The Myth Of Structural Unemployment

Paul Krugman ably tackles the issue:

[W]hat should we be seeing if [structural unemployment existed]? The answer is, there should be significant labor shortages somewhere in America major industries that are trying to expand but are having trouble hiring, major classes of workers who find their skills in great demand, major parts of the country with low unemployment even as the rest of the nation suffers. None of these things exist.

Let me add a common sense observation - in September 2008, the unemployment rate, after a steady rise, was 6.1%. In August 2009, just a year later, the unemployment rate was 9.8%. To believe that this rise was a result of structural unemployment is to accept that the American economy became completely dislocated in terms of its labor market in just 12 months. The precipitous drop in demand and the financial meltdown were not the cause in the rise in unemployment but merely the result of structural unemployment. This would be an event without precedent in economic history. It simply is false.

Speaking for me only

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    Well..... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 10:59:57 AM EST
    The financial meltdown might be one of the causes of a sharp rise in unemployment among Democratic politicians this November...

    The propect of future unemployment and (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:17:09 AM EST
    their reluctance to let the tax breaks for their rich corporate friends expire are interrelated IMO. Got to keep those opportunities for lucrative jobs open.

    But that would mean (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:24:53 AM EST
    that... that... they are corrupt and should be fired so they can become lobbyists where they can write legislation that will actually pass? So we won't hear any more of the "we don't have the votes" BS from them? ;-)

    We will never get away from having (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:29:54 AM EST
    to listen to their BS. They will become members of the "very serious people" we see on TV or see quoted in the papers. Depressing, no?

    What's TV? ;-) (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:33:11 AM EST
    I got rid of my last one so many years ago I can barely remember what it was like.

    I actually cringed (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by andgarden on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:54:24 AM EST
    when I heard Bill C. say what he said on Letterman. I has been reading my Krugman.

    There is some truth (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by NYShooter on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 10:21:58 PM EST
    to all these statements, whether inability to relocate or lacking in required job skills.

    Bill gates has been preaching forever that it's a crying shame that tech companies like Microsoft have to go outside the country to find qualified system engineers, designers, programmers, etc. It used to be that foreigners came here, got their degrees, and then decided to stay for all the other benefits America offered.

    Now, they still come and get their educations here but then go back to their own countries as those governments have developed more enlightened policies.

    And not to be discounted (as some here have pointed out) why become an engineer for $65,000 per year when the same four years of college can net you $650,000 on Wall St?

    Krugman is partially right (none / 0) (#2)
    by Buckeye on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:15:01 AM EST
    and partially wrong.  Construction fell off a cliff in the last two years (about 3 million unemployed) and they are not coming back.  In every city there are vacant commercial properties, office parks with empty space, shopping malls with empty space, and over a year of inventory of residential homes.  The construction business has not even bottomed yet when you consider shadow inventory.  Construction must bottom, then the excess inventory must work itself out, then grow again at a sustainable 2-3% to get back to 2007 employment.  That could be 5, 10, 15, 20? years.  By the time construction regains 2007 levels of activity, the unemployed skills will be so fossilized they will have a hard time getting rehired.  Construction jobs are also high payed, highly skilled jobs that are not easily transferrable.  The same can be said of real estate jobs (agents, brokers, etc.).  These jobs are gone and they are not coming back for a while.

    There is also good analysis available showing the lack of mobility of the workforce contributes to higher unemployment (about a million people).  Real estate, unlike other times in history, is at the heart of this particular downturn.  Real estate debt, unlike other types of debt, anchors people (underwater on mortgages) and they cannot move to find work or accept jobs without a lucrative relo package.  Small business expansion is also hampered by a lack of lending due to real estate.

    I guess it depends on how you define "structural" but the above problems as just a few examples happened over a very short period of time (sharp collapse of mortgage business and lending) and will lead to long term unemployment that is retarding a recovery.  

    Where I agree with Krugman is that does not mean nothing can be done now to help.

    Construction to infrastructure repair... (none / 0) (#4)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:19:16 AM EST
    I wonder how many jobs could transition. Infrastructure is in terrible shape, but funding it? In this climate?

    Sure, but you are talking about government (none / 0) (#6)
    by Buckeye on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:25:37 AM EST
    stimulus spending.  I do not know if the government can replace all those workers for the amount of time needed for a full recovery to occur in construction.  I agree we need an infrastructure overhaul and it would help the unemployed contruction workers.  My point is that it is structural in the sense that we overbuilt and thus overemployed in the biggest construction bubble in history and are going to have highly paid, highly skilled workers unemployed for long periods of time without job training.

