An Open Letter To The Current Senate Republicans

I woke up today and like most afternoons mornings I checked my phone. Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, the usual. A friend of mine had posted a link on Facebook with the title: Senate Republicans Simply Block Everything.  I clicked the link. Turns out all 42 Senate Republicans signed a very strongly worded letter stating they would block all legislative items until George W. Bush’s tax cuts are renewed. No legislative item will be passed. Meaning, the extension of unemployment funds (among others). Those funds which I have been dependent upon.

I tweeted the link and then made a joke on twitter about the whole thing.

I made more jokes, but the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Because, honestly, this had to be a joke. Kutcher’s reviving his show, right? Just at a larger scale. Surely we’re being punked. These are adults. Smart, intelligent, elected officials who are there (supposedly) to represent our best interests. Honestly, the more I read about it and the more I talk about it, the angrier I get.

So, I’m doing what any twenty-something blogger worth her salt would do. I’m writing an open letter on my blog.

Dear Senate Republicans,

Today, you presented a letter to your democratic counterparts stating that you would block all legislative items until “we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.” Worded like that it sounds so nice. Why, surely you are doing us, the American taxpayers, a favor. This must be a good thing. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know enough about this issue (Agenda? I’m slightly uniformed, I admit) to offer any sort of real opinion on this. But, I’m all for something that gives the American people a break. Because sweet fancy Moses, do we need a break.

So here is where I run into a problem with your letter. Because while I’m sure the tax cut issue is important, and would benefit many, many people I’m failing to see how it’s so much more important than all the other issues on the table. Mainly, as it concerns me, the extension of unemployment funds.

You see, I’ve been unemployed for a little over a year now. Fifty-six weeks to be exact. Did you know, that in the state of Indiana in order to receive unemployment you must apply to a minimum of three jobs a week? So, for me, that means at minimum (because there have definitely been weeks where I have applied to more than my required three) there are 168 employers with my resume. Every week I turn on my computer and I apply to jobs. Jobs I’m not getting because I’m too overqualified. Jobs that are dead ends; jobs that won’t stimulate me creatively or intellectually (I apply to plenty of jobs that would, mind you). Jobs I’m not getting because the market is so over-saturated with people trying to get the same job I am that there will always be someone better qualified, more eager, and/or who they are able to pay less.

Yesterday when the extension funding unemployment ran out, well Senate Republicans, it wasn’t a good day for me. You see, I had the unfortunate luck of having my current tier of benefits run out at the same time the extension did. Now, were this three weeks earlier, hell even a few days earlier, I could have simply applied to the next tier and continued on. Hoping against hope that that money would support me long enough that I would finally, finally catch a break and someone would hire me.

But, unfortunately that’s not the case. Instead I received my last check today. With no hope of another until another extension is passed or I’m finally hired. It took two and a half months to pass an extension last time, so you’ll see why I can’t count on that. And a few of you did your damnedest to prevent it from happening. Daring even, to call some of us lazy, unmotivated. There are those, I’ll grant you, that will work the system. There will always be someone who does. I’m not one of those people. I’m one of the people this program was intended to help.

I’m lucky enough that I don’t have other mouths to feed, or a family to support. I have family nearby that can help me. Hell, I’m fairly certain if I showed up on a few of my friends’ doorsteps they’d take me in without asking. I only have to worry about my immediate needs. And, no matter how much I may not relish the thought, I can always move home. There are so, so many others who are not so fortunate.

So, you see why it’s hard for me to understand how the tax cuts are more important than everything else the senate could be working on. You even say so yourselves, in your letter:  “While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate’s attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.” It’s hard for me to understand, then, how you can do what I can only equate to a toddler holding its breath until it gets its way or passes out. Do we have to wait until you pass out? Because the American people, who you seem to care so deeply about, don’t have that kind of time. Never mind that it’s the holiday season. Never mind gifts and what is supposed to be a season of generosity. I’m talking basics here. Millions of Americans barely scraping by because you refuse to move forward until your demands are met. Now seems like a time for compromise, not ultimatums.

So, I can only hope, Senate Republicans, that you have not lost your way and that this truly is an issue worthy of such drastic action. Because today, while you were presenting a strongly worded letter, I spent 20 minutes crying when I used the last of my deodorant because I don’t have the funds to buy more. I truly hope that your ultimatum isn’t doing a larger disservice to the American public. Because from where I’m sitting, that’s all I can see.


Just Shireen


10 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Current Senate Republicans

  1. A says:

    Saw someone discussing this on facebook. I was wondering what you thought about one poster’s suggestions. Maybe this might help you.

    1. Get more eager – it’s easy… just change your attitude. Don’t base your effort on the minimum requirement to qualify for unemployment. Send out 3 resumes a day– or 3 an hour. Drop the sense of entitlement… most people do about a week after they move out of their parents house. The world doesn’t owe you anything.
    2. Get more qualified – sitting at your computer blogging won’t do it. Get proactive. Take a class. Do something.
    3. Get humble- be the one who’s willing to work for a little less than you think you deserve. You’ll get the job.”

