If you make your living with a hammer, (okay with a nail gun) you have a fifty/fifty chance of being unemployed. If you still have a job you probably aren’t working a significant fraction of the hours that you would expect to work this time of year. A lot of mom and pop contractors haven’t paid themselves a salary in three years and most of their workers are long gone.
Housing starts are at the lowest number since WWII when they weren’t building houses except around defense plants. Enough men from WWII to fill three battalions die everyday. Soon they will all be gone and the country that they thought they saved will probably be gone as well. The Greatest Generation who came of age working in CCC camps went straight to war to fight, many died but most came home to a better country then they left.
They in turn spawned the baby boomers who took the New Deal for granted but after a brief flirtation as flower children began to fancy themselves as capitalists. This was because they got a free college education for a good start in life and in their mid thirties acquired a 401(k). While once hippies they became "investors" and it was good, Ronald Reagan told them so.
Gen X’ers in turn grew up on Reagan and the mantra that “Greed is Good” imagining that The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was just one shrewd deal away. Now it’s all come crashing down around them. Oh sure the few at the top are still doing great even as their ranks decline every day even faster than the Greatest Generation.
When we talk about 12 million unemployed and an equal number who don’t make enough to live on we think of some factory line worker who lost an 18 dollar/hour job. In the last ten years we’ve had 50,000 factories close, that’s 50,000 plant managers, untold executives, engineers, accountants, programmers, HR staff, and on and on. Good upper middle class jobs that used to made this country’s economy really hum.
Then there are the bankers, scourge of the earth they may be but a lot of them can’t make their house payments any more. The average new lawyer works at the big box store because all the new corporate lawyers are in India. Remember how the internet was going to make it possible for most white collar employees to work at home. Well they’re at home, when they’re not down at the coffee shop to get free WiFi because they can’t afford a connection for themselves.
The Greatest Generation landed at Normandy on this day in 1944 and they destroyed Fascism in Europe. Unfortunately the people in the US who thought we entered the War on the wrong side didn’t go away. They just bided their time and acquired ever more wealth and power as the lessons of history were forgotten. Now Sarah Palin writes history as she goes along and while she’s an obvious cartoon she is not the only one who does this.
Most people believe that the rich create jobs, that their freedoms come from god, that liberals want to destroy America and they too can be rich someday if government would just get out of the way. History is often represented by rows of white marble markers decorated with tiny flags made in China. History’s real grave will be unmarked. www.prairie2.com