UCubed News

Thank You, Sherrod

September 20, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

Earlier this week, Larry Summers withdrew his name as a possible replacement for Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. That move was due in large part to opposition from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

And Sherrod deserves our deepest gratitude for his leadership on this issue.

Policy changes by the Federal Reserve take years to gain traction. Its decisions to raise or lower interest rates – or expand or taper economic stimulus measures – are seldom felt immediately by the jobless or even working and middle-class Americans.

The basis pointers on Wall Street, however, react to every whiff of a new policy. They price in the changes and move on. But the builders working on Main Street won’t see their local economies grow or contract until long after the new policy is put in place. That lag time leaves the Federal Reserve almost entirely unaccountable for its actions.

And that lack of accountability would have disastrous consequences had Summers been nominated and confirmed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

As Secretary of the Treasury, as President of Harvard and as Chairman of the National Economic Council in the White House, Summers failed grievously whenever he lacked strong public oversight and strict accountability. His Mensa-driven mentality prevented him from admitting that he could be dead wrong. More often than not, he was. But he could wrap each fallacy in the tissue paper of sophistry to appeal to his base – the basis pointers that paid him millions when he was not serving in government.

Unfortunately, from opposing regulations on the derivatives that ultimately triggered the Great Recession to touting the “green shoots” of a still unraveling economy, Larry Summers has been the architect of America’s jobs crisis. To reward him for such dismal failures in judgment by handing him the power to control interest rates and our money supply would have been nothing less than a travesty.

Fortunately, Sherrod Brown with help from his fellow Democratic Senators on the Banking Committee forced Summers to withdraw his name from consideration. Now, at least, the Federal Reserve and its next Chairwoman (hopefully) will have a chance to pursue its twin obligations: low inflation and full employment.

Thank you, Sherrod. Thank you!

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

P.S. Full Disclosure: Sherrod and I shared a house in Columbus when he was in the Ohio General Assembly and I was in law school. Our paths seldom crossed in the intervening four decades.

 

 

 

Real Unemployment Numbers – August 2013

September 9, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Joyce Sheppard

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published their unemployment numbers for August 2013.  They define the official unemployment rate as declining to 7.3% from July’s 7.4% and state that as of August 31st that there are 11.3 million unemployed persons.

However, as we not each month, thies BLS figures do NOT reflect real unemployment, because they do not include:

  • Marginally attached workers are workers who “while wanting and available for jobs, have not searched for work in the past four weeks but have searched for work in the past twelve months.”  Currently included among them are 0.9 million discouraged workers who did not look for work specifically because “they believe there are no jobs available or none for which they would qualify.”
  • Underemployed workers cannot find full-time jobs or have had their hours cut back.

With marginally-attached workers and underemployed workers included, the number of Real Unemployed Persons decreased by 604,000 to 21.6 million. This number includes the 11.3 million unemployed persons the BLS identified plus the 10.3 million workers who are either marginally attached or part-time-of necessity (underemployed). And, the Real Unemployment Rated decreased by 0.35% to 13.7%.

 

 

Gulliver’s Travails

September 5, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leaders:

The image of Gulliver pinned to the ground by thousands of threads captures the current state of America’s labor movement.

From 1973 to 2013, the population of the United States grew from 214 to 315 million. In those 40 years, union membership shrank from 26 to 11 million.

That’s 101 million more versus 15 million less… clearly, the Lilliputians are winning. While Gulliver naps, they keep hammering their stakes and weaving their nets.

The politicians who treat labor unions like ATMs, the vendors who slyly increase their gross margins, the lawyers who advise against aggressive action, the bureaucrats who green-shade every expense, and even the staffers who do just enough to get by – all claim they are doing “what’s best for the members.”

The governments and corporations who seek our extinction also claim to know “what’s best for our members.” They, too, have bound us down with laws, regulations, rules, restrictions, precedents and orders. If they could, they’d accuse us of treason and try to blind us just as the King and Court of Lilliput sought to blind Gulliver.

And still there we lie.

Isn’t it time to break the bonds that restrict our movement? Isn’t it time to send those Lilliputians flying in all directions?

Gulliver’s travails – massive unemployment, shrinking hours and paychecks, harsher working conditions, vanishing pensions and benefits, inadequate schools, subpar housing, longer commutes, higher food prices and electricity rates, consumer rip offs, racial injustice and corporate corruption – cannot be solved by osmosis.

