A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

I have been a Funeral Director for most of my professional life. Occasionally I help a friend with his business. Such was the case this week when I assisted him with two services. In both cases the deceased was single. One of the deceased was about my age, the other about 1/2 my age. Neither had married. Both died unexpectedly, at home, alone. Family members had to go to the apartment, meet the police and see their loved one taken away. No matter what happens, these two people had died too soon. Their story is concluded.

When I joined the cause for a Tier V, Al had nothing left to give.  There were 99ers like Al that had no fight left before he died, there were more suicides after he died and unfortunately there will be more yet in the upcoming year.  The situation is beyond frustrating or sad or mad. There shouldn't be 99ers.  Extending a safety net for the long term unemployed is good social policy and sound economics. Still, common sense and compassion do not always rule and so it goes.

This has been a miserable year for 99ers. Yet, if you are reading this you've had an infinitely better year than Al or the two people that died alone at home. If you're reading this, you still have possibilities.  Possibility is what we live for. I still count my blessings and hope you can, too.

2010, over and out. Tomorrow brings a New Year, full of possibility. Happy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The 99ers blueprint for success is already written and available.

It's the last week of 2010 and 2011 can't get here fast enough. Unfortunately I said that in 2008 and 2009 as well. At least I've had the good fortune to ruminate on 2008, 2009 and 2010 from the same address so I am luckier than many. I'll revisit these thoughts at the end of 2011 and hopefully not have to schedule the same review for 2012.

Congress has gone home to spend Christmas with their families.  Enjoy your eggnog, Senator Kyl. 99ers are still trying to make a point with some powerful imagery. Here are just two examples, the latest from Donalee King (aka Paladinette) and a poignant tweet from @suzeyQ41.  I know that the 99er community is moved by these portraits of anger and despair.  Unfortunately if only 99ers are moved, 99ers are moving into tent cities. So what do the 99ers (and those soon to gain 99er membership) do? Well...

Sarah Robinson of Escaping Mediocrity teaches learning to swim by jumping into the pool and suggested anything by Seth Godin. In "small is the new big", the post "Bluegrass and the Cello Player",  page14 Seth writes: "If your target audience isn't listening, it's not their fault, it's yours. If one story isn't working, change what you do, not how loudly you yell." It's time for 99ers to change the message.

99ers also have to change the message delivery. Jane Hamsher from Firedog Lake laid out the new blueprint for 99er advocacy while discussing the plethora of legislation from the111th Congress on "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell":

00:07:34Number two, it was the groups who would not take no for an answer.
00:07:39Get equal, the 9/11 health care.
00:07:41The first responders who came here, who demonstrated, chained themselves to the white house, who followed the president around and heckled and absolutely would not take no for an answer, who got their issues addressed.

The plan of taking it to the streets, peacefully but aggressively is a time tested success and the only path to survival for 99ers.

I'm not claiming it's easy to gather the long term unemployed with family obligations and no money to march on the White House.  The 99es need help with organization and funds. Hopefully, some of the working class advocates (NELP, U-Cubed, Working America) will take.  If not, 99ers will have to organize them(our)selves.

If I appear to be preaching, it's because I see no other way.  I am open to suggestions, can you make any?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#99ers: As long as we remain alone, we will be alone.

Minor surgery is surgery that occurs in someone else's family. If my flesh and blood is involved even a liquid suture is a major procedure, worthy of the same worry as open heart surgery. Over reaction? Not when my family is involved. This is a major problem for 99ers. As long as the 99er isn't in your family, the problem is minor.

Simply put, 99ers need to make others understand exactly what is happening to the 99ers. How do you make others feel hunger, homelessness, bone numbing fear? It's not easy, but I have an idea.

As a start, violence is never, never, never an appropriate or allowable response.  Any idea I suggest or endorse will not include violence or a threat to some one's personal safety. With non-violence an expressed requirement here's my thought:

I would take last night's candle light vigil and add some flash mob mentality. Imagine a group of people with only boxes for shelter blocking the entrance to a US Representatives office at opening time. How about a human blockade of 99ers with signs, blocking an expressway off-ramp at rush hour?  A mass of rags-for- clothes protesters impeding access to a civic cafeteria (or maybe fast food restaurant) at lunch time? No one talks, chants or moves. Press coverage is essential, but the local TV station should be called (prepaid cell phone) moments before the protest comes together. The protest lasts a specific period of time (15 minutes - hour) and breaks up as quickly as it assembles. A fax or call to the local media explains the significance of the protest as soon as it concludes.

This type of advocacy is not simple. It requires organization and money. It requires lawyers on site to represent the protesters when they get arrested. Ideally these attorneys would use the bond hearing as a soapbox. This advocacy requires the participation of the very same groups (NELP, U-Cubed, Working America) that have yet to make the 99ers a priority.

You might think I espouse extreme measures. Perhaps, but ask yourself if the Viet Nam War would be over if  the only protests were calls and letters to Congress? I'm just saying.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The 99ers political clout score is...

As the 111th Congress is waning 99ers still have hope for relief. However, until any legislation for a TierV  emerges from committee, assume weeks of unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks are unlikely. Since unemployment benefits are the most effective way to stimulate the economy why are the 99ers excluded from any legislative initiative with a reasonable chance of passing?  The answer is simple: 99ers have less political clout than almost any group.

It's nice to think that politicians follow their hearts to represent their constituency and legislate for the good of America. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case. Politicians always have to consider reelection. Reelection takes gobs of money and easily understood defensible policy decisions. 99ers and gobs of money are mutually exclusive. Defending extension of unemployment benefits beyond current historic levels requires detailed explanation: multiplier effect, job shortage, downward pressure on property values and wages, etc. Given nationwide employment at 75% or more and an electorate with a short attention span TierV is toxic. At least the 99ers can make a point at election time, right? No!

Republican 99ers are voting against their economic self interest and can be counted on to do the same in the future. If Democratic 99ers stay home or vote Republican, (see the recent compromise on tax cut extensions) clout is reduced so they're stuck voting for Democrats.  Independent 99ers can choose from the above. Big deal. Lisa Murkowski's write-in election is not the norm. Usually an independent 3rd part candidate is a spoiler, not an option.

The message is 99ers need to find an option to block voting. I have a thought that builds on last week's reframing the message theme. I'll explain tomorrow. In the meantime, what do you think 99ers can do to keep the message in the public eye?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

99ers, it's time to change our message

It appears 99ers are the gangrenous little toe of the body politic. Just as a diabetic would amputate the little toe for the sake of the entire body, so too are the 99ers being cut off from the conversation on assistance for the long term unemployed. Consider the National Employment Law Project (NELP)'s statement about the compromise extending tax cuts for all:  nothing about the 99ers. Rather than being angry or frustrated (although both are appropriate and well-earned), I have a list of do's and don'ts, ending with a suggested change of message.

