And Now A Word From a Subscriber

Zala posted this in reply to my post: People Are Afraid of Socialism Because…

I thought it deserved it’s own post:

(I love her definition of GOP – “Greed Over People.”  Made me snicker.)

The USA is a fascist country with some socialist government programs. I don’t get why the Teahadists/Teanderthals don’t see that.

“Greed is (still) Good.”
We have all the wrong priorities because, yes I will say it, EVIL men with agendas have been working constantly for decades, sending out their propaganda minions and messages, and the sheeple eat up the shit they’re fed, because we’re taught to obey authority in our school systems. We are not human beings with feelings, desires and personal goals. We are tiny disposable cogs in the machinery of Corporate Progress & Profit. They throw us occasional sops, so that we think we have “benefits” (like health insurance) and then they underpay us and overwork us (check out this woman’s story: http://changetowin.org/news/mother-jones-i-was-warehouse-wage-slave ).
Unless a miracle happens, I will never get out of debt. If I remain employed by Corporate America, I have 8 more working years before retirement age. I had counted on those to be my highest-earning years of employment, until Wall Street & Banks took away a chunk of my 401(k) and caused my employer to circle the wagons and tighten their belts – 1% raise at most for some of us, and most people got 0% FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, while the price of everything has risen 50-100%. If I could find a roommate or tag-team partner to share expenses with, I could probably make some headway, but on my own I have very little chance. I have some moonlighting opportunities thanks to Ms Crankypance (bless your generous heart ❤ ❤ ❤ ) but my “real job” sits me squarely in the lower middle class. 10 years ago, my salary comfortably covered the cost of living, with some left over for savings!! Now, I’m going backwards and have to make up the difference between income and outgo using my credit cards.
No one CARES that there are many people like me. They say, well just don’t DO that (use credit cards, for instance). Well, if it’s a week to next payday, and the car’s out of gas, I need to do SOMETHING to get to work.
I think we need to move to something more “socialistic/communistic” – soon people in my situation will NOT be able to afford to own their own homes. Perhaps we’ll go back to living in villages where everyone helps out with the work and shares the benefits. Our society would benefit immensely by going back to such archaic means of survival…… I really hate this new breed of American. We have always been “rugged individualists” but the current GOP (“Greed Over People”) has exacerbated and incited that streak in the American psyche, and extrapolated it to mean, ‘Fucking Government Redistribution of Wealth – I should be able to keep ALL of what I earn, why should I help the next guy??’ These CINO’s will hopefully be the perihelion of the pendulum’s swing – hopefully the pendulum will head more towards the middle after this generation has either died off or awakened.
The Rapture can’t come soon enough for me – it would get rid of a lot of the thorns in my intellection and emotional psyche :D

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“Carnage.” Apt Use of the Word by Joe Carbone

Here’s the link:  Trapped in Unemployment.  Mr. Carbone, you chose the perfect word to describe what’s happening out there.  Corporate America has and is causing carnage in what used to be the greatest country in the world.

While legislation has been enacted to prevent companies from placing language in job postings to reflect their unwillingness to hire the unemployed, this legislation is about political correctness, not about getting people to work.   It’s  a “feel good” measure created to make Congress think they’re doing something to lower the double-digit unemployment rate.  Yes, people, our TRUE unemployment rate is in double digits.  Think about it.  Go find the formula used to calculate it.  It’s a skewed formula which does not include those termed as “leaving the workforce.”

This legislation is an insult to the American public.  While I’ve always maintained that our government thinks we’re stupid, up to this point  they’ve made an attempt to at least cloak the yawning crevasse between what the people truly need and what they want for themselves in some form of verbiage that will fool at least some of us.  This time they simply got in our faces and called us idiots.

Remember this: Congress is comprised of upper-middle class individuals who each earn an average of $174,000 a year – money “we the people” are paying them to pass legislation during the biggest unemployment crises in more than 60 years.  These are individuals who have no reference point for the crisis of the working man and they simply chuckle at Corporate America and say:  “Dude,  we’re catchin’ some flak about these job postings.  Y’all can’t go around saying unemployed people can’t apply for your jobs.  You don’t have to hire them, but we gotta keep ’em quiet, so quit being so blatant about it, okay?”  Then they glad-hand all around, pour a few more drinks, and check the return on their investments.

