Pinched

Driving home from my parents’ place this evening, where I had dinner with my folks, I was listening to the NPR show On Point, and the focus was the economy, specifically the jobs situation, the poor jobs situation. They’re talking about how the country, in the wake of this recession, is becoming divided into the affluent, the wealthy, and everyone else, i.e. the middle class is disappearing, which has been said to be the engine of our economy.

The guest “expert” is Don Peck,the author of  “Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It.” And I got to tell you that guy does not sound very optimistic.

I heard quoted that the average time of unemployment time span is 9 months. Nine freaking months! I can’t imagine still being unemployed come next may. And yet I’ve heard of people being out of work for up to three years. What do you do with yourself when you’re unemployed for three years.

Something else they’re talking about is how there are certain segment of American society that are not touched by the recession, people who don’t see the jobs problem. Now, I’ve only been unemployed for a week but I’ve been job-searching for months, ever since I learned that jobs would be cut at the library where I worked, because I strongly suspected that I might be one of the unfortunates to get the ax, and I can tell you that it is not good out there, jobs-wise. I don’t care what anyone says. I reviewed perhaps 100 j0bs and found only three to apply for. I mean, unless I want to work for $8.50 and hour, which would be a step down from unemployment. But who knows? I may be begging for a job lock that in a few months.

And yet there are people who believe things are not that bad, that they are improving. Someone said to me that they felt things are getting better because their company was looking to hire 7 people or something like that and couldn’t find people to fill those positions. That may well be, but it is not representative of what is going in the greater economy. The situation is not good, and I seriously doubt that it’s going to get much better anytime soon. It is going to be years and years before we recover, it we ever really recover entirely.

Of course, statistically I am supposed to be in a good position, since I have an education, an advanced degree even. But consider that my degrees are in English, creative writing. I’m not sure that these seem very practical or impressive to employers, if they even look at my resume amongst the hundreds, if not thousands, that are submitted for any given position.

Finally, they say that people get more conservative financially in times like these, and I agree. I question and pain over every nickle that I spend. I cut wherever I can. I go without. I just don’t buy stuff. And I’m not about to until things start improving.

Example: my lease is up at the end of September. I have to give thirty days notice to the rental office if I’m going to stay or move out. So that basically gives me two weeks to nab a job that will allow me to stay in my apartment. But I doubt that is going to happen, so my plan is to move back in with my parents. Now, I could probably afford to stay in my apartment while on unemployment. I could probably scrape by. But I’d probably run through what meager savings I have in addition to burning up the unemployment, which is substantially less than I was making at  my job, which was not that much. It may not be ideal, moving back in with my parents, but my goal is to not go into debt, and perhaps even preserve some money, what little I have.

I’m sorry, I’m just not very optimistic. Others may be, but I’m not. It’s a new reality, and it’s not good.

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Chuck Moss – hypocrit extraordinaire

After posting about Chuck Moss, the jerk that represents my district, I immediately had poster’s regret. Not because I regret what I wrote. I do not. But because I’d rather focus my attention on other things than politics, like books and movies and my family and watching paint dry. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.

This morning my guilt was assuaged and my ire re-inflamed when I discovered this blog post by Tim Skubick, a journalist who has been covering Michigan politics for a long time.

In it Moss exposes himself as the jackass hypocrite that he is. He expounds upon how we like any family (his words not mine; I do not now nor have ever, nor would I never consider this guy family) we must all tighten our belts. Seems reasonable considering economic circumstances, especially here in Michigan. Except Mr. Moss doesn’t seem to think that this virtue applies to himself. Unlike some of his colleagues in Lansing he wasn’t going to cut his own salary until he was forced to when Skubick called him out on it on the PBS show about Michigan politics Off the Record. To cover his skeezy ass he wrote a lousy $2,000.00 check after the show. BFD. The dude makes like $72,000 for crying out loud. And he was lawyer before that and no doubt was not hurting for money when he got elected.  No wonder some people want to do away with government all together.

And then today, on Michigan radio, in a report covering state politics and the budget negotiations, Moss-mouth self-righteously proclaims that “It is about time that Lansing started living within it’s means.” Except for him and probably a lot of  his ilk up there in the state capital.

Of course, what this really means is that citizens all across this state will suffer because not only will school budgets be cut — AGAIN! — but also prisons and libraries. What does that mean exactly — cutting prisons? Less guards? Releasing prisoners? What? As for libraries, I realize that some people are ambivalent about them while others feel that libraries could disappear and no one would notice. Well, that simply isn’t true. Many, many people would not only notice the absence of the library they would be quite upset if not outraged by the loss. Historically speaking,  during economic downturns library usage goes up, for any number of reasons, the main one being that libraries are a free form of entertainment, which helps when people are watching their money.

