Americans can’t handle the truth. I wonder if Americans even know what truth is any longer. In the 80’s we allowed Reaganomics to enter our lives. We voted in a president who then turned our country over to Corporate America. Now our government has decreed that Corporations are PEOPLE. In the 90’s our economy ballooned and everyone was fat and happy. The public didn’t heed the warning signs and they racked up credit debt in a race to keep up with the ubiquitous Jones’. Then came subprime lending. The house of cards begins to topple. We borrow from China. CHINA. Does anyone understand the ramifications of this???
Public greed ran neck-in-neck with corporate greed. It was hard to tell who was stealing from whom – at the time. We now know it was the way it’s always been – the rich were stealing from those less rich. The poor didn’t count. They were hidden away; ignored; sneered at and welfare moms who really were NOT working the system and would have given their right arms for a REAL chance were told to get jobs. Get jobs? How? It’s one thing to tell someone to do something; it’s quite another thing if the only job they can get will not support their families, yet disqualifies them for benefits.
I currently live in a very upscale neighborhood. When I first moved here, I had a good job, and was doing okay. The neighbors loved me. A year later, I was laid off and golly gosh, it seems I’m now invisible. I no longer get invited to neighborhood social functions. I know why.
My neighbors fear that my unemployed status is catching, and frankly, it IS. What they don’t realize, because they live in ivory towers built on glass houses, is that they won’t catch the unemployment disease from me. They’ll catch it from America. What they don’t realize is that their lives are going to change, and drastically, over the next year, as our economy continues to plummet. All but the wealthiest will be affected. What they are afraid of is having to learn how to simply survive, which is what I’m doing.
They are afraid that through association (humans aren’t rational where fear is involved) with an unemployed individual who is in survival mode, that they will have to face reality.
I know at least one neighbor who simply can’t face that kind of reality. Instead she ramps up the visibility of her husband’s wealth. Thing is, that couple is one who might survive, simply because the husband comes from old money and has tons of it. She has milk and ice cream delivered. She has her groceries delivered. She imports furniture from various countries for her porch. She won’t even wave back to me now when she’s sitting in her imported furniture on her front porch and I wave to her as I’m heading for my car. She pretends not to see me.
No one is safe. I read recently that people with jobs need to “make themselves indispensable” to their employers if they want to find a better job, because during this crisis, employers will view someone who is still employed as a much better candidate, since they’ve managed to survive through layoffs. I call this bullshit. No one is safe. Did you read that at the beginning of the paragraph? There is NO SUCH THING as being “indispensable” to a corporate entity. You are a number and if you affect the bottom line in a negative fashion at any moment, you will be deemed dispensable. Trust me.
I recently heard from an acquaintance who works in HR that companies have recently found a very clever way to get around age discrimination in hiring. They don’t want to hire anyone over age 40 if they can help it, except at the very top levels, so when they get your resume, and they see your qualifications are in alignment with their needs, they send an email directing you to a secure intra-company website where you can “get the ball rolling” by providing them with information so they can start the background check on you. So you input your information, they do a check and they weed out anyone over 40, give them a “first” interview which is usually by phone and tell them that they have other candidates to call and will be selecting people for the “second” interview after they have spoken with the first round of candidates. You never get a second interview if you’re over 40.
This is happening all over the country. I recently asked someone to tell me the average age of her entire department. It was 26. There was no one over 42 in the department.
I’m 50. I have almost 30 years of IT experience and I can’t find work. I don’t have a degree in IT, but that shouldn’t matter. My experience should matter. I’m automatically disqualified, even for entry level IT positions, because companies are now REQUIRING an IT degree for entry level jobs.
I’m disqualified for the few positions that don’t require a degree because it’s deemed that I would be “unhappy” and not “make a commitment to the company” because I’m overqualified for the job. For jobs at my level, there are a thousand other applicants, and many of them have degrees. Even if I am better qualified, the person with the degree will be hired, especially if that applicant is younger.
Mostly, I can’t find work because I’m 50. You say that’s not true? Prove it. Prove that companies are more than willing to hire a 50 year old woman with almost 30 years experience in her field, but who doesn’t have a degree in the field, when they can hire someone half her age who DOES have the degree they want.
Show me even ONE company who will do it. They won’t, because they see me as too expensive. Healthcare would cost more, they’d have to pay me what I’m worth and they’re not willing to do that; I’m 15 years from retirement age and good lord, I could just drop dead of a heart attack at my desk! What if I have some catastrophic illness their insurance has to cover? What if I have to go on disability, thus costing them even MORE money? What if? What if?
Not a bit of this can be proved. No company will admit to doing what I’ve described. The person who told me what her company (and other companies) are doing with regard to age also told me if I ever quoted her using her name, she’d deny it. Of course she would. If she didn’t, she’d get fired.
I recently heard unemployment quoted as having decreased to 9.1% nationwide. That’s a crock of shit. They’re only counting the numbers of those who are currently receiving benefits. What about those who no longer qualify and have had to move in with family or friends because they can no longer support themselves? I think the number is closer to 15 or 20% but Americans can’t handle the truth. Our government doesn’t want us to know the truth because if we did know it, we might attempt to do something about it. Our government is exactly like corporate America – why wouldn’t it be like that – corporate America owns most of it. When do you get the bad news from a corporate entity? You get it the day YOU get the ax.
