The [Wednesday] Papers
"In October, the jobless rate for all veterans - 4.5 percent, a six-year low - was below that of civilians," the Sun-Times says in an editorial.
Oh. That's good news.
"But unemployment for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan ticked up from 6.2 percent to 7.2 percent, compared with an overall civilian unemployment level of 5.8 percent."
Well, I suppose that's because more recent veterans are having a tougher time than their predecessors, as we all are, in an economy that remains in the ditch. That seems to fit the generational profile.
"The jobless level also is slightly higher for veterans who left the military after 9/11 than it is for civilians."
I also suppose a college education and skills gained in the civilian world are more valued than military experience in the job market, despite what recruiting commercials portray.
"To help meet its recruiting objectives at a time when its forces are strained by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army's recruiting command has lowered some goals for recruits," the New York Times reported in 2004.
"The changes are among the clearest signs yet of the military's growing problems in recruiting and retaining soldiers. They mean that many hundreds of prospective recruits who were likely to have been rejected last year could now be enlisted this year."
In other words, the quality of the veterans labor pool just might not be what it used to be. Are we allowed to say that?
Back to the Sun-Times:
"And about 50,000 veterans are homeless on an average night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That's a decline of 33 percent in homelessness since 2010, but it's not enough."
Homelessness among veterans has been cut by a third in the last four years? That's good news if true, but I'm skeptical.
"We are now at the lowest level of veteran homelessness since we began tracking this over the last decade," John Kuhn, national director of the homeless prevention program at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the International Business Times.
The veteran homeless rate has been cut by 10 percent in just the last year alone, according to HUD.
Again, I want that to be true. I don't see any particular reason why it should be.
"[T]he federal homelessness figures don't reflect the number of veterans who are struggling to find permanent housing," the IBT notes.
"We still have a great deal of vets sleeping on a friends' couch, or in their car," Jason Hansman, the external relations director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the paper.
And they don't get counted? Huh.
Back to the Sun-Times:
"There's something wrong here. Veterans have proven their skills and commitment, and their unemployment level should be lower than the population as a whole, even for those veterans who left military service in recent years."
I'm not so sure. With all due respect, veterans haven't inherently proven their skills and "commitment" simply by dint of having served. They may have proven that they didn't have many other options in a tough economy in the first place and thus ended up in the military. After all, the notion that all of those who serve are driven by patriotism, not economic need, is as quaint as a Norman Rockwell painting.
"It's been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom," David Masciotra writes for Salon. "Forced troop worship . . . must end."
Still, in my view, veterans should essentially be guaranteed jobs after their tours of duty, no matter what their motive for joining up. Absent that, though, let's face the truth that a significant number of veterans are poor kids used as fodder by our political leaders; class war in its most literal sense.
"Given the dubious and dangerous nature of American foreign policy, and the neglect and abuse veterans often suffer when returning home wounded or traumatized, Americans, especially those who oppose war, should do everything they can to discourage young, poor and working-class men and women from joining the military," Masciotra writes.
"It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as 'heroes.' The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible."
Back to the Sun-Times:
"One bright spot is the 100,000 Jobs Mission - a four-year-old coalition of 179 companies - which is on a track to have found jobs for 200,000 veterans by the end of this year."
Oh, that's interesting. I assume the Sun-Times is a member.
(In Homer Simpson stage whisper: Psst. Now would have been a good time to join!)
"Businesses that aren't part of the coalition should make a similar effort to put veterans on their payrolls."
Companies like the Sun-Times?
(If you're making such an effort, now would have been a good time to mention it!)
"And those companies that do hire veterans should make a priority of retaining them."
(We appreciate all the advice you're giving to other companies!)
"A good job beats a 'thank you' for those who have served our nation in uniform."
How about a veterans beat? That would also be a way for the Sun-Times to serve.
Brisk & Snappy
To the dictionary: "very cold, bitterly cold, bitter, freezing, frozen, frosty, icy, gelid, chilly, chill, wintry, bleak, subzero, arctic, Siberian, bone-chilling, polar, glacial, hypothermic."
It's 29 at the time I'm writing this. Where do you go from there, Sun-Times?
"Their main supplier was Guzman, whose vast operations included a fleet of model 747 jets that had all the seats removed, the brothers said. According to their statements, Guzman would load the planes with clothes and other goods and fly 'humanitarian' missions to South America. On the return trip to Mexico City, the brothers said, the planes would be packed with as many as 12,000 kilograms - about 14 tons - of cocaine that was then unloaded and driven out of the airport with the help of corrupt authorities."
Fantasy Fix: Buttfumbler Bargain
"Since Scabby's humble birth in Chicago years ago in 1990, the rat with the union label has become a symbol of protest at different locations across America. Anyone can buy a rat, ranging from 6 feet to 25 feet tall, from Plainfield, Illinois-based Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights. The typical rat runs from $2,000 to $8,000."
* MIlwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Investment In Rodgers Looks Like A Bargain; Cutler's Deal Not So Much.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Hypothermic.
Posted on November 12, 2014
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