We plan to post tomorrow in response to Obama’s speech today. But in the meantime, we wanted to flag three small items. The first is just a statistic. Over the past three years, public employment at the state and local level has contracted by 671,000. This is further evidence for an argument we pointed to earlier: state and local level fiscal policy has worked against national policy, leaving stimulus nearly a wash. And the background political point is that federalism makes even knowing what the heck is going on in the US more obscure than it ought to be.
Second, in honor of (America’s weirdly timed) Labor Day, Mike Konczal over at Rortybomb had a very interesting discussion of the rise of free labor (second post here), including some fascinating comments by Corey Robin. The discussion was a reminder to us that the jobs issue is not just about consumption but power. A further piece of evidence for that point is that, as unemployment has risen, equally has the bargaining power of the employed fallen: the EPI briefing paper we cited earlier in the week found that 38% have seen a decline in wages, benefits or hours, and 24% lost health insurance.
Finally, we enjoyed Matt Taibbi’s entertaining account of his Sophie’s choice between screaming children and Obama’s speech Sunday, but were left with only one question: why did you ever believe Obama in the first place?