Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Invisible unemployed

Here's a question that has baffled me over the past months: why doesn't the mainstream media seem to care much that we have such massive unemployment in the U.S.? Certainly this problem wasn't ignored by the press in the 1930's! Kevin Drum, of Mother Jones,  may have at least part of the answer:
Obviously there are lots of differences between the Great Depression and our current economic morass. But one of them was indeed the press: in the 30s, the typical newspaper writer was a modestly paid high school graduate, closer to being a blue-collar worker than a member of the middle class. Big syndicated columnists like Walter Lippman were pretty well off, but they were the exception more than the rule.
Today it's just the opposite. Punditry is dominated almost exclusively, both in print and on the air, by the rich and the upper middle class. And there's just no way around it: even if you're trying hard, it's close to impossible for someone living a comfortable life to really feel the desolation and helplessness of unemployment and economic distress when they've never really experienced it themselves and live in a social circle where it's rarely a serious problem either.
The long-term unemployed don't vote much, they aren't organized, and in electoral numbers there aren't that many of them. All true. But thanks to a political and media class that's mostly pretty well off, they're also largely invisible. Writing about them is more like an anthropological exercise than a simple description of your friends and neighbors. And it's one reason that we're doing so little to help them.

(h/t to Laertes, my most faithful reader, for the link)


Cletis L. Stump said...

When I was hungry, as a child in the Appalachians, not one church ever helped us. Nor do people understand how it feels to be literally hungry. That's why I give a really big damn about these issues.

Underground Politics said...

I can relate to being unemployed. Got laid off from one job and it took me over a month to find another one and to get all the paperwork done. But that was last fall. I can't say how finding a job would go now.

Unemployment pay also sucks. It's no where near close enough to even live off of. You're lucky if it just manages to cover all of your bills, let alone gas and food.

Ulysses said...

I'm currently working as a substitute teacher for $80/day with no benefits. RI state law doesn't allow teachers (even substitutes!)to collect unemployment during the summer months. Can't have those greedy public school teachers "scamming the system." So, yeah, I can relate.

Underground Politics said...

That is crazy Ulysses!