Wherein I Hate on Wal-Mart Again

I was going to write about a post I saw recently that started an uproar in the “mommyblogger” community. I was going to write how I can’t stand the term “mommyblogger” and why—including the evolution of the term as I’ve seen it happen online. And I was going to explain that I’m against telling anyone what to write on their own blog and will just not read it if it doesn’t interest me. Then I was going to mention that I’m a mother and I blog which should make me a “mommyblogger” but this inclusive term refers to an exclusive club.

Then I caught site of a Twitter conversation that involved the hashtag #letsfixdinner. I have nothing against that specific hashtag, mind you. I was just paying attention to one blogger who happened to be using it.1

In response to things Deb on the Rocks was saying I retweeted:

RT @debontherocks Throw in a little child slave labor 4 ur chocolate, &Stouffers/Nestle adds up 2 #letsfixdinner on the backs of Africa kids

I think I picked up a follower with that because of the use of that hashtag. Well, I don’t ever blindly follow someone on Twitter2. If I did that I’d be following a bunch of SEO folks and some serious teabagging wingers. So, I checked this new follower and went to her website. She’s proudly blogging for Wal-Mart.

Now, anyone that has followed my blog knows that I hate Wal-Mart. With a passion. I worked there a number of years ago and learned enough about them to initially dislike them. Then I researched them more and that’s when the hate started. I have nothing good to say about the company or it’s practices. And I can in no way support what they’re doing, not even by following one of their “eleven moms” on Twitter. No way am getting suckered into clicking a link that might lead to a post in support of Satan’s favorite mega mart.

By the way, I don’t give a shit if any of those bloggers are paid by Wal-Mart or not. I don’t care if they’re doing it for free stuff or out of the goodness of their hearts. I am morally and ethically opposed to Wal-Mart’s business practices and the way they treat their own people.

Wal Mart doesn’t care about women and specifically doesn’t care about mothers. So why do women bloggers—especially “mommybloggers” support them this way? The reason they’re reaching out to bloggers is so that they can try to change their image, without actually changing their practices. You say “Well, they’ve got good bargains/prices/blah” I say “What’s the real cost of those bargains?”

What do you mean you don’t know? Or do you mean that you don’t care?

(This one’s a little long, folks.)

My Experience

I worked at Wal-Mart from September 2003 to June 2004. When I was in “orientation” I was told several things that alarmed me and made me want to run for the door3. First up was that unions were unwelcome and that unions would take my job, my money and the very store in which I was to be working. Unions, apparently, were not out to protect us, but to strip us of our employment. We were shown videos on how to behave if a union rep approached us. The videos always represented the union reps as evil and conniving and we were to be wary of them. Wal-Mart, we were told, was taking care of us and providing for us. We couldn’t do any better than we were doing with them. Wal-Mart was always portrayed as the “grandfatherly” company, looking out for their vendors and Associates.

The next thing that bothered me was their education policy. They would provide help for the Associates to send their children to college, but Associates themselves weren’t eligible for the benefit4. They went on and on about how we didn’t need to be college educated to advance within the company. That college was seemingly unimportant in a great company like them. Afterall, we were told, Sam Walton never went to college! Later I learned that they would refuse to work around a college schedule and if someone requested a specific schedule because of school their schedule would be changed to intentionally conflict with their schooling. At the time of my orientation, though, my only thought was “Wow, they want us to stay stupid”.

During the time I was there I noticed many things about the way management interacted with Associates—and that management was changed regularly so that they couldn’t get too comfortable and familiar with their employees. Home Office5 was always watching us in one way or the other. We were given limited breaks and told to help customers off the clock. I was pregnant at the time I worked there, but management had no problems trying to over work me and give me a hard time about my doctor’s appointments. But I did ok. It was those that were hurt on the job that were given a hard time. If an Associate was going to receive worker’s comp they had to continue to work either in the dressing room area or as a greeter—for lesser pay. And still Wal-Mart would fight them.

And insurance? Ha! Try paying the huge premiums on a Wal-Mart salary and then paying the outrageous deductible. That’s if you qualified. On average I worked about 34 hours a week. That was one hour short of what was needed to qualify for insurance. Most associates fell just below that threshold. Those that didn’t most likely didn’t have insurance because they couldn’t afford the premiums.

Then they changed the way they were giving raises. Used to be they would give a percentage-base merit raise, which was up to 5%. If an Associate made $10 an hour6 then they could potentially make $1 an hour more. Usually it was more like 5%, but that was still not too bad. They changed it from that to a scale from 5-25¢. The way they made it sound you’d have thought they were giving $1k bonuses and some people fell for it. They actually thought they were getting a good deal. Except they weren’t. When I explained the difference to some of the poor saps that were already spending their extra 50¢ an hour it was like I was stealing Christmas. The management actually counted on the fact that the majority of their Associates couldn’t do simple math. That’s when I decided I wouldn’t come back after I had Lil’lady.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the work7 and it wasn’t that I don’t like working with the public. Wal-Mart sucked my soul. They tried to dumb me down and, in fact, wanted their employees dumbed down. Anyone who could figure out they were being conned wasn’t welcome at Wal-Mart—unless they had no other choice but to work there.

When I went to pick up my last check from there I was given a second check along with it. “What’s this?” I asked. My manager didn’t say anything (literally just walked away from me) so I asked a co-worker. She whispered that she’d heard women in our department were getting paid 60¢ an hour less than men so they got sued. We were getting paid our back wages, though it was only for the month prior to the settlement date. My check was all of $70.

We did get discounts, though. All of 10% and that didn’t include groceries or sale items. We were getting killer deals anyway, right? Most of us were making less than $6 an hour and had families to support. Some of us came to work there after our good paying factory jobs went overseas (See Rubbermaid, for instance). Not many people that worked for that store could actually shop at that store. That’s no lie. Not propaganda. It’s true even today. Wal-Mart keeps their employees poor and hopeless.

Since I left

Then Wal-Mart started changing more policies. They decided that they wanted to get rid of more than 70% of their full-time workforce8. This was to eliminate the number of Associates who were eligible for health benefits, even if they didn’t get it because they couldn’t afford it.9

Then they decided they were going to cap wages. Depending on where an Associate works in the store, they can only make as much as $14 an hour no matter how long they’ve been with the company. Associates get their merit raises every year until they’ve reached that cap and then no more raises after that. Been working as a Wal-Mart Associate for 20 years? Tough titties. Your loyalty is not adding to the company’s bottom line so is useless to them.

