Huffington Post presents a familiar argument this morning: we would all be so much better off and more people would have jobs if only the big companies would use that mind-boggling cash reserve and hire people. Maybe--maybe not. Focusing on the cash reserves of the big multi-national companies and financial institutions ignores the other side of the problem--a consumer economy where the consumer can't consume. And it also ignores several other facts. For most of those companies, their profits don't depend as much as they once did on the U.S. markets. And those companies are more often now engaged in something other than producing tangible products or services for sale to the consuming public. Just this morning one of the big banks announced another lay in their investment division and back offices. Thanks to computerization and automation our big companies have been able to get along with far fewer workers but, contrary to the apologists for modern technology, the companies spawned by new technology never created as many jobs as were lost.
I have followed the stories, like this NY Times piece, detailing the problems of the U.S. Postal Service for some time. As usual, I have conflicting thoughts on the matter. I can't remember a time when we didn't have mail delivery six days a week. I can very well remember the time before e-mail when the only instantaneous means of communication was telephone. I can also remember a time when rural phone service was expensive and often involved party lines. On the one hand I don't much like the potential loss of mail service or the inconvenience for rural and small town people who depend on the U.S. Postal Service. They have already lost bus service and air service. On the other hand, for me, the service has become less a service and more of an annoyance. Our mail is now 90% advertising of one kind or another. And every bit of that goes directly in the trash. However, in the back of my mind, is the nagging concern about another bit of our 'infrastructure' crumbling away. And the question of whether this country is still, truly, really a 'superpower' in anything other than our possession of the most nuclear weapons in the world.
Toby Wollin at Firedoglake summarizes the Huffington Post summary of the report on the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster that has been all but forgotten by the national media. I am cynical enough that I am not at all surprised that the deaths of 29 miners as a consequence of repeated safety violations in the name of production hasn't yielded any action by our elected (mis-)representatives. They are far more interested in making our economy safe for predatory capitalism. I am not even surprised at the where number of violations. I am totally blown away by the size of the report--80,000 pages. I wonder if the verbiage is merely a means of obscuring the facts--a way of burying information in a blizzard of words.