It leaves me thinking, "what can one do?" That question goes toward both those in need and those who aren't. The article is very much a "half empty" take at the state of the American economy, but does highlight the new realities for more people than we, who are still sitting comfortably in our family rooms with an overflowing pantry, like to believe.
There are still plenty of people who are only slightly affected by the downturn in the economy. At least 8 in 10. But what about those 2 in 10 who are out of work, despite every attempt to find it? These are the people who have previously worked a 40-50 hour work week, lived comfortable middle class lives, but now have exhausted their savings and credit and used up their unemployment benefits.
Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives -- potentially for years to come.....It's a very dark article, in that it focuses on the failings (but continued belief and reliance) of our system to deal with the sustained and severe unemployment. Examples follow:
Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration's proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department...All of the above is true, but I think the facts merely point out that the government can't solve this problem. The American people are resilient and will come together to provide for those in need when the need is known and they know how to help. Depsite themselves, the NY Times article showed little pieces of how Ms Eisen, the example of a member of "the new poor," is getting along in these hard times, even when the governmental protections fail her. Their take on it seems like "What a shame! Look what she's reduced to." My take is, "Thank you God! You are the ultimate Provider and will comfort and support these people, whom you love, who are facing a poverty that they have never known before."
Twice, Ms. Eisen exhausted her unemployment benefits before her check was restored by a federal extension. Last week, her check ran out again....
If, as Mr. Sinai expects, the economy again expands without adding many jobs, millions of people like Ms. Eisen will be dependent on an unemployment insurance already being severely tested....
"The system was ill prepared for the reality of long-term unemployment," said Maurice Emsellem, a policy director for the National Employment Law Project. "Now, you add a severe recession, and you have created a crisis of historic proportions."
Some poverty experts say the broader social safety net is not up to cushioning the impact of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Social services are less extensive than during the last period of double-digit unemployment, in the early 1980s..
"I pray for healing," says Ms. Eisen, 57. "When you've got nothing, you've got to go with what you know."....In the several months she has endured with neither a paycheck nor an unemployment check, she has relied on local food banks for her groceries....Their daughter has back problems and is living on disability checks, making the church their ultimate safety net."I never thought I'd be in the position where I had to go to a food bank," Ms. Eisen said. But there she is, standing in the parking lot of the Calvary Chapel church, chatting with a half-dozen women, all waiting to enter the Bread of Life Food Pantry.I will end this with a prayer, "Dear God, I pray at this time for Ms Eisen and all of the people in this country that she represents. Please continue to provide "her daily bread" while at the same time guiding her into the thing you have planned for her to do next. I pray that during this time when she feels like she is just treading water, that she would feel You moving in her life, guiding and molding her into the person You have always intended for her to be. May she embrace the love you are sending her in the form of service coming from the church. Give her people to rely on and to love and be loved. Be with her during this trying time in her life and as she recovers, may she come out more alive and happier than ever, in the knowledge of your love and provision. Amen."
When her name is called, she steps into a windowless alcove, where a smiling woman hands her three bags of groceries: carrots, potatoes, bread, cheese and a hunk of frozen meat.
"Haven't we got a lot to be thankful for?" Ms. Eisen asks.