The October Surprise: Unemployment

Every presidential election cycle in my adult life that I can recall, I've heard about the dreaded October surprise. This year we speculated what that might be and anxiously anticipated its arrival. We might not have known about it, but the October surprise had been arriving all month in the form of pink slips. Unemployment figures are out for October and over 240,000 people lost their jobs in the month prior to election day.

Each job loss touched more lives than just that of the former employee. If the economic turmoil hitting Wall Street hadn't had an impact on their lives yet, the new job loss made it personal. Think of the spouses, neighbors, parents, adult children and friends who might share the fear, grief and anger of the newly unemployed and you can imagine a massive group of people motivated to vote for change.

This cycle the damage done by the October surprise isn't limited to a presidential candidate. This time the damage was spread throughout our communities and hurt real people. I think this is one reason why many of us can't bring ourselves to celebrate Democratic majorities. There's too much work to be done.

While Democrats prepare to transition into leadership in the White House and continue to work hard dealing with the financial crisis, it is reported that Republican leaders are holding a series of meetings to figure out how to rebuild the Republican brand - something I'm sure is at the top of every American's list of priorities.

To Do List
  • Get a job
  • Fend off foreclosure
  • Pay medical bills
  • Rebuild Republican brand
  • As Republicans continue to prove they are out of touch with the average American, we need to put away the fireworks and champagne and get to work cleaning up the mess left by these same Republican leaders who are holing themselves up in a bunker somewhere, licking their wounds and planning their triumphant comeback.

    Comments

    The good news for NC - 08

    Larry Kissell went straight to work. He didn't take time off for a vacation with his family. If it is good news for the 8th, it is probably good news for the rest of North Carolina as well.

    More good news - Kay Hagan has a background in banking/finance and law. She will be a perfect fit for the banking committee. Let's hope that is where she lands.



    ***************************
    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    It is a mess

    I had to let a few people go in October. Few things in business suck more than having to tell someone they don't have a job any more. It's even worse when it is not their fault and the job market doesn't look very good.

    Been there and done that

    myself, while also having been on the other side of the desk getting laid off myself. Nasty feeling either way.

    Agree with Betsy. Put away the celebratory gear and put on the hard hat and boots and get back to work helping turn this economy around any way we can.

    North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

    North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

    I'm so sorry.

    I know you aren't feeling too great about contributing to the unemployment numbers right now. I didn't mean to rub salt in any wounds. Hopefully it won't take too long for things to turn around enough to allow you to rehire.



    ***************************
    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    My Dad was let go.

    He's 64.5 years old and is now unemployed. That sucks.

    "You could say, 'Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted?' Most of us have never heard of him before." John McCain, following Clinton's strikes on al Qaeda camps

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Worst fears

    This is beyond scary and into horrific. Hell, if he were ten years younger his prospects would still be awful, but at 64.5?

    But there's nothing to worry about. Really. Ask any number of kids hanging out in their dorm rooms, using their lap tops to set straight those of us who work and for whom economic concerns are real instead of theoretical. With considerable patience but just a bit of incredulity at our thickness, these worldly young libertarians will explain how wrong it is to compel taxes to pay for giving assistance to people like your father or anyone else. It's violence and coercion, Robert.

    Don't you understand that? You must be blinded by reality. Pick up a BOOK for god's sake, you and Greg.
    You'll learn something and then this concern of your father's will simply recede into a footnote.

    Free markets aren't really free

    it's usually the little guy that ends up paying.

    Good thoughts Betsy, got my haz-mat suit and ready to pitch in and clean up the toxic mess.

    No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

    Progressive Discussions

    Treating the symptoms

    I really don't think that the progressive movement grasps the dept or the severity of this economic downturn. This is just the beginning, and unless you face the reasons that this is happening things will not improve.

    Yes Brunette, if someone doesn't agree with government paying unemployment insurance, they must not care about unemployed people because there is NO OTHER WAY of helping people who are unemployed such as mutual-aid societies or, *gasp* sound economics to begin with.

