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The Avocado Jungle is a source for current events, politics, arts and culture on the web. Editor In Chief David P. Kronmiller, along with a talented staff and guests, bring you news, commentary, analysis, interviews, humor, music, art and more. Our deeper mission is to seek truth in understanding, offering current events, arts and culture as paths to that understanding. We value and promote creative thought, intelligent dialogue, elevated debate, and informed action. If you see something that interests you on the site, please take the time to leave a thoughtful comment. Thanks for visiting.

Jungle Writers

David P. Kronmiller, Editor-In-Chief
Notes from the Jungle
Matthew Tullman, Current Events Editor
On current events.
Joyce Chen Blogging from New York.
Tharuna Devchand Blogging from South Africa.
J Lampinen
Our resident comic strip, Congo & Steve
Joanna Lord
Blogging on life, art and spirituality.
Jeremy Olsen
Director of Development emeritus and occasional commentator.
Dan Rickabus
On things musical.
Nicky Schildkraut
On poetry.

Plus guest writers and past staff, including Zach Fehst, Amy Reynolds, Aaron Vaccaro, Jae Day, Sarah Jawaid, Scott Martin, and Bronson Picket.
March 5, 2010, at 11:35 pm — Blogs / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /


This Friday I stayed up until 5:30 AM Pacific in order to do a call-in interview with conservative talk show host Jamie Allman on St. Louis’ 97.1 FM.

First let me say it was an enjoyable conversation and I respect his desire to keep his morning listeners engaged and entertained even though I do not agree with many of his positions.

This past week I had shared some thoughts via CNN on the attempts by Sen. Bunning and Sen. Kyl to depict we the unemployed as lazy and with no ambition to find work. I, like millions of Americans, found this an insulting assertion. Allman had me on to discuss my “slam” as he called it. (can we retire that word yet?)

Instead of discussing the real consequences of the economic crisis and instead of focusing on the realities that it has brought – Allman chose to focus on me and my year of unemployment.

Side note – last week I received the first call for work I’ve had all year. I have sent out many resumes and received no response. A friend refered me to a company he worked for and they called. We talked and I did not book the gig. Today I learned that my friend no longer works there and is himself unemployed.

Allman’s solutions for the unemployed seemed to entirely focus on part time jobs. He seems to be in denial about the severities of this crisis and seems to want to depict the victims of it as deviants. This is unacceptable and if the conservative community continues to be representated by voices like Allman’s I can assure you they will never be taken seriously again.

People are hurting. People are starving. And Allman doesn’t appear to care to offer up real solutions. He repeatedly brought up McDonald’s and Walmart as potential employers for the over 6 millions people currently unemployed. I am not certain if they are simply sponsors of his that he’s trying to cleverly place within an interview but I am fairly certain that they can not hire all of the unemployed and certainly not full time. And I am confused why conservatives seem to have communist ideals – they seem to think everyone has a right to a job no matter if there is a need for a job. Just because I want a job does not mean I just get one.

Now – I listened to much of the rest of his program this morning and found one bit of his opinion interesting and oddly confusing. He and his callers seemed to advocate neighbors helping neighbors rather than relying on the government. As if the government was some outside influence into people’s lives. (something I can somewhat understand given President Bush’s wiretapping habits) Allman also kept talking about how 40% of his income goes to the federal government and he thinks that if he was taxed less that he would have more money to help people. All interesting ideas – except for one thing.

Governement is just people helping people. That is actually it’s intent.

One of his callers asserted that the founding fathers were just people helping each other – good neighbors. And we need to return to that. I wonder if the caller understood that when Franklin, Washington, Jefferson and the rest decided to help each other – as good neighbors – they did something called forming the government!

It says in our founding documents “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” I think these words stand on their own but I think some folks should pay attention to “promote the general welfare”. I wonder what that means? I think it means helping each other have a strong quality of life. We are a united country, not a divided on.

We work together, for apart we are nothing but people bumping into each other trying to survive.

It is our governemnt. It is our way of helping each other and lifting our nieghbors up. It only works if we pay attention and take part. And it only works if we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by the voices floating out there in the airwaves on our morning commutes. We must be involved. We must get to know our representatives. We must know how to read the laws that are being debated and we must pay attention. We must in order for our country to function well.

