I've been largely absent from any political discussion for nearly a year, possibly longer. After 8 years of working in Washington DC at various places, some high profile, I was laid off in January 2009. After years of commuting for 20 hours weekly, I was happy to have more time to spend with my family. What I was worried about was my prospects of finding gainful employment. I remember cracking a smile and asking why they were laying me off in the middle of the worst recession the country had seen in a while. The Fat Cats that laid me off happily stated that I would find employment within three months.
I'm still unemployed. To make this all worse, in Dec of 2009 my husband lost his job. In two weeks his benefits will run out. What will we do?
I've now entered into the "long term" unemployed arena. I spend the vast majority of my day scouring the internet for job openings, sending out resumes, calling prospective employers to follow up on my resume submissions, and freelancing as a photographer to make a little extra cash. Despite what some people may think, we are not lazy, loafing fools who do nothing but play video games and await the check in the mail. We WANT to work.
Economist and Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman wrote a very interesting Op-Ed that basically stated we are on our way to a third "depression". I happen to agree, simply because I am facing complete poverty in less than two weeks. How will I feed myself and my family? How will I pay my rent? What will happen? The Senators who voted down the EUC package don't ever have to ask these questions. The workers in DC are largely unaware how people outside of the insular community are affected. I spoke to a former coworker and she had no idea that I hadn't gotten a job yet or that I had lost my home. When senators and congress critters vote on issues that are affecting middle class America, they don't actually see any of us. They see E mails, letters and policy papers from think tanks explaining how they should vote and what they should say because their fundraisers depend on it. We are a number in a report that represents a larger number in dollars and that, to them, is bad.
I thought about what I could do next. What could a former DC employee who has worked for some of the largest lobbying firms do? What did I learn from all my years of working in DC? A lot. I learned how the machine works, I learned the power of attention--both good and bad. I learned that with this knowledge I can put a face--a few faces--to that number these Senators and Congress people read and I can do it their way.
So I decided that I'm doing what I used to do--write papers, request meetings with various senatorial and congressional offices, fax a letter signed by several unemployed individuals to both media outlets and offices of interest (including the White House) , contact local media outlets so they can jump on a human interest story so we have faces. The power of the internet is a good thing--but sometimes we need to leave the computers for a while and show up at their offices for a chat. (with a staffer, of course) What will this do? I don't know. Perhaps I believe that someone will get noticed and someone else will listen. It could result in a massive change or a bunch of tiny changes. All I know is that Change--is good.
Anyone wishing to help with this effort is greatly appreciated.