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The Latest on Our Sputtering Economy, by the Numbers

As Congress enacts a 10-year package of spending cuts, economists worry that the economy may be weakening and could actually benefit from a brief jolt of short-term spending. Here’s an overview of where the economy stands now.

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A Florida man works a street corner hoping to land a job on June 3, 2011. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Updated Aug. 5 with the latest job numbers and other stats. This post has also been corrected.

With increasing signs that the economy is laboring, most economists agree that a short-term infusion of spending, or an extension of this year's temporary cut in Social Security taxes, could help fend off a new downturn. But whatever one thinks of the debt deal -- and most of its billions in cuts won't come for a few years -- there's a near-consensus in Washington against spending increases.

Here's a brief overview of some key stats on where the economy stands.

The economy by your numbers (suggested by our readers on Twitter):

What stats best describe our economy? Tweet at @ProPublica or email Braden. Make sure to include your source.

Correction: This post initially said that there are 4.98 unemployed people per job opening. In fact, there were 4.64 unemployed people per job opening as of May 2011, the most recent month when data about job openings was collected.

Great snapshot…thanks.

You left out how many billions in cash the banks, etc. are sitting on, not hiring…

I suspect that the most important statistic is (maybe necessarily) missing:  The number of jobs offshored during the ‘90s after Washington declared us a “service economy” or “information economy.”  Patents here, jobs there.  GHW Bush and Clinton both repeatedly told us it’d be great, because they always need more peons to water their lawns.

And then the darn People screwed up that sweet deal by wanting subsitence wages for their time and labor, requiring that we truck illegal immigrants into the country to replace us greedy bastards.

I guess it’s better to pass laws to convict us without trial for downloading copyrighted material (PIPA/S968 - and reading library books, perhaps?) and mandate spying on us (HR1981, the stereotypical “think of the children!” bill) than to just stop giving tax breaks to enormous companies for offshoring jobs.  Gotta have priorities, right?

And don’t forget that we paid $1.7 Billion over the last 2 weeks in interest alone, while the legislative body whose job it is to do such things, played political keystone cops with the ‘debt ceiling.’  You know, that redundant maneuver to agree to pay the debt that was already designated by congress…How much of a boost to the economy could we have given with THAT amount of money?  Where are the jobs Mr Boehner?

“most economists agree that a short-term infusion of spending..could help fend off a new downturn”

But this could get Obama re-elected and we don’t want that, do we? Better that the economy tanks and we slide back into recession and that people hurt and lose hope just so that the “right” people take power in 2012. The end justifies the means.

Chawn A. Whitsitt

Aug. 2, 2011, 4:02 p.m.

Increased economic stratification; everyone knows that the top 1% of the population in the USA are earning, grossing, keeping more finances than the majority of citizens in USA. Continue to reap rich rewards and the blame will aim towards the real culprits.  People are starving and suffering while others are believing they are in heaven and the livelihood of millions will not touch them, think again, its inevitable. Blame, create and spin, truth always wins out sooner or later.

I’m simple not smart enough or educated enough to put into words my feelings over this debt ceiling crisis and the future econmy of this country.

I’m also sick of hearing about the past economies and some president or a congress that sparked it back to life.

you think we have unemployment now, Wait until the cutbacks in our military, “god forbid”. send the troops home and release them to the field of unemployment?

This countries day of glory is gone without federal help..that takes money?
we can’t even pretend to employ without moneys much less strive for a new future without some spending and the direction it goes to…cause starting up the past tech know how and ability to learn is all but gone.

how sad, such a short run of leadereship and giving it all away to upstart countries that are more than willing and have accrued everything we as Americans created and are now more than willing to carry the ball in every field and most of all education.

i’m old, have many health problems but if I live long enough will do everything in my power with-in the law to see no one who voted down the 2011 debt limit, be it dem,rep or independant doesn’t get elected again.
whatever their self driving motives may be.

It’s funny, I voted against Obama and went with McCain..What a stupid mistake..most of all after he went before his own party and said vote yes then voted a big fat no….( he should take a tour in his own state and “really” see what the unemployed are going thru) Dear john, Their are other ways than just hurting those already down!

Sorry, One very upset old man..but thanks for at least reading!

The problem is I have a republican governor and he is compelled to follow the GOP agenda that means he is more interested in taking food out of our mouths with no help for jobs.