Then they began terminating the employment of long-time Associates. They would find reasons to fire them and then would offer them the opportunity to come back at base wage. They would lose all of their seniority10 and raises. They would come back as a new hires. New hires cost Wal-Mart less, because their wages are less—even including the costs normally associated with employee turnover. Wal-Mart wants that turnover. Turnover gets rid of the raises and the eligibility for insurance.

And then they changed their scheduling and call-off policies. No more would scheduling take place in individual stores. Now Home Office would take care of that.11 Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas—a far cry away from Bumfuck, Ohio. Need a little flexibility because of family obligations, doctor’s appointments or other personal reasons? Too bad, so sad. You go to work when someone in Arkansas decides you go to work. Need to call off to take your child to the doctor? You’re required to call Home Office and good luck with that.12 More than likely your request will be denied and you will face disciplinary action or termination. You won’t be able to plead your case with anyone that actually knows you and your situation because all of those decisions are left to someone who has never even met you.

Are you seeing how Wal-Mart is able to pass on such huge savings? Are you seeing the real-life costs of their low prices? Can you honestly, with good conscience, support a company that values their own employees and the employees of their vendors so little? A company that will fire a worried mother because she had the audacity to take her sick child to the doctor? They don’t need her, afterall. They’ve got thousands of people to replace her.

I try to support women who blog whether they are mothers or not. I usually don’t care if what they’re writing about13 as long as they’re being heard. I don’t think there are enough influential women in the blogosphere and am a sentimental about the way the mommybloggers have come together to conquer this outlet in the way they have. Where men dominate politics and tech related blogging, women soar in mommyblogging. That is something of which women should collectively be proud.

But I cannot in good conscience support a marketing campaign by this company that targets mothers as a specific demographic. Wal-Mart is trying to look pretty with this new face, trying to charm you. But the meat under their skin is still rancid. They are still dealing with the devil and stepping on the backs of families all over the world. Lee Scott would piss on his employees as soon as look at them. He would throw them and their children out in the cold and take the food off their table if he could make a couple of extra bucks doing it. Wal-Mart is anti-family regardless of what their slick adverts say. Sure, if you don’t actually work for Wal-Mart or it’s vendors14 or know anyone personally effected by Wal-Mart’s policies, you can save money by shopping there. But if you work there and are supporting your family with that salary you can’t afford to shop there. And by shilling for that company and proudly hyping their disgusting brand, you validate what they’ve done to become such a “profitable” company.

It’s one thing to shop there—especially since there may be no alternatives where you live. They’ve destroyed so much of their locally available competition that for some things it’s damned near impossible to go somewhere else. That’s where I would normally shrug and say “Meh. You know they’re evil right?” and then move on. But this whole thing with “mommybloggers” picking up their baton and running with it just makes my blood run cold. I abhor Wal-Mart because they are ultimately bad for the causes I believe in – women and their families and job creation and stability. Wal-Mart is antithetical to all of those, as it is to many other issues and causes15. The thought that there are women with talent and voices and platforms willfully and happily distributing Wal-Mart propaganda just really makes me sad. And somewhat angry. Here is a demographic that has the ear of Wal-Mart execs and can help convince that company to care about it’s employees. Instead of taking the company to task they join with them to help improve their image without improving their employee relations policies. I want no part of it. I don’t want to read it on a blog and I certainly don’t want to catch a whiff of it in my Twitter stream. I will gladly support another woman unless she is working against my interests.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will eventually write another post about this dreaded box-store chain. Probably more. None of them will be glowing endorsements. This company sets trends that other companies follow in hopes of mimicking their success. Wal-Mart is showing other corporations that it’s ok to shit on the heads of the lower-level employees because people will still flock to the store for those “low prices” regardless of the negative impact they have on the communities in which their stores spring up. That’s not good for anyone. Especially women who are demographically more likely to be lower-income, single parents struggling to pay the rent on wages from places that are emulating Wally World. They drive down competitive wages, encourage companies to cut or eliminate benefits and force other companies (their vendors) to cut costs by moving their operations out of the country. As large and profitable as that company is there is no good reason such a large number of their employees are forced to take food stamps to feed their kids while also getting the medical card to be able to take those children to the doctor. They set standards—and those standards are hurting American families.

Unfortunately, considering this new “social media”/blogging campaign that this damned company has engaged in, it looks like another post like this will pop up sooner rather than later. I certainly hope I’m not the only one to see this trend and be disgusted by it enough to speak out.

Full Disclosure:

I really hate Wal-Mart.

And now I’m off to see why it is I should hate Nestle too.

Popularity: 12% [?]


Sphere: Related Content

  1. I do have an issue with following a link to a website, looking for a list of sponsors, partners and contributors and finding blank pages. []
  2. Meaning follow back just because they follow me []
  3. I couldn’t, of course. Like many people I needed the job and the money. []
  4. I’ve yet to meet an Associate who was able to take advantage of the “benefit” even for their children. []
  5. Or Big Brother, as I came to think of them []
  6. Some that had been there for more than a decade actually did make that much. []
  7. Though while pregnant I was regularly asked to lift boxes more than 50 lbs. []
  8. In reaction to Maryland requiring them to have insurance on all of their employees. []
  9. InternalMemos Leaked []
  10. Which was really a myth. []
  11. Corporate does the shift scheduling []
  12. Read this comment from a disgruntled employee. []
  13. Though I am a little snobby as far as politics and range of language is concerned []
  14. They force companies out of business []
  15. Environmentally disruptive much, Wal-Mart? []
jennyjinx

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    Because Someone Asked

    My good friend asked me (via Twitter) to tell her what’s going on in my life. So I came here to see if I’d done this anytime recently. Except for my post about Biff, I guess I haven’t. My life is pretty uninteresting nowadays and most people that read this blog don’t give two hoots about what’s happening with my job.

    Now, I did think I had a draft about my shitty employer (but thank the gods I have a job and am making some dollahs1 where so many people are not working) but I seem to have deleted it or maybe I didn’t save it or whatever. Doesn’t matter. It’s not there. Spooky…

    Anyway, about my life…

    !!CAUTION: Whining and Bitching ahead!!!

