Alarm Clocks and Joblessness

Programming Note: I am late on my usual missing person post for Monday. I hope to have it ready for tomorrow.

My current read is sociologist Dr. William Wilson’s book "When Work Disappears" about the effects of joblessness in the ghetto.

On page 39, Wilson includes this quote from a 29-year old unemployed South Side male discussing one “challenge” in finding employment:

You gotta go out in the suburbs, but I can’t get out there. The bus go out there but you don’t want to catch the bus out there, going two hours each ways.

If you have to be at work at eight that mean you have to leave for work at six, that mean you have to get up at five to be at work by eight…”
Should I be more disappointed with:

1) this guy complaining that setting his alarm clock for before 6 am is too much of a burden to secure full-time employment; or,

2) that Dr. Wilson actually believes that the man’s quote strengthens Wilson case in arguing for the creation of mammoth social programs to alleviate factors like this that he argues are causing joblessness in urban America?

I believe it is the latter.

With the South Sider’s preference for sleeping, I guess the fellow eliminates farmer, police officer, fire fighter, EMT, cattle rancher, and plenty of other possibilities from his job search as well.

In addition, it is a good thing that I am not a sworn officer anymore or Wilson’s inclusion of racial profiling by police in the book as an impediment to urban residents trying to work would have been insulting—-especially since his charges are supported using no empirical evidence, but instead couched in colorful anecdotal resident stories.

Law enforcement folks just love reading books penned by sociologists.


J. J. in Phila said...

"Law enforcement folks just love reading books penned by sociologists."

As do former welfare caseworkers. :)

One of things I saw doing that was that even you are giving people money, they don't like to show up.

I had a simple rule: If you have an appointment at 10:00 AM and you were not there by 10:30 AM, your case was closed (and that was actually a bit more lenient than the technical policy). Closing the case would, at best, cause a disruption in the person getting benefits.

Many people understood that, and by the time it I retired (because of "street rep") people showed up on time, or early. Occasionally, if they showed up early, and I had the time, the client would finished before their time of the interview.

I've occasionally ran into former clients working, and I wonder if I had anything to with that.

Erin said...

Grr. I recently tried to read a fictional novel and got hung up on the way the author was portraying LEOs in the story—even though their presence was only incidental.

I give very little weight to people who provide social commentary—particularly on law enforcement—without actually having experienced it themselves.

Natalie said...

And I'd have to add that teachers just love when sociologists interpret what should be going on in the public schools too.

The ideal is stated without any realistic approach to achieve that ideal, so the blame of failing students and society going to pot is placed on whom? Just ask a teacher.

LEOs can completely relate, which is why my husband and I can sympathize when early mornings call. It's just what has to be done, NOT act as a reason we wouldn't have jobs!

fayezie said...

uhhh, unless the guy has children and no where to send them at 6am, then there's no excuse for not getting up at 5am.

hell, I don't have a job and I'm almost always up at 5:30am.

Slamdunk said...

JJ: Good insight--you should take credit for a few behavior modifications.

Faye: Agreed--one cannot even be a good parent if the "not before 6 am" demand is in place.

thewarriorpoets said...

I read the book for a college class and was deeply dissapointed. In addition to Wilson's obvious subjectiveness on weak responses such as the one you highlighted, when his respondants give better responses, he fails to account for the social phenomenon of people providing answers that they think you want to hear. In other words, often times he gets a less than honest answer, and fails to recognize how he is being played.

Russell said...

You might find this interesting - - particularly the link at the bottom.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

I haven't read the book, but I agree that the guy talking doesn't exactly endear himself to the reader, particularly since he HAS a bus. Many people don't have transportation at all.

While I am all for helping the poor, I am also all for helping the poor help themselves. Clearly, this guy needs some job hunting training and a nudge (which the author doesn't seem to give). At the very least someone should tell him that unfortunately, commuting 4 hours a day, especially in this economy, isn't unusual. Ask anyone who lives in the DC Metro area.

Let's not bash all Sociologists,however. I suspect there are some more realistic ones out there.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

if you need a job, you should be willing to get up at any damn time of the day to get there. no sympathy for you if you don't want to do it. nuff said :)

Slamdunk said...

Katherine: I enjoy picking on the sociologists, but it is all in good fun.

After separate posts celebrating the good works of sociologists Dr. David Klinger and Dr. Chris Uggen, I was due for a critical post to balance the coverage.

This blog has actually been sociologist-bashing-free since December when I posted Dr. John Wright's hilarious finger poke at the sociologists who currently dominate the criminal justice field.

Petra: Thank you for stopping by.

angelcel said...

While I'm (trust me) *all for* providing a safety net for those who genuinely need help in society, out-and-out socialism all too readily allows humans (who in reality don't need that help) to fall back on the easy behaviour of holding out a hand and taking what is given by 'The State'. Worse still is that they regard it as their absolute right. They forget that the money and help they receive is only available through the taxes and therefore hard work of others in their community, many of whom will go through their own hardship. It's not uncommon, for instance, for workers on the mainland UK to have disrupted family lives because of lengthy working days followed by long commutes of two hours or more, each way, and each day. (I'm sure the same can be said in the U.S.). The attitude of the man you describe is all too typical I'm afraid and could explain why Europe in general is starting to swing away from socialism. In fact, there have been so many 'do-gooders' like Dr Wilson dictating to us under the socialist ethic that we are even starting to see a rise in 'national front' parties. It's very alarming but it's not, I'm afraid, altogether surprising.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Hey, thanks for the references! I will have to go back and look at your previous posts. Sociology interests me. Part of my intellectual meandering.

mappchik said...

Read the first few pages of the book on Amazon. It was dropped in the shopping list for my next order.

I'm probably going to disagree with the author on any solutions he comes up with, but am looking forward to the read. The story of fellows like the one you highlighted will drive me to make unpleasant comments, but reading the stories of the older residents, who lived in the neighborhood through decades of change, is completely worth the frustration.