Tuesday, November 16, 2010

99ers Are The New Okies

I have made it a practice to avoid this subject in my scribblings here at The Possumhole, simply because it is an issue which touches me too personally for any semblance of objectivity. But we have come to a crossroads, and it is time to speak.

The 99ers are the new Okies.

Like those refugees from the Oklahoma dustbowl of the late 1920's, the 99ers have become a symbol of a national economy in shambles. And at the same time, the 99ers have become that category of persons upon whom it is acceptable to heap scorn and contempt. You've all heard the things that Glenn Beck has to say about the 99ers, and the oft-quoted slams from various Republican politicians. The 99ers have been called everything from stray animals to drug addicts, and worse.

If such insults were directed at minorities, or at members of the LGBT community, the howls of outrage would be heard from here to Timbuktu. But when politicians direct such outrageous slanders at 99ers, no word of objection is to be heard, from anyone.

Who are the 99ers? They're your neighbors, the people you see at the grocery store, the lady who used to work at that business down the street before they filed Chapter 11 and laid her off. The 99ers are you and the 99ers are me, literally. The 99ers are simply Americans, like any other Americans, who happened to be employed by a business that didn't make it.

There are at least six million 99ers in the USA. Roughly three-quarters of them are 45 or older. Their credit ratings, after 2-years-plus without a job, read something like "shoot on sight". They are too young by decades for retirement. But what employer will touch them?

These are people who have worked all their lives, paid their taxes, voted their conscience, and in general done nothing wrong, done nothing to deserve this nightmare in which they find themselves.

And so, dear readers, I ask you this. What are the 99ers supposed to do? Are they supposed to simply crawl off into the bushes and become homeless? What are they supposed to live on? Where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do in order to put the shattered pieces of their lives back together?

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