Late Night New Year’s Eve Listening . . . “As Time Goes By”

December 31, 2011

I didn’t use the actual clip from Casablanca, since the song is interrupted when Humphrey Bogart comes in, but ignore the video, which is just an ad, and enjoy the music.

As one of my fellow jocks at the radio station said, long ago, “Beats the heck outta Guy Lombardo.”

And if, like most of us, you’re toasting the New Year with champagne, Wikipedia has an interesting section on the bubbly – oenophiles already know all this, of course. Cheers!




December 31, 2011

Let’s hope it’s a whole lot better – and work to make it a whole lot better – than 2011.

Thanks for reading; see you again in the New Year.



Late Night Listening from Nick Lowe, John Hiatt, and Ry Cooder

December 30, 2011

And that’s Jim Keltner on drums.


As unions go, so goeth America’s middle class

December 30, 2011

(Thanks to Timothy Lange, posting over at Daily Kos, for bringing this to my attention.)


As 2011 winds down, and 2012 gears up, just a reminder about how we got here

December 30, 2011

From Theresa Trich at the New York Times, last July. A fine editorial and compelling graphic. Not that facts will matter much this year. Sigh.

And this little explanatory note from John Perr’s Perrspectives blog.


Watching the death of America’s middle class

December 29, 2011

There has been some modestly good news on the jobs front recently, but we shouldn’t let any of that lull us into thinking we’re back on the right track. Long-term unemployment is still high, and a lot of workers who are finding work aren’t getting the same kind of deal they once had.

One of the best economics journalists in the business, Louis Uchitelle, as this very troubling piece in the NY Times. It’s bad enough that workers are coming back, particularly in the manufacturing sector, to jobs with lower wages and reduced benefits. But read closely, because there’s something else – they’re scared.

“You don’t want to rock the boat,” Ms. [Linda] Thomas said. “You take a chance on losing everything you have if you do.” Ms. Thomas took a job at GE and has nearly “topped out” in terms of her income, which is about $40,000 a year, and she is not going to see the kinds of wages older workers now receive, ever. But she’s not about to complain, fearful she’ll lose her job if she does.

Corporations see a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take back much of workers’ gains since WW II. With their Congressional supporters stifling any attempts at getting the economy going, they’re sitting on their gains and putting their foot on workers’ necks. And they appear to have everyone else over a barrel.

So I doubt that anyone above the shop floor – the people who actually make the products – will have the yoke of the “globally competitive wage” around them. Many commenters have noted the huge pay differential between, say, the CEO of Toyota (under $2 million) and General Motors (9 million). What’s more, executives at Toyota are are accountable in ways US executives are not. There’s a long list of examples of CEOs who received golden parachutes after losing market share or otherwise screwing up. Although we have had at least a measure of control over some companies who have been bailed out courtesy of taxpayers. (“Taxpayers,” by the by, would include those workers now getting shortchanged by the CEOs.)

As Mr. Uchitelle notes, this is a direct threat to our middle class. By the way, if you get a chance, read his book, The Disposable American.

UPDATEDavid Dayen weighs in at Firedoglake. Note the Germans . . . .

As 2012 dawns this weekend, it is worth thinking about the long-term costs of the Recession that was triggered by the private sector, costs that will be paid by generations of working Americans as they watch their lives become harder and less secure.


The Great Phony Deficit Debate of 2011

December 28, 2011

Washington Post writer/blogger Ezra Klein notes how wrong the Rs, the Right in general , and the craven Dems who went along with the charade were about the deficit. In a followup today, he argues that pressure for deficit reduction comes from interest rates, and those haven’t been as low as currently since 1995.

Republicans, with breath-taking hypocrisy, spent months trumpeting that the deficit was the number one problem facing our nation, and that tax and spending cuts were the way to conquer it.

This was bullshit, of course. Lots of people, such as Post reporter Lori Montgomery, pointed out what the causes of the deficit were. But they were overwhelmed in the public debate, in part due to the corporate-funded Tea Party’s presence and in part due to a cowed administration and said craven Congressional Dems. The Rs no more cared about deficits than the Man in the Moon. This was a flimsy cover for their usual assault on social spending.

And, recall, of course, the earlier Republican mantra, when they were running up historic deficits once they were in charge in 2001: “deficits don’t matter.”

America is not the lousy credit risk the Right said we would become. Ezra makes the point that the markets, so hallowed by the Right, are saying just the opposite. Check his third graf; the actual rate at which the US borrows money has turned negative. In other words, as he puts it, people are essentially paying us to hold onto their money for them.

Paul Krugman (you remember, the guy with the beard and the Nobel Prize) follows up on his blog.

Debt and deficits are important, no question, but the successful manipulation of this matter by the Right has convinced millions that we can get rid of the deficit by cutting taxes and social spending. Nothing could be further from the truth. We get rid of the deficit by getting taxes back to a level that brings the federal government’s budget back into balance, as we had in 2001, and by making investments to gin up the economy so greater tax revenue is generated and there is less pressure on the social safety net, as people will (hopefully) get back to work.

The first piece will continue to be the epicenter of debate this election year. As for the second, with four Americans for every available job and Business seemingly in no hurry to hire workers (or pay them wages similar to what they once had), that could be problematic, wouldn’t you agree?