Tuesday, September 20, 2011 4:37 PM
Your therapist’s happiness level rises when you visit her couch. Firefighters are delighted to help you get Kitty out of a tree. Sins to confess to your priest or minister? He’s tickled to hear them.
Psychologist, firefighter, and clergy are included in the list of the “10 happiest jobs” based on data collected via the General Social Survey of the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “Since experts say that social interaction drives job satisfaction, it makes sense that clergy are happiest of all,” Christian Science Monitor writes. “Social interaction and helping people [is a] combination that’s tough to beat for job happiness.”
This formula explains why teachers and physical therapists are on the list, but also included are autonomous, creative professions like author and artist, and labor-intensive jobs like operating engineer. “Operating engineers get to play with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors,” says the Monitor. And, “with more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, no wonder they are happy.” The full list follows:
3. Physical therapists
5. Special education teachers
9. Financial services sales agents
10. Operating engineers
Interestingly, many of the occupations that fall at the bottom of the job-satisfaction list involve information technology, which can create isolating work, notes Forbes:
1. Director of information technology
2. Director of sales and marketing
3. Product manager
4. Senior web developer
5. Technical specialist
6. Electronics technician
7. Law clerk
8. Technical support analyst
9. CNC machinist
10. Marketing manager
Where does your job fall on the happiness scale? Are you bolstered by the helping hand you extend to others or satisfied by what you create—or should you pack it all in and learn to drive a bulldozer?
Sources: Christian Science Monitor, Forbes
Image by velvettangerine, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, September 15, 2011 4:25 PM
The data on the poor in this country announced Tuesday by the Census Bureau was not good, and due to measures already taken by Congress and those likely to come, the outlook doesn’t provide much reason for hope. Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones gives some of the “lowlights”:
The overall poverty rate has reached a record high and the number of people living in deep poverty—that is, below 50 percent of the poverty level, or $11,000 for a family of four—is the highest it’s been since 1975. Experts are predicting that things are only going to get worse in the years to come….
Median income has sunk lower than it was almost 15 years ago. The number of people living without health insurance is up slightly. The number of kids under the age of six living in extreme poverty is up to nearly 12 percent. The recession has been especially hard on women and people of color. The extreme poverty rate for women is more than 6 percent, the highest recorded in 22 years, and the poverty rate for black women is up a percentage point from 2009, to more than 25 percent.
In These Times’ David Moberg continues:
But it is especially painful because it follows what many are calling a “lost decade” for the majority of Americans. The median household income peaked in 1999 at $53,252, then dropped in most of the following years, never recovering its pre-recession high. Likewise, even during the recovery of the Bush years, poverty levels crept upwards. The big exception was the very rich, who captured most of the new income generated as productivity of the economy rose and inequality continued to grow.
All this while we learn, as associate editor Margret Aldrich wrote on her Sweet Pursuit blog last week, “Economic equality equals happiness. So suggests a new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. In order for Americans to be truly blissed out, it finds, we need to close the gap between our wealthiest and poorest citizens.”
Unfortunately we see that’s not happening, leaving The Take Away this morning to ask the discouraging question, “Does America Care About Its Poor?” Though The Take Away left it up to listeners, the answer seems to be, for the most part, no. That said, Moberg at In These Times does point out that “bad as these numbers are, they would have been much worse if many government programs and policies had not been in place,” including unemployment insurance, The Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and the Obama administration’s stimulus programs. (I don’t know how many times economists and others have to point out that the only problem with Obama’s stimulus was that is simply wasn’t big enough before it will be okay to use the word “stimulus” again. But I digress.) Still, “welfare” programs aren’t what they used to be. “Evidence suggests,” writes Jarret Murphy in City Limits, “that today’s needy families are, in large measure, not getting the help to which they are legally entitled. In 1996, for every 100 families that were in poverty, 79 were on welfare. In 2010, the figure was 28, according to the CBPP [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].” LaDonna Pavetti, the vice president for family income support policy at the CBPP is quoted as saying, “It’s just truly people are not being served. And it’s not because we’ve had this incredible decline in poverty.” Point proven by the recent Census data.
But now the conversation in Washington is switching back to jobs, so everything should be just fine, right? We’ve gotten our priorities straight, so we can figure out how to fix the problem. Not so fast. Writing about the declining middle class in The Atlantic, Don Peck writes that the jobs that are coming down the pike will be low-skill, low-wage jobs, jobs like the ones highlighted a decade ago by Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickel and Dimed and now touted (though not in so many words) by the possible Republican presidential candidate from Texas. In short, jobs that won’t bring people up out of poverty and back into any sort of middle class. “[T]he overall pattern of change in the U.S. labor market suggests,” Peck writes,
that in the next decade or more, a larger proportion of Americans may need to take work in occupations that have historically required little skill and paid low wages. Analysis by David Autor indicates that from 1999 to 2007, low-skill jobs grew substantially as a share of all jobs in the United States. And while the lion’s share of jobs lost during the recession were middle-skill jobs, job growth since then has been tilted steeply toward the bottom of the economy; according to a survey by the National Employment Law Project, three-quarters of American job growth in 2010 came within industries paying, on average, less than $15 an hour. One of the largest challenges that Americans will face in the coming years will be doing what we can to make the jobs that have traditionally been near the bottom of the economy better, more secure, and more fulfilling—in other words, more like middle-class jobs.
