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It may be the economy, stupid

Joel Kotkin, in a fine article at the Wall Street Journal, draws out these telling facts on the European economy’s lousy job-formation record in recent years:

Since the ’70s, America has created 57 million new jobs, compared with just four million in Europe (with most of those jobs in government). In France and much of Western Europe, the economic system is weighted toward the already employed (the overwhelming majority native-born whites) and the growing mass of retirees. Those ensconced in state and corporate employment enjoy short weeks, early and well-funded retirement and first dibs on the public purse. So although the retirement of large numbers of workers should be opening up new job opportunities, unemployment among the young has been rising: In France, joblessness among workers in their 20s exceeds 20%, twice the overall national rate. In immigrant banlieues, where the population is much younger, average unemployment reaches 40%, and higher among the young.

Kotkin goes on to contrast the lack of entrepreneurial (good French word, ironically) vigour in countries like France with that in the United States. There are plenty of other statistics to back up his points, but you get the general idea.

As the French rioting has gone on, I remain to be completely convinced that we are seeing some sort of European “intifada”, as a number of commenters on this blog and other blogs say. Islamist radicalism may not be the primary cause, though it is a contributing factor, no doubt. I do certainly see the frightening potential for radical Islamists to exploit the situation and turn it to their own ends. This may already be happening. But I think the primary problem has been a refusal of the EUropean political elites to realise that the Big Government, and a highly protected labour market is a recipe for disaster and alienation. Coupled with the slowing dynamic of a greying population, falling economic growth and so forth, you have a serious problem of a stagnant economy. For example, the article I cite goes on to point out that hundreds of thousands of young Europeans now work abroad, in the U.S. and in Britain, since the work opportunities are so much better. Left behind is an increasingly state-dominated workforce and a huge population of tax-eating bureaucrats and welfare recipients. Not a great foundation for social peace.

Magnus Linklater, meanwhile, points to a worrying trend in Britain of young thugs hurling stones, firing rockets and other projectiles at firefighters in the course of their work. There have been hundreds of these incidents, many of them hardly reported in the media. Only a few years ago, firefighters were heroes, widely praised by all. Now they are almost routinely attacked in the tougher parts of this country.

35 comments to It may be the economy, stupid

  • Euan Gray

    I find the 57M vs 4M comparison hard to believe.

    An article by Tom Buerkle in the IHT states that the EU created 10M new jobs in the 1990s (90% of them part time, but I suspect the work/life balance things in Europe is somewhat different than in the US) and that France alone in 2000 created 500,000 net new jobs.

    They cannot both be right, I suspect.


  • Verity

    Another problem with the banlieues is, Islamic women have too many children – five or six and there aren’t jobs for that many in a society where most companies are not labour-intensive.

  • Wild Pegasus

    Jane Galt nailed what was going on in the riots: these kids are bored, and breaking shit is fun.

    – Josh

  • John East

    Joel Kotkin makes some interesting points, but I think he’s trying too hard to find convincing reasons to excuse rioting Muslims and blame it on the indigenous population. In particular, his comment:

    “Those (white Europeans) ensconced in state and corporate employment enjoy short weeks, early and well-funded retirement…….”

    is a bit misleading. In the UK in the area of corporate employment, short weeks, early and well-funded retirement are increasingly being eroded. I would guess that these benefits peaked in the mid to late 1980’s. So, far from benefitting the have’s at the expense of the have nots, the split in the social democratic European model is between state employees and bureaucrats on the one side, and the poor and the private sector on the other side. If Mr. Kotkin looked at things this way he wouldn’t need to link white success with racism and Islamic deprivation in his argument.
    As for 20%-40% youth unemployment, contrasting this with successful whites implies that the whites are somehow to blame. I wonder if he has heard of globalisation?

  • In raw numbers, yes, the US has created more jobs than Europe in recent decades.

    In fairness, though, the quality of the average US job is declining as the country moves from a manufacturing-based economy (building stuff) to a service-based economy (burger-flipping). Those of us in the States who read Eamon Fingleton saw this coming; unfortunately almost nobody read In Praise of Hard Industry. Certainly nobody in government.