    Yeah, let's just ignore the people who correctly predicted the collapse of the housing bubble because they're into "theoretical" understanding of economics. Instead, let's listen to Paulson and Bernanke who have been consistently wrong in their economic assessments, and take Bush on his word when he claims that the economy would crash if we don't write checks to his buddies on Wall Street. Let's just repeat a bunch of campaign euphemisms about "more jobs", "growth" and "reform", because we don't have any real ideas. Oh, Hagan has a background in banking! Problem solved! No need to actually discuss specific policies!

    Only Libertarians are smart enough to understand.

    I really don't think that the progressive movement grasps the dept or the severity of this economic downturn.

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Only Libertarians

    correctly predicted this economic situation, which means they are the only ones who fully understand it's cause, therefore it's solution.

    -Independent

    Economists

    Economists who correctly predicted this economic situation:
    • Dean Baker
    • Robert Shiller
    • Nouriel Roubini
    • Paul Krugman
    • Peter Schiff
    Maybe there's a Libertarian in there but I can't find him.

    Perhaps Libertarian

    as it is generally a term to describe a political platform was a misnomer. What I mean is the Austrian School of Economics which is the economic theory of the Libertarian party.

    Peter Schiff adheres to the principles of the Austrian School of Economics and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He was an adviser to Ron Paul's 2008 Presidential campaign.

    -Independent

    Perhaps Libertarians are actually Austrian.

    "You could say, 'Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted?' Most of us have never heard of him before." John McCain, following Clinton's strikes on al Qaeda camps

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Bismark was a Battleship sunk by Free Trade Libertarians?

    new
    Perhaps Libertarian
    Submitted by Independent on Sun, 11/09/2008 - 1:55pm.
    as it is generally a term to describe a political platform was a misnomer. What I mean is the Austrian School of Economics which is the economic theory of the Libertarian party.

    Peter Schiff adheres to the principles of the Austrian School of Economics and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He was an adviser to Ron Paul's 2008 Presidential campaign.* Independent

    Most Americans believe believe that the Austrian School of Economics
    was a Union Trade movement founded by Bismark and continue by Hilter to fight Stalin.......Like Joe the Plumber and Sara Palin fans

    Real freedom in economics was by our founders who didn't want the King nor his empire to have a trade monopoly on their free trade efforts in the new world. Most founders were not Adam Smith followers nor any economic movement of that time period. They were great believers on how the Punic wars cause a non-free trade Roman Empire and destroy free trade......

    Haha

    You got:

    Only Libertarians are smart enough to understand.

    Out of:

    I really don't think that the progressive movement grasps the dept or the severity of this economic downturn.

    It's just sad that you've actually made the conscious choice to initiate conversation with me for the sole purpose of throwing up a obvious and, quite honestly, stupid straw man. Dude, I wasn't even talking to you. If we were discussing something back and forth, I could at least understand why you would feel compelled to throw out a quick dodge if you didn't feel like continuing the discussion, but this is just pathetic.

    Everyone but Libertarians are pathetic.

    "You could say, 'Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted?' Most of us have never heard of him before." John McCain, following Clinton's strikes on al Qaeda camps

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    what about.....

    Libertarians that pose as Republicans even though they could have run for office on the Libertarian ticket?

    “We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe.” ~ Barack Obama

    Oh, I grasp it alright

    I've been grasping it for the last two months as I've struggled to find a new job after an eighteen year career in factory management.

    The thing is, we didn't outsource any jobs, but our competition did. Our competition was also able to obtain tax breaks that we weren't "big enough" to qualify for, and they also dodged paying royalties that we had to pay, because they shifted their manufacturing to China, where said royalties are ignored.

    Yes Brunette, if someone doesn't agree with government paying unemployment insurance, they must not care about unemployed people because there is NO OTHER WAY of helping people who are unemployed such as mutual-aid societies or, *gasp* sound economics to begin with.

    Let me tell you something, pal. I've been paying my mortgage for almost fourteen years, and have about nine more years to go. If it weren't for the unemployment benefits I'm receiving (which I've earned), I would be teetering on foreclosure even as we speak.

    Where can I find these "mutual aid societies" of which you speak, so I can find out if I qualify for assistance? Do they actually exist, or are they a fictional construct of what might happen in the absence of government intervention?

