Freefalling

More bad economic news:

With the economy deteriorating rapidly, the nation’s employers shed 533,000 jobs in November, the 11th consecutive monthly decline, the government reported Friday morning, and the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent.

The decline, the largest since December 1974, was fresh evidence that the economic contraction accelerated in November, promising to make the current recession, already 12 months old, the longest since the Great Depression. The previous record was 16 months, in the severe recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s.

When I see numbers like that, it really wipes away all the reservations I have about the auto bailout. I dont like it, and probably think they will piss away the money, but at this point, anything we can do to save jobs, we should.

And remember this post, so in a few years when your wingnut uncle starts talking about the “Obama” recession, you can throw this in his face.






84 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    the market will sort this out

  2. 2
    El Cid says:

    When I see numbers like that, it really wipes away all the reservations I have about the auto bailout. I dont like it, and probably think they will piss away the money, but at this point, anything we can do to save jobs, we should.

    People on the liberal side of the spectrum sure ain’t been talkin’ ’bout this stuff ’cause they loves them the U.S. auto industry executives so much.

    If this were Japan, or South Korea, I don’t think they would hesitate one bit to keep Toyota / Nissan / Hyundai from going under, particularly not if it represented their entire auto industry.

  3. 3
    Tim H. says:

    Per Atrios:

    …even worse. October numbers revised downwards to -320K down from -240K. September numbers revised downwards to -403K from -159K.

  4. 4
    jrg says:

    And remember this post, so in a few years when your wingnut uncle starts talking about the “Obama” recession, you can throw this in his face.

    Yeah, that will work. We’re talking about people who voted for Palin, and believe that Obama was born outside of the U.S. (on the basis of nothing).

    People who blame "thuh libruls" for everything from traffic jams to wardrobe malfunctions is the definition of the GOP. Therefore, anyone who does not start blaming Obama for the economy starting Jan 20th is a RINO.

    Good luck trying to convince these loons. Seriously.

  5. 5
    PeakVT says:

    What El Cid said.

  6. 6
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    If we aren’t already there we’re damned close to the point where the collapse becomes self-sustaining: people will lose their jobs because other people lost theirs and so on. Watch as the Republicans resist every effort to turn things around under the rubric of fiscal conservatism. Although they lost any right what so ever to play that card they will anyway – just so that the Democrats won’t be successful. The Republicans would rather have their country die for them.
    There is good news for some. Bush will get a pension equivalent to the pay of a Cabinet member, currently $191,000 per year. He also gets reimbursed for office expenses, travel, mail and staff as well as ten years of Secret Service protection.

  7. 7
    4tehlulz says:

    Obviously, the solution to our problems is a return to the Hooverism of the founding fathers.

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    Yeah, so I shorted the hell out of the S&P this week, as the job cuts coming down the pipe weren’t exactly a surprise. Come on, S&P 700!

  9. 9
    Rick Taylor says:

    And remember this post, so in a few years when your wingnut uncle starts talking about the “Obama” recession, you can throw this in his face.

    I though this was the "Clinton" recession. I just heard the President telling us a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade, before he arrived in President.

  10. 10

    I remember 1974. I’d gotten out of the army the year before, had finished my college, and moved to San Francisco in the summer of ’74.

    No jobs.

    I finally went to the VA hospital there because back then you got dental care for a year after your discharge. After I turned in my form the clerk asked me if there was anything else I could do. I said, yeah, find me a job.

    I ended up working at the VA for the next four and a half years.

  11. 11
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    Tack on to the 533 thou an additional 200 thou from revised figures for the past 2 months and it gets even scarier. It seems like freefall with a lead parachute at this stage. On the upside, the oil companies are predicting less than 1 dollar per gallon price in the near future. The bad news is no one will have a job to buy a car.

    Seen Senator Corker on the Today show offering the wingnut obsession for a cure. Torch the unions or the auto industry gets it. At this rate, by the time Obama gets sworn in, the only people hiring will be tin cup manufacturers.

  12. 12
    The Other Steve says:

    This is clearly Bill Clinton’s fault.

  13. 13
    Zifnab says:

    @The Other Steve:

    This is clearly Bill Clinton’s Jimmy Carter’s fault.

    If you really want to stretch, you can blame LBJ’s Great Society because these massive job cuts are clearly the wages of socialism implemented in 1964.

    I can’t wait till January 20th when we can finally start blaming Barack Obama with a shred more credibility.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    What the holy fucking crap did I just post that requires moderation? Douchebagtopia!

  15. 15
    Johnny Pez says:

    This is clearly Bill Clinton’s penis’ fault.

    Fixed.

  16. 16
    Spokane Moderate says:

    And remember this post, so in a few years when your wingnut uncle starts talking about the “Obama” recession, you can throw this in his face.

    A few years? Lush and Hannity are already blaming Obama.

  17. 17
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Hey, and Canada is having a constitutional crisis over lack of a stimulus in the budget. So, it could be worse.

    (sorry if this has been mentioned. been having a life.)

  18. 18
    Joshua Norton says:

    when your wingnut uncle starts talking about the "Obama" recession,

    Uncle needs a smack up side his head. Even ChimpCo has been forced to admit we’ve been in a recession for over a year now, and the Repug regime has been as lost as Atlantis in figuring out what to do to effectively fix the problem. (or ANY problem that’s come their way)

    Good luck trying to make that stick to Obama.

  19. 19
    Librarian says:

    Isn’t Rush Limbaugh already calling this the "Obama recession"?

  20. 20
    Genine says:

    When I see numbers like that, it really wipes away all the reservations I have about the auto bailout. I dont like it, and probably think they will piss away the money, but at this point, anything we can do to save jobs, we should.

    This has been my thinking all along on the auto industry bail-out. Yes, I think the CEO’s and the executives are idiots, but it was never about them, it was about the workers.

    That’s the thing that gets me about this hesitancy to bail them out. The government was falling all over themselves to give money to AIG and the banks who did not do what they were suppose to do with it (lend and end the credit crunch). Instead they paid bonuses, dividends and the rest of it. The markets are still falling and credit is still restricted. We have no idea if we’ll see that money back and it doesn’t seem to be helping a lot of people.

    We gave the auto industry a bridge loan decades ago, and they paid it back. So, its a better risk than giving to the banks. And, there is something tangible we get in return (as well as the money back): JOBS! Around 1.5 million jobs. This is something our economy desperately needs, but now the government doesn’t want to do anything.

    What’s the problem? Its not about principals, standards or anything like that. Because it is was, there would have been oversight with the 700 billion dollars and the other 2 trillion we don’t know where it went to. The $34 billion the auto industry is asking for is a fraction of what we gave the banks.

    Not only that, the auto bailout could have been structured so that we got better cafe standards, demanded more R&D for fuel efficiency and whatnot. The CEO’s also offered to cut their pay and/or do a pre-organized and all sorts of other things. I don’t know how good those things were, but that’s a much better attitude than the banks with their "Gimme money and we don’t want to have to change a damn thing!"

    Am I missing something? What makes bailing out the banks a better alternative than bailing out the auto industry at a fraction of the cost?

  21. 21
    Joshua Norton says:

    Lush and Hannity are already blaming Obama.

    It’s weird. They’re acting like his first 100 days started on Election night.

    Bunch of chumps, those guys.

  22. 22
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    This is clearly Bill Clinton’s Jimmy Carter’s fault.

    I blame Christopher Columbus. The sumbitch hadn’t got lost, none of this it’d be happening.

  23. 23
    Incertus says:

    @Spokane Moderate: And they started right around November 5, too, as I recall. I have friends from college who were blaming Obama for the bad economy during the campaign, for crying out loud.

  24. 24
    Tim H. says:

    Am I missing something? What makes bailing out the banks a better alternative than bailing out the auto industry at a fraction of the cost?

    More wealthy people get saved. Seriously, isn’t it obvious that TPTB are assigning the lifeboats, and there’s only room for first class?

  25. 25
    Zifnab says:

    More wealthy people get saved. Seriously, isn’t it obvious that TPTB are assigning the lifeboats, and there’s only room for first class?

    This really is like the Titanic.

  26. 26
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Seen Senator Corker on the Today show offering the wingnut obsession for a cure.

    Senator Corker should show us the way by introducing a bill to reduce the pay and benefits of Congress by 50%. And, to show his faith in the health care industry, that same bill would would strip Congress of its government-paid health plan. After all, the Republicans are always braying about about how good our health is compared to those countries with UHC. I think that they should be able to enjoy it just as much as we do.

  27. 27
    Punchy says:

    …even worse. October numbers revised downwards to -320K down from -240K. September numbers revised downwards to -403K from -159K.

    Can anyone essplane just WTF this means? How does one calc "159K", then go "whoops! Sorry. Meant THREE TIMES THAT NUMBER!"

    Huh? Anyone undystand?

  28. 28
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Huh? Anyone undystand?

    I understand that there was an election in November.

  29. 29
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Punchy:

    Can anyone essplane just WTF this means? How does one calc "159K", then go "whoops! Sorry. Meant THREE TIMES THAT NUMBER!" Huh? Anyone undystand?

    WMD in Iraq, Whoops! Same GOP math.

