October 16, 2011

Sometimes Political Cartoons Aren't Funny

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a Democrat. It's not how I was raised. In fact, with the exception of my one aunt who lives across the country, I stand alone in my family. For this reason, we've supposedly stopped discussing politics at family gatherings, although I still get endless forwards like the cartoon above. I usually choose not to respond. It doesn't offend me that my family send me their propaganda. They aren't the ones who create it. The mentality behind it though, I find disturbing.

In the past day or two, I've come across this cartoon several times...

Trust me when I say that I get it. I understand that it's done in jest. I'm not being overly sensitive here. I understand why it's showing up on my Facebook news feed and in my inbox. I get that this is supposed to be funny.

Except that to me, it's not.

Because at this present moment in my life, I would be considered one of the "lazy" Americans who is unemployed/ underemployed. And I'm so tired of hearing Republicans claim that anyone who takes a handout from the government lacks the ambition or drive to make it on their own, or even worse, that they are abusing the system.

Am I saying that those people do not exist? Of course not. But do I think they constitute the majority? Absolutely not!

I am a hard-working person. I am passionate about my career. I'm a damn good teacher! I want to work full-time. But I don't have that opportunity right now.

I apply to every job in the Chicagoland area that I qualify for and can reasonably commute to (up to an hour each direction). The options are very limited. You may not recall this, but back in 2010, 22,000 teachers were let go in this state. And with all the drama happening in Wisconsin regarding their unions, you better believe those teachers are looking for work here too. The options are few, and the competition is fierce.

So, go back to school! Get another degree! This is what the Republicans will tell you. Except that I already have a master's degree, and in many districts around here, that makes me over-qualified. I can't get a job because I'm too educated.

So, instead of working full-time, making a stable income, and having the security of health insurance, I am a substitute. I make $85 per day. I have no benefits. And I have no guarantee of work. I stalk the sub finder website countless times each day in hopes of finding a full day's work. I often settle for half days in fear that I won't get anything more. We won't even talk about how little I get paid for those.

And I'm one of the lucky ones. Because I have a roommate who helps me pay my bills. And I don't have any children to raise. My only debt is from school. I'm healthy. And I came into this situation with savings in the bank because my parents let me live at home for years.

If any of those things were not true, though. I would be struggling just like the many Americans who turn to the government for help. Like them, my expenses are greater than my income. God forbid I get sick or injured and have to dip further into my savings for medical care. It happens every day.

But even though I'm not making much money, I'm making connections. I'm meeting teachers and administrators in multiple buildings and districts in hopes that when and if an position opens, someone will keep me in mind. Because I'm not lazy.

I want to work!


  1. I totally see your point Erin. I don't like political jokes, forwards, pictures either way, whether I agree or disagree but then one such as this where you have a personal reason against it, I can totally get it.

    Come to MN, our district pays subs $120/day :) You can live with us!! haha

    Also, I use FLICKR for photos and they have a program called Picnik I can make collages, edit, etc in. Check it out!

  2. I'll have to check out Picnik because I love the collages. Thanks for the tip!

  3. YOU are the minority, Erin. You have chosen to suck up and do whatever work you can find.

    And it's a good thing, because it's people like you who will pay for those who have chosen the easy road...by asking you to subsidize them.

    I guess the big difference is that I believe the abusers (of those receiving government aid) are the majority. If they weren't, we wouldn't have this problem.

    Love, mamamama