Sunday, September 05, 2004
Welcome to article43.com - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America. It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.
This sticky post was written the day we appeared on the internet in 2004.
In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE. Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.
Everything here can be viewed anonymously. Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.
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If you get an email that claims to be from somebody here that’s anything but a request to post your article, or report suspicious activity (like logs sent to an ISP to report an attack) - it’s SPAM. I do not, and will not - ever - join the junk mail sender community. There are no mechanisms to prevent anyone from forging anyone elses email address in a “from” or “reply-to” mail header. For those of us whose email addresses are fraudently used, the best we can do is filter out NDR REPORTS.
Per U.S.C. COPYRIGHT LAW - TITLE 17, SECTION 107, this not-for-profit site may reproduce copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such articles will either have a web link to the source, home page, and/or show credit to the author. If yours is here and you have a problem with that, send me an EMAIL, and I’ll take it off. Stuff I wrote carries a CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE permitting non-commercial sharing. In addition, this site’s owner forbids insertion and injecting data of any kind - especially advertisements - into ours by any person or entity. Should you see a commercial ad that looks like it’s from here, please report it by sending me a tcpdump and/or screenshot in an EMAIL, then READ UP about how the PARTNERING OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS and companies like NEBUAD are DESTROYING INTERNET PRIVACY.
Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.
Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.
Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.
This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.
Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.
...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files
No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy
Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman
Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein
He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin
If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin
We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein
Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley
The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.
Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous sufbsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.
The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
The INFJ Male
The Plight of Being the Incredibly Rare INFJ Male
By Personality Growth
We all know that INFJs are rare folks, with rich inner minds and a surprising way of reacting to the world around them. INFJ males are even less common, and because of this they are often faced with unique struggles. Being different can leave them feeling alienated from the world around them, and even cause them to experience certain levels of self-doubt. Here are a few things that make the INFJ male both unique and incredible.
They Dont Fit Into Traditional Roles
INFJs in general simply do not fit into traditional roles most of the time. They follow their own set of morals and beliefs, and dislike being shoved into a box. They will often push against anything that is traditional, simply because they donҒt enjoy not being allowed to be themselves. They also despise when other people are forced into a role that does not make them happy. INFJs believe in standing up for people, which can often make them appear different from others. They often do not fit into what society believes is rightӔ or normalӔ and will definitely go their own way.
This type of ideal can sometimes be difficult for INFJs, especially male INFJs. They do not always fit into the stereotypical image of what a man should beӔ and will often have their own unique way of looking at things. This doesnt mean that an INFJ male wonҒt still possess many of the typical male thought patterns and behaviors, but they simply appear more like a lone wolf in many ways. They often do not stand for other peoples sometimes selfish actions, and are much more in tune the emotions of others.
They Are In Touch With Their Emotions
INFJs are in touch with a more emotional side to themselves, even INFJ males. This can be seen as strange, since it doesnt fit into societies somewhat ridiculous idea of how men should behave. They are not overly emotional individuals by any means, and often prefer to keep their feelings to themselves. They are independent and private, which makes their emotional side only visible to those closest to them. INFJ males do however have a rather compassionate nature, and will come to the aid of those in need. They enjoy helping people when they are in pain, and want to be there for people as much as they can. They are in touch with the world around them, and might even come to someoneҒs defense if they are being bullied or hassled. This sense of caring and consideration makes them strong individuals, who are comfortable with emotions instead of terrified of them. In many cases the people around them will truly appreciate this warmth, making them AMAZING FRIENDS AND PARTNERS IN LIFE. At a younger age though, this sense of compassion can get the INFJ into trouble themselves. It takes people who understand them to fully appreciate their depth and sensitivity.
They Are Nurturing
NFJs are very nurturing people, who enjoy taking time to help others. They will not shy away from someone who is hurting, and will often be willing to comfort them. This is not always connected to typical male behavior, which can sometimes be confusing to others. INFJs males might even feel the need to stifle these qualities when they are younger, in order to fit in. They are in touch with the emotions of others, and truly care about people. They want to do whatever they can to help and to make a real difference in the world around them. This feeling often begins at a very young age, which will often leave the INFJ feeling completely alienated from most people around them.
