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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Wouldn't Hire Me, Either.

I have observed some of the goings on over the past week in regard to the long term unemployed.  I think many of these proceedings are positive but the overall effect does nothing to move the 99ers agenda forward. I find that fact troubling.

This past week, Rhonda Taylor started a data base to aggregate all the 99ers in one place. Ms. Taylor also acknowledged that to expand the database it is imperative to reach out to 99ers not active in Social Media. During that span Unemployed Friends resurfaced as Unemployed Friends 2.0.  A comprehensive database inclusive of all unemployed will be a welcome aid in organizing and disseminating information to 99ers.  I also want to wish a hearty welcome back to Unemployed Friends. Unemployed Friends was one of my first points of connection when I came joined unemployed rights advocacy. The Unemployed Friends shoe march in the summer of 2010 remains an inspired original action. Hopefully shoe march will resurface. Nothing but good here.

Yesterday and today there is an advocacy action to support H.R. 589.  There has been significant Social Media promotion for this action. A quick count shows a combined 56 respondents (I may have missed something) on the Facebook and Fullseat events pages for this action. Early reviews from yesterday's action activity shows 99ers made some noise. Still, I remain unsettled about results.

H.R. 589 was introduced February 9, 2011 in the 112th Congress and originally as H.R. 6556 in the 111th Congress. I count the combined bills "on the floor" for about 8 weeks, over the half the benefit period the bills hope to offer. So, we now have 99ers "celebrating" a year without benefits and a bill for additional benefits in the system for 8 weeks and the best we can do is 56 public commitments to nag Congress during the 2 day action? U_Cubed shows almost 4000 members and we were unable to get a public "I'm in" from 10%? There is an obvious disconnect and I'm baffled.

I've been in involved in an ongoing thread with a commenter from a post last week. The commenter used an "expensive" word to call me a liar in my explanation of Minnesota HF 171 (no more than $20 cash monthly for state aid recipients) and mentioned s/he would never hire me. I think the commenter used the fancy word to channel William F. Buckley and in this endeavor the commenter failed in both spirit and analysis. Buckley was magnanimous of spirit and meticulous in anaylsis. The commenter is mean spirited and myopic, symbolic of today's NeoCons. But in returning to the topic at hand, when it comes to results, I wouldn't hire me, either.

I started blogging in July, 2010 spurred on by the lack of organization and message with the long term unemployed.
That week was a very busy week in Washington. 2 confirmation hearings, the death of Senator Byrd, the ongoing mess in the Gulf. Many pressing issues were competing for coverage. 1.2 million citizens without any support, promised support and very little coverage. This is my responsibility along with my fellow unemployed.
The unemployed have no voice, no face, no advocate. We don't have a concrete message other than we need help either with a job or longer benefits. We are relying on the compassion of others, but our plight is much harder to comprehend than the image of an oil-slicked pelican. That is not going to change unless we make it change.
Today is my 101st post and 99ers are even more diffuse and still lack a concrete message. I'm not so ego-driven that I believe I can organize and disseminate a message on my own. Still, in concert with passionate, creative and driven advocates, I have failed to advance the agenda of "jobs, jobs, jobs with a safety net in the interim" via a unified organization and a unique message one iota. We're no closer to this goal than we were 10 months ago, when I started. Effectively, I have produced no results, so I wouldn't hire me either.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Please Add These Events To Your Calendar.

If the 99ers message of jobs, jobs, jobs and a safety net in the interim is ever going to be heard, 99ers must act together. In this light please participate in this event today and tomorrow to your to the full extent of your ability.

Monday and Tuesday, March 28 and 29, 2011 is a call, tweet, email and fax rally to advocate for H.R. 589. There are many sites, groups and individuals supporting this action. All are doing great work. These two links provide sufficient if not complete information for participating in this event. You can also access the information for this action via a Facebook event . Please help keep the pressure on for the passage of H.R. 589.

