The story that follows is also available at Rochester Unemployment Examiner.

One 99er loses a battle to foreclosure and falls through the cracks

Why is it so important that Congress put away its sabers and deal with the mounting damage caused by long-term unemployment and the ending of unemployment benefits for millions? It’s because so many people are falling through the cracks and losing everything. One such person is 99er J.A. (Jen) Emery, who I’ve had contact with for the past couple months. Jen has been a frequent commenter on this site and she kindly offered her story to readers back in August. Below is some of her letter:

Dear Mike,

I was forced to move into a 30 year old single wide trailer, for which I am now unpaid for the space for June, July, and August. In a few weeks, I will be behind on the 350$ payment to own the trailer, and they won’t wait longer then a week or two when I am late to kick me out. The landlord, too, can’t wait much longer. I haven’t packed, because I have nothing, and no one to turn to.  My community laughs when I call for help, as they have long become impossibly overburdened as well as losing massive funding right at the time thousands more needed them.

I have cancer, basal cell carcinoma, beside my lip, and have had for coming on two years. It is not yet life threatening, just disfiguring, so I don’t qualify for assistance. The pain shoots like electricity along my cheek, intermittently, and its the most shocking, painful thing you could EVER imagine. Even the slightest wind triggers it, sometimes. It just started doing this about 2 weeks ago, and of course, I can’t
afford to see my doctor.

My 80 year old Mom had lived with me for the last almost 6 years, and now, she has gone to seek public housing in Montana, where her sister lives, as the stress of my near-suicidal depression for the last year
has been too difficult for her, and public housing has become a better alternative, which speaks to how horrifying this situation is. I have gained 80lbs, and I do not leave my room, much, except to take
care of my dog and two cats. I can’t afford to see my doctor, who I trust, for help. I am taking some
anti-depressants he prescribed me, but when those run out, I won’t have the money to go again.

I am a Network Ops Tech, and my last job paid $25 per hour. I have worked whenever I wanted to since I was 18. No retro-active means even if something passes today, I won’t be able to catch up, and I long ago drained every resource, and have borrowed from friends and family, with shame and sorrow, as they, too, include 99ers. I could not even keep up my life insurance payment, which is the only reason I stayed alive, because I could not leave my Mother without leaving her enough money to make her life as it should be after her long and contributing life.

I am due to pay a $5,000 balloon payment in November to finish paying off the trailer, as when I agreed to that, I was certain to be back to work, quickly, right. I’d never been out of work longer than a few weeks before. I don’t have the house anymore, like the two pictured in the story.

What am I going to do? How am I to survive? Why am I to survive? I’m 43, and my new start after leaving a horrible relationship has turned into hell on earth.  I’m smart, and I had a lot more to give the world. I hate the Republicans, passionately. I am ashamed to be an American. My fellow citizens hurl derision and accusations at us, as if when we are used to living decently, and safely, we are oh-so excited to be thrust into eviction, and poverty. In Washington State, my unemployment puts me FAR below the poverty line, with almost 75% of the money going towards the trailer and space. It is the lowest I could possibly live here. Housing here has waiting lists YEARS long.

Now that my Mom’s gone, I can say that I will NOT live on the streets. Death may not be proud, but it would/will be better then what I go through now. The dream is dead, and my country, if it remembers me, calls me lazy and worthless.


I put Jen in contact with her congressional representative, Rick Larsen (D-WA), to see if they could help her in some way. Unfortunately, through miscommunications, privacy concerns and Jen’s difficult situation, Rep. Larsen’s office was unable to offer help. They did offer Jen a local phone number to call for help, which Jen had done previously and which offered no help. Larsen’s office stated in part, “As you know, Congressional offices do not have the resources to provide rental or housing assistance to individuals.”

While municipal offices are better designed to help their community, I find it troubling that powerful representatives aren’t able to help constituents. If this situation was a banker asking for tax considerations, there would likely be introductions, meetings, and ideas that would take days to accomplish, but when it comes to someone needing help with a mortgage payment, it’s not an available resource.