    A surprising number of the new jobs pay minimum wage, and where legal (i.e., where the employer is not engaged in interstate commerce or governed by state regulation), sub-minimum wage. Thus many folks are finding work only at the poverty level and one job isn’t enough.

    Further, outsourcing and globalization is sending what would have been decent middle-class jobs overseas at an increasing pace.

    As for entrepreneurialism, we do have that. The only problem is that (by way of example) a couple of years ago, the fastest growing entrepreneurial sector was lawn care — that is, two guys, a pickup truck, and a lawn mower on a trailer. Not exactly challenging Intel or Lockheed for export supremacy.

    The “taking in each other’s laundry” sector is thought to have great potential if we can just solve the problem of getting the dirty linen to and from India cheaply, but I’m sure Yankee ingenuity will find a way.

    Bob Reich, Labor Secretary early in the Clinton years (and who resigned in distress over issues of job creation and quality) dines out on the story of working the crowd at some event or other and saying approximately this: “Niceta meetcha. Did you know we’ve created X million new jobs?” The guy who’s hand he was wringing said, “Yeah, and it’s a good thing. I need three of them to make ends meet.”

  • J

    He makes good points, but appears to have no idea what Europe is. He refers to anything from France, to continental western Europe, right up to including Russia, – whatever is most convenient at the time.

    I’ve noticed this more and more. People define Europe in whatever way best suits their argument, leaving out the ex-soviet states if necessary, leaving out non EU nations if necessary, and so forth. Often simply leaving out the UK, on the grounds that inconvenient outliers should just be ignored, I guess. Or perhaps on the grounds that we really _are_ the 51st state.

    His last paragraph makes a good summary, however.

  • Looking over Kotkin’s piece I am struck by a couple of things. I speak as a journalist.

    First, the article hews very closely to the WSJ’s rather anti-European editorial line. Certainly, the Journal has not been bullish on France for years. So beware of bias.

    Second, and from the journalistic point of view a major sin, Kotkin gives no sources for his information except for citing “census data” when he discusses New York. Just because he’s associated with a mid-level think tank doesn’t mean the reader should have to take on faith the statements of an urban planner speaking on areas outside his specialty (job creation, entrepreneurship, and the French welfare state). He needs the equivalent of footnotes.

    Poor or no sourcing is a definite no-no. If you are going to trash a national economic system, even if it deserves it–hell, especially if it deserves it–you need to tell where you got your data.

    For all I know, everything he says may be accurate (although I am VERY suspicious of some of his numbers), but this is bad form even for a talking head.

  • Sandy P

    Via Econopundit:

    Go to this page at economagic.com to get this information:


    1960 1.5%
    1970 2.5%
    1980 6.5%
    1990 8.6%
    2000 9.1%
    2004 9.8%

    During the go-go 90s unemployment went up???

    Didn’t Germany also follow this pattern?


    We’re at around 5% after everything we’ve been thru.

    James, but those finding work at the poverty level do get bennies……………..and we’re not set up to stay there, most who start out at poverty level don’t end there.

  • Hi Sandy,

    There is serious disagreement within the Depts of Labor and Commerce as to whether that 5% figure is accurate. A number of insiders at DoL think the real rate is much higher.

    And many don’t get benefits. WalMart (the US’s largest retailer) for example, is very shy about that and a large number of WalMart employees depend on Medicare and Medicaid. Also see front page NYT stories over the past few weeks as to how WalMart is hoping to cut employee benefits (sic) further.

    And of course, those entrepreneurs pushing lawn mowers have no benefits at all.

    Then there is the significant percentage of folks working as ‘temps.’ Often casualties of things beyond their control such as mergers, down-sizing, age-discrimination, globalization, outsourcing, etc.

    Now, while temp agencies *offer* benefits, the hourly wages are often so low, and the kick-in dates so far in the future, that almost no temp ever gets benefits.

    I can say that as an eye witness having done a three-month overhaul of one of the major regional temp agencies. The *offer* of benefits is a great draw, but in the end, costs the agency almost nothing.

