Article 43

 

Friday, June 03, 2005

How Mortgage Banking Really Works

Our economic system no longer uses real money (gold and silver) as defined by the constitution. We are now on a credit system backed by nothing of value. In essence there is no money in circulation any more. 

The Federal Reserve is an organization that is independent of the government (controlled by the International Monetary Fund) and creates currency in exchange for government bonds. You created the value for your own mortgage with your own signature on the Promissory Note. You did not actually borrow someone else’s money.

Our founding fathers knew about the problem of corrupt banking which they had escaped from in England. That’s why there were provisions in the Constitution of the United States of America to stop this type of banking system from taking root in our nation.

Today we live in a financial system where there is no money.

Through each successive step the value of the dollar has been debased and each safeguard for it to retain value has been removed. In essence when we are dealing in business transactions the value of the dollar is based on the good faith and credit of the American people.

The most important thing we learned here is that debt can no longer be paid. It can only be discharged. By discharge we mean that one debt must be exchanged for another debt. This is also the reason for the expansion of our public and private debt.

By understanding that the currency we use today is unconstitutional and valueless we can take in the next concept that we need to understand - how money is created by the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve is an organization that is independent of the government (controlled by the International Monetary Fund) and creates currency in exchange for government bonds.

Since 1933 you and all other Americans have been pledged for the debt of the UNITED STATES owed to international bankers who own the Federal Reserve, most of whom are foreign to our country. Your credit, labor, productivity and property have been used and are now being used as collateral by the incorporated UNITED STATES OF AMERICA without your knowledge or consent.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/03/05 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Unions Struggle as Communications Industry Shifts

SAN FRANCISCO, May 31 - Lisa Morowitz, a longtime union coordinator, knows the taste of defeat.

She spends her days trying to organize Comcast cable workers. But not only are the workers declining to sign up, they have in many cases voted to end existing union ties.

“We’re not winning, we’re losing,” said Ms. Morowitz, who works for the Communications Workers of America, the dominant union in telecommunications. “If we don’t move the direction this industry is moving, we could become obsolete.”

Even as unions struggle nationwide, with just 12.5 percent of the total work force unionized in 2004 compared with 22 percent in 1980, they face a particularly bleak future in the telecommunications industry.

The industry was once a labor stronghold after the Bell monopolies became unionized in the late 1930’s. But mergers, deregulation and technological change have reduced the number of jobs at the traditional phone companies while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in cable and wireless companies, which are largely union-free.

Since 1985, the number of union workers in telephone and data services has been cut in half, to fewer than 275,000, from 625,000.

To slow the rapid decline, unions are fighting to organize workers at cable and wireless companies. They have had little success, outside a big victory in 2000 when they organized workers at Cingular Wireless.

At Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, workers have voted to decertify nearly two dozen union shops in the last three years.

The labor battle took on newfound intensity last month when the Communications Workers of America published in three major newspapers a full-page letter signed by 112 members of Congress contending that Verizon Wireless was not cooperating with labor groups. Verizon Wireless countered by circulating among employees a documentthat favorably compares its benefits and wages to that of Cingular Wireless, the only wireless company with a union work force.

In April, Verizon Wireless’s chief executive, Dennis F. Strigl, sent a letter to members of Congress urging them not to sign the union petition, which he said was an unfair attack.

The employees “have repeatedly rejected the efforts of the union to insert itself between them and their company,” Mr. Strigl wrote. “Unfortunately, the union will not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The communications workers union contends that Verizon Wireless has harassed organizers and moved three major call centers from the Northeast to southern states where it is tougher to organize. It plans to hold a pro-union rally Wednesday in Meriden, Conn., the site of a Verizon Wireless business customer service center.

Also Wednesday, the union plans to organize a protest rally at Comcast’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

The union has taken greatest aim at Comcast and Verizon Wireless. But it is trying to organize other companies, too. The C.W.A. and other international unions plan later this month to try to jump-start talks with T-Mobile, one of the five largest national wireless carriers, by negotiating with executives from its German parent company, Deutsche Telekom.

But reversing the antiunion tide will be enormously difficult. In 1985, unions represented 375,000 workers at the Bells and 250,000 at AT&T, said Jeffrey H. Keefe, an associate professor of labor and employment relations at Rutgers University.

In 2004, the union work force at the Bells dropped to about 229,000, while AT&T’s union work force dipped below 30,000, Mr. Keefe said.

The wireless industry, meanwhile, has grown to about 171,000 employees, with only about 22,000 workers at Cingular unionized. In the cable industry, which has 133,000 workers, only about 7,000 workers are unionized.

