That figure bandied about by Gallup--that only 44% of American adults are working full-time--is borne out by my own personal experience. If you are highly educated (postgrad) and work in a difficult and technical field, you can almost write your own ticket; if--like me--you have made some missteps and had some bad luck, it's almost better just to claim disability and get on the government cheese train.
If I were to do that, it would mean an immediate raise for me. Ponder that: I could get more money by not working than I can by holding down a part-time job, simply by claiming that my anxiety/depression disorder renders me incapable of functioning.
The surge in disability claims aren't happening because there's too much work to be done--these are not lazy people. It would not happen if our economy were really a robust one. There are more people than ever on disability because there are no fucking jobs out there. There are no jobs, and people still have bills to pay.
...which is why I am entirely sympathetic to people who are taking that step. What else can they do? It's all well and good to tell someone that he should pull himself up by his bootstraps and get on the stick and stop being lazy--but how do you do that when you're worried about keeping the electricity and gas and water on? How do you do that when the best job you can find will only cover about half your expenses?
In this economy my degree hurts my employability. I could probably have no end of work if I didn't have it; they would be low-wage unskilled jobs but they would mean income at a time when I sorely need it. At the same time, it's not enough of a degree to get me looked at by prospective employers for skilled jobs.
"You should just go back to school, then!" Sure. WITH WHAT MONEY?
The point to all this is that this economy is the worst one I've ever experienced, bar none. I have a feeling that if my parents were alive they would be telling me that this reminds them of the Depression, because that's exactly what this is.
Meanwhile, the EU blinked and they're giving Greece an extension. They have to; if Greece exits the EU and the euro, they're over. Portugal and Italy and Ireland will follow, and Spain, and leave France and Germany holding the bag. Over on AoSHQ they updated the old saw: "If you owe the bank a million dollars, you have a problem. If you owe the bank a hundred million, the bank has a problem." In this scenario, Germany is the bank, and theyre the ones that have a problem.
But it can't continue forever, and it won't. Substituting debt for demand is going to fail, and it's going to fail hard, and when it does--well, we're all going to be hungry and cold for a while, except for a very few lucky ones. Before that is over with, there will be politicians and bankers hanging from streetlamps.
Various people have already noticed a strange pattern, major bank executives turning up dead in various odd ways, all called "suicide" of one stripe or another...but dead all the same, whether by hanging, nail gun, or what-have-you.
Today I made a trip to the bank to deposit my saved-up change, in order to pay an overdue bill; the bank now sports a vestibule with magnetically locked doors and a metal detector. It's a freaking gun lock--they let you in, scan for concealed weapons, then the inner door opens if you're clean.
This is in a fairly peaceful suburb with a reasonably low crime rate. I notice that they no longer have a security guard--the gun lock is cheaper than having some doof warm a chair all day--but it's intrusive and smacks of the inner city, the disreputable parts where no white people go after dark. Why do they need this?
Why do you think? The economy is not getting better, and it's not going to get better as long as Washington D.C. and Wall Street BIRM continue the "extend and pretend" game. Sooner or later someone's going to become desperate enough to hit that bank, and others like it, and the people running the place know it.
Besides, as I said, the metal detector is cheaper than hiring someone to wear a uniform and sit in a chair all day.
...and of course the bank personnel get used to pressing the "okay" button for all the people like me who are bringing in bags of change, who therefore set off the metal detector because they're carrying several pounds' worth of coins. So the security system is unlikely to work all that well. But it's a symptom of the illness, and none of it means anything good.
It's just...everything about the ongoing depression is depressing, precisely because I am being squashed underneath it.
Karl Denninger has one solution. The problem with his proposal is that it puts an end to "business as usual" as it's been practiced since about 1975. With that amendment in the Constitution, the US could no longer spend money willy-nilly. Currently all of the US' tax revenue is consumed on debt service and transfer payments (ie welfare) and every other item in the national budget must be financed with borrowed money. Under Denninger's proposal, that could not continue.
Congress wouldn't allow this thing to see the light of day, to say nothing of the rest of the federal government, Wall Street, and the mainstream media BIRMA.
But back here in the Fungal Vale, I'm just trying to get along and do what I'm supposed to do, in a situation where most of the deck is stacked against me, and sometimes I wonder why the hell I shouldn't just give up and make a disability claim and turn into a fucking limp dishrag. *sigh*