    Note that the largest single employer in the US is ManPower, a temp agency.

    Beyond that, you have a slew of undocumented aliens (so called), who are working in unknown and unknowable conditions here, for laughable wages. And benefits don’t even enter the picture here.

    Finally, as to working your way up the ladder, that’s true for a couple of decades if you have the basic education, etc. But as any honest human resources person will admit (suitably liquored up), age discrimination sets in bigtime between 40 and 45, and by the time the kids are getting ready to go to college (tuition crisis!) you had better have something with which to blackmail the boss.

    I am not saying that the US is Hell for the working person, but it is a long, long way from a ‘socialist paradise.’

    Sorry to go on, but I’m a business writer and management consultant and this is sorta what I do.

    No offence, I hope. I admire anybody willing to go to the effort of pulling up real numbers as you did.

  • Sandy P

    Those are the bennies I was thinking of, along w/Section 8, EITC, etc., etc.

    –And benefits don’t even enter the picture here.–

    I can give you ins. or cash, which would you prefer? Especially when you’re young and think you’re immortal?

  • Yup.

    And *especially* when you are young and immortal, Sandy.

  • Sandy P

    I am very well aware of what happens to older employees – and what’s happening in the journalism area, too. Some blogger made the argument awhile ago that there’s a lot of economy doom and gloom from the MSM because they’re going thru it. Others are not. The service industry isn’t all “Do you want fries with that?” Why do you think direct marketing is taking off? And 43% of taxpayers in the top 20% have some form of business income on their tax returns – according to a recent piece by the Tax Foundation.

    And the tuition crisis can be solved quite easily. Go back to the old way of banks assuming the risk v. me and you/Uncle Sam. Do you think it’s a coincidence that once US assumed the risk tuition started skyrocketing? We’re not all entitled to go to Harvard, nor should we, since we can make a lot more money and have better hours being an electrician or a plumber – service industry jobs.

    As we’ve transferred from ag to mfg, we now are moving into the next phase. It will be wrenching, but adapt we must – as we have before – or fall by the wayside. This is the way our country’s always worked, we must be nimble.

    Also, not all people working temp have to, some choose to. Quite a few Gen X females are choosing not make the mistake their moms did — working full time — and sacrificing family. They are also choosing to spend their money where it counts, not on every fad that goes by.

  • Sandy P

    Don’t worry, James, the largest transfer of wealth this country’s ever seen is beginning to take place.

    Boomers want to stay young and will spend their inheritance to make sure it happens. And that means jobs.

  • Argosy

    That goodness the USA is not a manufacturing centered economy any more! Quite why people get all nostalgic for smokestacks and expensive goods is beyond me.

  • Michael Hiteshew

    You say you’re a consultant??

    In fairness, though, the quality of the average US job is declining as the country moves from a manufacturing-based economy (building stuff) to a service-based economy (burger-flipping).

    Back when Bethlehem Steel was king of the high paying union job people didn’t eat burgers, so there were no burger flippers, obviously. Hamburgers spontaneously appeared on the American scene in the late 1980’s, as everyone knows. Wait a minute, that’s not right….

    Those of us in the States who read Eamon Fingleton saw this coming; unfortunately almost nobody read In Praise of Hard Industry.

    That Mr. Fingleton, what a sharpie! He was the only one to notice that heavy manufacturing jobs in the US had been moving towards lower labor cost locales since – let’s see – the 1950’s or so, wasn’t that when it started? Or was it before then that the textile mills of New England began closing and the work moved to Asia? As a result, New England in the year 2005 is, as we all know, a human wasteland of burger flippers living in cardboard boxes under the odd bridge. Penniless beggars, the lot of them.

    Which explains the skyrocketing value of real estate in the area (old 3 Bdrm bungalows selling for $300,000+ fifty miles from Boston), or the fact that HP and Raytheon and EMC keep building plants and hiring like crazy. It also explains the Brit chemists and German engineers and Hungarian bio-chemists living in the area. They heard the burger-flipping jobs in New England paid really, really well. And apparently they do.

