Working – A Memoir

Men At Lunch

Fellow blogger Indiana Jen called my attention to a Smithsonian article  about a famous photograph, “Men at Lunch”. It was taken in 1932 New York City 850 feet above the street, long before anyone ever thought of OSHA. Although the iconic photo was familiar I immediately flashed on an old photograph in which my father appeared along with other oil-field men. Sadly, I haven’t been able to locate it, but it was similar, except for the elevation of course. A bunch of workers in their grimy work clothes.

My father was a worker like the men on the girder. Those men built the RCA skyscraper (currently the GE building), but they weren’t entrepreneurs, nor were they heroes in the conventional sense of the word. They were working stiffs, coming to a dirty and often dangerous job every day for a paycheck. Only after the fact were they likely to look back on their experience and reflect with pride on what they did, and there’s evidence that they did. As the article indicates, many of their descendants note with pride the presence of an ancestor in the picture. And there can be no doubt of many similar stories of workers, the ones who built dams for example, another highly dangerous class of jobs. There were numerous deaths in the the building of the Hoover dam. Out of 112 deaths associated with the project, sixteen men died from heat prostration alone in the summer of 1931 when the temperature got as high as 119 degrees.

Ray Wheeler

Ray Wheeler was born in 1905 Oklahoma, the son of an oilfield worker whom my grandmother eventually divorced because of his drinking. When Dad’s stepfather sent him to a “military school” for boys, he rebelled and at the age of 15 with a 9th grade education ran away from home. Just how he managed is unclear, but there were hints in the few stories he did tell. He said he learned welding just from watching other men do it and when he saw a welding job advertised he assured them that he could do that too. And he did. After my mother died I found among her effects an old company photo badge of his from a welding job in North Carolina, a place I hadn’t known he worked.

I can only imagine his adventures. He said he had tonsillitis so bad one time when he was on his own that he thought he would die, and after he recovered a doctor asked him when he had had his tonsils taken out. He hadn’t – he guessed they must have “rotted out” that very sick time so long ago. At the age of 26 he met my mother during a visit home – a country school teacher who was one of my grandmother’s boarders, and they married soon after. I however was purposely put on hold for five years, a financial decision of the Great Depression.

My father was a taciturn man, and apolitical so far as I knew. I never heard him even discuss politics, but this isn’t surprising because he was naturally pragmatic just like his mother, his sister and his half-brother. He accepted the world as it was, with no illusions. He was honest more by nature than by creed. He cared for his family, always; we never lacked for any need. He loved to hunt and fish, those were his particular pleasures, but he worked for money and I recall him expressing pride that he had the kind of job that afforded a “good wage”, meaning better than most. The rate of $2.12 an hour is the one I recall and he often sought overtime, time-and-a-half, working 12-hour shifts. I remember many times his struggle to sleep by day to prepare for night shifts. He rose to the grade of “driller” which was the senior worker position on a cable-tool rig.

“Oil” Paintings

His jobs were temporary by design and lasted only until a well was completed, at which time he had to look for another. There were no benefits, no health insurance, no retirement, a tremendous deal for the oil companies. During the war he worked as a welder. We moved around and he welded at a government project near Oak Ridge Tennessee for a year or so, and then at Douglas Aircraft in Tulsa. But after the war, he returned to the oilfields.

What are we to make of such men, these working men? They don’t create jobs, they seek them. They take life as it comes and they make the best of it they can. They accept responsibility. I am reminded of Michelle Obama’s father, Fraser Robinson, of whom a National Review article said,

According to Michelle’s convention speech and to published accounts, her father was a pump operator at the city water plant in Chicago. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a young man, and still got up to work every day. The first lady described how she watched him “grab his walker, prop himself against the sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.” When he came home, he’d reach down to lift one leg after another to make it up the stairs and greet his kids.

Such men serve society not by great inventions, nor by creating jobs, nor by setting records, nor by investing cleverly. They serve by showing up, on time. The serve by hard work and determination and by acceptance of family responsibility. They serve by being so reliable, so determined, so trustworthy that it would never even occur to their children that anything bad could ever happen to them. Yes, I know that not everybody in “the 47%” is like that, but many are and I’m proud that my father was one of them.  And the saving grace of his years of labor, after he died of cancer at age 58, was Social Security and Medicaid which enabled my mother and sister to continue their lives in dignity.

When politicians argue about what society owes to “the 47% that pays no income tax” they need to remember that a big part of America’s success is due to the unsung heroes who faithfully show up, face their responsibilities, and keep the economy going. To discount such people is to discount who we are as a nation.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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41 Responses to Working – A Memoir

  1. Jim,
    What a fine post and homage to your father’s sense of responsibility and work ethic. Thanks for reminding us that a life well lived is determined by more important things than money.

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  2. PiedType says:

    Wonder story, Jim. Men like your dad built this country, literally. They and those like them are deserving of far more respect than certain politicians seem willing to accord them.

    Like

  3. henrygmorgan says:

    Jim: Your dad reminds me very much of my grandad, my mother’s father. He went to work at 14 for TCI, Tennessee Coal & Iron, in Birmingham, making steel. Somewhere in his twenties, he moved up to become a high steel man, much like those men in your photo. I used to think that he was the bravest man on earth, but he admitted to me once that he was terrified of mines and he would never go down into one, even for more money. What he did every day for a living was terrifying enough for me. Grandpa continued to work until he was in his seventies when arthritis rendered him incapable of working the high steel jobs. Greatest generation indeed! Bud

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  4. My father was a 39-year vet with the Bell System – Illinois Bell. He had no college degree, he barely got his GED. He started his career climbing ladders and running phone wire into people’s houses. He was “treed” at least once by a ferocious dog, and had plenty of less-than-welcoming customers. He worked his way up, via teletype repair, to teaching the basics of data transmission and the grandfathers of the current Internet. He was rarely sick, always worked when he was, and was so dedicated to his work, that he pulled my sister and I out of school to walk the picket line during the big IBEW strike in 1968. (He had run over his foot with a lawn mower, removing the ends of 3 of his toes, less than 3 weeks earlier.) He was the son of a single mother during the Depression, and taught himself to fix and build tings because he never had the money for himself. Every penny went either into savings, or into my sister and I to ensure we had whatever we needed to learn. And all this was on top of a VERY short stint in the Navy (they nuked Hiroshima 8 days into his boot camp), and 2 years in Korea.
    We haven’t talked in years, because he cannot conceive of my not being able to work due to a headache, and believes it’s “all in my head”. (Funny, maybe not, but ironic as all get out.) But I respect him, and love him, and try desperately every day to measure up to him.
    And then I see today’s kids, molly-coddled and wrapped in enough protection to survive a mile-high freefall. I look at all the rules and regulations, specifically designed to shelter our kids, and their kids. And it makes me wonder about the future.
    You wrote a great bio of your father, Jim – I can hear the love in between the words. And I think, after writing what I did, it might be time to pick up pen and paper, and write that cantankerous old SOB that gave birth to me. If only to let him know I love him……

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  5. Jim,

    What a wonderful tribute to your father and, by extension, to all the working fathers out there who meet their responsibilities, sacrifice for their families and contribute immeasurably to the success of this nation.