From the earliest days of our independence and even before, America struggled from a lack of low cost labor and while the South relied upon slavery to remedy this problem, the less agrarian North looked to greater mechanization to multiply the output of individuals.  The problem, however, became acute following the Civil War when slavery was abolished and most of an entire generation of young men were either killed or crippled in the conflict.  Opening the floodgates to millions of Eastern and Southern European immigrants closed the gap during the decades leading up to the start of the 20th Century.  Inevitably these “teeming masses”, however, dissatisfied with the exploitive wages and conditions employers of the time routinely provided, threatened the very foundation of cheap mass production that was at the heart of our economic miracle.  Increasingly, industrialists turned again to ever more mechanization as the remedy, embracing the “golden fleece” of progress….productivity.  The manpower requirements levied by our participation in two world wars again made the labor shortage acute and was met by ever more machines and even women to operate them.  Rebuilding a shattered world after 1945 bought us a few decades of near full employment, but even through this period, the manufacturing sector of our economy needed fewer hands thanks to productivity.  Most of the displaced found employment in a growing service sector distributing and selling our abundance to ourselves.  Now we are arrived at a point when oceans and continents no longer are effective barriers to the profitable transfer of goods.  With vast low wage labor markets now open for exploitation, even superior local productivity is outmatched.  Barring another world cataclism which somehow leaves us unscathed, there is no painless escape from our dilemma.

This is a very long-term problem, and if we are lucky, it will take a very long time to recover, IF we make meaningful good decisions over a great many years. Does anyone remember the “recovery” of 1937, or the fact that it was exactly 25 years (1954) before the DJIA next reached the 1929 high?

Short-term fixes tend to exacerbate longer term problems, and collective memory of pain is overcome by greed in the short term—-“Hey, that wasn’t so bad. It didn’t last that long, and the economy and markets bounced right back. I am going to jump back in before I miss the rally”.

Steps taken over long periods get you where you want to be. Short term remedies, like jumping from a plane without a parachute, may feel fine—until you land. Does anyone seriously believe that encouraging an overextended consumer to spend more is a long-term solution to this mess?

We have enjoyed an unprecedented long term growth period. but unlike a war where few people look back and say lets do it again, quick fixes dull the economic pain, and people do jump back in. Right now, we are drowning in shallower water but we still have a shot at the fresh air of a stabilized economy. If we decide to dive in deeper anyway, we had better ask ourselves who has the lung capacity- the stamina, to pull us out? Particularly if it requires the consumer to dive deeper into debt.

I would suggest that a cursory study of Nikolai Kondratiev’s “Long Wave Cycle” might be worthwhile.

Great data! Thanks for this! I’m def going to use this info for my radio show tonight (you did a great job laying it out in terms anyone can understand)!

Martin McGraw

Aug. 2, 2011, 5:35 p.m.

Now we see how this works - comments that agree with you are published - those that don’t agree are not. Gotta love the ethics behind that….

“unable to receive your comment”
“the form you submitted contains errors”

Funny how the technically astute ProPublica staff suddenly is overcome by errors when someone questions the bias of their reporting.

Fraud! Whatcha gonna do when George Soros’ money runs out?

Kevin Schmidt

Aug. 2, 2011, 5:41 p.m.

The % of equity lost in home values. That must be over 50% by now.

The % of homes under water. That must be 20% by now.

The number of homes in foreclosure. Last 3 years it was 1 million per year. This coming year it is projected to be 5-7 million.

Martin McGraw

Aug. 2, 2011, 5:41 p.m.

Oh- that comment got through the filter. Very funny. Do you think publishing my comment out of context somehow undermines my credibility?

As I said in the first comment, which was not published and while several others’ comments were published in the mean time….

Since you reached the conclusion that “most economists” agree there should be a short-term increase in spending of tax money or money borrowed against future tax receipts, I’m certain it was a mere oversight that you failed to report how many economists there are, right? I mean, you interviewed “most” of them, so you know how many there are, right?

When you said “most economists” did you mean only those in the U.S. or did you include all those in Europe and Asia? By the way, how many is “most”? 51 percent? 75 percent? 99 percent? Since you interviewed “most” economists, why did you not quote even one of them? And since only “most” agree with your agenda for more proPublic spending, what do those who disagree think, and why? Are they not worth mentioning, or are you trying to discredit them by marginalizing their views?

Oscar R. Buergis

Aug. 2, 2011, 5:42 p.m.

Hi folks!
For me as citizen of “dwarfstate” Switzerland I follow the international politics with great interest. What now happened in the U.S., is very dangerous not only for the american econony, but for the world. Why? Because exactly that communist Nation, the coffee-tea-or milk-party is so terribly affraid of, holds by far the biggeest amount of green backs in their safes!!!  Just imagine what’d going on, if the Chineses through all their 1’800 Billion Dollars into the financial market anywhere. I don’t want to think of the result, do you..?

Wow oh wow, martin; you sure sound angry? Perhaps you used one to many cuss words??. it happens. I think you sure probable tone it down are just tune into good old Russ Limbaugh or one of the many sites that sway republican..why, cause this is an open foram, not a I’ll shove it down your throat or else.
thanks for reading
Bill

Rich MacDonald

Aug. 2, 2011, 6:26 p.m.

