The new documentary by Marc Levin, follows four families from Long Island, New York, as they handle long term unemployment after the Great Recession. It is certainly haunting, because just about all of know someone unemployed and/or face the prospect of joblessness. At the same time, some of the most heartless and thoughtless (both emotionally and intellectually) responses to the unemployed are challenged here. Those whose analyze of poverty caused by the unemployment, and who criticize their circumstances as the consequence of irresponsibly 'having more children than they can afford', clearly don't think about people who face these tragic circumstances because of special needs children needing long term care and the death of an unemployed spouse (a situation faced by one of the families in the film). Nor do those who opine about this misfortune who brand the poor as lazy, don't take into account those who look for work everyday and are confronted with businesses who tell the unemployed they 'need not apply' (another phenomenon depicted in the documentary).
Often those of us who deal with the grieving talk to them about finding 'a new normal'. 'Hard Times...' make it clear that crisis of long term unemployment will demand our country seek a 'a new normal' for our economy. While it's clear that such an imaginative exercise is beyond the capacity of some politicians and a number of our fellow citizens, its the direction in which we must go. This is a matter of crisis being seen as an opportunity - and a job for serious people determined to make our country work.
Here is the trailer for "Hard Times...' It is showing on HBO this summer. Check your listing for show times.