In terms of pay and benefits, the difference between union and nonunion workplaces can be substantial, Mr. Keefe argues. Based on research compiled by Mr. Keefe and Harry C. Katz, a professor at Cornell University who studies collective bargaining, a union technician at a Bell company in 2003 earned on average $46,500 a year, compared with $39,400 for a technician in the wireless industry and $35,700 at a cable company.

Mr. Katz said the erosion of collective bargaining in telecommunications was not as severe as in the garment and textile industries, but as bad, if not worse, than in many other industries.

The unions, he said, need to modify their message to give workers a sense that organized labor can protect them in an era of great turbulence. “Employees are not worried about losing a limb in a steel plant,” Mr. Katz said. Conveying a message that resonates with prospective members in the current environment is an issue “the unions are struggling to answer.”

Larry Cohen, executive vice president of the communications workers union, which represents 2.5 million workers worldwide, said the union had made some strides. In a rapidly changing industry, the union, he said, can negotiate better benefits, training and pay for workers and prevent management from eliminating jobs arbitrarily or changing work conditions.

But given the antagonism of the industry to unions, Mr. Cohen said, workers are often too tired to fight. The battle with Comcast highlights challenges faced by the C.W.A.

In November 2002, Comcast completed its acquisition of AT&T Broadband, a company in which union representation had been steadily growing. Since Comcast’s takeover, 22 bargaining units from the former AT&T Broadband have voted to decertify their union status, including one in Fresno, Calif., where technicians voted 92 to 58 on May 12 to get rid of the union. In California alone, the union lost decertification votes at Comcast shops in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Modesto - all in 2003. Comcast still has 22 union shops.

Comcast says workers are voting to decertify because they may be more satisfied with Comcast management, which it says is more receptive to worker needs than the national top-down management of AT&T Broadband.

David L. Cohen, an executive vice president at Comcast who oversees human resources there, said the votes were evidence that workers under Comcast management did not feel they benefited from union representation.

“We take pride in providing a safe, enjoyable and productive work environment,” he said. Workers “do not need to be represented by a union to gain all of the advantages.”

But the company does aggressively lobby for its cause. One worker, a technician in Fresno who voted to retain the union in the recent election, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear he could lose his job, said that in the five weeks preceding the vote, the company flew in human relations managers to meet with workers collectively as well as individually by taking workers out for drinks and lunches. Some even rode with technicians on service calls, the worker said.

Mr. Cohen, the Comcast executive, declined to talk about the specifics of the Fresno vote. “We convey our message in all ways we’re permitted to under the National Labor Relations Act,” he said.

In at least once case, the National Labor Relations Board found that Comcast violated federal labor rules. In a ruling dated April 13, the labor board concluded that Comcast of Maryland had threatened, coerced and fired employees to dissuade them from working with the Teamsters.

In that case, the board ordered the company to reinstate two workers to positions they previously held. The board also ordered Comcast to stop discharging or coercing employees involved in union activity and putting them under surveillance.

The company has been vigilant in warding off union organizing efforts. A leadership training documentComcast published in January 2003 instructed managers on how to spot possible union activity. One section - titled “Early Warning Signs” - urged managers to look for situations where “employees not normally seen together are seen gathering” and for “increased curiosity and questions about benefits and policies.”

Managers are also told to look for employees who want things “in writing.” In some cases, workers have been given written warnings about discussing union activities with colleagues on company time.

At the same time, the Comcast manual also informs managers that among the best ways to prevent union inroads is for the company to offer competitive wages and benefits, provide excellent working conditions and to allow employees to express their complaints.

“We are anything but antiunion,” Mr. Cohen of Comcast said. Ms. Morowitz, 39, hopes to persuade those workers that being part of the union has big advantages. As the only full-time communications union staff member trying to organize Comcast, she focuses her time on California, which was a union stronghold in the days of AT&T Broadband. The union estimates there are about 6,000 Comcast workers in California, not including contract workers.

She meets with Comcast workers, usually at the workers’ request, telling them about the union election process.

The meetings are held in secret, she said, because she said that Comcast had a history of harassing workers involved with union activism. The mood is often upbeat, but she said she was pessimistic about her meetings yielding any success.

“Comcast has so relentlessly bad-mouthed the union, we are unlikely to have a successful election,” she said. “Even if we succeeded, the real question is, Can we get a contract?”

Joining her at some meetings is Yonah Camacho Diamond, a service technician and union shop steward who works in San Francisco for SBC, which is unionized. Mr. Diamond, 34, said he was lobbying Comcast workers not for the sake of the union but because he believed that telecommunications on the whole is becoming inhospitable to workers.

The days of the professional telecommunications worker “are not long for existence,” Mr. Diamond said. “I’ve got a good job at a good wage, with a pension and a 401(k). But that may not be available to me, or my son, in the future.”

MAT&T RICHTEL - NY Times

Source:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/01/business/01labor.html

Posted by Elvis on 06/02/05 •
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Book - Outsourcing America

New book on outsourcing brings it home
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While outsourcing and the often-subsequent offshoring of jobs may not always be front-page news, more companies continue to pursue it on an ever-broadening scale. A new book called “Outsourcing America,” written by Ron Hira and Anil Hira, is designed to reach the average reader and help stimulate a broader debate on outsourcing and offshoring. The authors make a strong case that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, and it will take an attitude change on the part of workers and policy makers to ensure that high-wage work remains in the U.S. In doing so they debunk much of the current rhetoric about free-trade policies.

Media voices often proclaim that outsourcing and its companion strategy of offshoring will have only positive effects for Americans, in the form of lower-cost goods and better jobs for displaced workers. Several high profile reports from 2003-2004 argue according to this line. These reports helped shape media attitudes, as offshoring became a hot topic during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

Moreover, proponents of outsourcing and offshoring often refer to those who warn us about the negative impacts of these practices as “protectionists” and “isolationists” because they ignore the virtues of “free trade.”

But as the Hiras explain, free trade hasn’t always been popular in the high-tech sector. American semiconductor manufacturers got the federal government involved to protect themselves from Japanese competition in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the Japanese, Indian and Chinese governments (among others) have been planning tax and investment strategies and building in infrastructure to attract key industries to their countries.

Offshoring is not only a result of strategies and wage levels in other countries. The Hiras cite changes in business operations in the U.S. that led to the current situation in some detail. The authors show how offshore outsourcing is a natural follow-up to the downsizing and outsourcing that occurred earlier, as well as the extremely high IT demand of the 1990s. The authors list some additional changes to the world economy in the past few decades.

Meanwhile, a sea of change has taken place in the relations of workers with their employers. White-collar workers, in particular, used to be considered stakeholders in the corporations they worked for, but now only stockholders and executives are considered such, with stock compensation used to help align them with non-worker interests. Companies often exploit both workers and communities; they push for tax breaks in communities where they do business, and when they leave the area, the unemployed workers face the tax burden.

The H1B and L1 visa programs play a major role in the outsourcing process. The Hiras show that these programs are being used to lower wages, not fill shortages. These programs also create competition for American firms, as some workers return to their homeland with contacts and start their own companies.

Besides outsourcing business functions, many companies have opened R&D centers overseas. This practice belies the assertion of some economists that only low-level, boring work is being sent overseas. Companies argue that their establishment of research centers in other countries is designed to help them develop their overseas markets. The authors point out, however, that many of those companies are already losing to competition in the U.S. market and likely don’t have good prospects in the foreign markets as well. However, the one benefit the corporations will experience is the deferment of taxes on income earned overseas. The recent tax moratorium on overseas earnings has allowed overseas profits, most of which were sitting offshore, to be repatriated at 5% tax instead of 35%.

As far as the total scale of jobs being outsourced and lost to American workers, the authors state that it’s impossible to know without more research. Companies often hide outsourcing plans from their own employees, let alone the press, for fear of a backlash. The authors are highly critical of the slowness to study outsourcing rates at a national level. However, recent federal legislation looks promising; Congress authorized a $2,000,000 study in 2004.

One disturbing set of numbers provided relates to the employment status of those who lost their jobs from 2001 to 2003. Numbers from early 2004 indicated that of those who lost their jobs, only 65% were rehired, and 57% of them took a pay cut from their previous position.

While the impact on IT jobs has received the most focus in the last few years, “anything that can go over a wire” is at risk. Lawyers, architects, medical professionals, and others are starting to be impacted. While some economists hope that a next big thing will replace the IT boom, the authors warn that other countries with competitive IT policies also have similar plans for biotech and nanotech. In addition, the depressed market for engineers is already discouraging students from going into engineering fields.

Ten policy recommendations are provided to help steer future debate. The first is for the government to acknowledge that a problem exists and for it to commit to gathering more data. In addition, the Hiras recommend reforming the H1B and L1 visa programs so that they are only used for need, not to depress salaries. They do recommend revising government procurement procedures, but do not support a blanket ban of outsourcing by government agencies.

Recommended work protections include issuing a mandatory 90-day layoff notice, expanding the Trade Adjustment Assistance program to cover displaced service workers, and reforming the health care system. Canada, not known as a low-wage country, has become attractive to some companies because the single payer health care program saves them from ballooning health care costs. Pension reform is another recommendation, with shorter vesting periods and portability between companies.

