere; by smarter, nimbler robots; and by services that let businesses rent computing power when they need it, instead of installing expensive equipment and hiring IT staffs to run it. Whole employment categories are disappearing.

    “There’s no sector of the economy that’s going to get a pass,” says Martin Ford, who runs a software company and wrote The Lights in the Tunnel, a book predicting widespread job losses. “It’s everywhere.”

    The numbers startle even labor economists. In the United States, half of the 7.5 million jobs lost during the Great Recession paid middle-class wages, ranging from $37,000 to $68,000. But only 2 percent of the 3.5 million jobs gained since the recession ended in June 2009 are midpay. Nearly 70 percent are low-paying jobs; 29 percent pay well.

    In the 17 European countries that use the euro, the numbers are even worse. Almost 4.3 million low-pay jobs have been gained since mid-2009, but the loss of midpay jobs has not stopped. A total of 7.6 million disappeared from January 2008 through this past June.

    Experts warn that this “hollowing out” of the middle-class work force is far from over. They predict the loss of millions more jobs as technology becomes even more sophisticated. Maarten Goos, an economist at the University of Leuven in Belgium, says Europe could double its middle-class job losses.

    Some occupations are beneficiaries of the march of technology, such as software engineers and app designers for smartphones and tablet computers. But, overall, technology is eliminating far more jobs than it’s creating.

    To understand the impact technology is having on middle-class jobs in developed countries, the AP analyzed employment data from 20 countries; tracked changes in hiring by industry, pay and task; compared job losses and gains during recessions and expansions over the past four decades; and interviewed economists, technology experts, robot manufacturers, software developers, entrepreneurs and people in the labor force who ranged from CEOs to the unemployed.

    The key findings:

  • During the past 50 years, technology has drastically reduced the number of manufacturing jobs. Robots and other machines controlled by computer programs work faster and make fewer mistakes than humans. Now, that same efficiency is being unleashed in the service economy, which employs more than 80 percent of the work force in developed countries. Technology is eliminating jobs in office buildings, retail establishments and other businesses that consumers deal with every day.
  • Technology is being adopted by every kind of organization that employs people. It’s replacing workers in large corporations and small businesses, established companies and start-ups. It’s being used by schools, colleges and universities; hospitals and other medical facilities; nonprofit organizations and the military.
  • The most-vulnerable workers are doing repetitive tasks that programmers can write software for — an accountant checking a list of numbers, an office manager filing forms, a paralegal reviewing documents for key words to help in a case. As software becomes even more sophisticated, victims are expected to include those who juggle tasks, such as supervisors and managers — workers who thought they were protected by a college degree.
  • Thanks to technology, companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index reported one-third more profit the past year than they earned the year before the Great Recession. They’ve also expanded their businesses, but total employment, at 21.1 million, has declined by a half-million.
  • Start-ups account for most of the job growth in developed economies but, thanks to software, entrepreneurs are launching businesses with a third fewer employees than in the 1990s. There is less need for administrative support and back-office jobs that handle accounting, payroll and benefits.
  • It’s becoming a self-serve world. Instead of relying on someone else in the workplace or our personal lives, we use technology to do tasks ourselves.
  • Technology is replacing workers in developed countries regardless of their politics, policies and laws. Union rules and labor laws might slow the dismissal of employees, but no country is attempting to prohibit organizations from using technology that allows them to operate more efficiently — and with fewer employees.

    The lingering pain of the Great Recession is not entirely a result of technology’s advances. Other factors are keeping companies from hiring — partisan gridlock in the United States, for example, and the debt crisis in Europe, which has led to deep government spending cuts.

    In the United States, the economic recovery that started in June 2009 has been called the third straight “jobless recovery.” But that’s a misnomer. The jobs came back after the first two.

    Most recessions since World War II were followed by a surge in new jobs as consumers started spending again and companies hired to meet new demands. In the months after recessions ended in 1991 and 2001, there was no familiar snap-back, but all the jobs had returned in less than three years.

    But 42 months after the Great Recession ended, the United States has gained only 3.4 million, or 45 percent, of the 7.5 million jobs that were lost. The 17 countries that use the euro had 3.5 million fewer jobs last June than in December 2007.

