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By request – Unemployment (and Uninsured) Chronicles


(Photo source, Darth Dragon on Flickr)

As I did in last weeks’s Unemployment Chronicles, (and many thanks again to Laurie again for suggesting it), I’ll talk about some of the things that I’m going through now that more than half a million Americans are unemployed.  While the President parties in Camp David this weekend, probably to oversee the construction of his brand new basketball court,  a country is left alone, rudderless – and without a clue to what’s going to happen next.  Nero dribbles while Rome burns.

Ok, so what’s the first thing one does when out of a job?  Look for a new one, of course!  I’m enrolled with various headhunter and employment agencies since I started freelancing.  Some are more industry specific than others.  If you belong to a particular industry, there’s a good chance there’s an agency for your industry, so search the web.  I’m also signed up with Yahoo HotJobs, Monster, CareerTracker, etc.  I’ve had better luck on industry specific employment/contract sites vs. the ginormous job sites, I’m doing an “all of the above” approach, so try everything.

I went to a job interview earlier this week that was a bit deceiving.  What I thought was going to be a one on one interview was basically a cattle call – similar to a open audition casting call.   There were probably about 50-75 people there applying of all ages.  It was for a high pressure commission only sales job, which you had to buy or already own certain resources before doing this job.    And of course, these items were being sold there.  If it smells like a scam, walks like a scam, talks like a scam – it probably is one.  Please look out for those.

There are some Job Fairs coming up in Tampa which I am planning to attend.  Chris Martin over at No Quarter wrote about the atmosphere at a job fair he recently attended.  It’s a good post, so please read here when you get the chance:

To the disgust of many there–and you could see it in their faces–this was exactly that, a job fair. Most of the companies there were advertising entry level jobs, many temporary or part-time. Here were thousands of people, many with decades of work experience being asked to wait in line an hour to beg for a low-paying job. One young female–a recent engineering grad–asked about jobs in her field but was told there wasn’t anything like that available. That’s the story in today’s market: there are either no jobs available or dozens of people with more experience than you.

So now the market is flooded with experienced, older workers against recent college grads.  Who do you think an employer is going to pick?  It’s not going to be the experienced older worker, I can guarantee you that.  What sucks about this job market the way it is, more women are vulnerable to employer abuse.

Retail used to be a safe bet, but I tried it out anyway.  Many stores have a hiring freeze, even my local supermarket.  I even went to a local Borders book store and I got the “we’re not hiring now, but just apply online anyways” schtick.   Most of the people I saw working at Borders, BTW, were no younger than 40.

RD suggested to me to apply for a Federal job – which is at USAJOBS.GOV, the Federal Employment website run by Monster.com.  But then I read it was hacked recently, so I’m going to hold off for a couple for days before I start entering my info on there.

The kicker to this week was between yesterday and today.  Remember the reason why I took a break from blogging, i.e. I was sick like a dog and a doctor at the country clinic said I probably need a tonsillectomy?

Well my Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was right.  My strep throat infection is back and it’s kicking my ass.  I couldn’t do Conflucians Say last night because it’s very painful to talk. This shit is scaring me because repeated infections back to back can lead to more serious conditions.  I’d list them but I don’t want to think about it right now.

So after reading RD’s Friday post this morning, I head to the county clinic.  While waiting, I saw people of all sorts: mothers with young children, seniors, teens, 40 something year olds, of all ethnicities.   It certainly wasn’t like the posh medical center my mom goes to (hooray for Medicare!) but it’s clean and well staffed.

I also noted they recently converted to an electronic health records system.  My drivers license and Social Security Card was scanned and when the triage nurse took my vitals, she annotated everything on a small laptop.  I asked her how safe was the system and she said “there are procedures in place to protect patient privacy.”  I prompted her again regarding hackers, selling records to third parties, etc.  The triage nurse, annoyed that I was asking her this while trying to take my blood pressure, assured me that all of the information was secure.  So I let it go for now.

After a loooooong wait (ok, it was about a 45 minutes), Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman saw me.  Since I am allergic to penicillin (which could do the bacteria killing job better) and the cephalosporin antibiotic didn’t kill the infection completely, she gave me Zithromax to try out and urged for me to see an ENT as soon as possible.   I reminded her again that I don’t have insurance, I was just laid off and I recently placed an application for Medicaid.

Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman recommended to also apply for the Hillsborough County Insurance, which is available to all Hillsborough County residents based on a sliding pay scale.   A small county sales tax funds the insurance program, since I may or may not qualify for MedicAid.  This is the best chance I have of seeing an ENT specialist without selling my car to help pay for it.

If you are without insurance right now, please check your county’s Health Department Services website for information on county-funded insurance.  Hillsborough County Insurance info is here, just to give you an idea.

