“How does someone explain to their child that they can have a place to live and maybe stay warm in the winter, but in order to do that they won’t have any food to eat? Or they can eat, but may not have a secure place to live? Just try to explain those adult decisions to a child and see how much they understand!”

Those are the thoughts of Toni Boughner in a note she sent to me back in April 2010. The similarity between April 2010 and December 2010 are numerous for Toni; unemployment extensions are again the issue of the day and she is still unemployed. One major difference is that now she is a 99er. 99ers are the unemployed who have exhausted the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits allowed in their state. In some states that maximum is 99 weeks, thus the name 99ers.

Toni is still searching for work and I asked her if she would write an update on her situation. What follows is some of her response:

It has taken a few weeks for me to work through my feelings in order write this update. I’ve been very lucky that my unemployment benefits were only stopped once since I lost my job on January 5, 2009. But my luck is running out quickly since my benefits end on November 30th. Even if the lame-duck Congress manages to pass the eligibility extensions, I will be a 99er December 11.

I was fortunate to receive a good severance package and I had some money in my 401k, although a huge chunk of it went to pay early withdrawal penalties. But all of that money was spent within months from paying bills.

The variety and depth of emotions I feel every day are incredible. Everything from joy in seeing the contentment on my cat’s face because she’s happy to be near me, to helplessness at not being able to fix my situation, to extreme anger that Congress and the President have deliberately turned their backs on this country’s massive humanitarian crisis.

My frustration level is so high that I cannot measure it. Intense boredom, loneliness and hopelessness are constant companions because I cannot contribute to the greater good through having a job and my skills are lying in a useless heap. I feel despair because I want to contribute to the economy and make charitable contributions rather than asking charities for help.

While I do not, and will never, advocate suicide for anyone, I understand where that decision comes from and why people feel that it is their only option. All of the talk about hanging on for better days ahead is worthless when one sees nothing but homelessness and starvation in the future.

I am also one of the millions facing foreclosure since I had problems paying the mortgage after losing my job. I bought my house during the height of the housing bubble and I recently discovered that my home loan is considered predatory and possibly fraudulent.

I attempted a HAMP modification but I was turned down because my only income was unemployment. A HUD-certified counselor gave me a budgeting plan which included advice to stop paying the mortgage and save that money for renting once foreclosure is finalized. It’s somewhat hilarious that HUD-certified counseling agencies are telling homeowners to stop paying their mortgages, but disturbing that they are siding with the banks and advising people to just accept losing their homes.

I am blessed to have an attorney who understands the foreclosure process and the frauds perpetrated by Wall Street banks due to their greed and avarice. Housing is somewhat low on my list of immediate worries as long as I can continue to pay my attorney and the monthly HOA assessments.

I’m trying to remain optimistic in the face of gathering doom, but I’m not sure that things will work out for the best.

It’s hard enough to talk about these things without breaking down completely. My friends and family have told me I’m courageous for being brutally honest about my situation, but none of this is my fault and I don’t see the need to remain quiet.

There are millions of people in this situation and government must work on creating a sensible economic plan to not only provide the right environment for job creation, but to be compassionate enough to also extend the lifeline that unemployment provides until those jobs come back, which could take more than five years.

Toni speaks for many long-term unemployed who have seen their confidence damaged, their savings and 401k diminished and their hope for a better future dashed by foreclosure, bankruptcy and in some cases homelessness.

I forwarded Toni’s contact information to NBC News who interviewed her this week.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Toni is diligently looking for a new job and I offered to post her resume, which can be seen below. Please contact Toni directly if you would like to help her in her job search.

Toni Boughner

Carol Stream, IL 60188



Dynamic professional with experience in project and fulfillment coordination and management will bring creative solutions to your needs. Additional experience in exhibit transportation and meeting planning who has a consistent record of achievement and increasing responsibility levels able to function effectively as an individual contributor and team member.



