I have no desire to work. I have no pride. I’m just a bum. I’ve no desire to achieve. I just want to get rich and fat at the taxpayers’ expense. Or, at least, that’s how Senate Republicans apparently see me.
I am one of about 13 million Americans who receive unemployment benefits. I lost my job during the pandemic and receive a $600 increase in those benefits each week because of the federal stimulus plan passed earlier this year.
Those benefits expire July 30.
Congress, as usual, behaves like toddlers in a tantrum, making a national emergency into yet another undercard battle in the never-ending cage match between Democrats and Republicans.
Sen. Lindsey Graham has said an extension of the unemployment benefits would pass only over the “dead bodies” of he and fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.
I’m always suspicious of South Carolina. It was the first state to secede from the Union in 1860. Maybe things are better there now, but judging by their elective representatives, I’m dubious.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, has said he worries the extra unemployment money discourages people from returning to work because they make more money in unemployment benefits than working.
Things are slightly better for Iowa’s representation in the Senate. Sen. Chuck Grassley expects a new stimulus plan to include jobless benefits.
Sen. Joni Ernst, who faces a reelection challenge this fall, has been noncommittal. I translate that to mean she kind of wants to do the right thing, which would be to extend the benefits, but she doesn’t want to say it aloud in front of the greedy hustlers who donate money to reelection campaigns.
Then again, I may be giving her too much credit. Time will tell.
Senate Republicans’ thinking on this is a remix of the old Ronald Reagan specter of the “welfare queen” — a stereotype that perpetuated the idea that people lived lavishly by abusing government entitlement programs.
Bill Clinton traded in that thinking, too.
And while any assistance programs are vulnerable to abuse, this ignores the fact that 13 million people are looking for work.
I’ve known a few people who I consider abusers of benefit programs. One wouldn’t confuse any of their lifestyles and living conditions with a Kardashian.
If people are making more money on unemployment with the $600 bonus than they are working, that’s an indication of just how poor wages are for service industry workers in this country.
In my case, unemployment does not match my old hourly rate, but it keeps enough money coming in for me to make rent, insurance, get groceries and keep the lights on while I search for a job.
I have some savings, but it will be wiped out quickly if the stipend drops. And when my unemployment benefits, with or without the stimulus, end, I will face very tough choices.
I don’t believe it will come to that, but Senate Republicans’ implication that I would rather sit at home and do nothing is base and offensive and, as is their trademark, cruel and ignorant.
I want to work. I want to contribute to my community. I want to keep moving forward.
I lost my job on May 1. I received some severance, and some outplace benefits from my old shop. To be honest, it was more generous than I expected from the corporation.
But severance ends.
And I have searched for jobs. I started applying for openings the first Monday after my job was cut and have applied for one or two nearly every day since.
In all that applying, I’ve gotten exactly one interview. I believe this has less to do with me being a lousy candidate and more to do with the overwhelming number of applications companies get from people like me — America’s unemployed looking for work.
Some of the jobs I’ve applied for were closed because the companies faced financial pinches from the pandemic.
I am an independent person, both politically and as an individual. I don’t believe it is the government’s job to take care of me or anyone else — except under extreme circumstances.
I argue a global pandemic that has killed 138,000 people in this country and continues to thrive and spread at unprecedented levels and has crippled our economy is one of those extreme circumstances.
It’s time for Senate Republicans to stop pandering to the handful of rich guys who support their reelection bids and think of the American people as a whole – far too many of whom are suffering and on the verge of collapse because of the pandemic.
In short, take a little bit of your own advice and get to work.
Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.
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