We are now in the armpit of the year that is the six days betwixt Xmas and New Year’s Day. I can’t do a Year in Review on a totally pessimistic note. I had several performance gigs. I bid adieu to Richmond, Virginia after getting rid of my parent’s lifetime’s accumulation of check stubs. On the distaff side, I also became a ‘man of leisure’ (not of my own choosing, Hurricane Sandy did it for me). I’m not alone in that, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
What a fun year. I’ve been posting about paranoia and conspiracy theories for almost two years and for the first time, major media came out and confirmed much of what I’ve been saying. I was saddened but not surprised by the verdicts in the Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond cases, and the calls for retribution over the Snowden revelations. And (like the hacktivists) I’m appalled by the fact that the crimes uncovered by the documents they leaked continue to go unpunished. Between the lack of prosecution on war crimes and the fact that the statute of limitations has run out on indicting the Wall Streeters for wrecking the economy in 2008, I hereby state that the Robert Kennedy Building (home of the DOJ) is arguably the largest building in Washington DC where no actual work is taking place.
In other news, a friend in the Occupy Wall Street movement forwarded a 2014 confidential forecasting document released by the Gartner Group that has been put up on the web by the usual suspects (I was taught a new acronym, btw–SWIM= someone who isn’t me). I’m not going to quote it directly (I’m sure Gartner isn’t happy about having its reports put up on activist websites, which is why I’m not posting a link), but their predictions for the coming year are bleak, at least as far as employment goes. Off-shoring has taken millions of jobs from the industrialized West, but Gartner sees a bigger threat in the digitization of most forms of labor. Capital has never been cheaper, and new technologies like 3D printers and self-driving automobiles and trucks threaten what few jobs are left. Off-shoring is a temporary fix at best; once the developing countries’ economies improve, the labor differential between countries will shrink. At that point, the 1% will have the capital to implement the new technologies that replace human labor and nearly EVERYONE will be out of a job (something I blogged about). The document specifically warns of movements like Occupy Wall Street, and predicts social unrest by 2020. I think they’re being optimistic.
What I want to see in 2014:
- Income. Income would be nice.
- Gigs. Paying gigs would be nice. Those war toys in the Clown Play don’t build themselves, y’know.
- I suspect that kicking people off long-term unemployment benefits will ignite some embers of movement politics. The US hasn’t looked like Greece or Italy yet, but I think the way John Boehner’s Congress is playing games with desperate people won’t sit well. People don’t want to admit their employment status (or lack thereof) because most of us see it as a personal failure. But things are rough out here. I want to see someone in OWS look at the unemployment issue with the same intensity they’ve protested medical and student debt. There are three million people who will lose extended unemployment benefits. That’s on top of the millions who’ve already timed out of the system.
- It would be nice if the people who were already working would get a break. When unemployment goes above a certain point in our more enlightened counterparts in Europe, the governments mandate a cut in hours worked (from 35 to 32 hours a week, for example), ban overtime, and take a lot of other actions to encourage job sharing. Not here. My colleagues who are still working are seeing their hours and duties increased, usually without any increase in compensation or vacation time.
Goodbye 2013, and good riddance.