No, I have no jokes for you today. I'm writing this because I'm not at work. Normally, into my third or fourth cup of coffee I'd be at my mid-morning peak productivity. However, three days ago I was laid off - for the third straight time in two years - and there is nowhere for all that productivity to go except into complaining. So here's a complaint.
The economy is hemorrhaging jobs. It hasn't added many new ones in this decade, and it definitely hasn't added enough to accommodate the entry of my generation - Generation Y - into the workforce en masse. I remember reading awhile back that we got about 8 million new jobs under Bush; compare with the 20 million new workers expected to arrive, many of them overqualified for what's on offering in this proud country.
I'm a struggling artist. I got expelled from the public school system and a counselor talked me into dropping out - it was their way of disposing with a problem student. I'd always had trouble with bullies, and with authority, and when wealthy schools across the country were forced by the Columbine disaster to reconsider their relationship with problem children, across the country bullies were spared and kids whose only crime was teen angst were kicked the fuck out. I'm over that, mostly, even though it made me feel defective at the time, triggered a depression that lasted for years, left my academic record too craterous for colleges, and so forth. I'm over it because at this point, the only course available is to try to make what I can with what I've got: brains, typing skills and writing talent. But I need a job, and I keep losing them!
In 2006, I checked the Occupational Outlook Guide and took its advice to get into medical administration. I went and got a certification and was placed with a company that folded six months later. Subsequent prospective employers wouldn't consider my CV, or reply to it at all. So, I called a temp agency and started working in IT as an outbound software trainer - but within two months, dire economic news started hitting the headlines and all the new hires were sent home. Six months later, I managed to land another job closing insurance claims for Hurricane Ike, but as I'm sure you can imagine, tightening belts forced them to move the emergency billing in-house again, so I got sent home along with about half the staff at my office. Today, I'm once again combing craigslist, submitting my CV wherever I can and not expecting much of a response.
In many ways, I'm lucky. I've been living on handouts from my family during the ludicrously long periods between those gigs! Many people don't even have the good fortune of that. But it's officially run out. That was supposed to be my college money, and it's gone now. (There's an aside here to be made about shame, but I'm trying not to think those thoughts.)
Barack Obama talks about restoring middle class families. Does he mean my parents? They're fine. My mom is head of language staff at a school, she's got seniority, experience and connections. My brother and I, though -- he's fresh out of college, and he's looking at a job market that apparently doesn't have the dollars to keep him clothed and housed. As for me, I'm two or three months from eviction at this rate. I have no degree, no prospects for getting one, and I can't seem to amass enough experience to make up for it because nobody I work for can keep their doors open!
We're probably looking at a microeconomic paradigm shift no matter what happens. Many of us - by which I mean: my friends and I - will probably be living six or eight to a house soon enough, and counting our blessings that we can. That's if things go well. In the short term, I'm looking at maybe spending some time on the street if someone doesn't toss me a lifeline or suggest a job that can remotely keep up with skyrocketing rent (in Austin, my hometown), car repairs, my debts, and my contractual indenture to the Sprint company.
The odds of holding on to where I am now worsen by the day. I can't move right away, as I have a friend and roommate (even closer to financial oblivion, with medical problems and no car) who'd have nowhere to go; I don't qualify for unemployment or any form of welfare; the temp agencies are saying they've got nothing that suits my skill set; and I've managed to save so little that every time I wash my two pairs of presentable clothes, it's a blow to my budget.
Anybody got any clever ideas? Even were I to assume, quite unreasonably, that the problems of the uneducated and jobless were somewhere near the top of Obama's list, there's no way he could add that much new shit to the economy in the time I've got left to live, so to speak. There must be a lot of us, though, right? Surely, mine can't be a unique dilemma. With a collective problem this big, we have to figure something out. Discussion is open.