Friday, August 14, 2015

U.S. Wages Have Fallen EVERY Quarter of the 'Recovery'

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For 6 ½ long years, we have been bombarded with the mythology known as “the U.S. economic recovery” by the mainstream media. Exposing this fantasy is simple, since the gulf between myth and reality has grown to such absurd proportions.
There is no better starting point than the farcical claim by Barack Obama that “10 million new jobs” have been created during this non-existent recovery. In fact, the U.S. government’s own numbers show that thetotal number of employed Americans has fallen by more than 3 million over that span, in spite of the population growth over those past 6 ½ years.

The chart above is now somewhat dated, as the St Louis Fed has deliberately changed the format of this chart in order to make it harder to reproduce. Updated, the U.S. civilian participation rate has now fallen to a 36-year low, and as the chart clearly shows, it has fallen at a faster rate since the start of this mythical recovery.
The lie: “10 million new jobs created”. The fact: more than 3 million jobs lost. This is a reality-gap of 13 million jobs, or exactly 2 million jobs per year. The U.S. economy hasn’t been “creating” 1.5 million new jobs per year. It’s been losing roughly ½ million jobs every year of this fantasy-recovery.
Then we have the “heartbeat” of the U.S. economy, its velocity of money. A chart of this heartbeat shows that it has plummeted far lower than at any other time in the 56-year history of this data series. This doesn’t merely show a dying economy, it shows a dead economy.

As for the supposed “GDP growth” over this 6 ½ year span, falsifying this statistic requires nothing more than lying about the rate of inflation. Here again, the lie is obvious. The U.S. (and other Western governments) pretend that inflation is near-zero, while in the real world, food and housing prices have been soaring at the fastest rate in our lifetime over the past 10 – 15 years.
Then we have U.S. energy consumption. Again the picture is clear. Overall U.S. energy consumption peaked in 2007 and has been falling since then, while official gasoline consumption has been plummeting for several years. Growing economies use more energy. Shrinking economies use less energy. Case closed.
All this is old news to regular readers, however. What has been less easy to document in any sort of definitive way has been the fall in U.S. wages. The problem is that to express wages meaningfully, we must use “real dollars”, i.e. we must adjust these wages for inflation. With the U.S. government only providingnominal data about U.S. wages, and consistently lying about the actual inflation rate; we have lacked the data to make any conclusive statement.
A recent boast by the U.S. government/Corporate media (i.e. another false claim) has now provided us with a clearer picture here, going back to the beginning of this imaginary recovery. In trying to downplay the absence of any wage-growth in the U.S. in Q2 of this year; the propaganda machine made this claim:
That is down from a 2.6 percent increase in the first quarter [of 2015], which was the biggest in 6 ½ years. [emphasis mine]
The claim is that nominal wages in the U.S. rose at the fastest rate “in 6 ½ years” in the first quarter of 2015, i.e. the highest rate during the entire pseudo-recovery. Now let’s discount that number with the (real) rate of inflation, in order to get a real-dollar number for U.S. wages.
A recent commentary pegged U.S. inflation at a conservative level of 12% per year. That number is substantially higher for the Working Poor (and poor), who now comprise the majority of nearly all Western societies. Translating that to a quarterly number (i.e. dividing it by four), we get a quarterly inflation-rate in the U.S. of 3% -- significantly higher than the supposed “growth” in wages of 2.6%.
Thus the U.S. government itself has now provided us with a definitive picture on U.S. wages. During Q1 of this year, the high-water mark for U.S. wage “growth” during the entire Recovery; U.S. wages were still falling. Ipso facto, U.S. wages have been falling every quarter of this recovery.
Now we begin to see the whole truth in the U.S. labour market, versus the absurd, official claim of lots of “new jobs” and “rising wages”. U.S. employment has been falling, not rising, every quarter, every year. U.S. wages have been falling, not rising, every quarter, every year. But that picture is still incomplete.
The total number of hours worked by the Working Poor is also falling, and in 18 out of 20 of the U.S.’s industrial sectors, total number of hours worked is still lower than during the so-called Great Recession. This is also reflected in the fall in the percentage of full-time employees.
To summarize: since the beginning of the imaginary U.S. economic recovery, there are millions fewer Americans who are now employed. Their wages have been falling for every quarter of the “recovery”, and they are also working fewer hours. Growing economies create more jobs; shrinking economies lose jobs. Strong economies have rising (real) wages; weak economies have falling wages. Once again we see the supposed U.S. recovery is pure mythology.
However, with respect to the destruction of the U.S. standard of living, to truly appreciate what has been done to the U.S. population (and the populations of nearly all of the Corrupt West), we must look at the picture over a much longer term. In the 40 years before the beginning of this imaginary recovery, the wages of the Average American fell by roughly 50% (in real dollars).
Now the descent of the majority of the U.S. population to Third World status becomes crystal clear. From 1970 to the beginning of 2009 (i.e. the current “recovery”), U.S. wages fell roughly 50%. Then came the mythical Recovery, and U.S. wages have continued to fall, quarter after quarter after quarter. The Great Recovery has been worse than the Great Recession which came before it.
What do we call it when a nation experiences a “great recession”, and then the economy continues to crumble at an even faster rate after that, year after year? We call it a Greater Depression.
Shrinking economy. Losing jobs. Falling wages. Declining energy consumption. No “heartbeat”. Has anything been left out, in describing this U.S. economic Armageddon? Certainly.
The U.S. government is obviously bankrupt. The U.S. dollar is obviously worthless. The U.S. economy has been run completely into the ground. When the current, assorted bubbles are deliberately popped (almost certainly in 2016, or late-2015), and Old-Man Buffett goes on a massive shopping spree with the $60+ billion he is now currently hoarding; there will be nothing left but economic rubble. And Milton Friedman will be smiling, from (way) down in his final, resting place.