In regard to the educational system, the Hiras argue for a new system outside current higher education with more specialized programs, as workers will likely have several career changes. Also, they recommend tax credits for training that would go directly to the worker. Taxing companies that reap economic benefits from outsourcing would provide funding for these programs.

While advocating that more worker and academic organizations have a voice in the political process, the Hiras believe that it “is unlikely that union membership will increase significantly anytime soon.” They mention foundations or philanthropists as possible sources of funds to expand current organizations. As far as maintaining American leadership in high tech fields, they find problems with assuming the next big thing will come along; however, they do not have many suggestions besides more federal money for R&D.

The final recommendation is for more transparency and public input to the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Currently, the USTR has little accountability to Congress and almost no visibility to the public at large.

As these recommendations suggest, adjusting to outsourcing will take a major change in many aspects of national policy. Even more important, the authors recommend we shift our fundamental views on economic policy, adding the need to maintain stable employment to the focus of fiscal policy.

This book is good reading for anyone wondering how outsourcing and offshoring developed, how it is likely to continue, and what sort of changes can help mitigate the impact on American wages.

Ron Hira teaches public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is also the chair of the IEEE-USA’s Career and Workforce Policy Committee. He has testified before Congress on outsourcing several times, and has also made appearances on Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN. (Dobbs provides the foreword for this book.) Anil Hira teaches political science at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Mark Owen is a customer service worker and a member of Washtech/CWA Local 37083. He can be reached via email at

Source:
http://www.washtech.org/news/industry/display.php?ID_Content=4947

Posted by Elvis on 06/02/05 •
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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Outsourcing Repeats a Sad History

Over the years, philosophers from Karl Max to Yogi Berra have observed the tendency of history to repeat itself—as tragedy, farce and/or déjà vu all over again. 

Outsourcing has been around long enough to inspire that haven’t-we-been-here-before feeling. The current surge in outsourcing projects, taking off with the 2001 recession, seems a lot like the original wave of outsourcing deals in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Recession and debt were among the main drivers that inspired corporations to farm out data center operations and, eventually, network operations and application development services.

It didn’t take long for trouble to start. Deals were renegotiated or abandoned entirely. Today’s outsourcing phase may be hitting a similar wall.

Deloitte Consulting LLP surveyed 25 large enterprises in a range of industries and found that 70 percent had significant negative experiences with outsourcing. The survey results are summarized in a newly released report, “Calling a Change in the Outsourcing Market.”

Ken Landis, a senior strategy principal at Deloitte Consulting, likens the customers’ discontent to marriages gone awry. “Their experience mirrors the divorce rate,” he said. One in five outsourcing deals end in the first two years of the relationship and half fail within five years, according to a Dun & Bradstreet survey cited in Deloitte Consulting’s report.

A number of problems crop up in outsourcing deals. Landis cited a mix of issues including higher than expected contract administration costs and loss of flexibility. As for the latter ailment, Landis said outsourcing customers recognize outsourcing as an attractive tool in a recessionary environment. But as economic growth revives, the overhead of an outsourcing contract renders them “arthritic in the marketplace,” Landis observed.

The Deloitte Consulting report indicates that 64 percent of the respondents have brought some outsourced services back in house.

What will become of outsourcing? If history’s any guide, the practice will likely continue. Outsourcing, after all, survived the earlier bout of corporate discontent. What’s more, outsourcing can deliver value. Today, certain segments of outsourcing, such as human resources business process outsourcing, are boosting service levels and reducing cost for clients, according to industry analysts.

Vendors also have a way of recasting services when customers resist. Around 1992, providers began to develop service lines to make outsourcing more palatable. For example, as client/server deployment began to heat up, some companies began offering transitional outsourcing. The idea: park your data center temporarily with an outsourcer while you figure out how to migrate business applications to the client/server world.

During the same period, co-sourcing and gain-sharing deals began to emerge. The aim was to make vendors and customers more like partners and less like adversaries.

Will variations on these approaches play out in the coming months? One safe bet: Vendors will respond to cues from their customers. The Deloitte Consulting study already points to shorter contracts as an emerging pattern. A little more than half of the survey participants reported moving from long-term, six-to-10-year deals to shorter contracts of up to five years.

Yogi once advised travelers encountering a fork in the road to take it. Service providers face two paths: learning from history or repeating it.

