Obama’s stimulus produces temp-jobs ‘recovery’

So says economist John Lott, writing at FoxNews.com:

Our current “recovery” might be in its seventeenth month, but the few new private sector jobs have come from companies temporarily hiring staff on a contract basis. What were once jobs reserved for people hired to cover seasonal demand or permanent employees on sick leave have become the standard employment for many workers. Companies simply don’t want the risk of hiring workers that they might soon have to get rid of.

Since the recovery started in June 2009, the total number of private sector jobs has increased by 203,000 [link fixed at 1:11 p.m.]. But these weren’t “regular,” permanent jobs. Indeed, permanent private sector jobs fell by 257,000.

“Temporary help service” jobs is what made up the difference, as they increased by 460,000. For all sectors of the economy, including government jobs, the drop in the number of permanent jobs during the recovery was even worse — a drop of 561,000.

The trend has recently been getting worse. During five of the last six months, the total number of permanent jobs fell. The new unemployment numbers released on Friday weren’t as bad as other recent numbers. There were 39,000 more jobs during November. However, with 39,500 coming from temporary jobs, there would have been essentially no new permanent jobs. (links original)

Hmmm … could Washington’s emphasis on temporary, demand-side “stimulus” spending have anything to do with this temporary “recovery”? As Lott notes, we can also see the temporary jobs “recovery” in government jobs — and that doesn’t even include the public-sector jobs that were “saved” by stimulus infusions in state budgets and which may disappear now that states are having to balance budgets without stimulus cash. See here for a description of what Georgia is facing.

The problem is more acute this time around than after previous recessions:

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting data on these temporary jobs in 1990, such jobs were much less common than today. Only about half as many people held temporary jobs two decades ago. Since then, the current recovery is record-setting in terms of adding temporary jobs. We can compare the three recessions since 1990. While the current recovery has seen the share of jobs held by temporary workers increase by 26 percent, the recession that ended in March 1991 saw a 10 percent increase in share held by temporary workers and the recession that ended in November 2001 had no increase …

You can see these numbers in graphic form on Lott’s personal blog here.

The culprit is not just the temporary nature of the stimulus. Lott argues, as I’ve argued before, that uncertainty is also at play:

Companies don’t want to make longer-term commitments if they don’t know what the next couple of years will look like. New regulations are being imposed on companies, be it health care, finance, the environment, and the other areas. And the exact form and extent of these regulations still have to be determined by regulators. Many small companies don’t even know what tax rates they will face after the beginning of the year. Neither the president nor the Democratically controlled congress attempted to prevent income tax rates from rising for even the middle class until just a few weeks before they were expected to rise.

Indeed.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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120 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

December 14th, 2010
11:32 am

When all the big fish in the aquarium eat the little fish, they will then starve to death but while they were fat they didn’t think of that.

carlosgvv

December 14th, 2010
11:32 am

As far as I’m concerned, there will be a recovery when, and only when, the unemployment figure drops to around five percent.

stands for decibels

December 14th, 2010
11:33 am

uncertainty is also at play

obviously we need the certainty of more tax cuts for billionaires to make American CEOs’ fee-fees all warm and toasty so that they’ll feel like hiring more of us.

it’s all so clear now. Thanks, Fox “News.”

T-Town

December 14th, 2010
11:47 am

The politics of this issue will be played out very soon on this blog. The fact is that if businesses don’t know if or what it will cost them to increase their employment numbers, they will sit on their hands and do nothing until they’re certain what the cost will be.

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
11:53 am

T-Town – “The fact is that if businesses don’t know if or what it will cost them to increase their employment numbers, they will sit on their hands and do nothing until they’re certain what the cost will be.”

So if I have a business, and it’s possible that my building “might” get wiped out by a Tornado, I should just belay hiring indefinitely until I’m “certain” that it’s safe?

Or, do I run forecasts to assess risk and hire accordingly based on the concept of supply and demand?

barking frog

December 14th, 2010
11:56 am

Efficiency in business usually means a reduction
in labor costs. They have become more efficient.
Don’t look for a surge in hiring even if the corporate
tax is eliminated. With an extension of the current
rates Obama will have reduced taxes below the Bush
rates.

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
11:59 am

barking frog – “They have become more efficient.
Don’t look for a surge in hiring even if the corporate
tax is eliminated.”

