America: Land of the free, home of the poor

It wasn't my intention to write about unemployment again, but my last post on displaced workers seemed to really hit a nerve with people. Now, the Senate has decided to suspend benefits for millions of unemployed Americans. Many lost their benefits today, with no warning. Another two million will lose their unemployment compensation by July 10.

I don't want to turn this into a political discussion, because it's really a humanitarian issue. How can any evolved government yank money away from its citizens with less than 24 hours notice? How can government officials that "we the people" have elected decide that they will take food from people's mouths? How can they go to bed at night knowing that millions of Americans might lose their homes because what little money they counted on will now be gone? Granted, not everyone loses their benefits today, but here in California 200,000 people did (and millions more will within the next two weeks). It's the equivalent of being fired. One minute you're hanging on, the next minute the already frayed rope is yanked away.

This isn't an issue of Republican versus Democrat; it shouldn't be political at all. It's about getting America out of this recession. How can people who now have no income whatsoever stimulate the economy? They can't. How can new businesses move into vacant storefronts? They can't. How can the local department store add more positions and hire additional sales associates if people aren't coming in to buy things? They can't.

It's cyclical. And, that's why the discrimination against unemployed applicants that I wrote about last week made me so mad. If someone with a job simply moves to another job, while the unemployed applicant remains unemployed, how does that help the economy? It doesn't. 

What's the answer? Well, I can tell you that a bunch of out-of-touch, well-to-do geezers deciding that they won't help the American people when they need it most is not the solution. It's not right for our citizens and it's not right for our economy.

What can you do? Keep your ears open for your friends and former colleagues who are job hunting. Offer to introduce them to a hiring manager if it's within your ability. If you're filling a job vacancy, give that equally-qualified, unemployed applicant an interview.

Think all this unemployment stuff doesn't affect you? Well, let's talk when you've lost your job because all the unemployed people have no more money to put into the economy...


  1. Completely agree that this is not a political issue. The worst part about this is that unemployment previously told people that it would probably be passed without a problem "because there was no choice".

    In SE Michigan, the competition for fast food jobs is so bad, young people are moving out of state. Most of those positions are filled by older people who are allowed to work just enough not to be full-time or have benefits. Something else closes almost ever day. I bring up restaurants because they are the only industry that appears to be ever hiring, but without unemployed people buying the occasional Happy Meal, even those people are getting laid off!

    My notice came with a half check. I called as directed and was told the extension was not renewed, but that I should continue to spend my money faxing job attempts to the Fed in the "meantime". If these people think it's not a big deal, if they think it's only a couple of weeks, let them start from nothing and stretch that just a couple more weeks.

    Also, overwhelmingly, it has been shown that women are supporting these households. Women, who, if they could GET a job, would earn 76 cents on the dollar, but this is not about Women's Rights, either. Just saying.

    This was a BRUTAL way to find out. The news isn't even covering it. It goes unmentioned. The USA, the country that rallies to support every cause in every country except its own.

    I would like very much to congratulate you for writing about this subject. It took guts and bravery. I know, because it hasn't even been easy for me to comment. I considered leaving it as an anonymous comment, but people should know this issue has faces behind it, some faces they may even like.

    In the meantime, please click on our links, buy our products and send any job offers our way. We are doing our best in a very bad situation.

    Anita @ModelSupplies

  2. Anita: Thank you so much for sharing your story and speaking out against this. The whole country knows what dire straits Michigan is in, so I can only imagine what it's like to see all of that in person.

    You are absolutely right. Unemployed people KNOW how long they can count on receiving benefits and plan accordingly. To think you still have four or ten weeks of a safety net and then to have it taken away, is unacceptable. And, yes, each unemployed person is a face. A life, a story, a family.

    As you probably have noticed, I stay away from political issues. But this is not political and I hope no one opens up that debate. It's about doing right by our citizens. It's about seeing the facts as they are. It's about fixing our economy and getting us out of this recession. It's about doing right by our own people and realizing sending taxpaying Americans even further below the poverty level is NOT the answer.

    How can we ever get out of this recession if people are driven into an even deeper financial crisis?

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Anita. My good thoughts are with you and your family.

    *** And, for those who don't know Anita, be sure to visit her website She also has a great eBay store

  3. People allowed to work just enough not to be full time and collect benefits. That is the future of employment in our country, it appears. The "man" has found that people are so desperate to hang on to what they have or just to be able to survive that they are willing to take these positions. Teachers are willing to quietly accept furlough days and pay reductions AND still believe they are OK while they are being bled to death, overpaying for the benefits they receive because districts have sweetheart deals and are unwilling to shop around. Our society is becoming one of fear; not wanting to rock the boat to disturb a boss who can always say you are lucky to have the work. I know all of this first hand as a former journalist for what was once one of the world's great newspapers and as a laid off teacher. Fortunately I did not have to rely on unemployment subsidies. Now I am helping one family at a time as a financial "educator." Knowledge is key, but especially valuable in these trying times. The lack of knowledge about how money works and how to work WITH it is the biggest problem in our increasingly dumbed down society. Folks will invest in tattoos, piercings and booze and pot before they will put money away for their own and their children's futures. Sad and troubling times, indeed.

