Tag Archives: unemployment

Jobs Disaster: Will Pigs Fly?

I was in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, and one of my brothers, Mark, said he was looking forward to November when Romney would be elected president. I said if that happened pigs would fly, so better be prepared to duck when going outside.

After the release of the feeble employment numbers last week, and the related stock market decline,  I imagine Porky Pig and associates are heading to aviation school.

In fact, when the Huffington Post has any headline critical of the Obama administration, “Total Mess” — you have to figure that Hell has frozen over.

Or pigs are getting ready to fly.

A Commencement Address Worth Listening To

One of the many things I fret about these days is the fact that many young people can no longer afford a college education, and that there are far too few quality jobs for those who do manage to get a diploma. Without putting too fine a point on it, if those trends continue, as a nation we’re f*cked.

Now I could take the next hour or so and expand on this issue as I have in this space previously. But since it is another perfect day weather-wise here in NE Ohio, I’ll let Robert Reich do the heavy wordsmithing.  Reich is a former secretary of labor and current professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He opines on The Huffington Post, “The Commencement Address That Won’t Be Given“:

Members of the Class of 2012,

As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today.

You’re f*cked.

Well, not exactly. But you won’t have it easy.

First, you’re going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. The job market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.

That’s been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It’s been taking them more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven’t found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder.

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enough to get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recession really hit. Almost three-quarters of them found jobs within the year.

You’re still better off than your friends who didn’t graduate. Overall, the unemployment rate among young people (21 to 24 years old) with four-year college degrees is now 6.4 percent. With just a high school degree, the rate is double that.

But even when you get a job, it’s likely to pay peanuts.

Last year’s young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year — lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.

Presumably this means that when we come out of the gravitational pull of the recession your wages will improve. But there’s a longer-term trend that should concern you.

The decline in the earnings of college grads really began more than a decade ago. Young college grads with jobs are earnings 5.4 percent less than they did in the year 2000, adjusted for inflation.

Don’t get me wrong. A four-year college degree is still valuable. Over your lifetimes, you’ll earn about 70 percent more than people who don’t have the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today.

But this parchment isn’t as valuable as it once was. So much of what was once considered “knowledge work” — the kind that college graduates specialize in — can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet.

For many of you, your immediate problem is that pile of debt on your shoulders. In a few moments, when you march out of here, those of you who have taken out college loans will owe more than $25,000 on average. Last year, ten percent of college grads with loans owed more than $54,000. Your parents have also taken out loans to help you. Loans to parents for the college educations of their children have soared 75 percent since the academic year 2005-2006.

Outstanding student debt now totals over $1 trillion. That’s more than the nation’s total credit-card debt.

The extraordinary rise in student debt is due to two related facts: the cost of a college education continues to increase faster than inflation, and state and local spending per college student continues to drop — this year reaching a 25-year low.

But this can’t go on. If unemployment stays high for many years, if the wages of young college grads continue to fall, if the costs of college continue to rise and state and local spending per college student continues to drop, and if the college debt burden therefore continues to explode — well, you do the math.

At some point in the not-too-distant future these lines cross. College is no longer a good investment.

That’s a problem for you and for those who will follow you into these hallowed halls, but it’s also a problem for America as a whole.

You see, a college education isn’t just a private investment. It’s also a public good. This nation can’t be competitive globally, nor can we have a vibrant and responsible democracy, without a large number of well-educated people.

So it’s not just you who are burdened by these trends. If they continue, we’re all f*cked.

Sigh.

And true.

President Obama and the Workforce Skills Gap

There is a notion being batted around these days among the Chattering Class that there are plenty of jobs out there. But there aren’t enough workers available with the skills necessary to perform the work. Prez O stepped into that debate yesterday during a chat on Google.

Here’s from Mediaite, “President Obama Tells Unemployed Engineer’s Wife: Send Me Your Husband’s Resume“:

President Barack Obamahad a virtual intimate talk with a number of Americans this afternoon in a “Google hangout,” where he received questions from an audience over the computer. One guest in the hangout asked about worker visas in engineering, and gave the President the anecdote of her husband’s three years of temporary employment despite being an engineer. “Send me your husband’s resume,” replied the President.

A woman named Jennifer described her husband’s situation to President Obama– that he was an engineer (a semiconductor engineer, she later elaborated), who had not been able to find permanent work in three years. Given his education level and the national demand for engineers, she asked the President why visas were still given to foreigners who have the same skill set when worthy Americans are still unemployed.

