Posts tagged ‘unemployment’

It’s Always About the Money

No, today is not about our “stable genius” who is neither.  Just as an aside, most of us know we are way smarter than he is (don’t equate being a successful salesman and crook with being smart, i.e. acquiring money) because we know we would never be smart enough for the job of president.  But that is again a sign of how we use the acquisition of wealth as a sign of intelligence and success.  Seeing and listening to most of the billionaires that back President DFF, their one identifying characteristic is not intelligence, but an outlook on life and facts through the lens of greed and selfishness.  Maybe a dash of lack of compassion for their fellow-man necessary to their greed and selfishness.

But I get side tracked.  Look at Iran today and the real root cause of the unrest there is their financial insecurity as their expectations have not matched reality (and the failure of many of their financial institutions).  What got them out in the streets is not the Bill of Rights, but money or the lack thereof.  What will get Americans into the streets and probably finally end President DFF’s reign will not be that he is destroying the Constitution or a danger to our national security, but when the economy turns south as it inevitably will.

Money has become the currency of freedom and choice.  Maybe it always has been.  Think about the roots of the economic inequality we see today.  Money equates power and that power provides the method to acquire more money and tilt the playing field in your direction. And you can never have enough.  Money in a capitalist society like ours is security.  And hence we measure everything from success to intelligence in terms of money.

One off shoot of that is how many (dumb) Americans feel confident in President DFF because we now have a “businessman” with the reins of government.  A Trump fool commented the other day to look at the job growth under trump.  The economy is humming and Wall Street has never been higher according to them as a measure of his success.  If that were measures of our feelings of security (and it is for the 1%) then Trump is all set for a second term.

But let me burst a few bubbles.  Let’s take on the businessman assumption first.  A successful business man makes money (see, the ultimate metric for success and intelligence) and increases the value of the company for shareholders.  He does it in a way that out does his competition, not work with them.  In fact, as we watch the big guys, they do things that try to stifle their rivals.  It is called microeconomics and monopolies.  But the country’s success is based upon how we do in the aggregate, all businesses, not just one or two big ones.  It is called macroeconomics.  A business person is one who is least equipped to understand and facilitate that.  The competition is the enemy in their little minds and you can see that in President DFF’s idea about winners and losers.

Second on job growth, all we are seeing is a continuation of the job growth curve that was established under Obama.  We seem to forget (clouded by the security of our money today) that Republicans wrecked the economy and under Obama, both the stock market rebounded in giant leaps, but employment under Obama actually rose faster than it is under Trump.  To say it another way, all the “great business man” has done is not upset the Wall Street apple cart yet.  And that is a big yet.

And on that Wall Street thing, yes, if you own stocks and your income is dividend driven, happy days are here again, but what of the workers?  Is that wealth flowing down?  Are wages rising at the same rate as profits?  We still use the wealth of Wall Street to measure our wellbeing when the reality for most working Americans is that it has no measurable effect.  Sure if it crashed there would be an impact, but the wild profit taking on the ballooning price of shares may just be a troubling sign that a correction is coming.  Some measure.

So the key to upending both the Republicans and Trump is about money.  When enough Americans feel the pinch, only then will they go to the streets.  They may say it is about our Constitution or our rights, but it is their feeling that they are losing their security (read money in our society) under these nitwits.  I don’t mean to demean the Women’s march because it really did give us hope.  I am simply saying that until enough Americans feel their security threatened through their financial security, nothing really changes.

Here is the problem with all that.  Economies grow and contract.  Cycles are the universal accepted norm in a capitalist society.  Our approach to smoothing out these so we don’t have the Great Depression or the recent Great Recession was regulation (Glass Segal) coupled with monetary policy (interest rates and the supply of money), and thanks to the great economist John Maynard Keynes, government spending when private enterprise has rolled up into a fetal ball.  The later one is almost dead because Republicans are loath to spend on anything except themselves (tax cuts).

But they still happen and they have little to do with who is in office, only how we try to respond to them.  Thus, we swing back and forth between Democratic or Republican control of our government seeking security meaning a roaring economy that serves us all.  Sadly, we are focusing on the wrong thing, money instead of security because we equate the two.  Note that both parties have become “the party of business” as though this will solve anything.  Republicans are the Party of the big businesses, and Democrats got lost in entrepreneur politics to save us.  It offered no solution for middle America except move and get and education, neither realistic for the middle aged industrial worker. And neither solution, Democratic or Republican will ever solve the underlying problem, real security in a capitalist world.

