Monday, April 6, 2015
Five Point Five Jive - Thoughts from the Hopelessly Unemployed
By Mel Carriere
I warned you on my Twitter account that I would speak heresy from time to time, and that moment has now arrived. Although my commitment to the fight for the working man remains passionate and unwavering, my commitment to the party that has been elected into the highest office in the land to fight for the working man is lukewarm at best. So all of you doctrinally pure #Uniteblue hashtag clones might want to plug your ears for a while because I'm not exactly going to be preaching the party line here.
My mailman travels probably give me a cross section of Americana better than any other occupation. I cross paths with people in all different statuses of employment; from the gainfully employed to the marginally employed to the retired to the temporarily unemployed to the hopelessly unemployed. I think my job helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what Americans think about our government - and this thinking runs the gamut from the Rush Limbaugh brainwashed Tea Party hacks to the George Noory disciple conspiracy theorists to the radical leftist revolutionaries.
Surprisingly enough, the ranks of the unemployed do not line up neatly behind the politicians we expect them to, and this is a disturbing trend. An encounter with an unemployed gentleman on my route today pointed out to me very clearly that President Obama does not exactly enjoy religious cult devotion status among the people who have been out of work so long that their employment benefits have expired and they are out of money and out of hope.
I should make it clear that this man I spoke to today didn't look like the type who sits on his hands waiting for manna from heaven or from Jerry Brown or wherever it is manna falls from these days. When I spoke to him he wasn't crashing on the couch in his cigarette burned underwear watching TV, like other chronically unemployed people I have come across since this recession started. He was tidily dressed and groomed and was out in the yard energetically taking care of whatever duties he had to do around the house. He didn't appear to be someone who lounges about doing nothing except blaming the government for his woes.
I don't exactly remember what started our conversation about the government, but I think it was a reference to the California drought I made while he was signing for a certified letter. One thing led to another, and before long he related to me the woeful fact that he has been unemployed so long that he can no longer collect unemployment benefits. He added that when he goes to apply for a job he is typically in competition with no less than 850 other candidates. Furthermore, he expressed his belief that President Obama's chest thumping assertion that the unemployment rate has now dipped to 5.5 percent is a complete fraud. Whether this is propaganda he got from right wing talk show hosts I don't know, but he thinks Obama is the first President not to include people whose unemployment benefits have expired, like him, within the ranks of the unemployed, which of course turns the unemployment rate into a highly inaccurate measure of how the economy is doing.
I don't know if what he told me is true. I certainly do not accept Tea Party inspired fantasies as fact, but I can share some admittedly anecdotal evidence that indicates maybe the economy is not pumping along as steadily as the President would have us believe it is. Yesterday, for example, I intended to take my wife to Easter Sunday dinner at Sizzlers, where she enjoys the salad bar, only to find that the Sizzler was sadly, distressingly fenced in and shut down. A few weeks ago I went to Pat and Oscars Restaurant to buy some bread sticks to complement our spaghetti dinner, only to discover that our local Pat and Oscars had sadly, distressingly shut down. If the economy is really booming, why are all these landmark local businesses that have been institutions here in Southern California for decades now closing their doors?
Like this customer on my route, I am not exactly a passionate fire-breathing advocate for President Obama either. At best I support him as the lesser of two evils, but in my opinion his fight to improve the lot for working people has been of the too little too late variety. When he had a majority in Congress he did nothing to push for increasing the minimum wage, and has only taken up this crusade now that he has a hostile Congress that isn't going to pass anything he proposes. It seems to me that Obama is more concerned with maintaining the illusion that he supports working people than he is with actually doing anything useful for them, like perhaps stopping American Corporations from exporting living wage factory jobs to third world countries.
Both major parties are steeped in institutionalized corruption and cronyism. Jackasses and Pachyderms alike desire to keep their hands on the privileges and benefits of power and not much else. Republicans want to keep people poor because their pimp corporations want a readily available pool of cheap labor, and Democrats want to keep people poor because once people get a little bit of money in their pockets they start voting Republican because they want low taxes.
There, I have said it! I have spoken heresy, and I sure do feel better. I will add, in closing, that it is time to take the advice the rock band Rage Against the Machine was dishing out in their song Guerrilla Radio, released on the eve of the 2000 Bush vs Gore Presidential election contest:
More for Gore or the son of a drug lord?
None of the above
F*** it cut the chord!
Rage was right, I think. The time has indeed come to cut the chord and try something else.
The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap. Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.
Image from: "Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 02-1931 - NARA - 541927" by Unknown or not provided - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unemployed_men_queued_outside_a_depression_soup_kitchen_opened_in_Chicago_by_Al_Capone,_02-1931_-_NARA_-_541927.jpg#/media/File:Unemployed_men_queued_outside_a_depression_soup_kitchen_opened_in_Chicago_by_Al_Capone,_02-1931_-_NARA_-_541927.jpg