The Reality of Unemployment Benefits Disappearing

December 4, 2010

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – There is always a cost to decisions either made or deferred.  The cost of politics and the reality of political decisions have never been felt deeper then they did this week as Congress allowed unemployment benefits to expire for millions of Americans.  The AFL-CIO has put together a video that I felt compelled to share with you because it places the reality of what is happening in real terms right there where you can see it.  If words don’t move you to action, maybe this video will.

I hope you watch this video so you can not only see but feel the heartbreak of this terrific reality.  Person after person sharing their reality, which as you can imagine is devastating.  So many people who have suffered from the after shock of an economic reality so deeply depressed that the cure, still many months off, won’t come soon enough to help too many.  How many great people will have to continue to suffer while Congress plays games with the lives of people just like you and I.  Imagine just for a moment, leaving aside your political point of view that while you are watching this video that you are any one of these people.  Just imagine and listen to their testimonials.  Feel the words and see their faces as they share their heartache.  Imagine for just a minute that this is you.

If you can watch this and still not find somewhere in your heart some compassion and understand why we must find a way to extend unemployment benefits, then there is no question in my mind you have no heart and we have no hope.  This should not even be something we have to think about.  And worse yet, if this were a natural disaster and the money were needed, we would be doing it in a heart beat, so even while this disaster was man made, why can’t we just step up and continue to step up until a real and lasting growth in living wage jobs begins to take root once more.

Part of what I find very disturbing, if not a bit understandable, is that while many corporations are beginning to experience profits and in some cases record profits, they are not reinvesting that money back into a workforce.  As downsizing forced the worker to take on more while being paid less, the net result has been a profitable corporate system where only the shareholders benefit.  And although I am not suggesting that corporate America be forced to expand their workforce, I am suggesting that unless they do start hiring what progress that is being made will dissipate quickly, if it’s not already.

Yesterday’s unemployment numbers saw an uptick which was not expected by economic experts, and as it traditionally does and will, the numbers swill continue to escalate as we head into 2011.  Week after week, month after month the and now year after year we are seeing a decaying of the American way of life, or whatever that means anymore.  As time marches on we are under constant attack to give back as workers.  Those that are working should feel more kinship with those that aren’t.  Few people are being rewarded with pay increases these days and as I read the paper daily I am stunned by how many employers are forcing their workforce to take concessions year after year.  If you were to Google “Worker Concessions” what you will find are millions of stories of hard working people being forced to reduce their pay and benefits to keep their jobs, not to create new jobs.

The new American reality with respect to jobs and employment no longer has a common definition.  It no longer is clear what a good education gets you, is it?  It’s no longer safe to assume hard work and a loyal, committed work ethic gets you anything anymore.  And while the hard earned foundation of the spirit on which this country was built and sacrificed for continues to deteriorate, the wealthy keep getting wealthier.  The poor keep getting poorer.  And the middle class keeps shrinking.

Words like progress, advancement, and growth seems to have been abandoned by companies and have been replaced with cutbacks, sacrifice and concessions.  Our Senior Citizens are living in fear that their life long and earned pension could disappear and that their promised assistance will do the same.  There is no longer any reason to believe that opportunity holds the promise it once did and we see that for those who are hurting in profound ways, as those people in this video are, and that there is no hope for a solution, where do we go from here?  Answer that question because I sure can’t, at least not in a way that provides any hope.  Can you?

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at and can read his Blog at


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