Now I can understand why conservatives have such a negative view of government – I mean every time a conservative is in power our country begins spying on it’s citizens, launching us into dangerous wars and they always end their tenure with the country in a deep recession. I may be making a bit of a joke here but the facts do speak for themselves.

One reason I no longer vote republican (and I use to) is because I noticed this hypocrisy and it pushed me away from their party and my conversation with Allman today reaffirmed my concerns about their point of view. I’m not saying the democrats are perfect but they at least understand that government is meant to help, not hurt and intrude. For example I am always appalled that conservatives are okay with profiting off of the sick and the poor and whenever Democrats try to keep that from happening the republican party stands up and crosses their arms – protecting profit – no matter the morality.

I mean according to Allman all the unemployed should be denied unemployment insurance. I ask him this – what if the 6 plus million people currently unemployed just can not find work? Can not find permament work? What would that do to our country? What would the ripple effect be of 6 million people not paying their bills, not buying goods? How many more people would be out of work?

I think Allman forgets that for many of us this is life and death – it is not a joke. It is not a topic for a radio show to have fun with – it is serious. It is life and death. If we do not find work we die – especially if Allman has his way.

That is unless our neighbors help us stay alive – like Allman suggests. And given the sheer number of people that are unemployed and the ripple effect it would create – we would need to organize some body to help our neighbors. Probably elect some leaders to organize the effort. And very soon – neighbors helping neighbors turns into well….a government.

Which we already have.



  • whyohwhy

    why waste all this time on this website and your insipid home made movies and get a job where you can? it’s somewhat of a myth that there aren’t any jobs. there’s plenty check your local service industry – grocery stores, etc. plenty of jobs abound. people have too high expectatins of their self worth – especially when unemployed. have some pride go get something to keep the lights on instead of wasting a lot of time doing dumb movies and web bits on cnn.

  • David P. Kronmiller

    For clarification I began this site in 2008 and most of my work with CNN was done while fully employed. Some folks seem to think that my production work and web sites have kept me from finding work – this is not true.

    I, like thousands, am a professional in the entertainment industry. An industry filled with hard working Americans with real professions. I have however attempted to improve my own skills, as as editor, camera operator, graphic designer and yes as a producer/writer/director by staying busy despite my unemployment. I now am qualified and competitive for jobs I would gave had difficulty trying to get a year ago. I had to reinvent and retrain.

    Also for the record there were no jobs the first 6 to 7 months of my unemployment on 2009. It is only in the last 3 months that jobs have started to appear and like millions in this country I am in line for these new jobs and yes, that means applying fir them. Sone conservatives for some reason refuse to believe this and are attempting to depict the unemployed negatively rather then as the victims of this crisis. These same people rail against the big CEO’s and their bonuses but refuse to help or sympathize with thier neighbor. It is a sad state of affairs for the GOP.

  • David P. Kronmiller

    Oh and I, like millions, need a full time solution. If I found a service job it would be part time. I would then need to find a second service job (given the job market not really likely right now) or even a third job to just meet my bills. I think some readers forget I live in California where rents are high and gas is taxed. We need real solutions folks not band aides – the wound is too big for that.

  • Evelyn

    What Whyohwhy also seems to forget is that unlike the 1930’s Depression when “Buddy, can you spare a dime” meant that a dime could actually buy you a cup of coffee and a donut, today’s dollar will not buy even a cup of coffee at McD’s (it would be $1.09 in California). I don’t care what anyone says about rates of inflation, but wages have not kept up with what real things cost in the grocery store or housing.

  • Jeremy Olsen

    I agree with the sentiment behind Whyohwhy’s comment—you have to do what it takes to “keep the lights on.” But in California, and in David’s industry, things are a lot more complex. To rephrase things I think he touches on:

    (1) His choice of career, toward which his college degree, training, and work experience have all been focused, is such that Los Angeles is THE place to be to have the greatest hope of success.
    (2) California is one of the most expensive places in the country to live. I think he realizes that staying here as long as he possibly can is his best chance for success in his chosen career.
    (3) David is working his tail off, as evidenced by his many videos for iReport, the increasing quality and scope of The Avocado Jungle, and his webseries AndBoris. Each provides him with new experiences and materials for his resume. I understand this can be hard to grasp for someone in a more conventional industry, but in Hollywood they say you’re only as good as your last project; and as most of the industry works freelance from project to project, periods of unemployment are the norm and are expected.

