Friday, March 18, 2011

Glenn Beck - Charity Begins at Home for the Jobless

And ends at home. At Glenn Beck's home.

When our government undertakes disaster relief, very complicated logistical requirements are needed to manage the flow of goods and services between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet the requirements of the people in need.

That's why we have relief organizations such as the Red Cross, AmeriCares, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, the National Guard, and FEMA for national emergencies. Americans can't always just rely on their neighbor's good Christian charity when a catastrophe strikes.

The economic collapse of America in 2008 was one such disaster for millions of Americans who needed help desperately after they suddenly lost their jobs. Although it wasn't a "natural disaster" (made by God), it was still a man-made disaster (made by AIG, Goldman Sachs, etc).

When 8.5 million people were laid off during the Great Recession, most of them didn't have the financial resources needed to sustain themselves and their families beyond a very short period of time. Housing, heat, and food was of an immediate concern. Their most basic needs couldn't have been met by simply depending on the charity of their neighbors or by relying on collections taken by ministers at the local church.

And the CATCH-22 for most of the unemployed in our modern era is that most of them were most likely locked in to a long-term financial obligation (i.e. mortgage, lease, auto loan, credit cards, etc.). So without a job and their last two weeks pay stubs, it's usually not possible for them to just immediately abandon their cars and homes in search of a cheaper place to live and/or an older car to drive.

And besides, after first losing one's job in "normal" times, and after only a few months at the most, one can usually find another job. So most people just attempt to maintain the status quo in the meantime - - - keep the kids in school, make the car payment, and tell their spouse not to worry, that everything will be alright. And most of the time, this is true. But it was much different this time, during the Great Recession. And those that lost their jobs first, they were the most affected for a variety of reasons.

Who could have known back then, that it would have been so difficult, and taken so long, for the unemployed to ever find work again? So unemployment benefits were essential, just for basic survival. When collecting unemployment benefits one usually receives less than 50% of their previous earnings - - - and on an already tight budget while they were still employed, these people weren't on a "paid vacation" as all their critics on Fox News had proclaimed.

Glenn Beck (as did the GOP and the Tea Party) later preached about the unemployed having to rely on "government hand-outs" when the financial crisis (national emergency) suddenly hit America in 2008.

The people who were first laid off were literally blindsided. Some had arrived at work one morning only to see the gates locked. There were no early warning signs for these workers. It wasn't in the news yet, people at work weren't discussing layoffs, it hadn't become common knowledge yet. Mass layoffs weren't yet being reported in the media, so they had no time to prepare in any way, except by having any past savings in the bank - - - that is, if they had even earned enough to save any money at all.

Beck (and his ilk) had preached like evangelists, judging the moral integrity of those who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own...telling them that they should have practiced more "personal responsibility", and if they had, they might not be where they were.

For over two years the unemployed (now the "long-term unemployed") have heard Glenn Beck, the Tea Party candidates, the conservative pundits on talk radio, the Republican bloggers, and the talking heads on Fox News blast them. The jobless were smeared, insulted, called names, slandered, accused of irregularities, and blamed for their own situation. Just as many people did to the unemployed during the Great Depression. FDR had even scolded those that did in one of his State of the Union addresses.

Most of these jobless people, it now turns out, are now estimated to be between the ages of 45 years old and retirement age, because it appears that it's only mostly younger workers with less wage expectations that are now being hired. So most of these long-term unemployed American citizens in 2011 can be assumed to have already worked for up to 20 to 50 years already. A great many were college educated and had special skills. A very few eventually found another job, but earning much less that they once did...about what a much younger worker would earn when first entering the job market.

After months of filling out job applications and searching for a job with no results (and very few, if any, actual interviews), the long-term unemployed became what the U.S. Department of Labor labeled as "discouraged", and the government no longer even counted them in the monthly jobless numbers just 4 weeks after they exhausted all their State and federal unemployment benefits (EUC), which was between 26 and 99 weeks. This only further frustrated these people: After being rejected and not getting any job offers, it was infuriating and exasperating to know that their own country no longer even acknowledged though they didn't exist. Add to that the insults from the commenters on the on-lines news articles and the commentators on Fox News, which also depressed them more. It almost seemed as though the unemployed were getting no empathy, sympathy, or understanding at all from their fellow Americans, except from other unemployed people.

So the long-term unemployed formed small on-line communities in which to network regarding job searches, and to discuss such topics as job discrimination, unemployment benefit legislation, and the economy in general. They  made concerted efforts to write letters to their members of congress, and they grouped together to launch "Fax Attacks" on Congress and the White House. They also joined jobless Facebook groups, like for the 99ers. A few started talk-radio blogs and Twittered as well, reaching out for work or advocating what was known as a TIER FIVE for extended federal unemployment benefits.

Many were interviewed for national radio and TV shows such as Ed Schultz on MSNBC and Diane Sawyer's World News on ABC. Many were also interview for AP newspaper articles, and a few were even on Fox News....their worst critic. But as usual, most of the long-term unemployed were criticized and if just being without a job was their own personal failure. It was unimaginable that the American public had turned so bitterly and angrily against their fellow countrymen. Like kicking someone when they're down. Truly a national shame.

Many of the oldest workers who never found employment again were lucky enough to have had at least made it to an age for early retirement (62) and collecting the much lower amount for early Social Security benefits. Others had qualified for SS disability benefits, but only after a very long, exhaustive, and complicated battle with the government to qualify.

And almost all of those 8.5 million people who had lost their jobs earlier in the Great Recession had also lost their life's savings, and many their homes. Some moved in with friends or family. Many were forced to live in their cars if they weren't repossessed by the bank. Many moved to live in tent cities. Because of budget concerns, mostly due to lost tax revenues, it put a huge strain on the government's ability to help, leading to vastly reduced social services that these people desperately needed (homeless shelters, healthcare, food stamps, food banks, etc).

