Morning Must Reads for September 26, 2011

Good Monday morning! Do you know where your weekend went? Me Neither.

Public support for family care, particularly generous in Nordic countries, tends to improve women’s ability to combine paid and unpaid work, explaining why Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are each ranked higher than the United States on the Newsweek/Daily Beast list. But the rankings would change considerably if policies relevant to mothers were factored in. For instance, consideration of early childhood education and paid leaves from work would move France up from its 12th position on the list and move the United States way down.

One building block of a rational family care policy in the United States is paid sick leave. Seattle recently passed a paid sick leave ordinance. When kids get sick, they often can't go to school, forcing an employed parent to miss paid work and potentially jeopardizing their job. High-income families typically have paid sick leave in their workplace. The same is not true for all parents and, thus, why a citywide ordinance is required. Philadelphia City Council passed a paid sick leave ordinance, but Mayor Nutter vetoed it. Check in with the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces to find out how you can help advance paid sick leave in Philadelphia.

The main reason for our current high level of unemployment is that, due to weak consumer demand, business owners have no reason to rehire the workers that lost their jobs in the recession ... The best 'stimulus' is to restore confidence and inspire consumer spending. This spending would be spread all through the economy — not just targeted here and there, like government-directed programs. Our 'management team' in Washington needs to figure this out.

Did you get that? The chief problem in the economy right now is a lack of demand and the best way to deal with that is to "restore confidence"? The confidence fairy lives!

Dunkelberg spends most of his column explaining why stimulus will not work. A wide range of economic forecasters disagree. As proof that math has a well known liberal bias, here is my colleague Stephen Herzenberg looking into previous work by Dunkelberg evaluating paid sick days in Philadelphia.

This discussion raises a legitimate question, however. Given the dismal state of the economy, is the president’s proposal large enough? It may not be. The economy is suffering from a profound shortfall of demand, and most forecasts call for only anemic growth over the next few years. The experts who have looked at the administration’s jobs package estimate it will most likely raise growth by one to two percentage points. That would certainly help, but an even larger and more sustained package deserves consideration.

Romer does an excellent job reviewing the various objections to doing more to stimulate growth.

Unemployment among young people has remained high throughout the recession, especially among high school dropouts, said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. But there has been a higher-than-normal unemployment rate even among 18-to-24-year-olds with college degrees, Van Horn said. 'It's a recession effect.' In fact, during the recession, the United States has recorded the lowest rate of participation in the labor force among people younger than 24 'in quite a long time,' Van Horn said. That effect has long-lasting consequences, he said.

Cheeky headline writers!

Obama recently signed the 'America Invents Act,' which reduces the patent application wait for start-ups. He also calls for better math and science education — so America has a sufficiently educated and skilled workforce — and infrastructure upgrades such as increased broadband capability. He calls it 'investment.' Many Republicans call it too much government. They argue that the government should reduce taxes and regulation and get out of the way. That, more than anything, will enable U.S. industry to innovate, create jobs and otherwise do what comes natural, they contend. One divisive issue involves the NIH. It’s is a major source of funding for medical research facilities across the country, including Penn State Hershey, which received $66 million last year.

Classic loser liberal framing. All economies operate with a mix of public and private institutions aimed at shaping the growth and distribution of income. The key is finding the right mix of institutions and rules that generate equitable and sustainable growth.


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