The point here is not that cuts aren’t needed. Obviously, they are. But rather it is the hypocrisy of someone like Moss who expects everyone else in the family to tighten their belt while he is unwilling to do the same (until forced to anyway) and in fact will probably even need to let out his belt from the  bloat of self-righteous pride filling his gut.

Today Jack Lessenberry, columnist for the Metro Times and political analyst for Michiganradio has a commentary about what is going on in Lansing right now. A strong  well-articulated argument and simply good information and advice for the likes of Mr. Moss but one doubts very much that he or his political croneies upstate will listen to Jack, never mind  a regular schmo citizen such as myself, or anyone else for that matter.

Every time this happens and I flap about it to my poor, patient wife she says pretty much the same thing. “It’s time to get out!”  Even if I wanted to, I could not disagree.

Where was NPR when things sucked for Generation X?

That’s what I want to know.

Today on NPR there was a discussion show — probabl Talk of the Nation, but I don’t know for sure — that was addressing the difficulties that  recent college grads where facing as the enter the lousy job market, which of course is wothy topic of discusion, but I couldn’t help wondering where the hell was NPR (which is, come on let’s be  honest, a Boomer dominated news sourc) when things sucked for Generation X?

I’m not saying they didn’t address it. Maybe they did and I just missed it. I wouldn’t be surprised, since I was too much of a slacker to tune into NPR most of the time. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that no such discussion every took place on NPR. Furthermore, I would not be surprised to learn that GenX slackerdom and cynicism was a topic of discussion. Would anyone care to confirm or deny?

I wonder if Mellinnials appreicate the attenion they’re recieving. Considering all they’ve ever receieved is attention, I’m guessing not really. Besides they’re no doubt too busy being upbeat about the situation.

McCain rallies are getting ugly

Check out some of the comments made by a McCain supporter in Wisconsin:

“When you have an Obama, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there going to run this country, we have got to have our head examined. It’s time that you two are representing us, and we are mad. So, go get them,” one man told Sen. John McCain at a town hall meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Read full article here.

This people are pissed because they just can’t believe that they’re candidate has fallen behind, in danger of losing the race. To which I say:

Only it isn’t going to be funny if this kind of mentality escalates beyond ugly words.

McCain and Palin aren’t doing anything to quell it. In anything, they’re egging these people on. You jerks in the crowds yelling things like “treason” and even “kill him.” That’s just wrong. And is something bad happens it will be on their, McCain’s and Palin’s, heads.

But still some are blowing it off, like the Republican shill on the Diane Rheem show this morning. He said it was a few unfortunate incidents being blown out of proportion by the media. Of course. Thankfully, Juan Williams was ther to call it was what it was: Offensive! And Elinore Clift, who said, rightly, that McCain and Palin were playing a dangerous game with inflamatory rhetoric.

You’re actually mildly impressed with Scott McClellan? Really?

Yeah. I can’t really believe it myself, but it’s true. I’m kind of sort of impressed with Scotty boy, for having the balls to not only write but actually publish his book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.

Who knew the little Oompa-Loompa had a pair that big. I mean, really. Think about it. Considering how scary these particular Republicans are. I know what you’re thinking? They’re all really, really scary. And you’re right, Virginia, they are all really, really scary, but the bunch Scott is “outing” are particularly so, you got to admit. Especially that Cheney [shiver].

Of course, the details of the book and the “fire storm” surrounding the recent “accidentally early” publication are not really worth rehashing. What is worth pointing out is that Scott is a little fry in comparison to the big bad giants that he is “mouthing off” about. And, unlikes previous defectors from the Bush compound and public, i.e. published, detractors of Bush policy, Scott was a member of the original inner circle. He’d been with Bush since his Texas Governor days, rising up through the ranks to take on the position of Press Secretary after his “good friend” and so-called mentor, Ari “Needle-Head” Fleischer, who wrote his own gutless tale about his time as Press Secretary for W. In an interview on NPR, Fleischer repeatedly claimed that it “breaks my heart” what Scott has written in his book, because he, Ari, just can’t understand where it comes from. Of course, I, along with so many others no dabout, were thinking: Really, Ari? It breaks you’re heart? Because the popular consensus is that you don’t have a heart? But you do have a very shiny and oddly appealing bald head. Ooo, can I touch it?

