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Mission accomplished: Policy elites continue to normalize long-term DISemployment

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The job market is admittedly improving for some, but it’s not improving quickly enough for millions of jobless, especially the long-term unemployed. In April, the ranks of the unemployed who have been out of work for 99 weeks or more increased by 21,000 to a record 1,920,000. That equates to 14.5% of all unemployed.

Other long-term unemployed fared a little better in April compared to March. Those out of work for 26 weeks or more decreased from 5.839 million from 6.122 million in March. But their percentage of the overall unemployment rate remained elevated at a near record level of 43.2%. The percentage of those out of work for more and 52 weeks increased from 31.5% to 32.8% of all unemployed.

The Congress, the Obama administration and most media outlets are silent about long-term unemployment.

That's because they are happy with the success of their polices. I mean, since when did Versailles ever talk about anything important in public?

How do they reconcile the fact that 244,000 jobs were created, but 21,000 additional workers have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks? How do they put on a happy face when a near record 5.893 million or 43.2% of all unemployed workers have been jobless for more than 26 weeks? How do they rationalize their cheerful statements of job improvements with the facts that job creation is very weak considering the trillions of dollars pumped into the economy to support Wall Street and fund tax breaks? How do they high-five the economic recovery when the labor force participation rate — the share of people over age 16 who are either working or actively seeking work — is at a low rate of 64.2%, a rate not seen since 1985? They can’t. They generally ignore the issue; long-term unemployment is the elephant in the economic recovery room.

Well, as Stalin did not say, and as Versailles, the press, the neo-liberal ideologues, the legacy parties, and Obama have not said: "No elephant, no problem."

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malagodi's picture
Submitted by malagodi on

First of all, I think we should recognize the irreversible evolutionary trend toward dis-employment. It is quite clear that beginning with industrialism itself (see Gideon's Mechanization Takes Command) that from a macro-economic view, as technology becomes more adaptable, pliant, intelligent, widespread and cheap, and as world population rises, the value of human labor inevitably falls. I do not necessarily consider this a bad thing. Wage slavery is still at its core, slavery, even if the wages are considered 'middle-class'.

Second, by continuing to uncritically consider the labor/time-for-wages system as an unquestioned good, one strengthens the hand of employers. The fundamental power behind the increasingly infrequent use of the strike is that organized workers realize, and then act out the realization that they would rather live than work under existing conditions. Let us consider that the problem is not disemployment itself, but rather that one cannot live properly without the individual, personal resources necessary for a decent life because of the way our society is structured. "Be your own boss!" is a marketing slogan that appeals to a basic desire for freedom of time, movement and purpose.

The anarchist composer John Cage gave this example: "In Puerto Rico, U.S. Corporations came in and wiped out the local economy. As a result, unemployment in Puerto Rico is 50%. The problem is, they only did half the job." Cage's point is that employment is not life, it is misery. The problem is not that everyone doesn't have a job, the problem is that one cannot live properly without one in our current era. I personally have seen the same thing in Haiti, where U.S. / IMF policies have destroyed the local economy, have imposed sweatshop wage-slavery economic policies on the central government and unemployment is far greater than 50%. The reason that every economic 'initiative' in Haiti fails is that they are inevitably based on creating (export) jobs. Haitians hate wage slavery because they hate, and will not tolerate slavery of any sort and they recognize it when they see it. When Haitians have the opportunity for self-employment, they prosper everywhere.

I know this seems terribly cavalier, but we must, on both a personal and a global scale come to realize that this industrial structure is killing us. We must begin to approach these everyday issues by reconceptualizing the fundamental problems in order to have any hope of conceptualizing, if not solutions, then at least modes of survival.

I don't want a job, I want a life. So the slogan should not be 'Jobs Jobs Jobs!' but 'Life Life Life!'

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

I have always believed that our health care is tied to our jobs as a way to keep us in wage-jobs. How many would be artists, crafters and small-business types (carpenters, plumbers, shop owners) would feel free to attempt their true calling if they didn't have to worry about the all-too-possible financial devastation from a major (or even minor) health issue?