It’s such a simple question to ask people how they’ve been affected by a certain event that I’m surprised more news organizations don’t do it. We spend so much time dealing with macro issues, looking at the big picture and trying to tell a story about “the people” without actually asking any one or multiple persons how these “big things” personally affect them.
It is the underutilization of this practice that leads me to appreciate it even more when I see it done well – NPR is a good example – and for that I’m grateful for the work of the Atlantic and Derek Thompson:
The vast majority of the 5.5 million long-term unemployed have been out of work for more than a year. For this installment of “Working it Out,” we asked you if the government should enact special programs to help the long-term unemployed. We’ve received more than 100 responses. Here are some of the smartest, most heartfelt, and most provocative.
Here are two of my favorites:
As a business owner, I can tell you my challenge today is not policy uncertainty, tax liability or regulation. It’s finding customers. You’re not going to fix the consumer problem by putting bandaids on businesses.
Listen, all the things you mention are the entrance fee to playing the game, but they won’t make you any more competitive than the next guy, and they don’t help me find new products & services or customers to buy them.
Caveat: I’m a small business so I don’t get a huge benefit from corporate lobbying, etc.
I completely agree with you on the housing and especially mobility. Tough pill to swallow, but maybe we should be disincentivizing home ownership and giving more support to owners that rent their property.
And this one:
I have worked as a contractor since being laid off, but the interval between engagements has grown to an average of TEN months. My skills are current, having just completed three years of high level IT projects at one of the biggest companies. Recruiters call or email me daily, so not being hired for ANY position is a result of what part of the process? Quite objectively there are MILLIONS of over 50 workers who are going to become dependent on some type of assistance in the next Obama term unless something drastic is done. What’s that old curse? “May you live in interesting times…”
This morning I was thinking “Man, two years ago I could not have imagined sitting on a bench outside a classroom in a college hallway waiting for class to start.” Two years ago I had a blue-collar career, being relatively well-paid with prospects of eventual job advancement. Then the events of 2008 happened, and lets just say that only one of the three things I listed in the previous sentence remained true. I took a chance for a better future for myself and my family, and hopefully it works out. The point I want to make is that when I’m talking about the economy, policy, and some of these other big issues I’m trying to keep in mind that these are also people’s stories…and my story. What we’re really talking about is the collective stories of individual people and their interactions with the wider world – the micro part of these macro subjects that too often are overlooked.