I don’t place complete blame on Rep. Larsen’s office for their inability to help, but there appears to be a troubling disconnect between the people and their elected representatives. How can banksters demand $700 billion in bailouts and get a check for that amount in two weeks, but when struggling homeowners need a couple hundred dollars to keep the foreclosure villains at bay, there’s nothing they can do to help? How can Republicans demand $700 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest and do absolutely nothing to help the unemployed?

I stayed in contact with Jen in hopes that her situation was improving and if she found any assistance, but unfortunately Jen’s story did not end on a happy note as her emotional letter below indicates:

Hi Mike,

No, everything is about to be gone. I cannot come up with $325 plus late fee for October trailer payment, so the owner filed a 3 day pay or vacate..

I need $545 in the next 12 hours.  Good deal, huh? After I was late $325, they filed a 3 day pay or vacate.  Today is the last day. I’m minutes from losing it all, again. I have paid them $17,000 towards the purchase. I owe $325 and then the last balloon payment of $5,000. GREAT time to get me out, take the mobile home back, profit all that I have paid $17,000.

It’s all over for me. all over. I’ve lost the internet and phone and in a little while, everything else.

If you know anybody that would like to pay the $5000, plus the space rent, I’ll give them the mobile home to sell for a quick $5000 profit.

Should pigs fly. My best friend is E W. Her number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Her email is

(Larsen’s office) never answered, but was so kind to remind me of the 211 service which told me several months ago there is NO DAMN HELP/USELESS AND CLUELESS, Mike.

Thanks for being there as long as you were.

I’ll miss reading your posts. I’ll miss everything, if I’m honest.



I have tried to contact Jen, but have not yet heard back from her.

As 99ers such as Jen suffer the pains of joblessness, foreclosure, bankruptcy, lack of healthcare, and abandonment by elected representatives, it’s important that Congress start doing the work of the people. Will that happen? We can only hope, but if the words of Republican Senator Mike Pence are any indication, it will not come easy:

Pence said his party wouldn’t compromise on issues like spending or healthcare reform, two of the weightiest items on Congress’s agenda next year, when the Republicans could control one or both chambers.

“Look, there will be no compromise on stopping runaway spending, deficits and debt. There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare. There will be no compromise on stopping Democrats from growing government and raising taxes,” Pence told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Thursday evening. “And if I haven’t been clear enough yet, let me say again: No compromise.”

That’s the problem, Senator, “no compromise” and people are paying a dear price for that blockheaded, gung-ho behavior – people like Jen Emery.

The Daily List

Rochester Unemployment Examiner offers the latest information on unemployment issues.

I’m looking for stories from people who have been rejected during the hiring process for being unemployed. Have you been the victim of a temp agency that won’t give you an interview because you are unemployed? Have you seen jobs ads for “employed only” or “unemployed need not apply”? Send your job rejection experiences to

You can also view my updates and new posts at Twitter:

Huffington Post

Last week Huffington Post was kind enough to give me a chance to post my work at their site. I hope to be able to spread the 99er word using their large audience. You can see my latest effort at: The Real Unemployment Rate Is High… and Rising

American Amnesia

Two years into Democratic control of the executive and legislative branches, there seems to be a wave of nostalgia for the good ol’ days of the Bush years and Republican control of the House and Senate. Is that desire to see Republicans in control a matter of policy or a matter of American Amnesia? Let’s take a look at a couple of outcomes of Republican rule during the Bush years.

Did Republican tax cuts for wealthy create jobs?

Republicans are promising something that they couldn’t deliver when they were in control of the congress and presidency during the 2000s and that’s job growth. Their Pledge to America states:

Permanently Stop All Job-Killing Tax Hikes: We will help the economy by permanently stopping all tax increases, currently scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011. That means protecting middle-class families, seniors worried about their retirement and the entrepreneurs and family-owned small businesses on which we depend to create jobs in America.

