Tag Archives: #99ers

Is the "American Dream" still possible?

Sure, there are those that have opportunity made available either by family means due to inheritance or acquaintances, people that have opportunities come to them because of their looks (i.e. models or actors that are just approached at some point) and of course those very rare occurrences of a lottery win or hitting the jackpot! Who doesn’t have that dream?

However, the belief has always been that if a person had set goals, studied and worked hard they could accomplish the “American Dream.” Many people have grown up and done just that and have lived to tell their own version of the “American Dream” and many people have come to the United States from every other country for that reason and have accomplished their dreams as well.

Although the dream may be different for each individual, basically the idea was being able to get an education, find a career, buy a home, have a family and work toward a decent retirement at an age a person could still enjoy a retirement.

Between a retirement plan at a person’s job and social security, a person could plan on retiring as long as they had worked along the lines of saving towards their goals. The “American Dream” seemed to be within reach more and more through the years. Even when times were hard through the 80’s and 90’s, people continued to work hard and focus on what lied ahead because that is what they had been taught to do and it still seemed promising, enough.

 

As the younger generations have been raised, their parents have brought them up with the understanding to get an education, work hard at your job, set money aside and you can plan toward retirement. The question of whether social security would be around for retirement for the younger generation was causing concern so people were leaning more toward investments and attaining a higher level of education to move along further in a career. “Hard work pays off”, was said to be the key to success.

 

However, is this something to plan on? How solid is long-term planning? How solid are a person’s investments? Is the “American Dream” something to even strive for anymore? Is it possible?

 

Not to sound pessimistic, but here are some recent lessons learned.

 

Many companies let their long term employees go along with their benefits and pension plans. Financially, it saves more to keep those employees with lesser benefits and lower pay doing the same job.

A big investment for an individual or family is their home. However, if that investment suddenly depreciates at the same time a person has their hours cut at their job or loses their job and they find themselves unable to pay the mortgage, that investment is suddenly the hook, line and sinker that leads them to bankruptcy. The home that was once a part of their “American Dream” is suddenly a part of a terrible nightmare.

 

Unemployment or even being cut back to part-time from full time can take a person’s health benefits or for an employer trying to keep their employees but still cut back cost, an employer might just cut healthcare across the board. Health care cost for people without insurance causes more bankruptcies than most anything else. Bankruptcy can take everything away from a person they have worked so hard to attain. That definitely isn’t part of the “American Dream” and having this happen to a person isn’t something anyone would plan on.

Many people that have been planning for retirement, saving for retirement or putting aside for that “rainy day”, have either ended up having to use that money to replace lost income, increased bills due to possible loss of benefits, or possibly helping out friends or family that are facing financial crisis. It is a good chance that everyone knows someone facing a financial crisis due to the recent recession. The economy is still in a crisis and so are families, small business and therefore America.

The “American Dream” to those that have lost a job and cannot find work is simply to hear, “you’re hired”. Ask the 99ers. These are people that have been without work 99 weeks or more. To have a group, a large group of people that have formed a name and been on several news networks now because they have not been able to acquire work for that long shows how bad the job market still is.
For those that have been able to keep their job and benefits, the concern lingers about how steady their employment is and how steady the economy is.

For those still owning their home, the concern lies with how steady the housing market is, home values, property taxes and what will happen with homeowners insurance. What is around the corner?
People are concerned, very concerned. Voters are concerned about the choices in Washington D.C. and what the consequences of those choices will be. What will be the long term effects of today’s decisions and the lack of decisions? Who are the politicians looking out for, really?
 What is today’s “American Dream”?

 

Help for America Pt. 3 – The "Working Poor"

Having a job in today’s economy and current job crisis is an enormous step toward solving a person’s financial hardships, right?

For many Americans, going to work every day, bringing home a paycheck and doing everything they can to support their family is far from enough. They find themselves in the category, the “working poor”.

Many working families live below the poverty level. As inflation has gone up, the cost of gas, heating, mortgage or rent, electric and overall the cost of living, their rate of pay has not increased near the rate of inflation.

To leave one job to find another is just not possible and even finding a second job is not always an option or a possibility.

Many families are struggling to pay only the basic utilities, as well as rent or mortgage and taking away from items like clothing, medicine and even groceries. This is living in America as the working poor. More often, this is becoming a reality for more people in the richest country in the world.

In 2008 there were 39.8 million Americans who lived below the poverty level according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New data will come in from the new Census Data collected this year.

