Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stephen Colbert: My Knight in Terry Bathrobe

 "Last week, evidently, the Labor Department reported that we lost another 125,000 jobs--and I'm pretty sure the guy who created that report was then fired."

I love you, Stephen Colbert. Now more than ever.

Last Monday, July 5th, FINALLY, someone who people actually listen to and respect spoke up about Republican Congress' unwillingness to act quickly to extend unemployment benefits. While the bill has gone through the Senate to extend terminated benefits to countless citizens without jobs despite their every best effort in this shitty time, Congress went on Independence Day vacation without voting on it. This means no one whose benefits have expired has been paid in weeks. Some have only been receiving them for a couple of months and suddenly got cut off, while others from the first bad jobless wave in 2008 are still struggling. Republicans are arguing that there has been too much government spending lately, and cuts have to be made SOMEWHERE. Yeah, because these are considered "free handouts," right?

Handouts we pay taxes on like any other source of income. Handouts that at least allow people to pay their minimum expenses and keep the economy moving in some capacity. And handouts, that, in the scheme of things, don't really have that much of an impact on the budget. Not like, say, an unnecessary war or two.

But the mainstream media has given this story very little coverage. It's been upstaged by the spill in the gulf and even World Cup "fever" (this phrasing makes me picture bed-ridden children with tiny, itchy soccer balls sprouting all over their bodies).

Until last Monday, when an apparently flu-addled Colbert, who did his whole show from a big leather chair by a fire in a robe, blanket and fuzzy slippers, addressed the issue and gave it what for. He went on to say, "Thank you, Scott Brown," singling out an especially evil anti-extension GOP lawmaker who argued that Americans need to eat less anyway, "When you're starving, that is the best time to go on a diet. You're already used to no food."

He then brought on a special guest, NY Times Columnist Paul Krugman to elaborate. He made the excellent point that well off Americans will attempt to save their pennies in this economy, not spend and give back to the system. It's people who have much less that will have to spend whatever they can earn. So why aren't we giving people what they need to at least sustain some semblance of economic structure?

I'm lucky. Despite being cut off for the past three weeks, I have a part time job and *some* money left from various sources, though it's dwindling faster than a tribe of Mohicans.

(No thanks to my lifestyle. Ahem. But at least my food, wine and cocktail habit is giving back to our country. Right? Helloooo? Stimulating the economy here! What will happen if I don't have anything left? It's not far away, kids. I'm sort of joking-but-not-really).

In all seriousness, so many others lived on only $430 a week or less, and now it's gone, with absolutely nothing coming in for the foreseeable future. Maybe forever if the GOP has its way. Maybe they think if they hold out it makes Obama look neglectful, which it does, because he has said little or nothing on the subject to argue and they count on him not to. But honestly, at this point, no one needs to point out how ineffective his position has been. Sorry. I still have faith, but it's dwindling like, well, my savings account. But not voting before the holiday weekend was just plain selfish, rude and hurtful. To everyone.

So I'm hoping this little segment will wake some people up and stimulate discussions. The Daily Show followed up the next night with a bit on it. I'm hoping for a big media snowball, even in this heat, by the time everyone comes back from vacation on the 12th. Stephen Collbert starts things up and gets shit done. Let's hope he can do it again. I mean, look at what he did for US Olympic speed skating! You are a true American hero, man.

Here's a link to the full segment. Enjoy. And speak up when you're done.