The President responded that he thought it interesting given his meetings with industry leaders. “There is a huge demand around the country for engineers,” he told her, though adding that “obviously, there are different kinds of engineers,” so the general category doesn’t apply fully. “What industry tells me is that they don’t have enough highly skilled engineers,” he noted, and continued, “If your husband is in that field, we should get your husband’s resume and I’ll forward it to some of these companies that are telling me they don’t have enough engineers.”

Jennifer responded that she still wanted to know why visa programs were so popular with the companies, and the President replied asking what type of engineer her husband is. “It is interesting to me,” he replied, asserting that he would “follow up on this” because he had been hearing that a specialist engineer was higher in demand than in supply, and that the visas Jennifer inquired about were only available to companies having problems finding said engineers. “And I meant what I said,” the President reminded her, “if your send me your husband’s resume, I’d be interested in finding out exactly what’s happening right there.”

Well, this should be interesting, since the Prez gets plenty of advice about jobs from people like Jeff Immelt, the Head Sled at GE. And Immelt is good at creating jobs. Unfortunately, for American workers and American presidents on the reelection trail, most of the jobs are in China, India or elsewhere.

Anyway, the NYT opined (“Dissent in the Jobs Council“) recently on the issue of jobs and the idea of a skills gap:

At Disney World last week, President Obama announced new executive orders to speed up visas for foreign tourists to the United States. The measure, a priority for the travel industry, was one of several sensible recommendations made in the last year by Mr. Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a 27-member panel of corporate executives, academics, investors and labor leaders. The White House has carried out 17 others so far.

Increasingly, however, the council’s recommendations have resembled not so much expert advice as a corporate wish list. In a report last October, the council’s sound proposals for job-creating public works projects were overshadowed by its unfounded claim that antifraud provisions put in place in 2002 in response to Enron are an impediment to growth and hiring, and should be ended.

Its latest report, issued last week, went so far in the direction of the Republican political agenda that it was endorsed by House Speaker John Boehner for its emphasis on lower tax rates and less regulation. The report drew the ire of the panel’s two union members, Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., and Joseph Hansen, chairman of the Change to Win coalition. After the false premises and false fixes that have dominated the job creation debate, the dispute is healthy.

Mr. Trumka wrote a dissent in which he agreed that the United States has fallen behind other countries in investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, education, job skills and alternative energy. What he rightly objected to was the idea that less regulation, lower corporate tax rates and other demands on the business agenda are the key to restoring competitiveness and creating jobs. “Without timely action by government on a large scale,” he wrote, “solutions will continue to elude us as a nation.”

OK. Here’s the point about the notion of a skills gap:

It is also crucially important to recognize that unemployment today is not primarily driven by a skills gap — as the council’s report would lead you to believe — but by lack of jobs. If all of the job openings in America were filled tomorrow, nearly 10 million of the nation’s 13.1 million unemployed workers would still be out of work. That shortage requires more federal aid to bolster demand, not a focus on a less pressing skills gap.

So let’s see how the Recruiter-in-Chief makes out in finding a job for Jennifer’s husband. Skills gap. Or not.

The Next War: A Global Fight for Jobs?

I’m finishing my second week essentially vacationing in South Carolina, and it’s strange for me to be in Hilton Head this time of the year with near-empty beaches and bars, holiday lights adorning the trees, and Christmas music floating though the stores and over the radio.

Note to self: Is it still politically correct to talk about Christmas music? Better check when I get back to Northeast Ohio. I wouldn’t want to be out of step.

Anyway, like most people visiting Hilton Head this time of year, I don’t work much these days. Still, even as a quasi-retiree, I fret about jobs and about the future for people throughout this country, young and old.

Here are links to a few interesting and informative articles you may have missed during the media shit storm involving Kim Kardashian’s wedding and pending divorce:

The Huffington Post — “Census: Recession Turning Young Adults Into Lost Generation.”

New York Times — “Retirement? Goodbye, Golden Years.”

New York Times — “The Poor, the Near Poor and You.”

It troubles me that unemployment continues to hover around 9 percent — and far exceeds that if you include those working part time or who have stopped looking for work altogether. And it bothers me even more that we can’t agree on any solutions — or move the ball forward in Congress, if that is even helpful these days.

Wonder what would happen if we approached job creation with the same enthusiasm that we have for pouring billions down rat holes like Afghanistan and elsewhere?

