Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Job Market

Whether or not we have heard the joke about the definition of a recession or depression, the fact remains that too many jobs have gone ‘south’ lately. South, in this case, at least, is not a direction but a fate—something like GM. No amount of government input or outlay is going to change the lack of confidence that many of us have developed concerning the American and world economy.

Layoffs—euphemistically called downsizing—sometimes presage a healthier business approach. At other times the layoffs are the beginning of the end—the loss of another business in town. Businesses that were already having some trouble before the bank bailouts were not all that important in the overall scheme of most cities. But some of the ‘mom and pop’ type of businesses that depend on one man or one family to provide several jobs are a different situation altogether. One tool and die company in Dallas depends on customer satisfaction, credit availability (for the customers), the availability of products (also dependent on another company’s ability to get and maintain a flow of credit, and the purchase of products at an end point—which again depends on the availability of credit for those customers.

Business interdependence is just an example of an overall system we expect to work in our nation—and in the world to an even greater extent. When GM or some bank goes bottom up, someone down the line other than the frontline employees will hurt. If our local feed store can’t get credit to buy a load of chicken feed, I can’t buy chicken feed from them at a reasonable price. If I can’t feed my chickens, we are going to have to kill the suckers and put them in the freezer. That means no eggs for breakfast—or for any other purpose. It is too simple an analogy, but all over the world it is the same principle. We buy what we can afford.

Well, most of us buy what we can afford. Then there are the banking people who bought worthless debts; the car manufacturers which produced cars no one could afford to drive; and the state governments which taxed people beyond their ability to pay. The folks at the IRS—somewhat like the government of California—may soon be sending out IOUs to those who still try to pay their income tax and have a refund coming. That is pretty sad.

I have a suggestion—or two. Let’s start some layoffs of our own. If our congressman can’t be found on Capitol Hill three days out of five, he doesn’t need to be there at all. He doesn’t need a retirement check, and he (not to be sexist—or she) doesn’t need health care that the rest of us can’t afford either. If he can’t pay his bills for those excessively expensive dinners or writes hot checks, he can have a nice warm jail cell—just like the ones we have reserved for some banking CEOs.

As for the latest illegal immigrant who brought his little pregnant queens and her eggs across the border in some kind of produce, let’s see if we can find a better approach to eradication than building fences. Unless the government declares the “rasberry ant” a protected species, we have a duty as Texans to prevent the spread of more misery into our country.

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for one’s attitude. Oh, and a recession is when your neighbor loses HIS job. A depression is when YOU lose yours.

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