"… an all-out global war for good jobs."

Here are some numbers to make your head spin: “Of the seven billion people on Earth, there are five billion adults aged 15 and older. Of these five billion, three billion tell Gallup they work or want to work. Most of these people need a full-time formal job. The problem is that there are currently only 1.2 billion full-time, formal jobs in the world. This is a potentially devastating global shortfall of about 1.8 billion good jobs.”

That’s Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, writing in his book, “The Coming Jobs War.”

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Rock ‘n Roll Credit Where Credit is Overdue

By Neal Karlen (2.10.2012)

Of all the variables that alienate one from one’s workplace, perhaps one of the worst is not getting credit when you do fabulous work. This April, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will try to right the egregious wrongs of the rock ‘n roll past by paying homage to the perhaps hardest working bands in show biz: groups who, because they backed up brand-name superstars, never got the attention. Like Willie Loman, they should have been paid.

According to The New York Times (2.10.12), among those who will be ushered into the Cleveland-based rock museum will be the backing bands of six of of music’s pantheons who have already been so honored: Bill Haley’s Comets; Buddy Holly’s Crickets; Hank Ballard’s Midnighters; the Miracles, who made Smokey Robinson magic; James Brown’s Famous Flames, and the Blue Caps, who worked as Gene Vincent’s band.

Getting credit for the work you do may be as much a part of winning the American Dream and successfully pursuing happiness as doing the work itself. Usually operating anonymously, sometimes terrorized by their bosses, these backing bands proved that being part of a fantastic support team is as critical as being the star. It can MAKE the star.

Here is a video of the Famous Flames who backed up James Brown, himself famous for his sadistic control of his band, fining members for the slightest musical infraction or quarter-beat late note.

Attention must be paid, and now it will be.

In a meeting we had between rows of newsroom cubicles this morning, we were talking about where income inequality fits into our project (answer: everywhere). This chart, presented at a Senate Budget Committee hearing today, and posted over at Mother Jones, is all about income inequality — and wow. (Posted by Jeff Severns Guntzel. 2.10.2012)

In a meeting we had between rows of newsroom cubicles this morning, we were talking about where income inequality fits into our project (answer: everywhere). This chart, presented at a Senate Budget Committee hearing today, and posted over at Mother Jones, is all about income inequality — and wow. (Posted by Jeff Severns Guntzel. 2.10.2012)

(2.9.2012) Today’s Daily Dream photo comes from the remarkable Multi-American project at Southern California Public Radio:

Because it’s about that time again, a display of Valentine gifts along  Sunset Boulevard from last year, with newspaper dispensers providing  convenient shelves. As they do every year, Angelenos will be buying  gifts well into the late hours of February 14 from curbside vendors,  many of them immigrants who moonlight as enterprising cupids this time of year in their off-work hours.

(Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC)

(2.9.2012) Today’s Daily Dream photo comes from the remarkable Multi-American project at Southern California Public Radio:

Because it’s about that time again, a display of Valentine gifts along Sunset Boulevard from last year, with newspaper dispensers providing convenient shelves. As they do every year, Angelenos will be buying gifts well into the late hours of February 14 from curbside vendors, many of them immigrants who moonlight as enterprising cupids this time of year in their off-work hours.

(Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC)

"The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor."

By Jeff Severns Guntzel (2.8.2012)

This post is not about the servant staff at “Downton Abbey” (pictured above). But bear with me, it’s apropos.

Susette Carroll, 32, is a single mother, part-time student (communications with a minor in Native American studies) and a delivery driver for a pizza place in rural Kentucky, where she lives. I called her after she responded to my Public Insight Network query about hard work. On a regular day she drives 100-120 miles a day. “I’ve seen a lot of crazy things — ways people live — I’ve seen it all.”

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REBLOG (2.8.2012) A story of dashed expectations via midwestmigration:

Name: Sarah WellsMidwest Home: Van Wert, OHNew Home: Hollywood, CA
I left my small town in Ohio to become a working actor. It seemed to me the only way to do this was to be in a city where the entertainment industry is in national shape. Four years later, I can see that I was wrong, and I would give anything to have never left at all.
I think everyone who has left the Midwest ought to go home where they belong. We as a nation have created cities where no one knows anyone else outside of their little created circles.
The ideal small town, the one of our collective American dream, is one in which the dentist sings in your church choir and the grocer is the brother of your doctor, and we all work together to help each other out, spending our money amongst ourselves and enriching each other instead of outside, unnamed, faceless corporations. This is what we have in Los Angeles, it’s accidentally been created by people who left what was left of a functioning community.

Midwest Migration is a project of our partners at Changing Gears.

REBLOG (2.8.2012) A story of dashed expectations via midwestmigration:

Name: Sarah Wells
Midwest Home: Van Wert, OH
New Home: Hollywood, CA

I left my small town in Ohio to become a working actor. It seemed to me the only way to do this was to be in a city where the entertainment industry is in national shape. Four years later, I can see that I was wrong, and I would give anything to have never left at all.

I think everyone who has left the Midwest ought to go home where they belong. We as a nation have created cities where no one knows anyone else outside of their little created circles.

The ideal small town, the one of our collective American dream, is one in which the dentist sings in your church choir and the grocer is the brother of your doctor, and we all work together to help each other out, spending our money amongst ourselves and enriching each other instead of outside, unnamed, faceless corporations. This is what we have in Los Angeles, it’s accidentally been created by people who left what was left of a functioning community.

Midwest Migration is a project of our partners at Changing Gears.

"The idea that 90 or 95 percent of Americans are struggling may have achieved the status of conventional wisdom, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct. Indeed, it ultimately functions as a distraction: The attention we insist on paying to the overstated problems of the middle class come at the expense of the more critical challenges facing the poor."
- Scott Winship,a fellow in the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, in a New Republic article that challenges conventional Great Recession thinking about the middle class. Read the full article, “Stop feeling sorry for the middle class! They’re doing just fine." (2.8.2012)

Eastwood, America and ads that sell… but what?


