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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 15, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy The Economy of Evil [Historicly, via Naked Capitalism 12-11-19] Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister in October 1922. Nazis rose to power in 1933 in Germany. Mussolini convened a meetin […]
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Monday: Structural unemployment is a lie

It’s bullshit.

For those of you scratching your heads, it’s the idea that the reason so many people are unemployed is because they don’t have the right skills, education and technological training or they’re located in the wrong places in the country.

I can only imagine the titans of industry at the job junkets where they go to speak to former presidents and cabinet members, whining about how if they could only find more graduates in STEM fields, they wouldn’t have to send all this work overseas or import so many H1-B visa workers.  Woe is they, crocodile tears, wringing of hands.  It’s just pathetic.

And it’s a lie.  It’s the biggest lie in the country these days.  Lie, lie, lie.

Paul Krugman doesn’t believe it and has been writing about it for the past couple of weeks.  He thinks unemployment is a problem caused by lack of demand.  But even that doesn’t tell the whole story.  In the STEM fields, unemployment is a deliberate, calculated, psychopathic and destructive strategy for reducing costs at the expense of the research industry and consumer health.  It’s just a way of extracting wealth.  There’s no demand problem.  There are more than enough projects to keep every scientist alive busy for the rest of their lives.  And there certainly is no shortage of people suffering from diseases.

And now, here comes Zachary Karabell in Newsweek who disagrees and says that we have a structural unemployment problem and who has apparently not been following Pharmageddon:

Distressingly, this framing of the debate limits so many options. You can view the waves buffeting society as structural and long-term and then argue for cogent government action—and yes, spending—that acknowledges and addresses that reality. But where can that view be found in the current policy framework? You could argue for aggressive government action to manage a generational shift, to seek productive employment for the unemployed à la the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. After all, if we are going to spend tens of billions a year on unemployment benefits, and if those benefits make people feel simultaneously helpless and worthless, why not spend the same money allowing those people some gainful use of what skills they have? And if there truly is a generation lost in the transition, then we owe that generation a solid net—but we do not owe that to the generation now emerging. Instead, they deserve the opportunities to acquire the skills and training that they will need in a post-manufacturing world as surely as those farmers in 1900 needed new skills in a 20th-century manufacturing world.

Ok, he’s got the first part right.  We need a WPA program for unemployed scientists so we can use the skills we already have.

But he totally fails when he ignores the reason for the generational shift (greedy bankers and shareholders) and says that we need more skills and training.  We have hundreds of thousands of people who are plenty skilled and trained in science and technology who can’t find jobs or can find jobs and are willing to move, or have moved and find themselves laid off again.

What we really need is a leader who is determined to put his or her foot down with the finance guys and has a vision of the future of American recovery where we use the people we already have.  Otherwise, when the finance guys have done drinking the milkshake of pharma and come to the realization that they need American researchers just like the good old days, there won’t be *any* STEM workers because the next generation won’t be caught dead in a lab in a dead end job and no job security.  Then structural unemployment will have become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

STEM students aren’t stupid, you know.  Well, not anymore they’re not.

***************************

For those of you who haven’t been following the saga of Trustus Pharmaceuticals, here’s a recap of the chocolate cookie of the apocalypse:

First, the bad news that the company is going with throttle up on the alpha12 project:

Second, the sign of the endtimes for the alpha12 project- the project polo shirts (I’ve been there but on our case, it was shirts and color changing coffee mugs with comic book character graphics and ads that would have made Don Draper proud.  And that compound looks very familiar, probably a HTS screening hit I threw out.):