Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Oakland, No Matter What

At a pre-dawn raid this morning protesters were met with tear gas and flash grenades. How could this be necessary? What kind of country are we becoming?

When I think of tear gas, police batons, and rubber bullets I think of Selma, Mississippi, Kent State University, and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Some things never change. What is changing is that for the first time it has become so apparent that the 1% are willing to subject us to violence if we don't tow their line. It is happening more and more that protesters are getting arrested, beaten, etc in the past couple weeks. What length will the 1% go to to squash its opposition? Will we have another Tienanmen Square on our hands?

This class war that the conservatives so vehemently deny exists, its here. It is on our doorstep and it is time for this country to define itself as we truly are and not by the 1%'s  propaganda. I want to live in an America that exists for all people, not just for the privileged. I've had enough of them telling me what to think on TV, and who to vote for. I will not accept under-funding public education or their lies about the tax code. The people determine the direction of this country. It's time we all remembered that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why I'm Not Voting For Ron Paul

Let's just go down his issues one by one:

1. Pro-life: So the guy's a baby doctor, I can see why he might choose this. However, he is not a woman. It's a woman's choice. There so many reasons a woman would choose to end a pregnancy. Here are a few: conception as a result of rape, living in an abusive environment that the baby would be brought into, teenage pregnancy. These are just my opinions here. The second part of this argument is that SCOTUS will never overturn Roe v. Wade no matter how many people dislike it. They just don't do that sort of thing. So the whole pro-life debate is bunk. It merely exists to polarize the populace. A President cannot force the Supreme Court to do anything.

2. Healthcare: Well there's a few things I like here: provide tax credits and deductions for all medical expenses and guarantee that the tax dollars allotted to Medicare and Medicaid is not raided for other purposes. Other than that, he doesn't supply a remedy to getting every American insured. I'm uninsured. I'm lucky if I have the money to see a doctor.

3. Economy: Well he wants to end the death tax. The tax that only effects 10% of the population. That would be the super-rich. This tax will never effect me and I will never have to pay it as things are now. Does he propose any real solutions to the economy here? No.

4. National Defense: Here I almost agree with this guy 100%. He wants to avoid long and expensive land wars, he's against the Patriot Act, and he wants to follow the Constitution by asking Congress to declare war before one is waged. But he wants to get rid of the TSA. I feel safer with the TSA at airports. I think it's an important part of our security

5. Ending The Federal Reserve: That's just crazy. An overhaul would do.

6. Taxes: I can't argue with a flat tax

7. Homeschooling: Is that the alternative to fixing our nation's public school problems? How many families can afford to do that? That means one parent goes to work and the other becomes an in home teacher - an unqualified one at that. Bad idea.

8. Immigration: He wants no amnesty for the people already here illegally. How much will it cost to deport all of them?

10. Gun Rights: He wants to appeal the ban on assault weapons. Seriously?

11. Worker's Rights: According to Paul, they won't have any. He supports a right to work state, and wants a right to work nation. The term right to work is misleading - it really means you can fire someone for no reason. It protects employers, not workers. He's also VERY anti-labor union. Don't call your self a believer in workers rights when you just want to protect the businesses.

12. Energy: He want to allow drilling offshore. That's already being done. My dad is working offshore in Louisiana at this very moment. He also wants to lift government road blocks to coal and nuclear energy. I guess he doesn't care if the energy is clean or not. And he wants to eliminate the EPA. So the corporations can ruin our country's landscape without any repercussions. Great.

All in all, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. But please feel free to comment! This is the United States and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I would like to hear others feelings about this candidate as well.

147 Companies Run The World And What To Do About It

What does it mean when 147 countries run the global economy? It means a single decision on the other side of the world can bring us down here. We are so interconnected now, that if one company falls, they all do. That is an oversimplification of course, but it only takes a few to ruin it all. We all still remember the mortgage crisis of 2008. Researchers have found that since such a small group of companies run the global economy, it creates a very unstable environment. It's like playing Jenga with the world's economy. 

So what do we do about it? Not much. No one will be able to stop this trend from continuing. But you can do little things like putting you money in a local bank, shopping at non-corporate stores and farmer's markets. I personally have not shopped at Walmart in 5 years. If going global turns out to undo humanity as we know it, go local. No Starbucks, no chain restaurants, no fast-food. Think about who you're giving your money to. Corporations are OUT

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Not My Fault. Right?