As always, the #99eraid Twitterchat Tuesdays at 8 PM EDT is appointment tweeting.  Bring your ideas and enthusiasm. See you then.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Difference Between Plagiarism and Research.

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook. I thought the article worth sharing.  The article begins to pull back the curtain on the goings-on in Wisconsin and other GOP governed states in the U.S. Hint: The assault on liberal (pro working families) values didn't begin two months ago and isn't led by inmates on a weekend pass from the asylum. Happy Reading. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why People Hate Government and Why They're Right.

There are so many people that hate government. Those on the left think government does too little, those on the right that think government does too much and those in the middle think government just doesn't do. There is an ever growing feeling that elected officials don't represent their constituency; their elected officials have lost touch. There appears to be many reasons why the body politic has lost faith in their government. Most of these reasons have pictures of dead presidents.

In the 2008 Presidential election the Obama and McCain campaigns combined spent over $1 billion.  During the 2010 elections winners in the House of Representatives spent an average of $1.6 million for a job that pays $174,000 annually. In the Senate, 2010 election winners spent an average of $3.1 million  for a job that pays $174,000 annually. Based on a 2002 Census Bureau study lifetime earnings for workers in the US are between $1 million and $4.4 million based on level of education. So anyone can grow up to become President (or Senator or Rep) as long as they have the wherewithal to raise more money than most people earn in lifetime. I don't run with that crowd and I'm not sure those in that crowd can properly represent me.

The answer is simple. The USA must enact campaign finance reform, specifically publicly financed elections for all US offices and all state Governors. Since the people that have the largest vested interest in maintaining the status quo are the very same people that would enact reforms, the chance of any meaningful movement to control the cost of elections is nil. The idea that the inmates are running the asylum leads many to hate government. They may very well be right.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loose ends and requests.

Last night's #99eraid Twitterchat had multiple themes. One theme discussed was ways of building a nonpartisan coalition to pass H.R. 589 and beyond. This is a great idea. Unemployment effects people of all political persuasions.

In what will apparently illustrate the challenge of creating bipartisan support, it seems yesterdays post caught the attention of someone that posts to Breitbart (no link from me, sorry).  The blogger said he first heard about the 99ers recently. He commented that 99ers have a slick looking website and linked this little ol' blog right here. (thanks, dude) He went on to give his opinion about 99ers and our plight with the usual "I'm sympathetic" but that's not the way his piece slanted. Hey, it's his post and his opinions. I do have a couple of thoughts:

  1. Just heard about the 99ers?  Hey feel free to comment on something that's been going on for over year. Why bother with research?
  2. Thought this was a slick looking website. Kudos to Awesome, Inc. for the template and concernedinKY for the opening video. (Concerned, he thought your video could be a beer commercial.  Given what Bud spends on advertising that's quite a compliment.) The slick look has nothing to do with me. In the 9 months I've been blogging I haven't spent an hour a month on design maintenance.
  3. Blogger also criticized yours truly for perpetuating the myth that the Minnesota GOP wants to restrict state aid recipients to a maximum of $20 cash per month. Here's the link I read and it doesn't look like a myth to me.
  4. In the comments "anonymous" criticized me for spending time on my site/blog when I should be looking for work, having a negative attitude and for not taking personal responsibility.  Anonymous went on to suggest that 99ers were taking cash under the table (based on?) and would stated he/she would never hire a 99er. Essentially when anonymous couldn't carry a fact based discussion anonymous turned to a personal attack and broad assumptions using limited or no facts.
I'm hoping the blogger and anonymous are not indicative of the majority of the GOP. I don't see enough (any?) common ground for a nonpartisan coalition. 

I also have two requests:
  1. Please read this article from Donalee King and if applicable add your information to the 99er database.
  2. I have nominated my friend Sima Dahl and her work on Marketing Job Wire for inclusion in Seth Godins/Domino Project new Kindle book, due out on April 11, 2011. Voting opened yesterday and concludes today at 5 PM EDT. Please take a minute to vote and pass it along. Thanks.
Please make the #99eraid Twitterchat appointment tweeting, Tuesday nights, 8 PM EDT.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    These People Are Allowed In Public?

    Minnesota GOP lawmakers want to make it illegal for anyone receiving state aid to have more than $20 cash. OK, so how about anyone with net worth over $250,000 and money offshore to avoid paying taxes be stoned to death in the town square? Actually, I'm surprised at the Minnesota GOP for invoking a half-measure. Why not end state aid to the poor and reestablish debtors prison?

    I'm a fan of the 1st Amendment but I'm weary of the eternally hypocritical (yes, you Newt Gingrich and your patriotic flag pole) and the criminally stupid (too big a list to specify anyone) attempting to drag the US back to the antebellum era. Shouldn't someone have a track record of at least 75% truth and coherence before we continue to shove a microphone in their face? Did you ever think Emily Litella (RIP, Gilda) would become a model for GOP communication directors across the country? Can't you do better? Yes, you can.

    Share your thoughts with the Twitterverse.  Join tonight's #99eraid Twitterchat, 8 PM EDT. Don't forget to add your state tag (#99eraid_IL) so you can find local tweeps and organize. See you tonight.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Why People Hate Government and Why They're Wrong.

    There are so many people that hate government. Those on the right think government does too much , those on the left think government does too little and those in the middle think government just doesn't do. The fact is government isn't the problem, people that hate government are the problem.

    We live in a representative democracy. In other words everybody has a equal vote in electing the people that govern, but those elected officials determine policy i.e. tell us what to do. I can't speak for you, but I'm not enamored with the idea of a stranger (even a stranger I helped elect) telling me what I'm allowed to do. Additionally, government must represent the electorate as a whole, even those that didn't bother to vote. Since I voted, I deserve priority consideration.  Finally, government is charged with balancing competing interests, maintaining a level playing field and giving voice to those unable to speak for themselves (e.g. future generations). Succinctly, government is a referee and whether it's a sporting event, art exhibition, bake off or even a pro wrestling match, no one ever like the ref. The best that can be said about a referee or umpire is they went unnoticed. Government rarely goes unnoticed.

    So when government legislates a compromise at best 40% will be happy, and that's on a good day. Quite often, almost everyone dislikes being governed, so government can't win even when doing an outstanding job. It's wrong to hate someone for merely doing their job, which is why people are wrong to hate government.

    Something you can't hate and should absolutely join is the #99eraid Twitterchat, Tuesdays 8 PM EDT. Just search the hashtag #99eraid.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Mr. President, the answer sleeps beside you.

    Last week on the Ed Schultz Show, Ed was discussing an article about the President and his advisors look for ways to reinvigorate the base.  Without dismissing any of the callers, all I could think was: HAVE YOU EVER PISSED OFF YOUR WIFE?

    Like a spouse, the base sticks around through thick and thin, lends support when you are low, celebrates your success and quietly disagrees when you are wrong.  Admittedly, the liberal base can work on the "quiet correction" a bit. Still, it wasn't the fickle middle that worked the phones, walked the streets and stood in the cold in Springfield when the Obama campaign kicked off.

    How do you apologize to your wife when she's really angry? Well, I sincerely apologize (or at least sound incredibly sincere) and do something that makes my wife feel loved and appreciated. It works the same with the base and by the way, suggesting "swallowing your anger" doesn't work with a spouse and won't work with the base.

    So, Mr. President apologize to the base. "I'm sorry to have compromised on my principles but moving the country forward, even in very small steps is my Number One priority. I apologize to those I have disappointed and ask you to stay with me as we move forward" would be very effective.  Endorsing H.R. 589, a comprehensive jobs creation package and safety nets until unemployment drops below 8% would show that you are serious.

