Punchinello’s Chronicles

April 18, 2009

Abandoning the American Worker

Filed under: View from the Bottom — Punchinello @ 1:53 am
Tags: , , ,

People think folks on welfare have it lucky. The popular perception, perhaps mainly among conservatives, is that welfare recipients are freeloaders living on Easy Street. It’s the same with Social Security disability, where those folks are lucky, too. They don’t have to work, they get to hang out all day and watch TV. That’s like saying blind people are lucky because they get free benefits and don’t have to work. Sure they’re blind, but that’s nothing compared to how easy life is on government welfare.

Here in the ghetto, there are lots of poor people. Most of us, in fact, are poor. And just like in the rest of the world, the ghetto is pretty much split between liberals and progressives, and idiots too stupid to understand anything about much of anything. But those with an education really do split between liberal and conservative thinking. Doesn’t mean much, but the thinking is there.

I remember when it used to be easy to get a job. If I chose to take up a risky proposition, say like starting a business, then my backup plan was to go back to work. Maybe get a temping job, or just pick up a regular full-time office job. No problem. And that’s what led to a lot of creative business, useful ideas, and decent money. It put new products into play, built things, and helped fix things.

Then I got older and passed 50 years of living on my own.

So I talked with a number of folks who went to the tax-day tea parties. Strange, isn’t it, how poor people on welfare might consider that “we, the people” are paying too much in taxes? Why don’t they just get a job, right? How come they’re not out there looking all the time, working at whatever menial job to avoid being on welfare?

Why not wash dishes or drive a cab? Sure, if there’s room among the illegal immigrants, or they can afford the cab licensing. And if they can’t get a job, it’s because they need more skills, need more education, need this or need that.

Basically, poor people aren’t doing much. They’re not pulling their fair share of the load. They’re screwups, losers, crackheads, teenage moms, and criminals. Right?

Sadly, that’s just not the case. Around here, there are lots of out-of-work construction people, builders, heavy-equipment drivers. There are lots of office administrators, real estate people, bank employees. There are teachers who can’t find work, managers, college graduates, and manual laborers. The other day I asked at a local gas station if they needed someone responsible to man the cash register. The owner said he had 450 applications sitting, so any time he needed minimum-wage workers, there was an infinite supply.

A week or so ago, there was a hotel in Chicago putting on a job fair. They needed 100 people, and 3,000 showed up to wait in lines around the block.

Remember when you’d look in the local paper for a job? All that’s gone. When Monster.com, CareerBuilder, and Craig’s List went online, so did the rest of the world. Corporate IT people have online job applications where those applications vanish into a black hole. In theory…if you’re in Illinois and want to work as a bagger at the local supermarket, the corporate headquarters will fill the job.

You fill out an application, it goes to maybe California and sits 30 days. If, in that time, a manager in Illinois happens need a part-time person for the deli counter, they have to query headquarters. If someone can even find an application, they send it along to Illinois. Mostly, the applications just get lost. You’re not allowed to talk directly with the store manager. Equal opportunity, don’t’cha know.

I stopped in at Fermilab, the particle accelerator that’s right here in town. Brought along a résumé and asked where I could leave a copy. I was told they no longer accept résumés directly. Only online. “But I’m right here,” I said. They told me to leave because they no longer have any process to handle live applications. Sounds like stores that can’t handle cash anymore.

How come? Why are so many skilled people sitting on welfare? Why are more and more people having to turn to food stamps to survive? Think about those foreclosures, then think about the moms and dads who have to feed the kids. Think about the kids who come home from school one afternoon to find their furniture out on the front yard, and a sheriff’s department lock on the door.

If you own a house, you make too much money for welfare. Maybe you can get food stamps, but that’s only a maybe. And you have to deal with the mountain of paperwork too.

Corporations go overseas to hire people. Why? Because the payroll taxes are so high here in the US that it’s cheaper to hire someone in Europe or Asia, Africa or Egypt. The building industry has collapsed, so all the collateral retail stores are failing. Linens & Things just went under, but places like Home Depot are in trouble.

Small businesses are collapsing left and right. Why? Because there are so many regulations, rules, laws, licenses, fees, and taxes, that nobody can even start a business half the time. One fella I know is a genius at handyman repairs. He could get a job in 10 seconds, just fixing stuff around people’s houses. But he can’t because he can’t afford the $50,000 bond.

Doctors are shutting down their practices due to malpractice insurance and lawsuits for everything at the drop of a hat. Daycare is skyrocketing, but with all the people who’d be happy to watch your kids, there’s that bonding thing. And the specious allegations of child abuse from mothers who want to make a quick buck.

