Recently the Washington Post asked me to answer this question, pulling from the interviews I conducted for the Not Working Project. The nature of the question ruffles me a bit because I don’t like the implications of the word “blame” — it seems to assign some sense of victimhood on the part of the unemployed. And while I’d argue that the majority of the country’s unemployed citizens are, indeed, victims of an economic system that has used and abused them without their input, the unemployed rarely espouse a view of themselves as “victim.”
All of that said, there is surely blame to be assigned and it is clear to me that this blame falls on contemporary capitalism, which views workers as numbers on spreadsheets. As I said in the introduction to the book, “Human contact is diminished. Proximity is avoided altogether.” The lack of contact between executive decision makers and employees–that is, disconnect between human beings–is destroying the labor market, and the care we show for each other.
Here’s what I wrote for the Post: