Scrooge lives, judging by comments appended to last Friday’s column.
If only we’d cut off the benefits of the long-term unemployed, those layabouts would find work, many online readers said, agreeing with some in Congress.
To put it another way, are there no prisons? No workhouses?
Yes, even in 2010, some folks are clueless about what it’s like to be out of work. So today, some perspective from a member of the surplus population.
“Jodi,” 55, worked her whole adult life before being tossed to the curb like a sack of fast-food trash. She would love to be working, but let Jodi tell it. Her e-mail is edited for space.
“I was laid off — Oct 2009; after no raise for 4 yrs, salary reduction, and 401K match being stopped. Have worked since I was 16 — yes, I have PAID a lot of taxes!
“I would like to take you through what a ‘true’ unemployed month looks like. Daily — search every possible site for jobs, custom tailor resume and cover letter to include ‘search-able words’ — i.e. purchasing/procurement — be ready for interview — phone or in person — check back throughout the day for e-mail or messages.
“Weekly — pay bills from unemployment ins of $ 300.00 — you have to decide which ones can be paid this week and how much to save for next week after rent, utilities, car insurance — have an average of $65.00/week left! for everything else — food, medicine, doctor co-pay, gas for car, etc. (my car is 10 yrs old — do not buy new clothes, shoes or go ‘out’; also watch my thermostat each day and try to figure out how much to set it back. I’m sitting here with blanket to write this.)
“Monthly — check that basics have been paid — I do not have cable, savings or an emergency fund. Try to deal with creditors for doctor bill and $160 in taxes (no write off for me).
“Let me tell you it is a challenge to operate under these circumstances — how are we to stay positive — can’t be depressed or angry in job interview.”
She worries about sudden car repairs or illness. Taxes? Yes, the feds even ding you for unemployment benefits.
She has been unable to find help paying her utilities and doesn’t get food stamps.
“I have made it on my own this past year; getting tired, you bet — depressed, of course — friends don’t seem to understand, of course. I think I would make an excellent employee for a company — I understand working hard, budgeting, cost savings, perseverance.”
Except she can’t find a job, Christmas is coming and there’s no money to buy gifts.
“I just thought that someone who is dealing with the day-to-day would be able to spell it out for those who ‘have.’ ”
Yes, thanks, not that the Scrooges will get it. All the same, God bless them, every one.