Friday, December 30, 2011

Breaking through media deceptions about the reality of America's jobs and health care crisis

Talk Nation Radio for December 30, 2011
Breaking through media deceptions about the reality of the jobs and health care crisis

Health Care and Jobs, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Steven F. Hipple, Bureau of Labor Statistics

There has been an inflating of the US success story on jobs at market news sites like Market Watch, PBS Nightly Business Report, CNN Money, and others. We go beyond the headlines about improvements to talk about the reality of what the numbers mean. Also, there has been little or no mention of the problem of corporations and Wall Street investing in health care as a core reason for inflated costs for both health care and health care insurance. Health Care For All activist Dr. Margaret Flowers talks about the crisis provoked by Wall Street speculation in health care stocks, and points out that by getting Wall Street out of health care it would be much easier to make it affordable. (CNN)

TRT: 29:16 music fades
Produced by Dori Smith, Storrs, CT
Music of Fritz Heede, plus clips: NPR, David Rovics
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We hear from Dr. Margaret Flowers, a congressional fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program (here) and a pediatrician based in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Flowers has been provoking national debate on health care with her protests at Congressional meetings in Washington D.C. and at meetings where health care corporations were discussing ways to make more money on Wall Street. Dr. Flowers has pressed the issue through protests at these events, and has gotten her views across despite the lack of an invitation. She was arrested on several occasions. She also talks about the data in the Occupied Super Committee report on health care.

First, we go over the past few months of news on the way new unemployment claims have been reported. In many cases news outlets used a slight decline in weekly claims to argue that unemployment rates were falling dramatically. The information appears to have helped volatile stock markets recover, but was it true? As we learn, much depends on who is counting, and what data gets included in the reports. It had been widely reported that the US unemployment rate fell to 8.6%, a drop from last year. But we were skeptical. So we turned to Steven F. Hipple of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for answers. We soon learned that the numbers were not inclusive enough. "When you add these marginally attached, again that was about 2.6 million people, when you add that into the unemployment figures we call it U5 the actual rate would be 10.2% and that is published each month." Furthermore, large numbers of unemployed had not been included in the figures being used during November and December of 2011. (See U5 chart here. )

We also mention a report from December 30, 2011 where a negative set of numbers on new unemployment claims is made to seem positive.. (See: "It's impressive to finally see unemployment claims fall below 400,000," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist with PNC Financial Services, who said that if there were a magic number for unemployment claims, 400,000 would be it.")

Related pages and articles:

Democracy Now, May 13, 2009, Margaret Flowers and "Baucus’s Raucous Caucus: Doctors, Nurses and Activists Arrested Again for Protesting Exclusion of Single-Payer Advocates at Senate Hearing on Healthcare" Democracy Now, "Advocates of single-payer universal healthcare — the system favored by most Americans — continue to protest their exclusion from discussions on healthcare reform. On Tuesday, five doctors, nurses and single-payer advocates were arrested at a Senate Finance Committee hearing, bringing the total number of arrests in less than a week to thirteen. We speak with two of those arrested: Single Payer Action founder Russell Mokhiber and Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program."

Quote: Margaret Flowers: "Our country has gone completely off track.... We have tried the traditional tools... We must stand together... the veterans are showing us the way."

Photo at Flikr, Physicians take charge.

Jobs, Unemployment crisis, global factors:

America: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, here. See Press Releases for weekly and survey of new unemployment claims information. Also this page for data.

UK Independent, International job loss, epidemic. See, Public sector job losses to hit 600,000 by 2016

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