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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

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The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.
- Dag Hammarskjold

Choosing to stop, or change your degree of, participation in long-time family or friends traditions is hard. But, as a person looking for a job, you have the best excuse, actually a sound reason, to beg off of holiday events: “You can’t afford it. You don’t have the resources - the money, time, or energy - to participate this year - that’s it!”
- Holiday Traditions and Your Job Search

Another THANKSGIVING is coming this week.

For another year despondency, bitterness, anger, guilt, shame, and self-hatred carved deeper gouges in my heart.

ESPECIALLY ABOUT MY DYING MOTHER who I can’t afford to visit - and even if I could scrape up the money to fly up and see her like I used to - am in no emotional shape to take care of.

The inner pain of everything negative from my failed job hunt and loosing hope has built to a point that instead of committing SUICIDE - I just about shut down inside. 

Sort of.

The Salvation Army people are out for the holidays with their donation buckets.

After my last good job went away, I STOPPED BUYING A BICYCLE FOR A POOR KID each Christmas and I’d walk past the SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGERS without making eye contact, or a donation.  Today, living off cheap, DISPOSABLE temp jobs - I put a dollar in the pail each time I walk by.  Not because I’m not afraid of the future - I’m more frightened than ever - it’s something else.  Denial maybe? 

Maybe my acts of charity are SELFISH cause it gives me some dignity inside, or maybe SELFLESS from EMPATHY feeling the pain of those worse off than me? Maybe I’m looking for attention like those that slits their wrists but never succeed. 

HUMPTY DUMPTY is a story of DEPRESSION.

Do you think something can happen to ole Humpty to get him back to the way he was before falling off the wall?

Maybe some of us are like WEEBLES - we wobble but don’t fall down.

Maybe.

Maybe the scars are too deep.

Isn’t it times like this the Holy Spirit is supposed to WALK IN and THE LORD SHINE HIS LIGHT?

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Long-Term Unemployment and Mental Health

By Mental Health Psychology Info
November 11, 2011

There is more lost than a paycheck when a person experiences extended periods of unemployment, according to recent research. When adults with no previous mental health history experience their first instances of psychological distress when they become unemployed, the distress is most likely to be the result rather than the cause of the job loss.

A Washington and Lee University study is slated for presentation to Congress some time this month. The studys findings will be part of a briefing given to Congress on the emotional impact that results from unemployment.

The Washington and Lee study revolved around those who, until a recent extended period of unemployment, had never before experienced clinically defined issues of mental health. Extended or long-term unemployment was defined as lasting greater than 25 weeks. The team contrasted the mental health of those who enjoyed uninterrupted employment with those who experienced a job loss lasting under 25 weeks and those who remain unemployed for more than 25 weeks.

The study revealed several interesting facts. First, a person who remained jobless for more than 25 weeks over the past year is three times more apt to experience mental health issues than is the person who had continual employment. This was true regardless of whether or not the person had ever been clinically diagnosed with mental health problems before. In other words, being unemployed for such an extended period was likely to initiate a person’s first ever exposure to clinically defined psychological distress. The potential for mental health problems was about the same for the person unemployed fewer than 25 weeks as it was for the person who was fully employed throughout.

Another contributing factor to whether a person undergoes psychological distress appears to be connected to their level of education. Those with higher levels of education were actually more at risk for mental distress than were those with less education. Researchers hypothesize that this may be due to the fact that more educated people feel a greater sense of control over their lives and when unemployment strikes, that sense of power is taken.

Also of note, this education-mental health connection appeared strongest among well-educated minorities. This could be because minorities are faced with formerly latent fears regarding job discrimination.

Depression and anxiety are common reactions to situations that make a person feel out of control such as long-term unemployment. Self-blame and worry about the future can become a struggle for people who have never before faced psychological struggles. Work provides people with a sense of purpose and its loss inherently impacts self-perception. Other bad news related to recessions: Marriage rates go down, divorce rates go up, and children of unemployed parents perform poorly and behave badly in school.

Like ripples from a pebble dropped in the water, losing a job reaches out and touches others parts of a persons life. The research indicates that a short-term job loss is mentally processed as another of the myriad ups and downs that make up life’s journey. On the other hand, long-term unemployment appears to wear down otherwise resilient people who, until now, had maintained a sense of power over their lives. Congress needs to hear the full-orbed impact of recessionary times. So much more than credit ratings get hurt when the economy refuses to repair.

SOURCE

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The Science Of Rejection: Helping The Long-Term Unemployed

Project aims to assist long-term unemployed
MIT professor launching effort to help them overcome barriers

By Megan Woolhouse
The Boston Globe
November 17, 2013

More than four years after the last recession ended, long-term unemployment remains near record levels, with 4.1 million Americans out of work for more than six months and still struggling to find jobs. What makes the problem so vexing, Sharone said, is these workers, typically older, have qualifications that should provide the path to employment, namely experience, accomplishment, and college degrees.

You can’t just say go get an education because these people are often educated. he said. “It’s scary because there’s not an obvious, easy solution.”

Sharone, however, is daring to try to find one. Later this month, he will launch a project called the Institute for Career Transitions, an organization to help the long-term unemployed, focusing on 40- to 65-year-old workers with college degrees. The institute will begin by pairing them with career counselors or job coaches, free of charge, for three months.

Sharone and his researchers will also try to build a better understanding of long-term unemployment and approaches that might help overcome its challenges and barriers. They will study the moods, health, and levels of depression among participants, examining how long-term unemployment and repeated disappointments - affect them, their motivation, and ability to get back to work.

“We need a nuanced interpretation of what it means to get rejected,” he said. “How does that affect your future, your job search, your sense of self, your life, your relationships?”

Among those working with Sharone is Rand Ghayad, a Northeastern University researcher and visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who has published groundbreaking work on long-term unemployment. Ghayad, who mailed 4,800 fictitious resumes and recorded employer response rates, concluded that companies frequently screen out applicants who are unemployed for more than six months.

Ghayad found that employers showed four times more interest in candidates unemployed for six months or less even if they had less experience and fewer qualifications than those experiencing longer bouts of joblessness. Older unemployed workers, he found, were most frequently passed over, viewed as having outdated skills or as being דdamaged goods.

“I believe workers aged 55 and older are not only suffering from unemployment discrimination, but also age discrimination, which is making it nearly impossible for them to find work in this sluggishly growing economy,” Ghayad said. “Long-term unemployment among older workers should be our priority as a nation.”

