Our lives are moving backwards. Unemployment is still worse than ever. Many, after sacrificing years on a job, are suddenly cast off like yesterday’s garbage. Students graduating with record amounts of debt are joining the unemployment line. There are 6 applicants for every job opening and long-term unemployment is growing rapidly. Most are turning to friends and relatives – borrowing money for groceries or sleeping on the couch – and this help is wearing thin. Many have nowhere to turn except homeless shelters and food lines, but still may be turned away because they are already over capacity. Some will end up living in the streets with their families begging for money or even losing their minds or ending up dead.
Even those of us who have jobs are struggling as the number of people working keeps declining. Our jobs are being combined and we are working more per shift than we ever have before. The threat of losing our jobs is constantly over our heads. We are reminded daily to feel lucky that we even have a job at all, even if it’s a job where we are losing pay or benefits or steady hours while working conditions are worsening.
When someone is fired, laid off, or retired, they are not being replaced with another person but by us doing more work. Whether it’s fewer sick days, working through breaks, bosses changing our schedules, losing our wages or our benefits or our pensions – the cutbacks are endless. By the time one cutback is in effect, another one is already being announced – there is no limit to what they will attempt to take from us.
At the same time as we are working more for less, corporations are reporting record profits. The truth is that corporations have never had higher profits and the rich have never been richer. Even though we are told the number of unemployed is slowly going down – it’s not true. It’s just that many people who’ve been unemployed for long periods of time are not being counted anymore. Record profits and record unemployment are not a coincidence – they are just a business strategy. It is only by making fewer people do more work that employers can exploit more from our lives.
Corporations have over two trillion dollars in cash they are just sitting on because they don’t have anywhere profitable enough to invest it. Whether it’s the trillions handed out in bailouts, the billions in tax breaks, or the millions struggling on unemployment the result is the same: We are paying for the increased profits. We create all the wealth and they record all the profits.
Why should anyone be overworked when there are so many people able to work and looking for jobs? Even when we are working harder than ever, we still get stressed when we don’t get the overtime or don’t get called in for more hours. Why should the solution to our problems be even more hours, more time away from our children, and more stress? We could put all the unemployed to work and bring down the hours for all of us. A real solution would be for everyone to work less hours but actually be paid enough to live a decent life.
Why should there be any unemployment when there is so much work that needs to be done? Money could be used to open schools, fully staff hospitals, repair roads and bridges, improve mass transportation – actually improve our quality of life. There are plenty of people who could do this work and plenty of money to pay them to do it.
We could all see the benefits from this – a safer pace of work, more time to see friends and relatives, or even go to school, a standard of living that actually permits us to live our lives rather than living just to go to work and barely getting by.
This solution is obvious. The people are there. The needs are there. The money is there. The only thing that would be lost is their profits. Well, good riddance!