Why do corporations outsource our jobs and lay off workers?  It’s a simple answer but they’d say otherwise.  The answer is this:  If they are publicly traded, they have to keep their shareholders happy. Shareholders want to make money, and lots of it, on their shares.  They want to see a lean, mean, bantam-weight workforce and they aren’t willing to give up any of the return those  job cuts provide them.

Who owns a lot of shares in Corporate America?  Why…gosh…our elected officials own lots of shares in Corporate America.  So why would they enact legislature that would take money out of their pockets?  They want to keep corporations happy.  They don’t give a flying red one about us.  Good lord, they might have to sell a fancy car, or a yacht or, god forbid, get RESPONSIBLE WITH OUR MONEY.

How many average citizens can afford to own enough shares in publicly traded corporations that will provide a significant return on their investment?  I know of very few.

I have used 52 of my 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.  That leaves me 47 weeks, during which time I will be told that I have to “look harder” for work and accept any position offered me.  Nice, guys.  Just beautiful.  Let’s deconstruct that mandate.  Here’s what it really says:

“You’ve got to be a slacker or you’d have found work by now.  Since you won’t do it yourself, we’re going to force you into it.  For 52 weeks you only had to apply for 2 jobs a week.  Now you have to apply for 6-10 jobs a week and send us those records every month and if the local convenience store offers you a job that pays less than what you’re getting from us, why, you have to take it.”  

On average, I apply for 22 jobs a week.  I have been doing this for 52 weeks.  The last “interview” I got was last week.  I showed up at the location – it was a staffing company – and the office was locked and dark.  So I called the number posted on the door and was told that I needed to drive another 30 miles to another location because they decided to use the office, at whose front door I was standing at that moment, only two days a week.  So I asked why I wasn’t notified.  The receptionist got nasty with me and said she called me the day prior and left a message.  I told her she didn’t, that their number was not in my incoming or missed calls list, nor was there a voice mail left for me.  She blamed it on my phone.  Odd – I got plenty of calls on the day she said she called me.   She never called.  She lied.  Why not give me HER job, thus ensuring that someone responsible, professional and who actually CARES will see that contacts are made?

I have another “interview” set for this thursday. I have to drive 75 miles to get to it.  Will I be treated the same way?

I’ve stopped telling staffing agencies (because they are the only organizations who call me for interviews now) that I’m unemployed.  My resume reflects that I am currently  a freelance data analyst.  I do not tell anyone I am accepting unemployment benefits.   If they ask, I lie.  While I would accept work as a freelance data analyst, thus am technically “employed”  no one is beating my door down to use my service.  If I need to provide references for any “work” I’ve done as a freelancer, my network of small business owner friends give me a great reference.  This is what Corporate America has done.  They’ve taught us that it’s necessary to be just as dishonest as they are if we want to work.  While I’m not certain I can compromise my values in this manner much longer, I often wonder what choice I have.

Even with all that, I can’t find work.  Why would a company employ a 50 year old “freelance data analyst” when they can get a fresh young thing straight from college who doesn’t know enough to be insulted by the salary offered, who has not yet developed “bad habits” and who won’t use their healthcare benefits for anything but wellness checks, and do that very rarely?   A company won’t hire me when they can get what I’ve described above.

When I spoke with the staffing agency rep yesterday she asked me if I had a degree.  A degree for an entry-level clerical position.  A DEGREE.   She had my resume in front of her, could see my level of experience, could see my education and instead of saying “wow – we can certainly place YOU” she says:  “Do you have a degree?”   I wanted to reply:  “Yes, I have a degree in dodging discriminatory hiring practices” but I simply said:  “It’s right there at the bottom of my resume.”  Apparently she hadn’t read that far.

Carnage.  What do those of us who are without a secondary household income do when our (meager) unemployment benefits run out?  Do we storm the gates and create some carnage of our own?  I say yes.  I say all of us who are part of the carnage go crashing through the bedroom door and pull our government out of bed with Corporate America.

You do realize that WE are the only people who can facilitate this kind of change.  Our elected officials are engaging in such marvelous financial sex with corporations that they’re not going to stop unless someone (we, the people) force them to stop.

Do you understand what is going to happen to all of us if we can’t force coitus interruptus?  Our government is not protecting us.  It’s destroying us – all in the name of money.

 

Karma is a Beautiful Thing

I won’t name names or speak to situations but I will say that there are some who just keep building bad karma for themselves.  It’s always amusing when their own karma finally runs them over and they drag themselves up with a look of surprised outrage on their faces.

I heard something today that, had I not already believed in karma (you get what you give), would have convinced me beyond all doubt.

