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"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." When Charles Dickens wrote those words to begin A Tale of Two Cities, he might have been describing the United States of America in the first two decades of the new millennium. Barack Obama, a black American risen from humble conditions, is President of the United States when just 50 years earlier he would not have even  been allowed to eat at the same lunch counter as many of the whites whose children would subsequently vote for him.

Wow. That is one big WOW!

But . . .

50 years ago it would have been unthinkable that 6 Americans (heirs to the WalMart family fortune) would control as much wealth between them as the bottom 30 million Americans combined. 50 years ago it would have been unthinkable that 1% of the population would control 40% of the wealth of this country and that 10% would control 80% of the wealth. 50 years ago it would have unthinkable that 50 million Americans would be living in poverty.

Wait. Cancel that last statement. Strike a line through it. For the fact is that, 50 years ago, before the advent of LBJ's Great Society programs, 50 million Americans probably did live in poverty. And today, in 2012, 50 million Americans are living in poverty. So some things have not changed much.

Continues below fold

I have been unemployed now for over 18 months. My unemployment compensation had been keeping me afloat. I was in the final 20-week extension, the so-called FED-ED extension, when my unemployment compensation was abruptly terminated as of May 12, because California no longer qualifies for the FED-ED monies. The termination was abrupt with very little advance warning and now I am having to use up my meager savings to stay afloat while desperately casting about for other ways to secure an income. Once those savings run out, I will have no choice but to start tapping my retirement accounts and watching any hopes I might have had for a reasonably comfortable retirement vanish into the Dickensian future that awaits.

And that's not even to mention healthcare. I have no health insurance. Two dental procedures for my wife and me were put on an installment plan with no interest, but that/s $75/month of cash going out while none is coming in. My wife and I are walking around with loaded guns to our heads. Should catastrophic illness strike either of us, we will face lives of penury and ruin.

I can't help feeling that my government has abandoned me, that I am like those hapless survivors of Katrina who remained behind, waiting for aid that never seems to come. Over 50 now, I have come face to face with age discrimination that, while technically illegal, is openly practiced with wild abandon by employers who want only people willing to work for peanuts or in unpaid internships. I have sent out over 2,000 resumes in the past 18 months, had numerous interviews, none of which resulted in an offer. And California's unemployment rate is still over 10%, maybe not high enough to keep people like me receiving unemployment compensation, but high enough to ensure that employers need not comply with the law nor hire anyone not young and beautiful.

So I am happy for Barack Obama. I am happy that he, a black man from modest origins, has become President. I am happy for his wife and daughters too, happy they will never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, happy that, should they get sick, they will not have to go without medical care due to a lack of resources or insurance. I am happy their father will never have to worry about losing his home to foreclosure or his car to repossession.

I am happy for Barack Obama.

But I live in a different America than the one he inhabits. In my America, people stay with jobs they hate or where they are mistreated, because they are one paycheck away from homelessness. In my America, people are losing their homes, their cars, their health, their livelihoods and their self respect. Every day. No hope in sight.

Barack Obama does not live in my America. I am happy for President Obama but he does not even know or care that I exist.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think he does know and does care. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, jj32, SuzieQ4624, gramofsam1

    Mitt Romney doesn't.

    One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

    by The Nephew on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:25:03 AM PDT

    •  i think you are mistaken. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      didn't you hear? obama says the private sector is doing fine.

      nothing says tone-deaf like that.

      In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. -John Adams

      by rcnewton on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:43:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I srsly hope you're being snarky... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, The Nephew, gramofsam1

        if not, please read the whole quote.  The GOP have been running wild taking that one phrase out of context all afternoon.

        What Obama actually said while talking about how we need to grow public sector jobs is that private sector jobs are fine, meaning that they are growing - public sector jobs are shrinking.  

        So in the context of what he was talking about, it's not out of touch.  Private sector is growing, it's moving in the right direction.  Public sector is still moving in the wrong direction.

      •  Obama grew up in poverty himself. (0+ / 0-)

        The private sector is doing fine for the most part.  He's right.  

        One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

        by The Nephew on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:27:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know. Obama's own saga proves that (0+ / 0-)

          it is possible to rise from quite humble origins and that is undeniably a good thing.

          But what has been Obama's good fortune has not been mine or my wife's. Maybe things will turn around soon. I sure hope so. But I've grown inreasingly pessimistic.

