Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
JULY 15, 2009 7:14PM

I, Like 1 in 10 Americans, Need a Job

Rate: 41 Flag

Hey hey!  Turns out one in ten Americans might be unemployed this year -- and I am one of those, uh, ones.  Let me bring the numbers first, then wander into the personal.

The minutes of last month's Federal Reserve meeting have been released, and there's a wee bit of unsurprising news in them [.pdf].  Since April's meeting, the group has "moved up their unemployment rate projections and continued to anticipate that labor market conditions would deteriorate further over the remainder of the year."  They're predicting unemployment will be between 9.8 and 10.1 percent, the first time the committee has seen 10 percent as a possibility.

They also said that overall GDP is expected to increase next year, but I feel a particularly personal tug toward focusing on these unemployment numbers, because as of this week, I have joined their ranks.  More on that in a bit.  Let's talk bad [WSJ]:

Yet in the minutes, officials warned that any recovery will be bumpy, especially for the labor market. And while downside risks have receded, they remain "significant."

"Labor market conditions were of particular concern to meeting participants," the Fed said, adding that with the recovery expected to be sluggish, "most participants anticipated that the employment situation was likely to be downbeat for some time."

The unemployment rate is currently 9.5%, a 26-year high. According to officials' quarterly projections, released along with Wednesday's meeting minutes, jobless rate forecasts for the end of 2009 range from 9.7% to 10.5%. One official expects the unemployment rate to reach 10.6%, though most expect the rate to fall next year.

I currently live in, and am seeking a job in, a state with 12.6 percent unemployment.  There's no better way to phrase this: It sucks.  I know people who have job-hunted for a year -- people with the same qualifications I have, up to and including a shiny master's degree.

So now I'll narrow down to me, as uninteresting and unenlightening as that may be.  I mentioned this the last time I wrote about the absolute suckitude of high unemployment: the less secure everyone feels in their finances, the less mobile they are, and the less choice is available to them.  I wrote that and then made what may be a very bad choice anyway -- to turn down a law school scholarship to stay in a place I love and try to find work I enjoy.  This means giving up a lot of security for the next few years, but it will also, I hope, mean giving up the old, tired, ever-lasting dollar chase that I was headed toward.  It will eventually mean less debt, but right now, it means less sleep and less certainty; less hope and more fear; less time to write, and more time to worry.

This is how I feel about unemployment, too, Mr. President.

Suddenly the numbers are more frightening than ever; they make the uphill climb of finding a job seem like an even steeper hill.  I've been wondering why it took me so long to make this decision, and while I don't think the economy is entirely to blame -- there were family considerations and momentum to consider -- I do think that knowing I had a place to go and money waiting for me in the fall was a major factor in keeping me on an otherwise uncomfortable path for longer than I should have been.

My situation is different, and less dire, than most: I have made a choice to pursue an uncertain path.  I still have more sympathy for nearly every unemployed person in the United States than myself, and am neither asking for nor expecting any of that from, well, anyone.  This jobless frame is where I'm writing from at the moment, though, and it seemed important to lay that out.

So, in short, I hate this economy, now more personally than ever.  Ten percent, man -- that's a national nightmare.

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Isn't the official figure actually lower than the reality? And of course it doesn't take into consideration the under-employed. Ah well, welcome to the party!
It is scary and it is a national nightmare. I too am pursuing an uncertain path - talk about keeping the Faith!
It's frakking terrifying.

My husband (laid off in Feb) is planning to retrain over the next couple of years with an eye on the next career...something...in the realm of healtcare. (It hasn't gotten more concrete than that).

And it's gonna be rough. Really rough.
It's so scary. I have great fear that things will never get better. I hate this economy right along with you.
Harry -- yeah. Actual unemployment, which is at, ah, 9.5 percent, doesn't take into account underemployed people (working part time or only temporarily) or people who've stopped looking for work because they're so discouraged, and often doesn't count recent graduates, I believe. That number is higher, and still ugly and discouraging.

Deborah -- the uncertainty demands some kind of faith, I guess! Mine is usually in numbers, but... they aren't helping at all right now. :)

Verbal, good luck to you and your husband. Rough seems an accurate word.

