Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's all in how you ask the questions.

Are those Green Shoots real or just hype? Concerned Jewish communities want to know, because the future depends on the real answers. To answer such questions, we often turn to various mathematical measures of the economy.

But statistics are like prayers - the results you get often depend on the way you word them and frame them. Broad measures of unemployment in general range in the 20-25% of the total US population using the most real-life definitions of "unemployed." No serious economists dispute that figure, but like all statistics it rests on certain assumptions. That measure has as its basis a presumption that you want to know the percentage of unemployed people overall. OK, so far so good. But some jobs are more secure than others - government jobs being the "holy grail" of secure jobs in most people's minds. What happens if you remove government workers from the picture and ask about regular folks whose whole offices can disappear overnight, much moreso their individual jobs. What does the unemployment scenario look like then?

Business Insider Online - The Money Game
Actually, The Unemployment Ratio Is 41%
Joe Weisenthal | Apr. 6, 2010, 9:46 AM

The broadest measure of unemployment is the Civilian Employment-Population Ratio, which is exactly what it sounds like: the ratio of employed civilians to the total population. It stands right around 59%, which is the lowest its been since the early 80s...

Green shoots, anyone? No.

Now, another question: is this really bad? Remember, back in the 50s the only "working women" were teens, divorcees and widows. We appear to be fast returning to that level of employment, where around half the adult civilian population fills a "household economy" role. Economically, the post-WWII years were boom times - and what we see here is that a sustainable level of consumerism only employs about half of all adults, not all of them. A larger percentage of the population at that time was still rural, and even suburban and city women had "victory gardens" long after the War. Localization, slow food, and what globalists now call "protectionism" worked and worked perfectly well - they didn't use those words, of course, but the ideas were still the same. Were they bad ideas? Were the communities such bad places then? I don't think so. Our priorities are screwed up - they had strong and vibrant communities. Will it be so terrible for us to get our priorities straight?

We have to reconfigure our lives to be sustainable at that level of consumerism - which is admittedly greatly reduced from anything the generation x-ers or y-ers have ever seen in their lifetimes. Families will have to stick together instead of being spread all over the place. Kids and parents and grandparents will have to co-exist in the same homes, even - just like the old days. Life will have to be much more simple and much less "convenient." But it can be done. And after it's all said and done, I'll bet we'll have stronger families and stronger communities.

It can be and it will have to be, class, whether we like it or not.

POSTSCRIPT: My husband and I will be traveling next week to attend a wedding and I will probably not be posting during that time. Expect new posts to appear some time after April 20th. In the meantime, I hope you're having a really nice spring and getting your victory garden ready to go! Shalom!

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