Zero, yes, ZERO job growth during the 2000s:

Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers

There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 — and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.

What was the hallmark of Republican rule during the decade? Lower taxes on the wealthy produce more jobs. But, in fact, those historically low tax rates produced ZERO job growth. What are Republicans telling the electorate this election cycle? Yup, same old thing – lower taxes for the wealthy will create jobs. Apparently past facts are not important to Republicans or their nostalgic supporters.

Job outsourcing

Are people fondly remembering the Republican years where millions of American jobs were outsourced?

The Plight of American Manufacturing

For American manufacturers, the bad years didn’t begin with the banking crisis of 2008. Indeed, the U.S. manufacturing sector never emerged from the 2001 recession, which coincided with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. Since 2001, the country has lost 42,400 factories, including 36 percent of factories that employ more than 1,000 workers (which declined from 1,479 to 947), and 38 percent of factories that employ between 500 and 999 employees (from 3,198 to 1,972). An additional 90,000 manufacturing companies are now at risk of going out of business.

Job Tracker: Outsourcers Can Run, But Now They Can’t Hide

In the past decade, more than 5 million manufacturing jobs and 850,000 information sector jobs have disappeared—many of which have been shipped overseas. This outsourcing is encouraged by faulty trade and tax policies that corporate executives use to boost record-breaking profits and outrageous and obscene executive salaries.

Ah, those memorable days of seeing millions of jobs off-shored encouraged by Republican business tax cuts

Income inequality

Did the rich get richer during the Republican years? Yes they did, but that’s probably not the real problem since most people don’t mind seeing others make a good buck. But when that wealth was created at the expense of the middle class and poor, then it’s an entirely different story:

Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY

Income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression, according to a recently updated paper by University of California, Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez. The paper, which covers data through 2007, points to a staggering, unprecedented disparity in American incomes. On his blog, Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the numbers “truly amazing.”

“…while the bottom 99 percent of incomes grew at a solid pace of 2.7 percent per year from 1993-2000, these incomes grew only 1.3 percent per year from 2002-2007. As a result, in the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth.”

Republicans aren’t shy about their support for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class even though they don’t state that outright, but when looking at how each income bracket fares under Democrat or Republican presidents, it’s obvious that the less than wealthy are much better off under a Democrat than a Republican. As Slate reported in an excellent presentation: The United States of Inequality

Did the United States grow more unequal while Republicans were in power? It sounds crude, but Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels has gone a long way toward proving it. Bartels looked up income growth rates for families at various income percentiles for the years 1948 to 2005, then cross-checked these with whether the president was a Republican or a Democrat. He found two distinct and opposite trends. Under Democrats, the biggest income gains were for people in the bottom 20th income percentile (2.6 percent). The income gains grew progressively smaller further up the income scale. But under Republicans, the biggest income gains were for people in the 95th percentile (1.9 percent). The income gains grew progressively smaller further down the income scale (1.4 percent for the 80th percentile, 1.1 for the 60th percentile, etc.).

How much have the top 1% of earners gained as a percentage of American total wealth over that past 20 years. Quite a bit as the graph below illustrates:

While the longing for a return to the Bush years of ever rising home prices accommodated by easy credit, fraudulent documentation and the frantic flip-that-house “investor” mentality may be alluring, it’s gone for the foreseeable future. But if you are yearning for a Republican congress to save the day, you can depend on the return of a few other economic conditions; less job creation, more job off-shoring and greater income inequality.

Can Democrats address all those problems quickly? Not likely, especially with continued Republican obstructionism in the Senate and their own inability to take a forceful stand on many issues. On many occasion Democrats have been their own worst enemy. As an example, Democrats weren’t able to pass a small business bill they championed without having to cut future food stamp benefit funds. But two years of Democratic control cannot undo all the problems that took more than eight years of Republican rule to create. Shared power may force both parties to compromise, but that’s not likely to happen as the Clinton years showed so well.

