Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Comment on Unemployment Insurance

While the official "unemployment rate" has been falling for the past three years, since the "Great Recession" officially ended, the "Participation Rate" has actually *fallen* from about 65.7% to about 64%! If the official "unemployment rate" really measured what was going on, it should be going *up*!

Meanwhile, because of the deal Congress struck in January - and because the official "unemployment rate" is going down - Massachusetts lost one of its "tiers" of benefit extensions, and 10,000 folk are having their benefits cut off this month. Homes will be lost. Families will break up. People will get sick and die because of this heartless math game.

Another 13 weeks will probably be cut in June. In December, unless Congress passes a new law, all the Federal Extensions will end.

At the beginning of the Great Depression (the last one that is, in the 1930's) there was no welfare, no unemployment insurance, no food stamps or food pantries. Millions took to the streets and demonstrated demanding jobs or income. The rich and powerful were terrified, and time after time police attacked peaceful demonstrations. But they helped win the New Deal jobs programs, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security and welfare. No one "gave" those to us!

The next generation won Medicaid, Medicare and Food Stamps.

Now these things that our grandparents and great grandparents won in struggle are being taken away, and we are being driven back to the "good old days" when you worked for what you could get or starved. It's a pit, with no bottom in sight until we learn how to organize and push back.

That's why some of us are organizing the Worcester Unemployment Action Group. We will have weekly legal clinics for the unemployed. We're going to Framingham on Friday to testify at the Job Creation hearings. By December we need to be a voice that can't be ignored, demanding that Congress keep the Unemployment Extensions and get serious about job creation!
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