Prick that Ari is, he had no problem blathering about a private phone call that he and Scott had just before the news broke, which of course added to his, Ari’s, so-called heart break. B-O-O H-O-O! Ari then proceeded to attack McClellan, saying that if Scott had objections about the Iraq policy why did he not object? Or, why did he not simply step down? Why didn’t he quit?

Ari is not the only one to make this claim, and he won’t be the last. It is one of the major talking points against the book. But I think I understand why Scott did it. And it isn’t because of Scott’s great affection of the President, nor is it about giving the Prez and his advisers the benefit of the doubt, both of which are Scotty’s talking points in defense of said attack. When you’re in a position like that, you tow the fucking line that your Boss has given you. Everyone knows, and everyone does it? Especially if you’re a Republican — it’s just the way they operate. How many times at work are people asked to do things that they believe to be wrong or unsavory or whatever? It happens all the fucking time. And as much as we’d like to take a stand, we do not. We do as we are told.

Sure, that my sound wishy-washy, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Most people are wishy washy when it comes to such things. Not to mention it would have made no fucking difference if Scott had resigned. He’d have received the same treatment he is receiving now. And he would have still written the book. It might have been a slightly different book, but he still would have written it. Also, it might not have had the impact, and thus the sales, it is currently enjoying.

The money issue is another point of attack. The claim that Scotty is just trying to make money, that this was predictable. I would not argue with that. But I would also say, So fucking what? I don’t blame Scotty anymore than I blame Paul O’Neil or Richard Clarke, the latter of which btw McClellan apparently apologized to for attacking him, Clarke, for his book Against All Enemies when it was published. Interestingly enough, Clarke also has a new book out, entitled Your Government Failed You. I think Clarke returned to non-fiction because his fiction wasn’t very good. I couldn’t finish either of his two novels, and I really wanted to enjoy them. The point is this is what people in politics do, what they have always done, what they will always do. Sorry if that disillusions you. Perhaps you should go back to the land of gumdrop flowers and cotton candy clouds.

But does this make Scotty a hypocrite? Sure. But, as I once told my students when I taught freshman composition, being a hypocrite is pretty much the definition of being an adult. It’ll happen to you too. Still I give the chubby little former Bushy kudos for finally standing up. Also, he’s been quoted as saying he likes some of Barack Obama’s ideas, how the Democratic front-runner wants to govern from the middle, by building consensus across the isle, which was what W claimed to want to do, what Scott said he witnessed him do as governor of Texas. That just makes me like him a bit more — the Obama thing, not any of the Bush stuff.

Scotty’s disillusionment comes from his naive assumption that W would continue to govern from the middle. That and the fact that he, Scotty, had to take over for his buddy and mentor, Ari, at a time when things really sucked, and he, Scotty, had to pretty much fall in his sword and pass on lies and misinformation for the president that he admired. He felt used and disappointed. So, he wrote a book. Now he’s being attacked. And he is not backing down. And I admire that. Because it would be easier to just lay down and keep your mouth shut.

I’m not sure if this is relevant, but shortly after the news broke and Scotty’s book was all over the news and internet blah blah blah, I looked him up on wikipedia. Turns out Scott and are about the same age. That’s right my boy Scotty is a GenXer. And his standing up to a knuckled headed, ego run amok bunch of Boomers like Bush and Rove and company. (Demographically speaking, Cheney is not a Boomer, but he’s a scary fucking dude.) Perhaps this is a lame reason to feel sympathy for the likes of Scotty McClellan. After all, he was part of an administration that lied to the American people and sent thousands of US Soldiers off to die for a war that was in his own words “a war of choice” not of necessity. All true, but at least his trying to make some kind of amends, and make a chunk of change in the process. But mostly it is the making amends that I’m focusing on. Which is more than you can say the likes of stand up guys like Rove and Fleischer not to mention Bush and Cheney and Rice and the rest of the assholes who will defend their position until they die and hopefully board the Doomed to the Hot Place Express.