These are scary and depressing numbers. There is kind of a Greek tragedy in the fight to do the right thing and then finding out after it is done that the right thing is fatally flawed? Clearly, there is a growing consensus that the so called remedies now enacted by Congress and supported by the President will exacerbate the problem. One wonders how cutting a $ trillion in government demand will help create jobs. Hunh? It seems many of your respondents also that the effort to block increases in taxes serves only to protect the top one per cent of earners who earn 99% of all income—at the expense of the 99% who earn the one per cent. One hates to call these two solitudes—winners and losers but ins’t that what we have now? Are we not a nation of man and women working for the few? Is this not what happened to the Spartans? Are there fewer and fewer who reap the benefits while vast numbers of people suffer?

You State ‘Growth in Number of Unemployed Americans Since March 2011’: 545,000

New Unemployment Numbers released for July 2011 was 418,000.

On Average we’re gaining 400,000 New Unemployed Americans every month for the past 2 going on 3 years consecutively.

I simply cannot understand for sake of mankind where is the compassion, understand and HELP!!! Issues that being handled with in the law. Who writes the laws & enforcing them? The Government or Chase Bank, Bank of America , Wells Fargo and last but not least Wall Street!  How many fines can be levied on these banks. How many times are they getting caught lying ruining peoples lives NEVER EVER following the law! countless media programs and movies show just how bad and corrupt they are. This is a crime. how many letters can we write how many papers can we send because the Government steps in and stop this garbage until it is fixed not covered with a bandage like the Infamous Hamp/Hope that was nothing more than blowing smoke up our a**es!

jobs outsourced to other countries must be considered, in Asia for example, contact centers operate for mostly, american companies… The agents are even required to somehow learn the accent to sound american.. ;-)  These jobs can be performed in the United States…

Justice is not an abstract, irrelevant word for untouched lofty clouds.  Its painful absence runs like a cancer throughout our grand republic.  Imagine criticizing the spending of too much money while REAFFIRMING government monies to oil companies?  Imagine taking milk away from children while giving Michele Backmann and her husband more Medicare and Medicaid, and her more government salary, health care, and Fanny Mae money for their new home?  Imagine, giving money to the Democratic Party, as their fund raising letter asked me today to do, when the Wimp-n-Chief forgot almost every principle and policy argued since campaigning? Our nation has become a living melanoma of hypocrisy.  It is disgraceful!

Janel Hatcher

Aug. 3, 2011, 12:59 a.m.

Turn the White House into a Art Gallery/History Museum! Charge a huge fee to go through. Close off banquet hall, kitchen, and living quarters for the presidential family. Put a ceiling of $150,000 on President salary.  Jimmie Carter, Clinton, and Bush families - cut their retirement from president to one third.  They all have plenty of money!  Current Speaker of the House cut his salary down to $200,000. and get an itemized expense report of this thief.  $2,000. a month in expenses what the hell?  Give tax credit for people to build a greenhouse to grow their own VEGES! People start Canning again like our grandmothers did. America wake up and start to be proactive about taking care of some things.  I have seen so many so called students that have children, enroll in school, get Pell Grant funds and sign up for every free government program available.  Get refund checks.  Then they come to class hung over, have their nails done, hair professionally cut and or highlighted and have no intentions of ever finishing class or getting a certificate or diploma.  They know how many kids to have to get a certain amount of money and let the Grandparents rise the children.  They don’t study.  All that money for their education, food, clothing, childcare from the U.S. Government. Then they turn to me and ask for money to get something out of the vending machine or can they see my homework.  It is sickening the students getting into junior colleges and “for profit” technical schools. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION   WAKE UP ALL THESE ONLINE TECH SCHOOLS ARE SUCKING THE GOVERNMENT DRY.  TEACHERS ARE PAID EXTREMELY WELL TO KEEP THEIR MOUTH SHUT and the education in return is very poor.  Their are so many things that can be done that can be a beginning of the end of the age of “going to school on pell grants and getting government assistance for childcare and food.”  It is comparable to the weed forests in California.

Things will get worse if China goes into a recession.

Has anybody heard about the recent (last month)and only audit by Congress of the Federal Reserve, showing that the FED secretly gave away $16 TRILLION since 2007 to Banks and Corperations in the USA and Europe, without knowledge of the Congress, and WE have to pay it back. This is one of the worlds biggest rip-offs ever, of the USA people and nobody is talking about it.  Does no one care? Does anybody wonder why there are so few job openings? - The FED helps the rich and rips us off. Congress does not care about us, they get paid by the FED.

I am trying to stay informed and sane as the crises in the US continues and without a doubt gets much worse.

However on my first visit to this forum, I am very impressed by the comments of the writers.

