Nevada currently has an unemployment rate at 14.5 percent. That figure is derived from the number of people who have filed for unemployment benefits compared to the total number of people available for work. The one problem with that high percentage is that it doesn’t take into account the number of those people who have fallen from the unemployment figures because they no longer are eligible for unemployment benefits. The real figure of those unemployed in Nevada, as estimated by some experts, could be as high as 20 percent.
Job loss and home foreclosure are devastating enough, but there are other ramifications for our society that have not been discussed. In the past, when our economy was humming along, a certain percentage of our people would move each year. The figure I heard was 20 percent. At first blush, a loss of that percentage of people moving yearly doesn’t appear to have any great effect on our society, but I believe it does and it will continue to affect our society for years to come.
With home values dropping and people finding themselves upside down in their home mortgages, the freedom to move from one location to another is stymied. People are not able to sell their current home and take at least some equity to their new location and use it as a down payment on their new home. If they walk away from the old home they ruin their credit and probably could only rent in the new location. People are financially and physically stuck.
These same people are also probably among those who have lost their jobs and, because of the job market, can’t find work either in their field or even in a new field. They are forced to move just to be able to survive despite the ruination of their credit by walking away from their current home. In short, they are in a mess.
But how does this affect our society? Our society tends to stagnate as a result. Society becomes this giant ghetto in short. With the 20 percent yearly movement, our society tends to become homogenous, mixed up, in layman’s terms. This is good on many fronts as new ideas and customs are mixed in with other areas of the country and in so doing we, as a people, become more and more like a big family. But when that movement does not occur, regional traditions stagnet, ideas don’t spread around and society does not thrive.
Just to illustrate take for instance dialectical differences in the way English is pronounced and accents are imbedded in the language. Not to pick on a specific area, but say somebody from Appalachia with a hillbilly accent couldn’t move. That dialect would continue to ingrain itself in that area forever until the day when that 20 percent could move freely around the country.
Other things are affected as well. How do people deal with home remedies? How do people cook their food? How do people adapt to various environmental situations unique to their area? It’s nice to know how people do things on the other side of the mountain and with a loss of movement, knowledge of all these various things is lost as well as a myriad of other things as well.
Some will argue that television spreads all of these things, but television doesn’t give people the chance to experience first hand these very unique cultures. As a result, our country loses some of its richness that makes us uniquely American.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.