My Blog Week: August 18 to August 24
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A Word on the Week
Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!
In a fairly hectic news week, one item of interest was the revision from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reducing jobs created in 2018 and 2019, by around 500,000.
As we live in the actual world, it has not been easy for many of us to believe in this roaring economy. For the average American, the stock market is not a source of personal enrichment.
This week I took a foray into a type of research that should, done in earnest, give a more accurate picture than news-bites. Moderate-sized towns have quantifiable job offerings…you don’t need statistical abstractions; you can key in, “jobs in ———” and get a list of what an unemployed person in Marrowbone, KY, or Bucksnort, TN, could really apply for.
I took a snapshot a few days ago, of Warren, Ohio (discounting jobs that aren’t really jobs: recruiters, who let you sign up to be considered for what may come to exist; sales schemes that allow you to buy a kit and start a Facebook page; and independent contractor schemes, that let you sign up to provide a service, expenses your own). Most prospects were fast food, some retailing, some home care, mostly of the elderly. Notably, nothing was listed as “Coding”.
I have three points to make. First, that women, when I was a high school graduate, had a path available that could take them from working class, 12th grade education, to middle class, lower-level management. Clerk-Typists, File Clerks, eventually Data Entry Operators, gave a start, a place the “office girl” could learn the skills of others employed by the company, bid on higher paying posts, and have a chance at rising to salaried status. She needed office-appropriate clothes, and she bought them…no small thing to the retail industry, when even the smallest towns had, in every business or store, forms to type, letters to send, and papers to file.
All that seems gone, just a flapping hole where once American women, in particular, had a support system for upward mobility, leading to disposable income, home ownership, etc.
Second, of the jobs you can get, it’s apparent it would be of little help to put yourself into debt, seeking a “computer” degree, as you might be counselled to do. If you work at Panera Bread, with a loan to pay off, and your colleague does the same job without one, wherever the two of you can go these days, your colleague is ahead.
Third, the types of places offering jobs coincide fairly well with the types of places whose employees can afford to patronize them. Fast food workers can eat at fast food restaurants; Home Depot workers can shop at Home Depot.
That ought to suggest a sort of stagnation in the economy.
Some years ago, when I was at the end stage of a work situation truly miserable, I depended on P. G. Wodehouse novels, and Christian and Gospel music, for humor and inspiration…those things most needed in hard times. If you’ve checked my Projects page, you’ll see I have a little dream, of (by the intervention of an angel, secular division) seeing “The Impresario” become a stage musical. Below on the list of weekly posts, accompanying Part Three, is a link to one of the songs I’d like permission to use (in this dream).
Religion, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, is an interesting subject.
You might, if asked, say you like a song because it’s pretty, because its message is uplifting. You might say, to the religion-averse, “Come on, how can you tell me that’s not a great song?”
But, at least where I come from, you may come up against a phenomenon. I have a character in Yoharie called Todwillow, who, because (for one) he’s a voyeur, takes people’s everyday tastes and tries to imply danger in them, unfathomability. Someone likes Christian music? What can it mean, maybe she’s a fanatic…who knows, really, what religious nuts have in their heads, or what they’re capable of doing?
Well, the Todwillows of the world would prefer their conversation-mates not ask the question directly of a fellow adult, but sit tight fearing the worst they can imagine, while Todwillow “keeps an eye on things”. That’s one type. There’s another type, of whom I wrote in the mini-essay on shadow colonialism. Briefly, this colonialist may go about “good-peopling” madly, trying to improve others all over the place, and with the best of intentions. He doesn’t see bigotry in himself, because his view is positive…so he thinks. His assumptions go unquestioned, because they are so deeply ingrained. He doesn’t see them at all.
If your town has a liberal upper-class, you may have met the person who cares very much for the rights of indigenous peoples to practice their cultural beliefs; minorities victimized for their religion being wholly entitled to protection and support (which they are). But if this colonialist’s aunt and uncle joined a Christian megachurch, he would react as though they’d lost their minds. And again, the familiar litany of, what if they proselytize…?! What if they’ve turned into right-wing fanatics? He allows, in short, that people deserve the dignity of their convictions, of having their choices regarding their convictions respected—but he sections this allowance off, in extending it to people he feels are not his social peers, or economic equals.
In fact, a number of Christian artists are opposed to Trump, and evangelical excesses, if that helps. I also suspect more people than are counted in polls feel themselves to have faith, and wish for a means of expressing it, but are afraid of this tendency to lump all middle-class Christians into the “crazy nut” cluster, and goggle at them. It has always been possible, it has often been done, to use religion as a medium, while the methods of political and commercial entities are no more than the usual control of minds and selling of products.
We’ve seen a lot of the new Stupid Loyalty. The notion that “the office of the presidency”, or the actions of anyone who claims to be a Christian are uncriticizable, is not patriotic, or godly, in the least. And if you like, you can take god as simply the common moral center of humanity.
We should each be guided by what we know is right; we should each be courageous, and willing to speak out. But we won’t have the reasonable conversation, if the raising of the subject sends others scurrying off to fantasy land.
That said, “The Impresario” would be a chance for worriers to discover they can like these songs, like this story, leave the theater and sing in their car all the way home, and not wake up to any magical transformation that has made them want to vote totalitarian.
Monday, a non-fiction piece, a bit of history first discovered researching Inimical, “The Story of the German Ambassador”. Tuesday, part two of “The Impresario”; Wednesday, more non-fiction, a transcribed excerpt, related to the Nat Turner rebellion anniversary, that shows a piece of the culture, in the missed opportunity to interview a man who had known Turner. Thursday’s Catastrophe gives an account published in the doomed newspaper of Saint-Pierre, as witnesses of the volcano’s changes recorded their observations. Friday, another Eight poem, “Picking Brains”, inspired by a real-life DARPA artificial intelligence project of the 1970s. And Saturday, “The Impresario” part three, discussed above.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: August 18 to August 24
The Story of the German Ambassador
The Impresario (part two)
JSTOR: The Trial of Animals and Insects
A “This Day” Piece (August 21)
La Catastrophe de la Martinique: seventy
Picking Brains [sowing paranoia]
Poetry Foundation: Jake Adam York, “Sensitivity”
The Impresario (part three)
YouTube: Brent Jones, “I Can’t Handle It By Myself”