Saturday, July 24, 2010

Daniel Schorr

The long time, highly respected journalist, Daniel Schorr died yesterday at the age of 93. Years ago I had the pleasure of reading his book: Clearing the Air which described his experience reading his own name on President Nixon's enemies list on live TV and his leaking of the Pike Congressional Committee's report on illegal CIA and FBI activities.

He once described how he approaches a television news story:

"My typical way of operating is not to stick a camera and a microphone in somebody's face and let him say whatever self-serving thing he wants to say, but to spend a certain amount of time getting the basic information, as though I was going to write a newspaper story.... [I] may end up putting a mike in somebody's face, but it is usually for the final and hopefully embarassing question."

In broadcast news today, the philosophy seems to be that "balance" comes from allowing each side a chance to say "whatever self-serving thing" they want to say, as opposed to searching for, and broadcasting the facts.

There's a great and detailed tribute to Mr. Schorr at NPR:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conservatives' advice to the unemployed increasingly bizarre

Laid off from your job? No problem. Just offer to work at your old job for half the money. That's the advice of Jeff Miron of the conservative Cato Institute. In a debate on The Nightly Business Report about extending unemployment benefits, Mr. Miron said the following:

"The broader thing is it creates the wrong incentive. There's clear evidence that people who are unemployed tend to leave unemployment just before their unemployment benefits run out. It's not just a question -- it's not the right way to think about it -- are there jobs? The right way is are there jobs at what wages? If people lower their wage demands, if they offer to take say their old job for 50 percent of what they were getting, there would be a lot more jobs out there. That's the adjustment that needs to happen in many cases. But unemployment insurance and especially very, very long-term unemployment insurance impedes that kind of adjustment."

Full transcript is here:

Perhaps Mr. Miron has never been laid off or has no experience in HR. If he did, he'd know that being laid off isn't an opportunity for negotiation - it's about completing some paperwork before you're escorted off the premises. After that you're persona non grata at your former place of employment. They will talk to you about the bureaucratic aspects of being terminated such as your 401K or Cobra, but they're not interested in talking to you about positions in the company.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Great minds think alike :)

It seems that economist Paul Krugman agrees with me about extending unemployment benefits: .Of course, his article is more informed and eloquent than mine:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I Got a Free T-shirt!

I got a free shirt from Replyz for answering a lot of tweeters' questions. Very nice. Pikachu not included.

I described Replyz in a previous blog post:

Do conservatives believe deep down that the unemployed are really deadbeats?

Last night on the PBS News Hour there was a debate about extending unemployment after the Senate failed to approve a bill that would have mandated it.

William Beach of the Conservative Heritage Foundation stated that if you extend the benefits people are less likely to look for work:

JEFFREY BROWN: Right. But we also heard that there is longer -- people are unemployed for longer periods.

WILLIAM BEACH: Indeed. Indeed. And we have created a bit of a problem by extending unemployment beyond that 26 weeks.
We know that that changes the behavior of people who are unemployed. They don't look for work as much as they otherwise would be. If you have got that 26th week looming ahead of you, all the academic studies show that you go out and you really begin to make an active job search.
Not as much job training is undertaken or education, so there are some incentives that are put in place that are rather perverse...

The full transcript is here:

Of course no matter how active the unemployed are at looking for work, you can't hire five people for one job opening. 5-to-1 is the current ratio of job seekers to employment opportunities among the officially unemployed (when those who are not receiving unemployment benefits are counted the ratio is higher).

So, what about retraining? Well, I've been a software developer for over 20 years and just a few years ago my profession was the sort of job people were retrained for. Now there are many unemployed technology workers and if those like myself who have a college degree and years of experience have trouble finding work, what chance do the retrained have?

The fact of the matter is that businesses throttle the rate of employment, not workers.

I wonder. Can I be retrained to be a smug political pundit? There seems to be a lot of demand for them.