    …unfortunately almost nobody read In Praise of Hard Industry. Certainly nobody in government.

    Becuase we all know government is the source of good jobs. HP and Raytheon and EMC are mere creations of the Ministry of Jobs & Central Planning. Or is it the other way around, that the government is able to function and is COMPLETELY FUNDED by the taxes on the employees of these firms and others like them? Nah, couldn’t be. First effect, then cause, that’s right.

    A surprising number of the new jobs pay minimum wage

    Not like the good old days, when the copy boy in the news room got paid top dollar.

    I am very well aware of what happens to older employees

    The man sitting next to me is 65 and has retired once from another firm to his $400K home in the quaintist town you ever saw. He’s now “temping” here making more than he ever made so he can buy the 6 acres across the road from his house. It has a pond and he likes to fish there. My father is 70 this year and has two part time consulting jobs; one with a major engineering firm the other with the Dept of Natural Resources. Those are “service” jobs. He just bought a beautiful new home in a waterfront community. My mother, born the illegitimate daughter of a single mother in the 1930’s and dirt poor as a child now owns a huge house in the suburbs and a vacation home on an island. All of them are in reasonably good health, considering their age. All have worked at multiple jobs throughout their lives. These are truly awful times for the elderly. Truly.

    Note that the largest single employer in the US is ManPower, a temp agency.

    Not like in Europe, where people stay home unemployed and on state benefits for years. Americans actually take temporary jobs and make themselves productive. Fools. Damn them.

    Of course, if you’re educated and willing to travel, temp jobs can pay exceptionally well. Computer science degree? How about a six month assignment in Seattle at $75/hour? Mechanical engineer? How does a year in Florida or Texas sound at $90/hour. Downside: no benefits.

    BTW, don’t ‘business writer’ and ‘Mgt consultant’ both qualify as service jobs? Assuming yes, do you consider yourself simply a glorified burger flipper or is that just your description of other people’s services? Do you wish that instead ‘consulting’ you were sledge-hammering a steel plate onto the side of a ship or shoveling slag near a blast furnace? Or is a service job OK for you, but not for other people? Just curious.

  • Robert Alderson

    I don’t think that there is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit amongst the inhabitants of France – it’s just drowned out by government regulation. The majority of entrepreneurial activity in the US may very well be two guys, a truck and a lawnmower. The problem is that in France you would need a third guy and enormous patience to sort out the bureaucrats.

    The economic environment in France is such that the rational economic choice for too many is to lounge around on state benefits or sell drugs. A lot of the world’s problems could be eased by ending the war on drugs and this is certainly one of them.

  • Jake

    Over 10 million Hispanics came into the US illegally in the last 10 years. Yet the unemployment rate is 6.5% for Hispanics today. France facing the same sort of immigration has a 30% unemployment rate among their immigrants.

    Because the left in America fights to prevent school reform, our urban schools turn out people who are unprepared to earn a living. Companies like Walmart, McDonalds etc are willing to take these people, train them, teach them to read and write and give them a step up on the economic ladder. In my neighbor hood, McDonalds pays $12 an hour. Walmart’s average wage is over $10 and health insurance is offered to these employees for $40 a month.

    The left would have you believe that people stay at these jobs the rest of their life. Untrue. Most move on to better jobs once they have acquired necessary work skills. Many of these workers get promoted to management as all these companies promote within.

    That is what Europe lacks a method of unskilled works to get their first job and get the training needed to move up the economic ladder.

    By the way, 95% of our workforce is paid more than a minimum wage.

  • guy herbert

    There’s also the question of social structure and mobility. French society is just not as fluid or as tolerant of cultural minorities as Britain, or America, or even–despite the neo-Nazis–as Germany. That has consequences for the economy too, of course, but I’d suggest raw unemployment isn’t enough on its own. (Insert Tebbit quote here.)

  • J

    That is what Europe lacks a method of unskilled works to get their first job and get the training needed to move up the economic ladder.

    I really don’t think there’s much point talking about ‘Europe’ with statements like this. The situations in, say, Portugal and Denmark are so different as to be incomparable.

