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Saturday, December 11, 2010

America Needs to change its Attitude towards The Long-Term Unemployed

As a person who is on his third period of long-term unemployment of two years or more I don’t like what I’m seeing or what I’m hearing. Not about the economy, but the attitude responding towards it. From the government to the private sector, it’s like everyone has given up.

I recently read that Ben Bernanke, Chief of the Federal Reserve said that unemployment rate won’t change for the next four or five years. Another article stated that Americans should get used to 9 and ten percent unemployment rates. And another article stated Americans should get used to an underclass of underemployed and unemployed people and a welfare class like Europe has.

I’ve also read about employers thumbing their nose at long-term unemployed during job interviews. Scoffing at the gaps in prospective candidates resumes, dismissing unemployed people’s efforts to improve themselves by taking the time to go to school and asking questions in a rude and condescending tone. Some of the more arrogant interviewers smugly ask what a person has been doing since they’ve been laid off!

And I’ve read about people on the street not being supportive of long-term unemployed people. People saying that unemployed people are lazy and don’t try hard enough, that being out of work is their fault. That they should take any job and they should get out from in front of the computer and go out and pound the pavement to look for work.

These reports showed an apathetic and indifferent response from the rest of America to fifteen million people who are out of work. Fifteen million people who struggle to pay bills. Fifteen million people who struggle to keep their heads above water on Unemployment, Food Stamps and donations from charity. Reading those reports I felt everyone from government to big business has thrown up their hands in frustration and walked away from fifteen million people.

Sorry, but I refuse to accept that diagnosis of our economy. And I refuse to accept that response to my unemployment situation.

Reading all that I wondered what happened to the heart of the American People? What happened to the American Dream? The Entreprenurial spirit? You know, Life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? Isn't this the land of opportunity? A capitalist economy? The stuff of a great nathon? Did 9/11 crush America’s soul? Were the American people’s hopes and dreams pummeled to dust in the debris of the World Trade Center? Or has everyone become too scared by terrorism to take risks anymore?

Like the pioneers in the 19th Century and the Immigrants in the 20th Century, I refuse to give up in the face of adversity. Even though I’m out of work, I see long-term unemployment as a tremendous opportunity. This is not the time for me or anyone else out of work to give up on themselves. So there aren’t any jobs. Big deal. There weren’t any jobs when this country started over 200 years ago. However, men and women with vision and imagination created their own pathways to success.

Yeah, it’s a recession. But it’s also rock bottom. The ground floor. The starting point of something new. Something exciting. Something different. Something exciting. Unemployed Americans like myself just have to have the determination and passion to bring the success we imagine into reality.

So instead of looking for someone else’s job and working towards finding work that makes someone else rich, I feel long-term unemployed people like myself need take their employment situation into their own hands. Scratch that, take our LIVES into their own hands. Stop waiting for the government. Stop waiting for big business. Stop looking for a job and stop waiting for someone to make a decision to hire them at their raggedy job. Stop waiting for someone else to make a decision on what happens in their lives and make it happen themselves.

Fifteen million Americans don’t have four or five years to wait for the economy and the job market to get itself together. Now is the time for unemployed Americans like myself to roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty in the trenches. Make our own jobs. Find those new businesses. Create those new markets. Do the back-breaking labor and carve their own path like the pioneers and the Immigrants did. Our Forefathers and Grandfathers didn’t have college degrees, or lots of money like many of us have today, but they built multibillion dollar businesses and industries that employed millions of people for decades because they believed in what they did and did it to the best of their ability. To build those businesses, they took risks, trusted God and had faith.

I’ve been unemployed for the past two years. I’ve struggled to look for work in that time, and I haven’t found a job. But I’m not giving up. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Now I’m self-publishing books on the side print-on-demand and I don’t know where it’s gonna go. But like the pioneers, explorers and Immigrants who came to America for a better life, I’m sure gonna see where it takes me. Who knows? I might be the next big publishing magnate.


  1. Excellent article and you are absolutely correct.
    Myself, having graduated from college EXACTLY one year ago, I still haven't found the career that I want. At present I'm working two penny antes to make ends meet.
    While I haven't given up on finding that seemingly elusive career I am thinking outside the box too.
    Anyway, good to see another writer doing his thing.

  2. Shawn, good luck and stay positive! Things aren't always as bad as they seem, and I like to think this is the land of opportunity - STILL.

  3. Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

    - Daniel