They often do connect with their masculine side and enjoy having time with their male friends. The issues arise when they are around friends who are boastful and enjoy acting deplorable or obnoxious. The INFJ will often be more than willing to speak up against this behavior, especially if it is deemed as an injustice to someone else. They do best around friends who are sincere people, not simply show-offs looking to impress others.
They Keep to Themselves Most of the Time
INFJs are independent and introverted people, who enjoy plenty of time to themselves. This means that even in college or during their younger years, many INFJ males probably preferred to spend time with their favorite people, rather than go to a raging party. When they do attend these types of events they often find themselves wishing they had not gone against their better judgment. They prefer quiet time, often reading or absorbing something that they truly enjoy. This may cause the INFJ male to appear rather different than the typical outgoing, excitement driven male. This is often more of a struggle during their younger years, when it is seems important to be social and in many waysobnoxious. INFJs arenŒt like that, and would prefer to spend time focusing on real encounters.
INFJs can sometimes appear moody or distant, simply because they require time to themselves. Sometimes they are feeling drained, and need to separate themselves from others. This can be confusing, since they are actually very empathetic and warm people. They are emotionally driven, but they are also extremely logical individuals. They need time to think and process things on their own, which can throw people off sometimes. This need for alone time and space, might cause the people who care for them to become hurt. This can also be a struggle for an INFJ male, since most of the time people are expecting a man to be aggressive by nature. INFJ males are capable of going after what they want, but they arent always extremely forward and aggressive about it. They will express themselves, but they wonҒt push people if they seem resistant.
They Dislike Anything Shallow, But They Contradict Themselves
NFJs often feel out of place and like they dont fit in with many others. They are unique and rare people, especially the unbelievably rare INFJ male. They often feel disconnected from what people expect them to be, simply because they are some of the most uncommon individuals on the planet. Their way of thinking and processing their world is very different from many other people. They dislike anything shallow, and will often want to avoid the typical ғfun activities that others might enjoy. INFJs want to make real and lasting connections, and might even hate the idea of continuous one night stands. Many times this will cause the INFJ to appear odd to others, since they would prefer to let people into their lives who truly deserve to be there. They donԒt want to spend time conversing in small talk, and would much rather share in a deep meaningful conversation with others.
INFJs males enjoy aesthetics, but also hate anything shallow. They fit into the continuously baffling INFJ paradox, and will often contradict themselves to outsiders. They simply are complex people, who have a depth inside of them that is not visible to others. They do care about how they look, and might be extremely hard on themselves when it comes to appearance. At the same time they hate anything superficial, and want much more depth than most people are willing to offer.
INFJ males will often hide their less stereotypical male qualities, instead of allowing others to see them. Because of the way the world operates they might feel afraid to be completely open at a young age. This leads to a rather unhappy INFJ, since they will feel alone and completely insincere. It is vital for an INFJ to be true to themselves, so hiding in this way can be very bad for them. Feeling like they have to keep their true nature a secret, can cause them to recluse into themselves completely. They might even find themselves apathetic and incapable of operating in the world around them. When they arent allowed to be themselves and let their less common qualities shine, the INFJ is simply not being true to who they really are. It is vital for them to find people who cherish their qualities, and who appreciate how unique and special they are. When they finally do get around people like this, the INFJ simply needs to become open with themselves in order to begin to shine. If they arenҒt allowed to live up to their full potential, their incredible inner light will fade away.
