A sign of the times: armed guards in unemployment offices

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

  The unemployment rate in Indiana is 9.9%, more than 4% less than states such as Nevada. Yet Indiana can see trouble coming in the form of desperate people.

 Armed security guards will be on hand at 36 unemployment offices around Indiana in what state officials said is a step to improve safety and make branch security more consistent…

  Lotter said the agency is merely being cautious with the approach of an early-December deadline when thousands of Indiana residents could see their unemployment benefits end after exhausting the maximum 99 weeks provided through multiple federal extension periods.

  “Given the upcoming expiration of the federal extensions and the increased stress on some of the unemployed, we thought added security would provide an extra level of protection for our employees and clients,” he said.

Desperate people do desperate things. What would you do if you couldn’t afford to put a roof over the heads of your family? What would you do if you couldn’t afford to feed yourself?

The story isn’t 100% accurate because starting December people who have collected just 26 weeks of unemployment can become a “99er”.

  The September personal income numbers came out today. National personal income fell for the first time in a year. What the media failed to notice was an interesting paragraph in the official report.

 The September change in personal income reflects provisions of unemployment compensation legislation, which had boosted emergency government unemployment benefits (within current transfer receipts) in August. Excluding emergency government unemployment insurance benefits, which are discussed more fully below, personal income increased $8.7 billion, or 0.1 percent, in September…

 The underlying story here is 99ers.

  99 weeks is just short of two years, and two years ago September was the Wall Street crash. So many people are exhausting their extended unemployment benefits that those tiny checks going missing caused national personal income to change from positive 0.1% to negative 0.1%.

  Considering the timing of what was happening two years ago, the number of 99ers are currently surging.

 The National Employment Law Project estimates that 1.2 million more people will be cut off from unemployment during the month of December, just in time for Christmas, another 4 million by April.

 This will happen unless Congress extends the unemployment benefits again, but few expect that to happen.

 Cutting the lifeline for these people will save the federal budget about $80 Billion (annualized), and go a long ways toward reaching the $100 Billion goal of the Republicans.

However, there is a cost to throwing millions of people into the streets that goes beyond just common decency and morality.

 Given that the average weekly unemployment cheque is about $300/week, this amounts to nearly $80 billion (annualized) loss of aggregate income over the next few quarters. This means that personal income could fall by 1.0% QoQ annualized for each of the next three quarters, starting in Q4. The 2% QoQ real GDP estimates penciled in for Q4 2010 to Q2 2011, will look far too optimistic if such a loss of income does occur.

 A 1% drop in national personal income at a time when an economy with 10% unemployment and is already having trouble generating demand is not a recipe for economic growth.

No one watching

 No one knows how many people have exhausted all their unemployment benefits because no one is keeping track.

 The Labor Department, using data provided by states, tracks the number of people who receive initial and final payments in each tier. Since July 2008, 1.7 million people have received final payments under EB. But that doesn’t mean there are 1.7 million 99ers, because EB is triggered in some states that lack all four tiers, and because some layoff victims began collecting EB before all four tiers had even been created.


 With the lone exception of this 60 Minutes report, and the occasional local news, the fate of millions of people has largely been ignored by the media. The government doesn’t even care enough to know how many of them exist.

  If history is anything to go by, the 99ers (soon to be 26ers) will increasingly vanish from the news media.


 The first real food riots in the Great Depression broke out in February 1931.

 In Minneapolis, several hundred men and women smashed the windows of a grocery market and made off with fruit, canned goods, bacon, and ham. One of the store’s owners pulled out a gun to stop the looters, but was leapt upon and had his arm broken. The “riot” was brought under control by 100 policemen. Seven people were arrested.

 “Who has the most children here?”

– Minneapolis food rioter asked before handing out stolen bacon

 Food riots broke out in San Francisco, Oklahoma City, St. Paul, Van Dyke, and many other cities. But I dare you to find any mention of them in the New York Times.

As the Depression deepened and starvation spread across the country, the media reported it less and less.

 Thousands of unemployed workers looted food stores (afraid of their contagious effect, the press usually did not report food riots); indeed, Irving Bernstein reports, “By 1932 organized looting of food stores was a nationwide phenomenon.”

 As far as the media was concerned, the poor in America were starving to death in silence.

Future Tense

 Calling the current economy the Great Recession may be cute, but it really is just an attempt to avoid calling it what it is – a Depression.

