15 February 2010

The scourge the state must vanquish

This new article on the sociological effects of unemployment is long, but well worth a read, considering the present economic situation of our country and the challenge which that situation presents to our government. Though the Bush recession itself has been over for more than half a year and economic growth in the last quarter of 2009 reached a spectacular 5.7% annual rate, unemployment remains high (though job losses have at least slowed). Left to itself, employment might not return to its pre-recession level for another three or four years.

We can't afford that. We've known for a long time that layoffs kill. High unemployment means increased levels of alcoholism, drug use, domestic violence, and suicide. As the article makes clear, there is a host of subtler effects as well, especially in the case of people who stay jobless for two years or more, and some of these effects are already manifesting themselves in our society. And it is not only the jobless themselves who suffer. High unemployment weakens the bargaining position of all workers, depressing income and benefits and creating a climate of fear.

The government must act. Leaving employment to recover at its own pace would be the failed old laissez-faire non-interventionist Republican model which the people decisively rejected with their votes in 2006 and 2008. The awesome wealth-generating power of the American economy has already come roaring back. The leadership must ensure, as in FDR's day, that the American worker can participate and receive the benefits.

8 Comments:

Blogger TomCat said...

I agree. For years our GDP has been dominated by financial 'products' with no real value. We need to return to real people creating real goods and services for an honest day's pay. Until we get to that point, government jobs spendng on infrastructure, green energy, and education must fill the void.

15 February, 2010 11:48  
Blogger magpie said...

"High unemployment weakens the bargaining position of all workers, depressing income and benefits and creating a climate of fear. The government must act."

One could add that the government must also resist the temptation to allow the trashing of labor standards in the pursuit of statistically better employment figures.

16 February, 2010 04:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

TomCat: FDR put a lot of people to work building essential national infrastructure. Much of that infrastructure is now deteriorating. Obama could put a lot of people to work upgrading it.

Magpie: Good point. More jobs with a deteriorating standard of living would be almost as meaningless as a jobless recovery.

16 February, 2010 05:18  
Blogger Karen said...

Clinton left a nice 'nest egg' which bush proceeded to fuck up... unfucks take a long, long, long, long, time!

16 February, 2010 09:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

infidel753.blogspot.com; You saved my day again.

16 February, 2010 10:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Karen: I don't even want to think about how one would un-fuck an egg. Sounds very messy.

Anon: Thanks, I think.

16 February, 2010 10:49  
Blogger B.J. said...

Thanks for The Atlantic article, although it's so depressing, isn't it? Magpie's excellent point mst include the trashing of environmental standards. There was enough of that under Bush. A Gallup poll this week found joblessness the number one concern of Americans. Incumbents are going to pay the price.

17 February, 2010 07:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Well, if the government just sits around and waits for employment to recover instead of doing something about it, they'll deserve to pay the price. We need action.

Getting rid of the filibuster (see post above this one) would be a good first step. The Democrats can take stronger action if they don't need to worry about Republican obstructionism.

Thanks for visiting.

17 February, 2010 08:26  

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