    I'd love to see (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:12:53 PM EST
    a multi-year infrastructure stimulus. Given the glut of buildings on the market in certain areas, it becomes a bitter choice for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, steelworkers and other construction and related folks whether to move or not to where there might be jobs. Community colleges need to work quickly to create job-related certificates and fields in areas like paralegal, more nursing, home health care, etc., but institutional inertia freezes a lot. Legislatures aren't willing to put out lots of money for new programs, either.

    Overbuilding occured in some areas, but is it nationwide? Not a rhetorical question, I don't know.


    Multi-year infrastructure stimulus (none / 0) (#17)
    by coast on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:35:36 PM EST
    Isn't that what we basically got with the 2009 stimulus?  Over $100+ billion of the stimulus was allocated to infrastructure.  Only about 1/3 has actually been paid.

    Weak tea... (none / 0) (#23)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:55:23 PM EST
    as far as the infrastructure aspect, and for many many reasons.

    It is what my father did (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:38:07 PM EST
    There have been many building booms and busts.  Those who are devoted to the trade move from new built to maintainence and remodeling.  Due to the unsoundness of building involved in many of the new builds, there is going to be a lot of maintenance and repairing in our future.

    I might complain about how ugly buildings are on the post, but such government structures don't suffer from the same insufficiencies as so much of the new building I saw being done does.  I owe my dad a lot too for teaching me what good bones on a house are.  When we had our house inspected the inspector also commented on how this house has good bones, it will stand the test of time.  Different standards were applied to a lot of the last building craze.  There is going to be a lot of repairs needed.


    Nailed it again, MT (none / 0) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:19:36 PM EST
    I was just reading over the comments above and thinking how nutty it is that there are electricians, plumbers and carpenters unemployed because of the housing construction bust, and yet existing home owners in most areas are screaming for folks to do these repair jobs in their homes, for which you often have to wait weeks and for which you pay a very, very hefty fee.

    Is there some reason construction plumbers, say, are unable to turn around and go into business for themselves as repair/remodel people?

    The plumbing and heating guy I use out here in the country left his employer, a good-sized plumbing and heating business that serves most of the county, and set up on his own a couple years ago.  Within a matter of weeks, he was overwhelmed with work to the point that he hasn't had so much as half a day off since and has trouble getting to routine jobs, like the yearly maintenance on my lightly used oil boiler, though I first called him about it two months ago.

    What am I missing?


    Big difference from being able to drive a nail (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by BTAL on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:57:10 PM EST
    and to drive a business of driving nails.  

    Hear hear (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:06:21 PM EST
    Huge difference, and if your foundation of knowledge is a shakey one....I don't know how you pull that off at all even if you have good business skills.

    Indeed, but I'm talking (none / 0) (#59)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 04:22:33 PM EST
    independent freelance-type self-employed guy who can really deal with, say, toilets or stopped-up sinks or replacing malfunctioning showerhead/water mixers, installing a new water heater, etc.

    Too expensive to do (none / 0) (#60)
    by Cream City on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 04:39:40 PM EST
    in some states.  Both of my stepsons, skilled carpenters and plumbers and electricians, etc., have been unemployed for many months now, laid off by their companies.  Both have been self-employed before but are not able (nor willing to take the major funding from us) to again incur the high costs in both states of licensing/permit/etc. fees for each skill, all of which would be needed to do enough of the work themselves and not have to incur more costs in subcontracting to licensed carpenters or electricians or plumbers, etc. -- or fines if caught.  Nor can they relocate now with other family members to states without such requirements.  

    Of course, now I know the useful info about where not to retire, if I want safe housing.  But now, trying to help both of them as well as my own unemployed and underemployed progeny, retirement may never happen, so the info will go to waste.:-)


    Something I didn't know (none / 0) (#64)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 05:53:00 PM EST
    They worked for the contractors under the contractors' licenses, rather than their own individually?

    I'm a union supporter, but if the fees are so prohibitive, that's just not right, especially when there's a shortage of guys to do home repair work.  The demand is there and the skilled workers are available, but an enormous financial barrier has been put up to keep them from working.

    We don't have that where I am, and in any case, nobody pays much attention to licensing or permitting for home installation and repair work anyway, just for major construction projects.

    Everybody's a do-it-yourselfer around here, so very, very casual about that kind of stuff.


    The company paid the license fee (none / 0) (#74)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 09:08:19 PM EST
    when they worked for the company.  It came out of paychecks, of course, but it was not like the hit of forking over hundreds of dollars for each and every separate license when self-employed, trying to do complete remodels with all of their skills and without subcontracting to licensees.

