Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can You Help a Brother Out?

Apparently not.

A new study revealed that more Americans than ever are hunkering down and holding onto a selfish and self-centered view of their lives and the world they live in, despite The Great Recession.

Sure, it seems an arbitrary study, but in today's economy, it means a lot more than the numbers suggest. First, it shows that more Americans are thinking about themselves (and granted their families) than about the families down the street, those who have been evicted or foreclosed, those who have been laid off, or those who had work and financial difficulties before all this began. That's troubling, but in an economy like this, you'd expect the opposite: a bit more sympathy, some outreach, an outpouring of support (though perhaps not financially, but emotionally), and some focus on doing what is best overall, not just for one person. Second, it's a stark cry from the mentality of The Great Depression: survival of all is pinnacle, everyone is in a bind so do what you can to help anyone else, those with families to feed are not laid off while those with no family to support them are kept employed (for those very reasons), people teaching other people basic skills like farming/gardening, sewing, and job skills (without requiring financial compensation), and those at the top of the fiscal hierarchy giving back more in donations and assistance to those at the bottom.

Sure, we glorify a few stories here and there about CEOs giving back their bonuses as individual bonuses to each of the company employees. And sure, Bill Gates did donate 57% of his earnings to charity, etc. last year. But the Waltons (of Wal-Mart) donated $2,000 each last year to charities and other nonprofit organizations, and a poll conducted by CNN shows that nonprofit organizations donations have remained constant or shrunk slightly from the middle class, while the upper class has severely cut off funding, almost completely in some cases.

And the point still stands: the upper-class still only have a 1% unemployment rate, compared to an 8.9% rate for the middle-class (and rising by the day), and a 16.9% unemployment rate for the lower-class (those who have given up looking for work or have accepted part-time jobs in lieu of no full-time employment.)

Tally all these up and we have a national unemployment (which counts underemployment and/or extended unemployment beyond the confines of the figures) of 21.2%. That's STAGGERING. And while it's not the 25% of total unemployment (which is estimated at about 14% right now) of The Great Depression, it's getting awfully close.

The point is the 8.9% figure is very misleading and far more than 7 million Americans are out of work right now, and with more than 3 million college graduates set to enter the workforce between April 1 and September 1, this rate will again be misleading by an additional 3 million (or more) workers. It's scary to think about the serious discounts of a figure like that.

Why can't the government figure out a more effective way to collect employment figures? Relying on unemployment insurance figures only works well if people are within the 53-week window of being paid unemployment benefits. After that, they are no longer counted, even if they haven't found a job. Those people who were self-employed (freelancers) or were paid under the table (nannies, handymen, etc.) are not counted, and people (mostly young people and students) who have not found their first jobs yet, but have to pay rent, student loans, and other bills, are also not counted.

This country needs a serious employment reversal immediately. We need to see job creation NOW. If we wait until September to start to see jobs perk up around here, we might be looking at an unemployment rate akin to The Great Depression.

Seriously, hiring has been at a stand-still for more than a year with only little glimmers of hope when it comes to finding a new job. It's getting rather ridiculous.

Perhaps it's because I'm liberal-leaning, but I would gladly support a second stimulus package that would completely bridge states' decimated budget shortfalls, and that would entirely spur job growth. The first stimulus package was like a blood transfusion to keep us alive, we need a second one, an IV to help us start to get better. Right now, the doctors are wishing for us to get better, but we need more. I'd rather pay higher taxes 5-10 years from now when the TRUE unemployment rate is less than 5% again. I would much rather pay more then and be guaranteed a job and the types of basic human securities that drive growth and opportunity, than remain stagnant now because of inflation and higher tax worries years from now.

This problem was too many years in the making to have one quick solution and to let the rest happen on its own. It could take another 10 years for that to happen (and we're only 6 months into that.) I don't want to see unemployment rates rise for the next 3 years before we see a downtrend. I want it to stop next month and start reversing and I know I'm not alone. Capitalism and selfishness must be seriously examined, our goals and objectives ratified, and our hearts and minds rebooted to focus on our communal well-being, happiness, and success.

1 comment:

  1. In order to win the best jobs and ultimately your dream job in today's world, you have to work like a ninja. Your job search must be different than everyone else's. You have to search where others don't search. You must have a strategic plan of attack.