    I have said here and many other places before that in my opinion Conservatives have increasingly lost their compassion, their empathy, and , as John Dean put it, their conscience. They have resorted to blaming the victims. They make the absurd and false dichotomy that those 47% who don’t pay income taxes are freeloaders, irresponsible, and a burden on the fine upstanding 53%. The scary part is that they, or at least the Tea Party/American Taliban faction of Conservatives, actually believe that crap.

    To me this flap over the 47% is what completes the right wing nuts. They always have to have an enemy — even if they have to make one up. It’s their social identity that is always right; it’s us or them, you’re either in or you’re out, with us or against us. This is tribalism gone off the track. It is the motor that drives the authoritarian worldview. Democracy? We don’t know nothin’ about no stinkin’ democracy!

    Sorry to get on my soapbox here. But your characterization of your father is so wonderful that for him and the millions of others like him to be demeaned and dismissed by a bunch of self-righteous, arrogant, condescending assholes just got me stirred up. Again!

    Herb

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  6. Well done, Jim. A moving and interesting story. A fanfare for the common man.

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  7. ansonburlingame says:

    And thus the politics of today, so grossly overstated by Herb where he wrote, “for him and the millions of others like him to be demeaned and dismissed by a bunch of self-righteous, arrogant, condescending assholes just got me stirred up. Again”

    Conservatives applaud men like Jim’s father for their individual effort to provide for themselves and their families, which Jim’s father obviously did. As well Jim does not provide us with the insight into his father that explains WHY his father lead the life sketched out above. Again, based only on the sketch above I have great admiration for Jim’s father, a “ruff neck” that supported his family and himself throughout his life, or so it seems.

    In the past I have written about “Irene” and her son “Floyd”. There are two lives that produce great things for America through their individual efforts keeping food on the table and a roof over their familiies heads without EVER asking for a “hand out”. As well Floyd has four children all middle aged now that support themselves and their families as well and no government “hand outs” other than later on SS and Medicare.

    But there are also plenty of anecdotal stories today of people that will take every “hand out” they can get, no matter where it comes from. Here is just one. A young woman, trying to recover from addiction, well dressed, intelligent, etc. recently told me she was “glad to be unemployed” so she can devote all of her time to recovery.

    I asked her “how do you live, day to day?” (meaning of course financially). Her reply was “My tribe gives me all the money that I need” (She is native American). Evidently she has been “on the dol” for several years now, in and out of “free” treatment centers, full time out patient treatment, etc. yet has so far failed to achieve any meaningful level of recovery from her addiction.

    So of course the question becomes how long should such “support” be provided to that young woman? I wonder how Jim’s father might reply to that question? She seems quite comfortable taking all the “hand outs” possible and at the same time making no progress towards a recovery essential to getting on a path to become a productive member of society.

    Here are some really “clear” numbers. There are about 243 Million Americans that are of the age and mental/physical condition CAPABLE of “working”. Yet only about 142 Million are actually employed (12 Million counted as unemployed). The above young woman is only counted in the 243 Million category (civilian noninstitutional population) complied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. She is one of about 88 Million counted as well as “not in the civilian labor force”.

    NEVER was Jim’s father considered in such a statistic, 88 Million Americans capable of but not even trying to work to support themselves and their families. That number, 88 Million Americans is where our focus should be as we debate government social programs. About 50 Million of that total are “retired” and every one of them (by and large) is receiving SS and Medicare today whether they need it or not and that segment costs the federal government some $1.5 Trillion each year alone.

    Care to estimate what it costs the federal government today to support in some form or the other the OTHER 38 MILLION “non working” Americans, all of the age and mental/physical capacity to do “something” productive to support themselves and/or their families. The above young woman certainly is in that number, 38 Million. How many others are just like her and what does that total number cost the federal government today?

    Jim’s sister is also NOT in the 243 Million number above. She is an “institutionalized” statistic so her status is not even considered as pertinent to this point.

    The goal of social policy should be, in my view, to ensure that every American is capable of being a productive member of society. Of course that goal will never be achieved, but as well the should establish programs that drive the number of “unproductive” individuals to as low as reasonably achievable.

    Just to make the point consider these numbers, straight from the BLS data found online.

    At the END of 2009 the “civilian noninstitutional population” in America was 235 Million. In August of 2012 that number was 243 Million. During Obama’s watch the number of “nonproductive” Americans has INCREASED by 8 Million Americans.

    On the other hand the “civilian work force” (employed plus unemployed Americans) has remained constant at 154 Million souls. You will not read such statistics in the media today, 8 Million MORE Americans not even trying to “produce” economically over the last 3 years during Obama’s “watch”.

    If that is not a negative trend reflecting the failure of federal social policies, I have no idea what you progressives would call it. Here is the link to see the data described. http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea01.htm

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      As to my screed regarding the “self-righteous, arrogant, condescending assholes,” go back and watch Romney’s now infamous “47%” speech at the 50,000/plate dinner and then read David Brooks column (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/opinion/brooks-thurston-howell-romney.html?_r=5smid=tw-share&amp😉 where he writes, in part:

      “The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefitted from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.”

      In other words, Romney and his fellow plutocrats don’t know what the hell they are talking about. The 47% has been parsed and proved wrong in so many ways, that I won’t go into it here. Suffice to say, those who continue to believe what Romney said is true, then, IMHO, they indeed fall into the category of assholes that I described above.

      What most people think about when they hear “welfare” is the old “Aid to Families with Dependent Children” (AFDC) program which was changed, in 2006, to the new “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF). As described by the Department of Health and Human Services, “The welfare reform legislation of 1996, (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act – PWRORA – Public Law 104-193), TANF replaced the welfare programs known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program and the Emergency Assistance (EA) program. The law ended federal entitlement to assistance and instead created TANF as a block grant that provides States, territories and tribes federal funds each year. These funds cover benefits, administrative expenses, and services targeted to needy families. TANF became effective July 1, 1997, and was reauthorized in February 2006 under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.”

      This is the “Work for Welfare” program established by Clinton and it continues to today. And it has worked really well. In 1996, there were 4,543,397 families and 12,644,915 recipients on “welfare.” In 2011, there were 1,921,243 families with 4,599,846 recipients. (See http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/caseload/caseload_current.htm) So, over the last 15 years, there has been a reduction of 58% in families and a decrease of 64% in recipients on “welfare.” Seems to me like more people are getting off welfare and going to work instead. This the total opposite of what the Republicans and Romney/Ryan have been saying about all those irresponsible freeloaders. They, like you, need to CHECK THE FACTS!

      Your conclusions and extrapolations of the data you cited from BLS are so wrong in so many ways, that I won’t take any more time to correct them. But what you call “a negative trend reflecting the failure of federal social policies,” is belied, again by the facts.

      By the way, you keep referring to me as a “progressive.” If you are talking about Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party of 1912, then I’m happy to be a “Bull Moose” like him. But if you mean The Progressive Party of 1924, created for Robert M. La Follette, then I might consider joining up. But, if you’re trying to put me in the United States Progressive Party of 1948, along with the socialists and communists, I doth protest loudly.And you should know better.

