Love in a Time of Dysfunction
I’d love to be able to say that, given this month’a theme, I was going to be providing a piece filled with happiness, sunshine and puppies. I’d love to be able to do that. On an individual level, I have plenty to be happy about. I try as a general rule to focus on that stuff, purely because the larger picture of where this country seems to be headed scares the bejeesus out of me.
Sure, summer’s supposed to be that time of year where everyone is hanging out in nice weather and shit, but while we’re all doing that, the people in charge of the country are drifting farther and farther apart, and the average person suffers for it.
We’ve been in a Great Depression-level recession for going on three years now, and despite whatever rhetoric the people in Washington are trying to spin to make it sound positive, it’s not improving, and nothing that’s being tried seems to be working in the slightest.
The unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent with slight fluctuations up or down from month to month but no real substantive improvement. I consider myself lucky to be working right now, but in three weeks when my temp assignment ends, I get to dive back in to the overfilled pool that is unemployment. I expect to be unemployed again for at least six months, probably longer. I hope to be employed by the time of my wedding next year, but given the current climate for job seekers, let’s just say I’m not optimistic.
It seems to me, after a year of fruitless interviewing, that companies don’t want to hire, or at least not in the same way that they used to. The recession has changed employment culture, quite possibly irrevocably. Companies seem to be looking for new hires who will do the work of three people for less money. If businesses have become so afraid to spend money, how are we ever supposed to get out of this mess?
And our government seems to be too busy sniping at each other and disagreeing for the sake of disagreement to actually do anything about any of it. We have a largely ineffective president (I’m not especially partisan, but aside from getting our troops out of Iraq, what has he really done?) who seems to think his inherent charisma and ability to deliver a coherent speech will make most people forget his flawed or failed policies.
Not to say that the Republicans are saints by any stretch. They talk about austerity and reforms without actually offering any concrete plans, probably just hoping that they can scare people enough to get their vote. It’s like they forget that it was their candidate who got us into this massive hole.
I think both parties are going to have to get together and find some compromises if we are ever really going to get back to where we were economically. When the budget fight for next year starts, I can’t help thinking there actually will be a federal shutdown, and it will last for a few months before the parties involved decide to negotiate anything.
Don’t even get my stated on the Wisconsin governor who is singlehandedly trying to destroy collective bargaining for state workers, and used underhanded means to get his state budget passed. It’ll probably all be in litigation til 2017.
And what has all this taught me personally? A very simple lesson: be happy with what you do have. I have the love of a good woman who doesn’t determine my worth by my job status, even though I sometimes do. Also try to remember that no matter how badly you think your life is going, someone else is always worse off.