The Western Disease

According to the ILO (International Labour Organization), in the last 2 years world-wide, more than 34 million jobs were lost due to the global financial and economic crisis, while people without a job are now 212 million. In the United States alone there are almost 15 million people who are unemployed and almost 10 million, if one attentively reads the ILO's report, have given up looking for a job. The employed are paid less than in previous years. The crisis has put especially the young between 18 and 29 in a terrible condition; many of them stay at home and have no hope for their future. In Japan this phenomena has a name: hikikomori, which means young who, having finished their school curricula, close themselves in a room and choose to live in an autistic way. They are 1 million in a country where employment is considered the basis of social life. The analysis of the causes of this situation is well explained in the book "Western disease, why labour has no value anymore," written by Marco Panara, an Italian economic journalist who has worked for many years in Japan. Analyzing the phenomena one can understand how labour has lost its original value, not only for its economic value, but especially for its social importance as societal/collective glue.

In Europe things are not going any better. In the last 2 years almost 60 million people have lost their jobs and the unemployment rate has grown by 2.3 percent. The situation in East Europe and Russia is no better where the rate is 2 percent. The financial and economic crisis has a terrible impact on the family's budget, according to professor James K. Galbraith of the Austin University, Texas. Reading his evaluation, the financial holdings of American families at the end of 2007 were calculated at 60 billion dollars, a quarter of which has been burned away in the last 2 years.

In a country like Italy things are going even worse: because of the immoral policies of the government and the mentality of the Italians, people struggle daily with unemployment and corruption. Not only job opportunities are much fewer and much less paid but also to get a job, any job, one has to be "recommended" by somebody. There are no other chances and this is a great shame. To give an example, in 2009 Italy has seen an increase between 7 and 10 percent of graduates who haven't found a job, while the power of salaries and the amount of money earned gets lesser every month.

This enormous difficulty is registered also by the daily newspaper La Repubblica, that since a couple of weeks publishes on its website a column that collects the stories of Italians who have received "indecent" proposals of work. In less than 2 weeks they have collected hundreds of stories, mostly of young people who were offered the most ridiculous or even offensive proposals.

To get out of this disease Panara suggests a way: the reconstruction of the relationship between labour, democracy and freedom. How? Any job should produce high standard of quality, this means good educational policies and investing in innovation. Politics should become more equal to influence the market, and the market should follow rules that reduce the abuse and opportunism. In other words, a market that involves the implementation of dignity.