  30. 30
    Brian J says:

    Can we now stop debating whether we need fiscal stimulus and pass a fucking bill already?

    Now, I have a question for anyone who is a civil engineer, a computer scientist, or works in a field that is remotely similar: is the job of being a civil engineer so unique that someone with a degree in electrical engineer or computer science couldn’t do it? I don’t mean to sound insulting one way or the other. I ask because I got into a mini discussion with a blogger a few weeks ago about what would hold up sorting through all of the details of infrastructure investment, like the environmental review and so forth. I have no idea how many people currently work in each field that is required in the review process, but I’m thinking that if we are suffering from a lack of civil engineers and other professionals that would inhibit the goal of trying to speed this process up while still going through all of the necessary steps, we could hire professionals who would otherwise be unemployed. Is that a stupid thing to think?

  31. 31
  32. 32
    jrg says:

    Is the job of being a civil engineer so unique that someone with a degree in electrical engineer or computer science couldn’t do it

    I would say yes, at least without a good bit of training. I have a CS degree, and I’m not remotely qualified to be a Civil Engineer (I don’t know Statics, Dynamics, Materials, CAD, Surveying, etc, etc).

    If I woke up tomorrow and decided to be a CE, it would require at least 2 or 3 years of full-time schooling.

  33. 33
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Incertus:

    Yes, I caught that little gem on cspan. And also his smug shit eating grin from the obvious pleasure it gave him to say it. These are the same wingnuts that have let things get so bad while rebuffing any and all legislative efforts to force the auto makers (or anybody other business) to change their ways the past 16 years.

  34. 34
    Brian J says:

    This has been my thinking all along on the auto industry bail-out. Yes, I think the CEO’s and the executives are idiots, but it was never about them, it was about the workers.

    That’s the thing that gets me about this hesitancy to bail them out. The government was falling all over themselves to give money to AIG and the banks who did not do what they were suppose to do with it (lend and end the credit crunch). Instead they paid bonuses, dividends and the rest of it. The markets are still falling and credit is still restricted. We have no idea if we’ll see that money back and it doesn’t seem to be helping a lot of people.

    We gave the auto industry a bridge loan decades ago, and they paid it back. So, its a better risk than giving to the banks. And, there is something tangible we get in return (as well as the money back): JOBS! Around 1.5 million jobs. This is something our economy desperately needs, but now the government doesn’t want to do anything.

    I think it was Matt Yglesias who made a comment yesterday about spending all of the money on workers instead of the automakers themselves. Along those lines, can we just give all of the money to a depressed state like Michigan or Ohio, let them cut taxes and other costs of doing business for a year or so, and then let people try to start businesses or expand during that time? I don’t know if it’s a remotely plausible suggestion, but perhaps creating an ideal business environment along with giving workers some cash would help juice the economy of those areas more than an auto industry bail out.

  35. 35
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Brian J, civil engineering has a higher bar for paranoid procedure that would only apply to other engineering fields when working on medical, space, or defense systems. System failure is supposed be extremely rare, unlike say, how reliable the software is on your average desktop computer. That said, things like bridges and parking garages have been highly standardized and are built prefabricated. While you could take a mechanical or computer or electrical engineer and make them a mouse jockey to run the cad and do the simulations on the design, you still need a real civil engineering team to oversee everything. I doubt the mouse jockey jobs are being done by the critical people now anyway, if I had to guess.

    Quick follow up to jkr above. As an EE we did cover mechanical, materials, dynamics, thermodynamics and I even fit in some surveying. I think it would take me 6 months to get up to speed on one small area of civil. Something really restricted and standardized. No one works alone in civil, is the key, as long as the team is with it, I think you could off load some selective stuff. But the disruption is probably not worth it, and frankly if the stimulus is interesting enough, the other sciences should not have any spare people.

  36. 36
    Brian J says:

    I would say yes, at least without a good bit of training. I have a CS degree, and I’m not remotely qualified to be a Civil Engineer (I don’t know Statics, Dynamics, Materials, CAD, Surveying, etc, etc).

    If I woke up tomorrow and decided to be a CE, it would require at least 2 or 3 years of full-time schooling.

    And there’s no other job that you or someone like you could do that is required in the process of infrastructure investment? I hate to be so vague, but I’m not sure of the details of the specific steps that go along with it.

    Also, does anyone know if there’s a fairly large market of civil engineers looking for work?

  37. 37
    Brian J says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    Thanks for the information. I guess this means another nice idea I came up with slammed into a brick wall when I told someone else. Oh well…

    I still wonder, though, even with the resources currently available, what else can be done to speed up the process of infrastructure investment? I don’t mean to imply that a process that would normally take a year could be shortened to three months without any sacrifice in quality, but I’m wondering if there’s any way to spend a little extra money (relative to the size of packages already being proposed) to get things moving a little quicker.