Don't beat up friends like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Debbie Stabenow or other legislative friends for not accomplishing all needs of the 99ers.  If Pelosi had the votes in the House, there would already be TierV.  If she had nearly enough votes, she'd have twisted arms and there would already be TierV. As for Sen. Stabenow S3706 hasn't gone  far,but she took a shot. Along with the McDermott/Berkley proposal in the House of Representatives, the total proposed TierV pieces of legislation in the entire 111th Congress was 2. Do not target failed attempts when at least these legislators (imperfect as they may be) tried.  If we 99ers did not generate enough public support to move these bills along, we share the failure.

Do continue to reach out to Congress, no matter how frustrating the endeavor.  The best time to call, fax, email elected officials is right now.  The second best time to reach elected officials was yesterday. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Don't threaten to vote for politicians that will never advocate for 99ers to punish lawmakers that did not support 99ers sufficiently. Worse yet, don't withdraw from the process as a way to motivate Congress.  Apathy is the antithesis to motivation.  Voter disinterest did not gain leverage for 99ers.  99er detachment helped create a tax compromise with unemployment funding that does nothing for 99ers.

Do stay involved in the political process. It's easier to achieve policy objectives by stating what you'll do as opposed to threatening to withdraw. Withdrawing from activity creates a vacuum. This political vacuum will be quickly filled by other advocates with diametrically different goals. The results will be a disaster.

Don't continue admonishing those that ignore 99ers. It's time to stop screaming at President Obama, Congress and labor organizations that have thrown the 99ers into the trash.  It's not that elected officials don't deserve to be lambasted. Unfortunately the verbal attacks of incredulity have failed to produce results. 99ers continue to be ignored by elected officials, going on 9 months. It's also time to move the 99er stories of personal disaster to the back burner. This is not to diminish the countless tragedies of the long term unemployed but the populace doesn't give a damn.

Do reframe the discussion. The CBO says the best way to stimulate job creation is unemployment benefits. Put a human face on the fact that unemployment insurance goes beyond helping the unemployed..  Testimony needs to come from small business in areas of high unemployment. These business owners need to express their fear of business failure as extended unemployment benefits discontinue because the unemployed can longer buy from these businesses. Similarly, homeowners groups in areas of high unemployment need to talk about plunging neighborhood home values as foreclosures skyrocket (again) because extended UI dollars are no longer available.

It appears the tax compromise is going to pass with nothing for the 99ers and little to slow the increasing growth of 99ers.  The only way continue the fight for 99ers is to tell stories from non-99ers affected by discontinued unemployment benefits.

Friday, December 10, 2010

#99ers: Expect no help.

President Obama did not received sufficient Republican concessions in exchange for extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, including millionaires. House Democrats obviously feel similarly. Do not think this bold act by House Dems holds any significance for the 99ers. Nancy Pelosi has never had the votes to add a TierV. Until Speaker Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn or any Senate Dem mentions TierV as a requirement to pass an extension of tax cuts, assume 99ers are still left out in the cold.  15 shopping days left until Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This is compromise? I'd hate to surrender.

I am sure that had there been a network interview of Robert E. Lee after his surrender at Appomattox, Gen. Lee would have talked about the need to compromise to avoid holding the populace hostage via partisan bickering.  "Sure, I gave up some things but I got to keep my sword.", General Lee would have said. Since President Obama is a fan of history perhaps this was his model for accepting the "compromise" on tax cuts for the rich.

Monday night's agreement to extend tax cuts for all for two years and unemployment benefits to 99 weeks for 13 months is truly bipartisan. There is plenty for anyone to dislike:

1. Rich folks can dislike helping the lazy unwashed masses that refuse to find a job.
2. The working poor can dislike that they received nothing from this agreement. Their earnings leave minimal tax burden. The burden of the working poor is working and still being poor.
3. Small businesses can dislike that for all the agreement has to offer it will have minimal effect in stimulating demand. Demand more than anything drives small business and the economy.
4. Same for the middle class. Whatever benefits they derive from this agreement, without growing demand and growing American manufacturing, the middle class continues to shrink.
5. Future generations can dislike paying for the always burgeoning bank accounts of the wealthy.  This agreement make the bill for future generations more expensive.
6. 99ers can dislike the whole agreement.

Ezra Klein points out the real good in this compromise is it creates a framework of future bipartisan agreements. Mr. Klein has a great point but that thought goes in the wait and see column.

There is loads of bad in this compromise with the Republicans. Most obvious is the contempt this agreement shows for the long-term unemployed. With 5 job seekers for each job, if you're unemployed for longer than 99 weeks,  you're on your own. For those with reinstated unemployment benefits, if you've received more than 43 weeks of benefits, you'll probably be a 99er sooner than you think. If you'll still be eligible for benefits in 13 months, you'll be back in this fight after Thanksgiving, 2011.  If you think job search statistics will improve significantly over the next 13 months, God bless your optimism.

The to do list is simple: scream loudly and scream often.  To simplify this call to action, here are some easy suggestions: Click the link on the right side of the blog and sign the petition. Here are links to 2 other petitions. (if you're not on Twitter you can cut and paste to Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi). After you've signed these petitions, pass them along to your friends. Call, fax and email your Representatives and Senators. Request extended funding and additional weeks of unemployment benefits. Without these two improvements ask them to vote against the bill. Do not go quietly into the night, some will not make it to the morning.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More of the same.

It appears Congress and the White House have reached a compromise on extending expiring tax cuts that would includes funding current unemployment extensions for 13 additional months. 99ers will be left to fend for themselves.  Why have the 99ers been abandoned by everyone except Ed Schultz?

To understand the predicament of the long term unemployed during the Great Depression of the 21st Century, it's important to review some pertinent facts:

1. The unemployment rate is somewhere between 9.8% and higher. That makes the employment rate 77% or higher. It is very hard for the 77% employed to fathom why anyone is involuntarily unemployed for greater than 99 weeks, even in a weak economy.

2. The current model of issuing unemployment benefits via "weeks" is inadequate given current economic conditions. With five seekers for each job and an unemployment rate predicted to hover above 8% through 2012, a safety net for the unemployed should be tied to the unemployment rate.  Benefits should continue until the unemployment rate is down to 'X' not an arbitrary designation of weeks.  Unfortunately no one will commit to structuring unemployment insurance accordingly.

3. The argument in favor of adding a TierV has too often been made from the POV of the 99ers. (These people need the safety net to survive.) Unemployment advocates (I include myself) should have jumped on the Republican meme that small businesses are the primary creators of jobs.  The success of small business depends more on demand than tax cuts. Therefore it is vital that the unemployed have a minimal amount of money to support these small businesses.

