Skilled Worker Shortages Reach Widespread but Not Evenly Distributed

If the survey of economists in a recent Associated Press Economy Survey is correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years (2016) after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.

The economists surveyed by the AP foresee an unemployment rate of 8 percent on Election Day. That would be the highest rate any postwar president running for re-election has faced. And regardless who wins the White House, they predict at least another four years of unemployment above 6 percent, the upper level of what is considered healthy.

But as I’ve stated dozens of times before, high unemployment rates seem to tell only one side of the job market story.  My inbox is full every day with stories and alerts about another industry or company struggling to find qualified skilled workers to fill open positions.  Here are a few examples:

5 Biggest Worker Shortages

Skilled Trades

Engineers

IT Staffer

Accounting and Finance

Sales Representatives

Transportation  – A shortage of drivers for big rigs

Energy – Electric utility industry challenged by skilled worker shortage

             Robust shale drilling leads to shortage of employees

Technology – Computer firms to try to grow talent to handle mainframe worker shortage

Construction – Skilled worker shortage affecting construction industry

Health Care – Physical therapists are in demand, but not much interested

Education – School Districts Face High Student Enrollment, Employee Shortage

There are many reasons for the shortages of skilled workers.  Shifting demographics and the Great Recession certainly played a huge factor in bringing skilled worker shortages to the forefront. But neither event created the shortages…they just accelerated them.

Some people suggest that skilled worker shortages are merely the results of employers unwilling to pay for top talent. In other cases, qualified workers are available but unable to relocate due to “under-water” mortgages and family obligations.  But mostly, skilled worker shortages are an indication that work has undergone a structural change and the skills required to do them has changed significantly. The list of shortages goes on and on. 

For the next several years I see the paradox of high unemployment verses skilled worker shortages not only continuing but getting worse.  The media will report the desperation of highly educated workers who can find jobs as well as high growth companies struggling to meet capacity due to a lack of skilled employees. Unemployment and worker shortages are not uniformly distributed by geography, demographics, education, gender, or age. It would be foolish for any employer to follow only one side of the story and plan accordingly.  The reality is that both stories are true and that workforce development, recruiting, and retention planning must consider conditions that includes high unemployment with significant skilled worker shortages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s to Blame for Job Skill Shortages: Employers, Workers, or Schools?

Who’s to blame for the shortage of skilled workers?

Not unlike politics, it depends who you ask. Employers blame schools. Schools blame government. Workers blame employers.

The Institute for Supply Management-New York reported this month that 20 percent of its members say the shortage of skilled labor is an obstacle to business. The National Federation of Independent Business reported a rising share of small business owners who say they have jobs that are hard to fill. A Manpower Group survey revealed that 52 percent of U.S. companies report difficulty filling jobs.

The list goes on and on.

Finger pointing job skill shortagesBut enough already with all the finger-pointing.  The truth is that no entity caused the problem and no one entity can fix it.

Let’s start with employers.  Yes – despite 8-plus percent unemployment, employers can’t find enough skilled workers. Every day another publication, another industry highlights the plight of companies struggling with unfilled positions.

Part of the problem can be laid squarely at the feet of employers.  Committed to maximize productivity, employers are expecting more from workers than ever before.  That approach makes good business sense.  But the need to fill open positions has such urgency that employers seek workers who can hit the ground running with little training and no on-boarding.  In the past, new workers were observed, mentored and brought up to speed gradually.  Today, employers expect the new hire “to have that job already,” according to Dr. Peter Cappelli, director of University of Pennsylvania Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.  He recommends that employers need to “drop the idea of finding perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice.”

That seems to place on the blame on education.  While deserving of some of the blame, schools can’t be held responsible for all things wrong.  The nature of work has changed.  The number of available low-skilled jobs is evaporating faster than water on a hot summer day.  According to Edward Gordon, “between today and 2020, low-paying, low-skill jobs will shrink to just 26 percent of the total jobs in the U.S.   Worst of all, just 44 million people will be needed for those jobs, but 150 million or more candidates will be seeking those jobs.”

