EDITOR'S NOTE: If you are a Republican politician or Republican voter, or a member of the Tea party or a Tea Party sympathizer, or a Fox News employee or regular Fox News viewer, or a conservative multi-billionaire, or a prejudicial and biased individual, or just a very mean-spirited person, then maybe you shouldn't bother reading this post because either 1) you won't learn anything new, or 2) you just won't give a damn. This is only a counter-rant to other moronic rants that I've been reading and hearing for the past 5 years...ever since I was laid off from my job after working for 35 years.
If you dodged a bullet, and were lucky enough to not have been laid off from your job since the onset of the Great
Recession (or during the Great Recession, or in the aftermath of the Great
Recession), it is better that you count your blessings rather than condemn those who were not so lucky and lost their jobs without ever finding
work again. It's easy to criticize others if you haven't had to walk in someone else's
shoes; but to disparage those who have suffered the consequences of a job loss and long-term unemployment is both ignorant and mean.
In my opinion, it makes you a total @sshole.
I can almost understand if your life wasn't touched by the economic downturn. You go about your daily life as you always have...going to work, getting the kids to school, running errands, doing chores, paying the bills, and doing everything else that you normally do. You might even hate your job, and you might not be earning very much, but you are still surviving as you always have. But ever since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, for you, life goes on and everything is as it was before --- whether you're doing exceptionally well or struggling. For you, nothing has changed.
And if you were lucky enough to have found a job that pays a living wage
since 2007, then good for you. Many others haven't. So just because YOU found a
job, doesn't mean that everybody else could. Again, count your blessings.
If you see someone panhandling on the street while driving to work, it's so easy to judge that person --- they're a bum, they're on drugs, they're lazy. "Hey you, get a damn job!" But you know nothing at all about that person. They could have had an injury at work and lost their job. They could have become mentally ill, such as a decorated Veteran who acquired PTSD. They could have had their job outsourced to China. They could have been laid off during the Great Recession. Or maybe they're a lazy drunk. But for you (one of the lucky ones), nothing is different, nothing has changed. You weren't affected at all by the Great Recession and its devastating aftermath...unless maybe you're a bartender, and now have few less (unemployed) customers who once frequented your bar.
But for millions of other regular working Americans, life has drastically changed. They might have previously worked 20, 30, or 40 years. They could have advanced college degrees. They could have worked all their lives in a blue-collar or white-collar job. They could be grand-parents. They could have already put their children through college. But they could have also been laid off since 2007 and never found work again --- or they may have been hired for temp work, only to be laid off again and forced to look for another job. Just like in a game of musical chairs, when the music stopped, they might have been one of the unlucky ones who were left standing without a seat. They weren't lazy bums, irresponsible drunks, or crazy drug addicts --- they were nothing more than a victim of chance, that's all.
If just before the Great Recession someone had recently changed jobs, they might not have had enough in-house seniority to avoid a layoff --- they were the last to be hired and the first to be fired --- not because they lacked job skills, or they did a poor job as an employee, or because they were lazy. So why is it that so many people (who have jobs and/or were never laid off) believe otherwise --- and that the unemployed are without a job only because they chose to be jobless?
Millions of people who were laid off early on in the Great Recession were unemployed the longest, as they remained without jobs all while others were still being laid off. After the mass layoffs had eventually subsided, and employers began slowly rehiring again, those who were laid off first and remained unemployed the longest were (in many cases) usually not rehired again because most employers overlooked the long-term unemployed, thinking their skills had become rusty --- or because they thought something was wrong with them --- and just BECAUSE they were unemployed for so long.
And older workers (over 50) who were laid off were also discriminated against for age because employers feel they can hire younger people
much cheaper, while also avoiding higher healthcare costs. And maybe some of the
managers that have been doing the hiring might have also preferred to hire
people younger them --- rather than those who might have been older, wiser, and
more experienced --- and posing a threat to their own jobs. Maybe in the more
labor intensive jobs, employers may have felt that younger workers would be more
productive. But for whatever reason, older workers who have already worked for
decades and are no longer finding work, are now being accused (by the most asinine
among us) of being lazy or not trying hard enough to find another job.
Many of those, whose lives were not at all affected by the Great Recession, have refused to understand and believe that millions of other lives were drastically affected, many times for the remainder of their life. Why is that? Is it because they are in denial, as if avoiding the thought that the possibility of losing their own livelihoods could also happen to them? When I lost my job, I felt as though people had avoided me --- as though I had a contagious disease. My own family couldn't understand or believe that for several years I couldn't find a job. To them, that seemed totally impossible; and implied that maybe I wasn't trying hard enough. If your own family members can't understand, how can anyone expect perfect strangers to have a sympathetic ear?