    In the UK, there is little difficulty in getting a first job. What there is, is lack of the will to do so. That’s why we import, err, Europeans (Eastern, generally) do do our low skilled service industry jobs, while the indigenous unskilled sit around feeling sorry for themselves and waiting for the government to do something.

    The difference between a Polish and British cleaner, is that the British one will take every opportunity to avoid work, and the Polish one will get on with it. This isn’t something you can solve through government policy.

  • rosignol

    First, the article hews very closely to the WSJ’s rather anti-European editorial line. Certainly, the Journal has not been bullish on France for years. So beware of bias.

    James, in case you hadn’t noticed, the story was an editorial, carried on the OpinionJournal site.

    I realize a lot of journos have gotten rather bad at distinguishing between fact and opinion in a story, but are you really criticizing someone for writing an editorial that expresses an opinion? WTF? Isn’t that the point of having on op/ed section in the first place?

  • Sandy P

    He’s so used to having opinion in hard news, maybe he can’t distinguish between them anymore.

  • Julian Morrison

    I suspect that the “racaille” hassle all “emergency services” indiscriminately – because they go out of their way to look identical but for the color of the checker squares on their cars.

    BTW, on the French riots – interesting question: Will this harden the hearts of the French to rioting rabble in general? Lorry-burning farmers could be in for a nasty surprise the next time the CAP is up for discussion.

  • Do I smell outraged ideologies drifting on the wind? Anyway…

    I suspect it was meant to be snide, but Sandy P is onto something.

    There is an awful blurring of straight reporting and opinion in the media. And if you think it is bad in the main-stream media, it’s worse in blogs.

    On the other hand, in blogs, at least you get your venom straight-up, though it is obvious that the blogger wants you to treat it as fact. Is this a plus? You decide.

    You might be surprised at the number of working journalists who are dismayed at what they see as the decline of their profession. The news as “infotainment,” “If it bleeds it leads,” press releases with inherent bias broadcast without comment, bought and paid for pundits flaking policy, etc.

    Partly as a result it is becoming harder to tell the difference between the writings of an informed and an uninformed citizen. No, make that harder to find an informed citizen. Lots of journalists are scared, not just for their jobs (although they are worried), but for the future of a country based on the idea of an informed voter.

    Fact versus opinion: As a journo, I was trained to seek facts, and that remains my habit. Others have different ideas. I recall a bottom-line-driven NBC exec in the 1970s who said “Our job is not to inform; it is to make people cry.” Thus infotainment.

    Even in opinion pieces, Rosignol, I think lots of us are more comfortable when the underpinnings of the piece are factual and sourced. And yes, it would be pretty hard to ignore the fact that the WSJ piece was opinion–it was labeled “opinion.” But a number, like “xx percent,” is not an opinion. Even when offered in an opinion piece, it is at least alleged to be a fact. If something like a statistic is displayed as a fact, it should be one.

    As for manufacturing versus service jobs, I must have hit a nerve there. Pity. Well, note that manufacturing does not automatically mean dark satanic mills, pollution, death, and disability. At least in the 20th century US, it has meant decently paying jobs. Note that the largest increase in the size of the US middle class occurred in the decades during and after WW II when the manufacturing sector was strongest, and the present plateauing of wages and demographic drift downward is occurring in the midst of the shift to a service economy. Make of it what you will.

    And, for the record, I don’t recall mentioning anything about government job creation. I do think, though, that government should create a climate where more good jobs can be created by business.

    Heitshew, HP and EMC: EMC just went through a rough time after the dot-com implosion and has now regained its feet. It also has more-aggressive competition in the storage market than it used to have–little guys like IBM, for example. I don’t think the phrase hiring like crazy quite fits (hiring yes, crazy no), though I am glad to see them getting their mojo back.

    Worse for HP which suffered terribly during the dot-com fall, and under Fiorina, and is now engaged in five-figure layoffs under its new management after closing whole divisions during the past ten years. David Packard is probably spinning in his grave.