It used to be that if you worked with your hands and had a good work ethic, you had a lifelong career. But now it’s not the worker’s hands and back that does the grunt work – it’s a robot.  And workers that are needed by employers must understand how to program, operate, and repair a robot.  That requires good math skills…and good critical thinking skills… computer skills.  And it’s not just skills that are needed.  It’s the ability to apply those skills on the job.  And that requirement is a problem.

A headline this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer read “job seekers can’t do math.” That shouldn’t come as any surprise. It’s been reported for years that the high school dropout rate in the U.S. approaches 30 percent year.  Among the 33 other OECD countries, 17 countries had higher average scores than the United States.  When it comes to preparing students for future jobs requiring basic math skills, schools deservedly earn a failing grade.

But to be fair, shouldn’t employees assume some responsibility to develop and maintain job relevance?  The answer is an unequivocal Y-E-S.  Every organization has a responsibility to its stakeholders and/or shareholders to be productive and profitable. They can’t do that with employees who don’t come to work with the most basic of skills – reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s not in the best interest of business to set their job skill requirements to the lowest common denominator. That places responsibility for acquiring and continually upgrading minimum job skills on the shoulders of job seekers.  Everyone is entitled to the opportunity to work.  But entitlement doesn’t include the right to middle class wages and lifestyle when the skills they bring to work are for obsolete or lower-skill jobs.

The major workplace transformation however will be driven by technology and globalization – and working with those conditions requires new skill sets. The definition of work has changed … and will change again sooner than later. Employers, workers, and schools need to get a grip on reality and start working together to prepare for employment in the future workplace.

Perfect Labor Storm book

War of Talent Heats Up; Employers Unprepared

The war for talent is heating up and despite nearly two decades of warnings, employers are woefully unprepared.  I’m not just talking about not being ready. I’m talking about downright ignorance and naiveté on the part of employers about what it will take to recruit, hire, and retain employees. 

Let me explain. Just a few days ago, I attended a regional economic forecast conference. If the forecasts hold true, 2012 should be the best in several years and 2013 should be even better.  That should come as pretty good news for all of us.

The keynote was presented by J. Michael Scarborough from Scarborough Capital Management, Inc.  Without a doubt, Scarborough was the most informative, practical, honest, and candid speaker I’ve heard in years.

Scarborough made two profound comments that became my most important take-aways.  First of all, he described “technology as the single greatest job killer since 2000.”  Outsourcing didn’t kill all the jobs. Neither did foreign competition or the recession.  Technology did. 

But unlike outsourcing, foreign competition, or the recession, the growth and integration of technology into our lives can’t be turned back or effectively regulated by a single government. Employers can attempt to avoid it or ignore it but by doing so, they will be sealing their own fate.

Technology plain and simple allows more production from less people, making many jobs obsolete. Conversely hundreds of new types of jobs are being created by technology. These jobs however require different and more complex skills and fewer people to do them. Technology also allows people to work remotely and differently, eliminating the need to retain full-time and even part-time workers just in case you need them. This technology catalyst that changed the way we produce goods and deliver services is largely taken for granted. Technology didn’t just automate processes; it changed the way businesses operate. Companies must begin to vision the workplace and marketplace of 2020 and beyond and yet they continue to fantasize about a simpler world.

A second comment Scarborough made will be both good news and bad news to employers.  He exposed a rarely spoken about silver lining in our weak U.S. dollar. “The weakened dollar makes it better for international companies to manufacture in the United States,” he said. This trend is only being enhanced by the economic problems in Greece and other European countries. This means that more manufacturing jobs will be imported, not exported, into the U.S., a reversal of fortunes from the past few decades.  (It’s interesting that we don’t hear many politicians speaking about this.)

So what’s the downside for employers and workers? The jobs being created are high-tech, high-skill jobs. The majority of unemployed, under-employed, and still employed Americans don’t qualify for the jobs being created. The competition for talent will only heat up as jobs in manufacturing and health care expand.  It won’t only affect the jobs in those industries but jobs in every industry.  As skilled jobs open up with higher pay, better benefits, and more opportunity, qualified employees will leave one career for another. The job hopping will be easy and lucrative, especially those workers with transferrable skills.

That forecast painted a more promising economic picture, although a daunting one for employers, than I’ve heard in years.  It didn’t take too long though until I was stunned into reality when I moved to one of the break-out session about the hiring forecast.