    It is very strictly regulated and enforced here.  When homeowners sell, work done is reviewed as well as permits.  If permits were not pulled, the homeowner and the worker pay fines.

    Fortunately for us, the out is that permits pulled by licensed workers are not needed when they are in the family!


    Well (none / 0) (#75)
    by Rojas on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 09:55:48 PM EST
    Does the electrician have his masters or is he a journeyman? If a journeyman it makes sense that he would be working under someone else's license because a journeyman can't pull a permit.

    If they pulled the license fee out of his checks the license is paid and he has a number in his name and nobody could take that away. It's just the way that works.

    A carpenter who wants to be a GC typically has a much tougher road. We've thrown a bunch of roadblocks in the way that favor anyone who has been in business for a while no matter what their record.


    Nope, not the way it works (none / 0) (#76)
    by Cream City on Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 04:00:45 PM EST
    but I will not reveal my city to someone whom I do not know.

    As CC correctly notes, it is the combination (none / 0) (#61)
    by BTAL on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 04:54:15 PM EST
    of both the governmental "overhead"; plus the needed business acumen to deal with all the marketing and accounting aspects that most will not possess. Then there is the costs of equipment/tools/insurance/bonds etc. all of which have to be both acquired and managed.

    The plugged toilets or missing shingles are the least of the issues.


    necessary fixes yes, desired one no (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:29:21 PM EST
    not when your home is worth less than your mortgage, not when you cannot get equity loan to finance repairs and maintenance.

    SO yeah, tradesman go into the repair business but demand for repairs is not what it should be due to this housing mess and depressed values.


    When my father was an apprentice (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:32:20 PM EST
    There was a foundation for true skill building for trades people.  We have lost most of that instructing structure. In the last housing boom you often had one skilled laborer tutoring several beginners and there isn't a good solid infrastructure to create confident well educated craftsmen who can easily transition from a blueprint job to repairs, remodeling, and maintenance.  Some of the sharpest workers who believe in and self educate themselves can transition, and then they must find others who they can hire on who can transition too and take the lead on a separate crew or job.  This is one area that we lack education, but we weren't paying the wages either that would support such an infrastructure.  All the big bucks in the housing boom went to the financial industry and the Contractors, not to the small time laborer.  He or she was something to use and discard.

    I can't say that's a problem... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:33:17 PM EST
    in the NY metro market...radio ads non-stop for p&h repair outfits and the like...not to mention all the "work wanted" ads for handymen in the Pennysaver, or the bulletin board at the laundromat.  My bro just had some new sheetrock work done and he had 3 guys quote him and offer to match any price.

    Is there really a shortage of repair/remodeling contractors in some areas?  I know it's not a popular line of work for todays youth (thats why I keep tellin' my nephew if he can't pick a profession go with a trade, don't be stuck in a "job", profession or trade!), but with new construction at a standstill I woulda thought skilled tradespeople would be chasing every repair and remodel job out there...not that anybody can afford to remodel:)

    I must be missing the same thing you're missing G...if you can build you can repair/remodel...not to say there isn't unique expertise to repair work, but when the going gets tough you go outside your specific area of expertise.


    Some people do (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:46:16 PM EST
    Most people need more mentoring and more social interaction and nurture getting where they go than you and I do.  I spent my babyhood understanding that rules were made by nothing greater than other babies.  We are a small fraction of the population though that is comfy with such knowledge.  Most people need more social approval getting from point A to point B.  We are social creatures first.

    Different skill set (none / 0) (#42)
    by Rojas on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:25:44 PM EST
    Consider that new construction HVAC may have two or three different subcontractors doing different phases of the install and a one guy with a slightly larger skill set doing start up and trouble shooting.

    The same holds for most of the other trades.

    The skill set for the general contractor is quite a bit different as well.


    I think what you're missing is that (none / 0) (#63)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 05:13:19 PM EST
    your P&H guy is an anomaly.

    For years there was lots of work in new construction AND repair and maintenance. Now, there's very little new construction and basically the same amount of maintenance as before.

    ie, less work and therefore lots of unemployed electricians, plumbers and carpenters because of the housing bust.


    Infrastructure (none / 0) (#52)
    by CST on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:37:44 PM EST
    is definitely an area where improvements are needed.  The problem is really vast, it's very expensive, and in some cases the motive just isn't there.

    For example, in addition to the fact that highways are literally falling apart, so is our sewer and water system.  However, a highway collapse where people might die, is a much scarier boogeyman than say a leaking sewer drain.  Sure you might have cr@p in the water, but it costs so much to fix and there is very little immediate incentive to spend that money.

