Now that healthcare reform has passed, I guess our lawmakers will be looking to ease back into a more relaxed legislative pace.
After all, they worked well into the holidays to pass this legislation, and depending on which side a person takes on the issue, either a historic success took place or the country is heading toward a fiscal nightmare in a few years.
Given the size of our current national debt, I would say that the fiscal nightmare is already here, but that is a topic for another time. At this point, my big concern is the lingering high unemployment rate.
As high unemployment rates continue to stay steady, it has been interesting to observe how its presence has merged into our pop culture. The best example of this is the recent George Clooney film Up in the Air.
It is an excellent film in which Clooney plays a man who fires people for a living. Referred to as a 'termination facilitator,' he works for a firm that contracts with companies to handle the dirty work of telling people they are being let go.
The film does a vivid job of recreating the firing experience people go through, and Clooney's character handles his job with charm and charisma. Of course, these are not necessarily personality traits one thinks of when it comes to people handling firings.
Though the idea of a 'termination facilitator' may seem extreme, there are lots of examples of how people are let go in impersonal ways. Firing people via teleconference or conference calls are pretty common place these days.
These impersonal approaches are part of what is fueling anger and resentment toward the corporate world. People who have loyally worked for companies for decades have seen it go out the window in the matter of a brief meeting. Up in the Air is able to present this in a way that is both creative and troubling.
Of course, this is just a movie, and movies are entertainment. Still, if this is what is being served up for entertainment, I think it says a lot about the mood of the country. However, like I said, it is an excellent film.
As we move forward in the coming months, it will be interesting to note if we see other prominent examples of this type of entertainment. After all, the work place is a ripe place when delivering social commentary and can be easily lampooned (as anyone who has ever watched The Office can attest).
Still, I hope this entertainment is not trivializing the pain that a lot of people continue to go through. For all the news that the economy may be improving, the unemployed are the ones who experience this improvement last.
As an election issue, this could become a big problem for the Democrats heading into the 2010 mid-term races. It remains to be seen how healthcare reform will impact those running for re-election. If this reform does not go over well with voters, then coupling this with a high unemployment rate could provide Republicans with a powerful one-two punch.
This year should be a tasty political year.