You’re Hired!


Author’s Note: This article was first published in January, 2011, when I became convinced that what I had for the previous 6 months was indeed a job. I’m still there, happy, productive and grateful. I repost it today in honor of the improving  job numbers from this past Friday.

I didn’t hear those wonderful words when I finally left the ranks of the over-qualified, under-employed and over-the-hill corps. What I experienced was a more gradual invite.

“Call me in the morning, I may have a project for you,” or “Next week I’ll have a few hours putting together a bid. If we get the job, then I’ll have more hours for sure.” Those occasional hours became pretty consistent part-time work which then evolved into full time employment.

I probably would not have discovered the immense gratitude I feel for my current job, had it not been for the twenty-seven month trek through the unemployment desert. I consider myself a good, reliable, very qualified candidate but in all of that time I had one — as in a single — interview. As weeks turned to months without an income, I had to let go of the life insurance, the leased car, the dinners out, the health insurance. The payments to the utility company, the credit cards and the mortgage company became less and less frequent. Basic necessities were sometimes paid for because of the generosity of friends and family. There were consequences to my inability to pay our own way that threatened my sanity, shredded my credit rating and obliterated my self-esteem.

Two things saved my ass during the darkest of days: First, the ability to live in the moment, or a day at a time — a neat little trick I learned in AA — and my four year-old sons’ smile. It was never easy and at times I felt quite desperate and disheartened but when I looked around and saw the devastation that the economic crisis had brought to so many, I refused to complain. I found it petty and self-absorbed.

The persistent, optimistic side of me was convinced that better days were on the queue. Good friends were reminding me of this whenever I forgot.

A decent job is important because it allows me to provide for my family’s — and my own — needs; it lets me live up to my responsibilities and fulfill my obligations; it allows me to work with others and to be creatively engaged with society. More than anything, it connects me with the rest of humanity by reminding me of what traits I share with God. Genesis speaks of a working, creative deity that worked for six full days before taking a break. I believe, now more that ever, that we should all have the opportunity to follow God’s good example.

If you have a job, congratulations! If you’re looking for one, may you hear the words at the top of this post real soon. In the meantime, do not despair. Better days are on the queue. Ask your friends to remind you of this.

Foreclosure Scandal’s Cast of Characters


Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...
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From ProPublica:

The unfolding foreclosure scandal just keeps expanding. Scrutiny first fell on the “robo-signers” who rubber-stamped banks’ foreclosure paperwork [1], but they’re one of the many players who may have contributed to the mess.

To help sort it all out, we’ve drawn up a cast of characters. Let’s start with the basics:

Loan Originators/Mortgage Issuers – Banks make mortgage loans to homeowners, which homeowners must repay. The home serves as collateral in case the borrower defaults on the mortgage.

There’s more…

Mortgage Modification Advice


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From a great series by ProPublica:

ProPublica asked a simple question of more than 700 homeowners dealing with the administration’s mortgage modification program: Knowing what you know now, what tips would you give someone who’s struggling with a mortgage payment?

Their advice: Get help, stay organized, and don’t give up.

In total, 718 homeowners, all of whom applied for a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, volunteered tips and tricks for struggling homeowners. While more than a third of respondents were skeptical about the value of program, the majority of respondents suggested simple steps homeowners should take to survive the process of applying for a modification. Culling through the hundreds of responses, three pieces of advice stood out.

There’s more…

Worth Repeating

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother," a...
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From Paul Krugman in his 9/6/10 NY Times column:

Even under F.D.R., there was never the political will to do what was needed to end the Great Depression; its eventual resolution came essentially by accident.I had hoped that we would do better this time. But it turns out that politicians and economists alike have spent decades unlearning the lessons of the 1930s, and are determined to repeat all the old mistakes. And it’s slightly sickening to realize that the big winners in the midterm elections are likely to be the very people who first got us into this mess, then did everything in their power to block action to get us out.

But always remember: this slump can be cured. All it will take is a little bit of intellectual clarity, and a lot of political will. Here’s hoping we find those virtues in the not too distant future.

Deja Voodoo


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From Paul Krugman’s 7/15 column in the New York Times:

Republicans are feeling good about the midterms — so good that they’ve started saying what they really think. This week the party’s Senate leadership stopped pretending that it cares about deficits, stating explicitly that while we can’t afford to aid the unemployed or prevent mass layoffs of schoolteachers, cost is literally no object when it comes to tax cuts for the affluent.

And that’s one reason — there are others — why you should fear the consequences if the G.O.P. actually does as well in November as it hopes.

There’s more…

Worth Repeating


The main moral you should draw from the charges against Goldman, though, doesn’t involve the fine print of reform; it involves the urgent need to change Wall Street. Listening to financial-industry lobbyists and the Republican politicians who have been huddling with them, you’d think that everything will be fine as long as the federal government promises not to do any more bailouts. But that’s totally wrong — and not just because no such promise would be credible.

For the fact is that much of the financial industry has become a racket — a game in which a handful of people are lavishly paid to mislead and exploit consumers and investors. And if we don’t lower the boom on these practices, the racket will just go on.

—Paul Krugman, 4/19/10 New York Times