    And with both highways and sewers I think another issue is simply the scale of the problem.  Most of them were built around the same time, so they're all falling apart at the same time as well.

    So yes, I agree with you that the political will for the funding is just not there.  And anyone who thought that $100 billion was going to solve all these problems has no concept of the scale of the issue.

    Consider, the "Big Dig" cost over $20 billion dollars from start to finish, and that's one highway.  Granted, it's one new highway, built under extremely difficult circumstances, with significant cost overruns, but that still amounts to over 20% of the total Stimulus package that was spent in one relatively small area (Stimulus funds were not used on the big dig).


    Don't forget gas line explosion in (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 04:17:37 PM EST
    San Bruno.  That particular line was on the utility company's "list."

    An expose of the... (none / 0) (#62)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 05:05:22 PM EST
    wastewater treatment plant here on LI was scary...place is fallin' apart.

    But we are lost...we need revolutionary reprioritization & reform of societal spending, allocating, distributing, investing, taxing...sh*t everything.  Or we will literally be arresting people for non-violent non-crimes up to our ankles in sh*t, and the infection won't be covered by our healthplans.

    I try not to think about it:)


    structural unemployment (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 11:37:20 AM EST

    High cost governments in Europe routinely have 10% or so unemployment.   Structural unemployment if you will.  We have moved closer to that high cost model, so the resulting unemployment rate moving closer should not be a surprise.

    Unemployed Presidents (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jacob Freeze on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:06:41 PM EST
    Bill Clinton is prominently quoted in Paul Krugman's recent column about structural unemployment., which Big Tent Democrat links above.

    For example, former President Bill Clinton recently told an interviewer that unemployment remained high because "people don't have the job skills for the jobs that are open."

    Krugman refutes this nonsense in one line.

    Unemployment has surged in every major occupational category.

    So there is no category of "job skills" that would equip millions of workers for millions of jobs that don't exist.

    But debating sold-out hures like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama about public policy is beside the point.

    Neither of those narcissists ever gave a damn about the public, and the bottom line was always "What's good for me is good enough for the country."

    Since Bill Clinton left the White House, he has collected more than $100 million in deferred bribes from his grateful corporate clientele, after eight years of nonstop de-regulation and runaway mergers and acquisitions.

    More than $100 million in earnings!

    And the really important question isn't "How did he "earn" all all the money?"

    The really important question is "When did he earn it?"

    And it should be obvious even to a hockey-puck that Bill Clinton earned all that money in the White House, and his fantastic income is nothing but a huge deferred bribe.

    So if you want to impress Barack Obama...

    If you want Barack Obama to take an interest in the public good instead of always and only what's good for Barack Obama...

    Forget about Krugman's arguments and any other variety of "public policy debate," because all of it would pass right through Obama's empty head like static on a radio, and instead of debating, slam Bill Clinton into prison for public corruption.

    Send Obama this message!

    "If you ever collect a dime from your corporate buddies, you're going to prison, sucker!"

    "You're working for us now, you're working for the public from now on, or you're working for nobody!"

    And Jacob Freeze is really mad (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:22:19 PM EST
    A lot of people are.  I can't blame them.

    Excellent post, extremely smart analysis (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Yes2Truth on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:37:06 PM EST

    "Deferred bribes".  I've never heard it put that way before.  You are a unique, original THINKer.



    Cheney was smarter, got his up front (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:35:18 PM EST
    from Halliburton, $36 MM parachute when he chose himself to be VP and acting President. The man's election was not even certain and he had yet to deliver anything.  Oh but once in office he sure as Hell did. How do you spell n-o b-i-d contract, worth  b-i-l-l-i-o-n-s.

    I bet Bill whistled in amazed appreciation.  He could have died in office and missed out on the deferred payments, or been impeached AND removed.


    good lord (none / 0) (#14)
    by smott on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:20:36 PM EST
    So many accusations, ... (none / 0) (#65)
    by Yman on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 05:54:46 PM EST
    ... so little facts or evidence.

    Res ipsa loquitur! (none / 0) (#67)
    by Jacob Freeze on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 08:00:25 PM EST
    When a public official leaves office and immediately collects huge sums of money from entities he benefitted while in office...

    Res ipsa loquitur!

    And for another obscene example from the other side of the aisle, consider Phil Gramm, who reversed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 with Gramm-Leach-Bliley and introduced us to the joys of global financial meltdown with his proud sponsorship of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, both bills signed by Bill Clinton, and both of them very lucrative for international banks but poisonouis for the rest of us.

    And now...

