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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No news from Gov't but things are happening.

On Sunday, I tweeted this link from the US Unemployed Blogsite, "No News But Speculation-So Why Say Anything." The gist of the post stated there is nothing new with no legislation scheduled; so if you can't say anything good.... I cannot dispute the fact about legislation nor the prayers for full employment by Labor Day; I agree 100%.  None the less the editor did not address the positive things that happened in August. Maybe there is something to hope for.

Before I continue I must offer this disclaimer: For the 99ers, long-term, shorter-term or soon to be, no silver lining exists. If they have not yet experienced total disaster (I include myself) they fear total disaster every day. Fearing something every day means you have that experience every day. This type of existence quashes hope and remains immune to "Things aren't all that bad". In truth things are indeed all that bad. Still the tide may be starting to turn.

During August bills addressing unemployment compensation beyond 99 weeks were introduced in the Senate and the House. Ed Schultz promoted and attended a rally on Wall Street in support of the 99ers. Reverend Jesse Jackson led a Jobs, Justice and Peace rally in Detroit with the potential for additional rallies in other cities.  Legislatively I realize both bills are imperfect, need to be merged into one bill and no debate is scheduled. The longest journey starts with a single step and for 99ers the first step has been taken.  Ed Schultz and Reverend Jackson are great advocates and they speak to different audiences.  This is the only the beginning of a single battle on behalf of the middle class, but I am pleased by those on our side. Except for Ed Schultz none of this was a reality before the month began.

Much more needs to be done but the framework exists.  There are various groups working for the unemployed. Both UCubed and Working America have Union affiliations. The Unions bring organization and access that a group of individuals would be hard pressed to acquire. A rally is scheduled in DC on October 2.  It is now up to the 99ers and their support to continue to speak out in any manner available. Each day is dear, but the past has passed and cannot be recaptured. There is a possibility of reclaiming the future. That's what happened this month. Not much in the way of results but much more than "no news". This is more than speculation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bipartisanship can happen

I was going through the usual this morning and found this article via Ezra Klein's Wonkbook. Some Dems are considering pushing for extension of the Bush tax cuts due to the continued lack of economic improvement. This could be a godsend for the #99ers.  Extend the tax cuts across the board including the uber-wealthy and add a jobs program with extended unemployment benefits.  Since tax cuts and safety net would be lumped together their timing should be the same. Extend tax cuts thru 2011, do the same for long term unemployment benefits. Thru 2012, 2013, the longer the better.

I realize it would be near impossible to make the "numbers" work. So? That has never stopped Congress before. I believe the only goal for the 99ers should be jobs, jobs, jobs with a safety net until significant job creation can be achieved.  Many Congressional friends of the unemployed have been working tirelessly to provide that safety net but with only sporadic success.  Politics is the art of giving up something to receive something. This would put the needs of the most at risk with the wants of the least at risk.

Albert Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."  Let the deal making begin.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vote or stay home?

Last week I received an email from UCubed, an unemployed advocacy group. Along with other groups, they do a great job supporting and organizing to the unemployed.  If you have not yet joined (free), please do. The email presented a challenge for me, one that I have not resolved.

The email was about an Internet ad that will appear after Labor Day but more importantly the email asked for my personal commitment to vote this November.  I received a similar request from Organizing for America. Normally I feel no need to commit to vote, I vote. Currently I am not living in normal times. I am living through the Great Depression of the 21st Century. The USA is as divisive as it has been since the Viet Nam Era. This period in  history is certainly abnormal which presents me with a problem. I am not committed to voting this November.

This is not apathy, it's fury. The  Republican transgressions are many, listing them serves no purpose. Their agenda is transparent. They exist solely to serve and protect the landed gentry of the USA. They use many tools to build a coalition with the non-landed, non-gentry. I find most of these tools (wedge issues) abhorrent. I could not bring myself to vote for any of the Republican candidates that will be on the Illinois ballot. I do have a certain grudging admiration for the Republican's ability to carry out their agenda.

The Democrats are the problem. My unemployment insurance benefits will run out before they return from recess. As of today, everyone beyond 26 weeks will exhaust benefits on Nov. 30, 2010. The Democratic approach to continuation of benefits is beyond disappointing.  Each successive funding attempt has stretched longer than the previous and nothing has been done to address the 99ers. I don't want to hear apologies, excuses or reasons for previous activity. The past is over. I am concerned about the Democratic plan for future unemployment benefits through  this coming Winter. The Democrats have not articulated their program for job creation and the accompanying safety net beyond Nov. 30, 2010.  This makes me furious.

