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Labor Is a Perishable Good

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A “perishable good” is something that declines in value when it is not consumed. Like cranberries. Or football tickets. Or labor.

An hour of labor, if not used, is gone. Gone forever.

Think about it. Today, February 10, 2012, there are millions of Americans who can work, who want to work, and who can’t find a job. There are millions more who want to work a full day today, and will work only for a few hours.

Even if every one of those people somehow found a full-time job between today and Monday, it wouldn’t change the fact that today, they went without work. Their skills, talents, abilities, whatever they have to offer, went unused.

What did that cost? Well, given the fact that there are approximately 24 million Americans in that category, you would have to say that it cost us more than $1 billion, today alone. Easily. We missed out on the $1+billion in goods and services that they would have produced for us, if they had a job. Their labor simply... perished. Vanished. Like an unused football ticket. That game is never played again.

Mitt Romney aside, one does hear from time to time about the plight of the unemployed. But one never hears about the plight of the rest of us, because of high unemployment. We are being denied the benefit of the goods and services that the unemployed would be providing to us, if they could.

I know that the unemployment rate is trending down. But that’s simply not good enough. As a nation, we cannot afford to expel millions of people from the workforce for years on end, and lose the benefit of their labor, just because there might be somewhat fewer people in that position on December 31 than there were on January 1.

If that’s the way that you see it, too, then please sign our petition: We Need Jobs NOW. And please forward this to your friends, and ask them to sign, too. Before another day is lost.


Alan Grayson

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’”

-- Martin Luther King (April 1967)

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