economics Societies

The Truth Behind Unemployment Numbers?


Simplepolitiks discusses the 7.8% unemployment figure set forth in the presidential debate and tries to figure out how well official unemployment figures correlate with real unemployment.


10 Reasons Why The Latest Unemployment Numbers Are No Reason To Cheer addresses the numbers of people who have effectively dropped out from the officially recorded labor force, numbers for underemployment, and numbers of people who are employed but struggling with their bills on the wages they are making.

One finds people arriving at similar conclusions in Simplepolitik’s comment section and in the No Reason For Cheer article:

The unique conditions that resulted in a large American middle class have disappeared because American laborers are now in direct competition with people across the planet, many of whom can survive on much lesser wages because of their locally lower costs of living. Employers can be counted on to pay as little for labor as they possibly can.

The natural tendency will be towards an oligarchy of a few rich who control the money and the resources, the natural state of human history while 1945-1990s was a freakish exception to the norm.

I, however, see this as being at odds with all the new technologies that make abundant information and the means of production available to independent private citizens.
If jobs cease to be profitable or reliable for the average person, many will drop out of the game and turn to a gift economy of social favors with their immediate clan or turn to small scale grey market entrepeneurship.

As I discussed in a previous post, Southern Italy’s underworld was born as a reaction to incompetent rulers levying heavy taxation and today it also thrives as a reaction to a horrible economy and high taxes.
If the payoff becomes low enough or jobs are simply unattainable, grey and black markets can surge in importance.

Looking at present trends, I definitely do not see job numbers returning to any 90s status quo.
However, I also see a gradual reduction in the importance of the traditional “job” as people adapt by relying heavily on the internet, tribal support networks, and small businesses.
Jobs suck anyway, so I wonder if in the long term this might actually represent an improvement in overall quality of life for millions of people?

literature Psychology Societies

Plight of the Millenials In Verse or Giovanni Mnemonic

I’ve been wondering some time about the most efficient, easiest, most digestible means of transferring ideas on the internet, in writing.

I’ve noticed top ten lists are an extremely effective memetic container, but I also look to the past for guidance in finding effective mnemonic devices for transferring ideas.

Dissenting bloggers like me spill out pages and pages, but they only seem to reach people who already agree with them.

How does one convey a certain point of view without pages of pontificating?

I decided to make an attempt at condensing information and making it more accessible using verse.

I’m not trying to aspire to Homeric genius here. So don’t bother having a shit fit about the niceties of technique. I’m just trying to make certain key concepts as easy to understand in as little time as possible. One might even consider it an industrial operation.

Verse was the pre-modern mnemonic container of choice, so might it have any potential role still on the internet?

I have to admit, this sounds to my inner ear almost rap-ish.

Dear Young man,

I’ve come to warn you today
Everything they’ve ever told you
You must quickly throw away

I went down the path they showed me
They said it was the only way
I was too young
I was you
I believed grades would somehow matter
Believed youth’s brief day
Ought to be spent on sixteen years
Of endless classes.

Do what you love.
It doesn’t matter what degree
That sounded nice
And everyone agreed
Why would I not have believed?
The herd is always right.

They’ve told you to be good and kind
To earn your keep
To protect and provide.
Listen to them,
You become a flightless bird
Beaten, ignored, and despised.
In this world
The best competitor gets every prize.

That soft Eden they must have come from
Has long been left behind
This is a war of all against all
A desperate fight to survive

Won’t they thank you once you’ve done all they asked?
When nothing is as planned?
When you’ve reached the other side,
Won’t they accept you and understand?

Dear young man,
There’s no reward for defeat
Only successful young men really exist.
The rest are just a statistic.
Whether you fall in battle
Or can’t find that ‘career.’
You are a dead man just the same.

Not a student, not a boy, not a father, or even a man
Not an anything
You are lost from the world of social roles
Into a world of ghosts.
There you have no status or name.
You haunt the world of the living still
Bound to earth by debt’s heavy chains.

You received an impressive letter today
You’ve been accepted
But don’t become indebted
Until you know how you’ll make it all back
Don’t go into their trap until you know your way out
Don’t go unless you know how you’re making your cash.

In this world no one pays you a dime
Unless they have no better choice
Until there’s a gun to their head
You’re a homeless man without a voice.

Your parents are planning to retire
Your sister gets to live like a movie star

You’re the only one on your side
Don’t let them use you up for free!
Your life is already cheap enough
Don’t let them use you up.

They threw a million of you away
In a landfill called the Somme
Dear young man, you’re disposable
Take care of yourself.
You’re the only one who cares


Social obligation is a two way street
I want to help but I’ve got to eat
You want my toil and my loyalty
But I can’t do it all for free

You all say I’m a complainer, a loser
Entitled and spoiled
All I want is a living!

You want to have your ‘golden years’ and retire?
I tell you now,
You better make it worth my while.
You want to die in bed?
Why do I care?
I’ll be working until I fall over dead on the job.

economics International Affairs Politics Religion

The Problem With The Israeli Economy

Officially, Israel’s unemployment rate is about 8%. But that doesn’t include Israeli citizens who are not trying to find work, either because they feel disenfranchised, such as many Arab Israelis, or because they’ve chosen a life of state-subsidized religious study, such as many ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Nearly 27% of Arab men and 65% of ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t work, government figures show. The non-employment rate for ultra-Orthodox men has tripled since 1970, Ben-David said. Link

Since it also has been traditional for most Haredi men not to work at making a living, but to devote themselves to religious studies, the political parties, often holding the balance of power in coalition governments, also became useful for extracting financial concessions from governments wanting to stay in power.

With a birthrate several times that of other Jewish Israelis, the Haredim have an average of 8.9 children per family and constitute more than 10 per cent of the population of seven million. Link

Youth gangs from the community of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees have in recent weeks been swamping Tel Aviv beaches and stealing bathers’ belongings, according to police. Most of the thefts have occurred on Tel Aviv’s major beaches. Authorities attribute the thefts to the increase in the number of refugees who have come to the city this year, and the lack of employment opportunities for them. Police say the stolen goods and money are sufficient for a day’s existence; they expect more such incidents to occur.

Eritrean and Sudanese refugees start arriving at the beach at noon, say police, especially to the strip between Jerusalem Beach and Mezizim/Peepers’ Beach. Some try to find day-labor jobs in the morning, but some who fail allegedly try to earn their daily keep by preying on beach-goers instead. Link h/t Aurini

Most ultra-Orthodox Jews lack the skills to work in a modern economy, having studied little or no math and science beyond primary school (their curriculum focuses almost entirely on religious texts such as the Torah and Talmud). As a result, more than 60 percent live below the poverty line, compared with 12 percent among non-Haredi Jews. Most also opt out of military service, which is compulsory for other Israelis. The net effect: as the Haredi community expands, the burden of both taxation and conscription falls on fewer and fewer Israelis.

According to pollsters, Haredim are consistently hawkish on the question of territorial compromise with the Palestinians, citing God’s covenant with Abraham granting Jews the land of Israel. Already the parties that represent them wield significant political power in Israel’s coalition-based system.