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The New American Economy: Win the Lottery, Get a Job

Stunning, just stunning. Nearly 17,000 people applied for jobs at a Ford plant in Kentucky, according to USA Today. The applications are now going into a lottery and Ford will determine who gets to proceed to be considered for the 1,800 jobs that pay $15.51 an hour.  No doubt not everyone who applied is unemployed, to be sure–but it’s likely a good number don’t have jobs.

So is this what it’s come to for America’s unemployed workers–they need to win a lottery to get work to support themselves and their families?

Derek Thompson nails it on the head in the Atlantic:

With every month’s employment survey, economists and journalists have to find new ways to write the headline “Job Report Surprises and Disappoints.” It’s getting difficult because the news is so dependably awful and the Thesaurus is only so thick. But it’s time to at least drop the word “surprises” and understand that the private sector does not work for workers the way it used to.

Two years after the start of the recession, there still are 4.7 workers for every ONE job available. Meanwhile, corporations sit on trillions of dollars. Rather than putting some of that cash to use to create jobs, CEOs are enjoying massive pay hikes. In 2010, Standard & Poor’s 500 Index company CEOs received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation— a 23 percent increase in one year.

But rather than discuss what’s really key to America’s economy–creating jobs–Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are derailing the country with their ideological games designed to give their corporate backers even more money–in the form of massive tax breaks for millionaires.

Earlier this week, participants in a Jobs Crisis panel we held here, noted that many in Washington continue to push deregulation and tax cuts as the way out of the economic hole the country is in, without acknowledging the role that those policies played in creating the current economic conditions.  Instead, the best way to get the nation’s job engine running again is through investments that can create jobs and increase demand such as infrastructure, education and training, aid to states, fair trade policies, long-term unemployment insurance and more.

As Matt Taibbi picquantly puts it:

…the political champions of middle America are at this very minute campaigning in Congress to extract more revenue from elderly retirees and broke-ass students while simultaneously fighting to preserve a slew of tax loopholes for the rich, including the carried-interest tax break that allows hedge fund billionaires to pay about half the tax rate of most Americans.

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