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

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.

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