Our Common Good
In an election focused on jobs, President Barack Obama can boast of crossing one milestone: the longest stretch of employment gains in manufacturing in almost two decades.

In fact, Ohio might look very different today had Obama not acted early in his presidency. During those first few months, as economists openly debated the prospects for a global depression, the American economy was contracting at an alarming rate of more than 6 percent, and the administration was watching some 600,000 jobs a month vanish. As global demand fell and employers flailed, the demand for public assistance, mostly in the form of unemployment insurance and Medicaid, soared. Municipalities, watching their tax revenue shrink, were looking at huge cutbacks in schools and essential services. The panoply of economic and social curses that can result from such a cycle — more foreclosures, more crime, more untreated illnesses — can send states and cities tumbling for decades. If you need proof, go visit Detroit.

Obama’s first remedy of choice, the stimulus package worth more than $800 billion, remains unpopular. This is partly because three years later, the stimulus doesn’t really seem to have stimulated much real growth. But it’s also because a lot of the short-term assistance that came to states during that time wasn’t really visible to the public; it was used to maintain existing commitments to social programs and capital projects, the kinds of things that would have been noticed only had they suddenly disappeared — which could well have happened without federal intervention. According to figures kept by the administration, Ohio received some $3.5 billion in additional Medicaid payments, and more than 860,000 residents received expanded unemployment benefits. In addition, Ohio claimed about $8.8 billion for other projects, including public school systems, roadwork and police departments. It stands to reason that Ohioans, who make up about 4 percent of the country, received about that proportion of nearly $540 billion in tax breaks and income subsidies. If the Recovery Act didn’t turn things around in Ohio, it surely kept things from getting markedly worse.

justinspoliticalcorner:

Accepting his party’s renomination for president at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, Barack Obama zeroed in on the top policy goals he will seek to accomplish in a second term.

The Obama campaign issued a white paper sketching out — in some areas ambiguously — the policy prescriptions for a total of nine ambitious goals, three of which the document prioritized.

1) Create one million manufacturing jobs over the next four years

Obama aims to accomplish this by pushing for comprehensive tax reform that includes lower rates on domestic manufacturers and an additional credit for businesses that return jobs to the United States. The plan would enhance job training by investing in community colleges and aid for students. The money spent would be recovered by closing tax loopholes elsewhere.

2) Cut oil imports in half by 2020

Obama’s new energy policy would enhance oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic by easing up the leasing and review process. It involves doubling fuel efficiency standards, expanding the use of ethanol and biofuels and promoting clean energy sources — although the policy paper was light on how.

“If you choose this path,” the president said, “we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.”

“And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet - because climate change is not a hoax.”

3) Halve the growth of college tuition costs over the next decade

Obama says he’ll push to cut the skyrocketing rate of growth of college tuition in half over 10 years — a highly ambitious goal. His administration aims to accomplish this by creating a “Race to the Top-like initiative” to reward states that find ways to reduce tuition costs, promote recognition of transfer credits and strip funding from colleges that “cannot or will not offer students a good value and an affordable price.”

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

The demise of the only company that manufactured a device specially designed to spray fire retardant from the back of U.S. military C-130 cargo planes has some experts worried about the future viability of a program that has helped fight wildfires for 40 years.

The Modular Airborne Firefighting System is a bus-sized device that can be shoved into the belly of a cargo plane and then used to spray retardant, or slurry, at 3,000 gallons in less than 5 seconds. The $4.9 million device’s only manufacturer, Sacramento, Calif.-based Aero Union, went out of business in August, and no other company has replaced it. Critical spare parts also are no longer being made.

randomactsofchaos:

paxamericana:

Would you guess that this average looking manufacturer is fueled almost entirely by prison labor? 

Prison Labor in US - Unicor, the Hidden Face of  Federal Commerce

randomactsofchaos:

paxamericana:

Would you guess that this average looking manufacturer is fueled almost entirely by prison labor? 

Prison Labor in US - Unicor, the Hidden Face of  Federal Commerce

Carrick: Nobody expects a hospital to take someone just out of high school or just out of college and train them to be a nurse or a doctor. Why is it that manufacturing are the ones that are expected to do all the training of their workers on their own?

