Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attention Unemployed


There is a spectre sitting on the face of the unemployed. It's like a giant, suffocating cat only less concerned whether or not you can breathe. It's what Wall Street, Congress, several successive presidential administrations and other entities have done to us these past few decades. Unemployed workers of the world, Unite! You have nothing to lose but hope and change.

Every once in a while, Mrs. JP will send me something that's both useful and informative. Lost to posterity are the countless blog posts her communiques have inspired and today is no different. This morning she sent me something from Unemployedworkers.org, one that invites us to send them our stories.

To a lot of the right wing morons reading this blog, especially those who feel entitled to smugness for no other reason than having a shitty job with little to nothing in the way of benefits and an actual future, save your comments. I stopped reading them long ago. While I hate asking for assistance, I will do anything within my powers to keep a roof over our heads. And unless you've been in approximately the same position I am currently in, having lost a job of several years through no fault of your own, tearing through your UI benefits and being roundly ignored and disrespected after applying for jobs you've already held down because some scumbags decided to move the goal posts back into the next area code, then I can't expect you to appreciate the devastation to my mindset, to my self-esteem.

However, I know that some of my regular readers are also unemployed and just clinging to life. Being possessed of some writing skills, my eloquence will always be there to help give you and others like you a voice.

What follows below is the exact same letter I just sent them. I don't pretend it's the most horrible story ever written but it still reads like something that's a cross between Stephen King and an inverted Horatio Alger. You may dismiss it as whining and may even ludicrously follow it up with "Get a job." That's the problem. That's exactly the problem and if there was no problem getting a job, then letters like this wouldn't have to be written and Unemployedworkers.org wouldn't need to exist.


After my last, right wing, boss nearly bled his company dry with neverending, longterm embezzlement, I, his soon-to-be ex wife and two others lost our jobs on April 27, 2009. This was exactly a month after my g/f of 15+ years kicked me out of the house and I locked myself into a one year lease with my new landlord. In the ensuing 2 1/2-3 years, I've registered with 8 temp agencies and have not gotten a single interview with them. I've been on less than two dozen job interviews that I've set up on my own and they'd, obviously, not resulted in a single job. What few production jobs that haven't been outsourced to China or Mexico or India have been almost completely co-opted by scumbag temp agencies (look on Craigslist, if you don't believe me) offering minimum wage positions and demanding unrealistic qualifications (background, drug and credit rating checks? Really???).

In late July of 2010, my fiancee who has nearly 20 years graphic design experience lost her job at a busy sign shop at which she'd been working for close to a year. Her bosses, also right wingers, cheerfully told her as they were laying her off that she could easily get by on UI. Since she was making minimum wage all that time and forbidden from working close to 40 hours a week, her average weekly gross check was $270, ergo $135 on UI. Her (likely) last extension will end in a few weeks. I exhausted my own benefits, out of which I was paying over $100 a week in child support, leaving me with $137 weekly, back in March of '11. Our rent is $650 a month. You do the math.

Never in my life have I gone for more than 14 months w/o work and usually I could find a new job within days or weeks. Sometime in the last 10 years, something awful happened to this country. Being a political blogger who covers this kind of stuff, I was following the trends and figures. But knowing the statistics and becoming one of those statistics are two entirely different things and there is definitely a widening Us vs Them gulf separating the gainfully employed from the unemployed. I have been roundly ignored and disrespected and I've driven as much as 50 miles round trip just to drop off a few sheets of paper after a Craigslist cattle call while being refused a interview.

To people in a position to give jobs, we're just surplus humanity, expendable intake and their contempt for the unemployed knows no bounds because a 9-10% unemployment rate allows their darker, nastier side to come out with impunity. Temp agencies no longer put people to work: They now send out resumes to picky and choosy clients who gauge your worth on a couple of sheets of virtual paper. Companies, overjoyed about the current state of fear and desperation, cheerfully add more and more responsibilities onto increasingly open-ended job descriptions. Then when I apply for jobs I've already held & at which I've succeeded, I get rejected and/or ignored for not knowing how to do 5% of the job.

If it wasn't for my blog readers kicking in once in a while with Paypal donations, my g/f and I would've been out on the street many months ago. As it is, it's a constant struggle to remain 1 step ahead of our creditors, keep food in the house and a roof over our heads. We are on SNAP and that won't last forever. I'd even sent out resumes accompanied by letters to employers telling them how desperate my situation was, that I lost my last job through no fault of my own. All but one was ignored and the one company that showed me some encouragement then turned on me the next day without explanation.

The current administration is one that employs GE CEO Jeff Immedlt, who has done more to offshore US jobs than almost every corporation, as jobs czar. In light of that and other troubling facts, I don't see Obama and especially Congress doing anything significant in the way of job creation. It isn't enough to create jobs that companies resist creating. We have to first get back the jobs that people like Immedlt had outsourced to Third World countries employing glorified slave labor for pennies on the dollar under the risible rubric of "remaining competitive." Two-three weeks ago, remembering that the President reads 10 letters a day from Americans, I'd written to the Obama administration about this and more and have not heard back from the WH, nor do I expect to.

My fiancee and I are just 2 stories out of 14,000,000 who are presently unable to find work. We have little cash on hand, no hope of celebrating Christmas in any traditional way, have no health or life insurance whatsoever. I am a QC inspector with ISO experience, have worked in factories all my life, have retail management and sales experience and am a talented novelist who once had an agent. Yet I cannot even get my foot in the door through a temp agency and literary agencies just as studiously and strenuously ignore me.

If I had more of a suicidal mindset than I already do, I would've done away with myself long, long ago. But as unrelievedly bleak as our life together is, as hopeless as our future looks, I have a g/f to look after. But I've been tap-dancing for almost three years now and my legs are getting mighty tired.

Robert Crawford

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