Unions: unions aren't about job creation. Big Labor is about making sure it has enough power to exact concessions from Big Business. Any additional jobs which are created as a result of union activity are actually a drain on the economy. For example: when the guy painting the stripe on the road has to paint around a fallen tree branch, because the job of moving the tree branch is done by another guy, and if the painter moves the branch he'll get a union grievance filed against him. (And the municipality must pay two men to do the work of one man.) Big Labor is Democrat.
Big Business: Big Business makes all the stuff--big ticket items--but the stuff they need to make the stuff typically comes from much smaller businesses. You're not going to see a mom and pop operation turning out MP3 players, but the M&P might silkscreen the plastic overlays that tell you which button is "play" and which one is "pause". And Big Business isn't interested in creating jobs, either; employees are the A#1 expense of any business, and Big Businesses have scads of employees. (Often, many of those employees are unionized, which makes them cost even more; see above.) Any business is about minimizing costs in order to maximize profits, and minimizing employees is the easiest way to minimize costs. You get as many employees as you need--as few as possible--and you make sure you squeeze as much productivity out of them as you can. (This is why engineers end up working 60+ hour weeks.) The leadership of Big Business tends Democrat, because people at that end of the management chain tend to come from big ivy-league schools, all of which are lefty-Democrat, and all of which tend to turn out graduates with lefty-Democrat opinions.
The Ivory Tower: generally speaking, the people from the Ivory Tower have never had to make payroll, nor deal with the labor market, nor worry about profit and loss, in anything other than a theoretical sense. These people do not have to deal with the enormous pile of taxes and law that businesses do. "I employ a housekeeper!" One might say, but it's not the same thing as having to do all the paperwork and pay all the taxes--if he had to do that, he'd find it easier and cheaper just to clean his own damn house.
If you're not rich enough to have live-in servants, you pay your housekeeper to come in periodically, and you pay that person as an independent contractor rather than as an actual employee. (And in fact I'd wager most people who are that rich still pay their people as contractors, if they can get away with it.) Big Education is so lefty it's communist.
The presence of Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Education at Obama's "jobs summit"--and the purposeful exclusion of small business--means that this isn't really about jobs at all, but about political power for Big Liberalism.
The Anchoress rightly calls it a "show" and that's really all it is: political theater.
AP tries to help its buddy Barack Hussein but I don't believe anything AP says any longer. "Job creation near," goes the headline--I don't believe it.
Look: the Democrats are raising taxes on us Jan 1, 2010 (the Bush tax cuts expire that day). They're attempting to take over 1/7th of the economy by socializing medicine. Cap-and-tax is still on the table, regardless of what anyone is saying, and if Obama gets socialized medicine you can bet the Democrats are going to go ahead and try to get cap-and-tax with it.
All of this means the highest levels of taxation in US history, expressed any damn way you care to express it--%GDP, %GNP, dollars, ounces of gold, barrels of oil, bales of hay, whatever!--and it means severe negative pressure on employment, because high taxes always put negative pressure on employment. Always, always.
The AP article dutifully reports unemployment (U3) as 10.5%, but U6--which was "more accurate" when George Bush was in the White House--is closer to 17.5%. (This fact is buried about 2/3 of the way down in the article.)
I don't see the employment situation improving nearly as soon as AP does. For one thing, the first quarter of any year is a terrible time for job creation.
"The nation's gross domestic product grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter, snapping four straight quarters of decline." This is disingenuous: GDP grew because of "Cash for Clunkers" and other government activities--and a decline in imports--not because the US economy was actually producing more stuff. It's a game with numbers, not real growth, and number games don't create jobs.
Bernanke thinks the economy is showing signs of emerging from the recession, but I don't think it actually is. I think the people in charge in Washington, D.C. want the economy to show signs of emerging from the recession, but all they're doing is pointing at typical economic activity and saying it means the recession is ending...when it's not.
"...[N]ew orders, a sign of future growth, continued expanding and prices rose." What is the first thing that a store needs to do when it sells off its Christmas stock? Umm...let me think....oh! I know! It orders new merchandise!
Sales are up 0.5% over last year. With a Republican in the White House, this would be reported as "no effective change from last year". And what about the deep discounts retailers are giving to drive those sales? Doesn't that mean anything? It would have if McCain had won the election.
