I wander onto debate boards and I wander out in a daze when I read something like this:
I am guilty of this too. I was on unemployment about 10 years ago…there were plenty of jobs, but I refused to work at McDonald’s or whatever so I just kept collecting my unemployment checks.
And once again , I’m guilty. My year of unemployment was fantastic. Funemployment it was.
But it and I was wrong.
You’re still wrong.
Unemployment is funemployment? Sure it is. IF you have no bills, no family, no responsibility and no sense of pride or personal worth.
Because if you do, unemployment is hell. It’s hell to stare out the window at 9:00 a.m. and realize nobody cares you aren’t somewhere because you have no place to be.
It’s hell when you’re parking your car blocks away to keep it from being repossessed. It’s hell when you won’t answer the phone because all it is are calls from bill collectors demanding you pay them money you don’t have.
It’s hell when it’s a week after Thanksgiving and you observed it with baloney sandwiches because that’s all you could afford and the only way there’s going to be anything under the Christmas tree is if the church you attend comes through with its toy drive.
It’s hell when you’re standing in line at a food pantry and skipping meals so the kids can eat what you got and you’ll settle for whatever’s left. It’s hell when you show up bright and early at a job fair all shaved, showered and smiling only to find out nobody’s actually hiring but they will take your resume and will get back to you if they’re interested (and they never are).
It’s hell when you’re staring up at the ceiling and wondering if you should take that $20 bucks you borrowed and buy some gas for the car so you can go look for work or buy a few groceries and some off-brand NyQuil for the kid’s phlegm-filled cough.
It’s hell when you run into someone you haven’t seen in years and they ask what you’re doing now and you lie because you don’t want to say, “nothing.”
Anyone who says being unemployed is fun has no appreciation to be unemployed for a long time because your job has gone overseas, your company has gone overseas (and left you behind) or because what you used to do isn’t being done anymore in your town.
There was a conversation on NPR’s Talk of the Nation where host Tony Cox interviewed New York Times labor and workplace correspondent Stephen Greenhouse about the current dire economic straits too many Americans find themselves facing:
Mr. GREENHOUSE: …I think people are feeling pessimistic about the direction of the nation. I think they feel that the government isn’t doing enough to turn things around. They feel businesses aren’t doing enough hiring.I think a lot of them, though, are still somewhat optimistic about, you know, their family. They think their unemployed 21-year-old out of college is going to find a job two months from now. They think, you know, the father whose been out of work for three months or five months will somehow find something. But it ain’t easy. There are still, you know, five people looking for work for every job opening. COX: You know, speaking of that, there are some people who for sure are going to be very pessimistic, frustrated, unhappy at the stroke of midnight tonight, as their unemployment benefits that they had hoped to extend beyond where they had already been extended are going to be over.Mr. GREENHOUSE: Some extended unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire tonight; 120,000 people who are unemployed will lose their benefits 1.2 million, 1.2 million will lose their benefits at once. And in another month, another 800,000 will lose their unemployment benefits. So that means within a month two million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits.
And this will be the first time, I believe, in our nation’s history when unemployment was over in modern American history when unemployment was over, well over seven percent and we were cutting off extended unemployment benefits for people.
Ask those 2 million people if there’s no extension of unemployment benefits how much “fun” being without a job is. Maybe for some of them it is a 24-7, non-stop party with a couple of hundred in free money to party down with. For everyone else it’s a life of quiet desperation and learning much to your chagrin how quickly you can become part of the discarded and obsolete.
The other thing about being unemployed is who you are has a lot to do with how hard the hammer falls when you’re not working.
COX: Things are tough. I’m going to take a call from Nashville in a second. But to follow up that point about differences in terms of unemployment, we would be remiss, I think, if we didn’t talk about the fact that there are racial differences in unemployment, as well, and that while the last caller was talking about 13 percent unemployment in his portion of the country, I think African-Americans would look at a 13 percent unemployment rate and say oh, wow, we’re doing a lot better.Mr. GREENHOUSE: The unemployment rate for African-Americans is around 16 percent. For Hispanics, it’s around 12 percent. For teenagers, it’s up around 20 percent. For African-American teenagers, it’s up around 40 percent.
What do all those unemployed African-American and Hispanic teenagers do with their time? Probably a lot of dicey things people who have jobs don’t have time to do.
A job for a kid today might prevent a burglary, car theft or worse tomorrow. Something I learned in Criminology class back in college stayed with me. People who desire legitimate goals will result to illegitimate means to get them when they have no legitimate means. Not all of us can get back on our feet toiling in the service economy. The ends don’t meet on $7 or $8 bucks an hour.
Too many people in Washington don’t give two shits about a Black kid that isn’t working until one sticks a gun in their face and jacks them for their ATM card. Then they want to create lots of jobs. Mostly in the prison-industrial complex giving rural Whites work guarding urban Blacks. They care a lot then.
I will say this though: If you haven’t found a job and your unemployment benefits are about to run out and even McDonald’s and Wal-Mart won’t hire you because you’re too old for them, too young, too over qualified, too under-experienced, too much the wrong color, gender, sexual orientation or too something and you still voted Republican because you were mad and wanted to send a message to Washington, you are getting everything you deserve: not a damned thing, because John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the GOP do not give a fuck about you.