Think about it.  In recent history we careened from George H. Bush to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and now to President DFF, and when you step back, none of them solved the underlying problem of security and a better life for our children.  Economic inequality just kept increasing. All the solutions proposed simply tinkered with the existing system that favors the wealthy, one more compassionate than the other, but still tied to the big banks and Wall Street as the measure of success.

There is a glimmer of hope.  Bernie got it.  It’s not about the money, it is about the security.  Many European countries get it. Sure capitalism is the engine of prosperity, but not uncontrolled.  Uncontrolled it damages everything around us while it produces money for the few. It is simply a tool and one of many.  Let capitalism be capitalism constrained only when it hurts us (economically, socially, or environmentally), but then more fairly share the profits toward building security and a better tomorrow.  That would be a guaranteed healthcare system, retirement system, safety net, and advanced education.  That would be infrastructure investments for our future that allows that constrained capitalism to grow and prosper, not for the few, but for all of us. That would be a government who invests in R&D, and takes science and data seriously.  That would be a complete rewiring of our economy.

Our economic system is presently wired to increase economic inequality, which then produces a distribution of power to affect that economic system unevenly in favor of those that have. The gross economic inequality we see today drives so many of our problems like unaffordable cities, politics controlled by money, stagnation of wages, and the lack of inertia to change the system.  Racism whose power to hurt comes from the economic disadvantages of those it is used against gets nullified.  It goes on and on.  Right now the Republicans, in their belief that fewer restrictions on a system already grossly unfair to us will work better for all of us, are in charge. See the latest tax bill and its consequences for who it really helps.

Soon the reckoning will occur and the Democrats will have the government again.  But if we fail to recognize that it is about security and how government can establish that baseline security for all of us, that levels the playing field where the truly exceptional can be exceptional, we will just keep pinging back and forth between parties while our future just gets dimmer and dimmer.  That is really what it is all about.  We don’t need to just throw out the Republicans in 2018, but to throw out those Democrats who are still too wedded to the old system.  Yeah, change, real change, is very, very hard.

Note: Republicans believe self-servingly that the best way to help everyone and grow the prosperity for all (that is not the same as growing the economy) is an unrestrained market place.  That is their whole flow down approach to the economy.  Make me rich you will be too.  It is also informed by the view of mankind where there is a level playing field out there so if you are suffering you deserve it.  Then throw in that they are basically fearful people, resist change, and underlying all of it is I got mine, fuck you (selfishness breed by fear), and you get a world viewed through lenses that filter out reality.  Of course it is hidden underneath hammocks for the poor and removing regulation and freeing the market place will make us all better off.

But the market place already operates by rules or their would not be a market place, just chaos.  And the important thing for you to note here is that those rules favor the wealthy.  So when you hear don’t regulate the market place, it is smoke and mirrors for don’t change the rules that favor me.  It really is that simple.

OMG! Stop Inflation!

The following is from a NYT editorial this morning, but rearrange to make my point:

When the Fed announced on Wednesday that it would raise its benchmark rate to a range of 0.25 to 0.5 percent, banks raised the rates they charge on many loans but not the rates they pay to depositors. That widening spread means higher bank profits.

This week’s interest rate increase, though small, is significant, because it is a sign that the Fed has again let fighting inflation take precedence over pursuing full employment. [Except there is no inflation and it is hard to imagine there will be with low wages].

Banks tend to favor higher rates out of fear that an outbreak of inflation will erode the value of loans. For most of the past several decades, Fed policy makers tended to indulge these fears by giving priority to fighting inflation, even when doing so stifled jobs and wages.

But it is hard to see how the increase will benefit the economy as a whole. The unemployment rate has held steady recently, at 5 percent, but the underemployment rate — which includes the unemployed, part-timers who need full-time work and jobless workers who have apparently given up looking — is still at nearly 10 percent [This does not consider those that quit looking because wages are so low].

One result of those slack conditions is that pay raises for most workers are still few and far between. With no evidence of inflation in wages or in consumer prices, there was simply no need at this time for the Fed to risk slowing the economy by raising rates.

In fact, the risk that wages will continue to stagnate — as they have for decades for most people — should be a far more worrisome issue for policy makers than a distant and theoretical risk of inflation.

