Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why are the Unemployed and Poor Despised?

Why do so many people hate, resent and despise the unemployed and poor? Do they also hate paralyzed people in wheelchairs, thinking that crippled people (through no fault of their own) prefer to be disabled, just so they can collect a measly government check every month?

And if not, then do these people who hate the less fortunate believe all the blatantly false reports from the right-wing about disabled and poor people "gaming the system" --- that it's easy to do --- and that they make more money cheating hard-working Americans than they would if the jobless and disabled were working themselves?

How would THEY feel if they became disabled or lost their jobs and never found another means of supporting themselves...would they hate themselves too?

Poor people, just like rich people, want more money, not less...and usually do whatever they can to improve their standard-of-living. People don't prefer to earn $8 an hour, just so that they can qualify for $200 a month in food stamps. But many people who are earning $25 an hour (or more) hate those who are earning far less --- or hate those who have no income at all --- because employers won't hire them. Why is that? Many times even one's own family members resent their less fortunate relatives, accusing them of "not trying hard enough" to find work or giving up too easily.

Before September 15, 2008 (when Lehman Brothers announced it would file for bankruptcy) the middle-class had already been slowly eroding for decades as jobs became obsolete, or were shipped overseas. By the end of 2008, the economy was shrinking by an annual rate of more than 8 percent, businesses were shedding 800,000 jobs a month, the auto industry was on the brink of collapse and credit was frozen for families and small businesses. We were in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But 5 years later too many people still don't comprehend the reason why someone would still be unemployed today, or why they haven't been able to find work for the past one, two, three, four or five years. (These same people couldn't understand why other people couldn't find re-employment 5 years ago either).

The simple answer is, there are still not enough jobs for the number of people who remain unemployed. What is it about this simple math problem that many people can not, or will not, understand? Or is it that they DO understand, but they would still prefer to degrade, insult, bash, criticize, blame, punish and bad-mouth those who can not find a job? It's almost as though these "non-believers" (those who don't believe people can't find jobs) are either very ignorant or very cruel. It has to be one or the other, or both. What else could it be?

Is it because the Republicans and the Tea Party radicals have been constantly beating the drum about "lazy" people who prefer to be dependent on the government dole --- and that all those "lazy" people are costing THEM (those hard-working, decent, God-fearing Christian Americans --- those who still have jobs and were never laid off) all those tax dollars for food stamps and welfare? Do these "non-believers" really believe that the very poor and unemployed are maliciously sucking their hard-earned money directly out of their pockets, and that the CEOs of large multi-national corporations, the very rich, and the bankers carry no blame at all? (Is this where all their "ignorance" comes in to play?)

After the man-made economic carnage of the Great Recession, by June of 2009 there 8.7 million Americans who had lost jobs through no fault of their own --- long before we started seeing any net job creation. There are still over 4 million long-term unemployed who still haven't found work --- many because they were laid off early in the recession and remained unemployed while other layoffs continued over a span of two years.

And because the first people laid off have been out of work the longest, they also had the least chance of ever being rehired again --- especially if they are older workers (over 50). Employers just refuse to hire older long-term unemployed workers when they can just as easily hire younger short-term unemployed workers --- those with less eroded skills, in better health, for lower wages, and paying cheaper healthcare costs.

In an over-saturated job market, many people still can not get over the fact that we still have millions of people out of work because they can't find work --- not because they're "lazy" and prefer food stamps. (also, many people who ARE working don't earn enough to live on, and also need food stamps.) Almost 12 million Americans still remain unemployed --- 20 million if we counted those who work part-time but would prefer full-time work --- and 30 million if we counted all those who gave up looking for non-existent jobs.

From the Economic Populist:

If one takes the official broader definition of unemployment using the U-6 rate, the jobless ratio becomes 6 unemployed people for every listed job opening.

Five years later, after bailing out the banks and auto industry, the economy for those who were first laid off haven't improved at all --- and in many (if not most) cases, their circumstances are even worse today because they've already exhausted their unemployment benefits (or had cuts to their benefits, or never qualified), already lost healthcare insurance, had their cars repossessed, had their homes lost to foreclosure, exhausted their savings accounts while attempting to maintain the status quo, and lost (or had reduced) pension funds. And starting in November, everyone using food stamps will also have their monthly benefits cut (while the GOP is trying to drastically cut them even more).

