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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
Don't Lower Your Guard

The Job Report Mirage

by BOB HALL

I just ran for an hour wearing gym shorts in 14 degree weather.  Figured it would cool me off so’s I wouldn’t sit down to my laptop and start cussin’ a blue streak.

The Wall Street-Washington media multinationals can’t stop crowing about Friday’s 7% (U-3) unemployment report.  I love hearing, over and over and over again, how the economy is now so strong we gained 203,000 jobs in November — 27,000 in American manufacturing alone.

Now I ask you: what kind of person would repeat a story like this, much less believe a story like this?  Even more shameful: the very same November unemployment report included the unadjusted figures showing that we lost 3,000 jobs in American manufacturing last month.  (Good grief, we lost 7,800 jobs in food manufacturing.)  The jobs gain was in retail — 471,000 — but these are typically low-wage, part-time, and gone after Christmas.  Retail trade means foreign-made goods, mostly, anyhow.

A few things come to mind:

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” someone once said, and this is very good to remember.  I want to add that freedom, most importantly in the American context, is the exercise of responsibility over one’s existence — but this might leave me trapped having said that freedom and eternal vigilance are the same thing.

Hmmm. . . .

Also — back to the unemployment report, believe it or not — no matter what happens or who’s supposedly at the helm, our Nation’s central bank will do anything not to lose face.

It will be interesting to watch this play out:

Last month, former Federal Reserve official Andrew Huszar challenged the Fed with an insider’s “confession” in The Wall Street Journal (is this suspicious?) but his article was otherwise ignored by the media multinationals save Bloomberg, which treated Huszar with ridiculous sarcasm.

The Fed has tied its QE stimulus — “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time,” in Huszar’s words — and “highly accommodative stance” (Fed’s words) to unemployment, with a target U-3 rate of 6.5%.  The Fed claims to be doing all this for the folks on Main Street.

After Huszar’s “confession” came a sharp drop in U-3 unemployment.  With the sharp drop in unemployment came renewed appreciation for the Fed’s wisdom and speculation about the future of QE stimulus now that the American economy can stand on its own feet — so the multinational media mania goes.

I don’t know exactly what will happen when, but I am predicting it won’t be good for our country.

Please:

Don’t let them lull you into a false sense of security — or anything.  Now is not a good time to lower your guard.

Bob Hall can be reached at: dollartothegiant@gmail.com.