They Make Incredible Partners In Life
The INFJ male might be incredibly rare, but they are also very special. They have a connection to others, and are warm but also thoughtful people. Their ability to be compassionate makes them wonderful friends and romantic partners. They have both feminine and masculine qualities, which make for an almost perfect balance- one that lets face it, we are all kind of hoping for in a partner. They possess many different qualities that can often be confusing until you dive deep into their soul to learn everything that makes them who they are. Once you are allowed into the world of an INFJ, do not take that for granted. They might have their stubborn moments, they might drive you crazy when they desire to be rebellious- but they are warm, loving and amazingly understanding people. They are hopeless romantics at heart, who sometimes desire to hide that part of themselves away. It is important to help your INFJ and keep them from hiding their light. Cherish them, and appreciate the qualities that make them so unique- they will definitely thank you for it.
Section Personal •
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9 million American men in prime working age cant find jobs. I’m one of them.
By Andy Williams
December 16, 2016
It’s not something most people in my life know about. My friends, acquaintances, the parents of kids on my son’s soccer team that I coach - none of them know.
I have a whole spiel worked out when the question comes up. I say that I’m thinking of changing jobs, or I mention that I’ve been spending my time organizing our house since we moved, or that Im a “consultant.” Anything to avoid talking about what’s really going on.
I’m 47 and I’m unemployed. I’ve been in and out of work for seven years now. This latest stint without steady work has lasted for almost two years. After submitting what feels like hundreds of applications and going through multiple five-hour interviews only to be rejected, I am plagued every day with the fear that Ill never find a full-time job again.
There are many men out there like me. 9 million prime-age working men in our country are out of work. 7 million of them have stopped looking for work completely.
Some economists point to the recession and the slow job market recovery as the source of the problem. This has certainly been the case for me. I was born and raised in Silicon Valley, and have ridden the waves of tech growth in this area. Since various companies I worked for shuttered during the recession, I havent been able to reenter the job market, finding the career skills I had honed no longer relevant.
Every day I go without a job widens the looming gap of unemployment on my resume. While my family is managing financially due to my wife’s job, the stress of uncertainty has taken its toll. The sense of shame, that I’m not providing my family like I’m supposed to be, continues to deepen. For this article, I’m not using my full name - I really don’t want my friends to know the truth about my life right now. Sometimes, I feel like I want to give up completely. And I’ve gone through periods, months at a time, where I have.
Things didn’t used to be so bad
Work wasn’t always so hard to find. After graduating college in the 90s, I was snapped up quickly by a young software company. While I majored in the humanities, I was still able to get customer support position quickly, learning skills on the job. Later, I started working in IT. Those were the optimistic days of the dot-com boom. There was plenty of turnover with companies moving out of Silicon Valley, but I didn’t worry back then I was always able to land another job easily. Money flowed in the Valley, and I assumed that the future would take care of itself.
I never thought I would one day be in my 40s and struggling to stay afloat
The first time I got laid off, in 2002, my wife was pregnant with our first baby. It was the most stressful time in my life. On top of the endless list of job applications, my wife and I would spend our evenings hunched over bills, discussing the logistics and finances of how we could pull off raising a child on my wife’s income alone. I eventually did land an IT job at a local company, only to find myself let go again when the company shuttered at the peak of the recession in 2009. Companies all over Silicon Valley were closing up shop. My wife and I, now with a second child and a mortgage to deal with, braced ourselves for financial stress once again.
And again, and again. I continued to get hired and laid off four or five more times over the next seven years. My background in IT and customer support, both considered the bottom rung at most tech companies, meant that I was expendable at all of these places, especially those struggling financially. Companies that hired me would shutter, taking me down with them. The only work I could get became contracted, temporary or part-time, offered with vague promises of a full-time option down the line that never came to fruition.
It became a cycle of unemployment followed by bouts of work. The issue was never performance. Often, the jobs I could get were so disposable that I was never given responsibilities that could help me grow into a promotion, no matter how hard I pushed. And my skill set continued to age; IT is a job that relies on managing whatever software the company happens to have, and with each layoff, I found myself turned out with experience managing a software that had already grown obsolete.
