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The wolf at your door. Is it your own employer?

A look at today’s job market from the inside:

You’ve worked for one company for more than ten years and even in hard times it seems to continue growing.  The pay is good; extremely good, until one day your email stops working.  You call in to troubleshoot and find your account has been turned off and the owner of the company sells to an investor that has its own department that does exactly what you have done for him.  More than half your family’s monthly income is gone in a single day and your world comes crashing down around your ears.

Many of you have known the seemingly endless struggle of looking for that one job that will allow you to keep your family off food stamps; that one job that will put your budget over the top and allow you to keep your home.  You know very intimately that painful in-your-gut fear that you will not be able to provide for your children.  That gnawing pain in your gut and your chest which has been your constant companion for far too long…

After knowing that life, you move on and find yourself finally taking a job.  It’s not the best job, and it barely allows to squeak by, but it’s the only glimmer of light in a dank and deserted job market, so you take it to keep the lights on and food on the table.

The pain fades, the stress seems to melt away…

The new job seems to be going well, they all seem to like you, but then you find that  90 days review for a pay increase  you were promised once you have proven yourself just never happens.  Your boss continues to threaten pay cuts and declares the economy is killing him.  You move on, telling yourself that the bills are still paid, the food is still on the table and life is still better than it was.

The gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach is back…

Your workload continues to grow beyond what can ever get done within 40 hours each week and instead of getting overtime, you are put on salary and are told you must complete the work anyway.  You sacrifice to get things done on time even when that means working evenings too, but nobody seems to care and it doesn’t seem to get you anywhere.  When you have a doctor’s appointment, they dock your pay for the hours you are gone and refuse to take into account any of the extra hours you already put in so far that week.  You know it’s not right, but where can you go?  You bring it up and you could lose your job, you fight for what is right and again you lose your job.  People tell you to sue, but that also means losing your job for the hope of a payday, but in the meantime your bills go unpaid and there is no food on the table.

The stress level starts to rise…

One of your coworkers is let go and you now have two jobs to do with no extra pay.  You think that perhaps that if you take on this extra load without complaint that your boss will raise your pay just a little to compensate you for your extra effort, but it never happens.  Your boss just seems to take whatever you give  as his due, and never looks back.

The pain begins to return…

Day after day your employer demonstrates that he/she is completely unconcerned about the welfare of his/her employees or even a single need they might have.  You are not allowed to buy the tools and supplies you need, so you buy them yourself to make your life a little easier and find that when you are gone, your boss has taken your things as if they are his/her own and distributes them throughout the office because they are “neat.”  Every time you mention that perhaps things should be different, your boss gives you that vacant look as if somehow you had just arrived from a different planet.

The stress is back and the pain has built up again.

You come home from a stressful day of work and helping the kids with homework seems like too much to handle, keeping the house clean is twice the hassle it used to be and the part time job you took on to help make ends meet now takes up every ounce of your strength just to keep one foot in front of the other until you drop onto your bed to get those precious 6 hours before starting all over again.  Anger becomes your constant companion, snapping at those who love you the most and eroding your relationship with your spouse.  Fear and self-loathing begin to surface because you know that you are beginning to lose control of your life, but you can’t face the fear of quitting the only full-time job you have.  You find that you just don’t have the time in the day to pursue another job that would allow you to quit and pay the bills and keep your home.  You can’t quit, but you can’t stop to take a breath, or find another way out.

Before you can quite understand how things got this bad you are in a deeper depression than you have ever experienced in your life.  You no longer stand your ground with your employer and let them roll right over you because the fear of losing that precious job has you petrified and emotionally immobile.  You begin to resent your spouse for having a stable job that sometimes allows him/her to spend more time with your children than you are now able to spend.

Where is the way out of this mess?  You look for other work, but nobody is returning your calls except that one potential employer who tells you that you are far too overqualified for him to hire.  You try to take on more clients of your own, but every way you turn, businesses are cutting back and doing more of it themselves.  This tunnel just has no end and your outlook on life has taken a darker turn.  Hope seems to be slipping away and even your faith has begun to fade into the misty depths of your despair…

The pain fades and the stress seems to slip away…  It’s not really gone, but you’ve ceased to care…  The stress has eaten away at both your health and your emotions to leave you empty and listless.

My name is [Insert your name here] and I work for [Your Company’s name goes here].  The Wolf at my door is my own boss who has seen the current depressed economy as a unique opportunity to further his/her own wealth at the expense of everyone he/she employs to the point that each of them wants desperately to leave the company but currently see no alternatives.