    As of 2009, Gramm is employed by UBS AG as a Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank division. UBS.com states that a Vice Chairman of a UBS division is "...appointed to support the business in their relationships with key clients." He joined UBS in 2002 immediately after retiring from the Senate.

    Res ipsa loquitur!

    Phil Gramm should be rotting in jail for the rest of his miserable life, but instead he's collecting millions of dollars (or euros) in deferred bribes.

    Enough is enough!

    Res ipsa loquitur!

    Every public official who ever takes money from any entity he benefitted while in public office should go directly to jail!

    No more deferred bribes!


    Uhhh, ....... yeah ..... (none / 0) (#68)
    by Yman on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 08:24:46 PM EST
    .... good luck with that.

    BTW - Nice Latin, but you may want to learn the actual meaning of the phrase before you use it in a legal context.  "Res Ipsa Loquitor" (literally "The thing speaks for itself") doesn't apply.  First of all, the "thing" (making lots of money after leaving office) doesn't speak for itself.  Just as importantly, res ipsa is a legal concept which permits the creation of a rebuttable presumption or inference that the defendant was negligent, provided several conditions are met.  It applies in civil/tort matters, not criminal cases, and it merely allows an inference that a civil defendant was negligent, not that a criminal defendant had the requisite mens rea (See?  More Latin!) to commit any crime; certainly not the specific intent required to sustain bribery charges.  But hey, ...

    ... sounds better than "I have zero evidence, but I know it in my gut".

    "A" for effort, though .... and excitability ....... and repetition ..... and exclamation points!!!


    Thanks for your silly "correction" (none / 0) (#70)
    by Jacob Freeze on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 10:44:58 PM EST
    "Res Ipsa Loquitor" (literally "The thing speaks for itself") doesn't apply.


    You can't even spell the phrase you're trying to "correct," you condescending putz!"

    But since you're pretending to know more Latin than you know, you might as well pretend to understand the original source, too.

    Video adhuc constare, iudices, omnia:--Miloni etiam utile fuisse Clodium vivere, illi ad ea quae concupierat optatissimum interitum Milonis; odium fuisse illius in hunc acerbissimum, nullum huius in illum; consuetudinem illius perpetuam in vi inferenda, huius tantum in repellenda; 52. mortem ab illo denuntiatam Miloni et praedicatam palam, nihil umquam auditum ex Milone; profectionis huius diem illi notum, reditus illius huic ignotum fuisse; huius iter necessarium, illius etiam potius alienum; hunc prae se tulisse illo die Roma exiturum, illum eo die se dissimulasse rediturum; hunc nullius rei mutasse consilium, illum causam mutandi consili finxisse; huic, si insidiaretur, noctem prope urbem exspectandam, illi, etiam si hunc non timeret, tamen accessum ad urbem nocturnum fuisse metuendum.

    Videamus nunc (id quod caput est) locus ad insidias ille ipse, ubi congressi sunt, utri tandem fuerit aptior. Id vero, iudices, etiam dubitandum et diutius cogitandum est? Ante fundum Clodi, quo in fundo propter insanas illas substructiones facile hominum mille versabantur valentium, edito adversari atque excelso loco, superiorem se fore putarat Milo, et ob eam rem eum locum ad pugnam potissimum elegerat? an in eo loco est potius exspectatus ab eo qui ipsius loci spe facere impetum cogitarat? Res loquitur ipsa, iudices, quae semper valet plurimum.

    As I'm sure a brilliant pig-Latinist like "Yman" can understand, Cicero was talking about an ambush obviously planned by one of two parties in a violent altercation on a Roman road. The question of "negligence" doesn't enter into it.

    And although it's true that a slight inversion of Cicero's phrase "res loquitur ipsa" has figured almost exclusively in cases of negligence ever since Byrne v. Boadle, it's also true that someone who can actually read Latin might apply the same idea to deferred bribes, where no principle of law whatsoever is currently applied.

    In Byrne v. Boadle a barrel of flour from the defendant's warehouse fell on the plaintiff's head, and in Freeze v. Clinton, a mountain of money fell out of corporate coffers and landed on Bill Clinton.

    The exact instrumentality of both these "accidents" is probably impossible to determine, and in the first case Baron Pollock concluded that "the facts speak for themselves," and the defendant was obviously negligent.

    In the second case, it isn't any less obvious that Bill Clinton was paid off for services rendered, just as Phil Gramm was paid off by the banks, but unless we bug every office and club and men's room in Washington and the 'burbs around it, we'll never be able to determine the exact instrumentality of all those deferred bribes.

    This puts us in something very similar to the quandary that Baron Pollock resolved with the original introduction of the doctrine of "res ipsa loquitur" into common law, and what's the alternative to extending that principle to cover deferred bribes?

