Friends With No Benefits

According to government statistics, approximately seven million people in the U.S. are unemployed. For too many, that means scraping by on unemployment insurance.

Federal unemployment insurance is called an ‘entitlement’ program; some politicians who use the word entitlement convey the image of a class of people who feel entitled to receive funds without having done anything to earn it.   Generally, these are the same politicians who say ‘they should just go and get a job’ as though they think the unemployed are lounging around in their multiple vacation homes, being overly privileged, cashing in and living lavishly rather than doing things like, oh, I don’t know…eating or paying for a place to live(?).

Has the thought crossed their minds that many jobs have disappeared and, for the few jobs that do exist, the unemployed still aren’t considered viable applicants?  Seven million people are out of work…and that’s just the fully unemployed; this number doesn’t reflect the chronically underemployed.  Of those 7 million, nearly 2 million are on the chopping block; they’re scheduled to be cut off from receiving unemployment insurance after December 31st unless Congress decides to extend the benefit.  Here we go again…

What, exactly, does it take for Congress to get off their collective arses and do something for their constituents — rather than just for themselves?  Members of Congress have incredible pension plans, medical and dental benefits and even education reimbursement plans so I suppose an issue like unemployment isn’t something they want to think about because, well, it’s inconvenient…especially since unemployment is something that happens to, um...those people.  *Whispering*  You know…THOSE people…those 99%ers…the people many in Congress treat like unwashed masses.

Of course, this isn’t a simple issue.  Some say that the government shouldn’t spend money it doesn’t have — even if it’s to keep a significant number of people out of abject poverty.  Too bad they don’t think about spending money we don’t have when it comes time for (more) wars and bailing out those ‘too big to fail’ banks.  The unemployed didn’t destroy the economy but they’re suffering as the result of decisions made by Congress and leaders — political and non-political — across the board.  Wall Street is doing rather well in this economy and, whenever they’re not, they simply add to the unemployment rolls (gee, thanks, Bank of America!) so their former employees become a government problem.  How convenient for them.

What’s the bottom line?  Without an extension of benefits the domino effect will continue:  retail businesses will continue to see a decline in consumers, housing bills/mortgages will go unpaid — and the list goes on.  

If Congress doesn’t act soon, even more workers will be cut off.

Thanks, Congress.