Friday, August 05, 2011

News Flash For Eric Cantor

Rep. Cantor (R-VA) opposes extending unemployment "benefits" (really, unemployment benefits should be called unemployment insurance, which every worker contributes to via payroll taxes).

Perhaps Rep. Cantor needs to be reminded that getting unemployment insurance, Rep. Cantor, is not a choice. You cannot get unemployment insurance payment unless you are laid off. And the unemployed are not lazy bums who seek to ride on the backs of others, any more than people who receive Social Security payments that they themselves have funded throughout their working lives are.

Mind you, it's not that Eric Cantor is opposed to spending money altogether. It's rather that he is very selective in deciding whose money gets spent: If it's my money, to support corporations, wars, energy companies (except, of course, for renewable energy), then he has no problem with it. If it's the other way around, that is if the issue is collecting more money from those who have oodles of it, to support middle- and low-income families, then he marches to a very different tune. There is nothing he would not cut in order to preserve the right of the mega-rich, be it individuals or corporations, to hoard all their possessions.

I know unemployed people, and I know how unfavorably they live through their situation. First off, unemployment payments are not--by any reasonable standard--enough to make ends meet. Secondly, most people I know who are unemployed are actively seeking employment (which is a condition for continuing to receive payments). In the current economic climate, it is very hard to land an interview for most people, let alone a job offer, let alone an actual job. Most offers they receive are inadequate replacement for their previous income, you might even call them demeaning.

Which leads me to the next consideration: Why should anyone be expected to take a job, any job, regardless how demeaning or beneath one's education, when the pay that comes with it barely tops the money they are receiving for their unemployment? In what completely upside-down world could anyone talk of the dignity of work, when the work you are offered does not match your qualifications, nor your legitimate salary expectations, particularly if you have experience and you are good at what you do, or used to do? The moment you accept an inadequate job your chances of pursuing adequate jobs are diminished: it becomes harder to search for a good job and harder to interview for one, so the benefits of having inadequate employments are dwarfed by what you lose in comparison.

Many people think that dignity automatically comes with work, any sort of work. That is a a view that benefits only ownership, as opposed to workers. There is no dignity for an out-of-work teacher flipping burgers for $7.25 an hour. There is no dignity for an unemployed engineer working on an assembly-line for $12 an hour. And yet too many people are taught that there is more dignity in that than in holding out for work commensurate with one's ability and earning expectations and collecting unemployment. So yes, we should try go get people off unemployment and put them back to work again, but not off unemployment and into any job.

It's an upside-down world indeed, one where people like Rep. Cantor can shoot their mouths off about things they don't know or don't understand and collect $193,400 a year for it. It's the kind of money not even teachers should be making, and they work to make people's lives better. He makes it, on our backs, by doing everything he can to destroy the American middle-class. If this country has any hope left within, it must start with booting people like Cantor out of office.

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