Sunday, May 24, 2020

Women Who Don't Work

I am enjoying Mrs. America on HULU right now as it covers the attempt by women's rights activists to get the ERA passed in the 70s.  Then they encountered a failed politician, Phyllis Schafly, who formed a PAC and using an army of housewives destroyed what may have prevented the #MeToo movement, the lack of equitable pay for workers and established family leave,  sexual and reproductive rights, child care and other issues now coming to an ugly head during the current Pandemonium.

Right now most women are filling the job as provider in the quarantine family home even when there is a partner there to assume some of the roles as cook, cleaner and teacher.  But fuck that, right men?!!!

The one thing the show does demonstrate that Ms. Schlafly (she would hate that moniker) was, was in fact a working woman.  She had domestic help, her husband was financially solvent to enable her to take the time away from the home, allowed her to attend law school and of course run the family business out of the home as she built her business of destroying equality for women.  And again let us remind ourselves that we are our worst enemy when it comes to seeking collaboration, cooperation and bridge building versus burning when it comes to climbing that proverbial ladder to "equality." It exists across gender, race and yes even political lines.  Once you grab that rung you will do whatever it takes to hold on and kick or stomp on anyone's hand rather than lend a helping one to bring them up to join you.  That is the American Way!

For a long while I used to believe that do unto others and then I sorta kinda didn't.  It comes from a Christian Ethos and after living in Nashville I thought that concept spread across the secular and non-secular lines and then I met the people who lived there.  Not one but many over my time there taught me that fuck you and fuck you again if you try to do the right thing when you are not a member of the tribe.  Again that tribe is be with your own kind and that is one fucking small tribe of one then. And so it set me on my current course which has been trying to explain to people that no, we are not in this together and yes we are alone when it comes to managing our own health, our wealth and all the rest during the pandemonium.  I had that discussion yesterday when the word afraid came up and I asked what he was afraid of.  And that was the virus.  Irony his partner had the virus, he contracted in a trip to China and was a nurse and immediately took the right precautions to protect his family and his employees from contracting the virus. The joke is I bet this very same person has it and has now the anti-bodies and had no idea he was a carrier.  But again until you test for both the virus and in turn the antibody you will never know if you are Covid "free." And that means a whole lot of nothing as we are nowhere near knowing if those tests are 100% accurate in either regard.  But hey it is better than nothing and companies across the globe are working towards finding ways to open their business  and keep both employees and customers safe. Some will never re-open.

But for now the reality is that if you are symptomatic regardless of any symptom even just one, get tested and then wait unit the results to resume work, joining the public and in turn practicing safe not-sex (well that always must be practiced) but all the other protocols established regardless, until a vaccine is created.

As for returning to work well that is not a light switch and viola you are back in the old job you had pre-pandemonium.  Banks, Insurance Agents, Hotels, Schools, pick one, name one, are not going to call you all back in and you are back behind the counter, at your desk, in an office, doing whatever you used to do.  As I fight with Wells over their lack of an open branch in Jersey City, they have had more than ample time to build screens, hire security guard to monitor crowd flow, isolate and set policies in motion to protect both staff and customers. NO you cannot get Covid from paper so now that has been declared we can handle money.    So I suspect branches will close, those employees from tellers to managers to other customer service agents, almost all women,  almost all faces of color will be joining the 30 plus million who will be long term unemployed.

This is my third major recession, the one in the 80s when I graduated college, the one in 2008 and now this.  I have been independent once my family hammered into me the idea of a fall back job and saving money, not owning anything unless I pay cash for it was a lesson well learned. Until the attempted murder of me in 2012 I was fine but the ultimate destruction it took on my health and savings I would have been fine.  That said I owe 10K in loans for my teeth and when Vanderbilt claimed I still owed them a 1,000 I laughed and said I will pay you $10 a month for a 100 months. They agreed and I laughed as that is now over eight years to do so. This is how idiotic this system is with regards to medical debt.  My credit card will expire in three so I look forward to that next contact when it happens.  But my intent is to actually pay it off much sooner as frankly just fucking with Vanderbilt was the only thing that mattered and that again it proved how desperate they are too to resolve medical debt.  This will on their end get worse post Covid.

We have the men issue that led to the charge of Trump, that men after 2008 were hired back into jobs that were paid less and in turn also contributed to the Opioid problems among others and it is laughable as that is the same cohort that uses the mantra, "up by your bootstraps" to prove your worth and then those straps break.  Whoops!  So again rather than look extrinsically to the system that contributed to it and of course demand change, strike, take to the streets, vote and actually demand change they turned to a fuckwit reality TV show host to do what he does best, sow chaos and let other people do the heavy lifting.  How is all that winning working out for you? And yes women you voted for the pussy grabber so how is that pussy?

If we are to change anything we need to change how we see ourselves and more importantly how we see each other.  We have to accept differences in behaviors and learn to accommodate those in ways that will enable us to see past the obvious - gender, race, sexuality and culture.  To say Europeans do it better is perhaps somewhat true but they too suffer from the very thing that makes them European, culture.  That is why you are seeing a resurgence to the right in many counties, such as Austria and England as evident by BREXIT. The idea that there is one Europe is crazy as unless you have been there you don't realize there are characteristics and qualities that make them well Swiss, German, Italian and French and so on.  It is fabulous, fascinating and complex all at the same time.  But you do see a better sense of identity when the shit hits the fan unlike here. We suck and until I lived in the South I did not get that idea of identity, tribalism and nativism.  The South sucks but whatever again my basis of this is the whole racism tied to religion so take that for what it is worth.  I did meet many kind people and great people but I did not tie that to the South I thought it was despite it not because of it. But we do the same with age, race, gender, sexual identity, political beliefs, cultural ones as well. We love the idea of Chinatown, of a Bodega and Hispanic area to go shopping, to taste and feel the flavors, as long as they stay there.  Good to know and I will never forget that is was a Black Woman in Nashville who asked me where I lived and when I told her South Nashville her response: "With all those brown people?" And mine: "Did they not say that about you once?"  And that was the marker for most of my conversations in Nashville, glad to be gone.

