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Life After Layoffs
(Image: lemonademovie.com)

(Image: lemonademovie.com)

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Conan O’Brien is losing his job at “The Tonight Show” — and walking away with $30 million dollars to ease the pain.

For millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in the Great Recession, there’s no such golden parachute. They’re laid off, out of work, and have to scramble.

A new documentary shows one group of workers scrambling to reinvent themselves after the axe falls. Looking out at the rough economy and into themselves. Taking lemons and trying to make lemonade.

It may be your story, too. This hour, On Point: reinventing careers, reinventing yourself, after the layoff.


Erik Proulx, writer and producer of the documentary “Lemonade.” After being laid off from his job as an advertising copywriter in the fall of 2008, he created a job-search site for recently unemployed advertising professionals called Please Feed The Animals.

Michelle Pfennighaus was laid off from her advertising job in March 2008 and is featured in “Lemonade.” She went on to establish her own business, Find Your Balance, offering holistic health counseling and yoga instruction.

Kevin Kearns also appears as one of the characters in “Lemonade.” He used to work full-time as a freelance advertising professional. When work slowed to a trickle in recent years, he gave up and became an artist. He now earns almost six figures selling his paintings in New York.

Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of The Reinvention Institute, which helps people find new careers and lives. She teaches classes, runs a career reinvention boot camp, and does group coaching around the country. She’s author of “The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention: Essential Survival Skills for Any Economy.”

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  • Brett

    After over 20 years (in 2001) working for a governmental agency, our department was downsized and many of the positions were eliminated, including mine, and services were farmed out to private agencies. I had just bought a second house as an investment property and didn’t have much in the way of savings beyond my retirement accounts and stocks. I was offered a job with the same private agency that took over some of my old agency’s services, but I decided to “drop out” and run a small landscaping business, give music lessons, gig as a musician, and work part time (to cover slow periods in the other endeavors) as a mental health, group home counselor. In wearing three of my four hats, I work for myself, and I wouldn’t want to go back to working for “the man” full-time, ever!

    I sold the investment home in late 2004 to get my mortgage payments and property taxes down to a reasonable sum and now practice living very frugally (the health care/insurance issue is about the only problem area in the financial management of my “drop out” life). I do have to stay on my toes to keep everything together with a comfortable cash flow and in adding to my “retirement.”

    I will probably have to work for the rest of my life in some capacity, and I really focus on wellness, happiness and fulfillment as ways to protect me against gravity taking its toll, as it were.

    I have managed to sustain “dropping out” for nine years now.

  • cory

    Someday technology will dictate that very few of us will need to “work”. If I live to see that day I will be fascinated to see how humanity adjusts to the reality that many people will not have “jobs”.

    To a degree this has already begun. As I read about the guests, I see a common thread. Artist… Yoga instructor… web site creator. These people have imaginary jobs. They build nothing in the old sense. I’m not being critical… good for them in fact. It will be an important evolutionary step for humanity when we figure this out.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Brett lists skills (landscaping, musician, a certain ease in dealing with those with mental health issues) as well as an unusual level of resources (an “extra” house, sold at a good point, plus years of experience with both the good and the bad of being in an organization). Skills and resources.
    People laid off or otherwise dislodged can (and often must) use the “retirement fund” to launch a career that will extend into a future that is changing so fast. Vision and risk.
    The Career world seeks to create Large Employers (Green Economy) and “place” people, with Benefits.
    Like Brett, I started my own business, actually did it half time in the 1980s before going full-time in the l990s. There are no more days off, no more evenings off. One gags over too much work when one is not gagging over too little. Old technologies become irreplaceable, and used replacement pieces come along with a bedbug swimming around in the carton. One’s sort of busienss insurance, there being no “give” in time or $$, is duplicate equipment. And someone tries to replace you with Australians; would you quality-check their work. Then someone tries to buy you out.
    The business world is geered for either established professions or larger-scale endeavors. Large-scale doesn’t work best in plenty of places where skills and experience count for a lot.
    That’s why Obama-nomics aren’t helping a whole lot. This isn’t a problem of 30 million. It is often a problem of one.
    I would be doing a startup backyard farm if I were younger and had good land and know-how. I think a lot of lone startups, very sensitive to local needs, take a lot of patience, with years learning the skills, creating the niche, and then you’re like the I-beam in your particular community.
    If the Career Counselor could have seen the match of skills and needs, the niche would be taken; it would have become an Industry. The idea is to Make It Big. “Little” endeavors have no advantages of scale, no benefits, no promise.
    Anyone with any subsidies (affordable housing, health care subsidized on the kind of sliding scale Congress envisions, Food stamps) can kiss them goodbye. The laws that provide those also punish you monetarily for getting ahead. Oh, you play piano at nursing homes? All of a sudden, you somehow don’t want to do that, once you get the housing of your own outside your daughter’s house. You have secretarial skills? All of a sudden, you are allergic to having to receive any income reports that the IRS might see. You want to learn a new skill? No, maybe not. It might pay. So you get depressed.
    That’s for starters. Once you let go of (or are let go) the official job once underpinning the personal venture, you look for the cramped woodshed to live in for a long, long time. No, you don’t want to go back. You mainly don’t want to be “warehoused” by Democratic programs. That is the way you lose in this game. You can live on antidepressants, get neat.
    I think everyone knows that actors start their careers by waiting tables, and artists, but right now it seems about 15 percent of us need to be “waiting tables” while we vision the future and try to get there.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    What is happening now to millions of middle class Americans is old news to me. I’ve been doing this so-called “recovery” gig ever since 1992, getting caught up in the earlier California depression … finding myself unemployed at age 55 with the usual complement of debt obligations including a mortgage (with Countrywide, of course) … getting laid off from the aerospace industry meltdown, immediately preceded by the Charles Keating Savings & Loan debacle. It turned out to be the depression from which I never fully recovered, and unfortunately–speaking from experience–I can predict the future for most of those who today have no idea what they will be doing tomorrow.

