The Los Angeles Times reports that unemployment in California has jumped up to 12 percent. Only Nevada, is worse, at 12.9 percent. Keep in mind that these numbers don’t reflect the thousands of people who have burned through their unemployment insurance and given up trying to find a job because there is so little out there, or the much higher numbers of unemployed youth. By one account, unemployment for young Americans age 16-24 is running around 21 percent, a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
Hope itself, is being slammed to the mat. Kids graduating from college with huge loans to pay off can’t find employment, or are accepting lower-paying jobs than they had anticipated. The New York Times reports, “Employment rates for new college graduates have fallen sharply in the last two years, as have starting salaries for those who can find work. What’s more, only half of the jobs landed by these new graduates even require a college degree, reviving debates about whether higher education is “worth it” after all.”
How’s it possible to even begin to get a feel for anything resembling sanity in our political future when the best a candidate for president can do is to brag about minimum wage job creation? Rick Perry, just can’t say enough about his “great” State of Texas, where 550,000 residents earned the minimum wage or less last year, compared to 173,000 in 2006, according to the Star Telegram. The Perry formula only goes from bad to worse, considering the fact that one in four Texans has no health insurance, making Texas the worst state in the union for people lacking healthcare coverage. A lousy job with no healthcare coverage and creationism being illegally taught in some public schools. Welcome to our new third world socioeconomic reality.
One can only hope Mr. Obama and the Congress are enjoying their vacations. Particularly the Congress, which left Washington on a 5-week hiatus while the king of cool, “no drama” Obama, is off on a two-week stay at Martha’s Vineyard. In his book “A First Rate Madness,” author Nassir Ghaemi suggests that it may require at least a modicum of madness to succeed as President of the United States, and Mr. Obama, he writes, may be too well-balanced to make the grade. A White House spokesman says the President didn’t call Congress back to deal with the ongoing national crisis, because he thinks it will be better for them to go back into their home districts and get a feel for just how unhappy their constituents really are. Maybe, but I have to wonder. Sounds like the decision making process of a rational, well-balanced individual. Not someone who is likely catch fire in a fit of pique and turn things around simply by the strength of his personality.
Lyndon Johnson, apparently could. There are any number of accounts of Johnson, intimidating the hell out of people — and Lyndon Johnson, got things done in the Congress. He also got us stuck in Vietnam and was mired in the depths of depression over his inability to deal with the war. I wonder if the polar opposites of extreme good and bad being accomplished by the same individual are symptomatic?
But back to our current day conundrum, with everybody off splashing around at the water park while the nation struggles to survive. If a giant company were falling to pieces would all the top executives leave town on an extended break? If your army was surrounded and under an artillery barrage would you send your command staff to the beach?
We are, after all, engaged in two wars, neither of which appears to be winnable, and an economic war at home with the nation’s corporations, banks and uber-wealthy (1% at the top control more wealth than 95% at the bottom) sitting on their money while middle America and the American dream itself are devastated.
I’m not sure which is more disturbing, the fact that these guys chose to take so much time off in the middle of this mess, or that millions of middle class Americans aren’t marching on Washington demanding an end to the madness. Wouldn’t do much good I suppose, with nobody there.