Last week there was a small blip in the news, one of the back page stories that people tend not to pay attention to that dealt with something that has not happened yet – but when it does, I am sure people will take up their signs, placards, facebook statuses, rant, and rail to try to change it. But it will have already been done. The time is now to get involved and raise your voice.
In the Senate/House committee hearings concerning the budget there was a meeting last week between the primary republican shapers of the republican proposal for the budget (2011 and 2012) and the primary advocates for the extension of unemployment benefits to the “99ers.” 99er refers to the 99 weeks that are now available (through extended benefits) to the unemployed. For many in this country, their 99 weeks either are up or will soon expire. The advocates, quite rightly, pointed out that another extension must be funded because we cannot afford – socially, economically, politically – the kind of impact that having a large unemployed and unserviced population the expiration will create. For these “99ers” there is no moving from unemployment to welfare, there are numerous factors that will prohibit most from being able to do this and, the welfare system cannot take that influx of new members.
The motion to extend benefits, much less to discuss what to do with this situation, was summarily dismissed by the Republican budget committee. They have another go around in which the advocates (mostly Dems but a few rogue Republicans) get to try again but the general message is “No.”
When someone’s unemployment benefits expire several things happen – first, they are left without any means of income and small hope of welfare benefits (because most have houses etc that disqualify them, including last year’s income statements) and secondly, they are no longer counted in the unemployed statistics. Pretty much every time the number of unemployed has fallen in the past year it has not represented new jobs, but a chunk of the population having their benefits expire.
It will be too late to fund an extension when this is written into a bill, presented to the houses, and makes it onto the front page. Something – like pressure on legislators from their constituents – must be brought to bear now to protect these people.
A part of this is also a reminder that we cannot wait to form our protests and reactionary efforts but have to go looking for what is not in order to find what requires our effort. Once something is front page it is too late. We have to get out of the mindset of waiting for there to be a problem before addressing the part of our society that is becoming ill. Granted, most of us do function like that – ignoring the warning signs of a cold or flu and not starting to take care of ourselves until we are falling over with fevers – but a part of growing up is learning to spot warning signs and to take action then, even if it does interrupt the swing and flow of life in the present, because the cause/effect is recognized that if not now, then when it can no longer be ignored the disruption will be greater then what it would have taken to address it when it only evidenced as symptoms.
It goes back to that concept of the consciousness of abstracting that I was talking about earlier. Abstracting also means you can project into the future and see the possibilities for the effect in ways that there is no historical precedence.
Yesterday, all my hard work last week paid off and I was virtually singing when I got home. I walked in the door and promptly collapsed into bed, it was a very long week. The result is that this week, there is even more work to do, but there is now a system in place to do so it will go easier than before.
This week I am looking at more and more time to write on the city and the poem for that painting. I have taken to carrying around one of my little books again and madly taking notes whenever they occur to me because the words are beginning to loosen and fly.
I have a few dangling obligations that I have let slide in the past two weeks that I need to gather to me again and show love and affection for, but it is all good. All good but I swear, my kingdom for someone with a car to help deliver these damn papers. I hope that for the next issue, we will have someone in place so I don’t have to spend days hoofing it around town with 80 lbs of newspapers on my back.
Think big. Imagine bigger. Then find out how much you can grab hold of with your hands and just do it. Wash, rinse, repeat.
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.