Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In recent news

No wonder B can't find a job...the unemployment rate in our city is now hovering around 11 percent! Now I'm sure that's not hitting the white male college educated folks as much as some other groups...but then again, recent college graduates and late 20somethings are one of hardest hit groups out there in terms of employment (or the lack thereof). Seems like the older baby boomers don't want to give up their jobs now that their 401ks have tanked. Speaking of which, I have a great idea, lets make it so that your job automatically invests your retirement plan in what is now essentially monopoly money! Assuming you have a job of course.

Meanwhile, I've seen the job market in our city as I've been helping my husband look for job postings, and what everyone wants now is several years of experience. Never mind if you have a college degree, if you haven't been a secretary for the past 5 years we don't want to hire you in our secretary job. Cause there's no way someone with *just* a college degree and no secretary experience can possibly be a good secretary. Besides, we have 300 recently laid off secretaries just lining up to apply! And good luck with any job with more status than a secretary..for that you need at least 5 years experience and a graduate degree.

Which brings me to the Obama speech this morning. Yes, lets motivate the young so they all stay in school and go to college, thereby ensuring a future job for me and my academic ilk. I like that. But meanwhile, what good is a college education anymore? What good is working your ass off for years, excelling at everything, if at the end of years of higher education you end up where my husband is now and where it's looking more and more likely I'll be a year from now (after a decade of higher education)- unemployed.

So yeah, Obama is encouraging the young kids to put in an effort. But he's also reinforcing the great American myth- the myth that if you just work hard enough, and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and study hard in school, one day you will be president. Or at least employed.

I lost my faith in that myth long ago.

In general, I am losing the hope I had when Obama was elected, although not enough to take my Obama sign out of my apartment window. He has a chance to get it back though. If tomorrow he stands in front of congress, grows a pair, and declares that a public option for health insurance is necessary, it may restore a little of the hope I had for his presidency. If he even pushes through all the other reforms without a public option, I will be less happy, but I won't lose all hope.

If he doesn't, well, the sign is definitely coming down.


  1. The problem is that Obama's up against a very difficult situation. The Republicans refuse to cooperate in any way, mainly for strategic reasons, and the fringe right comes out with lie after lie and the press gives them credence as if they're rational people instead of the hate filled nuts they are. With that kind of opposition, his only choice is an incrementalist one. That's kind of what I expected all along, despite all his talk of transformative change. One president can only do so much.

    And there are changes. The stimulus bill may be slow to actually stimulate, but one thing it did do is ease the burden on those who've lost their jobs. I was laid off a month ago, and my COBRA payments for me & my wife is under $300 a month, instead of the over $1,200 it was the last time I was out of work 3 years ago. That was one of many provisions in the stimulus bill. A-la FDR, he's trying to help people just get by in hard times. I think he deserves some more patience to see what he can do.

    Like you, I think a public option is at the core of health care reform and key to bringing down costs. But even if it's not there, at least tremendous new health consumer protections will be passed, and no matter what's passed, government subsidies will be available for those that don't have health insurance, to buy policies.

    I share your frustration at the slow pace of change, but it's still during the first year of Obama's administration. Hopefully the coming months will show more progress.

  2. Oh I agree he's in a difficult situation. But so am I. As are a lot of Americans. And I expected more than this by now.

    The stimulus stuff is good if you lost your job...if you were employed full time that is. Recent college grads who were underemployed (part time when they wanted to be full time) and then were laid off, such as my husband, are not so lucky. We get no unemployment benefits, and I pay $300 a month for health insurance too, which is over 10% of my pretax income.

    Hopefully i can get some of that back in these subsidies I keep hearing about.

    Meanwhile, I'm tired of settling for half assed laws, and I'm sick of big corporations running my country.

  3. AE: I'm sorry that B is having a hard time finding a job. I don't think that means, however, that in the long term a college education is not the best bet for a decent and satisfying career. You don't say what B's field is, so it's hard to draw any conclusions from his experience, as disheartening as that experience might be.

