Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
My headline is actually a bit off. It’s probably more accurate to say something like: “Unemployment, foreclosures, poverty and other things we’re suppose to talk about only within approved guidelines.” It’s still “the economy, stupid.” There’s just only one, two corporate party way we’re suppose to understand it.
From The Center for Economic and Policy Research, via Common Dreams:
Unemployment Rate Does Not Tell the Full Story: Long-term Hardship a Tremendous Burden on Millions of Workers and the Economy …
Large numbers of workers are not accounted for under the traditional measure of long-term employment. As a result, millions of workers fall outside of official tallies and face significant and long-lasting loss of earnings, deterioration of skills, poverty and even higher rates of divorces and reduced physical and mental health. The report shows that this is a burden borne disproportionately by blacks and Latinos, less-educated workers and younger workers, all of whom are more likely to face extended periods of long-term hardship.
Via Truth Out, from Paul Krugman, “In the US, the News May Be Good, but Problems Remain,” in which he concludes:
Once again, at the first hint of good news, the usual crowd … is itching to pivot away from jobs.
From a February post by Digby, “Length of Unemployment is Historically Unprecedented.”
The longer you’re unemployed, the greater the difficulty in finding employment, and the longer you might (not nearly everyone does or is eligible) take advantage of unemployment benefits, and seek help for food, housing, health and other basic needs.
Sure, (long term unemployment) … may be devastating to the futures of millions of American workers, but it works like a charm to lower their expectations … and everyone’s wages.
And by the way, did you know that Job seekers (are) getting asked for Facebook passwords?
The “traditional” economic spins are being questioned. From Live Web:
US economic model broken, says survey
Almost two-thirds of working-age adults believe the US economic model ‘no longer works for the majority of Americans’ … .
Fairness was the biggest perceived flaw in the economic model – only 20 per cent of Americans said it ‘distributes wealth and income fairly’.
Questioning the “fairness” of the economic model that determines employment sounds very smart to me. The same kind of questions can be asked related to foreclosures. From AlterNet:
Darrell Issa Holds Another All-Male Panel in Brooklyn, This Time on Foreclosures …
Congressman Darrell Issa, the richest member of that august body, with a net worth of around $448,125,017, visited Brooklyn today (March 19) to hold a hearing on foreclosures – and was met with a roomful of Brooklynites facing foreclosure and other economic troubles … .
Within minutes of opening the hearing, Issa was mic-checked, with activists from New York
Communities for Change and other community groups declaring ‘This hearing is a fraud!’ …
… the hearing bore more than a few similarities to Issa’s recent Washington hearings on contraception: the legislators involved were all male, and no one actually impacted by the subject under discussion was called to testify.
According to the article, Issa made “jokes about the protestors,” and employed one of the favorite lines of Electeds and others when confronted by real live grassroots opposition: “This is democracy at work.” Of course, that was said as protestors were removed.
Apparently, to Rep. Issa, ‘democracy’ involves hearing from representatives of the nation’s biggest banks: CitiMortgage, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, as well as the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Addressing one of the key pieces of how we’re “suppose to” look at the realities of the economy, Barbara Ehrenreich, at Truth Out, writes “How We Cured ‘the Culture of Poverty,’ Not Poverty Itself.”
It’s been exactly 50 years since Americans, or at least the non-poor among them, ‘discovered’ poverty, thanks to Michael Harrington’s engaging book The Other America. …
Harrington’s book jolted a nation that then prided itself on its classlessness … .
… The Other America also offered a view of poverty that seemed designed to comfort the already comfortable. The poor were different from the rest of us, it argued, radically different, and not just in the sense that they were deprived, disadvantaged, poorly housed, or poorly fed. They felt different, too, thought differently, and pursued lifestyles characterized by shortsightedness and intemperance. …
… In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan … blamed inner-city poverty on what he saw as the shaky structure of the ‘Negro family,’ clearing the way for decades of victim-blaming. A few years after The Moynihan Report, Harvard urbanologist Edward C. Banfield, who was to go on to serve as an advisor to Ronald Reagan, felt free to claim that:
‘The lower-class individual lives from moment to moment… He is therefore radically improvident: whatever he cannot consume immediately he considers valueless… .”
Even today …, as people continue to slide into poverty from the middle classes, the theory maintains its grip. If you’re needy, you must be in need of correction, the assumption goes … .
Unemployment … is another obviously suspect condition, and last year 12 states considered requiring pee tests as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits. …
Fifty years later, a new discovery of poverty is long overdue. This time, we’ll have to take account not only of stereotypical Skid Row residents and Appalachians, but of foreclosed-upon suburbanites, laid-off tech workers, and America’s ever-growing army of the ‘working poor.’
And if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.