“Solving long-term unemployment would boost the nation’s economy, which is at risk of losing the potential, productive capacity, and spending power of millions of Americans,” Sharone and Ghayad said. “Many long-term unemployed ultimately drop out of the workforce, depleting retirement savings, collecting Social Security early, or turning to public assistance.”

Many also suffer debilitating depression, and in the worst cases become suicidal, feeling as if they have failed or no longer have value.

Sharone, 45, has studied long-term unemployment for more than a decade, an issue he came to unexpectedly. After graduating from Harvard Law School and working in the corporate world, he said he felt unfulfilled and returned to school at the University of California at Berkeley to study sociology, writing his doctoral dissertation on the experiences of unemployed technology workers after the dot-com bubble burst early in the last decade.

That crash left thousands of people out of work for several months and longer, despite skills, experience, and often advanced degrees.

Sharone said his research found that Americans tend to suffer greater discouragement related to long-term unemployment than do people in places like Israel, where Sharone was born and raised. In Israel, unemployed workers tend to blame the system, directing their anger at a rigid economy that can make it difficult to move between jobs.

Americans, however, often blame themselves. White-collar job searches put a heavy emphasis on networking with ones peers and on a candidateҒs chemistry with an employer, requiring prospective employees to establish rapport.

This means that when you are rejected for a job, it often feels like itӒs not your qualifications that have been rejected, its you, personally,Ҕ said Sharone, who recently published the book Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment ExperiencesӔ based on interviews with more than 170 white-collar job seekers in the United States and Israel.

Sharone said the new institute, primarily funded through his MIT research budget, will begin randomly matching about 60 unemployed people with career counselors and coaches in the next two weeks. The research component will study three groups of unemployed: one getting one-on-one career counseling, another receiving counseling in a group setting, and finally, a control group that wont get any coaching.

The program has taken referrals from networking groups to find candidates for the study. But response among career counselors and coaches has been so great (nearly 40 offered their services for free) that Sharone said there is room for about 20 additional long-term job seekers who want help. More openings could be on the horizon.

Sharone said anyone interested should visit the organization’s new WEBSITE.

Amy Mazur, a Newton career counselor who usually charges $85 an hour, said she is donating her services to the project because she thinks the intervention could help many long-term unemployed. She said she also wants to be part of a larger discussion among career professionals on how they might address the problem and change employers views of the long-term unemployed.

“What are we doing about a situation where we have people with a lot to offer, people with skills and motivation? You can’t put them out to pasture,” she said. “You don"t want to and it’s not the best thing for the economy and society.”

Sharone said he hopes to hold a conference on long-term unemployment in May to release his initial findings. The research could reveal strategies to benefit job seekers, identifying ways to help them network and overcome obstacles such as an ignored resume.

“It could also lead to something bigger,” Sharone said, “such as a national group that recruits professional counselors to offer this kind of service. Right now, there are few services and institutions dedicated to helping the long-term unemployed, heightening the isolation they likely feel.”

“How to cope and remain resilient in the face of rejection is one of the key skills that unemployed job seekers need to develop,” he said. “This is also about how to find a job. But an important part of what I care about is how to deal with rejection in a way that’s not overly self blaming.”

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megan.woolhouse at globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at megwoolhouse.

SOURCE

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Unemployment Is an “Ongoing Traumatic Stress Disorder”
How the Economic Crisis Affects Lives

By Leonard Fein
June 10, 2011

On a flight back from Israel several weeks ago, I had a brief conversation with my seatmate, an automotive parts salesman from London. We talked a bit about life in David Camerons England and then switched to Israel. That is when he startled me. I’d been describing how, within one 24-hour period, I’d heard the same words from a psychiatrist in Gaza and a social activist in Sderot, the city to which most of the rockets fired from Gaza have been aimed: “Everyone here,” they’d both said, “suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.” To which my seatmates immediate response was, “Why post?”

Why, indeed? People in both places cannot know whether and when the next assault will take place - a flurry of rockets, a bomb from a high-flying drone, perhaps more than that. So why post?? The trauma continues; it is part of life in these places.

I’ve been mulling his wisdom lately, and it occurs to me that around the world, there are very many people, altogether too many, who suffer from what I - not a mental health professional - am inclined to call OTSD, ongoing traumatic stress disorder.

Take the 13.9 million unemployed people in the United States today; of these, more than 6 million have been out of work for six months or more. These numbers do not include the 8.5 million הinvoluntary part-time workers, people who are working part-time either because their hours have been cut back or because they have been unable to find full-time jobs. At some recent point, most of these 22.4 million people were “outplaced,” the current euphemism for “fired,” or were shifted from full-time to part-time work.

These are but numbers, although they benumb us, or should. They summarize real people who suffer the agony of joblessness, which is often accompanied by growing feelings of worthlessness - and, of course, shame and guilt for the inability to provide adequately for themselves and for those who depend on them. The National Institute of Mental Health, often cautious in its language, says that People may develop PTSD in reaction to events that may not qualify as traumatic but can be devastating life events like divorce or unemployment. For my part, I cannot imagine the feelings of helplessness these people suffer, nor the fears they experience as more and more states cut or propose to cut back on unemployment insurance payments and as more and more of them lose their homes to foreclosure.

My brother, in the 1950s a young professor teaching economics at the University of North Carolina, tells a story that illustrates the shame: Midway through the semester - it became clear to me that none of my students had any idea of the real economic costs and psychological impact of unemployment. And so I gave them an assignment to be completed over their Christmas holidays. I asked that they speak to their parents or grandparents, an older relative or family friend, and discuss the ways the Great Depression had affected their lives. The students would then writean essay summarizing those conversations.

I was not surprised that the essays revealed that few of the students had been aware of this chapter in their family history and that they found their newly gained understanding both emotionally and intellectually rewarding. But I was surprised at the number of parents and grandparents who wrote to me or who asked their offspring to tell me how much they appreciated the assignment and its context. For many of them, this was the first time they had felt comfortable in telling their story, a story they feared would be interpreted as reflecting a personal failure.

