Recent Posts


robotThere’s been a lot of stuff about automation being the primary job-killer in recent years, and for at least the near future. I’m linking a couple of contrarian articles. I’m not taking a strong position myself, one way or the other, at this time, except to note that I doubt that it’s really an either/or issue. Few issues are, when you think about them.

Today, when it comes to information technology, the evidence still points to large, unmet demand in most industries, generating growing employment. In the non-manufacturing sector, research shows that information technology use is associated with faster industry employment growth, about 1% to 2% faster, on average. Bar code scanners, for example, widely adopted in the 1980s, automated much of the work of cashiers, but the number of cashiers increased. Electronic document discovery automated much of the work of paralegals in 2000, but employment of paralegals grew. Electronic document discovery has been a billion-dollar business since 2000, and from 2000 through 2013, full-time equivalent jobs for legal assistants, paralegals, and legal support occupations grew 1.1% per year, faster than the workforce.

We need to give the robot scare a rest. Robots are not leading to mass joblessness and are not the cause of wage stagnation or growing wage inequality. Recently, the New York Times referred to the robot scare as a “distraction from real problems and real solutions.” Instead, we should focus on policy choices that lead to things that truly threaten workers and their families like eroding labor standards, declining unionization, elevated unemployment, unbalanced globalization, and declining top tax rates.
(Economic Policy Institute)


(This is the last part, at least for now. Part 1 here. Part 2 here.)
My view, based on what I’ve included in this and previous posts, is that U.S. military spending can and should be cut by anywhere from 30-50% over the next decade, and that fixing the bloated mess will actually improve military readiness and capability. Many progressives agree. But military spending is unfortunately one of the few areas where polling does not consistently show strong (often 2:1 or better) support for progressive views. Numbers from one poll to another, that I’ve seen, tend to fluctuate considerably, but on the whole it’s roughly even between those who want cuts and those who don’t.

Next to the claim that casting off the obstructive dead weight and fixing the corruption in military spending will somehow make us more “vulnerable,” defenders of the status quo wail about JOBS! By any rational standard, no one has a “right” to jobs – burning coal, derivatives trading, right-wing propaganda mill idiot, making bombs, etc., etc. – that just screw things up for everyone. There are far better things they could, and should, be doing. This is from an analysis of jobs created per $1B of federal spending, which matches this report:



Dayton Minnesota Good for BusinessGovernor Dayton and the Democrats have brought Minnesota to a $1 billion surplus in state budget. In the great experiment of two similar states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Minnesota wins using the Democratic way. In electing a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature, Minnesota built a better place for business, a better place for jobs and thus resulted in a S1 billion surplus in state budget.


According to the state release figures, Minnesota has added 13,400 jobs since August and more than 122,000 since 2011, according to state figures. By comparison, Wisconsin added only half to 70 percent of Minnesota’s totals, depending on whose statistics you believe.


Minnesota was recently ranked eighth in the “Forbes 2013 List of the Best States for Business“. And this is Forbes, the ultra business magazine, saying this. Wisconsin was ranked 41, which is in the bottom 10 states.


Companies want to locate where they are going to thrive and make profits. Minnesota commitment to education means the best employees. Minnesota commitment to community means a place where employees want to live. Minnesota’s support of roads, utilities and environment is great for business. Who could sell beer made from polluted water? There is a reason why Minnesota businesses are known for great products. Indeed, even Minnesota’s success in better and more efficient health care means less costs to business.


While government in Wisconsin is going out of business, Minnesota has been doing great government. Thus Minnesota is the place where business and jobs thrive and grow.

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This morning Raw Story featured an interesting piece on how Rush Limbaugh may finally be crashing and burning as he deserves. On his way down, he appears to have harmed his business partners quite severely, leading to a parting of the ways.

Republican shock jock Rush Limbaugh could soon find himself without a distribution company thanks to an internal feud over ad revenues lost amid a boycott of his show, triggered when he called a Democratic activist a “slut” and a “prostitute” for speaking in favor of birth control coverage.
It’s not likely that Rush will be off the air anytime soon, but his loyal listeners in the nation’s largest media markets may have to search the dial to find him.

