Friday, September 2, 2011

a hand up

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Well, that was interesting.  As Butternut observed, I seemed to have struck a nerve.  While my post was intended as a statement on attitudes, assumptions and perceptions and in particular those held towards mexicans, it generated some strong emotion in defense of unemployment and those who rely on it.

I learned quite a bit about how unemployment works from Cynthia in the comments and it seems the system is a little oxymoronic, hindering people from working in some ways.  Having always been self employed, it's not been something I could fall back on.

Which doesn't mean I begrudge it to others.  On the contrary, I'm against the latest attempt to cut the safety nets from the budget.  I'd rather pay for that with my taxes than the wars this country is currently conducting or bailing out the banks and other financial institutions so their CEOs can continue to get their multi-million dollar salaries.

When I held that guy up as an example I did not mean to imply that I held that opinion of everyone who relied on unemployment.  And truth be told, I don't really know his whole story.  

Times are extremely tough for so many people right now, ourselves included, with no real end in sight.  People who did everything right have lost their jobs, lost their homes and lost all their retirement savings or have seen them greatly diminished.  And then there are those who have struggled all their lives and find they have even fewer options now.

It is my hope that things start improving soon for all of us but until that time I have no problem with the government programs that hold them above the water, if only just.


  1. It's good to make people think. YOu rock on, Ellen.

  2. I'm always terrified when I consider the possibility that Mike or I might be without a job. We'd just float on down to the bottom, I think. And I'm really afraid of the concept of there not being a safety net. I agree about not spending money on war that we could spend on helping people.

  3. i did not take offense at your post at all. i knew what you were conveying. :)

  4. Tough for those who have to rely on this to keep their head above the water.I don't think it is very much.

  5. No, that was a great post and I totally get it! I found an old suitcase at a yard sale , inside was the real treasure- letters from the 30's and on- from a family to one another with all sorts of news about the baby's trouble with colic, how the son broke his femur, stuff that really gripped real life back in the day- there were no handouts, there was strife, neighbors and family helped as much as they could help others. The government was not held responsible and there was no "entitlement" attitude- there was a lot of "deal with it"...and so they did.I, too, have pretty much been self employed for as long as I have been working- if something fails I change my path and do something else. I realize there is no safety net, so I think ahead,plan,save... I think that there are too many cry babies. And yes, what Reya said- ditto!

  6. I agree with Reya too. you do rock. thought provoking posts are a good way to find out what you do believe.
    I mean that sometimes when it is personal, like in a friends blog, you do think about it more than say, oh the blah, blah, blah that just drones on on the TV.
    It's good to shake the stuff up and see what rises. I think your post and the comments you received were all worthwhile.

    Happy Labor Day Weekend, Oma Linda

  7. Pooldad and I lost our jobs 5 years ago because the business we both worked for. We weren't living above our means. We had no credit card debt [and I mean ZERO], no car payments [owned both outright] and lived in an apartment.

    We took home $470 a week, together, from employment, to support us & four kids. We did not receive food stamps or any other kind of assistance. Our rent, in the DC metropolitan area, was $1250. How tight do you think our budget was?

    People think welfare and unemployment are livable wages to survive on. They aren't. They are a stop gap, or a hold over to get you to the next phase. You cannot live off of them.

    I know that rent sounds high, but you have to appreciate where we live. But our unemployment was the same amount as a person living in Boise, Idaho who had been laid off, but was paying $600 a month for their apartment.

    It just isn't doable. I have no problem paying our fair share to help people. I was there once. I never want to be there again, but at least it is a little something in the meantime.

    I have no idea why anyone would take exception to your post. There are all manner of people on unemployment.

  8. That should say "The business we both worked for went bankrupt." It closed.

  9. Ellen, I didn't take offense, I just figured that people who haven't had the unemployment experience probably don't understand. It's very easy to take potshots at the "other" guy--humans are very, very good at that kind of discrimination.

    A little education: Unemployment benefits aren't a "handout," any more than Social Security benefits are, and they're not welfare. By law, you buy unemployment insurance as a payroll deduction or sometimes as part of your self-employment taxes. It's administered (and only partially funded) by both state and federal agencies, and the majority of benefits come from the premiums we all pay:,,id=104985,00.html

    When you lose your job, you file a claim for benefits just as you'd file a claim on your auto, health or home insurance. Your benefit is paid weekly, and it's a percentage of the average weekly salary you made in the last year. You have a maximum cap on your benefit of X dollars, just like you do with other insurance. When that runs out, your benefits end, unless Congress or your state votes in a benefits extension.

    I found that people on unemployment are treated as if they're charity cases, and they get a lot of crap about being lazy or cry babies (and told we should "deal with it" and leave the trough like those stalwart folks from the 30s--who by the way had WPA and other unemployment programs). Unlike other insurance benefits, though (and as I pointed out in my comment), you can lose those payments in dozens of confusing ways. It is very scary, and very demoralizing to be in this system.

    Bottom line: I was pointing out that we can't automatically assume that a dude who didn't take a job paying the same as his benefits was lazy or "entitled." Sure, he might be lazy...or he might realize that taking the job would jeopardize much more than he'd gain.

    As the old saying goes, I got to walk a mile in that other guy's shoes--and I've stopped calling him a cry baby.

  10. Wow, I myself had to go back to work this year (school's starting!) and so I fell behind a blogs. It was interesting to see your feedback on the last post. As Reya says, it's good to think and to dig deep.

    Thanks for the reading list too.

  11. Honestly, I think your post was a good one Ellen and I knew what you were saying in your previous post and I'm afraid my comment had little to do with what you were saying and more to do with how defensive I get when I feel threatened. By no means did I feel this way because of you but more because of those who don't understand what it is like to be afraid you will end up homeless. For me, I was laid off, had no savings, and could not find another job. I think it had a lot to do with being 62 at the time. It is such a puzzle as to why some people resent those on unemployment or welfare or now it seems, even social security. A lot of us are scared and that makes for serious defensiveness at times.

    This is another great post.


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.