Eventually, the combination of companies going out of business and my fading skill set meant that I kept getting the axe. That pattern of joblessness and applications began to feel eerily familiar. I wondered why I was getting so used to it. Right now, the central issue is that Ive tried to transition into a new software skill set, but without enough experience. What you’ve done is not nearly as important as which buzzwords you know, but if you don’t have the experience, you might as well be completely untrained. It’s a Catch-22.
Budgeting has become a well-rehearsed drill
Since my last lay off in early 2015, the cycle seems to have reached a standstill. I haven’t been able to find full-time work since. It’s been hard. Even though my wife works a steady job, money has been tight weҒve gone through periods where weve had only $30 to support a family of four for a whole week. Slipping into neurotic budgeting mode has become a well-rehearsed drill at this point. We cancel our retirement contributions, downgrade our cable, cell phones, internet packages, cancel our gym membership. We stop hanging out with more prosperous friends to avoid expensive dinners, awkward conversations, and the occasional glint of latent jealousy.
We learned to pay in cash whenever possible to avoid overdraft fees. Iגve memorized the cost of our grocery store list, going through combinations of items in my head so that each trip is as cheap as possible. Ive stopped taking my kids to the store with me. I hate having to turn down buying that cereal or lunch snack they might see and want.
There have been times where IҒve wondered if I should just get a temporary service or manual labor job to help out with extra cash. But Im worried about getting stuck in a position with even less room for growth than my previous jobs. And to be honest, I would be too humiliated. Our social circle, made up of mostly well-paid tech workers and professionals, has no idea how bad our situation has been. It would be exceptionally difficult to work eight hours a day hoping with all my might that a neighbor or friend wouldnҒt swing by to see me working the cash register or pumping gas. Im already demoralized. I didn’t need any additional anger toward the world.
Since moving to my momҒs old house after she switched to a retirement home, our living costs are considerably cheaper than the mortgage we once paid. And since our kids have gotten older, now 14 and 10, we no longer have to worry about child care. Things are better, but were still living paycheck to paycheck. We’ve cashed out most of our savings accounts, including retirement, and haven’t been able to replenish them. I worry sometimes if we could weather an unexpected expense like a medical emergency.
Now that we’re in a better situation, Ive been able to pick up a couple of hours doing software consulting every week at a local company. It’s not steady, but it gets me out of the house, and might lead to something more permanent. At this point, its better than nothing.
The job hunting process is pure drudgery
Every day involves endlessly scrolling through a list of jobs on Indeed.com and applying here and there with full knowledge that 99 percent of the time, Ill never hear back. I often wonder if anyone is even on the other side, reading the cover letter I crafted before hitting submit - into the void of the internet.
There have been quite a few times over the past two years that Ive gotten really close to getting a job. I’ve been invited in for on-site interviews that last a grueling five hours. One of them went with someone else, and the other hasnt contacted me since. I’ve wondered if its my age - I‘ve come to strongly believe that age discrimination is a real and pernicious issue here in the Valley.
After each rejection, I would spiral into negative thinking, wondering how long I could keep doing this dance. What did I do wrong? What was it they didn’t like about me? I replay every hour of the interview over and over in my head, wondering if it was my personal presentation or some little thing I said that destroyed my chances. The self-doubt starts to creep in. After those interviews, I stopped looking completely for a few weeks, thinking I would never get a job. Why should I even keep trying?
I’ve had phone interviews with five different companies since the beginning of November. None of them has invited me to meet with them face-to-face.
The days are long and boring
I miss having somewhere to be every day. I miss interacting with adults other than my wife. I miss having a productive day scheduled out in front of me. Some days, I donҒt even get out of the house, spending most of time reading online job listings and getting distracted by the internet.
Lately my thoughts have morphed into something resembling an existential crisis. What is the point of my being here on this earth? If I get a job, I will be able to afford a higher standard of living, I will return to the higher social status of the employed, and my family will respect me more would all of that really be enough to justify my existence? Or would nothing really change? This alarmed my therapist when I mentioned it to him, although I am a long, long way away from self-harm of any kind. This hasnҒt been a question I had ever concerned myself with previously; now Im interested to see how I will answer it when Iҗm working again.