      Herb

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      • donvphilly says:

        Thank you Jim and Herb for the time and thought you put into your blogs. All I can hope for is that the self centered attitudes presented by Anson never get to represent the majority of Americans. At least I hope that at 82 it does not do so in my lifetime. Why is that they have such distain for those less fortunate than themselves?

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  8. ansonburlingame says:

    Herb,

    You seem to endorse the “Dean Book” concepts of all conservatives somehow calling for the demise of America as we knew it or even know it today. To me that is “extreme”. As well I still “sputter” when you called for trial and punishment of Bush II. Just those two positions are enough for me to take whatever you write with a grain of salt, including your all encompassing statement posted above.

    Now I posted a little known trend in numbers above in my comment showing more and more Americans dropping out of our “labor force”. When that happens the economic potential of any country will go down. It is simple in concept. The fewer the number of people “working” means the production potential of any country will plumment unless “productivity gains” take control. Think of it, simply, as computers replacing humans.

    Now HERE is a number I bet you or most Americans have not heard in the “blither” of statistics in the campaign. At the END of 2008 the number of people employed in America (according to BLS statistics) was 145.362 Million people living in America. At the end of August 2012 that number was 142.101 Million souls or a NET LOSS of employed Americans of 3.261 MILLION people employed in America. During the same period, the END of 2008 to Aug 2012 the NET GAIN in people living in America “not in the work force was !.402 MILLION (1,402,000).

    About 1.5 MILLION “dropped out” of even trying to work during the course of Obama’s years in office. Additionally over 3.2 Million Americans are NOT employed now in late 2012 as compared to the number employed at the time Obama took charge of our economy. Look at it another way. During Obama’s “watch the number of employed Americans went DOWN by 3.2 Million souls. During Bush II’s “watch” (END of 2000 to END of 2008) the number of employed Americans went UP by 9.417 MILLION souls.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      I don’t mean to apply the clarity of John Dean’s analysis to all Conservatives/Republicans. If I left that impression, I apologize. But I do mean to apply much of what he says to those who are what I (and many others) now call the American Taliban; the right wing extremists whose behavior has been condemned by many prominent folks on the right (who are then labeled RINOs).

      No, I believe the right wing nuts have shown their colors and they ain’t pretty. This is especially true, in my view, for the Romney/Ryan ticket. Now, unless you can produce some evidence, written or otherwise, that will illustrate some any kind of beneficial rationale behind their refusal to compromise and their unwillingness to govern all the citizens of this country equally, then I will consider this case as closed.

      I will say, though, that as a result of my little epiphany as to the true character of the zealots in the party formerly known as the GOP, I have taken off the gloves. I’ve had it with the lies and misinformation and gaffs and contradictions and paranoia and misplaced values. It seems that unless someone is willing to start a business or have rich parents or otherwise bow to the god of accumulated wealth, then the American Taliban will say they are lazy, irresponsible, and part of the nanny state. They will, as I’ve said, blame the victims. That’s what they do.

      Never mind that we have teachers who want to be the best teachers they can be, or auto mechanics who want to be the best they can be, or nurses or bartenders, or truck drivers, or welders, or family farmers who love what they do and who find happiness in a career that doesn’t produce much wealth. I think anybody, Republican or Democrat, who thinks those values are less important than the size of their bank account, ought to be run out of office, on a rail, with tar, feathers, and all.

      Now, regarding your fun with the employment numbers, I would just remind you that we are in a rather severe recession. As I understand it, a high unemployment rate is a consequence of such an economic condition. But laying the blame for our current financial woes squarely on Obama or the Democrats without considering the history going back to Reaganomics is very narrowminded.

      Of course, the unemployment situation is really worse than what the numbers say because we now have MBA’s who have to accept jobs that only require a G.E.D. just to survive. Our middle class, the engine of our economy, is shrinking. It is truly sad that he next generation mostly understands that their standard of living will be less than their parents.

      There are any number of solutions to our current financial crisis, but there is no political will to adopt and put them into operation. That’s probably because everybody’s ox is going to get gored in the process – anathema to politicians. I have to agree with David Brooks on this one; the fixes we need will come about only after we go off the fiscal cliff.

      Anson, I fear you are starting to believe too much of the Tea Party propaganda. Either that or you’ve been spending too much time over on Caldwell’s Corner.

      Herb

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Duane,

      As you know I’ve been on a quest this last two years and what is in this post is at the heart of how I discovered who I am politically. I tell you honestly that the more I study the more convinced I am that I’m on the right track.

      Jim

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  9. Jim Wheeler says:

    @ All,

    I am grateful to Herb for his work, and it is work, in relating the history of welfare reform. I had begun the same task but he beat me to it. Wikipedia, that most marvelous knowledge resource of the ages, has an excellent page on the 1996 welfare reform as embodied in the law known as PWRORA. Interesting, is it not, that it came about through the process of extended negotiation between the political parties and compromise by both sides?

    To Donvphilly, I do not think that conservatives have disdain for the truly deserving “less fortunate”, but I do think they believe the size of the “undeserving” cohort is larger than it is. One of the links in the PWRORA article leads to the concept of “welfare queen”, a term made famous by Ronald Reagan in a 1976 political speech. The unabashedly outrageous fictional story was effective in rousing strong and revulsive emotions over an issue which was already primed for reform. I see the welfare queen story as similar to Anson’s stories of Irene and Floyd, and of the Indian-welfare abusing woman, even though the queen was fictional and the others real. Being real is not necessarily the same as being typical. Anyone who has worked hard for a living and sacrificed to improve themselves is bound to be incensed by such stories. Below the layers of adulthood in all of us, in the animal part of our brains lie vulnerabilities of jealousy, greed, and resentment. But welfare abuse did not happen in a short period of time, and not even over a mere four or eight years. It had been building since the Great Depression and there’s no doubt it needed fixing. And, I don’t doubt that the Native American welfare system needs fixing as well, but my concern is that the Tea Party favors measures that are unnecessarily draconian, such as virtually eliminating most federal funding for Medicaid.

    Henry Morgan had an excellent column in today’s Joplin Globe. He was responding to a right-wing columnist who had wielded non-factual sound bites similar to the welfare queen story and he rightly and meticulously pointed out the difference between facts and her opinions. He is to be commended for his hard work even though it is not likely to change many minds here in the ideologically-conservative Bible Belt.

    Anson, in his latest comment, is hung up on short-term numbers. He is comfortable blaming the Obama administration with not fixing the economy and the job market in four years despite the evidence that its roots are deep and complex. This is an emotional overreaction to a problem that has no short-term fix in my opinion. What we need to decide in the coming election is not whom to blame, nor whom to punish, but which party is best equipped to handle the problem in a mature manner, similar to the way Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America in the 1990’s. Which do we want, quick fixes and draconian strong medicine that places the burden on the most vulnerable in society, or sensible measures that will incrementally put us back on the track to prosperity? Which party most takes the long view and which demands immediate action in solving decades-old problems, whether it be welfare or Iran’s nuclear weapons? In my opinion, President Obama has demonstrated that he is well equipped, intellectually and emotionally, for the job. Mitt Romney on the other hand seems to demand quick fixes while declining to be specific about what the quick fixes are.