    As for Obama, the problems in the economy were a long time in the making and cannot be solved overnight even with the wisest president. On healthcare, I too would like to see a public option, but I'd rather see some form of universal coverage than none, if a public option is not politically feasible now. What bothers me is that most health insurers are for-profit. In most countries with universal care and private insurers, the insurers are all non-profits but still manage to compete against each other.

  4. B's major was "Humanities and the Sciences" (very broad and he is basically open to most jobs right now as long as they would have theM) so maybe I should say that not ANY college degree is useless, just the traditional ones in the liberal arts (I say as I'm about to start teaching sociology 101 to a whole bunch of freshman..oy).

    I know a whole bunch of recent college grads in the same boat..one of my friends just graduated from an ivy league university, did a ton of great internships and started a magazine while in college, spent the last 2 years working her way up through the publishing industry (she has written for people magazine, real simple, etc), and just moved home with her parents because she simply could not find any job in the past 8 months. she says she has a stack of rejection letters from starbucks. Another one of my friends who has 8 years experience in a few industries just moved back in with his parents at the age of 28 after not being able to find a job for the past year. He even just tried to join the navy but they rejected him. That's not even counting the tons of friends I have who were laid off in the last year, many of whom are living off unemployment benefits cause they simply cannot get any job. Not to mention the underemployed; those in their late 20s who are still living with their parents (my brother and one of my best friends included) because even though they have a job, it's just not enough to be able to live on their own. It seems like my entire generation is totally fucked..

    I know it's not obama's fault the economy sucks, etc, etc, I just expected more from him by now and i'm beginning to feel a little let down that he is not as awesome as I wish he would be.

  5. Economic downturns tend to hit the youngest and oldest part of the working demographic hardest. It seems they always do.

    The young have too little experience, and the old are deemed, well, "too old".

  6. Yikes. That is depressing. Every generation has its challenges, whether its the great depression, a world war, the vietnam war, the disco era or workaholicism, but some challenges are tougher than others and whatever challenge you are facing right now is what matters. "Humanities and sciences" is pretty broad. Any chance of B doing some more school/training to hone in on a more specific area in a field that may be expanding?

  7. I'm with you on your hopes for Obama tomorrow night. I am.

  8. "Now I'm sure that's not hitting the white male college educated folks as much as some other groups"
    I'm not certain that statement is accurate. As a result of affirmative action policies, the white middle class straight male falls victim to default discriminatory hiring practices and is cast aside in medicine, academia and in many blue collar type positions. Anyway, I really wish B - and the both of you - the best of luck.

  9. olam- are you freakin kidding me? White males have the highest employment rate (and labor force participation) of any race/gender group and are more likely to be hired then any other race/gender group. In fact, white men with a criminal record are more likely to be hired then black men with no criminal record- check out the recent work of Devah Pager from princeton, she did some great experiments testing this stuff.

  10. I highly suggest you read the book Generation Debt. I feel hopeless myself. Working towards a psych degree soon, yet praying for the simple life of a desk jockey just to keep insurance. BTW, Ariella here, i just like the name Adrienne

  11. >The Republicans refuse to cooperate in any way,


    Look, its an economic downturn. Obviously everyone is hurt. I think we should be pushing trade jobs as well as education. Not every child should be pushed to college. There are excellent trade schools with jobs that this country will always need.

  12. >Like you, I think a public option is at the core of health care reform and key to bringing down costs.

    Which costs? Hasen't the CBO came out with a conclusion that it will not lower costs? And as we know history of governemnt, it usually ends up being more expensive.

  13. Hi. I read your blog and find it very interesting. I like that you have Basset mix from a rescue. Is B considering getting a Master's at a public University? I have the same problem as him and I went to engineering school at an Ivy League school and have a year of work experience as a secretary and was laid off a few months ago. It is the norm now.


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