America’s Under and Unemployed Battlefield
“You cannot choose your battlefield, God does that for you; But you can plant a standard where a standard never flew”-Jonathan Crane
Earl James is one of the underrepresented. Once completely unemployed and past his maximum allowable benefit period he is now underemployed, working part time as a contract employee.
A veteran, 66 years old and still scrapping, still fighting; Mr. James first became unemployed in the fall of 2006 and then again in the spring of 2008 through 2009 and 2010.
“My 99 weeks of unemployment compensation ended in mid 2010, and since my part time work is contract work, the employer doesn’t pay into the unemployment fund, so I won’t qualify for that again if I lose this job for any reason.”
It shouldn’t be this way for Earl James and the countless others like him. A well educated man, a man who has carved out a career, carved out a life.
We need a person like Earl James to succeed, need his hard work to be worthwhile for the sake of everyone who has played by the rules, and everyone who we expect to in the future.
And yet as this man pushes on with unfair burdens pushing down on his back there is a sense of optimism, “My personal situation is not totally dire” he explains adding that he is newly engaged and receiving some help from the VA and the SSA.
Still he worries about others struggling to navigate the suddenly hostile landscape of this country, specifically veterans who have given, in Mr. James’ words “part of their lives in defense of this nation and its way of life”.
“When I was unemployed in 2009 and receiving VA health care and unemployment compensation, I was not on Medicare. When I received the VA letter recently telling me I had to show medical deductions for 2009 that would bring my income for 2009 under $29,000 or I would have to reimburse the VA for some services rendered in 2009, it was the same day that the news about GE not paying any taxes on several billion dollars of profit came out. I became incensed not so much for myself – I am getting by – but for other vets who are not old enough to access Medicare or social security and are unemployed, or underemployed, or for any American in that situation, vet or not, for that matter.”
At a time when all we hear about is austerity some forget those most in need of our investment, assistance, and repayment; Americas children, languishing unemployed, and veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan to 11.5% unemployment among their ranks.
There are those that fight back peacefully though, those who strive to point out hypocrisy and inequity. Among them the 99ers and US Uncut, two groups working together and separately, two of the many factions unified against misguided priorities and institutionalized misfeasance.
Mr. James, who has worked with both groups explains, “US Uncut’s mission is critical to bringing America’s unemployed back into service to our economy” continuing “Without extended unemployment compensation, Americans are left out in the cold, becoming more and more unemployable as each year goes by, and ultimately becoming permanently marginalized, all the while fat corporations like GE pay no taxes”.
This country has been unquestionably broken for a time with people like Earl James pushed to the bend of their knees and the bow of their heads. Every day they fight on a battlefield not of their choosing in the hope that they can bring into the light a standard of fairness. Question is, Democrat, Republican, or none of the above–what are you fighting for?