By Jeff Jones (2.7.2012)

 
Two minutes of sobriety may have been the real surprise winner on a Super Bowl Sunday that was otherwise exactly what we have come to expect: a glitzy half-time show and lots of sillycheeky ads. Then, just as the nation settled in for an exciting second half of football, it suddenly paused and held its collective breath.
 
If you haven’t seen the “Halftime in America” ad from Chrysler (aka the Clint Eastwood ad), take a moment to watch it below. It’s been the most talked-about commercial of the game. But most of the Monday morning quarterbacking has focused on unraveling some hidden political agenda.
 
My interest is different. Unlike most Super Bowl commercials,  this one seemed to try to capture a particular moment in America – something we’ve been calling “the American now.” But does it succeed? And if so, why? I put those questions to 40 sources from the Public Insight Network who list “advertising” as an expertise. Here’s some of what we heard…
 

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LINK: Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House


From good: The symbol of American success often involves having the biggest house possible, but our outsized fantasies seem to be shifting. According to a new survey, more than three quarters of us consider having sidewalks and places to take a walk one of our top priorities when deciding where to live. Six in 10 people also said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk. Read the story.

"Michigan State University surveyed more than 700 employers seeking to hire recent college graduates. Nearly one-third said parents had submitted resumes on their child’s behalf, some without even informing the child. One-quarter reported hearing from parents urging the employer to hire their son or daughter for a position. Four percent of respondents reported that a parent actually showed up for the candidate’s job interview."
- From an NPR story by Jennifer Ludden about how helicopter parents have graduated from college to the workplace. In the context of what we’re hearing from PIN sources about perceptions of a declining work ethic, it’s hard to know whether to shake our heads at the kids who won’t apply themselves (pun intended) or the parents who think it helps to do it for them. (Jeff Jones)

(via nprfreshair)

Great Expectations: Super Bowl edition

(2.5.2012) With the nation’s attention on the Hoosier State for the weekend, we poked through the Public Insight Network for people writing about “Indianapolis” and “American dream” and found this thoughtful response from Indy resident Sara Pugh:

Q from PIN: From your point of view, what’s the commonly accepted definition of the “American Dream”?

A from Sara: Straight, married, 2.3 kids, dog (or cat), owning your own home, sending your kids to college, and retiring.
Q: If you have a different vision for the “American Dream,” tell us about it.
My American Dream is more about being able to live my passion. Sometimes I feel I am living and making choices so I can keep my health care instead of making choices based on the things that are important and interesting to me. My dream is to not worry about health care, to know that should something happen, I will be taken care of, that if I lost my job I wouldn’t lose my ability to see my counselor. My American Dream is about living in community, not just to share resources but to grow and share with extended family regardless of genetic connection.

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College in America: a series of broken expectations

Access to college is a common expectation in America (or at least it used to be). But a few Public Insight sources have asked a good question: Are colleges expecting enough from their students? Here’s what’s making one former instructor nervous:

By Jeff Jones (2.2.2012)

NOVATO, Calif. Rick Zalon started teaching because he almost died. In his late 40s, he was stricken with stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It took five years of treatment to achieve remission. When it was time to re-make his career, Zalon, a successful CPA, realized he had accomplished most of what he wanted to in life.

"You’ve probably heard that on your death bed, nobody wishes they’d spent more time in the office," Zalon said in a telephone interview. "It’s absolutely true. But the thing that came out for me was, I wish I’d spent more time in the classroom — either learning or teaching."

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LISTEN: Workin’ Hard Blues

"While we’re on the subject of hard work, I just want to say I always was a man to work…" That’s Woody Guthrie in his sometimes surrealist ramble, "Workin’ Hard Blues." It’s apropos, and was suggested by Public Insight Network source Gabriel Heller, 36, a self-described house husband and game developer in Minneapolis, whose hard work led to an algorithm that powers a redistricting experiment he developed, with his wife, Sarah, called Fair Districts. Heller is one of the hundreds who have responded to our recent hard work query. Tell us your story! Then hit play…

"I love my job": A Storify joint

Today I’m reading through the more than 200 responses (more coming in as I type) to my Public Insight Network query on hard work. I took a break and went searching in Twitter for people talking about their jobs. I searched “I hate my job” and wanted to share what I found, but I don’t want to get anybody fired for my curiosity, so I flipped “hate” to “love” and got lost in the endless tweets (and tweeted photos) from workplaces around the country.

I plugged the best of what I found into Storify, and here’s what happened. Back to reading… (2.3.2012. Jeff Severns Guntzel)

Watch: Art up from the ashes in urban Detroit

(2.2.2012) Today’s Daily Dream is a video about what happens when you expect nothing and decide to create something. Produced by HDNet and brought to our attention by Susan Leem at beingblog:

The Heidelberg Project is a living outdoor art installation in the heart of urban Detroit. Artist Tyree Guyton created a massive art installation spanning two city blocks where deteriorating homes are reinvigorated with paint and repurposed materials. In the video, you’ll see some of the somewhat wild colors (from pastels to brilliant primary colors), patterns (polkadots), and materials (stuffed animals).

Much like Jimmy Boggs’ mantra to “make a way out of no way,” Guyton says the philosophy of his 25-year project is “to take nothing, and to take that nothing and create something very beautiful, very whimsical to the point that it makes people think.”

When we ask about expectations, so many people tell us they no longer expect anything from America. But there may be a generation of people that doesn’t see that as crippling, but rather as a blank canvas. We’ll explore this more in the weeks to come.

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