Shame? Trauma? This last April, there were 219,258 new foreclosure filings; of the $46 billion that Congress gave the Treasury Department to spend on keeping homeowners in their houses, a total of $1.85 billion has been spent. If youre unemployed - currently, the primary cause of foreclosure it’s often impossible to negotiate your way out, since some monthly payment is still required. Now: Instead of “foreclosed,” a relatively anodyne word, read “evicted.” And consider whether the experience of being evicted qualifies as a trauma, one that continues to cause pain as you awake each morning in the home of relatives or friends and set out again to find a job, knowing that there are roughly five unemployed people for every job that awaits and that very many prospective employers will not consider unemployed candidates.

And Congress? Republicans battle on for their proposed solution: Slash federal spending, cut corporate taxes, deregulate, extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and allow the states to prematurely end benefits to the long-term unemployed - this although unemployment insurance is widely understood as one of the most effective means of increasing demand in a sluggish economy. Yes, our country has a long-term deficit problem. But the effort to “solve” that problem while ignoring the immediate jobs deficit problem is perverse.

There is no therapeutic model for dealing with such things. But perhaps we might learn from my brother’s experience, and seek out and get to know one person, one family, currently experiencing the trauma of joblessness.

SOURCE

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Lost Income, Lost Friends and Loss of Self-respect

By Rich Morin and Rakesh Kochhar
Pew Research
July 22, 2010

Long-term unemployment takes a much deeper toll than short-term unemployment on a person’s finances, emotional well-being and career prospects, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that explores the attitudes and experiences of workers who have lost jobs during the Great Recession.

Of those who have experienced an unemployment spell of at least six months, more than four-in-ten (44%) report that the recession has caused major changes in their lives. By comparison, fewer than a third (31%) of those who had been unemployed less than six months and 20% of adults who were not unemployed during the recession say they were similarly affected.

To measure the impact of unemployment during the Great Recession, the Pew Research Center interviewed 810 adults ages 18 to 641 who are currently unemployed or who were jobless sometime since the recession officially began in December 2007. They were part of a nationally representative survey of 2,967 adults conducted May 11-31, 2010.

Pew Center researchers also analyzed recent employment data to create a demographic portrait of the long-term unemployed.2 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median duration of unemployment stood at 25.5 weeks in June 2010, meaning half of the unemployed the largest proportion since World War II - have been looking for work for six months or more. The previous high, in May 1983, was 12.3 weeks, less than half the level today. The Centers demographic analysis finds that the median duration is highest among older workers, blue-collar workers and black workers. However, all workers, regardless of race or ethnicity, age, gender, nativity or occupation, have experienced a sharp increase in long-term unemployment during the recession.

Together, the survey and analysis of employment data documenthow a prolonged period of joblessness can strain household budgets, test personal relationships, force changes in career plans and erode self- confidence. Key findings include:

Family finances: A majority of the long- term unemployed (56%) say their family income has declined during the recession, compared with 42% who were out of work less than three months and 26% of adults who have not been unemployed since the recession began in December 2007. Overall, the long-term unemployed are also more likely to say they are in worse shape financially now than before the recession.

Impact on relationships: Nearly half (46%) of those unemployed six months or more say joblessness has strained family relations, compared with 39% of those who were out of work for less than three months. At the same time, more than four- in-ten (43%) long-term unemployed say they lost contact with close friends

Loss of self-respect: Nearly four- in-ten (38%) long-term unemployed report they have lost some self-respect while out of work, compared with 29% who were jobless for shorter periods of time. The long-term unemployed also are significantly more likely to say they sought professional help for depression or other emotional issues while out of work (24% vs. 10% for those unemployed less than three months).

Impact on career goals: More than four-in-ten (43%) of the long-term unemployed say the recession will have a ғbig impact on their ability to achieve their long-term career goals. Among those unemployed less than three months, 28% said being jobless would have a similarly serious impact.

Am I in the right job? More than seven-in-ten long-term unemployed say they changed their careers or job fields or seriously thought about doing so. They also were more likely to pursue job retraining programs or other educational opportunities while out of work.

Settling for less: Among workers who found a job after being unemployed for six months or longer, about three-in-ten (29%) say their new job is worse than the one they lost, compared with only 16% of re-employed workers who had been jobless for less than six months. In separate questions, these workers also report their new job paid less and had worse benefits than their old one.

Pessimism on the job hunt: Among adults who are currently unemployed, those who have been jobless for six months or longer are significantly more pessimistic than the short-term unemployed about their chances of finding a job as good as the one they lost.

While the long-term unemployed have suffered the most during the Great Recession, the survey found that shorter spells of unemployment also have been painful for many Americans and their families.

The remainder of this report examines in more detail how the unemployed - particularly the long-term unemployed - have fared during the Great Recession. Chapter 1 offer a demographic profile of the long-term unemployed. The report then examines the problems encountered by those who have been unemployed during the recession and the larger hardships faced by the long-term unemployed. The final chapter examines how long-term unemployment affects workers even after they find another job and the attitudes of the currently unemployed.

Read the FULL REPORT for more details.

SOURCE

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Scarcity Makes You Stupid

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By Tina Rosenberg
NY Times
September 25, 2013

“Scarcity” is a new book that does something that I didnt think possible: it says something new about why people are poor - and what to do about it.

Heres whatҒs not new: Poor people have more self-destructive habits than middle-class people. The poor dont plan for the future as much. Compared to middle-class people, the poor have less self-control and are quicker to turn to instant gratification. These habits perpetuate a cycle of poverty.

This is proven. The controversy is why it is the case. For conservatives, roughly speaking, these behaviors cause poverty. For liberals, also roughly speaking, poverty in many ways causes these behaviors. It is easy to see how the stresses of poverty weigh in. With eating habits, for example: fruit and vegetables cost more that many unhealthier foods, and might not be available in a poor neighborhood.

But there are behaviors the liberal view struggles to explain. Even when healthy foods are available and made cheap, for example, poor people take advantage of them far less.

Now Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard economist, and Eldar Shafir, a psychologist at Princeton, propose a way to explain why the poor are less future-oriented than those with more money. According to these authors, one explanation for bad decisions is scarcity not of money, but of what the authors call bandwidth: the portion of our mental capacity that we can employ to make decisions.

Worrying about money when it is tight captures our brains. It reduces our cognitive capacity - especially our abstract intelligence, which we use for problem-solving. It also reduces our executive control, which governs planning, impulses and willpower. The bad decisions of the poor, say the authors, are not a product of bad character or low native intelligence. They are a product of poverty itself. Your natural capability doesnt decrease when you experience scarcity. But less of that capacity is available for use. If you put a middle-class person into a situation of scarcity, she will behave like a poor person.

