Monday, July 2, 2012

Can Someone Please Explain This To Me?

How did folks arrive at the belief that if you espouse liberal political beliefs that you are lazy and don't want to work?

Five years ago the small boutique consulting and investment advisory firm I worked for was bought out by a Fortune 100 corporation.  Last year the people at the top decided that after all of their many acquisitions they made over the years that they had too many customer service people scattered all over the country.  They were sure that the best solution for customers would be to consolidate all customer service employees into one call center in their main office in Denver.

The result was that I was laid off my job this spring.  Do I really believe this move was about consolidation and making customers happy?  I certainly do not.  They wanted to hire as many new and inexperienced people as possible so that they wouldn't have to pay the well-trained and experienced employees the corresponding salaries. They certainly could afford to keep us on, but they wanted the executives to have bigger salaries.  They wanted the money to buy even more companies.  I believe that if it weren't about the money, they might have offered my east coast colleagues and I positions in the new Denver call center, but they did not.  It certainly wasn't for the customers' sake.  My clients hated that call center and missed being able to call me directly when they knew what they needed from me.

I was angry and I was bitter and I still believe strongly that the "occupy" movements are doing the right thing and need to be fighting the good fight.  There is something wrong with the enormous amount of power corporate America yields.  No doubt about that.

Before my tenure at my old company ended, I began searching for a new job.  I continued after I was laid off.  I found a new job a month after my last day.  I kept working.  I'm working now.

I had friends and family ask me if I intended to collect unemployment if I didn't find anything right away.  I said I would not.  They said I had a right to do so.  They were correct.  I have paid into the system for most of my adult life and likely will pay into the system again at some point.  I am as entitled as anyone to collect government benefits.  I made the decision that I would not do so unless it was a last resort.  If no full-time job materialized after my severance ran out, I intended to put myself on a strict budget and do temp work. 

I'm a liberal.  I don't shrink away from the term.  I refuse to let regressives hurl it at me as a insult.  I own it.

I also work.  In fact, I prefer to be employed.  I'm not saying I've ever been super-successful.  I'm not ambitious.  I don't think that's because I'm liberal.  I just don't have any spectacular talents and I'm a bit lazy by nature. 

Birds of a feather flock together, so I have a fair number of liberal friends.  They're all employed.  I've never seen any of them say they don't want to work.  They have had situations where they have lost their full-time employment.  They looked for new jobs.  They did temp and contract work.  They found new jobs again.

My husband may not talk much in public about politics, but I can assure you he is a pretty liberal guy.  He's an executive at his company.  I have never seen such a hard worker as he is.  I doubt many people would be willing to work the long hours he works, even if they would love to have his salary.  Is it still true that liberals are afraid of hard work and will always be poor and will never amount to anything?

What about wealthy liberals?  The CEO of my former company was a strong Obama supporter.  The company was obsessed with sustainability. Lights and computers had to be turned off every night and polystyrene and paper cups were forbidden in all offices.  All office branches were practically required to do some kind of volunteer project periodically.  It is a billion dollar company and still growing.  Maybe it you're liberal and wealthy, you can earn the title of out-of-touch elitist.  (That's really a topic for another blog.*)

Do only liberals take government benefits?  I tried to search such statistics on the internet.  There really is no political breakout out there of who is receiving these benefits.  The best that I found was that "red" states have more (you read that right, more) people on food stamps than "blue" states.  The stats were a few years old and the concept of red and blue only apply to presidential elections, so I don't give the stats that much credit, but I think it tells a bit of a story.  Need knows no politics.  Plenty of Teabaggers are on Social Security, Medicare, and disability. 

Government benefits, first and foremost, are meant to protect the weakest among us - those who are unable to work.  I'm talking about the disabled, the elderly, and the children.  Let's not forget about the veterans.  Regressives love to pay lip service to service people, but no one has fully explained to me why disabled veterans need to have their own charity, and VA hospitals are in deplorable conditions, while the government spends billions of its military budget on defense contracts instead of people.  It's meaningless to say many recipients of earned benefits that they should "get a job". 

I don't think regressives have any problems taking benefits for themselves individually.  They just don't think anyone else should have benefits.  Even though we all pay into the system in one way or another (or will when we become old enough), it seems only certain people should be allowed to take them.  I can have it, but you can't.  I deserve my benefits, but you don't because you're lazy.  (I wrote more about that in this blog.)

I know, or have known, several people in my life who have had to be on some form of government assistance at one time or another.  The regressives seem to have it in their heads that lazy liberals can just call up President Obama and say, "I need money," and the check will be in the mail.  My friends have had to get blood from a stone to receive benefits.  They had to go through lengthy processes, fill out multiple forms, and provide fifty kinds of proof that they deserve the benefits they have spent their lives earning.  Benefits don't come easy and the administrators are not always nice and not always caring.  No one is making the process easy for the needy.

So why this liberal stigma?  I suppose it's because we do support a system of earned benefits, it's that we believe that the weakest among us deserve our support.  I don't care if a child has regressive parents or not.  I just don't want that child to go to bed hungry.  I don't want children to be punished for the sins of its parents.  Compare that with the expensive and useless campaigns to get welfare recipients drug tested.  Even if parents are on drugs, should their children go hungry because of it?  I don't see supporting earned benefits for all as laziness and  a personal unwillingness to work.  I see it as...compassion.

This is a shout-out to all of my liberal friends.  We're here.  We're employed.  We're not going anywhere.  We work as hard as anyone else.  Some work even harder.  Don't let this slander against us continue.  HOLLER!

*Blog on that topic will be coming soon

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