2008 – Present, Carol Stream, IL

Board President

Work with Board of Directors and Management Company to create goals and manage homeowner expectations

  • Set budget and assessments based on current and future community needs
  • Analyze vendor contracts to ensure they are being executed correctly
  • Direct management company on homeowner issues resolution
  • Develop and implement capital improvement plans
  • Attorney liaison for all legal issues


2002-2009, Elk Grove Village, IL

LTL and Trade Show Operations

Responsible for managing exhibit transportation and customer expectations while increasing multi-branch revenue

  • Created Trade Show Shipping Program for US branch network, including carrier and branch negotiations, customer quotes, tracking and problem resolution
  • Generated receivables over $750,000 with total company revenue over $200,000 for 2008
  • Managed pick-ups/deliveries for 350+ customers at 500+ shows annually
  • Created and taught “Tradeshow 101” course for customers and sales personnel
  • Created Operations Group to maximize efficiencies in processing customer reports and invoicing
  • Managed transportation, including dispatching, routing and quoting for restaurant supply company
  • Secured temporary staff when required, including contract negotiations


2000-2001, Oak Brook, IL

Operations and Fulfillment

Responsible for direction of meeting planning, project management, fulfillment activities, operational processes and purchasing in addition to managing a two person staff.

  • Managed temporary staff for business unit
  • Designed, implemented, and executed a variety of operational processes
  • Designed new fulfillment/mailroom center for three business units, including research, cost analysis, and lease negotiations
  • Negotiated venue and catering contracts, performed on-site and registration management in addition to post-seminar database maintenance for Retirement Planning seminar series
  • Key member of corporate office supply vendor and shipping committees



2010 – Present, Member


2009 – Present, Member


  • ACTHA Certified Leader – Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations – May 2010
  • Six Sigma Green Belt Training – Chicago Deming Association-Six Sigma Masters Program – December 2009
  • “Third Party Logistics Company Streamlines Exhibit Transportation Services Through Successful Collaboration” – Tradeshow & Exhibit Manager Magazine, June/July 2005
  • Support Person of the Year – C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. – 2005
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and internet research
  • Carl Sandburg College – Marketing/Mid-Management

The November employment report showed that 6.3 million people have been unemployed for 6 months or longer. There are an estimated 4-5 million 99ers who become the forgotten unemployed, since they are no longer eligible for benefits. Congress needs to act quickly to help ALL unemployed and not just those who have yet to exhaust all benefits.

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The following letter from a desperate and hopeless 99er named Mark was brought to my attention by another hard working 99er, Bud Meyers, of http://acompanyofone.org. Mark’s contact information is not yet available, but a number of 99ers are trying to find his whereabouts.

Many 99ers, unemployed, and vulnerable Americans will be able to relate to Mark’s emotional letter. Hopefully Mark’s letter also breaks through to those who can change these tragic situations with the stroke of a pen or a change of mindset that considers life over profit; the occupiers of corporate executive suites, Wall Street banking kingdoms and the Halls of Congress:

To the unemployed, sick, disabled and poor:


I’m unemployed over 2 years now, a 99er without any benefits for 3 months. I followed Unemployed Friends almost from its start, never posted until now, but am grateful for my time with you all. I did as asked with calls and emails, etc. I’ve a confession to make to you all. I’m a criminal.

I’ve obeyed the 10 commandments and all laws except: I’m unemployed and that’s now a crime, I’m poor and that’s a crime, I’m worthless surplus population and that’s a crime, I’m a main street American Citizen born and raised in the USA and that’s now a crime, and I’m euthanizing myself as I write this note — so arrest my corpse. This isn’t a call for help, the deed is done, it’s not what I wanted. Death is my best available option. It’s not just that my bank account is $4, that I’ve not eaten in a week, not because hunger pangs are agonizing (I’m a wimp), not because I live in physical and mental anguish, not because the landlady is banging on the door non-stop and I face eviction, not that Congress and President have sent a strong message they no longer help the unemployed. It’s because I’m a law abiding though worthless, long-term unemployed older man who is surplus population. Had I used my college education to rip people off and steal from the elderly, poor, disabled and main street Americans I would be wearing different shoes now — a petty king. Hard work, honesty, loving kindness, charity and mercy, and becoming unemployed and destitute unable to pay your bills are all considered foolishness and high crimes in America now. Whereas stealing and lying and cheating and being greedy to excess and destroying the fabric of America is rewarded and protected – even making such people petty king and petty queens among us.

