According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 31 million people currently unemployed -- that's including those involuntarily working part-time and those who, like me, want a job, but have given up trying to find one. In the face of the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression, millions of Americans are hurting, as you can see in this shocking video.
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Image: The Baltimore Sun.
I just mailed a letter back to the comptroller for Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital [now: New York-Presbyterian Hospital], which promises a refund for one of several duplicate charges that the hospital levied against me for medical bills that were "unpaid." I know I should be happy about this, but instead, I am very very angry. Why?
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While the economy is still performing CPR on itself, you may find yourself without a job. Worse still, if you are like me, you may not be able to find another one. In the meantime, here are 101 ways to improve your life (and take up some extra time) when you can't find a job no matter how hard you pound the pavement.
tags: book review, memoir, homelessness, unemployment, Cadillac Man, Thomas Wagner
The homeless are everywhere in New York City. I run across them every day while riding public transit, while walking around the city and while using wireless in the public libraries. After a few conversations with homeless people, I've learned that most of them avoid shelters because of the risk of violent crime there. So where do they sleep? Where do they go to get a shower and clean clothes? Are all homeless people either crazy or crackheads? How did these people end up living on the streets in the first place? Don't they have families and friends? You will learn the answers to these and other questions in a compelling new memoir, Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets, by Cadillac Man, who lived on the streets of New York for 16 years (Bloomsbury; 2009).
I have been
barely surviving living frugally for nearly all of my life, although I have been taking this to the extreme these past five years. But now that many of you are also having to either cut back on your living expenses, due to unemployment, underemployment or fear that you will become un(der)employed soon, I no longer feel I have to be so secretive about my own lifestyle, so I thought I'd share some of my own tried-and-true strategies for basic survival skills with you.
One thing that the Thanksgiving Holidays has made clear: America, the land of plenty where holiday overeating is celebrated as a social good, is suffering from a food availability crisis. The Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture describes a range of food security categories, ranging from "food secure," which includes high food security and marginal food security, and "food insecure," which includes low food security and very low food security. Households whose food security was classified as either "low" or "very low" did not have enough money to purchase an adequate supply of food at least some of the time -- and their numbers are increasing dramatically, as anyone who works at or depends upon a food bank or soup kitchen will tell you.
So, you all thought the Streetwalking Lawyers of Seattle video was humorous, did you? Well, after a quick trip through my time machine to the year 2009, I have found that streetwalking lawyers was prescient. [1:28]
"The Streetwalking Lawyers of Aurora Avenue" is a great idea that I should emulate to get a job .. maybe I can hang around in the garment district with a set of pipettemen and offer to clone rich people so they can get transplants of their own organs from their clones? [1:26]
tags: book review, white-collar unemployment, job hunting, Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich
While I was flying back to NYC last weekend, I read (yet another) book about job hunting. This book detailed the obvious; that searching for a white-collar job is not as easy as you might think, as you'll learn in Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich (NYC: Metropolitan Books; 2005). In this book, Ehrenreich posed as an unemployed white-collar worker, in search of a job in public relations and event planning. To avoid being identified as a journalist via a Google search, she legally changed her name and, relying on her past (real) work experience, actively markets herself. For the book, her goal was to obtain a corporate job that pays approximately fifty thousand dollars per year with health benefits. Her plan was to keep this job for three or four months, write about her experiences, and then quit. To find this job, Ehrenreich earmarked five thousand dollars for travel and other expenses connected with her job search -- a generous sum, in my opinion.