Someone might want to tell Washington DC that. Apparently they’ve been selling the tax extension as the “Silver Bullet” to kill the unemployment monster.

Kyle Wingfield

December 14th, 2010
12:01 pm

Hmmmm…: That is a terrible analogy. Is Congress doing anything to change the incidence of tornadoes? If the cost of insuring against tornadoes were suddenly subject to dramatic change, but you weren’t going to know what the cost would be until well after you bought the policy, are you saying you’d just continue doing what you’ve always done?

Of course businesses are assessing the risk of changes to their tax rates, regulations, etc. and hiring accordingly. The problem is that too many things are in flux, thanks to Washington, for them to be able to assess their risk with any kind of confidence. Their lack of hiring reflects their inability to assess risk properly. Or do you think businesses ignore the cost of supplying enough product/service to meet demand?

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
12:03 pm

Just as an aside, can someone tell me at which point Capitolism went from being “Risk and Reward” and transfomed into “Safety and Certainty”?

If that’s the case, I think I’ll start investing in the market. Up until now, theres just been too much “uncertainty” for me to move forward.

get out much?

December 14th, 2010
12:05 pm

of course the fact that companies do not have to extend any benefits to contract or temporary employees have nothing to do with it.

Billyboy

December 14th, 2010
12:07 pm

Just give me my fair share. A million dollars will get me started. I deserve the money.

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
12:08 pm

Kyle,

Actually that was sarcasm. The reality is that while taxes are a “part” of the overall P&L picture, it is far from the ONLY thing that business must consider when deciding whether or not to increase headcount. The driving force in expansion has always been DEMAND. Unfortunately the mantra of “Rich people create jobs” has long overshadowed that little fact. It doesn’t matter how “rich” you are, you are not going to invest one dime into hiring or job creation without the demand to do so.

T-Town

December 14th, 2010
12:09 pm

“So if I have a business, and it’s possible that my building “might” get wiped out by a Tornado, I should just belay hiring indefinitely until I’m “certain” that it’s safe?

Or, do I run forecasts to assess risk and hire accordingly based on the concept of supply and demand?”

Normally this would be true, but these are not normal times as compared with other recessions. Many companies I have been working with are only hiring temps until they can get some type of handle of what their costs will look like. Gridlock between the parties just may be blessing, but a politician never lets a good crisis go to waste….especially when he/she can blame the other party.

Kyle Wingfield

December 14th, 2010
12:10 pm

Hmmmm: I agree with you about risk and reward — up until the point that we are talking about regulatory/taxation risks that are purely political and have nothing to do with doing business.

get out much: So, why are things so different now than just nine years ago? Benefits were expensive, and getting more expensive, back then as well. But back then, the share of temporary jobs relative to all jobs didn’t change.

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
12:10 pm

T-Town – “Gridlock between the parties just may be blessing, but a politician never lets a good crisis go to waste….especially when he/she can blame the other party.”

AGREED!

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
12:12 pm

Kyle – “I agree with you about risk and reward — up until the point that we are talking about regulatory/taxation risks that are purely political and have nothing to do with doing business.”

AGREED!

Kyle Wingfield

December 14th, 2010
12:15 pm

Hmmm @ 12:08: Fine. But Lott mentioned much more than taxes. If you are a manufacturer looking at increased costs for such basic elements as labor (benefits), energy and capital, without knowing what the increases will be, in addition to your tax rates — all because of government’s actions, apart from normal changes in market conditions — you are not going to invest a dime in job creation, either.

Hmmmmm.........

December 14th, 2010
12:20 pm

Kyle @ 12:15 You’re absolutely right. My point has always been that it’s just too simplistic to merely say that jobs are not being created just because of the taxes, as you have pointed out. Unfortunately that’s the soundbyte that gets spewed out over and over again.

Simply put, I could pay no taxes, and it still wouldn’t motivate me to hire someone to do nothing more than stand around and act as a reminder to me of how lucky I am that I don’t have to pay taxes.

I think we agree that the system is just a little more complex.

Guy Incognito

December 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

Why doesn’t the administration just change the formula for unemployment similar to what they’ve done w inflation? They keep saying there’s no inflation, but they took food and energy prices out of the equation. Wow!

rant and roll

December 14th, 2010
12:33 pm

corporations exist to make money. As long as corporations can make money while keeping payroll low – they will.

