Well not precisely, but this piece in National Review is almost that bad. According to Will it’s our fault.
The work rate for adult men has plunged 13 percentage points in a half-century. This “work deficit” of “Great Depression–scale underutilization” of male potential workers is the subject of Nicholas Eberstadt’s new monograph Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, which explores the economic and moral causes and consequences of this:
Since 1948, the proportion of men 20 and older without paid work has more than doubled, to almost 32 percent. This “eerie and radical transformation” — men creating an “alternative lifestyle to the age-old male quest for a paying job” — is largely voluntary. Men who have chosen to not seek work are two and a half times more numerous than men that government statistics count as unemployed because they are seeking jobs. What Eberstadt calls a “normative sea change” has made it a “viable option” for “sturdy men,” who are neither working nor looking for work, to choose “to sit on the economic sidelines, living off the toil or bounty of others.” Only about 15 percent of men 25 to 54 who worked not at all in 2014 said they were unemployed because they could not find work. For 50 years, the number of men in that age cohort who are neither working nor looking for work has grown nearly four times faster than the number who are working or seeking work. And the pace of this has been “almost totally uninfluenced by the business cycle.” The “economically inactive” have eclipsed the unemployed, as government statistics measure them, as “the main category of men without jobs.” Those statistics were created before government policy and social attitudes made it possible to be economically inactive. ? Eberstadt does not say that government assistance causes this, but obviously it finances it. To some extent, however, this is a distinction without a difference. In a 2012 monograph, Eberstadt noted that in 1960 there were 134 workers for every one officially certified as disabled; by 2010 there were just over 16. Between January 2010 and December 2011, while the economy produced 1.73 million nonfarm jobs, almost half as many workers became disability recipients. This, even though work is less stressful and the workplace is safer than ever…
Eberstadt does not say that government assistance causes this, but obviously it finances it. To some extent, however, this is a distinction without a difference. In a 2012 monograph, Eberstadt noted that in 1960 there were 134 workers for every one officially certified as disabled; by 2010 there were just over 16. Between January 2010 and December 2011, while the economy produced 1.73 million nonfarm jobs, almost half as many workers became disability recipients. This, even though work is less stressful and the workplace is safer than ever.
Now Mr. Will hasn’t had to be in the job market since at least the 1980’s and his column in the Washington Post, so I can understand being just a little out of touch. Still you would think that before blaming the about 20 million or so of us out of work he would do a bit more homework than just reading a monograph from a “political economist.”
Like many in the Washington elite Will is relying on buzzwords and the mainstream media for his information rather than looking into the details about the dysfunctional economy that we have right now. I imagine that being part of the Washington elite sort of isolates you from the impacts of what’s going on in flyover country. Wouldn’t want to damage the delicate sensibilities of our elites with some realities, but that doesn’t make the realities go away.
The harshest reality is that the way the elites have managed things has taken a big part of the nation’s soul away. For a man a big part of what he is relates to work. His job is how he thinks of himself, even if he says that he hates it. It’s how he values a great deal of his self worth and his value in his community. So when somebody loses their job, it’s a huge hit to their entire psyche. Trust me, I’ve been there, far too many times. This is something that Will has never had to experience.
Then there’s looking for work. Looking for work is a heart breaking draining experience. All the same invasive questions from prospective employers. “Why did you leave your last job?” “How much were you paid?” “Do you have a car?” “What have you been doing since you left your job?” All the questions you hate. Along with the feeling of being stigmatized by things completely out of your control. After a while, the temptation to just take the welfare and give up becomes overwhelming as you feel that you have no self worth and no skin in the game. There’s just so much rejection that anybody can take and after a while it just becomes so easy to not make those phone call or submit those applications that go badly anyway.
The problem here is cultural and its not the working types that are responsible for that. A look on linked in, or for that matter this blog and a number of others will point out what’s going on. The problem is that as business culture has become more centralized as a result of policies promulgated by the elites in Washington and the media, the small businesses that provided the jobs and the safety valve for the economy have been stomped by high taxes and red tape. This has caused a loss not just in job creation, but in the ability to be flexible as far as jobs go. Which hits the struggling the hardest.
There’s also the problem that most of the jobs that have been created are make work or service jobs that don’t pay very well. Add to that the influx of open borders cheap labor that doesn’t have to play by the same rules that we Americans do and good jobs become scarcer than hen’s teeth.
Then there’s the problem that people in corporations and government feel the need to make the application and interview process as inhumane as possible. If you don’t think that that’s happening just look at Liz Ryan’s Forbes stories and others. Also Google ATS systems and robo interviews. The people in the companies will say that they need to do the things the way they do to prevent “bad hires” but as far as I’ve been able to tell, all the stuff does is make the poor job seeker think that they have entered an Orwellian power play.
All this in context of the current dysfunctional economy. Lets face it. 1.7 million jobs over two years is truly pathetic. Especially when some 90% plus were part time, service or temporary. This is not even 100,000 new jobs a month. the fact is that the economy in the last 8 years has not seen a single quarter of more than 3% growth. Not one. At that the country is lucky that the energy situation and oil imports were solved problems. If fuel prices had done what the Dems and Washington elites wanted them to do, the country would, more than likely, still be on recession.
The people who can’t find work didn’t create the “work deficit.” That came right out of the policies of Mr. Will’s neighbors in Washington, with their messing around with the health care industry, their massive deficit spending, harassment of small businesses and general overegulation of employment. The nonworking stiffs didn’t create the policies and taxes that contributed to the current problems, but they are paying the price.
Perhaps, instead of asking why people are out of work and referencing a elitist monograph that blames the victims, Mr. Will should put the resource of the news media that employs him to looking at why most of the blast furnaces have shut down in this country over the last ten years, why the coal industry has gone out of business, why most of the Aluminum smelters have shut down and why the same trends seem to be existing in just about every industry. The real story, the one that nobody in Washington seems to notice is the systematic destruction of the heart of American industry. That’s what Mr. Will should be looking at.
The disemployment of the American man is an effect, not a cause. The trend is the result of policies that were promulgated by people who are so out of touch with the facts on the ground over most of the country that they can’t even see the damage being done. These people read monographs written by elite Harvard economists that will not reveal enough of what’s really going on to make the elites who read the tripe uncomfortable. Yet until the consequences of the bad policies, red tape and high taxes are brought into the sensibilities of the cloud people in Washington the damage is going to continue, at least until there’s too little left to matter any more.
The irony is that things do not have to be this way. If the elites in Washington would only allow the native creativity and innovation that is the very nature of America to do what it has always done the last eight years would be a forgotten memory in a remarkably short time after the potential boom created by all the new technologies and ideas that I see coming. It’s time for Washington to get out of the way and let the free people do the things that made America great. We face a bright future or a dark future. That’s the way forward.