Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pieces Together (2009)

The Pieces Together column from the February 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard

SIGN ON OR STARVE
Sgt. Ryan Nyhus spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market. Nyhus re-enlisted last Wednesday, and in so doing joined the growing ranks of those choosing to stay in the U.S. military because of the bleak economy. "In the Army, you're always guaranteed a steady paycheck and a job," said the 21-year-old Nyhus. "Deploying's something that's going to happen. That's a fact of life in the Army — a fact of life in the infantry." In 2008, as the stock market cratered and the housing market collapsed, more young members of the Army, Air Force and Navy decided to re-up. (Yahoo News, 2 December)

BEGGING FOR WORK
"Paul Nawrocki says he's beyond the point where he cares about humiliation. That's why he weekly takes a 90-minute train ride to New York, where he walks the streets wearing a sandwich board that advertises his plight: The former toy-industry executive needs a job. "Almost homeless," reads the sign. "Looking for employment. Very experienced operations and administration manager." Wearing a suit and tie under the sign, Nawrocki -- who was in the toy industry 36 years before being laid off in February -- stands on Manhattan corners for hours, hoping to pass resumes to interested passers-by." (CNN.com, 6 December)

HALLELUAH IT'S A SLUMP
"The sudden crush of worshipers packing the small evangelical Shelter Rock Church in Manhasset, N.Y. — a Long Island hamlet of yacht clubs and hedge fund managers — forced the pastor to set up an overflow room with closed-circuit TV and 100 folding chairs, which have been filled for six Sundays straight. In Seattle, the Mars Hill Church, one of the fastest-growing evangelical churches in the country, grew to 7,000 members this fall, up 1,000 in a year. At the Life Christian Church in West Orange, N.J., prayer requests have doubled — almost all of them aimed at getting or keeping jobs. Like evangelical churches around the country, the three churches have enjoyed steady growth over the last decade. But since September, pastors nationwide say they have seen such a burst of new interest that they find themselves contending with powerful conflicting emotions — deep empathy and quiet excitement — as they re-encounter an old piece of religious lore: Bad times are good for evangelical churches." (New York Times, 14 December)

ANOTHER LABOUR FAILURE
"Social deprivation, child poverty and long-term reliance on benefits in parts of Britain are not alleviated or are increasing a decade after Labour pledged reforms to tackle them, a report shows. Many of the poorest households are not being reached by government initiatives to tackle deprivation, with most key measures now making no progress. Of the 56 poverty indicators tracked by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, including the number of children in low-income families, young adults unemployed and children excluded from school, three quarters have stalled or are getting worse." (London Times, 8 December).