One of the most important economic lessons taught by ‘The Wire’, and the theme of its second season, is structural unemployment. Structural unemployment is the type of unemployment that arises when there is a mismatch between the skills required by the jobs the economy generates and the skills of those in the workforce.
The biggest issue in the global economy is the structural unemployment of low skill workers that has resulted from liberalized trade with the developing world, particularly China, in the last decade. It is a Trojan horse economic issue, because it is a stealth issue that is threating to destabilize western economies.
In season three of ‘The Wire’, a police Major of the western district goes “rogue”, and decides to decriminalize (allow the free
trade of) drugs as long as they are sold in sanctioned areas that are surrounded by the police. A sergeant policing one of the decriminalized areas, christened “Hamsterdam”,notices that social unrest and robbery begin to arise from the unemployed youth who formerly served as lookouts in the drug trade. The sergeant recognizes that this structural unemployment could destabilize the entire zone; he “taxes” the drug dealers, uses some of the money to provide services to the unemployed, the rest to provide income support and order is restored.
The US has lost over 8 million jobs in manufacturing since China was allowed entry in the WTO, in Sept. 2001, and continues to lose thousands more manufacturing jobs every month. Youth unemployment in Europe is unsustainably high and growing. Would that Obama’s economic team, congress, as well as the European elites could integrate the lessons of ‘The Wire’. Until they do, expect economic instability and social unrest to continue to ratchet up. Perhaps David Simon's next series will be called
'The Noose' about how, given enough rope, the elites of the west managed to hang themselves.