Cleft sticks and the great American novel
Joseph Heller wrote Catch 22 in 1961 (under the working title Catch 18, a number already taken by Leon Uris in Milia 18, so therefore unavailable) and the subject of the title immediately entered the lexicon of English speakers everywhere and remains there still. Yossarian’s dilemma is well known yet rarely encountered. Oddly, we have seen it in play twice this month.
Firstly, the US reported its idiotically named Non-Farm Payrolls number for April which came in at 288,000 new jobs, a 2 year high, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% from 6.7% the prior month. These were great numbers, both prima facie & in actuality. However, the participation rate – the percentage of adults actually in the employment system either in work or seeking work – continued to fall to new record lows (around 62.5%) while most of the new jobs are low wage jobs. Yes job creation is going well for those looking for jobs but the jobs are not the right kind and are discouraging aspiring workers from looking for work.
Secondly, in the New Zealand political scene we have seen the ubiquitously popular Prime Minister – John “The Great Helmsman” Key – caught in his own little nightmare just at the time they appeared to be sailing to victory in 4 months’ time in the upcoming general election. What happened? After managing a conflict of interest issue with one of his most senior cabinet ministers – empress-in-waiting Judith “Crusher” Collins – and her husband’s Sino-Kiwi milk processing company Oravida, frau Collins revives her own misery in totally inept fashion & unloads an attack of such stupendous stupidity on a TV reporter and revitalises the whole controversy, encompassing her government colleagues in the whole fiasco. Key’s problem? He has to kick her out of cabinet because of the damage she is causing but can’t because he should have done so when she first lied to him so would look weak and capricious if he did it now. Damned if he does yet damned if he doesn’t. Joe would have been proud.
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