    The Finances

    I told some people somewhere that TheMan has been laid off. I’m pretty sure it’s on this very blog, but I’m not looking. So, he got laid off temporarily in January and then permanently at the end of March. That meant that we were going to survive on his unemployment and my tips (and sorry ass $3.65 an hour). So, we went to the Employment Source website and followed their sorry instructions on how to reopen the claim. We couldn’t figure the shit out so he called their number and spoke to some woman who gave us the wrong fucking directions. That led us to being denied for that week—which we appealed.

    A couple of weeks later we get an extra payment deposited in the bank. This means that our appeal was granted and we were allowed to have that money. Right? WRONG. Big fat fucking wrong.

    Two days later2 we get some mail from those shitty motherfuckers. Our appeal was denied and we were to pay them back that money. If we thought we were getting screwed then, of course we could appeal and we also could call them to set up payment installments so as not to lose our entire week. So, we appealed. But we couldn’t call.

    Because we got the fucking notice on Friday after their offices were closed.

    TheMan calls on Monday to set up the arrangements until we hear about our newest appeal. Guess what? Those shitty motherfuckers had already taken this week’s check. They didn’t even give us enough time to arrange a repayment schedule. So now we don’t get paid this week either. Motherfuckers.

    But wait, there’s more…

    So, this is going on and we get a notice stating that our insurance is cancelled but we’re allowed to do the whole COBRA thing. For a mere $920 a month we can keep our insurance for 90 more days. Well, of course we don’t have that kind of money and so our insurance lapses. But there’s a notice on the board at my job. Open enrollment has arrived and we have until May 20th to sign up. Then I get a postcard in the mail telling me I qualify for open enrollment—it’s got my name on it and everything. I follow the directions, get the packet from my manager and then go home and enroll online.

    The webpage says that I’m good as soon as they take money out of my check—which will be the next pay day. Whee! I’m excited. I need my medication to get around every day and I need to be able to keep in touch with my doc. All is good.

    Until I check my paystub. No deductions for insurance.

    Go to work and find out that as a server I don’t qualify for the insurance. There’s a lot more to that about why servers don’t qualify, but I’m not going to go into that. I want to know why the fuck I got that stupid postcard and why that notice was posted in the service area of my work. Of course, no one tells me34 and they act like I should’ve used my psychic powers to figure it out. Just lovely.

    Which had led me to seek new employment with a company that does allow their servers some kind of insurance—Applebee’s. Just an FYI if you care about which companies give a flying fuck about the people taking your order when you eat out.

    Anyway…

    The Family

    Lil’ Miss has turned 18 and moved out. She decided that if she had to follow rules, help clean the house and generally respect the members of this household, she was going to be the head of her own home. So, she saved up money and grabbed some tax refund and off she went. Did I mention she moved in with her fiancé? Yeah, she did.

    She’s been out about a month now and is doing well. We actually get along better this way because we don’t fight for control. She’s seeing how tough it is to live on your own, though and that’s giving her a lot of grief. Every so often she’ll call me asking for some financial assistance and I help her out if I can. We bought her some groceries and some other things5, but her bills are all getting paid on time and she’s even managing to save a bit here and there for her own car.

    When she first moved out I was worried that she would be back within a month. So far I’m way wrong and I’m happy about that. She’ll be graduating at the end of next month—which worried me and again I was proved wrong—and then she’s going to start college in the fall. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she keeps on doing so well. She may have actually learned something from all of those lectures while she was growing up. I certainly hope so. I’m really very proud of her right now.

    TheMan and I are doing ok. Not fantastic. We’re still recovering from his infidelity. Every so often I want to smack him right in the mouth just because I have a flashback of when and how I found out. I don’t do that, of course. The point is that the rage is still there every so often. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out in the long run, but right now we have other things to worry about and that takes most of my time. We do a lot with Lil’lady, who has taken over her sister’s old room and declared herself a “growed lady”. I have some pictures of our latest outing somewhere and might post them eventually (at least to my flickr).

    There’s a whole other post brewing about the extended family. They suck donkey balls and I’m not in the least bit happy with any of them. There’s a lot of whining involved with that shit too, but this post is getting so god-awful long that I don’t want to include it right now.

    School

    Meh. Semester is over in two weeks. No fabulously hawt professors to keep me interested.

    Good News

    I’m still alive and kicking. Does that count?

    Also I bought a new Dell Hybrid, which I didn’t really need but for which I’ve been pining for months6. How? Well, here’s a funny story:

    One night I was minding my own business, playing Mafia Wars of some such shit7 and Lil’ Miss calls me. She tells me that her dad called her and is pissed because the government took $2500 of his tax refund for back child support. I was all like “Wha..?” I hadn’t checked the child support payment since September or October. I didn’t know anything about a huge chunk of changing sitting in that account.

    So, I called the number on the back of the card and the robot-lady tells me that $800 was deposited in my account on December 8, 2008. Again I’m all like “Wha..?” I’m pissed that I didn’t know about that money before this. I certainly could have used it at Christmas time. Didn’t these people send notices anymore?

    Then I get to thinking. I have $800 that no one but me knows about. It’s all mine. I rub my hands together gleefully then glare ominously at my old, worn-out computer. “You are so toast!” I tell it. Then I go online to my employers employee portal8 and click on their Dell account. I pick out my computer. I purchase my computer. I laugh hysterically.

    Immediately the guilt sets in. Fuck! We can’t afford a computer—even if it was only $500. Dammit! I thought seriously about cancelling the order. I paced. I chewed my finger nails. I sat down. I stood up. Then I decided to tell my husband what I’d done so he’d get pissed and demand I return it, saving me from the pain of making that decision.

    He said to me:

    “Good for you. You need something nice. Can I get a grill?”

    HOLY SHITBALLS.

    5 days later FedEx shows up and I have my new computer. Like a kid waiting for Santa, I threw open the door and clapped my hands. Pathetic. Then Lil’lady and I opened, set it up and we’ve been enjoying it every since.

    And, no, I don’t feel guilty about it anymore.

    Ok, that’s all that I can get into with one longer-than-life, TLDR post.