Thank you and I will continue looking at this daily

Also omitted:

Number of jobs lost from Wall Street: 0

Number of Wall Street executives who didn’t receive a record bonus for 2010: 0

Number of big American corporations with someone on the Board of Directors who is not an executive at another big American corporation: 0

Number of “lost” jobs that were actually transferred to India or China: all of them

charles plancon

Aug. 3, 2011, 7:40 a.m.

I am both a disabled veteran, (with still an ongoing claim of 27 months, for the fourth time in 30 years for service connected injuries) and on S.S.D. with a whopping 744.00 a month. I am also a single, sole parent (the children’s mother passed away at 43 years old of bone cancer a year ago april) I make roughly 2,000 a month to run a household, pay bills, and take care of two teenagers. My
children are mentally disabled, last may Social Security took away the childrens S.S.I. and Medicaid, because I make to much money on disability !! Talk about scared….I mean really scared. I am so worried about this budget crises and my S.S.D. and V.a. benefits because everything I read or see on tv alludes or outright states that the first thing our beloved president and his cronies are going after is military/V.a. and Social Security/ Medicare. And yet if I can’t pay my bills and we wind up homeless, sometime in the future D.C.F. (I live in Fl. one of the WORST states for being homeless or being a FATHER not a mother) will become involved, paying some foster family thousands of FEDERAL dollars to care for my kids, when I could have done it very well if they had left well enough alone. signed, Scared to death

“most economists agree that a short-term infusion of spending..could help fend off a new downturn”

Then the author must be wrong and our economy must be exploding due to all the stimulus spending.

It didn’t work this time; it has never worked in the past.  How can anyone actually believe it will work in the future.

Or, as Einstein defined insanity:  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

There are so many variables at work and so many sacred cows where the variable can’t be touched.  Some potential fixes:
- put a 2-year moratorium on all foreign aid.  Political problems but if the US is weakened by the recession, there wil lbe no memory of the mone ywe gave out.
- double the corporate income tax on any company that decreased employment by more than the US inflation rate and has pre-tax earnings of greater than 4%
- charge taxes equal to lost income taxes plus a 10% penalty to any company who has the US as its corporate base, has a foreign workforce of greater than 50%, and imports more than 50% of its product for US consumption.  That includes companies who manufacture components outside the US but have final assembly in the US.
- re-institute all banking safety net regulations prior to 2000 that were eliminated
- classify oil and gasoline as strategic products necessary for national defense and ban all speculator trading - think for a moment about the impact of fuel costs in excess of $3 per gallon on the national treasury.
- provide tax incentives for companies who have greater than 85% of their total work force in the US
- Create a national job program to put some of these folks to work performing a variety of functions: teacher’s assistants, road cleanup, sandbagging along the Missouri River, cleanup in Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, and other states who were victims of the Spring tornadoes, building a talent pool of avaiable workers that can be loaned out to startup companies, public service, schools, nursing homes.

commonsense247

Aug. 3, 2011, 8:14 a.m.

How about the ‘real unemployment rate’ rather than the massaged and tweaked version?  http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/02/09/real-unemployment-number/

A lot of folks are angry and upset, and with good reason at our present economic state. But when do we look in the mirror? My personal and (often one and the same) fiscal mistakes are my own and I shouldn’t foist them upon the public domain. If I need help I need to turn to my neighbor and my family. The only problem is this…..
I don’t know my neighbors, I’m afraid or too selfish with my time to introduce myself or spend anytime personally interacting with them. Therefore I foster an environment of distrust and act “shocked” when something bad happens nearby.I insist that my age, gender, ethnicity, or other factor prevents any reasonable association when really my own nature has caused this problem.
Instead of doing the right thing and being responsible including and perhaps helping our neighbors like Charles P we pretend that don’t exist in our egis.
Instead of controlling our passions and lusts we celebrate( yes many men do brag about the number) fostering children out of wedlock and expect the state to bail us out of our irresponsibility when this is a personal fault. I agree that the government should force fathers to pay for their children’s support. But here is a novel thought. How about forcing parental units to go through mandatory conciliating or at least an attempt at it.
I am a teacher who works in retail part time to make a go of it. I also work in public and parochial education and see your children frustrated upset, or resigned to the fact that they are in a single parent household.I see parents who don’t say no and ignore the discipline of their children misbehavior right in front of me…..They also are gravitating towards the very same ethos that created their poverty and despair without even realizing it.
Please understand I am not pointing fingers but at 53 seen a lot of hurt because people don’t care enough for each other to be involved in the lives of those closest to them. Help is available through your local churches and charities and your neighbors if we have the courage to be selfless.  Thanks for your patience
A child of single parenthood.

depressing.

nothing else to say except that Republicans are determined to make it worse either for political gain or because their ideas are bad.

