Sat, Sep 5, 2009
ANN’S NOTE: I decided to post the manifesto early given the outpouring of support and response I received from my appearance on the Fox Business Happy Hour yesterday. Tune in to NPR affiliate the Louisiana Radio Network at 10:45 AM EST on Labor Day to hear me speak more about it. Read the manifesto through Labor Day.
Ann Powers Speaks Out
Manifesto of the Idle Workers of the World
We are more than 15 million individuals in the prime of our lives who have lost our place in the world of work. We call upon our representatives on Capitol Hill to help us directly, rather than assisting our institutions first in the hope that their recovery might also bring us along.
We declare ourselves too big to fail. But we are being pushed by circumstance from the comfortable middle-class to the terrified middle-class, and from the working poor to the hopeless poor. We have lost our savings, retirement, and, in many cases, our monthly income to sustain our lives. We fear homelessness and a loss of stability as we struggle with rebuilding our assets.
We can and will help ourselves. We take jobs for which we are over qualified. We work longer hours. We work odd jobs. We downgrade our lifestyles. We deny our children their birthday gifts and vacations. We try to educate ourselves to the options for cure and take positive steps every day.
But still our financial standing degrades, and we feel the journey of recovery will be long, and we will cry and stumble.
Despite the names chosen by officialdom to describe us, we are not displaced, dislocated, discouraged, disadvantaged, disaffected or disgruntled.
Instead, we are disappointed and disillusioned that the financial condition of our households is of secondary consideration to the economic stabilization of huge Wall Street financial firms, curiously declaring their own recovery just months after calling themselves near death.
Last month, six of the seven biggest financial institutions reported quarterly profits that surpassed expectations, despite deteriorating loans on many of their balance sheets. Many of us, however, teeter closer to foreclosure, find ourselves in distressed sales or evicted from our homes.
We are distressed that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has money to keep us unemployed for longer but not to get us back to work. In July, one in three unemployed individuals were jobless for 27 weeks or more. And, the number of workers who have stopped looking for a job rose to 796,000, up 335,000 over the past 12 months.
We feel disrespected that our government has committed trillions of dollars to get the nation moving again. Yet, we can see no change in our own daily lives.
Has any of this $1.5 trillion bought a single Happy Meal for an unhappy family? Has it sent the creditors that hound us by telephone into silence by making a mortgage or credit card payment for us? Has it bought us groceries or paid the utility or insurance or tax bills? Has it paid for our health insurance?
On this Labor Day, we declare that we are lost, lonely and forgotten, but that we vow to become loud, united and forceful so we will claim our rightful place at the center of the political debate. The body politic is seriously diseased if those of us who have been the very backbone of U.S. prosperity can be left without direct assistance when we are facing the loss of our homes, careers and all the possessions we need to maintain a safe home for our children.
Patience is no longer the order of the day. There is a rabble to be roused, virtual signs to be made and held up, marches, petitions, visits, phone calls and every manner of communications used to say to the public authorities now it is our turn. Now you must save us.