Source:
http://www.thechannelinsider.com/article2/0,1759,1789170,00.asp

Posted by Elvis on 05/22/05 •
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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Stress of Being Layed Off

Everyone copes differently with stress, and being laid off is certainly a stressful situation, but how you choose to react can affect your job search future.

Losing Self-Esteem

When Robin McConnell lost her job as a corporate personnel administrator, she soon described herself as felling, “lost and without direction; my self-esteem was deflated. I also worried that I would not be able to find a job that measured up to the one I had been forced to leave.”

Dealing with anxiety and a damaged self-esteem are probably the most difficult aspects of being laid off. But remember that you are not alone. Thousands of people have recently lost their jobs. They had no control over their situations; no one will blame them.

You also should not blame yourself. Try to “reframe” your problem, thinking of it as a “temporary setback” and a “chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do.” Reframing is a method of controlling your outlook through your beliefs. “It is nothing more than choosing to look at a glass at half full instead of half empty. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by anxiety and self-doubt. In fact, you can choose not to be.”

We deserve more than to waste time and energy blaming others for “bad breaks,” “indulging in self-pity,” “seeking revenge” or “focusing on past mistakes.” We must understand our doubts, fears and poor self-image. A port self-image can’t be erased, but it can be “reprogrammed.” Anyone at any age or stage in life can change the way he/she sees himself/herself.

For those who choose to try, here are five initial steps:

1. Make a list of your personal liabilities (past mistakes, failures, embarrassments). Burn this list, watch it turn to ashes and say aloud, “That’s the last time I will let you get me down. I have more important things to do!” Why? Your actions always reinforce your dominant thoughts. Learn from those past bloopers and get rid of them. Get off your own back. There are enough monkeys in the world waiting to jump on it for you!

2. Make a list of personal assets (your competencies, achievements, attributes). A realistic resume is a good start. Ask your friends for help. Read this list aloud three times a day for 21 days, and then read it as soon as you get up each day thereafter.

3. Read or listen to something motivational or inspirational every day. Why? Positive imagery requires positive examples. You also need “OPE” (other people’s experiences). Their research, techniques and results cut years off your learning curve and save you from painful trial and error.

4. Writespecific goals. Why? A true, written goal triggers your in-born automatic goal seeking mechanism. Even while you sleep, your subconscious will help you overcome roadblocks, obstacles and defeats. As you achieve your goals, the written proof supports you as a worthy, achieving person and plants good self-image seeds.

5. Take responsibility for your emotional environment. It is hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by a bunch of turkeys. Why? The law of emotional gravity is strong: You become like those with whom you associate.

These beginning self-image building steps may seem simplistic, but they are based on sound research and results. They are the foundation for a strong “internal net worth.”

A wise friend told me, ”About 80% of the people in this world could care less about your problems, and the other 20% are glad you have them!” An overstatement? Perhaps, but it makes it clear that if I want change, I must act. When you and I believe in and support our strengths and values, and accept responsibility for being deserving, creative achievers, then we have begun to plant a new crop.

(This outline was adapted from “Recovering From a Layoff” by Scott Passeser in the National Business Employment Weekly and from “How to Rekindle Confidence and Esteem” by Jolene Brown in the March 1986 issues of Successful Farming).

Understanding The Emotional Landscape

The challenge to a person’s self-esteem may be the most difficult consequence of an unwanted or unexpected job loss but our minds begin to churn out many other messages as well, that generate feelings. Being able to understand this process and figuring out how to use it can make the career transition successful:

There is no right, wrong or prescribed way to feel about job loss and/or career transition.

Our feelings tend to fall into one or more broad categories: afraid, mad, sad, and glad or indifferent.

We generally don’t go through these feelings in sequence. We each may have a different pattern and it is likely that we will move from one to another and back again over time.

Often times, confusion, anger, and sadness are emotions that temporarily loom large. When those feelings are pervasive, it can complicate the task of finding new employment. It is important to remember however, that opportunity resides in crisis. Possibility and potential are also part of the career transition process.

Sometimes the emotional landscape has a tar pit or pot hole. You step in and find yourself stuck. “Stuckness” can come from emotions that are getting the best of you. Talk to trusted friends, your career counselor or a competent psychologist. They can help you get and stay on track.

Making Your Feelings Work For You

Each of the job transition feelings has a rational basis creating an expectable response to the transition. They also serve a purpose in making us successful in our efforts.

I’m Afraid
Our work world is coming to an end.
Our work routines are interrupted and we have nothing identical to replace them.
Financial uncertainty.
Life is now beyond control.

But…
Fear and anxiety may be our best friend because it is there to wake us up in the morning, establish new routines, work out interim solutions to cash shortages and to pursue a job search with determination and competence. Using it to energize our job search is a way to reclaim control over our life.