It took a coupla years but the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round…

Unemployed Need Not Apply

I just read this little snippet and it resonated so loudly with me that it almost shattered my coffee cup:

New Bill Seeks To Prevent Discrimination Against Unemployed Americans

Earlier this month, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut) and Henry Johnson, Jr. (Georgia) introduced the Fair Emplyoment Opportunity Act of 2011. The aim of this legislation is simple: To prevent employers from discriminating against unemployed Americans.

Unemployed Need Not Apply?

Companies looking to hire are increasingly including language in their “Help Wanted” postings that prevents applicants who are out of work from applying for a job opening. You may have encountered the following language:

“Applicant must be currently employed.”

The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, also referred to as HR 2501, would prevent employers from such discrimination. The bill would also apply to employment agencies, who would not be allowed to ask about the current employment status of job applicants.

_____________________________

Oh please.  Until corporate America is regulated they will continue to discriminate.  No amount of legislation will keep them from doing so.  I’m a 30 year veteran of IT.  I have a smattering of accounting and admin skills thrown in.  I can’t get a job gargling peanut butter, because each application I fill out requires my social security number and it requires that I agree to a “:criminal background check” BEFORE I’ve even had an interview.  That gave them instant access to my age and employment status.

We need legislation to stop THAT shit.  I was contacted by a recruiter last friday.  I was a perfect fit for the job and he was doing the snoopy dance that he’d found someone.  On Monday, after being forced (if I wanted the job) to hand over my social security number for a criminal background check, I got an email saying:  “we’re sorry but the job for which you have applied has already been filled.  Good luck in your job search.”  WTF?  Why contact me if it’s already been filled.  This guy told me I was the ONLY candidate he had who matched 100%.  I didn’t even get the courtesy of a phone call.  I didn’t get a first interview.

My benefits will run out soon (thanks, USG, who FIRED me for supposedly “violating” a policy that not only my boss but HER boss was “violating” as well). Oh, let’s not forget that I was told by my boss that my performance was the “worst” in the office.  When I asked to see the stats that proved this (because I had it on good authority that there were others making bigger and MORE mistakes than I was making) she said:  “Oh, it’s in a spreadsheet, and I can’t access it right now.”  Uh huh.  What was the REAL reason?

What do I do?  Starve?  Oh wait.  That word doesn’t get used any longer; it’s too ugly.  No.  Now we must use “Food Insecure.”  That way those like my boss and her boss can salve their consciences and pretend their tiny black little hearts are large and magnanimous.  I wonder if either of THEM could live on $1,000 a month after taxes?  I wonder if either of them could live on NOTHING, which may be what happens to me.

Hey Boss and Boss’ Boss!  Are you reading?  I know one of you is reading.  Think about the reasons you used for firing me.  It was bogus crap and you both know it.  How many different ways have you justified firing someone using “violation of the electronics use policy?”  I know for a fact that one of you (and you know exactly who you are) violated it frequently, based on the viruses you got on your computer from various websites.  I got the kick in the ass while the one person you two believed should be cited for canonization threw all her co-workers under the bus.

Typical corporate attitude.  Typical “me” attitude.   Hey guys – I’m “food insecure.”  Not your fault, you say?  Um – no, not if you weren’t violating policy right along with EVERYONE ELSE IN THE BLOODY OFFICE.

Yeah, okay.  Rant over.  But thanks guys.  I can’t find work – I’m too old and too unemployed.  Think about that when your turn comes.  It WILL come. Karma is beautiful that way.  The unemployment numbers are a lie.  America is so good at manipulating numbers.  Oh wait – so are you, so you’ll be able to see how it’s been done in order to come up with the 8.5% unemployment lie they’re currently touting.

So You Think Your Company Is Being Generous?

Think again.  If you work for private industry (which means you do NOT work for the government) and you have received word that you’re being downsized “but not right now – we just want you to be aware, so you can take the time to find a new job” and you think this action means the company you work for is being benevolent and generous, think again.

They want as few hits on their unemployment insurance as possible.  They’re not telling you in advance for YOUR benefit.  They’re telling you for THEIR benefit.

Did they say you can take the time you need for interviews?  And when you finally got an interview and it was at month-end, were you graciously given the time off to go to said interview?  Jus’ sayin…

Do you think your company is being fabulous to you by saying that you can stay ’til they close the office?  Think again.  You can absolutely stay til they close the office.  Know why?  Cuz they can’t close it without you.  Well, yes, they can, but it would cost them a buttload more money and the management folks would be REALLY pissed off at having to do it themselves.

