It was heartening to hear of President Barack Obama praising Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for giving Michael Vick a second chance following the quarterback’s release from prison.
“He (Obama) said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”
You can’t get better press than that. Even allowing for the fact that Vick, as a gifted athlete, is a unique case, his comeback does demonstrate the possibility of redemption and the importance of letting individuals take a crack at starting over. What would be nice now would be to see Vick play a broader role in helping other ex-offenders start anew.
They’re going to need it. Despite an apparently rosy holiday retail season, the jobs picture hasn’t improved and the indicators are not encouraging. A recent study by Rutgers University, which followed unemployed workers for 15 months noted that only a quarter had found new jobs and most of those were for lower pay and benefits. “The Shattered American Dream: Unemployed Workers lose Ground, Hope and Faith,” found that despite optimistic projections by some economists, many see the changes in the job market as structural and long-term. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert does a great job of explaining the disconnect here.
One can only hope our leaders wise up and take some action to spur real job growth sooner rather than later — and that in the meantime, enlightened employers with good stories to tell like Vick’s get the word out.
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