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  10. ansonburlingame says:

    To all,

    Well at least I am not accused of another strawman argument. Now I am only “hung up on short term numbers”!!! Well I have heard a few short term numbers from Dems of late for sure like creating a gazillion jobs in the last four years or so!!!

    Just to be sure you all understand how crazy that Dem slogan might be, consider that the total number of people living in America and “in the civlian labor force” went up by about 350 THOUSAND people since the end of 2008 while the number ENTERING the “not in the work force” went UP by over 10 Million.

    There are about 88,9 MILLION people living in America that are “not in the labor force” today. There are about 150 Million in the “civilian work force”. Look carefully at that 10.5 Million increase in the “not in the labor force” category that has happened since 2009 (3 1/2 years) and thus all or almost all happening on the Obama watch. From the begining of 2001 until the end of 2008 that increase in that category, 8 years of Bush II the total increase was about 7 Million.

    To me that is a rate of increase that is about twice as fast of people LEAVING the work force and thus not even counted in unemployment statistics. Now how exactly do all those people live, financially? There are today 88.9 MIllion (and counting) people (that ARE adults and not “institutionalized”) not working or trying to work that live in America today.

    Is that a problem for our country? Subtract about 50 Million (retired people) from that number and you still have 38 Million unaccounted for in terms of “earning their own way” in America and THAT NUMBER does NOT include the 12 Million that are counted as unemployed.

    I have learned how to look for (and find) other numbers that relate to our economy and unemployment as a direct result of auditing an economic course at MSSU. I KNEW I did not know the basics of macroeconomics and thus am taking a college course to improve my understanding. As well I was always very suspicious that what we are told by politicians and the media on those subjects was more spin than reality from BOTH sides of the aisle.

    My former suspicions that we are becoming more and more a socialistic type State are now being confirmed based on government statistics seldom if ever revealed to most of us. The unemployment numbers above are just an example. Soon you will hear about REAL GDP versus what we are told our GDP is as well. Real GDP is in fact an economic term, not a figment of my imagination just in case you wondered and is a factual representation our our productive output in America in total goods and services, leaving inflationary price increases out of the picture.

    Look at it this way. From 2001 – 2012 prices alone and thus GDP would have increased by about 31% if we had made and served EXACTLY to same number of “things” in 2001 and 2012. Not too many people worry about 1%, 2% or 3% inflation per year. But aggregate such price (alone) increases over 10 years and……..

    I have provided a link for you to check the numbers as well, government (BLS) numbers but ones we never hear or read about. WHY?

    Well the real reason, in my view, is that the numbers simply confirm the looming fiscal cliff in the SHORT TERM, now. Forget 10 or even 50 years predictions. And given such reality NEITHER side is really addressing the SHORT TERM issues, like what about Jan 1, 2013.

    Nope, we must “wait until after the election” to see what happens, right!!!

    Anson

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  11. ansonburlingame says:

    Sorry folks, but I can’t resist. See the headline article (HERB!!!) in the Sept 25, 2012 Huffington Post. Here is the headline!!

    Ralph Nader Says Obama Is A ‘War Criminal’ Who Has Been ‘More Aggressive’ Than George W. Bush (VIDEO)

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      I knew that some time ago. Remember my Op-Ed in Globe, “’Star Chamber’ taking aim at U.S. Constitution,” posted on April 16, 2012. I wrote: “But it’s the people at the top — the generals, the CIA director, the secretaries of state and defense and homeland security, and the president — who call the shots (pun intended). Hiding behind questionable interpretations of the law, they mete out their own brand of justice. They meet in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries and no witnesses. They are the new Star Chamber. And they can use unmanned, heavily armed drones to kill Americans.”

      Although I didn’t specifically say it, the clear implication is that Obama and company have set the constitution aside in violation of their oath of office and in violation of international law.

      So, you might be suprised, but I actually agree with Ralph. If we had impeached Bush when we should have, then perhaps Obama’s carrying on (and expanding) these bad acts could have been stopped. But, we didn’t, so here we are.

      I have no objection to the impeachment process against Obama being started by Speaker Boehner in the House. At some point we need to do something to reign in our political leaders, especially the president, who are taking license to do what they want to do in spite of the rule of law. An impeachment hearing and Senate trial might just do the trick.

      I would add, however, that Nader also thinks ROMNEY WOULD BE EVEN WORSE THAN OBAMA! So, as usual, we’re down to choosing between the evil of two lessors.

      Herb

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  12. To All,

    First, do not be mislead by Anson’s misunderstanding of BLS’s “Not in the Work Force” numbers. According to the BLS, those not in the work force are “Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. This category includes retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work. That latter category would include Michelle Obama and Ann Romney by the way.

    The total Not in the Work Force number, after deducing for retirees, students, and stay-at-home moms and dads, is then broken down further. You can see in Table A-16 (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t16.htm) that the persons seeking work (not the retirees, etc.) was 6.493 million in 2011, and 7.031 million in 2012, for a one year gain of 538,000, or 8.29%. So, Anson’s claim that, “About 1.5 MILLION ‘dropped out’ of even trying to work during the course of Obama’s years in office,” is just flat wrong. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then compares 3.5 years of Obama to 8 years of Bush, which, of course, is meaningless. Anson seems to think that full time college students, like the ones in Med School, and 80 year old grandmas, are “not even trying” to find work. Wow.

    Next, Anson tries to tell us something about the GDP versus the Real (inflation adjusted) GDP. I don’t really understand what his point is so I can’t comment.

    But Anson and his right wing buddies should be proud of Obama’s complete failure to turn this country into a socialist state. Corporate profits have set record highs for 3 of the last 4 years. And the stock market, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average has DOUBLED since Obama took office. And instead of nationalizing the Auto Industry like any good socialist would do, he provided a means to allow that industry to flourish, thereby protecting jobs, millions of stockholders, and an untold number of pension funds. (The pension funds, by the way are used mainly by those who are NOT IN THE LABOR FORCE.) Could Obama really be a, gulp, closet capitalist??? Hmmm. . . .

    Herb

    Like

  13. henrygmorgan says:

    Jim: Thanks for the nice words about my article in ysterday’s Globe, although I agree with you that it is unlikely to have much impact in this part of the country. Bud

    Like

  14. ansonburlingame says:

    Herb,

    At least you are consistent in calling for Obama’s impeachment as well as that of Bush II. I would suggest that much of our political divide today started with the impeachment of Clinton, a technically (legally) correct charge of lying while under oath, but one that divided the country rather than unanimously bringing the country together under the rule of law.

    Thus we make political judgments as to whether lying under oath is less of an offense than “killing Americans” overseas who are activly trying to overthrow the American government. We have NEVER actually kicked a President out of office and only impeached one twice in 235 years. We also caused one President to resign rather than face inevitable impeachment as well.

