March 24, 2010

I Love Unemployment!

Having been unemployed for a long time now, I and my family are at the mercy of the continual incremental increases in the unemployment. I am grateful, but as time goes on and hiring has lagged the rebound in the stock market by a year, I become contimually more pessissmistic about employment in the short-term. I think the media plays a part in this. Now the news in my area trumps when there are job openings in low wage areas. A while back there was big news that Home Depot would be ramping up with several part-time openings. This is how you make discouraged workers ever more hopeless.

The vast underclass of surplus labor just has to watch in horror, hoping the government's largess doesn't end, because there are many in my boat. There are even more that have fallen through the cracks. They never were eligible for the benefits because they're inconvenient for capital to fund. I'm just waiting for my own benefits to stop. They never were big, as they represent more than a 50% cut in my former wage. However, with austerity measures in my household, we have been able to adjust to a new normal.

This new normal is not the American dream that I was sold in school and college. Many who bought into it and did well in school and studied hard are in trouble, and disenchanted with the system. These people have radicalized on both the right and the left. Our system has been built on consumption, and we hope to return to consumption, but that's not a long-term plan of any stability. Right now the market is failing many of my peers, as well as myself.

What's needed right now is a return to new deal or great society ideals. I'm losing job skills and future potential earnings by the day as I sit idle. I don't want to be idle. My background is not in any sort of heavy labor, but I would gladly dig ditches in a make-work program if that gave me the needed sense of accomplishment and creation. The main caveat is that a potential resurrection of the WPA must be new work in infrastructure or building for the common good. It must not replace work already being done or planned, the so-called 'shovel ready' projects. Right now the government is paying for my labor and getting nothing from it.

I know this would increase the cost, as the training and material costs would increase, but this would bring back a sense of self to many workers who lose who they are in a society that creates identity in your occupation. When asked to describe yourself or others, occupation tops many lists of identifiers. In our country right now, too many people are nothing.