About 700,000 Americans were sacked in March. In the past month three men who recently lost their jobs went on gun rampages, killing a total of 26 people. What to do with such grim news? Turn it into a reality TV show, of course.
Bright sparks at Endemol USA, the American branch of the brand that brought you Big Brother, have come up with a new idea: to wallow in the misery of America's threatened workers.
Each week, the show, Someone's Gotta Go, sets itself up in a small business where times are hard and redundancies have to be made. The employees - usually 15 to 20 of them - will be allowed to see the firm's books, and will be told how much each of them earns.
Then they will reveal what they think of each other. They will be fighting for their livelihoods, for at the climax of the episode the employees will vote to decide which of them is added to the pile of unemployed. And you thought Alan Sugar's "You're fired!" was brutal.
More than 5 million Americans have been let go since the recession started in December 2007, and the unemployment rate now stands at 8.5%.
"We're always trying to find the next thing that is topical and timely in the zeitgeist," Endemol's North American director, David Goldberg, told Variety.
He went on to suggest the TV show would be doing hard-pressed employers a favour: "For a lot of people, it takes the pressure off them. As a boss myself, I don't want to have to make those decisions. It's safe to say it hasn't been difficult to find companies willing to participate."
I think any of the "hard-pressed" employers who find it a good idea to set their own employees against each other in such a morale-enhancing way would benefit from seeing the world from a more elevated perspective by swinging from a lamp-post.
Leading by example should be the head of Endemol USA.