As for coming out of this once again minorities and women will get the shaft  And especially ones over 55, we are thought of as less, not worthy and too close to getting that Social Security and Medicare which is what it really is about. It is not about we are not thinkers, doers or creators it is petty jealousy that we are this close to free shit. And that is what fuels the racial divide that concept of getting free/low cost housing, affirmative action that enables some to get into schools over there less qualified but whiter cohorts, but did we not learn anything from the Varsity Blue scandal? It is about access and availability, money and name recognition.  Again, not knowing the Obama children, but get real they could spell cat with a K and get into an Ivy League school, that is the way it is.  Fly or buy as let's face George W was not  smart in any sense of the word, so again do you think he would handle this better. Think again.

Without an older more sophisticated workforce we will face a much more significant problem in getting back to business.   I think listening to my younger idiots when they say they are "afraid" that is the tip that they are fucking clueless.  We need to remind ourselves we are on the verge of electing another 70 plus white man, could Warren a woman and his age be worse?  She seems sharper and way more hip without a replacement, and that she lost her brother to Covid is an important marker. That said I also think Kamala Harris would be a brutal AG, and after Barr we need a sharp legal mind to untangle all that he did to establish such Executive Power.  Women, we can regardless of age or color, rule the world.  That is what really frightens you.  Watch Mrs. America and see what could have had a bunch of angry white women who were what? Afraid, and in turn stop women from doing what would have benefitted them all.

Women 55 and older who lose their jobs in the pandemic face greater risk of long-term unemployment

By Michelle Singletary
Columnist the Washington Post
May 22, 2020

The pandemic has pushed millions of people out of their jobs. One demographic that has been especially hard hit is women 55 and older.

Sarah Borenstein left teaching at 55 to start a second career in information technology. And she was doing well. The Denver resident was working from her home as a contractor for an engineering firm.

Then the novel coronavirus started spreading. Borenstein’s employer designated her an essential employee and assured her everything would be fine.

Then it wasn’t.

Her employer let her go. Now Borenstein, 58, is living off unemployment. With her teacher’s pension, she’ll be okay — but the loss of income disrupted her plans for a more secure retirement.

“I can live off my pension, but I won’t have a lot of extras,” she said. “The longer I’m out of work, the harder it will be to get back in the job market.”

The United States lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the highest monthly job loss on record. The unemployment rate for both young and older workers jumped to double digits. For women over 55, the unemployment rate increased to 15.5 percent in April, up from 3.3 percent a month earlier, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. “The numbers were really devastating,” said Susan Weinstock, AARP’s vice president for financial resilience programming.

There’s a trifecta effect for older unemployed women, Weinstock said. They face age discrimination, are likely to be unemployed longer in downturns and — when they do finally land a job — they often have to take a significant pay cut.

When personal and job characteristics are held constant, jobless women are 18 percent less likely to find new work at age 50 to 61 than at age 25 to 34. At 62 or older, they are 50 percent less likely to be rehired, according to research by the Urban Institute.

With job opportunities and income reduced, the unemployed often tap their retirement funds if they have them — leaving less to live on when they decide to retire or are forced to stop working because of health issues. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act, workers younger than 59½ can take coronavirus-related distributions up to $100,000 without incurring the typical 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty.

“If they’re having financial trouble, that’s a great safety net,” Weinstock said. “But if you’re an older worker, you have a lot less time to make that up than you do if you’re a younger worker.”

By the way, Weinstock pointed out, if you’re looking for work, AARP has a Job Board at Right now, the Small Business Administration is looking to hire loan specialists to process applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, created under the Cares Act to help businesses keep their workers employed during the pandemic.

Elizabeth White knows what it’s like to be 55 and unemployed. During the Great Recession, she lost lucrative consulting contracts that put her “solidly in the six figures.” She thought her experience working for the World Bank and advanced degrees from Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities would help her quickly find new employment.

She was wrong.

And to make matters worse, White had previously depleted her savings trying to run a retail business, which ultimately failed.

Now 66, White has gained tremendous perspective that can help other older workers trying to make ends meet during the pandemic. She wrote about her experience of having the “bottom fall out with no ladder to climb back up.” Her book, “55, Underemployed and Faking Normal,” is this month’s Color of Money book selection.

One of the first actions White recommends is forming a “resilience circle,” which is a small network of people with whom you can discuss honestly the challenges of living on a limited income because of a job loss. She talks about how important it is to downsize quickly. And she cautions that if you were a high earner with an impressive job title, “get off your throne,” meaning you may have to settle for work that you wouldn’t normally take.

“We’re going to have to let go of this notion that our values and worth are based solely on our titles, incomes, and jobs,” she writes. “We’re going to have to let go of our vanity and pride.”

White wrote the book before the pandemic hit, but the advice for older workers is timeless. She’s writing as a comrade in the struggle. It’s not a story of “doom and gloom” but of encouragement for older workers trying to make a living in a new normal.

I am hosting an online discussion about the “55, Underemployed and Faking Normal” at noon Eastern time on June 4 at My guests will be White and AARP’s Weinstock. They will join me to take your questions about older workers dealing with unemployment during the covid-19 pandemic.

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