    Raytheon? Shuttered and downsized several major facilities just in Massachusetts. It is nothing like the company it was under Tom Phillips and Brainerd Holmes either in clout or employment.

    Lest this get Boston (EMC, Raytheon, real estate) centric, it is important to remember all those red states. Most of the wealth and industry of the country (with some notable exceptions) is along the coasts or near the Lakes. Yes, things cost more near the water, but that’s a free market matter. Things cost less inland because lots of manufacturing jobs have dried up, the service economy hasn’t stepped up to replace these jobs with equivalent ones, and again, the free market has its way because people generally have less to spend. That’s a blatant over simplification, but it at least points toward part of the problem.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Hi commenters, thanks for the interesting responses. Here’s a few quick thoughts from moi. I am a bit busy so I may come back later:

    Verity, yes, birthrates among immigrants are higher, so far as I can tell, than the indigenous pop. However, a thriving labour market would surely treat this as a great pool of labour. After all, Irish and Italian immigrants living in the poor bits of New York in the 19th Century rapidly got into the labour market.

    James B., I think Kopkin is a pretty fair guy. He would, of course, be even more peruasive if he gave more sources for his data. But I have seen these figures before and they look fairly credible.

    I agree with you that American commenters can sometimes be sloppy in using the word “Europe” to make their preferred point. I find it a bit annoying. I think in this case the WSJ article’s arguments best apply to what Rumsfeld has branded as “Old Europe”: France, Italy, Germany, the Low Countries. Things start to change quite a bit as one goes east, down to the Iberian peninsular, and of course Britain and Ireland and the Scandanavian countries.

    BTW, the Wall Street Journal is not actually reflexively anti-Europe, as one commenter said. It was a cheerleader for the single currency, for example, and is often quite rude to Eurosceptics on that. However, it does tend to reflect a sort of Reaganite outlook, which is a darn sight better than the Financial Times.


  • Chris H

    It’s only anecdotal but I know three people who are unemployed in France. One has just left school with poor grades and shares a flat with a bunch of friends playing video games all day. The second is 50 and wants a manufacturing job in the same sector, with the same pay in the same town and will not consider anything else. The third started a small business and gave up after 18 months because she was considerably better off when unemployed.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Chris H, anecdotes are good! I met three young fellas last night at a Chelsea bar, all of them French and working for JP Morgan here in the City. They chose to work in London in part to improve their English and because they found it easier to get placements here than in Paris.

    There are hundreds of thousands of Continentals working in the City, for instance. Many choose to stay after their initial “tour of duty” making a packet in the stock and bond markets, and who can blame them?

    It would be really good if a French Thatcher could turn things around. When I first went to France 20+ years ago the place seemed to ooze prosperity and vigour, much more so than in tired, grotty Britain. France can change. I refuse to be a pessimist!

  • Sandy P

    It’s the economy, stupid.

    France, stuck on stupid since 1789.

  • Nicholas

    Looking over James B’s comments I am struck by a couple of things. I speak as an economist.

    First, his remarks hews very closely to the MSM’s leading economic myths. Certainly, the MSM has not been bullish on the US economy for years, despite the actual data that shows robust growth. So beware the ignorance.

    Second, I agree with James that if you are going to trash a national economic system, it is best to tell where you get your data. It makes it that much more disappointing that James feels the need to trash the US system and not only fails to give any sources, he doesn’t even give any data.

    Here are a few facts about the US economy. I’ll even give links to my sources.

    First, manufacturing has been declining as a share of total employment since the 1950s. Service jobs have been growing in importance over the same period. The following table uses historical data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau:

    …………Manufacturing…….Service-producing sectors
    1950……… 25.9………………… 45.3
    1960……… 25.5………………… 51.3
    1970……… 24.6………………… 60.1
    1980……… 20.4………………… 65.2
    1990……… 16.1………………… 71.1
    2000……… 13.5………………… 77.5
    2002……… 12.3………………… 78.4

