I have been unemployed fortunately not recently. It was a terrible experience.
And it seems like it’s a terrible experience for others as well. Read the following -
A report published earlier this year by the National Suicide Research Foundation; ”Suicide and Employment Status during Ireland’s Celtic Tiger Economy,” published in the European Journal of Public Heath, showed overwhelming statistical evidence supporting a direct link between unemployment and suicide. Ella Arensman Ph.D., the foundation’s research director, commented to the Irish Times (June 7th, 2010) that this analysis showed that while unemployed men were at risk of suicide, unemployed women were at significantly greater risk. One explanation for this, heretofore anomalous ratio, is the fact that since the early 1990s women have been increasing represented in the Irish workforce. This study concluded that unemployment was related to a threefold suicide risk increase in men, and double this in women. In 1987 there were 245 registered suicides in the Irish Republic (not including undetermined deaths), a figure which rose to 478 by 1998; representing an one hundred and ten percent increase in the Irish suicide rate in little over a decade. Professor Kevin Malone from University College Dublin’s school of medicine and medical science at Saint Vincent’s University Hospital commented that the 527 recorded deaths by suicide in Ireland in 2009 probably did not reflect the real numbers. In March of this year Jane Walshe, in an article for Irish Central, stated that “Ireland’s property collapse has led to 29 definite suicides.” All of the scientific research is pointing to a firm relationship between Economics and concrete examples of human suffering.
The Irish example is relevant here because similar studies in the United States demonstrate similar numbers and I wanted to talk about the pain of unemployment on a broader scale than the United States.
We often think of ourselves as a special case different in every way from the rest of the world. Certainly there are areas where that’s true. But it’s not always true. We don’t have to be myopic in our view of the world. Their examples especially the Greek and Irish austerity programs may become reality here soon.
I think that the laziness explanation of unemployment is a psychological defense. It implies moral virtue on the part of those still working and an “it can’t happen to me” comfort on the other.
I worked in a homeless shelter for a while. I’ve seen a well dressed middle class family come in and get processed. They didn’t look too confident. But I’ll bet you that in six months when he got employed again, he and his family went right back to the ranks of the righteous. It was just an accident. It won’t happen again. I am hard worker and I’m safe.
There is no safety and the pain of unemployment is real.
As a nation, it might well be more important to get people employed than to make sure the banks are profitable.