Thom Hofman 6:15 a.m., June 19
Sometimes, I Do Wonder...
"F$#@ THE POOR!" --From History Of The World Part One, written and directed by Mel Brooks.
It seems to me that folks have a major league problem in dealing with those less well off. How else can you explain the fact that when budgets are tight, the first programs that get chopped are those dealing with our most vulnerable citizens--the unemployed, the disabled, kids, and the homeless, to name but a few.
Case in point--unemployment insurance bennies. Currently, Federal law allows for up to 99 weeks of UI benefits. Anybody who gets UI benefits knows that their checks rest on a thin edge...they have to mail in (via snail-mail) their claim forms every two weeks, be honest on their answer sheets, and provide "proof of looking" if required.
UI bennies, in reality, cannot fill the person's full finamcial needs (about 2/3rds). So, those of us who recieve them are not living high on the hog, as it were. By keeping our needs modest, we can get by--even as we scan Craigslist, Yahoo Hot Jobs, and other places to find that chimera-for-today: a job that pays properly.
And yet, I have seen two articles (one by Ruben Navarrette in the SD U-T) that somehow are of the notion that long-term UI bennies contribute to high unemployment rates, and that some form of "tough-love" for UI recipients might be in order here. Do what President Clinton did with folks on the AFDC rolls, goes the reasoning, and watch the unemployment rate go down fast!
Obviously, that load of Bravo-Sierra's odor rivals that of the Harris Ranch Feedlot on I-5 at the Coalinga exit, in that you can smell it for miles. The truth is that many of we, the unemployed, would love to get back to work--if there is truly work to be found that pays better than minimum wage and isn't a make-work "McJob."
In my case, my choices are limited. Janitorial deployment is out, due to the fact I have a severe allergy to two industrial cleaners (Spitfire and Triad). With my skin condition, food service work is, by law, forbidden to me. Same with agricultural work, grocery work...anything to do with the handling of food.
I still have my Guard Card, and constantly check out Craigslist, YHJ, and Employment Guide.com for leads. However, with my Federal Jury Service coming up next month, it makes no real sense to apply...unless the employer-in-question can wait a month while I do my service to Uncle Sam. Not very likely.
It's rather obvious that those who propose "tough-love"-like strategies in dealing with any situation such as being unemployed have never been there! And their advocacy of such "Champange Charlie" Reaganomic drivel is done at their peril. For all that it takes for them to change their tune is to see their job go by the boards, exhaust their savings, and not be able to find a job in their field of expertise.
Then they, I daresay, will be prostrate before their chosen diety, thanking Them for that check from the State that allows them to keep looking for work. Hubris, indeed, breeds nemesis. When you combine the hubris of antiphathy for those who are less well-off than you with the "Pre-Quad-Ghost (Jacob Marley, plus the three ghosts of Chirstmas, btw) Visit" attitude of Ebenezer Scrooge? You will find that the nemesis being spawned will show you the same mercy that you showed the last person you snarled "GET A JOB, LOSER!" at on the streets of San Diego--or anywhere else!