Different perspectives on unemployment PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 November 2011 13:18


Occupy Wall Street, the leaderless protest movement which began in Wall Street in New York City,  has now spread to many parts of the world. The original protest was an expression of the American protesters’  concern and anxiety for their economic security in the light of the situation now prevailing in the US. The protest took on the name of Wall Street, the center of financial power in the US, because the economic downturn has been blamed on the financial manipulations and transactions in the investment banks and trading houses in that location.

The US unemployment rate has been hovering at 9-10%. People have lost their jobs in companies that have shut down because of the dire economy. New college graduates cannot find jobs and those who took out loans to finance their studies cannot pay back the loans. Those who have lost their jobs cannot pay the mortgage on their homes, have had the banks foreclosing on their loans , and now find themselves homeless. Etc.  Etc.

Certainly we can understand the anxiety of Americans who have gotten used to a life where most of their needs, and wants, have been met.

For Filipinos who  are no strangers to unemployment the situation in the US can only  be met with a stoical reaction. “So, what else is new?”  The fact that there as many as 10 million Filipinos working abroad – many of them for many years now – attests to the situation we have had in the Philippines for far too long.

I cannot help feeling however that the unemployment situation in the US is very different from the unemployment situation in the Philippines. One item in an on-line publication described the situation  in the US in this way:  “That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant.”  Holy Moses! That sounds like a downgrade from living in one of the Makati gated communities to a “simpler” life in a Camelia homes subdivision.  So many Filipinos would consider living in a Camelia home the equivalent of winning the big jackpot in the lotto.

How many ordinary employed Filipinos can afford a session at a spa? If one is a teacher or an office worker the cost of a one-hour spa session might be the equivalent of food for the family for a day. The mystery though is how so many spas have opened in the past few years. Am I way off the mark here?

“…less for vacations”.  Even with the offer of budget airlines for greatly discounted tickets to possible vacation spots the majority of Filipinos still cannot afford vacations. Even with discounted fares for airplanes, boats or buses vacations still are luxuries for ordinary families.

“… new carpeting for the house”.  What house? Let alone a carpet for it.

“…dinner at a restaurant”.  If we’re talking burgers in an outlet of  that ubiquitous  fast food chain, yes, I agree; that too might be dropped if you lose your job.

If one is at the bottom there is not far to travel when one falls.