Humiliation Nation

Humiliation Nation

I am one of millions of unemployed people in America.  I cannot discuss why I quit my job because I signed an NDA (non disclosure agreement) and took a small severance and the employment attorney I consulted said that was the most pragmatic course because my alternatives were…tough.  I can say that the UI (unemployment insurance) determination was that I was forced into a position such that I had to resign and I was awarded UI.  I am not one those people, and yes, I’m using that phrase, but not in a “raciss” way.  I’m not one of those people who hops in and out of jobs, who rides the UI system, who does things at a minimum to remain on the government dole.  Please understand, I am not a parasite on society.  I have contributed to the social welfare taxation scheme in this country for 26 years of my life, throughout my working lifetime.  I was employed at my last position for 8.5 years and thought I’d be there until I retired.

So now that I have that introduction out of the way, I want you to know my extreme humiliation.

I recently lost my emergency unemployment benefits.  Throughout the past almost 9 months, I have whittled away at my severance (and used the UI) to cover costs that my kids incurred.  I ate away at that tiny nest egg, taking care of business, all bills paid, kids fed, clothed, and sheltered.  All this while, I was so positive and upbeat about the chances of finding a new job.  I’m stable, I’m smart, I work hard, I learn quickly, on and on.  I mean, yes, it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, and I apologize for that, but I am a good worker bee, a highly employable person.

And nothing.  Nothing.  I have had one interview in all this time, at a competitor to my previous company.  Apparently, I would have fit in great, except I lacked the ability to let the systems do the job (no thinking required, thankyouverymuch), instead of understanding the ins and outs of production from materials to end product and knowing the costs each step of the way and intuitively understanding how it all fits together in cost analysis.   Trust me, even the recruiter who sent me on that interview was confused beyond belief on my rejection.  Anyway, every day, I scour the job boards, I apply for positions which are extremely close to my skills, up to and all the way out to not even a remotely conceivable “good fit.”  And the rejection emails, they make my face flush hot with humiliation.  My heart beats really fast when one comes in and then I skip through to get to the meat of “sorry, you’re REJECTED.”  And then I get sick to my stomach, but I drive on, ever hopeful that the next one will net me an interview or at least a second look.

When I lost my emergency UI, and while I wait to see if the Democrats can find the money to sustain the program instead of just passing the buck along to future generations, I still have to feed my kids and pay my bills.  It’s been about 2 weeks since my final UI deposit and I’m working through all the possible financial impact on me, my retirement nest egg, everything.  Again, the humiliation is almost unbearable.  I just got off the phone with a wonderful USAA investment advisor who helped me through cashing out some of my IRA to make sure I pay my mortgage on time.  Yes, I started crying because she was so sweet and sympathetic and understanding of the situation.  It’s very hard to be brought so damn low.

But even that is not my lowest.

My lowest is the fact that I have a meeting on Friday to formalize my “activity plan” to receive my W2 benefits.  W2 would be the welfare program in Wisconsin.  I will get “paid” about $4/hr to continue seeking a job, researching employers, doing what I do anyway.  But I will have become a Welfare Queen.  I have also applied for free lunches for my children at their schools, and yesterday, it was my first use of my EBT card.  You know, food stamps.

I am nauseous typing all of this out.  I have become a burden to my fellow Americans.  They are feeding my children and paying my bills.  It is the ultimate in embarrassment and humiliation.  I am being a good caretaker of your money though.  When I bought my food using your tax money, I used coupons and sales, I saved over $60 on my bill because it is not my money to spend frivolously.  It is your money to be spent as frugally as I can possibly do it and I promise you, I am very conscious of each penny.  My goal, my challenge to myself, is to have a balance on the card at the end of the month.  Not only is it a challenge to myself, it is my commitment to you.

I am paralyzed about other benefits.  I have been uninsured this whole time.  I am very fortunate to have a great working relationship with my family physician and I can usually email him, therefore avoiding any office visit or charge.  The Medicaid paperwork sits here, uncompleted, because with all of the other programs I am using, it’s making me more and more reluctant to move further down that road of being a burden to you all.

