Friday, October 5, 2012

U.S. Births Have Declined: It Ought to be Cause for Celebration

The news Wednesday that U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row, ought to really have sane and temperate citizens jumping for joy.  However, we must bear in mind that most economists (who based their perception of reality on the Pareto Distribution, e.g.  were not enthralled, with experts calling it "more proof that the weak economy has continued to dampen enthusiasm for having children."

Well, DOH! Who'da thunk? Especially when raising one kid to maturity - say high school graduation age- costs $180,000, and doing it through college is at least $285,000. Of course, parents punched by the recession  - unable to afford Mitt Romney's solution ("Just ask your parents for the money!") can always have Junior or Missy take out students loans and be saddled with their own debt.

But be aware that if Romney somehow manages to get enough dopes to vote for him on Nov. 6th, one of his plans (The Economist, Jan. 14, 2012, p. 25)  is to ensure interest on student private loans is increased to 6%. That means the debt burden will be almost doubled on struggling college grads looking for decent work. WHY would Mitt do such a thing? He needs to find the smackeroos to help pay for his intended $2 trillion bonus for defense (see previous blog). One great way is to obliterate Obama's current (low interest )federal loan program and replace it with a private version gouging college kids and their hard working parents!

(As an aside here, I was astounded this a.m. to see the proportion of military vets who are pro-Romney, to be something like 58% What the hell are these guys drinking? Aren't they aware that another of Romney-Ryan's plans is to "voucherize" the Tricare system - the military counterpart to Medicare? Aren't they aware that it's Obama who's actually done the most to protect Vets' benefits from a repugnant Repug House that intends to carve every bit of 'meat' it can from the federal budget to pave the way for what they all hope are Mitt's monumental tax cuts?)

Anyway, moving on. One may rightly ask why the economists are so fretful about the low birth numbers. Let me remind my readers that 99% of these guys are Neo-liberals, which means keeping labor costs and outlays at a minimum for the long term future. This is because they believe with the fervency of a dogma, that capital is the "liberator" of free markets, not labor. What we do know is that unchecked population in any country creates a vast surplus labor pool, which innately lowers the value of all labor relative to capital in a global economy- and in the country proper. If then millions of new borns are created, added to a nation where 13 million are already unemployed and 24 million under-employed, then problems must arise.

Let's also bear in mind that 100,000 jobs per month need to be created simply to keep pace with population growth, or had up to about two years ago. This is why I computed in an earlier blog that most of the unemployed in 2010 could be directly traced to excess births in the 80s-90s. I estimated also that from 2000-2010 some 100,000 births per month yielded 1.2 million a year, for whom jobs would have to be found in the next decade.  That interval then would deliver 12 million newborns for whom 12 million jobs would have to be created.

Can Romney do that? Doubtful, unless a lot of those newly born then grown up citizens that get sent to new war zones (maybe Iran?) by Romney and perhaps meet their untimely ends, so it limits the number for whom jobs must be found later. Perhaps that's why he wants to pump up defense spending - to wage a shitload of new wars to help trim the work-seeking population numbers.

Another way one can view it is that the $2 trillion Romney's seeking will be used to pump up Army, Navy etc. ranks and numbers by creating more military jobs as the best way out of economic morass. Romney's reasoning may well be:"Hey, I can always create more military jobs! And if I start two new wars a year THAT will drive the congress to agree to give me the $$$"

After all, if ya have new wars, and new war zones, ya gotta have people to fight 'em!

Job problem solved! But didn't Romney and the Repukes always say that "Government doesn't create jobs"? Aren't military - the troops, serving the government? it a private Republican Army?

 In the U.S. then let's get real that increasing births translates to increased numbers of potential workers. The more potential workers that there are, say competing for a dwindling number of GOOD jobs, the more control the CEOs, Vulture Capitalists, bond traders and corporations  have on labor conditions. When the numbers competing for jobs become ridiculous, say  6 or 7 workers for every job, the control magnates and plutocrats can basically dictate whatever conditions they want, including wage increases, health benefits or ....working overtime without pay.

"Now, Billy Bob, we want you to work the next five days OFF the clock!  Also, we are cutting our contributions to your health insurance by one third - so you will have to pick up the slack! Also we are cutting your hourly pay by $1/hour!

And do not give me any sass, boy, because there are TEN people waiting in line to take this job! You can thank the beloved U.S. economists for that, who demanded women give birth to more babies twenty years ago!"

Make believe? A mirage? Hell no! This is exactly the scenario the Neoliberal Overclass wants because it reduces the labor costs the most in favor of the capital they invest. Why more people in this country don't process that, in terms of the birth issue, is beyond me. Why more don't see the declining birth rate as an outright blessing instead of a bane is mystifying.

But....not really. You see in the Neoliberal Economic Empire more babies are seen simply as more "consumers". The more consumers, the more nonsense products can be sold and the higher the GDP - since about 70% of it is supported via consumption. The trouble is, humping PR to future moms to get  them to make babies-consumers makes zero sense unless you also have a way to create jobs in proportion!

If there's no true job creation - other than say the military (where the 'consumers' can actually be killed en masse) then all you've done is create the basis for a vast surplus population of indentured servants or minimum wage slaves.  Is this any way to run a country? It seems the Neoliberals and their high priests believe so!

I don't, which is why I hope Americans - at least most - are intelligent enough not to fall for the economists' hand wringing. Any more than to fall for their "fiscal cliff" hand wringing and bullshit. (Speaking of which, why aren't all the rabid deficit hawks like Peter G. Peterson, former Comptroller General David M. Walker - who's been howling like a banshee for donkeys' years about the deficit as 'a national security problem'-  and Alan Simpson et al screeching to go over the fiscal cliff since it will cut the deficit so neatly and without all the political wrangling?)

But  now the Neolibs assert "there may be a silver lining: The decline in 2011 was just 1 percent — not as sharp a fall-off as the 2 to 3 percent drop seen in other recent years."

Let's hope not, and that the 1 % decline reverts to 2-3% or more this year and hereafter. If not, we can look forward to structural unemployment in the 8-10% range over the long haul, actually indefinitely. Or at least until the Repuke congress allows more job creation, especially via government -based infrastructure replacement and construction.

Meanwhile, according to Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization:

“It may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end,”

Possibly. But let's hope that the decline in U.S. births isn't. For our future jobs outlook!

On a happy note: The Jobs Report released today showed a 7.8% unemployment while the Neolib economists had forecast 8.2%. This is GREAT news for the Obama team as it shows unemployment now down below 8% and just before the election. While only 114,000 new jobs were added, Jim Cramer - the finance wonk on CNBC, attributed it to corporations still sititng on trillions and looking at the "fiscal cliff". Once we go over that "cliff" and everyone knows the score and that $500 billion will automatically be cut from the deficit so many have their panties in a wad about, we ought to be ok. Unless they can find yet another reason to hoard money. Maybe waiting for a long shot Romney win and installation of his $5 trillion in tax cuts?

Question then is: Which Mitt you gonna believe? The guy who's been pushing these tax cuts all year, or the 'pod person' imitation Mitt that showed up at the debate?

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