layofflist on August 1st, 2011

The following is a reprint of an excellent article from The Economic Populist.

Let the word go forth from Washington!  The corporate rulers occupying our nation’s capital have declared war on just about every citizen.

Have no doubt: those in the upper ranges of the top 1% of wealth in this country (aka The Money Party) want to kick you to the curb.

They want to reduce your social security and make you go broke paying for medical care.

They want to lower your wages and trash your retirement.

They ignore the clear facts that we’ve had negative job growth since 2000 and the situation is just getting worse.

They want to ship jobs, factories, and entire businesses overseas and give companies that do that a big fat tax credit for doing so.

They’ve been given so much for nothing for so long.  Now, they’re ready to take it all.  It’s their time!

The most recent assault is the ridiculous debate about raising the debt ceiling.  There should be no debate.  Failing to raise the ceiling right now means deliberate default on debts, refusing to pay bills the government can pay.  It’s called fraud.

The pressing need to fix the budget is a separate issue.  Reduced spending and increased revenues should come through broad public involvement and open debate.  It mandates that the rulers behave like adults.

But this crisis isn’t about putting together a real budget.  It’s about creating a budget that punishes you, your family, and friends.  It’s about taking your attention away from your vital interests to maximize income and control by The Money Party.

Were the leaders on either side of the debate serious, the Bush era tax cuts would be rescinded.  These cuts on the top 1% were temporary.   Guess what?  Congress lied.  When the temporary tax breaks ran out a few months ago, they were revived and renewed just when we had the greatest need for revenues.

The Money Party won’t give up its wars either.  Iraq and Afghanistan have added $4 trillion to the national debt of $14 trillion.  Why not stop the wars?  How hard is that to figure that out?

Getting rid of Bush tax cuts for the super-rich, ending the wars, and moving out of the recession/depression would be huge steps towardbalancing the budget.  But that won’t happen with this Congress and this president.  Why?  That would cost the financial elite money for taxes and lost income for all those weapons they sell to support the wars.

The Attack on You Began in Earnest Just Years Ago

Congress repealed Depression era banking regulation that kept your banks from risky investments in 1999.

Congress enacted legislation in 2000 that allowed extremely risky investments in real estate and other derivatives, illegal for nearly a century.

In 2001, the big banks and Wall Street celebrated its newly purchased freedoms with a decade-long binge of fraud and risky investments.  Like a greedy con artist, they took everything they could from people here and around the world until there was no more to take.  We have now hit the wall thanks to them.

The outrageous expenses of wars based on lies caught up with us and shoved the deficit to new heights.  The tax cuts for the top 1% took away revenues needed to balance the budget.

The money they steal from the Social Security surplus is no longer enough.  They want to keep the tax in place for us and take an even bigger rake-off.

This crisis is manufactured by the ongoing greed of The Money Party.  It is funded by the US Treasury.  You pay for it, all of it.

End

That was an excellent recap by Michael Collins of The Economic Populist. You can read this article at http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/war-you and many other fine articles at The Economic Populist.

Here’s an opportunity to step forward and help a struggling but determined 99er:  Your small contribution can go a long way toward helping a struggling woman who is nearly homeless. Alexandra Jarrin has been profiled at http://huff.to/ngEeGG and http://bit.ly/pulnQx. She is doing all the right things to get her life back on track, but housing is her most vital need.

“Hope is gone. The future is terrifying.” Those were the sentiments of D.V. from Modesto, CA, concerning her and her husband’s job situation. She was a Case Manager and he was a company representative; both were laid off in 2009. Since then, “My husband and I went from making $150K a year to scraping out (if we’re lucky) $24K a year. Don’t get me wrong, we are lucky to have even that, but it IS a stark reality to have fallen so far so fast.”

Another stark reality is the fact that the jobs market has stalled and job creation has fallen to its lowest level of 2011. The June 2011 employment report contained plenty of bad news; only 18,000 jobs were created, the unemployment rate increased to 9.2%, and hourly wages and hours worked both fell slightly. The job creation revisions for April and May were both to the downside.

Long-term unemployment remained at historically elevated levels as those out of work for more than 52 weeks increased by 34,000 from a year earlier to 4,364,000, or 30.3% of all unemployed. A large part of that 4,364,000 includes 2,039,000 unemployed who have been out of work for 99 weeks or longer, an increase of 105,000 from the previous month. This is the first time since the 99 week statistic has been tracked by the BLS that it has exceeded the two million mark.

99er (exhausted all unemployment benefits) Brenda McFadden, was a corporate travel consultant for more than 20 years, but is finding that the job market can be unforgiving. Has she seen job market improvements? “Not at all. My state is still over 10% (unemployment). It frustrates me to see the U.S. throwing money we don’t have to outside entities, i.e. funding wars and uprisings etc. and yet there are no funds to continue support of the Long Term unemployed during this monumental economic downturn (supporting them would be good for the economy in that they turn around and spend it not hoard it). 99ers especially, are ignored and forgotten and are being swept under the national rug.”

While unemployment is at historically high levels considering the economy is supposed to be in recovery mode, the tragedy of long-term unemployment is especially troublesome. The longer a person remains jobless the more difficult it is to find new work. Many prospective employers often disparage the long-term unemployed for being lazy, having out-of-date skills and not having the confidence to step into a new position.

And on top of that some companies — including PMG Indiana, Sony Ericsson and retailers nationwide — have explicitly barred the unemployed or long-term unemployed from certain job openings, outright telling them in job ads that they need not apply.

D.V. from Modesto, CA, feels the sting of long-term job rejection, “Unemployment is still above 18% locally and I still don’t even get returned phone calls for minimum-wage jobs.”