Cruelwench, it totally does suck, doesn't it? I still have hope that things will -- must -- improve, but... I guess we'll see.
You’re brave, intelligent and obviously productive. What helps put this into perspective (for us) is that this is you talking about the possibility of being unemployed for a (hopefully not too long) period of time. Man, that plus a 10% number is absolutely unreal.

Good wishes and best of luck to you, Ms. Smith. So far this hand you’ve been dealt hasn’t been kind...
On the whole, I think I've had many very good rounds in the greater game, David, but the economy is certainly putting a damper on my ability to play well! Thanks for the good wishes.
It does suck, and I can relate since I live in a town with about the same unemployment rate as your state. I am looking at this period as a time when I, and the country as a whole, can recalibrate goals and our definition of fulfillment. Our nation's current situation is not entirely surprising to me, but it has hit faster than I ever predicted. The next 12 months will be a challenge for a lot of people.
and those aren't even the real numbers, only those on unemployment. since they kicked me off unemployment today, i guess i'm not part of the unemployment statistic anymore.
Harry makes an excellent point. Best of luck. If anyone can make it, you can.
saturn....ugh....but I admire you for giving up the law school money chase game. Let regular salon give you a paying gig soon....
Hello! Salon editors! Time to start paying Saturn for her excellent work!
Frighteningly this is my 5th month. I blogged about my own loss in March http://open.salon.com/blog/traveller1/2009/03/01/about_getting_unread_on_open_salon_mishima666

Went through the 5-100 stages in joblessness. Wrote umpteen CVs trimmed ones and real. No takers. Like I said in my blog..... The President assures us that staying school is the key..... hmmmmmmmmm. So should I work towards a double PhD then? Or perhaps train in Rocket Science... oops! My specialty IS proteomics/metabonomics/masspectrometry and bioinformatics which is nearly that! Maybe its just Buffalo. Or maybe its my age.

So I am kept chained and tethered with a temporary while the world of Job-haves swarm around me in their empathetic smiles, jokes,endless lunch breaks, chit chats and their endless web surfing.
ME??? I just lugged myself to Toronto last weekend and attended a workshop in Bioinformatics and am looking to implement 14 software applications to interpret genelists from -omics platforms. AND I dont have a job?? If it weren't so sad I'd be laughing up a storm.
How do you think we immigrants came to the US? Because when we graduated back home the economy could not support research. So the top students got out.
As a self-employed writer and marketing communications consultant, I do understand how deeply frightening the lean times can feel. In fact, my professional "career" -- such as it was then -- began right out of school in an economic climate so dire that economists coined the word "stagflation" in an attempt to understand what was happening.

So in that spirit, I just want to offer a word of encouragement based on personal experience . . . it is absolutely a fact that opportunities abound in every economic environment. But they can be more difficult to spot because they look different in this kind of climate than they do in easier times.

I've often thought that downturns should be called "upside-down-turns" because they don't erase opportunity so much as turn it on its head. And there's a wonderful energy flowing all around us when everything -- and everyone -- is in flux. It's like the shifting of tectonic plates that produce the Grand Canyon over there, and the Rocky Mountains over *there*.

It's not only incredibly brave of you to follow your heart and your instincts when they seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom -- it's also incredibly SMART. If you refuse to give in to despair, and can remain flexible and open, I think in hindsight you'll look back on this period of your life as a time of unusual creativity and opportunities you could never have imagined. You clearly possess the instincts to create that in your life.