  38. 38
    ATinNM says:

    Merely bailing out – however you want to call it – the car companies is pointless without further actions addressing the systematic problems facing the nation. After all, they need to sell their hunks of junk to somebody and somebody can’t afford to buy a car if they ain’t no money ‘cuz they ain’t got no job.

    On the other hand, with the global economy going ker-pluft and the national economy going ker-pluft saving the Big-ish 3 will provide a brake on a rapid increase in US employment in the short term and, I would argue, is worth it to buy some time.

    Simultaneously, IMO, action needs to be taken to reinvigorate the US manufacturing and other industries that actually make stuff, aka goods and services, that people need (public infrastructure,) want (e.g., electric cars,) or should have available (e.g., mass transit systems.) In short: we have to stop doing what we’re doing and start doing something else.

    I grant doing this is huge and complex undertaking. I grant finding competent management – public or private – of this undertaking will be extremely difficult. I grant oversight of the management – public or private – is fraught.

    However and by definition if we don’t do something else we will keep doing what we are doing and what we’re doing isn’t working. :-)

  39. 39
    Brian J says:

    and frankly if the stimulus is interesting enough, the other sciences should not have any spare people.

    Elaborate, if you will.

  40. 40
    ATinNM says:

    @Punchy:

    Somebody (whose name I can’t remember) quipped, referring to the British General Staff during World War One, "They keep three sets of records. One to confuse the public, one to confuse the government, and one to confuse themselves."

  41. 41
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Brian J, I don’t think it’s a bad idea, per se. I think there is merit in offloading at the margins if we really do get into that level of skills crimp. I think if we free up the people being wasted on say, Trump’s various bankrupt projects, we may not be short on the top people for public works. In other words, the really good shops are tied up on trophy projects and shortly, won’t be.

    Perhaps better to turn it around and say, we need to have a diversified stimulus that takes into account available critical personnel. That would be a wise way to allocate things, otherwise we just end up with another bubble of sorts.

  42. 42
    Tim H. says:

    Is the job of being a civil engineer so unique that someone with a degree in electrical engineer or computer science couldn’t do it

    Chemical engineer here. As to the above, all I could say is, it depends. An EE certainly has the math background to do CE; probably a lot of computer degrees too. If you know how to solve ODEs and PDEs and get the right answer you’d be useful after some training. For things like design of a water supply system, fine. For things like looking at a 50 year old bridge and deciding what to replace and how, you not only need a real CE but one with a good deal of experience at being a CE.

  43. 43
    jrg says:

    civil engineering has a higher bar for paranoid procedure that would only apply to other engineering fields when working on medical, space, or defense systems.

    I think chemical engineers take the prize for paranoia. When those guys (and gals) screw up, it can cause huge environmental and humanitarian disasters. See Bhopal, for example.

    And don’t forget the nuclear engineers!

  44. 44
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Brian J: "I’m wondering if there’s any way to spend a little extra money (relative to the size of packages already being proposed) to get things moving a little quicker."

    Eliminate environmental impact review and the public comment periods required on the plans.

    (I’m not advocating that, just sayin’)

    jrg, I know a lot of chem e’s they never took the professional engineering exam and they aren’t licensed. They never sign off on things in large teams.

    Bhopal was a management failure.

  45. 45
    ATinNM says:

    @Brian J:

    There is a discussion of the job prospects for CEs

    here

    Teaser:

    the job market for civil engineers has gradually been heating up as other industry sectors cool down. “Civil engineering graduates are getting good jobs. The rate of salary growth has been excellent for a number of years,” reports Nicholas Sitar, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. He sees the salary gap between civil engineers and electrical engineers closing significantly because of plummeting nationwide undergraduate engineering enrollment. This means there are—and will continue to be for the foreseeable future—fewer civil engineers to go around. “Employers [who hire civil engineers] realize that they must make jobs more attractive and financially rewarding,” reflects Sitar.
    But don’t start dreaming of those once fabled dotcom salaries and job offers to pop out of the woodwork.

  46. 46
    Original Lee says:

    Friends and family in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana are slapping their foreheads. Duh, we know we’ve been in a recession for a long time already, they say. The emotional atmosphere over Thanksgiving was very gloomy, I’d say about the same as early 1979, if I had to make a comparison. Particularly in Michigan, those folks had a brief period where they felt as if they were climbing out of the last recession and now they’re caught in a mudslide to the bottom of the pit again. Although it’s interesting that they have only become pro-auto industry bailout in the last week, and even then they are very firm that it needs to be a joint prepackaged Chapter 11-bridge loan. I think the rest of the country underestimates how very honked off the average Michigander is with the upper management of The Big Three.