It is sad that people cannot see the writing on the wall.  They believe whatever “their” side is telling them.  This is not a democrat or republican problem or a red and blue problem, it is an American problem.  When you have half the country paying taxes and the top 5% paying almost 70% of the taxes, that is a problem.  I have worked very hard in my life to get where I am, I have sacraficed the “fun” stuff to get ahead in this world.  I am not rich by any means, but I do make a decent living.  Yet those who are on the public hand outs and are able to get a job, or an education (for free or nearly free) choose not to, and then compain that the “rich” do not pay enough taxes.  If you are one who complains, how much have you paid in taxes in the last 10 years?  How much have you received in some sort of government aid?  What is the ratio?  Why does it seem so?  Are you more deserving than I, just because you make less money?  The government is not here to supply you with money, it is here to protect you from enemies both foreign and domestic.  it is not here to supply you with a home, or a job, or even food.  That is something that you, your family, your church, your friends should do.  People need to take responsibility for themselves and their familys and stop expecting the government to solve all their problems or come to their rescue.  That idea has not worked in the past nor will it work in the future. 
If you want to fix Government - take the money out of it.  If you cannot vote, you cannot donate money to campaigns.  Corporations cannot vote, they should not be able to donate or run ads for candidates.  Unions cannot vote, they should not be able to donate or run ads for candidates.  PACS, special interest groups etc. should not be able to either.  The PEOPLE get to vote, they are the ones who should donate to campaigns, and put a cap on how much people can donate.  If a corporation wants to support a candidate - GREAT have then tell their employees who they support and that they should vote for that person and why.  then the employee votes whomever they deem they should, who is going to know if you voted for the “Companies” candidate or not.
If Unions support a candidate, tell their members to vote for the person they support.  If they do great if they don’t that is great too.  If you are a member of the NRA, then the NRA can tell you who they support and why, suggest you vote for them too, i am a member of the NRA but I vote for who i think will do a better job or a less worse job than the other one.  How sad is it when you have to vote for the lesser of the two evils.  This whole system has become a joke and we have lost focus on why the Government is here in the first place.  It is not here for me or you, it is here for us.  every law passed in this great country has loop holes or addons for spending to get a vote.  if a bill cannot stand on its own two feet and doesn’t benefit the majority of the people in this country then it should not be passed in the first place.

Corporations need to be regulated so that the business world is fair to competition and fair to the people around it and fair to the people buying the products or services.  Corporations should be forced to pay out dividends and should not pay taxes, the dividends they are forced to pay would have taxes on them by the shareholders.  Corporations do not get to vote and should not have to pay taxes.  Does that mean they get off scott free - NO.  They pay out the majority of their profits in dividends and the recipient of that money pays taxes on it, see how simple that is, the money they get to keep, they expand the business, hire more people!!  The more people employed, the more taxes get paid.  It is simple, if the company sends jobs over seas and makes a huge profit, they money gets handed down to the shareholders and they PAY TAXES ON IT.

Everyone wants to take a side, everyone has their hand out for theirs.  This mentality has to stop.

Sorry for my rant but than you for reading.

Papa Maury Clark

Aug. 3, 2011, 10:47 a.m.

Bubba Hotep, either you are seriously undereducated or short of memory. There is only one thing wrong with most of your gripes- The CONSTITUTION!

Where in the constitution does it contradict anything I have said?  Where does it say corporations or unions get a vote?  Where does it say people should get hand outs and not pay their fair share?  Where does it say the “rich” should pay more and more?  Oh, that’s right, IT DOESN’T!

Any country which imports a major portion of its energy needs and guts its manufacturing base by importing too much and shifting its manufacturing overseas to instead become a major exporter of agricultural products and scrap metal and paper gets what we are getting. The enemy is us. The numbers speak for themselves.

You can tax the top 1% of income earned at 100% and still not cover the current deficit.  We have got to cut spending, drastically and deep.  From both sides of the aisle.  It is ridiculous, you can’t cut this or that or I won’t get re-elected.  Cuts are cuts.  Cuts should come from every facet of government.

Jim - I completely agree with you.  We are our own worst enemy!

Martin McGraw

Aug. 3, 2011, 12:06 p.m.

to bill, re: my earlier comment—I was off kilter because several attempts to post comments were blocked. The first one that went through was an angry comment at ProPublica staff for the way they manage their comments - it had nothing to do with right/left or the fat belligerent junkie Rush Limbaugh.

Otherwise, my comment to the subject at hand - ProPublica’s account of the economy—had not the least bit of left/right bias in it, but merely appealed for basic accurate reporting. If a publication—no matter how many Pulizters it might accumulate—claims “most” economists or “most” of any group agree on something, it needs to put that “most” claim in some perspective - by quoting at least one such economist, by explaining how they define the set they describe as “economist” of which “most” agree, and/or by offering some insight into why a minority of economists don’t agree.

