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Unemployment Trends In The 50 States

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Over the course of 2011, the national unemployment rate has remained relatively steady. It was at 9.0% in January, and it is 9.1% according to the most recent data.

The unemployment rates of individual states, however, have experienced greater fluctuations. What follows are the unemployment rates for each state in January, each state’s current unemployment rate, and the difference between the two:

Alabama 9.3 to 9.9 [+0.6%] Alaska 7.8 to 7.5 [-0.3%] Arizona 9.6 to 9.3 [-0.3%] Arkansas 7.8 to 8.1 [+0.3%] California 12.4 to 11.8 [-0.6%]

Colorado 9.1 to 8.5 [-0.6%] Connecticut 9.0 to 9.1 [+0.1%] Delaware 8.5 to 8.0 [-0.5%] Florida 11.9 to 10.6 [-1.3%] Georgia 10.3 to 9.9 [-0.4%]

Hawaii 6.3 to 6.0 [-0.3%] Idaho 9.7 to 9.4 [-0.3%] Illinois 9.0 to 9.2 [+0.2%] Indiana 9.1 to 8.3 [-0.8%] Iowa 6.1 to 6.0 [-0.1%]

Kansas 6.8 to 6.6 [-0.2%] Kentucky 10.4 to 9.6 [-0.8%] Louisiana 7.8 to 7.8 [no change] Maine 7.5 to 7.8 [+0.3%] Maryland 7.2 to 7.0 [-0.2%]

Massachusetts 8.3 to 7.6 [-0.7%] Michigan 10.7 to 10.5 [-0.2%] Minnesota 6.7 to 6.7 [no change] Mississippi 10.1 to 10.3 [+0.2%] Missouri 9.5 to 8.8 [-0.7%]

Montana 7.5 to 7.5 [no change] Nebraska 4.3 to 4.1 [-0.2%] Nevada 14.2 to 12.4 [-1.8%] New Hampshire 5.6 to 4.9 [-0.7%] New Jersey 9.1 to 9.5 [+0.4%]

New Mexico 8.7 to 6.8 [-1.9%] New York 8.2 to 8.0 [-0.2%] North Carolina 9.8 to 9.9 [+0.1%] North Dakota 3.8 to 3.2 [-0.6%] Ohio 9.3 to 8.8 [-0.5%]

Oklahoma 6.6 to 5.3 [-1.3%] Oregon 10.4 to 9.4 [-1.0%] Pennsylvania 8.3 to 7.6 [-0.7%] Rhode Island 11.3 to 10.8 [-0.5%] South Carolina 10.5 to 10.5 [no change]

South Dakota 4.7 to 4.8 [+0.1%] Tennessee 9.4 to 9.8 [+0.4%] Texas 8.3 to 8.2 [-0.1%] Utah 7.6 to 7.4 [-0.2%] Vermont 5.7 to 5.5 [-0.2%]

Virginia 6.5 to 6.0 [-0.5%] Washington 9.2 to 9.2 [no change] West Virginia 9.6 to 8.5 [-1.1%] Wisconsin 7.4 to 7.6 [+0.2%] Wyoming 6.3 to 5.9 [-0.4%]

From the above data, a number of interesting things are worth noting. First, there are a total of six states that have seen unemployment decline by at least one percent this year: Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and West Virginia. It does not appear that these states have much in common. Four have Republican governors, but two have Democratic governors. Four are west of the Mississippi River, but two are east of it. Three have unemployment rates higher than the national average, but three have unemployment rates that are lower than the national average. About the only thing they all have in common is that none of them are Midwestern states.

Second, there are a total of 11 states with unemployment rates that have risen in 2011: Wisconsin, Tennessee, South Dakota, North Carolina, New Jersey, Mississippi, Maine, Illinois, Connecticut, Arkansas, and Alabama. Not a single one of these states is in the West. Five are in the South, three are in the Midwest, two are in New England, and one is a Mid-Atlantic state. Seven have Republican governors and four have Democratic governors, so there is no clear political correlation. Four have unemployment rates lower than the national average, six have unemployment rates higher than the national average, and one has the same rate of unemployment as the nation as a whole.

Next, there are a total of seven states with unemployment rates that are currently above ten percent: California, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Two are in the West, three are in the South, one is a New England state, and one is located in the Midwest. Five have Republican governors, one has a Democratic governor, and one has an Independent governor. However, six of those seven governors just took office earlier this year. Also, five of these states have unemployment rates that have declined since January. Only Mississippi has seen a slight increase (South Carolina’s numbers are unchanged).