Giving business tax breaks that outsource jobs is counterproductive – but it is the GOP way.

Question Authority

December 14th, 2010
12:33 pm

Keynesian economic theory is a complete failure. The first Great Depression should have made that clear, but big-spending government (both republican and democrat) loves any theory that claims that government spending is the same or better than private sector spending. As a result, Keynesian theory is the only government-approved theory and policy that is allowed to be spoken by government officials and the government-controlled media. Only the Austrian school has it right, and the longer this Depression lasts (and it will last a long time if their ideas are ignored) the more their ideas are validated. Go to www(dot)mises(dot)org to find out about the correct economic way to look at what is going on, what caused it, and how to fix it. Thankfully for the internet everyone can learn the truth.

JD

December 14th, 2010
12:34 pm

Wow — an economist who can say with certainty that a single cause (Obama stimulus) is creating the effects of a temporary job recovery! Bravo! Lott has done what no other economist can do, unless they only have one hand (inside economist joke, ‘on the other hand’ ahem, moving on).

Bush administration economists and others told us that the economy, post-recovery, would be unlike any other post-recovery economies we have observed. Therefore, comparing this recover with others is fraught with fallacy. Second, his analysis rejects, out-of-hand, any other explanation to the lack of jobs being created here — such as work force not ready for the next generation of services, lower cost of production elsewhere, etc.

Everyone will read what they want to read — and the conclusions are all the same — this recovery stinks.

jconservative

December 14th, 2010
12:42 pm

People close to me are in the “temp worker” business and they are booming and have been for several years. This is not a new development.
The company I am familiar with has started 3 new companies in the last 6 years just to keep up with the demand for temp workers. Twelve years ago they did not exist

None of this accounts for the drop in “net jobs created” that we have experienced in the last 20 plus years. When “net jobs created” drops from 30% to 0% percent there must be more at work here than Congress and governmental policies.

Name the 3 largest retail markets in the world in the year 2021.

Did you name the USA?

@@

December 14th, 2010
12:46 pm

Even Bernie Sanders in his “fill-a-bluster” admitted that real unemployment stands at 17%.

Hanging onto “HOPE” is a trap-door that’ll leave us dangling.

Left wing management

December 14th, 2010
12:48 pm

Whenever someone starts off a statement citing as their authority “FoxNews.com”, I have to smirk and wonder what they’re trying to prove by citing a Republican party organ like that.

Question authority: “Keynesian economic theory is a complete failure.”

The only thing that can clearly be judged a “complete failure” is the neoliberal economics you’re touting. Period.

We’ve now arrived at a point where no ideology – be it Keynesian, Austrian, or otherwise – can provide clear guidance. Capitalism has entered a kind of terminal stage, in other wise, and if anyone has been proved prescient it’s Mr. Marx himself.

Left wing management

December 14th, 2010
12:55 pm

@@ “Hanging onto “HOPE” is a trap-door that’ll leave us dangling.”

Not sure what that’s supposed to prove. Who seriously believes in “HOPE” now anyway?

“Hope” was a nice tactical move during the campaign – good for some cheap reverie among some sentimental souls – but it’s long been bought and paid for by the usual Wall Street suspects and sent off for embalming at the museums of American electoral history for exhibit next to “read my lips” and others.

Port O'John

December 14th, 2010
12:57 pm

Fox News?

Isn’t this the same outfit that reported that Obama’s trip to India cost US Taxpayers something like $200 billion per day or that just recently reported that a school district in Texas told students that they could not wear “red and green” because those colors symbolize Christmas?

That Fox News? Turned out Fox was flat wrong on both counts. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a retraction.

But if that’s who you want to quote….

Kyle Wingfield

December 14th, 2010
1:10 pm

Port O’John, and anyone else doubting the figures because of the source: You can go to the BLS website and see the numbers for yourselves.

http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm

Left wing management

December 14th, 2010
1:11 pm

The game that’s being played here is a slow and patient process of desensitization. The first time “FOX News” is actually used as a serious citation the writer knows that it evokes a kind of wince.

It’s as if I were writing an article in a serious tax policy journal and dropped the name “Al Capone”.

But if enough people drop the name “Al Capone” over enough time, then readers stop wincing and thinking that the writer is a two-bit hack.