    • Casey says:

      Welcome to the Internet where free speech and dissenting opinions abound, while you’re here, maybe this might help you:

      1-Quit making snap judgements about others – it’s easy…just change your attitude. Don’t base your assumptions of someone on a single post written out of frustration and impassioned feelings. Drop the sense of superiority, most people do it when they realize everyone has feelings and flaws.
      2-Become more understanding- Listen to others struggles without projecting your political agenda or personal convictions upon them before learning their whole story.
      3-Become less of a jerk – be the one who’s willing to listen before offering your unsolicited advice to someone you’ve never met. It’s easy to make snap judgements, it’s harder to give people the benefit of the doubt. But try it, I’m sure you’d enjoy the same. Just as I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’ve had a bad day, not that you’re a fairly miserable person who isn’t much fun to be around.

  2. Bogie says:

    Based on your answer “Good Luck With that” to Casey’s post, it seems that you don’t read stuff very carefully, so I’ll take a different tack.
    First, if you were trying to be supportive you could say:
    “Wow, you are really a talented writer. I haven’t read anything this well-written for a while. I’m sure things will change for the better since you are obviously a gifted writer and are trying hard to find a job.”
    Secondly, I said you don’t read stuff carefully because there is not a hint that JustShireen feels entitled or superior or that she feels the world owes her something. She also didn’t say she only sent out enough resumes to qualify for unemployment. She said that was the minimum.
    Saying “change your attitude” to someone who is trying hard but is not succeeding because of circumstances beyond their control just reeks of, yes, a sense of superiority. You think that because it hasn’t happened to you it could never happen to you because you are better. You have no idea.
    What JustShireen wrote is not just well-written. It’s also well reasoned. You don’t find that kind of writing often on the blogosphere.
    And finally, to JustShireen: Hang in there, things will get better.

  3. A-Rod says:

    Yeah, A didn’t write it. I did! And another one that was equally overly-passionate, and insensitive. I guess when you blog your every thought you open yourself up to criticism.

    If my entire Facebook post had been shared here you would have also seen the following:
    “I know this is a serious issue but I’m floored by the irony. She frets about having to consider jobs that (gasp) “won’t stimulate (her) creatively or intellectually”– that prospective employers are passing her over, instead hiring people …who are “more eager, and/or who they can pay less”… but it’s the Republicans in Congress who are the stubborn toddlers.
    Sorry Jim, I’m not here to pick a political fight or insult someone who may be a friend, but that is nonsense. It’s a slap in the face to people who may not love their jobs or think they are paid enough but they do it anyway because they don’t feel entitled. She’s obviously a creative, intelligent person… I’d suggest setting the blog aside temporarily and re-directing that creativity (and time!) towards finding work. Don’t be satisfied to send 3 resumes a week, as required… send 3 a day! Be willing to work for less than you think you deserve until a better situation arises. Trust me, it looks better on your resume than a gap of over a year on unemployment.
    If someone “more eager” got a job instead of her, then she need to get more eager. That is an absolutely stunning admission on her part– I didn’t get the job because someone else wanted it more than me!! It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. I’m confident that having her benefits, along with her deodorant, run out will inspire some eagerness. I know that sounds insensitive, but…”

    Is this harsh? Yes, probably more harsh than Shireen deserves. It’s also sound advice. It comes from someone who’s been there before. 11 years ago, I lost my job due to a merger and I collected unemployment for 3 weeks before I humbled myself and took whatever work I could find. At 29, I delivered pizzas and took a newspaper route to make ends meet. I had 2 other mouths to feed. I’m oversharing with the hopes of removing any impression you may have that I’m just some miserable “jerk” who was having a bad day. The only thing bad about my day was reading Shireen’s post and getting the sense that she was indignent over the notion that I, Joe Taxpayer, would not eagerly absorb a tax increase in order to support year #2 of her unemployment benefits. The tax increase would affect every taxpayer… why would this not take legislative priority over an entitlement that has been extended twice already and that affects maybe 1 in every 20 citizens.

    As for the idea that I’m projecting a political agenda… please tell me what words of mine are even remotely political in nature. In fact, I wrote my original post in response to people who were quick to exploit Shireen’s dilemma as a vehicle to spew invective at Republicans without offering a shred of anything constructive to help her out of her situation. Frankly, I see more of the same here. “Hang in there, things will get better” is a nice sentiment but it does not get Shireen closer to gainful employment, nor will it help her buy deodorant.

    I didn’t want to be yet another person using Shireen as a political football so I came back here to her blog to offer an apology and my sincere advice along with any other help I can give. I was surprised to see my own words posted here. Casey and Bogie, you took such great offense that I criticized and supposedly made assumptions about Shireen, a stranger. You were so offended that you proceeded to criticize and make assumptions about me, a stranger.

    Shireen, I apologize for making assuptions based on the tone of your post. I felt that I was just taking you at your word: “there will always be someone better qualified, more eager, and/or who they are able to pay less.”