I’m Mad
Betrayed, left out in the cold, and deceived.
A normal response to “loss of control” and to hurt.

But…
Anger can be a powerful motivator.
You can keep it for as long as it helps you mobilize you and your resources.
Keeping your anger simply means capitalizing on its adrenaline. It does not mean nursing a grudge, bad mouthing your old employer in job interviews, or poking holes in the tires of your former supervisors.

I’m Sad
Means saying goodbye to the part of our lives.
We won’t be seeing our co-workers each day.

But…
Telling yourself not to feel sad and despondent is almost a sure-fired recipe to stay sad and despondent.
This feeling encourages us to slow down and take the time to heal.

I’m Glad
Signified acceptance which is the willingness and readiness people experience to get on with their lives, following a major disappointment, loss or change.
For some it happens instantaneously. For others, it takes a little longer. It is very rare to not happen at all.

But…
Its primary benefit is to temper the down sides of the other feelings and to kindle optimism and hope.

How to Reduce Stress

Typically, when people are under stress they are likely to let the power of the crisis affect them and may not even realize it. They tend to eat poorly, reduce their exercise, sleep less (or far too much), and may avoid friends and support persons. To decrease the impact of stress, research shows that you need to feel power over some area of your life. A first step is to admit that the crisis is important and needs attention.

Take one day at a time. Some changes in our lives are permanent. In time, they must be accepted if we are to grow. Until acceptance comes, take one step at a time. Set small goals and celebrate your progress. Don’t try to resolve all your problems at once.

Get Organized
Plan, schedule, take notes, and keep good files. Organizing the daily nitty-gritty of life reduces stress. Save your memory for more creative and pleasurable things.

Take Breaks/Allow Time for Fun
When dealing with planned tasks, take a 10 minute break after every 50 minutes to maintain peak performance. Don’t mistake working hard for working effectively. Don’t work past the point of diminishing returns.

Rehearse
When you’re facing a situation that you know will be stressful to you, rehearse it. Either mentally or with a friend, anticipate what might occur and plan your response. Being prepared reduces stress.

Do It Now
Do your most difficult or most hated task at the beginning of the day when you’re fresh. Avoid the stress of dreading it all day. Procrastination breeds stress!

Know Your Limits
Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. It’s better to do less and do it well than to do more, poorly.

Change Attitudes
Train yourself to view stressful situations as a challenge to your creative thinking, rather than considering them insurmountable problems.

Learn to Say “No”
Say “NO” when your schedule is full; to activities you don’t enjoy; to responsibilities that aren’t yours; to emotional demands that leave you feeling drained; to other people’s problems that you can’t solve.

Schedule Your Stress
Scheduling stressful activities can reduce the number of stressors you must juggle at any one time. Don’t invite your in-laws to visit the same week you have a big interview scheduled.

Treat Your Body Right
You will have more energy and self-confidence and be less susceptible to the physical side-effects of stress when you eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and exercise regularly.

Positive Self-Talk
Use positive self-reinforcement: “I can handle this one step at a time,” instead of frightening or depressing yourself by coming up with reasons why you can’t cope.

Take Charge
Take responsibility for making your life what you want it to be. It is less stressful to make decisions and take action than to feel powerless and react to others’ decisions. Decide what you want and go for it!


What About My Family?

Unless you are the only surviving member of your family, expect your loved ones to have a response to your job loss or career change. They will have their own personal reaction and a reaction to your reaction. We’ve observed that the family’s reaction will be directly influenced by yours. For example, if you come home, pronounce that this is the absolute worst thing that could happen, persist in that belief, and push the family away don’t be surprised that they come to share your view. This is especially true for younger children. They will rapidly tumble to something being different and will look to you for how they are supposed to feel.

A degree in psychology isn’t required to realize that your family’s feelings will run the same gamut as yours: fear, anger, sadness and perhaps relief. They will also be worried for you and want to know what they can do. Making room for these feelings can work for the benefit of the whole family.

Making room in the family means that communication is open about the transition. With adult family members, tell them how you feel. It’s okay to be angry, anxious and sad. Expressing emotions doesn’t require you to stomp the floor, bite the carpet, or wallow in pain. Instead, it can be as simple as sharing how the career transition is affecting you inside and asking them to listen. Making room certainly includes allowing your family to be of assistance. Think of your home as the first place to begin your networking.

