Numbers say a great deal.
I read a few days ago that there are 102 million adult Americans NOT working.
A few days ago, CBS announced that the percentage of American adults working is now 62.8%, the lowest figure in over four decades.
At least these two figures agree.
The figure that clearly doesn’t agree with the above is the monthly unemployment figure, currently 6.7%, down from 7% a month ago and 7.8% a year ago.
Let’s be clear here – government statistics say that the number of people out of work is clearly on a downward trend, at the same time as the number of people without a job is increasing!
I realize that doesn’t make any sense, but neither does the US economy.
Let’s put it another way – unemployment today is worse than it was in the 1930’s!
Of course, many of the 102 million who are not working are retired. Many more, for some reason, choose not to work. But many incalculable tens of thousands (or millions) who want to work have given up trying to work because things in their local area are really bad.
A case in point is North Carolina, arguably the most depressed state at this time.
The Guardian’s Paul Lewis wrote from Hertford, N Carolina, on January 15th, about people begging for food, soap and even toilet paper, as savage cuts in unemployment benefit have hit many people hard. Help is not likely as many in government see the decreasing unemployment figures and really believe government policies are working! (Article: “As Congress wrangles with whether to restore long-term unemployment benefits, North Carolina is already experiencing the hardship likely to unfold unless the program is restored.”)
Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder delivered his “State of the State” address Thursday evening, declaring the state of Michigan “the Comeback State.” Explaining in detail how bad things were a few years ago (under a different administration) and how much better they are now, the Governor then called for more immigrants to give a further boost to the economy. More immigrants when 102 million American adults are not working!
I can understand that certain skills may be needed, but do we really need more people to work in fast food outlets, depriving the low-paid of jobs?
Google The Guardian article – it’s a really good read. It’s the kind of reporting we rarely see.
Numbers say a lot about the Middle East, as well.
The number of al-Qaeda sponsored attacks in Iraq has increased dramatically in recent weeks, threatening an increase in sectarian violence.
Prior to western intervention in Iraq, al-Qaeda did not operate in the country. The nominally Sunni Saddam Hussein ruled the country with an iron fist. He was not a religious man and kept the fanatical Islamic element at bay.
Anglo-American intervention changed all that.
The majority Shias now dominate the country, boosting Iran’s influence and connecting Shias in Syria and Lebanon to their main source of support in Tehran. Without intending to, the West created a Shi’ite arc of influence connecting all four countries. With Iran’s nuclear potential, Shia Islam is now a major force, even though only 15% of Muslims are Shia.
This, of course, scares the Sunnis. They may be a minority in Iraq, but they are the majority in Syria and just about everywhere else in the region.
As an expert on the BBC nightly news mentioned last week, sectarianism is a bigger problem in Iraq than in any other country.
Add to this quagmire, growing US disinterest in the area and there’s a great potential for increased conflict.
An article by David Lev on the Israelnationalnews.com website, posted January 16th, is titled: “US Abandoning Middle East, Leaving Iran in Charge.”
Before the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran was an American ally. The United States was quite happy to have the Shah of Iran playing a major defense role in the Middle East, effectively saving the US money and manpower.
It’s unlikely that the US is deliberately planning on Iran taking up that responsibility again, but it can certainly be the end result of American negligence.
This would mean a Shi’ite superpower in the region.
A superpower that would spread fear throughout Sunni Islam.
Watch for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and others to work together to present a united Sunni front against Shia Islam.
The Sunni-Shia divide is already a daily violent conflict in Iraq and Syria. It could easily spread to engulf the whole region.