Monday, May 7, 2012

In a surprising move, Governor LePage says something insensitive...

Another day, another Governor LePage comment that draws the ire of many.  While speaking at the Maine Republic Convention over the weekend, he said, and I quote, "To all you able-bodied people out there, get off the couch and get yourself a job," prompting a standing ovation. 

At the very core of what he said, he's right.  If you are able to work, you should be out working, or looking for work.  However, I have a few issues with what he said.  As he so often does, he is painting with a very broad brush.  To suggest that anyone who is able-bodied and not working is just collecting a "free lunch" is beyond laughable.  I've been unemployed before, I have friends who have been unemployed before.  Getting a new job isn't as easy as people think.  Add to that difficulty the fact that it is a process, something that can takes weeks, if not months from submitting a resume to actually being offered a job.  To suggest that people aren't actually out searching for work, making contacts, using connections, really just doing whatever they can is not only inaccurate, it's offensive. 

Let's look at things from this angle, supply and demand.  According to the state's website, unemployemt was at 7.2% at the end of March, which works out to about 51,300 people out of work.  According to, which is an Internet job board that pulls from all over, there are 9,403 jobs in Maine as of right now.  To suggest that people need to get back to work is only valid when there are jobs for those people.  So, let's assume that all 9,403 jobs are filled up today by unemployed Mainers, there are still 41,897 people that can't get a job because there isn't one out there. 

Another factor that is continuing to work against unemployed people, not just in Maine, but accross the country, is that employers are giving preference to those that are already employed.  Someone who is currently employed has continuous work history, where someone who has been unemployed for, say, 6 months has some gaps.  Employers prefer seeing no gaps in your work history, so that alone makes it more difficult for the unemployed. 

Again, I agree that if you are able to work, you should.  That said, being able-bodied doesn't guarantee you a job.  I know that Governor LePage likes to get a good laugh, and fire a crowd up, but I'd much rather see him put his list of one-liners and insults away and work on improving the economy, improving consumer confidence and creating more jobs.  I mean, that seems like a pretty basic concept to me.  The constant belittling of people that receive state aid is the true definition of class warfare.  I'm just saying...