Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Somebody else noticed!

Wonder when the rest of the Baby Boomers will?

This article is a gem, because it says plainly, in a mainstream publication, that unemployment is far worse than the government is admitting and that people 50 or so and older have largely given up looking for jobs because no one will hire them. If they were counted in the official unemployment figures, it would be over 10% now. When they are counted in the "shadow statistics," that is, counted by using the older (more accurate) methodology of determining unemployment, the figure is over 20% as we have seen in recent charts and graphs. And what does Washington do? Continue to pour money down the rat-hole of military imperialism while doing little or nothing for our own people who are suffering.

New York Times Online
Op-Ed Columnist
The Horror Show
By BOB HERBERT
Published: August 9, 2010

The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed...

...Government workers were walking the plank from coast to coast. About 143,000 temporary Census workers were let go, and another 48,000 government employees at the budget-strapped state and local levels lost their jobs. But the worst news, with the most ominous long-term implications, was that the reason the unemployment rate was not higher was because 181,000 workers left the labor force.

With many of them beaten down by the worst jobs situation since the Great Depression, they just stopped looking for work. And given the Alice-in-Wonderland way in which we compile our official jobless statistics, they are no longer counted as unemployed...

...Even ignoring population growth, if these unemployed had not dropped out of the labor force, simple arithmetic shows that the official unemployment rate would have risen from 9.9 percent in April to 10.2 percent in July, rather than — as it has — fallen to 9.5 percent.”

...“We have a large number of people who have just given up hope of finding a job,” said Mr. McMillion. He pointed out that there are record numbers — “I mean lights-out record numbers” — of long-term unemployed people who are still looking for jobs. Of the 14.6 million men and women officially counted as unemployed, nearly 45 percent have been out of work for six months or longer...

...They may be thinking about this in Washington, but they sure aren’t doing much about it. The politicians’ approach to the jobs crisis has been like passing out umbrellas in a hurricane. Millions are suffering and the entire economy is being undermined, and what are they doing? They’re appropriating more and more money for warfare while schizophrenically babbling about balancing the budget.

At some point we’re going to have to claw our way out of this denial. With 14.6 million people officially jobless, and 5.9 million who have stopped looking but say they want a job, and 8.5 million who are working part time but would like to work full time, you end up with nearly 30 million Americans who cannot find the work they want and desperately need.

We’ve got more and more people in our working-age population and fewer and fewer jobs to go around. Mr. McMillion tells us that there are now 3.4 million fewer private-sector jobs in the U.S. than there were a decade ago. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the worst job creation record since 1928 to 1938.

We’re not heading toward the danger zone. We’re there. The U.S. will not remain a stable society if this great employment crisis is not addressed head-on — and soon. You cannot allow joblessness on this scale to fester. It’s wrong, and the blowback will be as destructive and intolerable as it is inevitable...


As we have discussed recently, the trend is moving back to one regular full time paying job per household. Unfortunately, people have largely set up their lives so that they cannot live on one income - primarily due to debt. But that won't change the reality, stated so clearly in this article, that there just aren't - and aren't going to be - enough living wage jobs to go around, period.

Whether anybody likes it or not is irrelevant. It will take years to rebuild a manufacturing sector and reverse the outsourcing that has already taken place, but that will not even BEGIN to happen until peak oil and other factors make long-distance transportation of goods more expensive than cheap foreign labor. Until then, Boomers and everyone else are still competing with people willing to work for pennies an hour, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week with no sabbaths, holidays, or vacations permitted (though theoretically provided).

Corporations have no loyalty to US citizens, no cares about national security, and no worry about the quality of life in American society. They only care about one thing - profit - and they aren't going to get as much of it hiring American workers who are protected by First World environmental laws, wage laws, labour laws, and safety laws. No, as long as other countries don't have or don't enforce such laws, there is no "Fair Trade," nor a level playing field. American workers lose, and that's that.

The prospects for older workers are particularly gruesome, because hiring workers over 45 or maybe 50 years of age is simply not something companies with benefits are willing to do because it would cause increases in their health insurance. Let me say this clearly class:

American workers CANNOT compete as long as US companies are saddled with health insurance costs, and every other first world nation has single payer non-profit healthcare or provides no health insurance at all as in third world nations.

Either a Medicare system has to be extended to every citizen, or health insurance will eventually disappear altogether in the US. In fact, it is already disappearing and becoming less affordable for those who are offered insurance. For more information on this topic see the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2009 Summary of Findings for their annual Employer Health Benefits Survey. The percentage of firms offering health insurance is down significantly from 1999-2009. And this doesn't even consider those who are now unemployed:

...several other factors may have contributed to this result as well. One is that the survey only collects information from firms that are still in business and cannot estimate the number of workers who lost coverage due to their company downsizing or closing.

The number of firms offering health insurance at all, even for full-time employees, will continue to decrease as more and more CEOs decide it's just not worth the expense and hassle. Since the US has no basic right to healthcare, more and more CEOs are simply concluding that it's not their problem anyway.

Baby Boomers are going to have to wise up to the reality of the situation - nobody is going to hire them, and if they do, they won't receive benefits. Medicare and Social Security and Unemployment insurance are nearly broke (and are actuarily already broke). They basically have only three choices:

1) give up and do without, resigning themselves to live on whatever savings they have until they are thrown out onto the street or have to move in with relatives.

2) make Aliyah or move to some other first world country that doesn't think sickness should be an opportunity for profiteering.

3) Vote out the warmongers, shutter all military activity abroad, and vote in politicians who will put people's needs ahead of wars of conquest. There simply is not enough tax money available to do both.

The only real question is, how many Boomers will be out on the street before they notice and wise up? How many Boomers have to be humiliated, stripped of everything, or die before they get a clue?

Hopefully, not too many. But the way things are going, I'm not so sure.

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