Friday, May 22, 2020

Once in a Lifetime?

This pandemic is but the fall back on this is not.  I am not Okay are You? should be the next phrase Melania Trump put on the back of her next coat to wear as she escapes from her prison.  Funny Michelle Obama was told that it was much like one but a nice one when she became First Lady and undoubtedly that statement has taken on a whole new meaning.

The Daddies have given us a hall pass with the holiday weekend, expect that next week the scolding will begin anew as we have somehow failed to do good and we must go back on probation until the next phase of reward begins. They do this with dog training and clearly Westminster is taking notes for next years show.

I have decided to dedicate my time to write more and read more. I have failed on both counts. I have written two essays about what it is like to live in this time of Covid, one analogy to being punished as a child and another at being in attendance to the longest baseball game of one's life.  Both I submitted to contests and journals and my query letter was basically, hey I am in lockdown and we are in quarantine you may like it or not as that is yours to decide.  Honestly anyone who has done the routine of submit, write the requisite pleading query letter, wait, hear nothing and do it all over again knows that even with rejection you get not one clear critique or comment that would enable you to know how close to the mark you are or not. In other words, its like this bullshit we are experiencing now, the endless lather, rinse, repeat. The daily reading of numbers continues to demonstrate that all this social distancing, economic destruction, quarantining, isolation, waiting and wondering what is enough is anything ever enough to finally hear what we need to hear but never do is what writers go through on a constant basis.  Its exhausting, mind numbing and utterly useless.  If you cannot actually get solid feedback, honest truths and advice on what to do to make your writing work or even if you should write we will continue to just wait and wait and wait some more for the one day some invisible Editor, Agent, Publisher will throw you a bone.  And even then that bone is very picked over and with little meat left.  Its a great gig clearly.  Which gig I am not sure.

This is how we roll in America we think that this makes us stronger, better, brighter. We are sure that it meets the myth that defines the American ethic of up by the boot straps, work hard, play by the rules and do the right thing and all things will work. That is the fundamental principle of Meritocracy and that is the biggest load of shit ever shoveled in the history of American shit throwing.

I came of age in a major recession and launch of the go go 80s that I believe led to the subsequent crisis today.  The Voodoo President Reagan is so much like what I experienced, from the cuts to Government funding, the denigration of minorities with Welfare Queen, the political scandals and lastly the AIDS crisis is as if I am in a continual loop of a movie that I hated the first time and now for some reason cannot get out of the theater.

This week I read the below article in the New York Times, discussing how this pandemic and the economic meltdown which resulted from the chaos, lack of information, messaging and preparedness enabled a bunch of random white male Governors and a couple of women thrown in the mix who basically followed the cues in the dueling East Coast versus West Coast with flyover country trying to get their voices heard to show they too matter is perhaps the most distressing of it. From the DeWine fucker in Ohio, to the poor Governor of Michigan, to Texas and lastly the idiot in Florida and Georgia to show that the South is in this too.   I wondered is there any adult in the room other than Fauci?  He is like the little Igor to President Frankenstein who is sure if he is scary enough the Doctor will respect him. Well that clearly did not work.

An election is coming up and we have another doddering fool of a white man running on the back of a black man, not the first time but then again with white men they never change their agenda as they always do it on the backs of anyone who they can climb over to get to the top of the rung. I tried not to think of the mistakes I made in my life as I came of age in the 80s after finishing college and wanting to go to law school I found a job working in the King County Prosecutors office as a clerk. I learned right there that the justice system was a load of bullshit and folded that dream into the tent and never unpacked it again.  I have no regrets at all.  Coming back into that fold briefly in 2012 as a victim of it confirmed what I knew then, that white men run it, they bestow a modicum of power to black men who then go all Clarence Thomas on that to show they earned that and the women either fuck tother women over or the men to keep their jobs.  Face it that is what it is everywhere.

I worked in largely temporary office jobs, a Kelly Girl, for years and traveled as that was by far more interesting and educational than any college class I ever sat in. Well not true, as a Sociology and English major there were many courses I loved and look upon with great joy and appreciation but they were few and far in between. College in another predatory breeding ground of white male privilege with the same bullshit I saw in the King County Courts.  Education and Justice are institutions and they want to stay that way. And no wonder I loved being a Substitute Teacher more than one full time, it was ingrained from my early professional years. That system is as racist and classist as one can get but it pretends not.  But now that curtain is finally realized as one threadbare.

