January 8, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 2

Dr. Wes

Without unemployment benefits in the new year, you can finally tell exactly how poor you are

by: Dr. Wes Browning

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Good news: At the end of last month, 1.3 million of the nation’s unemployed workers stopped getting the federal extended unemployment benefits that had been provided because of the recession. Our nation’s long nightmare is over: We are now awake to a new day, when poverty can finally be a reality and not merely a dream dangled before us, taunting us.

It’s that old Sword of Damocles thing, isn’t it? Who wants a sword hanging over one’s head, when one could have it drop and pierce one once and for all and get it over with? Yeah, that’s it. All these Damocleses will shut up now, won’t they?

When they can’t afford their car payments, mortgages and rents, they’ll finally get those good-paying, honest jobs they’ve been putting off taking all these months. Or, if they don’t, they’ll become homeless and probably won’t get their lives together in time to figure out how to vote in the midterm elections in November, in which case, mission accomplished.

The important thing is, now they won’t have to worry what will happen when the unemployment runs out. I’m sure this has been a major pain in their lives. In fact, science recently has proven that being poor lowers your IQ by 13 points, the equivalent of one congressperson.

I actually learned this yesterday. The reason is, there’s so much to think about when you’re poor. Well, these people have less to think about now.

The benefits to the country and its economy are enormous. Americans haven’t been made aware of the problems that have resulted as immigration to this country has dropped off in recent years. Let me restate that. Immigrants are leaving this country in droves, unwilling to work at Walmarts for a chance to collect food stamps. So we have to find ways to get Americans to do that work. The solution has been found.

It’s also going to be a good test of our hobbled food stamp program and the Affordable Care Act. Now that we’ve cut back food stamp allowances in past months, will the program be able to do enough to help all the new people who are going to have to apply? Probably not, but we’ll know for sure in a few months, won’t we? We’ll also find out what it costs to pick up all the new medical bills. It’s all about getting rid of life’s annoying uncertainties.

Speaking of annoying uncertainties, wouldn’t it be nice to know how many of these 1.3 million people losing federal unemployment benefits will end up homeless? If ‘round about all of them were to become homeless for at least a few weeks in 2014, that’d just about sink everybody’s hopes and dreams to end homelessness in this 10 years or that, all across the country. I mean,  just think about it: If we knew how many of these people were to become homeless, we could plan for it.

For me, the biggest uncertainty hanging over my head is whether or not American voters can get any stupider than they have already been in letting Congress hand the country over to corporations. How much more of this will Americans take before they snap? Is it possible that the stupidity we’ve seen so far is only just the beginning?

Imagine the turmoil in this country that would result if housing for all and universal health care caught on, and we went back to the idea that education was a right and a social necessity and not just a privilege. The institutions that have been created around the denial of those needs would collapse. Shelters would close down. We might have to start closing prisons like those unfortunate Swedes and Danes.

The thought that something like that could happen here in this country is understandably frightening. Everything Congress can do to prevent this country from coming to its collective senses is a blow for certainty — the certainty and security of sameness, of nothing changed.

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