    Mr. President I am an unabashed fan of yours. I stood with you on HCR even without a public option because health care reform needs to start somewhere. I've said nothing while you fail to address the unemployment crisis because I realize you can't do everything. I didn't like the tax compromise, but in the end the repeal of DADT and the belated passage of the SALT treaty made the compromise worthwhile, even though it left 99ers out in the cold. Mr. President, I remain a fan but "reinvigorate the base" and "swallow my anger"? So, Mr. President, I humbly ask, PLEASE REMOVE YOUR HEAD FROM YOUR ASS.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Another lesson from Wisconsin.

    Emperor Scott Walker, Viceroy Scott Fitzpatrick and the single mind GOP of Wisconsin continue to share insight into today's Republican Party.  As you may be aware, last week at the behest of Walker and with the facilitation of Fitzpatrick, the GOP caucus of the Wisconsin Senate rammed through a bill stripping many Wisconsin public employees of their right to collective bargaining. Earlier this week, Fitzpatrick authorized "taxation without representation" by stripping Wisconsin Senate Dems of their right to vote in committee. Sen. Fitzpatrick has since rescinded this edict; all Wisconsin Senators will be allowed to vote in committee.

    Scott Walker's political future is all but set. A recall measure will be filed January 3, 2012, the first day he is eligible for recall. Anyone casting their lot with Walker is asking for the same fortune. Given that politicians are many things, but box o' rocks stupid is not one of them, what gives?

    Simple: If GOP officials choose to leave politics there will be a nice private sector job waiting, so long as they obey the puppetmasters.  If the same GOP officials choose to run, they're counting on the unlimited hidden campaign funds allowed by the Citizens United decision to scrub their image clean. The ramifications for the 99ers or any other fans of democracy are clear cut.

    It is impossible to match funds with the virtually unlimited resources of the ultrawealthy ubergreedy patrons of today's GOP. Many Dems are also feeding at the same trough.  All the rest of us have to offer is unbridled resolve.  We must commit to stay active, remain visible, advocate our cause and absolutely go out and vote.

    In the short term, contact your legislators today  and every day about passage of H.R. 589. Join U Cubed  and find a local cube.  Local organizing is a key to moving the 99er agenda forward. Finally, don't quit, never quit. Democracy is too important.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    There Is News, It's Not Good.

    While going through headlines, etc. some things jumped out:
    1. Some Senate Republicans are planning to block all non-budget (and they mean non-budget cutting) bills.
    2. Multiple events (having nothing at all to do with global climate change) have reduced overall food supply, driving food costs up-possibly forever.
    3. Florida is going to reduce unemployment benefits. Do you think other states will do the same? I do.
    4. The national unemployment rate may not drop below 8%, ever.
    Connecting the dots: The only thing the US Senate GOP caucus is planning on passing is kidney stones and gas, unless social safety net programs are cut.  The cost of living (food,energy) is going up. States (primarily those with GOP majorities in government) are cutting safety nets and eliminating collective bargaining for state employees. The next step will be to privatize services, further driving wages down. The US will be facing  higher numbers of unemployed (increased supply) which will also put downward pressure on wages. Further, no one is talking about or proposing a plan for reacting to the "new" normal unemployment rate.

    That's right. Costs are going up. The government is doing nothing to support wages or worse yet actively working on driving wages down, while cutting or eliminating safety nets. Well, at least spring is almost here.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    An Ongoing National Natural Disaster.

    I had a day of commitments Friday. I got up early and went online to investigate the latest attempts of d(D)emocracide by the GOP in Wisconsin and across the land. Much to my chagrin the news was owned by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Actually, devastating is an inaccurate description of what occurred in Japan, but the English language doesn't have the words to accurately describe what occurred in Japan. Whole families disappearing, neighborhoods destroyed, homeless sleeping in makeshift shelters, 100,000's with no sustenance, electricity or running water.  It will be years, maybe decades before the full toll will be understood and some generations may never recover.