    Popularity: 9% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. Intentionally spelled that way, grammar/spelling freaks. []
    2. Friday []
    3. yet another post about their lack of respect for FOH employees []
    4. FOH = Front of House []
    5. Most of their furniture is from us, actually. []
    6. The emerald one, of course. []
    7. My addiction to which can be laid squarely at O’Tim’s feet. []
    8. Where I’d signed up for fucking insurance. []
    jennyjinx

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    With Friends Like This…

    I was going to write about a post I saw recently that started an uproar in the “mommyblogger” community. I was going to write how I can’t stand the term “mommyblogger” and why—including the evolution of the term as I’ve seen it happen online. And I was going to explain that I’m against telling anyone what to write on their own blog and will just not read it if it doesn’t interest me. Then I was going to mention that I’m a mother and I blog which should make me a “mommyblogger” but this inclusive term refers to an exclusive club.

    Then I caught site of a Twitter conversation that involved the hashtag #letsfixdinner. I have nothing against that specific hashtag, mind you. I was just paying attention to one blogger who happened to be using it.1

    In response to things Deb on the Rocks was saying I retweeted:

    RT @debontherocks Throw in a little child slave labor 4 ur chocolate, &Stouffers/Nestle adds up 2 #letsfixdinner on the backs of Africa kids

    I think I picked up a follower with that because of the use of that hashtag. Well, I don’t ever blindly follow someone on Twitter2. If I did that I’d be following a bunch of SEO folks and some serious teabagging wingers. So, I checked this new follower and went to her website. She’s proudly blogging for Wal-Mart.

    Now, anyone that has followed my blog knows that I hate Wal-Mart. With a passion. I worked there a number of years ago and learned enough about them to initially dislike them. Then I researched them more and that’s when the hate started. I have nothing good to say about the company or it’s practices. And I can in no way support what they’re doing, not even by following one of their “eleven moms” on Twitter. No way am getting suckered into clicking a link that might lead to a post in support of Satan’s favorite mega mart.

    By the way, I don’t give a shit if any of those bloggers are paid by Wal-Mart or not. I don’t care if they’re doing it for free stuff or out of the goodness of their hearts. I am morally and ethically opposed to Wal-Mart’s business practices and the way they treat their own people.

    Wal Mart doesn’t care about women and specifically doesn’t care about mothers. So why do women bloggers—especially “mommybloggers” support them this way? The reason they’re reaching out to bloggers is so that they can try to change their image, without actually changing their practices. You say “Well, they’ve got good bargains/prices/blah” I say “What’s the real cost of those bargains?”

    What do you mean you don’t know? Or do you mean that you don’t care?

    (This one’s a little long, folks.) Read More »

    Popularity: 13% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. I do have an issue with following a link to a website, looking for a list of sponsors, partners and contributors and finding blank pages. []
    2. Meaning follow back just because they follow me []

    I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

    Why Do You Hate Ohio?

    Ohio is set to receive some of the $8 billion set aside for a high speed transit system. Our portion of the rail line would run through/to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo. Building that line would created thousands of jobs for Ohioans, boosting our tax income and taking the state away from the brink of economic disaster. We are 49th in the nation in economic outlook and jobs. According to the linked article Ohioans are migrating from the state in droves:

    The council’s study, “Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index,” is a guide for economic recovery based on state policies that have a proven impact on growth.

    The study found that net migration from 2000 to 2007 hurt Ohio, where it ranked 5th worst, losing 397,900 people.

    But the vocal minority that lost the last election are screaming mad about a rail line. They want no part of it, no part of the stimulus money. Even though work has stopped on some infrastructure projects because of lack of funds– putting more people out of work — these imbeciles are screeching to stop the money. It’s infuriating.

    We have already lost money here because we were mollycoddling the losers. I spoke to a friend a couple of weeks ago and she told me that her job load (intake worker for the Department of Jobs and Family Services) has increased by about 8% in the last year, but that the state has a hiring freeze and that they are going to be laying off workers at the JFS. So, there are more people applying for (and qualifying for) food stamps, but there are going to be less people to take care of the needs of neglected children, neglected elderly folks and the poor in our county. Because the state is hurting.

    But these fucking teabagging idiots would love to see the state lose more citizens and likely become the laughing stock of the nation1 . Why? Because their guy flushed this country down the toilet and their party lost the election because of it. Now, because Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh say so, they will screech like pissed monkeys at any kind of progress out state makes.

    I have lived in Ohio my entire life2 and have a little bit of state pride. We have some excellent destinations in our state, beautiful landscape, and a rich history. We invented football, for gods’ sakes. But every day there are more foreclosures in the paper, more jobs lost– 834 people applied for a school janitorial position recently. Still, the vocal minority screams and wails and gnashes their teeth that money for jobs is coming to Ohio.

    Instead of all the good workers and intelligent minds leaving this state, I wish these flippin’ hick-ass people would high-tail it down to Texas and help them secede. Then we could build our own state back to what it used to be. Before the idiots realized Fox News was the be-all and end-all and started polluting the newspaper’s comments with their bloviating. Here is an example of someone with their head screwed on straight. And what about the comments? Well, of course, they cry “Who’s going to pay? US! The taxpayers!”

    Fuck off. Those still left working aren’t going to have their taxes raised. But there are plenty of people that have had their taxes cut: those that have lost their jobs. Most would gladly pay a little more in taxes to be able to support themselves and their families again. Most would gladly take the stimulus money and go straight to the bank– to pay past due fucking mortgage. I am deeply ashamed of the people in my state who have nothing better to do than to take away from those that need it most.

    Food pantries are running bare. Charitable donations are down. People are struggling to pay their electric bills (which just went up for most of Ohio). Low-income/free clinics are seeing their patient numbers rise. More people are applying for food stamps. Hospitals are cutting staff. Our schools are losing dollars left and right. And the fucking teabagging brigade just keeps pounding that we don’t need no damned money. Who needs money from the goddamned liberals? Certainly not our state.

    Fuck them all. I hope that the loudest among them fall victim to this economy. I hope that one day they sit at their kitchen table and have to make a choice about whether to buy food for their children or pay the electric bill. Their leaders, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, won’t have to worry about where money for food will be coming from, that’s for sure. But I certainly hope those that screech the loudest that Ohio should reject stimulus money sure find out what it feels like.

