Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Federal Unemployment Extension

Today unemployed Americans hit another roadblock in their lives. Our elected officials failed yet again to come together to restore unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed. Unemployment in America is a contentious topic with both sides strongly standing their ground. In short it has become yet another game of politics and grandstanding over which party better represents the American public.

As a long-term unemployed American this issue directly affects me. But it doesn't just affect me personally, it affects my family, my friends, and my community. I have borrowed and begged from all. This is true not only of myself, but of the millions of others that have been unwillingly unemployed. I agree wholeheartedly that the jobs situation in America needs improving. I agree wholeheartedly that there are probably many people that abuse the system and take advantage of the unemployment system. I would be foolish to argue otherwise. But the problem is that both parties, Democrats and Republicans alike, don't give a shit about me or any of the other unemployed individuals who are working hard every day to try and find a job. Instead they would rather call us "lazy" or "immoral" for being unemployed in the first place.

I wasn't being lazy when I was laid off because my company would rather take a nice tax break for sending work offshore and moving profits to foreign countries. Things that YOU my elected officials have no problem with allowing them to continue to do. Instead because I can't and don't fund your political campaigns I am left as collateral damage to your greed.

You may call me "lazy" or "immoral" for collecting unemployment for a long period of time, but the truth of the matter is you neither know me personally or know my situation. Have I been faithfully and diligently trying to gain employment during this time? Yes and I get up every morning seeing it as a new day to send out resumes and beat the pavement to attempt to find employment. I have sold my personal belongings, I have moved in to my parents house, I have cashed my 401k. I have worked since I was 13, paid taxes, and contributed value to society. My situation is not unlike the many others out there.

See without unemployment I have to make very difficult decisions that you don't have to. I have to decide that if $20 in my gas tank to drive 100 miles to that job interview is worth it. With every opportunity that knocks there is a decision that must be made. See for me to take that interview I have to consider my chances of ultimately getting the job. Don't misunderstand me here, I have absolutely NO problem packing up and moving or driving 100 miles every day just to be employed. But if that $20 today will put food on the table for me and my family for a week, if that $20 will make the difference between a roof over my head for the next month or not, if that $20 will pay my car insurance and my health insurance, then I must decide if that $20 is going to guarantee me employment. Those are the decisions I have to make. See I have to wonder where my next meal comes from, where money to pay my essential bills will come from, how will I have the necessities I need to move through life.

You may tell me to move or relocate. That is fine, I will go wherever to be employed. But I am not packing my family, taking my kids out of school, or just moving for the fun of it. What good is that going to do for me or you? I am simply moving the problem from one community to another if there is no job for me when I get there.

Contrary to popular belief, unemployment is not some big check that you just freely receive each week and spend as you like. Unemployment is a burden to even the unemployed. While I was receiving checks each week I was getting a mere $380. That is $9.50 per hour assuming a 40 hour work week. That is $1520 each month that I have to determine very efficiently how to spend. You take out $700 a month for rent, $250 a month for groceries, $100 a month for gas, $250 a month for car/health insurance, $60 for a cell phone (because without that I can't answer that call I wait for everyday) and $150 a month for utilities and guess what happens? You are left with a mere $10 in your bank account and that is assuming that no other expenses came up during that period that you didn't expect. That you didn't put that $20 in your gas tank to drive to that interview 100 miles away. Yet, oddly enough I am willing to take a job that pays me even less. But that doesn't matter to you.

You see you are quick to judge me for being unemployed and are quick to make assumptions about my life. But what you don't know about me is that I am college graduate, worked the same job for 20 years, and was laid off through no fault of my own. I am willing to wait tables, clean houses, and do the work that you are not willing to do yourself. I am willing to come into your million dollar home and do the shit work that you pay your maids and other staff to do because, guess what, oh wait, YOU ARE TOO FUCKING LAZY TO DO YOURSELF! So before you call me lazy take a deep long look at how you live your life with your maids, and staff who buy your husbands or wives birthday presents because you forgot or don't have "time", and whatever else you have that makes your life just that much easier. Go ahead call me immoral for working my entire adult life at the same job only to be laid off because some company wants to take advantage of tax breaks and other incentives that you made possible. So taking jobs away from hard working Americans, and continuing to allow corporations to take advantage of these same laws you passed was "moral" in your eyes. Ironic how each year these companies throw money at your campaigns and YOU graciously accept those donations and YOU graciously vote in favor of bills to bail them out when they get caught. So who is "immoral" now?

