by Paul Moomjean
I am currently unemployed by the definition of the state of California. While I write for the Ventura County Reporter and substitute teach for a few private schools in Ventura County, I am not a full-time worker and therefore am able to receive unemployment checks signed by our state’s treasurer. I’ve tried to find steady work, but it’s rough out there. I’m overqualified for some jobs, and because every CEO I know got laid off, I’m no longer a top candidate due to others’ experience and expertise. While I can remember a time in my life when I could watch the news and think how sad it must be to be a statistic, I have become that very thing: part of the 20 million people who collected unemployment benefits throughout the year 2009. And 2010 may not be much better.
According to the Associated Press, “The number of new claims for jobless benefits dropped last week to 432,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, down sharply from its late March peak of 674,000. The decline signals that the economy could begin adding a small number of jobs in January, several economists said.” Even though that seems optimistic, the reality is that in January, many seasonal workers will be let go, prompting a 2010 skyrocket toward an even higher number than the 10 percent we are currently at. Luckily for us, President Obama has decided to take very little blame for 2009’s unemployment and has instead shifted the blame to the banks. While the banks haven’t exactly been as friendly as George Bailey was to the people of Bedford Falls in It’s a Wonderful Life, they aren’t the only villains in this mess. What Obama doesn’t understand is that his plan to “governmentalize” everything from the car company industry to healthcare is at the root of our unemployment problems, which stem from the inability of our leaders to fix this issue.
Recently, I called the unemployment office to help me track a late unemployment check that I had coming to me. I called and called, only to receive busy signals and a computerized voice telling me there are too many callers at this time and to try again later. Eventually, I got an actual human being, only to be told that the number I called reached the wrong office. When I asked to be transferred to the right office, she said I had to hang up and try again because California has one phone number for two separate offices, and only the other office could help me. I asked if I could speak in person to someone at an office about my check, and that idea was laughed at. Again, she repeated that there is one number, for numerous offices, and my history of luck would decide if I got connected to the right one. For the record, an hour later I did get through to the right office, and they fixed my mess; but until I get my check, I won’t know for sure.
That is the problem with having government run so much. How do we know that healthcare won’t run the same way? I’ll call a number to set up a doctor’s appointment, only to be told I’ve reached the post office, but to keep on trying until I get the correct government agent to help me with my internal bleeding problems. If this is how the government is handling an issue affecting more than 20 million people, imagine how it will handle an issue facing more than 200 million people.
We are entering a new year and a new decade. The world is ever-changing and the times are messier than ever. While millions face unemployment problems, our president is worried about global warming and blaming banks that he voted to bail out. Now that’s leadership! What we need is for him to come up with a plan, and I have a nifty idea to start with. Give California some bucks to hire a few more unemployment office workers to help around Sacramento, and while he’s at it, maybe a second phone line to help those of us who are collecting checks to reach the office we need a little more quickly.