I was reading Paul Krugman’s Op-Ed in the New York Times today in which he discusses the unemployment crisis. He often speaks bluntly about the crisis, and yet even as a renowned economist it appears that economists like himself have been closed out of the Washington “circle” of economic experts and policy makers. The only economists and economic consultants being listened to are those that encourage a lock on government spending. However, even if a period of increased government spending causes a rise in inflation, it could take us out of our current predicament-a 9.1% unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate increased last month when the amount of jobs created was significantly lower than predicted. But with the move towards extreme government cuts in jobs and other government programs to help the unemployed and the poor, that number may continue to rise. It seems that the only ones not suffering are our “friends” on Wall Street and the top 1% of our country’s population. When the greedy, sick mortgage lenders who destroyed people’s lives with their sub-prime loan schemes were bailed out and taken under government custody, it was obvious that our government saw before them a complete financial meltdown and were desperate to rescue our economy. As Wall Street recovered as a result of the massive corporate bailout, CEO’s of institutions like Goldman Sachs were offered multi-million dollar bonuses. The fact of the matter is the middle class, working class, and the poor are the ones suffering under a struggling economy. I read about a burger shop on Wall Street that serves a gold-dusted burger for $175. For many, that’s larger then a welfare check or social security check. But for a Wall Street tycoon, it might as well be lunch at Burger King.
There is so much to say about the mortgage bust and the corruption on Wall Street, but it would take volumes to analyze it all. I can say that all these things put together contribute to high unemployment. Companies went into panic over the status of the economy. They downsized and outsourced to save money. Spending decreased as a result of economic hardship, which, as a result, shut down many retailers and production plants causing mass unemployment. This unemployment disaster brought us at one point to a 10% unemployment rate. It has been noted that these numbers are inaccurate. They don’t include those seeking part-time employment or those who were so burned from trying to find work that they stopped their search. Therefore, the number is even higher. The government has proposed half-baked hiring incentives that haven’t made a dent in company hiring.
In our government’s desperate need to stop spending, unemployment benefits have been considered a thorn in their side. The push has been to end benefits for those who have been receiving them for many months. Others want to stop them altogether. The government has extended benefits as the job market deteriorates. The benefits will not be distributed forever. Be assured these benefits are finite.
It is hard to watch the pain of so many. People who are living in their cars, in tent cities, or on the street. Housing foreclosures are causing families to sneak out of their homes in the middle of the night so their neighbors won’t see. They had all been promised-as we all have-the “American Dream”: Jobs, homes, cars, and family. Now we have the opposite: No jobs, foreclosed homes, and repossessed cars. If a family is lucky, they can afford to stay together and not be split up among relatives and friends. Today’s dream is to not be laid-off from a job. Some don’t have to worry. Thanks to corporate America, their multi-million dollar jobs have no end in site. Their multiple homes around the world, a fleet of expensive cars, and enough money to support 100 families, leaves them with peace and security. That top 1% has it all, including government tax breaks.
There is no moral to this story. It isn’t a story. It’s reality. As I touched on before, if we increased government spending causing a period of inflation, we might actually experience a state of growth: job development and new opportunities for employment. We can change things. We can do something. But as long as Washington is tied up in knots, nothing will change and we will continue to sink even further.