I rearranged this to show that the banks, who have absolutely nothing to do with the health of our economy, still hold the Fed hostage to a stupid move on inflation that does not exist and cannot exist until wages really do start to come back.  We are doing stupid things because that is what we have always done, but our world is different now.  We are living in a different economic environment, yet we apply old rules that will hurt, not help, and the reason is that Bankers who don’t really care about Main Street have all the power.  Get those profits back up, except those profits go to the very wealthy with absolutely no benefit to the rest of us.

That is why I support Bernie for President.  He gets this.  Hillary is still too much of a captive of the financial guys.  Her more regulation on banks is a prime example.  Regulators have failed us before, while breaking up the big banks ends their strangle hold on our economy is a structural fix that does not depend on the whims and revolving door of regulators.  It really is time we took back control of our economy from Very Smart People who are living in yesterday.  Now, I have no illusions, Hillary will win the nomination and probably the election if the Democrats can keep themselves from self-destructing.  But if Hillary gets a run for here money, it will let her know that to bring Bernie’s supporters into the fold, she had better jettison her banker friends.

An Example of the Fantasyland Republicans Live In

I just have to do it.  Here is the one thing that Republicans all believe about the economy.  Obama has wrecked it.  Okay, let’s examine that, you know, with facts.

First where was the economy when he came into office?  Well, the housing bubble under their boy George Bush has burst and the economy after eight years of Republican leadership was cratering.  The jobless rate went from 5.0 percent in 2007 to 9.5% in June 2009 (Bureau of Labor and Statistics).  Between 2008 to Jan 9 2009 (President Obama’s inauguration) 2.6 million jobs were lost (CNN).  GDP actually fell in 2008 and 2009 to negative 2.9%.  Whose fault do you think that was?  And the stock market?  It crashed down from 14,00 to 7000.  Now all of this was under George W. Bush and a Republican Congress.

Oh, and let’s not forget the deficit.  It was growing wildly under the Bush administration due to the tax cuts and the war.  Here is where the deficit went after the crash and why:


Now we have a starting point where President Obama came into to office,  So where are we today as President Obama has “wrecked” the economy?

Unemployment:  5.1% (recovered from almost 10%)

GDP: 3.1% (recovered from -2.9%)

Stockmarket (Dow Jones):  16,459 (recovered from 7000)

And the deficit?  It fell from $1.4 trillion in the 2009 fiscal year to $486 billion in the 2014 fiscal year, a drop of 66 percent.

Yep, he has ruined the economy if you are cross-eyed moron unable to use the internet or read statistics.  Or he has slowly restored it.  Anybody notice that he beat Romney’s promises? Shouldn’t they be dancing in the streets?

Now you can complain about a lot of things like the recovery was not fast enough (Republicans blocked that with austerity); we are decreasing the deficit too fast at the expense of needed investment in America (Republicans blocked that with no new spending); that real unemployment is much larger for the lack of good jobs and people not actively seeking work (Republicans blocked any jobs bill); and that economic inequality is stifling middle class growth (Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage and tax reform).  But he has restored what the Republicans destroyed,  And now they want to be put in charge again so they can destroy it again.

No Virginia, the economy is not a mess under Obama as the Republicans claim, and yes they are lying sacks of shit who live in a fantasyland far, far away. Turning the government over to them would be a disaster. Oh, sorry dear. Sometimes the truth is vulgar.

Maybe tomorrow I will take on their complaints about his foreign policy.  A little truth telling there might be beneficial.



One Other Sunday Thought – Raising Interest Rates

Why?  If you are a normal human being, you have no idea what this is all about.  The unemployment has fallen to 5.1% so, as the conventional wisdom goes, we must raise the interest rate before we are eaten up by inflation.  Problem is we are seeing no inflation.  The bond guys want it because it increases their margins and there is an argument that it would discourage bubble borrowing to invest in financial securities.  But what of employment.  Remember that the Fed is to both protect against unemployment and inflation.

Well let’s think about it.  There are still of ton of Americans in the shadow worker market, not counted in the unemployment numbers and tons more in part-time jobs because there are no full-time jobs.  And wages are going nowhere. So why raise them now when there seems to be no indication to do so.  Will it slow down a slowly recovering economy?

Well here is my advice: The guys who have been wrong about the economy since they total missed the housing bubble and have been screaming inflation and weakening dollar since 2009, want the interest rate raised.  The guys including Krugman who got it right from day one are saying don’t raise it.

