in our state newspaper with a growing sense of despair.
The state now has the highest unemployment rate in the country. It has overtaken the smallest state, an island, which has long been the bearer of the wooden spoon.
I am not surprised by the unemployment rate. It will get higher before it gets lower. When the last of the car industry folds and all the subsidiary jobs go with it the official unemployment rate may rise to above ten percent. It's not good. I am genuinely concerned for people who want to work and don't have jobs,
To read the letters in the paper however it would seem it is "all the government's fault". Reading some regular columns in the paper it would also seem that "it's all the government's fault". Of course it depends which side of politics you favour whether it is the fault of the state or the federal government - or both.
It's never our fault is it?
I was talking to a bus driver yesterday. He was on his break and he asked me about my tricycle as I pedalled past.
Bus drivers have a very stressful job. There are no conductors any more so they must sell tickets or ensure that people validate their multi-trip tickets or passes. They must tell inquirers where to go. They need to stop and start, pick up and set down passengers, handle abuse when late, put the ramp down and up on an accessible bus, and do numerous other things apart from driving a hulking great vehicle through traffic.
It's not a nice job. It can be quite dangerous, especially at night. He told me that the union was thinking of strike action so that the drivers could get "more pay and better conditions".
And then he went on, "Fine. The fares will go up again. More people will go back to using their cars because they think it's cheaper. The job will get harder as the traffic gets heavier. Routes will be cut. Timetables will be "adjusted" again further adding to our stress. You know what? There comes a time when it's not worth it. We should stick with what we have. It might be a bit less but it will be a whole bloody lot more."
It was the reverse of what I expected him to say. I wondered how well it would go down with his union mates. I remembered the complaints in the paper that morning. There have been more complaints this morning. They are still asking for "more pay and better conditions". I can understand it. For some people it must seem as if everyone around them has more than they do. It doesn't matter that possibly those people are even more in debt than themselves. The only thing that matters is that they have "it" whatever "it" happens to be. No wonder they want more with better conditions.
But perhaps the bus driver is right and a little bit less would actually end up being a lot more - for everyone.