Lastly, there are a total of seven states with unemployment rates below six percent: Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Here we finally see something of a geographical/demographic pattern in the data. Five of these states are located in the central region of the country, and the other two are in New England. Also, every one of these states has a population of fewer than four million people, and six of them have a population below two million. Five have Republican governors and two have Democratic governors. Only South Dakota has an unemployment rate that has risen in 2011, but that is only by a tenth of a percent.

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About RJ

  • I don’t think there’s a whole heck of a lot any individual governor can do about unemployment given the way most state governments are structured. That’s particularly the case here in California with its permanently deadlocked legislature. Arnie and now Jerry have both tried yelling at them and threatening them, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. The voters even approved a proposition to stop their pay if they didn’t pass a budget, but they just sued.

    So you have to look at the particular economic conditions in each state if you want to account for what’s going on with the unemployment numbers, because, as the article observed, the colour of the buttocks currently warming the governor’s chair doesn’t have much bearing.

  • You know, as I was researching this article I’d sort of assumed (as my unstated hypothesis) there would be a correlation between an individual state’s unemployment rate trends and the political party of its governor. But there really isn’t much of a correlation to be found. So the article ended up being rather dry, though hopefully informative.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    RJ –

    as I was researching this article I’d sort of assumed (as my unstated hypothesis) there would be a correlation between an individual state’s unemployment rate trends and the political party of its governor.

    I made the same kind of mistake in this article. I did find strong correlations between the living standards (in many respects) between red and blue states…but as Clavos pointed out, my premise that blue states were inherently better-governed was wrong despite all the strong indications in that direction.

    It took a long time for Clavos to beat into my brain that I had committed a logical fallacy – the “causation-correlation” fallacy – and that I was wrong. So I went back to the drawing board and found the REAL reason why life is generally better in blue states (longer life expectancy, lower teenage birth rates, higher percentage of health-insured, lower violent crime rates, and several others).

    And you know what the real reason is? It has little to do with liberal or blue-state governance, and everything to do with the level of urbanization of a state. Generally speaking, the more urbanized a state, then the higher the income, the higher the educational level, the lower the violent crime rate, and so on…and the reason why more urbanized states are more likely to be blue states is because the greater the level of urbanization of a state, the more likely they are to elect a liberal government.

    Liberal governance does not bring the greater overall prosperity of blue states – but the greater overall prosperity of those states brings the liberal governance. You could say that part of the proof is that in 2008, a professed lesbian won the mayoral race in Fort Worth (or was it Dallas) in that Grand Poobah of red states, Texas.

    So I understand how you feel, and it speaks well of you that you owned up to not finding what you expected to find.

  • RJ, while I commend you for your integrity in not pursuing your original thesis once it became apparent to you that it was wrong, you’d have done better to try to develop another one, as without it this article is, as you confess, somewhat pointless (unless you enjoy playing around with statistics, as some of us do).

    Perhaps you’d have done better to focus on a few individual states where something out of the ordinary or expected seems to be happening.

    For instance, California’s unemployment rate is exceptionally high, which is to be expected given the parlous state of its economy. But it is coming down in spite of the ongoing shambles in Sacramento. Why?

    Or you might look at Michigan, whose governor has taken a combative stance against unions, which one might expect would lead to a net job loss, at least in the short term. Yet unemployment in the state has fallen.

    Then there are the poor southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which you’d expect would have high unemployment but whose rates actually seem to be roughly at or below the national average.

    Same goes for West Virginia, another poor state but with a plummeting unemployment rate. What’s happening there?

    And whatever they’re doing in New Hampshire, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming needs to be shared with the rest of us, because it’s clearly working.

    Happy hunting!

  • Thanks for your kind words, Glenn.

  • Glenn,

    And it was Houston.

  • I wish to issue a self-correction. It’s Wisconsin, not Michigan, where the governor is grappling with the unions, and unemployment there has indeed risen slightly. Disregard that particular question.

    Carry on.

  • Purple Pundit

    So from the list, you’ve concluded nothing? A waste of time other than learning your political prejudices have been proven incorrect. Not sure why a website would publish this

  • zingzing

    websites publish all sorts of stuff, pp. a staunch conservative realizing that he’s not always right is certainly worth publishing. it’s a rare, beautiful beast.

  • 8:

    I probably should have added a conclusion paragraph, but there really weren’t any firm conclusions to be drawn from the data. (As the four paragraphs I wrote after the raw data make clear.)


