In advance of ‘the speech’

8 Sep

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?

One Response to “In advance of ‘the speech’”

  1. Disappointed Liberal September 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Obama’s failure according to Weber:

    “The final result of political action often, no, even regularly, stands in completely inadequate and often even paradoxical relation to its original meaning. This is fundamental to all history, a point not to be proved in detail here. But because of this fact, the serving of a cause must not be absent if action is to have inner strength. Exactly what the cause, in the service of which the politician strives for power and uses power, looks like is a matter of faith. The politician may serve national, humanitarian, social, ethical, cultural, worldly, or religious ends. The politician may be sustained by a strong belief in ‘progress’–no matter in which sense–or he may coolly reject this kind of belief. He may claim to stand in the service of an ‘idea’ or, rejecting this in principle, he may want to serve external ends of everyday life. However, some kind of faith must always exist. Otherwise, it is absolutely true that the curse of the creature’s worthlessness overshadows even the externally strongest political successes. “

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