    So the question is when do we the people decide to pull that trigger and thus becomes a political debate, not a legal one.

    But now back to more practical issues related to economic concerns. Your link is interesting and frankly I do not really understand it, yet. I will “take it to class” today to explore that information more thoroughly however. But here is my basic concern, expressed often in these blogs.

    I believe the issue of “no loads” is a bigger and bigger problem in America today and is ONE of the reasons for escalating entitlement costs that are going to bankrupt the country sooner or later if left unchanged.

    Fundamentally if we want to provide all the necessities of life to everyone living in America that do not have such necessities we must do two things.

    First we must define very carefully and clearly exactly what those necessities might be. Do all Americans have an absolute “right” to open heart surgery just as an example? If people are in fact hungry exactly how much and what kind of food should be provided to them? That list goes on and on and arguments will do the same in trying to find answers to such.

    But WHATEVER we decide are the necessities of life, we also MUST be able to pay for them on a sustainable basis, not just “wish” to pay for them. If a Party DEMANDS such programs then that Party MUST figure out how to pay for them in its political programs. I have NO objection to keeping Medicare “as we know it” but ONLY IF we figure out how to pay for it!!!.

    The way to increase payments by governments, the government revenue must go up. You can do that two ways. Raise tax rates OR grow the economy (or do both I suppose)

    The way to grow the economy is increasing GDP (but that of course does not ensure better distribution of income which is a whole different subject). Growing GDP means increasing the production of goods and services in America (not China). The best way to grow production is to increase the productive labor force. REAL GDP measures that kind of growth, but not necessarily GDP. “Inflation” has gone up by 31% since 2001. If we produced the exact same number of “things” in 2012 as we did in 2001 then GDP would go up by 31% (due only to price increases). But REAL GDP would be constant showing no growth.

    When huge increases in the “not in the labor force” numbers occur that to me means we are loosing productive labor capacity which of course retards growth in GDP.

    Today huge sums of federal dollars essentially pay people NOT to work (all 88 Million of them). We borrow 40 cents on every dollar to do so as well. 88 million folks “not in the labor force” to me is a real problem, an economic problem. And you know as well as I do that some “no loads” lurk within that large number. How many exactly out of that 88 Million are IN FACT “no loads” is the unanswered question and even when the question is asked personal invective comes into play.

    But I know this as well. Look closely into the 88 Million and sort out the “no loads”. THAT is impossible to do so with government statistics or even surveys. NO ONE volunteers such information and almost all of them have a good excuse why they are not “no loads” living only on the benefits (needed or not) provided by government.

    I would start such an “investigation” by determining exactly how many of those 88 Million are “retired” and still “making” a million dollars or more in “income” while at the same time collect SS and Medicare. But that would only be the tip of a very large iceberg in my view.

    Progressives will only look at the obvious “tip” and claim there is no iceberg underneath. I believe the iceberg is of such a size that it can and will sink our ship of state. Thus we argue with little or no “proof” as to exactly how many of those 88 Million SHOULD be earning their own way in life (at any age) versus how many REALLY NEED and deserve our help.

    Anson

    Like

  15. Alan Scott says:

    Jim,

    I am sorry, I do not ‘ get it ‘ . What your tribute to your Father has to do with Governor Romney .

    Like

  16. ansonburlingame says:

    What a politically motivated and dumb statement, that Romney would “not understand” a man that earned his own way throughtout his life. Hell, Obama “would not understand him either!” Why should a man bust his butt for a lifetime rather than let government “elevate him” into the middle class???

    Anson

    Like

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Well, since there are at least two who don’t “get it”, maybe it would be somewhat cathartic to try to explain what to me is obvious.

      As I noted, during his lifetime my father received no benefits as part of his working compensation. No retirement, no health benefit, no expense account, no company car, no mileage expense to and from work, no relocation allowance for change of job or assignment, no work clothing, no cleaning allowance. No company jet either. The oil companies were quite happy to employ men like my father for a strict hourly wage and nothing else, and indeed, why shouldn’t they? Business is all about maximizing profits and minimizing expenses, including the personnel expenses. The cheaper the production labor the larger the salaries and bonuses and the larger the stock dividends for shareholders. The only possible incentive I can think of for the oil companies to have paid any more to their workers or provide more benefits than they did is the potential unionization of such men, but there never was such a movement that I heard of. So the pay was likely just enough to attract such workers from alternate kinds of work. Without any kind of government oversight to provide a financial and moral context, it seems to me that all businesses would gravitate to behave like my father’s employers did, and that is exactly what happened in the 19th century. History shows too, by the way, that the same is true of environmental concerns and risks in the absence of adequate government labor laws and regulations. Examples abound, not least in the recent BP Gulf oil spill catastrophe.

      Compare what my father received with what men like Mitt Romney received, which I assume included not only all the benefits I listed but also a continuing salary while he supposedly was off to the Olympics and doing no actual work for Bain Capital. Or for that matter, compare it with what Anson has, he a military retiree who like myself has outstanding retirement and medical benefits for life. Anson, one of my detractors who calls me “dumb” for thinking this way, will perhaps say that my father should have been clever, should have made better decisions, should have stayed in school. Yes, all that is probably true. I do wish he had opted for something more stable in life. And yet are we all not subject to all manner of things that shape our futures, many of them bad?

      “Life turns on a dime. Sometimes towards us, but more often it spins away, flirting and flashing as it goes: so long, honey, it was good while it lasted, wasn’t it?”

      ― Stephen King, 11/22/63

      The butterfly effect is real and one thing leads to another. So in this post I was suggesting, perhaps too subtly for some, that a proper modern government ought to provide sufficient financial and social structure such that all citizens can be assured of fair treatment in the workplace and insured against catastrophic accident or illness by the social safety net in such a way that they can maximize their individual potential. I am not suggesting that government provide so many benefits that people lose the incentive to work, and while some seem to think that’s what’s going on, I strongly disagree. Instead of slugs mooching on society the stories I read about and see on the news reflect people in general, the 47% if you will, as hungry for self actualization and independence. And to those who say we can’t afford to do that, I say nonsense. It is a matter of priorities and the two biggest areas ripe for reform are the medical industrial complex and the defense industrial complex.

      I think my father’s story provides a view of what life was like for a solidly good man who was disadvantaged early and who strove courageously to make the best of his lot in life despite it all, but I also hoped it would provide a contrast against which to measure what his life might have been in a world where his consistent hard work and conformance to the rules and mores of society might have accumulated some of the rewards that many of the upper crust take for granted.

      So what this comes down to is, what kind of society do we want? We are at a butterfly fork in the political road. To me, Obama represents the possibility of a government that truly cares about all people with all various kinds of talents, not just the financially successful but also those like my father who serve by safely and reliably doing the ordinary work of America. Choosing Romney however appears to lead to a further widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots, someone who would foster a fertile environs for American financial and educational dynasties and who would be less concerned about people like my father.