  4. Tom: Great comments! You are spot on about the lack of financial education in this country. In my high school, they offered classes on how to sew an apron, but not how to balance your checkbook.

    And, yes, a culture of fear is prevalent in today's workplace. The way jobs work in this country is changing. I agree that the future will see many more part-timers, consultants, and self-employed. I also see that many people are taking jobs at inappropriately low wages, hence setting a new low for salaries.

    I concur. Sad and troubling times, indeed.

  5. Take to the streets, this is what they do in other countries:,0,2468668.story

    In the US, the people are afraid of the government; in other countries, the government is afraid of the people.

  6. Anonymous: Interesting observation. Thanks for sharing the article with us.

  7. Amber, your article was excellent and when I heard about our elected officials cutting off unemployment benefits to people who are in desperate straights, my first thought was it's time for a "REVOLUTION". They will give billions of our tax money to the banking industry, charge them next to nothing to borrow money and the people who really keep the economy moving and growing is the American tax payer, who is essentially getting screwed. I normally look at the "glass half full" and look for positive solutions to a situation and unfortunately this one reeks of inept, short-sighted ignorant behavior on the part of our elected officials. This is where the American consumer/public needs to get really angry, called their elected officials, write, email and blast them a new one, letting them know they better come up with an alternative and either start funding small businesses, loaning money for people to start businesses or we will see more than a double dip recession. I will continue to stay positive, it's just going to take more energy than it used to.

  8. EcoDiva: Thanks for adding to the conversation. Yes, wouldn't it be great if they gave unemployed people incentives and assistance to become self-employed or open a small business? This would be an investment in the American people and a smart way to combat the recession.

    Taking money out of a depressed economy will create even more problems. I'm not an economist, but I know that turning middle class Americans into lower class Americans isn't the way to help this country recover from this financial meltdown.

  9. >>> Oh, this might be interesting to everyone as well. It's a graph of unemployment rates by state, with 17 states over 10%.

  10. Years ago when stoplights were installed on Freeway entrances, some people couldn't understand the concept ... why were they needed?

    Well the Freeways were built for a certain amount of traffic. If all the cars were
    allowed to enter the Freeways at once, there'd be too many, traffic would
    come to a sluggish halt and jam up.

    The Freeways were a symptom of the larger problem. What was causing an
    increase in Autos, meant an increase in drivers.

    Just like the Freeways, it would have behooved the USA to regulate and slow
    down the number of those who enter, especially into California, but they chose
    not to. They decided to go the opposite route. They swung the gates wide open.
    Sent out invites, gave incentives, handed out USA Citizen Benefits to those who had never
    paid in a cent, did not enforce laws prohibiting employers from hiring illegal non citizen workers, gave Govt. funded housing to non-citizens at the expense of low income Americans, encouraged CRIMINALS to re-enter the USA by not enforcing our immigration laws.

    So, all this adds up a very busy Freeway of people that our infrastructure was not designed
    for. The amount of people has increased so rapidly, that we can not absorb them.

    They need to work. They'll take any job. Your job, or what would have been your job.
    Most send money they earn back to their "Homeland", which means it doesn't go back into our economy.

    Hence ... one of the reasons we are where we are today.

  11. This is a great post and I just tweeted it too. One thing which keeps people from taking a stand is thinking that they don't want to get involved in politics. But in reality, politics along with legislation isn't something to leave to others. It's us. We the people, the citizens of this country.

    Politics, public policy, the laws, regulations all impact our everyday life, but usually it's not until something in particular effects us that we realize it. I hope that more people start calling their Senators and Representatives.

    None of us should have to avoid discussing or apologize for talking about politics, because it's about life and survival. I don't think that Martin Luther King Jr. or Ghandi necessarily wanted to get into politics. They were about freedom and basic human rights. But human rights are political. There are some who will always want to keep others down. That seems to be the neverending struggle.

    I wrote a post recently when I learned that some employers are refusing to hired the unemployed. You can take a look here if you wish.

  12. Here's another interesting aspect, Amber. How about companies and recruiters that are, in effect, discriminating against umemployed workers by refusing to consider them for openings?

    And they expect us to buy their products?

  13. Tanya: The freeway is a good analogy. Although I prefer not to open this up to an immigration debate, I would concur that there are MANY improvements that need to be made to how our country is run. There is nothing wrong with protecting the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens, especially when all of America is in crisis.

    Anali: Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post (and for tweeting out a link!). I agree with you and it's something we should all ponder. I think government forgets sometimes that WE elect THEM and that THEY are suppose to represent US. I will check out your link, as well. I, too, also wrote about the unemployed being discriminated against. My post is here: Thank you for sharing your viewpoint and contributing to the dialogue.