One speaker, who shall remain nameless, heads a staffing firm specializing in manufacturing placement.  She admitted to being a bit of a technology-phobe – one who struggles with and fears technology. Just think about this irony – the head of a firm that provides staffing and training for companies that need skilled workers isn’t comfortable around technology. 

It got worse. In preparing her forecast for the presentation she “discovered a few things that even surprised her.”  Among her surprises was the role social media was going to play in recruiting moving forward. Really?  What world has she been living in?  Next she revealed how companies would need to provide candidates the ability to apply on their smartphones and iPads.  I’m not kidding – she admittedly was surprised by this finding but felt “companies in our area don’t need to worry about this yet.” Disappointedly, many in audience seemed as surprised about these trends as she did. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when so many employers still want candidates to stop and fill out a paper application.  But as the old saying goes, “you get what you deserve.”

The coup de grace however came from a participant in the audience. When the speaker mentioned Careerbuilder, a hand shot up to stop the speaker. She asked, “What’s Careerbuilder?”  You just can’t make this stuff up, folks.

The gap between companies prepared to recruit, screen, and retain employees and those who fantasize about a simpler world with slower and less change is growing.  For the leaders, this gap creates opportunity. For the laggards, the future of your business is laden with landmines and detours.

9 of the Best Workforce Predictions for 2012

Having reviewed nearly two dozen different articles predicting what employers can expect to face in 2012, I’ve come up with nine of the best workforce predictions for 2012.

1. Skills Gap –We not only face a quantitative shortage of skilled workers but an imbalance between needed and available skills is making hiring difficult. A study by SHRM and others in late 2010 showed that only 32 percent of U.S. college graduates have “excellent” skills as they enter the working world and only 16 percent of high-school graduates have such skills. Young people are less prepared than ever, forcing employers to adopt new online recruiting strategies, new employee screening processes, new hire training including basic reading and math literacy, improved apprenticeships and mentoring programs, and other on-the-job training and development programs to build skills.

2. Résumé Overload (the Resu-mess)– The number of job seekers applying for jobs is greater than ever. Bersin’s Talent Acquisition Factbook® shows that recruiters seeking hourly workers receive an average of 144 résumés per position, and recruiters seeking white-collar workers collect more than 90 résumés per position. It is harder than ever to sort out the best candidates – hence an explosion of interest in assessment tools and prehire simulations. (According to Bersin & Associates, the assessment industry is on fire, growing rapidly as companies realize that they can better screen and preassess people using games, tests and simulations online. If you are not using online pre employment assessments and online applicant processing now, you should in 2012.)

3. Employee Retention. Retention issues will increase dramatically. Almost every survey shows that more than a majority of employees are willing to quit their current job as soon as a better opportunity comes along. Dr. John Sullivan predicts that turnover rates in high-demand occupations will increase by 25% during the next year and because most corporate retention programs have been so severely degraded, retention could turn out to be the highest-economic-impact area in all of talent management. Another startling set of statistics was just released by Mercer. In late 2011, its global research (more than 10,000 employees responding) found that 32 percent of employees are “planning on leaving” their employers, versus only 19 percent two years ago. Low engagement and employee performance is now the second most common business challenge cited in Bersin’s TalentWatch® research.

4. Social Media. For the last few years, most firms jumped on the social media bandwagon, but unfortunately the trial-and-error approach used by most has produced only mediocre results. In 2012 social media will increase its impact by becoming more data-driven.Talent leaders will increasingly see the value of a combination of internal and external social media approaches for managing and developing talent. Thanks to tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor and many others, your employment brand is now “out there” whether you like it or not and whether you put it out there or not. To attract the best candidates from the large pool of workers you need to create a magnet – a clear articulation of your company’s strategy, a clear definition of the types of people you are hiring and lots of good will coming from employees in the marketplace.

5. Telework. Telecommuting and virtual work changes everything in talent management. The continued growth of technology, social media, and easy communications now makes it possible for most knowledge work and team activities to occur remotely. Allowing top talent to work “wherever they want to work” improves retention and makes recruiting dramatically easier. as aging baby boomers stay in the workforce longer than planned, but demand more flexibility in where, when and how they work. Telework and telecommuting also continues to destroy the concept of permanent, full-time employment. (Keep reading!)