Here’s an interesting perspective from Charles Blow, opining in the NYT, “For Jobs, It’s War“:

The American political discussion has finally turned to the right target: jobs.

Even so, the president’s jobs bill is already being nickeled and dimed from the right — and the left — even though it is only throwing nickels and dimes at the problem to begin with. But at least it’s a start, even if a long-overdue one.

To understand just how overdue it is, one need look no further than the absolutely dreadful data issued this week by the Census Bureau about the increasing numbers of people falling into poverty. No matter how you slice it, it’s bloody.

There are now 46.2 million poor Americans.

Of those, 2.6 million fell into poverty last year.

At 15.1 percent, the poverty rate is at its highest since 1993.

Bloody, bloody, bloody.

But even those numbers somewhat obscure the true historic nature of the crisis and the effect that the recession, falling wages and chronic joblessness have had on those living in poverty. If you remove children and the elderly and just look at working-age adults — those 18 to 64 — the picture is even more bleak. The percentage of that group that is in poverty is the highest recorded since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty” during his first State of the Union address in January 1964.

And it’s not that most of these people don’t have jobs. It’s that they don’t have good jobs that pay enough to push them out of poverty. Three out of four of those below the poverty line work: half have full-time jobs, a quarter work part time. Only a quarter do not work at all.

This raises an important distinction — not only do we need to create more jobs, we need to increase the number of good jobs. And we can’t see that quest for good jobs as an internal skirmish between warring political ideologies. It’s an international war. At least that is the way Jim Clifton, chairman of Gallup, frames it in his fascinating — and frightening — new book, “The Coming Jobs War.”

According to Clifton, “the coming world war is an all-out global war for good jobs.”

(He defines a good job, also known as a formal job, as one with a “paycheck from an employer and steady work that averages 30-plus hours per week.”)

In the book he makes this striking statement, drawing from all of Gallup’s data: “The primary will of the world is no longer about peace or freedom or even democracy; it is not about having a family, and it is neither about God nor about owning a home or land. The will of the world is first and foremost to have a good job. Everything else comes after that.” The only problem is that there are not enough good jobs to go around.

Clifton explains that of the world’s five billion people over 15 years old, three billion said they worked or wanted to work, but there are only 1.2 billion full-time, formal jobs. Therefore his conclusion “from reviewing Gallup’s polling on what the world is thinking on pretty much everything is that the next 30 years won’t be led by U.S. political or military force.”

“Instead,” he says, “the world will be led with economic force — a force that is primarily driven by job creation and quality G.D.P. growth.” And guess who is vying for the lead? That’s right: China.

And I must say, we don’t appear to be poised to fight this war. In education we’ve gone from leading to lagging, our infrastructure is literally crumbling around us, ever-expanding health care costs threaten to suffocate us and our politics have succumbed to paralysis.

A widely-cited 2009 study by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools,” found that the recent American educational achievement gaps — between black and Latino students and white ones; between low-income students and the rest; between low-performing states and the rest; and between the United States as a whole and better-performing countries — not only cost the economy trillions of dollars, they also “impose on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.”

According to a recent report by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young, China has “about 9 percent of G.D.P. devoted to infrastructure, compared with less than 3 percent in the United States.” And the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure graded by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009 was so full of C’s and D’s that it looked like Rick Perry’s college transcript. The group estimated that $2.2 trillion of investment over five years was needed to bring conditions up to par. We’re not even close to that.

Furthermore, Clifton points out that 30 percent of America’s students drop out or do not graduate on time. He concludes, “If this problem isn’t fixed fast, the United States will lose the next worldwide, economic, jobs-based war because its players can’t read, write or think as well as their competitors in a game for keeps.”

And, a Rand Corporation study released last week found that “between 1999 and 2009, total spending on health care in the United States nearly doubled, from $1.3 trillion to $2.5 trillion. During the same period, the percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product devoted to health care climbed from 13.8 percent to 17.6 percent. Per person health care spending grew from $4,600 to just over $8,000 annually.”

We simply can’t sustain that sort of growth.

Clifton enumerates 10 “demands” that America will have to master to “lead the new will of the world” — from drastically increasing exports, to having investments follow “rare entrepreneurs versus the worldwide oversupply of innovation,” to something as basic as doing a better job of identifying where likely customers are. But at the top of the list is understanding that the world has a shortage of good jobs and every decision of every leader must be informed by increasing the share of those jobs.

