99ers The New Tea Party?

Abe Sauer thinks it’s a real possibility.

. . . 99ers are organizing and beginning to look a lot like the Tea Party did so many moons ago.

In case the new Congress doesn’t fully understand this, being unemployed is not like some giant line at Shake Shack, where you get in the back and, eventually after a lot of waiting, you get your burger. The irony of not having a job for nearly two years is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find a job the longer one is unemployed. Department of Labor data shows that people who have been unemployed fewer than five weeks face a re-employment rate of 31 percent. Unemployed for more than a year? There’s just a 9 percent chance you’ll find work. Of course, part of the reason for this is that not all jobs and employees are equal, with, say, construction workers being out of work longer and thus faced with a more difficult work search. (All the more reason for promoting employment training along with a benefits extension.)

Another insulting reality of being a 99er is that your very existence was erased after the 99th week. Only beginning Jan. 1 did the Bureau of Labor Statistics begin counting the unemployed whose benefits have expired. The BLS site explains “Starting with data for January 2011, respondents will be able to report unemployment durations of up to 5 years,” adding, one assumes dryly, “This change will likely affect estimates of average (mean) duration of unemployment . . .

It might also behoove the politicians involved to remember that, despite common misconceptions, homeless people can vote. And if there is an answer to the political power, and camera-friendly anger, of the Tea Party, it may be the 99ers. Many in this population have already begun to loosely organize, mostly online, but also off line. The American 99ers Union already boasts a host of Tea-Party-like badges growing under its umbrella, including 99ersUnited, The Layoff List, Jobless Unite, Unemployed Workers Action Group, United, Angry, Voters and the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, amongst others. In their grassroots amateurishness, stars and stripes iconography, anti-DC posturing and angry American rhetoric, the sites look exactly like their Tea Party counterparts.

The movement already has a snappy, media-friendly name.

Unfortunately, we think Sauer overestimates their chances. Under oligarchical social structures, the average subject er, citizen doesn’t have multi-million dollar astro-turf entities standing by to fund, support and create meme currency for attention-deficit-disorder America.
After two years of this Administration, it’s frighteningly clear to the Non-Gilded/Non-Security State Nomenklatura: we’re all on our own.