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Archive for March, 2011

Well, it’s happened.  I’ve become a 99er.  That would be one of those poor souls you’ve been reading about who have run out of unemployment benefits and are facing a gory doom.  Worse yet, I’m female, which is apparently one of the worst things to be in a market where women are less likely to be hired.  According to the National Women’s Law Center, while the unemployment rate for men has gone down, it’s gone up for women.   ABC News has a similar report.  Plus the fact I live in an area consistently rated in the top ten worst places to try to find a job, with nearly 14% unemployment.  There’s a lot more of the same out there, but it got too depressing to go any farther, so you’ll just have to look for yourself.

I had a long period of unemployment back in the early ‘90s, but that could be explained away by being in an exceptionally poor locale for jobs and not having a lot of skills beyond being a musician and writer.  I took the courses, got the experience, worked my butt off so I wouldn’t have to go through that again.  And yet, here I am.   College degree, professional certifications, loads of experience.  And obsolete.

That’s how I’m feeling anyway.  The media keep talking about the economic recovery, but I’m certainly not seeing it.  And neither are any of the people I know.  Government bailed out Big Money and left the rest of us out to dry.  I’ve seen the unemployed referred to as lazy users of the system who don’t really want to work, watched banks gleefully foreclose on homeowners by the thousands, and stood by helpless while unions (and the middle class they represent) are attacked and virtually destroyed.  A union without collective bargaining rights really isn’t a union, Mr. Governor of Wisconsin.  Stop trying to balance the budgets on the backs of the very people who can’t afford it.

There’s only one reason businesses (and by extension governments) end up in fiscal trouble – bad management.  I watched a business go into bankruptcy.  When I started there it was raking in $300M a year and its stock was selling for over $20 a share on the NYSE.  Five years later, it was gone, the result of poor management on top of bad decisions fed by arrogance and greed.  Being in the legal department, I got to see it first hand.

We tried a change in management for our government this last November.  While Big Money is loving it, us poor working serfs are even more likely to be left in the dust.  Yes, I’m a registered Democrat, but I’m also a fiscal conservative who doesn’t want to see a lot of government poking their fingers into my business.   I’m pro-choice and pro-guns and I don’t need Big Brother telling me how to take care of myself.

But we have an unprecedented disaster lurking in the shadows of the Heartland.  I understand the need to make it easier for business to be able to do business, but for all the money spent and/or waived on them, I’m not seeing any results down here in the trenches.  25 million people have dropped off the unemployment rolls and still have no jobs or are under-employed.  40% have been out of work for over six months, a rate that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression (On Point, with Tom Ashbrook: The Long-term Unemployed). A good chunk of those people have mortgages, car payments, credit cards and all the other things that our modern society seemed to decree we have.  It is all crashing down on us.

I suppose the argument could be made that, if my husband and I had bought a house that we could afford with just one income, it wouldn’t be so scary now trying to figure out where the next house payment is going to come from.  But what we could afford with one income would have meant sleeping with guns under our pillows and plenty of fresh paint waiting in the garage to keep up with the barrage of graffiti.  Getting a house that would require both of us to keep working allowed us a little better property in a little better neighborhood and my extremely security conscious husband could sleep a little better at night.

We never thought it would come to an end.  I never thought I’d be middle-aged and facing disaster.  What did I do wrong?  What could I have done differently?  I’m not stupid or lazy or any of those other things so many people seem to think about the long-term unemployed.  Okay, so I’ve made it pretty clear I’m not keen on going back to a regular office job, but I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we keep our bills paid.  And I’ll do it with a smile on my face, even if there’s not one in my heart.

Yeah, I’d much prefer to write and I’ve been looking for writing/editing jobs.  But, like most things, the job requirements have become tougher, with even entry-level jobs wanting advanced degrees and years of experience.  I don’t have the time or money to go back to school for yet another degree/certification, and I certainly don’t have the patience for it.  In the vernacular, I’m screwed.

I don’t know what to do.  I feel the stress levels going up in my husband, even if he doesn’t say anything to me, even as he suffers through a job that is slowly killing him on all levels.  I wonder if something’s wrong with me because I can’t seem to get even the simplest job.  I worry that if the finances go down the tubes that my marriage will too.  The one thing, with the one person, that means more to me than anything else.

I’m standing here, screaming into the darkness, wondering when it’s my turn for a bail out and it doesn’t make a difference.  Not even on a therapeutic level.

The next time you see me, I’ll be on the corner with a cardboard sign…

 

© 2011  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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