In our consumer-based economy, Americans needs jobs. Any long-term unemployment is a national catastrophe that shouldn't even get to that point in the first place. Instead of giving people benefits for 99 weeks, they should get one, two or even three jobs to get off the rolls. That's what normal people do. We are not a country on welfare, we are a country of workers.
Having been unemployed for a short time, I understand how detrimental it can be to one's social identity. There should never be a time when somebody wants to contribute to the economy, but can't. There are many people who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on an education that they have not been able to use.
Furthermore, long-term unemployment is a waste of talent and money. Having workers sit idly and collecting unemployment compensation is a drain on the economy. The government should take action to create more opportunities for US workers.
Researchers have shown that being unemployed is a disqualification for many employers: that to get a job, you have to have a job already. The Great Recession led to the loss of some eight million jobs: today, about four million men and women are working, against the terrible odds of long-term unemployment, to find work. The longer it takes, the worse the odds get, and the more likely we'll create a permanent pool of unemployable workers. Yes, long-term unemployment is a national catastrophe.
I believe that long-term unemployment is a national catastrophe. So many people with good skills are getting laid off and looking for work. They may collect unemployment or not, but they are not finding jobs. Even people with a lot of education are getting stuck with nothing. I know that I have not even been considered for some jobs because they tell me I'm "overqualified."
People seem to forget that we are not fixtures here. We are organic life, that, like anything else, can be wiped from the face of the earth at a whim. Even in our economics, we still adhere to the laws of nature, and in scarcity, some things must die so that the rest may live.
This recent economic debacle has, to my mind, been a portent. We understand the perils of a purely consumer driven economy at this point, but we are still reluctant to change it. Economists still talk about sales figures and how that will impact hiring in retail chains. Aren't we just rushing back into the disaster by taking that route? Wouldn't it be smarter to acquiesce and take a few steps back, as a people, to realign our goals?
This highlights what I feel is one of the most glaring shortcomings of Capitalism as a practice: it cannot withstand contraction in a reasonable manner. Capitalism must constantly grow in to remain viable. There must constantly be an excess of monies to invest and build and reincorporate. Once that excess dwindles, the machine chokes, and there is really no plan to redistribute stress unless certain very wealthy entities elect to divest themselves of significant financial sums to kick start the process again. If that is not satisfied, the only time the machine will rebound is if it finds a convenient new avenue for expansion (not guaranteed) or its population dies off to a level where its finances are again solvent.
You might call that a catastrophe. I call that a very natural solution to a very natural problem.