By Brian Wojtalewicz.
Originally published in The Appleton Press on December 9, 2003.
Losing Your Job
A record number of Americans have lost their jobs in the last few years. A good number of excellent members of our little village, and their families, are suffering through this ordeal. I don’t think you have to experience it yourself to understand that as you get older, it can be much more crushing. It is one of those life experiences that is impossible to understand and fully appreciate unless you actually experience it yourself. I was once fired immediately after I rolled a large highway construction tractor. I was mildly embarrassed, but more angry at losing the best-paying summer job I ever had during my college years, in a context that I felt wasn’t entirely my fault.
I was also relieved to not be dead. I was young, and there were other jobs available. I wasn’t close to experiencing the severe anxiety and debilitating depression that job loss can produce, especially in middle aged or older workers who have devoted years to one employer. The hearts of my family go out to these community members, especially at this time when everyone around them is celebrating. I wish those in power in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. would devote just a decent fraction of the resource that they are busy handing to those already rich in this society. It also galls me to see some people carelessly claim that most people without a job are that way by choice.
It is alarming to see a Minnesota governor call for the death penalty, especially when one of our families is in the midst of the horrible situation of their daughter missing. Of course, it will certainly distract the public from focusing on the hard questions about why such a high level offender was released. I don’t believe Mr. Pawlenty has pointed out that even if Minnesota got into the business of organized killing that it would only apply to a homicide committed after the law was passed. The death penalty has not been proven to deter crime, but it has proven to take great amounts of resource from a society. Worst of all, innocent people have been put to death. In the last five years, we have discovered that these aren’t isolated matters. I also fear that this new push for the death penalty will waste substantial legislative time, and cause further unnecessary division and bitterness within our society.