Anyway, that’s the story for this week.  I want to thank everyone who’s donated via Liberalcrat.  Since I don’t qualify for Unemployment Insurance because I’m a contract worker, I’m literally living on Blogger Welfare!   Thanks to you, I was able to get Zithromax, pay bills, gas & groceries, etc.    I’m truly very lucky and blessed to be a part of such a great community.  In these precarious times, we have to hold hands and look out for one another, and you’ve held mine.  I hope that somewhere, somehow,  I’m able to return this kindness.  But I know Karma has a way of repaying good deeds and I hope she finds her way to you.  Here’s a song for you, because I’m truly getting by with a little help from my friends – literally.  Thank you!

Defending Government By Astroturf

barack_obama_on_the_primaryThe latest trumpeter of the “Obama Drama Equals Bad PR” song, Marc Ambinder is the most recent addition to the growing chorus of Obama fluffers playing what’s rapidly becoming a hauntingly familiar and disturbingly discordant  tune.  The reason the American public is getting impatient with the whole stimulus bill kerfuffle and the Spokesmodel in Chief’s early performance of presidential duty is not because they fear it is a bloated, most likely ineffective bill that will probably cost them money in the long run, or they’re afraid that he really is the empty suit he’s been accused of being and now actually appears to be, but because the Republicans got to tell the public more bad stories than the Obama team could effectively Astroturf over.  We, the people, are only upset with Obama’s cabinet picks’ lack of ethics and stuff because Fox News made a big deal about it, so the theory goes.  News outlet after news outlet is putting forth variations of this Axelrod-generated theme, straight-faced, no chaser, and offering the sage advice that all that’s needed to lead us transparently on the way to financial recovery is a really good TelePrompTer-read speech, the kind the candidate Obama used to read in front of thousands of people who had already pledged their love and devotion to him by attending his campaign rallies.  That anyone would dismiss legitimate criticisms of a president’s performance as merely opposition pushback in a spin war is bad enough, to use it as a defense for incompetence is appalling.  To forget that half the country is not predisposed to embrace anything that comes out of his mouth as gospel is stupid.

If Obama sucks, he sucks because he sucks, not because Rush Limbaugh says he sucks.  Whether Obama forcefully denies that he sucks or not, does not change the fact that he does or he doesn’t.  So, why are so many people in the media, mainstream and otherwise, rallying behind the “he’s just been getting bad pr” theme?

Like Politico, Ambinder blames the lack of bipartisan support for Obama’s stimulus plan, and all his other problems in the first two weeks in office, on the White House email system.  According to these guys, the problem is not that Obama was trying to stuff the cabinet with crooks, and shove a high-fat and cholesterol pork-laden stimulus plan down the country’s throats on top of the mystery-shrouded TARP, or that his bumbling outreach for Republican support was clumsy, stupid and unnecessary, it was because the ancient email system didn’t allow reporters to get their talking points in a timely enough manner:

When news of Daschle’s car-and-driver tax problem was disclosed, the White House faced an immediate communications challenge. Mr. Obama had campaign on a platform of single standards and transparency, and here he seemed to be making an exception for a good friend of his on the basis of, well, nothing but the friendship.

He campaigned on a platform of blocking lobbyists from serving in his administration, but he had just given several of them a waiver, and here was standing by a Washington insider who ostensibly (although unintentionally) broke the law to the tine of over $100,000.

I know White House aides were worried about this appearance, but I also know they had a tough time figuring out which reporter was working on which story, and they didn’t respond to events as quickly as Republicans in Congress were able to exploit them.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama’s team was known for its ability to proceed along several tracks simultaneously. It’s been harder in the White House.

The trouble with Daschle bled over into the debate about Mr. Obama’s stimulus principles, forcing the White House to use Mr. Obama’s personal charm as a pitchman. He spent three hours of daylight in television interviews on Tuesday.

Nobody is offering any practical advice on how to fix the bill in a way that efficiently serves the public’s interests, or pushing for Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner, tax cheat to be fired and replaced in an effort to shore up the Neophyte Naked Emperor’s ethical transparent government creds.  Nope, just give a speech, send out some emails, manage the message, massage the messengers.  Why not?  That’s what got him elected.  But the presidency is not a 4 year campaign for the next election, or at least, it shouldn’t be.  And even if that is an element of a politician’s life, it is not the goal of governing.  You don’t perpetually run for office and do a little of the people’s business on the side.  Unless you’re Barack Obama.

That’s why he has met his ultimate Peter Principle level of incompetence, and will ultimately fail.  He probably reached it earlier, but the miracle of elections as popularity contests obscured that particular truth until now.  Unfortunately for him, and us, there’s no higher office to try to attain; it’s put up or shut up time.  And sadly, his media baby sitters, enablers, and defenders don’t realize that every time they blame his setbacks on the opposition’s better campaign spin, rather than a rectifiable lapse of some sort on his part, they admit he’s got nothing else.