    But, you protest, this shows that the US economy is shedding high paying manufacturing jobs for low paying service jobs. The largest and fasting growing segment of of these during this period are business, personal and professional services. From the same tables you can calculate the ratio of the average hourly earnings of these service jobs to the average hourly earnings of manufacturing jobs. Here are the results:

    1965…… 0.79
    1970…… 0.84
    1980…… 0.80
    1990…… 0.91
    2000…… 0.97
    2002…… 1.00

    As you can see, the average wages of service jobs have actually caught up with manufacturing. Not so quick, you again protest. This convergence, at least in recent years, is certainly due to outsourcing driving down manufacturing wages. Overall, aren’t average wages falling? Well, actually, no. Here is the data for average hourly earnings of private industry (in constant 1982 dollars) as reported in the latest US Statistical Abstract :

    1990…… 7.86
    2000…… 8.03
    2001…… 8.11
    2002…… 8.24
    2003…… 8.27

    What about all of the temp jobs? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 1.2 million temporary help agency workers in February 2005, or just 0.9 percent of all employment. Hardly a significant percentage as cited by James.

    Furthermore, the belief that most service jobs are ‘burger-flippers’ or lawn services reveals a misperception of how the economy is organized. Health care is a fast growing service sector, almost as large as manufacturing. Other service jobs are in education, legal services, computer and information services, and even journalism on occasion. I suppose it is a occupational hazard among journalists that they are drawn to bad news and overlook the good news.

    What must really scare working journalists is not that it is becoming harder to tell the difference between the writings of an informed and an uninformed citizen, but rather that it is becoming easier to expose how ill informed are most journalists.

  • Sandy P

    I’ll make a mfg v service comment – what you will especially after WWII –

    Europe was devastated, we were king, As GM goes, so goes the world, or whatever the CEO said in the 50s. But that was 50++ years ago. World’s changed.

    As to wages getting lower, illegals undercutting, but also increasing bennies pkg. Can’t have it all.

    Of course, then there’s the Chicoms bidding on AM mfg projects and making the product in AM for AM companies…………..playing the currency.

    Also consider that we have some of the highest corp taxes in the West which makes US uncompetitive, along w/this:

    Wednesday, December 10, 2003
    A new report from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Alliance (MAPI) found that much of the manufacturing sector’s problems are not due to unfair actions by our trading partners, but are self-imposed. It notes that we have higher corporate taxes, higher pollution abatement costs, and higher tort liability costs than our key competitors. Overall manufacturing costs are 22.4 percent higher in the U.S. as a result of such self-imposed costs, reducing our competitiveness and contributing to the trade deficit.

    In terms of tort liability, a new report from Tillinghast-Towers Perrin estimates this cost at $233 billion last year, up $27 billion from 2001. The report estimates tort costs at 2.33 percent of GDP, or $809 per person in the U.S. Of this amount, only 22 cents on the dollar goes to compensate victims for actual economic loss. The rest is for lawyers and additional payments for punitive damages and “pain and suffering.”


    Not to be MA-centric, but high tax state, losing population, no surprise there. Can’t afford to raise kids there.

  • Sandy P

    Thanks, Nicholas. Somewhere in Econopundit’s archives is the mfg info, interestingly, the chart also included other countries and how they’re also losing mfg. jobs. Especially China – for some odd reason 45% is stuck in my head. Let’s just say it was a steep decline, much more than US.

    But I also think there’s more than 1 chart.

    Via Instapundit 11/10:

    Nissan Motor Co. announced Thursday it is moving its North American headquarters and nearly 1,300 jobs from California to the Nashville area to take advantage of the lower cost of doing business in the Southeast.

    “The board of Nissan decided to relocate our North American headquarters, and we’re coming to Tennessee,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said at a news conference at the state Capitol attended by Gov. Phil Bredesen and other top state officials.

    The headquarters, which has been based in Gardena, Calif., will relocate to Williamson County, a suburban area south of Nashville. . . .

    Ghosn cited lower real estate and business taxes as major reasons for the move.

    “The costs of doing business in Southern California are much higher than the costs of doing business in Tennessee,” he said.

