February 16, 2011
The divide between pols, unemployed constituents
After the President delivered his State of the Union address, The Herald newspaper in Rock Hill, SC – where 15.7% of county residents are unemployed – published a column, Unemployed to politicians: “What country are they all living in?” Author Andrew Dys visited the local unemployment office to listen to the stories of job seekers and to get their reaction to all the talk from various politicians about jobs and unemployment:
Unemployment benefits are talked about by some politicians as if the benefits were gifts, and not earned over years and paid into with payroll deductions.
Politicians in South Carolina who have jobs and riches use the words “unemployment benefits” – barking about paying benefits and the cost to others – as if they will catch malaria from the unemployed.
While at the unemployment office, Mr. Dys overhears the conversations of those waiting patiently for their name to be called:
In another corner by the door is another round table, with a black lady and a white man and a white lady talking amongst themselves.
“Repeal NAFTA,” yelled the guy, who said he used to work in a textile mill.
He knows that trade agreements politicians bicker over benefit owners of mills and factories, but help almost no American working person – ever.
Strangers, making small talk. The word “eviction” was used three times, without regard for race or color or creed. Broke knows no color.
Mr. Dys hears from a former textile mill worker, Elden Gardner, who watched the President’s speech and all the responses on television:
Gardner is 46, worked at a “yarn plant” for 28 years until the yarn owners decided that overseas yarn made for pennies was better than American yarn that paid his wages.
“I got my electric cut off; my daughter had to move in with friends,” said Gardner. “It about makes a man want to give up, he can’t keep the lights on for his kid.”
What about all the talk from politicians of making sacrifices and the limits of what government can and should do to address the jobs crisis?
A man at Gardner’s table piped in: “Easy for them to say; they are all rich and they all have a job, too.”