Your mission as a member of the fraternity of the long term unemployed is simple; find a job. You are a member of a large army in today’s economy that is trying to deal with the brutal reality that there are no jobs to be found. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, and you are slowly going insane. While trying to apply for jobs in person, you are instructed to submit an application on-line. While applying for a job on-line you are requested to fill out endless additional questionnaires that you are convinced nobody ever reads. Day after day, week after week, month after month is spent submitting resumes and cover letters with virtually no response. Job fairs and work shops are no help. Networking has failed. No wonder you are losing your mind. Is hope just another four letter word?
In an economy that saw jobs peak in November of 2007 you know that by December of 2008 almost 8.7 million jobs in the nation have simply disappeared. The following 9 months brought a negligible increase in jobs totaling 1.6 million of which 900,000 to 1,125,000 are needed just to absorb new entrants into the jobs market. You are in shock as you review the Bureau of Labor Statistics data that indicates new unemployment claims continue at roughly 1.8 million new claims per month. You grope for anything to hang onto that might look like positive information regarding an economic recovery, but GDP growth remains anemic and consumer confidence levels remain in the toilet. With national unemployment steady at a little under 10% you know that 9 out of 10 people really do not understand your plight. They are busy just trying to hang onto their positions.
Tuning your attention to Congress in hopes that you will find your representatives working diligently on this national crisis you are greeted with having to learn about Republican filibusters, cloture motions, and total gridlock. What seems like the right thing to do is turned on its ear by an international debt crisis. Brought to a theater near you by our friends in the Republican Party in general, and the Tea Party in particular, all thoughts turn to debt reduction and curtailing deficit spending. Now our leaders think that we can save our way out of the recession when this concept violates most economic theories. All of this while the government can still borrow at very attractive rates that would have most consumers salivating. Apparently bailing out banks is one thing, bailing out citizens and the weak consumer market is another.
Those unfortunate enough to have lost their job by no fault of their own count the weeks until their unemployment will run out. The 99ers that have already seen their benefits run out look for the enactment of a Tier V or some other form of unemployment extension to see them through to a job. What the unemployed are provided with is more Republican rhetoric. Many Republicans have stated that they would pass unemployment legislation if the bill was fully funded, but offer no legislation of their own to back this up. All bark and no bite. Any reasonable person would ask where is the Republican bill offering an unemployment extension and a Tier V, and how do they intend to pay for it?
While corporations sit on record high cash reserves and refrain from expanding operations and creating new jobs due to a lack of consumer confidence, the Republicans talk of cutting spending as if no additional jobs will be lost by taking this action. For every dollar cut means one less dollar spent, and this will cost additional jobs at a period of time when we are still bleeding significant job losses. Someone must have found a way for us to have our cake and eat it too, because that’s the only way this strategy is going to work.
Companies that would benefit from the significant stimulus factor of anywhere’s from 1.4 to 1.65 times for every dollar provided in unemployment benefits wait for the Republicans to get off the dime. Providing extended benefits to the estimate 6 million 99ers would cost an estimated 39 billion dollars, but put a much need additional 59 billion dollars into the consumer markets. Companies await legislation to be passed that would create tax incentives for hiring the long term unemployed. During all of this the Republicans continue to obstruct and say “NO” as they positioned themselves to win seats in the midterm elections. It is hard not to conclude that the Republicans, the party of Lincoln that once said “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” have re-defined this to mean of rich people, by rich people, and for rich people, and this is just patently wrong.