What is left to do? The aforementioned compromise has not net been voted on in Congress.  Now, more than ever is the time to bombard elected officials. It is also important for all unemployed to stick together. Given the statistics above there are going to be more 99ers each week. Attrition (death and  homelessness) will reduce the amount of 99ers but not nearly by the numbers joining the ranks of the 99ers.  Eventually, something will be done. I am hoping for the best.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh, Joy.

Yesterday I criticized NELP, Working America and UCubed. These organizations with budgets and paid professional staff have failed miserably in assisting the 99ers. Their inability to be proactive brings us to December 3,2010 and the 99ers ignored again in an attempt to re-establish extensions for the unemployed in weeks 27-99.

What should NELP, Working America and UCubed be doing? Watching Joy Behar. Last night, Ms. Behar opened her HLN talker reminding everyone that Sen. Scott Brown was the latest Grand Obstructionist Party member to block a vote on funding unemployment extensions. She then suggested that all effected by Sen. Brown's vote drop in on his $100 a plate holiday dinner funder on Friday Night, complete with time and address. I have Joy, deep in my heart.

In summary, in a 30 second intro to a show that included an update on a Hollywood murder and an interview with the Hasselhoffs, Ms. Behar offered an idea that is more creative than anything 3 worker advocacy groups have done in 2 months. NELP, Working America and UCubed are you listening?

Finally, as you head out to do some holiday shopping this weekend, don't worry about the malls being crowded with 99ers.  Unless of course NELP, Working America and UCubed get off their ass.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here we are again.

Day 2 of the unemployed held hostage and the 99ers are ignored. Again. For the third time this year.  At least extending tax cuts will continue to spur the economy.  What? Unemployment benefits are more effective than tax cuts? So why do we continue to engage in counterproductive economics? It's the American way.

99ers should not be surprised at our current plight.  99ers have been ignored since (before) Jim Bunning staged his one man show of arrogance. Sen. Bunning's show was so successful, it reappeared in summer stock. As we approach Christmas,"Waiting for Congress" has been made into a winter holiday special. The common theme of these three extravaganzas? Nothing about the 99ers, which means nothing for the 99ers. This is like going to the Emergency Room for a cough. The Triage Nurse mentions your intestines are hanging out and you choose to treat just the cough. How did we reach reach this nadir of lunacy? There are many directions to point a finger, I am aiming at NELP, UCubed and Working America.

99ers should not be surprised we have reached this point. Except for occasional whispers to the contrary, Congress has been shouting opposition to TierV since spring. It's easy to suggest 99ers should have organized more effectively. There have been great grassroot groups, UWAG and Unemployed Friends are just two of many. These are primarily volunteer organizations. NELP, UCubed and Working America have professional staff and budgets. The staff may be small and the budget limited, but 99ers budget? 99ers are trying to keep the utilities on in a house they might lose to cook food they can't afford to buy. NELP, UCubed and Working America should have been doing more this whole time.

The One Nation Working Together rally was great.  That rally was two months ago.  Since then there have been call rallies, fax rallies, email campaigns. Obviously these attempts have been ineffective and done nothing to generate public opinion. 99ers are told time is dear and unemployed between 26 and 99 weeks need all efforts to continue to fund their benefits. NELP, UCubed and Working America should have never let it come to an either/or decision. As soon as Jim Bunning started his one man show in March, NELP, UCubed and Working America should have been screaming every day that 99ers be included in any extensions. These professional organizations were neglectful and now claim they must concentrate their efforts for those with extensions previously approved.  Okay, what about the rest of us.

I don't know how this will wind up.  I fear it will end with discord between 99ers and less than 99ers. Unemployed eating their own.  Which makes sense, because it's the only food many of us can afford.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday shopping list.

Last night at midnight 800,000 exhausted unemployment benefits. The benefits should be restored by act of Congress but Congress rarely acts as it should.  Those 800,000 join 5 million+ 99ers.  Some 99ers have been without an unemployment insurance safety net since March, 2010. If corporations are sitting on tons of cash because of uncertainty (although no thesaurus lists greed as a synonym of uncertainty) what about the 5.8+ million of us that don't have an ounce of money? Happy holidays.

Channukah begins tonight at sundown.  Thanks to my wife's wizardry, we have stuff for the kids.  I'd love to help spur demand during this season but I lack the resources. Therefore, the rest of my list must suffice with non-monetary items.

So here is my "shopping list" for this holiday season:

Congressional Republicans -  a conscience

Congressional Democrats - a spine

President Barack Obama - a beer summit with Candidate Barack Obama

The Tea Party - the realization that a patriot is not a xenophobe and liberty does not include fear-mongering

Sarah Palin - a copy of Mein Kampf and an understanding of irony

Those that voted Republican out of spite or did not vote because you did not get enough from Obama -        nothing, you're already getting all that you deserve

The 99ers - a job for each and everyone. (I'd include fair paying job with benefits, but this blog is not fantasy)

Me - I've got supportive friends and family in every sense of the word. I want for nothing.

With 24 shopping days left until Christmas, this list is short and likely incomplete.  Please add recipients and the gift(s) you would bestow. Whatever you choose, please keep the gift in your price range.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Abandoning the 99ers and receiving nothing.

As usual, the always relevant Donalee King was her eloquent mix of facts and fury on Thanksgiving. In synopsis, Donalee makes the case that everyone (I take editorial license to exclude Ed Schultz) from Sen. Stabenow to unions to advocacy groups to rally organizers have lied to the 99ers. The 99ers have been encouraged to lend their voice to every Democratic and unemployment cause only to have Tier V (or any talk of extensions beyond 99 weeks) excluded from last minute negotiations to extend unemployment benefits past November 30, 2010. She proposes lobbying the new Congress to strip NELP of funding as part of the presumed upcoming austerity program in January.  She continues by withdrawing her support from any extension that does not help the 99ers and concludes telling the Dems to grow a set and combine extending expiring tax cuts with long term extension of unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks. It's hard to argue with Donalee but I do want to disagree at least in part.

I heartily agree with combining tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions in the way only a self promoting blogger can.  I suggested this combination on August 27, 2010. Extend long term unemployment benefits (including TierV, VI or Tier XX if necessary) for the same period as tax cuts for the ultra wealthy. The CBO reports unemployment benefits are 5 times more effective than extended tax cuts in creating economic production. Given this obvious logic I can only assume the conversation will still be about tax cuts with unemployment benefits being at most a footnote.  On that count, big thanks to both Congress and major media outlets.

