Saturday, September 18, 2010

American Conversation - Part 1: Economy, Jobs, Drugs, Education

True Story: I had lunch with a couple of old insurance agent acquaintances of mine yesterday. I generally don't talk about politics, immigration or religion with acquaintances, but since they were so concerned about the economy, I decided to make an exception.

They were both long time insurance agents, selling Life, Health and Property & Casualty insurance. They both had their own agencies making very comfortable livings until the economy dropped through the floor a couple of years ago. Their agencies went bankrupt. Now they are struggling to find some sort of income. They never thought they would be in this dire financial situation in their sixties.

A couple of weeks ago, they both found jobs at a call center to sell Health insurance to senior citizens. In good economic times, these gentlemen would never have taken a job in a call center. However, these are very dire, economic times. Even so, they still dress very professionally, in business suits and ties and are very grateful to be employed. (They reminded me of my Dad when he found a job trucking up Latino employees to Michigan to pick crops during the Depression. These guys are heroes!)

I decided to share this conversation with my readers on my blog. In the spirit of anonymity, I'm showing their names as: Independent Stan and TeaParty Jack
After they caught me up on their job status, our conversation went something like this:

Teaparty Jack: I don't think the government has a clue about what is happening to the middle class in this economy. We have a domino effect going on. Unemployment is high. Let me give you an example. The general public is not buying cars. The car dealers aren't selling cars. Therefore people don't need new car insurance so insurance agents are out of work. This economy is KILLING the Middle Class.
Independent Stan: (nods) It certainly looks that way. And there is so much screw up in government departments. Look what's happening with unemployment. They don't know anything about the insurance industry. They don't know anything about takebacks. I've been working for no salary for months and now they are disputing my eligibility for unemployment. I had to take this job to pay the mortgage and feed my family, yet at the same time they said I shouldn't be applying for a call center job considering my previous salary. They said I shouldn't be looking for jobs paying less than $33 an hour.
TeaParty Jack: I don't have any use for any of them..for either party. I think we need to kick them all out of office.
Dee: President Obama is trying to fix the economy but the Republicans are blocking him every step of the way.
Independent Stan: I don't like either side, but you are right about the Republicans.
Dee: Bush sent us off the cliff and we could have been in a deep depression if not for the bailouts and the stimulus programs.
Teaparty Jack: Socialism. We can't let the government control us.
Dee: Control us? Are you talking about regulation? During Bush's regime, they deregulated everything. Now look what's happening with BP and Eggs/Poultry and Beef.
Teaparty Jack: Hah! You can't keep blaming Bush for everything.
Independent Stan: Wait a minute. How long did it take us to get out of the Great Depression? 15 years?
Dee: Yep. That's about right. We didn't' get out 'til about 1945. We need to give them a little time to allow the Stimulus and Jobs programs to work.
Independent Stan: (the older of the two, chuckling to himself) You know these were exactly the same conditions before Hitler came into power.
Dee: Oh yes, I know and he was a great orator too (eyes roll).
Teaparty Jack: I still say Kick the bums out! All of them! Both Sides. Let's get people in there that listen to We The People.
Dee: Oh yeah, kick them all out and then we're stuck with the wacko Tea Party candidates.
Teaparty Jack: Wackos? They're not wackos. Like who?
Dee: Well, Sharron Angle for one. The teaparty candidate in Nevada.
Teaparty Jack: (silence. shrug. almost nod.)
Independent Stan: (Nod, Nod, Nod)
Dee: And what about Christine McConnell in Delaware.
Teaparty Jack: I don't see anything wrong with her.
Independent Stan: Come on! She falsified her educational documents and there were problems with her PAC funds...
Dee: (nod, nod, nod)
Teaparty Jack: (shrug -- giving up)
Dee: I agree. But let's get back to the real issue. We do need a Jobs Program. The problem nobody talks about is outsourcing. Big business is outsourcing the jobs the Middle Incomers want offshore. We need to bring those jobs back to America, at least a percentage of them. And for the companies that do bring them back, give them the tax breaks their begging for. It would cost our country NOTHING.
Independent Stan: (nods) Yeah but do you feel like paying $1500 for a flat screen TV that costs you a hundred and fifty bucks today?
Teaparty Jack: Yeah. That's cuz overseas, they only pay a buck an hour.
Dee: A day....I know, but those are the jobs that Americans want. Look at all the IT companies and Telecoms. They outsource most of their jobs offshore. The other thing, we are not doing a good enough job educating our children.
Independent Stan: Yes. They'd rather sit around and do Meth. Did you see that special the other day?
Dee: (Nod) I see what you are saying. The U.S. is the number one abuser of illegal drugs in the world. Other countries start early with their focus on education. I've heard that many countries in the Middle East, India for example, started focusing on education for their pre-schoolers in the 80's and 90's in preparation for the IT jobs of today. We need that kind of focus for our kids. Education is the great equalizer.
Independent Stan: I know what you mean but we do have freedom of choice. Unfortunately the choice our young people seem to be taking is Meth and other similar drugs. They'd rather sit around, smoke pot, do meth and play video games. They want the old manufacturing jobs, but those jobs have been outsourced overseas and they are never coming back.
Tea Party Jack: We can't let the government run our schools like the do in the Middle East. More Socialism.
Dee, Independent Stan: (shrug, shake head)
Indepent Stan: I bet you believe the President is not an American.

Tea Party Jack: I've never seen his Birth Certificate.
Independent Jack: (laughing) I've seen his Birth Certificate and they had a birth announcement the week after he was born. Come on. They've shown the same kind we all have. And he's not a Muslim anyway. It wouldn't even matter if he was one. Freedom of religion. Remember? That argument is silly.
Tea Party Jack: (Shrugs)
Dee: Drugs. We are the number one abuser of illegal drugs in the world and the cartels are falling all over themselves to supply us. And, on the other hand, we are the number one supplier of Guns to the Drug Cartels.
Tea Party Jack: We need to wall up the border.
Independent Stan: (Nods)
Dee: (head turns sideways) Jack! You do not want to have this conversation with me. (they do not know I have a blog) You will lose this discussion. You cannot tell me you want to build a 2000 mile wall on our Southern Border.
Independent Stan and Tea Party Jack: (both sit up straight, Stan stares at Jack, waiting for his response)
Tea Party Jack: (Backing up a bit) Well, maybe not 2000 miles, but we do have to secure the border. Don't you agree?
Independent Stan: (switching his stare back to me) You do agree to a secure border, don't you Dee?
(See: American Conversation - Part 2: Immigration)

1 comment:

ultima said...

Is Tea Party Jack really a member of the Tea Party? Sounds like neither Jack nor Stan were well-informed on the issues and that you, with your long history of writing on this subject, took advantage of them. On the other hand, maybe they just didn't want to get into a vociferous argument with a Mexican American.

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