It's easy, in the current economic and political environment, to cite numbers. It's easy to point to 8%+ unemployment, 11% if we had the same labor force we did in 2008. What gets lost in citing those numbers is the fact that every one of those numbers represents millions of people. Last week, 359,000 families saw their income reduced or completely eliminated. Those are families, based on current unemployment, now looking at a sparse Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Numbers are antiseptic and safe. We can look at 8% unemployment and postulate theories on what would help. But a person- a person is a different matter. A person is real; a person has to be considered as a person.
I'd like to introduce you to one of those people who would otherwise be a statistic. A real man, with real problems, and a perspective you won't hear from those claiming their "Obama Phones." Meet "BackwardsBoy." You see a link to his blog in my sidebar, and he's a fellow AoSHQ Moron. Beyond that, he's an unemployed machinist.
I have never met BBoy face-to-face. Nevertheless, I have valued his opinions for quite some time. He's not exactly what you would think of when you consider the unemployed- not until the last few years, anyway. A Machinist by trade, he had over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, including as shop foreman. I think it should go without saying that he had to be very good at his job to do that. He has also been a Mechanical Designer. In February of 2008, after the recession would retro-actively be declared, but before the crash of October and the declaration of "official" recession, he was cut loose from his employer. For four years, with the exception of a stint as a telemarketer from July of 2011 to April of this year, he has been unemployed.
BackwardsBoy lives with his fiance, who is on disability. He is her primary care-taker. While machinist, and tool- and die-making jobs exist elsewhere in the country, they are mostly unavailable in Central Florida, where he makes his home. Their financial situation and his wife's health make it impractical, if not impossible, to relocate.
He was pursing an AS in Computer Science, completely self funded, but could no longer afford to continue. He has had two heart attacks, including one which resulted in a bypass in 2009. It is obvious that they have had more than their fare share of obstacles. Nevertheless, and despite his self-designation as a "Curmudgeon," he remains optimistic. "...they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I should be able to bench press a Buick by now," he writes.
Refusing the victim, "pay me" mentality of the Peggy Josephs of the world, BackwardsBoy and B'Gal have refused virtually all Government assistance. He did take the full 99 weeks of unemployment, and B'Gal draws SSDI due to her disability, but they have not moved onto food stamps, Medicaid, or any other form of welfare. In his words, "...because I want to be self-sufficient for as long as I can." His income, such as it is, comes from music gigs- hardly a reliable source of income. They've cut all the corners they can. They moved into a smaller home and reduced all their bills to the minimum possible.
It would be easy for someone in that position to want a hand out. He worked for 30 years in a vital trade; it would be easy to say, "I've contributed, you owe me." But he rejects that. Instead, asked what he would change about the current economic climate, he still waxes conservative:
"I'd concentrate on free market solutions instead of government programs, reduce regulation, cut spending drastically, initiate a flat tax of no more than 12% in combination with a balanced budget amendment, and do my best to reinvigorate American manufacturing (we are the world's largest consumer market, why aren't we making our own products?)."
So when you see people weeping over their "Obama Phones," and when you see the Peggy Josephs of the world, don't despair- BackwardsBoy and others like him are out there, too. But when you see those numbers that come out every Thursday, and the Unemployment numbers which come out the first Friday of every month, remember this, too: every one of them represents a BackwardsBoy. He doesn't want our charity, but he deserves an economy with a place for him. He deserves an economy where he can once again put in an honest day's work, for an honest day's wage.
Barack Obama has had nearly 4 years to provide that climate. He has failed miserably.