I’ve said this more than once and I’ll say it again (although I doubt many will listen):  Private industry exists for one purpose:

Class?  What is that purpose?

TO MAKE MONEY.

They do not exist to support you and your family, to help you in any way or to have your back the way they require that you have theirs.

Please peeps.  Don’t delude yourself into thinking your company deserves your loyalty in any way.  They don’t.   They could give two flying red shits about you.  As long as the guys at the top are pulling down their millions, you, my little worker-bee friend, are nothing to them.  They paid more for their last vacation than you made in a year.

Jus’ sayin’ folks.  Don’t believe a word that is told you by any corporate management person when there are layoffs.  If their lips move, they are lying.  Why are they lying?  Why, they’re lying because HR has told them if they don’t lie, they will lose THEIR jobs.  (which they will lose, anyway, but they’ll have more perks when they lose than you’ll EVER see.)

YOU DO NOT OWE YOUR EMPLOYER ANYTHING OTHER THAN AN HONEST DAY’S WORK FOR AN HONEST DAY’S PAY.  That’s IT.  They pay you do do a job.  Do your job, do it well, but do NOT fall into the “loyalty” trap.

Loyalty will not feed, clothe or shelter your children.  Loyalty will not provide you with job security.  Loyalty to Corporate America, as it is run today, is evil propaganda perpetrated on the unsuspecting by those at the top who want more and more for less and less.

My sister is the last of a dying breed.  She has worked for her company for 35 years.  She will be okay when she retires.   The only reason she hasn’t been downsized yet is because of her seniority and age.  To do so would mean the company takes a gun and publicly shoots itself in the foot.  She could only be downsized through attrition, but golly gee whiz, her position is absolutely necessary.  So no attrition.  When she retires you better believe they will hire someone at a far lower salary and will not offer the pension, profit sharing and other retirement benefits my sister will get.

No one gets that kind of care from a corporate entity any longer.

No one except those at the very top of that ivory tower.

I say bring back the unions.  Bring ’em back NOW.  If Corporate America won’t regulate itself and stop destroying “we the people” then I say it’s time “we the people” fight back.

It’s hard out there.  Jobs are scarce.  What I’m about to recommend might horrify many of you who are unemployed.  I advocate that NO ONE who is unemployed take a job with a company that will not allow a union.   I advocate that we all – and I mean ALL – learn to live small.  We learn to live with one vehicle; we teach our children to use their imaginations instead of letting their brains rot with X-Box and cable TV.  I say we eat in-season produce, we buy all of what we need and very little of what we want.  We SAVE for what we want and when we have CASH, then we go buy the very BEST, and make sure it’s made in America, by a union worker.

Wanna hear truly radical?  Our economy needs to be completely destroyed, AS IT IS NOW, and rebuilt.  Why should we be denied excellent healthcare – that which is necessary for a good quality of life, simply because the greed of Corporate America says we can’t have it if we can’t afford it?

Do I believe I am entitled to someone else’s money?  Do I believe that the rich should be divested entirely of their wealth so the poor can be fed?  No.  I believe that our government has a responsibility to US.  I believe that corporate executive salaries and compensation packages should have a cap.  I believe that outsourced jobs need to be brought back into our country and provided to our starving workers and their families.  I believe that we should all be paid a LIVING wage for an honest day’s work.

I do not believe that your tax money, my tax money or Joe The Plumber’s tax money should have to go to feed the poverty-stricken when there is so much idle wealth in this country.  I believe that those who HAVE have a moral responsibility to help those who have NOT.  Instead, those who HAVE are given even MORE tax breaks so they can send even MORE money off shore.

Next time you are in the company of a corporate executive look closely at his clothing; look particularly at his shoes.  They will not be scuffed, worn at the heels, and will probably be well-shined cap-toes or italian wingtips.  Perhaps on a casual day they will be kiltie tassel loafers.  They will have cost more than $250 a pair.  Note that his shirt will be unwrinkled, his tie will have an expensive sheen but not a shine.  There’s a difference.  Check the cut of his trousers and see where they fall on the top of his shoes.  Note that they do not bunch up on his shoes, nor do they trail the ground.  Note that his belt matches his shoes, and that his pockets do not pull at the seams. Check his jacket sleeves and note that he can shoot his cuffs easily and those shirt cuffs are probably starched and held together with lovely cufflinks.  Note his shirt collar.  Note that it has not been turned and that there is no fraying on the collar. Note that you will not even be able to see the outline of the collar stays.  That’s a very expensive shirt and I’ll guarantee he has a closet full of them.   Note that there are no creases down the sleeve arms.  This is a dead giveaway that he is paying a laundry or a dry cleaner to do his shirts.  His wife (or god forbid, himself) is not starching and ironing them for him.

