This is an oldish but still relevant article (Jan 2014) doing the rounds on Reddit and HN at the moment. There are a few people commenting that it is a problem but the solution is not obvious. Funny, it’s pretty obvious to me: Some people are making large quantities of money at the expense of others; not through any kind of deserved, fundamental right, but instead just because they happened to be in the right position at the right time to exploit others and chose to do so. The problems stem from the fact that society as a whole is dependent upon these people acting responsibly, but those people have a financial incentive to not act responsibly. Therefore what you do is you say “hang on, this isn’t right”, and take the money off them and redistribute it back to everyone else.
This is not a hard problem to solve. It is merely one whose solution will upset rich people, and therein lies the real problem.
Unemployment itself is a bit of a distraction; it doesn’t really improve THAT much once you do get a job because work is relatively badly paid. The real issue is that work as we know it, in the very general sense, is unsustainable. In the UK we have allowed it to become embedded in society the idea that hard work is good, spiritually and financially fulfilling for everyone who chooses to partake. This is a very favourable situation for employers, because it guarantees them a surplus of labour, which market dynamics ensure will be available to them at a low cost. The same dynamics ensure that the situation is poor for workers. The overall attitude that “work is great, it will fix all your problems, why aren’t you doing more of it?” allows incompetent or malicious conservative politicians and employers to convincingly place the blame on regular people, distracting everyone from the fact that our employment model is basically inappropriate for real life.
I wish I knew more about history because I guess that unwillingness to address economic unsustainability was the first stage of many an empire’s downfall.