I split with Donalee on her decision to "unsupport" the less than 99ers.  As a 99er, I can't understand Donalee's frustration but I am fully aware of my anger. As a 99er, I was able to cross each week off the calendar, fully aware when my unemployment safety net would end.  For those under 99 weeks of benefits, a sudden end (for example, tomorrow) is even more unsettling than being a 99er.  I speak from personal experience.  I went through the Congressional "June Swoon" when no one beyond 99 weeks received benefits previously approved.  The idea that unemployed planning on up to 99 weeks of benefits cut off at 26 weeks is as unsettling as the lack of support for 99ers.  Still, I can't agree on the actions of NELP, unions, etc.

Although flummoxed at the piss poor economic policy of not continuing unemployment extensions given the high unemployment rate and stagnant job creation the stupidity of Congress never surprises me.  If my advocacy groups must abandon my needs to serve millions of others I realize I might get left out. But NELP, AFL-CIO, Working America, One Nation Working Together and others have flushed me like blue ice and gotten nothing.  Don't jettison my needs without getting something for the rest of the unemployed.  At the end of the day I fear not only will I be left out (and me and my family are my primary concern) but so will everyone else beyond 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.  The war analogy fits here, don't make me a casualty for nothing.

On a final note, Donalee's Thanksgiving article ends with a description of her personal desperation. Donalee, don't give up, now or ever.  Your talent shines through. Any organization would be blessed to add your ability and passion.  Don't let short sighted idiots get you down, you are way too good for that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude.

I'm watching the parade with my family.  We had a substantial breakfast and look forward to an overabundant family meal later.  I am lucky to spend today in this manner and would like to share just some of things for which I am grateful.

1. The friends I have made on Twitter via #Twittermarch, #TierV and #99ers. The circumstances that bring us together are maddening but the relationships are priceless. It is my fervent wish that we all enjoy better next year.

2. My wife's unending love and support.  I've been unemployed for nearly 27 months.  My family has not missed a meal nor has the county sheriff has paid a visit.  This is a testament to my wife's financial wizardry.  Without her, I doubt there would be any semblance of stability in the midst of all this uncertainty.

3. Last Monday's tornado that touched down two miles from my house.  I am sad for those that experienced injury or property damage and grateful it wasn't me.

4. The same tornado flipped a school bus, with only minor injuries (a minor injury is one that occurs in someone else's family).  My children were not on that bus but were in transit at about the same time. I don't want to think about what might have happened.

5.  We'll be joining family to celebrate Thanksgiving in a few hours.  My niece has obligations that keep her at school but everyone else will attend.  A big family meal is not without stress but it's a kind of stress I'm happy to have.  No one is at war overseas or in a hospital. I'd rather have an argument than a table with an empty seat.

This list just scratches the surface. Obviously I have my challenges but all things considered my cornucopia of life overflows with good stuff.  I wish everyone as many blessing as I have today and the entire year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

`Tis the season to work together

Thanksgiving is just a few days away kicking off the official holiday season (Ignore the Xmas carols you've been hearing since Halloween). Charities appeal for assistance in the spirit of the season. Wouldn't it be nice if Congress would answer this appeal?

In a modest a effort to give our elected officials an example, I remind Congress of an event from almost a century ago. In the midst of World War I, soldiers called for a truce during Christmas, 1914. If armed adversaries can conceptualize and execute a cessation from killing, why is it so hard for Congress to find civil exchange and common ground?

My last post indicated it was time for the unemployed to stop painfully pondering the inequity of our lot and find the energy and reason to move forward.  I still stand by every word but that doesn't mean I can't find a few moments to politic on behalf of 99ers and not yet 99ers. In this light, please click on the link and sign the petition to our Congressional leadership.  It only takes a moment and though it may not help it certainly can't hurt. Then continue your bold action plan to success.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A letter to the 99ers.

Dear Colleagues:

Except for bad news, we 99ers would have no news at all. I got my latest news from Mike Thornton.  All unemployment extensions  are scheduled to expire November 30. Congress adjourned after an exhausting four working days and didn't move forward on unemployment extensions. Extending tax cuts to those making over $250K may be a bargaining chip for assisting the unemployed, but apparently not to help the 99ers. Except for 99ers (and Ed Schultz) no one is talking about the 99ers. What should we do?

My answer came from Sarah Robinson and her blog "Escaping Mediocrity".  Ms. Robinson's point is that it's easy to find a reason not to do something. That is the path most people choose.  Those that seek a reason to act inevitably succeed as a result of their move to action. I agree and today is a great day to start.

Do not mistake this as a "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" lecture to 99ers.  Anyone that suggests that 99ers are not doing everything possible to be a non-99er is a jerk.  99ers are some of the bravest and driven people I know. Unfortunately strength and motivation may not be enough to stave off eviction and hunger.

One choice is to lobby Congress even harder for extended unemployment benefits. Unfortunately the most expansive option is S3706 which currently is only discussed in a whisper and not even out of committee. S3706 calls for an additional 20 weeks of benefits in some states.  I don't expect the economy to be significantly different in 20 weeks, so S3706 is at best a band-aid. There is nothing wrong with a band-aid, it's just insufficient.

Another option is to continue to be angry. Donalee King has been expressing this rage most eloquently. This is not a criticism of Donalee.  She is a tireless advocate on behalf of the unemployed and a continual source of inspiration. But sitting around reading Donalee and being angry along with her doesn't move me forward.  It's time to stop being incredulous about getting f***ed, light up a smoke and get moving.

Identify a skill, something you do better than anyone.  Rediscover professional passion, your reason for heading out the door. Combine these two and find a way build a living with them. This is the choice I've made. Easy, right?  Not at all! If it were easy everybody would do it and it's time to be different from others. Bold action isn't one option , it is the only option.

Success will not come easily, nor is it guaranteed.  Even failure moves success one step closer. Most importantly, failure while striving to achieve is better than disaster while waiting for help.  99ers have been labeled lazy and drug addicts. These mean spirited opinionated bastards deserve an extended middle finger waved in their faces. Every move toward success is that flip-off.  I will not give these jerks a victory, I will fight.

I was talking with my friend and neighbor "Union Jack".  Jack is a union electrician.  In 2009 he worked about 14 weeks and thought that was a tough Christmas.  He's worked 8 weeks in 2010, this will be the mean Christmas.  I plan on kicking mean in the ass. I'm hoping many will join me in this endeavor.

My prayer for all unemployed this winter is shelter, sustenance and success. It's about time.

With admiration,
Barry

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Words matter.

Wandering through the local Toys R Us I saw a sign atop a bin, "Retired Beanie Babys". Obviously, TRU is trying to clear inventory, but the perception of Beanie Baby Closeout/Blowout/Discount vs. the perception of Retired Beanie Babies is significant even though the goal is the same. Words create image, words matter.

I am a lifelong liberal. Politically, I've been playing defense my entire life.  Liberals lose the word game and have to fight twice as hard to drive public opinion. Liberals must stop using conservative terminology and reframe the discussion with favorable word images.