    That’s bad, I know. But I’m sick of hearing the talk at work, reading it in my newspaper, listening to my goddamned inlaws spout it. You ask them “What about jobs?” and they just keep repeating the mantra “Who’s going to pay for it?” Who’s paying for anything when they don’t have a job to make the money?3

    We’re all paying for it right the fuck now. When our neighbors can’t make ends meet and our communities are struggling to fill fucking potholes and our churches have nothing else to give to the poor we are all paying the price. I am done listening to this bullshit being spewed wherever I go.

    From now on my stock response will be “Why do you hate Ohio?”

    Popularity: 8% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. Thank the gods we have Texas and Alaska to take the spotlight off of us for a while. []
    2. Save for about a year when I ran away to Florida, but that’s a whole other topic. []
    3. Full Disclosure: My personal income has dropped significantly since the first of the month because of more layoffs in my area. []

    I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

    I Felt Their Pain

    This post was written over the course of a few days. I couldn’t decide where I was going with it and even if I wanted to post it. But here it is.

    I am having a difficult day today. I saw on Twitter that another baby has died. Last week it was little Maddie Spohr, who was 17 months old. And today it’s Thalon Myers, just under 4 months old. I don’t want to link to them, because I don’t want any trackbacks to here to diminish what those families are experiencing1. Each death is a tragedy and each child was a gift. But, selfishly maybe, hearing about little Thalon brought back the pain of my own loss.

    There was a link to a list of suggestions on how to approach and comfort a mother who has just experienced such a loss. The suggestions there are very helpful. If I’d have known about that list I’d have handed it out to every person that came into contact with me after Gabriel died. It seemed that everyone thought it was ok to say things like “You’re still young” and “You can always have another one”.

    I was so utterly angry after Gabriel’s funeral that I’m pretty sure there was nothing anyone could say that would comfort me. Most of what I heard through my fog just caused me more grief. My aunt even told me at one point “You still have that one” (meaning Lil’ Miss). I’m sure she meant well, but I still haven’t gotten over the rage I felt at hearing it. As if Gabriel was just a throw-away and I should be thankful for being able to bear children at least. Pfft.

    But the absolute worst part was hearing the sounds of other children or hearing stories of other children. My child was dead and I couldn’t love him or mother him or do any of the things that other mothers could do with their living children. I didn’t want to hear about them because it just hurt so damned much. And that made me even more angry.

    I was reading Heather Spohr’s account of bringing her Maddie’s ashes home and that brought back all of those memories too. Gabriel’s funeral was on Monday and on Wednesday I went to pick up his box2 and nearly lost my mind. I was bringing my son home in a box. How unfair was that? There was no new baby smells, no crying, no cuddling. Inside the box was a small, Ziplock sized bag that contained what remained of his physical body. Imagine two cups of flour. That’s about the equivalent of what was left of my son. I thought it ironic too that there was a pad lock with numbers holding the bag together3. Who was going to steal him? Did they think I was going to inhale him? After I looked inside that box, my soul left my body, I think, and I was left empty. I couldn’t breathe– literally. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t hear anything besides my own heart exploding. I closed that box and didn’t open it again for 2 years.

    When I went through the comments to both Heather and Shana (Thalon’s mom) I was reminded of what kinds of things I hated hearing while I was deep in my grief. So many people left them heartfelt condolences and didn’t mean to be hurtful, but so many of those comments would have sent me (during my grief) into a spiral.

    To me the worst thing would be to be reminded that someone somewhere has a living child. For example, “I hugged my little one a little tighter today in your child’s honor” is meant to offer comfort, but is hurtful to a newly grieving mother. She can’t hug her child anymore. Her child is gone and the above comment just brought the pain of that realization to the surface.

    Another one was “When my twin toddlers came running to me today…” Again, a new grieving mother can no longer experience whatever it was that those toddlers did. She lost that when she lost her child. That is agony for her. The sentiment of the comment will be realized later, but when she initially sees that her grief and pain will be compounded. It’s inevitable. I don’t think that anyone who has never lost a child can understand why being sentimental about your living child to a newly grieving mother can make things just a little bit worse. Or, if she was like me, a whole lot worse.

    I knew for three months in advance that Gabriel was going to die. I had grief counseling before he was even born. I was warned that people would say things that were meant well but that would hurt me. I was supposed to be prepared. I wasn’t. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a mother to all of the sudden loss her child. For her baby to be there one minute and lost the next. I can’t imagine that, in those situations, those mothers are any better at handling stories of living children than I was.

    I’m lucky in two respects (as compared to other mothers who have lost their children): I knew Gabriel was going to die and he died shortly after birth. So I was prepared and I didn’t get weeks, months or years of bonding time with him. But I still lost my mind when the mortuary came for his little body. I still lost my mind when I saw living children. I still lost my mind when I brought that box of ashes home. But I didn’t have those memories of him to torment me even more. Just my two days with him in the hospital. That didn’t diminish my pain, of course, but I didn’t have the shock and all that goes with having a living child which would, no doubt, add to the struggle for breath. I am heartbroken for Heather and Shana, but can’t offer them comfort because there is none. Not right now.

    I hope that both mothers stay away from their blogs and Twitter for a while. Even when you think you’re strong and you think you understand what is being said, the pain still grips you just a little tighter when living children are mentioned. They have lost that when they lost their babies. They don’t need to be constantly reminded of their loss by well-meaning people who think all children bring comfort and joy. That’s just not so for mothers who have just lost one of their own.

    Two things helped me when I was grieving.

    One was to be part of a support group for grieving parents (as opposed to grieving spouses and such). Being able to talk and to listen to other people that have been where I was brought me a little peace of mind. I learned that what I was feeling was normal and that it was ok to feel all of those negative things I was feeling. I didn’t have to be polite when someone was being thoughtless. I didn’t have to journey alone.

    The second one was gardening. I started by planting a tree as a living memorial for Gabriel. Then I repotted all of the plants I’d received at his funeral. They were just more living, growing memorials to my son4. Then I made flowerbeds so I could display little garden statues and plaques in his honor. I picked perennials so they would keep coming back. I took care of those plants like they were my child. I talked to them, I fed them, I weeded them. I mothered those plants. I was productive and that eased my mind tremendously.