  People may say that we won’t see public disturbances and local chaos like in the Great Depression because unemployment was 25% back then. Well, I have news for you – when Minneapolis was having their food riot in February 1931, the unemployment rate was closer to 10%.

 Indiana isn’t putting armed guards in their unemployment offices for the fun of it. They recognize that measuring the peak unemployment rate of something isn’t a true comparison. What separates the Great Depression, and the current Depression, from just another recession is the duration that people are unemployed.

 Of course there is one major difference between the Great Depression and today’s Depression: Back then people turned to the government for help when times got hard. Now we are about to elect people who want to blame the victims and destroy the safety net.


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    • gjohnsit on November 1, 2010 at 20:24
  1. lowered standard of living for the global working class.  By working class, I mean ‘those that need to work’. Not what is meant by middle class these days –which simply means means ‘most 1st world people’ .

    This is happening in Europe (even France and Sweden) and the US at least, and I suspect Japan and some other parts of Asia too. And the attack on global safety nets is real too.

    In other nations, especially China, the trend is in reverse for some in cities –but still the majority there are in poverty. And everyone everywhere is threatened by poverty, unless you are not part of the working class — ie you have enough passive income to survive on, including health care expenses. So, essentially we have a world in fear of unbridled corporate power.  

  2. In the Great Depression … did 50 somethings find themselves on the street like now? It seems that this time around we have cut a wide swath through the heart of, not only college grad’s but also of people in their prime earning years. Those that have a lot of experience but not close enough to retire.

    Prepare for a vastly different America than we grew up with in the last 40+ years.

    • Edger on November 2, 2010 at 01:55

    Armed guards? Rocks aren’t just for christmas anymore…

    GRITtv – Oct 27, 2010

  3. From 1929 to 1933 the money supply in the US fell about one third.

    In a one year period between 2007 and 2009, the worldwide money supply shrunk 40%.

    That’s forty percent less money in circulation in the world in one year!

    Imagine everyone’s (everyone but the rich that is) bank accounts shrunk by forty percent in one year’s time!

    No wonder we are so fucked.

    Who shrunk the money supply?  The banks… because they, not governments, control the money supply.

    Abolish the Fed.  Abolish Federal Reserve Notes.  Let the US government issue the currency again and restore Lincoln’s US government issued greenbacks to Americans, the ones that banking lobby took away with the creation of the Fed.

    The government, “We the People,” have no interest in repetitively inflating and contracting the money supply.  Only the banks have an interest in inflating and contracting the money supply so that we all default on our loans.  Time to root out the nefarious core of the fraudulent banking system.

    • David R on November 2, 2010 at 06:29

    Whether the question to ask is “How much blood will there be in the streets?” or “Will there be blood in the streets?”

    As a nation, I think we really have become incredibly submissive and obedient to authority.  Possibly that’s a view I have because the media is intentionally hushing up current acts of revolt, as described for the 1930’s.  In a way, that armed guards are being employed is a positive sign, indicating that the authorities are expecting violence.

    At this point, given that our system of laws has failed us, and the electoral system has failed us, and our natural expectation that our leaders ought to have some sort of functioning moral compass has failed us, actual revolt may be the best hope of seeking a redress of grievances.

    And yet, as a people we are deeply, deeply confused, enmeshed in a sort of twisted, self-hating idealism that causes many of us to identify with our oppressors and turn against our fellows.  For every one of us that may be willing to break a window, enter a store and steal a loaf of bread to feed his family, there will be another man who will feed his family by agreeing to beat the first fellow over the head with a stick.

  4. …or at least elderly enough to have long since been set up with what remains of the crumbling safety nets of the New Deal.

    I feel so sorry for those who are younger, who are being forced to pay so terribly for the brutality of the Greedy Banksters.

    I know they could yank the remaining New Deal safety net out from under me at any time; and there I’ll be, off the edge like Wiley Coyote, suspended in mid-air with nothing to hang on to.  But it really doesn’t matter much because I’m old, and I’ve lived my life.

    But this is the reason I keep saying I’m willing to walk point when the revolution comes.  I just need to be pointed in the right direction.  I can’t go out pounding the streets of the marches and activist movements looking to find the real revolution.  

    So I state my willingness and availability.  I just need a little help to find the action.  Keep me in mind.  Let me know.  I will walk point.  Thank you!

  5. http://www.sott.net/

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