And to that end, may I gently suggest that you stop reading the bad news? Just refuse to engage it. It's not telling you anything about your own possibilities, only how others are currently viewing *their* prospects. ;)
I like BBE's suggestion... Also, I've been there, and feel for all suck in this.
Saturn after umpteen well deserved editor's picks and after doing an excellent job educating and informing voters who read OS I think it is time for the apprenticeship to stop. Editors she has been ready to play with the big boys at Salon for a long time and quality work deserves payment. It is the right thing to do for your readers AND it is the just the right thing to do.
Maybe if you spent less time on here you would have a job.
Oh good luck to you Saturn! If someone as bright and talented as you is having trouble, well, we are in a bad way aren't we?
That's right Salon...someone needs to step up and start giving out some handouts here!! People don't have jobs, so we are leaving it up to you to just make more of them instead of us actually showing that we are more qualified and more deserving for them on our own. And let's make sure to put some quotas on this time too. We need to research every background of user on this site and make sure our employees make up the exact same percentage. I mean, if 20 percent of chinese food eaters are white males, they damn well better make sure 20 percent of their staff is white male too. Oh wait, racial quotas and bias only work one way for a dem.
Sorry to hear that, Saturn. I hope a job turns up for you, through a friend, by accident, without expectations, serendipitously.

America's best and brightest are cooling their heels at home, while those with a job at the Fed use euphemisms: "Labor market conditions were of particular concern to meeting participants," the Fed said. Those meeting participants, likely all wealthy white men, just see us as "the labor market," not as their fellow Americans, not as the canaries in the mine shaft of our crumbling economy. What they didn't say, and want to avoid saying, is that millions of men, women and children are going hungry, losing their homes, are becoming terrified and soon will be very, very angry at those rich white men who did this to them.
Amazing...10 percent has forced workers to get better. You better actually know your stuff, your handout A's from schools where we don't want to fail anyone just don't cut it anymore. So now those who were passed right through the system and took the easy way are losing jobs, and maybe a few who do know there stuff who are now forced to swim through a huge pool and see all those less qualified people that you quietly let slip by be right there with you. Your pool would be so much smaller if standards were simply enforced from the beginning. Actually know your stuff...come on, this is America. First and foremost we claim discrimination, then we sue, then we whine and moan, and we absolutely under no circumstances will ever demand personal responsibility. There is always some one or something else to blame first. We'll track this thing back to Thomas Jefferson if we have to. No, I didn't have an even shot because 40 generations back I came from a peasant family, clearly I need some sort of policy to give me a leg up!!
Exactly how are we all supposed to buy big screen TVs on welfare??? Come on people!!
I suppose all the people on here demanding that she be paid could just pay her themselves, but then again, that goes against their nature. You all expect someone else to do your bidding. If you want her paid, then pay her yourself and shut-up and quit whining for someone else to have to do it.
It is always about choices...remember all those illegals you all claimed needed and deserved to be here because they do the jobs no one else will do...oh yeah, I think the lines are a little bit bigger for people who are now willing to do THOSE JOBS. The market always takes care of itself. But now why should anyone hire you when they now have a well-trained illegal? So be sure to thank your local illegal for keeping your job for you or your friend whenever you see them. Hey, maybe do what you can do sneak the rest of the family over too if they haven't yet made it, that way even more of your friends can be without jobs. Oh yeah, and they'll also be the first one collecting all the government benefits too...WTG America!!
Best of luck to you, Saturn!

Just keep on writing. Anywhere. Just so we can keep on reading you. I also liked BBE's suggestion. If you really love the place where you live, maybe there are similar opportunities there.

And if the Salon editors don't come through, there are other sites out there, you know...
When America decided (When did that happen and who decided it?) to pursue a career in the financial services market and get away from manufacturing goods at home and shipping those jobs overseas, the stage was set for a long term downward spiral that has led us to our present situation. American corporations that follow business models that focus on maximum profit at all cost is helping to destroy the middle class.
The farther down the economic ladder, the worse off you will find yourself. As a younger man, I could always find a job in manufacturing. Those days are gone. Until corporate America decides to look beyond the next profit statement and decides to reinvest in America and it's people, I don't see many of us being able to afford what ever it is that they are selling.
They have in effect, taken the ability of the lower middle class and below, to be able to afford to be consumers. After rent or mortgage, utilities and food there isn't anything left for consuming. Credit ratings have been destroyed for many and I don't see that being addressed by Congress at all. There should be some level of credit amnesty for those who are hurting to help free up the market because let's face it, until Americans are once again allowed to borrow money to become consumers again, this situation isn't likely to improve.
First of all, sorry to hear you lost your job, Saturn. The first thing you need to do is file for unemployment. Do that now. I'm not sure where you live, but many states allow you to do that online.