And this  brings me to the last industrial complex, medicine. We have now seen that curtain pulled back and the ugly truth of OZ that it is not some grand King but a sad hot mess of Doctors and Nurses who have spent their lives thinking they were in a noble profession only to be brought down to reality when a pandemic hit and then they had to beg for money, food and applause all while crying, "I didn't sign up for this!" Yes, yes you did. The Starbucks Barista, the Grocery Clerk, the Fed Ex dude no, no they did not.  So shut the fuck up and wipe that tear.

Truths are hard and ignorance even more so and that is what we have now, an immense amount of Americans utterly afraid, paralyzed with fear and with little or know foundation, aka intelligence. on which to ask questions, ask them again and again until they get a truthful answer. It is like the writing submission process where you blindly go in and never come out with an single response. Is there a point?  I guess if they don't want it you suck so go away. Well again don't even those who suck deserve to be told that.  Oh in the Education complex they do that, in the Justice one they do so as well and of course in Medicine that is a given. It goes by race, age, gender or any other visible methodology that makes it easy in which to do so.  Sexuality is added later when it can be and they certainly have tried as here in New Jersey an Assemblywoman wanted that info on the testing criteria. Really bitch you need one more factor to the already complex polynomial that is Covid?

When I read the article about today's graduates it was during one of my marathon walks I saw a young girl and her mother taking pics against the skyline of New York in the background and while still remaining physically distant I did stop, however, and was not socially when I congratulated her. And I told her one lie and two truths - that life is like that river water and that with it comes the good and it flows out and then the bad flows in. Right now we are in a bad flow and it will leave and in its place comes the good.  And in turn this is the worst of it and yet for you the best of it, choose which one matters and let that be your guide to navigate the water.  The truth is that I want to believe but I am not sure anymore what or who to believe. But I know now that I had no mentors, no history or family that knew how to navigate and they were working class but I never felt as if I fit and perhaps even when I entered Education it was a last resort but it also was the gig my Mother said to fall back upon and that was what it was and is. I loath politics and again a Pink Collar profession is no less politic than a white collar one, just the rules are different.

And as a truth teller and seeker of the same I ended up fucking lucky.  That is all it has been and I have never believed otherwise.  I liked working retail when I was allowed to simply just make money. I liked Teaching when I could simply teach kids.  I loved renovating houses but it was all with men and that was the catch and I did not have a mitt.  If I could do it all over I wouldn't as all of it made me a hell of a broad and that I am grateful. But I have paid an immense price for that as I have no family, no significant other and apparently that is not all that uncommon for my lot who was the class of 1981.  I certainly did not follow any conventional yellow brick road to OZ and while I tried the tennis shoe, bow wearing suits of the Women Who Worked, when I worked in a bank, that was ahead of the curve, People's Bank when it folded its doors after I soon left. Not one person I worked there with, well one, had any type of knowledge, intelligence and dignity so they treated their employees and co-workers the same.  I worked for two women, Janelle Keating and Wanda Judd. Wanda was just like the name one imagines and I liked her and respected her and I suspect she and I were cut much from the same cloth.  Janelle was a slut who fucked her bosses and had a husband already employed there so I suspect it was how she got her job in the first place and which she was unqualified for.   I can remember a few of the others and they are faces and names long forgotten but I am sure they found what they were looking for - just recognition.  I think that is all we look for in work, as respect is not coming your way.

Work is for fools and horses my Mother used to say and we have a lot of both standing in the field.  I am not sure this is something that we will come out of in the same way we did in the 80s. It is going back in time and with that I hope the 70s follow as that was the great awakening and reality of that protest, organization, shock, horror and dance all came together after the endless killings of men who tried to make a difference and perhaps that is why men now are so afraid and want to keep people oppressed and afraid, that way then they won't get shot.  What.the.fuck.ever. Cowards.  Funny no women were ever murdered, well after the Salem Witch Trials who is going to do that again, black magic and all that! No thanks!

But today we should be asking ourselves how did we get here and why are we letting the days go by without demanding the answers from those who claim to have them. Fuck them and find someone who does.