In addition, bring your family in on your planning. Invite them to brainstorm with you. Create a climate where they can tell you about their feelings, concerns, and ideas. With children, don’t let their imaginations concoct an explanation for your mood or your being home. It is unnecessary to convey your innermost apprehensions, financial or otherwise, but it will help them to know what is happening and what immediate changes might occur around the house. Children may think that your losing a job means you screwed up big time or that they somehow were at fault. A little reassurance can go a long way in decreasing their anxiety; this holds true with teenagers as well. Teaching them that transitions of many kinds are a normal part of life can put what is now happening in the family in perspective.

Taking a John Wayne approach to finding new work may enhance your self-image, but leave your family in the dark. Remember that as much as you might be feeling powerless, so will they. Giving them opportunities to show interest and compassion will help them feel they are contributing. There may also be very concrete tasks related to your job hunt that they can do; i.e., typing envelopes, taking trips to the post office, copying, answering phone calls, etc. Go ahead and practice your interviewing skills with them, as well as review your job hunting strategies. The experience that you are involved as a team, working toward a common good, can fortify the family and promote a newfound sense of togetherness.

Financial Management

When You Lose Your Job, Don’t Panic...Take Control of Your Finances

Unemployment can be devastating to any family, but there are steps you can take to help ease the pain. Remember that there are many people who are facing the same problem you are--fewer dollars to meet the same bills. Don’t blame yourself. Blaming yourself won’t get you anywhere. It’s a waste of your energy. It’s normal for you to feel stressed, but once you’re over the initial shock, don’t panic. Getting control of your personal finances is a must during unemployment. It is a time for you to get a handle on the situation--to take charge.

What you need to do at this time is to develop a plan to help you survive this setback until you can find another job.

Establish the Gap
For most people, job loss is going to create a gap between your new income and your expenses. Figuring out the size of the gap should be your first priority.

Make a List of Expenses
Until the list is in black and white many people do not know all they owe. Without the list it will be hard to create a plan to prioritize the use of your finances. Look through your checkbook stubs and your credit card statements to see where your money is going. This list needs to be as thorough as possible. You might divide your monthly expenses into three main groups:

    1. Fixed Expenses
    Examples include: rent/mortgage, savings,
    car payment, monthly medical bills,
    alimony/child support, credit cards, etc.

    2. Variable Expenses
    Examples include: groceries, eating out,
    child care, postage,household/miscellaneous,
    clothing, basic telephone, etc.

    3. Periodic Expenses
    Examples include: car repair/maintenance,
    income and property taxes, gifts,
    home repair/maintenance, etc.

Calculate Your Income
For most of us our income sources are few in number but since each person’s situation is different, we have listed a number of potential sources. You should identify these for the entire household and calculate them on a monthly basis: net wages/salary, part-time work, self-employment, unemployment compensation, bonus/overtime/tips, child support/alimony, A.F.D.C., disability compensation, food stamps, pension, Social Security, National Guard/Reserves, other.

Figure the Gap
Subtract your spending from your income. This final figure will tell you whether you are in the hole.

Closing the Gap
All those who still have more income than expenses after completing these three steps can go to the mall. Everyone else might want to consider taking a few more difficult steps.

Cut Expenses
For most, the obvious places to cut are in our variable expenses such as groceries, eating out, entertainment, recreation and household costs.

Go back through the list of monthly variable expenses and set for each the lowest budget for each you feel you can live with. You may find it helpful to change old habits so that it will be harder to spend. Some ideas are outlined below:

Stop carrying your credit cards.
Pay in cash. If the temptation to use the cards is strong, try this. Fill a one-gallon jug with water. Put all your credit cards in the jug of water. Put the jug in the freezer. Freeze your spending. By the time the ice thaws, you will have time to think about the potential purchase and will not have used the card, but will have the card available in the future when your financial picture improves. This might be a good time to cut back to two or three credit cards.

Take grocery buying seriously.
Prepare a list of the foods you need. Clip discount coupons from the newspapers. Bring only enough cash to pay for the things on your list. Shop at the supermarket. Stay away from convenience stores--convenience is very expensive. Shop once a week, buy the store brands. Try to stay away from the junk foods and prepared foods.

Stay away from restaurants.
We spend 16 percent of our income on food. More than a third of that amount is spent in restaurants, snack bars, and fast food joints. It’s a lot cheaper to eat at home or bring a homemade lunch.

Stay away from malls.
Americans visit some kind of mall at least twice a week. It’s too easy to spend money on impulse when browsing at a mall. Too many people have the notion that shopping is a form of fun and entertainment. Shopping is not entertainment. Shopping is an expensive and serious form of family business.

Find cheaper ways to play.
We spend close to 10 percent of income on entertainment--movies, video rentals, cable TV, CD’s, hobbies, sports, toys, and other recreation. Put a clamp on it.