    The alternative is what we have now, where Congress isn't much more than a punch-line for late-night TV, and the Presidency likewise.


    The difference is ... (none / 0) (#71)
    by Yman on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 07:43:16 AM EST
    ... the principle of res ipsa has never been extended to crimes because, quite simply, the required mental state (mens rea for you Latin lovers) for crimes is higher than mere negligence, the standard in many civil/tort suits where mens rea has been applied.  Beyond that, none of the required conditions for its application apply in this case.  Wasn't that clear enough from my first post?  But, hey ...

    ... sounds better than "I have an overactive imagination, but zero evidence".

    BTW - Congrats on catching the typo.  Guess some of us tend to focus on substance rather than spell check.  Then again, ...

    ... I understand why that is ....


    And if you could actually read Latin... (none / 0) (#72)
    by Jacob Freeze on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 08:28:22 AM EST
    And if you could actually read Latin, you semi-literate poseur, you would already know that "res ipsa loquitur" was originally applied in criminal law, and there's no particular reason why the facts can't "speak for themselves" in criminal cases where the same problems arise which Baron Pollock addressed in Byrne v. Boadle by extending the principle of "res ipsa loqitur" from its original application in criminal law to cover civil cases where the exact instrumentality of the offense could not be determined.

    But Yman obviously can't read Latin beyond a couple of stock phrases, and completely missed the point of the citation from Cicero, which was part of the pleading in a criminal case.

    Apart from arguing endlessly with a half-educated clerk from Petaluma, the real issue remains:

    How can the public protect itself against deferred bribes?

    In the majority of these payoffs, no smoking gun will ever show up, the parties to the bribe won't conveniently incriminate themselves on video-tape, and yet res ipsa loquitur, the facts speak for themselves when the chairman of a banking committee is immediately rewarded with a multi-million-dollar payoff the day after he leaves Congress.


    And if you had even the ... (none / 0) (#73)
    by Yman on Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 10:54:07 AM EST
    ... slightest clue about matters of law (the subject of the original post, not fluency in Latin) or the ability to read and comprehend my response, you would know the reason why res ipsa has not (and cannot) be used in criminal matters.  First of all, merely allowing prosecutors to say "res ipsa loquitur!" when accusing someone of a crime - rather than making them go through all the trouble of producing actual evidence - would make a mockery of of the entire criminal process.  It would, of course, violate the defendant's presumption of innocence and his right to both substantive and procedural due process.  Furthermore, while res ipsa can be used in very limited circumstances in civil cases, criminal cases require the prosecution to establish a much higher standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) rather than the much lower standard (preponderance of the evidence) in a civil case.  Beyond that issue, res ipsa merely allows the inference of negligence in a civil case where (among other requirements), the instrumentality of harm was in the exclusive control of the defendant.  Such an inference would not meet the requirements of any of the federal bribery statutes.  Of course, there's a reason why you cite no specific statutes, actors, or bribes.  If you keep the accusations of crimes vague, not only do you negate the need to prove specific statutory elements of bribery, but your claims have a greater degree of plausibility.  Unless, of course ...

    ... your audience has a clue about American law.

    BTW - Just so you're clear on the use of res ipsa in criminal cases, Cicero's Pro Milone speech was given in relation to a criminal case.  The problem is .... it was just an argument, in a case from the Roman Empire, over 2,000 years ago.  It was not a judicial opinion or precedent, merely an argument that Cicero was making on behalf of his friend.  It was not an American case, or even an English case upon which much of our system of law is based.  It was not a prosecution such as that you are suggesting - one which would require the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that specific elements of the crime of bribery were committed by the defendant.  The fact that someone used the phrase res ipsa in a speech in a Roman case over 2,000 years ago does not mean that res ipsa was accepted as a method of proof even under the Roman system of 2,000 years ago, let alone a concept which would be applied by an American court today.

    But then again, maybe you're right.  Maybe an American prosecutor in modern America, using US laws, in a criminal trial, could charge Graham or Clinton with violating bribery laws simply because they made a lot of money after leaving office, and attempt to "prove" his case by simply crying "Res Ipsa Loquitur!!!".  You might be able to convince a prosecutor to try it.  Well, ... ya know, ...

    ... if the two of you share a masochistic  penchant for ridicule and embarrassment.