Since the end of 2008, when corporate America began enjoying the resumption of growth, profits have swelled from an annualized pace of $995 billion to the current $1.66 trillion as of the end of September 2010. Over the same period, the number of non-farm jobs counted by the Labor Department has slipped from 13.4 million to 13 million – there is no recovery for the unemployed and main street. We taxpayers have handed trillions of dollars to the same bank and insurance industry that started our economic disaster with its reckless gambling. We bailed out General Motors. We distributed tax-cuts to businesses that were supposed to use this lubrication to expand and hire. For our dollars, we have been rewarded with starvation, homelessness and a plague of fear – a testament to post-national capitalism.

12 years ago I lost the last of my family. 10 years ago I lost the love of my life, couldn’t even visit him in the hospital because gays have no rights. I fought through and grieved and went on as best I could. 7 years ago I was diagnosed with Diabetes and Stage 2 high blood pressure with various complications including kidney problems, mild heart failure, Diabetic Retinopathy. These conditions are debilitating and painful. I am on over 8 prescribed medications, which is very difficult without insurance and income. But I struggled on and my primary care giver was very pleased with my effort overtime with my A1C at 7. Still these physical disabilities have progressively worsened, and I have had a harder and harder time functioning in basic ways. All the while I give thanks to God because I know there are many more worse off than me – and I tried to help by giving money to charities and smiling at people who looked down and sharing what little I had.

I am college educated and worked 35 years in management, receiving written references and praise from every boss for whom I worked. Yet, after thousands of resumes, applications, emails, phone calls, and drop ins, I’ve failed to get a job even at McDonalds. I’ve discovered there are 3 strikes against me — most 99ers will understand. Strike 1 — businesses are not hiring long term unemployed — in fact many job ads now underline “the unemployed need not apply.” Strike 2 — I am almost 60 years old. Employers prefer hiring younger workers who demand less and are better pack mules. Strike 3 – for every job opening I’ve applied there are over 300 applicants according to each business who allow a follow up call. With the U3 unemployment holding steady at 9.6% and U6 at 17% for the past 18 months the chances of me or any 99er landing a job is less than winning the Mega Million Jackpot. On top of that even the most conservative economists admit unemployment will not start to fall before 2012 and most predict up to 7 years of this crap.

I believe the Congress and President have no intention of really aiding the unemployed – due to various political reasons and their total removal from the suffering of most Americans, their cold-hearted, self serving natures. Had they really wanted to help us, they could have used unspent stimulus monies or cut foolish costs like the failed wars or foreign aid, and farm subsidies. The unspent stimulus money alone cold have taken care of ALL unemployed persons for five years or until the unemployment rate reached 7% if Congress and the President really wanted to help us – and not string us all along with a meager safety net that fails every few months. In any case if I were to survive homelessness (would be like winning the mega-millions) and with those 3 strikes against me, in 7 more years I’ll be near 70 with the new retirement age at 70 — now who will hire an old homeless guy out of work for 9 years with just a few years until retirement?

So, here I am. Long term unemployed, older man, with chronic health problems, now totally broke, hungry, facing eviction. My landlady should really be an advocate for the unemployed – she bangs on my door demanding I take action. A phone call and a “please” are not enough for her – she is angry. She is right to be angry with me, I am unemployed – as apparently everyone is now angry with us unemployed.

211 and social services cannot help single men. Food banks and other charities are unable to help any more folks – they are overwhelmed with the poor in this nation. So I have the “freedom” to be homeless and destitute and “pursue happiness” in garbage cans and then die – yay for America huh? It’s the end of November and cold. A diabetic homeless older person will experience amputations in the winter months. So I will be raiding garbage cans for food, as my body literally falls apart, a foot here, a finger there. I have experienced and even worked with pain from my diseases – hardship I can face. I just cannot muster the courage to slowly die in agony and humiliation in the gutter.