George Santayana; “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

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For additional articles about unemployment and 99er efforts to secure jobs and extended unemployment benefits, please visit Rochester Unemployment Examiner.

A new 99er video titled “We Need Jobs Bill, Not Bull” has been released by Unemployed Workers Action Group. The video will be introduced in a press release soon, but Kian Fredrick of UWAG gave Donalee King (San Diego Unemployment Examiner; see Donalee’s story at link), Edward Nelson (NY Public Policy Examiner) and me an opportunity to pre-release the video to our readers.

The grass-roots effort video was created by jobless workers and takes place at the Wall Street Bull in Manhattan, NY, which is the perfect location for the 99ers to make a point. That point being; why was Wall Street and its corrupt and mismanaged companies bailed-out, but there is little help for the unemployed and no help for 99ers. Wall Street and its banksters received trillions of dollars in bailouts and backstops that continue to serve their needs for profit and outsized bonuses, but the unemployed, and 99ers in particular, are given nothing but hopes of extended benefit legislation and promises of job creation; neither of which are happening quickly for the 4-5 million 99ers, the 10-15 million non-99er unemployed, and the 15 million underemployed.

The UWAG’s “We Need Jobs Bill, Not Bull” video is another fine effort of getting media and political attention. Keeping the 99er issue alive and in the media, particularly before an election, is vital. Without the media’s interest, the 99er issue could lose the attention it has generated to this point and politicians could go on their merry way avoiding the issue entirely. While there is a great deal of disappointment that 99er legislation has not yet been passed, it wouldn’t have been introduced if not for the media attention of Ed Schultz and other 99er advocates pulling the strings of anxious politicians.

What media attention has been paid to 99ers of late? I was contacted by the Dylan Ratigan Show and introduced them to Edrie Irvine for their program today. While the program didn’t deal with unemployment in the way I expected, it was nonetheless an opportunity to discuss the problems of long-term unemployment. Yesterday, Ed Schultz briefly mentioned the 99ers in his interview with Debbie Stabenow and he plas to keep the pressure on Congress to act now for the 99ers. I’ve been in contact over the past week with Swiss TV and the Christian Science Monitor who are both doing 99er stories. Others have been in contact with various news organizations as well. Arthur Delaney of HuffPost writes on unemployment issues regularly. While Delaney is a journalist and not an advocate, he keeps the 99er issue alive for his large readership. Annie Lowrey of The Washington Independent is another journalist who covers unemployment on a regular basis.

Keeping the 99er message in the media needs to continue until 99er legislation passes and there are enough jobs to go around for all the long-term unemployed. How can you help keep the media on the case? I spoke to Kian Fredrick and she said there is power in the local media. What starts as local news often goes national. Contact your local media and ask if they are even aware of the 99er issue. Congress is home again, so going directly to their campaign office and state the case for 99er relief. Join a group that supports your needs and the 99er agenda. Continue to participate.

99ers, as Kian mentioned, are the face of the melting middle class. And melting it is; in America 1 in 5 are unemployed/underemployed, 1 in 7 live in poverty, 1 in 5 children live in poverty, 1 in 6 don’t have health insurance, 1 in 7 are mortgage delinquent, 2/3 live paycheck to paycheck, 40 million are using food stamps. The US has the greatest income inequality since just prior to the Great Depression. We rank in the top 1/3 of world income inequality between Cameroon and Uruguay; and the US has more income inequality than Indonesia, Russia, China and Turkey.

Without constant pressure from you, those statistics will only worsen, since most in Congress and other elected officials are more concerned about campaign contributions from major corporations that ship jobs offshore than they are about the shrinking middle class and growing number of poor. Congress has given the middle class enough bull to last a lifetime, so it’s time to grab the congressional bull by the horns and let them know whose boss.

For additional articles about unemployment and 99er efforts to secure jobs and extended unemployment benefits, please visit Rochester Unemployment Examiner.