Like one of the old jalopies it is supposed to remove from the road, the $3-billion cash-for-clunkers program sputtered to a close on August 24. The allegedly successful boost to the economy left in its wake “a nightmare of red tape and computer glitches for dealers who are owed millions of dollars by the government,” the Los Angeles Times reported on August 25.
Last week, the Obama administration revealed the 48 recipients of $2.4 billion in federal grant money supposedly designed to stimulate domestic production of batteries and other "green" car components while saving or creating jobs. But critics are already blasting the handouts, calling them politically biased, useless, and even unconstitutional.
Unemployment numbers ticked upward during July at a much slower pace than past months, leading many establishment forecasters to conclude that an economic recovery had already begun. The official unemployment rate actually shrunk from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent, even though the U.S. economy lost an additional 247,000 jobs in July.
First-time unemployment claims continue to increase at a faster pace than expected. “The Labor Department said the number of claims in the week ending July 25 rose by 25,000 from an upwardly revised figure the previous week,” the Agence France Press reported July 30.
In another example of turning lemonade into lemons in economically troubled times, the federal minimum wage increased yesterday from $6.55 an hour to $7.25 an hour. It's certainly a fashionable measure, but will it actually improve the lot of low-income workers?