Sometime last week Ben Bernanke announced the 'possible' end of the recession. I noticed this morning on the news that someone asked President Obama if he thought the recession had ended and he said he would leave that call to Bernanke. Problem is Bernanke and NERB (which has the duty to call when recessions begin and end) are looking at numbers--not people. Looking at people might just give a very different notion. I found this article on MSNBC this morning which illustrates my point. I noticed several things in it. First--the age of most of the people interviewed--most in their 40s, one in his 30s (who went back to his old manufacturing employer and isn't using the retraining he received), and one in his 50s. I noticed also that none of the statistics provided gave any breakdown as to how age affected the likelihood of a worker finding work (with or without retraining.) Second--retraining is a chancy affair at best. The worker may diligently look at the job prospects in the field they are training for and still be blind sided by the economy. A couple of the people featured had finished retraining but still couldn't find work. One was discouraged because many of his co-workers flooded into the same classes he was enrolled in and the employer who was expected to absorb those workers announced new layoffs. Third--how many of those workers exit the programs with new debt for the retraining. Several people featured received government grants but at least one was thinking about taking out a loan to finish because her unemployment was due to run out and her husband was down to part time. Getting a new job in a new field doesn't necessarily improve your situation if you start off with a load of new debt.
Another snippet on the news last night, I think, drew my attention. President Obama, on another of the talk shows during his Sunday blitzkrieg mentioning that he isn't all that enthusiastic about sending more American troops to Afghanistan. Then, this morning, this post on tomdispatch reminded me of that. Afghanistan was the ONLY place I think the Bush Administration had a legitimate reason for using military force. Unfortunately, that passel of rogues and Keystone Cops performed there as well as they did almost everywhere else--incredibly badly (to put the matter politely). They screwed up everything they touched except for their efforts to shovel vast amounts of money to their compatriots. Any achievable goals they might have had in Afghanistan were quickly overtaken by a nebulous 'war on terror,' with which we are still burdened. But Osama bin Laden is still out there. The Taliban is poised for a comeback. Al Qaeda is firmly entrenched in Pakistan.