Hanging by a thread

Times are Hard

This guy did everything “right,” in the world according to wingnuts. Business degree, not a humanities major. Right-thinking Republican who identifies as libertarian. Guys like this remind me of the right-to-lifers who never actually realized that changing the legal definition of life to the moment of conception meant that women who had abortions would have to be sent to jail for murder. They never bother to think things through to the logical conclusion: Voting for Republicans guarantees you will get shafted when you most need help:

Before the recession hit, Russ Holton was making more than $100,000 a year at his sales job with a Cincinnati information technology company. Today, the 45-year-old Mason man is on food stamps and barely scraping by on income from a part-time maintenance job — a contract position that’s about to end.

Holton is one of about 62,000 Ohioans who have lost their unemployment benefits this year — and who watched anxiously as Congress debated, and then deadlocked, over an extension of that financial assistance for the long-term unemployed.

For Holton, the weekly unemployment checks he received until the end of December — about $400 per week for him — were a lifeline. He was using the money to pay his rent, put gas in his car, and buy food while he took night classes to start a new career. In November — if all goes as planned — Holton will earn a certificate from the Warren County Career Center in network administration, putting him back on a path to a good-paying job overseeing computer networks.

But Holton is not sure how he’ll get to November.He’s already borrowed money from his parents and can’t ask them for more. His friends have helped him with utility bills and a few other basics. He is managing to keep afloat right now, earning about $320 per week doing housing repairs, but his contract will end next month.

“I’m living paycheck to paycheck and every penny I’m accounting for,” Holton said.

He never expected to be in this position. He studied business management at the University of North Carolina. Although he did not complete his degree, he found work in the mortgage industry. Holton moved to Cincinnati with his wife about 10 years ago. He got a job at Fifth Third Bank before moving into sales. In 2007, he said, he and his wife earned $225,000.

Then the economic meltdown hit, he got divorced, and his sales income began to drop.

“The markets just changed with the recession, and it was hard to get people to open their checkbooks,” Holton said. Last April, he was laid off. A friend gave him temporary work installing home entertainment systems but that work dried up in July.

He applied for unemployment and started receiving $396 a week. And he enrolled in the network administration program at WCCA through a federal workforce training program. The program allowed him to keep receiving unemployment benefits and focus on his studies without having to actively look for a new job.

Then he realized the federal unemployment benefits — enacted by Congress amid the recession and extended several times during the slow recovery — were set to expire on Dec. 28. Holton, who said he is a registered Republican with libertarian leanings, soon found himself glued to the TV for the latest news out of Washington, where Senate Democrats had vowed to push through an extension.

At first, Holton said, “I thought it would only be a matter of weeks” before Congress approved legislation to renew the benefits. But “as I started watching, it got increasingly frustrating,” said Holton.

3 Responses to Hanging by a thread

  1. Barbara May 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. I live two suburbs away from him and I put up with his ilk all the time. Still, I doubt he’ll learn anything important from this experience, even as he uses all sorts of government help to get back on his feet.

  2. Imhotep May 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Why did this guy stay in Cincinnati? And stay in Cincinnati? And stay in Cincinnati? Sometimes you gotta move along. But you’re correct when you say that voting for a Republican is like cutting your own throat. It’s risky enough voting for a Democrat, but voting for a Republican guarantees your trip to hell.

  3. JJ May 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    No degree = no job…

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