    I think for David, everything he writes, directs, iReports, or otherwise puts his name on is a job interview of sorts.

  • whyohwhy

    I read this and I see a lot of “blame the GOP” and “victims of the crises”. While I do understand the difficulty of unemployment (been there), I find rather distressing that David seems to think he’s had no role in the lot he’s in.

    1) His choice of career is one that is largely dependant on discretionary spending by consumer. When the chips are down, and economy is down his industry will be squeezed. Others such as healthcare, educations, govt. service – job prospects are actually UP or stable.

    2) He chooses to live in one of the most expensive areas in the country. Ever try living in more modest, less inflated areas of the country like San Antonio, TX or others? Yes, I’m sure you loathe the conservative people that live there (the ones that may actually watch TV/ads etc), but it’s gotta easier than LA. You can actually make a living, have a simple life, and work in the service industry – there’s literally millions in the US. Maybe you won’t have time to put up a nice website, produce home movies, and do cnn reports but it beats feeling like a victim of a political ideology.

    3) There have been no jobs until the past 3 months in LA? LA if I recall correctly has millions of people and economic output rivaling most US towns/cities. I can’t believe that there were NO jobs, just ones that again choices were made not to pursue because “they paid so little”. Also, sorry you’re friends are there for you while they rail at CEO’s. What does that have to do with YOUR personal choices?

    I’m sorry David you’re precisely the type that counfounds me. You’re clearly intelligent, talented and educated yet so hopefully mired in blame and victimhood.

  • Jeremy Olsen

    I’d like to ask WhyOhWhy to state very specifically which part David’s situation, as expressed in this blog entry, he/she has a problem with. WhyOhWhy, is it an economic matter—that David is getting unemployment benefits? Is it a moral concern relating to those benefits? Is it that you feel David has reassigned responsibility for things that in his own power? Is it that you disapprove of the risk he’s taking by pursuing a more personally fulfilling life for himself by following in this career path? Can you tell me what the root of all this is for you?

    In direct response to your numbered points, (1) I’m certain David knows that and has known that all along, and I wonder if you’re saying no one should ever choose this career; (2) as I explained before, in pursuing this particular career your odds are immensely better in L.A., where there are dozens or even hundreds of opportunities for each one you find in another city; and (3) I don’t know where the CEO comment came from, but it appears David has given this thought, and I imagine he knows that at some point he will absolutely need a job no matter what, and at that point this career will be at least partially put on hold while he does what it takes to “keep the lights on.”

  • whyohwhy

    I believe Dave’s point of view can be summarized in this phrase: “the unemployed negatively rather then as the victims of this crisis.”

    Victimization and blame (GOP aren’t the sole owners of this mess, everyone had a hand in the current crisis – we’ve been kicking the can down the road on the hard problems for decades) seem to be the MO. Not super inspiring or positive.

    “it that you feel David has reassigned responsibility for things that in his own power?”

    Yep, that about covers it.

  • Let me step in briefly before we move on off this topic and over the topic of profit.

    I replied to WhyOhWhy in a separate email – since WhyOhWhy has been so active on our site I thought I would respect that with a detailed reply. I will paste a part of it below in the essence of not rewriting my own response:

    I have had a number of people make a great many assumptions about my life and my situation. Not something folks should get in the habit of doing – I think you would agree. I do not know the conditions of your life any more than you know mine. I did not choose to be unemployed no matter how much you want to try to believe that. The day I was laid off came as a shock as I was just starting to feel that the company was stabilizing.

    There are MILLIONS of us out of work – I don’t know why that is not clear to you. That has an effect on the job market – there are 6 applicants to every job. Even those service jobs you think are the solution. The service industry is one of the first to get hit in any crisis – the first thing people cut back on are service luxuries – like hotels, restaurants (fast food included), etc. They for whatever reason still go to movies, still watch their televisions and still listen to their radios. You do right? I do as well. Now – they stopped buying DVD’s but that is only one area of our diverse industry.

