Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What If I Never Find Another Job?

One distinct disadvantage of having an overactive imagination is a tendency to dwell on "worst case scenarios".

Now, don't get me wrong - there are some REALLY ugly worst case scenarios out there - for instance the Yellowstone caldera blowing it's stack and pretty much completely destroying the human race as we know it.

But, no, with SO many people getting laid off the last few months I am beginning to wonder just exactly what "end-stage economic disease" might look like for someone who exhausts all his resources.

People keep telling me that there are safety nets in place out there and no one need be homeless who doesn't want to be, but sometimes I find myself wondering.

There is unemployment insurance to be sure - if I understand it the better part of a year of at least some money coming in to attempt to pay rent and keep some modest food on the table, but once that, savings, and the generousity of friends and neighbors is exhausted, what then?

I've heard that the next stop is a place in Over-The-Rhine called The Drop Inn. I find myself wondering what one's first trip down there might be like. Does the last friend or relative to throw you out take you down there? Do you have to hike miles there yourself? Are there other facilities like it in the area?

And then - what do they do with you there? I understand all the shelters are pretty much intended to be temporary. With absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back how do you climb back towards independence? I've heard a great many stories that it can be done, but sometimes I find myself wondering intensely about the details.

Perhaps it's all ultimately just a bad dream. Perhaps in most cases long before one loses one's last shelter the economy will turn around and some sort of employment and continuation as an independent member of society can be arranged.

One can only hope ...

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lifestyle Downsizing

There's a fascinating article running on CNN talking about the various folks who have taken huge pay decreases in the recent economic downturn.

Being a long-time computer hobbyist I tend to look at things in terms of breaking them down to discrete components and asking myself, "How does this work?"

Of course if one has had a certain salary, particularly for a couple of years, I would tend to think that many aspects of their lifestyle would be based upon that salary. For instance, if you're making $200,000/yr you could handle - what? - a $300,000 house and maybe a $400/mo. car payment?

Now suppose you lose this $200,000 job and can only get one that pays $50,000. How in the WORLD do you "unwind" the "positions" you had in housing and transportation that was more appropriate for the $200,000/yr salary.

Well, this article isn't painting a very rosy picture on that topic. They are talking about people getting their houses foreclosed on and vehicles repossessed - and these are people with children.

However, this article makes mention that this one particular family was able to find rental property.

I suppose that is a good sign because I've always been under the impression that landlords really didn't want to work with you if you had a recent foreclosure or eviction.

Of course I guess times have changed.

But, I suppose the theme that is coming through this article and other similar ones is that life goes on - not in the way you were used to at higher salary levels, but life does indeed go on.

Of course I suppose it begs the next question though - suppose you were starting out at $35,000/yr. or some such and can only find a job that pays $10/hr or so? Where do you end up THEN?

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