"Pro-life, Pro-choice". The inference is that a woman that wants control of her body is somehow against life. In contrast many anti-abortion activists have no problems with the death penalty or untold millions dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. These anti-choicers are many things but certainly not pro-life. Start framing the abortion debate accurately: intrusive big government required reproduction vs. personal reproductive rights.

Cap and trade is a moderate response to pollution control. Other options include cap and tax/fine (government receives income from carbon credits), cap (comply or close) or allowing our world to become a pile of toxic goo.   Opponents call it cap and tax (if only) or government intrusion.  Proponents should call cap and trade what it truly is: free market pollution abatement.

Entitlement programs. Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment benefits are not entitlements, they are safety nets.  Framing them as entitlements evokes a spoiled rich kid with unrealistic expectations as a birth rite. Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Compensation are insurance programs. Insurance is pooled risk. By definition not everyone enrolled in an insurance program benefits equally. Some receive greater than their input, some less than their input and some lucky individuals don't need the benefit. Would you rather receive payment from you auto insurance or be accident free?  The only thing that makes Social Security or Medicare entitlements is that individuals that do not need benefits, receive benefits.  Income and asset test these "entitlements" and reserve the programs for those in need of a safety net.

Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits. There is no benefit to being unemployed for any length of time. Unemployment compensation supports both the recipient and the community and occasionally must be extended beyond 26 weeks during a weak economy. Refer to unemployment insurance compensation as local short term recession mitigation. Individuals and their neighborhoods suffer during high unemployment. Foreclosures rise, property values plunge, businesses close and the cycle spirals downward to disaster. It makes sense to invest in these communities through (unemployed) individuals until the economy is sustainable. Anyone in Congress listening?

Liberals will continue to make a case to a deaf public if conservatives are allowed to control terminology.  When liberals use proper language there is no debate. Progressive points are self evident.  Choose the right words and control the conversation.

Some of the above newly coined terms are rather lengthy.  Any ideas to make them shorter or sharper?  Do you have any other terms to recast?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

My friend and neighbor, "Union Jack" posted this on his FB page on Tuesday. I can't improve on perfect so with his permission I am using it for today.  Thank you, Union Jack.


I am a Veteran. A Veteran is someone who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America, for an amount up to and including their life. I honor those who served before me, those who have served with me, and those who will serve after me. God bless them ALL. Copy and paste if you are a Veteran.on Tuesday  




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Leftovers

My final thoughts on the mid-term election, specifically turnout:

Thank you to everyone that bothered to vote no matter your choices.  The only way to counter billions of dollars in hidden contributions is to make elected officials accountable. It is critical to demonstrate to politicians that we are watching. Voting is fundamental.

As a corollary to above, anyone that voted GOP, Green, Libertarian or independent although I disagree with your choice I respect your decision. Again, thank you for voting.

Finally to any 99er, unemployed, GLBT or liberal/progressive that voted to send Dems a message or stayed home because you didn't get enough change with your hope, go to hell. You are a codependent facilitator of all things not working in America. You can't effect anything when you sit on the sidelines. Please do not complain about the next two years, you've earned it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Keith is back to work tomorrow, #99ers are back to work...

Late last night my wife found an update that Keith Olbermann will be back at Countdown on Tuesday.  I am happy Keith is back, not only as a fan, but as a 99er as well. It's not because of unemployment coverage on Countdown.  Countdown touches on unemployment and job creation but not nearly enough for my taste. I'm happy Keith is back to work because his suspension no longer monopolizes the newscycle.

Since his suspension was announced on Friday, support has come from multiple sources. A petition with over 300,000 signatures, at least two Facebook pages totaling over 15,000 "likes", a Twitter site with 210 followers, 2 Twibbons (2200+ supporters) and even William Kristol. All this activity in under 72 hours.  The unemployed, some without any safety net for over 7 months get this support: preemptive armed guards at unemployment offices, tax cuts for the wealthy to "create jobs" and the usual cut spending from one (safety net) program to fund another (safety net) program.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am a huge fan of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann". I'm glad Keith is back. He gives is "liberal media bias" and I want him on the air. I understand why over 315,000 would mobilize on his behalf in a weekend.  Why can't (won't) the same group and more do exactly the same to support millions (and growing each week) of unemployed? More importantly, what can I do to get 300,000+ to spend 10 minutes to advocate for the unemployed?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Today is November 3, 2010. Make it count.

Senate races in Colorado, Alaska and Washington are too close to call.  It is still too soon for analysis and too early to make predictions for 2012.  I remember November 4, 2008. Two years is a very long time.

The future for the unemployed however, looks uncertain.  No extensions are funded beyond November 30, 2010.  Anyone receiving benefits beyond 26 weeks will be cut off beginning in December.  The incoming Congress appears unfriendly and potentially hostile to the plight of the unemployed.  99ers and all unemployed must target the lame duck session of Congress (beginning Nov. 15, 2010) for any help. Grassroots lobbying on behalf of the 15 millions+ unemployed begins today.

UWAG has suggestions. I expect other unemployment writers, bloggers and advocacy groups will also have recommendations for action. I suggest calling/faxing the Whitehouse, Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi.  I would contact each of these three today, tomorrow and each day after until there are extended unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks. Each day is precious, don't waste a single one.

Postscript: Donalee King wrote last night about the potential of violent protests. I don't disagree but I hope she is wrong. Violence doesn't solve anything and only delays reaching goals.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time to vote and move forward.

Election day, which means the plethora of campaign ads are finally over.  In the "no more commercials" spirit, today's post is 100% non-partisan.  First, however is an unpaid political announcement.

On this election day, please take a few minutes and vote. With voter turnout well below 70% politicians have no reason to do the people's business; clearly the electorate isn't watching. Until voter participation goes sky high, elected officials will continue to chase corporate money. The power to reform government is in our hands. It's time to take control. Happy election day and now today's post.

I watched the Sanity/Fear rally and really enjoyed it. Both ends of the spectrum were skewered. Pointing out the absurdity of extremes is important in comedy. Good comedy should be non-partisan.  I also enjoyed  Jon Stewart spelling it all out as a conclusion. Stewart made sure no side could claim the rally as a victory. His metaphor about merging lanes on a busy highway was perfect.  Shouldn't government work together in areas on which all (most) agree and compromise when they differ?

A bipartisan committee has called for a full audit of defense spending. This is a great place to start. Find specific cuts in the defense budget, apply 50% to deficit reduction, 25% to tax cuts and 25% to social programs/safety nets. Everybody gets something, no one gets nothing and America gets government that works.