Fukushima - Selling Out the Next Generation

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Japan has restarted its first nuclear reactor to generate power since 2013.
And that's really bad news.
Remember what happened in 2013? Why Japan closed all of its reactors abruptly and why we're still tracing the spread of radioactive material across our Pacific Coast and into the atmosphere?
First there was an earthquake that did significant damage to that island country - and then a tsunami quickly followed.
And what happened next was the largest nuclear meltdown in the history of the world and the evacuation of 160,000 locals who lived in the area of the Fukushima power plant.
We know now that TEPCO - the owner of the Fukushima plant - had been warned years earlier about the dangers of an earthquake and a tsunami hitting the plant.
No one did anything about it then - but even if they had - do we have any reason to believe it would have been enough?
Because that's the gamble that the Japanese nuclear industry is making with all of our futures right now.
The simple fact about nuclear power generation is that the risks and the costs dramatically outweigh any benefit.
We've seen some of the risks - in Chernobyl we saw how human error can cause a meltdown.
In the Three Mile Island incident we saw how the private corporations aren't afraid to cut corners to pad their bottom line - even if that risks a partial nuclear meltdown.
And in Fukushima we saw what happens when corporate negligence meets a natural disaster.
Considering nuclear power's track record and the staggering risks involved, it's amazing that anyone will insure the projects. The simple fact is that without government backing, like the Price-Anderson Act here in the US, nuclear power would be impossible, because no private insurance company will cover it.
And to add insult to injury, nuclear power is actually NOT an "alternative energy" source - it's an incredibly fossil-fuel-intensive process.
We can start with how much cement is required to contain and protect the reactors and other sensitive parts of the plants.
Cement and concrete are hugely greenhouse gas intensive to produce - and the only way we know how to protect our power plants is to use more concrete.
Beyond that, the size of the projects require tons of truckloads of materials being hauled in and away, adding to the toll of carbon costs.
Even if we just look at the material inputs used in nuclear power (it is carbon-intensive to mine uranium, and it is carbon intensive to enrich the uranium), we still don't know what to do with the nuclear waste.
The reality is that there are economically viable and truly clean energy alternatives: geothermal, solar, wind and tidal wave power are all options for Japan, for example.
And they're options that have none of the risks and none of the costs associated with enriched radioactive material.
And bringing those renewable options online isn't nearly as costly in terms of carbon as it is to bring a nuclear power plant online.
The reality is - the only reason anyone wants to bring these power plants back online is that when for-profit companies like TEPCO run nuclear power with massive government subsidies and insurance, it can be hugely profitable.
Nuclear is not a bridge fuel - it is not a clean alternative - and it can't be our future.
In the 1940s scientists marveled at the idea of using fission to safely create large amounts of energy indefinitely, and they were wrong.
The only reason we're clinging to that fantasy today is that the for-profit nuclear owners - think Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons - don't care about the costs of nuclear power to society.
They'll happily sell the future of life on Earth - just to make a buck today.
Which is why both Japan and the United States should "just say no" to nuclear power.

