Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October #shutdown

Welcome to October! 

Who could believe a government shut down would be in store for the first day of one of my favorite months of the year?  The "shut down" has more of a symbolic purpose than anything, and I'll be curious what comes out of it. 
I know I don't typically post political perspectives on here...but today might be a little exception. I think those beltway groupies need to get their stuff together, ASAP. 
I have spent the past few month working a couple of jobs, one of them at a PR firm and the other at a staffing agency. Both have given an enormous amount of experience and knowledge. Of course that is to be expected of a recent grad entering the work world, but both the nature and diversity of my two places of employment have been particularly insightful. 
I have always been interested in politics. My family has been very politically motivated, my Grandfather and Uncle both working in the political arena...and my dad growing up in the Capital. My favorite show (political ties aside) is The West Wing. I studied politics in school, getting a degree in politics and government. Hell, I even have a close-up picture with Mitt Romney! That said, it can still be a bit challenging to turn words into action, especially when the nation is so divided. I like to steer clear of drama and controversy as much as I can, probably why Public Relations is a good career fit! 
I come from a very Republican family and with a nice dose of four years at a liberal arts college, I feel like I am pretty well-rounded when it comes to politically leanings. But doesn't everyone say that?
In the past couple of months as ObamaCare takes shape, I am quite concerned. Working in a staffing agency we see thousands of resumes come through each month. Men and women are desperately looking for work, but more than anything they are looking for full-time employment. Due to the increased cost of health case (easily a 50% raise on the majority of plans), businesses are cutting employee's hours, putting them at 29 hours per week. This will give them "part-time" status, not-qualifying them for company healthcare coverage.  
Of course, they will still have health care and that means the money will come from the rest of the citizens trying to make ends meet with their own package increases. Government subsidies will cover anyone below the $90,000 income level (which is a lot of people), but it still provides a challenge for those above that bracket. Yes coming close to six-figures is a lot of money, don't get me wrong (I'd LOVE to have that price point in a salary someday), but it still puts a burden on families who are readjusting their budgets. 
You could put the blame on business owners who are not willing to employ people beyond 29 hours, but you have to understand the people whose livelihood depends on their business and its success. As businesses owners take into consideration this huge budget increase, why wouldn't they lead their companies find more efficient ways to complete the job by reassessing work load internally? It would be far more cost-effective to provide a pay raise to someone to take on an additional task, than it would be to hire another employee with salary, benefits and more included in expenses. This is easily reinforced when business owners factor the inevitable increase in both their business and personal costs,  for healthcare, taxes and other expenses. It only makes sense that the appropriate steps would be taken to ensure fiscal responsibility and security.  And this is the step many businesses are taking. Cut backs.
There are plenty of Americans who want to work and make their own income. This should be something they are able to achieve! It becomes a problem when "affordable" health care comes into play, essentially enabling men and women without jobs to have the same benefits regardless of employment status. With as many men and women I find eager for work, I find just as many (if not more) content by living off of unemployment and going through the required 2 submissions a week to establish that they are looking for a job. We need a greater drive for men and women to work and this shouldn't come from providing benefits for those who feel that they are in "comfortable position" not having to work. Additionally, men and women who DO want to work, shouldn't be limited because of a financial burden that has been inflicted from governmental policies. 
Working with CEOs one day and then chatting with fork lift drivers the next has given me a great deal of both perspective and empathy. This is definitely not what I had originally planned years, even months ago, but I think it has taught me an immense amount. 
My story might not be the most reflective of the American people, the middle class, the business owners, etc. But I can give you a side that might not be the most studied. 
It's a challenging time and I couldn't be more grateful for the hard work and fiscal responsibility of my parents. I can only hope that I provide the same thing for my loved ones one day. 
I do hope that a successful compromise arises from this shut-down. One that can pick America up from its foundation, straighten its roots, and allow the nation and its people to move in a direction promoting strong and promising growth. What that exact fix might be, I can't say for certain now. But one day if you see me waving on the South Lawn, I'll be sure to tell you!



  1. I don't pretend to know a whole lot about American politics (as a Canadian, I should probably pay more attention, but for the moment it's not an area of expertise by any stretch of the imagination). Also as a Canadian, I do have a somewhat different perspective, since, as you may know, we have had a publicly funded health care system since 1984 (all my life), generally making basic health care free when used. I agree with you on many points you make, but one thing I would point out is that I do believe some people are in situations where they want to work but are unable (illness, lack of education, etc.), and I do feel that health care should be available to them at a reasonable cost. I agree that often people as employees need something to motivate them- and health care benefits can be a great motivator- but there are certainly "abnormal" circumstances for many families who would be otherwise unable to afford health care without finding themselves in staggering amounts of debt. This can be a self-feeding cycle, as those not able to afford proper health care may not be able to work. And is someone's misfortune, through no fault of their own, to be the cause of their inability to lead a fulfilling or long life? Just some food for thought.

  2. Hi Caitlyn! Thank you so much for your comment. I am definitely not well educated with the matter, and only able to talk from experience. I do understand and agree that many people go through times where they can't work, illness in the family, injury, etc. That said, they are often few + far between. My responsibility in the office is an assistant recruiter. I go through all of the resumes, make phone calls to pre-screen candidates and schedule appointments. I would say its fair to state that out of 100 people I call, 40% pick-up or call back (in a good week). When interviews are scheduled, will have about 60% actually show...the rest are no call/no show. I even get phone calls were people just ask for our name and contact information just so they can fill it out on their unemployment doc to justify that they have been looking for work, which requires 2/week. They won't ask about job opportunities, won't send resumes, etc. and the same can be said for the dozens that susbmit resumes/application and never follow through. This could be just the nature of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, I would be curious if similar patterns arise elsewhere.

    I am quite interested to see how all of this plays out and really appreciate your viewpoint and perspective! Thank you for commenting! I can only talk about what I know or have experienced, and even that is not always the whole story...but it has definitely enlightened me on the experience and given me a 'real world' perspective.

    Thanks again for reading

    1. Wow... very interesting, Clare! That is so frustrating. It is hard to bite your tongue and continue helping these kinds of people, when you don't see them doing anything to improve their situation. And I think you're right- maybe what these people need is some kind of external motivation, since they clearly have no intrinsic desire to better their lives. It's sad when people get away with being leeches on society, yet it is difficult to do anything about it since there are people who do legitimately need these unemployment services.

      I really enjoyed this post and your views on a current issue. Thanks for posting! :-)

  3. Whoops- it cut me off!

    Thanks again for reading Twirling Clare Kaitlyn (sorry for the first name correction...auto-correct is the death of me)! I hope you have a great week and continue to check out the blog and keep following what your southern neighbors are up to :)



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