America’s New Economic Leper Class
(The Forgotten Faces behind the Great Recession)
By now Americans are well aware of The Great Recession that has plagued our nation for the past five years, which for many is a depression that offers no end in sight. Regretfully, as a nation we have lost our conscience and morality in our denial of the hardships and suffering it has caused to millions of Americans. This only reinforces the fact that as a nation we have failed both economically and morally.
In years past our nation has prospered and benefited by and large under a Laissez –faire economy that promoted an entrepreneurialism that fueled our nation’s economic growth and prosperity. In light of our current economic debacle we may need to question the infallibility of such a system and seek economic solutions by making modifications to this free-market model. Free Market economics may have performed well in America’s post World War II years when we dominated the world markets, exports, manufacturing and the nation had the ability to create good jobs. Regretfully this is no longer the case in America as 15 million Americans still remain unemployed or underemployed. Unfortunately our current economic debacle is now manifesting the dark side of unregulated Free Market Economics; whom many believe is the cause of the 2008 financial debacle that has paralyzed our economy for the past five years. As our nation’s unemployed continue to remain idle after loosing their jobs out of no fault of their own, which also equates to the lose of their health coverage, and in many cases their homes and their entire life savings and assets. These five long years of economic failure have inflicted undue hardships upon fellow Americans. Unfortunately, many of our elected politicians have not only failed to correct our economy, but have also abandoned the needs of American families suffering from unemployment. In typical American fashion our main line media and politicians are telling us the recession is over, and it’s a jobless “recovery”. Such a lie offers little consolation and hope for America’s unemployed and businesses struggling to survive.
Ironically while our politicians are telling us the recession is over, the following facts will refute this claim. Recently, it has been reported on how grim this recession is- even for the very affluent Lower Hudson valley. The foreclosure rate for Westchester County is higher than the state average, with our northern neighbors in Putnam County reporting a foreclosure rate that is double the state rate. What is surprising when local officials were questioned by the media as to the cause of them, a few stated they had no plausible explanation. We should expect a more honest and intelligent answer from our government and elected officials. Did it ever occur to them the reason for the high foreclosure rates is the high unemployment rate. This is a sad observation on our government policy makers if they fail to see the economic consequences when heads of households loose their jobs. What we are experiencing is a market failure by Wall Street and our government’s inability to remedy after five long years of partisan infighting.
Or maybe the cause of our economic blindness and insensitivity to the suffering of our fellow Americans whom have fallen victim to the boom and bust cycles of Free Market Capitalism. May lie in the fact that our elected officials benefit from a socialist employment system whereby their salaries and benefits are paid for by the state via our tax dollars. And, who are also insulated from economic downturns. Many of which continue to receive salaries and health benefits when out of office. Ironically, there are many politicians today who I believe erroneously view national healthcare as a step toward socialism. Though they are the recipients of it receiving their salaries and benefits from the state paid for by the taxpayers- double standard to say the least. I would rather view national healthcare as one of the benefits of capitalism where by we can achieve prosperity with out the loss of an economic safety net.
So as our nation’s economy continues to falter, our main line media along with many of our politicians have forgotten our nation’s unemployed by calling it a jobless recovery?
And thus making the unemployed American’s new leper class. Unfortunately this denial will not correct the problem. And, like leprosy unemployment is also contagious, and has reached epidemic proportions, Washington has failed to develop a vaccine to cure our nation of this long term financial ailment. Regretfully, few politicians has come forth to promote some form solid legislation or laws to assist the 15 million American’s currently unemployed and/ or loosing their homes. Maybe this is because we have outsourced our compassion, morality, and stewardship of our fellow man?
Our economic woes will continue as long as we have such high unemployment. In essence, our nation has eliminated approximately 20-30% of our consumer spending do to this high unemployment rate. Simply speaking, if 20-30% of our consumers are unemployed, making them financial cripples for years as a result of lower credit scores.
America has penalized the victims who are the solution to our recovery. Our politicians believe it is better to run from the new “leper” class rather then to find a cure, and to prevent it from spreading. In simple terms we have killed the goose that lays the golden egg. Regretfully, it is not that capitalism that has failed; it is the lack of targeted regulations, greed, arrogance, and outsourcing, failure to plan for the long term, and lack of an economic safety net for Americans during economic downturns.
I believe the French philosopher Alexis De Tocqueville said it best regarding his observation of the American ethos
“American’s to alleviate their pain as a nation will pursue banal and petty pleasures that guts their soul, while their fellow American’s suffering, they will touch them but feel nothing. An observation that holds true today.
For as a nation today, if we deny the needs of our suffering fellow American’s during these economically trying time, we would be denying our nation of its morality.
Dr. Richard Cirulli teaches economics, at a number of local colleges, and a business consultant. He also has a weekly cable show, “The American Condition” that deals with current economic problems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.