Somehow, the Post-Racial President’s “it ain’t perfect, but it’s something” argument in support of a 900 billion dollar spending spree during yet another “this is our moment” rah-rah, just doesn’t cut it for me.

Now, I believe that legislation of such magnitude deserves the scrutiny that it’s received, and you will get another chance to vote for this bill in the days to come. But I urge all of us to not make the perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary. The scale and scope of this plan is right.

Sez you.

X-Posted at Cinie’s World

Is Stimulis Right For You?

“Are you an economy with performance issues?”

Stimulis That Makes You Go Mmm-mm-m

“Stimulis” was written and produced by Ted Balaker, and edited by Alex Manning.

[cross-posted from Lady Boomer NYC]

Obama responds to Krugman


Here (MP3) (NSFW)

and here (MP3)  (NSFW)

Okay, not really. 

Well, it’s really Obama talking, but he’s not talking to Krugman.

(h/t The Phoenix)

Friday: Ruh-Roh, The Shrill One’s Hair is on Fire

David Broder, Medieval MD.

David Broder, Medieval MD.

Remember the accounts of Richard Clark and George Tenet at the 9/11 Commission hearings about how they were running around the White House with their hair on fire trying to get Condi’s and W’s attention in the summer of 2001?  They knew something bad was going to happen and even went to the trouble of delivering a presidential daily briefing called “bin Laden determined to strike within the US” to Bush while he was on vacation.  Remember how they said he told them it was harshing his mellow and he didn’t want to hear about it anymore?  Jeez!  Why didn’t we impeach the guy!?  Bill Clinton could *never* have gotten away with that.  Oh, yeah, Nancy took impeachment off of the table.

Well, Paul Krugman, aka “The Shrill One”, must have written his last column with his hair on fire.  Our economy balances on the edge of a knife.  One false move and we’re right back to the “Buddy Can You Spare A Dime” days.  You know, I don’t think he’s kidding.  The layoffs are coming fast and furious and pretty soon, the economy is going to shrink in a big way.  But it’s Obama and the Republicans playing games that has Krugman worried:

It’s as if the dismal economic failure of the last eight years never happened — yet Democrats have, incredibly, been on the defensive. Even if a major stimulus bill does pass the Senate, there’s a real risk that important parts of the original plan, especially aid to state and local governments, will have been emasculated.

Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.

It’s hard to exaggerate how much economic trouble we’re in. The crisis began with housing, but the implosion of the Bush-era housing bubble has set economic dominoes falling not just in the United States, but around the world.

I think that Krugman has touched on something and may have briefly overlooked its significance.  He says, “Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake”.  This is the nail hitting statement of the piece.  Washington, ie, the Villagers, has never had a firm grip on reality.  They have their own fantasy version created straight from the smelly, old brain of David Broder and his friends.  Broder is the equivalent of a medieval physician.  No matter what you have, the cure is to smear it with goat dung to bring draw out the evil in the form of pus and then he will bleed you for awhile.  The Villager crusade against reality started when Hillary Clinton entered the race.  Immediately, they consulted their Aristotle and diagnosed that she had improperly violated the natural order so they sought to return her to her level.  The signs of an impending catastrophe with the economy have been around for a couple of years now, so much so that the podunk Des Moines Register specifically cited it as a reason for endorsing Hillary over Obama.  But this made no difference to the Villagers who were determined that no one should question their authority to wreck a woman’s career whenever it struck their fancy.

Now, this is not to say that Hillary would have been able to save the world.  When she first started out, even I wasn’t totally convinced she could overcome the tsunami of Republican opposition she would have faced.  But circumstances and adversity have a funny way of forging some raw elements into steel.  But this is beside the point.  Hillary is not our president.  The Villagers saw to that.  And since they were so successful, they are now strengthened.  No one stood up to these anachronisms stuck in the past.  They were unable to imagine a future that might be as bleak as The Great Depression.  They are still writing weighty tomes praising the virtues of bi-partisanship and lark’s tongues.

The unfortunate thing is that their young apprentice, Barack Obama, seems to have genuinely bought into the bi-partisanship philosophy.  The Bushies dragged the country so far to the right and the country is so out of joint that voters everywhere voted in desperation for a Democrat.  And now that Obama has majorities in the House and Senate and all the power in the world to set things right, what does he do?  He tries to appeal to… Republicans?  Well, I’m glad to see that he’s made a speech.  That’s very public and loud and finger wagging.  But as we have pointed out before, integrity means matching your word with your actions.  If they don’t gem, all the speeches in the world aren’t going to save us.  We will have to comb through the stimulus package to see how sincere he and Congress really are.  Are they paying any attention to the man with his hair on fire?:

So what should Mr. Obama do? Count me among those who think that the president made a big mistake in his initial approach, that his attempts to transcend partisanship ended up empowering politicians who take their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh. What matters now, however, is what he does next.

It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.

First thing we do: shoot the bipartisanship messengers.