I am not an expert on government budgets. I am sure there are a myriad of reasons why my example is too simplistic. So what, start somewhere. The last two years have been an embarrassing example of government gridlock. Screw blame and move the country forward.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nightmares and elections.

My daughter came into my room at 4:30 this morning. "Daddy I had a bad dream and I don't want to go back to sleep." "C'mon, honey I'll walk you back, tuck you in and start your music." "Daddy, it was a really bad dream and it keeps coming back." "Sweetie, you know it's just a dream and Mommy and I are just down the hall." "I know Daddy, but it's really scary and I don't want to dream it again."  "I know it must be scary, but think good thoughts and maybe the dream won't come back." "Okay, Daddy I'll try."  As I tucked her in, I thought, "Wow, I'm having the same problem, but we don't let the kids watch campaign coverage."

The mid-term election is just a few days away and has scary implications. Putting aside partisan philosophy, I want to share a thought all sides can agree on.  Government, especially in Washington is unresponsive and rarely does an adequate job of addressing public needs. Our elected officials vote to better themselves and are corrupt because of gobs of money from lobbyists and special interests.  There's little difference between the candidates and I don't trust them.

Why should Governors, Representatives, Senators, etc. act on behalf of the public? Creating good policy is part of the job description but the populace does not monitor government. Election turnout the last 50 years is no higher than 63% for a presidential election and 48% for a midterm election. The best case scenario is over 1/3 of the voters don't care enough to vote. Why shouldn't politicians vote for themselves, we're not watching.

I realize it's not that simple. The entire system of campaign finance needs to be overhauled. The first step is to show politicians that we are watching. A turnout over 70% no matter the results, sends the message we are all watching. That will begin the turnaround and government will again be for the people.

The action plan is straightforward. Vote, tell everyone you are voting and encourage everyone to vote. Should someone suggest voting is a personal decision, explain why they are wrong. When someone doesn't vote they screw up their chance at a better America (they're choice) but they also screw up my chance at a better America. That is unacceptable.  Better government begins with me and then with you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jackboots, Brownshirts and Woody Guthrie.

Joe Miller's (R Senate candidate, Alaska) security detail handcuffed and detained a reporter at a public rally... for asking questions. At the Rand Paul-Jack Conway debate, a protester has her head held to the ground by a Paul supporter's foot and the candidate says nothing.  Christine O' Donnell's campaign demands a videotape from a radio station under threat of a lawsuit. These candidates have Tea Party support and favor a strict interpretation of the Constitution.  I wonder how they feel about the 1st Amendment? At least the Tea Party is extreme, mainstream Republicans wouldn't allow this to happen. Unless you're Eric Cantor and prefer  to avoid debates. Is this what we are willing to become?

It must be a rule that every summer camper sing "This Land is Your Land",  at least 1000 times.  Written by Woody Guthrie, it's a wonderful upbeat song extolling America's virtues from coast to coast. Unless you know all the verses. Like many Guthrie songs it has numerous verses and most camps don't sing more than a couple. As the song continues it shows a darker side of America alluding to the poor, hungry and disenfranchised.  But even those somber verses lead to the chorus: "this land was made for you and me."

The Republican Party believes in an exclusive America, where a small privileged upper class reaps the benefits and the rest of us fight for scraps.  The GOP has even developed an "extreme" wing, the Tea Party. Using the Tea Party, the Republicans will go to extreme measures to impose their will on the American electorate. I sound severe but I have not heard any "mainstream Republican" decry the intimidation detailed above. I can only assume that the entire GOP finds these abhorrent tactics acceptable.

It is important to remember that this land was made for you and me. Nobody is better than me because they have different beliefs, background, upbringing or race. No one has more rights just because they have more money. Unfortunately, Woody's America isn't free. Sometimes I have to fight for my part of America. The easiest part of this fight for Woody Guthrie's America requires I vote, which I have done. Will you stand up and fight (vote) for this land, made for you and me? The alternative sits before us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vote to Govern.

Two months ago, I thought I would stay home on November 2nd because the Democrats had not done enough to support the long term unemployed.  Last month I changed my opinion and committed to vote Dem 2010. The Dems have still not done enough for the unemployed and the future looks worse, but I have met my commitment. Through early voting opportunity I cast my ballot on Monday. I was rewarded for my efforts by Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Sen. McConnell told the National Review that as majority leader his 1st priority is to hold Obama to one term. Sen. McConnell is the most powerful Republican; I commend him for his honesty but condemn him for his legislative agenda.  Despite his claim to represent the public, he does not reflect the concerns of the American electorate. Even more telling is his desire to use power not to govern but to protect power.

I voted for candidates to make policy that moves our country forward. I hope that everyone takes this opportunity to do the same.

Monday, October 25, 2010

1st Amendment, NPR and hypocrites

On Wednesday, October 20, 2010 NPR fired Juan Williams due to opinions he shared on "The O'Reilly Factor." This led to lengthy discussions regarding 1st Amendment rights on talk radio and pledges to defund NPR from Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor and others. The threat against NPR is the usual right wing shell game.

No one has taken Juan Williams free speech nor threatened his 1st Amendment rights. The 1st Amendment guarantee means he can't be thrown in jail but it does not guarantee employment. Many agree with Juan Williams and others disagree. Some think NPR was wrong to fire Williams, some are happy that he's gone.  No matter your belief about the firing, it has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment.

The right wing attack lacks merit. In absence of any substantive policy (other than channeling 8 years of George W. Bush), beating up  "liberal, elite" NPR is yet another attempt to distract voters from real issues. More appalling is the very same people that decried big government intervention with the American auto industry which saved thousands of jobs, are willing to jump into a corporate HR decision over a single employee.

The last 22 months have been a low light for efficient government. Allowing DeMint, Cantor and the rest of the Republican party a larger contingent will only further slow down our government. Vote Dem 2010.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another reason for 99ers and progressives to vote.

I was driving home last night, listening to "Simon and Garfunkel" (yes, I am that old) and thinking about the future. Even though I have heard "The Boxer" often, the closing lyrics carried new meaning.

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders 
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains.

I am a 99er and a progressive.  As a progressive I am realistic about the state of things but, I want change, I want better.  Being a progressive leads to much disappointment because so many people are afraid of change. Often I want to give up advocating for how things should be. Then, I remember those that fought and continue to fight for equality (gender, race or marraige) and realize I can't stop. If past proponents of change had quit, we would not be analyzing the women's vote or the minority vote for the pending election. So I remain and advocate.

It is a bit more complicated being a 99er. I am tired of explaining why I still don't have a job. My wife reworks our budget every time we spend anything. It is very painful watching her. I just want it all to stop. However, it will only stop once I find a job (or two). So I keep fighting to find work, no matter how draining the process. 

