More Isn’t Necessarily Better

Posted: June 6, 2008 in Employment, Homelessness, Money

There are a lot of folks who think that more is better. I used to think so too. I don’t anymore. The reason? Because I keep watching and reading the news. I keep seeing certain numbers going up, and those numbers are most definitely not good.

This morning, I saw an article on the MSNBC website. The headline said it all: Jobless rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May. Then later this afternoon was the follow up article: Job losses confirm sense of economy in trouble.  

According to both articles, the increase to a 5.5 percent unemployment rate from April’s 5.0 percent is the largest jump in unemployment since 1986 with employers cutting another 49,000 jobs. Total job losses (those positions which no longer exist) now stands at 324,000 since January 1st of this year.

According to the Federal government, there was an increase of 861,000 unemployed persons just for the month of May – bring the total of unemployed Americans to a whopping 8.5 million. Last year at this time, the unemployment rate was only 4.6 percent – or a total of 6.9 million people unemployed.

Doing some simple math tells me that there are 1.6 million more person unemployed now than last year, which comes out to just over 133,000 per month. If were to assume that for the next 7 months a similar number of people become unemployed, there is a potential that an additional 933,333 could find themselves unemployed by year’s end.

According to the news article analysts are expecting the unemployment rate to rise to 6 percent by early next year.

Gives a whole new meaning to "Get a Job!" doesn’t it?

Even Wall Street was shocked by the numbers. By the end of the day, the stock market had dropped nearly 400 points. That’s a lot of money folks – a lot of money.

Is it any wonder that the number of foreclosures and evictions is on the rise? Is it any wonder that more and more families are becoming homeless?

It seems like time and time again, I’ve stated that homelessness can afflict anyone. And that’s exactly what homelessness is: an affliction.

The dictionary defines "affliction" as,

"A state of great suffering and distress due to adversity"

It also defines "adversity" as,

  1. A state of misfortune or affliction
  2. A stroke of ill fortune; a calamitous event

Need I say more?

The reality is this: homelessness can and does happen to average everyday people.

Just because a person finds themselves without a home doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the cause and effect of their own homelessness.

I know folks, who right now, are not more than one paycheck away from being homeless; folks who are just one medical emergency from life on the streets; folks who are one catastrophe from losing everything they’ve worked so hard to have. Who knows – you might be one of those people.

How will you feel if you do find yourself homeless?

And if other members of the community happen to see you carrying all of your worldly belongings in a suitcase or backpack and yell "Get a job, you bum!" – how will that make you feel, especially knowing that homelessness wasn’t your fault?

How will you feel when you have to take your family to the local homeless shelter because you have no where else to turn? And, what if, once you get to the homeless shelter you get turned away because there aren’t enough beds to accommodate you and your family – what then? How will your self-esteem fare if all of your attempts to find a suitable job – one that will provide you with the means to escape homelessness – turn out to be futile?

What saddens me about of this is that we generally don’t think of the homeless as being victims of circumstance. We usually tend to believe that they are the culprits behind their homelessness. For some reason, it seldom occurs to us that perhaps before they became homeless they might have been just like the rest of us.

But what really irritates me about all of this is another news article that I read.

It had to do with former Tonight Show co-host Ed McMahon.

It seems that he is $644,000 behind in mortgage payments and now faces possible foreclosure on his Beverly Hills home.

Excuse me for not shedding a tear or playing a dirge on my violin!

$644,000 is more than what most Americans make in a year – a lot more.

It makes me angry that there are over one million children in this nation who are homeless; many more Americans who have suddenly found themselves without a job and potentially face becoming homeless and yet, here is someone who had every advantage and now is whining that he might be facing foreclosure.

My suggestion to Mr. McMahon:

"Hey, bonehead! Sell the damned thing and move into an apartment."

Maybe he should have signed up for the Publishers Clearinghouse multimillion dollar giveaway.

  1. AnAmerican says:

    The numbers are scary indeed!
    I was a bit disappointed that the media decided to tell about the misfortune of someone like Ed McMahon, who certainly isn’t the picture of “mainstream ” America….but perhaps reporting on the mainsteam isn’t good for ratings. Heaven forbid the media actually raises consciousness about the need for taking care of significant social issues such as the effect of the rising unemployment rate & the consequences on society.

  2. Gina says:

    I liked reading your articles because most of the time youre very thoughtful but I’m disapointed this time because of the way you called Ed McMahon a bonehead. I used to watch him all the time and I liked him.

  3. michael says:


    Thank you for your comment, however, in my opinion the fact that there are over 1 million children in this nation who, through no fault of their own, are homeless -that to me is the larger and more important issue.

    Mr. McMahon has earned millions upon millions of dollars in his career, so I find it absurd that he’s facing a possible foreclosure – and that he is trying to envince public sympathy because he mismanaged his fortune while there are so many children who are going without a roof over their heads or a bed to sleep in tonight, makes me stand by my “bonehead” statement.

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