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Friday, January 4, 2013

An Open Letter to the U.S. Congress

I hesitate to write two politically charged posts in a row, because I don't write them very often, and this feels like whining. It's not, at least not solely.

It's an attempt to understand why my government (allegedly working for me) seems to think that winning points against each other is more important than taking care of its citizens. Because many members of Congress never learned to share or to compromise as children, millions of Americans - already having trouble meeting their bills - are having that much harder a time this week than last. And that does not even include those poor souls who have been the victims of disaster, natural or otherwise.

But I can only really speak for myself; I'm not arrogant enough to speak for my fellow citizens, as though I know them and their needs better than they do.

I'm behind on child care and preschool payments, and I paid just over half my rent yesterday. Because Congress refused to play nicely with the other branches of government, I'm back in the late-fee cycle. I did not get the unemployment check I expected when I expected it. I should get the rest next week, but that doesn't help me now, does it?

I'm not fancy. I don't buy clothes often, or get my hair done, or sit around eating bonbons because I'm unemployed. My kids are clothed from second-hand shops and garage sales. Our holiday was funded by gift cards. We don't have cable. We are not spending irresponsibly here.

I take responsibility (isn't personal responsibility that catch phrase of those parts of my government that believe I'm a deadbeat?) for my bad choices in the past. I should have finished college back in 1988 for instance, instead of going straight into the work force. I probably should have moved back home with my small daughter after the divorce from my first husband. I acknowledge these things.

Is political face really so important that millions of people like me are put into an even tighter bind than they were before? Just so you can save some of that face? And again, I'm just one citizen with a normal hard-luck story. Imagine all the people in similar circumstance who are then battered by hurricanes or school shooters, or other devastating events. What of them?

If you truly believe, my Congress, that your jobs or your political posturing is worth more than your fellow citizens, then shame on you.

Jennifer Kirkland
U.S. Citizen

P.S. This open letter is intended for Congress in general; I have no beef with my own representatives to the House or the Senate.

ETA: Yeah, so the balance of the rent is still late. And I'm still waiting on the rest of that unemployment check; everything gets delayed when the federal government is busy infighting, so also an NSF check or two. Way to go, Congress.