I have to go with them latter, but that does not seem to be the way Washington works.  Washington likes to listen to Very Serious People who have been wrong on just about everything, but look so serious and important, and still have access to power because, well they are very serious.  You think I exaggerate?  See all of Jeb Bush’s advisors,  Retreads from George.  I even saw the head of FEMA during Katrina (Your doing a heck of a job Brownie) pictured with Jeb as part of his campaign.  That is why nothing ever changes.

Think of it another way.  The people in power do what is necessary to stay in power.  We have the largest transfer of wealth in the history of our country.  The people who want to raise the interest rate benefit from this system.  So what do you think we ought to do?



Well let’s start with the 6.3%. That is 6.3% of people who are actively looking for a job. But how many have dropped out of looking? What is the unemployment rate when these folks re-enter the market assuming there are enough jobs to make it worth their while?

A number of economists look past the “main” unemployment rate to a different figure the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “U-6,” which it defines as “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.”


It is almost twice the official unemployment rate. In other words we have a sick economy where there are not enough good full time jobs to go around to make it worthwhile to go after them.

It is also nice that we are back to the number of jobs pre-The Great Recession, but as Neil Irwin tells us:

Yes, the number of jobs on United States employers’ payrolls has risen back to its pre-recession levels. But in the six and a half years that have passed, the nation’s population has risen a good deal; the civilian noninstitutional population has risen since January 2008, to 247.4 million from 232.6 million. So we now have about the same number of jobs as we did then, but about 15 million more people who might wish to hold them.

And consider wages. The average private-sector worker took home $838.70 a week in April. In January 2008, if you use April 2014 dollars, that was $818.31. In other words, in the last six and a half years, the average private-sector American worker has seen a total inflation-adjusted pay increase of only 2.5 percent, a lousy $20 a week.

And note that the government is still under employed from the pre-recession days. So we are making a bunch of noise about nothing. At least it is not getting worse.

If we wanted to fix this and get America roaring again, we would start some major investments in infrastructure, alternate energy research and development, building high-speed (fiber optic) communication lines everywhere, and investing in more mass transit projects. But as it is, we count the dribble of new jobs and think that is progress. Just saying …

The Economy Sucks But Happy Friday Anyway


Well it is Friday and I am having a beer on the patio. It was out in the vineyard at 7 am to sucker (remove unwanted growth) for 4 hours, built a rabbit fence around my garden, lifted weights and did yoga. Life of a retired man. I have stayed away from the news because they are trying to spin the economic news. “The economy didn’t grow much, but unemployment is down!” Well in reality, the economy didn’t grow at all, and unemployment numbers are a joke.

If you look closely at the unemployment, it went down, but by the same percentage that people stopped looking for jobs. So no change, and the real number is almost twice what they advertise because so many people have just given up.

I don’t know why we are surprised. This is what happens when demand is low and we do nothing to create jobs. And by that I mean government spending to get the economy going again. We could be creating good jobs investing in fixing infrastructure, hardening infrastructure for the effects of global warming, alternate energy projects, building high-speed rail, building high-speed internet infrastructure, raising the minimum wage, expanding unemployment insurance, you name it. Instead we are held hostage to moron Republicans.

So the economy sucks and it is probably not going to get any better as long as we continue this madness where we know the solution to every problem, and it is blocked by the Right. Just another reason to have a cold one, moving on to wine shortly, and watch baseball because we have become paralyzed in our stupidity. Honey, will you get me another while you are up?

Monday Morning

Well it is Monday morning and it is still raining which is a welcome relief albeit temporary. I have spent the rainy days ignoring politics and trying to sort out my iTunes library. Getting all my CDs ripped, album covers right, songs not split into multiple albums, and restoring missing tracks has been a long tedious task. I know more about how iTunes stores information and uses meta-data that I ever wanted to know. For those of you who want to do this I suggest: Take control of iTunes 11: The FAQ by Kirk McElhearn. It answers just about everything. Oh, and when in doubt, re-import a CD and it will usually sort itself out, but pay attention to the tagging.

When you have removed yourself from the “fray” and then you pick up the paper it is like cultural shock. Can we be this stupid? Most of the stuff we need to do is common sense and yet we dither. Front and center is the failure of extending unemployment benefits in the inane belief that the unemployed just need tough love. Oh, and let’s not forget the Republicans writing off immigration reform (I told you so). This is a no brainer from both economic and moral grounds and yet we do the most stupid thing we can.