Second, everyone who sees an ad they are legitimately interested in on Saturn's blog needs to click on it. Actually, I'd say do that for everyone's blog, but what the hell do I know.

Third, the figure people need to look at to see how bad the job situation really is has the name U-6. You can see it here.


That figure is at 16.5 percent.
Oh yeah, and Saturn? Ignore the douchebags who put terms like "justice" in their name. They're nothing but punk ass bitches who talk a lot of noise but do nothing but whine and complain. See their hero, Sarah Palin.

Don't worry, though. They're old and will die off. Or if they're young, they're already bitter old people. Either way, they may as well be dead.
I have 2 friends who have followed the advice of BBEyes. They went into it with total dread, but even though they are now working out of country, they are ecstatic about their new experiences. I wonder how long these "alternative" opportunities will be available. (On the aside, suckitude --perfect!)
I'm right there with you, Saturn. A year-and-a-half after losing my job, I still havent found a new one. Granted, I get discouraged every four or five weeks and then don't apply for work for a week or so, but then I'm right back at it.

Today? I'll be applying for jobs that only require a high school degree and hoping my Masters degree doesn't disqualify me from them.

Not all of us have the lovely option of fleeing the country to work for non-profits. But those of us that do, should take them.
Saturn, another job seeker here, so I feel your pain. I have about 30 years on you and tons of work experience to show for it but it's not helping me so far. My state (Calif) has about 11% unemployment already and climbing, too.

I have to say, though, I'm rather relieved when you said you were chucking law school. I'm sure you know the stats about the incredible attrition of recent law school grads from the field within a year or two after law school. So it's a degree that you work terribly hard to get and then don't want to use (even those that stay in law often hate it, even when they do well). So I think too many people go that route. (I also think too many people go off to grad school without any inkling of what they'll do with their degree or if they'll like what they can use it for. And I say that as someone who has a grad degree....) Anyway, I think it's better not to get into a lot of debt, lose 3 years of your life to something you're not sure even now that you want to do.

I don't know what your work experience is so far, but my advice to people at your stage of life is always the same: think of something you want to do, or an org you want to work for, and then take any job you can get, no matter how menial, to get started there. You'll be able to work your way up if you're smart and work hard.

Of course in this economy, you may just have to take any menial job you can get! And there are opportunities in any job, including to gain experience. And you can keep looking for work, as employers always prefer people who are already working anyway.
Hang the Rich!

What I mean to say is, that we cannot emphasize enough the role Wall Street, the larger financial industry, and the upper class has had on these dismal and horrifying employement numbers.

The money which Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and others continue to suck up for themselves is a DIRECT cause of middle class pain. These companies, with the cooperation of their bought and paid for whores in government (Republican and Democrat alike), use leverage and market manipulation to squeeze everything they can out of healthy companies (and government programs) and eliminate surplus for anyone but themselves. They preach austerity, efficiency and free markets while making irresponsible, billion dollar bets (and these are bets) with other people's money AND a guarantee that their government whores (Republican and Democrats) will use our money to cover their losses.

Here is just one scenario: Goldman Sachs gets a government stooge (probably a Democrat) to invest money from a public employee pension fund he or she runs into one of its (Goldman Sachs's) funds. Then the almighty Goldman use that money to buy a public company and take money from ITS pension fund to bet on an increase in the price of oil. They lose the bet, two pension funds lose money and Goldman, who has insured its bet with a company like AIG, gets paid back by the taxpayer. FOUR parties lose (the public employees, the private employees, the insurer and the taxpayer) while Goldman somehow manages to earn another record quarter.

Fuck Goldman Sachs, its high-flying bets and its government guarantee. Fuck the men and women who perpetuate this theft.

Next time you meet an investment banker, shun him or her. They deserve to be told what they really are.