Economize at home.
Turn off the lights and the TV when not in use. Run the dishwasher, clothes washer, and clothes dryer with full loads. Set the house thermostat to 68 degrees in winter. Use fans instead of air conditioners during the summer.

Reprinted from the booklet “Surviving A Layoff. Copyrighted, 1995, Dahlstrom & Company, Inc.

Increase Your Income
At least for a short time the following tips might help you raise cash.

Collect old debts.
Stop and think, does anyone owe you money? Well, now is the time to ask for it.

Sell your skills.
Do you have a real skill like typing, doing taxes, taking photos, drawing, cake decorating, giving music or dance lessons, tutoring, or just about anything else? If so, put an advertisement in the classified section of the newspaper and cash in on your skills.

Sell old valuables.
Walk through your home and take an inventory of the valuables you no longer use: baby furniture, kitchen sets, freezer, power tools, photo equipment, musical instruments. Put an advertisement in the newspaper and sell the stuff.

Clean out the garage.
Have a garage sale. You could earn a bundle selling old junk such as books, hand tools, toys, clothes, dishes, lamps, fans, and other things.

Sell the luxuries.
Unload the second car, the boat, the mink coat, or any other luxuries that you may have. Pay off the debt and pocket any profits you might have.

Reprinted from the booklet, Surviving A Layoff. Copyrighted, 1995, Dahlstrom & Company, Inc.

Cut your bills.
For some, the suggestions above will be enough but for most it will be necessary to see if we can get our bills cut back temporarily. Almost any bill you pay on regularly--utilities, telephone, taxes, rent, auto loans, credit cards, medical bills, day-care, insurance--should be considered for your budget ax.

This is the step that for most people would create the biggest savings in their monthly cash needs. It is also the step that most have the hardest time doing or doing right because it involves dealing with creditors. The best approach is to call your lenders before they call you and use one of the following approaches to work out a budget program with them.

Pro-Rated Payments
If you were paying $600/month for your total debt payments but can now pay only $300/month or one-half (50%), offer to pay 50% of the normal payment for each bill.

Percentage of Total Debt Payments
If you have $3,000 in total debt and you have four creditors, figure out what percentage each is owed of the total debt. For example, one might be owed $1,500 or 50% of the total. If you can now pay $150/month against your total debt, that one creditor could receive $75/month which is 50% of the total you can pay.

Interest-only Payments
Payments due on loans and most credit card bills include a portion that goes to pay against the principal and a portion that is an interest payment to your creditor. Some creditors may be willing to accept a payment only of the interest portion, especially for a short period. In most cases this could reduce the monthly payment due to a creditor by 70-90%.

Why Do It All Alone?

Sometimes, the financial concerns after a job loss can distract you from focusing on your main objective...finding a good job or the training to get one.

How can you concentrate on your interview skills when you are in turmoil about your daily needs? Make sure they are taken care of. Sometimes that will mean you should consider the use of public resources. Why not? When you get back on your feet financially, you will probably pay back in taxes any money or services you use. Anyway, if you access some of the following sources you will be more able to:

* focus on your job search/training
* keep your family healthy and together
* keep yourself health and together

Consumer Credit Counseling Service

This not-for-profit agency provides debt management services and repayment programs free of charge. They can intervene with your creditors during this time of job transition. Thousands of families and individuals use this service each year for a variety of circumstances. In central Missouri, the average CCS client has 9 creditors excluding their home mortgage with consumer debt of $8,750. If you add in car loans that average jumps to $21,440. While CCS will work with all your creditors, in many cases, individuals choose to work directly with some, while the agency will handle the remainder.

Division of Family Services

Apply for any assistance for which you are eligible. After all, while you were working you helped pay for or these services. Some of the programs for which you might be eligible include:

* emergency assistance
* food stamps
* child care assistance

Many other programs offered by the Division may be accessed if your unemployment is prolonged. In addition, agency staff are typically familiar with the network of community resources in your area.

Crisis Counseling

Severe and prolonged stress associated with job loss may seriously affect your physical and mental health. In addition, stress contributes to many types of accidents through human error, fatigue, worry and haste.

Consider professional advice from your family physician, mental health professionals, lay groups, community agencies and clergy if your problems become an emotional burden. These outsiders can help you deal with extreme stress and the physical and emotional trauma that may accompany it.

Many community agencies exist to help you. The Division of Family Services (DFS) as well as other social service agencies may be available in your area. Family services, mental health centers, crisis centers, suicide prevention centers, drug crisis centers and emergency hotlines are available at little or no cost to those needing help.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/21/05 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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