      Like

  17. Alan Scott says:

    Jim ,

    Men of your Father’s time wanted work above all else. They only asked for opportunity . Explain to me how they would have done better under President Obama than Governor Romney . Explain to me how a welder in the oil industry would have done better under a President who has made it his mission to kill the oil industry, than under a man who has promised to approve the Keystone pipeline .

    Like

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      You are one tough case, Alan. Indeed, my father asked only for opportunity, but he deserved more than mere opportunity because he essentially devoted his life to productive oil drilling. Just for starters:

      1. There might have been mandatory accident and/or dismemberment insurance as part of employment compensation for workers hurt or killed on the job.
      2. There might have been health insurance included for workers and their families, including something to cover the additional testing on my infant sister who was offered additional brain testing at the U. of Kansas medical center in Kansas City, testing my parents couldn’t afford.
      3. There might have been additional safety rules in effect that would have prevented some of the injuries suffered by rig workers.
      4. There might have been modest retirement accounts for workers no longer able to produce physically demanding labor as they aged, accounts that were transportable from one job to the other.

      The controversial Keystone pipeline project complaint is not the black and white issue that your simple question makes it seem. It proposed route crossed an environmentally sensitive section of Nebraska, an active seismic zone that had an earthquake in 2002, and a major freshwater aquifer which it potentially endangered. Plus, its purpose is to transport very low quality product that is chemically more hazardous than the usual oil. Not only that, but its effect on the nation’s oil problem is strictly long-term as compared to its huge and almost immediate positive effect on the Koch Brothers’ bottom line.

      Look, you guys are simply frantic to get this thing done, but the whole center of the nation has to live with the consequences of it after it’s been built. It is not going to change oil dependence any time soon regardless of its approval, so doesn’t it make sense to get the thing properly designed first? All indications are that it soon will be. Can we afford to wait until we get it right? Of course we can. People were declaring armageddon when gasoline hit $4.00 a gallon and it’s not much below that now, but people adjust. They carpool, they take public transportation. They combine trips so as to drive less. Hell, compared to WW II people nowadays don’t know what real sacrifice is like. You and yours need to take a deep breath and stop panicking.

      In short, Alan, you are so taken in by right-wing propaganda that I tire of arguing with you, and I’m also tired of your ignoring my efforts to explain it all to you. You don’t want to understand.

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  18. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    The reason you “tire” of such debate is that you cannot find some of us to agree with you. I say let’s get the basics right first of all in terms of exactly what we are trying to do and THEN figuring out how to make it work effectively.

    Here is a “goal” stated above with which I agree. You wrote, “that a proper modern government ought to provide sufficient financial and social structure such that all citizens can be assured of fair treatment in the workplace and insured against catastrophic accident or illness by the social safety net in such a way that they can maximize their individual potential.”

    I have NO disagreement with such a goal IF and only IF we can figure out how to “pay for it”. Any “good” social program MUST also be economically sustainable as well and yet you and your “side” refuse to even address such issues in the real world of today. “Wait until……..” seems to be your best answer and such an answer is generally how we have been running our government, fiscally, for at least 50 years now. But you have heard me say that for a long time now and simply ignore the point, do you not? In fact you call many such points, “strawmen” arguments, do you not?

    Right now, politically, America is trying to sustain price stability, prevent inflation, increase the rate of employment and control the distribution of income within the work force, all at the same time. Such simultaneous economic goals are IMPOSSIBLE to achieve through government actions in my view. For example to improve economic growth GDP must go up. But to increase GDP through investment you risk a greater imbalance in income distribution, do you not? So which is more important to your side??? I suggest your cannot do both at the same time with any real improvement in either. And I sure have not heard a political argument saying both CAN be done simultaneously either.

    Of late on the EC blog I have tried to suggest to my detractors that they do just ONE thing, balance Medicare as we know it, fiscally yet NO ONE makes even an attempt to do so. I blogged on ways to do it months ago but, NO, such ways are not politically acceptable to progressives. $300 Billion a year in one program is a big chunck to swallow but it CAN be done, in my view, practically. But politically, forget it with your side. And yet at the same time you compound the issue by calling for in essence Medicare for all or programs similar in concept to such. And THAT is ONLY a HC discussion, not one encompassing the entire economic front facing America today.

    I pulled the concept of a fiscal “cliff” out of my nether regions well over a year ago. Refusal to “live within our means” was my naive starting point. Well it does not seem so naive today based on the course that I am taking in economics (I KNOW, a “little knowledge is a dangerous thing”), what I read about sequestration, the refusal by all concerned to even suggest a way out of sequestration until “after the election”, etc.

    Then I continue to watch Europe and the continuing mess they are in and see your side leading us in that direction as well.

    Now go back to where we can agree, the statement you made above. THEN show me how to “pay for it” and I will join your side. But not until you can come up with a way to PAY FOR your solutions.

    It is really as simple as that. As Clinton said, “it is just arithmetic”, right????

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      I don’t speak for Jim, but I think his response might include something along the lines of this blog post way back in 2007. It stars your buddy, Roy Blunt, who, as a fiscal conservative explains how health care for children is fiscally irresponsible: http://www.stonekettle.com/2007/10/representative-roy-blunt-jerkoff-of.html. Since you are an advocate of a strong military, I’d be interested in your response.

      Herb

      Like

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Fine, let’s do talk basics.

      You constantly rail that the country absolutely must “figure out how to pay for anything” before approving it, and I agree that is one basic point on which we disagree. And I only started ignoring your point about that after both I and Duane fruitlessly rebutted it many, many times. It is not just arithmetic and it is not simple at all, it is counterintuitive. John Maynard Keynes established an economic philosophy proposing that such is not necessary, and further, that deficit spending can be crucial to the recovery of a faltering economy. It is not just Democrats who buy into that theory, Anson. George W. Bush and his conservative Wall Street advisors did so when they started TARP in 2008. So if you persist in insisting in every economic argument, as you always do, that we absolutely have to treat government budgets like family budgets then I will assume you dispute Keynes and you advocate Greek-type austerity for the country. You may then take my silence as strong disagreement.

      We do agree that there’s a big fiscal problem, but we disagree as to why our politicians can not settle the problem of healthcare and defense spending, the two largest obstacles to fiscal sanity in my opinion. It is not the Democrats who sign pledges to Grover Norquist. It is not the Democrats who stalled the farm bill and walked out of the House last week. It was not the Democrats who famously announced their number one priority, ahead of any other single concern, was to defeat Obama. No, it was the teavangelists in the GOP who oppose any compromise whatsoever with their relentless agenda to further widen the prosperity gap in this country and “balance” the budget on the backs of those who will be most hurt by such actions. By forbidding all compromise the GOP has bought ownership of the problem in my opinion and I hold them fully accountable for it, and for the financial calamity looming at the end of 2012.

      Like

  19. ansonburlingame says:

    One more thing, if you will.

    I could “write about my father” as well. It is a story of both “good and bad” which of course is “human”. But one thing you and I both “got” was a life better than the one lived by our respective fathers. We both choose to complete a great education and live our professional lives fully that STARTED with that education. Had either of us been only HS graduates there is little chance that either of us would be where we are today. As well we both put in the effort during our respective professional lives to achieve what we have today. I make NO appologies for having done such and believe that I have earned every nickle coming my way in retirement today.

