Unemployed - A Memoir

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Location: Cedar Park, Texas, United States

I am an outsourced American: I am black/African American and approaching 43 years of age. This is a chronicle of my story. The major networks talk about the "robust economy," few of them talk about the personal cost of the loss. I hope my story is not just an ethnic story. Like I said: I am an outsourced American, a casualty of NAFTA and CAFTA. We will all share in this boat soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The 10 American Industries That May Never Recover

...surprisingly, manufacturing is not listed:

"It has become clear that jobs in some industries may never come back, or if they do it will take years or decades for a recovery.

"24/7 Wall St. examined the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Employment Situation Summary," and a number of sources that show layoffs by company and sector. The weakness in these sectors will make it harder for the private industry, even aided by the government, to bring down total unemployment from 9.6% and replace the 8.3 million jobs lost during the recession. The losses in these industries have to be offset by growth in others before there can be any net increase in American employment."

See: The top 10 that may never come back.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


"The recession drove the number of poor Americans in 2009 to its highest total in half a century, yet several measures indicate the impact could well have been worse.

"While the Census Bureau's report Thursday on the economic conditions of U.S. households found that 3.8 million more people lived in poverty last year than in 2008, the agency and advocates for the poor say millions of others were sustained with the help of government programs.

"Advocates cite federal stimulus initiatives aimed at low-income earners and the extension of unemployment benefits, which alone are credited with helping keep 3.3 million people out of poverty."

The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the poor and punish same.

The poor were not in Congress when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were passed. The poor are still not in Congress as we allow those cuts that benefited the few to expire or extend them. The current Obama Administration will receive a brunt of the blame, even though they inherited the conditions (and in many cases, the flatulent wind) blown by the previous Cheney/Bush administration. Paul O'Neil and Alan Greenspan were quoted in "The Price of Loyalty" by Ron Suskind that they favored tax cuts with certain "triggers," i.e. business conditions that made sense to do tax cuts and everyone benefits...instead of the few.

"Deficits don't matter," I remember Cheney saying in the audio book by Suskind. "This is our due!"

We are all due for a reckoning with the reality of hydrogen-filled Hindenburg dirigibles - Keynesian or Friedman styled - fashioned in the 20th Century trying to operate [still] an economy in the 21st!

More at: NPR story on poverty rates in the US.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Redo That Voodoo

By Paul Krugman, New York Times

Original Link here: Redo That Voodoo

Text below:

Republicans are feeling good about the midterms — so good that they’ve started saying what they really think. This week the party’s Senate leadership stopped pretending that it cares about deficits, stating explicitly that while we can’t afford to aid the unemployed or prevent mass layoffs of schoolteachers, cost is literally no object when it comes to tax cuts for the affluent.

And that’s one reason — there are others — why you should fear the consequences if the G.O.P. actually does as well in November as it hopes.

For a while, leading Republicans posed as stern foes of federal red ink. Two weeks ago, in the official G.O.P. response to President Obama’s weekly radio address, Senator Saxby Chambliss devoted his entire time to the evils of government debt, “one of the most dangerous threats confronting America today.” He went on, “At some point we have to say ‘enough is enough.’ ”

But this past Monday Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, was asked the obvious question: if deficits are so worrisome, what about the budgetary cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which the Obama administration wants to let expire but Republicans want to make permanent? What should replace $650 billion or more in lost revenue over the next decade?

His answer was breathtaking: “You do need to offset the cost of increased spending. And that’s what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.” So $30 billion in aid to the unemployed is unaffordable, but 20 times that much in tax cuts for the rich doesn’t count.

The next day, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, confirmed that Mr. Kyl was giving the official party line: “There’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.”

Now there are many things one could call the Bush economy, an economy that, even before recession struck, was characterized by sluggish job growth and stagnant family incomes; “vibrant” isn’t one of them. But the real news here is the confirmation that Republicans remain committed to deep voodoo, the claim that cutting taxes actually increases revenues.

