WASHINGTON, September 14, 2013 — There is a dogma among Republicans, especially those connected to Wall Street, that providing even survival-level government support is a sure-fire way of encouraging lazy people to stop looking for work and live off the government dole.
That dogma is wrong in today’s economy. It is a fundamental misreading of the increase in government dependency in recent years.
Most Americans would give up unemployment checks and food stamps for a real job in a heart beat. Wall Streeters are looking at economic statistics, especially national data points, and interpreting these numbers without the prism of personal experience. They use these data to help decide which stocks or bonds to buy or sell. They do not seem to realize that all finances are finally local, if not individual – including their own. With their inflated incomes, they have no concept of what the people they are criticizing are going through.
What Wall Street Republicans do not seem to understand is that living on welfare payments is no fun. If you are a recent male college graduate, you are part of a 13.5 percent pool of the unemployed.
“I” live in Yuma, Arizona, and face a 34.5 percent overall rate of unemployment; in Flint, Michigan, 11.2 percent; just about anywhere in California, more than 12 percent; El Centro, California, 26.1 percent; and in Detroit, 10.2 percent.
Only 27 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are at or below the official national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. That rate is a farce; it does not count the total unemployed, but only those unemployed who are still looking for jobs and who haven’t been unemployed for so long that they’re dropped off the rolls.
It also doesn’t count the underemployed, like college grads who can only find part-time work at McDonald’s.
Even if “I” receive unemployment payments of $300-$400 per week, depending on the state, while you hunt for a job your entire career will be stalled.
Many new college graduates are carrying as much as $100,000 in student loans. With a burden like that, I can’t get married; my fiancé is also unemployed at a 10.6 percent rate. I might have to live with my parents, which is a problem when only my mother is employed ― as a waitress. I will be constantly faced with the requirement of past experience in my field, but how will I get experience when no one will hire me?
For an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran, the situation is even worse: 20.4 percent unemployed in 2012. African Americans are officially unemployed at 13 percent, Hispanics at 9.3 percent. Those numbers would be far worse without the federal anti-unemployment program for minorities called “the war on drugs.”
Pretty soon, frantic for some source of income, most of us will take whatever we can find, including unemployment and disability.
Meanwhile, “I” am on the night shift at McDonald’s trying to keep up with my student loan payments.
I am a whole generation who cannot find an American dream.
If I am a senior citizen, I am collecting Social Security from a fund to which I contributed for 45 years. If I was a business owner, I contributed hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to Social Security. It is not my fault that the Social Security Trust Fund has been raided for generations by politicians who couldn’t face up to their fiscal responsibilities. Nor did I cause the inflation that has come from devaluing the dollar by 85 percent over that period.
I may have lost my retirement savings in one of the bubble bursts in the last 13 years. Or because the government or union trustees of my retirement funds haven’t been able to keep my money from government raiders, who have become desperate in the past five years, when their decades of overspending caught up them.
Perhaps one of the stock market crashes wiped out my net worth when the money men or bankers who were protecting my money got giddy looking at risky investments. And now I am considered too old to be hired. Any of these factors may account for the fact that senior citizens constitute 13.3 percent of the population and 9.3 percent of those below the poverty line in the United States. That doesn’t seem like a statistic to be proud of.
They are the generation which has lost the American Dream.
What Wall Street Republicans either do not see or do not care about is the huge disconnect between the stock market and the rest of the country. How can the stock market be hitting all-time highs while we are losing a third of our adult population to permanent unemployment?
Is it possible that all these guys are riding a Bernanke bubble? We know banks and big business have been using the Fed’s easy money to pay down their debt and buy back their own stock as they continue to pare their payrolls. They do this instead of making loans or investments in new homes, new or expanding businesses, or research and development leading to new and innovative products.
There is no lack of entrepreneurs in America. There is a lack of available investment capital. All the free money is being used to improve corporate balance sheets.
The ultimate disgrace is that investors borrow free money from the Fed and then use it to buy Treasury bonds and pocket the spread. The guys who did this can’t be blamed for taking advantage of a profitable opportunity, but neither the unemployed kid nor the destitute senior citizen had such an opportunity. It seems the time has come for the Fed, the SEC, and the investment community to re-think their policies, practices, and priorities.
In the meantime, Republicans, lay off the tirades against the unemployed. They are doing what they have to do to survive. There is no World War II to bail out this generation. We are teetering on the edge of a very high precipice.
If we fall off, we change America forever.
The Democrats have their “Limousine Liberals” and the Republicans have their “Wall Street Conservatives.” Don’t be either one of them.
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