    Thank you?

  • zingzing

    it was back-handed, rj, but i stopped it just short and caressed your stubble.

  • In fact, I haven’t shaved in a while.

    Are you stalking me, zingzing? 0_o

  • Interesting figures, but:

    States with significant oil industry jobs benefit when oil prices are high [North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma].
    Small or sparsely populated states are hard to compare to big and densely populated states.
    And the numbers are probably from too narrow a time frame, just 6-7 months. Figures from 2007 [pre-recession] and 2009 [depth of recession] might reveal some patterns.

    We often expect both presidents and governors to do magic with job numbers, when so much is out of their hands. If presidents and governors of either party could wave a wand and cut unemployment in half, they’d do it. Government can make a difference mostly at the margins, or to fill in the gaps [i.e. stimulus] while the economy heals itself. Which it will, eventually.

  • Cannonshop

    #13 unless said stimulus prolongs or extends the damaging practices that caused the crisis in the first place, in which case you’re just delaying the correction so that it cuts deeper and more destructively, and slowing any recovery, since resources that should have been present, have been exhausted trying to stave off the inevitable.

    For example, Hoover’s attempted stimulus action during the Great Depression, the bailouts of failed S&L’s in the late eighties, Bush’s big bailouts, Obama’s stimulus, etc. etc.

    oN a state level, California’s current woes, Michigan’s perennial problems, etc.

    The current situation with a U.S. Credit downgrade and what’s shaping up to be a double dip recession, shows that you can’t borrow your way to prosperity, eventually the debts come due.

  • troll

    RJ – concerning your title…it’ll be interesting to see whether or not the changes you note actually indicate trends :/

    Handy – you represent the essence of modern liberalism: an abiding faith in progress

    general question – what steps can ‘an economy’ take to correct a malinvestment in labor?

  • troll

    as Cannonshop points out the US chunk of the world economy needs an influx of resources to ‘fix itself’ – what reason does capital have to run to the US?

  • The US is already the number one safe-haven choice for international investors, other than gold. When the stock market gyrates, US Treasuries do well, as they are currently. In fact, some economists think this is a good time to borrow more, at record-low interest rates. They also think stoking inflation to 4 or 5% temporarily would help. The right will have conniptions, but so what? They are wrong, as always.

    Both troll’s and Cannon’s ‘observations’ are actually ideological sniping. Just different ideologies.

    Cannon’s list of ‘failed’ stimulus measures is not, shall we say, widely accepted among knowledgeable people. The recession was very deep, but didn’t go into depression.

    It’s hard to prove a negative, but smarter people than me or Cannon or troll believe the 2008-10 stimulus measures prevented much worse calamities and were, if anything, too small.

  • PS I am immensely fucking tired of being told, with a condescending tongue cluck, that I am such a typical liberal and our beliefs are so quaint and irrelevant. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • troll


    Handy – I’m asking what I think to be legitimate questions for which I have no answers… [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    that said: is investing in the US Government equivalent to investing in the US economy or is there a distinction to be made?

  • troll

    Handy – with all of the editing please take away this — don’t assume that I’m attacking you by pointing out your faith in progress…more I’m adding to the conversation about what is liberalism

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop #14 –

    If that were true, then America should have had her biggest depression after WWII since our biggest government-funded stimulus was our military and industrial buildup for and during the war – ALL of it funded by the government, which left us even deeper in debt (relatively speaking) than we are now.

    No, a proper stimulus does NOT delay the inevitable…unless the stimulus is simply too small as Obama’s was, as most economists today agree.

  • troll

    Glenn – the US GDP grew at high single digits rates starting in ’33…it would be interesting to figure out how much of this growth can be attributed to government borrowing/spending

  • The only private sector of the US economy that would still merit investment would be high tech and green technology (if Shell Oil, etc., would let it). Other than that, there is no more US economy, in the creative, productive sense, to speak of. Nor is US consumption, as it’s all too often claimed, a reliable index of the health of the US economy. Which is to say, we haven’t yet exhausted the stockpile of wealth/assets we’ve accumulated over the years. Joe Biden’s pleadings to the Chinese to be investing in America is a telltale, IMO, of how desperate we’ve become, close enough to be running on empty.

    As an aside, if, as some argue, the US economy offers such lucrative prospects for foreign investment, then why, it’s natural to ask, don’t the US-based firms do it — especially since the interest rates (for them) are virtually non-existent.