    This truly has been a jobless recovery, and the lack of midpay jobs is almost entirely to blame.

    Fifty percent of the U.S. jobs lost were in midpay industries, but Moody’s Analytics, a research firm, says just 2 percent of the 3.4 million jobs gained are in that category. After the four previous recessions, at least 30 percent of jobs created — and as many as 46 percent — were in midpay industries.

    Others studies that group jobs differently show a similar drop in middle-class work.

    Some of the most-startling studies have focused on midskill, midpay jobs that require tasks that follow well-defined procedures and are repeated throughout the day. Think travel agents, salespeople in stores, office assistants and back-office workers like benefits managers and payroll clerks, as well as machine operators and other factory jobs. An August 2012 paper by economists Henry Siu of the University of British Columbia and Nir Jaimovich of Duke University found that these kinds of jobs comprise fewer than half of all jobs, yet accounted for nine of 10 of all losses in the Great Recession. And they have kept disappearing in the economic recovery.

    Webb Wheel Products makes parts for truck brakes, which involves plenty of repetitive work. Its newest employee is the Doosan V550M. It can drill holes on both sides of a 130-pound brake drum without missing a beat, and it doesn’t take vacations or “complain about anything,” says Dwayne Ricketts, president of the Cullman, Ala., company.

    Webb Wheel hasn’t added a factory worker in three years, though it’s making 300,000 more drums annually, a 25 percent increase.

    “Everyone is waiting for the unemployment rate to drop, but I don’t know if it will much,” Ricketts says. “Companies in the recession learned to be more efficient, and they’re not going to go back.”

    In Europe, companies couldn’t go back even if they wanted to. The 17 countries that use the euro slipped into another recession 14 months ago, in November 2011. The current unemployment rate is a record 11.8 percent.

    European companies had been using technology to replace midpay workers for years, and now that has accelerated.

    “The recessions have amplified the trend,” says Goos. “New jobs are being created, but not the middle-pay ones.”

    Developing economies have been spared the technological onslaught — for now. Countries like Brazil and China still are growing middle-class jobs because they’re shifting from export-driven to consumer-based economies. But even they are beginning to use more machines in manufacturing.

    One example is Sunbird Engineering, a Hong Kong firm that makes mirror frames for heavy trucks at a factory in southern China. Salaries at its plant in Dongguan have nearly tripled from $80 a month in 2005 to $225 today. “Automation is the obvious next step,” says Bill Pike, the company’s managing director.

    “By automating, we can outlive the labor-cost increases inevitable in China,” Pike says. “Those who automate in China will win the battle of increased costs.”

    Candidates for U.S. president last year never tired of telling Americans how jobs were being shipped overseas. But many jobs cut in the United States and Europe weren’t moved. They vanished. “ It doesn’t have political appeal to say the reason we have a problem is we’re so successful in technology,” says Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University. “There’s no enemy there.”

    What hope is there for the future?

    Historically, new companies and new industries have been the incubator of new jobs. Start-up companies no more than 5 years old are big sources of jobs in developed economies. In the United States, they accounted for 99 percent of new private-sector jobs in 2005, according to a study by the University of Maryland’s John Haltiwanger and two other economists.

    But even these companies are hiring fewer people. The average new business employed 4.7 workers when it opened its doors in 2011, down from 7.6 in the 1990s, according to a Labor Department study released last March.

    Technology probably is to blame, wrote the report’s authors, Eleanor Choi and James Spletzer. Entrepreneurs no longer need people to do clerical and administrative tasks to help them get their businesses off the ground.


    Best-Paying College Majors Are Mostly In Engineering: Forbes List

    Undeclared students may want to take another look at engineering, according to a new survey.


    Graduation, dropout rates are improving

    Fewer students dropped out of high school in 2009-10 than the previous year, and more students overall graduated.

    That’s according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.


    Public School Graduates and

    Dropouts from the Common Core of

    Data: School Year 2009–10


    Degrees Employers Hate And Love


    Job seekers line up at a job fair last week in New York City. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.


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    Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor
    Most low-income students who have top test scores and grades do not even apply to the nation’s best colleges, according to www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/education/scholarly-poor-often-overlook-better-colleges.html

    About Jerry Frey

    Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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