If you want to get really depressed, spend some time over at the United States Department of Labor web-site, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
They've got a News release dated January 9, 2009, that provides amazing detail about the astonishing wreck of American workers' lives which has been caused by the Republicans under the Bush Regime.
Have you noticed that it's hard to get a straight story out of the government? Little bits and pieces float out, but they don't put it altogether for us. They tell us that another 500,000 people lost their jobs, but how many is that altogether? When they say unemployment is 5%, or 7%, we have to ask: "Of what?"
I don't assume the government releases accurate information. But based on their news release, I can discern the following:
There are about 305 million Americans, of whom 154 million are considered to be a part of the labor force. As of December of 2008, 7.2% of Americans were unemployed. Kind of.
135 million were employed. 11.1 million were unemployed. Except they forgot to include in the 11.1 million the 8 million Americans who have been forced into part-time work, but want full-time work. And they also failed to include the 2 million unemployed Americans who would like to think of themselves as being a part of the labor force, except that the government decided to exclude them to make their numbers look better, and these 2 million Americans "don't count" because they did not look for work within a 4 week period.
So let's add in the 8 million part-time workers, and the 2 million arbitrarily excluded by the government to cook the books and make their numbers look better. OH MY GOD, THAT DOUBLES THE NUMBER. Instead of just having 11.1 million unemployed, we add in the 8 million forced into part-time (or temp) work and the 2 million excluded for no good reason, and we now have at least 21.1 unemployed Americans. Out of the government's "official" number of a total 154 million in the labor force. That means the unemployment rate is actually 14%.
But wait. It gets better. I woke up this morning to hear a long recitation on the radio about the number of businesses that have announced they will be throwing millions more Americans out of work. Now I have a theory about that: jump on the bandwagon. This is a great opportunity for businesses to cut staff, terrorize those who remain, and force everyone to do 2 jobs for the price of one. But there's another theory: get in on the goody-bag giveaways from Congress by throwing Americans out of work and demanding a "bailout."
When I hear, for example, that Microsoft will be throwing Americans out of work, I can't help but think of all the trade agreements begun under Bill Clinton and continued under George W. Bush,. which have encouraged American businesses to throw Americans out of work and move their business operations to such places as India. Microsoft already brings in h1b visa workers from other countries to take American jobs at $14,000/year less than they would pay an American. So either take away their right to operate at all in this country or tell them to get out. But let's not play this game that their decision to lay off workers is a surprise. It's their business plan and model to take most of their jobs out of this country. Ask Bill Clinton: he set the whole thing up.
Of course there's always the possibility that when Wall Street and CEO insiders stripped their companies bare paying themselves hundreds of millions of dollars, that they were actually stripping our entire economy bare, making it inevitable that business after business would fail because all of their money was stolen by a few insiders, and even the slightest economic downturn would sink them. Unemployed Americans are out of work for a reason: the insiders stole the money and ran up debt.
Here's an idea: end the wars now, bring the troops home and bring the money home. Radically slash the military budget in recognition of the fact that Americans are not "safer" patrolling the world with bunker-busters, but with no jobs back at home. No homes, no ability to feed ourselves.