I think about some of the jobs I did and what they meant to me. For the most part I picked jobs that involved people in the arts. Waiting on tables and working in catering were always stop gap jobs that enabled me to work with creative people and keep a bit of coin in my pocket. Catering in particular allowed me to see numerous art openings, concerts and speaking engagements that I otherwise would not have had access to. Working with people helps to build relationships and camaraderie. These are opportunities that we don’t necessarily get being unemployed. When we’re unemployed we’re cut off from many of the social support systems the employed rely on. We talk to people at work about what is going on in our lives; we develop friendships with the people we work with. The majority of my friendships have stemmed from work I have done and the majority of the work I do stems from my friendships. But what are the unemployed to do to keep up their social connections? What can they do to feel supported?
The universities will gladly provide you with a PHD if you’re willing to fork over the amount for the education, but there won’t likely be a job waiting for you when you graduate, no matter how entitled you feel to one. There is a definite disconnect in the system and we’re seeing the beginnings of reform happening all over North America. We can’t sustain a society where people can so easily fall through the cracks.
I know a few people who are on disability subsidies and not working. People who could be out working, people who could be part of that social network that makes us stronger, people falling through the cracks. One person I know lives a substandard existence in a basement apartment, he maybe goes out once a month to get fresh air. He could be working, but if he did, he’d lose the small cheque the government provides each month and he is unwilling to lose that.
These are not solutions. They are death sentences funded by our governments. I was listening to a cab driver on the radio the other day talking about the day the welfare checks arrive each month. He is doing back to back runs to the beer store and the convenience store for beer & lottery tickets. His clients use the food banks and then use their checks for this peripheral stuff. Have you ever been stuck behind someone in a line with a stack of lottery tickets to check? They always appear quite financially challenged to me, like the last thing they should be spending their money on is lottery tickets. But, they are an example of a failing system, a system where people are out of options and grasping at straws. The government is not interested in getting a return on their investment; they’re not interested in helping to eliminate this type of life.
If you know someone who is isolated and falling through the cracks, please do everything you can to help that person feel connected and hopeful - If you can, give them a job.
Today we are seeing a gathering of minds, a collection of people who are tired of being isolated and underutilized; they are tired of not having control over their lives and tired of not being connected. When business becomes too faceless it is easy to discard people seen as an expense, but what is the expense to society? When you take the jobs away society fails. We look to our governments, but their biggest customers are the companies that took the jobs away. It’s an obvious conflict of interest. The system needs to be radically reformed or shut down all together so we can start from scratch.
Having said all of that, there could be an upside to today’s dwindling government resources. It could mean that people are going to have to start figuring out how to do things right, as a community where no one falls through the cracks, a community where everyone feels a sense of purpose. That is what the ‘occupy’ movement is all about. The day we put our governments, who are funded by corporations, in the prestigious position of taking care of us, was the day our lives began to take a turn for the worse. I have more faith in humanity than I do in our world leaders, and thankfully, humanity is waking up.