There are good jobs and there are crappy jobs. There are burger-flipping jobs and there are skilled trades and professions. There are jobs that pay well and have benefits and jobs that don’t.

There is even the job you had, now paying less, with no benefits.

Much of the post-recession job growth is at low end. Many “better” jobs not at the low end pay less and offer fewer benefits than they used to. So the middle class continues to fall. The “economic divide” — the gap between the top few percent and the rest of us — continues to accelerate, pushed by the recent continuation of tax cuts for the wealthy, stock bubble-pumping from the Fed, and ongoing attacks on labor. And now, in particular by “austerity” budgets in the states and the pullback of stimulus and other programs from the federal government.

If you are desperate you’ll take any job, and the “austerity” idea — cutting taxes for the rich and using the resulting deficits to force cuts in unemployment, services, things government does for We, the People — forces people to be desperate enough to do just that. At the same time, it is cutting the number of jobs and the possibility that the economy will ever create more.

Why Crappy Jobs? Plutocracy and Austerity

Why isn’t the economy rebounding and producing lots of good jobs? The answer has two parts: plutocracy and austerity. Plutocracy forces the money and power to the top, and that power forces austerity measures on us to remove even more money and power from the rest.

Plutocracy: Fundamental changes brought in by the Reagan Revolution have come home to roost, shifting almost all of our economy’s income growth to a few at the top, while pitting working people around the world against each other. The forced decline of labor unions has left people on their own against giant corporations.

This video shows what it is like to negotiate on your own, up against companies with billions in resources:

Austerity: The second part of the crappy-jobs, slow-growth equation is austerity. Tax cuts for the wealthy have resulted in huge budget deficits, defunding government’s power to protect regular people. The plutocracy uses these deficits as an excuse to force budget cuts, “spending down” our infrastructure by deferring maintenance and modernization, cutting back on education, cutting back on basic scientific research and cutting back in many other areas thereby reducing our economic competitiveness. But they’re doing fine today, so they don’t care about how this hurts the rest of us tomorrow.

Austerity cuts back economic growth. This week a Goldman Sachs report says that the proposed budget cuts passed by the House shave a couple percent off of economic growth. Goldman Sachs Says GOP Budget Plan Will Hurt Economy

A Goldman Sachs economist has warned that the $60 billion package of spending cuts proposed by the Republicans to counter President Obama’s proposal could slow economic growth.

The cutbacks will also hurt employment. Center for American Progress this week, in Cuts In House GOP’s Continuing Resolution Could Drive The Unemployment Rate Up One Full Point,

Earlier this month, the Economic Policy Institute released a report finding that the $100 billion in discretionary spending cuts that the House GOP passed last weekend would result in the loss of nearly one million jobs. “Cuts of this magnitude will undermine gross domestic product performance at a time when the economy is seeing anemic post-recession growth,” wrote EPI’s Rebecca Theiss.

Another report this week shows how state and local cuts are also shaving growth. And who can be surprised by that? When you lay off thousands of teachers and other government workers, this causes a ripple effect to grocery, clothing and other stores. It causes even more foreclosures. AP: State spending cuts slow US economic growth in Q4,

The government’s new estimate for the October-December quarter illustrates how growing state budget crises could hold back the economic recovery.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that economic growth increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the final quarter of last year. That was down from the initial estimate of 3.2 percent.

. . . State and local governments, wrestling with budget shortfalls, cut spending at a 2.4 percent pace. That was much deeper than the 0.9 percent annualized cut first estimated and was the most since the start of 2010.

The Effect On People

This “austerity” craze — cutting taxes for the rich to force cuts in the things government does for We, the People — is threatening to destroy even the small amount of job creation we are getting. And what is the human effect?

A report from the Coalition on Human Needs titled, A Better Budget for All: Saving Our Economy and Helping Those in Need shows that millions of Americans would suffer from the proposed budget cuts:

At a time when 14 million people are out of work, the House approach to the federal budget fails those who are struggling most, according to a new report by the Coalition on Human Needs for the SAVE for All campaign.

The report draws a sharp contrast between the president’s budget for next fiscal year and the House plan for the remainder of this year, although it also notes serious concerns with elements of the president’s budget. It shows how the proposed budget cuts would both harm individuals and damage the country’s fragile economic recovery. The House plan includes the largest cuts, on an annualized basis, in domestic appropriations funding in history.

An Expanding Economy Fixes This

Cutbacks shrink the economy. And expanding economy provides good jobs with good pay and benefits and fixes budget deficits. We want an expanding economy for We, the People, not tax cuts for the rich and cutbacks on the things government does for We, the People. Tax cuts and austerity provide an opportunity for a few to cash out and take off, but does not provide for the rest of us.

March 10 Summit on Jobs and America’s Future

On March 10, 2011, the Summit on Jobs and America’s Future will bring together leaders and activists who understand that America faces a jobs crisis – and who are committed to building a political movement for sustainable economic growth, dynamic job creation, and a revival of the American economy.

Free. $15 with lunch. Register here.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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About the Author

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson (Redwood City, CA) is a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, writing about American manufacturing, trade and economic/industrial policy. He is also a Senior Fellow with Renew California. Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience including positions as CEO and VP of marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. And he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

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