Does anyone reading this believe that our government is going to stand up and tell us the truth of what’s happening? Does anyone reading this believe that our government is going to flood the airwaves with the reality of the situation and tell us all that we need to seriously simplify and downsize our standard of living? Is the government going to tell Americans they can no longer drive their SUVs because they are sucking up the remnants of fossil fuels on this planet? Can you imagine what would happen if Americans were told they had to ration gas? Remember WWII? No – you’re probably too young. I’m too young, but my parents aren’t.
Remember the Great Depression? No, you probably don’t, and neither do I. My parents remember it because they lived through it. I was raised by a mother who allowed us one paper sack a week for lunch and that sack had to come home every day to be reused. She washed aluminum foil. She saved plastic lunch baggies, and we washed them out to reuse until they were no longer usable.
We got one pair of shoes a year, and only if we’d outgrown or worn out the pair we’d got the year before. We never ate out. We got practical items for christmas. We went to visit family on vacation, not Disney World. I’ve never been there. We never went to the beach.
My mother planned menus at the beginning of each week and grocery shopped accordingly. She never bought junk food. We weren’t allowed to just “raid” the refrigerator. She washed clothes in the washer but hung them on the clothesline. When clothes became ragged they were cut up into cleaning rags. Mom never bought a sponge or a dish rag. We used our own rags.
Fancy cleaning supplies? Forget it. Bleach and water. Ammonia (but not with bleach) if necessary. Vinegar and newspaper to clean windows. Polyurethane was taped over every window in the house in the winter to keep out all drafts and the heat stayed at 65. If we were cold, we put on more clothes.
We had “school” clothes and “play” clothes and the two NEVER interchanged. We had 7 pair of underpants, and each girl in the family had two bras. Showers were limited to 5 minutes once a week. All other days hair was washed in the kitchen sink and we were ordered to use a washcloth and soap to wash OUR ENTIRE BODIES in the bathroom daily.
No money was spent on makeup or special personal care items unless a doctor ordered it, as with my siblings and their acne. No hairdryer existed in my home, no curling irons. We had one black and white TV and it was not on unless my parents approved of what we wanted to watch, which was rare.
The list goes on. How many Americans are willing to change their current lifestyle to incorporate the work that goes into what I described above? Hardly any that I know. We are a disposable society.
As a country, we are in a seriously precarious position. I don’t believe we’re teetering on the edge of the abyss any longer; I believe we’ve slid into it. The truth is that we’re on a sled down an icy hill and there’s a thawing lake at the bottom. We will die of exposure, hypothermia or drowning if we don’t hop off that sled NOW. It will be tough to keep from sliding all the way down but if we use our wits, and strength, we can make it.
When I’m in the mood, I’ll turn on the news and I’ll hear the media spin regarding the economy, how unemployment is “down” and how jobs are being created here and there and then I look on craigslist and what I see breaks my heart.
People are giving away pets because their house was foreclosed and they have to move in with family who are allergic, or they have to move someplace that won’t take pets. I just saw a photo of two lovely siamese cats that someone is giving away because they have to move and can’t take them with. The kitties were sitting on a moving box, looking plaintively into the camera. What are the odds no one will take them and they will be euthanized?
I see people so desperate for money they are selling jewelry, antiques, household furniture, not because they are moving, but because they are trying to raise money.
One woman is selling tons of her household items for next to nothing because she’s unemployed and without the money, her daughter will have nothing for Christmas. I wanted to email her and tell her that her daughter doesn’t NEED anything for Christmas – and that she could make it very special by each creating a hand-made poster collage that depicts the things for which they are grateful. I didn’t, though. It’s not my place.
I see people selling their vehicles so they can pay their mortgage; I see people with their long-time family homes for rent because they don’t want to lose the home, but can’t afford it any longer; they can’t afford the taxes; they can’t afford to heat and cool or maintain it; so they are moving their large families into small apartments and hoping to find someone with enough money to rent their family home at a rate that will allow them to maintain the home so that maybe, one day, (in the illusory future), they will be able to move back in.
I read a post by someone asking for prayers that she will be able to feed her family next week because if she feeds her family she won’t have enough to pay the back rent and she will be evicted. She didn’t ask for money or food, she simply asked for prayers.
Many jobs that I apply for online shows how many people have applied thus far and provides demographics. More than 50% are unemployed and, on average, half of those have a master’s or doctorate. The quantity of applicants is sometimes in the thousands.
I read where someone offered free child care in return for someone paying so that she could go to the doctor.
When are we going to wake up, AS A COUNTRY, and do what we need to do to stop this? Occupy Wall Street isn’t the answer. The answer lies within ourselves. Each of us must tighten our belts, do without, scale back everything that is unnecessary, and learn to live withOUT credit. We need to get ourselves as debt-free as possible, learn to live within our means and on a budget, and teach our children that who and what they ARE is more important than who they know or what they own.
We need to start being leaders again. When will that happen?