    I caught Bill Clinton's (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:19:45 PM EST
    talk about a lack of skills too, and thought the same thing....it is a B.S. talking point.  It is hard for me to dog him though because he is always seeking ways to increase the education of Americans, and I believe that we do currently have an education crisis of a sort building but I don't think it has ripened yet.  I hope it doesn't.  I hope that we deal with our enormous deficiencies that we are attempting to visit upon our children.  But we won't if we insist upon living in a nation with such economic disparities and the rich convincing the other 98% that they don't have to pay their fair share.  

    If we had a real middle class that was in a position to function we wouldn't have such a drop in demand.  The destruction of the middle class is destroying the health of this nation, and Obama and his administration haven't done much to address that.  Sadly, much of the policy they insisted that they needed to push through made things in the short term even more difficult for a wheezing gasping middle class on the verge of collapse.

    An SC city (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by the capstan on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:21:18 PM EST
    held a big 'job fair'recently.  The daily paper there reported new data shows 116,000 unfilled jobs across the state--this while the SC unemployment rate was 11% in August.  Local companies told the paper that "the 'so-called' skills gap that puts workers with outdated skills or limited education in competition for positions that demand technological proficiency is real and is a reason why many of the unemployed can't find jobs."

    I am ready to believe that is true knowing what is on offer for education in the state, which badly needs more vocational training in high schools and many more technical courses in community colleges (not still more concentration on university degrees).  


    H1B Visas (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Rojas on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 06:44:31 PM EST
    They might just laying the ground work. We advertised couldn't find "skilled takers".. and we just so happen to have this kid from India, educated in the US, CV a mile long but no actual experience who will do the job for 45k. I know the drill.

    I can believe that we have a gap (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:40:19 PM EST
    where trades people and craftsmen are needed.  But we did not pay wages in those areas in the past that would attract and educate people.  Everyone has been fighting insanely tooth and nail to get their kids into an Ivy league college and have us all outfitted with a worthless MBA that we could better screw the world with.

    Now stuff is breaking and free credit to just buy a new one is gone :)  We have to fix things and nobody can.  It is sort of funny.  Now maybe the kid who keeps taking the toaster apart has a chance at a real life again.

    But the figures for that gap are really small when compared to the number of jobs lost.  That unemployment is due to the destruction of the middle class.


    it's not just about pay scale (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by CST on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:45:26 PM EST
    I think we've trained kids to see math/science as "hard" and not exciting or fun.  In the last generation I think most people went to college to study what they want, not to study what they need.

    And yes, the payscale has certainly sent some of the best and the brightest to Wall Street.  They've got a ton of physicists at banks now who make way more money than they ever could practicing a more "real" kind of science.


    Yes, but figure (none / 0) (#50)
    by the capstan on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:36:10 PM EST
    in what the new employees would be adding to the economy as consumers.  And then add in some small businesses springing up as new people come in.  It is not just the unfilled jobs; it is also unexploited opportunities for the community.

    Did the story in the daily paper... (none / 0) (#36)
    by EL seattle on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:50:08 PM EST
    ...mention anything about what sort of wages and benefits would go along with those 116,000 unfilled jobs?  That would be interesting to know.

    Whenever I see a statistic like that it reminds me of the job postings that you sometimes see on ermerging tech-industry websites.  The posts give the impression of the company is robust and confident and in a healthy expansion mode.  But after you see the same job opening posts for a few months you get the idea that the company may be always 'looking', is but never actually hiring.


    I know the sort (none / 0) (#47)
    by the capstan on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:30:11 PM EST
    of people who turned up at the job fair, and I also know something about the companies starting up or adding new hires.  Good jobs requiring skilled workers; good conditions and good pay judging from the local newbies (ICAR for one, and soon, a new airline company.)

    The folks who did not go to the fair--I know them too: construction workers, many of whom owned their own businesses.  I see little on the horizon for them.


    Maybe Big Bill... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:38:51 PM EST
    is talking about the unwashed masses having a lack of "shady skills"...like coming up with the idea to invent and sell credit default swaps and assorted scams to rube investors, and having a pipeline direct to the treasury when it blows up.

    Or perhaps black market skills...like how to grow crops and not get caught, or smuggle cigarettes across state lines and not get caught...there is always a market for these type of skills.  OTOH If you wanna be the last honest cat in the US, unemployment line is to the left:)


    Ouch........ouch.........ouch (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:54:50 PM EST
    Yer fricken gouging and scratching up my Big Dog statue that stands in the middle of my garden fountain:)

    Well at least I don't have a limited edition print of his and Gore's profile standing next to each other.  That was my grandmother :)

    No pictures of the Pope in our house though :)


    Does that statue... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:05:34 PM EST
    come complete with handcuffs on the belt? :)

    Don't mind me pickin' on your boy...the point I was trying to make is the job skills we seem to value, and the ones required to get ahead these days, are system gaming skills a la Carl Paladino or the Wall St. Cartel.  The days of an honest days work, honest days pay are f*ckin' gone...if ya wanna get ahead find the loophole, cozy up to your government contacts...aka get shady.  Or be an honest criminal.


