Heartlessness, wealth creation, and unemployment -- a personal perspective (long)

Subject: Heartlessness, wealth creation, and unemployment -- a personal perspective (long)
From: "Richard G. Combs" <richard -dot- combs -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 16:28:43 -0700

A number of people, on and off list, have taken exception to my response to
k k. Some have said I don't understand how hard unemployment can be and have
questioned my humanity, empathy, or right to live. :-} So permit me to set
the record straight: I've been there, done that.

When I moved to Denver many years ago with no job, I worked as a day laborer
3-4 days a week for about 6 months, while looking for a "real" job the
remaining 3 days. The minimum-wage earnings helped me stretch my savings,
and the work got me in the best shape of my life. If you ever _really_ want
to get physically fit, do some day labor -- it's better than a health club,
and instead of you paying them, they pay you. :-) There is _always_ a demand
for day labor. I found it difficult, varied, and fun, and I met some
_really_ interesting people.

I did it again a few years later, after being manipulated out of a job by
some nasty, devious folks (at a non-profit research foundation, so not a
matter of corporate greed; go figure). Long story, but suffice it to say
that I lost a 6-month fight over unemployment -- they were quite clever as
well as devious.

Was I bitter, angry, depressed, financially strapped? You bet! And I
understand and sympathize with others who are in that boat. Objectively, the
"creative destruction" of which I wrote is a good thing that benefits all
humanity; but, in the short term, it sucks being one of the "destructees."

In response to an excellent post by Jo Byrd about job shifts, Bonnie Granat

> Can you describe what these jobs are in today's global market that will be
> created in the US for US workers?

Well, no. If I could, I'd know which stocks to buy and soon be rich. Funny
thing about the future: it's hard to predict. ;-) When the foundation forced
me out, I had _no_clue_ what to do or where my future lay. In desperation,
at the suggestion of someone I met in a mountaineering class, I took a crash
course (informal) in personal computers, learned to touch-type, and became a
novice contract technical writer -- at $10/hr.

That led to 12 years of self-employment and my own corporation. There were
some lean times amidst the good, but when I took my present job (an
irresistable offer from a client), I was billing at $75/hr. I kept my
business going as a sideline and, for a couple of years before the telecom
bust, I had a good crew working for me and made more from it than my
full-time salary.

In hindsight, I'm immensely grateful to those devious foundation folks for
shafting me out of a job. :-)

I guess I'm trying to say that change is inevitable, and how you react to it
matters. Yes, it hurts to be out of work, to have to take menial jobs, to
run up credit card debt, and to not know how you're going to survive or
where you'll be in a year. But, "danger" is also "opportunity."

There are no guarantees in life, and security has always been an illusion.
Be flexible! Adapt! Improvise! Instead of looking for someone to protect you
from change, look for ways to capitalize on it. The folks in Washington and
the state capitol may tell you that they care about you and your pain, but
when all is said and done, you're the one who can best protect your
interests and who can best act to secure your future.

One more thing: Attitude matters more than you think. Whatever challenge
you're facing, you'll handle it better if you're cheerful and outgoing, not
bitter and angry. You know who you are...

End of sermon. ;-)


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT voyanttechDOTcom
rgcombs AT freeDASHmarketDOTnet



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