I have no family, I have no friends. For the past 2 years I’ve had nobody to talk with as people who knew me react to the “unemployed” label as if it were leprosy and contagious. I am not a bad person, in fact people really like me. But everyone seems to be on a tight budget these days and living in incredible fear. It is hopeless since we all are hearing more and more that we unemployed are to blame for unemployment, that we are just lazy, that we are no good, that we are sinners, that we are druggies, yet we are the victims who suffer and are punished while the robber baron banksters and tycoons become Senators, Congress, Presidents and petty kings. So the only option left for me is merciful self euthanasia.

It is with a heavy heart that I have set my death in motion, but what I am facing is not living. So off I go, I have made peace with God and placed my burden on Jesus and He forgives me. This nation has become evil to the core, with cold-hearted politicians and tycoons squeezing what little Main Street Americans have left. It is not the America into which I was born – the land of the free and the home of the brave with kind folks who help neighbors – it is now land of the Tycoon-haves and the rest of us have-nots who march into hopelessness and despair.

Every unemployed person I have met over these past 2 years have been saintly. Sharing what little they have, and being charitable – being kind and patient and supportive. Isn’t it amazing that we Americans who suffer so much, have not taken to the streets in violence, riots or gotten out the guillotines and marched on tycoons and Washington in revolt as would happen in most other nations? But rather we plead with deaf politicians to please help us. We don’t demand huge sums – just 300 bucks a week, barely enough to cover housing for most. Most of all we say, please help us get a job, please allow us dignity.

I can’t help juxtapose our plight to the tycoons and politicians. They are never satisfied with their enormous wealth, and always want more millions no matter whom it hurts. They STEAL from pension funds, banks, The People and government, and little Wall Street investors. Then rather than face punishment, they become petty kings in this world. They are disloyal to America, unpatriotic, and serve their own foreign UN-American greedy causes and demand more and more and more. I feel that this is not the nation into which I was born. I was born in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. America, where people give as much as they receive. America, where all people work for the common good, and try to leave a better and more prosperous nation for the next generation. American, where people help their neighbors and show charity and mercy. This new America is alien to me – it is an America of greed and corruption and avarice and mean spirited selfishness and hatred of the common good – it is an America of savage beasts roaring and tearing at the weak, and bullying the humble and peacemakers and poor and those without means to defend themselves. I am not welcome here anymore. I don’t belong here anymore. It’s as if some evil beast controls government, the economy, and our lives now.

I must go now, my home is someplace else. Goodbye and God bless you all. God bless the unemployed and poor and elderly and disabled. God bless America and the American people except the tycoons and politicians – may God retain the sins of tycoons and politicians and phony preachers and send them to the Devil.


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“A job is a right, fight, fight, fight!” was the protest call offered by a group of 20 NY/NJ 99ers who are seeking passage of jobs and Tier 5 unemployment benefits legislation during the upcoming lame duck congressional session. The 800 pound gorillas in the financial recovery room are the unemployed. Politicians and financial gurus have debated what needs to be done to create jobs and spur the economy, but unemployment remains at elevated levels. A group of NY/NJ unemployed, including 99ers – unemployment benefit exhaustees – decided that they have heard enough empty talk and decided to take to the streets of Manhattan to make the points that jobs must be created and unemployment benefits have to be extended.

On November 12, the NY/NJ 99ers group took part in an act of civil disobedience on Varick Street in Manhattan. Protestors made their case by appealing to the lunchtime crowd and reporters. Some of the protestors briefly blocked traffic on Varick St. and four of them were arrested for disorderly conduct. Kian Fredrick, Yvonne Fitzner, Joe Stanick and Debbie Kloepping were arrested, handcuffed, and spent about 90 minutes in custody before being released.

