Open mic nights spoof candidateʼs claims, blames and lies
By Chris Levister
When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised to create 12 million jobs during his first four years in office, lifelong Democrats Robert Masters, Victor Andes and James Harris stood up and took notice.
“I don’t care if you’re a donkey or an elephant if you’ve got jobs, you got my vote,” Andes said during feisty open mic night at a popular watering hole near the University of California Riverside.
“Unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. What I can promise you is this -- when you get out of college, if I'm president you'll have a job.”
Romney told a crowd of students during a campaign stop in the battleground state of Ohio Monday.
In the election of 1928, the Republican Party of Herbert Hoover promised voters “a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard. (We all know how that turned out),” Master said covering his ears.
“Now, this guy is pledging that "If I'm President" every college graduate will be guaranteed a job.”
“Democrats and Republ icans have been talking about creating jobs since George ‘W’ declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq,” said Andes. “I want someone to tell me where those 12 million jobs are – in China?
“Next we’re gonna hear they’ve been declared weapons of mass destruction,” said Masters jabbing at Romney’s jobs pledge, Congress’s obstruction tactics and President Obama’s failure to act on the nation’s unemployment crisis.
“Should I send my résumé to Ronald McDonald the White House or Bain Capital,” snipped Andes.
The comic relief won over this crowd of longtime unemployed construction tradesmen, clerical workers, first-line supervisors/ managers, government employees and other middle income wage earners.
“When you’ve been out of work as long as I have, you look for the humor in the hype,” said Harris who lost his good paying construction job in 2007 when the housing bust slammed into the Inland Empire wasting thousands of industry jobs.
“I don’t see those jobs coming back,” said Masters. Don’t we call that outsourcing?”
“Yea they’re creating a few low-wage jobs but look at what they pay,” said Harris, his comic banter now turned serious.
“I think people are sick of the empty promises. They want honest answers not rhetorical questions like “are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Labor analysts say to fulfill the 12 million-job target the economy would need to generate 3 million jobs a year, or 250,000 a month. Romney's economic advisers argue that this is an achievable, even modest, goal.
The Labor Department report for September offered a glimmer of hope showing unemployment fell to its lowest level in more than three years. Unemployment unexpectedly fell to 7.8% in September, down from 8.1%, as a survey of U.S. households showed 873,000 more Americans had jobs compared to a month ago.
According to the report the last time the unemployment rate was that low was in January 2009, the month President Obama was inaugurated.
The employment news comes on the heels of a new study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) that suggests that no matter who wins the November election, jobs that can sustain a middle- class lifestyle are disappearing, as low-wage jobs take their place.
Three notoriously low-paying industries -- food services, retail, and employment services -- account for 43 percent of all jobs created during the economic recovery, while better-paying industries have failed to recover, according to NELP.
The NELP report finds that midwage jobs, paying between $13.83 and $21.13 per hour, made up about 60 percent of the jobs lost during the recession. But those mid-wage jobs have made up just 27 percent of the jobs gained during the recovery to date. By contrast, low-wage jobs paying $13.83 an hour or less have constituted roughly 58 percent of the jobs gained since 2010.
Back to the Riverside open mic crowd, where Andes is turning up the heat.
“Who in here is better off than you were four years ago,” he asked. Many in the audience groaned. “All you college graduates out there looking for work at Burger King it’s no wonder y’all ain’t answering,” said Andes. “You see everybody is getting food stamps? So if you say you’re better off - those cards are gonna burst into flames,” he said with a guttural laugh.
“The joke is on us - we’ve been drinking donkey and elephant brand liquor for the past 40 years, not four.”
The adoring crowd roared.
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