I have to tell you, I just want to work.  I want to work, pay my bills, raise my kids, live a normal life.  I don’t want to be here.  I don’t want to live like this.  Every day, every moment of being on the dole eats away at me, eats away at my pride and self-respect.  I cry at night because I just want a job.  I’m over qualified for minimum wage, especially since companies know I will be out the door the moment I get a better offer and I’m under qualified for a myriad of positions such as manufacturing and assembly.  I saw a great flyer at the job center and you need pneumatic tools experience.  I work on my own car, I do repairs around the house, I fix my small engine appliances like my lawnmower and snowblower.  I’m not afraid to get dirty.  I’m not afraid to work hard.  I just want someone to give me a chance to prove myself but requirements like that, when you lack, it’s the circular file for your resumé.  They can find 10 people with the skills for every one like me without them.

The President and his party have destroyed our ability to create jobs for people like me.  They have burdened small and big businesses alike with onerous legislation, increasing costs, increasing regulatory requirements, even looking to increase labor costs through raising the minimum wage.  All of this at the expense of taxpayers like you, who support we unemployed, and at the expense of we unemployed, who want a job and an opportunity to move on from this devastating economic period of our nation.  The Democrats have created a Humiliation Nation, through their hubris and hunger to fix things that will self-correct if left alone.  They meddle and tweak, cajole and ultimately, force upon us their philosophical position that the Nanny State is the solution.

Leave us alone.  Quit trying to “help” and let the small business owners, capitalists, and entrepreneurs fix this situation through investment, job creation, innovation, and the American Can-Do Spirit.  Get out of the way, Mr. President and Congress.  Let us work, let us feed our families through our own labor.  Let us move forward.

Since I am in this position, I am very well aware of the need for some sort of safety net.  But please, don’t make this safety net so safe it is comfortable to stay here for those who have no ambition, no drive, no self-respect.  I have seen and heard things in the social welfare offices that get my blood boiling.  The sense of entitlement and resentment for having to “work” for the welfare money, as Wisconsin’s welfare program is designed, was almost too much to bear.  I refused to make eye-contact with those who complained about how high the expectations were in order to receive aid.  Working for your money, even if it is filing at the offices or actively seeking a real, permanent job, is not too much of a burden!

I know this is long and maybe a little rambling.  I wanted to share my experience because there are two very distinct groups on the dole.  Those of us humiliated to be here, and those who abuse the system.  Please don’t judge all of us the same.  Please understand that it is damn hard to be here in this place, emotionally and financially, and please know that I am grateful for the help.  I am grateful for the temporary aid during these trying times.  I just fielded a call from a recruiter and said yes to everything, yes I will commute over 60 miles away, yes I will take a pay cut, yes I understand this is a contract job for a limited time frame, yes, please, please give me a chance to talk to your client face-to-face in an interview so I at least can continue to hope that I will go forward in life.

I leave you with this graphic.  That declining graph shows all of those who have lost hope.  There are so many who have been broken down, lost, given up and stopped hoping that things will get better.  I don’t want to be one of these people.  And to those who have wished me well, thank you.  I appreciate it.  Not even my friends and family know I am in this position.  I guess I have outted myself, and that’s ok, because I want you to know that I owe you all for this brief time where you have carried me and my family.  I pray it ends soon, and when it does, I will be on the other side of the table again and I will have a better understanding and sympathy for my fellow Americans who choose to get the help they need, if only for a short while.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  • Ruthie says:

    Beautifully written. I am sending you prayers. YOU are not a Welfare Queen. You are a prime example of what these programs were designed for… to help those in need. YOU should not feel bad as you have paid into this system all your life and now it is your turn to get something back. I am thankful that you are grateful and I can say that it is a pleasure to spend my tax dollars on someone with a wonderful character such as yourself. It is a temporary situation for you and you will pull yourself out. God bless you and your family <3

    • Kat says:

      This. ^^^^^^^^^

      My hope for you and your family is that things turn around to where you need them to be.

      In my family, we had two welfare recipients–my mom, who raised my brother and I on welfare, all the while trying to get off, for most of my 15 years until she died, and then my oldest sister who spit kids out like a pez dispenser, dropped four of the seven of them with my mom or grama after they were born, and collected welfare for each one while she partied, dated, and lived a carefree life(except on social worker visit days–we all had to lie and pretend she actually raised her kids). My point is, *I* know a welfare queen when I see one, and you most definitely are NOT one.