Last July CBS News reported that 80% of us are poor, or will be.

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy 'poor.'

Maybe those who are still working and were never laid off (and so, can not fathom being unemployed because the labor market was once much better when they were first hired) might one day walk in someone else's shoes. Then it will be THEIR turn to be called a lazy, drug-addicted, alcoholic, good-for-nothing bum who only wants to be on the government dole. It will be THEIR turn to be accused of being a low-life greedy dirt-bag scum bucket who only wants "free stuff". It will be THEIR turn to be called a "taker" for taking anything that might help them to survive when all their money is gone when they no longer have a job. It will be THEIR turn when they are forced to eat their own crap, instead of being graciously allowed to survive on food stamps to eat without being hated, resented and despised.

It will be THEIR turn to be blamed for "gaming the system" when it was the politicians who allowed the very rich to game the system for the past 50 years. But those who can not qualify for food stamps would rather hate, recent and despise those who are poor enough to qualify for food stamps. Hating and denying poor people a means of living is most likely the most repulsive and cruel thing another human being can do, besides being another BTK.

My recent related posts:

Inequality and the Declining Middle-Class

The GOP wants Breadlines, not Food Stamps

Media Deliberately Distracts from Major Issues


  1. Earlier this year, Congressman Jim McGovern of Worcester, Massachusetts took the Food Stamp Challenge for a second time, living on $31.50 for a week to bring attention to the plight of those who live on SNAP. It was an eye-opening experience that helped him better understand the struggles faced by tens of millions of American families.

    According to the USDA, over 80% of food stamp benefits go to families with children. One in five food stamp households includes an elderly family member, and one in four includes a disabled member. Increasingly, working families must rely on food stamps to supplement their wages in low-paying jobs --- or while remaining unemployed.

  2. Poverty today at 15% is higher than it was in 1973, when it reached a historical low of 11.1 percent.

    A dollar of SNAP subsidies spent on food frees up a dollar for low-income families to spend on rent, utilities or other needs. When SNAP benefits are counted as income, they lift almost four million people above the poverty line.

    Without food stamps, the earned-income tax credit and Social Security benefits, the elderly poverty rate would have been more than 44 percent, instead of the actual rate of less than 9 percent.

    The next time GOP critics of the safety net claim that we fought a war on poverty and poverty won, remind them that without these and other programs, poverty would be much higher.

    Although these programs help the poor, poverty remains high because inequality of economic outcomes has increased sharply since the 1970s. While the economy grew and corporate profits went up (as a share of national income), the earnings of full-time workers, median household income and the poverty rate barely changed.

  3. Give Jobs a Chance - PAUL KRUGMAN

    The unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent in late 2009, and is now down to 7.3 percent. But unemployment hasn’t come down because a higher percentage of adults is employed; it’s come down almost entirely because a declining percentage of adults is participating in the labor force. And at least some of the Americans who dropped out of the labor force after 2007 will come back as the economy improves, which means that we have more ground to make up than that unemployment number suggests.

  4. According to studies, someone who already has a job today has a better chance of finding a new job than someone else who is currently unemployed. But for someone who is older (over 55), they have a far less chance. Currently the re-employment rate for 55- to 64-year-olds is 47 percent if you were laid off today. But a worker between the ages 50 and 61, and who had been unemployed for 17 months or longer, they only have about a 9 percent chance of ever finding a new job. If an older worker lost their job early on during the Great Recession --- between late 2007 to mid-2009, when the layoffs were still ongoing --- their odds for re-employment drops even further. And if they have any disability at all (or has any health issues), their odds drop further still. Also, a bad credit score (because of their unemployment) makes their odds drop further still (and they may never work again). And if you are a long-term unemployed older person with any criminal offenses (such as a DUI), the odds drop below ZERO. But if you have a felony and are over 50 years old, chances are you are already back in jail because it was the only way you could find to survive in the aftermath of Great Recession as of September 2013.


  5. Your Household Lost Seven Thousand Dollars Last Year. Where Did It Go? Somebody Got it!

    "Less money has been going to the average household in wages because more money is going into corporate profits. That in turn drives the personal income of the wealthy -- CEOs, senior executives, and high-net-worth individuals who invest heavily in stocks, hedge funds and the like."

    But let the ones WITH jobs blame those WITHOUT jobs....