Wednesday, May 22, 2013
“We Are Where We Are” track-by-track guide-- 13. The Ninety-niners
This is another song inspired by a newspaper story. It's not about Occupy Wall Street, inspiring as that is, but about an earlier phenomenon: the “ninety-niners,” a designation used for those whose unemployment benefits have run out. In the present economic crisis, there are a lot of people out there in that situation and there are not enough jobs for them. (“Why don't they just get a job?” Well, because there are more unemployed people than vacancies.) I am not the biggest fan of the New York Times as a source of news but one thing they do rather well at times is the human interest story. The feature they did about the ninety-niners was very affecting; one of the stories was about a middle-aged woman who had had a fairly good job once but who was now selling her furniture and driving off in search of work, not really knowing where she might find it, with nothing much but her cat and enough money for a few nights in motels. I don't think there's even any need to editorialize; a society in which this story happens over and over again is surely lacking in basic justice and decency.