He puts it this way:

“The war for global jobs is like World War II: a war for all the marbles. The global war for jobs determines the leader of the free world. If the United States allows China or any country or region to out-enterprise, out-job-create, out-grow its G.D.P., everything changes. This is America’s next war for everything.”

When it comes to jobs, we’re in a war that we can’t afford to lose.

OK. Mr. Sol just popped his head up over the ocean, and it’s most likely safe for me to start my five-mile run around the island without getting paced by an alligator.

Enjoy the weekend — and here’s hoping there is no snow waiting for me in Northeast Ohio.

 

Hallmark Cards: Congrats! You’re Fired

I guess you have to give Hallmark credit. The greeting card giant has developed a product aimed at one of the few growing segments of our economy: the unemployed. If you know someone who has been kicked to the curb by his or her employer, you can now buy and send a card to express your sympathy.

Woot. And I’ll admit that beyond Mother’s Day I didn’t know anyone actually sent greetings cards these days. I bought a small number of holiday cards (proud of myself that I didn’t write the politically incorrect Christmas) a decade ago, and I still have most of them taking up valuable closet space. I digress.

Anyway, here’s from Jon Bershad at Mediaiate, “Hallmark Now Selling Sympathy Cards For Unemployed People“:

Despite the best attempts from greeting card companies around the world, there are still like 50 days out of the year that haven’t been classified as holidays. So, in an attempt to boost sales, someone at Hallmark has come up a new demographic that, in America, is second only in size to “People Who Have Birthdays.” That’s right, they’re now releasing sympathy cards designed for those who have recently been laid off.

Yes, because there’s nothing unemployed people like more than knowing their friends still have enough money to spend $5.99 on a piece of paper.

From WLBZ:

“Hallmark recently rolled out a new line of layoff greeting cards.

Stores have a specific section for job loss and recession humor, offering words of support and encouragement.

With the unemployment rate at nine percent, the company says customers called-in the need.

One card reads ‘Don’t think of it as losing your job. Think of it as a time out between stupid bosses.’”

Bah ha ha ha! Man, if only unemployed people could spend food stamps on Dilbert books, they could really get over not having a job! Bosses are so stupid, am I right? Especially when they fire you and make it so you can’t feed your family and with each day you spend unemployed you get less and less hirable and why do I even need to get out bed today I mean it’s not like anyone expects me anywhere as I have absolutely nowhere to be and I could just die and no one would notice and I still have student loans.

Seriously though, funny, funny stuff. And apparently they’re selling well!

So, question to the unemployed amongst you, if someone showed up at your door right now with a brightly colored piece of paper featuring a cartoon dog, a pun, and a poorly recorded version of a 90s one-hit-wonder’s chorus as conciliation, how likely is the chance you’d punch them in the face? Just curious.

Sure. Most would punch them in the face. But I imagine that would be politically incorrect.

I report. You decide.

And talking about lots of yucks, does anyone think it is ironic that Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar were leading a discussion on The View that suggests that perhaps Chris Christie is too fat to be a credible presidential candidate?

LOL

Cutting Government Deficit, Increasing Jobs — Or Nothing?

Let’s see if I can get this straight. Are we trying to cut federal government spending and reduce the deficit? Increase jobs? Engage the masses in class warfare? Note to self: Where’s my pitchfork? And what side am I supposed to be on? Dismantle entitlement programs? Strengthen and enhance entitlement programs? All or none of the above.

Sheesh.

For a Congress and President that accomplishes very little beyond giving speeches and making appearances with the Inside the Beltway Chattering Classes on the Sunday TV talk shows it sure seems like there are a lot of fish in the skillet these days.

And why does it appear to this pajama-clad citizen journalist that all the proposals currently clogging the nation’s collective attention span will amount to nothing more than peeing in a sleeping bag on a cold morning? Sure. It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. But doesn’t accomplish much in the long run.

I could, of course, take the time to construct a solid case for all of this. But instead I’ll defer to David Brooks, the token conservative on the NYT op-ed page. Here’s from his article “Obama Rejects Obamaism“:

I liked Obama’s payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along. But of course I’m a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill.

It recycles ideas that couldn’t get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress. In his remarks Monday the president didn’t try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures. He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.

He claimed we can afford future Medicare costs if we raise taxes on the rich. He repeated the old half-truth about millionaires not paying as much in taxes as their secretaries. (In reality, the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 70 percent of all income taxes, according to the I.R.S. People in the richest 1 percent pay 31 percent of their income to the federal government while the average worker pays less than 14 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.)