It’s not true, of course. Ronald Reagan said that his tax cuts would reduce deficits, then presided over a near-tripling of federal debt. When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top incomes, conservatives predicted economic disaster; what actually followed was an economic boom and a remarkable swing from budget deficit to surplus. Then the Bush tax cuts came along, helping turn that surplus into a persistent deficit, even before the crash.

But we’re talking about voodoo economics here, so perhaps it’s not surprising that belief in the magical powers of tax cuts is a zombie doctrine: no matter how many times you kill it with facts, it just keeps coming back. And despite repeated failure in practice, it is, more than ever, the official view of the G.O.P.

Why should this scare you? On paper, solving America’s long-run fiscal problems is eminently doable: stronger cost control for Medicare plus a moderate rise in taxes would get us most of the way there. And the perception that the deficit is manageable has helped keep U.S. borrowing costs low.

But if politicians who insist that the way to reduce deficits is to cut taxes, not raise them, start winning elections again, how much faith can anyone have that we’ll do what needs to be done? Yes, we can have a fiscal crisis. But if we do, it won’t be because we’ve spent too much trying to create jobs and help the unemployed. It will be because investors have looked at our politics and concluded, with justification, that we’ve turned into a banana republic.

Of course, flirting with crisis is arguably part of the plan. There has always been a sense in which voodoo economics was a cover story for the real doctrine, which was “starve the beast”: slash revenue with tax cuts, then demand spending cuts to close the resulting budget gap. The point is that starve the beast basically amounts to deliberately creating a fiscal crisis, in the belief that the crisis can be used to push through unpopular policies, like dismantling Social Security.

Anyway, we really should thank Senators Kyl and McConnell for their sudden outbursts of candor. They’ve now made it clear, in case anyone had doubts, that their previous posturing on the deficit was entirely hypocritical. If they really do have the kind of electoral win they’re expecting, they won’t try to reduce the deficit — they’ll try to make it explode by demanding even more budget-busting tax cuts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is This It?

I have an entry in this blog (also the book "Unemployed: A Memoir") where I compare my situation at then 41 to "Logan's Run" in the Epilogue.

I thought frankly, I'd concluded the blog. At the time, I wasn't thinking about a book: because it's not a "sexy" subject - unemployment - it understandably does not sell well. That my screed would be answered by common sense and that the recession of the mid 2000s would lift. All would again be gainfully, fully employed. Fantasy.

So, is this it: Too Old for a Job, Too Young for Medicare or Social Security? The original article in the blog and book has moved from http://www.fortune.com/fortune/articles/0,15114,375941,00.html to Finished At Forty IN THE NEW ECONOMY, THE SKILLS THAT COME WITH AGE COUNT FOR LESS AND LESS. SUDDENLY, 40 IS STARTING TO LOOK AND FEEL OLD. This article appeared in 1999. It's eleven years old and still relevant today.

It's relevant because invariably, the under-40 crowd will reach what Logan did as a "sandman" in the SyFy Fantasy: the "age of renewal," which he and other sandmen tracked down runners, until Logan reached the age and became a runner himself.

Is this it?

Instead of a laser that zaps us into oblivion, we're to transfer wealth upward and like it. We are to take jobs that pay LESS than our worth and adjust our budgets. We are to take contract jobs and pay exorbitant taxes as a freelance worker. We're to have skills we've worked a lifetime to master, now to be disregarded. Programmers appear to be up and out at 35. Banks on Wall Street are to get a tax payer bailout, and we are to be silent while their mistakes and morass go unpunished. We face foreclosure on our symbols of the American Dream and bankruptcy that will affect our credit for years to come. And, we are to be silent.

Where are YOU in this?

I'd like to hear from you and post your comments to this blog. The email is:


Please let me know if I can post your name. Otherwise, your comments will be anonymous. I will respect your privacy.

