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Great diary.

The decline of social structures is especially stark. I'm 31. My father is the epitome of his generation. He took on a career and it was a job for life. He and my mother have been (and appear to continue to be) married happily for life.

So that's the originals myths of my childhood. Still, parents of friends were not so lucky. Many of them lost their "jobs for life" and I have to say I believe that the continual economic instability contributed to the breakup of some of those relationships.

Moving to new jobs removed people from family and support networks.

Social liberal though I am, I have to admit that necessary advances in gender equality have also required recalibrations in the notions of family, reducing the supports for everyone (although I believe that this is a transition effect and quite small compared to the economic dislocations.)

Add it all together, stir in my childhood memories of Ronnie Raygun's Cold War and Star Wars program and you have a generation who view life as a lot more unstable and less inherently likely to be fulfilling than the previous generation.

Call me a boring old structuralist, but I suspect that changes in the welfare regime are the only place to start. Only when the fear of ill-health and destitution is reduced can things get better.

Just as an example, being here in the UK I don't have to worry unduly about health insurance. So, that's good.

Still, the general thrust of my life is that I will likely be destitute when I am old and I live in constant danger of unemployment.

The scariest part of unemployment is that it is a black hole. Once you've slipped out of work for a while, it gets harder and harder to get back in.

That reminds me about the US unemployment figures. What's so terrifying is that it doesn't track the long-term unemployed in a meaningful way, so we can't see how much of our society we've thrown on the scrapheap.

I don't want "money for nothing" but I've already hit age-related problems. The jobs I am perfectly qualified for aren't that thick on the ground and the ones where I'd need training I lose out to people who are better candidates.

Worse, the jobs that anyone could give a shot at, be they McJobs or retail or whatever, there is no shortage of candidates.

Fundamentally, the notion of "productivity" in our economy is all about using less people. But what will people do once they are not needed? The capitalist answer seems mostly to be: starve.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Feb 28th, 2007 at 02:45:42 AM EST

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