Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Double-Dip Nonsense

Excuses for a Pathetic Recovery

by DEAN BAKER

The September jobs report showed that the U.S. economy created just 103,000 jobs in the month, 45,000 of which were the jobs of Verizon workers who were returning from a strike in August. The economy has created 99,000 jobs a month over the last three months, about 9,000 more than it needs to keep pace with the growth of labor force. At this pace, it will be around 80 years until the economy gets back to normal levels of unemployment.

Nonetheless, the news accounts told the public that the jobs numbers were better than expected. After all, at least the number of jobs is growing; the economy has not sunk back into recession.

Of course slow growth is better than a recession. But this is like saying that we are better off with one major hurricane hitting the East Coast than two. This is true, but why would we expect that two major hurricanes would hit the East Coast in the same year?

This is the same logic with the double-dip recession story. In the last several months many economic analysts have been running around with scary stories about a double-dip recession. While the stories were scary, they never made much sense.

Every recession that the United States has had since the Great Depression has been triggered by a plunge in housing and car sales. It is very difficult to imagine sharp falls in either of these sectors at this point primarily because current sales levels are already very low. At worst, we could see a modest downturn in one or both sectors which would have a limited impact on the economy.

By contrast, other sectors of the economy are growing, albeit very modestly. Consumption, which is 70 percent of GDP looks to be on a 2-3 percent growth path over the second half of 2011. Investment in equipment and software is likely to grow at close to a 10 percent annual rate. Government is shrinking, but only at 1-2 percent annual rate. This slows growth, but since this sector is only 20 percent of GDP, the shrinkage in government is not nearly large enough to turn GDP negative.

With one exception, there really is not a plausible story whereby the U.S. economy goes into a second recession. The exception of course is the meltdown of the Eurozone from a disorderly default of one or more of the heavily indebted countries. However, this outcome will be determined by the greed and ineptitude of the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European commission, the troika managing negotiations with the debt-troubled governments. The current strength of the U.S. economy has little direct bearing on the willingness and ability of the troika to bring about an orderly resolution of the crisis.

The spread of the double-dip nonsense matters because it provides a backdrop in which politicians and the media can tell us that we somehow should be happy about really bad economic news. By lowering expectations enough, even the pathetic September jobs numbers can be made to look good.

This is not the first time the media has played this game. At the start of the downturn we had any number of political figures and “experts” telling us that we were at risk of a second Great Depression. This line was constantly repeated so that most of the public probably thinks it is true. In fact, Ben Bernanke, who is after Alan Greenspan the person most responsible for the economy’s collapse, was actually named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, precisely because he prevented a second Great Depression. Of course he also prevented a return of the Black Death.

In reality, we never had any reason to fear a second Great Depression. The first Great Depression was caused not just by mistakes in responding to the financial crises at its onset, but also by the failure to provide a sufficient boost to demand to get the economy back on its feet again. The massive stimulus due to World War II that finally restored the economy to full employment could have just as easily occurred in 1931 as 1941, if there had been the political will.

There is nothing magical about spending on war that generates jobs. Spending of the same size on public works, public education, and public health would have had the same effect.  We know this now, which is why there was never any reason to think that a bad turn of events in the 2008 financial crisis would have condemned us to a decade of double-digit unemployment.

Political figures routinely use the media to create absurdly bad counterfactuals so that their actual performance will look good by comparison. Economics reporters should know how to evaluate arguments so that they don’t pass along these nonsense counterfactuals to the public. They should also not make a point of relying almost exclusively on economic experts who end up being wrong on almost everything.

Unfortunately, we are far from that point today. As a result, people will have to do their own homework to recognize that the September jobs numbers really were awful and that they should be very angry at politicians who refuse to do anything to boost the economy.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy . He also has a blog, ” Beat the Press ,” where he discusses the media’s coverage of economic issues.

A  version of this article was published by The Guardian.