Time to Go: The Farm … Chapter 8

Although this page is to promote a book, it is also an editorial about how sections of the book reflect today’s condition of our country.  Time to Go is series of novellas telling the story of friends (JD, Al, Tina and Lori) – how they survive the failing economy, and the collapsing civilization. Currently there are two novellas published with a third in the works. A new excerpt of the first novella: Time to Go – The Farm will be published weekly.

Are We All Worker Bees?

By Sas Dewars

Excerpt from Chapter 8

On Saturday morning, very late on Saturday morning, JD, looking rough and tumbled, wandered into the kitchen where Al was sitting in his underwear drinking coffee.

“Do you have the number for that hooker you were with last night?” Al grinned.

“Where are the girls? I thought we were going riding today,” JD replied as he grimaced in the bright sunlight.

“They decided to let you sleep in and went shopping. What’d you put in this week? At least two all-nighters, yeah?”

“Yeah, two full all-nighters. But, the rest might as well have been all-nighters. I don’t remember sh*t about this week.”

It wasn’t like this when we got out of high school. Back then, if you had a good attitude and were willing to work, you could make good money, build a life. Nowadays, the jobs are mostly minimum wage, service jobs. All the EPA bullshit and federal regulations ran all of the manufacturing companies out of business…. or overseas.

It’s almost like they deliberately ran out all the good paying jobs. But why? How would a whole society of worker bees benefit anyone?

“Well, it’s a down day. Maybe we can go out for a quick ride later and clear your head.”

“Yeah, I need it. Not that I won’t have plenty of time to catch up. I don’t have anything lined up for work right now. How about you?”

“I’m scheduled for Monday and Tuesday unloading trucks, but, right now, that’s it for this week.”

| How would a whole society of worker bees benefit anyone?

We hear a lot about unemployment, especially now during an election year. No real surprise there: “It’s the economy stupid.” And certainly unemployment is cause for concern. The “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate was at about 8.2% in May 2012.Supporters of the current administration, and even President Obama himself, say that the “private sector is fine”.

And, to a limited extent, it is improving. According to the same statistics, unemployment reached a high of 9.8% in September 2009. So, there is reason to optimistic. Or is there?

Unemployment is down according to the “official” statistics. For now, we’ll ignore how those statistics are generated, other than to say that persons who believe that there are no jobs available or who have given up looking for work are not counted as “unemployed”.  When you add those numbers into the “official” statistics, the real unemployment rate may be as high as 15%.2 Always remember the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli quote popularized by Mark Twain: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

But does even that tell the whole story? Unfortunately, no it does not. The dirty secret hidden in these statistics is underemployment. For our purposes here, we’ll discuss those working part-time or in a job for which they are overqualified. It’s likely that you know someone in this situation: the engineer with a college degree selling tools at Sears or the recent college graduate employed as barista at Starbuck’s. These situations are so common that they even have a boutique name: “survival jobs”.

Not surprisingly, there does not seem to be abundant information about the underemployment phenomenon in the mainstream media. Consider the following:

  • In March, 2010, a Gallup poll indicated that underemployment was over 20%.3 At the same time, the “official” unemployment rate was about 9.6%
  • In January, 2010, no less than George Will quoted an underemployment rate of 17.3%.4 At the same time, the “official” unemployment rate was about 9.7%.
  • More recently, The Atlantic stated that 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.5

Note: Good thing that everyone is going to college under the President Obama plan.

Without any “official” numbers, we’re left to our own devices to see the full problem. If we consider an unemployment rate of 8%, a reasonable guess might have been that close to 25% of the American population that is willing to work is either unemployed or underemployed. It’s tough to have a thriving economy when consumer cash is increasingly tight. So to what do we attribute this phenomenon?

If we consider supply and demand, as we always must, the supply of good paying jobs is certainly constrained due to a plethora of government regulations that make it harder and harder to start and grow a business. EPA and federal environmental regulations make it very difficult to actually manufacture anything.  We hear a lot about creating “good paying green jobs”, but, so far, those seem to be in short supply other than government subsidized green jobs. President Obama promised to “create a green economy” during the election, but the green economy only appears viable with massive injections of federal cash.

But we should also consider demand. As the manufacturing sector has been strangled out of existence and as high-tech jobs are off-shored, we seem increasingly willing to accept government assistance in place of being productive. The problem is that the government-subsidized standard of living is always lower than the real-world job that it replaces. And we seem to be ever more willing to sit back, watch reality shows on cable TV, and go to the mailbox once a week for that government check.

This, of course, is just fine with those who favor power and control. After all, it’s tough to think about liberty and individual rights when you’re cold and hungry or worried about making the house payment. This is, as Maslow6 recognized, human nature. And many of us have responsibilities like children, aging parents or other dependents. And those responsibilities trump other concerns.

So it’s up to each of us to figure out this conundrum. The safety of a minimal, guaranteed (for the short-term anyway) existence might look good. But our history and reputation (deserved or not) as outlaws and rebels say that we can emerge stronger and better. Maybe we just need to demand better than a worker bee life.

1 Google

2 New York Post

3 Gallup

4 The Daily Beast

Time to Go: The Farm [Kindle Edition] now available at Amazon!