And it's not by chance that those very services are the ones that the Republicans and the Tea Party wants to slash even more, rather than just have the wealthiest 2% pay a little more in taxes to help their fellow citizens during a time of national economical suffering not seen since the 1930s (* This blogger hopes that historians will make note of this.)

Church charities and other religious organizations became quickly overwhelmed and ran out of available resources. Phones were being answered by answering machines, turning the needy away.

When America's jobless had qualified for and received unemployment insurance compensation, they were accused by Glenn Beck (and other critics) as being a "drag on the economy" while those people desperately searched for work as they tried to care for their families, all while attempting to maintain the status quo. If they didn't move in with friends or relatives, others moved or relocated across the country to live and search for work. Some had nowhere to go and ended up living on the street.

Many killed themselves to escape the horrors of homelessness. Suicide hot-lines had their funding increased by congress as they were reaching record levels.

But Glenn Beck (who himself is a multi-millionaire), says that America is the most charitable nation on earth, but preached on his Fox News program that these people (the unemployed) should be ashamed to call themselves Americans because a handful had protested in NYC in August of 2010 for a government extension of federal unemployment benefits to help sustain themselves in their economic hell. Beck thought they should have went to church and asked their priests for charity instead...all 8.5 million (which grew to be 10 million by the end of 2009).

An let's not forget, all these "older" unemployed people who worked for 20 to 50 years who also lost all their employer-related healthcare. Could Doctor Beck have helped all these people who had medical conditions too? Could the neighborhood priest have helped if someone had kidney stones or if a child had needed medication?

The United States of America is (was) the richest nation on earth, who "trusted in God" - so why did so many of her good people (like Beck and his ilk) complain about helping their neighbors, ex-co-workers, families, and friends when they lost their jobs because of the greedy financial shenanigans that were perpetuated by the Wall Street bankers? How much money did Glenn Beck stand to personally lose if grandma had her federal unemployment benefits extended a while longer? Would Beck's family have had to make a sacrifice and his children go hungry? If not, then why would Beck deny others?

"Government hand-outs"? Well then, what are all those farm, tobacco, and oil taxpayer-paid subsidies if not  "government hand-outs"? What about all those tax breaks for the uber-rich like yourself Reverend Beck?

"Personal responsibility"? Well then, what about all those "limited liability" corporations that you and your ilk put on a pedestal every day Mister Beck? Don't the CEOs, Board of Directors, and major shareholders duck "personal responsibility" while hiding behind a corporate status while knowingly making defective products, but yet refuse to recall them because it would cost too much, and because it's usually cheaper to litigate through the courts if only a few people die - and because most people can't afford expensive lawyers?

Glenn Beck doesn't want to contribute anything to unemployment benefits because he doesn't want to have to pay any more in capital gains taxes on his book sales or gold investments - so instead, he'd prefer to cut the federal budget so that the unemployed can't feed and house themselves and their families any longer.

Read yesterday's excellent piece in the New York Times: The Forgotten Millions - "Things don’t look so bad these days, as long as you’re willing to write off the unemployed."

And this is the most devastating thing of all: Has anyone ever wondered why the reported unemployment rate has remained so consistent all throughout 2009, 2010, and into 2011 (averaging around 9.5%), but now in March of 2011 it's reported to be only 8.9%?

The numbers are deliberately being manipulated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but not just for political reasons to make the present administration look good on the economy, but to keep the general pubic uninformed as to the true numbers - - - because that way, it's much easier to justify not funding additional unemployment benefits in the budget. By not having the media's and public support, the long-term unemployed have no one else to turn to for help.

"Spin" is always made on these numbers to make the economy appear better, because we need "consumer confidence" to induce more spending to drive the economy and increase the GDP.

As an example, from my daily Charles Schwab newsletter yesterday: "Weekly initial jobless claims declined by 16,000 to 385,000, versus last week's figure which was upwardly revised by 4,000 to 401,000, and below the 388,000 level that economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected. The four-week moving average, considered a smoother look at the trend in claims, decreased by 7,000 to 386,250, while continuing claims declined by 80,000 to 3,706,000, below the forecast of economists, which called for continuing claims to come in at 3,750,000."

In plain English this says: "A whole bunch of people are still applying for unemployment benefits while another 80,000 just exhausted all their unemployment benefits and still can't find a job." So if this is the GOOD news, then what's the BAD news? It seems that only the jobless knows the TRUE unemployment rate, because they study and actually live these numbers. The REAL U-3 rate is closer to 15% (not 8.9%), and the REAL U-6 rate (to include "marginally attached workers") is closer to 22%.

America's unemployed NEEDED to receive their unemployment compensation insurance payments, because there was no better way to logistically help 10 million jobless Americans. The church collection baskets couldn't have helped them. The jobless deserved the government's help because they had already paid into the system for years - they weren't lazy. If no one will give them a job (especially paying a fair and living wage), then why not pass the government's collection plate around to help our fellow Americans? It's the right thing to do.

And especially because there's no way in hell 10 million jobless Americans could ever have relied on Glenn Beck's charitable and generous donations to feed them - - - because first he'd have to sell his $4 million dollar home...where HIS charity begins and ends.

1 comment:

  1. Amen to this! So true and so sad! Why do the long-term unemployed continue to be vilified? When are the American people (whom are still employed) going to wake up? How many of us will have to commit suicide before they realize they might be the next in line to lose their job, their home,everything they worked for over 40 years? Bud, you are such a prolific author....every time I read your blogs, it's as if you have read my mind. Thank you for your insightful research. Susan