A chilling statistic that remains as a result of our prolonged Great Recession is the vast number of Americans that are currently unemployed or underemployed. With this number exceeding 17% of the total working age population, one would have expected an all out attack on unemployment and a massive assembly of support mechanisms for the poor and the once middle class citizens that have now lost it all. Sadly this is not the case. We pretend we are a great nation while doing nothing to make good on the statement. We should be ashamed of what we are NOT doing to meet the needs of millions of our people now living in desperation!
Of the 17% of our working population that are unemployed or under-employed a staggering 5.9+ million of them are now 99ers, and this number grows larger every week. These 99ers, many with families, are now living hand to mouth with meager or no resources except welfare and charity to rely on. While waiting for the economy to be rescued so they can get back to work, another huge subset (33%) of our unemployed citizens are over the age of 45. In addition to having lost their job by no fault of their own, they are facing age discrimination on top of the general malaise in finding employment in this exceptionally tough jobs market. Millions of people that have lost it all are now just waiting for businesses and our politicians to come up with a plan to reinvest in the economy. To reinvest in the people. To reinvest in America. Many are simply suffocating while holding their breath waiting for this to happen.
To many, the mark of a great nation is determined by the manner and seriousness with which its citizens are treated when becoming victims of a disaster. Make no mistake; we are confronted today with an economic disaster zone that has spread across the entire country. The fact that our simple minds cannot pinpoint a specific area with which to focus our energies is a problem of perception, not of reality. Stimulus measures to date have been of the people, by the people, and for the corporations, and this just isn’t working.
Having spent a lifetime working, paying taxes, making charitable donations, often during other recessions, I always took great personal pride in the individual sacrifices that I had to make as an American to help my fellow man in need. It was my duty. It was my right. It was right. In our “It’s all about me!” and “What have you done for me lately!” world, there are those that are quietly making individual sacrifices, that represent the majority, that want something significant to be done, but they are simply being drowned out by the selfish and the indifferent.
Other nations are not lining up to assist America during this time of crisis either. They are leaving it all up to us despite the billions and billions that we have sent to the rest of the world when they have had natural or economic disasters. Where is our foreign relief package? Where is our Marshall Plan? Are we just too proud to go begging to the rest of the world for help? For what other reason are we not helping our own? Is it because we do not have the resources, or the backbone? If we are just too proud to ask for help, then why are we not sucking it up and doing something about it ourselves? Why are we stuck in this conundrum of not being able to help our own while refusing to seek aid?
Of the seven deadly sins, pride is the most dangerous of them all. Is it time for us as American’s to admit that we are not the great power that we once were? Is it time for us to get slapped down by reality? This writer thinks that train left the station long ago. We either need to put-up, or shut-up. The buck stops here. Stop pretending we’re great if the best we can do is less than mediocre!
There is a great line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Lord of the Rings, were the question is asked “How did it come to this?” How did it come to this; that we have chosen to abandon our brothers and sisters with such contempt? How did so many get such hardened hearts that they view people, numbering in the millions, which have lost their job by no fault of their own, as lazy, useless, and a burden to society. Is it simply fear run rampant? Have we arrived at the point where the only thing we are capable of is self-interest?
I believe that the American people in a vast majority want unemployment and the homelessness due to it addressed, and addressed with a torrent; a torrent yesterday, not tomorrow. But they must stand up and make their voices heard, for they are being drowned out by the voices of the few. Will you raise your voice? Will you shake the tree? Will you make your wishes known? Contact you representatives and senators and let them know you want this problem addressed today! Prepare to cast your vote in the upcoming mid-terms for those running for office that vow to do something about this catastrophe. Rise up knowing that you are not alone; your country and your countrymen need you!