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The current situation

Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Add interesting content about what people are doing or not doing. What's going on on the surface? What are the easily observable manifestations of the problem?

What are the traits of the situation? What are some interesting phenomenon going on here? What are banal or curious with the situation?

This section can contain anecdotes.

You might also include what seems mundane. If you are affected by the problem you might have gotten used to some of the issues that others would characterize as peculiar. Often these are so common that we tend to not think of them.

The items you add here are observable things that may indicate there is a problem. They need not be good or bad, it should just be some aspect that makes the situation peculiar or different when compared to the past or when compared to other places.

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

This section is used to point out the obvious observable issues of the problem. It is used to describe what is going on on the surface. It helps us to describe the current situation in a way that anyone can relate to.

While the next sections hold facts and statistics, this section is about our common sense judgement of the situation. It describes the absurdities of the situation.

The "observations section" describes the plain mundane manifestations of the problem that can be seen by the general public. These are usually so mundane that we fail to recognize them as being part of a systemic problem.

The observations section should describe the status quo (or the existing state of affairs).

This sub section can be seen as a list of interesting aspects of the problem. This helps you uncover the less serious aspects (not just the severe issues) which is important to form an understanding of the entire problem complexity.

At this stage in the process you should consider doing a field trip to see the problem situation by yourself.

We humans are experiential creatures. So, there needs to be some way to actually experience our system – to become authentically curious about the passions, goals and worldviews of others in the system – to literally walk around in it, seeing, hearing and feeling what serves the system and what doesn’t.
- Scott Spann, Innate Strategies

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What are some interesting observations of the current situation?

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FUNNY HELP WANTED SIGNSFUNNY HELP WANTED SIGNS

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  • What are some observable curiosities that keep happening?
  • What are some noteworthy things going on?

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  • Look for facts that are memorable, out of the ordinary, remarkable, extraordinary, puzzling or unexpected.
  • Find facts that others would find interesting.

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  • The text still has to be a fact. Do not distort facts to make it more selling.

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

The Striking facts are mainly to grab people’s attention.

These may not be negative in itself but they help to identify the severity of the situation.

These facts should be shocking or humorous in order to attract attention and to become memorable.

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What are some striking facts about the situation?

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Unemployment

Did you know that there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job?  Yes, I know that number sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  Right now, there aremore than 11 millionAmericans that are considered to be “officially unemployed”, and there aremore than 91 millionAmericans that are not employed and that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  When you add those two numbers together, the total is more than 102 million.  Overall, the number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by about 27 million since the year 2000.  But aren’t things getting better?  After all, the mainstream media is full of headlines about how “good” the jobs numbers for October were.  Sadly, the truth is that the mainstream media is not being straight with the American people.  As you will see below, we are in the midst of a long-term unemployment crisis in America, and things got even worse last month.

In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that people start thinking for themselves.  Just because the media tells you that something is true does not mean that it actually is.  If unemployment was actually going down, the percentage of the working age population that has a job should actually be going up.  As you are about to see, that is simply not the case.  The following are 10 facts about the growing unemployment crisis in America that will blow your mind…

#1 The percentage of working age Americans with a job fell to 58.3 percent in October.  The lowest that number has been at any point since the year 2000 is 58.2 percent.  In other words, there has been absolutely no “jobs recovery”.  During the last recession, the civilian employment-population ratio dropped from about 63 percent to below 59 percent and it has stayed there for 50 months in a row.  Will the percentage of working age Americans with a job soon drop below the 58 percent mark?…

Employment-Population Ratio November 2013

#2 The U.S. economy lost 623,000 full-time jobs last month.  But we are being told to believe that the economy is actually getting “better”.

#3 The number of American women with a job fell by 357,000 during the month of October.

#4 The average duration of unemployment in October 2013 was nearly three times as long as it was in October 2000.

#5 The number of Americans “not in the labor force” increased by an astounding932,000 during October.  In other words, the Obama administration would have us believe that nearly a million people “disappeared” from the U.S. labor force in a single month.

#6 The number of Americans “not in the labor force” has grown by more than 11 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#7 In October, the U.S. labor force participation rate fell from 63.2 percent to 62.8 percent.  It is now the lowest that it has been since 1978.  Below is a chart which shows how the labor force participation rate has been steadily declining since the year 2000.  How can the economy be “healthy” if the percentage of Americans that are participating in the labor force is continually declining?…

Labor Force Participation Rate

#8 If the labor force participation rate was still at the same level it was at when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the official unemployment rate would beabout 11 percent right now.

#9 Even if you are working, that does not mean that you are able to take care of yourself and your family without any help.  In fact, approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#10 In January 2000, there were 75 million working age Americans that did not have a job.  Today, there are 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.