The authors and two colleagues had a team of researchers approach SHOPPERS at a mall in New Jersey. People were asked about their income and then classified (without their knowledge) as either poor or rich. Then they were asked a question: your car needs a repair that will cost you $150. You can take a loan, pay in full, or postpone service. How do you go about making this decision? After they answered, the subjects took tests that measured fluid intelligence and cognitive control.

Poor and rich people did equally well on the test.

But then the researchers changed one thing: instead of needing $150 for the repair, they would need $1,500. The rich subjects did as well on the intelligence and willpower tests as they had before. The poor group did not.

Their scores dropped the equivalent of losing 13 or 14 IQ points - larger than the drop experienced by people who had just stayed up all night. Thinking about how to come up with $150 didnt affect them. But thinking about coming up with $1,500 eroded their intelligence more than if they had been seriously sleep-deprived.

This result isn’t particular to New Jersey. The same team studied sugar cane farmers in India, testing their intelligence just after the harvest, when they were flush with cash, and before it, when they were poor. The same farmers got 25 percent more questions right on the intelligence test when they were rich, and made 15 percent more errors on the executive control test when they were poor.

Isn’t this just stress? We know how harmful stress can be. But Mullainathan and Shafir argue that the effects of scarcity go further. It’s capture of our brains leads people into a tunnel; your only focus is solving the emergency of the moment. If the rent is due, you use money that would have gone to the car payment. The fact that this will end in getting your car repossessed, and therefore losing your job, doesn’t really register. You take very little notice of whats outside the tunnel.

In this way, scarcity creates a vicious circle. Tunneling leads people to borrow to deal with the emergency expense. For the poor, borrowing is VERY COSTLY. They take high-interest PAYDAY LOANS, buy on installment, pay large credit-card fees and interest. They borrow by paying bills late, which means they pay a substantial portion of their income in late fees and reconnection fees. These consequences, however, lie outside the tunnel - until paying those bills becomes the new emergency.

The authors designed complicated games to simulate conditions of scarcity. One was a version of the TV game show Family Feud, played by Princeton students assigned at random to either have a lot of time to answer questions or just a little. When researchers allowed players to borrow time from their future rounds at high rates of interest, the time-poor players borrowed profligately, and their scores plummeted. When the loans could be rolled over - simulating real-world debt traps - the time-poor did even worse.

Mullainathan and Shafir writethat the same mentality of scarcity that applies to the cash-poor also applies to people who are overly busy and those who are DIETING.

People short of time also tunnel, borrowing time by postponing projects that are tomorrows emergency but not todays. And being hungry captures the mind in a way similar to being poor. People who are on strict diets spend a lot of their bandwidth thinking about food.

“The scarcity phenomenon is good news because to a certain extent, we can design our way around it. Awareness of the psychology of scarcity and the behavioral challenges it yields can go some way toward improving the modest returns of anti-poverty interventions,” Mullainathan and Shafir write.

Here are some examples:

Automate good decisions. Since we cant be counted on to make good choices when weԒre in the tunnel, we can make them automatic. One decision to automate your choices will eliminate all those future opportunities to screw up. One way is to switch the default. For example, instead of making enrolling in a 401(k) savings plan voluntary, make not enrolling voluntary. This simple change has produced spectacular increases in usage of 401(k)s, organ donation and AIDS testing. It can be used for many outside-the-tunnel decisions, like building savings: sign up to have part of your paycheck automatically deposited into a savings account. You can still get at it, but you have to take steps to do so.

Provide better options for borrowing. Employers of minimum wage workers often complain that these workers are unprepared for their jobs, unfriendly to customers and distracted. Part of the reason may be that they are devoting little bandwidth to their jobs because they are worrying about how to live on their wages.

The theories in Scarcity support the idea that paying them a living wage would increase productivity. But since some employers may balk at this, the book proposes a smaller step: remove some of the penalties that come with borrowing.

Since poor people often have an urgent need for small sums, they take a lot of payday loans. These loans, some of which have interest rates of more than 300 percent, cost workers hundreds of dollars in fees. They are a scam designed to trap people in cycles of debt 85 percent of payday loans go to people who take seven or more loans each year. (See this report (pdf) for a thorough explanation of their horrors, and this column by Tom Edsall.)

One solution is to spread credit unions. Another is to expand workplace-based financial counseling and services, like Neighborhood Trust’s innovative Employer Solution.

Employers can help by paying weekly instead of bi-weekly, and by offering loans themselves with reasonable interest rates. Better yet, a portion of the repayment could go automatically into a savings account for each worker, so they could eventually borrow from themselves.

Internationally, we now know that microcredit loans are often used to cover personal emergencies, not to start businesses. They are not well-suited to this, as they are usually too large and take too much time to get. (This is why even people with access to microcredit continue to go to pawn brokers and loan sharks.) Dhanei KGFS, a financial services provider in Orissa, India, pioneered a successful new product: small, low-interest emergency loans that clients of their bank had pre-qualified for and could get at any time of day or night, nearly instantly.

Design services for the poor to take up less bandwidth. We know the poor are short of cash; we design for that (most of the time). But we dont think about their scarcity of bandwidth, and that should influence services as well. One good model is Single Stop, which operates more than 90 sites around the country where low-income people can apply for benefits, do their taxes and get legal and financial advice.

Structure incentives to put them inside the tunnel. Since scarcity forces us to tunnel, and concentrate only on what’s inside that tunnel, incentives and penalties will work best when they can be inside, too. This means very short deadlines and quick rewards - perhaps in several installments.

Telling people they can be on welfare for only five years isn’t effective. That deadline might not become part of the tunnel until they hit four years and 11 months too late to start looking for a job. Mullainathan and Shafir call this the worst of both worlds: җit penalizes but fails to motivate, they write.

The same phenomenon explains why the death penalty, the three-strikes law and other harsh punishments fail to deter criminals. No matter how harsh they are, they are far enough away to lie outside the tunnel.

These design shifts Ӕ the authors and others propose more of them on the behavioral economics site http://www.ideas42.org are a small solution to a very big problem. But the theory is a new one. It needs more study ח but part of that exploration will be trying out different models of antipoverty services that take bandwidth scarcity into account. It is far from the only reason people are poor, of course, but whats particularly useful about the idea of scarcity is that it is overarching; ease that burden, and people will be better able to deal with all the rest.

