So, I'm poor.
This round with poverty began for me when Procter & Gamble sold their Pringles brand to Kellogg. I worked for a company, not P&G, that produced the labels for Pringles among many other products. When the Pringles brand was sold, Kellogg didn't need my company anymore because they have their own company or system or whatever that they used to produce product labels.
Several other team members and I got "downsized" as a result of this tidy little transaction. The company eventually called me back, but I was in the middle of a temp assignment working somewhere else when they did.
When the temp assignment ended, I received unemployment. While I received unemployment and after it ran out I applied for many jobs, I had a few first interviews and second interviews but didn't get hired. Republicans have ground their heels in the dirt over extending unemployment insurance benefits. After yet another month of job interviews and no job and no UI, I finally applied for food stamps.
According to yet another Republican, John Kasich, the governor of the state where I live, I am an able-bodied lazy person who just doesn't want to work. To prove my worthiness for food stamps, I would have to perform 80 hours of labor before I can get food assistance. And then I would have to do 20 hours each subsequent month, to prove my loyalty to the empire.
More than 100,000 Ohioans have lost cash assistance since the beginning of 2011 as part of the federal crackdown on work requirements.
“We don’t have nearly enough places for 15,000 people” to work, said Lance Porter, spokesman for the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services. Many of the “able-bodied” food-stamp recipients in the Columbus area have disabilities and are seeking Supplemental Social Security, an application process that can take months, even years.
First there's the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which outlawed slavery, so I don't really believe the state of Ohio is entitled to my free labor.
Then there are Federal Labor Laws and the labor laws of the State of Ohio which define the minimum wage, but if you're poor and powerless and can't fight the system, you don't count. You just do what they tell you or you lose the right to buy any food at all.
If John Kasich wants to pay off my student loans from my last "job retraining" that would be helpful. If John Kasich wants to help me or anybody else find a job to do, I'm all for it.
But in this supposed Land of Liberty, who is John Kasich to call me lazy and dictate what I should do with my time and my life?
Who is he to tell me that I'm not giving back to society? While I've been off work, I've helped my mother, I took care of a kid while his mother was in jail for four months, I've volunteered at my church, I've helped countless family and friends.
Who is he to tell me that I'm a bum sucking off the government teat and that none of the tax dollars I've paid in since I started working at 16 doesn't mean anything?
I'm not a worker? I'm not a taxpayer? I deserve his scorn and derision when he knows and nothing about my life or the lives of his constituents?
To John Kasich anyone unemployed is just lazy and worthless.
It's angering, living through this. It's embarrassing to tell anyone all of this.
It's humiliating and scary to know that despite a college degree and two decades of work experience, I am not able to find a job.
It's hurtful to think that the head elected official in my state thinks I'm not working because I'm lazy.
The last thing on God's green earth I want to be doing right now is writing this. It hurts every inch of my pride. But like Marcellus Wallace once said in Pulp Fiction:
...you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.
And Tarantino was right. Pride is cold comfort when the gas tank and the refrigerator are slowly emptying and the last bit of "income" I'll have is my income tax refund if I don't find a job.
There isn't much left. There's my storage for stuff I haven't been able to sell at yard sales. I'm trying to hold onto some things in case I ever have a place of my own again or for when my daughter graduates college this spring and starts up housekeeping. There's my car payment and insurance, my cell phone bill and food. I have reduced my bills and living standards to the bare minimum. I've moved in with a relative, I've sold everything worth selling.
There is nothing left to give up.
So here goes.
I contacted Legal Aid of Cincinnati today. They'll get back to me in 5-10 business days. I'm going to fight this with every tool in a poor person's arsenal against the Goliath that is the bipartisan politics of shaming and punishing the poor.
In the meantime, if you need me or you don't see much in the way of writing from me for the next two weeks, you can find me at the Salvation Army sorting clothes for people who aren't as lucky as I am.