I have a friend who is quite intelligent. She is applying for food stamps. She called me and said, “Michelle, I don’t understand this paperwork!”. I understood where she was coming from, because of my own experience with social aid. First, when I had to apply for medicaid, I went to the welfare office everyday for a week. The paper trail was absurd, and I wasn’t in the best mental state to deal with it. Finally, they awarded me the benefits. Similarly, when I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance, I had to sit in front of a Social Security Rep. and fill out a lengthy form. I was so overwhelmed, I could barely complete it. Once I did, the guy looked at me and said, “You won’t get it. You don’t have enough work history.” Well, I was only twenty-four years old. Thanks to reports from hospitals, psychiatrists, therapists, and an outpatient hospital program, I got the benefits.
Talking to my friend, and remembering my own experiences, I thought to myself, “What about all the people needing services that are less literate and educated, people who have less supports, or immigrants? How do they get help in this shameful bureaucracy?”. I realize some welfare and social security offices have translators, but in languages that cover all immigrants trying to get benefits? I think not.
Now let’s talk about unemployment. All those people seeking unemployment benefits, and those trying to keep their benefits going. As of November, the unemployment number was 15.1 million, 9.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization , and Job Creation Act of 2010 was passed last week. All I could learn from the white house website, was that 7 million workers will get their benefits, at the current rate, for another 13 months. I could not find anywhere who the 7 million people were out of the 15.1 million that are unemployed. Please let me know if you have the answer to my quandary! I also tried to find out all the paperwork that goes into applying for this “insurance”, but with my social security number, it wouldn’t let me into the state site. If you have information on this process, please let me know as well.
Every month, I wait for the unemployment numbers to come out. I am ridden with sadness when I see so many people suffering. Meanwhile, Wall Street is doing well, and hedge fund brokers are making a killing. The rich are getting tax cuts, while the lower classes are paying dramatically more. Sometimes I feel like we’re living in an age of oblivion. Tell me, how do you ignore a 9.8% unemployment rate that may actually be even higher? How do we sit and watch the poor get poorer? This country is so imbalanced that I find it rather frightening. We can not sit back and watch those around us suffer. Where I live, there is total poverty just a few blocks away. I have to say to myself, “What are you doing to make things better?”. My goal right now is to get the word out. Inform people. This is the American empire: a crumbling national and international catastrophe. I won’t go into international politics right now, but our national politics are so out of wack, causing us to have a disproportionate number of people on food stamps, welfare, and unemployment benefits, or, I should say, “unemployment insurance”. What insurance? Insurance that you’ll have no money in 13 months? And, tell me about the job creation? The recently passed Act included it in its title, but where the hell is it?
I would like to close by saying that I am outraged at American bureaucracy and inadequacy. I’ve been to areas of this country that look like third world nations. I’ve also been to areas of this country where a 12 bedroom house is a “starter home”. I wish I could make sense of it all. I will try to do what I can to contribute to a country I truly care about, and be there for those less fortunate than me. I don’t know what else to do.
Thanks for letting me say all this. I needed to express these things. They affect us all.