My Nominee For Citizen Of The Year: ME! (And Millions Of Others)

(This is a letter to a local Philly newspaper, unless they’ve shut down for lack of business, and made more citizens of the year. This is in response to a request for nominations for CITIZEN OF THE YEAR.)

I am my own nominee for Citizen Of The Year, as are millions of other Americans.

You may have heard of us. We are the 9.6% Unemployed.

We are called the citizens who don’t want to work.

We are the citizens who are the byproduct of outsourcing to other countries, which occurs while shouts of BUY AMERICAN ring out across the land.

We are the citizens who were seen by you in retail every day, talked with you on the phone, worked behind the scenes everyday to make a company’s product work for you.

We are the citizens who so sadly caused Sen. Jim Bunning to miss his dear University of Kentucky basketball game because we forced him to be the lone man so faithfully denying help for us. I do hope his grandchildren are so proud of him.

We are the citizens who also have family.

We are the citizens who vote.

We are the citizens who helped build businesses and helped them prosper.

We are the citizens who hurt as much as anyone else when the economy goes sour, and have been since Bush entered the White House in 2000, despite his fine work of fiction just published. I cannot wait to see it on the screen in 3D.

We are the citizens who become the convenient political football for Tea Party and GOP adherents. They  believe that helping themselves to tax breaks is all American, but helping fellow Americans who, until the last couple of years, were probably more productive that they ever could hope to be, is “socialism” or whatever word can be used to terrify the masses into hysteria.

We are the citizens who love to sit on couches for much less money that we would earn back at our old jobs, or even at a fair pay job.

We are the citizens who many on the GOP side believe should work at the magical McDonalds that they keep pointing us to, to work for a minimum wage which may be 70% more less than what we used to earn and what Unemployment Benefits are.

We are the ones who should work for so little pay and watch our bills go unpaid.

We are the citizens who are then expected to pay full going rate for health insurance for ourselves, because the GOP cannot be too compassionate about the COBRA subsidy.

We are the citizens who shop in line with you, drive next to you, send kids to the same schools (for now), and do everything that you can do, or at least we used to be.

We are NOT the citizens who would get a great tax break because we earn $250K a year or more, one that is not offset against the federal deficit because, somehow, the desire of the new GOP/Tea Party hybrid is exempt from the reality of blowing a massive hole in the deficit.

We are NOT the citizens, many who do NOT own small businesses, who would simply hold onto that money.

We are the citizens who are at the point that every penny that comes in goes right back into the economy, therefore stimulating retail and business and hopefully keeping other citizens in their jobs.

We are the dog to kick, we are the punching bag, we are the bargaining chip that is paid lip service by both sides while the GOP insists their mandate is to sooth the bank accounts of the Top 2%.

We are just laid-off. At 26 weeks. At the end of this tier of benefits and unable to move up because the Party of “One No” can say that” No” to millions of Americans. We are the 99er’s who have nowhere to turn, many of whom are at the age where the non-existent specter of age discrimination forgets that it is non-existent.

We are the citizens who battle other adversities, physical and locational, while looking for work that we excel at.

We are the citizens who love to celebrate the holidays, but probably cannot this year.

We are the citizens who will still wish you MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY THANKSGIVING, HAPPY HANNUKAH, and HAPPY NEW YEAR are strongly as ever because we genuinely want you to have a full and wondrous time of this season.

But we are the citizens who have no idea what comes after whatever.

We are everything about this country that is the best it offers. We are ready to get to work, and not just go “dig ditches” which feels suspiciously like “go to hell and stay there” from the GOP clueless who make that suggestion.

We are the citizens, and we are confused, scared, humbled, loving, loved, despised, and ready to show why the naysayers are all wrong.

The only thing that we, the unemployed citizens are not, is the version of YOU that Christine O’Donnell tried so unsuccessfully to be during the election. We are the YOU that aspires to greatness in this great city, state, and country. And we are fully capable of it.

For all those reasons and more, we are more than any one person or figurehead could be.

We are the citizens of the United States who do not give up, despite the ability of the opposition to make a “cliché” out of everything.

We are the citizens who are being forgotten by the politicians during Thanksgiving.

It would be interesting to hear Congress giving thanks this year to discover what they have to be thankful for, other than a masterful sleight of hand.

We, the 9.6% unemployed, are the Citizens Of The Year.

I am humbled to be one of their ranks, because they and we are genuine.