This wasn’t a speech to get something done. This was the sort of speech that sounded better when Ted Kennedy was delivering it. The result is that we will get neither short-term stimulus nor long-term debt reduction anytime soon, and I’m a sap for thinking it was possible.

Well, maybe Brooks just got up on the wrong side of the sleeping bag. Let’s see how Dana Milbank views things these days since he is generally swinging from the left side of the plate. Here’s from his article in WaPo “Obama launches a revolution“:

Let us begin by stipulating that President Obama’s new budget plan is unrealistic, highly partisan and a non-starter on Capitol Hill.

That’s what’s so good about it.

At last, the president hasn’t conceded the race before the starter’s gun, hasn’t opened the bidding with his bottom line, hasn’t begun a game of strip poker in his boxer shorts. Whichever metaphor you choose, it was refreshing to see the president in the Rose Garden on Monday morning delivering a speech that, for once, appealed to the heart rather than the cerebrum.

“It is wrong that in the United States of America a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million,” the newly populist Obama declared.

Obama squinted into the morning sunlight and chopped the autumn air with his left hand. He got sputtering mad — literally — when he said his opponents would have us “settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports and — and — and — schools that are crumbling.”

Then came that rarest of Obama moves: an ultimatum. “I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.”

Republican howls of complaints began even before the speech.

“Class warfare,” protested Paul Ryan.

“Class warfare,” complained Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.

“Class warfare,” judged House Speaker John Boehner.

The president welcomed the charge. “I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or teacher is class warfare,” he told the Rose Garden crowd of 200. “I think it’s just the right thing to do.”

A moment later, the class warrior added: “Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. . . . Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both. This is not class warfare. It’s math.”

The audience — a quickly assembled collection of students, retirees and federal bureaucrats — chuckled at this line. Obama didn’t crack a smile.

OK. Like most people I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the debacle unfolding Inside the Beltway.

But if you are looking for a laugh, look no further than the so-called Buffett Rule. Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and stock picker, wants to pay his fair share of taxes and argues that his tax rate should not be lower than that of his secretary. Hard not to raise your pitchfork in favor of that notion.

But here’s the rub, as Roger Simon points out in Politico, “Eat the Rich“:

“This is not class warfare,” the president promised. “It’s math.”

Well, sort of. Though the rich do benefit enormously, the poor and middle class benefit from the current Tax Code, too. About half the households in America pay no income taxes at all, because the Tax Code says they don’t make enough. And middle-class taxpayers get a large break by being able to deduct their home mortgage interest. (Want a true third-rail in American politics? Try suggesting the elimination of that last one. Obama didn’t on Monday.)

In truth, the Tax Code gives too many breaks to too many people.

“All told, federal taxpayers last year received $1.08 trillion in credits, deductions and other perks while paying $1.09 trillion in income taxes, according to government estimates,” wrote Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post on Sunday. “Only about 8 percent of those benefits went to corporations. … The bulk went to private households, primarily upper middle-class families that Obama has vowed to protect from new taxes.”

And call me cynical (or an asshat) but as soon as the Prez reveals some specifics about the Buffett Rule, you can be sure the Oracle of Omaha’s tax advisers will be hard at work figuring out a way to avoid the tax.

Wonder if Mr. Buffett sleeps in a sleeping bag?

 

 

The Economy and Jobs: Time to Stop Blaming Bush?

OK. I’ll admit it. I voted for Obama. I blamed Bush and his administration for crashing the economy and getting us into a reckless war in Iraq. And up until a few months ago I figured Obama had a lock on another four years in the White House. No more. In fact, I’m not so sure he merits a second term.

And in any event, it’s time to stop blaming Bush for the crisis we are facing with a stagnant economy and high unemployment. Obama and his gang have failed miserably to create jobs and restore confidence in the economy. Stimulus One was a flop. And the proposed Stimulus Two doesn’t offer much hope. In fact, I’m becoming convinced that despite Obama’s rhetoric, the administration never expected the American Jobs Act to pass in total. I’m not sure that “better than doing nothing” is a winning strategy these days. We’ll see.

Anyway, this isn’t just the view of a lonely pajama-clad citizen journalist pecking away at the computer in the early a.m. Here’s from Robert Sheer, opining on The Huffington Post, “One Betrayal Too Many“:

It’s getting too late to give President Barack Obama a pass on the economy. Sure, he inherited an enormous mess from George W., who whistled “Dixie” while the banking system imploded. But it’s time for Democrats to admit that their guy bears considerable responsibility for not turning things around.