    What do the US firms do, though? They invest in China and India and other emerging economic powers of the (no longer) Third World. And from their perspective, you can’t really blame them.

  • Baronius

    For what it’s worth, it looks like there’s a relationship between the states with declining unemployment and the states that experienced the worst of the housing crisis. Nevada, Florida, Michigan, California, Kentucky, and Arizona saw some of the highest foreclosure rates, and they’re all showing declining unemployment. If that means that the impact of the housing crisis is finally subsiding, great. On the other hand, it could mean that the residents are giving up on searching for jobs, or moving.

  • troll

    now I’ll get ideological:

    people feel it safe to invest in US treasuries because they know that the government wields such coercive force as to be able to extract blood from its citizenry

  • You’re right of course … in the long run, because once the extraction is complete, the US will become a true fertile ground for real investment in cheap American labor when everyone will be for hire — colonialism in reverse.

    But that’s the long arc of progress, the hallmark of liberalism, modern-day version.

  • Much of the WWII debt — even larger than today’s in relative terms — was reduced through inflation…which is what Krugman and others are suggesting now.

  • Baronius

    The big difference being that WWII ended, but there’s no VJ day for Medicare.

  • Yes, that’s what tax increases are for. =)

  • Cannonshop

    #27 Krugman will suggest ANYTHING to protect The Party and the American Left, Handy. He’s very amusing if you go back and read what he said about Bush’s bailouts, then his utter and complete reversal when Obama did the same gig, with the same results.

    Inflation wasn’t what got us out of the Depression, it was PRODUCTION, particularly post-war production, and an end to most of the economic meddling of central planners in D.C.

  • Indeed, Cannon, we were firing on all four and then some – and guess what, there wasn’t any competition from either the West or Japan (all depleted). We had the entire field to ourselves.

  • Cannon, you’ll say anything, period, just ’cause you’re on the interwebs and so you can. I wish you would fact check sometimes before typing, but whatever.

    Krugman by no means avoids criticizing the president, especially recently. I don’t expect anyone to take his advice about the debt; they didn’t take his advice about stimulus either.

    And neither I nor Krugman said inflation got us out of the Depression. It helped significantly reduce the burden of the huge war debt.

    Inflation automatically decreases the value of the debt you hold. Some people think a year or two of 4 or 5% inflation would help with our debt crisis. We’ve had 2% or lower inflation for so long, it needs to be averaged out. And we may have an overdeveloped fear of inflation because of the 70s and early 80s.

    Krugman [a Nobel winner and a Princeton professor; now remind me, where do you get your own knowledge of economics, or history?] is not alone in this, and the inflation thing is controversial, hardly a matter of politics or ideology.

  • Inflation could potentially also help mortgage holders who are under water.

  • Clavos

    Krugman [a Nobel winner and a Princeton professor…

    With a leftist point of view.

  • But inflation is a double-edged sword as well, isn’t it? Won’t it cause added misery to those who are already strapped and barely make their ends meet?

    There’s always a trade off, ain’t it so?

  • Don’t be smearing the Leftists, Clav. It’s a liberal point of view, and one of the trademarks is the citing of authorities.

  • 13:

    States with significant oil industry jobs benefit when oil prices are high [North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma].

    Here are the list of top oil-producing states (in order, using 2007 data):

    Louisiana 7.8 to 7.8 [no change]
    Texas 8.3 to 8.2 [-0.1%]
    California 12.4 to 11.8 [-0.6%]
    Alaska 7.8 to 7.5 [-0.3%]
    Oklahoma 6.6 to 5.3 [-1.3%]
    New Mexico 8.7 to 6.8 [-1.9%]
    Wyoming 6.3 to 5.9 [-0.4%]
    North Dakota 3.8 to 3.2 [-0.6%]
    Kansas 6.8 to 6.6 [-0.2%]

    Eight of these nine states have seen unemployment drop in 2011 (one had no change). Eight of the nine states have unemployment rates lower than the national average (California is the exception). Two of the nine states have seen unemployment drop by more than one percent over the last year (Oklahoma and New Mexico).

    But the two biggest producers have seen almost no change in their unemployment rates in 2011. And none of the top four producers have seen particularly significant declines in unemployment in 2011. And each of the top four producers on the list all have higher unemployment rates than every one of the other states on the list.

    So this looks to be a weak correlation, at best.

  • It’s the “in 2011” that is not very significant. The oil industry has been doing well for several years.

  • Right. When Roger cites Robert Reich, and Clavos agrees with him, is this a “citing of authority” and does that mean it’s any less valid? Just wonderin’…..