    First a bit about unemployment insurance – in order to qualify for benefits you have to have been laid off through no fault of your own and look for full time work every week. Which I was and I do. Unemployment Insurance is paid by companies with full and part time workers and is considered part of an employees benefit package. The extended benefits are paid by the federal government – some of it included in the Stimulus bill – and before you say that you don’t want your taxes paying for my UI remember – I paid taxes too (and still do by the way – UI is not free). So I have personally already paid to have this insurance.

    Second a summary of what it’s like here in California. We have 12%+ unemployment – even higher underemployment. We have a hiring freeze by school districts with teachers all over the state receiving pink slips – this would have been worse had the federal government not stepped in with Stimulus funds. My wife is one of the many in the education field who is herself unemployed and can not get work again until the freeze is lifted. We were hit with two strikes (one full, one partial) just before the economic collapse that cost the state BILLIONS in lost revenue and upset the balance in the entire entertainment industry – a mainstay of our national economy. (consider how much media you consume (radio counts) and how you know about the products you buy) We also have a huge immigrant population both legal and illegal that adds to the labor pool.

    As for your comments – one thing stands out that consistently frustrates me and I fear it is my industry’s failure to communicate clearly as to what we do out here. We are an industry filled with professionals who have spent their entire lives learning their crafts. These are real people, with real jobs who can not simply transplant to another industry over night. Just like a Doctor may not be able to become a car mechanic over night. Those who do hit a wall often go back to school to train in another field. I can not afford financially to do that – it’s not in the cards. So I have spent a chunk of my time training myself and increasing my skills so that I can find a job in the industry outside of my prior vocation (DVD). I took matters into my own hands – I had to.

    Please though feel free to send a link to your stats – you wrote: “Others such as healthcare, educations, govt. service – job prospects are actually UP or stable. “ Now I don’t believe this is true – certainly not across the board. Like I said education jobs in this state are way down, healthcare is also struggling. I have relatives in both fields and know this first hand. And I would have to go back to school to work in the either of those industry’s full time. Which like I said – not possible financially.

    I did not CHOOSE to live in California. I was moved here my father in high school and since have felt at times trapped. After my time in the Amazon I lived for many years in Texas and know the state well – I attended elementary and junior high and part of high school in the Dallas area. And I have no problem with conservatives on a personal level (first I used to be one and second most of my family considers themselves conservative) and I have many friends in Texas – most conservative. (By the way I voted for W. in 2000.) No matter – it costs money to move and a job has to be there for me when we get there. I do not have money. I am not rich. Heck our television is from the 1990’s!

    As for your home movie and website comments. First – you are here leaving comments, thank you for that, your comments move us one step closer to being able to monetize the site. We have bloggers from all around the country and world and consider the site not quite a business yet but with the potential of turning into one down the line. Most of our bloggers have full time jobs just like I did when I started the site in 2008 with a conservative friend of mine.

    As for my home movies – first you’re attempting to insult me – that’s just immature. They are not home movies. My web series is a SAG sanctioned project with professional actors – many of which you may recognize and have enjoyed in their other efforts – our third season which premieres March 15th features actors from “Heroes” and even “Avatar”. My commentary bits on CNN range from short documentary subjects to simple web-cam commentaries. I did most of them while fully employed during the election and have over 1 million hits on CNN alone. It is through this work that I have found yet another area that I am passionate about as a film maker – the field of journalism. Both sets of projects I would do no matter where I was and no matter where I worked. I design them all so that I can do them even if fully employed.

    I’m deeply sorry you are unable to understand the scope of this crisis for it is people like you who may allow it to continue by not helping those who are in fact the victims of the crisis. Just because the word “victim” is over used does not mean it lacks meaning. There are many people who do not have safety nets and UI who are unemployed right now. I fear for them – for they are in a horrible position – and if I can help defend them I will. I believe neighbors need to help each other – no matter where they live.

    All the best in the world
    David P. Kronmiller
    Editor in Chief – The Avocado Jungle

    PS – I really don’t like being called Dave I do prefer David.

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