See our chart? Unemployment's going down.
Using the same methodology the Financial Times uses to determine unemployment in other countries, the US has an unemployment rate of 13.3%.. Am i wrong in thinking that's about 40 million people? Which is more people than we have in any state in the union (not even close for most states). That is a lot of people.
Now this number figures in people who are in prison and in the military (with the assumption that they wouldn't be if they could get jobs). You may or may not find that to be a valid way of looking at it. Even with out that we are looking at a massive population (even the official unemployment rate translates to about 15 million people (with the very rough estimate of 5 percent of 300,000,000)).
Do we have nothing to do in this country that we (as a country) can afford to have all these people unemployed? Couldn't we be building railroads to reduce our dependence on oil, and retrofitting houses to be more energy efficient? Couldn't we be researching cures for cancer and aids? Among a million other things? Our country's production ability is underutilized by a factor of millions. It's totally outrageous.
We are a wealthy country - the wealthiest in the world. We can afford to do these things. And we are a nation of hardworking immigrants and people infused with a Puritan work ethic. The vast majority of people, if given a challenging opportunity and a decent day's pay, will happily work. Instead we're letting people waste their lives away.
Why? Well, part of the reason is just that our system is inefficient. That part may be inevitable, although i think it could be fixed. But more importantly, it's because the people in charge - the people who work at the Fed - are more concerned with inflation than letting poor people get a decent wage. To say it in the most outrageous - but true - way: The federal government deliberately keeps approximately 8 million people unemployed.. Sounds crazy, but it really is true. The economy has been crappy enough lately that they haven't had to worry about it, but in the 90s when the unemployment rate was approaching 4%, the Fed raised interest rates. See, when the unemployment rate gets too low, the job market starts to favor workers instead of corporations, and they start demanding higher salaries. This, in theory, could potentially, maybe, lead to store owners deciding that they can raise prices. So the Fed raises interest rates just when there is a chance that employees may begin to get wage increases, not when they actually see evidence of rampant inflation.
This works in favor of the very wealthy. A poor or middle class person is likely to take the gamble that if they get a higher salary they may also start having to pay more for goods. A wealthy person living off capital gains doesn't worry about a salary, but doesn't want to see prices increase.
So while we tend to dismiss the unemployed as people who don't want to work or are incompetent, the truth is that we literally do not allow them to work. You talk about the fact that it's 2006 and we still don't have solar powered flying cars and now you know why... we are underutilizing our workforce so that we don't have to pay too much for toilet paper.
By fnord12 | June 22, 2006, 1:19 PM | Liberal Outrage