    Robert Reich and Paul Krugman [and for that matter, Roger] agree on 95% or more of everything. Reich and Krugman are well versed in their subjects and what they say is interesting even if you don’t agree with them.

    And whether Roger approves of my citing them will have no effect on whether they are smarter than he is.

  • 38:

    Well, oil prices were very high in 2007 and 2008, then very low in 2009, then pretty high in 2010, and very high again in 2011.

    If you have a better start date for me, handy, I’d be happy to look up the unemployment data for those nine states.

  • I’m not sure, RJ, not arguing with you exactly. It might take a graph of states by year to reveal something, but I don’t expect you to do that.

    There were oil layoffs in early 2009 but the industry recovered fairly quickly compared to some others, so if oil makes up a lot of a state’s employment, that state would probably look better than the national average in the change from 2009 to 2010, and 2011 would probably stay fairly steady.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Inflation wasn’t what got us out of the Depression, it was PRODUCTION, particularly post-war production, and an end to most of the economic meddling of central planners in D.C.

    Sheesh. YES, it was production, but the production was there because the government borrowed in greater amounts than ever before in human history to build the factories, the means of production. This is also known as “central economic planning by a government”.

    And then start looking at the tax policies that they had during the 1950’s.

    In other words, Cannonshop, what you did was assumed that since we paid off most of the WWII debt, it must automatically have happened according to conservative dogma.

    But that’s not the way it happened – indeed, quite the opposite. Do the research, look at the numbers for all the years…but who am I kidding? You’re never going to believe that conservative economic dogma is wrong no matter how much data show otherwise.

  • Cannonshop

    And Glenn, if your model included the only relevant data, then the Soviet Union had us beat and we should’ve lost the Cold war-More factories, and more central planning.

    It didn’t work out that way.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh, Cannonshop –

    If you were to study WWII – really study WWII – you’d find yourself having a great respect for the Soviet Union. Not a love or even a like, but a respect for how very much more they did and overcame than did the rest of us…and while our “Lend-Lease” program helped, it didn’t do much more than that.

    What sank the Soviet Union, Cannonshop, was NOT their inability to produce – in that, they had the ability to outproduce us in many respects. What finally sank them was the corruption endemic in dictatorships.

    But let’s continue along the same lines of the example you gave! What, then, about CHINA? Thirty years ago, China had ZERO skyscrapers in Shanghai. Now they’ve got twice as many as New York City! So while you keep telling me how centrally-planned economies are a sure recipe for disaster, I’ll keep pointing out China.

    FYI, nations succeed best when government and business work TOGETHER. When businesses run wild and are subject to little or no regulation – which is the case in many third-world countries and which is what conservatives think is the way to go, it’s every bit as bad, every bit as corruption-inducing as when businesses are over-regulated as they were in the Soviet Union. You have to find a happy medium.

    Businesses NEED regulation – they don’t want it, of course, but they need regulation. It’s really no different from people driving on the road – we don’t like speed limits, we don’t like those stop lights and stop signs slowing us down when there’s no one else in sight…but we need them. The government doesn’t drive our cars or tell us where we can or can’t go in our cars (within reason), but the government DOES help us by getting tens of millions of cars to be operated quickly and efficiently and quite safely (as compared to nations with few – if any – enforced traffic laws).

    So it is, so it should be in business.

  • Baronius

    Reich is an interesting guy, although I don’t often agree with him. Krugman is a fool.

  • @39

    Handy, if and when I agree with Robert Reich or anybody else, it’s in virtue of what they say, not who they are, their surname, or the title which accompanies them. In my ten some years in post-graduate schools, I’ve been privileged to be exposed to some of the greatest minds (in the areas of my interest), and you know what — each treated the other, including the students, as equals. That’s the secret to any education and true dialog and true learner-teacher relations. The teacher stand as much to learn from his students and his students from their teacher. So when you say something to the effect that so-and-so is smarter than … fill in your own blanks, do you realize how silly you sound? You’re too intelligent and too articulate a person not to know better.

    But that’s just my view, and I can’t speak for Clavos.

  • I was just objecting to your dogmatic “characteristics of the liberal #307: liberals cite authorities.” It’s unnecessary, inaccurate and you should retire it.

    I pointed out that you also quote ‘authorities’ when it suits you. That doesn’t make the citations more or less valid. Sharing what interesting writers and academics have to say can be a vital part of any smart conversation.