Note that the cost of the entire get-up you are viewing costs more than you earn in a month.  I know this to be true – and that’s on a conservative estimate.  I was married to a wealthy man.  I know what the clothing costs.

Look at his watch.  You won’t see a watch.  You’ll see a chronometer.  Thousands of dollars difference between a mere watch and a chronometer.

And if you dare, ask him where he got his tan.  I’ll be it was at his private country club while using custom-made golf clubs, or on that recent vacation that cost more than you earn in a year.

Why would you, or anyone, want to work for a company that presents material wealth as more important than people?  No, they don’t present it in their documentation, their mission statement or in any of their company meetings (not the ones YOU attend).  They don’t have to do that.  Their presence reeks of it.

So next time you think your company is being so damned generous and good to you by giving you “time” to find a new job before they divest you of your current job, remember that they do nothing that doesn’t first benefit themselves.

Never forget that.

Let your loyalty be to YOU and YOUR FAMILY.  That’s where it is deserved.

 

Holy Moly Mackerel! I’m moved, I have food, shelter, clothing and I’m happy!

Yesterday was moving day.  I’ve moved around a lot in my life, but the older I get, the harder it gets.  Our economy being what it is, I found myself forced to move 80 mile west of where I was living.

The good:

I’m up in the mountains.  I like the mountains.

It’s a small town.  I like small towns.

It’s a town with old-world european flavor.  I like that, too.

My home was built in 1900.  I like that.  (see cons also!)

 

The bad:

In order to afford to live, even frugally, and save a bit of money, I had to move to a “less desirable” area of this town.

I live in a 111 year-old home that has been converted to a duplex.  While I have plenty of space, the walls are paper-thin and my neighbor has two children and a boyfriend with whom she apparently fights; frequently.

Since no one has lived in my home in almost a year (my landlord refused to rent to “just anyone,” my neighbor has not felt the need to control her children, since there was no one next door whose aural sensibilities needed consideration.  Today I awoke to much screaming, crying, yelling, dragging about of things, and in general, noise that goes well beyond that which could be deemed a tolerable level.

Still, I’m fortunate.  I’m tired, emotionally and physically, but I’m lucky.  My family helped me move and my brother; the man with two bad knees, moved my furniture AGAIN.

It’s a lonely existence for right now because I don’t know anyone in this town.  That’s okay – I’ll figure it out.

The kitchen is minuscule, the stairs to my second floor are so steep as to be almost vertical.  The full attic compensates for that.  So does the rent.  I live in a state that has one of the highest costs of living in the nation.  Thanks to my former company, USG, who transferred me up here on a salary barely feasible for South Carolina, where they hired me, I’ve had to learn to live without luxuries – you know the things – brand name toothpaste, rationing shampoo by diluting it with water, and buying food boxes from the local food charity.

That’s okay, I eat.  Some don’t.  I’m glad to be gone from USG.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.  If all americans would simply stop and ask themselves who they are truly helping by working in their drone-like jobs for Corporate America, we might, again, be a nation built on free enterprise, full of people who do things about which they are passionate.  It won’t happen though.  Corporate america pays just enough to make Americans feel the illusion of safety.  Shrug.

Me?  I will make it.  I’m strong.  I have skills and gifts outside that which corporate America used to parsimoniously pay me for.  I’m going to use those skills and to quote Katie Scarlett O’Hara:  “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!”

(ever gone hungry?  I have – and recently.  I can tell you it ain’t pleasant.)

 

Am I Really Awake?

It’s 6:32 am on a Saturday.  I was actually out of bed by 5:38 am.

Why would I do such a god awful thing on a Saturday?  Let’s see.  I’m teaching a basic smithing class at 10:00 am.  It’s really not even that much of a class – found out just a bit too late that the gallery where I’m teaching isn’t insured for me to use a torch there, so it’s morphed into a cold connection class, with an emphasis on earrings.  Why up so early if the class isn’t until 10:00 am, you ask?

Because yours truly needs 2 hours to wake up and the gallery is 25 miles away.  Luckily for me, I packed my “portable” studio last night – if you could call it packing.