    Anonymous: Thanks for leaving a comment. I happened to write about the new discrimination against the unemployed last week ( It is a disturbing new trend and I would love to find a list of employers who were implementing this practice. I would happily boycott any business or product that was so narrow minded as to dismiss millions of workers who have been displaced due to no fault of their own.

  14. Hello guys, I am Brazilian, and we were also affected with this financial crisis.
    Many people lost their jobs here in Brazil, for example I'm already unemployed for 15 months. We have a support system for unemployed and for me was that 16% of my final salary and 07 months were receiving it! Now my Father (retired), is helping me! My luck is that I have a house paid! But I'm thinking of selling it to buy a business! Fast food franchise! I have 45 years and the jobs for people my age here in Brazil gone! I worked 15 years at Ford and other 09 years at Motorola (Quality Supr). Here we are improving, but the locomotive of the world is the USA. You need to return to equilibrium to improve the world! Unfortunately, seems that President Obama has a big problem yet! Good luck to you and may God help us!

    Best Regards, Marcos Melhado

  15. Marcos: Thanks for chiming in. It's always interesting to take a national issue and hear the international perspective on it. Best of luck to you in opening a new business. With a background at well-known brands such as Ford and Motorola, I'm sure you have great skills to apply in your endeavor. I hope it all works out for you and that you find success!

  16. First of all you've referred to Congress as "evolved." Yeah, from chimpanzees maybe, but the evolution pretty much stops there.

    Second, this issue is absolutely political and absolute demonstrates the difference between the Republicans and Democrats. There's a reason the Rethugs are voting against any program that might help regular Americans. Like Rush Limbaugh, they want the country to fail. They know that in hard economic times an angry populace is more easily manipulated and they hope to turn that anger against the Democrats in November and eventually against Obama in 2012. They're hoping people will forget about eight years of Bush and Republican spending, tax cuts for the rich, and deregulation of Wall Street which created this mess. Although, Clinton does not escape blame free with his horrible bank deregulation and NAFTA legislation.

    Thanks for posting about this important topic. People so need to educate themselves as to how our current financial disaster came about. If you haven't read Thom Hartmann's brilliant book, "Screwed," do so. It lays the beginning of the destruction of the middle class squarely at Reagan's feet.

    Also check out the Disqus commenting system like I have on my blog. It makes conversations like this so much more accessible for everyone. I think you'll like it.

  17. Jayne: I've tried to stay clear of politics on this particular post and although I do have an opinion on the matter, I'm going to remain nonpartisan. I'll tell you why. I posted this piece on another site and it has evolved into a hostile bashing of Democrats and Republicans. The conversation has ceased to be meaningful and has become argumentative. Once you bring politics into the equation, many people tend to stop listening and only preach.

    I think if we all look at the bottom line, the American people who are suffering, we all know what's right. Whether or not we help our citizens through this financial crisis is obviously another story. But assisting law abiding taxpayers as they struggle in this economy is the right thing to do. America should not dare to lecture other countries about humanitarian issues until, and unless, they do right by their own people.

  18. Thanks for highlighting such important issue. Its all due to politics? even we are struggling to aware our people for this, there are alot of other issues which I could not express on this form you may reach me through email: Please keep writing such topics so people should know the reality. Its our responsibility to aware them.

  19. Most Americans fail to remember that the Fourth branch of American government is We The People. Nobody likes "getting political" but until we plunge our hands into the oily mess that has now ensued because of people who want to rule over us rather than serve us, nothing is going to change. As Margaret Mead said, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

  20. Generate Millions: Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate your input and support!

    Patty: Thank you so much for following my blog! That Margaret Mead quote is one of my favorite and one I definitely subscribe to.

    You are absolutely correct. I agree, and I think even devote Democrats and Republicans would would have a hard time denying, that our political system needs a drastic change. BY the people, FOR the people. What ever happened to that???

    Since you shared a quote, I'll end with one that seems pertinent to our conversation:

    "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - British Historian Lord Acton

    Thanks again for adding to the discussion!

  21. I don't know where the quote "Civilizations will be judge according to how they treat the weakest among them," but I'm pretty sure it applies here.

    I recently saw a British documentary about tent cities in the U.S. and I was so ashamed I cried.

  22. Jayne: Funny that the British have to chronicle the downfall of America. Even THAT is being outsourced! :-<

    I'm sure the documentary was very disturbing. They say that within six months any "regular" person can become homeless. I believe that. So many people cite debt as the culprit, and although I agree that may be a contributing factor in many cases, it isn't always the cause. Even living a meager existence in a metropolitan city can be expensive.

    The story of America is changing and it's up to us to make it a happy ending. I fear that things will get much worse for the average American before it gets better. Politics seem to come before people nowadays.


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