Through the course of our lives, everyone has had that friend or relative, a coworker, a neighbor perhaps, who has serious problems with some level of government, some department, often over benefits.
You know the one — they are always complaining about how the “system doesn’t work”, they have to “jump through all these hoops”, and still don’t get the help they expected?
Yeah, there’s a lot more of those now.
Until recently, those of you working your nine-to-five and paying your bills (if barely), didn’t face the same pain in the ass that those less fortunate (who have to count on the government for assistance until things improve) already faced on a near-daily basis.
You didn’t have to endure a mindset that gets locked onto fear, and worrying about how you’re going to get by next week, or even tomorrow. You may be just getting by yourselves — but it’s that one step down the ladder that makes all the difference in your perception of government.
People en masse are realizing what it’s really like to deal with the government.
Surely many haven’t had to update their resumes, and tiptoe into this cutthroat job market in quite some time. Unpleasant surprises abound for those sad souls.
Cut to what’s happening with various unemployment offices around the country in wake of the pandemic. Especially Florida — that’s a real winner. People are upset — and very rightfully so — that they can’t get through on the phone, that systems aren’t working. People are simply not getting answers and have no way to know what is happening with their benefits, and whether they are even eligible or not.
Having been someone whose had some good years in the economy, with a decent salary and steady job, but in recent years has also lacked the good fortune of the capitalist machine to work in my favor after a handful of layoffs, I’ll let you in on a little secret:
These problems are not new.
Certainly there’s an influx of new people using these benefit systems, but the reality is they were not working much better before all this happened. If anything, they are quite a lot more generous, and forgiving of many of the sign up specifics that are normally needed. And people are still finding them a nightmare to deal with.
Now you kind of feel bad for that friend or relative, don’t you? A little empathy maybe?
I’ll take a guess that your friend or relative being more seasoned in dealing with government benefits, has offered to hold your hand through this strange and frustrating process — and they’ve probably uttered the words “Yeah, it was this bad before — you’re lucky you don’t have to do X, Y, and Z like I did.”
These systems are working slightly less smoothly, maybe, than they have for many years. All the times you heard your friend or coworker complain about how they didn’t get their benefits on time or the pain in the ass dealing with the Medicare office, those are very real things that show the Federal government has been almost as bad as the State of Florida in really coming through for people in recent years.
It foments a lot of anger, and it is righteous anger.
When you just have some small percentage of people, say under 5%, that are really, really struggling, and some of them are not getting their cases handled correctly, or their benefits calculated right, it’s manageable enough — the government knows that they’re not numerous enough to rise up in solidarity and march down Main Street. Also, it’s not like they have ways to really find each other — so they wouldn’t be able to organize anyway, right?
But now, most certainly, we are seeing families who were on the edge of the middle class, or those who were slightly overextended, who have now lost their jobs, or are possibly losing their homes or apartments, and now they are seeing quite plainly how the governments’ monkeying around with passing or not passing bills, acting without regard to how long it takes to actually get help to people — shows that they quite frankly don’t give a shit about people when they really need it.
The difference is, it’s not just one or two percent of the people, scattered all across the country this time. It is entire city blocks and in some cases entire towns have this beef with the government at the same time. Neighbors, you know?
So what happens when the discontent of the poor — that was previously relegated to a small subset of the population by income, and could often be dismissed as noise by towns, cities, states, etc. — becomes far more than a small percentage?
How long will people put up with this when they don’t get their job back? If they don’t get some benefits to cover them in the meantime? If they lose their place to live, if they lose their livelihood — just because a check that’s already far too small arrived three weeks late?
How do you think hundreds of thousands of people will take that, sitting down?
Those in leadership need to realize that sometimes the only interactions we will have with the government are specifically because someone needs assistance. Everyone can joke about the DMV being a terrible place, it’s a trope; but when multitudes of people feel like it’s a joke trying to interact with Departments of Government, particularly when they are in times of desperate need, it’s not very funny. Most Americans are mature enough to know that it’s not the fault of the clerk at the counter, or the call center rep on the phone — we know it’s a mess because of things happening at the leadership level.
I feel bad for the government, I think realistically they would need to send $5 to $7 Trillion out to regular people if they really wanted to set the economy straight, and (maybe) give it a tiny little bump. They are beyond out of touch, so clueless, as to how precarious the everyday American’s life has been in recent weeks.
For many, since 2008, it’s been a personal “lost decade”.
How will the American people behave? Will people be knocking on doors with petitions? Will they call their Congressman? Will they even be able to get through if they do?
Or will they go straight for the pitchforks?
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