It gets a bit frustrating sometimes… horizons dimmed, opportunities limited, X’d out of society and living with the grand lie of economic improvement sugar-coating the rage and smoldering opinion that the government is our adversary. In the worst economic times in seventy-five years the Federal Government offers struggling, long-term unemployed Americans the following assistance programs to regain meaningful employment:
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Yes, it offers them nothing, “Bye-bye! Best of luck to ya!” What should they do, catch the next rocket ship out of town? Take off for Alderaan? A government that tells its struggling people to just fuck off. If a Typhoon were to hit the Philippines, you’d see videos of smiling young Marines delivering drinking water to the victims by helicopter. Now, take an American city like Detroit. In an effort to collect its back debts, the water works is shutting off residential customers, while giving business a pass. The average bill is $75 and for the long-term unemployed $75 might as well be $750.
So in a city with an adult unemployment rate above 50%, you cut off someone’s access to water, so they must either steal it or die. Too bad, Detroit isn’t a Canadian city. They’d probably garner some attention that way. Without clean water, how do you get ready for work? How do you go out and look for work? What are we saying to these people, when we as a society do this to them? To not only deny any assistance, but to actually throw stumbling blocks in their path? The job market is already impossible, now let’s make it harder. One blemish, one run in with the law and its goodbye Charlie! Circumstances don’t matter, that’s your name on the court docket, isn’t it? And even if it was twenty years ago, we can’t be too careful, when hiring a part-time maintenance man.
If we arrested everyone in this country who ever deserved to get a DUI at one time or another, there’d be no one left on the outside to guard the jail. But what of those individuals unfortunate enough to serve as the sacrificial lambs of society, facing financial ruin to teach the rest of us a lesson? Because we’re getting tough on drunk drivers, we’re ruining their lives and making them unemployable; two beers will put you over the limit. Just about anyone who leaves a restaurant after a couple of glasses of wine is over the legal limit, yet, if you were asked, “Did you see anyone drunk?” you’d answer “no.”
Is government targeting a problem or establishing a lottery? X number of drivers on any given day, might be over the limit and some are caught in the police dragnet. Are they solving a problem or merely fleecing the sheep? Applying the legal and financial hammer to a social ill. Good job! They’ve lost their employment and gone into bankruptcy, attended the mandatory classes, lost husbands, wives and families and are still alcoholics. I think I’d try to help a dog that was sick, before I’d try whipping it; it doesn’t seem to accomplish much in the long-term scheme of things.
This month the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 217,000 new jobs, a little lower down the page they also reported 218,000 workers lost their temp jobs this month. Temp jobs, offering no benefits, no insurance and no future; 7.3 million Americans officially working part-time for economic reasons. Millions of Americans trying to live on $200 or $250 a week, no benefits no insurance and no future. College educated Americans working at the convenience store, or the ever popular “Looking for Interns with Masters Degree to work for start-up.”
“Write phony Yelp Reviews!” The catch is you only get paid if the review isn’t filtered by Yelp, which it probably will be. I wouldn’t believe a Yelp review if I wrote it myself. It so typifies our economy. Yelp offers merchants a free web page and a higher priced web page; guess which one allows them to filter comments? So hypothetically, if Jesus had a Yelp page: “I came all the way across town to see Jesus! All I wanted him to do was to touch me and would he do it? No! I felt cheated, the loaves were stale and the service was terrible.” Anyone in business knows, even Jesus would get bad reviews. In Al Capone’s day, “Yous should pays us some money fore sompin bad happens to you” was considered more of a crime, than a business model.
Half of the jobs listed on Craigslist are clearly out-and-out frauds, the other half are highly questionable. There are always these trucking jobs; go to school and learn to drive a truck and sign here. Graduate and we’ll help you buy a truck and sign here. But they advertise these jobs, all day every day. Are these job openings; are they teaching a trade or just trying to sell trucks? Sending a near endless stream of résumé’s to an endless stream of hiring managers. How do you tell them about your experience and ability, without exposing your age? Showing up for a job interview at 57 years of age, is akin to showing up wearing a Jason mask with a butcher knife in your hand.
Mention that you don’t have a car and you might as well announce you’re the Grand High Priest in the Church of Satan! Your application goes in the not-in-a-million-years file with the ex-cons. “Oh, you smoke cigarettes on your free time? Well, that’s it for you then, out you go.” If I smoke cigarettes and you’re not offering any benefits anyway, what’s it to you? I don’t smoke cigarettes or play the cello, but I’m not offended by people who do. Nowadays, even legal activities can ban you from employment. If they wanted to they could say, “Oh, you square-dance, I’m terribly sorry, but this is a no square-dancing workplace.”
Now say that you’ve been laid off for six months or so, and trying to live on $250 per week unemployment. On Monday, you get hired for a job that won’t begin to pay you for two weeks. You’re broke, something’s got give, someone’s not going to get paid. How do you put gas in the car when unemployment checks stop, the first day you’re hired, not the day you get paid? Now if you fudge a week, do you know what you are? You’re under investigation, Bud! Now US banks lost some $13 trillion and got bailed out and the Pentagon loses $9 billion and nobody seems too upset. Try being over fifty years old and a member of the long-term unemployed club and owe the state $250 and watch how excited people can get!
Is it really any wonder why the suicide rate for older Americans is at record levels? Can they even be called suicides? The nation’s food pantries report food demand has doubled in the last five years. How is this supposed to work again; if I succeed, it’s because capitalism allowed me to succeed, but if I fail, it’s all my fault? Capitalism takes all the credit; it takes everything… except responsibility?
There are 9,799,000 (officially) unemployed Americans, up by 46,000 this month.
There are 7,269,000 Americans working part-time for economic reasons, down by 196,000 this month. There are 2,827,000 discouraged workers or only marginally attached this month, to the labor force. A minimum of 19,895,000 American adults living hand-to-mouth, with five million more Americans working temp jobs, never knowing if there’s going to be another paycheck after next week, trying to keep a roof over their heads or an old car running, keep shoes on their feet or get a haircut. The average length of unemployment this month is 35 weeks, down from 38 weeks, last May. That’s the average number. If you happen to be over 50, have ever been in trouble with the law at anytime in your life or have bad credit, only have public transportation or are vastly over qualified, or have health problems or smoke, it might take a little longer.
In the worst economic times in seventy–five years, the Federal Government offers to struggling, long-term unemployed Americans the following assistance programs to regain meaningful employment.
: End List
Now just look surprised, when people do something crazy.
About the author: David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, “The Servants of Pilate.”