Don’t Be Fooled by the Political Game: The Illusion of Freedom in America

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“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.”—Journalist Lewis Lapham
Being a citizen in the American corporate state is much like playing against a stacked deck: you’re always going to lose.
The game is rigged, and “we the people” keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, most stay in the game, against all odds, trusting that their luck will change.
The problem, of course, is that luck will not save us. As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the people dealing the cards—the politicians, the corporations, the judges, the prosecutors, the police, the bureaucrats, the military, the media, etc.—have only one prevailing concern, and that is to maintain their power and control over the citizenry, while milking us of our money and possessions.
It really doesn’t matter what you call them—Republicans, Democrats, the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that while they are dealing the cards, the deck will always be stacked in their favor.
Incredibly, no matter how many times we see this played out, Americans continue to naively buy into the idea that politics matter, as if there really were a difference between the Republicans and Democrats (there’s not).
As if Barack Obama proved to be any different from George W. Bush (he has not). As if Hillary Clinton’s values are any different from Donald Trump’s (with both of them, money talks). As if when we elect a president, we’re getting someone who truly represents “we the people” rather than the corporate state (in fact, in the oligarchy that is the American police state, an elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots).
Politics is a game, a joke, a hustle, a con, a distraction, a spectacle, a sport, and for many devout Americans, a religion.
In other words, it’s a sophisticated ruse aimed at keeping us divided and fighting over two parties whose priorities are exactly the same. It’s no secret that both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty.
Most of all, both parties enjoy an intimate, incestuous history with each other and with the moneyed elite that rule this country. Don’t be fooled by the smear campaigns and name-calling. They’re just useful tactics of thepsychology of hate that has been proven to engage voters and increase voter turnout while keeping us at each other’s throats.
Despite the jabs the candidates volley at each other for the benefit of the cameras, they’re a relatively chummy bunch away from the spotlight, presenting each other with awards (remember when Jeb Bush presented Hillary Clinton with a Liberty Medal for her service to the country), attending each other’s weddings (Bill and Hillary hadfront-row seats for Trump’s 2005 wedding), and embracing with genuine affection.
Trump’s various donations to the Clintons (he donated to Hillary’s Senate campaigns, as well as the Clinton Foundation) are not unusual. Remember, FOX News mogul Rupert Murdoch actually hosted a fundraiser for Hillary’s Senate reelection campaign back in 2006 and contributed to her presidential campaign two years later. In fact, FOX News has reportedly been one of Hillary’s biggest donors for the better part of two decades.
Are you starting to get the picture? It doesn’t matter who wins the White House, because they all work for the same boss: Corporate America. In fact, many corporations actually hedge their bets on who will win the White House by splitting their donations between Democratic and Republican candidates.
We’re in trouble, folks, and picking a new president won’t save us.
We are living in a fantasy world carefully crafted to resemble a representative democracy. It used to be that the cogs, wheels and gear shifts in our government machinery worked to keep our republic running smoothly. However, without our fully realizing it, the mechanism has changed. Its purpose is no longer to keep our republic running smoothly. To the contrary, this particular contraption’s purpose is to keep the corporate police state in power. Its various parts are already a corrupt part of the whole.
Just consider how insidious, incestuous and beholden to the corporate elite the various “parts” of the mechanism have become.
Congress. Perhaps the most notorious offenders and most obvious culprits in the creation of the corporate-state, Congress has proven itself to be both inept and avaricious, oblivious champions of an authoritarian system that is systematically dismantling their constituents’ fundamental rights. Long before they’re elected, Congressmen are trained to dance to the tune of their wealthy benefactors, so much so that they spend two-thirds of their time in office raising money. As Reuters reports, “For many lawmakers, the daily routine in Washington involves fundraising as much as legislating. The culture of nonstop political campaigning shapes the rhythms of daily life in Congress, as well as the landscape around the Capitol. It also means that lawmakers often spend more time listening to the concerns of the wealthy than anyone else.”
