Tuesday Mashup (5/22/12)

  • I neglected to point out the following recently (until now) by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History, on the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal (of course – here)…

    Some in both parties in Washington look at the risks inherent in democratic change—particularly in the Middle East and North Africa—and find the dangers too great. America, they argue, should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability.


    Like this guy, jackass? Nice job to blow him off (along with just about all else from your wretched presidency) and leave for Number 44 to clean up.

    Apparently, some in our corporate media will go to any lengths in an effort to “rebrand” our 43rd president as some kind of a statesman or a visionary on foreign policy.

    Part of me wishes there were a punch line to that remark, but the joke is so unbelievable that I can’t think of anything to top it.

  • Next, the Moustache of Understanding returned to form in the New York Times Sunday (here)…

    Microsoft still does more than 80 percent of its research work in America. But that is becoming harder and harder to sustain when deadlock on Capitol Hill prevents it from acquiring sufficient (H1B) visas for the knowledge workers it needs that America’s universities are not producing enough of. The number of filled jobs at Microsoft went up this year from 40,000 to 40,500 at its campus outside Seattle, yet its list of unfilled jobs went from 4,000 to almost 5,000. Eventually, it will have no choice but to shift more research to other countries.

    Naah, it’s not because our august captains of industry are rapacious, unrepentant pirates who plead for tax cuts while the middle class that built the products that made them rich are forced to settle for ever-smaller pieces of the proverbial financial pie. Don’t you see? They “have no choice” but to do the whole “engulf and devour” thing elsewhere instead.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    D.C. is filled with mills that produce bogus studies to provide Congress with rose-colored glasses that deprive reality. Some studies spin H-1B workers as “entrepreneurs.” Others make absurd job claims, such as that each H-1B worker creates six additional jobs (Do the math here: With around 100,000 H-1B visas a year, that would make H-1B the single largest job creation factor in the economy.)

    In fact, the opposite is true. The largest users of H-1B visas are foreign offshoring companies. They use H-1B visas to provide on-site support for projected moved to other countries. In that model, each H-1B worker here is a proxy for even more jobs lost.

    In spite of a long parade of damning audits on the H-1B program, Congress has done nothing to clean up the mess. Deliberate loopholes in the law allow employers to replace Americans with lower-paid H-1B workers. Working in the computer industry, I have witnessed employers openly replacing hundreds of Americans with cheaper worker on H-1B visas.

    H-1B supporters rarely forget to remind the public that the statute requires H-1B workers to be paid “the prevailing wage.” They invariably forget that, 20,000 words later, the statute redefines the term “prevailing wage” in such a manner that an employer can legally pay a software engineer in Edison, N.J., $34,133 a year less than the median wage.

    How is it possible that Americans can be fired in their own country, be replaced with foreign workers, and Congress does nothing for decades? H-1Bs, bailouts to Wall Street, and subsidies to politically connected business are all symptoms of the same problem: a government that is controlled by special interests that are antithetical to those of the American people.

    And on top of that, this post from 2008 tells us of a recruiter who pretty much debunked the entire mythology that there aren’t enough “knowledge workers” in this country to fill the available jobs (God forbid that employers haven’t fine-tuned their resume-screening software, or you’re out of luck, Mr. or Ms. Unemployed American Worker).

    Rest assured, though, that apologists like Friedman will always return twice a week on the pages of The Old Gray Lady to reinforce the status quo (and possibly get in a plug for the economic “virtues” of China also, along with the wonders of the Internet, of course).

  • Finally, I give you BoBo, trying to sanitize the business exploits of Willard Mitt Romney on the matter of GST Steel (here)…

    Private equity firms like Bain acquire bad companies and often replace management, compel executives to own more stock in their own company and reform company operations.

    Most of the time they succeed. Research from around the world clearly confirms that companies that have been acquired by private equity firms are more productive than comparable firms.

    This process involves a great deal of churn and creative destruction. It does not, on net, lead to fewer jobs. A giant study by economists from the University of Chicago, Harvard, the University of Maryland and the Census Bureau found that when private equity firms acquire a company, jobs are lost in old operations. Jobs are created in new, promising operations. The overall effect on employment is modest.

    In response, I would suggest that you read the following from here (Bain bought a controlling interest in GST for $8 million, sold $120 million worth of bonds, and then paid themselves a $36 million dividend…they repeated this trick with another steel mill, combined both as “GS Industries” and ended up about $378 million in debt between the two)…

    During all of this they constantly cut both the workforce and safety standards of both plants while failing to invest even minimal money into the plants upkeep much less towards making any capital improvements. Finally in 2001 “GS Industries” now over $500 million in debt declared bankruptcy and closed the plants.

    It then became apparent that Bain had also declined to adequately fund the workers pension plans, employees suddenly out of work were now faced with the additional loss of promised severance pay, health insurance, and life insurance. In 2002 the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation had to commit $44 million to make up the shortfall towards funding only the basic pension payments. The workers never did receive their promised insurance benefits…

    So in this instance Romney and Bain not only cost over 750 workers their jobs and forced two previously fairly healthy businesses into bankruptcy. They also managed to line their pockets with millions of dollars while doing so and before forcing a government agency to step in and pay $44 million towards their bad pension debt.

    If this is Mitt Romney’s idea of how to “create jobs and restart the economy” I don’t think I want anything to do with it.

    And by the way, let us not forget this priceless little moment concerning the presumptive Repug nominee and our not-completely-still-moribund economy

    I would be curious to see what would happen if the New York Times was ever acquired by a private equity firm similar to Bain. I would hope that a lot of the paper’s talented news professionals wouldn’t have to worry about their jobs, but, as the process of “creative destruction” unfolded, I would like to know how “modest” the effect would be on BoBo’s future employment.

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