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

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,


  1. This is so awesome. :-) And I am so with you Barry. I've reached to point where I would rather go down in flames attempting something extraordinary than sit on the sidelines, waiting for fate to arrive at my feet.

    Can't wait to see what you do!

  2. Sarah,

    Thank you for your support and thank you for "escaping" out in public. It's nice to not be alone in success, failure and the anxiety that goes with both.