Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who Still Has Faith in an Expanding Economy?

Oh my, what a question. Short of the Big Bang, perhaps, it's hard to decipher what sort of "expanding" anything inspires confidence right now. Mild and expected inflation which once provided inclusion for new workers and consumers, is now viewed as exclusion to serve mostly the participants who remain at the table. But if some of these are ready to scale back...what of the younger generations, which were just coming into a natural process of growth and expansion? Doesn't the decision to tighten monetarily, come at their expense? And if that doesn't matter, well why doesn't it?

The blogosphere has become a bit too quiet right now for my taste, in fact the silence is deafening. Just as I thought people would get serious in their search for pragmatic solutions - and it was obviously time to roll up sleeves and get to work, suddenly a lot of folk slipped out the side door and all but abandoned the work site. To be sure, the reports are still coming in - papers and statistics all around regarding people who may not be employed again. Some of the unemployed of course are older, thus expected to somehow coast into "retirement". But by no means is this necessarily the case.

Where are the actual, applied efforts taking place? Who has been "walking the talk" and how have I missed them, when I've spent so much time looking? Are they hiding in plain sight? The lack of enthusiasm on the part of employers to hire those who have been out of the marketplace for a couple of months, isn't just limited to older Baby Boomers such as myself. By no means are those over fifty the only ones who have been given up as dead, I mean ZMP.

Instead, doors are shutting on people of all ages, and no one is in agreement as to what can be done. In the absence of serious deliberation and response, we are getting...wage increases all around? That may indeed help some to pay a few more bills. But it is going in the opposite direction of the employment that will be further cut, not just in the months ahead, but also the years ahead as technology adapts by implementing more automation wherever possible.

Of course there is still dialogue to be had, but blame seems to have once again become the fallback position. For several years, some commonality was being sought, as people were willing to reach across both party lines and discipline specific language. But now, the whole situation increasingly feels like a full retreat. Even though older models were not sufficient to explain unemployment, new models did not arise which could provide more rational explanation or applicability. And who has the incentive to provide them now, when the event is mostly in the rear view mirror? In some ways, it's almost as if the Great Recession never even happened. After all, the consensus to pull back on the throttle is a sign of defeat, and yet it is hard to tell who is even willing to concede the loss.

As a blogger, granted - I'm not necessarily the "brightest bulb on the string". But you know something? Often times, that's not even what is necessarily to find solutions. What is necessary is trying again and again until something works. What is necessary is collective willpower that cuts across groups and self interest. Hell, if anyone was really self interested, they would be doing everything possible to ensure that as many as possible stay afloat right now. This is not rocket science and most of us don't have to be geniuses to devise methods for dealing with long term unemployment. Put people in close proximity to one another who need to create a better reality, and find out if there's enough human instinct left to adapt and improve one's life. I'm willing to bet there is.

Anyone such as myself who has spent too much time sorting through and clearing out the shopping sprees of earlier decades, can tell an economist: this does not have to be complicated. Give people multiple product formations which are interesting in some manner and in their affordability range, and they will freely choose among them, every time. What's more, everyone can be involved in the production of said product, and find ways to sustain the circle. We have spent far too much time pretending this is not possible.

Whose job is it to keep the faith in a still expanding economy? Janet Yellen? Everyone or no one? People are getting paid good money to discuss these things endlessly, but nothing is happening. In fact a lot of the discussion is repeats, from a time frame which hardly anyone today remembers. Sometimes it's in political terms, other times macroeconomic or journalistic terms. Or, it gets modeled with graphs or explained in statistics but the result is the same: nothing, so far as I can tell. I say this because the results have yet to be shown on the evening news, such as the results of a new cure for cancer or other disease.

I know, it's as if I've gone off the deep end in this post. But as Linda Ronstadt sang years ago, "I've tried everything I know" to figure out some practical applications to the problem we have no better way of describing than long term unemployment. The real issue at hand is, how do we keep people actively engaged in their lives and the lives of others? How do we make sure they still have reason to go beyond the doors of their own dwellings and take part in life itself - not just a facsimile?

Why are we still reasoning that it makes sense for people to just stop thinking, while continuing headlong with the notion of technology providing most of our mental effort in the future? If we were to go that far, what would be the difference between the rest of us and any unfortunate soul who is sitting in prison? One would think that with the proliferation of economic activity in the world and the constant activity that takes place, something encouraging would have happened by now. I'm as stubborn as a mule about this. Have I just not looked into the right social media? Who is actively working on applied and coordinated solutions?

Who would be aware of the ongoing efforts which I have been trying to track down? Who is looking for others equally intent on doing something? Even though I don't know how long I'll be able to do so, I'm still available now to help whoever is working on these issues. What's more, I'll set my mind to whatever or however I can help, free of charge. Just let me know.

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