The Center Cannot Hold

Is change inevitable? If we hold firm in our attitudes and actions, we can claim a moral high ground, yet we can also grow bitter and self righteous. If we go with the times, do we find we lose our center, that we are at the whim of the capricious winds of whatever our society or culture touts as the Way Things Should Now Be (at least until something new and different comes along)?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joining the new economic order

Well, the shift in the economy finally caught up with me. Now part of the Class of 2011, part of the 17 percent reduction in the workforce by my now former employer.

I went through much of the initial shock (without any awe, so far) stuck at home with a sick kid while I scrambled to organize files and the most pressing information that the left behinds would need to take care of business without me.

Adjusting to a life without a daily schedule. Keeping busy getting ready to be unemployed. Feeling cautiously optimistic about the future, feeling panicked and desperate.

Is this an opportunity to grow in a new field, develop new skills, set out on my own to create a way of life in the new economy in which the type of employment as we've become accustomed over the past 150 years or so is not the way the world does business anymore? If it's true as William Bridges asserts that the jobs are not there, but the work still is, how do we find it? Bridges addressed that too, in his book Job Shift, How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs, written in 1994 during a tidal wave of mergers, acquisitions and meltdowns in which many of the jobs started to disappear--guess I should read to the end to find the answer to my question.

And what about my skills? I think of the technological advances made during my lifetime, indeed during my adulthood. I don't want to date myself, but here goes:
I was quite envious of one of college classmates and friends who had a MAC, you know, where you loaded the floppy disk into it. The first personal PC I used. For my high school graduation, I received a Selectric typewriter with the ability to go back about 20 characters to make corrections--cutting edge.

Enough said. I have writing, graphic design, editing, event planning skills. I can run an office, pay the bills, negotiate contracts. I can troubleshoot problems with my computer, set up a printer, and even a wireless router. I love having a smart phone, and catching up with friends on Facebook. I just received a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and am amazed at the streaming content. Maybe because my lovely little iBook G4 is now about 6 years old, and isn't quite as fast as it needs to be to keep up, some of this seems like a Christmas miracle--or is it a curse of fate that will keep the 45 and older population who are looking for work out of the workforce?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Boise State University, football

As Alabama took down Texas' scared and panicked freshman quarterback after knocking the Longhorns star quarterback out of the game on the first play (BCS bowl last night), I flipped channels between the game on Fox and Idaho Dialogue on Idaho Public TV. Several journalists talked with host Marcia Franklin about the upcoming legislative session at the updated and restored Idaho state capitol. I missed much of their discussion, but did clue in that the governor is due to announce further budget cuts, especially to education.

It would be great if the bowl-playing football teams at both University of Idaho and Boise State could transfer some of their winnings to the k-12 educational system. Boise has been on the move to build up the campus, the stadium and become a research university, and ditch it's reputation as a 4-year junior college. Football is one of the means to get more attention, and more money into the school to do so, and Boise State has made a huge investment in this strategy. I think President Bob Kustra is an educator at heart, and really wants to build the university into a top notch academic center.

It seems a circular process, though, that in order to build a nationally respected university, BSU will build a large and successful football team, which will then bring money into the university so it can build the sort of research facilities and offer the sort of programs that will then allow the football squad to move to a more difficult and prestiguous league (some of those UCs and top 10 regulars can't have their players playing against just any ol' state college opponent), which can then bring in more money for the educational goals (and the coaches pocketbooks).

One of my cousin's from CA just moved here to attend Boise State, and found that even with the out of state tuition costs, it is cheaper for him to pay those than to pay in state tuition to a CA university. I guess that's one of the ways to make more money for BSU too--more out of state students who pay more in tuition.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Daylight is fading fast. Dogs are eager to get outside, play, run. Work day is through. I think about how lucky I am to have a job in today's economy. Grateful too for the flexible schedule and opportunities I have.

But many others are not so fortunate today. I wonder how we build a sustainable, locally independent economy. Regional economic fiefdoms?

If I don't buy my furnace air filter at Home Depot, and I don't want to buy one made in China or abroad elsewhere, do I have to learn how to make my own? Find a creative local handyman who can make it for me, and wants to trade for my skills of design or fast typing? Maybe this seems a ridiculous question.

My brain is overwhelmed thinking of the problems and serious issues of the day. We are not the first generation to face this hardship, nor are we alone, nor are we suffering worse than others. Indeed, billions of people around the globe worry about how to feed their families today. Most have no social safety nets, and no dumpsters to scrounge from if desperate, or even a local breadshop to steal from, if it comes down to that.. Not that I'm advocating dumpster diving or theft as a solution, but if it's a matter of eating or not eating today, I'd go for the dumpster or the bread loaf under the arm.

Now I'm completely off track.
What will America look like over the next 5-10 years as our standard of living decreases as the standard of living of those who now are design and make goods rises? The purchase we made yesterday will seem a very inflated price within the next decade, for many the hole is already in the balloon. We are living with the surplus of our consumer lifestyles, and until the excess commodities--houses, clothes, furniture, knickknacks, etc are used up, the retail stores will continue to falter. I've seen a half dozen stores selling secondhand goods open in the past few years in my community while the first run retailers fail. Now we'll lose the only department store left in the downtown core, as Macy's shuts its doors in 2 months, after a 95 year run (well, not always as Macy's, but as a department store).

I bought my daughter's Christmas dress at a consignment kid's shop this year for $8. Why should I pay $18 or $50 as some stores were asking for a 4 year old's holiday dress that she'll wear a few times?

I have no conclusion in mind to rap up this post, so I'll end with this: anyone want to buy a size 5T velvety Christmas dress? Barely used.