  47. 47
    Tim H. says:

    We’re supposed to be paranoid. Recall who invented Murphy’s Law:

    ADS member Stephen Goranson has found a version of the law, not yet generalized or bearing that name, in a report by Alfred Holt at an 1877 meeting of an engineering society:

    from Wikipedia.

  48. 48
    The Moar You Know says:

    is the job of being a civil engineer so unique that someone with a degree in electrical engineer or computer science couldn’t do it?

    @Brian J: Ha, no fucking way. Math skills (which most CS degree folks don’t seem to have much of, but EE’s do) help, and so do the processes that they teach you – but to do the actual job? Not possible. You might as well employ chefs as surgeons because they both cut meat.

  49. 49
    ATinNM says:

    @Original Lee:

    Personally I think a weekly public flogging of the upper management of the car companies should be an integral part of any stimulus package. First, we could sell tickets. Second, the sales of beer, hot dogs, and popcorn to the hordes thronging the venue (sports arenas?) would provide jobs. (I note both of these would directly stimulate the local economy.) Finally, it would be educational for the children.

    Hey! A Win/Win!

  50. 50
    Napoleon says:

    What is particularly scary about those employment numbers is that a bunch of huge layoffs have been announce on or after 12/1, which would not be reflected in those numbers. I bet you the December report is even worse.

  51. 51
    Brian J says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    It sounds like you’re saying that there is a way to speed up the process of getting this stuff done, even if just a little bit, as far as the personnel necessary to do such a job. I hate to sound too idealistic here, but as I said to the person I was e-mailing a few weeks ago, it seems like we know what needs to be done when we are talking about infrastructure, in the sense that while there are specific details to each project that need to be worked out, it’s not like curing a disease or doing some other project where an unknown is being chased. It seems like it comes down to a matter of available resources.

    You joke about eliminating certain steps from the process, but is there a way to speed them up, too?

  52. 52
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Brian J, just an example, (high speed rail would be similar too) if you want to develop alternative energies, you need all branches of science working on it. You need aerospace for wind turbines, cs for all the programming both of controls and simulations, electrical to wire it all (although power grids are not the same as EE), mse for new materials either substrates for solar or high strength light weight for turbine blades. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Bridges, etc, are more focused on civil only. For sure.

  53. 53
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Brian J, I don’t think you want to speed them up, each project that is. I think you want to ramp up how much is going on at once, which is similar, but not, from the perspective of needed reviews and sign offs that simply cannot be skipped. Site prep is a big part of construction. Core samples have to be taken and analyzed and drainage designed and weather is a factor… So each site can run at normal pace, there would just be 3x as many of them. On a projects per year basis that would be speeding things up.

    What you probably most need is a propaganda campaign to lure highly skilled engineers out of the high-profile private sector into the nitty gritty public sector. And there is always brain draining other countries, the old stand by, by increasing visa numbers. (again, I’m not advocating that…)

  54. 54
    Brian J says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    That’s what I figured. Either way, it seems like high quality personnel will be needed. Good pay, perhaps?

    I actually just read a post at Atrios’ site that says there’s a lot of low level stuff like demolishing buildings or repairing sidewalks that can be done very quickly. As he says, it’s not as sexy as a super train or as important as bridge repair, but it’s still important and can happen fast at the local level.

  55. 55
    qwerty42 says:

    re CE, EE and Computer Science: remember the differential equations class(es) you had?

  56. 56
    Original Lee says:

    @ATinNM:
    Why limit it to live attendance in sports stadiums? The revenue from PPV would be spectacular. Plus, if instead of flogging it was structured as an exercise in public humiliation, a la Japanese game shows, Nintendo could probably market a DS and a Wii version for endless hours of fun and even more revenue from the licensing. Car dealerships could keep a plasma set in the corner at $0.25/15 minutes. Obama’s change.com website could have a weekly "design the game" page with winners chosen at random or on the basis of originality, taste and presentation in an Iron Chef-style reality show, adding to the revenue stream.

    I’m having way too much fun with this.

  57. 57
    jrg says:

    Math skills (which most CS degree folks don’t seem to have much of, but EE’s do)

    CS is a branch of Math and engineering. It’s just that the requirements for CS differ than for other degrees.

    Just as I have no use for Differential Equations as a programmer, other engineers have no use for Automata or Language theory.

    CS degrees don’t require less Math, they require a different type of math than EEs, CEs, MEs, etc. That said, where I studied, most of the "weed-out" Math courses were the same regardless of your engineering discipline.

