Article 43

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hopeless in 2017

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Losing your job at 50 or 60 is not good for your health.  There is compelling evidence that no matter who you compare the older job loser to, he or she does worse physically and mentally.
- Why Stress Is Making You Sick - William Gallo, Yale University School of Medicine, AARP, May 2009

Day-to-day, the single-most intimidating OBSTACLE I face is not the unemployment rate or another round of hapless job interviews, but ATTACHING AN IDENTITY to THE MAN I make eye contact with each morning in the vanity mirror.
- Trials of a Stay-At-Home Boyfriend - Salon, March 13, 2012

I began to doubt my ability to find another full-time job.” Being fired from a job that you’ve poured your heart and soul into can be particularly gut-wrenching. “I don’t get involved with people like I used to,” he says. “I probably never recovered from that layoff. It was like family.”
- Life Aftert Layoff - Discarded and Demorazlized - September 4, 2006

While older workers are less likely to be laid off than younger workers, they are about half as likely to be rehired. One result is that older workers have seen the largest proportionate increase in unemployment in this downturn. The number of unemployed people between ages 50 and 65 has more than doubled… The prospects for the re-employment of older workers deteriorate sharply the longer they are unemployed. A worker between ages 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for 17 months has only about a 9 percent chance of finding a new job in the next three months.
- The Human Disater of Unemployment - NY Times, May 12, 2012

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And Now, a Few Words From the Long-Term Unemployed

By Hamilton Nolan
Gawker

lmost four million Americans officially suffer from long-term unemployment. Unable to secure any meaningful legislation to help them, President Obama is reduced to begging corporations to pledge not to discriminate against them. What is long term unemployment like?

In tonight’s State of the Union address, Obama will doubtless take a stab at describing the plight of those out of work for many months or years, as a prelude to the announcement that he “has secured pledges from a number of major U.S. employers to adopt hiring policies that discourage discrimination against the long-term unemployed.” That’s a paltry remedy to a crushing problem.

Throughout the course of our 40-volume Unemployment Stories series, we heard dozens of people speak of the financial, social, and psychological trauma that accompanies long term unemployment. We have quite a few stories that we didn’t have a chance to run in that series. We’ll share a few with you now. Here, some words from America’s long term unemployed:

Defeat

I’m an art director. I knew pursuing a career in art was going to be a rocky road when I was a kid. I worked hard, went to art school, paid my dues, found success. Even as a freelancer, I could always find work. It’s typical in these pieces to mention the level of your previous success. I usually just tell folks that they’ve probably seen my work somewhere. Advertising is like that.

That seems like another world now. At this stage of my extended unemployment, I’ll do anything. Digging ditches, washing dishes, I don’t care so long as there’s some sort of paycheck.

The worst part of extended unemployment is a sense that people blame you for it. As if somehow you’re choosing this. Anything you may have achieved before is irrelevant. Now you’re lazy, unmotivated, a drain on the system and the target of all sorts of condescending unsolicited advice. Gosh, thank you! I hadn’t considered applying at Wal-Mart, the gas station, Jenny’s diner. Wow! There are job fairs?!? OMG! I had NO idea!!! I’ve been too busy enjoying my life of luxurious relaxation. Go back to school! Brilliant! Not only will my bankruptcy make it tough but I can destroy my credit even more while becoming even more overqualified to be a stockboy!

After a while, it doesn’t matter how well meaning the would be job counselors might be. All of it makes you feel less than human.

After a while, you drop out of everything. When friends and family decide to get together someplace you opt out. It’s too humiliating when you can’t afford a glass of soda. Besides, how many times can you listen to someone tell you there’s a job fair going on at some hotel conference room?

Even positive activities become points of criticism. You ran five miles? How much did that pay? You watched the game? Bet you made a lot of money doing that!

It’s NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO STAY POSITIVE. Low level depression is a constant state. Regular rejection attacks your self image. You begin to doubt all the habits you built up to become successful, no matter how successful you were.

At any given moment you waver between giving up completely or absolutely losing your temper. Maintaining an even keel is exhausting.

You lose so much more than a job with extended unemployment. You feel like you lose the things that make us people. Not just money, a home, independence… you lose your value as a person.

When you finally come to the point where you realize you’ll take a minimum wage position you know that such a job won’t provide for any kind of life… you’ll be lucky to pay for transportation to get to and from work.

You can’t vent your frustration. If you do, you simply prove to others that you’re not worthy, you’re not trying, you don’t want a job, you’re a screw up, you’ve already decided you’re defeated.

Defeat is a great word to sum up the experience. Talk politics, economics, strategies, psychology… doesn’t matter when you get turned down for yet another job. Day after day, month after month, year after year, defeat. You lose.

How remarkable is it that people who deal with exactly that reality set their alarms every day? Find a way to get online, submit resumes day after day, put on a brave face and find a way to get through it all? Dig deep and smile when people mention that they saw on the news x or y company is hiring two hundred people?

Most of us are so far past any sort of reasonable breaking point even we can’t tell you how we continue. Press any of us about it and we’ll say ‘what choice do we have?!?’