Next week, as the AFL-CIO comes together in its quadrennial convention, perhaps its leaders and delegates will awaken the giant that is the American labor movement. For Gulliver, serving as a metaphor for their members, has work to do and wrongs to right.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

 

Builders Versus Basis Pointers

Dear UCubed Leader:

From the corner offices with the billion dollar views to the cubicles with multiple computer screens, the pressure to produce profits is intense. So frenzied is their appetite for profits that piranhas are sedate by comparison. And yet, decisions driven by a basis point – 1/100 of one percent – can determine our fates.

It is no longer Wall Street versus Main Street. That’s too trite. The Basis Pointers have gone global. No continent is immune. No community can escape. No one’s job is safe.

The irony of ironies is that Basis Pointers revel in Creative Destruction, a concept borrowed from Karl Marx and popularized by Joseph Schumpeter after WWII. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter wrote that “the same process of industrial mutation… that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”

The cycle of destruction is endless.

Wal-Mart buys so much product that they dictate pricing to suppliers, driving down the suppliers’ profits, and putting other suppliers out of business. All along their supply chain, workers end up out on the street… over a few basis points difference in unit costs.

Goldman Sachs buys and stores aluminum ingots, then moves tons of them from one warehouse to another. By doing so, they drive up the price of soft drinks and beer cans by a few basis points… adding up to more than a billion dollars in profits a year.

Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction is speculative. For a few basis points here or there, capital will flow… except to all those who seek to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Builders – those who make things and make things happen – find that Creative Destruction is aimed at their jobs, their plants, offices and stores and their communities. They fear the Basis Pointers. They know that, with a click of a mouse, the Basis Pointers can wreak havoc on a global economy.

And yet, the Basis Pointers are not gods. They, too, put their pants or pant suits on one leg at a time. They, too, err. They loathe the algorithms that dictate their lives. And what they fear most are the Builders, who easily outnumber them.

In our Democracy, numbers count. In the municipal, special and gubernatorial elections this year, few Basis Pointers will bother to vote. But the Builders will. And their votes will be decisive.

Who represents the Builders? Who shills for the Basis Pointers?

From Boston to Los Angeles, from Richmond to Rahway, from Staten Island to Harlem, the test is the same. Ask which candidate is collecting mega-bucks from the banks, brokerages and hedge funds.

The answer won’t come as much of a surprise.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

 

Thanks, Mr. President

August 12, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

The President of the United States endorsed the idea of a 21st Century Works Progress Administration. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week, President Obama kept nodding his head in affirmation as the comedian described what the WPA did in the 1930s.

The President then talked about the WPA building the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam, discussed the impact of Interstate Highway System and cautioned that Congress needs the political will to put folks back to work.

See the exchange here.

UCubed has been calling for a WPA 2.0 since its launch. During most of 2011, our Facebook ads asked, “Where’s a job for me, Mr. President?” And we explained how the WPA put today’s equivalent of 8 million Americans back to work in a single year. Our tag line was “We did it once. We can do it again.”

And we can.

But both we – and President Obama – need a Congress with the political will to follow his lead.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

 

UCubed Recognizes 26.6 Million Unemployed

August 2, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Washington, D.C., August 2, 2013 – The Union of Unemployed (UCubed) cautions that today’s reported drop to 7.4 percent unemployment is not good news for everyone.

“Total employment – non-farm, farm and self-employed – is 147 million,” explains UCubed President Rick Sloan. “But real unemployment is 22.2 million plus another 4.4 million who were so discouraged they haven’t looked for a job in the last year.

“Adding 162,000 jobs is good news for 147 million Americans who are working. But it’s awful news for the 26.6 million who want to work.”

“They’re dying for a job, literally and figuratively,” said Sloan. “And yet, no one is going to their rescue. Are we really so callous?”

With over 145,000 activists who regularly connect with nearly 40 million Facebook friends, UCubed represents a significantly rising demographic of unemployed and underemployed Americans. UCubed was created to provide a structure for jobless individuals to take political, economic and social advantage of their growing numbers.

 

Winners and Losers

August 1, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leaders:

The Union of Unemployed (UCubed) does not endorse candidates, but we do pick winners and losers. To us, the winners speak out for the jobless, see their pain and make plans for them to work again. The losers don’t give a damn.

