Monday, April 23, 2012

Chronic Unemployment and Can We Learn From Mexico?

There are still over 12 million unemployed Americans.

Unemployment just doesn't hurt the unemployed, as it creates a general mental malaise that hovers over our heads in a changing unstable and even frightening culture.

It's bad for all of us because it lessens our expectations for the future. The American Dream is starting to die. The very thing that helped America grow to be great among the other nations of the world was that conviction that if you migrated to this land, you could be successful if only you made an honest effort to work.

Too much of the current unemployment is long-term. Before long, as we have seen in the less productive countries of the world, that cyclical unemployment turns into structural unemployment. We saw that during the Great Depression. Several times in the 1930's the economy started to return to good health, but a large block of the previously "temporarily unemployed" joined the ranks of the chronically unemployed. The unemployment rate stayed high and people were losing hope for their future.

Chronic Unemployment results when the long-term unemployed never return to the full time job market, and the decreased productivity hurts us all with a lowered standard of living that is becoming pervasive in our inner cities. In the 1930's that lowered standard of living resulted in "Hooverville" tent and cardboard towns that were in some cases attacked by regular Army units because such squalor was "Un-American" and needed to be disposed of. We would not tolerate clear and open displays of poverty unless it was rural and out of sight of the general public. In the present economic mess, several tent cities have been broken up by police units and the people have been told to move on to other communities.

Down in Mexico, the poor know how to build Adobe walls as long as they can gain access to mud with clay in it. Adobe houses, even with a piece of cloth serving as a front door and hard packed dirt for floors, still give the appearance of some organization as long as they are built with a street in front and a backyard for the little children to play in. Mexico has a practical solution to the large number of poor in their country.

In the United States the government puts the Chronically Unemployed poor in government subsidized housing with electricity and running water. Many state and city governments are finding that they can not afford this as the higher unemployment has decreased tax revenue and there is simply not enough money to go around to fund all of that government housing. Federal money is used for food stamps, so the smaller governments do not have that burden.

Congress with prudent use of the Federal Reserve checkbook should be straining every sinew of their physical strength to avoid this obvious ugly decay in our society. Yet, Congress is afraid to appropriate any more money to deal with this continuing crisis.

A long-term crisis, after a certain point, no longer seems like a crisis. It just seems like, "That is the way things are."

Perhaps the cities and states should set aside tracts of land for the poor and give them instructions in how to make and build with Adobe bricks? Should we, or can we take a learning from Mexico? Yes, things have deteriorated that much in this country. That is the way things are.

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About Me

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Born Chicago. Lived: Palos Heights Chicago, Illinois; American Samoa; Mexico; Escondido and San Diego, California; and then I finally graduated from High School. Subsequently, 12 years in the Navy took me all over the world.