      I saw you mention pride, but please try and think about it this way: like Ruthie says, you’ve paid into the tax system and unemployment, social security, etc. your entire 26 year working career, and the safety net is there for just such an occasion as yours, so people can survive when disaster strikes. If you want to run on pride, be proud that you’re aware that there’s better for you, and you continue to strive. That you’re doing what’s necessary to take care of yourself and your family, and try and realize that it’s folly not to get that medicaid if you can–what if you or one of your kids get sick??

      My husband joined the Army in ’87, and was in until 2001 when he reached the max retention point for his rank and job, and couldn’t earn enough points for promotion because of injury. Believe me, some of the hardest days I’ve seen him have were after he was basically “let go,” and having trouble finding a job to support us. He collected unemployment, and knew it was what he had to do, because he paid into it, but rest assured, they made him jump through hoops to get it, and made him feel like a schmuck every time he went in there. He felt demeaned, and like he was less of a man because he wasn’t working. Thank God we had a bit of a cushion with his “severance,” but paying our bills and for our food and needs, and my sister’s, her kids, and her shiftless husband’s(there’s someone who milks the system and everyone he knows for all he can) bills, buying their food, and bailing them out of their messes, plus trying to reserve some for a down payment to buy a house, or deposits for rent, well it didn’t go far.

      He eventually got a job with decent pay but no medical. I stressed daily with 3 kids desperately hoping they didn’t get ill or break something for around 5 years, and now he has this job. It had great medical, dental and vision–until last year, and now this year, we have a high deductible plan. We’re in another season of difficulty, which we’ve weathered before–construction job with no hours where we tried to get welfare and stamps, and they told me to divorce him so I could get them, and he could pay child support(WHAT!? :/), times when we’ve had to stay with relatives, once we slept in the car, I’ve collected WIC(used to turn in the formula checks because my son couldn’t drink regular formula and docs wouldn’t diagnose him with lactose intolerance), but I have faith that we’ll be alright.

      I know a gal whose husband left her after 20 something years of marriage, while she was ill, forced the sale of their house, but gave her the car–AFTER he filled the trunk with water. :/ She battles illness every day of her life, lost almost her beautiful belongings, had to move into a one bedroom apartment in not a great neighborhood, and can’t get any aid because she doesn’t have kids–IN one of THE most liberal states in the country(WA). She is the most gracious, kind, unselfish, thoughtful of others people I have ever met, doesn’t bad talk her ex, manages to keep going despite almost everything working against her…I know she has times where she feels like she burdens everyone, and she never forgets even the smallest kindness people do for her, but I both grieve for her because she faces what she does, and admire her because she finds a strength I know I myself wouldn’t have.

      My point is that many of us have very hard times, and should NEVER, EVER feel shame because we do what we can to take care of our families, IF the goal is to do our best until it gets better. And folks like you, aren’t welfare queens or system milkers–you’re just trying to survive under extremely difficult circumstances.

      Please don’t beat yourself up, and PLEASE take care of yourself. Go get that medicaid for you and your kids.

  • Kate says:

    Love you LL.

  • Catherine Wilkinson says:

    What Ruthie said! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • LL says:

    Thanks. I am still ashamed that I cannot support myself and my family. It is a terrible feeling that I would not wish on anyone.

    • Catherine Wilkinson says:

      Please don’t feel ashamed. You have more than proved that your situation is NOT by choice…so many CHOOSE to be on assistance and do nothing to get out of it and are not in the least concerned about it. Big, big difference. No one can judge you, because you’ve already the judged the situation yourself, and are doing your damnedest to get out of it. Anybody that has a negative comment about it…come see me.

      • Ruthie says:

        And me. You are different. You are looking for work. There are so many that didn’t even try to find a job until right before their benefits expired after 2 years. It happens and all you can do is keep doing what you are doing.