SOURCE

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The Mental Strain of Making Do With Less

By Sendhil Mullainathan
NY Times
September 21, 2013

Doets dont just reduce weight, they can reduce mental capacity. In other words, dieting can make you dumber.

Understanding why this is the case can illuminate a range of experiences, including something as far removed from voluntary calorie restriction as the ordeal of outright poverty.

Imagine that you are attending a late-afternoon meeting. Someone brings in a plate of cookies and places them on the other side of the conference table. Ten minutes later you realize you’ve processed only half of what has been said.

Why? Only half of your mind was in the meeting. The other half was with the cookies: “Should I have one? I worked out yesterday. I deserve it. No, I should be good.”

That cookiethreatened to strain your waistline. It succeeded in straining your mind.

This can happen even with no cookiein sight. Dieters conjure their own cookies: psychologists find that dieters have spontaneous self-generated cravings at a much higher rate than nondieters. And these cravings are not the dieters only distraction. Diets force trade-offs: If you eat the cookie, should you skip the appetizer at dinner? But that restaurant looked so good!

Many diets also require constant calculations to determine calorie counts. All this clogs up the brain. Psychologists measure the impact of this clogging on various tasks: logical and spatial reasoning, self-control, problem solving, and absorption and retention of new information. Together these tasks measure “bandwidth,” the resource that underlies all higher-order mental activity. Inevitably, dieters do worse than nondieters on all these tasks; they have less bandwidth.

One particularly clever study went further. It tested how dieters and nondieters reacted to eating a chocolate bar. Even though the bar provided calories, eating it widened the bandwidth gap between dieters and nondieters. Nondieters ate and moved on, but dieters started wondering how to make up for the calories they had just ingested or, even more fundamentally, pondered, “Why did I eat the bar?”

In other words, diets do not just strain bandwidth because they leave us hungry. They have psychological, not just physiological, effects.

The basic insight extends well beyond the experience of calorie counting. Something similar happens whenever we make do with less, as when we feel that we have too little time, or too little money. Just as the cookietugs at the dieter, a looming deadline preoccupies a busy person, and the prospect of a painful rent payment shatters the peace of the poor. Just as dieters constantly track food, the hyper-busy track each minute and the poor track each dollar.

As Prof. Eldar Shafir at Princeton University and I argue in our new book, “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” (Times Books), a similar psychology of scarcity operates across these examples but with varying degrees of force. If a cookiecan tax our mental resources, imagine how much more psychological impact other forms of scarcity can have.

Take the case of poverty. In a paper published last month in Science, with Profs. Anandi Mani at the University of Warwick and Jiaying Zhao at the University of British Columbia, Professor Shafir and I waded into politically charged territory. Some people argue that the poor make terrible choices and do so because they are inherently less capable. But our analysis of scarcity suggests a different perspective: perhaps the poor are just as capable as everyone else. Perhaps the problem is not poor people but the mental strain that poverty imposes on anyone who must endure it.

One of our studies focused on Indian sugar cane farmers, who typically feel themselves to be both poor and rich, depending on the season. They are paid once a year at harvest time. When the crop is sold, they are flush with cash. But the money runs out quickly, and by the time the next harvest arrives they are stretched thin: they are, for example, 20 times as likely to pawn an item before harvest as after it. Rather than compare poor and rich farmers, we compare each farmer to himself: when he is rich against when he is poor. This kind of comparison is important because it addresses valid concerns that differences in psychological tests merely reflect differences in culture or test familiarity.

We measured farmers’ mental function on what psychologists call fluid intelligence and executive control ח one month before and one month after harvest. And the effects were large: preharvest I.Q., for example, was lower by about nine to 10 points, which in a common descriptive classification is the distance between averageӔ and superiorӔ intelligence. To put that in perspective, a full night without sleep has a similar effect on I.Q.

Bandwidth scarcity has far-reaching consequences, whether we are talking about poor farmers or affluent dieters. We all use bandwidth to make decisions at work, to resist the urge to yell at our children when they annoy us, or even to focus on a conversation during dinner or in a meeting. The diversity of these behaviors combined with the size of the measurable effects ח suggests a very different way to interpret the choices and behaviors of the poor. Just picture how distracting that cookiewas, and multiply that experience by a factor of 10.

For dieters, bandwidth scarcity has one particularly important consequence, illustrated in one study that gave people a choice between fruit salad and cake. Before choosing, half of the subjects had their bandwidth taxed: they were asked to remember a seven-digit number. The other half had a mentally less-demanding task: they were asked to remember a two-digit number. Those with less available bandwidth ate more cake: they were 50 percent more likely to choose cake than the others. There is a paradox here: diets create mental conditions that make it hard to diet.

This may sound defeatist. But there are positive lessons for how to manage the different kinds of scarcity.

The United States government, laudably, offers financial aid for low-income students to attend college. Qualifying for it, though, requires completing a densely packed 10-page booklet, mentally taxing for anyone. A one-page version would not only be simpler but it would also recognize that the poor are short on bandwidth as well as cash.

The same tactic economizing on bandwidth - can be used in dieting. Take the Atkins diet, which effectively bans many foods, including bread and a lot of desserts. A ban is less complex than the trade-offs and calorie accounting required by many other diets. While all diets require self-control, Atkins requires less thinking. This might explain its popularity, and even its effectiveness: a recent study shows that people persist longer with diets that require less thought.

The same study had another interesting finding: it was the perceived complexity of a diet - not its actual complexity - that determined persistence.

So keep this in mind the next time youre picking a diet to shed a few pounds. Try one that won’t also shed a few I.Q. points.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 09/27/13 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Personal
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Organic Weigh Loss Tips

model.jpg

With obesity on the increase and GMOs being proven as a key cause, natural alternatives to pills and drastic surgery seem a much healthier, less invasive option.

Obesity is on the increase. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 35.7% of American adults are obese. GMO foods have been named a major factor in this increase. According to a Norwegian study undertaken over 10 years, it was found that animals in this test that were fed GMO corn, gained weight faster and retained it for longer, compared to those fed a non-gmo diet.

There are a number of diet fads, miracle pills claiming to make you lose weight quickly and expensive surgeries such as gastric bands. However the risks of using these methods can be costly to both oneҒs health and bank balance.