My plan is to compile a list and forward the same to my Senate and House Representatives. I'd suggest you do the same to yours. If they hear from ALL of us, they'll listen less to Wall Street and more to Main Street. This is not an advocate position of one political party over the other, this is not a slight against the current or former administration in the White House. I advocate the over-40 American worker, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native that find themselves in the conundrum of "overqualified," "too smart" and "if we had two positions to hire for, you'd be one of them." It makes you feel good in the short term, until you look at your current bills that a good paying, fully employed job would remedy.

I am an American. I cannot accept oblivion or the scrap heap. This cannot be "it."

I am naive enough to believe we live in a democracy.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

FYI: Found this on Dice.com's Facebook page...

Web Searches Companies Pay for on Potential Employee Candidates

In this era of needing Life Lock to protect our identities, we need to be cognizant of our online identities as well.

I'm in the market for a job, but the wrong information "interpreted" from a blog post (like this one) and if you look at the CNN video embed, some of the information could just be flat WRONG and not weigh in your favor.

Here's an outfit that says they'll protect you for around $15/month: Reputation Defender, aptly named.

I for one have taken to innocuous quotes from Robert Frost and Albert Einstein on my Facebook and Twitter account pager. Even that, I'd "self-sensor" just in case.

"Forewarned is forearmed," from: Robert Greene's A Notable Discovery of Coosnage (a.k.a. The Art of Conny-catching), 1592:

"forewarned, forearmed: burnt children dread the fire."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Job cuts in academia

University of Texas Austin plans to trim jobs

Hate to say "I told you so."

I said this in Chapter 19: Open Letter to then President George W. Bush.

I said it again in a letter titled: Dear President Obama.

I'm not looking to bring the go-go nineties back. Heck, I'd just settle for some good old "common sense."

The larger class sizes will be offset by the smaller amount of students that can qualify to go to college, either academically or financially (parents or selves laid off).

Where does that leave us, America? Tea Bag parties are the least of our worries. We're sinking fast and fastening onto arguments that don't MEAN anything!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kind of Like Television

The person who said "those who can't do, teach," obviously has never done it nor appreciates it.

I title this blog post from a conversation I had with another teacher right before a placement hearing for an alternative learning center (we were both the teachers for the young man in question). She and her husband are expecting their first child.

"We're kind of like television," she said. "The kids either tune us in or tune us out."

Her statement reminded me of the book "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, by Neil Postman (deceased). His commentary centered around the advent of 24-hour news in the 1980s: CNN was the first such network that has since spawned others. Children that used to stay up to watch the "snow" on TV as stations signed off now have 24-hour entertainment, hundreds of cable channels to surf and an Internet to post information to Facebook, Myspace and Twitter (let's not forget blogger).

I see kids with phones that have apps I can only envy. Everyone can seem to afford an I-phone, yet no one seems to have the cash-on-hand for a TI-83 or 84 calculator. Taking a cell phone from a child is almost oxymoron when his mother was texting him at the time you confiscate it.

"We're kind of like television": we can be tuned in or tuned out at will. It's never the child's fault if he/she fails. The teacher obviously didn't connect, control their class or wasn't "entertaining enough." I've personally gotten emails asking me to "bond" with the parent's child. (Even typing that was creepy.) The suggestion to another parent to take the cell phone from her child herself got this reply: "I just read what you said. It wouldn't have occurred to me to do that."

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States Ranks 15th in Reading Literacy, 19th in Mathematical Literacy and 14th in Scientific Literacy, see: Who's No. 1? Finland, Japan and Korea, Says OECD.

So quietly, subtlety we've become a nation of entertainment addicts, I-phones with apps, games, texting and academic distractions. The development of young minds used to be simple before levels of video games were invented. Now we compete with them and with what the latest "reality show" is (I believe the kids are viewing "What Chili Wants" from TLC fame).

And if I'm not entertaining, be it Algebra 1, Pre Calculus or Math Lab, I am as TLC would have crooned: a "scrub."