Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heart Hurt

When it comes to the unemployment numbers in this country, the news has been dreadful for an awfully long time. No part of the country and no sector of the work force has been immune from the problem. The country is just not working the way it ought to be in every sense of the phrase. That isn't particularly new news, but this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune still shocked me. Military veterans are being particularly hard hit.

... More than one in five modern-day veterans cannot find work. At almost 23 percent, Minnesota's unemployment rate for veterans who have served after the Sept. 11 attacks is the country's third-highest. Only Michigan and Indiana are worse. The state's rate is nearly twice the national average of 11.5 percent and more than three times the state's overall unemployment rate.

What is particularly amazing and heartbreaking about these numbers is that the men and women involved are not unskilled, inexperienced, undereducated. Many have held responsible positions, often as officers, for years. They have overseen and engaged in major construction projects. They have been responsible for obtaining and moving materials and troops over distances. They have overcome obstacles in doing those jobs under daunting and dangerous circumstances. Yet after four, ten, even twenty years they can't find a job when they come home to Minnesota or any other place in the country. That's not exactly the grateful response they expected from their country.

The White House finally noticed at the same time it noticed that no other workers were getting jobs either.

President Obama has made putting veterans to work a cornerstone of his recently announced jobs plan. Obama has proposed tax credits of up to $4,800 for employers who hire vets and up to $9,600 for hiring a wounded vet.

That's a start, but only a start, and even that is under attack by the Republicans who apparently believe that if we just give corporations even bigger tax breaks with no strings attached and repeal all regulations the New Age of Prosperity will roll in like a tidal wave. They also apparently believe that any stimulus provided by the government is a waste of money, that only by stern austerity measures can the economy pick up.

Welcome home, troops.



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