People don't have to be a lazy no-good bum, a down-in-the-gutter drunk, a sleaze-bag drug addict, a conniving thief, or mentally deranged person to be unemployed. It's not because the jobless didn't look hard enough for a job, or were turning down low-paying jobs, or preferred to live on food stamps. Most of the time it was because their services simply weren't needed in an over-saturated job market. But many people (including family members) still moronically cling to the ignorant belief that people are unemployed because they choose to be, or because there's something wrong with them. Many of these people are just total @ssholes, and could care less what the reasons are for someone being out of work. Their only concern is that their hard-earned tax dollars are being used to support others, and that really pisses them off.
The following vile and malicious tirade was supposedly posted by a 21-year-old female at Facebook. In many ways (to me) it sounds a lot like a typical and nasty Tea Party rant. If you have a Facebook account, you can log in and read it here.
Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.
Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.
Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your "home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.
In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good."
Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.
If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.
And while you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov't welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.
Now, if you have the guts - PASS IT ON.
In response to this ignorant rambling, let me say: As for myself, my monthly allotment of food stamps doesn't afford me steak, and my Ding Dongs are of a generic brand (because they're cheaper). I buy them as stomach fillers because steak is too expensive. I'm often hungry before the end of the month.
Food stamps (or Medicaid benefits) won't buy me illegal drugs, alcohol or cigarettes --- and I couldn't trade food stamps for such things because I need my SNAP benefits to eat (I don't use drugs and I quit drinking 5 years ago after I was laid off). Several studies have shown that the recipients of food stamps and Medicaid actually have lower instances of drug and alcohol use than does the general population (maybe they can't afford drugs and alcohol). Many people using SNAP benefits also have jobs, but they aren't being paid a "living wage". (Maybe that 21-year-old female Facebook poster doesn't like to read, so therefore, she may have been blissfully unaware of these inconvenient facts.)
And I don't own a plasma TV or Xbox 360 --- I currently use an old borrowed TV set. My flat-screen TV that I bought several years ago (while I was once gainfully employed) has recently died. And I don't live in government housing (but in someone's spare bedroom); but that 21-year-old female Facebook poster can inspect my spare room any time she likes (so long as I can inspect hers in this new Police State that she wants).
She wrote: "Present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a government job". She must be kidding! Sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, rather than to speak and remove all doubt (like her). There are currently only 3.8 million listed job openings for 20 million unemployed or part-time workers looking for full-time work (we had a Great Recession --- did she ever read a newspaper or an online report on the subject? Or did she learn all her "facts" from Tea Party cohorts and Fox News?). And government jobs have been cut every year for the past 5 years (shrinking the annual budget) because of a make-believe "deficit crisis" and the draconian sequester cuts. Most of the unemployed would gladly take a government job -- or any other job for that matter. Government jobs pay well and offer good benefits (not like at Walmart or McDonalds).
And I don't have 22 inch rims on my car because my car was repossessed almost 3 years ago (2 years after I was laid off), so I don't have low profile tires either. And as she said, I'm not blasting a stereo either (I left my stereo behind when I was evicted from my home 2 years after I was laid off from my job). Was that 21-year-old female Facebook poster from Texas implying that only black people use food stamps (or blasts their stereos), because I'm white --- and most people on food stamps today are now white. So besides being dramatically ill-informed, she must be a racist too.
She wrote: "If you want our money, accept our rules." Our rules, or her rules --- as in Hitler's, the KKK's or the Aryan Brotherhood's rules? Our money, or her money? Was it only her money that paid for that senseless war in Iraq?
The Department of Defense rakes in over $600 billion a year from her taxes, then outsources domestic jobs overseas, only to get bogus parts in return. Corporate America uses our military as their own private army to open and defend "emerging markets" and supply lines --- to create new consumers and to have an endless supply of cheap labor overseas.
But that Facebook poster would rather bash me for having to rely of food stamps to eat because no one in America would give me a job so that I can retain my dignity and buy my own food. She doesn't complain that the CEOs in the defense industry are raking in millions of dollars a year from her tax dollars while supplying billions of dollars in military aid to countries that don't even need it (like the thousands of tanks rusting away in Egypt). Nope...she rather post a diatribe to bitch about me using food stamps.
She wrote: "Pay for other people's mistakes". You mean that ever since 1979 when
American CEOs offshored 20 million jobs overseas to poverty-wage countries, that was
somehow my "mistake"? That 21-year-old female Facebook poster sounds like she ONLY
watches Fox News --- just like other misinformed and ignorant bigots who listen to the multi-millionaire pundits like Bill O'Reilly. I used to pity stupid people like
her. Now they just turn my stomach.
People like her should never get unemployment benefits whenever they get laid off, never get any deductions on their tax returns, never get any treatment in an emergency room, never get any disability benefits if they were ever to break their back at work, and never ever get a monthly Social Security check or Medicare coverage whenever they get too old or too sick to work. And she should never receive any food stamps either, no matter how many hungry children she might ever give birth to --- because everybody knows that those children made a huge "mistake" when they chose her has a parent!
