Well, well--here is an interesting little HuffingtonPost piece. It goes a long way toward explaining why manufacturers aren't filling their jobs very rapidly. And why a lot of the unemployed over the age of 50 may never work again (and certainly not in the fields they once worked in.) A major question is--how does a 50-something become a 'purple squirrel' and does it make economic sense for that 50-something to spend the resources to do so? A 20-year-old can look at the time and expense required to get a degree and/or certificate and think that over a 45 year career they will recoup the costs and come out ahead of the game. But a 50-year-old? S/He only has 15 more years. Simply think about the ads for colleges and universities that feature that young person and tout that with X, Y, or Z degree that young person can earn an additional $1million dollars. Over a 40 year career that amounts to $25,000/year. Maybe. Let's also assume that the training lasted 4 years at the cost of $25,000/year and the trainee used student loans at 5% interest to pay for them. If the repayment schedule is 15 years the student would have to pay almost $850/month and repay about $165,000. If the schedule is 20 years the payments drop to almost $700/month and final repayment to $147,000. That sounds like a pretty good investment for a 20-year-old. But for the 50-year-old? His/her expected return would be only $25,000 times 15 years (or $375,000) of which over a third goes to repay the loan. Even if the older worker gets a certificate that 'only' takes one or two years to complete the economics aren't that favorable. The purple squirrels will be the youngsters starting their educations/training now.
Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation has a marvelously sarcastic piece on the rampant mortgage fraud fiasco. I think he is absolutely correct in the assessment that we did this to ourselves. But the corrosion is so deep, the corruption so pervasive that I don't see any daylight at the end of the tunnel. Why should such pervasive criminality be surprising? Thirty years ago I knew of ambitious students in organic chemistry classes who would sabotage fellow students' lab exercises to preserve their own high grades by knocking down someone else's. Twenty years ago, I was dealing with students who regularly committed plagiarism to bolster their grades. Fifteen years ago, or thereabouts, I saw a news program about students who openly admitted to cheating on tests and felt no shame in having done so. Ten years ago, give or take a year or so, I saw a poll in which a very large majority of the male respondents admitted that they would commit rape if they could be assured of getting away with it. Several of the bloggers I read have posted their take on the banks' assertion that their current problems are simply 'mistakes,' a matter of 'misplacing' documents, a 'procedural' problem, a 'paperwork' mixup. I agree with their pronouncement--the banks' problem is fraud and perjury--both criminal offenses. We, collectively, have winked at various levels of criminality so long as the perpetrators were successful, or could argue that they simply made innocent mistakes, or were somehow ignorant of their criminality and had no criminal intention, or we could pass off the matter with the old canard that 'no one really got hurt.'