This summer, from Los Angeles to New York, a new crop of winners and losers are giving speeches, raising money and kissing babies. The Los Angeles, Boston and New York mayoral races, the New Jersey senatorial contest and Virginia’s gubernatorial slugfest are sleepy, low-turnout affairs compared to the presidential primaries.

But for the jobless, these races offer a golden opportunity.

The candidates are more accessible. They attend picnics, appear at public forums, walk in parades and greet commuters. So go up and ask them, “What are you going to do for me and my neighbors who want to work again?”

Demand that they speak to unemployed and underemployed voters. Force them to publish their plan to put thousands back to work, improve services for the unemployed, and enact a living wage law for the underemployed.

Lower turnout means that you and all unemployed workers will have a much greater impact.  These mayoral and gubernatorial candidates are keenly aware these elections may come down to a few hundred votes. So don’t be bashful! Stand up! Grill them! Make sure they give a damn!

If they do, then the Union of Unemployed will nationalize these local contests. We will ask our 145,000 Facebook fans to “like and share” posts about the contestants – winners and losers – with their 41 million friends of fans.

We will urge UCubed fans to use social media and new technologies to volunteer for the winners’ campaigns. Political campaigns are online. Sending targeted messages with a click of a mouse or making calls to key precincts no longer requires going down to the local headquarters. It can be done from anywhere, including a different time zone.

And our McConnell’s Navy videos will focus on the biggest losers – Mitch, John Boehner and Eric Cantor, who continue to torpedo the economy every chance they get.

So, damn their torpedoes.

Let’s help elect winners who will make ending this job crisis their highest priority.

In unity — strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

NO TIME FOR MARQUIS OF QUEENSBURY RULES

“Now, some of these ideas I’ve talked about before. Some of the ideas I offer will be new. Some will require Congress. Some I will pursue on my own. (Applause). Some ideas will benefit folks right away. Some will take years to fully implement.  But the key is to break through the tendency in Washington to just bounce from crisis to crisis.

What we need is not a three-month plan, or even a three-year plan; we need a long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort, to reverse the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades. That has to be our project. (Applause).”

 –President Barack Obama
July 24, 2013 in Galesburg, Illinois

Dear Mr. President:

Don’t expect us to applaud. We cannot wait another 30 years. Our crises are persistent; our crises are now.

Rather than lofty rhetoric, Mr. President, we need you down in the trenches today and every day. Instead of long-range plans, we need you slugging it out with the GOP’s Tea Party Neanderthals, strong-arming recalcitrant Republicans and forcing Democrats to toe your line.

We need an American Jobs Act, a WPA 2.0 and a CCC. And so much more.

Our crises – millions who want to work, part-time jobs with no benefits, schools that fail our sons, drugs that destroy our daughters, and the indignities our parents face as they age – do not bounce. Nor can they wait.

Our lives are hard, unglamorous. Our days are filled with compromises between what we want and what we need to feed and clothe our families. As the years slide by, we lower our expectations, adjust to the new normal of joblessness, and find ourselves as outcasts of a working class that cannot find work.

So your middle-out strategy misses us by a mile. We fell out of the middle class in the massive layoffs of 2008 and 2009. We survive as part of an underground economy that pays no taxes. While we are not proud of that fact, eking out a living in the darkness is far better than starving in broad daylight.

Our greatest hope, Mr. President, was that you would put us back to work. It still is. But the sands of time are running out — for you to deliver on those promised jobs and for us to do the jobs that need doing. Resetting the timer beyond your last days in office only means a grimmer, meaner life for us, our kids and our grandbabies.

So the applause does not come from the jobless households that voted for you, twice. We are too ground down to stand up and cheer. And we are too focused on making ends meet to care about your legacy. Not when our legacy looks us in the eye every day and asks: when will it ever end?

Your job, Mr. President, is not to build a mythic city in the clouds. Rather, your job is to make our lives here on earth just a little bit better. And that requires more perspiration than inspiration, more sweat equity than eloquence, and more brawn than brilliance.

The endless pivots to the economy are lost on us. What we want are four letter words – work, jobs, help, food, book, care – that translate into acts not of human kindness but Acts of Congress that have a direct, measurable impact on our daily lives.

Those Acts of Congress can only be won by instilling a fear that you will use the enormous power of your office to punish opponents and reward supporters. Such a fear cannot be felt from a podium in Galesburg. But it can be felt up close and personal by those who have stood and still stand in your way.