And her children should never receive any of those government "entitlements"
either...after all, what's good for the goose. She and her children and
grandchildren and great-grandchildren can all live in the State of Texas, secede
from the Union, and live happily ever after in their own barbarian world of no
taxes and no government. Survival of the fittest, and may the rest be damned.
Maybe Congressman Paul Ryan could be Saint Paul Ryan, and they can all pray to
She wrote: "While you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can vote." Would that also include all those who are currently serving on active military duty, because many of those patriotic Americans also receive government assistance --- like food stamps. Her ignorance and small-mindedness is a HUGE embarrassment to all Americans, all over the world. Does she ever read a book, or does she just burn them?
Suicide rates for Veterans are skyrocketing. If that 21-year-old female Facebook poster is playing God, should these people also be denied government assistance, or should they and the disabled also have their homes searched first before being allowed to receive any government assistance?
Unlike Jesus, she must just hate all poor people in general, and hopes that they all just "go away". She's too full of hate to realize that, but for the grace of God, she too could be in the same dire situation as millions of other Americans are...because if she's the least bit human, she too could one day make a "mistake" (like lose her job) and then one day she will have to reap the same poisonous crap that she's now sowing. (Good luck getting past the Pearly Gates you f*ckin' moron.)
I have read these malicious rants from ignorant people like her for the past 5 years. The majority of poor people aren't gaming the system, it's the ultra-wealthy that have been doing it for decades. When someone preaches that people like me should lose food stamp benefits, it really makes me angry. It's not that people don't want to work...there are not enough jobs! What part of THAT don't people like her understand? For 35 years I supported myself and I have always managed to find work...but that was THEN, this is NOW (and especially for someone in my age group).
But now we have all these idiots who really have no clue as to how bad the economy really is for so many people (their fellow Americans). 5 years ago (when I still had a job) I used to believe much of the nonsense that Fox News (and others) have spewed about lazy people wanting to be on the government dole; but I've since learned that all their crap is totally false. Sure, there will always be a small percentage of people that might be "gaming the system", but why lump the majority who don't with those bums? There will always be "waste, fraud and abuse" in any program, whether it's run by the government or in the private sector (like charities). There will always be employee theft too...but the vast majority of people don't steal from their bosses either.
For the past 5 years I have heavily researched the subject of unemployment (perusing academic reports, scholarly studies and government statistics) searching for answers, to help me learn what had gone so horribly wrong in my life.
And for the past 3 years I've written about the economy, politics, Social Security, corporate outsourcing, labor statistics, the unemployment rate, taxes and tax evasion, government and corporate corruption and the plight of the long-term unemployed.
I'm now very familiar with both sides of the argument about available jobs and those who are looking for work. And there are many people I know with advanced college educations who (after 5 years) are still struggling with part-time low-paying jobs and unemployment.
Believe it or not (and many people still don't) it's not a simple matter of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, trying harder, and never giving up --- There are 11.7 million unemployed Americans for 3.8 job openings, and this is called "math". A huge square peg won't fit into a tiny round hole. What is so hard to understand about that? But too many people still seem to think that if someone applies for a job 100 times, that this will magically create 100 more new jobs.
Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that the definition of insanity was
doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. But
that's exactly what most unemployed Americans have done...applied for jobs over
and over and over again, expecting to get hired some day. But for millions of
jobless people, that hasn't happened (so they all must be insane too?) That's
why the government calls them "discouraged workers" after a period of
time. That's why the employment rate has gone down (because they're no longer
counted) and that's why the labor participation rate is the lowest since 1978.
Not because millions of Americans turned lazy and wanted to be on the government
dole, but because employers had no need to hire them, so the jobless finally
stopped looking for non-existent jobs. (Also see my posts about offshoring
and guestworker visas).
Older workers like myself (over 50) are discriminated against. And people who are unemployment are being refused jobs just BECAUSE they are unemployed. But some people (for whatever reason) don't want to believe this is happening. Even Congressional testimony from last year bears all this out. Reality check for Tea Party people and certain Facebook posters...it's really happening! What is so hard to understand about that? Because this wasn't true prior to 2007?
I use REAL evidence when making my arguments, not anecdotal stories told on Fox News (or wherever these people like that 21-year-old female Facebook poster hears her stories from). Over the past 5 years I've made myself almost an expert on this subject, and I use facts to back up my claims. I know from my own personal experience that's it's a waste of time to try and convince people with similar (unfounded) opinions to become more enlightened on these matters. If people steadfastly refuse to learn anything new, and only rely on their personal perceptions (and biased beliefs), then it's impossible to teach them anything new at all.
