Author Archive | susie

TODAY: Mayday SOS

People are going off a cliff and we’re not really doing anything about it. That’s not great public policy. – Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project

This “99ers” unemployment crisis is a giant iceberg lurking under the political water line, and the Democrats in Congress don’t seem to understand they’re dancing on the Titanic. Since Wall Street is happy, and corporate America is happy, they assume everything’s fine.

Many Americans still think the last extension vote was intended to add additional benefits, and thus aren’t swamping their representatives with calls and emails, so our political leaders happily doze at the wheel, assuming everything’s fine.

It isn’t. You know when they’ll figure it out? The day after the November midterms. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In the meantime, if you’re one of the lucky duckies whose unemployment ran out, please fax or email your resume to your Congressional representatives:

Karl Schafer says he has tried for hundreds of jobs since he was laid off from a truck factory more than two years ago. Still waiting to get hired, the 52-year-old Ohio man has suffered the indignity of applying for food stamps and asking his elderly mother for help.

Weary of her own job search, former customer service representative Wagma Omar, 40, of Mission Viejo is thinking about applying for a dangerous civilian job in Afghanistan.

And in California’s wine country, Kay Stephens, 56, is frantically looking to cut her living expenses so her unemployment doesn’t become a burden to her 30-year-old daughter.

Schafer, Omar and Stephens are among the increasing number of unemployed Americans whose burdens just got heavier: They’ve exhausted their 99 weeks of jobless benefits and must now figure out how to get by on ever more meager resources.

In California, state officials estimate there are nearly 100,000 people who are still looking for work but can no longer draw an unemployment check. Federal labor officials could not provide a number nationally, but private-sector experts say it could easily top 1 million.

What is certain is that, as the jobless rate remains stubbornly high, more Americans will have to face the challenge of making ends meet without a monthly check.

“People are going off a cliff and we’re not really doing anything about it,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. “That’s not great public policy.”

Once unemployment benefits run out, people are eligible for general relief — but that pays a maximum of $221 a month in Los Angeles County, compared with as much as nearly $2,000 a month for unemployment. Only workers with dependent children are eligible for welfare.

Worried that they could lose their homes and get put out on the street, thousands of “99ers,” as they call themselves, are banding together to agitate for another extension. On Friday they’re kicking off a “Mayday SOS” campaign, faxing and e-mailing Congress their resumes, along with pleas for more benefits.

[…] People who know they’ll keep receiving benefits “don’t rush to find new employment,” said Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow at the conservative Cato Institute. Data show that the long-term unemployed often find a job just as their benefits run out, he said.

Talk about “receiving benefits”! All this Cato fellow has to do is keep parroting the heartless conservative dogma, and he’s set for life.

And really, isn’t that how it should be?

Washington Post

Oh. blow me. Really.

I am so very, very sick of people who think writers should work for free. (Like Examiner.com or any of the numerous sites that think professional writers should be thrilled to Get Their Name Out There! Trust me, honey, the thrill of a byline soon fades. But the excitement of a regular paycheck stays with you for a long, long time.)

There are a lot of people who think writing is easy; I know this, because they’re always telling me: “You know, I’ve often thought I’d be a really good writer.” I guess I’ll have to take your word for it, since you’ve never actually written anything, but okay.

I’m good at what I do. If I’m going to write for anyone but myself, I’d like to get paid. It is, after all, my profession.

But the entire online world (*cough* Arianna *cough*) now writes business plans based on FREE content, and they’re proclaimed as media geniuses.

Well, as my dad used to tell us, “You buy shit, you get shit.”

Whenever I can afford it, I support small blogs. After all, their writing inspires, entertains and enlightens me. Many of you have been supporting this blog for a long time, probably for the same reason.

And for the Washington Post to dangle a fake carrot in front of a blogger, expecting them to bite — that’s plain insulting. Shame on them.

As Liz Phair says, “It’s nice to be liked but it’s better by far to get paid.

Drill Baby Drill Part 2

I was at the dentist today, getting the permanent crown on, and I’m done until I get another job.

Dr. Wilson, who really is the nicest, most interesting guy, gave me a copy of the new Seth Grodin book as a present. (He’s a real geek, he loves stuff like this.)

But I wanted the gory details about his recent brush with death.

He had a kidney stone that blocked a duct – and his kidney ruptured. “There I was, minding my own business, and all of a sudden I’m on the floor, writing in pain,” he said.

I wanted to know what a kidney looks like when it ruptures. “Does it, you know, explode?” I said, gesturing with my hands.

“It’s more like when a tomato splits open,” he said. Oh.

Encouraging

This sounds like an actual progressive stand Obama might be taking. Who’d a thunk it?

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, preparing to make his second nominee to the Supreme Court, warned Wednesday of a “conservative” brand of judicial activism in which the courts are often not showing appropriate deference to the decision of lawmakers.

Obama made clear that his views on judicial restraint are not the only basis he will use in choosing his next nominee for the high court, a decision expected over the next few weeks.

But his comments underscore just how much he thinks courts are being vested with too much power and are overruling legislative will, a factor that will influence his nominee choice.

Obama already has openly criticized the Supreme Court for a January ruling – one led by the court’s conservative members – that allowed corporations and unions to spend freely to influence elections. Obama has vowed to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens with a like-minded justice who will not let powerful interests crowd out voices of ordinary people.

I was heartened the other day to read that Arlen Specter was encouraging him to pick a fighter:

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who switched parties last year and is now in a tight Democratic primary race for his seat, said Obama shouldn’t shy away from a political fight.

“There has to be a recognition that the Supreme Court conference room is an ideological battleground,” Specter said. The president should pick justices “who can carry forward the ideological battle on his terms.”

Elizabeth Warren

She tells Republicans to choose: Banks — or families?

It’s time for senators — especially the Republicans — to square their upcoming votes on financial reform with their long-professed desire to protect families, said consumer advocate and federal bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday in an interview with the Huffington Post.

“Everyone in Washington claims to be on the side of families and to support reform,” said Warren, a member of the 2010 TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people. “But the test is who votes to paper over problems with another regulatory system designed to fail and who votes for real Wall Street accountability even if it means that some donors will be disappointed.

“I’m tired of hearing politicians claim to support families and, at the same time, vote with the big banks on the most important financial reform package in generations. I’m deep-down tired of it.”

Of all the proposals in the 1,400-page Senate bill attempting to reform Wall Street and protect American consumers, none is more contentious than the one calling for the creation of a consumer-focused agency dedicated to protecting borrowers from abusive lenders.

Reform-minded Democrats want a powerful independent entity able to defend powerless families from the banks and financial firms that squeeze profits out of customers through tricks, traps and outright predatory loans.

Moderates want to say that they voted for a bill that protects consumers — even if it really doesn’t.

Republicans profess a desire to protect consumers, acknowledging regulators’ past failures, but they also don’t want to stem the flow of credit or needlessly harm lenders’ ability to make a buck.

Interesting

I’m sure the reality-based community has all sorts of explanations for this:

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