There is a perception that being unemployed means having free time to explore interests or get in shape. The reality is that its pretty hard to find the mental space to do that. I donҒt want to get involved a hobby because it feels like a distraction. It would make me embarrassed if I felt like I was spending my time learning how to pilot a drone or something when I really should be looking for a job. I made a promise to myself not to watch any daytime television. It would feel shameful to find myself wasting away in front of the TV at 11 oclock on a Tuesday morning. While IҒm good about avoiding television, I still find myself not being as productive as I want to be.
Instead, I wake up, crack open my laptop fully intending to spend a day applying for jobs and sending reminder emails. Thats when the distraction starts. I promise myself, just a quick glance at Twitter to see whatҒs going on in the world, and then I look up and its 1:15 in the afternoon. Twitter is my heroin Ғ its endless content, and if IҒm bored by one tweet, I just go on to the next one.
For someone like me, a humanities major who loves to read, the internet is a dangerously absorbing environment. Ive become incredibly well-read on the election, spending hours tweeting with strangers about esoteric political topics. Iגve started reading books about economic theories to help me better understand my daily news reading. At times its felt almost productive, but in the end, I recognize that itҒs a waste of time. I could tell someone extensive knowledge about the composite of the 2016 electorate, but it wont help me get a job. None of this stuff will ever help me become more employable.
There’s social stigma
Its hard not to worry about what others think about me and why I havenҒt been able to find a job. I can sense disapproval coming from my mother and brother, who tell me I should just try harder to not keep getting fired. I rarely socialize, both because Im ashamed and because dinner with friends is a luxury I just canҒt afford, and I dont know anyone else who is in my situation that I could commiserate with. IҒve lost touch with former co-workers who might be in the same position as me.
I fret that Im setting a bad example for my kids. IҒm afraid that they see me as a cautionary tale, not a role model. When I talk to them, I try to emphasize the importance of hard work and being careful with money. I hope this is the side of me that gets through to them, not the man on his computer, endlessly clicking through applications, unable to muster up the courage to even tell most people the truth.
Most of all, I worry about my wife. I worry that Im burdening her as the sole breadwinner of our family. Sometimes when she comes home from work, stressed by a bad day at the office, she sees me sitting on my computer in the living room and tells me sheҒs jealous that I get to stay at home all day. I tell her that shes the lucky one, waking up and going to an office that needs her, taking home a paycheck for her efforts. But she canҒt relate to my day-to-day frustrations, and I cant relate to hers.
I’ve taken on way more cleaning, cooking, and chore responsibilities since Ive been not working. IҒm not really any good at it. I now have great sympathy for all the housewives out there expected to cover those duties: Housework categorically sucks. No one likes to do it.
Theres a sense of embarrassment that goes along with it too. ItҒs more socially acceptable for the wife to stay at home and do chores while the husband works. While Im not ascribing gender roles, itҒs safe to say my wife and I both feel somewhat uncomfortable that the situation is reversed in our case. She tells me shes always pictured herself being the one to stay at home, which is hard for me to hear. I worry that she thinks she married a loser.
It’s less the fact that I became unemployed that I want to hide from people. There’s no shame in losing a job. The real embarrassment is when I can’t get another one, especially in a thriving area like Silicon Valley. I worry that my gainfully employed friends will think there’s something wrong with me when they realize how long I’ve been fruitlessly searching.
Thats where the irony lies. I know that the way you get jobs is by getting out there and telling people you’re looking. Using your acquaintances as a network and strengthening social connections is the best way to eventually land employment.
One day I’ll work up the courage. For now, my desperation is a quiet one, hiding behind school soccer pickups and the glow of a computer screen. For now, it’s still my secret.
Andy Williams lives in California with his wife and kids.