6. Contingency/Part-time Workforce. It is easier than ever to pick up your newly found skills and take them elsewhere. Upward of 40 percent of the U.S. workforce now works parttime or on a contract basis.  Data from the last quarter of 2010 showed that contingent workers accounted for nearly 68 percent of new private sector jobs. Young people (particularly the under-30 age group) have rewritten the definition of work. That’s bad news for organizations that still hang on to work as a place you go to for 30 or 40 years. It turns out that the workforce is becoming much younger very quickly. By 2013, 47 percent of all employees will be those born after 1977. So, in 2012 and going forward, organizations must focus heavily on building programs to drive engagement among workers under the age of 30. (Re-read trend on Retention.)

7. Recruitment.  2012 will see a dramatic increase in workforce “poaching.” Yes, poaching employees is a rather harsh term for such an honorable profession as human resources. But let’s be honest, many of the employees a business wants to hire are already working. And many companies (although I don’t agree with this tactic, advertise “only employed workers need apply.”) Well, thanks to social media and a war for talent, many of the most desirable skilled workers can easily find job opportunities with competitors without working through head-hunters.  For companies trying to ramp up production quickly or find highly skilled talent, the only way to get the talent they need quickly will be to “poach” or steal them from away from competitors. As the speed of change in business continues to increase, talent managers will also need to rethink the “develop internally first” approach. In many cases, recruiting becomes a more viable option because there simply isn’t time for current employees to develop completely new skills. As a result, the trend will be to continually shift the balance toward recruiting for immediate needs and the use of contingent labor for short-duration opportunities and problems. (For more on the likelihood of poaching employees happening, read about retention trends in 2012.)

8.  Employer branding. Years of layoffs, cuts in compensation, and generally bad press for business in general will force firms to invest in branding themselves as a good, if not best place to work.  The increased use of social media and frequent visits to employee criticism sites (like Glassdoor.com), make not managing employer brand perception a risky proposition. While corporations will never control their employer brand, they can monitor and influence in a direction that isn’t catastrophic to recruiting and retention. Some of the best organizations spend little on marketing, yet put time, energy and resources into making sure they have a sustainable culture. When a company is perceived to be one that really cares about its employees, it can prove to be a great PR or branding opportunity. Customers patronize businesses that care about their employees, and will even pay more if they believe their values are shared by the company.

9. E-Learning. Training and development is being transformed. Time is valuable and every minute away from a job means a loss in productivity especially when organizations are running so lean. But it’s also quite obvious that employees need to keep developing and learning new job skills.  Thanks to tools like YouTube, Google and Facebook, we have all become accustomed to “instant gratification” – so online courseware that takes 30 minutes to complete is out. New video based online training now takes no longer than 10 minutes at a time and has been proven to more effective than longer videos and workshops. Short e-earning videos engaging workers better, especially using mobile devices, will proliferate.

Sources and more predictions:

Bersin & Associates

http://www.slideshare.net/cweselby/bersin-research-bulletin-sep2011

http://marketing.bersin.com/rs/bersin/images/111111_ES_TAFB-ExecSumm_KOL.pdf\

http://marketing.bersin.com/rs/bersin/images/Predictions2012_Final.pdf

ERE

http://www.ere.net/2011/12/05/10-predictions-for-2012-the-top-trends-in-talent-management-and-recruiting/

Staffing Talk

http://staffingtalk.com/staffing-industry-trends-2012-expert-predictions/

Talent Management Magazine

http://talentmgt.com/articles/view/five-workplace-trends-for-2012/print:1

Herman Trend Alert

http://www.hr.com/en/communities/herman-trend-alert-2012-workforceworkplace-forec_gwt0134m.html

Perfect Labor Storm

http://www.perfectlaborstorm.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looming Doctor Shortage Just TIp of Iceberg?

Stories about the shortage of skilled workers are so frequent these days that many people just take the news with a grain of salt.  But an article like the one published in the Central Penn Business Journal is enough to make you numb.