Reality kicks you in the teeth

I’ve read the unemployment stories and many of them reflect my own.Even though it may be repetitive to writethese words I still feel the compulsion to writethem down and share them with you.

In thinking about laying out the facts of my story, I do realize that a lot of it is my own fault.Some might say “no”, but that’s how it seems to me.I went to college and for the longest time I didn’t know what I wanted to do.I had walked a very long and crooked road to try to find something that I could do with even a little competence and enjoyment.I started in the math and science area.I could barely get passed even the most remedial areas.Then I tried the technical college.I could barely hack it there.Finally, I found that in the English department was where I could do my best and so I went on to study both professional and creative writing.

I had thought that I might get into an entry level position where my skills might have been of some use.Sadly, that wasn’t the case.I searched and searched and searched.The days turned to weeks.The months bled into two years.I couldn’t even land jobs washing dishes, washing cars or cleaning toilets despite my willingness to do those jobs.

And there wasn’t a lot of support for this.

One of my family members even said to me, “If things don’t change in five years, you might as well kill yourself.”

And during that time, I was living at home because of the fact that I had no income source to find any kind of home of my own.Then to make matters worse, my mother was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.And she passed away within a month.

She had no will or life insurance and so, her house (the home I was living in) went back to the bank along with her car.It was only by the purest good fortune that my eldest brother allowed me to live with him out in California.

I did try to remain optimistic about coming to California, thinking that this would be a new chapter in my life and that I would continue to soldier on in the face of my mother’s passing.But, once again, reality kicks you in the teeth.I searched and searched and searched.Days turned to weeks and the weeks bled into months and still nothing.I’ve applied to be a dishwasher at Chili’s, a night time stocker at Toys R Us and many others.Still nothing.Even people at the temp agencies and staffing centers said that they couldn’t help me.That in itself almost seems like a sign to give up, doesn’t it?

Already, I know that there are those out there who would tell me that this is my own fault because I had chosen a degree in an area that is pretty much useless.I’d be willing to concede that.On the other hand, when it comes to jobs listings at job sites and company sites constantly say that they want experience.But to get experience one must have a job.And so the vicious nonsensical merry-go-round continues to spin.

It’s at times like this that I start to think of the writers and artists who’ve come before me:Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gough, Hunter S. Thompson, Spalding Gray and Richard Jeni and the question that I find myself asking is, ”DID THEY HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA at the END OF THEIR LIVES?”

Signed,

The Failed Writer

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/21/17 •
Section Dying America • Section Personal
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Internet Privacy Bites The Dust

Advertisers look forward to buying your Web browsing history from ISPs

Ad groups thank Republican lawmakers for move to kill ISP privacy rules.

By Jon Brodkin
ARS Technica
Mar 14, 2017

FCC and lawmakers seek end of privacy rules

The FCC’s new Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, opposes the rules and has already halted the implementation of a data security component that required ISPs to take “reasonable” steps to protect customers’ information from theft and data breaches. The more well-known portion of the rules, which requires ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers before sharing information with third parties, is scheduled to take effect no earlier than December 4, 2017.

The entire set of privacy rules could be undone by either the FCC or Congress. “Without prompt action in Congress or at the FCC, the FCC’s regulations would break with well-accepted and functioning industry practices, chilling innovation and hurting the consumers the regulation was supposed to protect,” the ad industry groups said.

It’s “one of the worst rules that has been put forward in some time,” Association of National Advertisers Executive VP Dan Jaffe said, according to a MediaPost article. “One way or another, it needs to be stopped.” Jaffe said that the ad groups “plan to lobby on the Hill in support of the resolution proposed by Flake and Blackburn,” MediaPost wrote.

Republicans say the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should have authority over the privacy practices of ISPs. But overturning the existing privacy rules would not by itself return authority to the FTC, and the FTC could be more lenient with ISPs than the FCC.

If no agency enforces privacy rules, “consumers will have no ability to stop Internet service providers from invading their privacy and selling sensitive information about their health, finances, and children to advertisers, insurers, data brokers or others who can profit off of this personal information, all without their affirmative consent,” Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said last week.

Acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen said last year that the FTC recommends getting opt-in consent for “unexpected collection or use of consumers sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, financial information, and information about children,” and an opt-out system for other data, she wrote. Under that scenario, ISPs apparently would not need opt-in consent from customers before sharing Web browsing history.

SOURCE

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It’s official: your internet provider can share your web history
Trump signs resolution killing FCC privacy rules

By Jacob Kastrenakes
The Verge
April 4, 2017

In a major blow to consumer privacy, President Trump signed a resolution today reversing an Obama-era rule that restricted what internet providers could do with their customers data.

Most notably, the privacy rule would have prevented internet providers from using, sharing, or selling a subscriber’s web browsing history without first getting their explicit permission. The rule also required internet providers to take “reasonable” steps to secure data from hackers and to notify customers in the event of a breach.