I realize there are many issues and an election is coming.  I am not willing to vote for the lesser of two evils.  I will not be taken for granted nor will I be pacified. I expect the Democrats to have the will to help the 99ers. I demand they address the issue. Silence will not keep me hoping for their assistance, it will merely keep home on Election Day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Glenn, again

Glenn Beck's love note to the long term unemployed drew significant criticism from advocates for assistance for the long term unemployed. Both Mike Thornton and Donalee King did their usual great job in breaking down the fallacy of criticizing the victim, in this case the 99ers. I especially enjoyed Donalee employing her literary skills to point out that Beck is merely a body part. It is important that the rantings of the overwrought right are challenged. Without dissenting voices these unsubstantiated opinions are considered truth. Still, at least Glenn Beck is working this week.

Consider this: Anybody heard from Senators Stabenow and Schumer since the recess? How about Representatives Berkley and McDermott since their House proposal? Speaker Pelosi or Majority Leader Reid guaranteeing full debate and passage of "The Americans Want To Work Act" prior to the next recess or ever?  Anything from President Obama and he's still in public view?  These are our friends(?) and we hear more from Glenn Beck!

Glenn Beck is paid by Fox News and Premiere Radio Network to provoke response (positive or negative) that drives ratings.  Agree or disagree with the message, he is outstanding at his job.  Compare this with the previously mentioned elected officials. They are paid with tax dollars. Their election was assisted by donations and sweat equity from many of the currently unemployed. They commit to nothing, leaving me (and many of you) waiting like a teenager for a prom invitation. It's more than insulting, in some cases it's fatal.  At least Beck voices his opinion.

Imagine being Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or Barack Obama and failing a comparison to Glenn Beck. Yikes.

There is nothing wrong with expressing outrage about Beck's disgraceful categorizing of the long term unemployed. So call Ed Schultz, email Rachel Maddow, tweet Keith Olbermann and sign a petition in protest. However if this is all that is done, nothing has been achieved. Contact Congress, Governors, State Officials, Mayors, Clergy, neighbors, friends, store owners, etc. Give them the message: Jobs now and if not enough jobs, a safety net. A safety net through the winter, because creating jobs takes time. A safety net through the winter because it supports the economy and property values. A safety net through the winter for 4 million+  because it's the right thing to do. A safety net through winter because Glenn Beck thinks that's crazy, which makes the idea unfailingly credible.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Never thought I would say this....

Yesterday afternoon my Twitter stream was on fire about Glenn Beck's latest rant. In case you missed it, I have taken the liberty of embedding it on the right side (no pun intended) of my blog. If Mr. Beck continues in this light he may be the 99ers best friend since Ed Schultz.

If you are unfamiliar with Glenn Beck, he began his career as a "Morning Zoo" radio guy. Beck, who personally supports some of the ideas he publicly mocks has taken the "Zoo" concept and applied it to daily issues. I admit I don't watch it, I am not a fan of his variety of performance art. Others apparently enjoy it, his was the #3 Cable News Show in July. Whether he is clown or clairvoyant is immaterial, he is watched.

Before the Wall Street Rally on Thursday, I wrote that the rally's success would make it a target. The rally was successful obtaining press coverage in numerous papers and spreading the message of the unemployed. I didn't realize how successful until Mr. Beck chose to highlight it on his show.

I don't agree with Mr. Beck's comments, I find them both ignorant and repugnant. That is how Glenn Beck earns his money, reinforcing stupidity with provocative lunacy. He speaks about issues that rally the frightened.  Now he's speaking about the 99ers.  We must be successful.  Keep up the pressure, it's working.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For those attending the rally

In just a few hours the Wall Street rally to speed passage of the "Americans Want to Work Act" and additional rights for the long term unemployed will begin. The rally is sponsored by the Unemployed Workers Action Group. Attendees will wear buttons, wave signs and listen to speeches. They may even march around in a circle a couple of times.  After about an hour the rally is scheduled to conclude. But the narrative is not guaranteed and no one knows exactly what to expect.

When attendees arrive they join the ranks of abolitionists, suffragists, unionists and civil rights activists. Although it appears extreme to compare this single rally with some of the great equality movements of our country, those causes did not began as chapters of our history. They began as a select few spoke out against something they found fundamentally wrong. Today the fight for jobs with living wages and a safety net when those jobs disappear continues. Time will assign this cause it's appropriate place in history.

