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Green Shoots: The GR Press and the Economy

September 19, 2009

In recent weeks there has been a great deal of news coverage, both local and national that keeps announcing this idea that the economy is turning around, or in their words there are “Green Shoots” showing in the economy.

Anytime there is an announcement that “new” jobs are coming to West Michigan it is framed as a celebration, even though rarely does this news coverage talk about what kind of jobs are being created. Are these jobs fulltime, do they pay a livable wage, do they have benefits, and what sorts of economic subsidies (read: corporate welfare) are offered to these companies from the State or local municipalities.

Juxtaposed with the Green Shoots in the economy coverage are articles like the ones that appeared in the GR Press today. There were two front-page stories, an Associated Press story on state-by-state unemployment numbers and an article on the looming loss of unemployment benefits for thousands.

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The AP article mentions that Michigan lost 42,900 jobs and is expected to maintain a jobless rate of 15.8% through 2010. The article cites government representatives from Colorado and New Jersey to put a regional spin on the numbers. The only other sources cited in the article were Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and a staff person with IHS Global Insight, a corporate run financial analysis group.

The GR Press article on the looming loss of unemployment benefits is good in the sense that it provides readers with some hard data on how many people will have no income coming in over the next few months. The story also puts a human face on this problem by talking to two people who will soon lose their unemployment benefits. The Press reporter also talked to Congressmen Hoekstra & Ehlers, as well as the head of a local food bank and the President of the Michigan League for Human Services.  However, all of these comments are centered around the need to provide some federal assistance or social service relief for people.

What is missing from the story in an analysis of the economy, particularly since it is one year after the Wall Street Bailout. Robert Weissman, writing for Counterpunch.org, said that according to;

“The Special Inspector General set up to oversee the bailout estimates that government agencies, including the Federal Reserve, will ultimately put out more than $23 trillion in various programs and supports related to the financial crisis. This total is almost three times what was spent on World War II, in adjusted dollars.”

Public Citizen also just published a report on the Wall Street Bailout 1 year later and note that the financial sector has already spent $200 million on lobbying Washington on order to continue to guarantee that they will not have to pay back the taxpayer-funded bailout and that there will be little if no accountability in how they operate in the future.

It’s too bad that the GR Press writers and editors cannot or refuse to make the link between local unemployment, increasing financial hardships for working people and the national economy. In the end we are left with just feeling bad for those who are jobless.

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