Gen X and Millennials in the workplace

A college friend hipped me to this article from the Harvard Business Review, which, despite me distaste for business in general, and reviews in particular (I don’t even know what that means but I’ve always liked that turn of phrase. Anyhoo…), was rather interesting. It’s about the contentious relationship between GenXers and the corporate world, and how the author sees this as a bad sign because the corporate world needs us GenXers. Well, imagine that. Corporate America needs Generation X. The only problem, according to the article, is that Generation X is not all the thrilled with the corporate world. No news there. But combine that with a report I heard on NPR this morning about a survey of recent and/or soon to be college graduates thatclaimed that about 70% (not sure on the exact number but it was pretty high) of the young people wanted to start their own business rather than work for a big company, and the corporate system may really have a problem on its hands. At least until all the Boomers shrivel up and turn to dust in the wind, which still might not be for awhile. But by that time Generation X and the Millennials may have determined an alternate business paradigm or whatever. Could such a thing be possible? And if so, what would it look like? Perhaps we’ll evolve to a more niche, independent yet loosely interdependent way of conducting business. One that affords more freedom but also more opportunity, even if it will likely be a bit more unstable. It’s worth contemplating in any case.

Of course, I do not blame Millennials for wanting to avoid the corporate slave state. You can’t trust these fucking self-serving entities. They’ll use you like frat boys use drunk freshamn sorority pledges for the Girls Gone Wild cameras, until you’re no longer of use to them, and then they’ll find a way to usher you out the door, preferably with as little severance and other benefits as possible. Not to mention the whole corporate culture is a mind-suck, time-suck, creativity-fucking-drain, I don’t give a shit what they claim! I mean, really about the only benefit is the fast internet connection.

The problem is, not everyone can run their own successful business. And though the idea of a business community structured as a loosely knit conglomeration of independent contractors utilizing each others’ skills and offering mutual support blah blah blah seems nice and all, it’s probably very highly unlikely. But, dammit! We can dream, can’t we?

Still, despite my cynical GenXer proclivities, I am hopeful that Generation X and the Millennial generation will ultimately work better together than the Boomers and Generation X. Hell, just look at Judd Aptow and his legion of Millennial funny boy actors. Sure, us GenXers will seem cranky and bitter, like Dr. Cox seems to JD on SCRUBS, but also like Perry we really do care and want to help our younger cohorts along their intended paths, we just have a particular style of teaching and mentoring, which I think can best be described as using a spoonful of sugar to get down a shovel-full of dirt. It’s not pleasant but it works, and it makes an lasting impression.

Companies actually saving money by “Going Green”

Hmm. Imagine that.

I know, I know. It may be difficult to believe, but in fact a report on NPR Marketplace this morning is suggesting it is in fact possible for companines to save money by implenting green measures. Translations: it is a good business practice to go green, dumbass!

The report stated:

The Environmental Defense Report has some examples. Take Stonyfield Farm. The yogurt-maker is saving more than a million bucks a year by switching from plastic lids to foil tops, which require less energy and water use. Meantime, Macy’s is hiring a company to install solar roofs on more than two dozen stores.

Environmental Defense is also lauding a new practice in the car insurance industry: mileage-based auto insurance. The less you drive, the lower your premium.

This is excellent and most encouraing news, as it refutes the reactionary notion by too many that green measures simply cost money and do not benefit companies or consumers in any way, except to give business a bit of PR for the moment and make people feel a little better about the crap that they are buying. Although don’t expect every ditto-headed worshiper of that fat fuck Rush Limburger to accept these facts. But that’s okay. For our numbers grow daily and soon we shall vastly outnumber their hordes and we shall hunt them down, catch them, and (smack smack of the lips) and eat them. With several varieties of dipping sauce. Mooh ah ah aha hah aha ha!

 

Michigan delegates

According to an NPR/Michigan Radio report, the Michigan Democratic party has come to an agreemen to seat the state’s delegates. Delegates will be split: 56 for Obama; and, 69 for Clinton. Of course this helps Clinton very little, especially after this past Tuesday’s primaries in North Carolina, in which Obama won by a substantial margin, and in Indiana, which Clinton won but barely. Today more political analysts are saying that now it is time for Clinton to respectfully withdraw and end her campaign. But does anyone expect her to do that? I don’t. Not respectuflly anyway. Her Boomer sense of entitlement is far too strong. Not to mention we have to wait for her to go through the –is 7 stages of grief blah blah blah before she can come to a acceptance. Whatever.

On a related note. Check this Slate article about the possibility of Clinton’s campaign declaring bankruptcey. How appropriate.

Also, my Mellinnial office mate said that there’s a post on Daily Kos that is saying that Hilary wants two things from Obama before she will withdraw. First, she wants to be reimburced for the cost of her campaign. And two, she wants the VP. Now, I don’t know if this is true, or if it was even really posted — I couldn’t find it, but didn’t look all that hard, so… — but I would not be surprised in the least.