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Monday, May 18, 2015

Zuckerman Speaks or Why our privateers should stay out of politics

Mortimer Zuckerman wades into the policy debate, and in the process demonstrates why he and fellow executives need to stop interfering with US politics and trying to make themselves Oligarchs. All but one of his 5 suggestions either are the result of laws passed by Corporate Lobbyists in the past, out of touch with what mainstream America needs, or are downright opposite of what the country needs. Still some of his suggestions make sense and some make a great segue to real suggestions.

All References here come from:
US News Article:
  • Education
  • Education in the USA (and America in General) has problems for three reasons that have nothing to do with the line of bull we are getting from our oligarchs. He would say we need to:

    "Arrest and reverse the decline in American education that has left a workforce less able to compete in the new world. Skills, not muscle, are the only reliable path to high-wage jobs in an era when technology and globalization allow companies to make new investments in regions where labor is cheap and the newly emerging middle classes are eager for their products. We have let the education of our young people slide. America’s university graduation rates have slipped from near the top of the world to the middle."

    Demented HR

    But the trouble is that we still produce millions of graduates with thinking skills and education. If they lack specific skills that is as much due to our faulty policies towards training and hiring as their "lack of education." Zuckerman and company make a big deal of educating "new" programmers, while people with those educations can't get a job because they don't have the "latest and greatest" credentials demanded by poor quality Human Resources Departments who prefer to hire abroad anyway because the Government gives them benefits for doing so and they can send immigrants back home if they ask for too much money. I know a lot of older workers with the training to do those jobs if they won't hire younger people -- and HR Departments won't hire them! Zuckerman confuses getting an education with learning the skills for a particular job. A well educated person can work anywhere. Yet our companies prefer not to hire them, train them, or keep them. And that has nothing to do with their education, but with our demented HR departments.

    Corporations are unwilling to train employees

    In former times training new employees was a responsibility of employers. Folks would learn their jobs. In our country folks are sent to colleges where they pay thousands of jobs to learn skills that the HR departments then reject because they aren't a 100% match for the opening. The HR folks then hire foreign folks who sometimes are no better than their US counterparts but come highly recommended and with training tailored to the job. That is what we need here. Not deprecation of our people. Our people can learn if the resources are devoted to the schools so they can do so.

    Make Education Free to the Student

    For years now our privateering companies (including the one Zuckerman started) have been paying their pet politicians to defund public education and "privatize it", which means that education has gone from a public service model to a profit centered model. The result is schools that bilk parents, taxpayers, students and employers alike for the sake of salaries and profits. The growth in education costs has mainly occurred in "overhead" and that "overhead" has mostly been in the form of increased numbers of "managers" rather than teachers and private profits. Jefferson dreamed of education as a public right for all young students capable of passing entrance exams or passing the classes.

    His next one is the reason he deprecates US schools:

  • Visas
  • "Approve many more H-1B visas to permit highly educated graduate students in the hard sciences to work in engineering and technology. Contrary to popular perception of immigrants, these are people who would create more jobs rather than cost jobs. And make it easier, too, for tourists to get visas, as these are people who increase consumer spending here in the United States. In theory, skilled workers in America should benefit from globalization, given their skills and what they produce. But as countries like China rapidly upgrade their workforces through education, we find workers competing with those who get much lower pay."

    Foreign countries also limit US visas to their own countries. So there is no quid pro quo. And the H-1B programs are universally abused. I've been used for proposals from companies I later found out did all their hiring from abroad. It's a way of getting cheap labor. No more. If the program is restricted to actual scientists and very smart people maybe it would have some integrity. But this is just Mort's desire for cheap labor being expressed.

    His next recommendation is the product of laws written by corporations 20 years ago that now need to be reformed such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which made it easier for companies to sue people for even the most honest uses of content from others. He'd like to do create similar monopolies with patents so that it would be easier for companies to use frivolous lawsuits to enforce monopolies.

  • Patents
  • "Rationalize the stumbling process of certifying patents, which could and would unleash thousands of start-ups, the single greatest source of new employment."

    We grant too many patents as it is, and for too long. They are more a stumbling block than the innovation is, since too many products get sued for having someone elses old patent as part of the design.

  • Eliminate Uncertainty
  • Code for do away with the ACA and other social programs:

    "The elimination of a negative impact of policy uncertainty would also help the economy. A metric devised by economists at Stanford University and the University of Chicago shows that policy uncertainty accounts for about 2.5 million jobs lost. For example, they assert there is a widespread view in business that the healthcare bill makes it burdensome to hire and underscores how political uncertainty has made it much more difficult to plan ahead, a key need for every business. The National Federation of Independent Business asked small businesses their biggest problem. Sixteen percent of small businesses cited "government requirements and red tape."

    But it is an argument for single payer.

    His final proposal is the only one that makes sense:

  • Infrastructure
  • "Invest in a national infrastructure bank. Investing in overdue maintenance and repairs would create jobs in the short term and raise the efficiency of our private sector economy. Some infrastructure projects could be tolled so that the users would ultimately pay for them, and the projects should be chosen based on merit rather than on patronage. We ought to undertake new projects of the kind that built America. But we are not even keeping up with repairs, which means it will cost much more when our bridges, roads, dams, schools, and sewage and water systems collapse.

    The key here is that we need a revised Federal Reserve that includes an infrastructure bank. But this has to be owned by the people of the USA and the benefits of returns from such investments rebated to ordinary citizens. We could pay for all our infrastructure with fiat money backed by notes and retire the notes with paper money from the economic stimulus.

    The American Society of Civil Engineers has spelled out the need in convincing detail, but investment is now called that dirty word “spending.” So while millions sit idle and interest rates are historically low, the air is filled not with the sound of men at work but with fatuous slogans. We look askance at the Europeans fiddling while Rome burns, and maybe Madrid and Paris next, but Washington is the graveyard of American dreams."

    Such a bank should be a cooperative chartered bank, run under republican principles with 52+ member state Infrastructure Banks and branches in every county and municipality.

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