But the part of the article I found most interesting was this:

Politico noted that, while the boycott’s total damage is not publicly known, Dickey’s statements in 2012 and March 2013 indicated that the network’s largest stations have been bleeding revenue. While the CEO has not elaborated on the causes of the company’s financial woes, he did say in March that the troubles were “due to some of the issues that happened a year ago.”



imagesqtbnANd9GcRhlLTHok0fDiQpsx_IVQRQg-lVMpygkf1rEyJsns1mZT-bzjRXI suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when a far right wing former KSTP radio host turned State Senator makes a ridiculous statement to current KSTP host and reporter Tom Hauser on the KSTP evening news that goes unchallenged, as if it made sense, when it doesn’t.


Hauser starts out with the premise that it is hard to get Democrats and Republicans to agree that government spending creates any jobs, and largely goes downhill from there.


There IS NO QUESTION that public spending on public projects with taxpayer money creates jobs. PERIOD. That is a right wing myth, a conservative ideology LIE that is as fact-averse as denying evolution or global warming.


We’ve certainly seen that be true in the false denials about job creation from the stimulus.  However, the projects that are at issue in the proposals in the legislature and by Governor Dayton are about public projects to do things like making structural repairs to the state capital that are desperately needed to preserve that particular piece of our public infrastructure, and for other projects, including flood mitigation. In other words, the public is effectively buying goods and services needed by the public for the public use and benefit. This is not simply about spreading money around to create jobs.  After first ginning up the idea of an exaggerated controversy between parties, the interview goes on to show Democrats stating that job numbers can be calculated using a variety of different formulas and that numbers should not be the issue in this spending.


In the last two legislative sessions, Republicans controlled both houses at the State Capitol. After promising to focus on the budget and creating jobs, they couldn’t manage it.

They just couldn’t manage to pass an entire budget, only parts of it. When Gov. Dayton rejected their piecemeal budget, they never negotiated in good faith and caused the 2011 government shutdown.

In 2012, they came through with a bonding bill at the last minute. It was the smallest bonding bill ever.

In the meantime, they’d considered myriad ballot measures and considered every single conservative pet issue known. Members were busy copy-pasting ALEC-written legislation.

They huffed and they puffed during hearings and they just couldn’t manage to actually do much at all.

Now that the DFL controls both Houses and is working in conjunction with the DFL Governor Mark Dayton, Republicans assume that the DFL is incompetent as they were at governing.

Republicans are currently kvetching about the DFL’s overreach and how the DFL is bringing up all their pet projects instead of creating jobs and working on the budget. They’re crowing about how the DFL is holding hearings on gun control this week instead of doing the budget or creating jobs.

Republicans forget that Democrats can walk and chew gum. At the same time even.


Environment Minnesota, Duluth Mayor Don Ness and Joseph Woods, President of Ventera Wind held a press conference today about wind energy. Specifically, they want Congress to extend incentives to encourage the wind energy industry’s further development.

“We’ve already made significant progress, and wind farms in western Minnesota now help meet Duluth’s electricity demands with clean, non-polluting energy,” Mayor Ness said. “But there’s more progress to be made in Minnesota, and we should continue to invest in wind energy to work towards a cleaner, healthier future for our state.”

Currently, wind energy provides nearly 13% of Minnesota’s power. MN ranks 4th in the nation.

“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Minnesotans,” said Michelle Hesterberg of Environment Minnesota. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives.”

Environment Minnesota released a report (details here) that if MN continues growing is wind energy capacity, by 2016 it would be the equivalent of removing 757,000 cars from the roads.

That’s quite a lot of pollution.

Then there’s the jobs angle. We can import European or Asian technology or build the technology here. Minnesotans will assemble and get the wind farms running. Minnesotans will maintain them. Then consider that we can export.

“Wind power is a win-win: it equals a cleaner environment, more jobs, and better national security while conventional power plants require large footprints, mining, pipelines, and a large amount of fresh water for cooling,” said Joseph Woods, President of Ventera Wind.


Mitt Romney and Autumn’s Black Swan

by SJGulitti on November 3, 2012 · 1 comment

In nature black swans are a rarity. In the world of politics and economics they represent rare surprise events that have significant consequences. Of late the term black swan gained renewed currency when economist Nouriel Roubini said that economic crises weren’t “black swan events” but events that could be predicted by observing “macroeconomic and policy mistakes.” However, in the midst of the current presidential race, the extreme weather event that was Hurricane Sandy may very well represent a black swan, one that may have doomed the presidential aspirations of Mitt Romney and along with it, the conservative dream of defeating Barack Obama.

