Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tick,Tock, the clock is running out.

Greetings good citizen,

Despite the talk about ‘green shoots’ and the (totally irrational) stock market rally, there is no ‘explaining away’ the fact that our current social model is broken.

Depending on where you look, the economy has shed between seven and nine million jobs (on top of the 83 million working aged citizens that are counted as ‘not in the workforce’.)

It is only by distracting you with minor details that they keep you from focusing on the bigger picture.

What is that bigger picture? 50% of the total workforce is unemployed and 50% of those that do have jobs only work part-time.

Yeah Bubba, after all those years of fighting for a forty hour work week, we now ‘enjoy’ a 33 hour week…whether you can live on it or not.

Which is beside the point because our ‘system of commerce’ is incapable of providing jobs for all that need them.

If the system doesn’t provide the average individual with an avenue to participate in the system, then the bloody system is ‘broken’.

If this isn’t bad enough, those commerce cannot profitably employ do not becomes the employer’s burden but society’s.

So, how long will society hold up under that strain of having to support eighty percent of the population with taxes levied on the remaining twenty percent? Worse, the twenty percent already feel ‘ill used’. They fail to understand that the authors of their misery are the same greedy fucks that cut their paychecks.

Well good citizen, long before we test society’s ability to support the majority of us with taxes on the working few the ‘wheels’ will come flying off what passes for civilization…and then its time for ‘new rules’.

Are you ready? If you aren’t ready you don’t have much time left because ‘crunch time’ is right around the corner.

Prolonged Aid to Unemployed Is Running Out

Published: August 1, 2009

Over the coming months, as many as 1.5 million jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, ending what for some has been a last bulwark against foreclosures and destitution. [Just in time for winter’s return…]

Because of emergency extensions already enacted by Congress, laid-off workers in nearly half the states can collect benefits for up to 79 weeks, the longest period since the unemployment insurance program was created in the 1930s. But unemployment in this recession has proved to be especially tenacious, and a wave of job-seekers is using up even this prolonged aid.

Tens of thousands of workers have already used up their benefits, and the numbers are expected to soar in the months to come, reaching half a million by the end of September and 1.5 million by the end of the year, according to new projections by the National Employment Law Project, a private research group.

Unemployment insurance is now a lifeline for nine million Americans, with payments averaging just over $300 per week, varying by state and work history. While many recipients find new jobs before exhausting their benefits, large numbers in the current recession have been unable to find work for a year or more. [Does it look like someone is confused by the difference between ‘many’ and ‘large numbers’? The actual ‘dividing line’ between job seekers is age. If you’re young and your marital status/ salary history is fairly ‘mainstream’ you stand a better chance of finding work before you exhaust benefits. If you were highly compensated in the past, have gotten hitched and/or have dependants, you’re a bit less attractive to a potential employer. Older workers usually carry the whole enchilada and can’t go to work for slave wages, their kids/mortgage lender are depending on them.]

Calls are rising for Congress to pass yet another extension this fall, possibly adding 13 more weeks of coverage in states with especially high unemployment. As of June, the national unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, reaching 15.2 percent in Michigan. Even if the recession begins to ease, economists say, jobs will remain scarce for some time to come. [Notice how reluctant they are to admit that most of the jobs lost since the beginning of the year will NEVER come back? Worse, there won’t be anything ‘new’ to take their place either.]

“If more help is not on the way, by September a huge wave of workers will start running out of their critical extended benefits, and many will have nothing left to get by on even as work keeps getting harder to find,” said Maurice Emsellem, a policy director of the employment law project.

For many desperate job seekers, any extension will seem a blessing. Pamela C. Lampley of Dillon, S.C., said she sat outside the post office last month and cried because “it was the first Wednesday in quite some time that I’ve gone to the mailbox and left without an unemployment check.” The jobless rate in her state is 12.1 percent.

Ms. Lampley, 40, who is married with three children, lost her job as a human resources officer in January 2008 and had been receiving $351 a week, which covered the groceries and gas. Even so, she and her husband, who still has work as a machinist, were sinking into debt. Now, still poorer, she feels devastated because they cannot buy their son a laptop to take to college and she cannot give her 9-year-old son money for the movies.

In Ohio, where unemployment is 11.1 percent, Cathy Nixon, 39, a mother of four teenagers from Loraine, has been out of work for much of the time since June 2007, and her benefits — $313 a week — run out in September. Ms. Nixon is already fighting foreclosure and said she feared that when the benefits end, “we’ll be homeless.” She was unable to afford summer camp and baseball activities for her children, despite scrimping on basics. [It is fortunate for both of these people that they live in regions that are ‘cheap’ relative to other parts of the country. Put either of these women on a ‘coast’ and they’d already be suffering from malnutrition and living in the streets.]

Raymond Crouse of Columbus operated heavy construction machinery but has found no work since 2007. Mr. Crouse is 72 and receives Social Security but said that was not enough to live on. The $190 a month he has received in unemployment benefits enabled him and his wife to hang on to the house they bought 15 years ago, he said. But with the benefits ending next month, he fears that they will not keep up. [Sadly there are many ‘retired’ individuals that share Mr. Crouse’s plight. Although there is ‘officially’ no inflation, the cost of living has already exceeded what these people set aside for retirement.]