    He didn't exactly point (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:13:13 PM EST
    any of that out though did he?  Have we ever faced a worse election cycle?  The insane vs. the incompentent, I fear I've been too used and abused to be able to honestly cheer for anyone other than a precious few.  I have to fake it and I'm no good at it.

    He did say the one thing (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:18:41 PM EST
    that did inspire me though.  Tell the American people that we've only had 20 months to turn this around.  Ask them to give us 2 more years and if things aren't better, throw us out.  He sold me.  I could literally go unthinkingly and unflinchingly vote a straight ticket on that speech.  Everything else I've heard from everyone else can kiss my tookus.

    No MT (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by lilburro on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:32:21 PM EST
    that is an unnecessary distraction from the "we are awesome" message.

    Tuchus (none / 0) (#29)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:22:36 PM EST
    I can't spell yiddish :) (none / 0) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:41:18 PM EST
    Yer asking a lot :)

    Danger is they don;t have the guts (none / 0) (#45)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:25:20 PM EST
    to do what is necessary, i.e. a HUGE government stimulus to demand.

    Then where are we in 2012?  NO COngress, no WH, we've already lost the courts.  

    Better to take our lumps now in 2010, well deserved lumps they are, with the protection of Obama's veto.  Let the GOP demonstrate, once again for all the morons who think the GOP can possibly have improved economic policies, that the GOP remains in fact the same bunch of clueless, self serving servants of the crony capitalists that we knew, loved and threw out in 06 & 08.


    My 12-yr. old tutoree, who completed (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:02:28 PM EST
    his first Communion in the Catholic church, including instruction, asked me last week if all the popes are related?  He says they all look alike.  

    Well... nope, (none / 0) (#40)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:15:57 PM EST
    not going to go there. I try not to make funnies at the expense of religion. Maybe personal limitations/boundaries are okay after all.

    Except Cthulhu for President. (none / 0) (#41)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 02:16:42 PM EST
    Why vote for the lesser evil?

    I did not focus on it (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:46:04 PM EST
    because my view was that Clinton is in full on Dem/Obama cheerleader mode and he was trying to excuse the Dem performance on jobs.

    In short, it was a political statement, not a policy statement.


    Then it was a dumb political statement (none / 0) (#44)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:21:01 PM EST
    telling unemployed people it's all their fault for being too unsophisticated or inadequately prepared for today's job market.

    This is pretty scary: (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 12:27:01 PM EST
    A few years later, a large defense buildup finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs -- and suddenly industry was eager to employ those "unadaptable and untrained" workers.

    Clinton also said in the interview I saw (none / 0) (#43)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:18:56 PM EST
    that only a small percentage of unfilled jobs results from qualified job applicants' inability to relocate due to the severely depressed housing market.

    What planet is he living on?

    Might be true (none / 0) (#48)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:30:50 PM EST
    but only because there are plenty of unemployed people in the areas where the jobs are that can take a job when someone can't relocate to take it. I know for a fact that many people can't relocate to take jobs (myself being one of them), but I find it hard to believe those jobs go unfilled for very long.  

    Perhaps, but those unrelocatable (none / 0) (#51)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:36:48 PM EST
    remain unemployed.  I hope that is not your situation.

    thank you, not yet! (none / 0) (#55)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:57:58 PM EST
    Just a potential problem in my case.

    But I'm afraid a lot of the unemployed here in the epicenter of underwater mortgages are in that position. Take the recently layed off shuttle workers for example. I bet there are jobs they could fill in Texas or California, but they might be stuck with a house in Central FL. I think Clinton's point is that those jobs in Texas and CA will get filled somehow anyway, not that the guy here in FL will find a job.


    Or maybe his point is that they (none / 0) (#56)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 04:00:26 PM EST
    are unfilled because of local lack of education instead?  It is not impossible for both to be true.

    Meaning... (none / 0) (#57)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 04:05:33 PM EST
    The job is either unfilled because the only people qualified to fill it cannot relocate to take it or because the local populace is not educated enough for the job, or both. I don't know how Clinton knows what is more likely.

    Well (none / 0) (#54)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 03:46:10 PM EST
    that might actually be correct because from what I'm seeing there aren't any jobs anywhere so why relocate somewhere else?

    I also think that a lot of foreclosures is from people either taking a job in another location and letting their house go or just plain moving in with family.