    My advice to anyone wishing to offer comfort to Heather and Shana is to just offer condolences and maybe point them to other mothers who can offer understanding. As much as you want to do so, you just can’t understand their pain unless you’ve traveled their road. There is a tremendous comfort in being heard by someone who has survived their own pain and remember what it felt like.

    And please, though you mean well and are seeking to lessen their pain, don’t mention your own living children. Not now. They will only feel unfairly reminded of their own tragic loss. The wound is so fresh, the heartbreak so recent and the hole so gaping that it will not help them right now.

    Update:
    I just wanted to say that I didn’t intentionally ignore the fathers who have lost their children. They experience it a little differently– and sadly, are expected to be stronger. Their own grief is pushed aside as society, I think, doesn’t expect them to feel pain at the loss of their child. That’s incredibly unfair to the fathers and I in no way want to diminish their grief. I wrote this post from a mother’s perspective and shared my own feelings.

    Sour Grapes has also felt the sting of loss and offers this from the comments:

    The comfort for those mothers (and fathers) will come when they realise you can actually survive such a blow. Your life can go on. But that’s not something to suggest at this stage.

    My advice to friends of the bereaved: don’t try to make it better, or make it less. Try to see that it’s at least as bad as your friend is making it out to be (she’s actually trying to make it easy for you). Never dismiss the sorrow, the rage, the anger, the frustration. If you can’t handle it up close, stay away and send a nice card. You’ll get your chance to be chirpy and upbeat later.

    He’s right. The parents will feel guilty for causing your discomfort while they grieve. They don’t want to burden you with their own pain. I do remember 6 or 7 weeks after Gabriel’s funeral when someone said to me “You’re still crying? Isn’t it time to get over it?” I wasn’t over it. Am still not “over it”, though I’ve learned to let go. Give them time. Mommy and Daddy will need so much time. More than you can possibly understand. And, yes, realize that they are both trying to make this whole experience more easy for you by not letting loose with all of their feelings. Just because the mothers and fathers seem “ok” and “courageous” and “graceful” doesn’t necessarily mean they feel that way.

    memorial to Gabriel.

    Popularity: 25% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. Oops. Too late. []
    2. His ashes were put in a picture box instead of an urn and we put a picture of him in it. []
    3. The state of Ohio requires a serial number for all cremations. []
    4. I still have them all, as a matter of fact, save for the tree which was left behind when we moved. []

    I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

    Meta Twitter

    You know, I love Twitter. I’m officially addicted. Not so much in the following of people, but in reading the streams (and tweeting, of course). So when the big name Progressive blogosphere finally discovered it, I was thrilled. I mean, the #tcot1 were getting pretty numerous and I was thinking “Damn it, the Wingers are getting ahead of us on this one.” But then finally progressive voices started filtering in2.

    So, I started following a couple. I probably shouldn’t have as I should know better by now3 but I did. Then I started looking at their stats. Once again the “leaders” of the Progressive blogosphere are forming a circle jerk. They’re happily penning posts about the wonder that is Twitter (though they’ve just signed on, still they’re “experts”) and giving all kinds of useful information about the service4 and telling people how to go about using it.

    Except for their circle jerk and their unbelievable refusal to recognize anyone outside of that circle. They’re not following anyone not already on the a-list and they’re certainly not acknowledging replies from the “lessers”. Same old shit, different service.

    The a-list #tcot, of course, are different. They don’t mind giving the occasional shout out to the lessers. They recognize their audience and seem to appreciate it (screeching monkeys though they may be). And that’s how Twitter should be. A community wherein the leaders in the niche recognize those that have made them the leaders. Progressive a-listers still suck ass in that respect.

    So, I’ve decided to not follow them. Fuck ‘em. Yeah, I’ve only got 200 followers, so I’m not too important in the scheme of things. But I’d rather follow people who tweet interesting things, funny things and interact with their twitter stream. Honestly, people who have real influence5 like Shaquille O’Neal, Demi Moore and Jimmy Fallon take time out of their busy day to interact, but Progressives can’t? Fine with me. I like the “lessers” better anyway. Way more interesting. And helpful. I don’t need to follow another link to the same story someone else already posted (and the second one from the a-lister is probably given without attribution unless it’s from a member of their circle). Pfft.

    Ok, off my soapbox now. I’ve once again learned my lesson. Politics is fun– but only with people who don’t look on the “lessers” as inconvenient necessities. Pfft.

    Popularity: 5% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. Top Conservatives on Twitter []
    2. A lot during the primary/election season, but… []
    3. Blogroll Amnesty Day, anyone? []
    4. Except one, who was so enthralled that she said Kevin Rose was the founder…pfft. []
    5. And money []

    I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

    Your Karma Hurts Us Too

    Caution: Convoluted Religious Discussion Ahead.
    Hover over the footnote links to see what they say without scrolling to the bottom.

    I’m a believer in Karma. Not the Hindu version, though it’s similar. I say “Karma” because I have no other word for it and people mostly know to what I’m referring when I say it. Anyway, my version is more closely related to the Wiccan “Three Fold Law”. That basically says that whatever energy you put out into the universe is returned to you three times. I don’t agree with the “threefold” part of that, but it’s pretty close. And my belief in Karmic law is the very core of my spiritual beliefs. I have gotten to a point in my life where all of my major life decisions/actions are thought out based on where I sit in the universal justice system. I don’t blame anyone for anything “bad” that may have happened to them1, but there are lessons to be learned throughout the spirit’s journey2.

    My philosophy is simple: Equal justice– good or bad. If you’re good to someone/something, then you will be rewarded. And that’s true in reverse. Not many people can clearly appreciate that this means, to me, pretty much all the good and bad. That the energy (if you want to call it that) balances out one way or the other. And that balance will most definitely include anyone directly in your sphere of influence3 — close family and friends, such as your spouse and children. My belief is that past life adjudications affect whose sphere you’re in during any period of time and a huge combination of different things helps decide the justice you receive (which is not necessarily doled out on a daily basis, mind you).

    I can’t tell you any kind of specifics because those would vary per person and circumstance and the decisions already made during the current lifetime4. Those are the things you (as in your soul) must figure out and learn through your current journey/lesson. The beginning and causes of the justice are not known to your conscious self (current embodiment), but you’ll recognize when you need to make a life altering decision based on what your soul already knows5.