That’s not anger - that’s an appeal to basic journalistic integrity, such as might be the legitimate subject of a masters’ thesis at any of several leading mass-communication programs at leading universities.

No, it appears you are the one locked and loaded to go all partisan on the first commentator who doens’t chime in with a me-too attaboy in a comment section that is mostly slanted toward clearly left-wing preferences. ProPublica might have no need to mask its left-leaning ideology and might fool itself that those of us who are indifferent to left/right dichotomies don’t see the methods by which ProPublic serves a poltical agenda. However, those of us who are more concerned about quality of public discourse than about who wins the debate are more than willing to rip back the curtain and expose whom it is ProPublica makes out with when the lights are off.

Imagine a couple sitting night after night discussing their bills, knowing they will need to take money out of savings (or borrow some) and/or get a 2d job to pay forthcoming bills. The husband (Ted Parry, a Republican ) says we should drastically cut our spending (but refuses to help decide what spending) and refuses to work more hours (increase revenue). He won’t let his wife (Democrat) get a part-time job (increase revenue) or tap the savings account and he says to his wife: “cut your household expenses, medical care for the kids, and other stuff.” She asks what exactly she should cut. He won’t say—it’s her problem—he doesn’t want to take the blame. Borrowing money is out of the question, even after his hours get cut and the household income is temporarily reduced (recession). I’m sure the analogy isn’t perfect but maybe you get the point.

My wife’s job was just sold to an Indian company. She is now a contract employee for that company at her old job….feeling pretty insecure.

charles plancon

Aug. 3, 2011, 1:40 p.m.

I just had someone respond to my earlier comment, One of those “apparently” that has worked hard to get where they are” my entire “tirade” I guess he was referring to is exactly my point. While I and hundreds of thousands of other AMERICAN men and women took orders without question, even if it looked like it would mean certain death, and for many it was ! I was one of the lucky ones who was only hurt for life. By the way that was exactly what helped people like this person get to where he could work “so hard” to “get his” this person has never done anything that I am personally aware of that helped me, but we da*N sure helped him ! If you can read, thank a teacher. if you speak english, thank a soldier !! Sir or Maam or whatever you may be. Oh, besides ungrateful !!!

charles plancon

Aug. 3, 2011, 2:21 p.m.

Here is something for those who seem to be hiding behind the CONSTITUTION such as whomever responded to me earlier. I totally believe in the Constitution, and to you ,Sir or Maam, if it were not for people who took orders without question, fought against overwhelming odds, and died or were injured for life (and by the way, needed help because of the fight against the English) I believe they were called soldiers, even back then, you wouldn’t have that thing called the CONSTITUTION, now would you ?

1)  Forced addiction to oil - and foreign oil payments

2)  Flood-up/trickle-down economics - incentivizes the wealthy to divert wealth away from the American people

3)  Deregulation - enables the wealthy to drain wealth away from the American people more efficiently

4)  Inequitable free trade - severed the link between the well-being of the wealthy and the well-being of the American people and is a job-killer and tax base destroyer (particularly in light of the ability of the wealthy to divert ever more wealth to themselves while paying ever lower taxes) while exporting more money out of our economy in the form of trade deficits

5)  2 1/8 wars….eating money…eating money…eating money…

Those are the drivers that so hurt our economy; they were the problem before this last “debt deal”, and they remain the problem.

We ain’t got nowhere to go but down, for those policies are the darlings of the wealthy and so are the darlings of all of the Republicans and too many of the Democrats (the neoliberal variety).

Can you borrow your way out of debt???  Of course you can’t!  There are two sets of reality in our politic’s…Democrat’s & Republican’s.  That’s our system, like it or not.  I don’t particularly like the narrow choices we have, but you either choose sides, or sit on the sidline.  The Democrat’s use the same arguments every time…“Their taking food from babies, hurting women, children and seniors!”  Well, both sides have gotten us to where we are today…in heap big trouble!  Fourteen and a half trillion in debt, and climbing!  We gotta stop this runaway spending sooner or later.  Remember the old addage,“pay me now, or pay me later!”  Well, later is here!  And still we keep spending like there’s no tomorrow.  Wanna know what brought down the Romans, and other wealthy civilizations?  Look around you….we’re next if we don’t do something now!

Charles - I assume you are referring to me.  I have the utmost regard for veterans and our soldiers, having been one myself, for several years.  I fortunately did not suffer any life debilitating wounds.  To suggest you and your families situation is not without merit, you and your family are not who I was referring to, and to suggest without knowing my situation is absurd.  Just because you are in need of medical assistance for wounds suffered in combat or serving in the armed forces does not mean you are the problem.  You voluntarily served your country and were disabled in some fashion.  You should get medical treatment and it should be covered. 