  • LouAnne says:

    Been there, done that. I lost my job(Along with half the company!!) when there was no one hiring any where. I sent more resumes out than I ever had in my life. I was a machine operator, fork lift driver for a good wage. Then boom, nada. I finally took a job at a lot less pay, at something I had never done in my 40+ years of working. I process, package, and clean fish for a very large, worldwide company! Not my dream job, but a job. I took the job, and keep the job because I can walk to work in warmer months, It’s more than some people can find, and it’s really not so bad. March I will have been there 3 years. And even though it wasn’t what I wanted or was looking for, It turned out ok. And gives me a chance to look for something in the field I want to be in. But for now, it’s a job and if I don’t find something else, it’s no big deal. In 9 years I will retire any way! In all of this I got my UI, but refused to apply for food stamps or other assistance. I don’t have family at home any more so it was pretty easy to turn them down.
    Good luck on your journey. No one should judge you for doing what you have to. There are many that abuse the system and obviously you’re not one of them, so don’t worry and things will be brighter in the morning 🙂

  • Troy says:

    You have nothing to be ashamed about. Those systems were put into place to help people in your situation, not provide a free ride to lazy ass people who don’t want work hard in order to live a productive life. You keep that chin held high and keep focusing on the priorities. I am so proud of you and love you for all that you have done, do and continue to do.

  • Merle says:

    First off, I have been where you are in the past; I am not very far from that right now. I have collected maybe 6 months of UI in my entire life and I am 66 years old. I was forced into “retirement” by sequestration & lost my medical insurance too. Life savings are gone as my wife is a cancer patient.

    It is the absolute pits – I know that full well. All I can say is “don’t give up and don’t hang your head”. At my age I have very little hope of a new job so I understand your feelings of hopelessness.

    At least you are looking for work – unlike a lot!

    May God bless you!


  • Jennifer says:

    Please let Kit know your contact info via PM. I may be able to help you. You DO NOT need to feel shame. Stand up straight and get Kit your info and let’s help you move forward! Prayers and positive thoughts!

  • Frank says:

    Ditto what Jennifer said. Never hurts to have contacts and to put your resume into another person’s hands. Please PM me if it feels right to you.

  • LL says:

    Thanks everyone. Part of the reason for this post is 1–to lay the blame squarely where it belongs…at those in government who hinder us in our ability to seek out good employment and secure for ourselves a reasonable standard of living through their ham-fisted meddling, and 2–because even though I am struggling with the shame and embarrassment of it all, I know I’m not alone. Those of you sharing your stories, I am grateful to you because it gives me hope that this won’t be forever. And I will try to keep reminding myself that this is both temporary and something that I have given money into for the just-in-case situation I am in at this moment.

  • OldSoldier54 says:

    Praying for you, young lady, that the Lord would give you a testimony. And the many like you.

    I like your attitude, don’t give up. Can I help? Is there a way to send a few bucks to help ensure that the munchkins have bread?

    • LL says:

      Thank you, OldSoldier54, but the food stamps were actually too generous. About 5 years ago, at my previous company and during the start of the major economic downturn, I took a 27.5% pay cut over a few months which lasted about 2 years (so much for company loyalty and sticking out the bad times, only to get the shaft, but whatever). I became a champ at coupons, sales, maximizing and stretching my dollars for feeding my kids and 2 dogs. What I have been allotted by the government on the EBT card was too much, in my opinion. This is part of the reason that not only am I resolved to save your tax dollars through frugality, I know for sure there will be a balance at the end of the month on my card. Don’t believe the liberals who whine that cuts in food stamps will lead to starvation amongst the poor. It’s a simple matter of learning how to cook by scratch, planning meals ahead of time, browsing sales flyers and meal-planning around those sales, and a wee bit of creativity. But your offer is very kind and generous. Thank you very much for the thought.

  • BikerDad says:

    Simple question, not to be a smartass or anything:

    Why not relocate?

    • LL says:

      I have a 17 yr old daughter graduating this year and an 11 yr old son. Technically, I could leave my son behind with his father and move, but this would not be in the best interest of him (for reasons I will not get into here). Also, I have a mortgage and home equity loan put upon me when my ex & I split. The house is just getting even with the debt after the housing bubble burst. Between any losses incurred by selling my home, damaging my relationship with my son by abandoning him or taking him away from his father, and relocation costs, the cons far outweigh the pros. It is a valid question and I hope my answer explained enough.

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