The key to losing weight is simple and easy. By making changes to the types of foods you eat, portion sizes and getting a decent amount of exercise on a daily basis will have a far greater impact than any other method. Not only will your body look better, but your health will be greatly improved also.

These 9 tips are great for losing weight:

Honey approximately 10 grams mixed with lukewarm water is a great natural home remedy to help with obesity.

Cabbage is well known on the fad diet list for helping with weight loss. Although when eaten with a healthy diet can be extremely beneficial. The chemical tartaric acid in cabbage works by stopping the body from converting sugar and carbohydrates into fat.

Raw tomatoes eaten in the morning will have a significant impact over 3 months.

Curry leaves work by flushing out fat and toxins in the body. Eating 10 -12 leaves daily for 4 months will achieve results.

A lemon, cayenne pepper, honey combination is another detox method for losing weight. A teaspoon of honey , a dash of pepper and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice daily for 3 months will aid in reducing body fat.

Dandelion root in the form of a tea (or tisane) aids digestion, is a natural detox and thus aids the natural weight loss process. Green Tea is known to help boost metabolism. Drink 3 cups daily.

Ginger and Lemon tisane is a great appetite suppressant which can be very beneficial when reducing portion sizes.

Mint paste has been known to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Carrot juice, drank regularly, is packed full of dietary fiber which aids in digestion and keeps your stomach and intestinal tract healthy.

Remember the best way to lose weight and stay healthy is to drink plenty of water, eat natural foods that mother nature intended and take exercise regularly.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/17/13 •
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Friday, January 25, 2013

You’re On Your Own Long-Term Unemployed

long-term-unemployed-starving.jpg

The false storyline last week was the dramatic surge in new jobs. They (government) create new categories of Americans to pretend they aren’t really unemployed. They use more models to make adjustments for seasonality. Then they make massive one-time adjustments for the Census.
- Illusion Of Recovery, Washington’s Blof, February 12, 2012

Last month I went down to the local UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE - called the ”DIVISION OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, FLORIDA - ONE-STOP CAREER CENTER” - and talked to a reemployment coach.

The trip and conversation were a waste of time, energy, and gas, and insult to anyone with an IQ over ten.

I showed the coach my resume. He thought it looked great and didn’t suggest any changes. 

Then I asked if there’s any state or federal assistance to help long-term unemployed folks get back into the workforce with retraining, tuition assistance, or internships, like CONNECTICUT’S PLATFORM TO EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM, or Nevada’s CO-OP STATE-COLLEGE RETRAINING PROGRAM mentioned on CBS’ 60 Minutes last month.

He said no. But he did say that after I completely exhaust my unemployment insurance, 401K, lost the house, and am living in the streets - I can apply for welfare and maybe find an empty bed in a homeless shelter - and gave me a slip of paper with a phone number on it.

“What assistance is there BESIDES UNEMPLOYMENT?” I asked. 

A website.

He spent the next 30 minutes showcasing the state’s answer for the unemployed Floridian - a web site appropriately called EMPLOY FLORIDA. It has a job board, links to universities, colleges and other schools, and free online training to learn basic computer skills like how to click a mouse, and how to press the enter button on a keyboard.

I went home disappointed, then found ANOTHER STATE WEBSITE with near identical material - and A BROCHURE ON THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT ACT that mentions government assistance for retraining and internships:

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Services for Adult and Dislocated Workers
June 2012

Throughout the State, local Workforce Boards offer job training and employment programs through ONE-STOP CAREER CENTERS. These Centers make many services available to help clients increase their long-term employment opportunities and wages.

Each local Board may determine how it will provide services to WIA clients.

WIA Services may include:

. Assessment of clients skills and interests
. On-the-Job Training
. Development of an individualized Customized Training based on the needs employment/career plan of specific employer(s)
. Group or individual counseling
. Entrepreneurial Training
. Work experience and/or internships
. Supportive services to assist clients to
. Referral to Adult Education - remediation participate in WIA activities
. Occupational Skills Training

The Target Populations for WIA services consist of:

.  Workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own (dislocated workers);
.  Homemakers who have lost their financial support from a family member;
.  Recipients of public assistance and other low-income individuals when funds are limited;
.  Employed workers that need skills upgrading or retraining; and,
.  Veterans and eligible spouses of veterans may be moved to the front of the line for services for which they qualify.

To find out more about WIA services, clients should contact their local One-Stop Career Center. A directory can be found at http://www.floridajobs.org/onestop/onestopdir/index.htm

Clients may also find out about jobs and self-service activities at the Employ Florida Marketplace website, http://www.employflorida.com.

Rick Scott, Governor
Hunting F. Deutsch, Executive Director

employflorida.com
floridajobs.org

For additional information call: 1-866-352-2345

An equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.  All voice telephone numbers on this website may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711.

I called the number on the flyer - and was referred to a local 3rd party resume writing place called Options Florida funded by the state.

I called them - and the answer is - the state will pay for a two hour resume writing class of theirs - and another class to learn basic computer skills like using a mouse and how to press the enter button on a keyboard. 

Nothing else.

What information is on the internet about the AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVEST ACT I wondered?

Lots of LINKS HERE.

---

And THIS nice page:

Florida

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (The Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. The Department of Labor is investing $505.1 million to help meet the needs of workers in Florida through both Recovery Act and regular appropriations. In addition, $8.7 million is being invested in Florida through two multi-state clean energy grants.

Department of Labor investments in Florida include:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $204.5 million for Florida:

$42.9 million for Workforce Investment Act youth activities, including summer youth employment;

$7.8 million for YouthBuild grants awarded in Clearwater, Cocoa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Melrose, Sanford, and Tampa;

$19.4 million for Workforce Investment Act adult activities;

$80.6 million for Workforce Investment Act dislocated worker activities;

$31.7 million for administrative support for unemployment compensation; and

$22.1 million for Wagner-Peyser Act services.

The Department is investing $252.7 million in Florida through ETA program year 2010 formula allotments to the state agency and grantees within the state:

$43.4 million for Workforce Investment Act youth activities;

$44 million for Workforce Investment Act adult activities;

$83 million for Workforce Investment Act dislocated worker activities;

$40.4 million for Wagner-Peyser Act services;

$1.4 million for Workforce Information system;

$4.2 million for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers services;

$817,894 for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program;

$7 million for the Senior Community Service Employment Program allotment to the state agency;

$27.4 million for Senior Community Service Employment Program grants to national sponsors;

$5,634 for Workforce Investment Act Indian and Native American youth activities; and

$1.2 million for Workforce Investment Act Indian and Native American adult activities.

