By now you've heard about the "I need a freakin job" billboard in Buffalo, featured in news reports this week as President Obama visited western New York to talk up the economy.
From WIVB Channel 4 in Buffalo (after the commercial):
Both the TV station and the Buffalo News say the billboard wasn't aimed at Obama's trip; that was serendipitous. Rather, the highway sign is part of a campaign organized by two brothers to bring attention to continuing high unemployment.
"See, here's the thing. Nothing matters if people and families aren't working. We need to make some noise. The government is absolutely broken," they say on the website aptly dubbed INAFJ, for I Need a Freakin Job. They also posted a video on YouTube a month ago.
To be sure, with the jobless rate stuck around 10 percent, their message resonates. But if I could offer one suggestion, it would be this: Make your campaign appealing, too, to unemployed and underemployed professionals.
Give me a LinkedIn chapter of your movement to complement the Facebook generation on the billboard and YouTube.
The website and video are edgy, but the pictured crew is pure Gen Y. Sure, they have reason to be worried: Experts say people entering the job market in a recession usually land lower-level jobs at lower-level pay than new employees in more robust times.
But those of us pushed out of the jobs we've held for years also are concerned about our futures.
Take Cynthia Norton, featured Wednesday in the New York Times' "New Poor" series, where tales of the recession's impact on once solid middle-class lives are detailed.
Norton, 52, a former administrative assistant, lost her job at an insurance company two years ago. She had worked in the field all her life -- even ran her own secretarial services business at one point -- but office-support jobs are disappearing as technology takes greater hold.
So Norton tried to retrain -- and now is stuck with student loan payments. She sold off assets. She took a part-time cashier's job. She even joked about breaking the law, since jail would take care of room and board.
The recession stole her career, as it did the livelihoods of others in job categories made obsolete by the creative destruction that is said to accompany every leap forward in capitalism.
That ought to give the INAFJ brothers many, many generations of faces to use on future billboards. I'd certainly like to see Norton's there.