Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First They Came For...

There is a good article on Naked Capitalism today pointing out the obvious - that high unemployment actually is a good thing for the stockholding classes. For this reason, you can be sure that whatever the unemployment rate is-fifteen percent, twenty percent, sixty percent, it will be declared "the new normal", and politicians will say "government doesn't create jobs", shrug their shoulders and do nothing. Here is the article:

Why The Rich Love Unemployment

In other words, the more of us are unemployed, the better off the elites are. Of course, if you point this out, no one will believe you, or worse, will call you a Communist. The question I have is, what possible incentive could there be to bring down the unemployment rate when every decision Washington makes is designed to benefit the wealthy elites who bankroll the campaigns of both parties?

This why the unemployed are completely forgotten. If you're not one of them - you don't care. Then, when you are, no one cares about you. After all, in America, if you're unemployed, it's obviously you're fault, right? It's like the famous poem from Pastor Martin Niemoller about how the Nazis were able to exterminate entire sections of society right under the noses of German citizens:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

With apologies to Niemoller:

First they came for the factory workers,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a factory worker.

Then they came for the union members,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a union member.

Then they came for the blue-collar workers,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a blue-collar worker.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

This could explain why the corporate-owned media has completely shifted away from covering the unemployment crisis to playing up the deficit as the nation's biggest problem. After all, the deficit concerns the investor class-they may not get back all the interest on those T-Bills they own. The investor class does not have to worry about unemployment, since they do not have jobs-they make their living from "investments", that is, the productivity of the rest of us not lucky enough to be in the investor class. This graph tells the story:

That caused the even the BBC to wonder why the complete and total lack of acknowledgement that there even is an unemployment problem.This article is remarkable not only for its content, but for pointing out that the actual unemployment rate is 20 percent!
I was laid off more than five years ago. Today I work full-time as a freelance - but earn 70% less than I did when I had a staff job.

 Grapes of Wrath producer Darryl Zanuck was no left-winger - nor was director John Ford It is a grave disappointment to Her Majesty's Revenue Collectors and a catastrophe for my family.
There are millions like me: people over 50, professional credentials (and achievements), working as "consultants" and not earning a penny, living on savings, trying to re-train. Where in the unemployment figures do we turn up?
I ask the question because I know the answer. When you include us, the actual number of unemployed in America is closer to 20% than 9%.
Now, that number is eye-popping. So why do writers and artists seem uninterested in the human toll of this terrifying downturn?
The question hit me a couple of weeks ago when by chance I saw director John Ford's classic, The Grapes of Wrath, on a long-haul flight. Where was the equivalent for our time?
The Grapes of Wrath is all the more amazing because it was a product of the Hollywood studio system. Neither Ford nor producer Darryl Zanuck were known as left-wingers. They were quite the opposite.
Yet something about what was happening in their country affected them and they decided to make a film out of John Steinbeck's novel of the same name (now, Steinbeck really was a leftie).
There is a pitiless authenticity to the movie. Ford seems to know these people inside out. Perhaps the distance between those who had everything, like Ford, and the dispossessed, like the Joads, wasn't as great as it is today.
Perhaps it's because the American Midwest was only a generation past wildness and the older actors in the film were for the most part born into that world.
The closest anyone has come in this downturn to dealing with the crisis of losing one's job is the film Up in the Air, a romance about a consultant (George Clooney) brought in to do the dirty work of laying people off.
The film invites more sympathy for Clooney, when his married girlfriend dumps him, than for the folks he has fired.
BBC News: Where are Today's Steinbecks?

Of course, college graduates have their pick of jobs, right?
The individual stories are familiar. The chemistry major tending bar. The classics major answering phones. The Italian studies major sweeping aisles at Wal-Mart.

Now evidence is emerging that the damage wrought by the sour economy is more widespread than just a few careers led astray or postponed. Even for college graduates — the people who were most protected from the slings and arrows of recession — the outlook is rather bleak.

Employment rates for new college graduates have fallen sharply in the last two years, as have starting salaries for those who can find work. What’s more, only half of the jobs landed by these new graduates even require a college degree, reviving debates about whether higher education is “worth it” after all.

“I have friends with the same degree as me, from a worse school, but because of who they knew or when they happened to graduate, they’re in much better jobs,” said Kyle Bishop, 23, a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who has spent the last two years waiting tables, delivering beer, working at a bookstore and entering data. “It’s more about luck than anything else.”
New York Times: Outloook is Bleak, Even for College Graduates

As one pertinent comment reads:

"This is exactly what the corporate elite desire - educated, in debt, in no position to ask for anything. The perfect employee. Why stop here? Let's bring back slavery while we are at it."
Chris, Peoria, AZ

To my mind, any addressing of unemployment must also address the following:

- The lack of decent pay and benefits at the jobs that do exist, like the $7.50 and hour manufacturing jobs.

- The rise of part-time and temporary work with no job security.

- The fact that to get any decent-paying job you need to become a college debt-serf for the rest of your life.

- The fact that job creation is not keeping pace with population growth and hasn't for a long time.

- Outsourcing, insourcing, automation and illegal immigration.

The issues are far more than just the 9% (or whatever) unemployment that the government and elite-owned media are distracting us with. Let's face it, the elite want unemplyment as high as possible and they run the government. Republican, Democrat, it doesn't matter whose ineffective policies are being enacted, since those are the only choices were given by the elites. Now that corporate profits have exceeded their 2008 levels, as far as Washington is concerned, it's Mission Accomplished. The needs of ordinary Americans get nothing more than lip-service and hollow rhetoric. I wonder how bad things will have to get before the average American realizes the truth.

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