  58. 58
    Brian J says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    I don’t think any brain drain phenomenon really exists, but I understand it’s usefulness as a concept. That said, if we can lure high skilled people other countries, why shouldn’t we? Some have suggested that one way to help the housing market is to increase immigration. And because these immigrants probably wouldn’t be Dirty, Scary Mexicanz and Other Assorted Weird Avacado-Eating Brown people, it might be an easier sell to the public.

  59. 59
    Tim H. says:

    Math skills (which most CS degree folks don’t seem to have much of, but EE’s do) help, and so do the processes that they teach you – but to do the actual job? Not possible.

    I wouldn’t say that. Mostly because it’s already been done to a big degree. A good deal of engineering is done by computer nowadays, whether it’s fluid flow, finite element analysis, what-have-you. The guys who developed those tools were mostly CS people who specialized in numerical analysis.

  60. 60
    srv says:

    The government was falling all over themselves to give money to AIG and the banks who did not do what they were suppose to do with it

    The veneer of who the republic serves is quite thin.

    I for one, think creating a market of low-interest loans is exactly the thing to get us out of this mess. People can’t sell overvalued homes already, so let’s drop the overhead of buying these homes. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.

  61. 61
    binzinerator says:

    @Original Lee:

    I think the rest of the country underestimates how very honked off the average Michigander is with the upper management of The Big Three.

    Got family there. Yup, most have no idea.

    @ATinNM:

    Personally I think a weekly public flogging of the upper management of the car companies should be an integral part of any stimulus package. First, we could sell tickets. Second, the sales of beer, hot dogs, and popcorn to the hordes thronging the venue (sports arenas?) would provide jobs. (I note both of these would directly stimulate the local economy.) Finally, it would be educational for the children.

    Case in point: This would actually be as popular as you describe, only they’d likely modify the flogging part so people could pay to do a 10 minute stint of flogging so as to raise money for the families of destitute and unemployed autoworkers. I am not shitting you. I recall the early 80’s when I lived in Mich. The japanese auto industry got the brunt of the anger in the ’82 recession. They had this same kind of a thing going but instead they used sledgehammers on donated beater japanese cars to raise money, a few bucks to the families of the laid off and you get to take a swing.

    They’re even more pissed off now. They know they’ve been not only fucked hard and ugly, they’re being blamed for it too.

  62. 62
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Brian J, I don’t advocate it because I think those countries need those people more than we do. If we send their highly educated people back home after college/phd, it would result in far better spent development dollars. If we keep absorbing everyone’s highest skilled people, the path to developed just gets longer and longer if not impossible for these countries. The bad side effects of that range from world disease crisis to reduced export markets to local skilled wage depression that then keeps Americans from pursuing those fields and therefore increases pressure for more visas. It’s one of the most short-sighted things we do. And it puzzles me that the far left sides strictly with the individual seeking a visa, instead of the larger impacted foreign society, on this issue.

    Really, if a Pakistani doctor moves to the U.S. and becomes a janitor, because that’s what they are qualified for here, you think that’s an effective worldwide use of human capital?

  63. 63
    demimondian says:

    @Brian J: Um…listen, folks, I hate to rain on your parade, but I’m a pretty good programmer, with a Ph.D. in Math. My father is law is trained as a civil engineer.

    I could not do what he does without fully retraining. There’s nothing impossible in *kind*, but there’s a lot of details you need to learn (building codes, drainage behavior, mitigation strategies, for instance), which I just don’t know. Could I learn it with a couple of years of school? Sure. But I couldn’t just *do* it.

  64. 64
    OriGuy says:

    @qwerty42: Differential equations? I must have taken it, because I still have the textbook. I remember funny looking symbols in place of the "d" in dx/dt; I barely remember how to integrate a polynomial. I’ve been doing systems programming for 30 years since college. If I do any math more complicated than arithmetic, I have to take off my shoes and socks.

  65. 65
    OriGuy says:

    Moderation? WTF? Did Barbie set up the moderation script? Math is hard!

  66. 66
    Observer says:

    But giving $34 billion to three companies, who collectively are worth "only" $16 billion, so they can burn through it in six months… that’s not the answer either.

    The answer is federal receivership. Better yet we the taxpayer pony up half the money the executives want, buy them out, and sell controlling interest to Kirk Kirkorian for $12 billion.

    Correctly analyzing the impact of a problem does not demand doing something stupid in response.

  67. 67
    Jim says:

    The November unemployment rate also doesn’t include approximately 430,000 people who gave up looking for jobs, so the 500K+ figure is actually low (and will likely be revised upwards next month anyhow. Anyone who doesn’t think we are in the middle of a free-fall right now has their head up their ass. The most optimistic thing I can think of right now is that it won’t get as bad as the Great Depression, and if the automakers go bye bye in the next couple of months, I may have to rethink that one.

