Wake-up Call

Resist the Corporate State

Drummond: Plenty of money for war, but far too little to help nation’s jobless

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By Tammerlin Drummond Oakland Tribune 06/01/2010

I have two friends who have been out of work for over a year.

One was a high-ranking record industry executive. The other was a successful freelance writer who trotted the globe on plum assignments.

Up until two years ago, their careers were thriving. They owned their homes.

Then the bottom fell out.

The record industry executive got a pink slip from the company where she had worked for 12 years. Meanwhile, the freelance writer’s phone stopped ringing and the assignments dried up.

When I check in with them by phone, I can hear the panic and frustration in their voices.

They have sent out résumé upon résumé, and tapped their network of family, friends and business contacts.

Yet they still haven’t been able to find work. One is barely a step ahead of the foreclosure sheriff. Their self-esteem is in the toilet.

They’re among the 6.7 million Americans who have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer.

Not having gainful employment is not, as some right-wingers seem to think, a matter of choice.

No one I know is deliberately trying to stay out of work to collect the government’s $450 per week unemployment subsidy when they are used to making comfortable salaries.

Many of the jobless — certainly the millions eligible for unemployment benefits — are out of work through no fault of their own.

They had the misfortune of building careers in industries that imploded around them.Our unemployment crisis is a matter of math, not a lack of morals.

There are simply far too few jobs for too many seekers.

In California, 800,000 of our fellow residents have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.

We haven’t seen these kinds of extended, chronic levels of joblessness since the Great Depression.

Some employers have started hiring again, but this relative trickle won’t make a dent anytime soon in California’s 12.6 percent unemployment rate.

The Bay Area continues to hemorrhage jobs. The losses during a 12-month period ending this past April past have been brutal.

Nearly 19,000 jobs cut in the construction industry. Almost 15,000 in computer tech, engineering and other professional and business services. Another 8,000 in finance and real estate. Ten thousand employees cut from local government and public schools.

Unable to find work, many families rely on unemployment benefits to survive.

In California, laid-off workers are normally eligible for up to $450 a week, for up to 26 weeks. In April, recognizing that this chronic unemployment is worse than anything we’ve experienced in recent memory, Congress extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks in hard-hit states such as California. That extension was set to expire today.

In order for this critical lifeline to continue, the full Congress must approve an extension.

On May 28, the House narrowly approved an extension of unemployment benefits, which will enable 350,0000 long-term unemployed people to continue drawing unemployment — part of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.

The vote was 215-204.

Deficit hawks in the Democratic Party and their heartless Republican cohorts argued against helping jobless Americans. They insist that we can’t afford to extend unemployment benefits because that would increase the deficit.

Who’s going to pay for this unfunded welfare mandate?

Congress had no problem, however, approving another $60 billion for the wars.

Funny, I don’t remember anyone asking where those billions were going to come from.

The same day, Congress also cut $24 billion in aid to the states that would have helped cover Medicaid expenses — and let health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers expire.

Senators dithered and didn’t even vote on the unemployment benefit extension before heading off on a weeklong Memorial Day vacation.

If the chamber doesn’t pass an extension when members reconvene June 7, hundreds of thousands of Americans’ jobless benefits will run out by the end of the month. (An extension would only apply to those who haven’t already drawn the maximum 99 weeks.)

Our elected leaders have no qualms going deep into debt to fight wars.

Yet they cry broke when it comes to helping hard-working Americans get back on their feet.

Tammerlin Drummond is a columnist for Bay Area News Group. Contact her at tdrummond@bayareanewsgroup.com or at Twitter/tammerlin.


Written by laudyms

June 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

4 Responses

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  1. The state of politics and political rhetoric in this country are making me sick! Yeah, sure, I would rather make my $450 a week unemployment and stay home than my $65k a year salary I once had. Sure.

    I know just how your friends feel. Once I had a great job in graphic design/marketing. It has now been unemployment for a year and a half! I’m sick of it, but NO ONE is hiring. I can’t even get a part-time job at supermarkets or retail because they say “overqualified” to me. I barely stay one step away from the foreclosure sheriff. If it weren’t for unemployment, I would be on the street. It has NEVER been this bad in all my 30 years of working. Yes, I do care about the deficit, but in my book, America needs to care about its people first. Obama was right to cut a moon mission, and he should cut war spending as well. The GOP has proven time and time again that they would throw Main Street under the bus in order to serve corporate (or their own) interests.


    June 3, 2010 at 3:50 am

  2. We spent $1Trillion on war last year and are on track to do it again. Our country is full of cliques and echo chambers, with cronies only trying to benefit each other and no thought for the whole. How did we get so far off track?


    June 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

  3. Does no one care, or is it just no one understands? The corporate media continue to paint a picture of economic recovery, whilst the reality is anything but. The stock market is manipulated by the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the plunge protection team. We are assured recovery is happening, for look at the level of the Dow Jones, the economic disconnect is a chasm to be denied, it exists not, except for those who have fallen into it.

    The system is failing, like any structure the outliers are the weakest members, the poorest components fail first, but eventually all are brought down together.

    We cannot patch and resuscitate a dead corpse of an economy. We must build a new system, a system that works, but instead we fight tired old wars for hidden reasons and lead the world only in the manufacture of illusions.

    If the leaders will not lead us into a new paradigm, then it will fall on the heads of the people to muster the changes. Political system will splinter as consensus going forward is gone.

    Either we muster a new democracy with a new economic system, or a dictator or worse will step into the power vacuum that is becoming apparent.

    This is not a normal recession, it will not respond to normal measures.

    Jane Quatam

    June 5, 2010 at 7:18 am

  4. Our economy has been looted, while we have been distracted by gossip and phony divide-and-conquer issues.

    Before we can organize repair and resistance we have to identfy the problems: here’s a good list to start with-

    50 Statistics about the U.S. Economy that Are Almost too Crazy to Believe


    June 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

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