So what are our politicians doing to fix this?

Shouldn’t they be working night and day to solve this crisis?

After all, Barack Obama once made the following promise to the American people…

“But I want you all to know, I will not rest until anybody who’s looking for a job can find one — and I’m not talking about just any job, but good jobs that give every American decent wages and decent benefits and a fair shot at the American Dream.”

Unfortunately, things have not improved since Obama made that promise, but he has found the time to play 150 rounds of golf since he has been president.

Meanwhile, because there aren’t enough jobs, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to grow.

As I wrote about the other day, according to new numbers that were just released an all-time high 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.

And right now 1.2 million public school students in the United States are homeless.  For many more statistics like this, please see my previous article entitled “29 Incredible Facts Which Prove That Poverty In America Is Absolutely Exploding“.

The only thing that most Americans have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  If they can’t find a job, they don’t have any other way to take care of themselves and their families.

 

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Add an interesting, shocking or funny fact.

  • These items are added to make the challenge more lively and interesting.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • Only add factual numbers.
  • Add statistics on things that are measurable.
  • Use valid objective unbiased sources.

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  • Do not do any interpretation such as what it will lead to and why it is bad etc.

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

The statistics section helps you clarify the extent or magnitude of the problem.

This is useful in order to rank or prioritize this social challenge against other challenge. If the problem is not really substantial you should consider trying to solve another more important problem.

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What are some good statistics on the extent of the problem?

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Singapore Unemployment Rate

Unemployment Rate in Singapore increased to 2 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from 1.81 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Unemployment Rate in Singapore averaged 2.48 percent from 1986 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 6 percent in the first quarter of 1986 and a record low of 1.40 percent in the second quarter of 1990. Unemployment Rate in Singapore is reported by the Ministry of Manpower Singapore.

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Add a statistical key figure or a few related statistics in one paragraph.

  • This should be an important figure that helps to shed light on how big the problem is.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • Find out what people fear whether the threat is real or imagined.
  • What are people afraid will happen if nothing is done?
  • What are common perceptions, feelings, attitudes, frustrations or complaints people have about the situation?
  • Gather experts and have them provide observations and judgements about important developments that are underway or expected.

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

On this sub section we add common concerns by the public, by experts or others.

This helps to get a picture of the public perception which is important to know about when we start to go deeper into the problem.

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UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEMS:

The two key problems resulting from unemployment of resources, especially the unemployment of labor, are personal hardships and lost production. The owners of the unemployed resources suffer personal hardships due to the lack of income. The rest of society also suffers from unemployment due to the lack of available production.

The unemployment of resources, especially labor, is one of the more important macroeconomic issues facing economists and governmentleaders. The other macroeconomic issue with the same status is inflation. Concerns over unemployment that emerged during the Great Depression of the 1930s was largely responsible for developing the modern study ofmacroeconomics.

The devastating economic conditions of the 1930s, which at its depth saw one out of four workers unemployed, brought to the forefront the problems of unemployment and induced economists to develop theories to explain the unemployment and to suggest corrective policies. The reason that economists and policy makers have been and continue to be so concerned with unemployment stem from two key problems: personal hardships and lost production.

Personal Hardships

Unemployment creates personal hardships for the owners of the unemployed resources. When resources do not produce goods, their owners do not earn income. The loss of income results in less consumptionand a lower living standard. While this problem applies to any resource, it is most important for labor. The owners of capital, land, andentrepreneurship often earn income from more than one resource. Thus a loss of income from one resource is not a total loss of income. Many workers, however, often earn income only from labor. The loss of income from labor might mean a total loss of income.

Many government programs and policies developed since the Great Depression have been designed explicitly to address personal hardships. One of the most noted programs is unemployment compensation, which is specifically designed to relieve personal hardships by providing workers with a source of income when they are unemployed. While other transfer payments (welfare and Social Security) are primarily designed to address other problems, they also provide a source of income to the unemployed.

The personal hardships suffered by the unemployed are of concern to government leaders for reasons that are both in the common good and somewhat more selfish.

  • In terms of the common good, the unemployed are members of society just like everyone else and deserve the opportunities to enjoy the fruits of a productive economy. An affluent society "should" be able to provide for everyone. In addition, social problems that cause personal hardships to other members of society tend to increase with the personal hardships of the unemployed, including crime, divorce, suicides, etc.