We see more extreme weather everywhere, severe drought in California, multiple arctic vortexes in the East and yet we still do nothing about global warming. The obvious answer is a carbon tax. Oh wait! Did I say the T word? Republicans are all running around screaming “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Funny thing though, we raised some taxes out here in California and both our budget and the economy got better, go figure.

Meanwhile in moron land, we see this giant disconnect with the haves and the have nots, with the middle class being squeezed and we can’t seem to connect the dots between their loss of buying power and a lack luster economy. Conservatives and the food industry line up behind preventing an increase in the minimum wage and see no connection between that and lack luster demand. I mean really, are we that stupid?

So with a quick emersion back into our public discourse, I can’t decide whether I want to take an uzi to the Republican Party or just shoot myself. I think I will just withdraw and do my income tax. Oh wait! Here is another system that is totally bolloxed and needs reform and we do nothing. But it does keep my accountant employed. Just another Monday morning and people wonder why I drink wine, lots of wine.

Okay, was that what you were looking for Andrew?

WTF Friday Continues Through Monday

Well the nonsense on the news continues with the Fat Boy Bridge Chronicles and Alex Rodrigquez leading the news.  These are things that we Americans are really concerned about.  We don’t care about the environmental disaster in West Virginia, the fact the the Iranian nuke deal is moving forward, we only produced 75,000 jobs in December but the unemployment rate went down, and that there is a war on the poor.  Nope, we need to know what the fat man was thinking and why, that Gates slammed the President, and Alex and his lawyers will keep us entertained ad infinitum, and of course the football scores. Soap Opera for drama queens?

I think if you really want some reality and focus on what we should be focusing on you could consider the following:

  • Paul Krugman explains why with all the Republican talk about the poor, it is just talk and their basic philosophy, economic and social, will result in no policies to really help the poor.  He agrees that the fragmented programs we have now, and their ability to penalize getting ahead do keep some of the poor, poor, but instead of fixing that, we just do away with the programs to save money for the rich
  • Robert Kuttner takes it a step further to point out that the employment numbers are nonsense, it is actually way over 10%, knocks down all the stupid arguments other than lack of jobs that is holding back our economy (the structural skills thing, Americans unwilling to take low wage jobs, and the secular stagnation argument) and tells us in plain language what we need to do, but Republicans never will
  • Meanwhile the Iranians may be ready to come to the table in the first step toward maybe getting a handle on their nuclear program.  But fear not, John and Lindsey after telling us we need to stay in Iraq until hell freezes over, will also tell us this is a great mistake.  They are consistent
  • The Supremes and their conservative wild bunch appear to be leaning against President Obama and his recess appointments.  The President has argued that when the Senate is scattered to the four winds, could not conduct business, they are not in session.  The Supremes seem to want to say the Senate can make up any rules it wants, again supporting the Republican’s drive to make sure the Executive Branch can’t function
  • In West Virginia, we are looking at our callous and foolish short term thinking where the drinking water supply has been put in jeopardy, but we can’t put any rules into effect to make that a repeat of this disaster unlikely because, well, we need the jobs and don’t want them to go elsewhere.  You understand this is the road to justifying slavery, right?

And so it goes.  WTF Friday just bleeds into WTF Monday and the real issues of this country get ignored.  But I sense things are changing because more and more people are being impacted by our do nothing different Congress.  Maybe it is just our media that can’t refocus on what counts.  It is so much easier to chase politics and false drama, than to analyze real policies and their potential impact on our nation and our future.

Muddled Thinking

Employment is falling, so they say, and is down, but is it really?  Numbers at or about 7% really don’t reflect all those who are not looking at work anymore and when those are considered that number almost doubles. Then you have to ask, okay so there are only 3 applicants for every job, but what kind of jobs?  Crappy jobs at little more than the minimum wage.  We are not recovering in any meaningful sense as income inequity continues to grow.

And when you look at important categories of unemployment, the picture gets bleaker.  Long term unemployment has not reduced at all and youth unemployment is at almost 21%.  Does that sound like a recovery to you?  Yet Wall Street is at record highs.  Get the disconnect?  Our pundits who are insulated from this experience (along with our politicians) cheer the recovery and we wonder what recovery.

