The Great Recession and Jobless Recovery

While running this morning at 5 a.m. I was noodling on my mind computer about Joe Wilson. He of — “You lie” — fame. Then I came home and saw the headline on the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal, dead-tree edition: “Layoffs ‘staggering.'” More than 200 public employees in Akron — including police officers and firefighters — are losing their jobs.

Yeah. There are bigger fish to fry these days than Joltin’ Joe. But there is a connection.

So quickly. I believe civility is important. It’s the foundation for many of the things we take for granted in our society. From waiting in line at the grocery store — to political and business decision making and leadership. And maybe Wilson is right about illegal immigrants getting government-provided health care as part of the various reform proposals, real or imagined these days.

Still, Wilson was rude and ignorant in calling out the President on national TV and in a venue that really should speak to our ability as a nation to come together for the common good. Sigh.

Yet saying all that, don’t the members of Congress have more important things to do than spend an afternoon debating whether or not to reprimand the congressman from South Carolina? Finally they passed a resolution of disapproval on an almost total party-line vote. Woot. So now what? Does Joe sit in a corner wearing a dunce cap? Or does he announce the formation of a presidential committee to explore a run for the White House in 2012?

Guys and gals in Congress. Get a grip. Return to reality: recession, jobs, two lost wars, health-care reform and so on.

For instance, Ben Bernanke, head pooh-bah with the Federal Reserve, said yesterday that the recession is “likely over” — but don’t expect many new jobs soon. Probably correct on both counts. Here’s from the WSJ article (by subscription only) written by Sara Murray and Ann Zimmerman:

The rebound, he added, would likely be so moderate it wouldn’t produce many jobs.

“Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point, it is still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time as many people still find their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was,” he said.

That’s the rub, Ben. People — in Akron and throughout the country — are worried about whether they will have a job tomorrow if they still manage to have one today. And those who don’t have jobs — most likely many more than the published numbers of around 15 million — are worried about whether they are going to find one any time soon, if ever.

And what’s happening in Akron now — and in most other cities and states — should raise some big red flags. Up to this point, federal government stimulus money has prevented some of the state and city public-sector layoffs — particularly involving teachers. What happens when that money is gone? Expect more job cuts — unless government officials figure out a way to increase revenue. And at some point we are going to need leadership — and civility — when the debate turns to higher taxes. It will. Count on it.

A recent article in the New York Times — “In Unemployment Report, Signs of a Jobless Recovery” — helps to frame the issue.

It’s about jobs.

And leadership — forged on the solid foundation of civility.

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