    Anyway, most people don’t really appreciate my philosophy because, well, it doesn’t sit well with them when bad things happen. My mother almost blew a gasket when I told her my thoughts on my son’s death. Until she insisted that Lil’lady was him and then I blew the gasket, but that’s neither here nor there. Most people are more content to think “There’s a reason for everything6” or that “God has a plan7 “. That’s fine and that’s the reason I don’t really share my core beliefs with anyone. I won’t argue about it because I can’t be unconvinced. But I’m not blaming anyone because that’s not my place. My place is to thoroughly examine my own actions in my own life and determine if they should be adjusted and fine tuned and to accept whatever the fates will put upon me. Ah, but that’s not sitting well, is it?

    Now, back to the sphere of influence8 and how your Karma can affect those around you. It’s all well and good when you’ve hit the lottery/won a trip/lived through a surgery, but what about when you’re being punished for a negative action? Of course, since most people don’t believe in this9 they don’t think about this. For instance, TheMan doesn’t believe in Karma. He doesn’t believe in the universe’s justice system and doesn’t think what he does now10 affects the rest of us negatively. He’s wrong.

    My friends know what he did. His actions caused a lot of hurt and traumatized the family. That’s a lot of negative energy thrown into the winds. During that time, I worked on what I could do to better myself, keep the family together and stop the overturning of our little boat. I thought a lot about revenge and how I could make him suffer just as bad as I was. I considered things like poison ivy in the underpants, slicing of the tires, calling of the boss and tipping her off that drug use was happening11. I made lists. Then I set them aside and went on with my life.

    I’d encountered Karma many times in my life. After getting smacked around about a million times, I’m pretty sure I learned my lesson where she is concerned. I knew that I wouldn’t get out from under her justice were I to follow my instincts. Sadly, I was left with only revenge fantasies. Which sort of pulled me through the darkest time. And, by the way, I recognize my own fault in the justice that was meted on me. This is, once again, part of the core of my belief system. It was my job to learn from that and repair whatever damaged I had previously caused.

    At any rate, his “bad” Karma increased significantly and he began to receive the justice for that. Because it’s a very personal thing, he was struck financially12. He was given opportunity to see the error of his ways and to get back on the right side of Karma. He started to at one point. But his penance hadn’t been fully paid when he began to backslide. So, again he was served a blow to the head. I told him he had to make right. He didn’t get it.

    Now his actions are once again negatively affecting us– those in his sphere of influence. He’s been laid off permanently (when before it was just a week), been denied unemployment for 2 weeks, we’ve lost our insurance and denied a job for which he was vying. He’s become dependent on me, which seriously eats at him. My income has been sustaining us and that just kills him. So, we’re at a point where he’s losing faith again and trying to find his “manhood” again. I say to him “Do something good for your community” and make plans for us to volunteer. He doesn’t want to work for free. I gather things up to give to charity. He wants to sell it. I do it anyway– for him. But it doesn’t matter, because he won’t do the good for himself.

    He doesn’t get it. Most people don’t. But the universe will make right what he’s wronged. And he will eventually be forced to learn his lesson13. And I’m struggling to keep up good spirits and not allow myself to become angry, bitter and vengeful because we’ve been through too much14. I want us to do well and get over this. It’s been so very tiresome. I’m ready to move on.

    Recently I had an opportunity to get a job with a local publisher. Well, not really local, but within 20 miles. I would have to drive to work every day, but would get decent pay and benefits. I missed that opportunity because TheMan was worried he wouldn’t be able to get to this new job he was hoping to get. I agreed to wait and see– even though this job would have been perfect for me and great experience toward my degree. Then his job didn’t materialize and mine went to someone else. I’m a little bit angry about that. How much sacrificing am I supposed to do here? By giving up that job, did I help repay his Karmic debt at all?

    I do think I got a slight reward for my sacrifice, but that’s a more personal thing I don’t really want to get into here. I just hope my “luck” isn’t running out and that TheMan starts thinking less of himself and more of his impact on the lives around him.

    Popularity: 8% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. Plenty of “bad” has happened to me, by the way. []
    2. Death does not equal “bad” either, by the way. It’s a natural part of the life cycle. []
    3. Directly affected by your life’s events. []
    4. What? You didn’t know I’m a believer in reincarnation? []
    5. This requires more explaining and I’m not going there with this post. []
    6. What is the reason, then? []
    7. Aren’t you curious what it is? []
    8. I wish I had better names for this stuff. []
    9. Except when they say stuff like “Karma’s a bitch!” []
    10. Or who he did, as the case may be. []
    11. There was none, but the test would have had to be done, right? []
    12. Finances are the most important thing to him. []
    13. Another part that I’m not explaining here. []
    14. Yes, including counseling. Just an FYI []

    I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

    Disenchanted

    I’ve been actively trying to avoid politics. I’ve overdosed on it and it’s really starting to depress me. I figure I’ve got enough on my plate and seeing the same regurgitated outrage over and over again just doesn’t help any of that. So I’ve found other things to keep me entertained.

    But two days ago the Obama administration announced that they would help the Big Three automakers with a “bailout” only after more concessions were made. One of those concessions was that GM CEO Rick Wagoner step down. I don’t give a flying fuck about Wagoner, because he sucks and he’s going to be taken care of no matter what happens. What I care about is that one of the other concessions was that all of the autoworkers were going to be expected to make sacrifices. Specifically I’m talking about this:

    It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. […]

    And so I’d like to speak directly to all those men and women who work in the auto industry or live in the countless communities that depend on it. Many of you have been going through tough times for longer than you’d care to remember. And I will not pretend the tough times are over. I cannot promise you there isn’t more pain to come.[…]

    There are jobs that cannot be saved. There are plants that will not reopen. And there is little I can say that can subdue the anger or ease the frustration of all whose livelihoods hang in the balance because of failures that weren’t theirs.[…]

    That is why today, I am designating a new Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers to cut through red tape and ensure that the full resources of our federal government are leveraged to assist the workers, communities, and regions that rely on our auto industry.

    But don’t worry:

    if you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always. Your warrantee will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it’s ever been. Because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warrantee [sic].[..]

