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deep recession sharply altered u.s. jobless map: why the rich love high unemployment, part deux

September 27, 2011

Saw this article from yesterday’s New York Times:

Deep Recession Sharply Altered U.S. Jobless Map

The last line of the article reads: “‘I would look at it as our dreams are delayed,’ he said, “rather than our dreams being denied.'” Maybe I’m just being cynical, but the ‘American Dream’ is all smoke and mirrors, if you ask me. As if there’s a big difference between being denied and being delayed indefinitely.

Whatever the case, the article does shine a light on how bad this economic downturn has really been; so much so that it’s altered the nation’s economic landscape, with states in the Rust Belt now faring better than many of the ‘boom states’ in the Sun Belt.

Even more depressing, however, is that “only 16 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas have regained more than half of the jobs they lost during the recession,” and the fact that we had more people living in poverty last year than in any year since the Census Bureau began keeping records half a century ago. It reminds me of this article from Truthout, which reads like Marxism 101, albeit through a liberal/social democratic lens.

As I ranted once before, capitalism, by its very nature, requires what Marx termed the “reserve army of labour” (i.e., the unemployed), which is one of the tools it uses to create and increase the profit it extracts from the labourer and the commodities their labour produces.

What the second article calls “labor-market flexibility” is the capitalists wet dream, i.e., an insecure labour pool that can be hired and fired at will, at whatever wage and however many hours the employer deigns to give (further supported by articles like this). And as the Truthout article points out, the mechanisms that the ruling class use to help ‘fix’ the economy ultimately end up benefiting big capital and the wealthy, not the workers (who make up the majority of the population).

Which is completely counterproductive, of course, when you have a consumer-based economy and very few of the consumers can afford much beyond their basic means of subsistence. In the context of a global, capitalist economy, however, capital can invest elsewhere (whether abroad in foreign markets or in stocks and bonds) and still increase its profits and those of its shareholders, while the average worker is left struggling.

The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. How anyone can find such a system moral, or simply preferable to something which is less exploitative, is beyond me. /rant


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