Should there be a counter rally or individuals that voice mean-spirited opinions it is important to remember the dignity of Jackie Robinson, the persistence of Susan B. Anthony, the non-violence of Dr. King. Rally participants represent these greats as well as themselves today. No one has the liberty of being goaded into counterproductive actions, it clouds the message.  Success is vital.

The rally will be successful. The greater the success the larger the target.  When naysayers minimize the rally or dismiss it's message please remember: One suicide prevented, one home saved, one family regaining benefits is God's work. Jobs and expanded safety nets will be achieved.

Distance prevents me from attending today's rally.  I will be there in spirit and thought.  My admiration and prayers go out to those that will be there. Thank you for giving my needs a voice. Together we will reach our goals. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Good news? At least not bad news.

Like so many unemployed I was alerted to Sen. Stabenow's sponsorship of the "Americans Wants To Work Act"  on "The Ed Show" via Twitter. I even claimed TV priority over my kids to watch.  All in all I was hoping for more, but I was pleased that benefits beyond 99 weeks were combined with a jobs initiative.  After all, as one of the long term unemployed, I would prefer working to unemployment benefits.

The bill is a good start but only a beginning.  The bill will pass mid-September at the earliest.  99ers started losing benefits spring, 2010 and they need help today or sooner. Estimates put the number of those without benefits at over 5 million before any help arrives. 20 weeks of benefits are great because it carries through November elections to the lame duck session of Congress.  An additional extension will certainly be necessary; the jobs part of the bill will not eliminate rampant unemployment in 20 weeks.  Senators and Representatives are more likely to vote "compassion/ common sense" when two years away from an election.  Finally, what will be the cost to obtain necessary votes. There are 59 "Democratic" Senators. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders are independents that caucas with the Dems; Ben Nelson is (your words, try to keep it clean this is a G-rated blog) ????  This bill did not wait until 3 days before recess due to lack or awareness.  There was not and has not been enough Democratic support for TierV since May. The jobs creation and unemployment benefits may be vastly different from what Sen. Stabenow is proposing.

What to do? Take the negatives and make them positive.  I realize that for 99ers or soon to be 99ers, positives are impossible. These people are not falling through the cracks, they are falling off a cliff.  It is profoundly sad. I have no answers, so I return to taking action.  Stay aware.  Mike Thornton and Donalee King provide daily insightful updates. Stay active. Congress.org has great tips and a full contact list. Stay calm. It's much easier to solicit help if you are strident, not angry. Stay focused. The unemployed want to work. Until sufficient jobs are created unemployment benefits are a safety net. Retribution through voting (or not) will wait. Stay energized. The 99es energy claimed the attention of Ed Schultz. His daily appeal on behalf of the 99ers moved Senator Stabenow. Stay involved. The Wall Street Rally on August 12 needs support.  "America's 99ers: The Forgotten" must be shown to more people. Other projects will arise,like this on Facebook UBO21C.  If I appear to consistently return to the same theme, I do. Participation is crucial.  This is our moment, we can be part of history. If we fail, we are history.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I'm sorry.

I want to apologize to the 99ers. Not from guilt; I do not feel guilty my benefits currently continue. I do not feel guilty I have supportive friends and family. I do not feel guilty I have kept my house and not missed a meal. I do not feel guilty. I feel grateful, lucky and blessed.

I am frustrated I did not get involved sooner. I am frustrated I can not advocate better, longer or more effectively on a daily basis. I am frustrated that in this country of opportunity there are so many unemployed. I am frustrated Congress refuses to grasp the severity of the issues or the need to act rapidly. I am frustrated people that do not understand why we are unemployed feel the necessity to label us lazy or pampered. I am frustrated that mean spirited individuals blame the unemployed for being unemployed. It took over 20 years of mismanagement to create the current economic climate and NONE OF US  were in charge.

I am sad so many have no where to go. I am sad some may have food and shelter this week but none for next week. I am sad so many take joy in the suffering of others.  I am sad my words offer no solace to me and no comfort for the 99ers. 99ers do not need words, they need action. Action today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, etc. until they get a safety net they can rely on.Yet it will be too late for some and being late for even one is incomprehensible. So my words bring me no solace. Finally, I am sad because none of this angers me. I can not afford the luxury of being angry.

All  I can offer is an apology to the 99ers. I apologize for not being active sooner and for everything that has brought all of us to this point. I want to apologize everyday but I will refrain from doing so; the apology would be hollow and tedious.  I can pray every day. Pray for the 99ers (and the rest of us) and advocate for better. So that is what I will do.