Are The Unemployed Eating Cake Yet?

by Frank Wycoff

January 19, 2004   


The new unemployment figures are out, and 5.7 percent of Americans are collecting unemployment checks. Let's see, that's 16 million people conservatively, down 0.2 from the month before. The percentage numbers are from the AP wire service Jan. 9, 2004.

The 16 million figure is all mine, just take the last population census numbers and some help from my calculator, and there you have it. Of course, my numbers or any other numbers are manipulated, like for this article, more so to get or keep political power.

All of the above has bothered me for the past few days -- these numbers have names, and I know some of them -- their faces, where they live. Next month a few of them will run out of benefits and I am not sure what numbers will identify them so that we can be shown how the economy is going. Even more bothersome are the number of people who are not employed and do not show up on any government numbers. Let's put that number at, say, another 16 million. Those whose benefits have run out, (even after the government's extensions), illegal immigrants, homeless, self-employed. Yes, self-employed, like myself who was out of work for a couple of months due to a broken wrist.

I certainly was not a part of any numbers.

In the president's weekly address to the nation last Saturday he used the number 5.7 percent, heaven forbid actually saying how many people that is, and yes, he did add, "that's not good enough." Meaning what? For a change you will personally do something about it, lead by leading?

You want to be a leader, Mr. President? How about using some of your re-election war chest to create or even save a few jobs. Same goes for you other guys who want the job. What kind of headlines would be generated by the simple act of using one's power and privilege to create jobs -- not handouts -- just jobs. Millions of dollars wasted every four years; so many people lost in percentage points.

What a bunch of idealistic crap coming from the mind of this child of the '60s. I apologize.

Mr. Bush, save "that's not good enough" for your next tax break, at least that's tangible. While you're at it, try using one person's name when talking about the unemployed. Maybe even add why that person is unemployed. Would it hurt so much to loose a million-dollar contribution by calling on the mate one of your business buddies who took his company's operation overseas and created that person's unemployment?

Let's end this puny idealistic tirade here; we have known all our adult life that there has always been enough money in this country to give all the people a chance to pursue happiness. We should have moved by now to helping the rest of the world. But no, we will spend the rest of our lives being numbed by the numbers from people in power who can do something about it all, and instead choose to endlessly use the numbers rhetoric.

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Frank Wycoff is a true friend of Swans, literally. Even more, he was one of the five crazies who launched Swans in 1996, and while not contributing his words for several years, he has helped in countless ways, quietly, in the background, to keep the project going. Frank Wycoff used to have a small printing business in California. He and his wife Nancy sold it in 1998 and relocated to Oneonta, New York, where he now works as an independent contractor around the houses, many of them in dire need of his expertise.

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Published January 19, 2004
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