So am I really screwed this time?

Not as if 20 months of unemployment hasn’t been stressful enough, or done a number on the old self-worth, but now it seems I, and millions like me, are in deep shit again.

And this time I’m afraid I’m not getting out.

And just in time for Christmas.

The time for giving. The time for remembering the Jesus that so many right-wingers wave in our faces as if they own him.

Federal emergency unemployment benefit extensions run out Nov. 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving. And, as in August, debate over extensions is being held up in the Senate by Republicans and a few Democrats.

And thanks to the recent election results, the Senate Democrats in this lame-duck period don’t have the muscle to reopen the debate.

And Congress adjourns for Thanksgiving week at the end of Friday. Meaning that unless a miracle occurs this week, which won’t happen, the chance of debate on the matter won’t be open again until Monday, Nov. 29 — the day before the end of the current extension.

And the newly emboldened Republicans, with all their deficit-cutting rhetoric — all the while protecting the Cheney/Bush tax cuts for their true constituents, the ultra-rich — don’t seem to want to talk about it.

We’re screwed.

Brother, can you spare a job?

Here’s an appalling fun fact from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (link from Daily Kos): Congress has never failed to act on emergency unemployment benefit extensions when the unemployment rate was under 7.2 percent. The official rate is now 9.6 percent:

A congressional failure to act under these circumstances would be unprecedented. Congress has enacted a temporary program to provide additional weeks of federally funded UI benefits in every major recession since the 1950s, and has always continued providing those benefits until the economy was back on track and job prospects were improving. Today, the unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, job opportunities are scarce, and forecasters see little improvement over the coming year. In weak economies over the past six decades, the highest unemployment rate at which federal unemployment benefits have been cut off was 7.2 percent — nearly two-and-a-half percentage points lower than it is today.

Of course, as usual, we’re being played here, the people who truly need the benefits. We’re political pawns at the moment — actually, that’s a poor analogy, since Congress’ contempt for the needy is much more like Sherman’s slash-and-burn through Georgia than the strategy of chess. And if this plays out the way I’m guessing, and it’s no stretch, the Republicans are holding our meager lifelines hostage in exchange for letting the ultra-wealthy skate by without contributing their due to the tax base.

(And three asides here: 1) See where your policy of bend-over-backwards conciliation got us, Barack? 2) As pointed out so many times, do you think maybe, if we extricated ourselves from two countries where we don’t belong, it might do something about relieving the deficit? And 3) I wonder if the low-income, uneducated people who think the Tea Party is their friend will ever consider that they just helped usher in some of the very same people who are set to screw them royally …)

And, of course, should the stalemate linger — and at the worst possible time of the year for business and consumers alike — the Republican stubbornness might just put the country back in the very same hole from which it’s been slowly crawling out. It doesn’t take a moron to see that — of course, unless you’re so rich and sheltered and pampered, in that Beltway way, that it doesn’t matter.

Simple enough: People lose their benefits, they stop spending. They stop spending, stores suffer. And then their low-wage employees lose their hours and then their jobs. And then they’re not spending. And in short order, the economy grinds back to a halt. Am I missing something here? Am I going too fast?

Maybe there’s a wickedly Dickensian ulterior motive here, as the population climbs to 310 million: “‘If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, ‘they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'”

And I’ll take a stroll to the grassy knoll here: Maybe there is a cadre of ultra-wealthy out there running the show behind the scenes, who do, indeed, want to decrease the surplus population. And they’re using Congress to do their dirty work — to let the poor slip into the cracks and just die off and ease the burden on them. Or turn the country into a modern version of the feudal system — you know, all those sci-fi scenarios where corporations, not governments, rule the world?

Cynical and silly and maybe insane? Well, have you seen what our government of the people, by the people and for the people has been doing with the people’s personal liberties in recent times? Things that tear apart our flag, thread by thread, on a daily basis, and shred our Constitution one tiny piece after another? Things we never could have imagined happening in anything except novels and films? In this context, am I really that overly cynical or crazy?

*****

In any sense, the anger I feel writing this post will soon subside, replaced once again by the overwhelming anxiety and despair that comes with the prospect of soon running out of whatever little money I have left.

This time, I’m afraid, I’m screwed, as are the others who need the money.

And I keep sending out resumes and keep ending up with nothing in return.

I ask the same question many others probably ask: Am I that bad? Do I suck so much that I’m not worthy of making a living?

(And this is a note to others who tell me, “Well, you’re not the only one who’s going through tough times,” as if it’s supposed to make me feel better — or maybe scold me for, God forbid, thinking of myself. That’s the worst thing you can tell me right now. Don’t ever tell me that again.)

And my friends can tell me until next month how great I am and all that, but they’re not in a position to be able to do anything to help, outside of moral support.

The truth is the rest of the universe is telling me “you’re not worth shit.”

And now I face the prospect of our government flat-out telling me the same thing: I’m not worth shit.

I’d love to prove them wrong.

I don’t know if I have the strength or the faith to keep doing that.

And I certainly have no faith in my government to do right by us at this point.

For Christ’s sake, it’s Christmas! And this is what they do to their fellow humans?

Maybe there will be a “compromise” — the Dems will capitulate once again, like the French of so many cliched jokes, and the filthy rich will keep their tax cuts and the struggling will get their pittance for another three months.

And I’m hoping, in the spirit of the season, that some members of Congress will actually soften their hearts just a trifle.

But I have a bad feeling about things this time. I’ve been scared plenty these past 20 months. But right now I’m terrified.

Does anyone have a job? Or know where I can get one? Something in the Bay Area or New York or back home in Connecticut? A paying job that will keep me afloat?

Meanwhile, the colors green and red are starting to depress the shit out of me.

UPDATE 11/18: Well, so much for hoping there’s someone in Congress with a heart. The House voted today, 258-154, to defeat an unemployment extension.

And I just can see them sitting around the table a week from today and giving thanks to their gods that they’re not one of us …

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2 Responses to “So am I really screwed this time?”

  1. jmucci Says:

    It’s funny how the ones that scream “America: love it or leave it”…and are supposedly the most “patriotic” are the very ones that are ruining our country. And they don’t REALLY believe what America stands for… only as to how it benefits THEM…and fuck everyone else.

  2. jmucci Says:

    My unemployment checks will continue til I guess April…but starting in 2 weeks…they will be only half (actually less than half) then what they’ve been. I guess I’m “lucky” compared to some who will lose ALL benefits..

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