Employment will not come back until we take it back from these selfish, intellectually dishonest scumbags.
Oh! I second Dorinda! Salon needs you Saturn. Have you considered applying for a job with them?
You are one of my favorite writers here, Saturn. It continues to amaze and horrify me when I see so many intelligent creative people "on the beach." This includes my husband who will have been out of work for a year next month. I laughed when a friend said we should expect it to take at least 12 most for him to find a position. Not laughing now.

Anyway, over these many months I've come to the conclusion that the folks who can manage to keep afloat, who are able to tread water the longest, who are able to avoid a catastrophic event (i.e. have a little luck) will eventually pull through. Endurance.

Wishing for better days ahead for you, my family and all of the other writers on Salon.

Jon, that's a cute rant but I want to ask you a question.

Were you bitching and moaning back in the 1990s, when Goldman and the rest of the Wall Street firms were doing the same thing but 22 million jobs were created?

The rants against Goldman from people on the left are as amusing and as factually inaccurate as the rants from people on the right about ACORN.
@ Harry Homeless;
One can know for certain that the actual % is higher. This is because they derive the official % by calculating the number of people who are collecting unemployment benefits. They stop counting you when your benefit expires, regardless of whether you have found a job. There are many people in this class.

Saturn also makes the point that the newly college graduated aren't counted because they haven't previously been in the workforce.

In sum, the real number is considerably higher. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The path from journalist to lawyer--once described to me by a judge as "the road of the intellectual hobo"--isn't so bad. You start out as a lawyer with better writing skills than the rest of your class (I had a former Rolling Stone reporter in mine) and if you decide you don't want to practice law when you get out you have a skill that other reporters don't have. Fred Graham, the TV correspondent spoke at my law school graduation--he went to Vanderbilt Law School.

The problem--and it's not such a bad one--is once you have a law degree you get paid a lot more for what you write as a lawyer than as a journalist. My writing income last year was less than 1% of the total--I couldn't afford to eat at McDonald's if all I did was write.

Best of luck whatever you decide.
I too feel your pain Saturn. I've recently become one of the 10% and decided to pursue writing as a full time venture rather than the part time/make up for a job I hate thing that it was. It's pretty unsettling out there right now. Good luck to you.
Yet another of the un-informed. The time period that this mass of job losses has been going on compared against the current length that a person is eligible for unemployment benefits don't match up. Currently that time period has not expired and will not for quite some time, so to then say the real numbers are wrong is just not having any true grasp of the facts.

Good write John "They're nothing but punk ass bitches who talk a lot of noise but do nothing but whine and complain. See their hero, Sarah Palin. Don't worry, though. They're old and will die off. Or if they're young, they're already bitter old people. Either way, they may as well be dead."

Somehow I don't think I sound like the bitter old one, and I'm not the one asking for a handout or for people to simply be given things and I don't think I ever said a single thing about Palin -- very clever deduction. Way to do all most Saloners do, defeat a point with no fact, just say it is wrong or so something about Bush or Palin or McCain, definitely find someone to blame. If we only had more people like you, clearly all the problems of the world would be gone!
I echo the sentiments of a lot of people here: it's a mystery why Kerry and Joan haven't offered Saturn a full-time (or freelance, if that's her choice) paid gig for Big Salon.
You should probably give up on the private sector. With ever increasing regulation and taxation, private companies will be offering fewer and fewer jobs. Newspapers and news magazines are falling like flies as they continue to lose credibility with mainstream America.

The only segment of job producers that is growing is the government, so I think that's your best bet. Of course, the intellectual stimulation there will make being a lawyer seem like nirvana, but it will put bread on the table at least for the time being.

Perhaps your refusal to pursue the dollar by going to law school is a case of getting what you wished for. No law school, no dollars.

There are some dots that need to be connected here, but I'm not going to press the point when you're in distress.