One of the hindrances I face getting a job is my resume. More specifically my job history. One year here, six months there, its horrible. I wouldn't put it on the top of my stack of prospects if it came across my desk. It's not my fault, its a good run of bad luck. But how do you convey that to a prospective employer without sounding like a sob story?

In the summer of 2007, I landed my dream job: Data Manager for one of the largest Meals on Wheels in the country. I finally got my break and got out of retail, which I had been doing for nine years while in high school and college. I found that I was quite skilled at number crunching, conducting data integrity analysis, hitting deadlines early, and not losing sight of the big picture. That big picture being that if the monthly reporting had errors in it, the county could cite us, citations led to loss of funding, and that would result in 3,000 impoverished senior citizens not being able to eat every day. I took my job very seriously.

Unfortunately, I had to resign after a year. At the time, I was engaged to a veteran of the Iraq War. He came home from the Middle East with a serious case of PTSD. His condition caused him to abuse alcohol and ultimately physically abuse me. So in order to protect myself, I resigned from my position and moved to another city so he couldn't find me. I knew I had a great thing going at Meals on Wheels, but I had to get away for my own safety. It was a very scary time.

Fortunately, I landed another job in the non-profit sector within three days of moving here to San Antonio. What great luck. My new position was as a union organizer for a very large labor union. Since I had studied labor unions in a class called the Politics of the Middle Class in college, I was thrilled and jumped at the chance. I learned more about life there than I had ever before. This time I was not behind a desk, but working in the field talking to workers, encouraging them to fight for their rights in jobs where they had no say in what was going on. These workers weren't asking for anything unreasonable. They wanted affordable healthcare for themselves and their families, a fair system of getting raises (there was a lot of nepotism going on), and the right to sit down with their management to discuss the dangers of their jobs to find solutions that would make their jobs safer.

They weren't asking a lot, but to their management it as like asking for the moon. It took a lot of work, a lot of early morning site visits to talk to workers, late night phone calls to discuss how to better their situation, and a lot of boldness on my part. It's difficult to empower a group of people that had been put down in their jobs for decades. Convincing people that had lost all hope that they could make a difference was a challenge. But in the end, the workers came together and were able to save 1/3 of the jobs on the chopping block by asking the company to find these workers jobs in other sector of the company. It was a great win for all of us. When this campaign was coming to a close, however, I was asked to relocate to California, a state that had lots of unions. Texas does not. Not only did I want to continue to fight for workers rights in a place that was so deprived of solutions, I didn't want to leave this city I felt safe in. My family lives here, and having been through such a scary personal ordeal not even six months passed yet, I still needed their support. So I turned down the relocation.

This took place in the beginning of 2009. I started my job search looking for more non-profit work. I couldn't find anything. In fact, the exact same position I had with Meals on Wheels (MOW are all independently run, there is no umbrella organization) was open in San Antonio. But now they required a graduate degree. I hadn't even completed my bachelor's when I was hired as Data Manager before. So I lowered my expectations. I found a recruiting job with a small, family owned employment agency. The pay was considerably lower, but I was happy to be helping people find work. It didn't last long however, the economy had really taken it's toll on the company and I was let go after a month. It was a sad parting, the owner was even in tears when she told me they just couldn't afford me at that time and I really had respect for them. They were great to work for.

So, there I was again on the prowl for a new job. Two weeks later I was hired at the only locally owned hotel in the city as a front desk agent and was quickly promoted to Revenue Manager. My pay was low, but if I could hit my revenue goals I could make a good commission to make up for it. But the economy was sinking lower and no one was going on vacation and business were cutting back on going to conventions. I did not get one single commission check. Having been told by the owner that they would not be allocating any money for advertising, I launched a social media campaign to get the hotel's name out there. I generated a lot of buzz, but it couldn't make the difference in actual dollars spent at the hotel. And then I figured out that the hotel wasn't really there to make the owner money. They didn't even want us to succeed in driving in business. The hotel was a tax write off for the owner's other, very successful companies. I had been mislead from the very beginning. And only making $25,000 a year. I was furious. I quit.

Two weeks later, I had found a new position as an office manager for a locally owned (do you see a pattern here?) medical device company. I really liked it, the company was making great strides with new, innovative products and I received three raises in six months. Then the other shoe fell. The owner had made some hasty business decisions and could not afford me. They could of laid me off, but instead they made up some story about an error I had allegedly made. But they wouldn't allow me to prove my inculpability in the matter (I had emails and documentation that would prove them wrong), they fired me. Later, the owner told me that I did not have the skill set he needed. However, I met all the requirements laid out in my job description. That was the summer of 2010.

