Wednesday, September 23, 2009
TIME - September 24, 2009
One of the discouraging things about time is the circumstances in which we are supposed to have plenty in which a solution to a problem may be dealt with and those in which urgent need demands immediate attention. The model for the second is the incipient avalanche where once it starts, it cannot be stopped until it fulfills its destiny, and the destiny might be terrible. The model for the other is the time for a tree to grow and provide needed shade, and little can be done to advance it. We were told that the threat to the big banks was of the first kind, and that a collapse of the 1930s variety was the only alternative to giving the bankers and their ilk everything they claimed, and right away. In the other, the action of the Administration on unemployment, and especially of their opposition, was condemned to let it ripen in the fullness of time, no matter how many decades that would take, rather like the 100 Years’ War. By contrast, I tried to impress upon the new Senator Russell Feingold the terrible corrosive effect of joblessness, and the urgency of stringent measures to bring it under control, even if at the cost of increased debt. I tried to paint the picture of the ways in which it could destroy a family’s life and even lead to illness, divorce, homelessness, mental breakdown, or even death. I failed to move him from the position that the most urgent matter facing the US Government then was the size of the budget deficit. And all this to a politician I had always supported, and do today. But to those facing the avalanche-like collapse of their link on what they took to be the earned status of an American who had faced all the things required, there were not months and years in which to correct the destruction of their economic well-being. And today the involuntarily jobless have again the greatest need facing an inert government, and maybe losing everything they had worked for, there is no time in which to let the problem solve itself.