    I'm sure you're feeling it alright

    Yea, looks like you are yet another victim of the deliberate hollowing out of the American economy by the global corporate elite. Our regulatory and tax system is specifically designed, in my opinion, to encourage companies to go overseas. If government didn't levy such heavy taxes, they wouldn't be able to bribe companies or reward ones with political clout so easily. This is the whole point of NAFTA, the WTO, GATT, etc: the ruling class super rich that own just about every nation on the planet are squeezing the middle class out of existence.

    Let me tell you something, pal. I've been paying my mortgage for almost fourteen years, and have about nine more years to go. If it weren't for the unemployment benefits I'm receiving (which I've earned), I would be teetering on foreclosure even as we speak.

    Where can I find these "mutual aid societies" of which you speak, so I can find out if I qualify for assistance? Do they actually exist, or are they a fictional construct of what might happen in the absence of government intervention?

    You have every right to be as angry as you are, if not more. You realize that the money they loaned you for your house, at interest, was created out of thin air by the banks the moment they tendered your loan right? They created the money out of nothing but your promise to repay, and had the gall to demand that you pay them interest in return. We live in a system of debt-slavery. That's why almost all of the taxes you pay to the federal government go to paying interest in service of the national debt.

    As to mutual aid societies, a quick google of the term brings up a wiki article on it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefit_society), but there is certainly a lot more information on them. Instead of relying on a national government, the people used to form voluntary, collective organizations (similar to unions and things like the Rotary Club) to take care of each other if someone was to fall ill, become unemployed, etc. Some of these societies became truly huge, while others remained more local. In any case, they were owned and operated by the membership of the club, and were largely based on trust and fraternity. There was competition for membership between the societies depending on what benefits they included, and what membership dues were involved. Mutual aid societies were almost exclusively for the poor and middle class, as the rich had no need to participate, and operated as sort of a communal insurance policy. Personal connections and friendship improved the effectiveness and efficiency of the groups. They would also collectively bargain with local health service providers for group rates. In other words, a doctor would contract to treat everyone in the society instead of charge each member individually based on need.

    Eventually the mutual aid societies were replaced by the modern welfare state. This "state socialism", as opposed to radical socialism, was first adopted by Kaiser Willhelm II and Otto van Bismark in Germany during the late 1800's in an attempt to shore up support for the plutocratic established order which was threatened by a populist takeover of the political system. Moreover, this new welfare state was designed to broaden the scope and power of the state, and breed a collectivist mindset that centered on the government which, of course, was under the control of an elite ruling class. By moving into the territory once occupied by voluntary mutual aid societies, the state crippled the ability of these societies to maintain themselves, attract new membership, or increase benefits. They were replaced by a much more inefficient bureaucracy that was impersonal and centralized. From the point of view of consumers, however, it was free!

    The point is, there are very few things that cannot be accomplished when enough people share a common goal and are free do associate and interact voluntarily. The government poses as the savior to buy political loyalty, and the sad truth is that the government is simultaneously implementing polices that create the very problems they claim to cure. Free human beings can accomplish so much in the spirit of cooperation and peace. If you believe in non-violence you cannot support a powerful government, because in the end, violence is the only thing that separates the state from every other social institution. That is why the most evil people always seek to control the government and always succeed in doing so. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    September was the real surprise

    The real surprise was the revision to the September unemployment numbers.

    From the New York Times:

    Coupled with revisions to September’s data — which now show a loss of 284,000 jobs, down from an initial estimate of 159,000 — the economy has shed 1.2 million jobs since the beginning of the year. More than half the job losses have been in the last three months.

    You would think BLS might be a tad concerned about credibility when reporting a miss that huge.

    Also, the broadest measure of unemployment (includes those not usually counted) is now at 11.8, up from 8.4 in Oct 07.

    Seems there is no problem in NC-05 district.......

    Foxx was re-elected with 58% of the vote! Since I moved here almost four years ago, the newscast usually has a factory shutdown fairly frequently, and much of it in my district. People get on about getting something done, and then put Foxx back in to vote for more "free trade" and against veteran benefits. My younger neighbors seem to worry about jobs all the time, but put their McCain-Pallin sign up to let me know they wouldn't vote for the "terrorist". Really pathetic how people get manipulated.