Section Dying America •
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Tuesday, December 06, 2016
My Job Nearly Drove Me To Commit Suicide
My job nearly drove me to commit suicide
By Heather Long
July 16, 2016
Darryl Warren had what many consider a dream job: he sold BMWs.
Warren entered the world of luxury cars and wealthy clients at age 50. It seemed a step up from his many years in sales at pharmaceutical and food service companies. In his first year, Warren was a top seller at a dealership outside Charlotte, North Carolina. He brought home about $70,000.
In his second year, Warren says he sold more cars but was paid $10,000 less. The BMW sales floor was hypercompetitive with a “Hunger Games” feel. A typical day started at 9am and ended at 9pm, or whenever the last customer left. Salesmen regularly worked six days a week, sometimes seven at the end of the month.
“I don’t know if it’s illegal the way these companies do it, but it’s immoral,” Warren told CNNMoney. “They literally work people to death.”
His body broke down. It started with back pain. Then came the panic attacks, the blood pressure medication and anti-depressants. Most days, life proceeded like this: work, come home late, drink a “fat glass of liquor,” make small chat with fiancee, then pass out. For the first time in his life, he had suicidal thoughts. Warren quit in May at the urging of his fiancee.
“You’re replaced by a 22-year-old kid who’s drawn by the promise of a cheap BMW and lots of money,” says Warren, who’s now 54 and living off savings while working part-time at a music store.
Spike in middle age suicides
Warren isn’t alone in finding himself in an unexpected and <depressing place during his MIDLIFE YEARS, where he’s TOO YOUNG TO RETIRE, but can’t find a job that matches the one he lost. There’s been an ALARMING SPIKE IN SUICIDES and drug and alcohol abuse among 45 to 54 year-old Americans, especially white Americans.
No other rich country has seen anything like this. Nobel prize winning economist Angus Deaton was one of the first to spotlight how white “midlife mortality” in the U.S. jumped from about 381 deaths per 100,000 in the late 1990s to about 415 now.
Everyone is trying to figure out why it’s happening. The leading explanation is a lack of “good” jobs, especially for workers without a college degrees.
“Many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents,” wrote Deaton and fellow economist Anne Case. Americans with only a high school degree—or less—have seen the biggest surge in suicides.
“I never ever in a million years thought I would be 54 and unemployable,” says Warren. Since he has a part-time job, he is considered underemployed (not unemployed) by the U.S. government. At the music store, he earns only $10 an hour, with no benefits. It’s a job for now, but not liveable.
Workers over 50—or even 45—are being dubbed the “new unemployables.” Unemployment soared during the Great Recession for all ages, but older workers have had the hardest time getting rehired.
Share your story with CNN: How is your job and financial situation?
Older workers: the ‘new unemployables’
Olga Aguilar of Florida is worried she is one of the “unemployables.” The 56-year-old from Miami was laid off two years ago. Since then, she applies and applies for jobs but hasn’t landed anything.
“I want to be useful. I wanted to do something,” Aguilar told CNNMoney. “I want to feel like I have contributed something for myself, for my family. It’s just a matter of pride.”
Despite having a college degree in accounting and many years of experience, Aguilar can’t even get interviews anymore. She worked for nearly a decade at her last job for Arise Virtual Solutions, a call center firm. Her dream is to work with animals, but she says she will “try anything” at this point.
Aguilar’s husband served for many years in the U.S. Air Force and fortunately has a good private sector job now. They are a proud military family. She is upbeat, but this is not the life she expected to be leading in her 50s, either.
U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez told CNNMoney this is a real problem for America.
“The over 50s, they’ve got talent, but they’ve been told hundreds of times their services are not needed,” says Perez, who is on the list of possible vice presidential picks for Hillary Clinton.
Older workers have to search for jobs longer
When older workers get laid off—or quit—it takes them a lot longer to get rehired than their younger peers. Workers over 45 have to search, on average, over 9 months to get a new job versus about 6 months for workers ages 35 to 44, according to the Labor Department.