The 2010 Poverty Guidelines from the CMS.gov state that in order to fall below the poverty level a family of four would need to make below $1,837.50 per month or less to be considered fully at poverty level. For more or less family members, the income is adjusted and there are different levels of poverty. 39,800,000 Americans fell into this category in 2008 and since then the economy fell more into a slump. Did these numbers rise?

To look around a community, workplace, school, church or anyplace people are gathered a person may not be able to pick out the “working poor” families. They are everyday Americans working hard to support their families, keep their utilities from getting turned off, their children happy and safe and they have goals and dreams like anyone else. They watch the news and hear how the economy is changing both in good ways or bad ways and like everybody else, they want so badly for things to turn around and improve.

Many of these families were middle class families not too long ago. Due to the financial crisis, they have now found themselves living in a situation they had never planned on living. What they were planning for is now a distant memory.

America is a country that was established on opportunity and freedom. Working Americans want the opportunity to move ahead and live, providing for themselves and their children and plan for their future.
It is always said to “set aside for a rainy day”. The opportunity needs to be there to not only live each day and take care of a person’s family and responsibilities that day but also to be able to plan ahead for what may come up or just to be able to have a “nest egg” set aside, plan for a child’s college fund or take care of things to insure prevention of larger bills due to neglect (i.e. insurance on vehicles, rentals, dental, appliances, etc.)

For 39.8 million Americans, it has been a “rainy day” for a long time and although many are extremely grateful to have a job to work each day, they want to be able to take care of their families and responsibilities as well. In a great country like America, with so many resources, it doesn’t make sense to have so many families that are working to still be struggling and living below the poverty level.

America has always been a Nation to be able to come back stronger and show its resilience through tough times. But, for this to work, things have to work as a whole and not as a part. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, America has to stand strong together and for each other through each community, state and Nationwide.

Part Four of this series will be pretty shocking to read. Stay tuned.

Help for America Pt.2 – Where are the jobs?

In 2008 alone, at least 2.6 million jobs were lost, the highest level in more than six decades. In January 2009, Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute said, “We’re seeing a complete unraveling of the labor market and are on track for getting beyond 10% unemployment.” That was a little over 18 months ago and unemployment has continued to soar.

CNN wrote an article, “Looking for work? Unemployed need not apply” This article was talking about companies that may be putting unemployed applicants aside feeling they may have been laid off due to performance issues.

Getting a job is extremely tough and having the fact of being unemployed held against an applicant is a crucial downfall. Possibly unknown to some employers and applicants is the HIRE Act which was signed March 18, 2010 and includes incentives for businesses to hire applicants that have been without work.

A petition is posted for people to sign and be heard that companies not wanting to hire the unemployed is just not right. Visit the Care2petition Site to sign.

On the well known social media website Twitter, a hashtag #99ers has been appearing next to tweets about unemployment and people looking for work.

Who are the 99ers? According to an article put out by AOL News, the “99ers” is a term for the group of unemployed workers who have been out of work for over 99 weeks and thus are no longer able to receive unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits and extensions are heard about on the news as they go to the senate to pass, expire or get pushed aside for a later date to vote on. Many people feel differently about unemployment benefits and the need for these extensions.

The unemployed want their jobs back and the ability to receive a paycheck, benefits and take care of their responsibilities and families. Many have lost what they worked years to gain. Across America the outcome of this has been seen in the alarming rates of foreclosures, bankruptcies and overall the continuing downfall in the economy. However, many employers are looking to put out the least amount of funds possible making the hiring process difficult for both the applicant and the employer.

Numbers released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics say there are currently 14,600,000 unemployed with 6,800,000 being long term unemployed.

To get jobs back, a lot of small businesses need to be able to build up their capital but also their confidence in the future of the economy and hire the unemployed. Larger corporations need to reach out and hire as well. By putting people back to work, more money goes into the economy and the cycle can begin to fix itself.

As people are able to go back to sufficient jobs, unemployment becomes less necessary for more people. The economy can grow, businesses grow, new businesses can open and therefore more hiring can occur. But, to see America’s economy grow and the deficit decrease, the businesses and employees that need to be supported have to be here in America.

It’s not just about today or next week. It’s not just about numbers, policies, or parties. It’s not about who is getting elected or even who says what in their campaigns when it comes to this. This is about Americans supporting America. Supporting it now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now and continuing to do so from one generation to the next. Helping America to grow and strive, to move forward as the great Nation it is.