    Third, the IRS is today launching a campaign to alert consumers of a new tax benefit for auto purchases made between February 16th and the end of this year – if you buy a car anytime this year, you may be able to deduct the cost of any sales and excise taxes. This provision could save families hundreds of dollars and lead to as many as 100,000 new car sales.

    You warranty is safe, but the people that built that car are fucked two ways from Sunday. And the people that earned their retirement money, pensions and health care in their old age? Fuck them, too. You see, the contracts are only legally binding if it’s the AIG execs who are getting the millions of dollars in bonuses from their bailout money. They’re the “smart ones” and the brains and blah blah blah. Their contracts matter. The union guys and gals who signed contracts and were due their retirement benefits? They don’t matter.

    I was sick over this the other day. Disen-fucking-chanted, even. My blood boiled. There are more concessions due from the workers on the plant floor and too bad-so sad if they have contracts. They’re blue collar working class folk. They don’t have high flautin’ degrees and high-priced tiny assed condos. They work hard doing physical labor and therefore their homes, families and health don’t matter. At least that’s the message I’ve been seeing.

    Don’t worry, though. They’ll finally qualify for food stamps and they can get Medicare for their kids. Thank the gods SCHIP passed, huh?

    The hypocrisy here is unbelievable. Yes, I know the auto industry needed to revamp a long time ago. Blah fucking blah. I’m talking about the fact that officially nothing can be done about AIG bonus pay outs, but the retired autoworker in Florida– who lives off his pension– is going to find himself without that fucking pension, because everyone has to make concessions. Lazy bastards should have gone to school and insisted that they’re employers go green so long ago. And why the hell didn’t the dumb motherfuckers vote Democratic all these years?

    These are some of the messages I’ve been seeing from the “Progressive” community. Instead of wondering why the low-man on the totem pole is getting the shaft1 and why those people have to make more concessions2 they are blaming these people for staying in these jobs, for not being smart enough to get a higher education and, OMG! getting paid a decent wage when other people– who are way smarter — aren’t making that kind of money.

    This is just one example of “Progressive” empathy for the screwing the blue collar workers have to endure:

    Not going along with this (1+ / 1-)

    Recommended by:
    AmericanRiverCanyon
    Hidden by:
    happy camper

    I’m all for Unions, but 30-40 per hour in the midwest with just a high school diploma is a joke.

    The average teacher in NY with 6 years of college education starts at a 50K/year salary and wont dream of owning a home until 10+ years into their career if they’re lucky (or if they have supplemental income).

    The average UAW worker is making about 40 dollars an hour with no further education and pulling down around 70-80k a year.

    It’s no wonder our education system is a joke, meanwhile we have to listen to the boohooing about the unions conceding oh so much. Spare me.

    by PooNani on Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 11:27:28 AM EDT

    Now, I’ll go on to say that most of the other comments in that thread are telling this particular person to shut the fuck up. But there are plenty of other comments that say something similar (though probably not so heavy handed and no, I’m not going to copy them all). What pissed me off is that so many “Progressives” are blaming the workers for this shit. They’re telling them to “buck up” and deal. To “retrain”. How the fuck does a 45 year-old person, who’s worked in the same plant for 20 years, retrain? And what happens to their homes and families in the meantime?

    SACRIFICE!! But not if you’re working on Wall Street. Get used to a lower quality of life! But not if you’re uber-smart with numbers and can make yourself a millionaire at someone else’s expense.

    These folks– and, indeed, the people that are in their sphere of influence who will also “feel the pain”– have probably lost their life savings3 and have given up many of their benefits that people who aren’t in unions seem so jealous of. They’ve taken voluntary pay cuts. They haven’t stopped working just as hard as they were working before.

    And let me tell you something: Working in a fucking factory is hard goddamned work. It’s not standing around with a fucking broom waiting for someone to give you specific instructions on how to sweep it. That’s rightwing propaganda and I’m not hearing that shit. 10-12 hour days of back breaking fucking work is worth what these folks were getting. They were the lucky ones. They got decent pay for the crap they put up with, because they were union. And they deserve their benefits, their retirement and the homes they bought with their hard-earned savings. They don’t deserve to lose it while their execs– and AIG execs — get to walk away with their nice houses and pretty savings portfolios. Hypocrisy.

    In Ohio we value the hard work the guys on the floor do. Maybe we should push harder for a fancy-schmancy college education4 but many people in this area (and in Michigan) are content to work with their hands and in these positions. There is nothing wrong with that. But “progressive” wisdom is that they brought this on themselves because they chose that work5 and because they just aren’t that smart. Fuck them and their contracts.

    I’m not even sure if I would have been as god-awful pissed as I was (and am again) if I hadn’t seen Progressives standing behind Obama to such an extent as to tell their fellow Progressives6 to buck up and shut up. Quit whining when you’re watching your world fall out from under you? Fuck that noise.

    When these folks lose their livelihood, it’s not going to just be the plants that are affected. It’s going to be the neighborhood stores and restaurants, the tax base, the entire. That unemployment and poverty is going to stretch further than just 42,000 people (or so). The few remaining local businesses are going to see a drastic decline in revenue, the cities are going to lose tax money, homes are going to go into foreclosure and that many more people are going to become dependent on government assistance. There will be no other jobs to find when this happens.

    But, hey! Those of us living here in the Rust Belt will just buck up and become innovative. After we lose our incomes, our homes and our healthcare. No, we have no reason to be whining and gnashing our teeth. We have no reason to be angry. We were prosperous while stupid, dontcha know. Our potholes aren’t getting filled, our food pantries aren’t getting filled and our cost of living is going through the roof. But hey! We brought it on ourselves. Right?78

    FUCK that noise.

    Popularity: 5% [?]


    Sphere: Related Content

    1. Wagoner is leaving with a lovely severance package– part of his contract []
    2. Why didn’t Wagoner have to leave without his goddamned bonus? []
    3. If they did the “smart” thing and invested []
    4. Full disclosure: I’m a computer programmer in training at the local university. []
    5. As if there was ever a lot of choices inside of our states. []
    6. Those of us who live in the Rust Belt and who will be directly affected by these “concessions” []
    7. My family is lucky for now. I have no idea what our situation will be in a few months. We’re not union. But we empathize with those that are immediately affected. []
    8. Who cares about the working class as long as we can still get cheap shit from China, anyway? []

    I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.