JF McNamara

December 14th, 2010
1:14 pm

I guess the view is always different from where you stand…

I thought companies were hiring workers temp/contract workers because a) demand hasn’t picked up requiring more staffing, and
b) its cheaper to not offer any benefits and have no long term commitment. Its like outsourcing to U.S. employees which we know companies love.

Its been well publicized that companies are sitting on the cash, and why shouldn’t they? They are running more efficiently right now and its flowing through to profit. That’s not politically based of fear of regulation based, its the companies doing whats in their best interests.

If you’re right, then the hiring floodgates will swing open in January since the Republicans will be there to console the rich businessmen. I hope you’re right, but I know that’s not going to happen…

The Dismal Pseudoscience

December 14th, 2010
1:15 pm

Why do we still pretend economists have any idea what they’re talking about?

Question Authority

December 14th, 2010
1:28 pm

Left wing management – not sure where you got the idea that Austrian economics is “neo-liberal”. If anything, it is libertarian (or what used to be known as “Classical Liberal”. And as for the death of capitalism, it would help your argument if we actually had Free Market Capitalism. All we are seeing is the death of corporate capitalism or what used to be called merchantilism. The government, through the agency of the Federal Reserve has been inflating the money supply to fund its wasteful spending, its illegal wars, and to line the pockets of its friends in industry (both democrat and republican).

Before you condemn any economic theory you might want to spend more than the time it takes to read the name and actually learn its principles. Your ignorance, especially in light of the growing resurgency and embrace of Austrian economic thought, is shameful.

Dave

December 14th, 2010
1:30 pm

Left Wing Management,

I didn’t know anyone could be so delusional and imbecilic, but the left keeps proving me wrong on that.
We got into this economic hole because of the Leftist housing policies pushed by Democrats and RINO Republicans. We’re staying in this economic hole because of the uncertainty to employers created by Commie Obama and the leftist wingnuts that the American people foolishly elected to office in 2008.
What employer would want to hire someone in this economy when they have no idea what kind of cost-increasing leftist regulations will be created by the Obama regime tomorrow, next month or next July?
Leave the taxes where they are, reduce the leftist regulatory threats and bring the various out-of-control federal agencies under control and we’ll be able to pull out of this.

Dave

December 14th, 2010
1:35 pm

JF,

A company sitting on a bunch of cash (like several American companies) isn’t making the best use of that cash. Money sitting in bank accounts isn’t very profitable. Investing it would be more profitable, but the problem is that most companies have no idea what the hell is going to come out of D.C. from one day to the next.

Companies WANT to invest, but can’t until some stability returns to the economy in the form of reigning in the leftist nutjobs currently in power in D.C.

DebbieDoRight

December 14th, 2010
1:55 pm

T-Town: The fact is that if businesses don’t know if or what it will cost them to increase their employment numbers, they will sit on their hands and do nothing until

Oh please!! My high school cousin can do better than that!! So, basically what you’re saying, (since jobs have been “disappearing” since 2002); that companies are confused, clueless, and lost; that’s why they’re shipping jobs overseas to places like India? Oh yeah, that makes sense. :roll:

DebbieDoRight

December 14th, 2010
1:57 pm

Companies WANT to invest, but can’t until some stability returns to the economy in the form of reigning in the leftist nutjobs currently in power in D.C.

The Bush Tax Cuts have been in affect for how long now….10 years? How much stability do they need? Also, In all that time, could you please tell me how many jobs that these companies who want to invest, have created? I’ll wait……….

CJ

December 14th, 2010
1:59 pm

Kyle the propagandist is still desperately selling the “uncertainty” meme, despite the fact that it is the Republicans who seek to increase uncertainty by refusing to permanently extend the middle class tax cuts, seeking to repeal health care reform, fighting to extend temporary tax cuts for the wealthy that otherwise would “certainly” have expired.

Also, it doesn’t follow that employers are more hiring temp workers, therefore stimulus doesn’t work. One could make a strong argument, any many economists do, that the most stimulative portions of the Recovery Act (e.g., unemployment insurance extensions, federal aid to states, infrastructure spending) worked great and should have been larger. Unfortunately, the desire to see this President fail is stronger than the desire to enact effective policies that work to create jobs and get us back on track.

DebbieDoRight

December 14th, 2010
2:00 pm

We got into this economic hole because of the Leftist housing policies pushed by Democrats and RINO Republicans.

Partly right. We’re in this mess because of WALL STREET and their need to play the market for their own gains, dang the consequences.

