Unemployment: A Conservative’s Perspective


By: David Bozeman
Although I have devoted much of  my life to preserving America’s   defining values and institutions, through activism, party leadership and as a   columnist, I have always held a day job.  The ideas I advance, including   the ones extolling capitalism, individual initiative and self-sufficiency, are   the results of my life experiences and observations.  I have never been   employed by a think tank and have never walked the steps of the US Capitol,   except as a tourist.
I tell this because, in just under six months, due to my primary   employer’s restructuring plan, I will join the ranks of America’s   unemployed.  For the first time in my life, unemployment is not some   abstract bone of contention on a political roundtable, it is real and it is   personal.
That is the glaring truth of being without work that we seldom learn   unless it hits home.  Unemployment is an intensely personal crisis and,   as a political animal, I don’t even ponder the political causes or   ramifications of my situation.  Amazingly, I don’t even curse   President Obama (though some tell me I should).  Unemployment is   unsettling, but it is life, and I alone must chart my ultimate course.
But, curiously, at the same time, I find myself tempted by what the state   may have to offer. . .  Money for school and job training is an option   worth considering.  Should I keep my unemployment benefits or take the   first opportunity that comes along, even if it pays less?  For the modern   job seeker, these and other questions and numerous what-ifs riddle our brains   pretty much around the clock.  Once we are banished from our comfort   zones and our livelihoods are threatened, state-provided benefits seem   to offer the safest ports in the storm.
So, yes, I do confess a degree of titillation at what the state might   have to offer, and I don’t rule out drastic measures to keep myself off a busy   intersection pleading ‘Will work for food’ via a cardboard sign.  But at   the same time, my family and friends are my anchors, and I am most uplifted by   the words that spark my talents and individuality.  The situation bites,   no sugarcoating it, but so does wallowing in self-pity and wasting precious   brain cells pondering ‘what if’ and ‘if only.’  If modern conservatism is   buoyed by the belief that individuals are capable of far more than they   realize, then that is what we unemployed (and soon to be unemployed) need to   hear.  Don’t tell us that the system stinks — we already know that   life is unfair.  Don’t tell us where ruthless corporate America is taking   us, tell us where we can lead ourselves.
A while back I said that I wasn’t mad with President Obama.  Well, I   kind of am.  He recently declared that, unlike the Romneys (though he   didn’t mention them by name), he and the First Lady weren’t born with silver   spoons.  And so what?  Your disdain for the wealthy does not comfort   or inspire me, Mr. President.  It is not the vast wealth of men like Mitt   Romney that I covet, though I would like to borrow just some of his drive,   focus and market savvy.
Finally, I write this to offer hope to the unemployed.  We will   survive, though we are plagued by the uncertainty of how.  Now is not the   time to give up on ourselves, and though the promise of America seems shaky at   the moment, we as a people tend to shine brightest when the chips are   down.  I know that trite pick-me-ups won’t pay the rent (and I’m already   tired of the one about how when one door closes a window opens), but let   us pool our optimism and goodwill, as we will all need to dip from that   reservoir periodically.  And to the politicians, don’t seduce me with   what you have to offer me, bank your policies and America’s future on the   greatness I can achieve without your help.

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