Monday, September 5, 2011

The 99ers: Addicted to Unemployment

This is my reply to Lee Stranahan's article on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website called The 99ers: Addicted to Unemployment (It had too many words for the comments section.)

What's NOT obvious to you (and everybody else who was lucky enough to dodge a bullet) is that after 3 years I still can't even get a job interview for a low-paying part-time job...let alone actually be hired anywhere, such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, or the local car wash. Besides 14 million unemployed, there are another 14 million "under-employed" who have all those "be-grateful-you-even-have-a-job" jobs.

I worked hard for the past 35 years and held a full-time job while I was still in high school. Now at 55, I've spent my life's savings trying to survive, was evicted from my home, had my car towed away and was reduced to living in someone's room and depending on food stamps just to eat. Why? Because I was addicted to unemployment benefits?

I was laid off in 2008 and saw my last unemployment check well over a year ago. What was I addicted to? Collecting half of what I used to earn (which didn't bust my monthly nut) just so I could see my entire life unravel? I can't even buy new socks anymore.

It's reported that there are 2 million 99ers, but what's not said is there are about 7 million "exhaustees", those who exhausted all unemployment benefits. Every state is different, and not everybody even received 46 weeks of federally extended benefits. In 4 months there will be about 10 million of your fellow Americans (and their families) who will have no income at all. Not because they CHOOSE to be unemployed. "Daddy, all the kids at school wanna know why you don't have a job."

During the Great Depression it took us 10 years and a World War to pull us out of joblessness. Then there were 12 million people who were out of work, less than there are today.

A bottomless pit of dependency? Do you think we put ourselves here? Did you not hear when we were once shedding 750,000 jobs a month? ZERO net jobs last month? Are you going to blame 14 million unemployed Americans for not taking 14 million non-existent jobs?

This is the first time in my life I've ever had a hard time finding work. Do you think that one day I just woke up and decided to live in poverty for the next 7 years until I could collect a Social Security check? When we had other recessions in our history and the unemployment rate was high, I just thanked God that it wasn't me...I didn't bother wasting my time bashing the less fortunate among us. When I saw a homeless person on the street I thought to myself, There but for the grace of God go I. I didn't holler out my car window at them, "Hey you lazy bum, go get a damn job!"

“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 moulding, 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

You say "stop making excuses and start taking full and complete responsibility for your own life and circumstance." What a cold statement to make. Would you have said the same thing to the Jews in the death camps? We can't always control our circumstances...we get hit by cars, we fall off cliffs, we get shot and stabbed, we get cancer...bad things sometimes happen to good people. There are "excuses" and then there are "reasons". Don't you believe that millions of jobs left our shores, or that the banks did anything wrong? Do you really believe that corporations are "real" people and work solely in the interests of the community and our country?

You've walked a few miles in those have others. But not everyone can take full credit for their survival and success just because they may have worked harder or planned better or were much smarter than somebody else. Sometimes God-given talents, good luck, and God's will might have something to do with it as well. Are you of the mind-set that the rich shall inherit the earth, and to hell with everyone else, let the weak perish?

And for years I've had degenerative arthritis in my neck and back (with constant pain) but I still busted my ass at work every single day. Now I have to deal with age discrimination and discrimination for just BEING unemployed. Government "hand-outs" are not you working 40 hours a week just so I can sit by the pool drinking Margaritas. I live isolated and stranded with no money or car. My clothes are slowly turning to rags...not because I'm addicted to unemployment benefits...because:

1) there are no jobs and,

2) no one will hire me. 

Not because I'm lazy or because I like living on NO unemployment benefits at all (they expired in June 2010). Addicted? You have no clue, but I don't hate you and I wouldn't wish my situation on anyone else. I certainly wouldn't put them down.

I may be poor. I may be down and almost out. But I still retained some class. So bad-mouth all the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandpas, and grandmas who can't find a job. I prefer to pity them and thank the good Lord that I still have this computer.

If you had no job and no money and couldn't get someone to hire you, how would YOU live? Where would YOU sleep? What would YOU eat? This isn't 1929 anymore. We can't put up a tent and live off the land anymore, and grow our food or hunt for a living the way we did 100 years ago. Society is different now. A computer is just as much a necessity as a phone, in that many places only accept job applications on-line. There may be 5 people looking for work for every job available but sometimes there are 300 applications for that one job. There is no shortage of labor in this country.

Again, If you had no job and no money and couldn't get someone to hire you, how would YOU live? Can 14 million of us rely on our neighbor's charity or the local church? Can we rely on you?


  1. Bud, you write very well. Can't you get any work as a freelance writer or something? Just wondering.

  2. Thanks Gary, and I've tried getting paid for writing too. I've tried everything I could think of to raise money, short of selling drugs.

  3. You said it so well, as usual! I can only add: The ignorant fools who bash others who are hurting so bad should be SHOT in public!