Facing Adulthood With an Economic Disaster’s Lasting Scars

By Eduardo Porter and David Yaffe-Bellany
The New York Times
Published May 19, 2020

Matthew Henderson couldn’t be entering the job market at a worse time. As a senior at Loyola University, he spent the spring semester interning as a trade policy analyst at the British Consulate in Chicago. But his chances of turning that opportunity into a permanent job after graduation ran headlong into the coronavirus pandemic.

Now Mr. Henderson is at home with his family in South Bend, Ind., unemployed and considering jobs at Costco and Target to help pay off $24,000 in student loans. “I’m in this bubble of anxiety,” said Mr. Henderson, who just turned 21. “I have to pay these, but I have no money to pay them.”

Saddled with debt, and entering a job market devastated by the pandemic, he and millions of his contemporaries face an exceptionally dicey future.

Young adults, especially those without a college degree, are particularly vulnerable in recessions. They are new to the job market — with scant on-the-job experience and little or no seniority to protect them from layoffs. A large body of research — along with the experience of those who came of age in the last recession — shows that young people trying to start their careers during an economic crisis are at a lasting disadvantage. Their wages, opportunities and confidence in the workplace may never fully recover.

And in the worst downturn in generations — one with no bottom in sight — the pattern is beginning to play out with a vengeance. From March to April, employment dropped by a quarter for workers 20 to 24 years old, and 16 percent for those 20 to 29. That compares with about 12 percent of workers in their 50s.

In an article for Lawfare, a blog about law and national security, the historian David Kennedy and the retired general Karl Eikenberry likened the current crisis to wartime, when elders send the young to fight and die. “It is the young — indebted students and struggling mortgagors, parents supporting families paycheck to paycheck, precarious recent graduates and anxious first-time job seekers — whose lives will be most deeply scarred,” they wrote.

For some younger workers, this is the second blow in barely a decade. An analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute noted that “the generation that first entered the job market in the aftermath of the Great Recession is now going through its second ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ downturn.”

Molly Zerjal, a 32-year-old in St. Louis, lost a communications job at Wells Fargo during the last downturn. Now, Ms. Zerjal works in marketing at a different financial firm, and she’s afraid it could happen again.

“I’m not an essential worker: marketing and communications is a ‘nice to have,’” she said. “Every day, I’m like, ‘Oh, God, what could happen today?’ It’s like P.T.S.D.”

The question is what kind of scars this will leave in the hearts, minds and pockets of younger people.

Jordan Haggard, 33, graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2009 in the depths of the recession. The job market was dire: When she applied for a job at McDonald’s, she never heard back.

Ten years later, Ms. Haggard works as an office manager for a small publishing company in Seattle. She has kept her job during the pandemic, even as some colleagues have been furloughed. But she still feels the effects of 2009.

“I know I will never be able to afford a home in Seattle or even live by myself without a roommate or two,” Ms. Haggard said. “Life is different from the one I was told about or imagined.”

Indeed, Jesse Rothstein of the University of California, Berkeley, followed college graduates who entered the labor market after the 2008 financial crisis. By 2018, those who had landed jobs in 2010 and 2011 had a lower employment rate than people at the same age who graduated before the recession hit, and those working earned less.

The effects are likely to persist. Lisa B. Kahn, an economics professor at the University of Rochester, tracked young white men who graduated from college from 1979 to 1988, a period that included the double-dip recession of the early 1980s. Over the next two decades, she found, they got stuck in low-quality, low-pay jobs. Even after the economy recovered, they had a hard time moving into better jobs.

The causes seem varied. Recession graduates, with limited opportunities, will start in jobs that are a worse fit. Once the economy recovers, they will compete for jobs with people who have more experience. In addition, Ms. Kahn noted, recession graduates seem more risk averse. “People that graduate into a recession don’t change jobs as often as people that graduate into booms,” she noted. And these job changes are one of the best ways to get a raise.

The difficult start shadowed many through their careers. Till von Wachter of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University followed Americans who entered the labor market in 1981 and 1982, during the largest postwar recession up to that time.

They not only earned less in midlife. They were also less likely to be married or to have children, and more likely to die young, recording higher mortality rates starting in their 30s — driven by heart disease, lung cancer, liver failure and drug overdoses — what two Princeton scholars, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, have called “deaths of despair.”