    This condescending “he’s just doing what liberals do” has really been overused around here.

    And I don’t even necessarily agree with Krugman! [How would we surgically raise inflation to 5% for just a couple of years and then lower it? It’s not so easy.] I was just pointing out an interesting idea he has been writing about.

  • Fair enough, it was an unnecessary dig as well as gross mischaracterization. Both of us know, of course, that citing authorities is quite legitimate — but it doesn’t translate into “he/she’s smarter than …” It’s the latter part which I was addressing.

    As to whether my “portrait” — still a work in progress — turns out to be dogmatic, let’s just wait and see. I believe I’ve given you sufficient indication that I’m not painting everybody with the same broad brush, or at least trying not to, and that I keep in mind important distinctions. Nonetheless, as I said earlier, there is a cluster of similarities as regards positions on issues, if not certain premises that are shared in common, which, in my judgment, merit a closer look and a kind of summation, if only for the purpose of promoting and enhancing common understanding. I have not undertaken this project, as Baronius more than once insinuated, as though a kind of free-for-all, an open invitation for any and all comers “to dump on liberals,” and I hope you take my word for it.

    And in the worst case scenario, even if you should find my yet-to-be articulated position as verging on dogmatic, look at it this way: I would be presenting a different narrative from the one that’s commonly in use. And what harm could this be?

  • I was reading an article in Bloomberg Business magazine this afternoon (the strange things one does while waiting at the car wash!) which pointed out that as bad as the deficit currently is, it’s not what we should be worried about.

    What should be prompting a national chorus of “holy fuck” is the projected shortfall over the next 25 years of government revenue against expenditure, which is anticipated to be ten times as much.

    No, budget cuts aren’t going to make a dent.

    And, no, neither are tax hikes.

    Some combination of both will, but it’ll only be minor. It’s only by herding the three sacred cows of Medicare, Social Security and defense through the fiscal abbatoir that the long-term prospects look anything but nightmarish.

    The current crop in DC, the article argues, either don’t get this or don’t want to.

    Thoughts? Other than “aaaarrrrgghhh”?

  • 49:

    Well, yeah. If you don’t want to see a bankrupt USA, you need to reform the entitlement programs. This is something that conservatives have been saying for years.

    Congressman Paul Ryan has a plan. I realize it’s not perfect (in fact, there *is* no “perfect” plan), but at least it’s realistic, workable, and it’s actually been written down on paper.

    I’m not sure what the Left’s plan is, other than to mimic an ostrich while calling for higher taxes on groups of people that are easy to demonize for class-warfare purposes.

  • I assume you mean fiscal conservatives, RJ, rather than elected ones, who are terrified of saying anything of the sort because of the wrath of the boomers which would surely follow. It’s political suicide.

  • Paul Ryan’s plan was voted on by the House, and passed.

    It was a nonbinding vote, but the GOP put it to a vote anyway, and they passed it.

    Again, the plan is not perfect. There are legitimate reasons to oppose it. But I want to know what the Democrats’ plan is, other than some non sequiturs about corporate jet owners.

    And of course Dubya proposed a reform to Social Security back in 2005 that was shot down. Again, not a perfect plan, certainly open to criticism. But what was the alternative plan offered by the Dems?

  • Well, there was the President’s budget that passed the Senate back in April, but that’s now buried under multiple layers of peat. At least I think it’s peat. Does peat have a farmyard sort of aroma?

    It didn’t look much beyond the short term, however. Ryan’s proposal at least has that to commend it, but it still doesn’t touch taxes or defense, so it’s hamstrung before you even start.

  • 53:

    I’m not completely sure we are talking about the same thing, but I believe Obama’s budget proposal was shot down in the Senate by a 97-0 vote.

    As for taxes, they probably do need to increase somewhat, but not now. The economy looks to be headed into double-dip, and that is rather poor timing to be raising taxes.

    And one could make the case that defense spending should be trimmed (at least after the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya have ended), but it’s not defense spending that is the long-term budget problem. It’s the entitlement programs.

  • But if you cut defense and raise taxes [long term, not immediately], the cuts to entitlements will be less severe. [Couple that with the revenue an eventually recovered economy will produce, and cost controls on health care tests and treatments, and the whole situation looks far less dire.] And the president and congressional Dems have indeed been saying this for quite some time, to a chorus of fingers-in-their-ears conservatives who have stopped listening.

