The Ranting Frustration of Underemployment

Living where I do means it’s hard to find full-time gigs. Sometimes I have the crazy desire to pay my bills on time. I know, how selfish! But I do try. It’s hard, though. Vice President Biden keeps stumping the decreasing unemployment record and how Americans are going to work! Yes, we are…for a fraction of what it takes to survive and with few social safety nets as politicians bicker and barter them away. Applications can be put out, can be sent in large swathing numbers…but that doesn’t mean anyone’s going to hire. Let’s face it: in this market, you can get employees cheaper than their experience would earn.

That’s especially true as a recent graduate with a B.A. in English. No one seems to value the idea of someone who can write reports. This country is focused on the STEM building project. Understandably so since we’re behind most other first world nations, but it does make my degree useless in the workforce.  A degree I went into debt for because I knew my research skills would be vital in writing reports, documents. Not to mention my decade of experience as an administrative assistant between professional and volunteering settings.

People don’t want to hire people for the value of their worth. Instead the numbers are focused on bottom line. Here’s the problem with that philosophy: employers get what’s paid for. If you hire someone inexperienced, angry that the pittance paid isn’t motivation, then the employer’s out of touch with the world. Politicians have destroyed unions–a safety net that insures a safe environment–and promoted right-to-work policies.

People and the media speak about how the millennial generation as ungrateful, too entitled, but we’re the ones watching jobs and opportunities being stripped away by the generations before us. So tell me, which one is entitled and ungrateful?

Back in 2013, Cracked.com’s John Cheese wrote up a really good post on what four things poor people don’t deserve to be labeled. I’m going to quote the relevant part about the current generation of college students and graduates looking for work, but really, the whole article is really important as a read. Emphasis mine.

In reality, 47 percent of the impoverished 18 to 26 age group have actually been to college. Now, that doesn’t mean they all graduated, but that’s not the point. I don’t know many people who had the motivation and presence of mind to enter into college and didn’t also have a desire to do something special with their lives. Most people don’t go to college because they were bored, though I will concede that it’s why many people teach at colleges. OHHHHH, eat it, teachers!

See, it’s not about intelligence, it’s about trying. Politicians can’t get past the idea that the only possible way to fail in America is if you sit back and do nothing. The idea that someone can put out the effort, yet not gain ground is inconceivable to them. Again, that doesn’t mean that human leeches don’t exist. I grew up doggone poor, myself. I’ve seen, firsthand, people who were content to cash their government check and then go back to sleep. But I know overwhelmingly more people who didn’t want to be on assistance and busted their lovely lady lumps to escape. Some succeeded and some did not, but it sure as pickles wasn’t for lack of trying.

Yes, there people out there looking to use the system, but the numbers are tiny compared to the vast majority of those simply trying to exist. Do I deserve less because I can’t make someone hire me? Since I can’t physically force anyone to say “yep, I’ll take her” even in the last round? This isn’t a game of elementary school dodge ball. Did those in office miss the whole urine test for food stamps being illegal conversation?

In a piece for my job, I talked about food stamps and requirements many Republican politicians are attempting to put on those receiving benefits. What I didn’t openly announce is my need for them at the moment.

Food stamps are not a cure all, but they do offer consistent meals to 16 million children and the chance for many households to afford the higher costs of living, especially in the winter months when utilities run high as temperatures plummet. The idea of citizens on SNAP as less than human, or undeserving to use what is being paid into the funds per paycheck, demonizes those without higher paying positions that require less than half a year’s attendance; yet both cases depend heavily on the federal government subsidies to maintain “affordable” lifestyles.

I understand and support food stamps because I’m on them. In this country, there’s a lot of shame that comes with food stamps, of having to be on government assistance. But I genuinely need the money so I can survive at the moment. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been forced to ask for help and I’m 33. And when I’m on my feet again, I’ll willingly hand over more money for those in need. Be it in a food drive or pantry…or adding more paid taxes.

I can’t imagine the disrespect give to people who’ve been on for a long period face every day. It’s not a good choice. In fact, I hate it. But you know what? I need to eat. I’m a diabetic in a state without any kind of Medicaid expansion. I have to eat a certain diet for me to stay out of the ER and cost taxpayers more money in my health care. I’m scrapping money together to survive. And the poor tax is a very real thing.

If the politicians think it’s easy to go out, survive under the poverty threshold, then they should come ask me. Let them see what’s it’s like to be under the threshold and the help my family has to provide so I cannot lose my place to live. Even though I don’t want to need or take the money because the American Dream still sings a little this could be all yours ditty to the tune of Disney’s “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

But that particular wish only applies if you make $174,000 plus a year.

Right now, I freelance and I enjoy my job. I really like writing about the world and reporting on news, of putting a new perspective on what’s happening in the world around us. Being in engaged and using what I’ve learned in college, tying together the information into a cohesive piece is pretty important to me-in my work ethic and personal fulfillment. I enjoy connecting with audiences.

But I also need some stability along the way. I’m not asking for hand outs. I’m asking for the politicians to stop lying about caring the constituency that’s supposedly represented. We underemployed are not all going to be major stars, lobbyists, well-known STEMers, or people with power. But we still count. We still need jobs to provide us with healthcare coverage, food, shelter, communication tools…all those things matter because they help motivate a workforce into discovering new things. That happens because of a dependable economic source. To make America shine.

It’s easy to strip down a household into the necessities nowadays (bye, Netflix!), but it’s not to maintain even the necessities if people are saddled with huge debts in without any relief in sight. The former generations helped create a world where you need a BA just to be a receptionist, but now want to rid their hands of the modern day’s unbalanced employment requirements. Some of my favorite requirements are must have at least 4 years of experience as an administrative assistant or mandatory 2-3 years of experience in a doctor’s office before applying. On top of that 4-year degree and deep debt.

So those who put time into their school work, working to create a better education and chance for mobility, are punished. After being repeatedly told that you had to attend college in order to make a decent wage.

Let me ask again: who are the selfish members of society? Those making $174,000 a year for less than half a year’s work or those looking for opportunities that don’t seem to appear?

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Jessica

Owner of Wild Pantheon Press, Clever Girl, and Research Queen Productions. Working on rewriting human interest from global to local.

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