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Richard Wheeler

Starting with the media-friendly, official unemployment rate trend draws a false picture because its salient point is a decline, whereas we are left in the dark regarding the real trend that includes the discouraged and the underemployed. What is the trend of the "real" rate? By the way, does the "discouraged" rate include those who aren't really discouraged, but rather have fallen under the radar because they have depleted their UIB?

I also suspect that we're missing a significant factor that contributes to the vocational education gap: the balkanization of our population. Two major in-your-face groups live in my area. Many in the urban Black subculture suffer an entitlement mentality and a set of fears (some legitimate, some self-prophetic) that encourage division and discouragement. The resulting dialects and counter-cultural behavior (such as wearing the fashions of violent gangs) cause further isolation, friction, and hindrance to vocational success.

On the government's side, we continue to emphasize divisive affirmative action when we ought to moved on toward voluntary (not forced) integration and reconciliation. (As one unintended consequence, White males not otherwise inclined to racism can easily react to being shoved aside in favor of those "less qualified" often react with bitterness and discouragement.) Such attitudes and divisiveness can form insurmountable hindrances to gaining the knowledge and skill needed for success.

The other in-your-face subculture (or group of subcultures) consists of a mixture of legal, illegal, and loophole immigrants (e.g., the "anchor baby" phenomenon), isolated by language barriers and many of the same problems that hold back the urban Black subculture. Most legal immigrants commit to integrating into the culture at large. They provide valuable contributions to our country. Many, especially those who come in non-legal ways, however, make no such commitment. Fear of immigration police, intention to return home, familial roles, and for Latinos, ancestral claim to the American Southwest, reinforce social barriers that isolate them from better education and vocational success.

News about current immigration trends is hard to find, but before the recent collapse of the lending and housing bubbles, the trend was upward. The trade-offs between the benefits of having a diverse population and the cost, in divisiveness, self-imposed repression, and resultant social costs such as crime, of providing incentives and protection for illegal immigration point to major flaws in the political left's platform.

The majority culture also deserves blame. Parents lay the foundation for education with their examples, their values, and the quality of learning environment that they provide for their children. Government usurps too much responsibility and too many parents willingly surrender it. The mechanisms range from government's role as an enabler of broken homes to its hostility toward parental involvement and traditional values.

We need to identify the true scope of unemployment and set aside our fears (for example, my fear of being called a racist for what I've said here) of identifying the causes. We won't make substantial and permanent progress until we openly face the problem and determine to move beyond our sympathies and our fears.


Great points - 18 years ago I went back to college and made a mid-career switch to programming/web development.

During 1980, I once stood in a line of 150 applicants for a manual labor job (working in a furniture warehouse for about double minimum wage). Lots of competetion for a very poor job!

Eight months ago I was laid off from my position I had held for the previous three years. I am 56 and I read the papers, surf the news, and watch some of experts on TV - yikes!!!

But I had 4 great job offers in 6 weeks - took the best here at http://www.job.com

I was asked at Job.com if I knew of anyone that they could hire. I did not because everyone in my field everyone that I know is working and some are moving to higher paying jobs leaving vacancies.

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