After Years Of Recession, The Unemployed Still Believe In The American Dream

Oct 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

According to a New York Times, CBS poll, eight out of ten unemployed Americans will take any job they can get. Chances are there are people who will wonder how that is a bad thing.  After all, any job is better than no job at all, right? Desperate job seekers benefit the corporate interests, otherwise known by the Republican Party as ‘job creators.” High unemployment is one way to reduce wages, benefits and working conditions, at least in the short term.

However, that’s where the economic benefits of desperation end. Lower wages increases poverty, reduces consumer spending and with it makes economic recovery all the more elusive.  It also increases the problem of extreme wealth disparity.

Americans know this.  This is why most Americans, including self-identified Republicans favor increases taxes on the rich.  This is why Americans have lost faith in politics as usual.  This is why Americans identify with the Occupy movement.  Ironically, the views of Americans who are feeling the most pain that comes with unemployment are not radically different from Americans who still have jobs.

However, they have definite ideas as to who is responsible for their plight.

America’s unemployed place the highest responsibility for the high unemployment rate on policy makers with 60 percent disapproval for the President’s handling of the economy and a whopping 81% disapprove of congress’ handling of the economy.

The telling figure is seen in the lowly 15% of Americans who believe the Republicans when they claim to have a job creation plan.  Only five percent believe the Republicans policies would benefit the middle class.

The combination of the high unemployment rate combined with the sense of political disenfranchisement provides a partial explanation as to why America’s unemployed do not have faith in the government’s desire, let alone ability to solve their problems.

When asked if they think it is still possible “to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich,” a robust 67 percent of the unemployed said yes— just a few points less than the 75 percent of all Americans who replied in the affirmative.

The fact that hard times have not dampened the American spirit discredits the Republican talking point that unemployed Americans believe government will solve their problems. It also dispels the myth that most Americans are looking for a handout.

For decades economic policies have favored the rich.  That is not merely a perception by the proverbial have-nots, but a reality. This is reflected in a study by the CBO that while the top 1% increased their income by 275% between 1979 -2011, the bottom 20% of Americans only saw an 18% increase in their income during the same period.

Some will argue that life isn’t fair when critics recognize that Republicans don’t have a jobs policy and have no interest in developing one. There is much about life that isn’t fair and is also beyond our control.  The absence of a jobs policy is not one of those things.  Rather, it is reflective of the Republicans willingness to put political gain ahead of the interests of Americans and of America.  This is not only unfair, it is a betrayal of their responsibilities.  Some might suggest it is treasonous.

As if the income disparity were not enough, the Republican party favors increasing taxes on Americans who can least afford it. Of course, they don’t present it that way when attempting to sell 999 plans, or various other versions of the regressive flat tax.

Perry launched his presidential campaign expressing dismay at the “injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.” And he was not alone. Every major candidate — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Mitt Romney and Cain — has suggested that too many of the working poor aren’t paying income taxes, a position The Wall Street Journal describes as “GOP doctrine.”

According to the same CBO study that analyzed income disparity, there is also a tax disparity.

In 2007, federal taxes and transfers reduced the dispersion of income by 20 percent, but that equalizing effect was larger in 1979.

  • The share of transfer payments to the lowest-income households declined.
  • The overall average federal tax rate fell.

Some will argue that life isn’t fair when critics recognize that Republicans don’t have a jobs policy and have no interest in developing one. There is much about life that isn’t fair and is also beyond our control.  The absence of a jobs policy is not one of those things.  Rather, it is reflective of the Republicans willingness to put political gain ahead of the interests of Americans and of America.  This is not only unfair, it is a betrayal of their responsibilities.  Some might suggest it is treasonous.

Americans are more than willing to work to make their dreams come true.  Americans are willing to take any job and do whatever it takes, within a system in which there are opportunities for anyone who wishes to work for them and in which everyone, including the rich, pays their share of taxes.

5 responses so far