  68. 68
    mvr says:

    @Genine:

    You rightly quoted the main posting about the new jobs report removing doubts about the wisdom of an auto bailout and my comment here responds to both the original and this comment which I agree with.

    Things look bad enough by my lights that if a bailout even puts off a major car company going down the tubes by two years the money will have been worth it. The amount they are asking is just 5% of the amount Paulson was given to play with for the banks. If as a result we forego dumping another million unemployed people onto the bad job market now that seems like a better return on the money than we have probably gotten on any of the 700 Billion we’ve already allocated. That’s not to say Congress should not think about better ways to spend that money to save those jobs. But losing the jobs now strikes me as much worse for all involved than losing them later in a healthier (we hope) economy where there are a few more jobs available.

  69. 69
    Cain says:

    @Brian J:

    Now, I have a question for anyone who is a civil engineer, a computer scientist, or works in a field that is remotely similar: is the job of being a civil engineer so unique that someone with a degree in electrical engineer or computer science couldn’t do it? I don’t mean to sound insulting one way or the other. I ask

    As a computer scientist, very close to finishing up his masters. We don’t do bridges. There is probably all sorts of things like material science, structural integrity that we don’t know. Even our math is more related to discrete mathematics than say calculus. It’d say it would take some significant retraining to do a civil engineer’s job.

    cain

  70. 70
    Cain says:

    @jrg:

    Just as I have no use for Differential Equations as a programmer, other engineers have no use for Automata or Language theory.

    I’m just finishing up a course (final on monday!) on automata and turing machines. Alan Turing’s turing machine is just a fantastic piece of work, mathematical model for a computer on paper. The math is very different than calculus since we’re not at all dealing with physical space or forces of nature but pure logic.

    Sadly, modern CS students have a hard time figuring out why we need this. But knowing what problems can be solved by a computer is important, I think. :)

    cain

  71. 71
    FoxinSocks says:

    This is like a slow-moving Hurricane Katrina, except this time it’s the entire country that’s getting screwed. Bush has mentally checked out, the Republicans are in some dream world of unicorns and corporate tax cuts, and my family’s desperately waiting for Obama to be sworn into office, because we can’t take anymore of the Bush administration.

  72. 72
    Cain says:

    @demimondian:

    @Brian J: Um…listen, folks, I hate to rain on your parade, but I’m a pretty good programmer, with a Ph.D. in Math. My father is law is trained as a civil engineer.

    I tried to minor in Math and the discrete math scared the crap out of me. My father however is a renowned mathematician and chemical engineer. Sadly, he didn’t pass along his brilliance or his talent of focusing like a laser to his progeny. I blame my mother, but I’m not bitter. :D

    cain

  73. 73
    YellowJournalism says:

    And remember this post, so in a few years when your wingnut uncle starts talking about the “Obama” recession, you can throw this in his face.

    How did you know about my wingnut uncle? Or are those just standard family issue?

  74. 74
    jrg says:

    I’m just finishing up a course (final on monday!) on automata and turing machines.

    Best subject ever! I loved learning about which machine models can recognize which language structures. Fascinating stuff. If you ever read about linguistics (like Chomsky’s "context free grammar"), you can really see how cognition and CS are linked.

    Sadly, modern CS students have a hard time figuring out why we need this.

    It’s pretty much a requirement if you want to know about compilers, but beyond that, it does not have much use in day-to-day programming practice. Still, it’s something that CS folks should know about. When you understand the fundamentals, everything else comes easier.

    Good luck on your final!

  75. 75
    demimondian says:

    @jrg: Actually, automata theory is useful in some pretty arcane areas like machine learning and speech recognition.

  76. 76
    Original Lee says:

    @binzinerator:

    This would actually be as popular as you describe, only they’d likely modify the flogging part so people could pay to do a 10 minute stint of flogging so as to raise money for the families of destitute and unemployed autoworkers.

    Except now the Flogfests would probably have to have a catchy theme song sung by a choir of celebrities, the CDs and DVDs sold on HSN for $9.99, and there would be some kind of scandal involving improper disbursement of the profits and royalties. A huge class action lawsuit over streaming video downloads and TicketMaster sales would take over the federal court system. There would probably also be pirated versions of the XBox, Game Boy, DS, and Wii games for sale on street corners near Times Square in NYC.

    This would also be educational for the children.

  77. 77
    Cain says:

    @jrg:

    Best subject ever! I loved learning about which machine models can recognize which language structures. Fascinating stuff. If you ever read about linguistics (like Chomsky’s "context free grammar"), you can really see how cognition and CS are linked.

