I have a Job – “I’m on Unemployment”

by Jayne D. Frank

The reality of the burden and consequences of Congress once again extending unemployment insurance benefits without any concurrent cuts to pay for these benefits, hit me as I encounter everyday examples of its abuses.

My husband and I were lucky to winter in Florida for a few months this year.  Our home is in a large modest neighborhood made up of  people who live and work to eek out a meager living having little or nothing in the way of assets or the “typical” middle income trappings resulting from their labors.  They do with less and they drive cars much older than the median age of cars in this country.  Since my husband and I worked and contributed for over 75 years between us in careers that demanded up to 70-80 hour work weeks, I see this segment of the Florida population, and their struggle for survival, as an example of “everything that is wrong with Obama’s policies.”

Further, I ache for the immediate implementation of Newt Gingrich’s policies which he indicated would give citizens “unemployment insurance in exchange for the participants getting training to qualify them for a real private -sector paying job.”

Yesterday, I ran into a neighbor who used to be employed full time at Wal-Mart, often working  late or long hours, and my husband and I thought his goal was to work his way into a position of  management at this company.  So dissappointed was I when we ran into him and asked “Do you still have a job?”  His answer was “Yes, I have a job – I am on unemployment!”  When asked why he was unemployed, he said he was given “warnings” by management, and eventually lost his job.  Undoubtedly he has been on unemployment for most of the past 2 years that we have not seen him.  Saying “There is nothing out there” we immediately knew that he is not pursuing any full time employment because there is no urgency in his voice and it is obvious that he is enjoying his days filled with doing nothing so long as he remains on the dole.  Later that day our postal delivery person asked me if he is still working because he obviously gets benefit checks and checks for “on-the-side-employment that he is not claiming.

Florida itself, with a 9% stated unemployment rate (probably much higher in reality) is filled with other examples of people squandering their unemployment benefits.  When I was fully employed and not retired, the only time you saw people on the street was during lunch time.  Today in Florida, it is like “lunch time” or a Saturday every day of the week with young people milling about in flea markets, gathering at eateries to chew the fat, at guns shows or festivals, or filling the bars starting at 3:30 to party and play with their friends.  These people don’t have mortgages or other fixed payments, so much of every single dime taxpayers “give” them goes into these activities with very little going to purchase food or other necessities.  Florida’s Governor was right to want to require “drug testing” for acceptance of continued benefits as drug use is also prevalent here.

When my husband and I were in our careers, finding yourself on “unemployment” was embarassing to us.  Surely if you were given a “warning” one time by an employer, you took heed of the warning and never let it happen again because of your need to keep your job.  The one time I found myself on unemployment for two months because of a headquarters move, I spent every waking hour calling, sending resumes and contacting employers in person to find something to put me back in the ranks of the employed.  There is none of that now  – no resumes, no cold-calling and very often you can go down the street and find signs in businesses yards advertising for “jobs available” or “now hiring.”  The work ethic that we grew up with just doesn’t seem to be there any longer.

Wake up Congress and Americans!  If this was an insolated case of fraud and abuse, it would be one thing, but our Country is going the way of Greece – we are broke and cannot keep governing with our hearts and forking over money to people that refuse to find employment or get retrained in our community colleges.  You have no problem telling your kids “No” or “We are broke” when they ask for candy or playthings.  Say “NO” when it really counts for the survival of our country! We are fast approaching a country of “takers” and not “makers”, and President Obama’s intended fiscal policies are feeding that entitlement thinking.

2 Responses

  1. I think there is a common misconception that people who are unemployed enjoy spending time off at the expense of the state. That’s not true! I don’t know the person you mention and perhaps he is indeed one of the people taking advantage of the system. Sadly, they exist. But for many people, being unemployed is a struggle, and they are not staying in that situation by choice.

    You talk about back in the days when being unemployed was embarrassing and you were ringing people up every day for two months. That’s the whole point! Things have changed now and are not as they used to be for jobseekers. There are thousands of people competing for any one job, as opposed to maybe just 10. People hardly ever get a job in 2 months these days, and there are just not enough jobs going around! You make it sound as if people aren’t trying hard enough, but I don’t think you realise how difficult it is nowadays.

    Also, I’m glad to say that being unemployed is not as stigmatised as it used to be, and many people of younger generations understand that it is an unfortunate yet almost obligatory passage.

    • I know that young people see us in their 60s as ancient but I can assure you I had thousands applying for the position that I was seeking as well because of my experience and educational skills, and that is my point. The lower on the scale a person is in his/her educational skills, the poorer the chance of getting re-employed. Being unemployed still carries a stigma with it and if young people aren’t aware of this or don’t care, it is just a tragedy for the future of our country. The longer one remains unemployed without working in the interim for at least some experience, the more likely that employers are not going to want to hire them. Think about it, if you were an employer and had a position open, are you going to hire the unemployed person who has taken “anything they could find” to stay in the workplace and earn money (or perhaps is going back to school), or are you going to hire the unemployed person who has been sitting at home “waiting for the right job to come along?”

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