The WHOLE system is messed up.  I don’t think that the government should provide a middle class income for everyone.  They should help those who helped the Country.  Those that cannot support themselves should get help.

I would much rather see the money that is spent on welfare, be spent in such a fashion to get that person off of it.  Pay them to go to school, pay for the school, pay for room and board.  College, trade school, it doesn’t matter.  As long as they are making the grades, and graduate, then they become a productive member of society, not a drain on the system.  I am not referring to your situation as welfare.

I do not know you, or all the details of your situation, but in just about every situation there are options.
There are a lot of people out there that can work and are not even looking.  I know several of them.  Some of them are calling me asking for help and guess what - I help them.

My grandmother spent her savings after my grandfather died.  She spent it on her grand children.  Now she has less money coming in than she has going out.  I am the only grandchild that sends her money every month, the other 13 do not.  Not all can afford to, but some could if they adjusted their belts like I did.

In a household, you can only borrow so much.  The government cannot continue to borrow at the rate it is.  That money has to be paid back at some point. 

If the government really knew what was good for you, it never would have added Social Security to the national budget and would have left it alone.  It would be in a lot better shape if the had.  Same thing with medi- caid/care.  Everyone who works pays into it, leave that money alone and only use it for what it was intended for - those programs!

I haven’t done anything for you personally, except pay taxes and serve my country as you did.  Did you work hard for what you had/have when you were able to work at full capacity?
I am sure you work hard now, as much as you can.  I empathize with your situation.

Remember don’t judge someone lest thee be judged.

Amen Charles Plancon! Please accept my heartfelt appreciation for all your sacrifices. My prayers will include you and your family. You should take pride in the fact you are such a wonderful father. I personally know your situation in that I was a ward of the court from the age of 7-18. There are those willing to help and share. Please do not let pride get in your way…reach out. You have done and given all and more than most. For this You are the most deserving. I know from your words that you are a great father trying to do what is right. Please know this is what your children will remember of you. God bless you sir!

Facts/figures/stats are all abstractions of larger “narratives” intended to evoke some response. Any and all numbers can be presented in a way to skew the impression the reader gets when done reading that particular stat. Unless the person reading a particular stat is well versed in the myriad of different connections of said stat, the stat itself is really not useful for more than pushing the narrative of the presenter.

So what does that mean? In short, all of these numbers are presented (by either “side”) to get the reader to respond a certain way. The only way to avoid being manipulated is to gather information from as many (hopefully objective) sources as possible and draw your own conclusion(s).

My conclusions are as follows:

We have an economy/government/corporate culture that we ourselves have created.

A corporation is by all definitions an amoral predator. Its primary (even sole) purpose in life is to generate as much revenue as cheaply as possible. But what is a corporation other than a collection of administrators and peons running the corporation, and investors and customers willing to support that corporation?
Executives make the money they make because we, directly or indirectly support them.
Corporations behave the way they do towards their employees, and the environment around them at large, because we tolerate/excuse/encourage it. 
Walmart is not a multi-billion dollar corporation and something like the 5th largest economy on the planet, in a vacuum. Neither is McDonald’s, nor Exxon, nor Hormel, nor, nor nor endless list of “evil” corporations. They greatly exemplify the model this culture has adopted so readily. I want it, as cheaply as possible, in huge quantities, NOW! I don’t care how it was made, who made it, the conditions it was made under, nor what the long term cost of it really is.
They make the profits they do, because we continue to patronize them. And it’s OUR money they’re using to buy politicians left and right, it’s OUR money they’re using to rewrite the laws of the land in their favor, it’s OUR money they’re using to silence any opposition by suing said opposition using those very same laws, and it’s OUR money they’re using to give themselves equal rights originally guaranteed us (actual living breathing human beings) in the Constitution.

Like it or not, we vote with our dollars NOT in the ballot box.
Ballot voting, these days, is nothing more than another abstraction to make us feel important. It’s a game, we’re all complicit in. It runs every 4 years (or gasp even 2 years) where we cheer for the red team or the blue team; a country-wide political Superbowl. But what happens after the “big game” is over? Well… pretty much nothing. Because we all know both the red team and the blue team has their palms stretched out taking money from anyone willing to pay. For they too are part of the same short-term gain culture. And now thanks to the “Citizens United” ruling by the supreme court, that can be any amount, to any one, for any reason, without having to disclose a single thing.

We all want those “damn filthy, greedy, self-serving, yada, yada, yada politicians” to do the people’s business. But where are the people when the hoopla has ended? We’ve all bought in to the story that there are two sides to politics. Red and Blue. The media, again using the same corporate money, is all too eager to perpetuate that narrative. We even now have entire media networks dedicated to pushing just one specific narrative. And we continue to lap it all up with a shovel. And we continue to yell and scream rehearsed talking-point dogma at each other. And we continue to remain divided and distracted, keeping our eyes off the real prize. And we continue voting red or blue. After all, all we have to do is just keep buying; everything will be better if we just keep buying. And the cycle continues.