    •  Well said. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      President Obama has consistently fought for the middle-class and especially those who are unemployed as a result of the recession.

      He has consistently battled to extend and retain long-term unemployment benefits. He has reduced payroll taxes to spur job creation and provide more take-home pay for workers who are struggling in this economy.

      He proposed doing much more to help the unemployed, but he has been blocked repeatedly by Republican opposition. President Obama knows and cares very much about what you are going through.

      Please understand that I am intimately aware of your struggle. I have been unemployed for over two years. My job as a senior manager, which I held for 20 years, was terminated abruptly and I have struggled ever since to make ends meet. I survive on savings, and soon I will start to loot my 401K to cover living expenses.

      I think that the President knows and understands what we are going through. He has fought hard, against a Republican Party that only cares about the 1%.

      Unfortunately, our government was designed to make obstruction easy and to require consensus to accomplish change. Our only hope is to elect a Democratic Congress and Senate in 2012.

      Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

      by OIL GUY on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:53:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are in NOLA or Cali ? n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Obama 2012

    by jiffypop on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:30:51 AM PDT

  •  "1% of the Population (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    controls 40% of the wealth".

    wondering where that number comes from?

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:37:37 AM PDT

    •  I Recall Seeing Here Some Months Ago That About 3% (0+ / 0-)

      control half so on first pass it's plausible. I'll google around and see what I can find.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:18:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jeez, I've seen it and heard it so often that (0+ / 0-)

      I did not think it required sourcing.

      Please reply (or PM me) if you would like me to source the claim. I'm a bit skeptical of the 10% controlling 80% claim, but it's one I've heard and read so often that I did not bother sourcing it.

  •  John Edwards was an ahole but he was exactly right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rcnewton, Gooserock

    about there being  2 Americas.

    One America is for the wealthy and secure minority and the other America is for everyone else and the chasm grows wider every day.

    Most Americans cannot survive for even as long as you have if unemployment or illness strikes. Many are leading lives of quiet desperation. Many have had their homes taken by fraud with no recourse or succor from the courts or this administration. One illness can send any of us plunging into bankruptcy even WITH insurance!

    And yet, somehow, our politicians live in their bubble, where unemployment is a dot on a graph and deficits can be cut by taking food stamps from the hungry and where while we all know there are no jobs if you are over fifty, our betters vacationing in their seaside villas tell us we must work until 80. A s though that were even a possibility. We would work every frigging day we could if we were ALLOWED to and ABLE to - idiots!

    There are none so blind as those who will not see, none so deaf as those who will not hear, none so numb as those who will not feel. And THEY are in charge. Because we allow it. Because we do not demand better from them.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:43:56 AM PDT

  •  I think you were a lot closer to ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... the mark back in November, CharlesinCharge:

    As long as Repukes continue to hold (0+ / 0-)

    Unemployment Insurance political hostage, I simply do not want to put working people who may be getting by paycheck to paycheck at increased risk, just to fuck over a bunch of rich shareholders.

    by CharlesInCharge on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 10:50:15 AM CST

    [ Parent ]

    I believe that Republicans are doing everything they can to sabotage the economy, that they will do it at anyone's expense, and that they don't give a shit about you. I also don't think they give a shit about me. Good luck, and I hope you get some better opportunities and karma in the near future.

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:58:30 AM PDT

    •  At some time, and I hope soon (0+ / 0-)

      The victims of the Republican ways will raise up and say enough, withholding their resources from them including labors that make the rich their money, boycotting the likes of Wal-Mart, Target, Apple and anyone else that expects us to work for slave wages. We the American People must put an end to this and soon, or we will end up with-out a country to live in.

      I'm sick and tired of being told I don't work hard enough for so little wages.

      What this country needs is a "WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS" and if we are to lazy to fight for it, we will end up with nothing but as slaves to the rich.
      It's time for the working class to get off it's ASS and make it happen, and if that means WAR with the rich in this country then so be it...
    •  I want to make it very clear that I hold (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Repigs fully responsible for what has transpired and Dems repsonsible only insofar as they have failed to resist efforts to undermine the working class.

      That said, I get the sense that the Democratic Party has abandoned me and my fellow Americans. I do not begrudge for one second the rewards that have accrued to Obama, more like I am starting to feel like those rewards will forever remain out of my reach.

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