Good luck.
good luck Saturn... like that helps. it's all I got.
Maybe it's the lack of sheer genius required to write such things as, "the absolute suckitude of high unemployment" coupled with the powerful insights of how being without a job just might carry consequences of having people feel less secure, be less mobile, and have less choice. Thank goodness we needed someone to write about that for us to all be enlightened!!
Saturn: Your political blogs here are among the best. I hate to hear about your job situation. I have seen lots of coworkers around me get laid off. And oddly enough- who got laid off and who stayed behind has absolutely zero relation to how well said individuals did their jobs. This recession is like a twister. It will completely destroy one person's entire life and family, while leaving the guy next to him totally untouched.
The official figure is way lower; it could be stated at 20 per cent, although there are intrinsic difficulties in the whole thing in terms of calculation.
I predict significantly higher unemployment than the Fed.
We have a structural problem now that if we do not deal with healthcare the right way will get worse. Lots worse.
Sorry though. It sucks, but I bet you are a survivor, which is what this is: a natural selection contest, alas.
Tony: I was 8 in 1990 and 18 when the 1990s ended. My biggest concerns were video games, sports, and eventually girls, during that period. If Goldman Sachs and their jobs were supposed to be on my radar, let me know. I'd hate to think that you were making a pretty bad assumption.
this blog depressed the hell out of me! (not the blog's fault). I'm nearly in the same boat, with an ivy league grad school degree and passion for my line of work (plus i'm darn hardworking)... but with the additional handicap of being a foreigner. (not an illegal one though ..:)!

I just get by thinking : "this is just a temporary derailment of my life" :). rated for evoking so many emotions.

Honestly, I'm no sure your situation would change even if the employment rate were better. You have something more important than a job, you have a vocation. You're a writer. So your choices aren't really all that complex or tragic.

You could use the MFA to find a teaching job. Or you start thinking like a freelancer. You turn your MFA in to a book proposal. You look over your posts and see if there's anything in there that is a subject you might want to pursue in depth for a while. You start pitching, you moodle another book proposal. The fact that you're so regularly featured in Salon gives you enough credentials to get editors to look at your work. In time either you get a job, or you forget about this job thing and enjoy the luxury of writing about things you care about, and cobbling together a living from that.

Although I'm happy to echo those who think Salon should give you a full time gig. You're a great blogger and any magazine that hires you would be better for it.
If you like where you're living so much, and you like researching politics and other news so much, perhaps you should try to become a politician. Could you run for a small local office to start?
This is frightening because the stats do not include those who have run out of their unemployment benefits and who do not go in to register every week.

And meanwhile, someone is making enough money to prop up prices for everything from food to furniture. In California, it's probably the retired state workers living on their bloated retirements, the drug cartel staffs, and the independently wealthy.

It IS a schizophrenic situation.

To answer your question, I have ALWAYS - since some of my most interesting and high-achieving fellow graduates sold out to Wall Street in the 80's - have believed that the financial sector of the economy was a drain on this country's long-term prospects.

I understand numbers, and the numbers going down in the trading rooms and private accounts of investment banks have never added up to reasonable fiscal stewardship. In addition, it was in the 80's that investment banks began their wholesale destruction (via leverage and hostile takeover) of healthy industrial firms with strong balance sheets, cash reserves and pension funds.

Yes, since my adulthood and my understanding of the simplest of economic principles, I have feared and hated Wall Street. And now we know that its financial speculators and manipulators have been practically treasonous in their slow war of attrition against their fellow American.
Oh, give me a break, Jon. Financial speculators are not Benedict Arnolds. They're doing a job -- making money for the people whose funds they manage. And yes, in the process, they get very wealthy.

These days, even a small investor has the same tools that used to be exclusive to the big boys. Instead of complaining about how the financial services sector is so evil, how about doing what they do and enriching yourself in the process.

On top of that, I find it highly amusing that anyone thinks a guy selling something to someone who wants to buy it is an act of evil.
Oh, wow. I'm overwhelmed, folks. Thanks, first, for the good wishes, which I certainly appreciate. And thanks more than that for everyone who's shared their own story here. Unlike reading the statistics of unemployment, reading about other people going through these uncertain times really makes me feel better -- or at least not alone.

I wish I could respond to every message individually, and maybe time will allow later -- but right now, it's back to the job (and home) search. But thank you, again.
i expect you will be less approving of the way your masters run the nation, now.
I also expect you will go sailing in a SAILBOAT!
I am with Dorinda. Your reporting on a variety of topics is more informative and helpful than 90% of the stuff I read elsewhere. Sending some good vibes your way. Love your writing.