My employer is slowly pushing me over a cliff I am helpless to avoid…

The Wolf at the door is my boss and he has taken the only thing I have left:   My self-respect.

Note:  The above story is based on the combined real-life experiences of people whom I know.

 

Is this your employer?  How many more people are being taken advantage of now than before the economy took the plunge a few years back?  There are always going to be those who suck the life-blood out of everyone around them in order to make a buck, but how much more damage are they doing in a down economy?  It’s definitely tougher for employees to fight back, most don’t even want to try for fear of losing that one job it took them 5 months to a year to land.

Take a look at history:  Throughout the great depression, this kind of abuse was everywhere, and the only thing that stopped that was the creation of unions.  Are we headed down that road again?  Although they helped somewhat in the short term, along with the unions came corruption, graft and a host of other problems, (not that those things didn’t exist already, just in different forms) so how are we to deal with it this time around? Right now Unions are a bigger part of the problem than ever before.  We could once again dig into the government coffers and “Create “ jobs, but that is very short term and only serves to get our country deeper into debt that is already threatening to strangle us.

We keep coming back to the “how,” and it seems to be the one thing nobody can agree upon.   What should we do?  Who should we be listening to?  Who has the answers?

The left wants to build up the Government infrastructure to “take care” of us from cradle to grave.  While our initial impulse is to say “Yes!  Help me out!”  But we all know there exist a ton of strings attached there which are designed to erode your liberties and trade off the seemingly innocent and well-meaning hand-outs in exchange for freedoms.  Give us new stability in exchange for a new “big brother” who takes away ability or desire to achieve.

The right wants us to let loose the Corporations to run wild and free in the hope that they will improve our lives rather than grind them beneath their feat as they have done throughout history when given the chance.  They also want to cut everyone’s taxes, claiming the USA has the highest rate of corporate taxes of any industrialized Nation.

How about us?  What can we do individually to get things going?  Our government keeps telling us to spend, as if that alone is going to magically solve everything.  But how can we ever take the advice of an institution that can’t balance its own budget?  I have to say though, the thought of less taxation has a lot of promise and lately, even the left has begun to agree, even if they do add class warfare to the mix.

The one thing that is clear today is that anything run by the government is susceptible to abuse right off the bat and government entities themselves have no real incentive to perform or truly achieve anything.  They don’t go belly-up if they fail, they get more cash!  So where does it make sense for the government to take over anything of substance that affects our daily lives?  The military is pretty much the only thing our government has been able to execute effectively anyhow.

So, we can’t let Uncle Sam take over, we can’t let Corporations loose to run us over and we can’t get enough momentum on our own to spur the economy forward.  Where does that leave us?

Here is my take on it, as someone like you who is just trying to make ends meet and keep a roof over my head.  We need to do several things that could provide a focus for further action:

  • Get your own budget under control.  Stop using credit, pay down the credit cards when possible, but stop using credit; it’s getting us deeper into debt just like our government.
  • Save your money.  You earned it, hold on to it so that you have something to fall back on when bad things happen.
  • Vote.  For crying out loud, when was the last time we had more than 50% of our population actually voting in a general election?  We used to be the world’s shining example of democracy and yet most of our people couldn’t give a rip about how it is run.
  • Kick the big spenders out of public office.  If they are part of the problem, they need to go.  Stop voting for good slogans and start voting for good people.  I don’t care if they are right, left or center, if they are too enamored with spending your hard earned money on stupid crap they need to go.
  • Hold your local, state and federal representatives responsible for following through on your goals, not theirs.  That’s their job.
  • Spend your money with those businesses that earn your respect and have shown that they are involved in your local community.  Vote with your wallet when a business becomes too arrogant.
  • Give as you are able, to those local charities that have shown themselves to be responsible with their funds and do good work in your own community.
  • Give faith a chance.  Go back to church and get in touch with your faith.  Stop trying to sabotage other religions and focus instead on your own faith.  Our constitution grants us the freedom to practice the religion of our own choosing, it does not bar any religion from public places or places of government.  It’s about time we stopped trying to reinterpret and change what made this country great and return to a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

These things are simple and they make sense.  They ignore the business and influence of politics and focus on actions alone.  If we could all do these things our Nation would become a better place founded upon the strength of our own convictions.  The future is indeed in our own hands, we just need to turn to our neighbor and hold theirs as well.

 

Just my view from the cheep seats…

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