The jobs crisis can be especially difficult for older workers. “At the present age of 64 and having been out of work for the last 1 3/4 years, I do a lot less, eat much less, get a special discount at the YMCA, shop on Senior discount days, walk a lot more, try to combine trips to avoid using too much fuel,” opines Thomas Rainey of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “The job market for seniors has always been rather bleak; it seems it has really gotten a lot worse in these last few years.”

Brenda McFadden believes that new laws need to be put in place discouraging discriminatory practices that affect the long-term unemployed. “I would like to see strong legislation and penalties to employers who practice discrimination — age related or employment status — and also see relaxed credit reviews when looking at the unemployed for hire because what may have been good or great credit once may be no longer… doesn’t mean they won’t make a good employee.”

With the number of long-term unemployed increasing, it may be reasonable to think that a great deal of effort is being expended to address the issue. Unfortunately, that is not the case. More time and effort is being spent cutting unemployment benefits than devising job or retraining programs.

Many state legislatures, including Florida and Michigan, enacted legislation that reduces the number of weeks the unemployed can collect state benefits.

State changes to unemployment won’t be noticed until 2012, but the federal unemployment extensions are affecting newly laid off workers now:

Workers laid off through no fault of their own will not be eligible for any of the generous extended unemployment benefits layoff victims have received from the federal government since 2008.

Underemployment is also underreported. According to the BLS, underemployment is “persons employed part time for economic reasons.” Underemployment is a job of 1-34 hours a week. As of June, 8.6 million workers were considered underemployed. When including the underemployed, the “real’ unemployment rate spikes to 16.2%.

Underemployment is hardship for many part-timers, including “Lis Rosser” a 40-something resident of Myrtle Beach, SC. “I would say over the past years 3+ years, I have applied for at least 500 or so jobs, in 5 or more states via on-line/sending resumes, in person, or phone calls to previous employers. The answer is always the same — call back in a couple of months- or we’re not hiring right now.”

“I have been unable to find any full time or permanent work of any kind. I applied for anything from McDonald’s (they would never even interview me), even worked cleaning toilets and vacation rentals last summer, and now work as a pt (part-time) timeshare tele-marketer. No one else will hire me, and I have been with the same company for over a year @ $8.00 an hour plus commission and no benefits. They have laid me off 3 or 4 times during this time, and then call me back.”

Living on unemployment benefits or part-time wages can be very difficult, “I struggle to get by on about $150 – $175 a week- net pay, when I used to make $500 – $600 a week, plus full benefits, working for Harrah’s Resorts in Atlantic City. I receive ‘partial’ food stamps here in SC, and that’s it. My ‘health care’ is the Emergency Room. I can’t keep juggling everything, and trying to keep just my cell phone on (needed for work), my car insurance and rent paid, plus gas and car repairs, much longer. Every day I am deeper into this hole, and I don’t know how I will ever get out.”

With the GOP controlling the House, the chances for further unemployment extensions, or job assistance, regardless of the unemployment rate, are slight. Congressional Republicans are more concerned about bashing Obama about the current jobs situation than doing anything to improve matters. Republicans believe that more tax cuts and unfavorable trade agreements will be the cure-all for a long-simmering jobs crisis. And the Democrat controlled Senate is incapable of pushing forward jobs legislation due to GOP (and some Democrats) resistance.

That leaves President Obama and his mighty bully pulpit to stand up firmly and empathetically for the long-term unemployed. Wrongly, Obama completely ignores these long-suffering millions. As an example, during the president’s recent Twitterfesthe answered some jobs questions, but he was never offered a question about what he was willing to do for the long-term unemployed and 99ers who have exhausted all unemployment benefits. The Chicago Tribune picked up on that oversight when they released “Best Tweets Obama didn’t answer.” The best tweet?

Why is so little being done for the 6.2 million long-term unemployed? Why have 99ers been abandoned by Congress and White House? (Full disclosure, that was the tweet of this blogger.)

The GOP seems more inclined to cut social safety net programs in order to continue tax cuts for the wealthy. There are 2.5 million U.S. households earning more than $250,000 a year. These 2.5 million households are given an inordinate amount of congressional attention compared to the 6.3 million households experiencing long-term unemployment. Are the families of the wealthy more deserving of financial assistance than the families of the long-term unemployed? The actions of congress seem to indicate that is the case.

The GOP-controlled House appears fixated on reducing taxes on the wealthy and corporations, cutting Social Security, dismantling Medicare, and repealing healthcare legislation. But when Gallup asked, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” the top two answers were the Economy in general at 31% and Unemployment/Jobs at 27%. While Americans sense that jobs are an urgent matter needing immediate attention, the GOP House seems focused on partisan issues of less importance.

The emotional toll on the long-term unemployed can be devastating. Lis Rosser feels that the worst is not yet over for her, “I am afraid I will not survive this. As you know things are getting much worse and I fear the situation has not hit bottom yet.” While Lis isn’t yet hopeless, other long-term unemployed, such as Thomas Rainey, rely firmly on that most precious of emotions — hope. “But I am confident that there will be a light at the end of tunnel for all in need. We will prevail!”

For the sake of Thomas, Lis, Brenda, D.V. the 6.3 million long-term unemployed and the 8.6 million underemployed, it’s vital that their hopes not be exhausted before help arrives in the form of jobs or financial assistance. Unfortunately, considering the recent actions of this congress, expectations should not be high that help will arrive in time. Hopes will fade and the future will feel more terrifying.

Tom Toles - GoComics.com

 

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