Redbeardedguy - Posted on 08 July 2011

Thornton Kimes


On the surface, the article in the July 8th, 2011 San Francisco Examiner makes the debit card-ing of Unemployment benefits seem both cool and a money-saving winner.  Government at every level is looking for ways to save money, and going to an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, like the Food Stamps card I use, will save California's government $4 million in postage. 

I'm guessing the Post Office won't like that very much, and they won't like what comes next Spring when the Unemployment system goes "totally paperless" and forces unemployed folks to submit their every-two-weeks status reports electronically, saving more dough.  Nowhere in the article does the Associated Press, the source of the story, remind readers of the struggles so many are going through to find work or stay on unemployment benefits if they can't find work.

Nowhere in the article does the Associated Press mention the Digital Divide.  The gap between rich and poor which grows ever larger also makes stuff like iPods, iPads, Blackberry superdupersmartphones and whatever else the electronic elite want to buy or sell either too expensive or more complicated and less user-friendly the deeper into the Digital Age we go.  We at POOR Magazine were happy to get the website promoted from Web 1.0 to 2.0.  It looks great, but some of us are still uncomfortable with this Brave New Digital World.

There is no mention in the article of things like Smart Meters, which are sold as a way to help the electric power industry provide efficient, also money-saving service to customers despite the fact that many customers don't want them and are even more unhappy about the negative biological environmental effects that all of these electronic intrusions into our lives have on bodies and minds.   There are more things like them to worry about, though I know at least one reader of POOR Magazine will probably be commenting that I am, once again, wasting my time writing about something like this in the way that I have.

Am I really wasting my time?  Is efficiency and saving money the thing that I and others want?  Oh yes, we'd like to not have to stand in long lines for everything from drivers licenses to identity cards to Welfare benefits to you-name-it, we'd like a lot of things to change, but taking the Unemployment system digital looks nice on the surface while it continues the process of making the people who need the benefit a voice on the end of a phone line, invisible fingers reporting their owners status via a cell phone, a pad, or a computer, while the Unemployment workers (if they hold onto THEIR jobs through these and whatever changes come next...) also remain faceless voices.

that the digital divide is the last thing Poor Magazine would want to mention, because it's a bit incongruous that a site run (presumably) by people without advanced degrees (you know, the poor), would have such a slick and professional look. Something not quite right here.


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