Seattle resident Larry Neilson testified March 30, 2012 at the Unemployed Nation Hearings. What follows is his testimony.
Thank you for having me here at Unemployment Nation. And greetings from the underwater position of 3 years and counting of almost complete unemployment. My last extension of UI ran out 15 months ago.
Living with no income is a minor art, including maximizing one’s eligibility for available benefits, concealing one’s assets, begging, and when needed, by outright fraud. Not that I condone fraud; as a one-time taxpayer, I frown on it in general; but in desparate circumstances, one does what one has to in order to survive and protect one's remaining dignity.
I have all but given up looking for a full-time job because with age discrimination in hiring, it is a complete waste of time applying. I once was a mid-level bureaucrat in the County government, and before that a buyer in the Ad business. These are now considered the province of the younger and more energetic members of the workforce, and people of my years and experience are considered old, dried-up wrecks unworthy of consideration. Let them starve! As for medical benefits, you heard the Republican debate audience: Let them die!
I advertise my services free-lance. After many moons of little or no interest, as the economy improves, I am getting some nibbles. So far this has generated less than $100 a month. This has left me dependent on my 86-yo mother for more than half my rent. While she has made no complaint, it is not fair for her to fork over so much of her retirement income to support me. In effect, our family is "eating its seed corn," for when these savings are exhausted, there is nothing to replace them except selling our home. But if it weren't for my Mom, I would be back sleeping in my car, as I did the previous winter (2011-12). I am, I hope, appropriately grateful. Even a home infested with bedbugs is preferable to sleeping in an unheated vehicle.