Friday, January 25, 2013

Scenes from My So-Called Unemployed Life

I had a crisis this morning. Looking at my checking account, I discovered that I had accidentally paid my electric bill with the funds I had set aside for my cable bill. Since both bills simply said “Payment Express” on the back, and I had just gotten out of bed, was stressed-out and had a cold, I made what for most people would be a slight accounting error. But when you’re trying to survive on $405 a week in the most expensive city in the United States, the smallest of errors can trigger a catastrophe.
My first indication that something might be amiss came when the voice on the other end of the automated payment system said that I had a credit of $54.91 when I was done making my payment. “That’s odd,” I thought and thought nothing further of it until a few days later, when I was trying to check my email and discovered that my Internet and email weren’t working. I called Time Warner Cable and was told not only that they had no record of my payment, but that my confirmation number was wrong! I wound up having to make another payment to Time Warner Cable and it wasn’t until a few days after that, when I was attempting to pay another bill, that I noticed the error. Thankfully, my bank was able to claw back my money so I could pay my other bills that were due that day. (I never thought I’d be grateful to a bank!)
These are the kinds of situations one has to deal with in our Winner-Take-All Economy.
Which is funny, because I had just been contemplating writing another blog post, tentatively titled Obama’s Wasted First Term and Our Winner-Take-All Economy.
I did not watch President Obama’s inauguration. I was too busy looking for a job and lamenting the missed opportunities of his first term in office. Remember those? We really thought he was gonna change things, didn’t we?
First on his list of failures was healthcare, where he started compromising before the debate had even begun. Rather than instituting a single-payer system, like most of the rest of the civilized world, he caved in to the insurance industry and basically handed them 315 million new customers.
Thanks a lot, Obama! Now I have another bill I can’t pay!
And now we’re witnessing his most recent failure where, in spite of the massacre of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut, he’s prepared to cave on an assault weapons ban.
How many assault weapons-related bloodbaths have we witnessed just since his first term in office? I literally can’t keep track. And yet we haven’t managed to move the debate on this issue one hair.
But his biggest failure has to be the economy, where he renewed the Bush tax cuts for the rich and, rather than spending money to create jobs by, say, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, chose instead to bail out the big banks that got us into this mess (and then failed to prosecute a single perpetrator).
We are now witnessing the end result of this disaster, which is what I call the Winner-Take-All Economy, where the top 1% enjoys all the economic benefits of the last 30 years and the rest of us are left scrambling for crumbs.
This situation is made worse, ironically, by Obamacare. Now people are tied to their jobs because of health insurance (unless they can afford to buy their own), so they can’t afford to look for another job even assuming one exists.
The role of government is precisely to step in where the private sector can’t. Health care should not be for profit, it should be a right of every citizen. And, by that measure, Obamacare is a failure.
Well, the gloves are off now. It’s time to hold Obama’s feet to the fire. It’s time for Obama to put up or shut up.

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