Trade Adjustment Assistance - The Department has released an additional $2 million to the state of Florida to assist trade-impacted workers. Combined with the original fiscal year 2009 allocations, Florida now has $4.4 million in TAA funding available. Through Trade Adjustment Assistance, workers can receive job training, income support, job search support, health insurance assistance, and wage supplements (in the case of certain reemployed trade-affected workers who are 50 years of age and older).

National Emergency Grants - Since the start of this Administration, the Department has released a total of $17.2 million through five National Emergency Grants in Florida. In April 2009, the Department released $1 million to create approximately 300 temporary cleanup and recovery jobs in response to severe spring storms that resulted in flooding throughout the panhandle region. In January 2010, the Department released $954,077 to assist about 600 workers affected by layoffs at the Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp. and its subsidiary companies in north/central Florida. In June 2010, the Department released $7.8 million to assist approximately 3,200 workers who will be impacted by the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, plus $7 million to assist workers who have been displaced as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Department also released a $470,835 NEG supplemental award to provide services to about 575 workers affected by manufacturing industry layoffs in the counties of Citrus, Levy, and Marion.

On-the-Job Training, National Emergency Grant - $3.5 million to provide workers affected by layoffs with on-the-job training opportunities so that they can learn while they earn. In addition, grant resources will build the capacity of the workforce investment system to engage in this critical training model in the months and years to come to assist in economic recovery.

Re-employment and Eligibility Assessment Grants - Since the start of this Administration, the Department has released a total of $7.3 million to Florida to implement or enhance the Re-employment and Eligibility Assessment Initiative for UI recipients. Funds allow ONE-STOP CAREER CENTERS in Florida to conduct in-person assessments with individuals receiving unemployment compensation and allow for a more focused job search.

Green Jobs Pathways Out of Poverty Grants - $3 million for the Citrus Levy Marion Regional Workforce Development Board, $2.2 million for Florida State College at Jacksonville, and $2.3 million for Boley Centers, Inc. to help disadvantaged populations find ways out of poverty and into economic self-sufficiency through employment in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. In addition, Florida shares a $4.9 million multi-state investment awarded to Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America.

Green Jobs Energy Training Partnership Grant - $3.3 million for the Broward County Minority Builders Coalition to provide training that prepares workers and leads them to job placements in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.

Green Jobs Green Capacity Building Grants - $100,000 to enhance the capacity of the Florida Institute for Workforce Innovation and $100,000 to enhance the capacity of the Urban League of Broward County to help individuals acquire the skills needed to enter and advance in green industries and occupations.

Green Jobs State Labor Market Information Improvement Grants - $1.25 million to improve labor market information, which will be the foundation to build and implement effective workforce development strategies for energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. Also, as a consortium member, Florida shares $3.75 million to partner on issues with a regional, multi-state or national impact.

Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program - $1.9 million for the City of Jacksonville, Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, Volunteers of America (Cocoa Beach), Volunteers of America (Long Beach), and Big Bend Jobs and Education Council, Inc. to provide occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search, placement assistance and follow-up services for homeless veterans. In addition, $200,000 was awarded to Okaloosa Walton Homeless Continuum of Care Opportunity, Inc. and $237,974 was awarded to Tampa Crossroads, Inc. to provide job training, counseling and placement services (including job readiness, and literacy and skills training) to expedite the reintegration of homeless female veterans and veterans with families into the labor force.

Mine Safety and Health Administration’s State Health and Safety Training Grant - $168,858 for Florida to provide federally mandated training to miners. The grants cover training and retraining of miners working at surface and underground coal and metal and nonmetal mines, including miners engaged in shell dredging or employed at surface stone, sand and gravel mining operations.

I called the ONE-STOP CAREER CENTER and Options Florida again - this time mentioning the info on the WIA flyer and DOL website.

Again the answer was now.  The guy said WIA funding ran out the second week in January.  But if I need resume writing tips, or don’t know how to use a computer mouse - the state offers free classes for both. The only thing I see missing is an “English as a second language” class for their real target audience.

I went back to the internet, found the Federal Student Aid Hotline - 800-433-3243 - and talked to someone there.

To apply, go HERE fill out the form with your personal data, and make yourself a PIN.

Then - using that PIN - go to the FAFSA WEBSITE to apply and find out what’s available.

It asks for last year’s income like the IRS 1040 form. I’ve been living off my retirement money taxed at 30% - 20% + 10% EARLY WITHDRAWAL PENALTY - since loosing my job. On a 1040 that’s considered income - making it look like I’m rolling in dough.

Although I checked the displaced worker box, I wasn’t approved for any federal help.

Still not believing there is no help out there - I wrote my CONGRESSMAN JOHN MICA.  He has yet to answer.

An unemployed friend in another state is getting SSI for a mental disability, and started college last month.  His SSI pays the rent, and three government grants are paying the college bill.

All I can get is a date in bankruptcy court, and thrown out on the street.

---

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

WOTC is a Federal tax credit available to employers who hire and retain veterans and individuals from other target groups with significant barriers to employment. Employers claim about $1 billion in tax credits each year under the WOTC program. There is no limit on the number of individuals an employer can hire to qualify to claim the tax credit, and there are a few simple steps to follow to apply for WOTC.

Who doesn’t get a break - the long term unemployed.

Who DOES?

A veteran who is:

A member of a family that received SNAP benefits (food stamps) for at least a 3-month period during the 15-month period ending on the hiring date.

Entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability:

Hired within 1 year of discharge or release from active duty

Unemployed at least 6 months in the year ending on the hiring date

Unemployed:

At least 4 weeks

At least 6 months

Please note that to be considered a veteran eligible for WOTC, an individual must meet these two standards:

Have served on active duty (not including training) in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 180 days or have been discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability

Not have a period of active duty (not including training) of more than 90 days that ended during the 60-day period ending on the hiring date

Long-term Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Recipient:

A member of a family that meets one of the following circumstances:

Received TANF benefits for at least 18 consecutive months ending on the hiring date.

Received TANF benefits for at least 18 consecutive or non-consecutive months after August 5, 1997, and has a hiring date that is not more than 2 years after the end of the earliest 18-month period after August 5, 1997.

