Later that day, I caught myself brooding over what Stephanie said – that is, until I remembered the source and pushed these thoughts aside. And yet, no matter how hard I tried to dislodge them, they had a stubborn way of creeping back into my consciousness....
One of the scariest things about mentalism is that even after you understand how it works, it still feels believable.
- Alex Stone, Fooling Houdini (2012)
Okay, I said that The Up Side of Down isn’t a self-help book, but McArdle does have a few words of advice for unemployed job-seekers, most of them good. Her take on why the long-term unemployed slack off on the searching is that the longer they have to look, the more anxiety and unhappiness they experience and that discussions on unemployment benefits should take this into account, to reduce job-seekers’ anxiety and keep them moving – presumably to wherever there are jobs. This was basically a good discussion, as far as it went, but the number of jobs that have gone overseas is left unaddressed, and the advice to spend time with others in the same boat, other unemployed people, for “support” didn’t sound convince me. After all, you won’t get job leads hanging out with other people who are out of work, and you might just get more depressed and feel more hopeless. I wonder if McArdle has read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bait and Switch. I’d love to see Ehrenreich and McArdle onstage together, not debating, per se, but conversing these important issues at a deep and meaningful level.
In so many ways, in so many realms, forgiveness costs much less than punishment. This should be a wake-up call to individuals, voters, and government officials.