America: The Land of Lay Offs

So, I’m guessing that just about everyone, everywhere knows at least one person who has been laid off in the last 24 months.

I know quite a few victims of  lay offs — my daughter, her best friend, our friend and neighbor Jim and now, my husband.  I was even laid off – a mutually reached decision as I was months away from turning 62 and turning on the Social Security faucet.  I thought I would have a little time to find another job.  Two and a half years later, I’m still looking.

A Brief Digression on Social Security
This is for  for those of you who think Social Security should…go away.  It’s also  for those of you who are considering the option of slipping peacefully out of the office and into retirement, early.

I have been working since I was 14 and paying into the Social Security fund for 50, that’s right, 50 years.  I paid for the privilege of collecting this small monthly payment so please don’t tell me I’m on the dole or taking a hand out.  If I am doing either, it is from me…to me.

Despite a long and financially draining relationship with FICA, what I get ain’t much.  This faucet only drips less than $20,000 a year — before taxes.  And when I get on Medicare next year, it will drip about $3000 a year less.

I don’t know many people who can actually pay their bills, eat and cover the costs of doctors and medicine on less than $12,000 a year but I worked for and earned the privilege of receiving this money, no matter how small the amount is.

Now, back to gainful unemployment which many of us are currently experiencing.

Of the 5 people mentioned above, not one of us was an underachiever.  Not one of us called in sick just because we could or took long breaks, missed deadlines or just held down the chair and picked up the pay check.

All of us brought the usual stuff to work – the skills,  talents,  and education needed to do each of our jobs, well.  But we also brought dedication, loyalty, passion and a true desire to do a good job not just one day, but every day.  Essentially, we worked for ourselves, for our satisfaction and for the joy of a job, well done.

So, why did we get the ax?  Who knows?

There are dozens of different reasons people lose their jobs. Companies have  “downturns” so downsizing has to happen.  Divisions are moving in a “different direction” and you won’t fit.  Your job is being eliminated so your services are no longer required.

Sometimes the reasons are a bit more personal.  Your personality clashes with your boss’s personality.  Perhaps your politics just don’t fit in with the politics of the organization.  Or, my favorite, the boss’s niece, nephew, grandmother, needs a job so they’re getting yours.

There are, of course real reasons to let someone go.  Employees that are consistently late or frequently absent can hurt the bottom line.  Employees who are belligerent or threatening can upset co-workers and worry managers.  And employees who just sit around all day, missing deadlines, smoking every 30 minutes and going to lunch for 2 hours every day affect productivity and morale.

But what happens when none of these reasons apply, when a good employee is cut from the herd and shown the door?  The reality is dramatic and painful. And no matter what anybody says, being terminated, fired, laid off, downsized is personal.  

Being unable to get another job is demoralizing.  I’m a Master’s prepared, professional with project management, training, leadership and human resource skills in my portfolio.  The only work I can get pays $83 a day — no benefits.  I even got turned down for employment at Lowe’s!

So, here’s my question.  When did America, the land of opportunity, become America, the land of lay offs?  Anyone have any answers to ease the pain of unemployment?

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4 Comments

Filed under Budgeting, Life & Death, Saving Money, Work

4 responses to “America: The Land of Lay Offs

  1. Pingback: Scamming the Unemployed – Really? | Write On Target

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  3. Hi Pat, you started your working life one year earlier than me but I matched your 50 years of contributions. I wish I had an answer for the questions that you ask beyond what we read in the media. But at the level of the man in the street these questions seem simply unanswerable in human terms. So, all I can say is, good luck to you and your family, I wish you well.

    • patsquared2

      Thanks Tony. I guess I’m a bit confused about it but I also realized that we have all been derailed, not for cause but for some bad policy and business decisions made when George Bush (the second) was in office. Tax cuts we couldn’t afford, wars that racked up trillions of dollars of debt and bail outs for Wall Street, businesses like AIG and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I am reading David Kennedy’s book, Freedom From Fear; The American People in Depression and War and there are so many fascinating and frightening parallels in our current economic and political climate that it is unnerving me a bit. But I know we will make it.

      I am a fighter and am also a pragmatist. Anything that isn’t needed and I mean needed, is going. I already cut my own hair (dog clippers are very liberating) and we gave up television 3 years ago, for our mental health. Now we are getting rid of cell phones, one car, probably ADT, trash pickup (we don’t make a lot of trash because I compost and recycle so the dump will work). We rarely eat out – I love to cook and it’s healthier. And I am scanning our world for other cost-cutting measures. Thanks for your kind thoughts and if you have any ideas, please share them.

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