Plain Talk – 7.20.10
Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:02 pm
Last night before bed I told myself that when I woke up I would be independently wealthy. It didn’t work. Our Senate seems to think that if Americans wish for jobs long enough they will magically appear.Four and a half million people are currently living on Unemployment Insurance claims. Based on the statistics here in Weakley County, I bet there are quite a few people out there who either remember or currently know what that is like. I remember what it was like. Futureless, a word that doesn’t even exist, but should. There’s no planning for the future or saving for a rainy day. There’s no price research about the best washing machine to buy or trips to look at colleges. There’s nothing but the shelter, food and clothing for an indefinite amount of time. It’s scary. Those 4.5 million people don’t include the Americans who do not qualify for Unemployment Insurance coverage. When you factor those folks in, the number of people looking for work is closer to 10 million, more than one and a half times the entire population of Tennessee. For a while it seemed like everyone was talking about jobs. Every politician regardless of party was pounding their fist saying they had a better way to create jobs. Now that we are two years into this recession, there has still been no agreement between Republicans and Democrats and the tone of conversation has slowly changed. The Republican leadership doesn’t actually care very much about any of the actual people looking for work. Despite the astronomical cost of drug testing 4.5 million Americans every week, Senior Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch suggested it, claiming it would reduce drug addiction and save money. Fiscally conservative Sen. Hatch didn’t offer any plan on how to pay for his idea, so I guess his expectation is that enough drug addicts would be weeded out to justify an estimated $10 million dollars per week cost to administer all of these tests. Despite the fact that there are five job seekers for every listed job, Republican leadership is suggesting that it’s not that there are not enough jobs to go around, but instead the real problem is that the overwhelming majority of these job searchers must be drug addicts. I would hope that a sitting United States Senator would not offer up taxpayer money to start a government program that collects and tests the bodily fluids of American citizens without at least making sure that the cost doesn’t outweigh the potential savings. Or perhaps his goal is to portray these people as useless and not worth the investment. It certainly must be their fault that jobs were shipped overseas for decades. Not his. Other Republican Senators have made it clear that they do not see Unemployment Insurance as an economic and social safety net, but instead classify it a “necessary evil.” I would guess that none of these Senators own rental properties or grocery stores. The people who produce and sell the basic necessities of life can’t afford to lose another 5 million customers, yet the Republicans continue to fight extending unemployment benefits.They’ve been stalling for 37 days now. Could you live on 40 percent of your income for a year and then go 37 days without any income? Most Americans can’t.