meet joe. joe hasn't worked in five years. he's not disabled. he's not mentally challenged. he's not old. he's employable. joe has worked before. not at an extremely high paying job but one that was more than enough to live reasonably comfortable. when the recession kicked off in 2008, joe lost his job, like millions of americans. he had never been without employment before. he really didn't know what to do. he'd never even thought about unemployment much less had to apply for it. he was talking to a friend who had just applied for unemployment. that friend told him about state unemployment, and also about the federal extensions that were available at that time.....for a total of 99 weeks of unemployment. well...joe thought that would give him plenty of time to look for work and find another job. as we all know, it wasn't that simple. unemployment was at an all time high. jobs were scarce. finding any kind of job was difficult at best. now i'm going to pause here....and fast forward to today. i'm doing that for a couple of reasons. the interim time between 2008 and today aren't relative to what i want to say and the details of what joe has been doing aren't either.
but today, joe still isn't working. he doesn't want to. he's not trying to. he exhausted all his unemployment....a full 99 weeks. he went to work for six months after that and got laid off again. but guess what? another 73 weeks of unemployment. i'm only telling you that to let you know about his state of mind and the mentality he has today. today he's not trying to find work. he says he is, but in reality he doesn't look. joe gets 90.00 cash every month from the government. it's called a g.a. check. he gets 200,00 worth of snap...or food stamps. he sells those for cash and receives 100.00 for them. let's see...that's 50.00 a week of disposable income. completely disposable. he has a cell phone courtesy of president obama and his obama-phone program. he has complete medical coverage thru medicaid. he has a roof over his head every nite courtesy of the sunday breakfast mission he has three and sometimes four meals a day....every day...courtesy of different organizations here in the city. he has coffee every morning...two or three cups. he watches television when he wants, naps when he want and other things you'd expect a person to do. joe has a primary care doctor. he receives percocets and 800 mg. ibupropen to help his back...which btw there's nothing really wrong with. he sells all 60 percocets for 100.00 to someone...every month. he wears a 225.00 eddie bauer coat and levi jeans. he has on a ll bean shirt that goes for 55.00. all free thru the clothing bank and various donations. he gets his hair cut for free at a local drop in shelter. think about it. he has everything normal people have....shelter, food, money, cell phone, clothes.....and does nothing. nothing...because he doesn't have to...doesn't need to in order to survive...and doesn't want to for those reasons.
there are roughly 12,800,000 people on welfare. there are roughly 48,500,000 people on snap benefits. there are 5,600,000 on unemployment benefits. total spending on welfare alone..not including snap benefits is roughly 132 billion dollars. think about it. think about joe. welfare isn't working...no pun intended. the whole system is full of joes. for once i have to agree with all the critics of welfare and snap. it's broken. it's not working. it has to be repaired and reformed....drastically. i'm not smart enough to figure out how. but this country isn't rich enough to continue on the path it is now and supporting millions of joes. even at a conservative estimate i'd say 30% of recipients are just like joe. and that's being optimistic. ssi is nobetter. same thing, same people, same estimate.
next time you think about the debate on welfare and snap...think about joe. it's not a good argument. and i don't like to take sides against the poor and homeless. but sometimes, it's the truth is just the right thing to defend.
btw...joe is a real person. i see him every morning. he's not a collective image or a snapshot of demographics and economic numbers. he's real.
see you around town