Thursday, March 13, 2014

Those people are lazy

You know who I mean, right? We don't need to actually say what we mean. We're all gentlemen here, in contrast to say, thugs.

That's the problem with dog whistles: other people can hear them too. Maybe you can't, because you're old and lost some of your hearing, but trust us, people can hear the whistle.

I'm just about to start my first real job. I've had jobs, even stayed them for a while, but they were all placeholders of sorts and only went on my resume as a way to say that I did something during the previous years.

Looking for work is possibly the worst thing ever. In the supply and demand graphs there's always this feeling that the labor and job pools are just these lines that walk past each other and are, except in truly terrifying economic cases, guaranteed to meet. I suspect that is the case, that if someone keeps at it they will find a job, eventually. But in the meantime the uncertainty is awful.

I've seen other people complain about the sting of rejection. I've been jealous. To get rejected is approximately step 8 in the job search. That put them further along than I was.

  1. Figure out what you can do
  2. Figure out what you want to do
  3. Find places that do both of those
  4. Find places that do one and a half of those
  5. Find places that do one of those
  6. Apply
  7. Hear nothing
  8. Get rejected
  9. Get an interview or two
  10. Hired
Half of that process isn't even applying. It's figuring out where to apply, how to, what to. For me, that was the worst part. It's easy to get discouraged when there is absolutely no measure of how you're doing or even if you're on the right path. You're not being rejected, not even acknowledged, and so all the failure is on your end. That adds up. Until step 7 you spend every day blaming yourself. Sometimes I'd take a day off to try to recover, but then I'd feel bad about that. Feeling like a lazy idiot does not give one the confidence to apply for jobs. I at least had opportunities. I had a car available, money for hotel stays so I could make interviews, and some connections.

Contrast that with someone who is barely scrapping by on government assistance. They can't search as wide of a range on the map or the listings. To make it worse, they're being called lazy for taking that government assistance, as if that is somehow what keeps them from getting a job. The lack of jobs in their area is not mentioned. The problems in the hiring process are not mentioned.

Even worse, the jobs that are easiest to find and get, things like fast food, pay very low wages. Yet that might be all a person can get. They're doing the right thing by getting a job. But then they're told that not only should that job not pay them a livable wage, but that they shouldn't even be in that job. What are they supposed to do, quit? Without another job lined up, that just puts them back on government assistance, or possibly worse, not on it because they quit a job that they could have kept. If they did have another job lined up, then they'd take it. Or sometimes they do and work two or three jobs because one or two don't pay enough.

I don't know of an easy solution to the job problem. But in the meantime, we could at least pay those few with jobs enough to support themselves, and stop using food stamps to subsidize employers who won't pay a livable wage. And we could stop using careful phrasing to suggest that certain people who we won't specifically identify are lazy and should just be kicked out in the cold.