I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few years. Really, it would be hard not to. Like many people before 2008, I relied on very large corporations for the bulk of my income. And then came the crash, and the corporations stumbled. Some of them regained their footing; some didn’t.
While they were floundering around deciding how they were going to be doing business, and if they needed me to be a part of it, I was, of course, deeply concerned. I was also looking for work.
Of course, I’m pretty much always looking for work, or at least happy to entertain the idea of it, but this time things were different. For one thing, as I said, many corporations were in the process of restructuring marketing and business plans to reflect the new economic reality. Many others had gone belly up. And of course yet others–some of the biggest fish in the pond, had begun to reek so badly that the very idea of seeking work from them gave me a bad case of indigestion. I don’t think I was alone in deciding to avoid pitching the mortgage and financial industries for work.
It took me a while to realize that, like Harriet and Betsy in my very first children’s book, it was time to go back to the “junkyard” of interests and talents that I had discarded because they just didn’t fit with the business and life I had built. And thus was born Magic Dog Press.
2008 changed a lot of things not only for me, but for many of us. I was talking to my niece the other day. She’s staying in school, adding a certification in the hope that when she finishes more work will be available. She’s not the only one. Right now the United States is full of talented, bright, educated young people looking for jobs. We, their parents, taught them to look in certain ways: Research openings, send resumes, follow up with telephone calls, dress appropriately if you get an interview, arrive on time, and sell, sell, sell. Don’t aspire too high right at the beginning; there was a reason “entry level jobs” got called that. You started there. Then you moved up through the company. Someday you could be President. It was the Corporate American Dream.
2008 changed all that. The job market is glutted with experienced, talented people with mortgages and kids, willing to gobble up any job they can find, including entry level jobs. Employers can pick and choose among what is arguably the best-qualified talent pool they’ve ever had, and in the current climate of union-busting and anti-middle class legislation they can set wages pretty much wherever they want, pleading poverty even as they rake in record profits. I suspect that not since the Great Depression has there been an employment climate as hostile to job-seekers.
So here’s the sitch:
1. There are very few jobs of any sort available.
2. There are too many people to staff the positions traditional and corporate labor offer.
3. There are a lot of bright, talented, creative people out there, scrambling to make ends meet.
4. Government intervention has been strangled by those in Congress who believe the best way to govern the nation is to shut it down completely.
5. None of that looks likely to change any time soon.
That’s our new reality. It shouldn’t be this way. We should have evolved beyond this. Morally, we live in repugnant times.
And for those of us who find these times both financially desperate and morally repugnant, this poses a question. How do we keep body and soul together? How do we survive without turning into the very thing that that is destroying our national identity? I don’t have all the answers. I’m not even certain if the answers I’ve found are good ones, but for what it’s worth, I’m blogging this week about how I’m navigating the infuriating, frightening, confusing times in which we live.