The Ugly Faces of Unemployment

By P. Chong                                                                                      Wednesday 16 December 2009

The number of unemployment is not just a statistic as viewed upon by authorities in the seat of government. All they talk about in meetings is in terms of figures, single- digit or double-digits, devoid of compassion or understanding. Every figure represents a person – male or female, husband or wife, father or mother in a family of kids depending for food, clothing, shelter, education, love & care etc.

    • Unemployment is like a virus that seeps through the healthy body & rips the inner soul of man.

  • For practical purposes, let’s define unemployment – is it just being in a state of out of work or employment? The truth is unemployment is a serious matter & takes on many more aspects than what’s simply stated or officially considered. In reality, the official measure of unemployment is dubious to say the least. Strictly, unemployment should take into consideration:

    1. of people who stop looking for a job – “discouraged” &* basically given up looking for work

    2. of people who are now “underemployed” – having had to switch from full-time to part-time work with a cut or shortfall in salary

    3. category of people known as “marginal attached” workers

    4. some people because of pride & dignity refuse to even register.

By official reckoning, unemployment is often understated & does not reflect the true sorry state of affairs among the population. Considering the predicament that these people are presently in, the question arises is whether they will ever find jobs comparable to what they once had. By and large, only some will, but the great majority will not. People might have to be retrained to attain new skills in order to find alternate work. Those who have been enjoying tremendous bonuses & over-the-top overtime payouts in good times will be the hardest hit.

In truth, there are cases of engineers driving taxis & former managers operating as mere casuals. It is shocking to find people who were used to racking in $70,000 or more now drawing pittance & fighting for survival. Debts set in & misery prevails.

Unemployment can breed a host of societal ailments: depression, suicide, theft & robbery, murder, drug & drink problems among the main cases. What of family quarrel, break-down in marriages, separation & divorces, homeless kids & delinquents, homelessness among the adults? It’s a kind of vicious cycle, adding more financial burden & administrative problems to the state. Health care facilities will be taxed.

In the final analysis, all these issues raise serious questions about the sustainability & rate of economic recovery with the mounting debts & credit hangovers. How long will all these problems drag on? How will the story end?

With excesses there can be no successes

Here people will suffer pain without gain.

This is a real shame

Playing with human dignity is no game!

Try to get by on unemployment benefits & pay your taxes

if you have anything at all to spare!

Experience & Wisdom Irreplaceable

Experience & Wisdom Irreplaceable


There is a story I used to relate to motivate my agency force concerning the return of a young fresh university graduate to his home village where lived a wise old man. He was much revered and respected for his vast reservoir of knowledge. Rather perturbed and visibly jealous of the wise old man’s position, the educated young man paid a visit to the old man and thought he could mentally challenge him.

“Old man, my old man, I understand you are the wisest man around this village and beyond. Let’s see if you know the answer to this puzzle. I have a bird in my hand. Tell me if it’s dead or alive.”

Without as much as a wink, the wise old man simply answer thus: “It’s up to you!.”

“What do you mean? Please explain.”

“Well, it’s simple. Its fate rests in your hand. If I said it’s alive, all you need do is to tighten your grip and squeeze it dead. On the other hand, if I said it’s dead, you just release your hand and off it will fly away. So it’s up to you.”

The term “elder” is invented clearly because of this – to accord the respect and honour due. No amount of academic attainment can take the place of experience

and wisdom acquired through life’s journey. All life is but one great experience and there’s none to compare. Age does bestow that much of dignity which a young person can in no way acquire though academic study. From the tribal society to the sophisticated modern society, the elders will always have their place and status.

In a family situation, the father heads the members providing advice and guidance to the young. The Chinese society is one that’s essentially based on the family system (“jia”) and the nation is referred to as “guo jia” , which literally means national family. The order is distinctive, and the system avoids any confusion or chaos. Where order fails to exist then chaos inevitably takes over.

Our God is a God of order. From the tiniest of His creations to the universe at large order exists. Peaceful living calls for law and order, and offence calls for correction with trial and punishment. This is the basic of all wisdom – no question or shade of doubt in the administration and proper function of the society.

Paul Chong