    My kids are doing the same thing, going beyond where I went. And for sure I make no appologies for them and what they are doing today as well.

    I am about half way through the Steve Jobs biography right now. Can you imagine a progressive critique of how he made his money and then disbursed it after reading the book. Jobs literally drove his work force CRAZY to achieve his goals and he left many in his “wake” lesser men than when they started. Look at the “old friend” that lost out on the APPLE IPO in the early 80’s. Write that “story” in a blog and progressives would be aghast, would they not.

    Jobs has great distain for Gates, calling Microsoft as bad as IBM, does he not. See any “Jobs foundations” that come close to what Gates and his wife are doing today?

    Economics and life in general have never been “fair”. The best we can do is provide the opportunity for Americans to achieve that which they can achieve. Some will fail, miserably, in such attempts. Then we can argue about where and how big the “safety net” must become. But never forget, safety nets are for people that have FAILED to use the American opportunity to achieve life on life’s terms goals of a “good life”.

    I am supportive of rescuing SOME failures. But I oppose sustaining continuing failures, generation to generation and that seems to me to be exactly what we have been doing in American society for a long time now. Come with me to a “meeting” someday and I can show you classic examples. And believe you me there is a huge iceberg underneath the examples that I can show you.

    Anson

    Like

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Thanks, Anson, for providing such a succinct expression of your political philosophy:

      “But never forget, safety nets are for people that have FAILED to use the American opportunity to achieve life on life’s terms goals of a ‘good life’.”

      Oh, don’t worry Anson, I will never forget you said that. Only Mitt Romney could have said it better. But wait, come to think of it, he actually did:

      “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement.”

      Like

  20. ansonburlingame says:

    For sure Jim, you can remember my quote above as long as you keep it focused on ADULTS that have failed to achieve a “good” life, given the opportunities of American society. How to “rescue” their kids is a different matter as kids have no choices until they “grow up”.

    I do not try to expand the sentiments of the ignorant women shown in the “Obama phone” clip making the rounds today to all people receiving entitilements. But you know (but will not admit) that there are hundreds of thousands if not millions just like her.

    Give money to that particular wo?man and she will buy a “pnone” and not put food on the table for her kids, as just an example.

    The question I raised earlier about the 88 Million ‘not in the civilian work force” is applicable. Just how many of those 88 million are “no loads” that will “take forever” but do nothing to really improve their condition in life or the condition of their kids? I believe there are a lot that fall into that category and you consider the number so small it needs no consideration.

    So you are correct. Why argue? Whenever you try to do so you and the EC fall back on Keynes (and Krugman). Well fall back all the way to Europe today and explain that mess to me.

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      You keep confusing DOL’s “Not in Work Force” numbers with their “Unemployed” numbers. So, for your edification and the other readers of this post, I have parsed the 88.9 million Not in Work Force from the DOL’s Table 3.1 for August 2012, using the most current statistics I could find.

      According to DOL, “Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. This category includes retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work.” (See http://www.bls.gov/cps/lfcharacteristics.htm#nlf) So, here is a breakdown of those subcategories with an estimate of those persons not working. (All numbers are in thousands.)

      High School Students Not Working
      14,657 Students Enrolled in Public School, Grades 9 – 12 (2010)
      5,964 Students Enrolled in Private School, Grades 9 – 12 (2010)
      (3,299) Less: High School Students working full time estimated at 16%
      17,322 Total Aged 15 and over in School, not working

      College Students Not Working
      21,600 Students enrolled in the nation’s colleges and universities
      (8,640) Less: College Students working full time estimated at 40%
      12,960 College Students Not in Work Force

      Social Security and Disability for Adults
      40,136 Aged 65 or older
      13,991 Disabled, under age 65
      (1,854) Less: Disabled Children under 16, on Disability
      52,273 Total Receiving Social Security Benefits

      Supplemental Security Income
      4,848 Recipients, Aged 18–64
      2,073 Recipients, 65 or older
      6,921 Total Receiving SSI Benefits

      Stay-at-Home Parents
      5,000 Stay-at-Home Moms
      154 Stay-at-Home Dads
      5,154 Total Stay-at-Home Parents

      Adults on Welfare
      1,131 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF) – Adults Only

      90,607 TOTAL NOT IN WORK FORCE

      So, the DOL reported 88,921,000 and I came up with 90,607,000. So there is a difference of 1,686,000, which, to me, is close enough for government work. And I could have come up with a higher number, like those retired military and federal employees who are not on social security, and adjustments for the reporting periods, but I didn’t think it worth the effort.

      The point is that the people who are Not In the Work Force all have pretty good excuses for not being employed. I suppose you could go after the cheats who probably shouldn’t be on SSI or on welfare, but various federal and state agencies are doing that already. So, I guess the teachable moment here is that you should be more worried about the 12.5 million who are unemployed than the 90.6 million who are not even in the work force.

      You may also want to retract your question, “Just how many of those 88 million are “no loads” that will “take forever” but do nothing to really improve their condition in life or the condition of their kids?” Clearly, you’re looking in the wrong place for the answer.

      Herb

      Like

    • Anson,

      You keep confusing DOL’s “Not in Work Force” numbers with their “Unemployed” numbers. So, for your edification and the other readers of this post, I have parsed the 88.9 million Not in Work Force from the DOL’s Table 3.1 for August 2012, using the most current statistics I could find.

      According to DOL, “Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. This category includes retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work.” (See http://www.bls.gov/cps/lfcharacteristics.htm#nlf) So, here is a breakdown of those subcategories with an estimate of those persons not working. (All numbers are in thousands.)

      High School Students Not Working
      14,657 Students Enrolled in Public School, Grades 9 – 12 (2010)
      5,964 Students Enrolled in Private School, Grades 9 – 12 (2010)
      (3,299) Less: High School Students working full time estimated at 16%
      17,322 Total Aged 15 and over in School, not working

      College Students Not Working
      21,600 Students enrolled in the nation’s colleges and universities
      (8,640) Less: College Students working full time estimated at 40%
      12,960 College Students Not in Work Force

      Social Security and Disability for Adults
      40,136 Aged 65 or older
      13,991 Disabled, under age 65
      (1,854) Less: Disabled Children under 16, on Disability
      52,273 Total Receiving Social Security Benefits

      Supplemental Security Income
      4,848 Recipients, Aged 18–64
      2,073 Recipients, 65 or older
      6,921 Total Receiving SSI Benefits

      Stay-at-Home Parents
      5,000 Stay-at-Home Moms
      154 Stay-at-Home Dads
      5,154 Total Stay-at-Home Parents

      Adults on Welfare
      1,131 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF) Adults Only

      90,607 TOTAL NOT IN WORK FORCE

      DOL reported 88,921,000 and I came up with 90,607,000. So there is a difference of 1,686,000, which, to me, is close enough for government work. And I could have come up with a higher number, like those retired military and federal employees who are not on social security, and adjustments for the reporting periods, but I didn’t think it worth the effort.

