Unemployment: The unheard fire bell in the night

Robert Schiller, one of this nation's most respected economists, writes today in The New York Times that the unemployment we face today could be ruinous for our society for years, perhaps decades, to come: 

The stakes are very high here, and they are not just economic. As anger rises in today's economy, I'm reminded of Thomas Jefferson's words about the danger of "angry passions" arising between the North and South over the question of extending slavery to the Missouri territory. In an 1820 letter, he wrote that "this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror." He went on to predict, from his observations of such rancor, the secession of the South that was to come 40 years later.

Our country is a much more stable and just society now than it was in 1820.  Still, we should regard the current economic dispute as another fire bell in the night. It is important to recreate the sense of a just society, without anger – and an important step in that direction is to ensure that there are enough jobs. 

Ted Rall looks at the economic picture — the release of a Census-based study showing that nearly one of three Americans lives in poverty — and suggests a solution. 

But this really is a problem we could solve, as Schiller points out. Painful to contemplate.  

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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