Today, across America, over a million Americans who receive Unemployment Benefits will have those payments discontinued if Congress decides to not lift a finger… which is their default response to anything. For 1.3 million Americans, who have been receiving Unemployment Benefits that needed an extension of those benefits to continue to do things like eating and paying bills, that extension is scheduled to stop on December 28, 2013, three days after Christmas. Merry Christmas.
Now, go pawn those gifts you got to buy groceries.
I would like to think that’s funny, but that is seriously what a lot of people are contemplating doing to make it to Valentines Day. It’s what I’ve had to contemplate. It’s funny to talk about this assistance to those who are unemployed and are looking for work(and in some cases, have to look for work to actually receive the assistance) and to call this payment a “benefit” or even “insurance”. Chris Rock, a fellow friendly and neighborly black man once stated that insurance should be called “in case shit…” as in protection in case something happens. Well, what happens when this kind of shit happens? Is that really insurance? Before I go on, in case you do not realize what this means, as someone who has had to receive Unemployment and who actually had his “benefits” expire well before gainful employment, let me give a brief description of what someone goes through. If you lose your job from circumstances beyond your control, you’re laid off or your contract is not continued or whatever the reason and you have no income coming in, you can file for unemployment, which is a set weekly dollar amount based on how much you made throughout the year. However, it is almost NEVER anywhere equal to the amount you made when you were employed. Whether you were living like a king or barely making ends meet, the assistance you receive from the government will be a drastic reduction in income, which is already likely to impact your livelihood. Because of this, you’re already eager to find a better source of income that will pay you more from the get-go. In addition to it being at the very most less than half of what you made when you were employed, in some cases, when you file, you will be asked to submit names of employers you have contacted seeking work, which can also be tracked as well. This is on top of entering a job market that is ever more specialized and harder to crack into. Often is the case that some will make looking for a job a full time job itself. Whether you’re working on your resume, going to interviews, job fairs, career counselors, looking for those who are hiring, writing cover letters, re-writing your resume, creating writing samples, etc. Believe it or not but it’s hard work to actually find hard work. Ultimately, there are those who want to work, who attempt to find work week after week after week and have zero guarantee of work being available for them to even find in the first place. And after constantly coming up short, not receiving any call backs, not being able to get back into a job market you’re desperately trying to get back into, because you KNOW the assistance you’re receiving will eventually stop, you can quickly get really discouraged. This is added on to the extra humiliation you feel for not having a job. And now, there is the non-eventual end to the assistance you were receiving that you now know will cease on a all too real date that is fast approaching.
Being unemployed is not fun. Banging your head against a wall of employers who are not hiring is frustrating. Knowing the “benefits” you’re receiving is going to be over and done with is the very pit of despair and desperation. And to top it off, you now have some politician in a far away land that has no idea of the daily struggle it is to live tell you that the few dollars of assistance you receive is a “disservice” to you… What are you supposed to think?
Well, that’s exactly what Senator Rand Paul said last Friday. Senator Paul who is not only considering a run for President, but also talks about getting minority and working class Americans to vote for him, he said that extending unemployment benefits past 26 weeks will hurt workers that are looking for a job. His argument is that employers(who he readily affirms he’s more concerned for) would be more likely to hire someone that has been unemployed for less time than someone who’s been unemployed for a longer period. While I don’t see how that applies to someone who has struggled to get back into a job market, Senator Paul’s statement isn’t a far stretch from much of Conservative America unfortunately.
It is also unfortunate that Senator Paul, who is the son of a former doctor and member of the U.S. Congress that was able to go through college likely without knowing how it feels to have to pay your own bills until he was out of Med School himself and practicing, I do not think he’s experienced the kind of desperation that those who have struggled and begged out of frustration and heartache to find a job when there isn’t one to find. But yet, he is one of the few that gets to decide when the meager amount of assistance an individual gets(sometimes for an entire family) is enough.
So when he asked if it makes sense for our country to borrow money from China to give it to the unemployed in America, I don’t think he’s asking the unemployed. Because they’re the ones that can use it. Much more than he could ever use it himself or realize the value it is to them to have it. But if it is truly his concern that we would be borrowing money from China to help those in need, then maybe we can borrow from it from his paycheck instead. Because whether he needs it or not, I really don’t think he’s earning it.