Stopped being eligible for TANF payments during the past 2 years because a Federal or state law limited the maximum time those payments could be made.

Short-term TANF Recipient:

A member of a family that received TANF benefits for any 9-month period during the 18-month period ending on the hiring date.

SNAP (food stamp) Recipient:

An 18-39 year old member of a family that received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for the 6 months ending of the hiring date or received SNAP benefits for at least 3 of the 5 months ending on the hiring date.

Designated Community Resident:

An 18-39 year old who lives within one of the federally designated Rural Renewal Counties or Empowerment Zones.

Vocational Rehabilitation Referral:

An individual with a disability who completed or is completing rehabilitative services from a state-certified agency, an Employment Network under the Ticket to Work program, or the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Ex-felon:

An individual who has been convicted of a felony and has a hiring date that is not more than 1 year after the conviction or release from prison.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient:

A recipient of SSI benefits for any month ending during the past 60-day period ending on the hire date.

Summer Youth Employee

A 16 or 17 year-old youth who works for the employer between May 1 and September 15 and lives in an Empowerment Zone.

Posted by Elvis on 01/25/13 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Personal
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Living Hell

depression.jpg

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”
- Robert Kennedy

“People do not die from suicide. They die from sadness.”
- Anonymous

“I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”
- Abraham Lincoln

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
- John 13:34

---

An old childhood friend - a soccer mom with two cool kids in school, loving husband, and great life in the suburbs - recently died of cancer. 

A real aggressive, horrible disease that literally ate her up in front of everyone’s eyes in a short six months.

It was an ugly death.  But her family grieved the loss and moved on.

The survivors illustrates a thing called resiliency. Where does it come from? How is it learned?

How do you compare loss of a life like this lady’s with LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT and loss of self-respect like mine?

NINE YEARS AGO outsourcing to India gripped me in fear of the future. National political and economic policies has kept that fear burning my heart over the years until the last spark died out.

Why am I still alive after writing THIS POST on Thanksgiving 2012?

SUICIDE is an honorable way to bow out of a life that turned sour. Mine did. And I REASONED with my conscience that its past time to face the future and pay for my sins.

Erich Fromm said:

“If I am what I have, and if I lose what I have, who then am I?”

I leave a life insurance policy to be shared with my poverty-ridden mother, distant relatives, and charity, and want to go out with a little dignity before the electric gets shut off and bank takes the house away, rather than stay alive as a burden on society, LIVING IN THE STREET, or stuffed in someone’s basement - dragging down their life - while waiting to eventually wear out my welcome.

Although coping SKILLS worked through three corporate downsizings, and loosing everything including a failed engagement right after one of them - that left me heartbroken besides jobless, - none of the techniques work anymore.  I’m a little too old, a little too fed up, a little too tired, a little too pessimistic, a little too despondent - and the system is a lttle too SCREWED UP - to think of starting over again.

The negative emotions are all-consuming. I felt them. I owned them. Now they own me. 

AWARENESS of THE REALITY that it’s more than likely I’ll NEVER find a job again, and never RECOVER financially to be able to take care of myself, or be a caregiver to my elderly mother has pretty much OVERCOME all other thoughs, feelings and sensations.

Is this selfish?  Or immature? A psychologist may say yes.  I’m using my mother as an excuse to feel bad, along with the old “Poor me” and “I hate myself” lines.

FRIENDS rarely call, email, or show up to see how I’m doing. They know I need their support so bad.  Why am I not moved to contact any of them?  The feelings of inferiority make me feel ashamed, but being absorbed in self-pity turns one selfish, envious and jealous at others’ good fortune.  One friend just had a kid that graduated college. I want to share the family’s happiness but all that happens is my feelings of worthlessness amplify and self-anger swells.  A few people offered to help sell my belongings on ebay, or ask around the office, but only one followed through.  THE WORST OF THEM look down on me with disdain as one of those LAZY BUMS that wants to live for free off the government and collect welfare. Another reason to distance myself, and turn into a loner.

Cruel, heartless, selfish, bastards. All of us. Me the worst with my crushed ego, expectations that people act like I think they should act, or owe me for things I did for them.

THESE ARE PEOPLE I’ve known - and whose friendships I cherished - all my life.

Gone.

The phone didn’t even ring Christmas.

And I’m complaining.  The guy who KILLED HIS CAT two years ago to try to hold on to his job.

One friend shows COMPASSION. He takes me out to dinner once a month, and doesn’t talk about how great his life is. We just talk politics or football and he pays the bill. When I get a job he says I can pay. Does he know HOW GRATEFUL I am for that expression of caring?  My cousin sent me a copy of Windows 8 for Christmas.  Another expression that softens my granite heart a little.  He knows us unemployed IT guys can’t keep our skills up sitting at home with last year’s software - so this gift was well thought out and means a lot.  I still got a house full of old computers and still enjoy tailing firewall logs.

The only other family I got is an elderly mother who lives in near poverty a thousand miles away - who I already abandoned. I can’t afford to visit her anymore, can’t afford to send her money anymore, and can’t afford to face her anymore.  Talk about selfish. No wonder I can’t face myself.

I used to enjoy lifting weights and using the stair machine at the health club. Holding my weight down, and building my muscles up was my only accomplishment SINCE JOINING THE LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED LAST YEAR.

When it come’s to battling SELF-ESTEEM and IDENTITY issues - like the INSECURITY and SELF-WORTH problems that stem from job loss - a key to coping is to have accomplishments.

Not anymore. I can’t afford a health club membership, or healthy food, or even find the inner strength to walk around the block.

So why am I still alive? Because I was afraid to attempt suicide, and chickened out after considering it MAY NOT HAVE WORKED and I’d have wound up in jail or the hospital with permanent brain damage or something.  Not to mention the medical bill.

That hell would be worse than this hell.

My failures are complete.

Being alive is pure torture.

A self-inflicted torture - that with a little less selfishness, and a little more courage - I can END anytime.

---

There’s millions of people like me - long-term unemployed, helpless, hopeless, crushed, depressed, alone, lonely, afraid, confused - and one step away from suicide - out there in the shadows.

They need your help. 

BE A FRIEND. Visit them. Show up with a pizza.  Hang out a little while, and engage them in small talk.

That’ll show them someone cares - the total opposite from what they’re feeling.

I don’t know what builds resiliency.

But a little love won’t hurt.

Posted by Elvis on 01/12/13 •
Section Personal
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