The President. With the 2016 presidential election shaping up to be the most expensive one in our nation’s history, with estimates as high as $10 billion, “the way is open for an orgy of spending by well-heeled interest groups and super rich individuals on both political sides.” Yet even after the votes have been counted and favors tallied, the work of buying and selling access to the White House is far from over. President Obama spends significant amounts of time hosting and attending fundraisers, having held more than 400 fundraising events over the course of his two terms in office. Such access comes with a steep price tag. It used to be that $100,000 got you an overnight stay at the White House. Now it will cost you $500,000 for four meetings a year with President Obama. Yet as Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig asks, “[H]ow does a man, as a person, run the nation when he’s attending 228 fundraisers? And the answer is not very well. It's pretty terrible for your ability to do your job. It's pretty terrible for your ability to be responsive to the American people, because—let me tell you—the American people are not attending 228 fundraisers. Those people are different.”
The Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court—once the last refuge of justice, the one governmental body really capable of rolling back the slowly emerging tyranny enveloping America—has instead become the champion of the American police state, absolving government and corporate officials of their crimes while relentlessly punishing the average American for exercising his or her rights. Like the rest of the government, the Court has routinely prioritized profit, security, and convenience over the basic rights of the citizenry. Indeed, law professor Erwin Chemerinsky makes a compelling case that the Supreme Court, whose “justices have overwhelmingly come from positions of privilege,” almost unerringly throughout its history, sides with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful. For example, contrast the Court’s affirmation of the “free speech” rights of corporations and wealthy donors in McCutcheon v. FEC, which does away with established limits on the number of candidates an entity can support with campaign contributions, and Citizens United v. FEC with its tendency to deny those same rights to average Americans when government interests abound, and you’ll find a noticeable disparity.
The Media. Of course, this triumvirate of total control would be completely ineffective without a propaganda machine provided by the world’s largest corporations. Besides shoving drivel down our throats at every possible moment, the so-called news agencies which are supposed to act as bulwarks against government propaganda have instead become the mouthpieces of the state. The pundits which pollute our airwaves are at best court jesters and at worst propagandists for the false reality created by the American government.
The American People. “We the people” now belong to a permanent underclass in America. It doesn’t matter what you call us—chattel, slaves, worker bees, drones, it’s all the same—what matters is that we are expected to march in lockstep with and submit to the will of the state in all matters, public and private. Through our complicity in matters large and small, we have allowed an out-of-control corporate-state apparatus to take over every element of American society.
Our failure to remain informed about what is taking place in our government, to know and exercise our rights, to vocally protest, to demand accountability on the part of our government representatives, and at a minimum to care about the plight of our fellow Americans has been our downfall.
Now we find ourselves once again caught up in the spectacle of another presidential election, and once again the majority of Americans are acting as if this election will make a difference and bring about change—as if the new boss will be different from the old boss.
The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.
They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork…. It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club. ...The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice…. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on…. It’s called the American Dream, 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it.

