Sunday, April 5, 2009

the angst of it all

We hear about soaring numbers of unemployed~

(CNN Money reports)

"Employers trimmed 663,000 jobs from their payrolls last month, roughly in line with forecasts of a loss of 658,000 jobs, according to economists surveyed by

For the first three months of the year, 2 million jobs have been lost, and 5.1 million jobs have been lost since the start of 2008.

To put the three-month loss in context, if no more jobs are lost over the next nine months, 2009 would still be the fourth worst year for job losses since the government started tracking the number of workers in 1939.

March's monthly loss is up slightly from the loss of 651,000 jobs in February, although it's less than the number of jobs lost in January. That figure was revised up to a loss of 741,000 jobs -- which now stands as the biggest monthly drop in 59 years."

There have been some stories of people beginning to snap under the pressure. Having our main wage earner out of work now for 3.5 months, we are feeling the pressure.

I've always considered ourselves "bootstrap people"- we've made it through tough times, and lean times before-- but never in a situation where the entire economy was tanking. There are times I just forge ahead and want to trust everything will work out, and there are other times I start to think of the future, and a wave of fear, worry, even despair washes over me.
I can't even allow myself to think *what if* worst case scenarios.

Would I be tough enough to live in a homeless camp?

Discussions change--

We can't afford to get this item anymore.

Eating out becomes something of a coupon strategy... deals & bargains must be on the table.

Should we bite the tax bullet on unemployment compensation now or take the hit later? (We decided to take the hit now).
But that's $300 a month.

Could we refinance our mortgage? We are seeing articles that mortgage payments stay the same.... but just lengthened loan periods. Don;t want a longer term, and being on unemployment is probably a disqualifier anyway.

Not having discussions about vacation plans.

This weekend I just felt the stress and pressure hit me all at once.

It's not helping to read about people beginning to really lose it with the family killings or gun rampages.

I am not a gun person.

But I can see how total despair and concern that everything is going to hell can really overwhelm.

Just read an article about 1000 people attending a hiring fair for 600 jobs.
Who is hiring? A contractor handling the Hanford Nuclear Reactor* cleanup.

* The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the manufacturing process left behind 53 million U.S. gallons (204,000 m) of high-level radioactive waste that remains at the site. This represents two-thirds of the nation's high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup.

How depressing is that???

Maybe it is time for me to do a news blackout?

So I am drinking Tension Tamer tea & going to bed early.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day?


Dada said...

Fran: Thanks for the update on the Ramblings family. I, and a lot of other followers of your blog - I'm sure - have been concerned and curious how it's going for you and Mr. Ramblings.

News blackout? No! Please, so long as you can bring yourself to write about it, there are many, many of us who need to know, need to see what may be in store for us all down this road.

Last evening we Skyped with our niece in the Portland area and learned of cracks now beginning to appear in the economic foundations of family members there: From work furloughs, a job cut to three days/week, slack work at Intel while the company considers yet another round of job cuts. And, of course, all these come with implications that impact their way of life to -- very possibly -- the roofs over their heads.

And I used to wonder who'd be fool enough to take a job anywhere near Hanford and their nuclear nightmare. Desperate people, I suppose. What a great time to find workers willing to risk their health, their lives, all because the alternatives of an economic collapse are worse?!

Last night I began a story I intended to finish and post to Dada's today. It was to be a 'humor' piece on the consequences of the economic disaster this country is facing. But reading this blog, I find my creative enthusiasm this morning suddenly vanished. There is nothing funny about what's going down.

Thanks for your openness to share Fran. It's an important contribution to the national dialogue now unfolding for us all.

Fran said...

Thanks Dada- like I said we've had other times when we had layoffs, or in-between job times where we've tighten out belts & creatively made it through tough times. But this is different.
Anymore, I think in states with double digit unemployment, benefits do go on for 1 year, so that does take the pressure off.

We are trying to be upbeat about it. Realizing shit happens & we will somehow deal with it.
Mr. Ramblings has already painted 1/2 the interior of our house in his "furlough" time (I hate that word & reference to layoffs in that way, like it is happy leave time??).
He's done yardwork & keeps the place running while I am working full time- so I come home to cooked meals, and all the domestic errands done, which is both a lot of work, and very much so appreciated.
It's not helping that all 3 of our elder relatives are having majorhealth issues, and it is stressful.

We have shifted into a very different mode.
Sock away all that we can for mortgage payments, so when the unemployment stops flowing we have a little buffer.
I don't mean to sound like we live some pampered lifestyle.... we were a family of 4 living in a basic cookie cutter house with one bathroom.

