Most CEOs, and many in Congress, think of American workers today as "widgets". They are counted as "employed" while they are slaving away in the CEOs' money factories, and are counted as a part of the U.S. labor force. But this is the sad and tragic tale of the unemployed "widgets".
For three decades after World War II, the CEOs and the "widgets" had an alliance, brought about with labor unions and a more sympathetic Congress that ensured that these patriotic "widgets" would be treated fairly after risking their lives to protect democracy and capitalism in the far Pacific and Europe.
Then starting in the early 1970's came the Powell Memorandum, Reaganomics (trickle-down economics), Starve the Beast, the misleadingly named "free" trade agreements, globalization, more advanced technology (automation and robotics), "basis pointers" and "monopsonies" (such as Walmart), the outsourcing and offshoring of jobs, a tax code favoring the ultra-wealthy and an economy that transformed from manufacturing to service, and the deregulation of the banks --- which created a massive breakdown in the U.S. socio-economic fabric of American society, that was mostly facilitated by corporate lobbyists and corrupt politicians (many who left public service to become lobbyists themselves.)
Over the past 40 years, by 2013, the "widgets" were screwed. And after slaving away all their lives, many are now having their pensions reduced or outright stolen. The "widgets" no longer have a fair and equitable alliance with the CEOs and their political leaders. The average American "widget" is now being unceremoniously sent to the trash heap.
Nowadays, after these "widgets" have fulfilled their duties, by working long hard hours for the least amount of wages, and after the CEOs have extracted the maximum possible profit from them, these broken down and obsolete "widgets" are now being put on a conveyer belt to the trash heap to be later disposed of (meaning, they were laid off, until such time when their lives will be totally devastated.)
For a while, these "widgets" are still considered part of the U.S. labor force (while about a third of these useless "widgets" might receive unemployment "entitlements"), but only for a while, when they're still counted as "unemployed" in the labor force.
These "widgets" first begin their terrifying journey by riding along the jobless conveyer belt for 6 months to a year (while still being counted by their government as part of the labor force), as they wonder and worry what might become of them and their families in the future.
Sometimes a few of the "widget's" own family members will have no sympathy for them, falsely believing that there are lots of available jobs, just because some politicians on the cable news shows had told them so. How can an old and broken down, useless and obsolete "widget" argue against the "experts" on the TV set?
Only about one in ten "widgets" get lucky, and find another job (usually for much less money than they previous earned), but they gratefully hop off the depressing jobless conveyer belt --- relieved that they have escaped one Hell to begin another less Hellish nightmare.
The rest of the desperate "widgets", meanwhile, remain in a high state of anxiety and deep depression while on the jobless conveyer belt, on their way to the trash heap. Along the way, some lose their cars, some their homes, some their spouses, and some, their lives.
The longer a "widget" remains useless and obsolete, they more useless and obsolete they become, so their chances for ever finding a job at McDonald's or Walmart diminishes more, and more so every day they remain unemployed.
Some of the working "widgets" (those who dodged a pink slip and still foolishly believe they are non-expendable to their boss) call these unemployed and pathetic "widgets" lazy as an excuse not to pay them jobless widget benefits. Some politicians in Congress claim that these "widgets" game the system, and refuse to look for another non-existent job. "Bad widget, bad!!!"
While these "widgets" continue their journey on the jobless conveyer belt, as they're on their way to the trash heap, most of these bad "widgets" will finally exhaust all their unemployment benefits, but without ever finding another job again. Then they will apply for food stamps (because now they're eligible) so they can afford to feed their baby "widgets".
These baby "widgets", will in turn, grow up to also work in the CEOs' money factories, but without the same benefits as previous generations of loyal and hard-working "widget's" had once enjoyed. This is because, 40 years ago the CEOs used to earn 30 times their "widget's" wages, now they earn 300 times more. One example would be the Walmart heirs, who make $1 million a day, just off of their stock dividends. Meanwhile their "widgets" earn a measly $8.82 an hour and work part-time without healthcare.
After about a year or so, or when their unemployment benefits run out (whichever comes first), these "widgets" on the jobless conveyer belt (on their "free ride" to the trash heap) finally come to the horrific end of their journey, and fall into a massive pile on top of millions of other broken down and obsolete "widgets" in the trash heap (Some call this the "widget's" graveyard.)
Of course, they are still unemployed, but only now they are no longer counted as "unemployed", nor considered to be a part of the U.S. labor force. Some "widgets", if they are a little luckier than others, might only be counted a little while longer as a "discouraged worker" (aka, a financially desperate "widget").
Some of the luckier, long-term unemployed "widgets", after breaking their backs for 30 or 40 years doing very labor intensive work to make their bosses very rich, might become disabled enough to receive a small monthly check. While although many frightened, frustrated and desperate "widgets" apply for disability, most of them are denied. --- so many of these broken down and obsolete unemployed workers then become homeless "widgets".
Over the past 5 years, since the economy crashed, most of these broken down and obsolete "widgets" are no longer counted by anyone --- in any labor statistic whatsoever. The only statistic where you might find these "widgets" mentioned is in the foreclosure, homeless, divorce or suicide rates. (Poor, poor "widget". Nobody cares for you anymore.)
These no-good, drug-addicted, alcoholic, lazy, broken down and obsolete and bad "widgets" have finally reached the trash heap. Many of the wealthiest CEOs wish the older "widgets" over 50 years old a good riddance!
Several think tanks, the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts far less "widgets" as a percent of the working-age population going forward --- so expect many more of these obsolete and wasteful "widgets" in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, the "widget's" ex-bosses (the CEOs) have been drowning in cash and don't know how to spend their excess and hoarded capital gains. It's a sad time for "widgets" all across America* --- the "richest" country on the planet Earth.
* There are currently about 37 million unemployed and uncounted "widgets" and another 11 million counted unemployed "widgets" in the U.S. (as of December 2013) for a total of about 48 million useless and obsolete "widgets" in America.