Shuffling off to the shower now.  I just knew all my readers would want to hear about this most unnatural moment in my life, so I’m posting it for all the world to read.  It’s the bleedin’ middle of the night fer crying out loud!!!!

(does anyone but me smell a pity party?)

Lies Corporate America Will Tell You

1.  We appreciate you.

2.  Thank you for all your loyalty and hard work.

3.  No, your job isn’t in jeopardy.  We’re laying off at OTHER locations.

4.  Our greatest asset is our people.

5.  No one is getting a bonus this year, it’s not just you.

6.  HR is working hard to make certain you get the best separation package we can provide.

7.  We couldn’t do it without you!

8.  We’re very flexible.

9.  We want the best for our employees.

10.  Do your job well and we will take care of you.

11.  We’re truly sorry we have to downsize you.  It hurts us as much as it hurts you.

12.  We will help you find a new job.

13.  Our COBRA package is affordable.

14.  While we are restructuring and that may seem a negative thing, it will benefit you, our valued employees, in the long term.

 

Translations:

1.  You’re not getting a raise.

2.  You better keep up with the loyalty and hard work or you will find yourself unemployed sooner rather than later.

3.  Your job is in jeopardy.

4.  Our greatest asset is our corporate spin doctor.

5.  You are not getting a bonus.  Our top executive compensation packages will show a zero on the bonus line, but we’re giving them more stock options that will vest quickly and provide them millions.

6.  HR is working hard to make sure your separation package is the lowest-cost one they can provide and they are not concerned with your needs.

7.  We can do it without you.  We did it before you were hired and we’ll continue doing it when you’re terminated.

8.  As long as you don’t require any personal time beyond that which we provide as vacation and/or sick leave, we’ll keep you.  For now.

9.  We want the best for ourselves.  If our employees benefit from it, great.  If not, we don’t really give a flying red one.

10.  Do your job well and you will be allowed to keep your job until we find a way decrease the overhead that is YOU.

11. We’re very happy to downsize you.  It means more money in our pockets.  The only reason the executive who told you about the downsize seemed nervous and upset is because she/he wasn’t quite sure they’d get out of the conference room in one piece.

12.  We’ll send you to an agency that will charge you to help you find a job.  No, we’re not paying the fee.

13.  This is an incomplete statement.  It should read thus:  “Our COBRA package is affordable if you don’t pay any of your other bills and don’t mind starving. ”

14.  We are restructuring and that means you will eventually get caught in the game known as “musical employees.”  Be very afraid.

 

Just in case you were wondering…

Executive Leadership – A Narcissist’s Dream

In my post  “Hey Bill Foote…” one of my readers commented that I know exactly how Mr. Chairman sleeps at night, because 99% of executive leadership is NPD.

She’s right.  I’ve had more than enough experience with these guys to know they care about nothing and no one but themselves.  They rise to the top level not because they are cream, but because they are oil, and they sit there, on top of the ever-flowing water of staff, and smother all the life out of them.

Oh yeah, Miss Tracy, you are dead on.

I know how Bill Foote sleeps at night.  He could give a flying rip about how his actions affect the worker-bees just as long as he gets what he wants.  He needs to please the shareholders, at least those with majority shares, and let me tell you what I know about shareholders.  Those who have the money to own enough stock to count for something, vote. Those who don’t, pay no attention to the materials they get regarding voting on issues.

I know this because I’ve been a minority shareholder in a company and my vote counted for zilch.  I would read that material every time I got it and if I didn’t like what they were planning to do, I’d vote no.  I’d try to rally the ranks to get them to vote, but my efforts were greeted with the same apathy as political elections (okay, except when we were voting Bush out of office!).  The answer would always be:  “What can I do?  I’m just one person.  My vote doesn’t count. ”   Yes, your vote counts as long as ALL the shareholders get up off their asses and VOTE.

The problem is, that when you have someone like Warren Buffet owning 15% of the stock in a company, and you have a million other people holding tiny blocks of stock, and believing their vote won’t count, whose vote will get the most weight?

NPDs rise to the top by doing exactly what Bill Foote is doing to USG.  They get there by trampling on others, by disregarding the needs of others, by smooth prevarication and obfuscation of the REAL issues.  It’s all about them and their money.  Never is it about what the majority needs.