The Journal reported that a shortage of neurologists has caused a regional health care system to scale back neurology services. (Neurologists deal with disorders of the nervous system. Their patients include people affected by conditions such as stroke, seizure disorders, diseases including multiple sclerosis and headaches stemming from hard-to-identify causes.) Can this be just the tip of the iceberg?

It’s no surprise that the United States and much of the rest of the developed world is in deep trouble when it comes to health care.  But you most likely knew that.  What you may not know is that rising health care costs is only part of the problem. Access to health care due to an aging and growing population may be the straw that breaks the proverbial back.   

The shortage of neurologists is the result of forces that also have created shortages of other specialists, including rheumatologists, who deal with joints; pulmonologists, who deal with the lungs; and endocrinologists, are play an important role in treating diabetics

An 2009 assessment of the supply and demand for cardiologists concluded that there is currently a substantial shortage of cardiologists and that this shortage will increase over the next 20 years. The key drivers of the shortage are a higher demand for cardiology services, as the general population ages, coupled with the fact that 43% of general cardiologists are currently over the age of 55 and will likely retire in the next 20 years. The shortage of general cardiologists is projected to increase from about 1,700 in 2008 to about 16,000 in 2025.  (Source: Association of American Medical Colleges, Recent Studies and Reports on Physician Shortages in the US.)

The shortages don’t stop there.

Another report by the Department of Health and Human Services concluded the nation should have over 30,000 child psychiatrists but there are less than 7,000 currently practicing in the nation.

Gastroenterologists are crucial for detecting colorectal cancer (CRC) as they provide the majority of colonoscopies. A shortfall of approximately 1,050 gastroenterologists is expected by 2020 as demand for colonoscopies is expect to rise by 10 percentage points. Both the aging and growth of the population is causing demand to exceed supply and the number of gastroenterologists entering the field are not going to be able to meet the needs of the growing and aging population.

There are also 723 fewer general surgeons practicing today than were in 1981. The general surgeon to population ratio decreased steadily across the study period, from 7.68 per 100,000 in 1981 to 5.69 per 100,000 in 2005. The overall number of general surgeons has remained static since 1994, despite an increase in the population of 1% per annum during this period. This coupled with the rise in surgical specialization and the decreased interest among medical students in general surgery as a career.

Demand is projected to increase by 48% by 2020 due to the growth in the aged population and to the increasing number of cancer survivors. Supply is only projected to increase by 14% by 2020 due to physician retirements and limited expected growth in the number of oncology fellowship training slots.

The number of generalists is also declining. The numbers of generalist residency graduates have declined each year since 1998, causing concern about future shortages says a study published in Health Affairs. Between 2005 and 2025 the population above age 65 will increase 73 percent, the same group who seeks care from generalists at twice the rate of those under the age of 65. Using 2005 levels as a benchmark, a 20-27 percent shortfall, about 35,000 to 44, 000 generalists, is anticipated by 2025.

The net result is a projected shortage of about 90,000 to 200,000 physicians in 2020 – which is equivalent to approximately ten percent of today’s physician workforce. In 2004, Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, a health care staffing and consulting firm, published, “Will the Last Physician in America Please Turn off the Lights? A Look at America’s Looming Doctor Shortage.”  

The prognosis may not be that dark but solutions for a quick fix are dim.

War for healthcare workers to heat up

The war for healthcare workers is about to heat up.  According to a survey of 285 hospital chief executive officers conducted by AMN Healthcare, most hospital CEOs plan in the next six months plan to maintain or even increase recruitment of healthcare professionals. Ninety-three percent expect to maintain or increase physician recruiting efforts, 89 percent expect to maintain or increase nurse recruiting efforts, 91 percent expect to maintain or increase allied healthcare professional recruiting efforts, and 93 percent expect to maintain or increase pharmacist recruiting efforts.

AMN, the nation's largest healthcare staffing company, reported that 95 percent of hospital CEOs said there is a shortage of physicians in the U.S., 91 percent said there is a shortage of nurses, 86 percent said there is a shortage of pharmacists, and 79 percent said there is a shortage of allied healthcare professionals.

Moreover, many CEOs believe there are not enough healthcare workers in their areas to meet the increased demand for medical services that universal access to care would create. Seventy percent said there would not be enough doctors to meet demand if access becomes universal, 51 percent said there would not be enough nurses, 48 percent said there would not be enough allied healthcare professionals and 45 percent said there would not be enough pharmacists.

