Sunday, October 31, 2010

$80 Billion on Intelligence and $43 on homeland security

The Washington post reported that the government spent $80 billion on intelligence activities in fiscal 2010 which ended in September 2010. The amount consisted of $53 billion for the CIA and other intelligences agencies that report to the director of national intelligence and $27 Billion for military intelligence. An additional $43 billion was spent on Homeland security and $49 million was spent on state department operations.

Last years budget was $75 Billion and national intelligence was $49.5 million. The amount was double what was spent in 2001. In 2001 the amount was approximately $40 billion.

In the important Washington Post series, "Top Secret America", Robert M. Gates, Secretary of defense, said that a review of intelligence spending is necessary.

The Evil Black Economist want to make several points.

1) First, I am glad, under the leadership of President Obama, the military and CIA are releasing their spending figures. Now we can have an honest discussion of what we are spending the money on and what is the right level of spending for whatever we are buying.

2) The amount of spending is way out of proportion to the amount of safety and counter terrorism we are buying. And some of the counter terrorism money is mis-directed. Terrorism is a long term human development problem best countered with jobs and education not necessarily with counter terrorism spending.

3) The Intelligence - Security complex is one of the few area's were very little is actually produced. The program is a huge middle and upper middle class jobs program. It is time to monitor, measure and streamline the intelligence community.

4) It is also sad how small the minority participation in the intelligence spending establishment. Blacks and Hispanics are few and far between at major firms or as contractors. The IS community is a "good-old boys" network loaded with republican donors and hand shakers.

It is time to open up intelligence spending for the larger benefit of all.

PS. One department doing quite well in minority hiring is the TSA, which employs large numbers of minorities and women. It is also the lowest paying branch of Home land security.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Industry Salaries

I am not sure what is going on but industry salaries are still way to high. I work in computers and I am listening to a cubicle conversation. There is one lady here who has no secrets. She blabs everything. I am bad but this lady has diareaha of the mouth. Anyway, I am not sure of her positon, but she has not reports and appears to be a team member of an IT team. Yet, she has stock options, owns horses, a $600K house and drink fine wine. Wine that is way north of $50 dollars a bottle. What the heck ??

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dangerous times in the United Kingdom

I think the NY Times spurs one to write. Today's editorial on the insane government fiscal policy in the UK requires discussion. Britain is playing with one of the economic stabilizers that automatically bring countries out of recessions. England is planning to cut up to 20% from certain departments over a 5 years. They will lay off close to 400,000 government workers.

The plan is close to reckless in a recession. Any reduction in spending during a recession is dangerous enough, but a 20% decrease is insane. The government also believes the private sector will pick up the differences in job losses from government cuts. This radical switch in policy counts on consumer demand and increased private investment. However, job and unemployment insurance cuts scare consumers. And corporations have shown a reluctance to invest. Big companies pay can borrow at a near zero interest rate. They also are sitting on record profits, yet they do not invest in creating jobs.

What should Britain do ? Apply a little of the usual common sense. (0) Flatten government growth. (1) Gradually cut spend and the deficit at a rate that roughly matches the countries growth rate. A cut little above the rate for the conservatives. (2) Increase the efficiency of government. (3) Better match long term job openings with worker skills.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unemployment Rate Stays High and Static

October 8th, 2010. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment stayed the same: 9.6% of the civilian labor force is unemployed. The unemployment rage for all major sub-groups was also static: adult men (9.8), adult women (8.0), teenagers (26.0), whites (8.7), Blacks (16.1)and Hispanics showed little or no change.

The report was completely flat in almost every category for both household and establishment data. Absolutely no short-term news here.

The long term unemployed stood at 6.1 million (those who are looking more than 26 weeks). Forty-two percent of all unemployed were part of the long term unemployed.

The civilian labor participation rate was 64.7% and the employment to population ratio remained at 58.5

In more troubling news, people working part-time for involuntary reasons jump 600K to 9.5 million. These are people who want to work full time but cannot find a full-time gig.

Marginally attached workers climbed to 2.5 million from 2.2 million a year earlier. And discouraged workers jump to 1.2 MM from 0.5 mm a year ago.

Non-farm payroll moved up 64,000 positions but was erased by a 76,000 decrease in local government jobs. Employment in manufacturing was flat and construction dropped 21K.

The average work week stayed at 34.2 hours and wages increased 1 cent to $22.67.

Both July and August Non-farm payroll number were revised downward.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Soft hards and Easy jobs

Someone told me I have "soft hands" and that I have not done a hard days worth of work in my life. Well I do work hard, just not with my hands. Everyone wants a nice, cushy job sitting in a cool/warn office and typing on a computer. It looks like an easy job. And it is an easy job compared to how jobs used to be.

We cannot imaging what is was like to pick cotton or oranges by the pound, work on an assembly or in mine digging coal or on the railroad tracks as a "gandy dancer" (maintenance worker). Old jobs were hard, dirty, sweaty and paid crap.

It turns out that almost all jobs are easy now. Government regualtions, power equipment, and cheap motive power have turned may hard jobs into easy ones. Tell me how skinny people you see at a construction site these days. Even day laborers have add some pounds from when the arrived in the US.

Today, every job is an easy job compared to how things used to be. Every job has safety regulations, breaks, decent pay and very little heavy lifting. Jobs where you directly handle the product are rare. Jobs where you really work hard are even rarer.

Look at the size and shape of the avverage construction work, wherehouse employee or maintenance work. Not to many skinny people are there ?? If fact I think the best all around job from a fitness point of view is postal worker or UPS delivery truck drive, but that is for another post.

Yet, we as Black people, have been condition to look down on contstruction, building trades, engineering, maintenance work and delivery person. There are all good paying jobs which are now "easy" jobs. It is all in how define what an easy job is. There are lot's of other easy jobs as well where you still work with your hands and make good money.

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