Amerika 2015: 1984 Meets the Body Snatchers

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Two novels made into films are a must read: George Orwell's 1984 and Jack Finney's Body Snatchers . Both of these stories, in ironically similar and differing ways, hypothesized how life would be under totalitarian regimes. Another irony is that, when written, these novels were focusing on communism in the Soviet Union. Well, things have certainly changed haven't they? 1984 is a mirror into how far our empire has fallen from a so called democratic republic into the militaristic and propagandized corporate police state similar in many ways to Orwell's Oceania. Meanwhile, as our empire tramps around in countless countries with our jackboot military presence and collateral damage, our citizenry here becomes more and more mesmerized by commercialism and the narcotic of tasteless and meaningless media. Finney's Body Snatchers pods have landed and consumed our populace with dreams of having more and more things! As to the real world around us, our fellow Amerikans drink the Kool-Aid of complacency, caring not for phony wars, obscene military spending, corporate strangling of working stiffs AKA ' The Middle Class ' ( another Orwellian purposeful misuse of language) and a Two Party ' One Party ' diversionary political tactic. Now, all this 'success in empire' could never be achieved without one necessary orchestration: the dumbing down of the populace. Sometime during the 1970s the powers that be made sure that our public education system was retarded by various means. The end result is what we have now: a majority of Amerikans really do not understand history or the actual rights they have. Morris Berman, in his powerful 2004 book Dark Ages America revealed to us just how far we have fallen as a nation. He wrote how, in a ' State of the First Amendment Survey' conducted by the University of Connecticut in 2003, 34% of Americans polled said the First Amendment ' goes too far'; 46% said there was too much freedom of the press; 28% felt that newspapers should not be able to publish articles without the prior approval of the government; 31% wanted public protest of a war to be outlawed during the war. Finally, in other polls three years after 9/11 and after all the news had finally come out about Saddam Hussein having nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, 42% of Amerikans thought that he had a major part in them, and , more frightening, 32% believed that he had personally planned them!

They have even stolen our cherished flag, transforming it into an icon of their lies and false patriotism. They use it as much as possible, especially during most sporting events - usually by sending out the color guard and spreading giant replicas of our flag across the field of play. They do the same for the ' 7th inning stretch' at baseball games, as they pump in ' God Bless America 'over the PA system to ' honor our brave heroes' - when the real heroes are those young men and women who refuse to serve as invaders and occupiers of Iraq & Afghanistan. Or heroes like Chelsea Manning, who risked her whole future to get the news out on what our nation was doing in your name by way of torture and killing of the innocents overseas. As with the craziness in Alice in Wonderland, where ' up is down' and ' in is out' etc, the country that this writer loves is no longer a nation but an empire! As Chris Hedges alludes to in his fine new book Wages of Rebellion, those of us who dissent are labeled as traitors and unpatriotic, suffering, in a positive way, from some sort of sublime madness. Like the main character in Finney's Body Snatchers Dr. Bennell, we who question and then protest the status quo are ultimately ' on the run'... whether figuratively or in actuality. Sad.

Where and more importantly when will we experience the hope and change that Mr. Obama so disingenuously and shrewdly used for his campaign mantra in 2008? Well, since the facts are what they are, and too many of our fellow citizens just don't get it, it is up to we who do get it to keep on speaking ' truth to power' wherever and whenever we can. It is time to forget the petty differences that we who stand against empire have with each other, and focus on... the empire! This word ' empire ' covers lots of ground by the way. It means not only the excessive militaristic mindset, obscene military spending and phony wars and occupations abroad, but it covers the corporate state that is destroying our old fashioned ' Main Street America'. It covers the excessive incomes and fortunes made by not the 1% , but rather the perhaps 1/4 of the 1% of us. It is the mega millionaires and billionaires who are the true adversaries to our republic. Let us join together and demand a pull back of this military empire while also demanding that the super rich get taxed much much more, and the rest of us get taxed that much less. Shall we start there?