Needless to say, many would not have expected such a powerful storm so late in the season, especially those so heavily invested in climate change denial. Yet the arrival of Sandy has already had profound effects. First, it pushed the presidential race off of the news cycle for the better part of five days. That effectively precluded Romney from addressing his slowing momentum in the polls. Secondly, it allowed Barack Obama to command center stage as a bi-partisan Commander-in-Chief while Romney found his campaign relegated to a sidebar. Thus Governor Romney’s remarks on how he would “absolutely” eliminate FEMA if elected came back to haunt him at a time when Obama and Hurricane Sandy seemed omnipresent in the news cycle. As it is Obama has garnered a 78% approval rating for his handling of the federal response thus far. Third it refocused the debate on what should be the proper role of government in dealing with disasters and to what extent a crisis like Sandy could be adequately handled by a pared down FEMA, by the states or even less likely, private effort. Fourth it reintroduced the inconvenient subject of climate change into the closing days of the race, a topic that Republicans had sought to avoid.

Not surprisingly, the black swan event of Hurricane Sandy gave immediate birth to several coincident events in the form of Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia, both Republicans, praising the president’s efforts in promptly addressing the crisis. Praise of any sort form these two governors would have been unthinkable before Sandy and can do nothing but cause consternation within the Romney Campaign. Coming on the heels of the positive image of Obama and Christie touring a devastated New Jersey, New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsed Obama for president claiming that Obama “was the better candidate to tackle the global climate change that he believes might have contributed to the violent storm.” These developments can only serve to heighten the anxiety level within the Romney campaign as it has to now hustle all that much harder to get back on track and on message.

That Mitt Romney was thrown off stride by the events of the past five days was evident in his Thursday stump speech in Roanoke Virginia. That speech, given with an air of rushed desperation, seemed like a presentation in fast forward by a guy who realizes he’s missed the better part of five days of effective campaigning and who seemed to want to make up for that by throwing everything but the kitchen sink into his presentation. It was disjointed and topically Romney was all over the political landscape rushing from subject to subject without anything in the way of a logical segue between topics. Then there was the outburst against Christie by Rush Limbaugh, who accused Christie of “propping up Obama’s campaign.” While such commentary can be seen as a moment of comic relief it is at the same time just one more distraction for Team Romney. But the import of Rush’s latest diatribe didn’t go unnoticed by political pro Howard Fineman who observed: “Rush is sort of a kind of air raid siren for the Republicans. When he’s screaming like that, you know something has happened, something significant has happened.” It goes without saying that any image of disunity within the ranks of the right at this late date represents an unwanted development for Romney who has had problems staying on message throughout the campaign.

To make matters worse, the black swan of Sandy arrived amid other developments that make so many of Romney’s campaign arguments all the more difficult to sustain. For one thing the jobs numbers have come in better than expected and the pitch that unemployment has been stuck above 8% is no longer one that Romney can make: “The Labor Department’s last look at hiring before Tuesday’s election sketched a picture of a job market that is gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring. Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, up from 67,000 a month from April through June.” Analyzing the jobs numbers, Alan Kruger of the Council of Economic Advisors noted that there was a big increase in the number of construction jobs, something that significantly benefits workers without college. Yesterday we learned that consumer confidence was at a five year high: “The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment rose to 82.6 from 78.3 in September. It was at its highest level since September 2007 on a final reading basis…Two-thirds of consumers surveyed expected President Barack Obama to win his re-election bid in just over a week…The barometer of current economic conditions gained to 88.1 from 85.7, while the gauge of consumer expectations rose to their highest level since July 2007 at 79 from 73.”

Another serious problem for Romney is the continuing blowback from his flagging efforts to denigrate the auto bailout and the fallout from that in the Midwest. Of particular import here is his campaign’s completely dishonest claim that the Chrysler Corporation was planning to ship jobs to China. That claim, apparently the result of the Romney campaign misreading a Bloomberg News report led to a broadside of criticism from auto industry executives. To wit: “Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” Chrysler executive Gualberto Ranieri wrote in a statement “A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.” The reality of the situation is, quoting Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, that since the auto bailout Chrysler has “has added about 7,000 jobs in North America…and it continues to expand its U.S. workforce and to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in American plants. Milbank goes on to observe: “The fast-and-loose with Jeep points to a troubling Romney instinct: When the stakes are high, as they are for him in must win Ohio, the truth is often the first casualty.” Likewise Romney received a sharp rebuke from General Motors spokesman Greg Martin for his allegation that GM plans to double the number of cars it builds in China. Martin said: “The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst. We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.” Romney’s problems with the auto industry were only made worse by the law of unintended consequences, another mini black swan if you will, when Donald Trump was rebuked by Ralph Giles, Head of Design at Chrysler for suggesting that the company would move production overseas. Needless to say it would appear that the Romney campaign has blown a head gasket in Ohio when it comes to how it has handled the auto industry rescue, a flawed tactic that could cost him that state as well as Michigan.

