There’s lyrics to a song that goes “them that gots is them that gets, and baby, I ain’t got nuttin’ yet.” Those are the words that ran through my head the other day when I read an article in our local newspaper that said Want Ads are now stating that “jobless people need not reply.” In other words, don’t bother sending in your resume if you don’t already have a job.

I had heard about this new trend and was dismayed to realize it was becoming a national phenomenon. In fact, New Jersey has passed a law banning such advertisements, legislation is pending on the federal level, and in California a bill is in the Assembly that would prohibit discriminating against the jobless in hiring.

Isn’t the whole reason you look for a job because you don’t have one? I found myself scratching my head and before I knew it had entered the domain of Non Sequiturs which is like the scissors you use to prune rose bushes but not as sharp. So I began to ponder.

Given the fact that you don’t have a job now, should you be excluded from ever having one again? I could see how this might appeal to some. Or is the time period involved be the critical factor. In other words, is it okay to look for a job if you have been unemployed for less than one month but not okay if more than three?

Perhaps the reason you are out of work should be considered. Is it permissible to be unemployed because of a corporate takeover but not because of incompetence? On the other hand, is it okay to be jobless because you moved to a new town but not because your boss didn’t like you?

Then I pondered more. Maybe the jobless question was being approached from the wrong direction. Instead of discouraging you from applying for a job, perhaps you should be penalized right from the beginning – to whit, at the time you were fired or laid off.

An Unemployment Fee might be appropriate. Because we believe in democratic principles, fees would be assigned on a sliding scale. The high paying job you lost, the higher the fee. That seems fair. Instead of extracting payment, perhaps withholding had more advantages. Would you not be spurred to greater industry if unemployment compensation was terminated – which many people believe just encourages you to laze about watching the soaps and drinking beer?

If our prisons were not so overcrowded, other alternatives might arise as they did during the Victorian Era with workhouses. In the good old days poverty was seen less as a social condition and more as a result of moral turpitude (why does this sound familiar?). It was thought that poor people had low moral character and deserved what they got, which was very little. Maybe that is what is at work here (pun intended).

Obviously, we cannot ignore that being out of work sets a bad example to others. This immediately led me to a whole new train of thought which I ruthlessly pursued. Were the millions of people now out of work due not to corporate greed and malfeasance combined with political incompetency but instead to an insidious ‘monkey see, monkey do’ factor?

I reluctantly put this tantalizing conjecture aside for deeper contemplation on a rainy day and took a cognitive step to the right to regard rapidly multiplying implications. Concurrent with this employ-ability trend is the growing practice of running a credit check on potential employees. If, for any reason, your credit report doesn’t pass muster, it will count against you at hiring time. In a twisted sort of way this can also make sense.

If you can’t balance your budget and pay your bills now, why should you be trusted with a salary that will enable you to continue this behavior? Just because banks can declare bankruptcy for bad decisions is no reason why that courtesy should be extended to the unwashed masses (see moral turpitude above).

The more I thought about this ‘them that gots is them that gets’ philosophy, the more examples that sprang to mind. For instance, you can’t get a home loan unless you don’t need one. And how about you only meet eligible people when you’re already in a relationship. And the granddaddy of them all, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

This brought to mind the parable in Mark’s gospel about the servant who received one talent and hid it under the floor. His master was angry with him for not investing the money and said, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

That parable has always bothered me. Is it promoting the banking industry – or something equally nefarious (which is like taking a ride on an Italian cruise ship only riskier)? Was that poor servant being punished for caution or for lack of originality?

But maybe there is some critical tipping point at work in these examples (I’m sorry to bring up such a touchy pun again). It seems as if we must have X before we can enjoy XX. So drilling down to the nub of the question – how to get that original X? And then it came to me – under what spot do pirates always bury their treasure chests! Yo, ho, ho!

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