The demonstration’s organizer andflashmobs4jobs director Kian Frederick, said “The group came to the conclusion that an act of civil disobedience would focus Congress on the 99ers and Tier 5.”, since passive measures such as congressional call-ins appeared to have little effect. The group also wanted to show how others can affect change, even in small groups.

When Congress returns for its lame duck session on November 15, “3706 should be the absolute first order of business” said Ms. Fredrick. S.3706 is The Americans Want to Work Act, which would add 20 weeks of unemployment benefits, a Tier 5, in states with an unemployment rate of 7.5% or greater. The Americans Want to Work Act also includes tax incentives for employers hiring the unemployed. Unemployment extensions that expire on November 30 and a jobs bill should then be immediately addressed according to Ms. Fredrick, who is hoping to find work before her 99 weeks expire in February 2010, “We want a job, not a check.”

Joe Stanick of Lakewood, NJ, a civil engineer who became a 99er in June and is now doing part-time consulting work said his participation in the demonstration was a result of feeling “ignored by Congress.” Mr. Stanick believes that tamer methods of protest such as fax attacks were ineffectual and that they had to “Raise it up a notch or two” and “Send out a message of civil dialog” using an act of civil disobedience.

99er, Yvonne Fitzner, of Manhattan believes the demonstration gave her an “opportunity to bring attention to the plight of the long-term unemployed.” Ms. Fitzner, whose background includes 25-years in advertising/graphic arts and seven years as a psychotherapist’s personal assistant, feels that “Congress took an awful lot of time off this past year at the expense of the unemployed.” Congress did take scheduled and unscheduled recesses during unemployment extension renewals during March, May, June, July and August. During those recess periods, unemployment benefits were temporality delayed to millions of unemployed. Once Congress returns to work for the lame duck session on November 15, Ms. Fitzner has realistic doubts that Congress will reauthorize an unemployment benefit extension by November 30, but she hopes the upcoming holiday season fosters a less divisive Congress that will pass extended benefits for all, including 99ers. Since she no longer is eligible to collect unemployment benefits, Ms. Fitzner often worries about how she will pay rent and put food on the table, “I don’t have any money right now.”

Unemployment numbers are still far from what would be expected during a normal recovery and are at levels not seen in more than a generation. The unemployment rate stands at 9.6%, but when the underemployed are considered, the underemployment rate is 17%.  There are currently 14.8 million unemployed.  2.5 – 5 million 99ers have been out of work for two years or longer and their numbers are growing at a rate of 91,000 a week or more.  More than 41% of the unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. There are 8 workers for each one job opening when the underemployed are considered.

President Obama advocates using business tax credits to hire the unemployed, Congress has attempted to pass legislation that could limit outsourcing and encourage hiring. Billions of stimulus dollars have been spent on keeping teachers, firefighters and police on the job, but job creation is still lacking.

Ms. Fredrick, who also organized a 99er rally in August on Wall Street, concludes, “A small group can do a lot. 99ers in other areas don’t have to do CD (civil disobedience), but if they are serious about WINNING, they need to understand the power of visibility and engage”.

Unemployment is a national crisis that demands immediate Congressional engagement. A lame duck Congress returns on November 15 and if they fail to pass additional unemployment benefit extensions, unemployment benefits will expire for more than one million on November 30 and 2.2 million by the end of the year.

The demonstration had another message, “This is a moral fight for the 98% of Americans who are not currently being represented by our government.  The shame is on Congress, not 99ers, the unemployed, struggling workers or small businesses.” said Ms. Frederick. “I make these points as a message to 99ers and the unemployed – no shame, stand up; and to the rest of America that this is your fight, also.”

A corrupt and mismanaged Wall Street demanded and received $700 billion in bailouts and trillions in backstops from a compliant Congress. The least that same Congress can do is support those that have taken the brunt of the Wall Street fallout with a jobs program and extended unemployment benefits. If not, the streets could see more demonstrations from the unemployed and those demonstrations may not be as civil as the one that occurred on Varick Street.

See videos of the demonstration:

NY1 (local cable TV news):

Activist videos from Edward Nelson


The following videos are also available:

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