Something happened during the economic downturn/mini-depression/recession (whatever you want to call it). 

I made the observation several years ago that even as the economy recovered, a lot of the lost jobs would not be coming back, and this was basically because businesses had adjusted and had learned to live without many of those jobs. 

They did this by various means: automating tasks that formerly had been done by employees, by wringing more work out of the employees they kept, and by outsourcing labor to third world countries.

What to do with these people for whom there is no place in the economy. Should we just set them adrift without a thought or, in today's economy, has being unemployed become their role in the economy.

In other words, we need not to need them, so hasn't being unemployed become a kind of job? And rather than paying them for a limited period of time on the assumption they will use that time to find work, shouldn't we face reality and pay them to do what we need them to do?

Is it time to start thinking in terms of a more robust form of socialism?

Tags: capitalism, recession, socialism, unemployment

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Having been unemployed for the last 17 years I can only hope that I'm doing it well.

Who do I see about a raise? :)

I think many of the people who are unemployed aren't willing to change themselves to accomodate the change in the economy, so they are being left behind by their own limits they have put upon themselves. There are PLENTY of opportunities in this economy....

I agree with most of what you have said.  Workers are routinely discarded in a dog eat dog economy (with apologies to dogs)  It all goes back to capitalism regarding workers as a commodity to be used as needed and discarded when not needed.   The system is the problem, not the unemployed.

 @ Ron Humphrey:

"The system is the problem, not the unemployed."

BINGO, BINGO, BINGO, WINNER, WINNER, WINNER.

So simply stated, so concise, so to the point.

Excellent Ron.

The 45 year old welder or sign painter is unlikely to discover in himself a talent for calculus or coding. 

But Ari, your entire argument seems to embrace a position of powerlessness. There are so many opportunities out there it's unbelievable! Not just for traditional employment, but for self employment, or even career changes. And when you are given the resources to pay your bills while you pursue these opportunities (unemployment benefits) what's not to love?

There are some people who (like my own mother) who claim their weekly unemployment, and sit around moping about age discrimination. Meanwhile, squandering the pluthera of opportunities RIGHT in front of her....it is a victim mentality. If she had hit the ground running when she first got laid off she could be well on her way to a new beginning. But she's not even seriously looking for a job. She is applying for jobs she knows she won't get just to collect the check. Benefits will run out soon, and then she'll be.........in poverty. Not because of lack of opportunitiesn but from lack of inititive, motivation, and fighting for her own place in the marketplace.

If I may step in here... I understand what you are saying, but you kind of missed a major point.                                                                

As a result of the recession, there are fewer jobs out there. Yes, there are jobs. Many of the people who are are unemployed can't find jobs which suit their innate abilities and/or inclinations, and trying to reconfigure them for new jobs will simply result in the square peg in the round hole problem. 

Also, many of the available jobs are a step down for many unemployed, and if they take it, they are taking a job much needed by someone with less education and potential.

Underemployment is as good as unemployment... do we really need to be served our McDs by a University educated person? Surely their skills would be FAR better put to use in other pursuits.

Not only that, but every Masters or Doctors degree holder who takes a McJob is basically taking a job away from someone more (under)qualified for such virtually skill-less jobs. Many of those people are trying to feed their children.

@Unseen: RE If I may step in here... I understand what you are saying, but you kind of missed a major point.

I didn't miss it....I'm already 2 steps past it :)

That's how you have to think in today's economy.

A more robust form of socialism at the expense of corporate America? Sign me up.

One caveat to the recently unemployed is this corporate business practice of passing up those who have been unemployed for longer than X weeks/months. Why? These individuals are no less competent in their work skills. Maybe a little rusty perhaps. This has come to the forefront recently as President Obama has addressed this very issue and taken corporate America to task over the unethical practice. 

Absolutely.  A blend of the best of Capitalism and Socialism should be tried.  We simply must remove the incentive to regard the workers as "items" to be used and discarded.  Large corporations are NOT your friends.  I have said somewhat tongue in cheek in the past that we do not live in a democracy, but instead a corporatocracy.  

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