The dirty little secret: skill shortages

“Having hundreds of well-trained engineers means little if the technology those engineers know best is being phased out,” is a problem not only for telecom and IT but every business.  In this provocative commentary, the author echoes similar comments I’ve been making to clients.  It follows the Wayne Gretsky quote (which I’ll paraphrase: “success doesn’t come from skating to where the puck is, but to where it will be.”  The same goes for building a skilled workforce.  Hiring employees who were the top-of-their-game in the past doesn’t ensure competence in the future.  It’s a new game with new rules and demands and many employees are still trying to play like nothing changed.


Read more Building a next-gen work force | Telephony Online.

The New World of Work!

“The average knowledge worker will outlive the average employing organization. This is the first time in history that’s happened. … ” Peter Drucker, Business 2.0 (08.22.00)

Thanks to The Better Leader blog for posting this interesting video.
 

It's a nice follow-up and complement to a video that I posted on YouTube last year.

Fire protection engineers in high demand and short supply

Fire protection engineers are in high demand and short supply, according to a survey just released by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SPFE). The survey reinforces the expanding workforce trend known as the Perfect Labor Storm, where semi-skilled and skilled jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers.

According to the SPFE survey, the demand for life-saving fire protection engineers is rising, and now exceeds the supply of qualified personnel. An overwhelming majority SPFE members currently have difficulty recruiting enough qualified engineers. Surveys indicate that this imbalance in demand will continue for at least five more years.

What is a fire protection engineer? According to the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, a fire protection engineer uses science and engineering principles to protect people, homes, workplaces, the economy and the environment from the devastating effects of fires. Fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start and grow, and how fires affect people and property. They use the latest technologies to design systems to control fires, alert people to danger, and provide means for escape. Fire protection engineers also work closely with other professionals, including engineers of other disciplines, architects, state and local building officials, and local fire departments to build fire safe communities.

Fire protection engineers work in a wide range of industries and organizations, including private consulting firms, large corporations, fire departments, local building code officials, insurance firms, federal, state and local government agencies and architectural and design firms. Frequently, fire protection engineers assist architects, builders and fire departments in the design and construction of new facilities.

A Human Energy Crisis?

A few days ago I was asked an interesting question by a reporter from a well-respected business journal:

In this buyer’s market for talent, are companies asking for too much at too low a price?

I don’t know if she’ll include my response but I’m fairly confident that many candidates and employers may not agree with me.  Nevertheless, the struggles that both candidates and employers are experiencing are real – candidates lack the skills that employers need, and employers aren’t willing to pay up.  Like consumers cutting back on travel by refusing to pay over $4 per gallon for fuel, many employers are refusing to pay up for skilled workers during this human energy crisis.  Are these employers cutting their nose off to spite their face?  Or are employees trying to offload their inefficient and ineffective work habits onto employers who are finally saying, in the words of Howard Beale in the movie Network (1976), “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore”? 

There is a new paradigm and both employers and candidates are struggling to function in it.

From the candidate side, many of the skills that once delivered differentiation and value are now commodities.  In other words, what once made an employee a top performer may barely keep them in the game today.   This is a tough pill to swallow.  Despite years of hard work and loyalty, many employees lack the skills needed for today’s jobs. They are therefore overpaid or requesting salaries above their competence. 

On the other hand, employers too are completely misreading the market.  Many have not grasped the depth and breadth of the skilled worker shortage. They look at the economic downturn as an opportunity to pick up cheap labor.  But unlike any other economic downturn, many of the people who are unemployed in today’s market just lack the essential skills. The gap between the required skill sets and availablility of skilled workers is widening. This scarcity has raised the salaries for skilled labor. In many industries and for key positions, the skilled candidate is winning.

What do you think?  Are employers being too demanding and cheap or are employees finally being forced to prove their worth (and by that I mean that loyalty and long hours doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity and profitability?

And by the way, having just re-read Howard Beale’s rant in its entirety, it is amazing how much time has passed since 1976 when the movie was released but how little has changed (except the part about the Russian):

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.