My Beautiful Wickedness


It’s never been good times
March 6, 2009, 10:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Kid and I were sitting looking at the unemployment graphic on the front page of the NYT this morning.

Kid: What’s this spike?

Me: That’s 1982, the year I graduated from high school and started college.

Kid: Oh, that’s bad. And what’s this one?

Me: That’s the early 1990s — when I went to grad school.

Kid: Wow. And this one?

Me: That’s the year I was looking for a full-time teaching job.

Kid: And this one? That’s when you got tenure, right?

Me: Yes.

Kid: So it’s never really been good times while you’ve been an adult?

Me: Not economically speaking, not really. Not for people like me and Dad. But you just keep going and working hard and hoping for the best and for us, it’s worked out. And you have to remember that not everything is about money.

Kid: But doesn’t this graph mean that we’re always sort of up and down?

Me: True, always up and down, but if you noticed the space between up and down is getting shorter, so people’s resources are not fully built back up (like their savings accounts) before the next downturn hits. Over time, if their wages don’t rise much but the cost of everything else goes up, they get hit harder in the next down cycle. Plus, between 1982 and now, the economy has changed so that a lot of the job creating industries are no longer creating jobs here — they sell stuff in the US, but they employ workers elsewhere.

Kid: (looking at the nearly 15% of people who are either unemployed or underemployed): I know what 15% means. It means that 15 out of 100 people are not able to find jobs that let them work enough. That’s more than 1 out of 6, close to 1 in 5. But that’s only adults.

Me: What?

Kid: They act like it’s only adults who count in these “out of work” charts. For every adult in that chart, there might be two or three kids hidden in there — families have problems together. What if (name of classmate’s mom, who is a divorced single parent) loses her job? Then that’s not 1 in 5. That’s (name of mom, and names of her two kids). That’s 3, not 1. But I guess they don’t want to say that because that would scare people.

Me: True.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

She thinks and feels, huh? You have a good kid there.

Comment by nm

Ahh, 1982. Things were so bad, employment was so hard to find for a young person, I went down to the Army recruitment office.

Uncle Sam could actually afford to be picky because so many were joining up to escape the recession, and He kindly told me thanks, but no thanks. (It’s funny how every major turning point in my life has hinged on the fact that my mother was given DES when she was pregnant with me).

At the place where I was evaluated (I think it was called “processing”), they were lined up out the door. Those were some rough times to be a new hs graduate with little direction.

Anyway, of course your daughter is very perceptive. Society used to look at families this way. I don’t have to tell you, the whole breadwinner thing is a relatively new phenomenon tied to the industrial revolution. But, there was a time when it took the whole family to run the farm.

I’m rambling, I know, but I think history and religion are really the only lasting comforts to be found in times like these.

Comment by Slartibartfast

🙂 She doesn’t miss a trick, does she?

Comment by imfunny2




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