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I was discussing with a friend the fact that when recessions come, many employers look for ways to stretch employee capacity ie. if one person is managing four departments after a lay off, it is likely that those jobs will never come back because the employer can see how far they can push employees.

Your absolutely right. Ive had that happen to me numerous times in the past 10 years as monies for social services have gotten fewer and fewer. And that assign duties to you that are not in your skill set or your job description. Its all covered under, other duties as assigned. And one wonders why American products and service are suffering...

Thanks for the great feedback.

Kellen, I like your take on what Levine is saying. I had a similar reaction. Even so, I was encouraged to see his article because it raises some issues that have been pretty obvious to me for a very long time, but don't seem to get a much play in the public discussion of individual and mass psychological health.

Regarding the previous comments, I was just talking yesterday with a physical therapist about being squeezed on the job to do more and more, to the point of physical impossibility. In the IT organizations in which I've worked for the last 25 years, staffing levels have been cut and cut and cut even as responsibilities, expectations, and workload have been growing exponentially during the entire period.

At the same time, the skill sets required to do the work are increasingly more diverse, more sophisticated, AND they change rapidly, often before most folks even have a chance to master them fully. The complexity of the technical environment and application requirements keeps growing and growing, and project timelines keep getting shorter and shorter. And, of course, everything has to be up and running 24/7.

What I find truly amazing is that, by every measure of which I'm aware, the productivity of the American worker continues to rise, even as working conditions continue to degrade, and wages (and more to the point, the actual value of those wages) remain flat or decline.

As you pointed out here and in your other post about Christmas consumer mania, we as individuals have some control over how deeply we're enmeshed in and indebted to this system that's draining us dry, but most of us can only opt out to a certain point. The near impossibility of getting health insurance without having an employer (and the fear of losing it in a job loss) is a major factor in keeping folks locked in jobs that are making them crazy and pressing the life out of them.

It seems logical to me that the current scenario can't continue to go on indefinitely, that there has to be some end point or some breaking point for the system as a whole, but maybe it'll turn out to be a case of death by a thousand cuts.

Hi Rick,

I couldn't agree more. It stands to logic that there must be a breaking point, but I wonder how much farther down the road that is and what price we will have to pay before getting there. I think the health insurance issue you raise is crucial. I think the consumer debt is going to start catching up with people more and more and I wonder if the homeless population will truly start to be fed by more and more middle class ex-workers. It currently seems to consist largely of people who have given up at trying to be able to succeed in this culture, mostly due to their own personal dysfunction. But I think it will increasingly become highly functional people who just can't make it in this very dysfunctional system. As I watch public funding constantly increasing for people who have no income I sometimes wonder why I bother to work. I often feel like the sucker here. I hear working people grumbling that they
cannot afford dental or eye care that is badly needed, but if you do not work at all you get Medicaid and it covers everything. It may not cover it the way you would like, but if you are walking around with half a root canal like one of my colleagues, because she cannot afford the copay for the crown, Medicaid looks like a real deal. I have another friend who has had diabetes for years and cannot be covered under insurance because it is a pre-existing condition. Her expenses for insulin, which are not covered, are up to $300 per month. That's without appointments, test strips, etc., just the insulin. In many ways she would be better off without any income at all, living in public housing, getting disability and having Medicaid. Then she would have medical coverage. But that's crazy. It's almost as if we penalize people for working.

Oh dear, I seem to be on a rant now. I can think of a thousand examples like this, but the point was, I think you are very right about health insurance being the breaking point. Combine it with welfare programs which penalize workers and it could be the beginning of the end. What if everyone just sat down and went on welfare? Life is still complicated, but in some ways it would much less stressful.

Just in case you're wondering the current consumerism epidemic is not totally contained within the US. Everything to do with economics now is about "growth," with the unsaid but implied assumption that this growth now means effectively that we are all spending more rather than being more productive, or making the most of what we have. In fact frugality nowadays seems to be actively frowned upon by governments who, desperate to perpetuate this consumer lead growth, actually seem to be imploring all of us to simply spend more.
In the UK the government desperately wants to encourage ever increasing house prices for example. This is absolutely ludicrous. No-one gains from housing price increases other than the government (in the UK by "stamp duties") also in the UK all the current economic indicators are based upon what people are spending in the shops. This is effectively on the latest televisions, the latest refigerators, the latest PCs - all unnecessary junk really. It is obviously impossible for this state of affairs to continue. We only need so many TVs, we can only eat so much food, and we can only afford to get into a certain amout of debt.
I sometimes think we've all taken total leave of our senses.


I'm sorry to hear that it is happening more globally. I only wish I were surprised. It will be interesting to see where it all leads.

Interesting indeed! It really is exactly the same in the uk.

Can you imagine what will quickly happen in china and india- their wages will rize, as will their need for cars, tv's etc etc. They will work harder and harder for less; just as we do.

I think John Lennon had the right idea in his song "imagine". A man hundreds of years ahead of his time! I would like to live in his world.

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