You’ve heard of “funemployment,” but I’m not sure that anyone has heard of graphic-novel joblessness. Officials in Florida are investigating how more than $14,000 in taxpayer funds got spent on superhero capes for the unemployed. No, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke:
Workforce Central Florida spent more than $14,000 on the red capes as part of its “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” public relations campaign. The campaign featured a cartoon character, “Dr. Evil Unemployment,” who needs to be vanquished.
Florida’s unemployment agency director asked Monday for an investigation of the regional operation’s spending after the Orlando Sentinel published a story about the program. State director Cynthia Lorenzo said the spending appeared to be “insensitive and wasteful.”
Actually, taxpayers around the nation should be outraged by this little project. Jim Stratton at the Orlando Sentinel broke the story over the weekend and reported that the agency is federally funded:
The region’s federally funded jobs agency is spending more than $73,000 on a media campaign to raise awareness of its services.
As part of a superhero theme, it has created a cartoon character named “Dr. Evil Unemployment” and spent more than $14,000 on 6,000 satiny superhero capes. …
To win a cape, a contestant can become a Workforce Central Florida fan on Facebook, take a Facebook quiz — “What Superhero Are You?” — or have a photo taken with a foam cutout of Dr. Evil Unemployment.
Job seekers and employers who participate become eligible to win a $1,000 prize package, featuring gift cards from Visa, Barnes & Noble and the U.S. Postal Service. Job seekers can also win $125 worth of résumé paper. Only two prize packages will be given away.
Really? We’re giving away thousands of dollars on Facebook these days? Couldn’t that money be used in more productive ways, even in terms of marketing for WCF, by buying ads or improving its job-search efforts for its clientele?
And let’s not mention the sad and juvenile concept of the marketing campaign. Adults who desperately want to find work want to be treated with some dignity and respect, not like children lost in comic books. “Dr. Evil Unemployment” would be an embarrassing insult at most high schools these days, a condescending attitude towards the intellect of the clientele. As Stratton writes for the Sentinel, it’s difficult enough to keep a sense of optimism and dignity without the government treating the unemployed as cases of arrested development.
Perhaps the people at Workforce Central Florida should experience that first-hand to get a better idea of how it feels.
Update: Edna Mode had the right idea, courtesy of our commenters (h/t Pookysgirl):
Update II: Wow, Aaron Worthing and I were on the same wavelength this morning.