Mr. President, our lives are no longer governed by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. And neither should be the final 1,275 days of your presidency.

So, if you intend to fight, really fight, for us, then we’ve got your back. But the applause will have to wait until the fight is won.

In unity – strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

WHAT’S TO BE DONE?

Dear UCubed Leader:

The headlines and quotes below come from The New York Times and Washington Post this past month:

Big Companies Paid a Fraction of Corporate Tax Rate… “Using allowed deductions and legal loopholes, large corporations enjoyed a 12.6 percent tax rate.”

Joblessness Edges Higher to Hit a Eurozone Record… “Eurostat estimated that 19.2 million people in the Euro area were jobless in May, an increase of 67,000 from April.”

Budget cuts shave 15 percent off payments to the long-term unemployed … “The federal budget cuts took effect in March, slicing $2.4 billion from the benefits paid to the long-term jobless under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.”

Making $7.75 an Hour, and Figuring There’s Little to Lose by Speaking Out … “Her wages erode on all sides. Often, she said, she finds her check is hours short. And when she works overtime, she receives two checks, each at straight time…”

Here and abroad, millions of hardworking people are saying, “Our government ignores us.  We cannot find jobs that our families can live on.  And our leaders couldn’t care less.  They don’t even see us!”

So what’s to be done?

People are taking to the streets across the globe, in Greece, Brazil, and other countries.  How long before that happens here, and what might it look like when it does happen?

Here are just a few possibilities:

A ticker tape parade in New York “celebrating” the fourth anniversary of the End of the Great Recession with Paul Krugman as the parade marshal and thousands of unemployed and underemployed wearing their old work uniforms…

A Dome to Dome March from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to the United States Capitol would take participants from the largest Roman Catholic church in North America to the largest concentration of mis-leaders in the history of the republic…

An If-You’re-Late-for-Work-Don’t-Blame-Me-Cuz-I’m-Not-Working demonstration that deploys stalled out cars for a few minutes during the morning rush hour and targets the expressways, parkways, beltways and interstate highways that commuters use to get to their jobs…

Informational picket lines around newspapers and television stations demanding real news about real unemployment levels, ripped-off consumers and the desperation of children living in poverty rather than pabulum we are fed daily…

A nationwide boycott of chains that refuse to pay their employees a living wage, refuse to schedule them for a minimum of 35 hours per week and refuse to provide benefits so taxpayers won’t have to, complete with flash mobs on nearby sidewalks and access roads…

Some of these tactics may seem radical in a country where we’ve become seemingly resigned to our economic fate, but history suggests that even here, desperate times trigger desperate measures.

So, we can take to the streets now, or, better yet, we can launch a multi-year, all-out campaign to defeat McConnell’s Navy and GOP politicians at every level.

One thing the Union of Unemployed will not do is sit back and watch this tragedy continue to unfold.  We’re going to lead the charge to defeat as many job-killing GOP candidates as possible.  Are you with us?

In unity – strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

 

WOOF, WOOF

Dear UCubed Leader:

Multiply 280 times 144,600 and it equals 40.5 million.

That’s how many personal connections UCubed leaders have. Facebook calls them “friends of fans.” And yet, our millions are ignored by the political elites.

Ross Douthat, a Washington Post columnist, recently wrote that “the plight of the unemployed has dropped off the D.C. radar screen entirely.”

Douthat explained that “gridlock has given the political class an excuse to ignore the country’s most pressing problem – a lack of decent jobs at decent wages, with a deeper social crisis at work underneath – and pursue its own pet causes.”

Woof. Woof.

UCubed is connected to twice as many people as those who pay AARP’s membership fees… more than twelve times as many folks as the National Rifle Association’s magazines have subscribers … and three times the number of dues paying union members in the United States.

During the last presidential campaign, 30 percent of UCubed fans hit our “like” or “share” buttons every 24 hours. That simple act served as a personal endorsement of our posts to vote against the GOP. And it proved persuasive. Exit polls found jobless households splitting 55 percent to 45 percent for the Obama-Biden ticket.

Now UCubed has 144,600 fans – 35,000 more than when our BEE MAD @ THE GOP campaign launched last summer.  As we grow, the political elites better beware of our pet cause – jobs. For our bite is worse than our bark.

In unity — Strength

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President