As always though our elected officials want to stuff bills and laws with completely unrelated amendments. On the backs of restoring that little bit of money to my income while I aggressively look for a job, they are more concerned with ensuring that the multi-million dollar corporations can continue to rake in millions in profits by guess what, sending jobs that would employ me and the millions of other unemployed overseas.

So what happens now? Well you just put the million plus unemployed who were hoping for an olive branch here in to further recession that will in the long run not only affect them but their friends, family, and community even more. Unfortunately, at the end of the month I will be moving out of my parents home because they are selling and moving to a community where I can't just live in the basement. I will move into my car, I will shower and take care of myself in bathrooms of truck stops or restaurants. I will continue to search for employment, but you know what my effort will be minimal at best. I will not even consider that job 100 miles away because I can't put gas in my car, I can't pay my insurance, I can't even eat a decent meal once a week, and I can't afford the phone to answer the call when that company calls. But among all the uncertainty there will be in my life, there is one absolute that will be there. Because see during this time I will fully and completely take advantage of every other government subsidy legally available to me. I will put a further financial burden on my state, my community, and guess what my federal government by drawing on these little benefits to get me through this period. So while you worry about the $6.5 billion we unemployed Americans are costing this country, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Now state run facilities and departments will feel the impact immediately of the unemployed. The ones like me who have not taken advantage of the system, the ones like me who have done everything we can to find a job, the ones like me who actually want to work. We are about to hit you with food stamps, medicaid, and whatever other handout the government will give us to survive. Unfortunately though there will be some that don't make it. There will be some that give up. Families will suffer through the loss of loved ones because of depression. But that's right, to you that doesn't matter. They are just more collateral damage for you to grandstand.

This battle isn't about unemployment. I truly believe that given just the unemployment issue that many of you who voted no would choose another vote. The problem is that you want to stand behind your fellow party members and their beliefs. You are weak! You are too afraid to voice your own opinion and vote how you truly feel. You would rather hide behind some excuse such as "it needs to be paid for". Instead you want to paid what should be a simple law with amendments that cut breaks to your corporate donors.

So what is my solution? What would I do if I were in your shoes? I would pass a short-term bill to immediately restore unemployment, say 3 months. Instead of worrying which one of you has the bigger set to show, instead of thinking you know what the American people want, why don't you try to not be "lazy" and be "moral" for once and work together. Why don't you just stick to the topic at hand which is unemployment and focus on resolving that without burdening the bill with "amendments" that you know the other side opposes. Why don't you offer to allow the unemployed amnesty on their taxes because unfortunately I will not be paying those on time this year only further hurting our great country's economy thanks to your bickering.

If you truly cared about America and the citizens you would stop being "lazy" and "immoral" and do something that shows you actually give a shit about what is going on this country. See you have been so far removed from society with your million dollar homes, country club memberships, and the countless other "perks" that come with your job that you have become "lazy" in knowing what it is truly like to be a member of this society. If the job situation is so great in your eyes and you don't understand why it is so difficult to find a job, here is my suggestion, hire me and the million others who need a job. We would be happy to be your maid, your janitor, or whatever else you are to "lazy" to do yourself. Some have said that the unemployed should be required to do more to encourage them to get a job. I bet if you asked any of them if they would be willing to do more the majority answer would be yes.

In the meantime stop playing politics with my life, family, friends, and community! And stop calling me lazy and immoral! Because you know what when election time comes around I am going to be "lazy" and not vote for you! And this goes for both sides of the fence, Democrats and Republicans! And the ironic part of this whole letter is that I am REPUBLICAN. Yet your showing today has drastically changed my opinion of the party, its leaders, and our elected officials in general.

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