Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

Suicide Rate : Unemployment Rate

The Federal unemployment rate dipped to 7.5% today due to strong growth in menial, temporary and low paying jobs. Meanwhile, according to the CDC, the suicide rate in 2010 among persons 35-64 years of age jumped by 28.4% compared to rates ten years earlier. The largest increase was in the 55-59 range where rates increased by a whopping 49.1%. The CDC announced that for the first time more Americans die by their own hand than in automobile accidents.

News reports characterized this as an increase among “Baby Boomers” which is a bit misleading since the younger half of the group (35-49) are not baby boomers according to any definition I’m aware of. Presumably, the rate increase is related to the economic disaster that was hitting its peak about during 2010.

The data on suicide by race is interesting. The ethnic group with the lowest rate is Hispanic (3.5 suicides per 100,000 population). Rates among blacks and Asians were also low (5.8 and 10.6 respectively). American Indians had the highest rate at 65.2 while whites had a rate almost 12 times as high as Hispanics at 40.4.

What does a suicide rate say about society as a whole? Each individual death will have been caused by a multitude of factors (not least of which is ready access to an effective method: Firearms for men. Pills for women.) Nevertheless, we ought to be able infer something about the health of a society by this statistic.

If the rate of successful suicides has increased, then it is fair to suppose that there is a corresponding increase in the rate of suicidal despair* as well. Suicidal despair will only rarely result in successful suicide. The pain of this despair is more commonly alleviated by increasing levels of alcoholism and drug abuse. It would be nice to know what that ratio is. I would also like to know how much profit the drug companies have made in the past ten years hawking the latest snake oil version of anti-depressant and anti-psychotics to these millions of people with suicidal despair. Can we not conclude that these charlatans are a total failure based only on this statistic? Shouldn’t the rate of suicide be a pretty fair indicator of the effectiveness of our mental health system? I would guess that the ethnic group that avails itself of mental health and psychiatric services is white people. I would also speculate that Hispanics are probably the least likely ethnic group in this country to use these services. Interesting.

On the positive side, for those who survive their suicidal despair (lost the job, lost the house, lost all their retirement and sense of dignity and self worth as defined by our culture), perhaps learning to find meaning in something other than one’s net worth is the best revenge. Menial, low wage jobs are coming back! And not having health insurance has the additional benefit of discouraging you from seeing a shrink.

*Suicidal despair is not in the DSM.

Land of Productivity

While the stock market swoons (apparently because American consumers have curtailed spending with money they don’t have or can’t get), US corporations continue to show record profits. It turns out that a jobless recovery is really good for business. So why would there be any incentive to reverse the trend? This announcement foreshadows an even gloomier prospect. What entity is far and away the largest employer in the country? The Federal Government. Where will all these savings come from that the Congress is planning to put into place over the next decade? Less government workers. We have multiple waves of this to look forward to. You don’t have to be an economist to figure out that if fewer workers are willing to do more work for less money, you’re going to milk that cow as long as you can. And if the government would just get out of the way, this would all be so much easier.

Corporations don’t have consciences, and guess what, neither do their executives.

Is it fair? It’s a simple question any child would ask.

Unemployed? Go to Arizona

I have a suggestion, somewhat fanciful, but rooted in reality. There are literally millions of unemployed people across the country right now. This is an army that could tip the political scales in any direction if it worked together. But how to organize the unemployed? One problem is that this army is spread across the landscape making up only a relatively small minority in whatever locale they happen to be in. So I suggest we get them all in one place. Arizona is a good place to go. The land is plentiful, and in the winter large sprawling camps could be supported in the empty space that dots the landscape around Phoenix. There are thousands and thousands of empty houses. Squatters could take over entire neighborhoods. Get a few hundred thousand people to camp out in Arizona for the winter. Make some demands. Set up your own community. No there aren’t any jobs in Arizona, but with enough people a new underground economy would flourish. Tap into the water supply. Grow your own food. All that is needed is the numbers. Big numbers of people. Caravans of people on bikes, in trucks, on foot all heading to the same place. What a sight that would be! What else do you have to do? Keep updating your resume? It’s time to start over.

Personal Rant

I’m all for resisting the state. And I have been doing my anarchist homework. It sounds perfectly reasonable. It is the kind of political philosophy I am intellectually inclined to adopt. But right now my freedom, my liberty and my very life have been put in jeopardy not by the state, but by the mindless, psychopathic behavior of corporate America. If I’m going to rage against something, it’s got to be against that.

The dust has now settled after the economic cataclysm of a few years ago, and for the most part, the winners and losers have been sorted out. The winners–the 80% of the country that still have jobs–are ready to move on and leave the losers behind. Corporations are raking in cash, sitting on cash, and enjoying the highest level of productivity in history. Some corporations refuse to interview people who are unemployed. HR Departments treat job applicants like animals. Well corporate fuckers, the worm will fucking turn!

Governments at all levels–local, state and Federal–have done all that they can do and are going to focus now on balancing budgets, always at the expense of the people in the worst possible position to absorb yet another blow.

I like seeing the workers in Wisconsin standing up to a hypocritical, small-minded tea-party political hack. But, it would be a whole lot better if all the unemployed and underemployed workers of this country went out and protested across the whole damn country every day. Besides, it’s hard to be sympathetic to state workers WHO STILL HAVE JOBS! The unemployed of America are scared out of their minds. Eventually, when they have lost all hope, they will just get pissed.

More on Capitalism

Imbalance of payments

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By Tom Toles

via Tom Toles – political cartoons.

For those in the “job market” any time over the past three years (including myself) this cartoon seems particularly apt. This morning I got a hint at the new narrative being prepared for 2011. “America is coming back! Stronger than ever!” But for the millions whose earnings potential has been permanently DESTROYED by this collapse (not to mention the loss of retirement, health insurance, home equity, life insurance policies and children’s college funds) the only thing exceptional about America is the way it takes care of its richest two percent EXCEPTIONALLY well.

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