Does Anyone Really Care About Jobs?

By YeOldeScribe ~ June 8th, 2011 @ 12:28 am

We caught an interesting article written by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. The title of the article is audacious enough – Why Washington Isn’t Doing Squat About Jobs and Wages. This seems to fly in the face of just about every politician and pundit out there (including us) , who would tell you that jobs and the economy are the biggest issues in politics right now. The irony is both sides to the argument are probably right. There’s no questioning the fact that jobs/the economy is most important to Americans right now, and therefore it’s important to politicians too. The difference is that politicians only have to make it look like they’re doing something to solve the problem to get the public on their side. For example, some people are already calling Rep. Paul Ryan, creator of the Path to Prosperity GOP budget proposal, a hero. While Ryan should be given credit for taking the first step in a controversial issue, let’s remember that his budget hasn’t become law, and the changes he recommends haven’t been made into law either.

As our writer is currently unemployed, we know what it’s like to be without work. We know what it’s like to send out hundreds of resumes and cover letters to get one or two replies back and no requests for interviews. Make no mistake about it, most of the people on unemployment aren’t there because they’re lazy or they don’t want to work. Our writer would like nothing more than to find regular employment (but he’ll still keep blogging even if he does, don’t worry). Indeed, there are very few people who are on unemployment by choice.

So we also know exactly who is standing up for those without a job: no one. No Democrat, and no Republican, will even be the champion for the unemployed. Reich points out that the unemployed have no money to give to political campaigns. Despite the misconception that those on unemployment have all the time in the world on their hands, the unemployed don’t have time to campaign or write letters because they’re too busy trying to get a job. Reich puts it best:

“The unemployed are politically invisible. They don’t make major campaign donations. They don’t lobby Congress. There’s no National Association of Unemployed People.

Their ranks are filled with women who had been public employees, single mothers, minorities, young people trying to enter the labor force, and middle-aged men who have been out of work for longer than six months. You couldn’t find a collection of people with less political clout.”

The news is especially bad for people who graduated right around the time our writer did. See, those who graduated two to three years before he did got a job while the economy was still rolling, and were probably able to prove their usefulness to an employer and avoided being laid off. Those who graduated two to three years after are graduating just in time to see the economy recover, and employers will pick up the student fresh out of college because they can do so cheaply and while the information they learned in their collegiate studies is still fresh in their minds. But for those in that approximately five-year dead zone (of which our writer falls directly in the middle), there is little hope. Those of us who had a job and were laid off are being looked at like it’s our fault we couldn’t hold the job, and since they’d have to pay us more for the little experience we do have, we’re far less likely to be hired than anyone else. Indeed, the people who graduated around the time of our writer are fast becoming a lost generation in the workforce, and if we ever do find jobs, they’ll be jobs that used to go to high school grads or worse – and the pay will reflect that. So we’ll be doing the same work that someone who didn’t spend $50,000 on a collegiate education can do – and we’ll be paid the same as them, too, making college one of the worst investments we could have made.

(Note: Our writer is still very happy he went to college and wouldn’t trade it for anything. In fact, he’s considering going to grad school in the future. But from a purely economical standpoint, the investment of college was not worth it. When he was in high school, our writer made $12.17/hr as a grocery clerk and had great health care benefits with the option of becoming vested in the company over time. Four years of college later, as a Level II Associate Editor for the world’s premiere online article directory, our writer made $10.75/hr with horrible health care benefits.)

People can talk all they want about the economy recovering and that economic indicators are pointing up. Politicians can proclaim from their soap boxes all the things they’ve done to promote job growth and to bring x number of jobs back to their district. But in the end, those of us living on unemployment know the real truth: no one really cares about the unemployed. We’re looked down upon as if we were diseased, as if we’d done something so wrong by accepting weekly checks from the government so we can survive. And as we put in just as much work trying to find a job as we did at our old jobs, we’ll laugh at those who call us lazy, money-grabbing freeloaders. The sad truth, however, is that that’s what the majority thinks of us – as cancerous leeches just sucking money off the hard-working Americans. And even though we’d like nothing more than to be a hard-working American ourselves, we’re ostracized and treated like garbage that just needs to be taken out to the curb.

Until politicians sit down and figure out not only how to stop outsourcing jobs overseas but how to increase the development of jobs for the working middle class, unemployment will remain high no matter what party is in charge. Until people are willing to ditch their pre-conceived notions and admit that the unemployed are just as eager to work as they are, the problem won’t be solved. And until both sides can agree that the other has ideas with merit, no serious work can be done on any issue, much less unemployment.

In short, the unemployed make a good show pony. One or two of us will be brought out every election cycle as a sign that the current politician isn’t getting the job done. A new politician will promise x number of jobs to his constituents. The unemployed will be tricked into using the one weapon they still wield – their vote – and the cycle begins again.

And until some serious work is done on the issue, we’ll be stuck in that infinite loop of stagnation.

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3 Responses to Does Anyone Really Care About Jobs?

  1. Sarah McKinney

    My husband’s in the same (umemployed) boat you are, and he spends the majority of his day sending out resumes and job applications, and hardly hears back from anyone. It’s really tough. It’s even tougher to know that most politicians, Republican or Democrat, hardly care. I read this article too, and it really hit home for me.

  2. YeOldeScribe

    Awesome, Sarah! Best of luck to your husband in the job search, and thank you so much for continuing to contribute to our little project here! We really appreciate it 🙂

  3. Scott Noren DDS

    To Ye Old Scribe…why not use your real name? Just wondering..I don’t mean anything negative..I just think why not? I am for making some type of legislation that would state that if you are an American company with a headquarters here in the US, and selling products here as well as overseas, that based on revenue and net income here in the US, you would have to pay taxes on that company income here to the US Treasury. Also, by capping health care premiums Federally and making all health insurance companies truly non-profit within 2 years, you would drastically reduce health care costs for companies and they would be more likely to create more jobs here. I also would give the incentive for new start up manufacturing companies to pay NO payroll tax for the first year of business if they only employ US workers here in the US and not overseas. There are many incentives that could jumpstart jobs here.
    Scott Noren DDS
    The above could be edited and honed into really progressive legislation and substitute for ‘talk’ on creating jobs.


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