    Almost immediately fund raising for rescue, recovery and rebuilding Japan began.  I was particularly moved by Seth Meyer's appeal for the Red Cross at the end of the SNL update since SNL rarely takes anything seriously. I am proud to live in a country that takes suffering to heart and reaches out to help victims of acts beyond control of the victims. Of course, I am also occasionally bewildered by this country's response to disasters within our borders.

    In September, 2008 the USA experienced a financial earthquake and tsunami. As in Japan the results were devastating and aftershocks have continued in the form of unemployment for 30 months. Whole families are affected. Neighborhoods are destroyed. Homelessness increases which means people are sleeping in makeshift shelters if any shelter. 100,000's have no access to running water, electricity or any source of sustenance. It will be years possibly decades before the full toll is understood. Some generations will never recover.

    I'm not asking why Japan and not the 99ers. I am not saying  us (or U.S) first. I said I am proud to live in a country that takes suffering to heart. I would like to know why we are so callous to suffering within our own border. Why do we refuse to act appropriately to correct a disaster that is salvageable?  Anyone have a thought?

    Please remember #99erAid Twitterchat Tuesdays 8 PM EDT.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    To UCubed: I apologize.

    In the past months I have been highly critical of UCubed in at least two posts. I didn't think my posts were mean spirited or vindictive. I still don't think that way. I felt 99ers needed more from UCubed. I still believe that, too. I must admit I was working with a wrong set of assumptions.  I felt that since UCubed had a Director and a budget, UCubed should be doing more on behalf of the long term unemployed. Until this week.

    UCubed had been aggressively publicizing elections for state directors. On Monday, I received an email from UCubed Executive Director that elections had to be cancelled. Only one person in one state had stepped up to run. For the sake of full disclosure that one person wasn't me. As the saying goes, "When you point a finger at someone else, remember there are three fingers pointing back at you."

    I do believe 99ers need more from UCubed, but as another saying goes, "You can't make chicken soup from chicken poop." As I look at my reflection in the mirror do I see egg or chicken poop? I'm not sure.

    So to Executive Director Rick Sloan and anyone else in UCubed, in unity-strength, I apologize. To anyone reading this not yet a member of UCubed, please join and help me get this mess off my face.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    POPVOX, H.R.589 and the 99ers