In ordinary times, employers pay into a state insurance fund, and workers who lose jobs draw benefits for up to 26 weeks. During recessions, Congress has often paid for extended coverage for an extra 13 or even 20 weeks. [Extensions are rare, the last time they were widely deployed was the 1982 recession. The fact that they have already deployed three extensions and are considering a forth is dire news indeed.]

In 2008, as the recession deepened, Congress provided 33 extra weeks of benefits. Earlier this year, President Obama’s stimulus plan offered an additional 20 weeks in states where unemployment surpassed 8 percent, if they adopted new federally recommended rules governing these extra weeks. (South Carolina did not make the changes, and benefits there are running out more quickly.)

Currently, people can draw benefits for up to 79 weeks in 24 states and from 46 weeks to 72 weeks in others. [Remember, ‘normal’ unemployment benefits last only 26 weeks, the fact that most of the nation now provides roughly 72 weeks tells a mighty grim story]

The stimulus law also, through the end of the year, provided an extra $25 a week to all recipients, exempted a portion of benefits from federal income tax and subsidized Cobra health payments for the unemployed. [These actions, like the 72 weeks are ‘unprecedented’, this has never been done before.]

Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, said he would introduce a bill in September to provide yet another 13 weeks of coverage in states with unemployment rates of 9 percent or higher. “Legislators will line up quickly when they start getting calls from desperate constituents,” he said in a telephone interview.

The cost would be $40 billion to $70 billion, but the expense would be temporary, Mr. McDermott said. [Sadly, none of these jobs are coming back so saying this is a ‘temporary’ measure is really just ‘wishful thinking’.]

Some business groups remain skeptical. Douglas Holmes, president of UWC, a group in Washington that represents businesses on unemployment issues, said that there were early glimmers of economic progress and that it was premature to extend benefits again. The money might be better spent, Mr. Holmes said, creating jobs and training people to move into emerging industries. [What ‘emerging industries’ is Mr. Holmes speaking of? Isn’t he merely kicking the ‘alternative energy’ canard down the road along with the rest of the politicians?]

Traditionally, many economists have been leery of prolonged unemployment benefits because they can reduce the incentive to seek work. [At any wage] But that should not be a concern now because jobs remain so scarce, said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard.

For every job that becomes available, about six people are looking, Dr. Katz said. “Unemployment insurance gives income to families who are really suffering and can’t find work even if they are hustling to look,” he said. [Because there aren’t any jobs!]

With the economy still listing, he added, a temporary extension can provide a quick fiscal stimulus. And, Dr. Katz said, when people exhaust unemployment and health insurance, many end up applying for disability benefits, which become a large, unending drain on the Treasury. [How does Dr. Katz know this? Because a good portion of the 83 million working aged citizens counted as ‘not in the workforce’ have employed precisely this ‘strategy’.]

Ms. Lampley, whose benefits have ended, described the tough job market. She used to make nearly $15 an hour and has unsuccessfully sought office and clerical work at $8 an hour. Mr. Crouse said that even if new building projects were planned, construction slows in the winter cold.

And Ms. Nixon said that she had interviewed endlessly for jobs in real estate and office work and that even her teenagers could not find fast-food jobs because laid-off adults were filling them.

“I can’t find a job,” she said, “and you can’t survive if you don’t work.”

It is seldom that an article ends on such a succinct point. ‘You can’t survive if you don’t work.’

Bizarrely the warped and twisted ‘free marketers’ honestly believe that unemployment is a ‘choice’, it is a ‘rejection’ of ‘wages on offer’ rather than a symptom of massive over capacity. (Which is why so many employers are laying-off…)

Stupidity aside, one of the major flaws with free market capitalism is there is no mechanism to ensure full employment, thereby ‘maximizing’ the customer base.

While these assholes wouldn’t do so themselves, they think it is perfectly acceptable to offer workers wages they can’t live on. Flipping that rock over, they also think nothing of overcharging their customers, after all, they have ‘expenses’…(like nobody else does.)

If the ‘national conversation’ is taking a turn, this is the direction it is turning towards, the recognition that ‘the system’ is broken and what needs to be done to fix it.

Sadly, the only ‘tools’ we are all familiar with happen to be capitalism…and there is no such thing as a benign form of capitalism. The ‘incentives’ are all wrong and there’s no way to straighten them out (using capitalist principals…)

To an extent, this too is a ‘milestone’. Before now the general public had always accepted that there was nothing superior to capitalism so there was nothing to discuss.

Now that capitalism has reached its, er, ‘ultimate outcome’ (it has finally succeeded in creating more debt than can be paid) the search for a replacement has taken on a new life.

More troubling is the fact that we don’t have the time to hash out a replacement system. Those who will lose their power in this world will want to be compensated for their losses and we simply can’t afford to make those compromises.

If we fail to ‘re-balance’ the domestic economy, civilization will collapse. It really is that simple.

That loud ticking noise you hear is the clock of civilization, when you can no longer hear it, civilization will be no more.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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