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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

What Up With Them Jobs?

This is the question many people in the US,- some say, way too many,- have been asking over the last several years. And for some the changes have been drastic indeed,- even grotesquely so. Once in awhile, something hardly believable comes across as news,- such as stories of ex-dot-com yuppies going homeless,- and in this insane world, one tends to believe those stories.

While those who lucked out on dot-com may have had some undeserved luck coming their way, it is clear that they are likely relatively young and on average have provided for themselves sufficiently to weather the storm. Not so for many others, who are older, have family responsibilities, have lost their job, found none (or none that pay nearly as much as the one they lost),- those who silently slip into poverty and hopelessness.

In his article Paul Krugman gives a fairly good overview of the picture. He provides a very good assessment, in my opinion, to what the true result of this administration's tax cuts have been:
What we've just seen is as clear a test of trickledown economics as we're ever likely to get. Twice, in 2001 and in 2003, the administration insisted that a tax cut heavily tilted toward the affluent was just what the economy needed. Officials brushed aside pleas to give relief instead to lower- and middle-income families, who would be more likely to spend the money, and to cash-strapped state and local governments. Given the actual results - huge deficits, but minimal job growth - don't you wish the administration had listened to that advice?
Well, as I said time and again, if you want to stimulate the local economy, give the money to anyone who can not hold it for long,- for instance, give it to the homeless and the prostitutes in the street, and that would be far more certain to ensure that the money is spent locally than when you give it to somebody like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, or even many other people who are less affluent but still affluent enough to invest,- potentially, not even in their own economy.

Returning to the subject of the job situation here,- frankly, I don't have a good handle on it. However, I am not alone here,- the US Department of Labor doesn't either. For instance, unemployment is calculated as a percentage of those who are receiving unemployment assistance or reporting to local labor departments as job seekers. However, for many it has proven so fruitless and frustrating that they stopped even bothering after their unemployment insurance ran out. Some do not collect it for other reasons, thus excluding themselves from the official count. For instance, yours truly is currently unemployed but decided not to collect his unemployment benefits as he is sufficiently wealthy to forgo them. Thus, I did not make the count either.

So, the bottom line is that the situation is fairly grave. The greed, egotism and indifference that permeate the society are likely to only make it worse for those who have fallen into poverty. Our President is alleged to believe that it is their own fault, as he is alleged to say that
"People are poor because they are lazy."
(see this article)
Well, aside from the first question I would ask,- namely, why is George W Bush not poor,- I can only say that the unemployed should not expect much help from this President. Nor from any other President, though someone who does not make maximizing corporate profits his political objective is likely to improve the situation of those in poverty.

We should all think of them,- when donating to charity, when considering our own financial situation, when shopping. Mainly, we should stop being selfish and come out of our shelter of ignorance. The poor are out there. We can help them,-or we can make them desperate. If it is the latter we choose,- well, let's not be surprised when they show up at our doorstep, a weapon in hand, and take by force what we should have shared.

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