    The really fun part — again playing the currency — is that Japan was sending cars made in the USA to Europe and playing the Euro/$ differential. But there’s not that much anymore, seems “the world” still doesn’t trust China enough to sink their money there. We’re still the safest bet.


    So, are Nissan HQ jobs classified as mfg or service? They’re not making anything there……….But they are good-paying no matter what they are………

  • Sandy P

    –Fact versus opinion: As a journo, I was trained to seek facts, and that remains my habit. Others have different ideas. I recall a bottom-line-driven NBC exec in the 1970s who said “Our job is not to inform; it is to make people cry.” Thus infotainment.—

    Funny thing about facts, there’s a lot of them out there to fit what you want your story to say.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nicholas, thanks v. much for the data. This is why we have a comments section!

  • Sandy P

    Ohh, to be a hamburger flipper in NOLA, via Bros. Judd:

    …Burger King is offering a $6,000 signing bonus to anyone who agrees to work for a year at one of its New Orleans outlets. Rally’s, a local restaurant chain, has nearly doubled its pay for new employees to $10 an hour.

    On any given day, contractors and business owners pass out fliers in downtown New Orleans promising $17 to $20 an hour, plus benefits, for people willing to swing a sledgehammer or cart away stinking debris from homes and businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Canal Street, once a crowded boulevard of commerce, now resembles a sparsely populated open-air job fair.

    Ten weeks after Katrina, government officials and business leaders worry that a scarcity of able-bodied workers is hampering the area’s recovery. In their desperation, they are using a variety of tactics to attract workers.

    “I’d say I’m paying two to three times as much as I would in normal circumstances,” said Iggie Perrin, the president of Southern Electronics, a supplier in New Orleans, who has offered as much as $30 an hour when seeking salvage workers on Canal Street….

  • blah

    “Fact versus opinion: As a journo, I was trained to seek facts, and that remains my habit. Others have different ideas. I recall a bottom-line-driven NBC exec in the 1970s who said “Our job is not to inform; it is to make people cry.” Thus infotainment.

    And you wonder why capitalism give’s birth to so many social problems. The profit motive + the ignorance and backward animal mind of man + the threat of losing ones position of power (money) and ability to acquire resources with that money, gives birth to a host of social problems that capitalism by itself will never solve.

    1) Access to food and shelter should be a HUMAN RIGHT, some foods and some land / buildings should be permanently free/democratically owned, to be used for people that are economically poor to begin with. You don’t eliminate poverty by taxing back the poor, while their wages are so low they are on the edge of survival, which then pushes them to crimes of all sorts. You give them what they need for free, give them to time to retrain themselves and the time to self improve that they simply wouldn’t be getting working 40+ hours a week for McDonalds or some other minimum wage job for the rest of their days.

    2) Recognize that unemployment exists because technology displaces the need for workers, period. So that masses of human beings are no longer required to work at all! This fact should be recognized and embraced, i.e. people who are getting unemployment insurance or what have you from the gov while unemployed could be getting subsidies to be going back to school, so what if Europes unemployment is ‘high’, it’s not the employment numbers that matter, it’s whether or not your own people can afford to eat, pay there rent, so they don’t go rioting to begin with.

    3) Such social problems already exist in the USA, but the USA is filled a lot of backward and ignorant christian masses who the elite can easily control, and they have god so they are happy no matter what kind of shitty squalor they are living in, otherwise you’d probably see massive riots and uprisings of the poor against the rich and well to do, but they are SO pro capitalist they are blinded by it’s failings.

    The problem is the economy fails people who will never be economically viable, people on disability in canada get 959 a month, they can’t even afford gas or car insurace on that kind of money, so people who cannot get any social assistance and enough money get out of those catch-22’s (damned if you do, damned if you dont) get permanently fucked by modern captialist free markets.

    There are somethings markets simply cannot solve, Einstein recognized the backwardness of capitalist economies when he wrote:

    Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

    For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

  • good for the youth in france..tobad the youth in canada do not stand up for things…and the youth in the states just are to dumb down to stand up…the children must be heard to show the rich and power greeders are more responsible for there masted evils or sins against the childern………wawatasei