Gardner Carrick of the Manufacturing Institute, interviewed in a story this evening on Marketplace.

It just goes to show that Elizabeth Warren is right:  NOBODY gets rich all on their own-some. Manufacturers need workers with special skills, but can’t afford to train each worker from scratch. That’s what schools (traditionally funded by we the people) are for. 

(via shiracoffee)

When I look at Kickstarter, I see small businesses that have been funded by their customers. I see the acceleration of this shift away from the industrial manufacturing ideology to more of a maker economy. And I also see an idea so powerful that the company name has become a verb.

The Obama administration, which regularly champions America’s clean energy industry, has delivered modest support for home-grown solar panel makers complaining of unfair competition from China

In a much-anticipated decision, the commerce department on Tuesday said it would impose tariffs of 2.9% to 4.73% on Chinese-made solar panels, after finding the Beijing government was providing illegal subsidies to manufacturers.

The commerce department could impose heavier penalties in May, when it is due to decide whether China is dumping solar panels at prices below their actual cost.

But Tuesday’s move did not suggest the Obama adminstration is willing to risk a trade war with China in support of struggling solar panel manufacturers.

climateadaptation:

This terribly reported and frankly lazily written article shows that old-dog journalists are not only out of touch with readers, they have utterly lost their way. The story should be about the United States’ first wind turbine testing facility. Here’s a video. Here are photos of the facility’s ribbon cutting, with none other than Deval Patrick (Obama’s friggin reelection campaign co-chair) and other state politicians and leaders.
The facility will save millions of dollars for wind turbine manufacturers in the US. MILLIONS. Like an airplane wing, wind turbine blades have to be stress-tested in wind tunnels. The only viable tunnels for stress testing are in Europe. So, a US manufacturer would have to ship their blades - by boat, then rail - to Denmark or Germany for testing.
This is the first and only wind turbine testing facility in the United States. THAT’S HUGE NEWS!
Read the article - did the above come through? No. But, you do get to hear some random critics’ opinions without the reporter questioning, challenging, researching, or cross-referencing to their claims - or stating their relevance to the story (aka “the other side” - you know, to “balance” the article. Bullshit).
This so-called “balanced reporting” methodology is a trend that started in the ’90s and for cry-eye it has to stop! Report the f&cking story. Stop giving the mic to any Joe-blow opposition to fill requisite space because yrr too darn lazy to dig deep.
I love my home state, but that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to read garbage articles on important issues that affect the entire fucking country’s economy. Manufacturing is down. And this early-home-run project adds to the nation’s upswing (hint: that’s the nut, Globers).
This story demonstrates why I’m increasingly turning to the hotties at Los Angeles Times (great tumblr!), Reuters, Slate, Al Jazeera, and even the stodgy The Hill.
Anyway, read the story below if you can bear it… </rant>
boston:

Harnessing the winds of change 
- The sprawling Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown aims to help the wind industry develop turbines better able to survive blizzards and other tests of nature.

climateadaptation:

This terribly reported and frankly lazily written article shows that old-dog journalists are not only out of touch with readers, they have utterly lost their way. The story should be about the United States’ first wind turbine testing facility. Here’s a video. Here are photos of the facility’s ribbon cutting, with none other than Deval Patrick (Obama’s friggin reelection campaign co-chair) and other state politicians and leaders.

The facility will save millions of dollars for wind turbine manufacturers in the US. MILLIONS. Like an airplane wing, wind turbine blades have to be stress-tested in wind tunnels. The only viable tunnels for stress testing are in Europe. So, a US manufacturer would have to ship their blades - by boat, then rail - to Denmark or Germany for testing.

This is the first and only wind turbine testing facility in the United States. THAT’S HUGE NEWS!

Read the article - did the above come through? No. But, you do get to hear some random critics’ opinions without the reporter questioning, challenging, researching, or cross-referencing to their claims - or stating their relevance to the story (aka “the other side” - you know, to “balance” the article. Bullshit).

This so-called “balanced reporting” methodology is a trend that started in the ’90s and for cry-eye it has to stop! Report the f&cking story. Stop giving the mic to any Joe-blow opposition to fill requisite space because yrr too darn lazy to dig deep.

