How Can We Live, Without Our Lives?
By David Glenn Cox
It is the first Friday of the month, the day when the bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly job report. I hurried along heading for the coffee shop and as I stepped out into the crosswalk an armored truck was heading right for me, would he stop in time? I closed my eyes fearing the worst and thought…Hit Me! Hit Me! Hit Me! The truck managed to stop and I continued on my way unmolested, but that pretty well sums up this months job report. About the only way for a regular folks to get ahead in this economy is to be hit by an armored truck, a lottery ticket or a drunken doctor in a Ferrari.
The media headlines will proclaim, 163,000 new jobs and unemployment unchanged at 8.3 %
I weary of this tale, they, your government aren’t reporting on the reality of the situation here, they are creating their own reality of the situation. If they officially declare unemployment at 8.3 percent, then officially unemployment stands at 8.3 percent. Officially, there are close to thirteen million Americans unemployed. Officially, that excludes those working part time and those workers considered discouraged workers. Unofficially, there is another category, those of the disappeared. Millions of Americans disappeared from the economy no longer receiving benefits, no longer considered to be in the workforce.
The media headlines will not tell you the following and officially, the word “recovery” has been pulled from the media lexicon, replaced by the word “economy.”
Civilian non institutional population up 199,000 while the civilian labor force is down by a 150,000 or the population is growing, while the working population is shrinking. The participation rate in the economy stood at 64 percent last July and twelve months later, it stands at 63.7 percent, recovery anyone? Remember that headline, the one I was telling you about, the one with the 163,000 new jobs? The actual number of Americans employed this month fell by 195,000 and the employment – population ratio, fell as well. The number of those officially unemployed, rose by 45,000 and the number of workers considered “no longer in the labor force, rose by 348,000.
Imagine, a city the size of Saint Louis, Tampa or Anaheim just disappearing from the map with a new city disappearing nearly every month. The number of workers unemployed over 27 weeks dropped by an astounding 185,000. They are being pushed over the cliff into the valley of the shadow of expended benefits while new entrants to the workforce fell by 20,000. Part time for economic reasons, up by 37,000, could only find part time work, up by 62,000. If 62,000 out of thirteen million unemployed could only find part time work, how many out of those thirteen million, could find none?
The other day as I walked to the coffee shop where I ensconce myself, a young man approached me walking and talking into a cell phone, coming from the other direction as he past by I heard, “Well no, I don’t have to get paid everyday, but just the first couple.” It was a “Grapes of Wrath” moment, of workers needing to get paid each day just to get along, just to make one more day.
When I hear politicians speaking about the economy they tend to speak about it euphemistically, pretending a recovery is well under way and we only need to hold on, seeking shelter as if its just a thunder shower passing over us on a summer day, but its not, its real and its hard. The signs are all around us, men needing to get paid everyday. People who can’t pay their rent because there is no work for them, Mitt Romney uses the economy only to bash Obama, Romney’s solution is to repeat all the same mistakes made in the past. It isn’t even credible platform really, it’s a mishmash of tax cuts and candy store give aways. Obama points his finger and cries “Out Sourcer” at Romney but the truth is, Obama’s never met a trade deal he didn’t like.
Obama’s program if you can call it a program, isn’t much different than Mitt Romney’s plan, give corporations tax cuts to hire workers. So if you give a $30,000 tax cut for a $25,000 job where does the other $5,000 go? The trade deals put the sweetheart deals beyond the reach of elected officials The Colombian free trade agreement gives Caterpillar $100,000 tax advantage over its Asian competitors. It means Caterpillar has a $100,000 pricing advantage in minerally rich Colombia. It also means Cat doesn’t have to set up a locally owned distributorship in the country. Cat can keep those profits in house and the locals, who are hired, work for Americans not Columbians. Free trade anyone?
There is what has come to be known as the Wal-Mart phenomenon, as food stamp recipients begin to gather shopping before midnight, waiting for their benefits to post when the clock rolls over at midnight. They fill their carts with milk, bread and baby food. They aren’t there for fun or avoiding the traffic, they are there because they’re hungry.
“How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past?”
- John Steinbeck,
Millions upon millions of Americans who find themselves lost in this milieu, these are the days of their lives. This invisible army knows the truth, as officially, wages rose only two cents per hour this month. At the current rate of employment good times will return to us sometime late in the month of never! I feel for the young people growing up in this, never knowing any different, with lowered dreams and lowered expectations. There was a time when going to college meant something and not going meant something as well. It meant that you learned a trade and there was still a possibility for a prosperous lifestyle.
Yet today, all college means is debt, those without college hardly have a chance to climb any sort of ladder to a better life. Only 30 percent of our children will ever have a job in high school because those jobs are filled with people my age. I told this story once, I was sitting in a burger joint and the manager was interviewing a woman in her forties. He asked, “It says here you can’t work Sundays.”
“Yes, she answered, “I go to church on Sundays.”
“Well, we really need someone on Sundays. Could you work maybe a couple of Sundays a month, or say after twelve?”
If she wanted this job, she would have to cast her religion aside and in this economy Jesus would never forgive her for not doing it. These are the 62,000 who seek part time work because full time isn’t available. These are the people who used to teach your kids, down to the public school. These are the contractors, car salesmen, Real Estate agents and secretaries forced into these jobs which suck ass, but they’re glad to get them still because it is an, or else situation. They’re the lucky ones still employable on some level, those who didn’t lose homes or with ruined their credit who will never be hired again at any level.
The junior colleges under an Obama program partner with corporations such as the Gap, Banana Republic and McDonalds to train managers in exchange for student debt.
U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, July 2011, 16.3%.
U-6 unemployment for July 2012, 15.5 officially, so what choice do they have?
BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT DYNAMICS: FOURTH QUARTER 2011
From September to December 2011 gross job gains from opening and
expanding private sector establishments were 6.9 million, a decrease
of 204,000 from the previous quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported today. Over this period, gross job losses from
closing and contracting private sector establishments were 6.5 million,
an increase of 181,000 from the previous quarter.
The difference between the number of gross job gains and the number
of gross job losses yielded a net employment change of 368,000 jobs
in the private sector during the fourth quarter of 2011. – BLS
When it is all said and done, this says it all, less than a 100,000 new jobs per month for an unemployed population of over 13,000,000 with near lottery ticket odds of being hired. The BLS reported last month that temporary and contract employment accounted for over 20 percent of the new jobs, as the sound of gears gnashing and of fat ladies singing can clearly be heard in the distance. And if you listen closely, you can almost hear the economy crashing and the sound of the gears grinding to a halt
Right now, in millions of American homes, good people scratch and dig, they sell their gold, their mother’s heirlooms, anything, trying to make it just one more month. Every empty store front is the end of a dream and every foreclosed home is the beginning of a nightmare. Losing a home isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning of a new existence. They won’t leave off at just taking your house they must hound you and put the squeeze on you as well. Your credit ruined because the economy collapsed who can you turn to, to make them whole again? Where is the road out for these people?
“But you can’t start over
only a boy can start over
You and me
Why, we’re all that’s been”- John Steinbeck
This is their life, and they don’t get to be twenty or thirty or forty ever again, this is it. It’s not a thunderstorm, it’s a hurricane. The economy isn’t getting any better because they aren’t trying to make it any better, cause it don’t affect them none.
“Let me say,
at the risk of seeming ridiculous,
that the true revolutionary
is guided by great feelings of love.”- Ernesto Che Guevara