And, of course, young workers without a college degree are likely to fare even worse. “Recessions, in general, widen inequality,” Ms. Kahn said. “The more disadvantaged groups — minorities, the young, those with less education — are the hardest hit.”

In the coronavirus pandemic, the lopsided impact of business shutdowns on the young risks opening a generation gap with their elders who are more likely to die of the disease.

The diverging interests could affect policy as soon as this summer. In a research paper published last month, Dirk Krueger of the University of Pennsylvania and three colleagues estimated that people past retirement age would choose to close a much larger share of nonessential businesses and keep them closed, while younger workers in those shuttered businesses have the most to lose. “The conflict between the old and the young is severe,” Mr. Krueger noted.

The asymmetric aftershocks of this pandemic are likely to ripple across society far into the future.

“You work for years, you go through school, and you get to this point where you’re preparing to get a job,” she said. “And now I can’t do that. It’s very frustrating.”

“It’s not something I feel like any of my professors, my parents or really anybody has any knowledge about,” she added. “They never had to deal with it.”

Ms. Meier’s parents finished college in 1988, married and settled into fairly stable careers and a comfortable middle-class life. Her father attended graduate school and then got a job as a software analyst for Overland Park, Kan. Her mother got a series of accounting jobs. She was laid off in the last recession, but found another position soon after.

“There’s a big difference between finding a third or fourth full-time job and finding your first job,” Ms. Meier said.

It would be unsurprising if this economic upheaval changed the young’s perception of the world, justice and the role of government.

Ms. Haggard, the office manager who graduated in 2009, was a Republican in college. She voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. But the recession changed her worldview. Now, she’s far more liberal, and she voted for Bernie Sanders in this year’s Democratic primary in Washington.

“A big Republican thing is, ‘Pick yourself up by the bootstraps,’” she said. “Well, we don’t live in a world where that’s possible, at least in America.”

Paola Giuliano, a U.C.L.A. economist, and Antonio Spilimbergo of the International Monetary Fund studied how economic setbacks affect personal ideology.

Looking at data from the General Social Survey from 1972 through 2010, they concluded that people who experience a recession in what social psychologists call the “impressionable years,” roughly 18 to 25, were more likely to believe that success in life depends less on effort than on luck, support redistributive politics to help the less fortunate and mitigate inequality, and vote more often for left-wing parties.

Among those directly hit — young workers who have lost their jobs — the ideological shift could be even stronger. “This, in principle, should create a divide between generations,” Ms. Giuliano said.

Alicia Munnell and Wenliang Hou of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College have documented how millennials, born from 1981 to 1999, hit particularly hard by the recession of 2009, are less financially secure than young adults from preceding generations. They have more student debt and less money in their retirement plans. Their net worth is lower than that of boomers or Gen Xers. Fewer own homes. Fewer are married.

This is the generation that gave rise to Occupy Wall Street and propelled two presidential campaigns by Bernie Sanders. It is the generation voting for candidates like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, pushing the Democratic Party to the left.

And as it moves to the left, elders are moving in the opposite direction. In one recent study, Vivekinan Ashok and Ebonya Washington of Yale, with Ilyana Kuziemko of Princeton, found that even as income inequality has intensified, Americans 65 and older have become more resistant to redistribution. The old, they suggest, worry that new programs to help the poor will come at the expense of cuts to Medicare.

“The disproportionate gains to the American elderly in terms of social spending over the past several decades may make them wary of further extending redistributive programs,” they wrote.

There remains a crucial bond between generations: family. The young care for their parents, and don’t want them to die of Covid-19. The old care about the financial well-being of their children and grandchildren, as well as about the balance in their 401(k). They don’t want the economy to go into free fall.

For much of her adult life, Brenda Michael-Haggard, the 59-year-old mother of Jordan Haggard, has felt that people who lose jobs or face other forms of adversity should persevere and simply “find another way to make stuff happen.”

Now she has seen her daughter’s generation experience two economic crises in a little over a decade and tens of millions of people lose their jobs practically overnight. It has changed how she looks at the world.

“As the mom, golly, it’s too bad,” she said. “It’s something that I wish any one of us could prevent. With all of the Covid, you can’t just pick yourself up and find something different.”

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