Report shows continuing stagnation in US jobs, wages

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The latest jobs report by the US Labor Department has been the subject of mild praise in the corporate media, which has portrayed the figures as an indicator of a slow but steady recovery in the American labor market.
As with previous reports, however, the anemic figures released on Friday actually demonstrate that American workers face continuing economic stagnation.
The economy added only 215,000 new jobs in July, slightly below analysts’ already low expectations. Through the first half of the year, the job market is on pace to grow at a much lower rate than last year, which averaged 246,000 jobs a month.
The added jobs were not enough to affect the official unemployment rate of 5.3 percent. However, it is widely acknowledged that the official unemployment rate is largely fictitious, with the head of the Gallup polling agency going so far as to call it a “Big Lie” earlier this year.
The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, estimated that there were around 3.4 million “missing workers” last month, defined as those who would be looking for work if the job market were better. If these workers are included, the unemployment rate would rise to 7.3 percent. In addition, a large number of people are still underemployed. Some 6.3 million people were classified as “involuntary part-time workers” in July, meaning they worked part-time because they were unable to find full-time jobs.
The main factor in the fall in the unemployment rate is not a growing job market, but a falling labor force participation rate—a measure of the percentage of the population that is actively seeking employment. This remained constant at 62.6 percent in July, its lowest level since 1977. Particularly pronounced is the fall in labor force participation among those in the prime of their working career.
According to the EPI, the employment-population ratio for people aged 25-54 was only 77.1 percent in July. This figure has stagnated or declined since the beginning of the year, following years of extremely slow growth. During the the early 1990s and 2000s, the employment-population ratio for 25-54 year-olds never dropped below 78.1 percent.
The number of people in long-term unemployment, defined as the percentage of the population that has been out of work for 27 weeks or more, remained constant at 2.2 million people in July, or 26.9 percent of all unemployed.
The jobs situation facing young people is especially bleak. The labor force participation for teenagers was only 41.3 percent in July, the lowest level in the post-war period. The official unemployment rate for teenagers was a staggering 16.2 percent.
A defining feature of the American economy seven years after the 2008 collapse is the prevalence of low-wage jobs. Wages grew by only 0.2 percent last month, according to the report. This follows on the heels of a previous report by the Labor Department that found that employment costs in the second quarter of the year rose by only 0.2 percent, the lowest quarterly rise since 1982. Over the past year, wages have only risen by 2.1 percent, barely enough to keep up with inflation.
The increase in employment in July skewed toward the retail industry, which added 36,000 jobs. The median hourly wage for retail salespeople in July was a poverty-level $10.29.
Significantly, the Labor Department statistics show a decline in employment in the mining sector of 5,000 jobs, reflecting a wave of layoffs and bankruptcies due to a collapse in the price of coal and of commodity prices. Last month, the world's fifth-largest mining conglomerate, Anglo American, announced that it would cut 53,000 jobs worldwide in the near future.
What is revealed in these monthly figures is the restructuring of class relations in the United States after the 2008 recession. The economic recovery that officially began in 2009, far from leading to any benefits for American workers, has been largely predicated upon their impoverishment. What remains of the social and economic gains made by American workers after World War II are being systematically dismantled, and the United States converted into a low-wage platform.
Friday’s report was considered especially significant because of its implications for the Federal Reserve’s widely-expected decision to begin raising interest rates sometime later this year. Although the report was slightly below analysts’ expectations, it spooked investors worried by the prospect of the Federal Reserve beginning to turn down the spigot of virtually free money.
This caused a brief sell-off throughout the middle of the day on the stock market. At one point, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by more than 135 points, before closing the day down by 46 points, the seventh day in a row the index had fallen.
The Federal Reserve’s near-zero interest rate policy, far from fueling new investment in productive capital, has encouraged an orgy of the sort of financial speculation by Wall Street firms that produced the 2008 financial crisis in the first place. This is expressed in the boom in share values on the stock market, which have almost tripled since 2009, even as the real economy has stagnated.

The US Economy Continues Its Collapse

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Do you remember when real reporters existed? Those were the days before the Clinton regime concentrated the media into a few hands and turned the media into a Ministry of Propaganda, a tool of Big Brother. The false reality in which Americans live extends into economic life. Last Friday’s employment report was a continuation of a long string of bad news spun into good news. The media repeats two numbers as if they mean something—the monthly payroll jobs gains and the unemployment rate—and ignores the numbers that show the continuing multi-year decline in employment opportunities while the economy is allegedly recovering.

The so-called recovery is based on the U.3 measure of the unemployment rate. This measure does not include any unemployed person who has become discouraged from the inability to find a job and has not looked for a job in four weeks. The U.3 measure of unemployment only includes the still hopeful who think they will find a job.

