In Defense of Obama’s Compromise Strategy

The Burden of Proof Rests with Liberal Critics

In a speech Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick admonished viewers across the country that “it’s time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe.”  His remarks were aimed at mobilizing Democrats to rally in defense of President Obama’s achievements, particularly passage of health care reform. 

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Where Did the Jobs Go?

What Obama and Romney Can Learn from the Recession

US unemployment rates remain high and a major issue in the US presidential campaign. This post seeks to explain with simple math where the jobs went as a first step in understanding how unemployment might be reduced. The math is simple, and it helps to show how most debate over economy and employment miss what actually matters most – and that is innovation policy. 

In December, 2007 the US economy employed about 138 million people. In February, 2012 that number had shrunk to about 133 million (data). Where did those jobs go? Two recent studies provide some important insight to this question.

 Last month, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce published a study looking at job losses from 12/2007 to 2/2012 (hence my use of those dates) by economic sector and educational attainment (here in PDF).  The Figure below shows their overall results.

 

The graph shows that for those who attended some college, or with more post-secondary education, employment had recovered to December 2007 levels by February 2012. The balance of “lost” jobs was among those with secondary (i.e., high school) education or less.

A longer view, beyond the time frame of the recent recession, shows that all job growth in the US since 1989 has come from those with some post-secondary education, with a 14% drop in those employed with a secondary degree or less. Thus, the recent recession amplified trends that were already in place and part of the ongoing structural change in the composition of the economy.

The Georgetown report also looked at job losses by economic sector by educational attainment. This is shown in the figure below, which shows the dramatic loss of jobs by those with the least education in construction, IT, manufacturing and financial services. Together, these four sectors account for the loss of 5.6 million jobs from December 2007 to February 2012. Within those sectors 3.7 million, about two thirds, of the job losses were among those with the least education, secondary or less.

A big part of the loss of jobs of course is the nature of the recession itself, originating in the finance industry and the housing bubble – hence the large loss of jobs in construction and financial services and the bubble burst.

The loss of low-skill jobs in manufacturing and IT (and other sectors in the economy) is arguably the consequence of industries in these sectors trying to maintain productivity growth to remain competitive by shedding the lowest skilled jobs at a rate faster (slower) than the decline (subsequent rebound) in output. These numbers are borne out by looking at productivity data.

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John Locke and Republican Liberty

A Personal Credo, Part II

See Part I here.

By explaining everything in nature, including the evolution of humans and consciousness, as the result ultimately of impersonal forces working on atoms, materialists like Democritus and Epicurus swept away all moral and political systems justified by appeal to the commandments of supernatural beings. Although he had much to say about ethics in the world that science has revealed, Epicurus had little to say about politics, other than defining justice as agreements about people neither to harm one another nor do harm.

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Epicurean Ethics in a World Without Magic

A Personal Credo, Part I

T. S. Eliot described himself as "classicist in literature, monarchist in politics and Anglo-Catholic in religion." Daniel Bell said that he was a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics and a conservative in culture. For what it is worth, I would describe myself as an Epicurean in ethics, a Lockean in politics, and a Listian in economics.

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Welcome to The Breakthrough

It is with great excitement that we today announce the launch of The Breakthrough, the new web site of Breakthrough Journal, the Breakthrough Institute, and all of our programs. We designed the site to provide visitors with a better understanding of who we are, what we believe, and what we do.

We hope you'll take a minute to read about our mission, our history, and our community of Senior Fellows, Fellows, Staff, and Authors.

We are especially excited to announce three new Breakthrough columnists:

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Where New Ideas Are Born

“The old is dying and the new cannot be born:  in the interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms will appear,” wrote the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.  “Morbid symptoms” is an apt description of the state of politics and public philosophy, at this crisis in American and world history.

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Rebuilding America’s Public Square

With three months to go, the 2012 election campaign, as FactCheck.org recently editorialized, can best be summed up “by the cavalier disregard for facts on both sides,” and by a “bitter and trivial” focus that fails to “engage the public in a fact-based discussion of the hard choices” that face the country.
Sadly, things are only likely to get worse.

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