  • Government leaders are also concerned with the personal hardships of the unemployed for more selfish reasons. When the voting public is unhappy, they tend to elect new leaders and toss the old ones out of office. There are few things that voters like less than suffering the personal hardships that come with unemployment. Presidential elections have been decided on a few million votes. A typical business-cycle contraction can add four to five million workers to the ranks of the unemployed, enough votes to change the "employment" status of any incumbent President seeking re-election.

Lost Production

Unemployment also causes total production in the economy to decline. If fewer resources are engaged in production, fewer goods and services are produced. As suggested by the circular flow model, the severity of the connection between lost production and unemployment is magnified by themultiplier effect. An initial decline in the income, consumption, and production associated with unemployment triggers further declines in income, consumption, and production. As such, members of society, who might escape the direct immediate personal hardships of unemployment, often succumb to the indirect, multiplicative problems of lost production. Number-crunching economists have estimated that for each 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate, that gross domestic product declines by 3 percent.

Lost production is especially troublesome because it is an opportunity that is lost forever. This lost production delays society's efforts to increase living standards and address the problem of scarcity. That is, when an unemployed worker does NOT produce output today, that output can never be recouped. If a worker is unemployed on Monday, Monday's production is lost forever.

"But," someone might counter, "once an unemployed worker returns to work on Tuesday, then Monday's lost output can be produced, right?" Unfortunately the worker could have been employed producing Tuesday's output regardless. If Tuesday is spent producing Monday's output, when is the output for Tuesday produced? Wednesday? If so, when is Wednesday's output produced? Had the worker been employed on both Monday and Tuesday, then output would have been produced on both days.

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  • What are we afraid of?

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  • What are some typical misconceptions held by the the public?
  • What are some common widespread misunderstandings?
  • What are popular erroneous conceptions or mistaken notions about the problem situation?
  • What are some popular reasonless beliefs or traditions that have grown up around something or someone?

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

In this section you can find common misconceptions about aspects of the problem.

This can be stories of ostensibly historical events that serve to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice or belief.

This helps us to understand how the problem has evolved and the cultural context.

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What are some common myths or misconceptions about the problem?

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Five myths about the unemployed

1. People who receive unemployment benefits are slow to search for work.

This oft-repeated statement might have a chance of being true if benefits were unduly generous. They aren’t. Weekly unemployment insurance payment averaged $300 in 2010 and 2011, federal statistics show.

It’s important to understand that unemployment benefits aren’t intended to replace a worker’s income. They provide support so financial hardship doesn’t interfere with a newly unemployed worker’s job search. Think of these payments not as handouts but as investments; warding off long-term unemployment saves money in the long run, or so the theory goes.

There’s evidence to back up the theory. According to a 2011 report by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, people who receive unemployment benefits search harder and smarter for jobs than people who aren’t covered. They tend to make better job matches — that is, they find long-term positions that suit them and may pay more. With a better job match, people stay in their jobs longer, reducing turnover costs, layoffs and firings.

Many unemployed don’t even collect benefits when they are eligible. During the 2008-2009 recession, about half of people eligible for benefits never filed for them, according to a recent study.

Benefits also don’t last indefinitely. Each state has its own rules, but generally, most offer payments for up to 26 weeks. Workers must be able to prove that they earned enough and worked long enough to qualify for the maximum number of weeks, and lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Employers, rather than employees, pay the direct cost of unemployment insurance through a payroll tax.

Four years ago, Congress created a temporary program of emergency federal benefits that supplements the state benefits. The federal program has been extended several times. As a result, 24 states with the highest unemployment rates had paid up to 99 weeks of benefits. That was scaled back to 79 weeks in the last reauthorization. Five states have been offering 60 weeks, with the remainder falling in between.

The federal program is set to expire again at the end of the year. The last time Congress extended benefits, the unemployment rate increased by one-tenth of 1 percent, but not because people stopped looking for work. The opposite happened: The long-term unemployed continued looking for work so they could continue to qualify for benefits. The extension worked just as it was intended, inducing people to search for jobs.

 

2. Americans without jobs are hurt by immigrant labor.

In 2010, 30 House Republicans claimed a “direct link between unemployment and illegal immigration” in forming what they called the Reclaim American Jobs Caucus. But most economists disagree with that claim. They say immigrants boost the population and labor force, making it possible to establish more businesses and sell more goods and services, which in turn require more workers.

Daniel Griswold of the libertarian Cato Institute put it this way in a 2009 article: “The addition of low-skilled immigrants expands the size of the overall economy, creating higher-wage openings for managers, craftsmen, accountants, and the like.” In a dynamic economy, adding workers increases business activity.

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  • Add common myths often found among the public. Misconceptions held by single persons or groups should be added to Elements - Stakeholders.
  • First decribe the myth. Then describe how the myth is wrong.

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