Wednesday, July 07, 2010

On Unemployment

RALSTON: How would you have voted on that bill to extend unemployment benefits?


    ANGLE: I would have voted no, because the truth about it is that they keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn't pay as much as the unemployment benefit does. And what we really need to do is put people back to work. So if you want to ease people back into work, what we need is an unemployment benefit that pays part. You know, you go to work, you have something of a safety net, in unemployment. But just to give them full unemployment benefits and then extend those for two years or more gets them not only out of the working class but it also depreciates their skills, so they're not actually able to go out and compete in that workforce, so what we really want, is we want something that stimulates a group of people to go back into what we know as that free market.

Ralston then played a clip of Angle, explaining her position thusly: "You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn't pay as much. We've put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry."


It’s hard to argue with Sharon Angle -- she’s not wrong, but it’s going to be hard to watch the results of the new cold turkey method of fiscal responsibility if she’s right, and if things stand the way they are standing right now. Unemployment may indeed be the opiate of the people, but it’s important to remember that societies really give the wretched masses narcotics to keep them tame -- so they don’t go around with too much time to think about changing things or breaking things. Fat unemployed white people make a lot of noise when you try to pull the tits out of their mouths too fast, and this recession is not about the chronically unemployed – who know the system and how to game it, it’s about virgins with high expectations, fixed costs and attitudes of entitlement born from permissive parenting – it’s different; it’s me – it’s a whole shit load of individual me’s, and all of us require a lot of lubrication before giving it up without kicking some balls and scratching some eyeballs out.

I’m not going to give excuses why people stay on unemployment, they all have their own motivations and fear, as I certainly do. There comes a time when you have to say that the dream is over, or at least on hold, and to find a job – any job, and to get back to work. If you have any value at all, and work hard, in a couple of years things will get better. It’s America and things will work out because they always do if you work hard.

That being said: there are a lot of people and businesses that suck on a lot of tits of entitlement that weaken them and make them less dependent on work and skill in this country, and it seems somewhat cruel to pick on people whose jobs were eliminated through no fault of their own and outsourced for profit to lower wage countries, but, I suppose, it’s a start.




  

Friday, July 02, 2010

Malise

Malaise

“We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.” Jimmy Carter, 1979


    Nobody wants to hear the truth, it’s uncomfortable and forces hard decisions on people incapable of making hard decisions – how do you think we got in the place where someone had to tell us the truth anyway? Even when time has magically transformed truth into history, it’s only comfortable for most if changed and revised until it no longer looks like something we could have anticipated and done anything about – as if god alone were making the choices that led us from then to now.

    Thirty years ago we faced the truth and were offered a decision: To live within our means and accept individual limitations for the good of all, or, to make the little we had frothy, and live among the bubbles until they popped.

We chose Reagan, and from this first cause of a choice we are now living in the accounting time of the effect.

We saw our manufacturing leaving, and it left. We saw that Wal-Mart would eliminate high wage jobs, and now we can only afford Wal-Mart. We saw that dependence on foreign oil would lead to paying terrorists to bomb us, and they bomb us. And don’t forget the climate thing – the truth is out there and it has been for a long time.

 I like Obama – when he talks of financial reform or immigration, it’s with well reasoned and articulate words – and it rings of the truth. But I also liked Carter, for pretty much the same qualities, and he is not well thought of in any historical kind of way -- at a minimum, he had a failed Presidency. He was a loser, though I’m still his biggest fan.

Carter was also the most honorable and decent man to hold the office of President in my lifetime. I don’t know what this says about us, I don’t know what it says at all.

 I like to think that this time will be different, but it never is – it’s a loser bet to even hope that. And without the hope that our children will have it better than we did, there’s no energy for moving forward in any way that has real meaning, and I don’t see any hope of it. – Can anyone out there imagine that their child will have it better than they did during the Clinton years?

Oh, and I finally figured out why we keep increasing our troop levels in the mid-east – it’s a jobs program, because we couldn’t handle the 25% unemployment levels that bringing the troops home would cause. Nothing else makes sense.

   
   
  

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Job Searching

Job Searching

"The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation." Jimmy Carter


   
The candy dish on the receptionist’s desk was empty, just full of dusty balls of detritus that blew back and forth when the central air kicked on. This was useful in roughly dating the last time anyone filled it, or saw the point of filling it. 


Also on the counter were large, and hefty, prepared packets of applications – useful as an industrial and assembly line statement for those job seekers overconfident in the estimation of their worth. 


The receptionist, attractive and well dressed, had been reduced by the volume of work and was functioning as a human phone tree – catching key words to direct you to one place or another. Since there were only two places, extra friendliness was not appreciated – she frowned at any word not in the algorithm she was using as a sort of behavior modification warning shot, and the threat implied by her look was one of lost paperwork, or just a lengthy misfiling accident if you kept it up.


    Given a pile of stapled papers and directed to a long and well-worn table, I sat uncomfortably close to many others and started to fill out the forms. Most of the forms were about endurance – having enough of it to sit steady and enough to retentively write the same information over and over – many of the forms required that you reentered the things from the page before, and after a few pages, it seemed less like information giving and more just a way of weeding out the riff-raff, or those others with inpatient souls or those without anything better to do. It went quick – I had my resume and contact names typed up, so it was really just a fill in the blank drill done over and over. When finished, I returned the pile to the receptionist.


    At the desk, the receptionist was on the phone scheduling a person for a third interview. I was surprised, I’d never heard of a third interview for a security guard job, but tried to keep a blank face while I thought about it, and it did make me think about it. She hung up the phone and looked at me impatiently, but incongruently with a smile, and took my paperwork from me. After quickly scanning through the pile she pointed out a section I’d missed and handed the pile of paper back to me.


    I missed the essay section, but in my defense it looked more like a list of requirements, or maybe a statement of core values, than questions. Under each lengthy question was a small area to answer – the double part of a double spaced line to be accurate in size. There were five questions and I’ll give you what I remember of the first:


    “We believe that the most important value that our organization tries to uphold and live by is the concept of, ‘dare to be great,’ in all you do for the company, and in all your actions. We believe that in daring to be great you show the best that we have to offer as an organization. Give an example of a time when you ‘dared to be great.’”


    I filled out the questions to the best of my ability, as viewed through the whims of my nature, and returned the forms to the receptionist. As she took them from me, I gave her my best double dog dare to be great smile and left the building.