I've been playing archeologist this week, touring this new town, visiting vestiges of a once and now by gone, industrial society. Hollow shells and empty ruins with names like Tannif's Machine shop, Smith's Fabrication and at the end of this row of empty industrial ruins sits a small white brick building on the corner. One side of its broken illuminated yellow plastic sign was still pristine and on it, it read simply, Ernie's Dinner.
I could almost smell the coffee and hear the voices, how many generations did Ernie serve up breakfast, to the shifts of working men, coming in and going out? Men and women who could afford to stop in at Ernie's earning good wages, union jobs and when their jobs went down, Ernie's went down too. To be replaced by drive thru windows and the minimum wage, the white cloth aprons replaced by colorful polyester shirts bedecked with corporate logos.
The first Friday of the month brings around again the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report. It is its usual powdered sugar frosting on a sh*t sandwich with a glorious proclamation of 96,000 new jobs. Only, 210,000 people were added to the civilian labor force, ergo = Fail. The employed - population ratio, declined .2 to the lowest rate of the year at 58.3, a number not equaled since August of last year. The actual number of employed Americans declined by 119,000. The civilian non-institutional population declined by 400,000 and I would wager the United States is the only country in the world which uses the term "non-institutional population" but from the first line of the BLS report you know that we are in serious trouble.
Cleveland's architecture screams out of its prosperous past, hard working, blue collar middle class. Not the velvet middle class of Barack Obama and the intelligencia's $250,000 middle class with $5,000 per week pay, but the true middle class. The middle class of shuttered day care centers rather than Au pairs, the middle class of Chevy's, Ford's and Dodge's rather than Lexus, Beamer's and Mercedes. In her cemeteries lay Presidents, Rockefeller's and Glidden's. The living remain here, their jobs have been looted from them. The empty hulks of America's former industrial presence trickling down on to empty shopping malls and thrift stores.
For over a quarter of a century we have been told outsourcing will bring us new green jobs or high tech jobs, but one look at Cleveland will expose this as a lie. The department store where little Ralphie once "slid down Santa's slide in "A Christmas Story" is now a gambling casino in Downtown Cleveland. A metaphor indeed, as the city like Ralphie, slides down the slide of the new entrepreneurism of casino and security jobs, netting the vestiges of government checks and drug money
The national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.1 percent, not because more American's have jobs but because in the last thirty days over half a million Americans are no longer counted as being in the workforce. Nearly seven million Americans are listed as seeking work that figure itself rising by 400,000 in thirty days. The number of those working part time for economic reasons this month is 8,031,000, a remarkable number, exactly the same number as a year ago, less the 600,000 now disappeared. This number does not include, those working part time due to slack work and business conditions 5,217,000 nor does it include, those who could only find part time work, 2,507,000.
Even the number of self employed declined year over year by a hundred thousand workers. We are now entering our fourth year of this crisis, No FDR, no Huey Long, no WPA only our new Herbert Hoover and the new Jerry Lewis, aka Mitt Romney. It is hard for me to look upon these scars and upon this wreckage and to know they are neither an accident nor a mistake, but a well orchestrated campaign of destruction and pillage. To first run off the good private jobs replacing them with cheap third world labor and then to turn on the public sector unions, targeting school teachers and the post office.
This is my fourth city in two years, I have seen the collapse of speculation in Atlanta, with unfinished housing developments and grass growing through the parking lots of shopping centers. In Stillwater Minnesota an enclave, a bedroom community and tourist Mecca, only last summer, the tourist's didn't show. Outside Stillwater, the creeping crawling malaise of people selling their toys while trying to keep their heads above water. The two tiered society which met but did not know each other at McDonalds.
While attending the Stop the Machine rally and Occupy D.C. in Washington, I heard horrendous tails of horrible atrocities committed by a government against her people. Mothers with children put out of their homes by bureaucratic red tape which conveniently assisted the banks while hindering the homeowner. Mother's who had lost their children to pointless wars and mother's who lost their children to faceless insurance companies.
High school students without dreams, now vacant stoic realists, at a time in their lives made for dreaming. College is unaffordable, jobs non-existent, what doors are left open for them? They disappear into the recruiting center only to emerge years later, perplexed cracked and broken. Or they owe six figures in student loans for a college degree which sounded promising when they began but now, sounds oh, so fanciful.
Portland was just slow, no growth, no margin, no work, no wages as the downtown streets were filled with the homeless and jobless. Camps of young people who see no point in school and no point in trying and so they beg on the street corners. I have watched the poor gather for supper at the Salvation Army in Minneapolis and was profoundly struck by what I saw in front of the Rescue mission in Denver. This population was different, not only poor but restless, they were simmering and there was an undercurrent of anger, a just don't give a f*ck anymore anger.
I watched Barack Obama on the convention podium the other day, but as I watched, I did so with the sound turned way down because I knew he wouldn't say anything that I really needed to hear. Cut to the crowd scene with a hopeful senior or veteran cheering the President. Cut to the adoring children looking up at the President. Cut to the minority groups excitedly cheering the President and I knew where I had seen this picture before, this was Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will."
This was a propaganda film from beginning to end with a pissed off Joe Biden and a truculent Bill Clinton. Inside the arena excitement and splendor, outside neglect and reservation, outside the media lens, falling wages, poverty, neglect and contempt.
Average Weekly Earnings- Total Private - July $809.43 - August $ 809.09
Goods Producing - July $995.35 - August $ 989.60
Mining & Logging - July $1,274.05 -- August $ 1,257.86
Construction - July $ 988.80 -- August $ 987.65
Manufacturing- July $ 977.21 -- August $ 972.21
Durable Goods- July $ 1,044.22 -- August $ 1,035.00
Jerry Lewis Aka Mitt Romney received no bounce following his convention and Barack Obama will receive the same. There should be no bounce, there is nothing going on here which actually means anything. The problems we face go unaddressed, these campaigns conventions and candidates are a farce to those of us with our faces in the wind.
We live in a country which holds unknown numbers of prisoners in gulags in Cuba and in Afghanistan. When the Red Cross asked to interview prisoners in Afghanistan, the American jailers answered "no". The prisoners are held without charge and without due process; the evidence against them is secret and is not shared with the prisoner. Your phones are tapped, your children are shot or beaten to death by police, they are sent to fight wars to defend corporations. Your wages are falling as your rights evaporate, Any protest, no matter how peaceful will be met by force, pepper spray, tear gas or bean bag guns.
Your media pretends to cover a democratic campaign between the most right wing President in American history and Mitt Romney. The so called (Socialist -Communist) Obama has tried to privatize health care, offered more tax cuts to the wealthy than Saint Ronald Reagan, he has continued the Bush Tax cuts and the Bush wars. His stimulus package was 35% tax cuts and his jobs bill was all tax cuts. The President's council on competitiveness has put the CEO's of the Fortune 500 to work inside the White House replacing any need for lobbyists.
This why the Romney campaign goes out of its way to antagonize independent voters. This is why it chose Paul Ryan when 79% of voters, both Republican and Democrats alike disliked the Ryan budget. To the American voting public, the most loathsome creature out there is the investment banker. The Republicans choose as their candidate, an investment banker who best represents the top 1% of the 1% for no other reason than to lose this election. The election is as fraudulent as is the recovery; these people, these parties, these potentates, no more represent the struggling American than they do the man in the moon.