We both worked full time to keep afloat. We've always had a roof over our heads, and food on the table... even if it was rice & beans.
We don't have a crazy over our heads mortgage, and I'm driving a 15 year old vehicle. I guess I am saying we've managed our lives reasonably.

So our occasional treat was to go out to dinner when we were both burned out from the 40 hour work week grind.

Ironically, I work in the travel industry, so thinking in terms of not being able to even take a discounted vacation option is both annoying & off the table ( plus I have to listen to people complain about being about not being able to book high end suites as their big "problem" in life & I want to scream at them- some people are living in tent cities dammit!!!). So that is a real in-my-face bummer.

Yes, I can do without a vacation... especially if the tradeoff is keeping a roof over my head. But for little peons like me having a break from the work grind- 2 little weeks from the 52 weeks in a year, was just something to give you a little piece of sanity , a little something to look forward to.
There is a part of me telling myself to STFU & just be happy I'm not living in a tent city.

But there is this underlying tension, & uneasiness-
we both worry about what really will happen down the road, in the not too distant future.

And then there are other weird loophole things....
like my husband does not qualify for the worker retraining education programs because I work-- at a low paying job... but whatever my meager wage,
plus unemployment $ puts our family income just out of the qualifying poverty level. Well hell.
Let's just say he makes more in unemployment than I do working full time.

The fact people are so desperate for work, they would take a job cleaning up the most toxic nuclear waste site in the country-- really puts a new spin on the terms "temporary job" & "desperate for work". I could not imagine working in a deadly site- that will offer no health insurance, when chances are you will really need it down the road.
This clean up money is in fact a part of the STIM package.

So I could see where wry & sarcastic humor would lend itself to say, "people are dying for work".... because the Hanford site gig, really fits the bill.

I ventured into the local Wal Mart yesterday (hey! poor people have to stretch a buck!), I asked the cashier how business was... she said it's getting better. That it was really slow & bad for a while, I asked he if they did layoffs.... she said they did cut backs in hours-- people were taking an average of 8 work hours less per week. Oregon's minimum wage is $8.90 an hour, so that $71.20 a week less pay. So even the Wal Mart workers probably can't afford to shop at Wal Mart. Damn!

Don't hold back posting your brand of humor around this mess. We do have to laugh along the way. I am just in some state of burnout & frustration, future shock about it all.
It's not helping that some are going off the deep end.

Hey! in good news the bankruptcy judge approved Monaco being sold to Navistar. Navistar was International Harvester.... they still make some farm machinery.... but the happening part of their business that makes them the most money???

Military industrial machinery. Oh & they make 60% of the nation's school busses.
Military ties & school busses- I can almost smell the apple pie with all that Americana.
Their Midwest headquarters has Union workers UAW, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The school bus business & farm machinery industry would allow a person to sleep at night... but the heavy military equipment production..... no.

The bankruptcy judge says get the place up & running by June-- hurry up with the jobs!

So maybe there is a glisten of hope.
One honcho was a sitting board member for a few years, so this was a back door/in-bed /behind the scenes deal. Maybe I am wrong but I suspect they will emerge with lower paying jobs, and many of the same players from the old admin top dogs.

Or maybe they can make vehicles to transport all that deadly nuclear waste to... somewhere else?

I can't seem to lighten up, can I???? Ugh!

D.K. Raed said...

Wow Fran, after reading all that, I was desperately looking for the bright angle that you snuck in toward the end -- i.e., Navistar may be up & running this summer, albeit at a reduced capacity. That is good news!

If you HAVE to think about Navistar's possible military equip production, there are a few considerations that might allow you to not drive yourself crazy. That particular plant may not be producing military equip. Even if it is, it sounds like it is mostly transportation equip, not lethal stuff. And don't forget a lot of military equip is used in peaceful situations -- especially transportation equip is used domestically for troop training right here in the U.S. Finally, as far as getting through the depression, we have the FDR-model of war spending -- of which I'd like to say that I don't mind spending for military jobs & equip for defensive purposes. It's the offensive purposes that I find offensive.

Fran said...

Since the Federal Tax refund has not yet arrived, we are going ahead & wrapping up the State taxes. Yea- like that's going to make me feel better-- they will take the entire fed refund plus more.

As for mfg--we would sleep better being involved with school busses, farm equipment, or RV's.

The military industrial complex IS offensive!
Certainly when you consider the amount of $$$
swiped from the treasury, that is desperately needed for health care & education, for example.

Nice try on the positive spin, though.... really.