Finally what of the swing state polls? As of 5:00 PM this afternoon the Real Clear Politics average polling for eleven swing states shows Romney leading in just three and with his lead in Virginia extremely slim. Likewise the same results obtain when you look at The Cook Political Report. However in this report there is one notable exception, Cook’s findings show that four of the swing states lean Democrat and none lean Republican even though all are considered toss ups. Charlie Cook, one of the best guys in the business when it comes to crunching numbers said today on MSNBC that in terms of probabilities, Romney had a much harder climb in putting together a winning combination on the electoral map. Quoting Time Magazine’s political analyst Mark Halperin “Based on the totality of the public and private polling, the onus is still on Governor Romney to demonstrate he can get to 270 electoral votes. The President still has more paths and clearer paths.” Earlier in the week another political commentator pointed out that Romney has been able to narrow the gap with Obama in the swing states but he’s never been able to get out in front and stay there. Bear in mind that none of these poll results reflect any of the upward bounce that Barack Obama may get from his handling of the response to Hurricane Sandy.

None of this is to imply that Obama now has a lock on being reelected and the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, as it plays out over the next four days, could trend against the president. But one thing is for certain, the arrival of a black swan event, in the form of Hurricane Sandy, has greatly complicated the road to the White House for Mitt Romney. With only three full days remaining till the election it’s hard to see how Romney and his team can make up for five days of lost campaigning wherein which the president was able to take center stage and burnish his own image while Romney stood by as an onlooker, an onlooker who would only reenter the race with yet another blunder in talking about the auto bailout. This latest blunder, against the backdrop of positive economic numbers, has only worked to make Romney seem increasingly desperate in both his message and it’s presentation and that’s not a place a candidate wants to be with just a few more days to go before the polls are closed.

Steven J. Gulitti



Black Swan Theory;…

Roubini and Bremmer on Global Economic Problems;…

Nouriel Roubini sees ‘the roots of the next crisis in the current one’;…

Romney’s Momentum Seems to Have Stopped; http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.n…

Presidential Polls 2012: New Numbers Show Romney Losing Momentum, Obama Gaining;…

Romney Losing Momentum;

Bloomberg Backs Obama, Citing Fallout From Storm;…

Rush: Christie Propping Up Obama Campaign with Hurricane Praise;…

Chris Matthews Mocks Rush Limbaugh as the ‘Guy From Deliverance’;…

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs;…

U.S. Economy Adds 171K Jobs; Jobless Rate Rises to 7.9%;…

Consumer sentiment at highest in five years in October;

Survey: Consumer Confidence Gets a Boost;…

Romney goes off-road with the truth;

Romney Caught Trying to Swiftboat the Auto Rescue;

Auto companies hit back against Romney ads;

Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Executive, Lashes Out At Donald Trump;

RCP – Electoral Map Polls; http://www.realclearpolitics.c…

The Cook Political Report;

Romney and 270;…

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When the Koch Brothers want to fire people, Cravaack absent…

In his latest ad, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN/NH) looks right into the camera and with as much sincerity as he can muster says “every job is worth fighting for.”

But fired workers from the Koch-owned Georgia-Pacific plant in Duluth want you to know the truth about Chip Cravaack.

“Rep. Cravaack has chosen to side with his billionaire donors who own the plant instead of the 141 workers who lost their jobs when the owners shut the plant down without explanation,” said Glenn Jackson, a 64-year-old worker laid-off after 21 years with the company. “Every other elected official in this area has shown their support, except for Cravaack. He talks about bringing jobs to the community but let 141 good paying jobs leave without saying a word!”

If every job is worth fighting for, why did Cravaack never show any support for the workers or even acknowledge that these 141 jobs were important for Duluth?

There are several explanations.
Duluth Residents Don’t Count

Cravaack only held one free public event in Duluth. He was forced to do so under tremendous criticism. He announced inside 48 hours of holding it.

Cravaack rarely holds free, public events and only holds public meetings in small towns and in all but a few, rare instances, during the day. He announces them at the last minute as well.

