Barely Surviving in Capitalist America

As a recently unemployed person, I am feeling the stress of income insecurity. The thoughts of how I will pay for my rent, bills, or for food come to mind. I am lucky, for now, to have unemployment insurance, but it’s not much. Being let go from my job was shock enough, but trying to get another job with that on my record is daunting. How do you convince people to give you a chance when they think you’re a liability?

On top of that, the job market sucks. There aren’t a lot of good jobs, and the ones that exist are very competitive — which means the employers can afford to be picky. Although I have a Master’s degree, I often feel insecure, as if I am not qualified or as experienced as other candidates. I don’t want to take a job that’s not a good fit for me, but as long as I don’t have a job, I struggle.

I don’t have health insurance without a job. I don’t have money to fix my broken down car. I am over 40K in debt from student loans, which I was forced to defer, adding $70 of interest every month. Our only saving grace is my parents, who live on a fixed income; a meager amount of social security. They can sometimes help us make it from one month to the next, if we are short. But what about people who have no one they can turn to?

I know it could be worse for us; but couldn’t it also be better? Shouldn’t it be better for most of us? Social programs are being cut back, including food stamps. Whatever happened to that supposed social safety net the vast majority of us feel is a moral imperative? If people cannot get good jobs, they will need help if they are going to survive. I believe we need both: good jobs and support. That is what a community should provide to each other.

Socialists believe we are mutually dependent on each other and that our society must reflect that. That means our jobs should be co-ops where workers own their own means of production and share in the fruits of their labor equally, as well as have an equal say in their work. That means social programs that support people, from public health care to fully funded tax-paid college education. It means the hungry get fed, the homeless get housed, everyone gets a good job who wants to work, and no one struggles to survive.

Check out this article below that paints the bleak picture of where we are right now:

Right now, people are suffering more and more every day, instead of living the lives of our dreams. As a community we owe it to ourselves and each other to make those dreams a reality, together. Admittedly, there is a lot standing in our way. The rich are, no doubt, a very powerful adversary. However, the challenge they represent is nothing compared to our collective will to start truly living, instead of barely surviving.


Tina Phillips

is a social worker who enjoys writing, advocacy, good food, and thrifting. She lives in Oakland, CA with her partner, Rachel, four cats, and their dog, Miss Piggy. You can read more of her writing on her blog at

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