    (This is a guest post from Help The 99ers, originally posted on the Help the 99ers blog March 8, 2011.)
    "It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much."
    - Yogi Berra
    Congressional staffers say that messages from their constituents are getting lost. When Congress receives some 300 million emails per year, that's not hard to imagine. Add in the phone calls, letters, faxes, Facebook posts, tweets, et al, and it's no wonder that it's impossible to get a conversation going.
    Coming from a ten-year background working with a number of advocacy organizations, Rachna Choudhry knew the problem well. At a dinner party with Marci Harris, then a legislative counsel in Congressman Pete Stark's office, the conversation touched on ways to address the problem. Here's how Rachna described it:
    I first met Marci at a dinner party two years ago. When the host mentioned that she was a congressional staffer, I immediately perked up. I was, after all, working for an advocacy organization whose purpose was to inform Members of Congress and influence the policy-making process. Simply put, I was a lobbyist.
    Instead of having a typical Washington dinner party conversation, however, (e.g. Who do you work for? What issues do you cover? What's on your "docket" right now?), we discussed the extent of the breakdown in the system. Even with the overwhelming amount of emails, letters, phone calls, faxes, literature drops, tweets and Facebook posts from individuals across the country, it was still a challenge for Congress to ascertain the positions of organizations and understand the concerns of their constituents. The signal-to-noise ratio was skewed. Congress was getting too much noise, so much so that it was interfering with the signal - the underlying message.
    That's how POPVOX was born. POPVOX, which launched its public beta in January, is one of those "so simple, it's brilliant" ideas. It gives ordinary citizens like you and me a way to make our voices heard in Congress. It also gives grassroots organizations, which may not have the resources of the professional lobbying groups, a place to make their positions known. Last, but not least, it simplifies the process for Congressional staffers by putting information about issues, opinions and bills into an easy-to-digest legislative docket.
    The website is very easy to use. In our conversation for this article, Rachna mentioned that POPVOX passed the "mom test" - she recruited both her and Marci's mothers as test users and asked them to use the site without any assistance. The moms came away with a positive experience.
    Because it offers people the option of commenting on bills, POPVOX can put a human face on legislation. One bill that we in the 99er community are very interested in is H.R. 589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011. One of the comments by a supporter tells an all-too-common tale, but one that needs to be heard:
    "I have been actively seeking employment for over 2 years. I lost my job through no fault of my own. I returned to school & aquired more skills. I've worked most of my life & never had a problem securing & retaining jobs. I am almost 60 years old. I have used all my safety nets. I am a burden on my family. With UE compensation I can least contribute something. I miss working, I enjoy working. I don't want to collect UE benefits but the reality is that I need them desparately. I would use those funds immediately to pay for basic goods & services which in turn will help stimulate the economy."
    That message will go directly to the commenter's Member of Congress, Representative Allen West in Florida's 22nd Congressional district. It will also be available on the site for anyone in Congress, like Representatives Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott, who focus on the issue of unemployment. It will be public for every person interested in the bill.
    Because it offers organizations of all sizes the opportunity to register their positions on bills, POPVOX can also amplify the voice of the small, grassroots organization. Rachna used the analogy of Blockbuster vs. Netflix: Blockbuster has all the major titles in stock, but Netflix also has the smaller films that didn't get that much exposure. POPVOX, like Netflix, gives the smaller guys a chance, and opens access beyond the major advocacy groups. Again, using the example of the 99ers, the different advocacy groups are now starting to register their presence and their positions on H.R. 589. One group, the American 99ers Union, represents several smaller groups. We're seeing the beginning of a network effect, where the more organizations support a bill, the more will join in.
    I asked Rachna about user registrations: for POPVOX to be most effective, people need to give the site their name and address. POPVOX verifies that information and uses it to match people with their Representatives. When POPVOX delivers constituent messages to Congress, staffers can be sure that they're looking at their home district's opinions, and that's one reason why Rachna has gotten positive feedback about the registration process from users.
    How can the 99er community use POPVOX?
    First, simply by using it. Each 99er who registers and adds their support adds their voice to a growing chorus that POPVOX can further amplify. Second, by encouraging family, friends and supporters to do the same. Next, for those of us with a story to tell, POPVOX offers a platform from which to tell it, and an audience that's there to listen. And, just as with individuals, groups who register, endorse bills and record their position statements make it easier for the groups who follow.
    It's not about quantity, though: when I asked Rachna if there was a number (of supporters, groups, etc.) that could ensure a Congressman would be influenced, her reply was that POPVOX was more about the quality of the messages, and how that could influence decision making during the legislative process more than a number could.
    POPVOX is one of many tools in the advocacy toolkit. Its ease of use, its ability to verify constituent voices and its ability to make those voices heard by the right people at the right time, should make it the first tool on the list for us.
    As we were ending our interview, Rachna mentioned that POPVOX is a finalist in the SXSW Accelerator competition. Best of luck to the POPVOX team!

    Help the 99ers started the journey to 99erhood in April, 2008. A tireless advocate on behalf on the long term unemployed, "Help"'s favorite quote is Shakespeare "You take my life when you do take the means by wearby I live."  I join in "Help" in the thought that it's time to stop the "taking".

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    99ers Communication Problem.

    It's been about a year since the first 99ers realized a title was need for their status. Some non-99ers thought the classification already existed: lazy, soft, coddled, unambitious, but those characterizations are wrong. No one realized last year, but the first 99ers were the canary in the cave that history will recognize as the Great Depression of the 21st Century. Unfortunately if 99ers wait for history to prove that they were unwilling victims and not passive participants of this modern financial disaster, their grandchildren will still be feeling the effects of this cataclysmic period in the early part of this century.  Better to start changing the course of history today.