    PS The 97-0 vote was in late May. The President’s budget plan was written in February, then supplanted by a revised plan in an Obama speech in April [the first public discussion of the $4 trillion ‘grand bargain’ blueprint of big-cuts-plus-tax-reform]. McConnell demanded a vote on the no-longer-current Obama plan after the Ryan plan was defeated in the Senate 40-57. Dems declined to go on record supporting the old plan. In other words, it was a parliamentary maneuver, not a vote on whether the Senate supported the president.

  • it’s not defense spending that is the long-term budget problem. It’s the entitlement programs.

    Defense will continue to be a major problem as long as the American psyche is incapable of functioning without the presence of an Epic Moral Conflict which Must Be Won at All Costs (the defunct Cold War having been replaced fairly swiftly by the War on Terror); and as long as successive American governments insist on getting dragged in every time some despotic regime goes “grrrr” at its people (or vice versa).

    And it’s not every “entitlement” program (welfare and low-income housing, for example, are drops in the bucket). It’s Medicare and Social Security. Everyone, and I mean everyone, expects them; not everyone can have them. There simply isn’t enough money in existence.

  • Speaking as someone whose body has been nearly destroyed, and someone who has paid into social security all of my working life, and someone who is about to be forced off Worker’s comp with a mangled leg, bad heart and shatered right arm and onto early social security disability… I deserve back what I’ve put in and what I was promised when I paid into it

    WITHOUT all of the political scare tactics from both sides.

  • Cannonshop

    #57 ah, hate to be the wet blanket there, Jet, but what you’re asking for, what you were promised, is NOT what you paid.

    Social Security is like any other insurance scam- the Government bets that you will be dead before you collect.

    Otherwise, ask yourself:

    5% of your income, for hte years you worked, does that even begin to match one year’s wages? ’cause once it passes from five percent of your working life, you’re no longer collecting on money you put in, but on someone else’s money…see, Social Security contributions don’t earn interest-they don’t stay in the Social Security SYSTEM long enough to do so-they’re being paid out to people who retired before you.

    It’s a ponzi scheme, and we’re all suckers, but it’s still a Ponzi Scheme-new investors paying in are where the money being paid out to previous investors comes from.

    And there are fewer “New” investors.

  • Cannonshop

    Effectively, for someone who paid in for twenty years, assuming their highest paid job, once the funds drawn from SS or SSI equal that(in about a year or two), other people are now paying them to eat, defecate, use electricity and burn oxygen for carbon dioxide (an EPA regulated greenhouse gas.)

    Effectively, living off the kindness (or at least, grudging and apathetic fatalistic acceptance of the inevitable) of strangers.

    an increasingly shrinking pool of strangers, whose real-income (purchasing power) is degrading, whose employment picture is bleak, and whose own families and lives are suffering because prices are high, work is scarce, and wages are effectively stagnant.

  • Thank you Cannon, that makes me feel so much better about my future… I’ll just jump off the balcony now.

    Disability is my only option as I can’t physically go back to work after 6 1/2 years of hospital operations just to keep me alive.

  • Sorry, Cannon, can’t take your side of the argument here, and I’m going to depart from the contract-laden language in which this discussion is couched. Instead, I’ll just ask a simple if not naive question: Why should I choose a country over an individual citizen, when the country fails to provide for the latter in cases such as Jet’s?

    Dreadful, quite aptly, spoke of “Epic Moral Conflict …” in which we continue to be engaged even as we speak. Well then, if there’s any talk of morality to be admitted here at all, let’s start it at home.

  • 58 + 59:

    Glad to see someone else was willing to play the “bad guy” on this one.

  • Appreciate your sentiment, RJ.

  • Cannonshop

    #61 I’m not choosing between them, Roger, I’m just pointing out what IS happening, how, and why. Every single American Citizen gets to look forward to two things:

    1. paying into a system that spends the money before it even got it (Social Security). Payment into that system is non-optional.

    2. if you live long enough to collect, you’re likely going to out-live your contributions to that system, and the pool of new suckers paying in is necessarily smaller (fewer jobs, fewer of those jobs are of a nature that pays a decent living wage, fewer workers too. The Baby boomers didn’t replace their numbers.)

    Government is obligated to pay out-even without money in the bank TO pay out-like every other major facet of the system, they’re running deficits. They might be able to get away turning up the printing presses for a bit, but that devalues the money paid-i.e. the numbers on the cheque might get bigger, but it’s still going to leave you eating cat-food in dark.

    Because Uncle Sam is like any white-trash relatives you might know or have- “Heeya, there’s checks in the book, there’s Money in the bANK!”

    which blatantly ain’t so.