The government has a second official measure of unemployment, U.6. This measure, seldom reported, includes among the unemployed those who have been discouraged for less than one year. This official measure is double the 5.3% U.3 measure. What does it mean that the unemployment rate is over 10% after six years of alleged economic recovery?

In 1994 the Clinton regime stopped counting long-term discouraged workers as unemployed. Clinton wanted his economy to look better than Reagan’s, so he ceased counting the long-term discouraged workers that were part of Reagan’s unemployment rate. John Williams (shadowstats.com) continues to measure the long-term discouraged with the official methodology of that time, and when these unemployed are included, the US rate of unemployment as of July 2015 is 23%, several times higher than during the recession with which Fed chairman Paul Volcker greeted the Reagan presidency.

An unemployment rate of 23% gives economic recovery a new meaning. It has been eighty-five years since the Great Depression, and the US economy is in economic recovery with an unemployment rate close to that of the Great Depression.

The labor force participation rate has declined over the “recovery” that allegedly began in June 2009 and continues today. This is highly unusual. Normally, as an economy recovers jobs rebound, and people flock into the labor force. Based on what he was told by his economic advisors, President Obama attributed the decline in the participation rate to baby boomers taking retirement. In actual fact, over the so-called recovery, job growth has been primarily among those 55 years of age and older. For example, all of the July payroll jobs gains were accounted for by those 55 and older. Those Americans of prime working age (25 to 54 years old) lost 131,000 jobs in July.

Over the previous year (July 2014 — July 2015), those in the age group 55 and older gained 1,554,000 jobs. Youth, 16-18 and 20-24, lost 887,000 and 489,000 jobs.

Today there are 4,000,000 fewer jobs for Americans aged 25 to 54 than in December 2007. From 2009 to 2013, Americans in this age group were down 6,000,000 jobs. Those years of alleged economic recovery apparently bypassed Americans of prime working age.

As of July 2015, the US has 27,265,000 people with part-time jobs, of whom 6,300,000 or 23% are working part-time because they cannot find full time jobs. There are 7,124,000 Americans who hold multiple part-time jobs in order to make ends meet, an increase of 337,000 from a year ago.

The young cannot form households on the basis of part-time jobs, but retirees take these jobs in order to provide the missing income on their savings from the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy, which is keyed toward supporting the balance sheets of a handful of giant banks, whose executives control the US Treasury and Federal Reserve. With so many manufacturing and tradable professional skill jobs, such as software engineering, offshored to China and India, professional careers are disappearing in the US.
The most lucrative jobs in America involve running Wall Street scams, lobbying for private interest groups, for which former members of the House, Senate, and executive branch are preferred, and producing schemes for the enrichment of think-tank donors, which, masquerading as public policy, can become law.

The claimed payroll jobs for July are in the usual categories familiar to us month after month year after year. They are domestic service jobs—waitresses and bartenders, retail clerks, transportation, warehousing, finance and insurance, health care and social assistance. Nothing to export in order to pay for massive imports. With scant growth in real median family incomes, as savings are drawn down and credit used up, even the sales part of the economy will falter.

Clearly, this is not an economy that has a future.

But you would never know that from listening to the financial media or reading the New York Times business section or the Wall Street Journal.

When I was a Wall Street Journal editor, the deplorable condition of the US economy would have been front page news.

