Sunday, September 05, 2010


I’ve got to admit it. Considering that today’s job hunt for unemployed Americans currently resembles something akin to playing hockey with a bladeless stick, I have felt very thankful and lucky to be able to hold gainful employment for a living wage through this entire recent period of economic recession. Well, if I had my druthers, I’d call it a depression, but that’s not the current chic term amongst the in-crowd so I’ll roll with it.

Somehow, I don’t feel that fortunate or even accomplished. Like the old saying goes, there but for the grace, yadda, yadda, yadda. There are plenty of qualified individuals out there, many of them way more educated and able than myself, who could do my job as well or better. And as a matter of fact, with all of the layoffs and buyouts and attrition-related elimination of positions at my current place of employment, I would be more than willing to see as many new hires as possible joining alongside me in my department right around now.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen and there’s really nothing I can do to change or control that. As a matter of fact, I’m sure that there is a massive amount of thought and energy being utilized right now to make sure that I am sent out the door, under a security guard’s escort and carrying a box of my personal possessions, as soon as they can possibly pull it off.

According to certain general estimates, there are five people vying for each employment position available in America as of today. This estimate, of course, ignores among other things what types of jobs are out there for hire as well as the specific qualifications of the job seekers. It’s just the cold literal statistic, which means that applicants out there are likely to be seeing competition in the form of hundreds, or even thousands, of fellow job seekers knocking at the door of any particular employer who is hiring at the unskilled entry level.

Between the end of 2007 and end of 2009, private industry got rid of 8 and a half million jobs. There is a slow restoration pattern, as jobs are slowly being created once again. Unfortunately, it’s something akin to an inadequate transfusion after a huge loss of blood. It might keep the economy alive, but not anywhere near decent health.

And meanwhile, a certain element of pundits, politicians, and other devoted groupies of capitalism are proclaiming to anyone who will listen that things just, wal, ain’t as bad as they seem. As a matter of fact, if unemployment insurance benefits in this country weren’t extended for so many months to a lot of jobless people, well, they wouldn’t be so inclined to sit back and slack off on that UI assistance windfall! Oh, sure, there’s nothing that makes people less motivated to achieve than suddenly having their income cut by nearly in half or so of their former job’s paycheck! Well, maybe a gun in their backs, perhaps.

We need to face reality. It’s the 21st century global economy and in this world, people can’t just choose between being a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker in order to put a roof on their heads and food on their tables. For the majority of us working stiffs, we are currently at the mercy of megalomaniac business interests. To argue over how, why or whether the machine has been allowed to spin so wildly out of control is too close to mulling over moot points for consideration.

If the plague of “Middle America” voter sympathy to the current crop of right-wing extremist propaganda is any indication, the politicians are going to increasingly pander to the corporate and otherwise moneyed interests by expanding tax breaks and loosening environmental and labor regulations and the like. People, it would seem, are simply out of constructive ideas. At the very least, those who do have anything resembling practical strategies are either ignored or simply lack an effective means of publicity.

And don’t expect the corporate conglomerates to be feeling any sympathy to the domestic workforce very soon. Look at it this way: any current American job that does not require putting your hands on something (except manufacturing), or having direct in-person contact with other people is ripe for sending overseas. Companies like India’s Infosys are living large off of the backs of the past, present and future members of America’s unemployment lines.

There are any number of optional tactics to consider in regard to remedies that struggling working people, whether employed or not, can take in this day and age. I can’t say that I have any miracle cure to suggest, but what the hell, I can at least try to examine some possibilities here.

One option could be for as many of the presently corporate employed workers as possible to quit their respective companies and venture into their own independent occupation. But as I had suggested earlier, this plan would have little if any basis in today’s reality. This would take a marked degree of risk and sacrifice, and few would likely take either at this point in time. (I would begrudgingly include myself in that refusal.)

Another option would be to organize and take steps en masse to address grievances and concerns, standing in unity against those who are in control of most of the labor and commerce. Again, this involves risk and sacrifice as well, but approaches much closer to a possibility of some degree of success. It all depends upon the willingness of the people in our labor force to cooperate and support each other. Those days of organized mass dissent and protest, in the eyes of many, are long gone.

And then again, those of us who aren’t wealthy or won’t be getting rich soon can simply cease to spend money as quickly, and, better yet, also cease to spend ourselves into debt.

While it is most unrealistic for many of today’s American consumers to completely boycott goods that are manufactured overseas, it is entirely possible to slow down the profits from the sale of said goods. Those shoes, chairs, computers and such can probably last in good condition for a lot longer time than many folks would like to freely admit. Plus, there are fashion styles that transcend eras. A steady level of economic compromise, taken by a fairly large number of citizens in this country, can go a long way to hit and hurt the profit line of large corporations. Of course, anything that can be substituted with domestic and especially locally produced goods and services can be the most viable option of all.

It’s already in place at a noted level nowadays. People are spending less, and with a little luck, this trend will continue for quite some time. It simply could not happen to a nicer free market economy…heh.