Do I think, even for a minute, that Mr. Chairman of USG will squeeze one little penny from his own pocket to help those he’s trampling in this latest move?  I’m not that naive.  He’ll be out golfing, or yachting, or basking in the glow of praise from all his other NPD corporate minions while REAL people get shoved out the door into poverty, and perhaps even death, if they can’t get the healthcare they  need.

He’ll be drinking by the fireplace over the holidays while those he’s ruined cross holidays off their to-do list and push survival to the top of that list.

He won’t spare a single thought for those he’s harmed.  He’s done his D&D quite well.  And for those of you who don’t know what D&D is, that stands for “Devaluation and Discard.”  That’s what he’s done to his AMERICAN workers while standing beneath a corporate logo that has the words UNITED STATES in it.

It’s Neither Optimism Nor Pessimism; It’s Reality

Earlier today, I emailed a friend with some of my thoughts from this post.  It was that email and her reaction that inspired the post.  I’d mentioned the portions about what I’d read on Craigslist and how heartbreaking I found it to be.  Her reply was to tell me, sarcastically, how optimistic I was being and then she went on to say that she did agree that we were heading for a depression.

First let me state that my email was neither optimistic nor pessimistic.  It wasn’t negative or positive.  It was merely the reality of what is going on right now, all over this country.  Her response shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.  I’ve known her for more than a decade and found her to be firmly grounded in reality.

I think the reason there has been such a glut of “reality” tv shows about those in truly unfortunate situations (think Hoarders) is that it enables us to deflect attention from the reality of our individual situations.  We can look at a show like Hoarders and pat ourselves on the back that while we may be messy and somewhat of a pack-rat, at least we’re not that bad.

I think my friend’s reply to my email hides her very real and present fear that it could be her.  It may well be her, if things continue the way they’re going.  No one wants to confront that kind of fear, so they shove it into denial; they become sarcastic, and sometimes they get blatantly angry.

Sarcasm can be an extremely good smokescreen for anger.  Generally, when one replies in a sarcastic manner, what they really want to say (because they don’t like what you’re saying) is “will you shut up already???” It’s easier and more socially acceptable for us to display anger than it is to display fear, just as it’s easier for us to cast about attempting to find a scapegoat for our situations rather than own any portion of accountability that is ours.

I’m here to tell you, right smack in your face, that I’m very much afraid.  I don’t allow that fear to govern me, but I am not ashamed to admit it.  I do my best to see the positive in things – sometimes so much so that I’m a bit like Pollyanna.  I am an idealist at heart, but I’ve learned not to allow my heart to rule my actions.   When I say I’m heartbroken by some of what I’ve read lately, it’s true.  I’m also realistic about it.  I can’t get mired in that.  I can’t allow someone else’s situation to govern the way I think and feel about my own situation.

I made a statement to a family member recently to the effect that if I’d listened to the parental unit when I was a teen, if I had done things their way instead of thinking I knew better, I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in right now.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  The reality of my situation is that what has happened to me may well have happened whether I’d listened to Mom and Dad or not, all those years ago.  The reality of my situation is this:

In the past two years I have been downsized, found a job, moved out of state for that job, downsized before I could start my new job, found myself unemployed for 3 months during which time I was uninsured and had to have emergency surgery, found a job, got transferred to where I live now because the office in the state where I had the job, announced, a week after hiring me, that it was closing, offered me a transfer,  so I moved 450 miles, and one year later I’m downsized again.   Is any of this my fault?  No.  Does it matter whose fault it is?  No.

What matters is that I am left holding the bag, and I’m actually grateful that I have a bag to hold.  That means I’m alive.  Being alive means I have options.  Sure, some of them aren’t all that palatable, but I’ve choked down worse meals.  So have you.  I’ve also learned that you can make a mighty tasty meal from what’s in your kitchen already if you learn how to cook.

I have been on unemployment since February of 2011.  I just got a 48 week extension, and if I still don’t have work at the end of that period, I may qualify for something…or I may not.  I’m afraid.  That fear has driven me to downsize my life.  I’m moving almost 100 miles to an area in-state, that has a lower cost of living so I can lower my living expenses.  Once I make this move, my budget will have to squeeze out $700 less than it is squeezing now.  That money will provide me breathing room, and if I’m scrupulously frugal, I will be able to save that money.  That’s $8,400 over 12 months.  That’s a lot of money.