So how do we fix it you ask? Well the answer there isn’t all that easy. Because the first thing it requires is that we reassess priorities in every purchase decision we make and view every penny we spend as a vote; because it is. That we take personal responsibility for the actions our elected officials take. That we not fall for the red/blue game and ignore the manipulative noise. That we research each issue fully. That we actually talk to, vs yell at, one another. That we demand these politicians do OUR business NOT what’s in their, indirectly through their corporate masters, best interest.
But these things are hard. They require we point the finger squarely at ourselves and that we make hard decisions, collectively.

“Change” is NOT going to come top-down, from any politician; no matter how charismatic.
Until we, the people, look at ourselves and each other for real change, nothing will ever change and those with the most vested interest in keeping the status quo, the status quo, will continue to exert whatever influence they can to do so.

re: Ralph Cahn   Imagine…wife (democrat) has 5 credit cards all maxed to the limit but will not quit spending….

Here’s my solution, in case anybody agrees and wants to help spread the word:

Ban all political parties. It’s okay for people to have different philosphies without branding themselves with political tattoos. Political parties divide neighborhoods, rather than bind them together. Only special interests profit from this division: Politicians, businesses, and foreigners. You can’t simply paint the USA as red and blue. It’s a ridiculous assumption but it works to keep the cash flowing to politicians. Tattoos are really hard to get rid of if you change your mind.

Ban political contributions from individuals, businesses, and foreigners. All political contests should be funded with finite monies from the level of government in which they are run. Cities fund city elections, states fund state elections, federal government funds federal elections. A candidate must meet a test to determine his elegibility for office. How about an integrity test? Something to show the person has
the common sense, intelligence and work ethic to make a good representative of his constituents. All elegible candididates get the same amount of money to run their campaign. That way, the rich don’t have an advantage over the poor and the stupid don’t have an advantage over the intelligent.

Rein in Congress. Congress has managed to make its members into employees of the federal government. These people are supposed to represent you but they don’t. They have become prostitutes to special interests and to individuals with money and power, cheap street-walkers who accept bribes as a normal way of doing business. Each state should control those who represent its citizens in Washington DC. All compensation, expenses, housing, health insurance,
retirement, per diem payments, and every other benefit a congressman receives should be controlled by the state that he represents. Keeping the expense closer to home will allow greater control over profligate spending and useless legislation.

Invoke term limitations on congressmen. Political life has become a career, not what the founding fathers intended and not in the interest of citizens. The longer a congressman is in power, the deeper his ties become to special interests. How can someone who begs for money from special interest groups have your best interests in mind?  They can’t and they don’t. Politics is the new get-rich-fast game. As the game stands now, those who run for office do not have to give up any excess cash they’ve accumulated in the process. All excess cash should go back into the government fund that it came from.

For a congressman to have carte blanche in his actions related to his constituents is absurd. Who is the congressman working for, you
or Bank of America? I like to imagine a barracks-like arrangement for members of Congress, with their office located in the same inexpensive building. Congressional gymnasium? I pay for it but I can’t use it. Let my congressman do pushups on the front lawn and walk around the block for his exercise, not play subsidized golf on my dime.  If our congressmen are allowed to treat themselves as royalty, they’ll act as royalty and be out of touch with the common citizen and this is exactly what has happened. People are inherently dishonest, just like any animal, especially if cheating and stealing benefit them.

Congressmen, in the presence of huge sums of cash, have shown that they need to be observed and controlled by their constituents. People who are the most honest are highly self-disciplined. The opposite is also true. If you exceed the speed limit by just a little bit, would you also be tempted to take a bribe from a foreign country to defeat legislation that would demand higher fuel efficiency?

Ban lobbyists and their activities. When lobbyists pander to politicians, in the name of special interests, it’s pure prostitution and bribery. There’s no other way to describe it. Foreign countries are continually lobbying our congressmen for special treatment and they pay for it with cash and other gifts. Our Supreme Court Chief Justice has decided that corporations are just like people when it comes to political contributions. Are you serious? Many of these same corporations that ply our congressmen with bribes are partially owned by foreigners.

John Boehner, when asked by a reporter how the recent debt ceiling talks went, said “This just shows that the process works. It ain’t
pretty but it works”.  What planet does Boehner live on?  Our system is rusty, polluted, broken, and filled with dishonest people. The only way to fix it is with a complete overhaul and enough teeth to scare people toward honesty and honor in their representation of you and I.

If you have rational and commonsense thoughts to share on the subject of broken government, please do so. Thanks.

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