Can President Obama solve the Unemployment Crisis?
Signing the Economic Stimulus Bill
Facing the Ugly Truth About Structural Unemployment
Witnessing the thousands of destitute workers lined up in for blocks in Detroit hoping to get a government hand out as I write, I am astonished by the raging and often mindless debate about what to do regarding an economy that the professional economist assures us have recovered from a “recession,” but the unemployment rate continues to soar. While none but the abysmally ignorant or the vulgar partisan can deny that all the President’s major problems were inherited from the Bush Administration, those willing to blame Mr. Obama for the serial disasters this nation faces are legion – including broadcast media talking heads, pompous print pundits and Republican politicians.
There are few things short of natural disasters and war that is more frightening than losing your income with no job prospects in sight; especially if they have children. Yet that is the fate of millions of Americans as I write. The anxiety this has produced among the public can be clearly seen in reports of a dramatic rise in people suffering from chronic depression and other mental health problems brought on by stress; it is also reflected in the latest Quinnipiac poll released this morning. The poll shows that 42% of the American public thinks the state of the economy is the most pressing issue facing the nation, while less than half that number, 18% think its health care. Only 7% think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an issue of top priority – a reflection, I believe, of the fact that there is no draft.
Yet even as the President searches high and low for an answer to the critical problem of unemployment, the swelling legions of jobless workers are growing so desperate that fights broke out among the thousands of peopled lined up for government relief payments provided by his stimulus bill. The Detroit experience, where workers are suffering a depression era 27% jobless rate, is a harbinger of things to come because the chronic unemployment in that former center of American industrial might has little or nothing in common with the traditional boom and bust business cycles that brought on the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
The Uemployment Office In Detroit
The present unemployment crisis is structural, which means the millions of good paying manufacturing jobs in unionized plants that provided the American worker with a material standard of living unequalled even by the highly educated middle classes of most countries, have been relocated overseas where workers are industrial serfs. This unmitigated disaster for the American working class is very much the result of those “free market,” free trade,” policies vigorously championed by the Republicans and warmly embraced by many Democrats. Although at this stage of the game nobody on either side of the aisle is willing to denounce the phenomenon of “globalization;” it is accepted as a fact of life like the forces of nature, alas, the sad truth is that barring the federal government becoming the employer of last resort, there is nothing this or any President can do in a privately owned economy, religiously dedicated to reaping the greatest profits on investment, to bring immediate relief to the structurally unemployed.