Some older workers simply give up looking for work when it takes too long. It’s one of reasons America has the lowest level of adults working or searching for a job since the 1970s.
The struggle to find good-paying jobs has become a key issue in the election. For younger workers, the solution is usually more education and retraining, but it’s not as obvious what to do to help older workers.
A possible solution: tax credits
Perez says the best tool to aid older workers who have been out of work for more than six months is the Worker Opportunity Tax Credit. Employers get tax credits ranging from about $1,000 to $10,000 if they hire these workers for a trial run. It’s akin to a glorified internship program. Often, the older worker gets a full-time job offer after the trial period is over.
While Perez is glad that Congress extended the program at the end of 2015, the problem remains that not enough companies are using it. Many businesses have been flooded with job applications during the recovery. They can be choosey.
There’s reason to be hopeful: American companies have been on a hiring boom in recent years. The number of Americans searching over six months for a job has fallen. Today, there are under 2 million people who are long-term unemployed, compared to a record high of 6.8 million people in 2010. Of course, to be counted as long-term unemployed, a person still has to be looking for work, so a lot of people might not be counted today.
All the talk of America being at or near “full employment” doesn’t make much sense to Aguilar. She’s one of the 750,000 workers over 45 who are still officially counted as long-term unemployed.
“The only conclusion I can come up with for why I can’t find work is my age. I don’t want to think that, but there are loopholes in everything,” says Aguilar.
Section Dying America • Section Workplace •
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016
We Have to Face the Major Problem of Acute Financial Stress
By Dr. Galen Buckwalter
November 27, 2016
Editor’s Note: Long before the shocking election of Donald Trump, Galen Buckwalter and his colleagues were doing research and thinking hard about the emotional consequences of inequality, credit card debt and the range of financial stress points in people’s lives. What they found seems so obvious, yet brilliant at the same time. Tens of millions of people have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. How can we, as a society, pretend they are not physically and psychologically affected by this constant anxiety and vulnerability? This ends up costing our society hundreds of billions in health care and lost productivity and leads to higher addiction and suicide rates as well as increased domestic violence.
This is the first of three articles by Buckwalter to begin to raise public consciousness about the huge impact financial stress has on every aspect of physical and emotional life. Can we doubt that under President Trump, this situation will worsen?
AlterNet Executive Editor, Don Hazen
Constant debt leads to trauma, stress and illness.
The conclusion is clear: We are out of balance in a way that is endangering our health, and our relationship with money plays an outsized role in a nationwide health epidemic. As a research psychologist studying stress and mental, physical and emotional health, I’ve spent the last several years examining how we deal with money in an effort to deepen a scientific understanding of how it impacts our health. In the past, I’ve worked with people in varying states of stress, including Marines and humanitarian workers. Today, I study the presence and effects of what we are calling acute financial stress (AFS), essentially financial PTSD.
Our findings are multifold. We’ve found that financial stress is affecting our cognitive processes. I’s also damaging our bodies, leaving millions of Americans sick in ways were just beginning to understand. We know that stress disproportionately contributes to many causes of mortality nationwide, and stress over money is a significant, though widely ignored, contributor. Part of this puzzle is what we’re calling financial personality.Basically, a majority of us don’t have the natural cognitive and organizational styles of those who excel at the kind of thinking that financial planning requires, leaving many of us exceptionally vulnerable to chronic stress.
In our research we decided to apply what we know about personality in general to how people demonstrate their individuality in their financial values, behaviors and attitudes and found a strong connection between our basic personalities and the ways we approach our finances. For example, much like some of us are more open, conscientious or neurotic in relationships, how we deal with money fits into the same patterns.
We asked study participants to respond to seemingly unrelated statements, including: “I do my taxes at the last minute,” “It’s not worth my time to plan for my financial future because I will never be able to make enough money,” “I have little idea of how much money I really have, “and I do not allow my family to know my real financial picture.”