During the next few months, I’m using my fear as a motivator.  I am going to position myself so that I can make a living doing what I do best and that is through creating and teaching.  I have already investigated the probability of becoming an after-school educator in the arts for a local co-op gallery in my new town that provides after-school programs and summer art camps.  I will become a part of the co-op so that I can have space to work and sell my creations.  I’m a silversmith and I make jewelry.  I teach jewelry-making, and I also teach just about any other kind of imaginative art process.  So, at 50, I’m reinventing myself.

I’m also not greedy, and I know that an item is only worth what the next person will pay for it.  That’s essential for everyone to keep in mind.  Don’t buy into the current media fad for antiques and junktiques; for turning shabby to shabby chic and thinking you will be able to then sell it for top dollar.  Those people aren’t making their money from their products – they’re making their money from their cable and network TV shows.  I know a lot of people all over this country, and I know of only ONE couple who makes their living buying storage lockers.

If you’re crafty, and can learn to market yourself well online, there may be a niche for you, especially if you have an unusual product that is priced to sell and it is something you can produce quickly.  Of course, if what The Web Bot Project says has any validity to it, we may not have access to electronic anything from December 2012 to May 2013.   Ahem.  It also predicted a huge earthquake for Vancouver in 2008 that never happened. If the Mayans have anything to do with it, we’re all going to die on December 21, 2012.  Or maybe they just didn’t feel the need to extend their calendar any farther.  If the Hopi Tribe is right, we’re going to be hit by a blue star…at some point.  That’s the only REALITY to any of the 2012 mumbo jumbo out there.  Yup, we will be hit by something at some point, but scientists predict that it will be thousands of years before that happens and I think I’ll have shuffled off this mortal coil by then.

This isn’t about Armageddon or the end of the world.  It is, however, about the end of the world as we have known it for the past few decades. 

I would advise everyone to take time to take stock of what skills they have outside of their job, and to improve upon those skills as quickly as they can.  If you are a woodworker who can’t find the time to “indulge” your craft, find the time.  If you are an at-home carpenter, get your skill set up there so you can sell your skills if need be.  If you crochet, knit, sew, or do any handcraft, the time might be coming when you may need to fall back on those skills to put food on your table.

I’m not being alarmist.  It’s happening all over the place.  Don’t ever think your company can’t do without you because they can and will do without you if the executive committee sees their bonus pool shrinking.  You will be gone and your job will be farmed out to three other people who are already doing the work of two or three people.

Don’t function under the assumption that you will be downsized with some sort of package, either.  Unless you are downsized through attrition, or are at an executive level, the odds are very good you will get two to six weeks pay and an offer to keep your health insurance through COBRA.

Do you know how much COBRA will cost you?  If you have a family it could be more than your monthly mortgage.  I am not being alarmist or pessimistic.  I’m being real.  Corporate America demands loyalty from its employees but the return on that loyalty is…add it up…a big, fat, glaring ZERO.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.

I hear people talk all the time about how “good” their company has been to them, allowing them to take paid time because a family member was sick, or paying them for sick days after they used up all they had to tend to sick children, etc.  Do not ever believe that the company with which you are currently employed will sacrifice or has sacrificed anything for you.

Function under the realistic assumption that the corporate executives at your company will get what their avarice tells them is their due and you will pay the price.  They do not care about you.  That is the reality.

Find a way to earn money outside of what you currently do as a job.  Multi-level marketing is not the answer, so please don’t fall for any of those schemes.  Think about your passion.  What do you truly LOVE?  Find that passion and turn it into something that will put food on your table if you find yourself without a job.

Stop using credit for anything.  Buy your clothes at thrift stores.  Recycle, repurpose, reinvent.  Be real about what is going on.  Find your long-dormant survival skills and hone them. Use the coupons in the newspaper and match them to sales at grocery stores. Get rid of any elitism you may have about material goods because it will be your undoing.

If you own a gas-guzzler, sell it.  Trade it on something more economical.  Eat before you go to the grocery store and don’t go unless you have a list.  Don’t vary from that list.  Plan your menus and shop accordingly. Learn some DIY skills.  Learn to barter.

If you don’t start thinking about doing these things, and then DOING them, you may find yourself in a nosedive you can’t pull out of.

It’s all well and good to sing “Tomorrow” (there’s an earworm for you!) and talk yourself into believing that the sun really WILL come up tomorrow.  Usually the sun does come up, but sometimes tomorrow is a very long way off.  I believe America’s tomorrow will come, but it won’t be what we normally think of as tomorrow. Tomorrow, for us, is going to be quite a bit longer than 24 hours.

Nope, not being pessimistic.  Not being optimistic. Simply being real.