      The point is that the people who are Not In the Work Force all have pretty good excuses for not being counted. I suppose you could go after the cheats who probably shouldn’t be on SSI or on welfare, but various federal and state agencies are doing that already. So, I guess the teachable moment here is that you should be more worried about the 12.5 million who are unemployed than the 90.6 million who are not even in the work force.

      You may also want to retract your question, “Just how many of those 88 million are “no loads” that will “take forever” but do nothing to really improve their condition in life or the condition of their kids?” Clearly, you’re looking in the wrong place for the answer.

      Herb

      Like

  21. ansonburlingame says:

    To all,

    Herb has provided a good breakdown above, according to BLS determinations, ot the 89 Million, “not in the work force”. However, remember no one volunteers to indicate that they are taking advantage of benefits that if NOT available, lthey would find a way to “live” by other means.

    13 Million (below the age of 65) on SS disability benefits, just as an example, or the 1+ Milliion on “welfare”, and the list can go on adding up perhaps to 20 Million or so, “not in the work force”. I also could be very suspicious of the millions of “college students” that might well be so classified but are not in much of a way actually doing full time college work and advancing “normally” in such endearvors to be college graduates. In other words, young people ‘riding the curve” but not in any way headed for satisfactory completion of a degree and then truly being ready to be productive members of society after graduation.

    In other words, no government statistic will ever classify someone as a “no load” yet I believe a significant part of that overall 89 million, may 20-30% might well be such. Of course I cannot prove that with dry statistics, any more than I can prove that of the 46 million “on food stamps” some significant percentage are misusing the system as well. But I hope none are naive enough to think that NO ONE does such or even an only insignificant number do so.

    Why is that? Well the government tells us that out of a $550 Billion Medicare system, about $70 Billion is “wasted” due to waste, fraud and abuse alone. That is a 12% rate of such unnecessary loss of taxpayer dollars, an amount equivalent to new revenues if Bush tax cuts are rescinded on 20″rich”.

    Another example. Generally the statistic for people with substance abuse problems (drugs and alcohol alone) are in the 10-20% range for a large population of adults. That percentage would for sure apply to the 89 Million above, in general. And I am NOT talking about a “casual drinker or drug user”. I am talking about real dysfunction as a result of addictive behavior.

    For sure I do not accuse all or any large part of the 89 million to be “no loads” of any sort. But when dealing with such large numbers, there are always going to be cheats, etc. that take advantage of such publicly funded benefits and that number can cost a helluv lot of money.

    Here is one more example. There are 40+MIllion over age 65 and on SS above. How many million of them no more need that money than my former father-in-law did. HIS SS was “beer money” for his youngest son in college for example and that is exactly how it was used.

    A million here and a million there adds up, is my basic point and I KNOW there is a lot of waste, fraud and abuse in that large (89 million) number. How to control such however is the big question. But just because government has not figured out HOW to control it, is no excuse for ignoring it.

    Anson

    Like

  22. Anson,

    Yes, there are people “Not In The Workforce” who are gaming the system, committing fraud, and living the luxurious life style that welfare provides. The question is how many? I’ve shown that statistically there are probably very few, relatively speaking, who might be in this group. Of course, both the states and the feds have bureaucracies in place that are charged with rooting those people out and there are laws on the books that give them that authority.

    So, as I get your concerns here, you want to expand these agencies (adding more people to the government payroll), or perhaps tighten up the rules (producing more regulations) or some combination thereof, thus increasing government spending. All you need now is a good estimate of how many dollars could be saved by stopping illicit welfare payments and how much additional government funding would be needed for more enforcement. Clearly, if the savings in welfare is more or less the same as the cost of enforcement, then the catch is not worth the chase and it’s a wash. In any case, I think we might be just as successful at this as we are with drug enforcement.

    My point all through this thread has been that the 88 million people “Not In The Workforce” is not a valid measure of the “no loads” as you have suggested. The “real” number is no doubt far, far less than that. After all, you are one of those 88 million are you not? On the other hand, I may be counted twice. Once as a Social Security recipient and not in the wok force, and once as a self-employed worker.

    Of course, statistics can be a very tricky business. As Rita Mae Brown once cautioned: “The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.”

    Herb

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  23. ansonburlingame says:

    The last thing I want to do is expand any government bureaucracy and you know it!!!!

    The ONLY WAY to prevent WF&A in such programs is to scale back the programs to the point where it is to no one’s advantage to use the program unless……. That implies setting a safety net so low that the only safety provided is bare subsistence. Find someone availing themselfs of such a safety net, such as food stamps then go look at what they buy each time they go to the grocery store. THEN go to their residence and see what else they have that they bought with the money that would otherwise have been used for food!!!

    In other words, if a “family” is on “food stamps” (or any government benefit programs) go look at how they really live their lives, in total. SOME, how many is a big question, will use the largress wisely and sanely. Others will use the program to supplement a terrible life style and STAY in that life style forever, being supplemented along the way by government.

    Go follow a homeless man for 24 hours and watch the choices he makes during that period. Ultimately life is made up of personal choices and only the individual can ultimately make them to improve or degrade his or her life.

    Progressives will see the homeless man as a man in need, desperate need. I will see the man as one that has made terrible choices on his own over time. And we BOTH will see, in many cases for the homeless, a person that is truly mentally ill yet we do little or nothing constructive to remediate that mental illness!!! We simply leave them free to wander our streets, supplementing such wandering along the way but never really changing that choice on their part.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      I know you don’t want to expand government bureaucracies, that’s why tried to show you that the abuse of the welfare system can only be corrected by doing just that.

      Your solution is to, “Find someone availing themselfs of such a safety net, such as food stamps then go look at what they buy each time they go to the grocery store. THEN go to their residence and see what else they have that they bought with the money that would otherwise have been used for food!!!”

      Now, Anson, exactly WHO is going to be following these people around to catch them doing something with our tax dollars that you don’t approve of??? The WHO is obviously more government bureaucracy. Thus, a paradox: Reducing bureaucracy by expanding bureaucracy.

      There are many people who consistently exceed the speed limit and cheat on their taxes. The only way to stop that or at least slow the abuses down is, again, by increasing the size of government. But in the end all you’ve really got is a zero-sum game. Hardly worth the effort IMHO.

      But the other, more problematic aspect of your solution, to my mind anyway, is that it requires government to get even more involved in people’s personal lives. It’s Big Brother compromisisng freedom. But it is consistent with many conservatives’ belief that an expansion of the police state is the best means of governing. In many ways it’s McCarthyism all over again: Suspicion equals guilt, rumors are the same as indictments, and criticism of government is treason. This is John Dean’s worry over the far right wing’s authoritarian worldview. These are people who are short on compassion, empathy and altruism, but long on intolerance, prejudice, and paranoia. These are Conservatives without Conscience.

      Herb

      Like

  24. You wrote a great bio of your father, Jim – I can hear the love in between the words. And I think, after writing what I did, it might be time to pick up pen and paper, and write that cantankerous old SOB that gave birth to me. If only to let him know I love him……

    Like

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