I'm not against the free enterprise of someone buying what you are selling. I'm troubled when the stewards of publicly traded corporations walk away rich after running their companies into the ground. I'm offended by CEO salaries that explode into the millions amidst falling revenue and layoffs. And I laugh when a self-styled titan of industry - a Republican at that - like Henry Paulson gets down on his knees before Nancy Pelosi (literally, read about it) and begs for $700,000,000,000 to keep FAILING Wall Street firms afloat.

You want to celebrate free enterprise? Me too. Let them fail....all of them. I'll take the short term pain in my stock fund (yes, I am also a shareholder) and we'll see where these Ivy League babies on Wall Street end up.
I'm back. I wanted to see what other comments turned up.

Saturn, you're not going to believe this is coming from me, but NeilPaul made some good points, whether he was being serious our ironic (I'm not sure which).

When I was much younger, I always tried very hard not to trade on my looks (well, I graduated from HS in 1971 and it just wasn't the thing to do then). It was an ethical choice. But maybe not so smart.

What I later realized was that my looks-- and personality, too-- were part of every single transaction, especially with men, whether I intended it or not.

Given that the system is biologically hard-wired that way, please don't feel that you have to completely ignore any of your feminine strengths. No need to go overboard (you know what I mean), but just be yourself. All of yourself.

Jon, keep in mind that some companies DID implode and go away. Goodbye, Lehman and Bear Stearns. Adios, Countrywide, Wachovia, and Merrill.

I think what happened to make Paulson get on his knees and beg Pelosi to bail out the Wall Street firms is the reaction to the implosion of Lehman. I believe that we were just days away from the entire financial system of not just the United States, but the world, imploding.

At that point, it wouldn't have just been the guys at Goldman who got hit. It would be people like us. Chances are that your company has a payroll account, where they have a line of credit at a bank. They draw down those lines of credit every two weeks to make sure you get paid, and pay off those short term loans when their receivables come in.

If the financial contagion was allowed to continue unabated last fall, your employer would have had its payroll account frozen, and guess who wouldn't have gotten paid.
This is the problem. The capitalists tell us they have a working system, and yet there are people willing to work who have no place to work. That is not a working system. That is the most basic minimal measure of success of the system. This is not, as they sometimes allege, survival of the fittest in the sense that people who work harder will be rewarded—it has lost correlation between hard work and success, such that there is no rational act that a person in this system can take to improve their odds in many cases. It is especially bad because all around us, news organizations are failing and the public wants and needs this service, yet the availability of qualified people to fill that role is not enough to fix it. I'm not a champion of socialism for socialism's sake, but I am a fan of evidence-based science, and the evidence is not looking good for capitalism just now.
Saturn, I've always enjoyed your posts. I feel for you. My husband has a similar problem right now. We aren't hurting terribly right now either, but he's still getting restless and going crazy, which means I am too.
Kent -- keep in mind we have never really had a truly capitalistic system, just like nobody's ever had a truly communist system.

The system works. It works imperfectly, because humans run it and humans screw things up. Humans create CDOs that have been sliced and diced so many times that nobody actually knows what's in there other than computers. Humans create liar loans, and humans take out loans for houses they can't afford and lie about their income. Humans assume in their models that there will be no long, protracted decline in housing prices.

And before we look at socialism, have you seen the unemployment rates in Europe? They're not doing much better. Yes, they have a better safety net, but it's not like they're creating jobs, either.

Bottom line is that even in the Depression, the vast majority of people who wanted jobs had them. The unemployment rate back then was 25 percent, which means that 75 percent of the people who wanted jobs had them. And let's say unemployment goes to 12 percent, which is far beyond anything that's projected by anyone. That means 88 percent of people who want jobs have them.

It is an imperfect system run by imperfect humans but it works as well as you can expect.

Of course, if you're one of the ten percent without a job, it sucks. But I'd say go file for unemployment, think about what you want to do, and go after it.