“Today, I Am A Bum”

Where this woman is at, is where I could be...shortly.

If I didn’t know about what I’m going to tell you today, please forgive me.  I was too busy with my volunteer obligations, trying to network with people, and sending feelers around town so that I can be one of you again…employed.  

I learned that my unemployment benefit has been whacked.  

After 16 months.  Not three years.  One year, 4 months.

I guess doing all of that networking and volunteering (without pay) was a waste of time.  Anyway, while I was busy hustling for work, the Iowa Legislature, notoriously known for being a “do-nothing” legislature (thanks and credit to David Yepsen), regardless of which political party is in charge, in March screwed around and missed a deadline to receive $14.5 million dollars from the federal government to extend benefits for roughly 7,150 individuals who have been out of work for at least a year.  7,149 folks, including me.  

At least I’m not alone.  

Regardless, it’s not a good thing.  

I'm not sticking my hand out for an entitlement. I want to shake your hand to thank you for giving me a chance to interview. This is what I want.

In the spirit of George Constanza’s dad, let me have my “Airing of Grievances” and tell you honestly what I think of all of this.  Trust me, I’m not angry or mad.  It’s too late for me to be upset.  I’ve resigned to the fact this is it.  

  • Thank you legislators, from Pam Jochum, Mike Gronstal, Kraig Paulsen, and that lunatic Kent Sorenson, for spending your time fronting your party’s (and your own personal) agendas and “willfully” not being proactive to address this and pass it.  I understand that some of you have never lost your job and don’t understand what it’s like to be in that spot.  

Unemployment isn’t supposed to be long-term, but damn, even some short-term relief could’ve been nice.  Not for me directly, but to those who have families and are trying to do everything to land a job.  

Remember, we are not bums or welfare queens.  We are one of you.  

  • Thanks to Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Works, or whatever you call yourself these days.  I didn’t know that my benefit was out, until I checked my bank account and had to search like hell online to find out the balance of it (which was $0).  You didn’t bother to send a notice, letter, or an email to the 7,150 to let them know that they could lose their benefit.  We’ve been considerate of your time when we call or stop by your office.  

You couldn’t return the favor to us.  

  • Memo to Pam Jochum:  that McDonald’s comment you made when you were describing Governor Branstad’s budget?  Give Mickey D’s some credit:  they give a damn about people and want to see them back on their feet.  You and your colleagues get a stipend, on top of the salary you get at your “regular” day job, to camp out at the Capitol for a few months.  I bet you are too damn proud to find yourself flipping burgers with the rest of society, including those who voted for you, Paul McKinney, Ako Abdul-Samad, and Kevin McCarthy (Wartburg grad).
For as much as we joke about McDonald's, they're hiring 50,000. That's 50,000 people who will have a glimmer of hope in the midst of hopelessness.

Personally, I don’t lean either way politically, because I’ve learned that donkeys and elephants are not very bright animals people and their view of the world is different than those who live in real life everyday.  

Living in a political Ivory Tower will do that to some power-hungry people.  Except for those who are genuine about making the world a better place, and are willing to put aside their differences for the best interest of their constituents.  

Today, I’m expecting a new couch to be delivered.  Not out of my own pocket, but my mom’s.  She wanted me to have something new and nice.  The old couch was a hand-me-down from my little sister when she was in college…in 2001.  I would like to hand the new stuff back, but that’s not going to happen.  

So, while all of you “lawmakers” bitch and fight about “nothing” as you have done for the past 40 years, I’m faced with a multiple choice question:  A). put gas in my car; B). paying for the 140 Character Conference; C). paying the light bill; or D). go without insulin.  

Today, I’m no longer “unemployed”, a job seeker, or “underemployed.”  To all of you at the Iowa State Capitol, I am a bum, the bum that Brianna Karp hearkened that we are not.  I shouldn’t be saying that, but it is what it is. 

If you know anyone who wants an individual who has data entry, administrative, and filing skills, plus experience in volunteering, and is a quick learner, please send them here to this post and have them write in the comment section if they are willing to have me come in and talk to them.

I’ll be sitting in a coffeehouse, cell phone by my side, figuring out what my “passion” is and where to apply next, while lawmakers continue to tinker around and talk tough, while “doing nothing” and getting paid for it.  

This “bum” has to move on with his life.  

2 Comments Add yours

  1. R.H. says:

    Thank you Joe! If my writing skills can parlay into paid work, I’ll be happy. I might be applying to work with you at TJ. I still know how to stock from my high school days!

  2. jburklund says:

    One thing you did not mention in your list of skills: Excellent writer/blogger.

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