Friday, May 23, 2014

Are the homeless on Facebook?

Judging by Facebook's claims that it produced thousands of jobs and pumped more than a half billion into the Oregon economy, there shouldn't be many homeless people at all.

And yet, the homeless count in the tri-county area (Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson) is at its highest since 2005, according to the Central Oregon Leadership Coalition.

One of the main reasons for this high count is that many of the homeless can't find a job that will pay enough for them to live in an apartment or house.

Deschutes County's unemployment rate is 8.4 percent. Jefferson County's is 9.7 percent.

And, in Crook County, where Facebook operates its data centers, and received huge tax breaks for doing so, the jobless rate is 10.8 percent.

Meanwhile, that statewide unemployment rate is 6.9 percent and the national rate is 6.3 percent.

Gee, with all the tax breaks to Facebook and Apple plus those 3,600 jobs Facebook claims were created by its data centers, the jobless rate shouldn't be so high and the homeless rate should've dropped.

And yet, we're seeing the result of these huge tax breaks to some of the wealthiest companies in the world.

The real job gains are minuscule, while the social costs escalate.

David Cay Johnston has covered much of this in his trilogy of economic exposes "Perfectly Legal," "Free Lunch," and "The Fine Print."

This is what yet another "jobless" recovery looks like. More Americans are opting out of the workforce because the jobs pay too little and provide few benefits.

Before anyone points to Oregon's second-highest-in-the-nation minimum wage at $9.10 an hour as a reason for our lagging employment numbers, first take a look at Washington state. It has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.32 per hour and yet it's jobless rate is 6.1 percent, which is below the national average.

Or, take a look at Georgia, the beacon of the "New South," where the state minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, yet the jobless rate is 7.0 percent.

No, it's better to look at of the diminishing clout of unions in this country. Last year, 11.3 percent of American workers belonged to a union, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1983, that rate was 20.1 percent. By the way, union participation in America never topped 40 percent. So much for all that union "political clout."

The middle class in this country has imploded, thanks, in part, to the "war on unions."

Also, as more money flows to the richest one percent, it means far less money flows to the 99 percent and directly into the economy where it can stimulate growth.

Fortune 500 companies have an estimated $2 trillion in offshore accounts. Plus, uber-rich Americans like Mitt Romney also keep their money away from America.

This is the new normal. Until the super-rich realize that they're killing the goose that laid their golden eggs, not much will change.

And, having a Facebook page isn't going to do the trick.

No comments:

Post a Comment