Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deep Green gets in line -OR- The OTHER Shoe

Deep Green is a treasured friend and constant correspondent of almost 20 years. We've
argued about everything for so long that words aren't necessary anymore for such arguments.
When there is shit to be shot, we shoot it and move on. He can write mine and I his predictably. I opened my mail this morning to find the following update. It has been lightly edited for your convenience. It is pure Heartland stuff that speaks what many are experiencing and feeling these days.

When he emerges from this shock, it will no doubt, somehow be Bill Clinton's fault. It always is.


Two things should dominate this here message here. (I'm writing just

before the President comes out and tells us more stories about Lincoln
and FDR.)

I was laid off last week for the term of one week. Thursday, out of the
blue, they called me and told me my layoff was permanent. I no longer have
a job. The deep recession became a Depression at that moment for this

Welcome to 1929. You are going to be 56 years old in May. The
economy is still falling. The Dow has yet to bottom out. You have already
bumped headfirst into the early examples of age discrimination. You know
no one--NO ONE--who makes anywhere near the wage you did just two and a
half years ago. Most are working for a third of that or less. You did not
set up your future, your savings, your retirement planning, or your worst
imagination for what is now inside your doorstep.

Nevertheless, I had one more duty to perform at my former employer's.

I arrived there 45 minutes after I got the telephone call, about my
average drive time, and removed my tools and all evidence I had ever been
there within a half hour. There was, of course, no severance pay or
package. I said goodbye to exactly three people, used the large overhead
crane to load my toolbox into the back of my pickup, and have no intention
of ever looking back. I will be astounded if their doors are open at all
by mid-summer. For those I left behind, their outlook is far more bleak
than mine. Totally unskilled assembly laborers, the great majority of
them. Many have never worked anywhere else.

When I took my toolbox in, which for a person in my trade is the
equivalent of sinking the roots of a tree into the earth, I put the heavy
Kevlar straps I used to unload it on top of all the other junk in the
driver's side of my pickup's toolbox. As I so often told my coworkers,
they were never moved. I left them there in order to be able to move out
quickly if I either wanted to or had to. Thursday I found them exactly
where I put them and had my 1500+ pound toolbox on the road before word
spread through the shop that I was there and clearing out. I was gone in

There has never in my adult life been a poorer job market for even highly
skilled workers (experienced and documented Journeyman-class) in the
industrial field. This is my starting point. This is how it begins.

The second dominate thing about this post is to inform you I caught some
kind of computer superbug that went right through my defenses.
My computer rapidly degraded to the point where it became impossible to
reach my ISP and its fancy fiber optic system. That's why you haven't seen
me lurking about recently, that and a remarkably foul mood that descended
over me like a black horse blanket. As is usual for me, despair is now
turning to anger, which will drive me for the foreseeable future and is
actually a good thing. It sure beats being stunned like a duck hit on the
head, as a fellow bipolar, A. Lincoln, once put it. People in despair go
to bed and pull the covers over their heads. People who are angry fight

Much of my time will be spent wasting gasoline and hours looking for an
industrial job in a still-dying industrial desert and probably, even if I
find one, working for a "wage" that is in fact a mere insult. But when I
was a child, watching black and white movies on television, I always
pestered the adults around me with questions when the old "A Night To
Remember" movie about the sinking of the Titanic would show. During the
scenes where the last lifeboats were pulling away and the band was playing
"Nearer My God To Thee" and all the studio actors were standing at the
railings looking brave and the extras were running up and down the ship
hysterically, I used to have mini-fits and would bounce around the room
yelling at them to get some rope and start lashing deck chairs together,
tear the doors off the walls and grab a hammer and nails, DO SOMETHING,
YOU FOOLS! And now, after a few days of being a duck hit on the head with
a hammer, that child inside me is yelling again.
I think it would be wise to listen to him. Wish us luck.

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