    Yeah, I thought it was pretty neat, but I’m not very good at this particular subject since I’m really bad at detail oriented stuff. It’s almost a physical response so I end up going a lot slower than other students. But generally, discussing with other people helps a lot. Getting older helps too since I’m hyper active! (I’m doing this at 39)

    That said, it looks like doing this kind of stuff has helped condition me to think more critically and if that isn’t a valuable skill what is?

    Thanks for the luck! I’ll need it!

    cain

  78. 78
    ew says:

    The liberal illuminati’s plan of "saving" jobs.. isn’t it further bankrupting our country and possibly making things worse in other ways? The issue is that we don’t have the money to give to them.. and if these union jobs are so inefficient, don’t they need to change anyway?

  79. 79
    Zifnab says:

    The liberal illuminati’s plan of "saving" jobs.. isn’t it further bankrupting our country and possibly making things worse in other ways? The issue is that we don’t have the money to give to them.. and if these union jobs are so inefficient, don’t they need to change anyway?

    To the first, no. Assuming you have a country teetering on the edge of deflation, flooding the market with money won’t make things worse. You can’t balance a budget on a rapidly shrinking economy, so the first priority must be to preserve your tax base. That means "saving jobs". And we have as much money to give as we are willing to print.

    To the second, you seem to confuse "inefficient union jobs" with "union jobs in an inefficient industry". Japanese car companies pay their employees similar wages and benefits. Likewise, Japanese executives have no problem taking fat compensation packages. That said, Japanese cars sell more units at better margins than their American counterparts. That is a bigger issue than how much they pay their employees.

    Certainly change is necessary, and I won’t argue that the unions and the car companies need to go through an overhaul. But the financial industry is completely falling apart and I don’t see anyone complaining about the bankers’ union.

  80. 80
    TenguPhule says:

    When I see numbers like that, it really wipes away all the reservations I have about the auto bailout. I dont like it, and probably think they will piss away the money, but at this point, anything we can do to save jobs, we should.

    Now we just need another 30% of the ignorant American public to figure this out.

  81. 81

    Can anyone essplane just WTF this means? How does one calc "159K", then go "whoops! Sorry. Meant THREE TIMES THAT NUMBER!"

    Huh? Anyone undystand?

    Sure. The numbers that came out today for November are estimates. They’ve done the surveys (Establishment and Household), and are publishing the results of those, using the answers they get from the sample to extrapolate an estimate for the whole economy.

    There are a lot of things that the surveys miss, though. One of them is companies that either start up, or close down, during the month in question. So, in succeeding months, they go to more data. This includes actual tax receipts. This allows them to get a more accurate picture, so they publish a revision.

    The revisions will always be larger when there is a major turn in the economy, because that screws with the model used to estimate from the surveys. The economy drove off a cliff this fall. It’s going to take the BLS time to catch up.

  82. 82

    @Jim:

    The November unemployment rate also doesn’t include approximately 430,000 people who gave up looking for jobs, so the 500K+ figure is actually low (and will likely be revised upwards next month anyhow.

    This is incorrect. The 533,000 job loss number comes from the Establishment Survey, in which the BLS talks to a random sample of businesses. Those businesses tell the BLS how many jobs they’ve added or subtracted, and the numbers get tossed into the model to estimate the total number of job losses.

    The unemployment rate, and the figure for people who have left the job market (are no longer looking for jobs) comes from the Household Survey, in which the BLS talks to a random sample of households. They ask the people whether or not they have worked in the last week. They also ask those who haven’t whether or not they applied for any jobs. From this, they extrapolate the percentage of people in the entire population that is looking for work, but can’t find it; this is U-3, the headline unemployment rate. There are a total of six measures the BLS constructs, the broadest of which is U-6, which counts everyone who doesn’t have a job, whether they were looking for one or not, and those who are working part-time, but want to work full-time. This is the survey that produces the estimate of how many people have left the labor force.

    Nothing in the Household Survey affects the results of the Establishment Survey, because they are measuring two different things. The Establishment Survey is considered more accurate for the specific question of how many jobs the economy added or lost, for a bunch of technical statistical reasons. I do expect that the number will be revised upwards next month, but it won’t be for the reason you cite.

  83. 83

    I do hope that all of you engineers need an accountant at your place of employment.

  84. 84
    Mongo says:

    Just to put it out there..
    On the Discovery Channel’s future car series Amory Lovins from the Rocky Mountain Institute presented a car made of carbon fiber – I wonder how far 34 billion could get a "national" auto company on a really revolutionary car? As opposed to propping up dying, bloated steel automakers putting out vehicles no one wants or needs. I would feel a lot better about my tax dollars being spent wisely and not pissed away on the big three.

Comments are closed.