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A Shadow World

July 23, 2013

The headlines will tell you the economy added 195,000 jobs this month. While this is actually true, it’s not factually true. The civilian labor force added 177,000 workers during June as the numbers counted as unemployed rose by 17,000. Last June, there were 12,701,000 Americans counted as officially unemployed, but through governmental sleight of hand, in twelve months that number was reduced to 11,777,000, and that could be considered a marginal improvement, only.

Not In the Labor Force, June 2012 – 88,006,000

Not In the Labor Force, June 2013 – 89,717,000

So these ballyhooed jobs, are they in high-tech or manufacturing? Are these jobs offering affordable health insurance or a bright future? The short answer is, no, no way, fat chance. The group of Americans whose job prospects rose in June was teenagers, teenagers without high school diplomas. It’s important to point out the best way to hide the reprehensible jobs numbers is to parse them into small bits. Last month, unemployment for teenagers ages 16 to 19 was 24.5%; the month before it was 24.1%; and this month, a remarkable improvement, down to just 24%. So this explains, after our economy has made this profound turn around in unemployment for teenage boys age 16 to 19, their unemployment rate last June was 23.7%

Basically, the economy added 149,000 men over age 16, to push lawn mowers and drive weed-eaters. According to the government there were 35,592,000 men aged 16 and up “Not in Labor Force” this month. One year ago, that number was 33,909,000, an increase of over 1,600,000 men. For women age 16 and up, the problem is even more daunting, as 80,000 women have disappeared from the work force in a single year. The number of women age 16 and up counted as “Not in the Labor Force” is now 1,262,000, significantly higher than last June. The number of women unemployed is down, but the number finding employment is also down. Between June of last year and June of this year, 749,000 American women found employment, while nearly twice that many disappeared from the workforce.

The U-6 unemployment figure for June is down from 15.1% to 14.6%. Now add in several millions of the disappeared and uncounted and clearly unemployment is up!

The number of hours worked per week (33.7) is flat and has been flat for a solid year. In manufacturing, goods-producing and construction, the number of hours worked is down! The retail trade hours worked is also down and there can be only one answer to the question: why are retail workers working fewer hours?

People without money can’t buy things!

Officially unemployed – 11,777,000

Part-time for economic reasons – 8,226,000

Slack work or business conditions – 5,193,000

Could only find Part-time work – 2,652,000

Marginally attached to the work force – 2,582,000

Discouraged workers – 1,027,000

There are 31,457,000 unemployed, under-employed, abandoned and ignored Americans — 31,457,000 Americans trying to pay the rent and feed the kids; trying desperately to keep a raggedy car running to make the job interview, hoping they won’t notice the worn clothes. The headlines will tell you the economy expanded, but this economy expanded only misery. One hundred thousand more discouraged American workers this June than last, a 30% increase in the total number of discouraged workers.

What are a people supposed to do, where are they supposed to go, when unable to afford even the simple basic necessities of life? Nearly 32 million Americans priced out of their own society and country by neoliberal economics. All nations have faced hard economic times, that part is understandable. Only, for the first time in modern human history the government’s response to the crisis has been to close the door and pretend those suffering don’t exist and so they continue with their game.

Workers of almost every strata see the inflation, which, like the job numbers are parsed into invisibility. Watch this: the CPI is up 1.4% for the year. Now the CPI uses what they call Relative Importance, a number they use to weight the index. Cereal and bakery products up for the year, .08% with a Relative Importance of 1.230. Now look at bread, up 2.5% with a Relative importance of 0.225. There is a category called Meat, Poultry and Fish and there is another category called Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs. Mix and match, find a number that looks good, pick and choose and presto — what inflation?

The really sad part is that any pretense of, you know, make-believe; any sort of let’s get dressed up and read scripts and pretend, is now gone. The numbers are inescapable: 31,457,000 Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and if just half of these unemployed or under employed, have a child or a dependent, the number becomes 47,185,000. Two dependents 63,000,000 Americans, that’s one American in five, living in and working in a nightmare without end.

There are also 25 million Americans under 40 with outstanding student loans; altogether 37 million Americans owe between $902 Billion to a Trillion dollars. Roped, lured and attracted by promises of a better life, of a future. Do you see the con yet? If they keep you poor long enough and bombard you with ads for schools promising easy financing, the masses will be lured into trying to escape the nightmare? Loans guaranteed by the US tax payer drawing interest for the lender at Zero risk. The President himself proposes a program where corporations work with Junior colleges, baiting the trap, for a job at the Gap or McDonald’s or Banana Republic.

It is nothing less than the merciless exploitation of the working poor, with the ever present fear of the nightmare, waiting just outside their door. A life based in fear of the future, a life of fraud and Scamsville, crooked contracts, phony occupations. Learn to be a NASCAR mechanic or recording engineer; 31,457,000 who ache for a normal life, to be employed at even a marginal wage. The current administration is criminally culpable:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Has the President and the Congress or courts, defended the Constitution? Do they bear true faith and allegiance to the same? Do they faithfully serve without mental reservation or purpose of evasion? If you answered no to any of these questions, you have a serious question confronting you. What to do about an illegitimate government? How do we come to grips with a coarse authoritarian regime, which holds no respect for human rights or human dignity? It is a regime seeing only profit and loss, of gold to be gathered or trash to be repressed and swept off the streets. No less than 31,457,000 Americans denied life, denied liberty and denied happiness. 31,457,000 Americans denied even the right to a simple basic existence.

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For example, the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at one hundred and forty-five million pairs. The actual output was given at sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or a hundred and forty-five millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain. ~ George Orwell, 1984


About the Author: David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, “The Servants of Pilate.”

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