I love my home state, but that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to read garbage articles on important issues that affect the entire fucking country’s economy. Manufacturing is down. And this early-home-run project adds to the nation’s upswing (hint: that’s the nut, Globers).

This story demonstrates why I’m increasingly turning to the hotties at Los Angeles Times (great tumblr!), Reuters, Slate, Al Jazeera, and even the stodgy The Hill.

Anyway, read the story below if you can bear it… </rant>

boston:

Harnessing the winds of change

- The sprawling Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown aims to help the wind industry develop turbines better able to survive blizzards and other tests of nature.

Lack of a public policy on manufacturing is the main obstacle to a vibrant factory sector in the United States, according to a study which also dismissed the notion that high wages are frustrating growth.

anticapitalist:

A 12-hour occupation by workers at a Chicago factory on February 23 won an agreement that will save workers’ jobs for at least three months so they can seek other ways to keep their plant open and producing.

The factory on the northwest side of the city is the former Republic Windows & Doors plant, where union members occupied for a week in December 2008 after the previous owners and their financial backers, Bank of America, announced without warning that the factory was closing.

That struggle electrified the local and national labor movement, causing an outpouring of solidarity that stunned the bosses and bankers. After six days of the occupation, management caved. A new owner who promised to continue operations took over, and the Republic factory became Serious Energy.

On Thursday afternoon, the same workers whose courage three years ago inspired people around the country again heard that the next day would be their last day of work. They again turned to the tactic of the great labor struggles of the 1930s and occupied the factory.

But this time, they won a concession that saves their jobs for now before the dawn of the next day. Around 2 a.m.—with snow flurries starting to fall that brought back memories of the 2008 occupation—the 60 members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110 who remained inside the plant proudly marched out, fists held high, after an agreement was reached.

UE Local 1110 President Armando Robles, who led the 2008 occupation, told the crowd of supporters who assembled as soon as they heard about the new takeover: “We got more than we expected. Now we have 90 days to work and try to get somebody else to buy the company, with the possibility of the workers run it under our own banner.

LIKE A BOSS

thedailyfeed:

Last week we told you about America’s most unequal city, Bridgeport, Connecticut. This week, we’re taking you to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the most equal city in America. Benjamin Carlson reports:

Residents say the city reminds them of how America used to be, when there was no such thing as a “middle-class crisis.”
 “I guess I am not real surprised,” wrote Helene Capizzi of the Sheboygan Public Library in an email to The Daily. “Sheboygan reminds me a lot of what it was like to grow up in Milwaukee in the ’60s. We’re always a decade or two behind the trends, but I think that’s what we like!”
 Indeed, visitors to this modest, quaint town might be excused for thinking they stepped out of a time machine from the Eisenhower or Kennedy years. Here, polka bands still draw crowds in the summer, parents safely let their kids roam unsupervised and busy manufacturers keep pumping out goods proudly “made in the USA.”
While employment in the relatively well-paying manufacturing sector has plummeted nationally, now accounting for less than 10 percent of jobs, in Sheboygan, one-third of workers hold jobs with manufacturing firms that produce everything from plastic wares to shower heads for luxury spas.

thedailyfeed:

Last week we told you about America’s most unequal city, Bridgeport, Connecticut. This week, we’re taking you to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the most equal city in America. Benjamin Carlson reports:

Residents say the city reminds them of how America used to be, when there was no such thing as a “middle-class crisis.”

 “I guess I am not real surprised,” wrote Helene Capizzi of the Sheboygan Public Library in an email to The Daily. “Sheboygan reminds me a lot of what it was like to grow up in Milwaukee in the ’60s. We’re always a decade or two behind the trends, but I think that’s what we like!”

 Indeed, visitors to this modest, quaint town might be excused for thinking they stepped out of a time machine from the Eisenhower or Kennedy years. Here, polka bands still draw crowds in the summer, parents safely let their kids roam unsupervised and busy manufacturers keep pumping out goods proudly “made in the USA.”

While employment in the relatively well-paying manufacturing sector has plummeted nationally, now accounting for less than 10 percent of jobs, in Sheboygan, one-third of workers hold jobs with manufacturing firms that produce everything from plastic wares to shower heads for luxury spas.

takeactionunite:

Reminiscing…

Miss that label.

takeactionunite:

Reminiscing…

Miss that label.