Over 40 million working age Americans are now directly affected in their welfare and well-being by an economy that keeps sinking ever deeper into a debt morass. Average hours worked per week dropped to 33, the lowest level in at least 40 years. Millions of full-time workers are being downgraded to part-time. The overall jobless rate hit 9.5%. Throw in discouraged workers who want full-time work, and the labor underutilization rate climbed to 16.5%.
The unemployment news is even worse for young people. Nearly one in four teenagers seeking work are unemployed; four out of five (80%) of recent college graduates are unable to find a job.
A large component of the unemployment numbers is young people who are robbed of the chance to enter the workforce at a crucial time in their lives.
There is a growing gap between the young on the one side and the generation of their parents on the other, which is a dangerous and potentially explosive situation, certainly when you’re talking about 10-20 million of them. No benefits, no pension and no health care for the majority of the lucky few who find work. No job for the rest. And no income. No chance to buy a home and raise a family. That’s the kind of material that is tailor-made for breaking societies apart. A free market system is fine by me, but only if there are fair and equal opportunities for everyone.
Against this backdrop, Wall Street banks are returning to their former wages, salaries and sometimes even bonus systems. They can do this because of the money they received from taxpayers. Money that could also have been used to create jobs for those young people that now come of age in a very dark setting.
The main reason why none of it has worked so far, and none of it will, lies in the political power of vested interests, banks politicians, industries, you name it. Nobody lobbies for a bunch of poor young kids, no matter how bright they are. And without lobbying, nothing will get done. You would need to break that vested interest power, and that can’t be done through the present political system, because the politicians that voters have to choose from are part of that power.
It’s like racing towards a really steep cliff in a vehicle with no breaks, no reverse and no steering wheel. It’s all you can do is to get out of the vehicle, to jump out while it’s moving at mile-high speed and risk whatever it is that will come after. Or you can choose to believe those nice smiling folks on TV in their expensive suits who every day seek to assure you that there is no cliff, or it ain’t all that steep, or that they’ll find the steering wheel any day now. And every day brings more tidings that contradict their hopeful promises. (Source.)
French president Nicolas Sarkozy, with a good nose for popular moods, says: “We must overhaul everything. We cannot have a system of rentiers and social dumping under globalisation. Either we have justice or we will have violence. It is a chimera to think that this crisis is just a footnote and that we can carry on as before.” (Source.)
Let’s compare job losses during this recession against prior recessions: This is a different way to look at the job loss situation: The % change in Unemployment across the past 7 recessions : (Source.)
If you happen to be in one of the hundreds of American towns and villages that have cancelled their fireworks exhibitions due to budget constraints, don’t feel too bad about it. Watching fireworks doesn’t make you independent.
Think instead of those among you who have seen much more cancelled over the past year, their jobs, their paychecks, their mortgages and their dreams. And if you can, reach out to them. You may be next.
Think about how independent you yourself really are. And remember that no-one who carries debts is truly independent. And neither is a nation that does. (Source.)