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When What You’re Doing Isn’t Working, Then It’s Time to Try Something Else

They've tried it their way for four years but the economy is still awful. It's time (past time, really) to try something else.

I like to post in the numerous jobseeker discussion groups on LinkedIn.

I’ve “met” so many capable, hard-working people over there who can’t find good jobs in this stagnant economy. Sharing our experiences, we understand that our situations aren’t our “fault” and support each other as we navigate these rocky unemployment waters.

Just recently I’ve detected a hint of optimism in the discussions, a bit of an undercurrent that we shouldn’t give up, that we should all “hang in there.” Maybe it’s my imagination, but even I have the feeling that my prolonged unemployment may be a bad dream from which – with any luck – I may soon wake up. But why?

We’ve all heard the frequently-cited fact that unemployment has been 8 percent or higher for 42 consecutive months. Coincidentally, this is just a bit shorter than the duration of the current presidential administration.

We also know that there’s a presidential election just two months away.

Throughout my 32-month unemployment, I’ve often questioned why government bureaucrats don’t try something different to help get the economy moving again.

In the beginning, perhaps you could give them the benefit of the doubt, but now, after nearly four years, it’s reasonable to conclude that the policies they’ve pursued haven’t been effective. In fact, isn’t this obvious?

So when they talk about doing more of the same for four more years, my gut instinct says no, we can’t permit that to happen. Even taking the emotion out of it, a logical person has to be concerned that our economic situation may never improve if we continue with another four years of ineffective approaches. If we hope to solve these persistent problems, then I think we have to consider other solutions now.

If the current administration would acknowledge that what they’ve been doing hasn’t worked and announce that they’ll be modifying their policies, then I could understand how a rational person might be willing to give them more time. But I think they’ve amply demonstrated that they aren’t interested in any meaningful change in direction.

The upcoming election gives us 23 million or so unemployed and underemployed people a tremendous opportunity: the opportunity to vote for trying something else, for giving someone else a chance to fix this economy. We may be powerless to find good jobs, but together, our voting power is enormous. We can express our collective will that we must pursue a different course.

If we don’t, then consider this: what comes next? If this goes on for another four years, will we just have to give up and accept that this is the “new normal,” that we might as well get used to “the way things are”?

I will not do that. 

This is not the future I want for my son and I doubt if it’s the future that you want for your kids and grandkids, this chronic, miserable shortage of economic opportunities. The way I see it, it’s in our hands. It’s up to us to do what we can, while we can. This is our chance.

If we don’t try to do something else and see if it works, then we’ll never know if we could have made things better when we did have the chance. If the current government won’t voluntarily try another way, then it’s up to us to force a change via the voting booth.

It may be that a booming economy may happen too late to help many of us. But don’t you want your legacy to be the best shot we can give our young people at a fulfilling, prosperous, secure future? I do.

So who knows?  In the end, we unemployed and underemployed people may turn out to have far more power than we realize. 

Or is this all just part of my dream, the delusions of someone desperately seeking a silver lining in this cloud called unemployment?

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Jen September 06, 2012 at 09:22 PM
We already have lower taxes than we did then. Think hitting bottom would help?
tryintosurvive September 06, 2012 at 11:51 PM
All we can say for sure is that very few quality jobs have been created over the past 4 years. You can argue that no-one could have done better than Obama. Maybe, we will never know. Someone else might have done worse. Maybe, we will never know. The only thing that is certain is that these jobs were not created and they do not seem to be on the horizon. 'Shovel ready", which was touted as the reason for the stimulus turned out to be a joke. There are no new industries now nor are there new career paths created. It would be surprising if unemployed people think that everything is ok, lets stay the course.
Fran Hopkins September 07, 2012 at 01:53 AM
"It would be surprising if unemployed people think that everything is ok, lets stay the course." This is exactly my point, tryintosurvive. What would make an un- or underemployed person, especially the long-term unemployed, many of whom are suffering, want to stick with the current administration? It's true, we can't know for certain that someone else's policies will work. All I do know for sure is that this administration's policies haven't worked and if we re-elect them, it means four more years of policies that don't work. Doesn't make sense to me.
john anthony prignano September 07, 2012 at 03:08 AM
tryintosurvive Correct ! Lower- wage occupations with median hourly wages of $7.69 to $13.83, accounted for 21% of job losses during the retraction. Since employment started expanding, they have accounted for 58% of all job growth. The occupations with the fastest growth were retail sales { at a median wage of $10.97 an hour } and food preparation workers {$9.04 an hour } Each category has grown by more than 300,000 workers since June 2009.Three million New Jerseyans earn $34,300 or less, and their take - home pay is shrinking . 30% of working people rely on food stamps .75% of all the new wealth created in the last decade went to the top 20% ; families earning $132,000 or more - Cops , teachers, firemen , bureaucrats, government contractors and vendors, etc. But to say that 75% is " new wealth " is incorrect. The same amount of money is simply being systematically transfered from one group to another. Public - sector employees are moonlighting in the private sector at epidemic levels. And almost 1000 people hold 3 or more government jobs simultaneously.No politican says a word about it, so nothing's going to change. All that's left are the crumbs.So much money has gone just into student preparation,there's nothing left to prepare them for. If certain strong steps were taken,I think things would improve, but I don't see that happening .You're right again, tryintosurvive
john anthony prignano September 07, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Fran Do you know a cop or a fireman who doesn't have at least one private sector job? Many public school teachers are not the least bit reluctant to take private - sector jobs away from the parents of their students .Almost 1,000 people in the public - sector hold 3 or more public - sector jobs at the same time. 18 of 21 New Jersey County Sheriffs collect their salary and a pension.100k pensions for firemen and cops and public school bureaucrats are pretty commonplace now, plus the buyouts, and the benefits.Then, for many of them , it's on to a private sector career { if they don't already have one }. Since they're entering the private - sector with lots and lots of their employers' dollars,they can crush or outlast almost any one of their employers that they choose to target. We're getting our brains beat in with our own money.Fran ,it's estimated there are 337.000 illegal immigrants employed in New Jersey. All that's left are crumbs. The Newark Star Ledger did a story on a Newark fireman [ salary 100k+ }. He was also a professional fighter for 15 years.He also drove a school bus and a delivery truck ."The only time I could sleep was at the firehouse" he said .He spends 15 years participating in a high - risk sport with a public - funded disability pension safety net, he takes 2 jobs from his employers,the public, and then he sleeps on their dime.Fran,what politican is addressing these issues? Answer:None. In this New Order, things can only get worse.

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