Anyone with a brain, be they working or jobless, middle-class or poor understands that the infinite credit card the Federal Reserve has given congress isn’t enough. The politicians still want more money. Greed in politics is beyond the most stunning levels, and still the politicians want more. Think you need a car? Of course you do! Without a car, you can’t get to anything. Well, there’s public transportation but that’s not available outside an urban center.

How about those license fees, emissions testing rules, parking fees, city stickers, and insurance? That’s impossible to handle when you have no reliable source of income. What about that $55,000 in debt relief if your credit card payments make you “uncomfortable” paying them? You have to have a reliable source of income…a regular source of income.

I too, used to tell people to get a job. Get ANY kind of job. Have you seen the unemployment statistics lately? And what about the massive number of Baby Boomers past 55 years of age, competing with 18-yearolds who want a “change?”

The people stuck on welfare and food stamps face a lead ceiling. Section-8 housing requires 30% of GROSS income, not after-tax income. If you’re over about $800 or so a month in income (before taxes) you can’t qualify for most programs. Too bad, get a job.

Why are so many talented, skilled people sitting out of work? Mostly due to regulations and taxes. And those regulations and taxes go to politicians to waste on nothing. The actual amount of money paid for welfare and food stamps is so far below the collected money it’s amazing. It isn’t about taxes, after all. Washington simply borrows more and more from the Fed.

Yours and my taxes were eaten up years and years ago. All we’re doing now is paying the monthly interest. It’s the Great American Credit Card, where the government sells bonds to meet the Minimum Monthly Payment. And meanwhile, anyone who wants to start a small business faces a mountain of regulations.

How about that lead testing law congress just passed? That’ll take care of GoodWill, Salvation Army, and other resale shops. It’ll take care of anyone who sews baby clothes or builds children’s toys or furniture. They can’t afford the testing. Then there’s the Food Safety law just about to pass. Do you have an idea for a new candy, preserve or food? Forget it.

Oh, and you want to start a business and sell online? Phone and broadband connections aren’t covered by welfare. Web development isn’t covered. Incorporation and fees aren’t covered. Then, if you DO sell something, you have to pay the full self-employment tax. There’s no corporation and employer to cover half your deductions.

So yes, a whole lot of poor people are protesting. It may mean they lose their “benefits.” It may mean the end of welfare and food stamps. But y’know what? That’s a GOOD thing! Because it would also mean the collapse of an economy based on incompetence, feeling good about ignorance, and workers who haven’t the skills to use a copy machine.

To get us back to a merit-based economy we need to remove the countless rules and regulations preventing anyone from opening a business. We need to take a look at the shackles and handcuffs put on anyone who can produce something. America’s productivity has been going down for decades. That means we don’t actually produce, make or create much of anything anymore. And those who know how to produce and make things are being sidelined.

So yup, let’s just pay for everything with a credit card. There’s an infinite supply of borrowed money. And in the mean time, why bother employing folks with experience and skill. There are plenty of 18-yearold high-school graduates who’ll work high-skill jobs for minimum wage. So what if they make mistakes? It’s a learning thing.



  1. […] Punchinello created an interesting post today on Abandoning the American Worker « Punchinelloâ […]

    Pingback by Topics about School-disasters » Abandoning the American Worker « Punchinello’s Chronicles — April 18, 2009 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  2. About.com just chose 3 websites that got the best results for job seekers

    http://www.linkedin.com (professional networking)
    http://www.indeed.com (agregated listings)
    http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

    good luck to those looking for work.

    Comment by David — April 18, 2009 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  3. The problem with job-networking sites is that they only work for higher-paying jobs. That’s fine, and certainly no argument that a skilled job…a career…it much better than a plain old job. But there are massive numbers of people who need a basic job, a way to earn enough to cover a minimal lifestyle. People living in poverty can work their way out of poverty if they have a weekly income.

    With some sort of regular income, a person can go to school, learn skills, develop a small business, or build a career over time. “Linked-In,” and other successful (and important) sites are great for middle-class upper-level employees who need to cover downsizing and layoffs. But the sites don’t replace the old Classifieds and Want Ads in newspapers.

    We’re losing all the old ways of connecting employees with employers, particularly (and spectacularly) at the lower levels of the economy. Gas stations, newspaper routes, checkout counters, stock people, warehouse workers, lawn mowing, all these kinds of jobs rarely emerge from social networking sites.

    Comment by Punchinello — April 19, 2009 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

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