We’re staying in this economic hole because of the uncertainty to employers created by Commie Obama and the leftist wingnuts that the American people foolishly elected to office in 2008.

THIS is why we need more education dollars in the State of Georgia…………a mind really is a terrible thing to waste…….

Left wing management

December 14th, 2010
2:06 pm

Question authority: “If anything, it is libertarian (or what used to be known as “Classical Liberal”. And as for the death of capitalism, it would help your argument if we actually had Free Market Capitalism”

Here, let me untangle a couple of things for you. I didn’t say that Austrian is neoliberal per se. What I’m referring to is a policy amalgam that has been advanced across the globe for 30+ years – represented e.g. by figures such as Pinochet, Reagan, Thatcher – and which culminated in the financial collapse of 2007-8. To understand the ‘liberal’ in neoliberal, think ‘lassez faire’.

Nor did I say exactly that what we’re seeing is the “death of capitalism”. What I said was that capitalism has entered a ‘terminal’ stage, which means that its evolution will likely take on very different and surprising forms as we go forward. In particular, the fate of its relationship to liberal democracy is more questionable than ever and will likely become even more so. To name just one example, ask yourself which country represents the most powerful form of capitalism in the world today? Is it democratic?

Dave: The tragedy of the era in which we’re living is that a large number of people – misled by demagogues – assume the biggest problem with capitalism is that it’s never been tried in pure form. In truth, we’ve just seen a 30 year experiment in a form of capitalism that is as pure as any that we’ve seen since the pre-Depression era and the results of that are plain for all to see.

JF McNamara

December 14th, 2010
2:09 pm

Dave,

The best use of cash varies. If there is no demand, its better to have cash than too much inventory or underperforming store. You’re right in that companies WANT to invest, they problem is that there isn’t the demand to justify additional investment.

Companies like Apple are investing and hiring, because they are growing in markets with demand. Southern Company is not because power consumption is down. Its best for Apple to invest. Its best for Southern Company to hold cash.

The business environment today politically isn’t bad. If it were, then the stock market wouldn’t have recovered and companies wouldn’t be reporting great earnings. They are in spite of the “left wing nut jobs”. You’ve fallen for propaganda to get your vote. The actual reality is that companies are doing quite well and aren’t in a hurry to increase costs. Its got nothing at all to do with politics.

JDW

December 14th, 2010
2:12 pm

Bit behind the times there Kyle! The trend in temporary employees has been booming for years. Here is a nice synopsis from 2002:

http://www.prounlimited.com/resources/need/print/TrendLetter0902.pdf

From a management perspective companies have been using any excuse available to move toward this model and it has nothing to do with uncertainty over taxes. Frankly I get a chuckle out of all the spin that attempts to persuade people that businesses predicate hiring on taxes….THE TWO ARE NOT RELATED AT ALL. In fact the higher the tax rate the less risk involved in new hires. Remember employees are paid with PRETAX dollars. The only thing that drives hiring is growth. If a business needs employees to grow then they hire if not they don’t.

From a profitability perspective if an employee contributes an acceptable return to the Operating Profit line they get hired. Taxes never enter into the equation and in fact are managed totally separately from the operations side of the business.

Dave

December 14th, 2010
2:14 pm

Debbie,

“The Bush Tax Cuts have been in affect for how long now….10 years? How much stability do they need?”

- And the economy was surging for most of that time (until the housing crash caused by Democrats and RINOs). Stability is a question of FUTURE conditions, not past conditions. Companies had no idea what this leftist loon in the White House and his fellow Marxists in Congress were going to do, so they’ve basically played it safe and sat on their hands.

“Partly right. We’re in this mess because of WALL STREET and their need to play the market for their own gains, dang the consequences.”

- Wall Street has been around for a long time, and the banks (and the concept of home loans) for even longer. Greed is a vice which has been with the human race since it’s creation. And yet, after only after a decade or so of leftist housing policies pushed in the name of “fairness” we have a massive housing boom and bust.
Look back at the history of the housing crash if you can drag yourself away from the Rachel Maddow show for a moment: banks didn’t decide on their own to just up and start lending to unreliable borrowers for the hell of it. They were forced to by the federal government’s housing policies and by Fannie/Freddie (two arms of the same government).