    I’ll ask you the same question I posed rhetorically about your post:

    Are prospective employers now expected to hire her despite the fact that she openly admits that she is less qualified, less motivated, and more expensive? Did she even think about how this sounded when she wrote it?

    I gave you open, honest advice on overcoming all three of those hurdles. I’m sorry for discussing your situation behind your back (a friend re-posted your letter and I responded) and I’m sorry for being so curt. I figured you would prefer it over the ass-kissing from the echo chamber but I shouldn’t assume such things.

    • A-Rod,

      I appreciate you coming here to offer an explanation. Your response in full definitely tells a different story than the one A presented.

      And while I certainly don’t owe you any sort of explanation (any more than you did me) I’m going to provide one anyway.

      You ask if I thought about how my words sounded and the honest truth is no. I wrote that post in fifteen minutes while I was frustrated, angry and quite honestly just having a shitty day. I also didn’t think about how it sounded because if you put both my parents in a room you have two thirds of my readership. I don’t get much traffic outside of friends and family on my little corner of the internet. Now, don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t want others to read what I was writing, I wouldn’t have put it on the internet. But I wrote quickly and passionately with the assumption that those who would be reading knew me and would give me the benefit of the doubt as friends and family are wont to do. (See also: Casey and Bogie. Who, I have no doubt, were responding quickly and passionately when they felt a loved one was being unfairly judged. We don’t see a lot of new faces around here, especially seemingly hostile ones.)

      The point I was trying to make, and clearly failed at, by saying that I was applying to jobs that wouldn’t inspire me is not that I perceive myself to be above any job or that I’m not qualified or eager to work. My point was that I’m applying to everything. Jobs I would love. Jobs I probably wouldn’t love. Jobs in my field. Jobs so far outside my field I’m sure the person coming across my resume is wondering how in the world I got from point A (my field) to point B (their field). I’ve taken plenty of jobs that I didn’t love, that had nothing to do with what I want to do with my life. And I don’t feel that a great hardship or to be beneath me. It’s a reality of life. And, in my opinion, the person who gets to make a living out of what they love to do is a rare one. And by saying that there will always be someone more qualified, more eager I simply meant that the job market is so overly saturated right now (especially in my neck of the woods) that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of people applying for one position. So, even jobs where I am extremely qualified, and so eager I’ve embarrassed myself in interviews with my enthusiasm, the reality as I see it, is that there will always be someone just that much more qualified, or eager. In a job market so full, it’s hard to come out on top. Doesn’t mean I won’t try, just means I recognize the hurdle.

      It’s easy to assume that I’m simply doing the minimum required of me, that I’m entitled and waiting for someone to hand over what I feel I deserve and that I’m just bitching about how hard I have it without putting any real effort into getting what I want. And I suppose with this post I didn’t give you reason to believe otherwise. But if you knew me, you’d know those assumptions were wrong. And as I said before, right or wrong, I wrote assuming those who read would know me. What I’ve put up here on this blog (and only a handful of posts have been during the time I’ve been unemployed) is only a fraction of me, of my life.

      Like I said, it’s so easy to assume the worst of people. Especially on the internet where we read, we respond, we share a link, we offer our opinions all within a matter of minutes. But, I suppose that’s also the beauty of the internet. I get to say what I’m feeling at any given moment. And so do you.

  4. A-Rod says:

    I’ll try to sum this up.

    You wrote an open letter (very funny and witty BTW) questioning the motives and perhaps the character of the Senate Republicans. Because I feel strongly about the tax hikes, I responded to your post by questioning your motives and character, then your friends questioned mine, and so on. The result was a Faberge shampoo commercial (check youtube if you’re too young to remember) of first hand judgements based on second hand assumptions. I’m sorry for my part in it.

    It’s clear now that I read too much into a post that you wrote during a difficult time and I forgot an important rule: always assume the best in people. I went back, as I often do, to re-read my posts after some time had passed and emotions had subsided and realized that I wasn’t fair to you. Your description of the blogosphere is right on… it’s a place where we rarely pass up the opportunity to cross passion with haste and immortalize our thoughts and feelings– a risky enterprise but the good far outweighs the bad. Thanks for taking the time to explain yours and for allowing me to explain mine.

    Retractions are not easily made online but I would like to make an attempt. In my post I suggested that you set the blog aside and “redirect your creativity (and time)” to job hunting. That was wrong-headed and I’d like to take it back. Please don’t stop writing. It’s good therapy and you’re good at it. I’m sure I won’t agree with some of what you have to say but I appreciate your wry sense of humor. You don’t have to look very far in the blogosphere (I hate that word and I’ve used it twice… ughh) to realize that a good wit is a rare commodity. I’ve added your page to my Favorites… congrats, your readership has grown by 33%. BTW, my name is Aaron. It’s nice to meet you. (cue guitar– campfire– Kumbaya)

    With all that now said, Casey and Bogie, I’m still not sure about you two…

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