Thursday, October 29, 2009

Underemployed-Americans: a Growing Minority!

The fastest growing minority in our United States of America are Underemployed-Americans.

Underemployed Americans are seriously discriminated against. We have little access to health care, we are kept out of the best housing, we are shunned socially.

Look around you. Maybe your sister is in love with an Underemployed American. How does that make you feel? Be honest with yourself. You probably think that you're a fair-minded person, but would you discourage your sister from marrying an Underemployed American? Maybe you're thinking, "Oh yes, they're in love and that's nice, but think of the children!"

Underemployed Americans are a diverse groups; we come from many backgrounds. Some have been underemployed for generations, others come to it still holding briefcases. Many feel such shame in being Underemployed that they deny it, even to themselves.

The majority, who we like to call "Temporarily-Employed-Americans", often have trouble understand issues that face Underemployed-Americans. "Why can't you just work harder!" they may say, "Get more education, and you can do better!"

We must understand the prejudices of the TEAs. After all, many of us were one of them at some time, and others are simply afraid of becoming one of us. They don't understand that not everyone can become an MBA, a lawyer or a software engineer; and even those people now are joining our ranks.

Underemployed Americans must be honest about divisions within our own group. Those who have jobs, however unsuitable or abusive, frequently look down on those with no jobs at all. "I may be working contract labor with no benefits or security," you may think, "I may be living paycheck to paycheck and can't afford a vacation, and a major illness would bankrupt me. But at least I'm better than those who doesn't have any work at all!"

These divisions have a purpose: they keep us from recognizing our common problems. When Underemployed-Americans are scattered and divided, we are powerless, economically, politically and socially. When we who have badly-paid jobs look down on we who have no jobs, we are weaker. When an employed moves some jobs offshore, those who lose their jobs are cut off from the remaining Temporarily-Employed-Americans, so that there is no way in which they can make common cause. Indeed, the TEAs can be rallied against their former friends and co-workers!

Many Underemployed Americans are so ashamed of our status that we try to pass as Employed-Americans. There are many ways to do this, but the most important is to deny it. Tell people, "I'm between jobs" or simply lie about your status. You can dress like a Temporarily-Employed-American, and few can tell the difference. When the time comes to pay for the drinks, just whip out your credit card. What the heck? You are hopelessly in debt anyway, what is another round going to cost you? At least no-one can guess that you have the shame of being an Underemployed-American.

 In most social situations, people will turn away from the topic if it's brought up anyway.

It's time to STOP BEING ASHAMED! It is NOT SHAMEFUL to be an Underemployed American. You  have NOT chosen to be this way; you're as good as the RAT BASTARDS who sent your job overseas. You are as patriotic as the pigs who take home million dollar paychecks for running their companies into the ground. You've met the guys in the executive suites; most of them are as dumb as stumps but have one thing you don't: a complete lack on love for our great nation. If they can make a few more bucks by sending Americans into poverty, they do it with a smile.

You can be PROUD you are not one of those. You have a heart, you have a soul, and you love our country. You would never move YOUR headquarters to the Cayman Islands just to duck your responsibilities.

So what are you going to do?
If you are happy to be part of a growing minority of Underemployed-Americans gradually falling into poverty (...or not so gradually), then do nothing. Let's fact it, many Underemployed-Americans feel the crippling despair of powerlessness.  But you don't have to be powerless. We can band together as Underemployed-Americans, with our allies among the Temporarily Employed Americans, to bring America back.  Underemployed-Americans need health care, housing, food, all the basic services - and jobs.

Most of all, jobs.

If the rat-bastards have to suffer, so be it. They couldn't last a minute as an Underemployed-American; they'd wilt and melt away in the first cold rain. Let them fly their corporate jets to Bahrain and never pollute America again. We have work to do.

It starts turning off the television, and going to meet your neighbors. Find your former co-workers; where are they? How are they doing?  If you're still Temporarily-Employed-American, make sure you have contact information for your friends at work; when they disappear, reach out to them. This may displease your boss, but so what? You're just disposable to your boss anyway; your job is one the way out as far as he is concerned.

Talk to your elected officials; don't shout at them, talk to them. Talking means a two-way exchange of information. Some are allied to the Rat Bastards, others aren't. Find out what you got and go from there.

Get books from the library and study your situation. Your starting point should be "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class" by Thom Hartmann (you can read the introduction on Google Books here).
Remember: you are not an Underemployed-American by choice.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Washington State Legal Community Search and the ProtoType Bar Association (PTBA)

The ProtoType Bar Association (PTBA) is a project to help heal the Justice Gap by prototyping tools for free distribution.

The first PTBA project is the Washington Legal Community Custom Search. Sometimes you need to search the websites of a group of related bar associations or the like. Defining and using such a group search is easy, using Google Custom Search (GCS; and no doubt other search engines have or will have similar features.)

The first time I had this problem, I was looking for references to PBLAC, a term used in the Washington State Legal Community to denote the Pro Bono and Legal Aid Committee. Several organizations had something to say about PBLAC, and their information was scattered across their respective websites. Use of non-custom search engines combined references that were appropriate for my purpose with much wholly unrelated material involving blood transfusions and so on.

I therefore constructed a GCS to search only those websites belonging to member organizations of the Washington State Legal Community. Creating it was easy; from Google's GCS page, I selected "New", I gave it the name "Washington Legal Community Search", set a few parameters and entered about 40 sites of regional, minority and subject matter bar associations, plus courts and the like. GCS created a javascript easily embedded in websites, and it worked right, the first time and every time!

I have not figured out how to add JavaScript to WordPress or FaceBook; as a result, the only parts of the PTBA Web Complex hosting the WAlaw GCS is the blog, at

COVERAGE: WAlaw currently covers:

What sites should be added?
Who volunteers to keep this list updated?
What other GSCs would be helpful? It is entirely possible that other states may find something like this helpful.