I realize how aggravating and frustrating the past 22 months have been for progressives and 99ers. I realize this because I am also tired and angry of having to fight for every scintilla of change. Still I don't have the liberty of giving up, because if I give up the change I want will never occur. So  like Simon and Garfunkel's boxer, I remain.  Remaining means I must vote November 2, 2010 to continue to move the process of change forward. Just like "The Boxer" I must vote no matter how much I would prefer to give up. I will not quit. Will you quit or will you vote?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too much at stake.

The funding of unemployment benefits is destined to crash. I am not referring to the various levels of extensions in place (until Nov. 30) due to the current recession.  I'm also not talking about TierV/S3706 vital to 99ers and continuing economic stability. According to Politico, the initial 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, funded in partnership by the US government and each state is going crash. Bipartisan cooperation is necessary to avert the pending crisis. Good luck to everyone.

Historically the  party in power after a Presidential election loses seats in both houses of Congress in the next midterm election. Less than two weeks from the November 2010 elections the narrative continues accordingly. Contrary opinion also exists. Neither supposition really matters.

The approaching unemployment funding catastrophe speaks to 99ers and not yet 99ers alike. Voting is the only way to be heard. Staying home indicates indifference. Voter disinterest breeds Congressional disdain which creates further disasters.  Anger and apathy are comforts I cannot afford. Voting is my only option.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's next?

There hasn't been much news for 99ers lately. More hunger, more homelessness but this is so common it rarely makes the news. Unemployment stable in the mid 9's%, net job creation stagnant. Congress is scheduled to work one week in November and reconvene after Thanksgiving "until business is completed."  That working week in November is critical for all long term unemployed, especially the 99ers.

All emergency unemployment extensions (anything beyond 26 weeks) lose funding November 30, 2010.
Experience teaches that any extensions beyond 99 weeks will not be considered until previous extensions are funded.  Voices are calling for Congress to fund these extensions immediately upon returning to work.  99ers must join the chorus and remind all advocates that a Tier V/S3706  must  be included with funding beyond 26 weeks. If we do not plan ahead and work together we will be left behind yet again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Time to govern.

The USA has been in the midst of a foreclosure mess for a very long time.There are no clear cut solutions to this mess. Bringing this mess to a satisfactory resolution will be complicated. In the end most USA citizens will be affected, likely in a classic lose-lose scenario. That's just the beginning. It appears that most of the reporting has buried the lead when analyzing the foreclosure crisis. As discussed in this "wonky" post on GlobalResearch.ca, the foreclosure crisis is the "canary in the cave" regarding systemic organizational fraud.

It is easy to blame widespread institutional crimes on one party, but it is overly simplistic. Repairing the damage done by lack of oversight will be a long process. I prefer to concentrate on the future.

On November 2, 2010 the USA is facing a referendum on the future. Does the country restore governing power to Republicans, a party that eschews government? Or does the USA continue on a path favored by Democrats; government could and should be a force to move the country forward? No matter which philosophy you choose, it is vital to exercise your choice by voting. An engaged electorate is a vital component of a vibrant democracy. On a personal note, please join me in voting for the Democrats in an attempt to climb out of this economic morass and  move the country forward.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm a lucky 99er

Tomorrow morning my family and I are going to a Pancake Breakfast.  The cost is $5 per person and we really shouldn't be spending $20 for breakfast out. We're going because this breakfast is a fundraiser for my son's friend and schoolmate, Tam.  Tam has (among other things) a rare genetic disease, Senior Loken Syndrome. Tam's in sixth grade and all funds raised will be used to offset the cost of his kidney transplant next month. Tam's mother will be the donor. The transplant will take place at Children's Memorial Hospital, a fabulous children's hospital. Unfortunately, Children's Memorial has no facilities for adults so Tam's mom will be at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

To recap: A sixth grader, suffering from end stage kidney failure due to a rare genetic disease is having a life saving transplant next month. His mother, the donor must be at a hospital, approx 5 miles away.  If successful the follow-up is roughly 2 years.  The family lives 80 miles from Chicago, none of the travel costs are covered by insurance.

I have been out of work for 25+ months, but right now I feel extremely fortunate.  Please join me in sending warm wishes and prayers to Tam and his family.  Updates will follow when available.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Act like a foreign corporation. Influence the upcoming election.

Ever since the Supreme Court puked on a century of case law in Citizens United, there has been tremendous concern about the influence of foreign and corporate money on USA elections. How can I, a 99er combat this influx of cash? The answer is simple: Vote. Commit to voting and tell everyone about my plans to vote. I am adding that I will vote for the entire Democratic slate. The Democrats alone have stood opposed to the Citizens United decision with efforts such as the Disclose Act.

It really is that simple. One by one we will defeat billionaires attempting to hijack our election process with money and it starts with me.  Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Outsourcing for comic relief

There is a new show on NBC called "Outsourced". It's about an American sent to manage a call center in Mubai for a novelty company that has sent order processing overseas. Yuk, yuk.

I am familiar with the "fish out of water/culture clash" scenario as a basis for sitcoms. It worked well in "My Favorite Martian", "Mork and Mindy" and "Northern Exposure". Others such as "Hogan's Heroes" and "Bridget Loves Bernie" were controversial. The reason the second grouping had problems was because the scenario is inherently unfunny. The same goes for "Outsourced".

There are many millions unemployed in the US. It is nearly impossible to get an exact count of the unemployed.. The same goes for the unemployment rate. Job creation is slow and many of the jobs that are created are not the same quality as the jobs lost.  Until this crisis is solved, economic recovery will be moderate at best. Outsourcing is a large part of the problem. Outsourcing isn't funny.

I am not calling for a petition drive or a phone protest. There are too many important things happening to spend energy on a television show.  Use "Outsourced" as a teachable moment. If someone is talking about "Outsourced", suggest the show's concept is offensive. Talking TV with the neighbors? Tell them outsourcing costs millions of jobs. "Outsourced" is nothing to laugh about.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Will you let our house burn down?

Events of the last 10 days have presented 99er NOVOs and progressives a unique referendum. To recap, Gene and Paulette Cranick live in Obion County, TN. Their house is not within the South Fulton, TN city limits.  The Cranicks are served by the South Fulton, TN fire department. Those that do not live in the South Fulton, TN city limits must pay a $75 fee annually to qualify for fire department services.  The Cranicks did not pay the fire protection fee this year.  On Wednesday Sept. 29, 2010 the Cranicks house caught on fire. The fire department did not respond to calls to assist the Cranicks. The fire department arrived when a neighbor's house (they had paid their fee) was in jeopardy. Despite offers to pay anything by the Cranicks and the neighbor, the fire department allowed the Cranick's house to burn, watering the fence line and remaining to protect the nieghbor's house. The Cranick's house burnt to the ground.

