Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will you still need me, when I'm 54

This piece was written by a woman of relative privilege. She's not worried about where her next meal is coming from, or how to keep a roof over her head. But these grafs could apply to anyone who lost good paying jobs after the crash of 08. Thing is, with unemployment still too high and advancing technology allowing big employers to wring greater productivity out of fewer workers, "leaning in" is a cruel joke on 50something women:
Leaning in isn’t really an option for women like Marie and me, because frankly, it’s not even that easy to get someone to take our calls. In a world where newly minted JDs can’t get jobs, and college graduates are willing to take extended unpaid internships, very few employers have an interest in a 50-something-year-old woman who has been out of the workforce for 15 years and would now like a paying job. Hiring managers, facing a wave of thousands of well-qualified candidates, are going to toss out ones that try to substitute PTA executive board skills for work experience (and that’s assuming the resume even makes it through the computer algorithms that select a handful to be perused by a real person). Reading Sandberg’s prescriptions — get a mentor, don’t ever exclude options, lose your shyness and be assertive, negotiate like a man, marry a man willing to change diapers — I feel like I’m listening to a well-meaning yet clueless relative.

Women over 55 are generally ignored if they don’t have good jobs, lots of money, social standing, or powerful husbands. While this so-called “invisibility” problem has been well documented (just google “invisibility older women” and you’ll find a host of articles and blogs), today’s world seems fixated on youth, good looks and viral fame. Older women generally don’t elicit a second glance – we seem to have a sell by date and after that we’re pretty disposable – and to me, that lack of interest coupled with a resume that might have some blank spots, spells trouble if you’re trying to lean in.
The author of that piece will be okay no matter what happens, but for millons of women of lesser social standing, the desperate trade-off is between abject poverty and part time, minimum wage jobs in the service industry. Their economic security will never recover and even the employment they can find won't pay all the bills.

And it's not just women of a certain age who suffer in the age of austerity madness. Young people are finding it impossible to make ends meet as well:
“I never thought that I would be struggling as much as I have this year,” said Horton, whose already-stretched income dropped abruptly when her hours were cut at the disability services agency where she works.
The article doesn't say, but one can assume that agency almost surely depends on government grants to operate. The current mania to slash spending, mainly perpetrated by Beltway overlords who themselves enjoy income security, leads to this sort of downsizing. Which in turn leads to further economic contraction, which will lead to more downsizing in the private sector.

I've been mocked for saying this before, but I don't care. It's difficult to see this as anything less than slow motion genocide of the poors and the olds. These people are struggling to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families. Health care doesn't even enter the picture. The lack of proper nutrition, preventative health care and adding in the stress of living with permanent insecurity can only lead to many early deaths. So what else can you call it? [photo via]

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Back in the golden age the Delusional Party longs to bring back, people would, if they were lucky enough to live so long, retire at 65, mooch off the kids and die shortly thereafter. There wasn't much in the way of a middle class until after WW II, but it must be a total coincidence that social reforms began to escalate at the same time.

Investing in the American People has payed off, just like investing in the space program.

9:51:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thing is they needed more rote workers then. With automation, they need fewer all the time. The poor, the olds and the uneducated workers are not cost effective on the balance sheets.

11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Maybe that's why they don't like investing in public education either. More unemployable folks to turn into Soylent Green?

3:02:00 PM  

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