Last year, when I was still working at Target, we had less Christmas merchandise in stock than we had in 2007, and the trucks were smaller. Since I'm not working there this year I can't provide any data (even anecdotal) on what one store of a massive chain is doing, but I would wager that there is even less this year and the trucks are still smaller--and so selling down the Christmas stock won't be difficult. So "new orders" for post-Christmas merchandise will provide a handy little bump for the Democrats to point to, much the same way the "Cash for Clunkers" bump helps them look good. (However chimerical it may actually be.)
Obama, however, is confident he can talk the economy back to life despite U3 rising to 10.4%. Important quote: "...[C]onsumer sales declined slightly last month after being expected to grow between five and eight percent."
...so Bernanke can expect the economy to begin improving in the first quarter of 2010, but even if he wishes real hard and clicks his heels together, I don't think his "expectations" are going to be realized.
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Al Gore cancels his Copenhagen appearance. More fallout from Climategate? Climaquiddick nixes Climapalooza?
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It should come as no surprise that the Fungus officially endorses space-based solar power as both environmentally friendly and a big boon to man's quest for the stars. But even solar powersats are not perfect power sources.
"'The problem is that we're treating space solar power as something that has to compete with coal right now,' said [New York University physicist Marty] Hoffert, who gave a recent talk on beamed power at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. 'Nothing can compete with coal.'" (Emphasis mine. As if I needed to say that again.)
Putting up a solar power satellite (SPS) solves many of the problems with ground-based solar: put the satellite in the right orbit and it's always in sunlight, there is no attenuation from air or clouds, and you can make the thing as big as you like without anyone having to worry about how it affects the wildlife. If you make the solar panels on the moon, out of lunar materials, you don't have to worry about lead, arsenic, etc, being dumped into the air and water and soil, either.
But it's not going to be cheap. Making your solar panels and structural components on the moon is cheaper than boosting them from Earth, but you have to build infrastructure on the moon to support manufacturing first. And once you have the parts to build the thing, you have to have a small army (maybe a big army) of people up there to assemble it. (Fill both operational shuttles with people and send 'em up simultaneously. That's 20 people, and it'll only take several decades for them to finish building the SPS if they work 12-hour shifts every day....) (Particularly the way NASA does things.)
Not to mention, of course, that you'll also need people on the moon to make the parts. Robots ain't that damn good yet.
Nothing is cheaper than coal. You can thank the eco-weenies for that; by making nuclear power politically impossible they've guaranteed we have to burn coal to make electricity. Way to go, asshats. (And way to save the environment, too, while we're passing around congratulations.)
I agree with Hoffert's skepticism, by the way--pie-in-the-sky isn't going to get us anywhere. But we already have a model for ways to make SPS construction and deployment economically viable--the way the telephone system was enabled by the US government during its formative years. Give a company a guaranteed monopoly for a certain amount of time (you can term-limit it; Ma Bell wasn't but we needn't repeat that). So our hypothetical company--let's call it "Solar Space Power" or SSP--SSP is guaranteed to have the concession for any and all SPS built by American companies for 50 or 100 years. The proviso is that they must build and deploy a certain number of SPS generating a certain number of gigawatts of power every day.
This guarantees they'll make a profit. And no one's going to do anything if they can't make money on it (sorry, liberals) so this is essential.
It's why we had Ma Bell: in order to ensure that the various regional Bell systems could interconnect--that they all used the same standards--the federal government allowed the monopoly. It served us fairly well for decades; and when the time was right the monopoly was disbanded, allowing competition.
Follow this model properly and everyone's happy: we move plenty of power generation off the planet; a bunch of people make a lot of money; the government gets to collect all kinds of taxes on that income. Done right, it even decreases the cost of electricity! What's not to like?
...naturally it's not going to be all sunshine and lemonade; there are downsides. It takes time and effort, and SSP wouldn't see a dime of profit for years, meaning some kind of government subsidy is probably necessary to make it work. SSP would be a big corporation, and we know how those work. It's pathetically easy for a monopoly to overcharge for electricity, and they could get laws enacted which would force people to buy only electricity from them.
Of course we would retain our conventional power plants. In this example, SSP must compete with other electrical utilities; this should keep their prices competitive. But if they get laws written requiring people to buy power from them first it would not be beneficial for anyone but SSP execs. It's essential that SSP compete for customers; otherwise it's a government welfare program for guys who build SPS.
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I put the 1.0TB (931.51 GB) drive in around midnight, and it's been formatting ever since. It's up to 70% now.