We are also the American People. The right has no monopoly on that.

3 comments on “My Nominee For Citizen Of The Year: ME! (And Millions Of Others)

  1. Touching, moving, and spot on, Adrian. It’s tough to tell if these people creating the mess are that “out of touch” or just plain feel they are that much better than the rest of us.

    I have been put out of work through the outsourcing situation twice, and it’s hard to believe it continues after all of the political rhetoric and promises through the years. The first was 1996 when a Dem was in, and the second in 2001, when a horrible national tragedy was used by the greedy to close a proud facility that was making record profits.

    It is not a party argument anymore. I made that mistake for years, and watched BOTH “sides” getting rich – as the parties pointed fingers at the other to blame them for the declining standard of life, and the voice of their loyal party followers being lost in the resulting roar that comes from playing the never-ending gridlock of the blame game.

    There is something very wrong, and it’s obvious that “we” are not a priority. Not even close. In the aftermath of failed initiatives – NAFTA, which was going to “bring the other countries’ standards of living up to ours” when everyone said all that would happen would be to drop our standard of living to the levels only seen in third world countries. When viewing photos of Detroit recently, it hit me that it was literally impossible to differentiate between the two without being told what I was looking at.

    The only hope that we have is that there are enough good men and women left in power that can actually make a difference and fight to stop the downward spiral. I remember when a friend of mine was laid off in 1995 and went to the unemployment office (yes, you actually had to do that back then…now there are so many it would be impossible to facilitate offices that are big enough), and told the person where he had worked. The reply was “Oh, that’s where they’re having a ‘controlled shutdown'”. Within a year, the entire facility was closed, and 4,000 good people were thrown back into the job market. And that was 1996.

    At Lucent Technologies in 2001, unspeakable improprieties were perpetuated on employees that had been at the company for 35+ years, since it had been Ma Bell. They were tricked into transferring their life savings into company stock, which the value was cut in half in one day. As they patiently waited for the promised recovery that never came, they watched as it diminished to nothing.

    Unfortunately, I see distinct similarities between the controlled shutdown of the first company and how the country is being run into the ground. It is still a land of plenty, but the riches are only used for the good of a select few.

    On this Thanksgiving Day, take a few moments to give thanks for what we have enjoyed, and what we still have left. And just hope and pray that a conscience will be developed by those who can return ALL OF US us to our former glory, and not rest until that is a reality.

  2. So true, so true.

    Your comment about the friend realizing at the unemployment office that he was just the tip of the iceberg resonates today.

    I was not the first laid off, and there have been other great employees in the year since, all with the commonality of having been there a while, so cutting the higher, but not outrageous, salaries.

    This in turn creates a quiet paranoia in a company that unless the rest work harder and longer and therefor cheaper, they will be gone, as well. And in many cases, the salary and help issues are NOT the cause of the problems; it is the ego and lack of vision at the top of these companies, who only see these companies as there to satisfy their own dream, as foolish as they may be.

    And yes, I fault the GOP, but 11 DEMS voted against the last extension.

    What we have seen develope in the last few years is that, as in 2010, we have an election, but the purpose of that election is no longer to govern for the next two years, it is to set up the opposition to fail in the NEXT major election in 2012.

    In effect, the election never ends, it simply is played in sections, with no defined shot clock.

    Radar, you have been a great friend and frankly, a great sounding board. You help spotlight what the situation is, but throw new light on ways to look at it.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, as well. As I mentioned above, we still remember that joy of holiday greetings, and hope to grab a little for ourselves, but we want no one to go without that thrill and shared experience.

    Grab you loved ones and hold them tight to you. That is what matters most.

  3. BTW, this occurs at so many companies nowadays. That is why it has snowballed as it has for unemployment. It is the norm and not unique.

    I talk my company, where I had marvelous times. That is what makes the final actions so confusing and painful.

    As for “forward to the future” , take the move by Netflix as an example. While it sounds progressive to want to push to “new tech” of all streaming, thereby eliminating the physical side, DVD, that then extends to much less of a need for employees. “New tech” is the 21st Century equivalent of the phrase “planned obsolescence “.

    Some tech is great (it has empowered me to write my heart), and hopefully, those heartfelt words touch one other heart. However, if my (and thousands of other hearts) words affect physical print media, how far have we really come?

    So why isn’t the price of streaming that much cheaper. Be very careful how much you live your life by computer delivery. It removes the human element, possibly forever.

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