just like real live po' folk.


i read some cnn stories while at work today. normally, i hate myself for reading cnn, but sometimes, i just want to feel like i know some things about the world. today, there were three consecutive cnn stories about economic hardships. one was about how the only jobs available in some indiana town were for strippers. another was about how illegal immigrants have been leaving the u.s. and the third was about how military recruitment had gone up. my co-worker, emily, pointed out that there was another story at the bottom of the page which read: "swimsuit models wear nothing but paint." "i like to think that it's still because of our shitty economy, and that they just couldn't afford clothes," she said.

i heard that the state of california has issued "furlough" days for all state employees. basically, the employees don't work the first and third fridays of the month. sounds nice, except they don't get paid for those days off. my aunt and uncle, both state workers, are feeling this, as their daughter just entered her first year at a costly private high school. meanwhile, another cnn story revealed that the governator is threatening to cut 20,000 more state jobs.

i got an email today from another staff member at the law school, and the email said something about how the state was trying to eliminate work-study positions for non-residents in washington. i didn't really read it, as i am not a work-study student, and i don't care, but still, it's pretty shitty. non-residents obviously have to pay more for tuition, and i mean, come on. $8.75 an hour, part-time? washington, you really can't spare that for out-of-towners these days? maybe i didn't read it right. i have a tendency to skim headlines and think that the rest of it is full of shit.

as i was reading depressing article after depressing article, i almost found it comical how ridiculously bad things have gotten. all the greed, the corruption, and incompetence just poured on thick. and every once in a while, i read this article about how some family affected by the economic shitstorm is learning to cope. ever since the father (the male is always the breadwinner in these stories) lost his job at wherever, the family has had to really make some sacrifices. they no longer watch cable tv, and the kids can't play the latest and greatest video games. the mom cuts coupons and her children's hair. they don't go out to eat as much.

those are considered sacrifces in this great country of ours. i mean, aren't people supposed to be living like this anyway, crisis or no crisis? "i lost my job, kids. the cable's gotta go." "aww, dad, can't you just get a new job?" "not these days, son. i'll probably have to deliver pizzas for $10 an hour, as opposed to the $80,000 i brought home every year." how come none of these economic horror stories ever point out the obvious, that way too many people have been living way beyond their means for way too fucking long? downward mobility, living simply - these terms aren't in the american vocabulary.

my uncle, who works for at&t, will be "retiring" this summer. he's actually being forced into early retirement, as his managerial position will soon be made obsolete. my mom's planning on retiring at the end of this month. this was actually her decision, as she has been unhappy working at the hospital for a while now. she will be sixty-two tomorrow. she has worked as a nurse for a good portion of her life, and the money she will receive from retirement and social security will not be very much. my dad is planning on quitting soon, too. having worked only (only?) ten years as a custodian at uc davis, he'll collect much less than my mom.

you work and work and save as much as you can. in the end, will it have been worth it?

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