In the responses we received, we saw a profound problem emerge. Feelings of stress, failure, isolation and paralyzing fear kept surfacing in our analyses with alarming regularity. Examining this fear from every angle, we tried to ascertain what we were looking at and what the implications might be. Was this a temporary neurosis brought about by stress? Was it an existential fear stemming from financial concerns? Was it indicative of money altering our brains on a cognitive level that scientists hadn’t yet focused on?
The Emergence of PTSD in Financial Stress
The answer hit me one day: it’s a version of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The mental health community has officially recognized PTSD since 1980 as a serious mental condition. Stemming from a conversation about the financial pressure felt by someone who had lost everything after a divorce, I was reminded of the checklist of PTSD symptoms, which I spent several years focused on while working with Marines and humanitarian workers in an effort to prepare and protect them from post-traumatic stress disorder with resilience training before deployment.
Our studies led us to surprising findings: 23% of adults and 36% of millennials experience acute financial stress at levels that would qualify them for a diagnosis of PTSD. We knew people were feeling under the gun and often anxious about their futures, but this degree of clinical stress was more severe and pervasive than we imagined.
A traditional diagnosis of PTSD requires meeting a number of criteria. Often reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, the disorder brings on avoidance of any situation that reminds a person of the trauma. Additionally, ones beliefs and feelings change, the world feels more threatening and relationships become difficult, leading to depression and isolation. Perhaps most important, PTSD results in hyperarousal, in which itԒs chronically difficult for people to fully calm down, even in sleep. The mind and body are always prepared for trouble, leading to chronic stress that wears down all of the bodys systems, hastening the natural processes of aging the body and mind.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this constant state of hyperarousal results in a myriad of negative physical and medical outcomes. The connection between PTSD and coronary heart disease is notably strong. Links to increased addiction, likely motivated by the increase in anxiety and depression it causes, is also evident.
Fight the Powerlessness
Financial stress, specifically the stress associated with an inability to consistently pay all of one’s bills, appears to be strongly associated with the presence of an external LOCUS OF CONTROL. What this means is people often have a belief that powerful external events control our life choices, as opposed to a sense of self-control and being in the drivers seat. This feeling of powerlessness present in many people who cannot meet their financial obligations serves as the impetus to drive them to abandon a sense of responsibility. Once responsibility is abandoned, it leads to a profound sense of powerlessness and stress.
Chronic stress like acute financial stress tends to preclude people from being able to make rational changes toward a healthier and more stable, less stressful way of life. With severe stress, comes further debilitating self-destructive ways of thinking including avoidance, denial and isolation. As the ability to manage stress spirals, it inevitably moves toward physical dysfunction and chronic disease.
Unfortunately, our current economic and commercial cultures rely on avoidance and denial. These popular coping mechanisms, in turn, overwhelm the brain and body’s needs for security and activate our stress responses system. Relatively recently, the profit-making equation changed even further by putting credit cards in almost everyones hands, ostensibly for consumer’s convenience. The result, of course, is ever increasing consumer debt. Through the black magic of compounding interest, this industry has created a new source of stress that seems to literally be breaking the back of middle-class America.
Culturally, we often perceive of financial difficulties as personal failure, leading people to remain in silent shame about what theyre going through, only compounding their problems with a sense of total powerlessness. Stress isolates people, which leads to weakened relationships, more isolation, depression and often, avoidance of the source of the problem. Avoidance is the enemy of overcoming, so changing this starts with being able to talk about it. IҒve found that by simply discussing their experiences, people with acute financial stress can find a sense of relief and realize theyre not crazy, that this is a real issue and above all, they are really not alone.
This is the starting point, when we begin to understand how many people around us are traumatized by the money in their lives and how itҒs affecting everything from sleep to interpersonal relationships. A reinvention of our collective relationship with money must become a priority because without it, were only going to incur more debt and suffer the ever-increasing health consequences of this problem.
Coming up in the series: Part II: Financial Stress Is as American as Apple Pie; Part III: How to Rise Above AFS in Challenging Times.
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