While things could have been worse, August was rather disappointing in terms of employment. There was no job growth that month and the unemployment rate was 9.1%. On the positive side, at least the economy did not sink even deeper into the pit.
On obvious point of concern is the cause (or causes) of this problem. Going back a bit in time, the folks who wrecked the economy with their financial misdeeds would seem to bear a considerable amount of blame. Of course, some of the damage that was done was caused by actions that, at the time, were actually expanding the economy in some ways. However, this expansion proved to be mostly “air” and not substance-that is, yet another empty bubble.
The blame for the continued unemployment woes cannot be placed entirely on past actions. After all, it seems sensible to believe that some factor or factors are keeping employment from rebounding as well as the profits for companies has rebounded.
Many folks blame Obama. Blaming the President is an old tradition and, of course, the Republicans have been busy trying to convince Americans that Obama is at fault. On the one hand, this can be seen as an unfair charge: while the President has significant powers, control over employment is not one of them. On the other hand, the President can do (or not do) things that would have some impact on employment.
It has been claimed that unemployment is staying high because corporations are burdened by taxes and regulations. As such, Michelle Bachmann has said that she would cut taxes for corporations and get rid of regulation, including the entire EPA. On this view, Obama is an obstacle because he has been unwilling to cut taxes even more and has not dismantled the EPA.
The obvious flaw in this view is that corporations are doing exceptionally well now. They are, in general, enjoying significant profits and executive salaries and bonuses are quite fat. They are not, however,doing much hiring, even though they clearly could be doing so. At the very least, executive salaries and bonuses could be trimmed slightly and the money could be used to hire workers. For example, if a CEO received the average “compensation” of $11 million, s/he could give up $1 million and that would pay for 22 workers at $45,000. True, asking someone to give up 10% of their compensation so 22 people could have jobs might be seen as asking too much. To some, it would make far more sense to fire state employees or cut their salaries and cut programs so that the corporations can pay even less in the way of taxes. After all, those who have less should sacrifice for the good of those who have so much more. Also, some of the state workers who are fired might be hired by the corporations. Or not-perhaps the corporations would simply take the tax cuts and enjoy even larger profits by not hiring people.
To some, it would also make sense to eliminate regulation, such as environmental protection. After all, without such regulations corporations could operate with lower costs and hence make more profits. Naturally, the costs that the companies paid in regards to safety, environmental protection and so on would now be passed on to everyone else (such as the folks who breath the air and drink the water tainted by the coal industry). But, for some folks passing on the costs to those who have less so that those with more can have even more is perfectly sensible. After all, this will create jobs. Or maybe not. Corporations might simply look at their savings and decide to keep the money as profit rather than pay it out in wages. After all, they are doing quite well now and yet not hiring and thus there is no reason to think that if they just had a bit more money that they would suddenly start putting up the help wanted signs.
As such, a large part of the blame for the lack of hiring would seem to rest on the corporations. They could hire people, but chose not to. The talk about taxes and regulations is, rather clearly, a clever ploy to get what they want. While some people argue that we need to make sacrifices to lower corporate taxes and decrease regulations, it seems more reasonable to ask corporations to “sacrifice” a bit and hire people to make money for them.