When Duluth constituents show up at his office in Duluth, his staff call the police. When Duluth residents show up at his private events, he calls the police.

Cravaack realizes that Duluth is a DFL stronghold and it’s certainly possible that he’s unwilling to help liberal constituents.

Cravaack beholden to the Koch Brothers

When the Koch Brothers ask a Republican to jump, they answer “how high?” It’s certainly possible that some minion of the Koch Brothers asked Cravaack to remain silent and let them close the plant.

Cravaack has receive donations from the Koch Brothers. Plus Koch Brothers backed PACs have been spending huge sums to help him win reelection.

Cravaack is clueless/ineffective

A third possibility is that Cravaack has no idea what he’s doing.

Cravaack once warned of the Chinese take-over of a Duluth airplane manufacturer even though the State Department had investigated and cleared the sale. A pilot with a military background has no freaking idea what a local airplane manufacturer makes and if they have any secrets the Chinese might want? BTW, the Chinese already had the technology Cravaack was so worried about revealing.

Cravaack held talks with several players involved in the Polymet mining situation. Former legislator Tom Rukavina characterized the meetings as “useless” and Cravaack as unable to “grasp the situation.”

Cravaack leased a $1,000 per month luxury SUV. Many, many people in his district are driving old vehicles, yet Cravaack never considered the appearance of leasing such an expensive vehicle.

At a rare, public forum in which questions were not pre-screened, a woman asked a tough question about healthcare and Cravaack was clueless:

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN/NH) made a rare visit to Minnesota for a town hall forum. A woman told him a how difficult it was to get her son who had leukemia a bone marrow transplant because the insurance company denied it. Cravaack’s response was typical and clueless:
“That’s a great story and something we all need to aspire to, to keep persevering.”

No, Chip! It’s an outrage! It isn’t about persevering. It’s about the utter disregard health insurance companies have for people when people come between them and their profits.

Watch for yourselves:

Cravaack declared birth control an act of federal aggression. Clueless, dogwhistle politics much, Chip?

Cravaack demonstrated he doesn’t understand transit or how it creates jobs.

Cravaack criticized the Forest Service for letting a fire burn out of control for more than a month. Yet, they did this because Cravaack voted to reduce the funding that would have allowed them to fight this fire.

Despite the increasing dangers of invasive species entering Minnesota waters, Cravaack opposed legislation to help stop the spread into the Great Lakes.

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Who says there is no comedy in politics? Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s opponent Kurt Bills is providing some of the best this election season. His latest comedy is he joins in with other reality-denying Republicans who claim the latest unemployment numbers were faked somehow.

Mister Bills started off by release what will undoubtedly be the worst campaign video of the 2012 election. In the video, the hero of the video commits suicide in the first 30 seconds. Then the hero is back from the dead. Is Bills the first pro-zombie Republican?

Mister Bills continued to teach High School while running for US Senate. And he wants to be taken seriously? Hilarious!

When the Minneapolis Star Tribune released polling indicating Klobuchar crushing him by 29%, Mister Bills first held a press conference at which he claimed he was only losing by 15%. Hello? Aren’t candidates not supposed to admit they’re losing?

Then Mister Bills campaign manager Mike Osskopp attacked the Strib claiming favoritism because her Dad was a columnist for the Strib. Jim Klobuchar retired 15 or more years ago (and several owners ago).

Miste Bills attacked Klobuchar for helping save the auto industry and dealerships in MN. Um … duh?

The Republican narrative is that Obama can’t do anything right. So when the latest unemployment numbers indicate fewer unemployed, Mister Bills joined the chorus of crazies:

Bills also joined a chorus of conservatives who are questioning the legitimacy of the recent job numbers. Bills said it was “suspicious” when asked whether he thought the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted the monthly unemployment report to help President Obama’s re-election effort.

“What statisticians do is what statisticians do, but I find it very curious that it dropped when it did and it’s a .3 percent drop,” Bills told reporters.

The report last week showed a sharp drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called the notion that the numbers were cooked “ludicrous.”

Keith Hall, a former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also dismissed the allegations.

“People shouldn’t think at all there is any bias in the numbers,” Hall told McClatchy. “This data is collected and examined by each state. . . . Hundreds of people at BLS help collect this data and compile it. If you wanted to try to mess with these numbers, you are talking a very difficult thing. It almost certainly would . . . be next to impossible.”

I wonder what’s next for Mister Bills? Will he hold a press conference expressing his concern that Mister Hand is out to get him?

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