Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 29, 2011

We are living in the week that never ends – the debt ceiling/budget debate careens towards the precipice of financial ruin for the United States – which would include you and me. Meanwhile the debate ignores the invisible hand of the corporate leaders who could reboot this country’s economic engine by hiring Americans. Meanwhile, in the midst of this madness, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has climbed out of the crypt of anonymity to which his last campaign consigned him to announce his interest in running for the presidency. And in the midst of the madness the hotel maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape has managed to find herself as the one on trial.

We’re in the Money!

In this era of structural discord and disagreement, most of us would agree that more people working would make this country a better place in which to live. Indeed, when people use the term “the economy” they are actually referring to “jobs, jobs, jobs”. So where are the jobs?

As usual, a few facts won’t hurt. In the July 27, 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal an article appeared on page B1 with the following information regarding the past 10 years:
1. The U.S. economy’s output of goods and services has expanded by 19%
2. Nonfinancial corporate profits have risen by 85%
3. The labor force has grown by 10.1 million
4. The number of private sector jobs has fallen by almost 2 million
5. The percentage of adult Americans at work has dropped to 58.3%, the lowest such figure since 1983

But wait a minute! Weren’t the Bush era tax cuts, implemented at the beginning of the reference ten year period supposed to stimulate job growth? Isn’t the set in concrete position of the G.O.Tea Party in Congress that there can never ever ever be any new taxes because taxes are “job killers”?

It turns out that major corporate employers have decided that they can be just profitable with fewer employees. And if and when they do hire they bring on part-time, temporary or contract workers. And if they do hire, increasingly the beneficiaries are workers outside of the United States. During the past 10 years multinational companies decreased their U.S. workforces by 2.9 million while increasing employment by 2.4 million abroad.

It looks like President Obama and the American people are playing against a stacked deck. To the extent that targeted government spending can stimulate the economy and create jobs the G.O.Tea Party kamikaze wing is barring the door. To the extent that tax revenues might reduce the budget deficit and thereby create a more job-friendly environment the G.O.Tea Party threatens to default and discredit the entire American economy.

And all the while the corporate plutocrats rake in the highest compensation packages in the history of the planet. I have to assume that, as children, these plutocrats and G.O.Tea Party stalwarts never heard of the goose that laid the golden egg and how that story ended.

Extra! Extra!………..Not!

And now, for the next act in the G.O.Tea Party circus – Rudy Giuliani for president? Yes, the self-proclaimed America’s mayor and self-anointed hero of 9/11 had decided that the humiliation of his last failed presidential bid doesn’t smell so bad after 3 years in the dust bin of history.

Too many people don’t remember that on September 10, 2001 Rudy Giuliani was by all accounts the most racially divisive mayor in the history of New York. Having initiated singularly graceless divorce proceedings via a press conference, he was sleeping on a friend’s couch counting the days until he would slither into the realm of the thankfully forgotten.

The terror attack of 9/11 focused the world on Rudy Giuliani and, to be fair, he did his job. He did not hide in the basement and suck his thumb. But he saved no lives and many first responders still blame him for the deaths of their brothers because his administration had totally bungled the emergency communications systems then in use. And, as a New Yorker, I can tell you that it wasn’t Rudy Giuliani who inspired us to go on, it was my fellow New Yorkers.

But, in Giuliani Land he was so very important on that fateful day and he has cashed in on his fake heroics to the tune of millions of dollars of “security” consulting fees. But I doubt that he can turn his personal fable into a successful presidential candidacy.

Who’s on Trial?

The hotel maid who accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape finds herself on trial. In an interesting display of sleight of hand, the DSK defense team and its pals in the press have managed to translate questions about her visa application and tax returns into a fog of doubt regarding the credibility of her accusation.

A few facts never hurt anyone. There is DNA evidence of sexual activity in DSK’s room consistent with the accusation. There are several women who have publicly stated that DSK has engaged in similar behavior. And finally, the visa application and tax return questions simply have nothing to do with the accusation.

One can’t help but think that this woman is caught in the unfortunate vortex of race, class and power. We can only hope that she gets her day in court.

Have a great weekend!