Nov 07 2011

Several Things, and Prolly More

I’ve been working on a series of special projects over the past week that are likely to continue for some time to come, so blogging will likely be light over here for a while. However, there are several things that have attracted my attention that need to be dealt with, so, here goes.

Bill Moyers with his observations on politics in the US. Pretty strong indictment of the status quo if you ask me, but not entirely surprising.

If you really want to know just how corrupt the system is, why not ask one of the guys that gamed it better than most. Another strong indictment.

One thing that I think Democrats need to do better is connect the dots on things. Many issues facing the US are so big that its hard for folks to get their heads wrapped around issues. I think this post is a really good example of connecting the dots without getting so bogged down in details that it turns people off. On page 2 of the article are 11 things that led to the financial crisis we’re still digging out of. You don’t have to understand all the issues involved to understand how this house of cards went down.

Now for something with a little more local flavor.

The unemployment rate in Tennessee stands at 9.8%. As you can see from the chart above, unemployment shot up at an alarming rate from a low of 4.5% in May of 2007 to a high of 10.8% just over a year ago. We’ve been hanging around 10% unemployment for right at 30 months.

So for 52 months we’ve either seen increasing or very high unemployment in this state.

52 months, that’s almost 4 1/2 years.

In that time I’ve seen lots of friends laid off. Some of them have been fortunate enough to find jobs in a very difficult employment environment. Most of those folks that have found jobs are making less than they were before they got laid off. Yet through all of this, their expenses aren’t appreciably lower. Rent is still rent. Utilities are still utilities. Gas is still gas, and food is still food. In fact, many of these items, particularly gas (which has increased $.56/gal over the past year (Source)) have a huge impact on other prices like food (Ag is heavily dependent on fuel, and transportation of food is also).

So with all those things in mind, it should be refreshing to note that Ron Ramsey thinks unemployment is a lifestyle choice, and that the unemployed should no longer be lavished with the meager $275/wk (that’s the maximum, btw, not the average) the state gives to help those who have found themselves in the unemployment line.

There’s been a fair amount, of justifiable outrage over this tone deaf assessment of the situation.

Folks who have fallen victim to unemployment have many different stories. We see headline after headline of job fairs where hundreds, if not thousands of folks line up to get the few jobs that are available. Tennessee blogger GinerSnaps has a very personal account of standing in one of those lines.

Despite these, and many more accounts, the Lt. Gov. has this perception that the unemployed just magically decided on slackerdom sometime around May of 2007 and need a kick in the hiney from one of his custom made, Tennessee State Seal emblazoned, gift from a friend, boots.

Nothing like a little perspective right?

If the Lt. Gov. needs some real perspective from someone that’s been through the unemployment rigamarole, he need look no further than his very own press secretary who was laid off in March of 2010, and remained unemployed for 11 months.

But ultimately neither Ramsey’s statement, nor his intentions are rooted in any kind of reality. Ramsey is engaged in the art of opinion shaping. By seeking to demonize the people who have, through no fault of their own, been caught up in the economic downturn, and related unemployment that’s been with us for the past 52 months, not to mention the “jobless recovery” that came before it, Ramsey is deflecting blame from the people who are sitting on over $2t in cash, but not hiring.

Which brings us back around to that Bill Moyers link again.

Nothing like a little ray of sunshine in the morning, huh?

See also: Out of the Blue