I grew up in "the old days"...I always found jobs in "the old days". I picked myself up by the bootstraps in "the old days". For over three decades I worked. THESE ARE NOT THE OLD DAYS! But many people with jobs and/or were never laid off, refuse to believe otherwise --- just like during the Great Depression during the 1930s.
And if I sound angry, it's because I am. It becomes very frustrating when people attack other people like myself based on nothing more than crap (rather the real evidence) to make their feeble arguments about poor people gaming the system. It shows a real divide in our thinking that has been propagated my others (such as a few billionaires on the Forbes Fortune 400 List) that have an agenda to divide and conquer the people (e.g. the unemployed vs working people --- or the middle-class vs. the poor) when the real class war has always been about the very rich screwing all of us. Just ask Warren Buffett, who once said: "There is a class war, and my side is winning."
But many people (like the Tea Party sheeple and that Facebook poster) will believe what they will. But I have found what I now believe to be the truth in this debate. And if they want to deny me food stamps (because they work so hard for their money and think I'm just a lazy bum on the dole who is stealing money out of their pockets), then they are denying me an existence. So what should people do when no one will hire them and pay them a livelihood? It's not like they can just take up farming and start growing their own food. They can't just pitch a tent anywhere they want to have a place to live. (Maybe in some backwood hills in parts of Arkansas one might be able to, but not in the public parks of Manhattan.)
I know of others who felt much like those idiots "on the right" feel ... but just like myself, after losing their own livelihoods, they too now feel much differently. So these Tea Party types (and others who are lucky enough to still have jobs) shouldn't throw stones from their glass houses, because if becoming destitute can happened to someone like me, then it can happen to almost any one of them. Shit happens. Instead, they should count their blessings and not bash those who are less fortunate. It's not always about just hard work, pulling up your bootstraps, trying harder, or being smarter --- sometimes it's just plain dumb luck that can save someone's ass.
There's a hell-of-a-lot more "waste, fraud and abuse" going on in Medicare committed by doctors and CEOs (not elderly patients) than there is by poor people in the food stamp program. But where is all the outrage here? No, instead let's blame poor people who need food --- and kick them when they're already down.
People don't suddenly find a job after their unemployment benefits run out --- millions are still out of work after exhausting their UI benefits 3 years ago. People don't quit their jobs to go on disability --- many times it takes 2 or 3 years before someone even finds out whether or not they are even eligible for SSDI. People aren't just given food stamps just because they apply --- they have to undergo a very strict "means test" to qualify. Most people can't even get free healthcare (Medicaid) unless they have no money at all (although this changes after 2014 with Obamacare). And the tremendous amount of paperwork that's involved when applying for these government "entitlements" is not something that a lazy drunk would even want to do. It might be easier to just look for a job...if any jobs were available.
Last month some idiot Republican politician on MSNBC said that the churches and charities should get more involved (feeding 47 million people on food stamps). Al Sharpton said, "Yeah...maybe we should have had the churches bail out the banks too." But rather than blaming greedy CEOs and crooked banksters, many people "on the right" would rather throw rocks at the poor. When people throw rocks at poor people, yes, I get angry.
And when you confront these extremists and explain your own personal circumstances to them, they sometimes might say, "Oh, but it wasn't you I was referring to, but all those other people" --- as if food stamp fraud was wide and rampant --- and that all those poor people were the major cause for breaking the national piggy bank.
These bigots and radical Tea Party followers believe the corporate hucksters when they say that all "those other people" were collecting all that free stuff, and believe them when they're told how easy it is to do. They would rather believe people like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich (who are both greedy liars) rather than believe their own family members.
Let me tell you, being poor isn't easy at all. Especially if you weren't born and raised in poverty, and are accustomed to living a much better life-style for most of your life. Going from riches-to-rags can't be a picnic, and neither is going from middle-class to poor a walk in the park either. But they would rather believe that you are refusing a job to better your life....that suddenly, you just became lazy because Obama is personally giving away the farm to all these free-loading slackers and "takers".
And what makes it even more gut-wrenching is when your own family takes sides against you...or shares this rubbish on their own Facebook wall --- showing solidarity with those people who hate you just for falling on hard times --- not because of any mistakes you made, or for any bad choices you made, but just because they believe you have your hand tightly wrapped around their wallet...and that somehow YOU are the cause for THEM for having to work so hard while the rest of us lazy bums are sitting around the pool all day long drinking frozen Margaritas while all they have to drink is Bill O'Reilly's Kool-Aid.
“Three or four million heads of households don’t turn into tramps and cheats overnight, nor do they lose the habits and standards of a lifetime. They don’t drink any more than the rest of us, they don’t lie any more, and they’re no lazier than the rest of us. An eighth or a tenth of the earning population does not change its character which has been generations in the molding, or, if such a change actually occurs, we can scarcely charge it up to personal sin.” – Harry Hopkins, Federal relief administrator under Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1933