November 2, 2010 presents an opportunity.  Our country is on fire facing potential long term damage.  The Democrats have failed to move forward on many agenda items including: single payer health carecap and trade, EFCA. For the long term unemployed the Democrats did not provide a safety net that matches economic realities. The Democrats have not paid their $75. (The Republicans offer a return to the policies of George W. Bush; they have failed to buy a hose) I will not sit silently while America burns.

I am voting for every Democrat on my ballot on November 2, 2010.  Although imperfect, the Democrats have the best chance of putting out the fire currently burning in USA. Will you watch the fire burn or will you vote to save "our house'?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

House burns while firefighters watch.

Firefighters watched while a house burned in South Fulton, TN for lack of a prepaid $75 fee. How could this happen in the USA? Blind loyalty to a principle, for example, lower taxes to control wasteful government spending.

Unhappiness with an over-reaching government is an American value; it's a primary reason the USA exists.  The driving force for smaller government in my lifetime goes back to the Great Communicator. In truth, the size of government is immaterial. The effectiveness of government matters. Effective government requires a broad spectrum of ideas and an open exchange to work towards consensus. Voting as a block for the sake of politics renders a representative democracy useless. The result is lack of government.

I do not think the tragedy in Tennessee is a case of Republican vs. Democrat. Firefighters watching a house burn for the sake of money is common sense vs. tree stump stupid. Anyone that thinks it was OK to allow the house to burn, welcome to the U.S. Forest Service.


The preamble to the Constitution charges the people with  "promote the general welfare" among other responsibilities.  What would Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would say about watching the house burn?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mignon Veasley-Fields, Role Model, Hero but only half right.

When I got a chance to review email Friday night, I found another outstanding article from Donalee King. Donalee reviewed an exchange between Ed Schultz and Mignon Veasley-Fields. Ed Schultz has been the strongest media voice advocating on behalf of the 99ers. Ms. Veasley-Fields, a 99er has also been an advocate for the unemployed, consistently available to educate about the plight of the 99ers.  When Ms. Veasly-Fields (I know her as @agape122) speaks for the 99ers, she speaks for me.


In conversation with Ed, Ms. Veasley-Fields laid blame for the failure of S3706 on both parties in Congress.

"Well Ed, yes, we have committed that we are going to encourage our fellow 99ers to vote for either party that their choice. However, ??Ed, yesterday was very disappointing for us. And even though we are trying to tell them to vote, many of them are not going to vote even though the No NOVO says to go ahead and do this. They were disillusioned by what they saw on the Senate floor yesterday. We were grateful for Senator Stabenow for her effort, but we thought it was just sort of put together really quickly like a dog and pony show in order to get us to vote for them. This is a sentiment across this nation." Ms. Fields told Ed.


Schultz countered: "But if the Republicans, but Mignon, if the Republican Senator had not stood up, this would have gone through, and you would have had the votes, and you would have gotten an extension. It's the Republicans. Why take it out on the Democrats, the majority Party that time and time again has been there for the unemployed?


"To which Mignon replied: "Well you know, Ed, we have gone back in the history of the tiers. We as 99ers have tried to figure this out ourselves. What has happened is we can remember the time in which the Republicans said, "Sure, get another tier. Use the stimulus funds. And the Democrats said, 'No, we need to find sourcing for unemployment.' So now we're thinking back on that, and we're realizing it's not the Republicans. It was the Democrats that caused us to be in the situation that we're in. We want the Democrats to come back before this election, and we want them to come back and rectify this, Ed."


I don't need to comment on the actions of the Republican caucus, their actions are self-declaratory. So I am going to concentrate on the Democrats and their total mismanagement of  the legislative process.


Even before Senator Bunning blocked benefits in February, the Republicans made their strategy obvious: Party unity to block everything.  Still the Democrats attempted to include the Republicans in the legislative process.  Memo to Charlie Brown (as played by Harry Reid): No matter what Lucy (as played by any Senate Republican) says, nor how much you want to believe her, as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Lucy will pull the football away.  You will always land flat on your back, every time. As long as the Dems continue to play Charlie Brown, progressive agenda items (extended unemployment benefits) will remain blood battles. Until the Democrats approach the unemployment safety net and job creation together as a long term issue the results will be substandard.


Use of  "dormant" stimulus funds to pay for any Tiers of unemployment benefits is questionable politics and curious policy. Politically, I doubt the Republican's sincerity (see memo to Charlie Brown above) in voicing this suggestion. Ignoring Tea Party crazy candidates,  Republican Senators are the party of David Vitter, John Ensign and Jim DeMint; hypocrisy and arrogance defined.  As for policy, the "unspent" stimulus funds are already allocated to specific projects. Spending these funds on a safety net today makes them unavailable for job creation tomorrow. Without continued job creation there will be a greater need for the same safety net in the future, merely shifting burden within the same demographic. This type of "Darwinism" is often replicated in a laboratory experiment: Starve some mice,  put 1 or 2 pieces of cheese in their common area and watch the mice fight it out. As policy this tactic is a favorite of the wealthy. Keep the disadvantaged fighting amongst themselves. While competing against each other for limited resources the disadvantaged won't organize for their common good. The result maintains the status quo, a primary goal of well healed conservatives and totally contrary to a progressive agenda. 
Hungry and homeless are neither progressive nor conservative issues. Hunger and homelessness are human issues. Unfortunately the current conservative responses to these social issues are...? I don't know the conservative response to hunger and homelessness because I haven't heard any. Clearly, I disagree with using unspent stimulus funds to pay for extended unemployment benefits. But it's okay to disagree with someone, even a hero like Mignon Veasley-Fields. It's counterproductive to squabble like hungry lab rats.

Do you agree or disagree about using stimulus funds for unemployment? What about unity of message for the 99ers?

Friday, October 1, 2010

DC Rally Tomorrow: It's About Time

Our day is almost here. Tomorrow is the One Nation Working Together Rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. It's about time.

I came to One Nation Working Together as a member of the long term unemployed. The USA needs good paying jobs for the sake of all citizens. One Nation stands for more than that: It stands for full equality, a safety net for those at risk and world class public education. In short One Nation Working Together represents middle class values.

During my formative years it appeared the USA was on track for embedding these middle class values permanently.  Somewhere between  my High School graduation and my kids entering middle school America took a wrong turn and turned on the middle class. This must be rectified. So it is about time for tomorrow's rally.

It is important that the rally is not the culmination of efforts to restore the middle class. The rally must be the beginning.  For me, my children and my grandchildren. So I intend to keep middle class values in my daily conversation. As just one guy in the Midwest I ask that tomorrow's rally become an annual event. America needs it and Americans deserve it.

What are your thoughts about tomorrow's rally? A beginning? The end? A stop along the way? What does the One Nation Working Together rally mean to you?