Dave

December 14th, 2010
2:19 pm

JF,

The only one falling for propaganda are those like you who think that high regulation environments are great for business growth. Do you actually KNOW anyone who owns or runs a business? Likely not, since most on the left like to sit on government payrolls and not actually compete for anything. Talk to someone who actually owns a business which comes into contact with federal regulations and ask them what they think.

You know it’s bad when Canada, of all places, is luring business out of the U.S. because of the high cost of regulation and taxation in the leftist northeast.

True American

December 14th, 2010
2:20 pm

If the Bush tax cut were so good, why did we lose 5 millions jobs under GW? Rep are a much of hyprocrites, its ok to add on to the Debt long as their rich friends benefits.

Dave

December 14th, 2010
2:23 pm

Left Wing Management,

I’m not sure which alternate universe you live in, but the last thing we’ve seen over the last 20 years has been pure capitalism. We’ve seen a bunch of regulation and crony capitalism, but when Washington D.C. picks the winners and losers in business, that’s not “capitalism” unles you’ve lived in San Francisco or D.C. all your life.
Left-wing politicians thought they knew better than banks who deserved a home loan, and look where that got us. Now they think they know better than us what types of cars we should drive and what types of energy we should use, and that will get us into the same mess.

Jefferson

December 14th, 2010
2:23 pm

Tax idle cash or put it to use…stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.

Dave

December 14th, 2010
2:25 pm

False American,

Are you including the jobs lost by the housing recession caused by left-wing housing policies? If so, don’t blame those on conservatives. Those are leftist policies which resulted in a leftist recession, regardless of the fact that it was a RINO president that helped push them.

Dave

December 14th, 2010
2:26 pm

Jefferson,

Why not just use the word ’steal’, since that’s what you mean.

Linda

December 14th, 2010
2:27 pm

Debbie @ 1:55, Jobs have not been disappearing since ‘02. The Bush tax cuts were passed in ‘01 & ‘03. According to the Bureau of Labor, the average annual unemployment rates were:
‘98 4.5%
‘99 4.2%
‘00 4.0%
‘01 4.7%
‘02 5.8%
‘03 6.0
‘04 5.5%
‘05 5.1%
‘06 4.6%
‘07 4.6%
‘08 5.8%
‘09 9.3%
Now, it’s almost 10%.
Before the Bush tax cuts went into effect, unemployment hit a peak of 6.5% in 6/03. After the Bush tax cuts went into effect, unemployment went as low as 4.4% in 3/07, but without question, the unemployment rate constantly & gradually went down with the Bush tax cuts until the economic crisis hit in ‘08. As a matter of fact, other than the years I posted above (’98-’00), the unemployment rate was the lowest during the Bush adm. than since 1969!!!!!!!

Double Standard

December 14th, 2010
2:32 pm

Sometimes I connect the dots and learn things ignored by the corporate media. Every Friday evening the FDIC releases the names of banks that it just ordered closed. I peruse the list out of curiosity to see what local banks may have died. Over time, I’ve noticed that a lot of banks were closed in the state of Georgia. That makes no sense since it was not one of the states hit worst by the real estate crash, like: Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and California. I just counted the current list and the state with most bank failures is Georgia, which has just 3.16% of the American population and ranks 9th in state population! Hard hit California has four times its population and fewer bank failures?

The Feds nor our corporate media seem interested in this obvious clue of massive criminal activity that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. I googled and see that only “Business Week” made a comment on this oddity, noting cases of obvious criminal abuse remain uninvestigated. Unfortunately, most of our tough investigative journalists have been retired and replaced by wealthy spokesmodels. Note that our most famous investigative program “60 Minutes” now reserves one of its three weekly slots for a celebrity interview. PBS “Frontline” remains the best, although its content has been watered down after if was somehow taken over the “New York Times” corporate syndicate.

Here is my question for the Feds and our media: How can the state of Georgia have the most bank failures when it ranks 9th in population and wasn’t one of the states hardest hit by the real estate crash? I wonder if such observations may cause my demise. In the movie “The Pelican Brief” an obscure law school student writes paper on a theory about who killed two Supreme Court Justices. She soon finds herself in mortal danger. Perhaps one of my odd musing may cause well-dressed men to gun me down in an “apparent robbery attempt,” while this website closes down for “content violations.” Yet I ask again: Who illegally pocketed billions of dollars in federally backed loans from Georgia banks?