Like many Americans, I was brought up to believe in work—not just to earn a living, but to contribute my energy and talents to the world in which I live.
I’ve been laid off twice, and both times I felt not only fear and anxiety about the loss of my livelihood, but grief at the loss of my role as a contributor in society. I’m back at work now, but on a short-term contract with no benefits. I love what I do, but I don’t feel confident enough to buy a new car or take a vacation.
I’m surely not the only Mainer who’s deciding to make that winter coat last another season, do handmade crafts for Christmas instead of buying gifts, and watch DVDs with friends instead of going out on the town. That means I’m not contributing to the success of local businesses who really need the help.
Work is important, and with so many Americans out of work or unable to make a living from the work they can find, it’s easy to feel like we as a nation are slipping into decline—particularly when some politicians seem to dismiss the concerns of workers (and would-be workers) in favor of big businesses.
That’s why I support the President's jobs plan—because finally, someone in power is doing something about this situation. President Obama’s bill would put money in the hands of small business owners—30,000 of them in Maine alone--by cutting their payroll taxes in half. He wants to take steps to move long-term unemployed people—including older workers—back into the workplace. And he wants to invest in the roads, bridges, classrooms, and colleges that will help Mainers get to work safely and hone the skills we need to stay on the job.
Putting Americans to work should be job one—not just for our president, but for Congress. And while I’m knitting those Christmas scarves, I’ll be watching to see what they do.