One of the prime examples of this muddled thinking is Thomas Friedman’s Welcome to the Sharing Economyas chronicled by Steven Strauss.  He taughts the ability in this new economy of being able to sell rooms in your house or market other equipment you might have in a sharing economy .  But instead of asking if this is really a good thing, Friedman simply marvels at the  business acumen of the company who can make money selling our privacy.  As Strauss points out,

We’ll achieve a brave new world where each of us will be (in Mr. Friedman’s words) a “micro-entrepreneur.” That’s kind of like being a real entrepreneur, except you won’t have: a regular salary, paid vacations, employer-provided health insurance, or a chance of getting rich from an IPO. Being a “micro-entrepreneur” in this brave new world seems instead just a euphemism for being an employee, except with reduced compensation, job security, benefits and protections…So “welcome” to the sharing economy — also known as the collapse of the American Dream.

The other muddled thinking example comes from the Huffington Post:

The U.S. population grew by just 0.72 percent in the year ended July 1, 2013, the Census Bureau reported Monday. That’s the slowest growth rate since 1937. Population growth has hovered at super-low levels for the past few years, according to William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan research organization. The trend is “troubling,” Frey said, and is due largely to the weak economy.

“This real sharp decline has to do with recession-related issues,” Frey said. “Fewer people come into the country because there aren’t as many jobs, and people are postponing child-bearing.”…Typically in a strong economy, workers and immigrants travel to where the jobs are, but the Census data show they’re not really moving, Frey said.

Now let’s think about this.  Clearly with more jobs and a thriving economy, social mobility and economic inequality both improve.  But does that mean that we need more and more people?  Is our economy dependent on ever increasing populations to buy things and does that drives us to a China that is now so congested they are polluting their farm land? Is an ever growing population sustainable?  Sooner or later we have to address these issues.

Certainly we have shown that immigration actually helps the economy by providing workers willing to do stoop labor as a way up the social ladder, and as new consumers to bolster our economy.  But when does population finally overburden the resources of Mother Earth?  Maybe we just need to have more of the existing population with more income to spend.  Oh, wait, that would mean maybe the super rich might have to become the very rich and we can’t have that can we?

In the near term we may need more immigrants, but the idea of an ever growing population seems to be short sighted for the long term viability of the human race, but just great for the bottomline in today’s balance sheet.  No wonder we can’t ever do anything smart. It might cost us a buck today.

The Real State of Jobs

The popular myths about jobs fall into these categories:

  • There are plenty of jobs, just not enough people with the proper skills (structural argument about alignment). The problem with this one is that if that were true, jobs were going wanting for lack of qualified applicants, then wages would be going up to attract those who are qualified, but they are not
  • Machines are taking over jobs and displacing well paid workers and that is just the price of progress and a more efficient workplace. The problem here is not that this might be happening, but why don’t we change tax policy to tax capital (machines) and make the worker competitive or provide funds to provide training and jobs for the future.
  • People would take the jobs that are out there (minimum wage), but their unemployment benefits are too generous. First, most states have shortened the time you can receive these benefits. Second, the logic is horrific. Starve the people and they will work for sub-subsistence wages. Third, the less people make, the less they can buy, and so goes the economy.

The real story about jobs was revealed in the tale of Mr.John Fugazzie in the NYT today:

He was in charge of dairy and frozen foods for the A.&P. supermarket chain, making $125,000 a year. He was also a guest that month at a White House forum on joblessness, in recognition of his work creating Neighbors-helping-Neighbors U.S.A., a volunteer networking organization with 28 chapters in New Jersey serving 1,200 unemployed, mainly white-collar, baby boomers. “John has one of the best volunteer organizations out there,” said Ben Seigel, a deputy director at the Labor Department. “He’s tireless and always upbeat.”

Lately Mr. Fugazzie has been feeling a little weary and beat down. One morning last October, just before his 57th birthday, he was laid off and, carrying a box of belongings from his office, driven home in a car service hired by the company. In the 10 months since, he has applied for more than 400 positions and had 10 interviews, but still has no job.

He and his family are living in his 88-year-old mother’s home, and last month he awoke at 4:30 a.m., sweating profusely, in the midst of a heart attack. As happens to many Americans, when he lost his job, he lost his health insurance. He now owes $171,569.44 for the six nights he spent at the hospital…

Two-thirds in that age group (55-64) who found work again are making less than they did in their previous job; their median salary loss is 18 percent compared with a 6.7 percent drop for 20- to 24-year-olds.

Are we a great country or what? We could be creating jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure and using the talents of Mr. Fugazzie, but instead we are hell bent on shutting down government or defaulting on our debt to get more cuts so we can create more misery. Oh and let’s not forget gutting Obamacare. That is the real state of this country.