Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Voice in the Recession - Preston Henry Andrew Scott

It all happened so quickly. For most of my career, I had been employed in the audit/compliance industry. I was a terrific auditor because I possessed a passion for analysis, integrity, worked industriously and diligently, willing to put in long hours due to the fact that a company’s reputation is just as important, indeed tied, to its profit margin. In July of 2008, I began my career at Port Authority of New York/New Jersey and soon began having severe panic attacks coupled with the recurrent manic depression that has plagued me since the age of thirteen. No matter how I was feeling, I went to work. On more than one occasion I kept the emergency room hospital band around my wrist, just in case I lost consciousness on the train or at the office. I made my supervisors aware of my condition, and was assured that they were sympathetic. In January of 2009, I received my first performance appraisal, which was favorable and was informed that I would be retained. Two weeks later, my panic attacks became a daily and occurrence. Seven to eight times a day, my blood pressure would reach around 143/92 with a heart rate of 110. I was sleeping an average of 2 to 3 hours a night, but no matter what I went to work. Concerned about my health due to vibrations I felt towards the back of my head, I called my doctor, who ordered I go to the emergency room. I chose to go to Port Authority’s Medical Services for employees to have my vital signs checked, with the full intention of returning to my desk. The doctor at Port Authority Medical Services deemed unfit for work and ordered me to go home. It is company policy to follow the mandate of Medical Services. In short, the decision to work is taken from the employee and his or her supervisor. Failure to comply by the employee could lead to termination. This visit at Medical Services would lead to my being mandated to see a Port Authority Social Worker, who ordered me to receive treatment in an Intensive Outpatient Program. I was out of work for six weeks, and upon my day of return, fired for unsatisfactory work performance. Without money to hire an attorney, I filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and waited for what I was sure would be a just conclusion to this nightmare. Two years later, Federal Investigator Diane Upshaw out of the Newark office of the EEOC informed me that while discrimination probably happened, her office could find not find evidence and offered a right to sue letter.

It happened so quickly. There I was: I’d lost my job for no other reason than being an American with Bipolar I Disorder, in spite of the existence of Federal and State laws designed to protect me. There I was: divorced, a father of three little girls, unemployed, Bipolar, and looking for gainful employment at a time when our nation was losing some 575,000 jobs per month. Last year, Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute published a report which identified that 26% of Middlesex residents lived at least 50 percent below the Federal Poverty Line-some 205,000 individuals. Of the 205,000 residents, 170,000 live 200 percent below the Federal Poverty line. To put this is in common language: 200 percent below the Federal Poverty Line translates into $22,350 dollars per annum for a family of four. Imagine that a family of four has to house, clothe, feed, transport, provide healthcare and all other essentials on just $1,862.50 per month. This is a reality for a greater number of our citizens than at any time in the last fifty years, and the demographic to which I belong.

As an American political philosopher who audited financial records just to pay the bills, I recognize that Social Justice is my ultimate service to Providence and my fellow man. My family has over three centuries of investment in making the United States of America [refuse]to acquiesce in outdated notions of ‘liberty’, ‘justice’, and ‘equality’, and strived to better them. My education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey has convinced me in the moral correctness that led FDR to declare the Second Bill of Economic Rights. T.H. Tawney, Edward Bernstein, Thomas Meyer, and all Progressive proponents of Social Democratic theory are right. And that is why, as Progressives, we cannot allow any Democratic candidate to offer us the same unfilled promissory notes as our beloved 44th President. The time has come for a Second American Revolution in which ideas, not rifles, are the weapons. We cannot accept political cowardice at this stage in our nation’s history. It is with great sadness and disappointment that I submit that Barack Obama lack the courage to implement what I truly believe his conscience desired.

In 2016, we cannot allow identity politics to flame our passions. Simply-stated: Hilary Clinton is not the best for the United of America. Bernie Sanders is. Whomever is sending the emails from Senator Sanders office has announced, quite correctly, that ‘the time is now for a political revolution’. As the email states, The good news is that the economy today is much better than it was six years ago when George W. Bush left office. The bad news is that, despite these improvements, the 40-year decline of the American middle class continues. Real unemployment is much too high, 35 million Americans continue to have no health insurance and more of our friends and neighbors are living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country. Throughout his career Senator Sanders has exhibited true Ciceronian virtue as a politician. In short, he can be trusted in a manner that no Clinton could ever imagine. Issues such as raising the wages of American workers; addressing wealth and income inequality; enacting law that will begin the reverse of climate change; expanding healthcare to the 35 million who are still uninsured; making college affordable for the middle class; and most importantly to us, protecting the most vulnerable: the latter is the class to which I belong. At the time of this draft, I am on Social Security Disability at the age of 39 due to my aforementioned Bipolar I Disorder and receive a mere $1,059 for myself and my three precious little girls.  

The time has come to step into the light, with full knowledge that the stigma associated with mental illness will cause some to deem my very words as the ravings of a madman. So be it. Steve Jobs said that it is crazy people who change the world, and the time for a political revolution is now.

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