He blindly followed President Bush’s would-be remedy of throwing money at the banks and getting nothing in return for beleaguered homeowners. Sadly, Obama has proved to be nothing more than a Bill Clinton clone triangulating with the Wall Street lobbyists at the expense of ordinary folks.

That fatal arc of betrayal was captured by a headline in Tuesday’s New York Times: “Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on ‘Lost Decade.’ ” The Census Bureau reported that there are now 46.2 million Americans living below the official poverty line–the highest number in the 52 years since that statistic was first measured–and median household income has fallen back to the 1996 level. As Harvard economist Lawrence Katz summarized this dreary news: “This is truly a lost decade. We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”

Ah, ouch.

But importantly, how much confidence is there that Obama and his economic team (and let’s not talk about Jeff Immelt, Obama’s Jobs Czar who is making a career at GE out of sending jobs to China) know what he is doing.

Well, the fiasco with “green jobs” and the now belly-up Solyndra doesn’t help much. To paraphrase Ross Perot, that sucking sound is billions of dollars of taxpayer money going down the toilet. Here’s from WaPo, “Obama green-tech program that created Solyndra struggles to create jobs“:

A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show.

The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.

President Obama has made “green jobs” a showcase of his recovery plan, vowing to foster new jobs, new technologies and more competitive American industries. But the loan guarantee program came under scrutiny Wednesday from Republicans and Democrats at a House oversight committee hearing about the collapse of Solyndra, a solar-panel maker whose closure could leave taxpayers on the hook for as much as $527 million.

The GOP lawmakers accused the administration of rushing approval of a guarantee of the firm’s project and failing to adequately vet it. “My goodness. We should be reviewing every one of these loan guarantee” projects, said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

Obama’s efforts to create green jobs are lagging behind expectations at a time of persistently high unemployment. Many economists say that because alternative-­energy projects are so expensive and slow to ramp up, they are not the most efficient way to stimulate the economy.

And here’s a perspective from someone unlike me who may actually know what he is writing about: George Will — “Our floundering federal family“:

In societies governed by persuasion, politics is mostly talk, so liberals’ impoverishment of their vocabulary matters. Having damaged liberalism’s reputation, they call themselves progressives. Having made the federal government’s pretensions absurd, they have resurrected a supposed synonym for the government, the “federal family.” Having made federal spending suspect, they advocate “investments” — for “job creation,” a euphemism for stimulus, another word they have made toxic.

Barack Obama, a pitilessly rhetorical president, continues to grab the nation by its lapels, demanding its attention, and is paying the price: The nation is no longer listening. This matters because ominous portents are multiplying.

Bank of America, which reported an $8.8 billion loss last quarter, plans to lay off 30,000 out of a workforce of nearly 300,000. The Postal Service hopes to shed 120,000 of its 653,000 jobs (down from almost 900,000 a decade ago). Such churning of the labor market would free people for new, more productive jobs — except that to reduce unemployment, the economy needs an approximately 3 percent growth rate, triple today’s rate.

Consumers of modest means are so strapped that Wal-Mart is reviving layaway purchases for the Christmas season. The Wall Street Journal reports that Procter & Gamble, which claims to have at least one product in 98 percent of American households, expects hard times for a long time: It is putting new emphasis on lower-priced products for low-income shoppers.

And more:

For two years, there has been one constant: As events have refuted the Obama administration’s certitudes, the administration has retained its insufferable knowingness. It knew that the stimulus would hold unemployment below 8 percent. Oops. Unemployment has been at least 9 percent in 26 of the 30 months since the stimulus was passed. Michael Boskin of Stanford says that, even if one charitably accepts the administration’s self-serving estimate of jobs “created or saved” by the stimulus, each job cost $280,000 — five times America’s median pay.

And research by Garett Jones and Daniel M. Rothschild of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center indicates that just 42.1 percent of workers hired by entities receiving stimulus funds were unemployed at the time. More (47.3 percent) were poached from other organizations, and 10.6 percent came directly from school or outside the labor force.

Obama’s administration, which is largely innocent of business experience, knew its experts would be wizards at investing taxpayers’ dollars. Oops. After receiving more than half a billion stimulus dollars in loan guarantees, bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra has shed nearly all of its more than 1,100 workers.

Ah, time to stop blaming Bush.

Just sayin’.