    I started blogging in July, 2010. I was dumbfounded that the Senate could adjourn without appropriating funds to pay extended unemployment benefits they had previously approved. I had pointed out that the long term unemployed had been hampered in generating support because there was not a clear unique message. Long therm unemployed were talking about jobs, safety nets, equity, humanity and social justice. In the past 9 months 99ers have crafted this easy to understand/easy to explain message...Oops.

    This morning's thread at the #99erAid hashtag is a reminder about tonight's #99erAid Twitterchat (8 PM EST and companion 99erAid Facebook page) and a suggestion to bring ideas about types of protests. Specifically the types of protests that communicate the message of the 99ers. The message of the 99ers being...?

    I am not being negative. I believe we need a clear message and a means of organizing or the protests will not provide the desired results. Fortunately, this is a situation where the cart can proceed the horse. So bring your ideas about protests tonight (#99erAid, 8 PM EST and Facebook Page 99er Aid. Did I mention that already?).  Together we can tackle message and ways to organize in the coming weeks.  See you tonight.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Life Lessons: Beyond H.R.589

    In my professional capacity as a funeral director, I was called upon to serve a family this last week (A friend is out of town, so I'm filling in). Some funerals are easier then others. This funeral was tougher than most. I was assisting a family with the funeral of a full term stillborn. No warning before delivery. No complications during pregnancy. Nine months in utero, filling a family with hopes and dreams. Not only do those hopes and dreams come crashing down, but this family must find a way to continue on. This particular family has another child. Having another child forces the family to focus, a reason to get out of bed. Still, nothing numbs the pain they feel and nothing will for a very long time.Yet the family finds a way to carry on.

    It's March and March, 2011 has a uniquely perplexing, frustrating sad anniversary. 99ers will begin to celebrate their 1st full year of being a 99er.  52 weeks without unemployment benefits; nearly 3 years without full time employment.  Folks out of work due to the offshoring of jobs; over 3.4 million manufacturing jobs lost in the 1st decade of this century. People unemployed through no fault of their own with little hope for reemployment any time soon.

    There has been almost no help for 99ers in the last year. A couple of failed attempts at adding some weeks of unemployment insurance, the last being H.R.6556 which is now reincarnated as H.R.589.  If H.R.6556 didn't get through the 111th Congress, I don't see how H.R.589 is passed in the 112th Congress. A bill to establish incentives for creating American jobs and penalizing offshoring couldn't overcome a GOP Senate filibuster in the 111th Congress (I'm shocked, shocked I tell you to find gambling in this establishment). So what should a 99er do? Find a way to carry on.

    Close your eyes and consider this: With a wave of my magic wand, H.R.589 is expressed through both chambers of Congress today, signed into law tonight and checks start to roll tomorrow.
    1. What is your plan for Wednesday?
    2. What is your plan in 14 weeks, the day after the last benefit check arrives.
    Don't answer, you haven't gotten over the shock of H.R.589 passing so quickly. Seriously, should (when?) H.R.589 pass(es), what then?  There is no one size fits all answer. However, with the understanding that 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will not reappear in 14 weeks, what is the next step? What is the advocacy action for 99ers as a group? How will you take these 14 weeks of additional benefits to prepare for week 15? If 99ers can't answer these questions H.R.589 has no effect. When 99ers answer these questions, the agenda is set for today, because 99ers can't count on H.R.589 and must find a way to carry on.

     I have a personal plan in place and will share it in the coming days. If you have a plan or some ideas why not share them? Either way please include the weekly forum for the long term unemployed, #99erAid via the #99erAid Twitterchat, Tuesdays 8PM EST or the corresponding Facebook page 99erAid. Getting involved in the 99er community should be part of the plan.