Ballad of the Oregon Employment Department

from Say Their Names by David Rovics



Not only does Oregon's emergency alert system not function during an actual emergency (see the devastation in Jackson County for more information), but the Oregon Employment Department is limping along on programming languages that most people under the age of 50 have never heard of. It has been utterly and completely unable to disburse funds to those who need them since the pandemic hit -- including me.


Ballad of the Oregon Employment Department

Sit down for a minute, I'll tell you a story
About lots of different people, including yours truly
When the pandemic hit, I had to cancel all my shows
In the fight against the virus, I guess that's how it goes

They said to call this number if you need help with food and rent
It's the PUA division of the Department of Employment
So I get up every morning since the beginning of the spring
But if the department is open, the phone never rings

(It's always) beep beep beep, the line is busy
Beep beep beep, you'll have to wait
Beep beep beep, the only answer
The tone of a failed state

There just aren't enough programmers who are still alive
Who learned how to program back in 1985
When the last update was made to this broken mess
Like a testament to the definition of societal stress


My application was rejected, with notes that made no sense
It's been three months since I applied, since I've been staring at this fence
Survival sourced completely from the crowd
Hearing stories of the hunger as I listen to the sound


The department head got fired, as the tragedies mount
But we're still waiting for relief – still zero, at last count
If you think the keg is burning – that there's tumult on this shore
If those checks don't come in soon, who knows what's in store



from Say Their Names, released October 3, 2020




David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
Ian McMillan, BBC

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