Since then, I finished my bachelor's degree and I have been searching for a job. So far, no luck. My job history is terrible. I take responsibility for some of it, but I really got dealt a bad hand. Several times. So what do I do now? Do I doctor my resume? Not only is that illegal, but I can't bring myself to lie. Especially since I didn't do anything wrong. I guess I just have to keep on doing what I'm doing. I know my job history is holding me back, but there's nothing I can do about it. Ideas?

Symptoms of Unemployment

Do you have any of these symptoms? If so, you might be unemployed. It's an affliction affecting a little over 4 million Americans.

  • Lower back pain: from hours spent in desk chair searching for jobs, emailing resumes, composing cover letters
  • Trouble sleeping: from fear, worry, and wondering what to do next
  • Headache: tension headaches from stress
  • Dizziness: from the speed at which life is passing you by
  • Depression: because life sucks
  • Excessive crying: because everything you're trying to do to get another job just ain't working
  • Food cravings: stress eating
  • Low self-esteem: because after awhile, it seems like all this is happening to you because you must suck

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I have found a solution to the boredom that comes from being unemployed. It's a game called Fliplife where you can choose a career, work, gain money and skills, shop, and buy a house. So far, I live in a tent and I'm a Senior Hack Writer, but you got to start somewhere. This game is great! I get to do all the things I wish I was doing in real life!

This game almost has a placebo effect. I can earn money, get rewarded for hard work, accomplish tasks. It's funny, I seemed to have forgotten how good it feels to finish something. There's satisfaction in knowing you've done something really well. I've spent so much time reflecting on the negative aspects of being unemployed lately. I've forgotten about all the positive attributes of employment. I never realized how much having a job affects your mental well-being.

Sure, work causes stress too. There are evil co-workers to deal with, deadlines, unreasonable clients, and so on. But man, I would be all to happy to put up with all that again if I could just get a job. I miss my schedule and paychecks, but I really miss feeling like I'm good at something.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Who is Running the Asylum?

Recently, a former colleague from my union organizing days called me up to get ideas about using social media as a tool for community engagement. I felt my ears perk up immediately when I heard "union", "demonstration" and "revolution". It was exciting to hear about what he was up to and what direction he wanted it to take. But it didn't really give me the rush it used to.

I went to a lot of protests during the Bush administration, started a liberal student organization, was a precinct delegate for Obama's presidential race, and spoke to people about revolution in the workplace on a daily basis as a union organizer. Those were the most exciting moments of my life. So what about me has changed?

Well, I've been illegally fired from two jobs in two years. I finished my bachelors degree finally after working on it for 10 years and have been unemployed since. My doctor bills have been more than my rent this month. I guess I have become disillusioned with the struggle. Well that's not right, I believe in the struggle but I'm disappointed in all its recent failures and I'm leery about jumping on any bandwagons.

Or maybe my problem is with the American public. They're so ready to buy into the propaganda and fear that is ruining our country. The populace has become ineffectual. All they can do besides eat chicken wings and watch football is gripe about abortion and pray that "one nation under God" will stay in the Pledge of Allegiance. Oh, and they're pretty adamant about not letting anymore brown people in the country, although they don't like to put it that way. Well, I bet they do at Niggerhead Ranch.

One must wonder, that if the populace is no longer able to start any significant change, and the government is for the people and by the people - the ineffectual people - then the government is also ineffectual. So who is running the asylum?

The dictatorship of the Almighty Dollar. And everyone knows he who has the most money wins. I think its time for a new strategy.
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Or Unemployed, Depressed, and Broke

I used to be depressed because I was unemployed. Now I think I might be unemployed because I'm depressed. You know, when you have a job you have the money and health insurance to go to the shrink - but you don't ever have the time. And when you have all the time in the world and really could use a therapist, there's no money or medical insurance. Vicious isn't it?

Trying to figure out just how to attack the unemployment problem is also confusing. Do you get just any job so you can get out of the house? Or do you hold out for something that pays what you're worth and actually interests you? Either way, you're broke. And miserable.

I keep fantasizing about making money in my pajamas while I wait out this down turn. Like a novelist or online poker champion. You can almost see the boredom hang in the air, like smoke in a bar. I wonder if I was ever good at anything sometimes. I know I was, but it seems so long ago now. Everything I've ever endeavored to do, it seems, has met a dead end beyond my control.

Where to now?
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