In last week’s column, we looked at the problems faced by America as we watch our jobs slip away at alarming rates to other countries, as well as the displacement of the American worker by “undocumented” (the new term for illegal) workers. While I praised the President for finally thinking about jobs, I was really speaking “tongue-in-cheek.”
It is painfully obvious that America’s elected leaders have no real interest in creating jobs or in bringing back the jobs that have left our country. Those out-sourced jobs are gone for good. Our hope lies in innovation: creating new technologies and new methods for employment.
Entrepreneurs may be the key to providing the aforementioned innovation – those individuals who have the ability to develop work in various ventures. Many people are successful as entrepreneurs or small/home business owners. However, when a population the size of America exists, it is not realistic to think that everyone can create their own economic success; jobs created by wealthy entrepreneurs are essential to our economic recovery.
I wonder what the president is thinking when he says he is going to create jobs and save one trillion dollars by bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan? Of course, I am not advocating that we find ways to stay at war; however, the logic of his statement eludes me. As of May 25, 2010, the Pentagon figures show 94,000 United States personnel are deployed in Afghanistan compared with 92,000 in Iraq. If we bring back almost 200,000 soldiers, it is quite likely that some or many of them will have fulfilled their tours of duty and find themselves unemployed. Those who return to civilian life will find themselves thrown into a work market that is non-existent.
Adding to this sad scenario is the fact that our employment numbers do not accurately reflect the true state of unemployment in this country; for instance, they do not include those who have dropped off the unemployment rolls and gave up on finding a job.
One of the most frightening statistics in my opinion, is that a “Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that many older workers who lose jobs never go back to work again. Of those aged 55-64 who were displaced from 2007 through 2009, 21 percent were out of the labor force as of January 2010.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_16/b4224007222337.htm It is hard to comprehend how it would be possible for anyone to survive that scenario, yet I am personally acquainted with large numbers of people who face just that dilemma. One more factor to add to this tragedy is the group of people who are under-employed in jobs that do not pay enough for them to support themselves and/or their families.
At present, there are 16 million workers out of work and 9.3 million working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment. There are presently six workers available for each job. Of those out of work, one in three has been unemployed for more than 6 months and more than 2 million have been jobless for over a year. http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding_the_jobs_crisis/ These are frightening and dangerous statistics for the future of the American economy.
High unemployment hurts even those who retain their jobs because wages grow more slowly and furloughs, reduced hours, and losses in benefits become more common. Gallup reports that a third of workers fear their wages will be reduced. A September 2009 survey of voters’ views on the recession, jobs, and the deficit, conducted for the Economic Policy Institute by Hart Research, found that 44% of households have already experienced job loss or cuts in pay or hours. http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding_the_jobs_crisis/
A recent Gallup Poll found that 31 percent of workers are worried about being laid off, compared with half that a year ago; 32 percent think their wages might be cut, double the number a year ago; and 46 percent fear that fringe benefits will be cut. Fully 84 percent of those let go received no severance package or other compensation from their employers. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2009/10/13/the-growing-job-crisis-needs-solutions-now?PageNr=2
We have become a nation that is gripped by fear and a nation that staggers under the debt of unpaid bills. A job equals income and income equals purchasing power. There is no way around the fact that this is the way the Capitalist System works.
People must have disposable income and they must be able to purchase goods for our economy to prosper. The problem as I see it is that American companies no longer care who can buy the goods purchased. They only care that someone in the world can buy them. While this mentality may be good for the bottom line in American corporations, it is disaster for the American economy.
There is one important solution for our sinking ship: we must stop the flow of jobs leaving America. I don’t see the government or corporations prepared to do anything to remedy this cause of our economic crisis.
John Wayne Tucker
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