Today, in reaction to hearing that US House Republicans had passed an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed that included a requirement for drug testing for those who would seek an unemployment check (this bill was quickly shut down by Senate Republicans), I posted the following as my Facebook status:
“So for the Republicans in the US House of Representatives who believe the unemployed should have to pee in a cup before they can claim the unemployment benefit that they paid in to: - Before my wife pees in a cup for you, you will first need to pee in to a cup for the tax dollars you are taking from me in the way of salary and benefits. Never forget: YOU ARE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES and as such YOU WORK FOR ME!”
This started a bit of give and take between me and a couple of my friends on the subject. I won’t share their names in this post and will only use their own words to get their points across. The gist of their argument is that people should be taking whatever jobs are available and not be relying on government handouts. They also seem to be very concerned that losing one’s job must lead to instant drug and alcohol abuse. The conversation went something like this:
1st Friend: Do you exclude the Dems in that statement? I had to pee in a cup for years to collect my salary! What's the difference?
Me: I don't exclude anyone who would pee on the unemployed and demean them as people rather than provide them with an opportunity for a job or provide them basic subsistence. And for whom were you peeing in a cup and what was your position. Did you know the requirement to provide bodily fluids before you accepted the job? Details Details....
2nd Friend: yeah I kind of agree. I think unemployment is too long, three months maybe four is all one needs to find a job; maybe not the one you want but something but you shouldn’t have to pee in a cup. You did pay in so that’s bs. Welfare on the other hand should be tested for everything; even alcohol and tobacco products. If you’re on welfare you shouldn’t have money for luxuries.
1st Friend: Details are it was mandatory for the safety of all those people you object to having to pee in a cup. I think it should apply to welfare payments as well! As a substance abuse counselor I am aware of how many children out there go hungry because their parents waste our tax dollars to buy drugs. If this pee in a cup can identify family drug problems, maybe the money would be better spent in that direction.
“I think unemployment is too long, three months maybe four is all one needs to find a job…” Wow!
Me: …As for 3 months to find a job...Jesus Christ! What planet are you living on?
2nd Friend: actually more like 10 days. It’s never been hard to find work. It’s out there. question is for most people do I want the job and pay but there are jobs and pay out there.....on earth the same place I live… exceptions could be people with a record.
1st Friend: Or drug problems!
2nd Friend: Of course but people with drug problems end up on the doll or in illegal activity. It’s difficult to be a functioning addict but I have met some. Problem isn’t only finding a job for an addict it’s also keeping it.
There is more to the conversation but I really was struck by the notion that there are people out here who honestly believe that the issue of long-term unemployment is really only a matter of too many lazy Americans. So to be sure I wasn’t the one imagining things, I went to the website for the US Department of Labor; to their latest numbers on how long people are going without jobs in this country. Below are the numbers from November, 2010 and November 2011.
Unemployed persons by duration of unemployment
Weeks Nov 2010 Nov 2011
Less than 5 weeks 2,824,000 2,519,000
5 to 14 weeks 3,336,000 2,911,000
15 to 26 weeks 2,515,000 2,111,000
27 weeks and over 6,328,000 5,691,000
Yep, there have been folks getting those jobs after just 10 days of looking. But I can’t help but wonder how anyone can believe that between 5 and 6 million of their fellow citizens are content to simply sit at home for months on end (up to a year or more); drawing a check that will not even comes close to the wage they were forced to give up when the company they worked for decided it was more profitable to move off-shore or bring in a younger worker at a lower wage. But I guess that’s just what should be expected in today’s America.
Chad (The Left) Shue