Peck’s article offers a number of suggestions about how to regain a middle class and avoid further separation between those at the top and those at the bottom. Unfortunately, nothing so serious as his article seems to be on the table in Washington discussions. And it’s Americans who are paying for it.
Audio from The Take Away with guest Photojouranlist Steve Liss, director of AmericanPoverty.org:
Source: Mother Jones, In These Times, The Take Away, City Limits, The Atlantic
Image by sylvar, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 4:34 PM
This article originally appeared at
Marin Independent Journal
The negative trends in the nation's capital are mostly due to extreme GOP ideologues in Congress. But they've been enabled by too many Democrats who keep giving ground while Republican leaders refuse to give an inch.
Many a political truth can be spoken in jest, and that was the case with a mock news item that appeared in The Onion last week.
“A day after signing legislation that raised the government debt ceiling and authorized steep budget cuts,” the satirical magazine reported, “President Obama thanked Democrats as well as Democrats for their willingness to make tough, but necessary, concessions during negotiations.”
The Onion went on: “Obama added that while it may look ugly at times, politics is about Democrats giving up what they want, as well as Democrats giving up what they want, until an agreement can ultimately be reached.”
Compromise is one thing, but capitulation is another — especially when core principles of decency and fairness are at stake.
We must stand our ground on behalf of seniors, children, the disabled and other vulnerable Americans. All the rhetoric about “shared sacrifice” rings hollow when the vast majority of us are being sacrificed to the financial benefit of big banks and large corporations.
There are plenty of sensible and effective ways to reduce the deficit—including a transaction tax on Wall Street, closure of tax loopholes for big companies, an end to the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy and a major reduction in the military budget.
Instead, the bipartisan dealmakers in Washington are slashing the safety net that's essential for vast numbers of Americans.
One of the most dangerous aspects of the recent budget deal is that it explicitly sets the stage for future actions to undermine Medicare. This scenario strikes at the heart of precious values. I'm committed to defending Social Security and Medicare on the campaign trail and as a member of Congress.
I fully agree with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey's explanation for why she voted against the new budget deal.
Woolsey pointed out that the deal “puts virtually the entire burden on working families and the middle class while asking nothing from billionaires, millionaires and companies that send jobs overseas.”
In Washington, job one should be creating jobs. And that won't happen by continuing to give tax cuts to the wealthy while imposing benefit cuts on the rest of us.
Corporations are sitting on huge quantities of cash. But rather than expanding the workforce, they're hoarding the money—and stretching workers in the name of “productivity”—while often posting record profits.
Three years ago I wrote a column opposing the Wall Street bank bailout then being debated in Congress. Unfortunately, my concerns were borne out by later events.
Banks took the bailout money and largely used it to buy other banks—instead of making loans to small businesses and helping homeowners keep their homes.
With the new budget deal, Congress again acted in the financial interests of the rich instead of the vast majority of us.
With chronic unemployment at historic highs and personal savings in the tank, fewer and fewer Americans have the buying power that can pull the economy out of its deep ravine.
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in the vital lessons of the New Deal. Many millions of good jobs must be created—and that will require well-funded federal jobs programs on a large scale.
Trickle-down economics, relying on the tender mercies of powerful corporations, won't get it done.
Thursday, August 06, 2009 12:19 PM
Leaving journalism? Let the good people at Time Out New York be your career counselors. After surveying experts in fields like public relations, philanthropy, they've come up with a list of possible next steps for any burned out or burned up journalists. Pick from publicist, editorial strategist, grant writer, project manager, or, my personal favorite (it's always good to have a backup plan): private eye. Is it as easy all over the country as it is in New York City to make that particular leap? Just a 2-hour walk-up test and $400!
This is no laughing matter of course. We want and need journalists to stay journalists—the good ones at least.
Time Out New York
, licensed under
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 7:36 PM
Google and other internet companies base their businesses on giving things away for free. Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired, has stepped up as the primary cheerleader for this kind of business model. For newspapers, however, this model doesn’t work so well. In an interview with the German newspaper Spiegel, Anderson admits, “In the past, the media was a full-time job. But maybe the media is going to be a part time job. Maybe media won't be a job at all, but will instead be a hobby.”
This doesn’t worry Anderson too much, however. He says, “If something has happened in the world that's important, I'll hear about it. I heard about the protests in Iran before it was in the papers because the people who I subscribe to on Twitter care about those things.”
Image by Daquella manera, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008 3:20 PM
Energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs may be lighting all of our homes within 10 years, but by next fall, they will cause the lights to turn out in six Cleveland-area General Electric plants.
Hundreds of union light bulb makers will lose their jobs, reports Lisa Rab in the Cleveland Scene, because it’s cheaper to make CFLs in countries with an abundance of cheap labor, like China or Hungary. Due to China’s careful strategic insights and planning in the 1990s, Rab reports that this notorious polluter now “produces an estimated 80 percent of the world’s CFLs.”
Rab’s report puts a wrinkle in the typical feel-good environmental interest story by highlighting the competing toll on fairly paid, union labor. In response to the layoffs, the union began a “Screw That Bulb” campaign to get the word out that GE was shipping its light-bulb jobs overseas. Union official David Raleigh told Rab, “The facilities are here….[GE owns] the buildings. You have a trained work force that can be adapted. It really is a shame.”
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