But Republicans argued that the rules were confusing to consumers and unfair to internet providers. They said that it didnt make sense for the rules to not also cover web companies like Facebook and Google.

The argument isnҒt particular sound: internet providers deliver data, while Facebook and Google run businesses on the web two distinctly different tasks. But that didnגt stop Republicans from passing a resolution to reverse the privacy order in both the House and Senate.

Speaking to the press last Thursday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said “killing the rules will allow service providers to be treated fairly and consumer protection and privacy concerns to be reviewed on an equal playing field.”

But theres not really a positive takeaway here for consumers. While the nightmare scenario of individually identifiable browser histories getting sold is unlikely to come to pass, spiking these regulations very much gives internet providers more leeway when using your data to target ads.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/15/17 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Monday, March 06, 2017

Homeless In California

Aging Baby Boomers Heading for Homelessness

By Peter King
KCET
March 2,2017

Wanda Clarke, 63, never saw it coming. She lived in Los Angeles for six decades. Now for the first time she was stranded on the sidewalks of South Central. It was devastating. I’m 60-something years old. I should not be homeless. But when her husband died of complications from multiple heart attacks, she could no longer afford her mortgage on a single income cashiering at Vons.

Surviving homelessness is a struggle at any age, but for a graying generation it can be brutal. Realities such as fewer job opportunities, diminished income, rising medical costs and infirmity can make homelessness both easier to fall into and harder to escape.

Steve Renahan, a senior policy advisor at the nonprofit Shelter Partnership, has studied the older homeless population in depth. When asked if he thinks their increasing numbers will soon reach crisis levels, he said they already have.

There are over 10,000 people 55 years and older living on the streets of L.A. County. That’s more than double what it was a decade ago. These are the first of the baby boomers. With thousands more retiring every day, we can expect to see that figure grow significantly.

Renahan says that one reason boomers show higher rates of homelessness may be because they have faced more competition from their peers in the workforce. As a result, they have performed worse economically overall compared to their parents or children. So when fixed retirement incomes - such as social security or pensions - and skyrocketing housing costs are layered on top of mediocre lifetime economic performance, we have a recipe for the current crisis.

Look at the basic numbers. The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $2000. The average social security benefit in California is only $1224 a month. For thirty percent of California retirees Social Security is their only source of income. It’s no wonder were seeing more elderly Angelenos making their homes on the street.

“You can either eat or you can pay rent, but you can’t do both,” says Robert, 68, who makes his home around Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. He retired at 62 and only receives $994 a month in social security benefits, which wasn’t enough to cover the rent where he had lived for 30 years in Santa Monica. In an interview with Mark Horvath from InvisiblePeople.tv, he says at his age he has no future. “My only future would be if I went back to work. I’m a mechanical engineering technician. There isn’t a lot of work in that area anymore.”

Laura Trejo, general manager of the LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF AGING, says they are trying to get homeless seniors back in the workforce with a pilot study called the Older Workers Employment Program, which provides job training and connects them with potential employers.

Karen Prater, 62, is one of their success stories. When she lost her job caring for dementia patients, she was the one who needed care. She says she couldn’t find work because most employers weren’t interested in hiring someone her age.

Unable to afford housing on her own, she decided not to “burden her family” and opted to live in shelters. A year and a couple shelters later, she heard about the pilot program. After signing up, she landed a temporary job for the city department of disability and also found an apartment.

So far the program has found jobs for Karen and several other participants. But, even if it works on a larger scale, it’s not enough to stop what some have termed the “silver tsunami” of retirees who could flood our streets, unable to keep up with the cost of living.

The social stigma of homelessness also contributes to the problem. Wanda from South Central was ashamed and embarrassed by her situation. Her son, who lives in Orange County, still has no idea she was homeless.

Living on the street is no joke. You don’t have a place to shower, to go to the bathroom, explains Wanda. On the streets, she reached a point where she no longer wanted to live. Luckily she was able to see a psychiatrist. Then her case manager found her a rare vacancy at the NoHo Senior Villas in North Hollywood, an affordable apartment building run by Clifford Beers Housing. The apartment building was co-developed by PATH, People Assisting The Homeless. They provide Wanda and others at the Villas with crucial supportive services to make sure they doesn’t slip into homelessness again.

Wanda thanks God everyday from the balcony of her apartment. I’m going to be here until I’m 105, exactly. Enjoying life because it’s a low-income building. [Rent is] a third of my income. I have money left over out of my check to spoil me.

So what else are local officials doing to help the bulk of homeless seniors who aren’t as fortunate? The L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Mayor Garcetti and almost every other elected official are pinning their hopes on recently passed Measure HHH for homeless housing. They are also hoping that voters will approve MEASURE H, the sales tax hike on the March 7th ballot, which would create revenue to pay for homeless social services over the next ten years.

But Measure H is no guarantee in an election that will feature lower turnout, a more conservative county electorate and a two-thirds majority to pass.

In the meantime, expect the homeless population to include more aging baby boomers on fixed incomes who are forced to live out their goldenђ years in shelters and on the streets.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/06/17 •
Section Dying America
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