    It IS a bleak future, and it’s not going to get better as long as Washington D.C.’s inhabitants continue to believe that you can get out of debt by borrowing more money.

    Jet’s in deeper shit than most, because his body’s all fucked up, but everyone is, in the long run, looking at the same situation.

    Fixed Income (Like SSI)+Inflation=invest in cat food, because that’s what you’re going to be eating.

  • I agree with you entirely. The analogy I was thinking of was that of a sinking ship. And my “moral” argument presents the following dilemma: What’s the right thing to do, throw some passengers overboard in order to save others, or simply to go down valiantly and heroically in the interest of all?

    I don’t think there’s a happy solution.

  • Cannonshop

    #65 there isn’t-no matter what is done, someone is going to suffer. I guess it’s really a matter of who gets put in(or over) the barrel on that.

    realistically, EVERYONE is going to end up paying a price-the system simply is not sustainable as it is currently formulated.

  • I’m thinking Jet will be taken care of if we make cuts in the right places. And if health care hadn’t been regulated in the 80’s, the cost of it wouldn’t be so sky-high. The future doesn’t have to be so dire, but we have a LOT of work to do.

  • If I might. Forget about where you’re reading it. Just look at the ideas.

  • A word to the wise.

  • Re: “Fixed Income (Like SSI)+Inflation=invest in cat food, because that’s what you’re going to be eating.

    A year or so ago it got so bad that I actually applied for food stamps. I was informed that I make aprox $28 more PER YEAR than the government allows for me to collect them.

    The following year I appealed…

    …and was told I was now elible for $16 per month… after three months of paperwork headaches and 5 appointments.

    Since I established that it was hard for me to get around, they did this year’s reapplication over the phone after I sent in the paperwork and I got a letter in the mail saying they were going to increase my allotment… to $16.06.

    It may come down to my selling something prescious. My uncle just before he died in the final year of Vietnam bought me my class ring. I’ve worn it ever since. I’m actually thinking of selling it now that the price of gold has skyrocketed.

    I’ve been offered money for it before, I went to Moon High School.

  • Jet, you probably know this already, but I think if you go onto SSI you won’t be eligible for food stamps at all. At least that’s the way it works in California. Ohio may be different. 🙁

  • I used to get both, SSI being only a supplementary income, not disability.

    But that was three years ago.

  • I’m on Soc Sec Disability-not sure what SSI is. In any case since I have a combination of Workman’s Comp and Disability, who knows I may fall into a different category.

    In Ohio it’s called “Jobs and Family Services” and they handle that stuff (food stamps, welfare, drug assistance, utility assistance).

    For two years I was also getting assistance with the required Medicare part D to help with my 14 prescriptions, but in 2009 I fell victim to some Medicare changeover that dumped the company Ohio JFS was paying to subsidize it. When that happened I was dumped onto Anthem Blue Shield and my prescriptions costs shot from $15-22 a month to over $470-NOT including my insulin… and they stopped paying the over $100 per month premium on Part D, so SS started deducting the $100+ from my monthly checks.

    In January 2009 I lost not only the ability to pay my prescriptions, had to start paying Anthem $36 a month on top of what was being deducted, but I couldn’t afford my prescriptions. I went 1 1/2 months without insulin which damaged my eyes.

    Two years later I depend on my clinic doctor and cardiologist to provide me with free drug rep. samples when they can get them of insulin and heart and diabetes meds. The fucking company that’s doing my workman’s comp (independantly insured company) actually goes through my covered hospital bills for my foot, leg, knee and head, and then refuses to pay for any drugs that have to do with my heart or diabetes because they’re not part of the “orginal injury” I forward those bills to SS and they refuse to pay it because WorkComp should be covered under drugs necessary to keep me alive while in the hospital, but Gallagher Bassett found a legal loophole that says they don’t have to pay. so after it bounces back and forth a few times ti goes to collection agencies

    The hospital won’t let me take my own drugs into the hospital for legal reasons, so I end up paying inflated hospital prices for drugs while I’m there. Since the bill portions can’t be separated and neither agency will pay, I’m stuck with collection phone calls hounding me night and day…

    …good thing I’m going to a shirnk

  • SSI is Supplemental Security Income: it’s for qualified disabled people who either haven’t contributed enough to the fund to qualify for full Social Security payments, or who don’t qualify for SSP at all.

  • I guess I’ve contributed enough, I’ve been on it since summer of 2005