I am a news junkie, but I must say I have to search and search for some happy headlines. They are few and far between. While some say there are glimmers of hope, I am seeing more and more despair. I’m having a hard time finding that silver lining, and the pit I feel in my stomach is getting bigger.
For example, in California the state is facing a huge budget deficit after voters rejected $6 billion in funding measures (i.e. tax increases). Arnold is making the “tough decisions” on what to cut, and the cuts are affecting primarily the poor. He is planning to eliminate the CalWorks and Healthy Families programs, which provide cash aid, employment services and health services to the state’s poor. Overnight, California would go from one of the most generous states to one of least generous in aiding the poor. Sure, it would save the state about billion dollars this year, but the result would be hundred of thousands of poor people left out on their ass with nowhere to turn. That is just plain cold and callous to me.
It isn’t like the poor in California have much opportunity, either. In some counties, unemployment is around 25%. It is in the double digits in just about every other county. It’s not like the poor are going to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a go of it.
It isn’t just California, though. Currently, 47 states face budget shortfalls. Most of them are making cuts to health care and education to fill the gaps. This means, though, that there are more job losses, which is turning the recession into a bigger one. The really sad thing is, the more job losses there are, the more demand there is for social services like public healthcare. Unfortunately, many desperate people will be turned away the one and only time in their lives they need help the most.
I’m starting to understand what the Great Depression felt like, and why they called it that. It wasn’t just about the economy. It was the feeling, too. That feeling is here today. For those of us out of work, the prospect of finding another job is slim. Once the unemployment runs out, there is nowhere to turn except to the charity of neighbors and friends. Those of us who manage to keep our jobs, are living in fear of losing them with the understanding there might not be another to replace it. We put up with more from our employers and work harder for less money.
It’s starting to feel bleak. We all need a little good news. We need a silver lining.