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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

The "Get A Job" Fallacy

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Taking a break from deadline this morning (you never see a bumper sticker that says, Ask Me About My Paramaterized SQL Queries. Be glad) to rant just a bit.

One of the lines I keep seeing trotted out in debates over health care, welfare reform, and darn near anything else is, "get a job!" If getting a job was the answer, we'd all have comfortable incomes with health insurance, the unemployment rate would be nearly zero, and the only people on public assistance would the those who truly need it. Because in this perfect world, we'd also be able to identify the people taking advantage of the system and make them work for a living.

It's a fine and dandy idea, but have you ever asked the middle-aged person serving your coffee why he's there? You know the guy: He's pleasant enough, he gives everything he's got to making that latte, but you get the impression he'd be a lot more comfortable in business clothes than that apron and funny hat. Why is he there? Perhaps he took an early retirement on his copious stock options and is pulling coffee drinks for fun. Or maybe he got pushed out of his job by some bean counter who decided 50 was too old to contribute to the "team." Perhaps his ethics wouldn't allow him to hand out mortgages like candy to people who couldn't rub two beans together, much less manage a house payment every month.

How about that woman working at the charity? Perhaps she's a stay-at-home mom with time on her hands and a maid to clean the house, but maybe she's out of work and volunteering to keep from going stir crazy. Perhaps she's volunteering to keep some business skills going while she goes to interview after interview, learning she's too old, too young, to experienced, to inexperienced, or too anything for the job. She'd love to get that job at the coffee shop when the guy in the previous paragraph finds something better, but there's a waiting list, and unemployment doesn't last forever.

Those folks would love to get health insurance, but on what? Ever priced a COBRA plan? Take a look at your paycheck and see how much you pay a month for your part of employer-sponsored health insurance. Now imagine you make ten bucks an hour.

Is your employer hiring? Can they put these folks to work? Can you help them find work that pays a decent salary and benefits? If not, kindly stop whining about "get a job."

Thank you.

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Filed under: Life            
8/31/2009 11:23:24 AM
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