Pentagon manual justifies war crimes and press censorship

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The lead editorial Monday in the New York Times has brought to the attention of the general public the Pentagon’s issuance of a major new document defining rules of conduct on the battlefield for US military personnel and their commanders. The Law of War Manual, a massive 1,165-page document, was published in June, but was initially discussed exclusively in blogs specializing in military law and security policy.
The major US newspapers and television networks, which have full-time Pentagon correspondents and regularly review Pentagon press releases, chose to say nothing about the Law of War Manual, for reasons that become obvious when the content of the document is explored. Nor did they comment initially on the manual’s provisions for journalists until the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement July 31 under the headline, “In times of war, Pentagon reserves right to treat journalists like spies.”
The CPJ statement noted the rising number of journalists imprisoned or killed while covering the actions of armed groups in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa. It attacked the Pentagon document for justifying the treatment of journalists as belligerents or outright spies, who may be detained, imprisoned or even killed at the discretion of battlefield commanders, as well as endorsing blanket military censorship of press reporting.
The CPJ declared, “The Obama administration’s Defense Department appears to have taken the ill-defined practices begun under the Bush administration during the War on Terror and codified them to formally govern the way US military forces treat journalists covering conflicts.”
The continuity between administrations is underscored by the identity of the Law of War Manual’s principal author, Pentagon General Counsel Stephen W. Preston. Before moving to the Department of Defense, Preston was general counsel of the CIA from 2009 to 2012, the period when the agency was ferociously resisting a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into torture at CIA secret “black site” prisons under the Bush administration.
The Times editorial complains about the guidelines for treatment of journalists and pleads with the White House to take action to force their immediate repeal. At the same time, it notes that a spokesman for the National Security Council refused even to say whether the White House had signed off on the manual.
The Times objects to the manual’s claim that “Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying,” and its insistence that journalists must “act openly and with the permission of relevant authorities,” a provision that would make impossible virtually any kind of war reporting other than the state propaganda provided by the notorious “embedded journalists” of the 2003 Iraq invasion.
But the editors give no explanation why the news pages of the Times have never mentioned the Law of War Manual, or why their concern is limited to the two pages of the manual that apply to journalists and not to the bulk of the document, which amounts to a green light for military atrocities including mass killings.
The World Socialist Web Site will examine the 1,165-page Pentagon document more fully in the coming days, but certain preliminary points can be made. The Law of War Manual:
* Declares legitimate the use of nuclear weapons, stating, “There is no general prohibition in treaty or customary international law on the use of nuclear weapons.” Nor is the use of nuclear weapons considered “inherently disproportionate,” even if the target is a military force that does not possess nuclear weapons.
* Authorizes the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, herbicides (such as Agent Orange in Vietnam), laser weapons and riot control agents (tear gas, pepper spray, etc.), as well as depleted uranium munitions.
* Authorizes cluster munitions, mines and booby-traps, noting that “the United States is not a Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”
* Authorizes the use of exploding (hollow-point) bullets, stating that the United States government was not a party to the 1868 St. Petersburg declaration banning their use or the 1899 Declaration on Expanding Bullets.
* Justifies drone missile attacks by both the Pentagon and intelligence agencies such as the CIA, declaring flatly, “There is no prohibition in the law of war on the use of remotely piloted aircraft…”
* Declares that when human rights treaties and the laws of war come into conflict, “these apparent conflicts may be resolved by the principle that the law of war… is the controlling body of law with regard to the conduct of hostilities.”
As pointed out in discussions in specialist journals, the new Law of War Manual redefines the principles set out in the most comprehensive previous such document, issued by the Pentagon in 1956, by declaring that “the main purposes of the law of war are: protecting combatants, noncombatants, and civilians from unnecessary suffering.”
The previous document did not include civilians in the concept of “unnecessary suffering,” not because it permitted greater violence against civilians, but because it assumed that any such violence was prohibited, and that any deliberate targeting of civilians was illegal and a war crime.
The new document seeks to distinguish between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” acts of military violence against civilian targets, using the criterion of military necessity. Thus, acts of mass slaughter of civilians could be justified if sufficient military advantages were gained by the operations.
It is no surprise that the New York Times and the entire American media have been silent on the issuance of the Law of War Manual. They are following orders to conceal from the American people, and from the world’s population, the Pentagon’s preparations for new and more massive war crimes, along with the destruction of democratic rights spelled out in the US Constitution.
The Times separates the Pentagon’s rejection of the First Amendment guarantee of press freedom from the eruption of American militarism, which it supports. In fact, the new manual demonstrates the incompatibility of militarism and democracy. The struggle against imperialist war is inseparable from the struggle against dictatorship. They both require the development of an international struggle of the working class against capitalism.