Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oh Donations, We’re Begging You Please

NOTE: This was supposed to be posted on December 30, 2015 but end of year bad stuff happened and it didn’t get done.

(Apologies to Simon and Garfunkle for transposing the lyrics to “Cecilia” to fit my title.)

It’s the end of the year so it must be donation time.

Back when I had money I would donate to left-leaning causes and PACs. I want Citizen United overturned and I want big money out of our politics. These days politicians don’t even try to hide the fact they have been bought and sold by the wealthy in this country. And while I’ve been broadly affected by the Great Recession of 2008, apparently these non-profits didn’t get the memo. In a single day I get multiple emails written in panicked tones that these organizations need to meet their year-end funding goals if I could just send them $15, $25, or $50 to help out.

A quarter of my weekly grocery budget is $15.

Just because a group has the label of non-profit does not mean that executives/board members don’t draw a salary. Some of those incomes are outrageous for organizations that are supposed to be helping others. Seems like they are helping themselves first. Granted not all non-profits do this, but the laws allow the controlling board members to get paid for their time.

Back in 2011 I discovered the Coffee Party, a supposedly non-partisan political group that wanted to overturn Citizens United and foster civil and fact-based discussion about the problems that our nation faces. When they decided to sell memberships and get organized I signed on and was one of the founding members. Then came the application for non-profit status.

Before the application I had been part of many intelligent and rewarding discussion with both the organizers and general forum users. Questions were answered with useful explanations, everyone was on the same level and willing to help however they could. But when they organized as a  501(c)4 non-profit and gave certain members officer positions the helpfulness stopped in its tracks. Questions sent to the Membership Officer went unanswered, the forums became heavily moderated, and the spirit of purpose was completely lost. In fact the entire group has fallen off the political radar; a Google search only showed articles from 2010 with almost nothing after that.

Did you know that the Red Cross is being run by former executives of AT&T? The organization was running over budget so “business people” were brought in to fix it. Unfortunately a corporate business model does not work well for a non-profit, which is supposed to serve. Control was taken away from the local Red Cross Chapters and a top-down management structure was enacted. Needless to say it has failed miserably because when disasters happen the local Chapter knows better than anyone what is needed and what resources are available.

For a detailed article on the status of the Red Cross from 2014, go here:

So to summarize, organizations who pay their top people very well want people like me to give them money. Even AARP wants money from me and I’m one of the people they are supposed to be helping. Under-employed for over 10 years, rejected from jobs due to my age, no retirement, no savings, no income, and I’m supposed to pay them.

Robert Reich stop emailing me; it’s over.

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Too Much Time On My Hands

Whew. WordPress blocked me from my own blog and it took some effort to get it back. Weird.

The job market for middle-aged people absolutely stinks. And the “at-will” employment clause that so many states have adopted is a boon for employers but no so much for employees. Just this week I was called into the owner’s office and told I was being let go. No explanation other than the lame “we’re going in a new direction” excuse. To say I was devastated was an understatement.

The owners of this small company had praised everything I did for them, seemed to be excited about the experience I brought to the table, and generally were very supportive. There were no warnings, no reprimands, no indication that my work was unsatisfactory. Then, BOOM, I’m handed my final paycheck and out the door.

Yes I cried. I’m allowed when that kind of stuff happens.

To top it off, they professed to be “good Christians” which always makes me suspicious. That whole “do unto others” clause didn’t seem to be in their thoughts when kicking someone out the door. And to top it off they posted a want ad for exactly what I was doing but when I point-blank asked what was wrong with my work I got no answer. They could have at least said they were looking for someone with different qualifications, which I would have understood and been a valid reason. But no, it was a lame excuse and some paperwork.

At least at the last job I was let go from I KNEW the General Manager didn’t like anything I did. He told me often enough. He complained about everything I did and constantly compared me to the previous person who held the job – who according to others was not as good as the GM made him out to be. I maintained the same profit margin but it was a horrible place to work and I honestly was glad to be let go.

So now it’s back to spamming out resumes, hoping for a response, and crossing my fingers that the date I graduated college won’t cause the reviewers to flip out. There is an assumption that if you’re my age (50+) and don’t have a job then there is something wrong with you. It’s as if the crash economy has nothing to do with the lack of jobs, the number of people who lost good-paying jobs, and the overall difficulty getting a job. It’s a very poor system and so many are caught in it.

I’m apparently too old to work, but I’m too young to retire. Where is there a place for a worker like me? Why don’t employers value experience? Why are jobs, and employers, so horrible to employees. We have an economy that is a race to the bottom and then businesses wonder why they are losing profits.

To echo the 80s – It’s the economy, stupid.

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The Circle of Economics

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You know, I really don’t understand how all these “pundits” are so stupid when it comes to economics.

Everything they say or suggest is absolutely counter intuitive. The middle class is starving because we lost our living-wage jobs and yet the politicians want to take away every safety net in our government because we’re “lazy”. Where Wall Street executives lost all of our savings and retirement, we were pressured to bail them out just so they could go back to what they were doing in the first place that caused the Great Recessions with absolutely no criminal indictments. Because the top 1% is benefiting from the “recovery”, they think everyone is.

I freely admit I’m not an economist, but from my non-professional standpoint it seems that when the middle-class made a living wage (i.e., enough to pay for housing, food, transportation, insurance, college, even vacations) then everyone prospered. Because so many people were paying their taxes, because they actually made a wage that could be taxed, then the government had enough money to pay for infrastructure (roads, bridges), education, social services, and war/defense.

In the 80s and 90s our consumer culture fed so many businesses that they hired more workers because they needed to produce more product. So I’m completely confused when businesses don’t want to pay their workers, who are ultimately their consumers, a living wage. How are businesses going to make a profit if no one can afford their products? In the Wal-Mart “race-to-the-bottom” method of business, they use the taxpayers to provide benefits for their employees because they refuse to pay a living wage. That means the ever-shrinking pool of taxpayers (remember, people making poverty wages don’t pay taxes) are now responsible not only for the most helpless of our society but for working members of our society. And conservatives have the gall to call these workers “lazy” because they don’t make enough to pay for food for their families so they rely on food assistance. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

Here’s how I see the model working successfully, in my non-professional opinion:

– Workers get paid a living wage.
– This wage gives them purchasing power.
– Business sell more products/services because of the power of the consumer.
– Business make more profit that allows them to hire more workers.
– More workers making a living-wage are lifted out of poverty and can pay taxes.
– More taxes being collected helps pay down our deficit, fund social programs and defense.
– More taxes gives the government more money to upgrade roads, bridges, dams, levies, etc.
– Businesses (who never built it themselves if they used interstate roads, public water, sewers, police/fire protection) can expand due to a better infrastructure.

The austerity and sequester supporters are not living in the real word. Cutting back only hurts everyone; even the Great Depression was overcome with government borrowing to step into World War II. We may be “exceptional”, but all we’re exceptional at these days is beating a path for us to become a Third World Nation. On a global scale we do less for our people than other countries, and the sad part is that many are proud of that.

But I’m just and middle-aged, unemployed person, so what would I know.

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