    I planned for my retirement–not this. Not the situation I’m in. Somewhere up on Wall Street the “players” are convinced that a boom and bust economy is simply the way things are. Get used to it. Well, Mr. Wall Streeter, I’ll be waiting for a retraction in the book your write describing exactly what it was like to go from American dream to American nightmare in 22 short months.

  • http://craftmother.blogspot.com/ Nakia

    I didn’t get laid off, but after a difficult divorce while pregnant, I had to start all over again, but with a baby on the way. Starting a business isn’t easy, but it’s just about all I could do to bring in money while caring for a baby.

  • Jon Allen

    I am one of the lucky few who has a big enough house and a big enough pile of savings to live comfortably without additional income. As a result, since my layoff last January I have had a year of volunteering for the NPOs that I’ve always helped out, just more of it. When I am shelving books at my local library’s book sale, I am meeting and friending all sorts of really cool, well read people. And when I am loading bicycles for a shipment to other hemispheres, likewise. The satisfaction afforded by these highly productive volunteer efforts is all I need to maintain my sense of well being.

  • Dennis Kerr

    The economy that Ronald Reagan inherited from previous administrations was decentralized enough to make a difference in the struggle against Communism.

    Since then, Reagan and all the presidents since then have consistently centralized our economy around imported goods and fuel.

    In the name of free trade, and getting the US government out of the marketplace, we have invited the Chinese government to control our market.

    When I was a small child, most of the toys at Christmas were made in Japan. Then it was Korea. But Japan and Korea are our friends. They allow workers to vote and to have a day off once a week. We moved all of our jobs away from our neighbors at home, and away from our friends overseas, to those who want to deny political and religious freedom.

    I don’t personally know anybody who sells things at Wal-mart because we don’t have personal connections with the Communist party. But the Walton family does have those full relationships as the top importer from China. So in the name of capitalism, they are the poster children for communism.

    In our era, this makes capitalism AND communism both look really bad.

  • Tom


    As a casualty of an earlier round of layoffs at AIG, when on an overseas posting, I fell back on basic skills learned in college and high school, writing and languages. As a result, for the last 15 years, I have been working out of a small garden office in a house we moved to in the south of France where I have developed a small business working with my own clients of publicly traded companies. I would have a difficult time going back even though the hours are long. I am my own boss and can share meals with my children every day, while most of my former colleagues and golden boys of AIG have long since disappeared from the scene.

  • Chris

    After being laid off for a full year starting in Oct 08, I finally landed a job in Oct 09 and am thrilled to be back to work at a good company who treat me much better than my old company,has decent benefits & starting pay(but no health ins),and has real growth potential. If not for MA UI, we would not have made it, but I valued the time I spent home with my 2 kids and the lesson of living with less. We actually came out of my lay-off in better financial shape, although I know this is not the case for most. Our situation was better because we did not have excessive debt and don’t try to “keep up with the Jones”. Those who live on credit do not fair as well because of that very reason.

  • Deb

    Hi Tom-
    I have recently been handed the “gift” of unemployment — during which I am finally fulfilling a life-long dream to start my own textile design company.

    It has been my experience, as a graphic designer laid off twice within the last eight years due to “downsizing” and “outsourcing”, that most managers don’t often know how to manage and lead creative people to satisfactory results. Often the creative people with “outside of the box” thinking (and maybe somewhat quirky work-habits) are the first ones to go. I’m interested to know if that has been the experience of your guests?

  • anthony

    I was second most senior in the company for designers, I have a son with down syndrome who needs heart medication to keep his heart in check, and to well… live.

    I was laid off, unceremoniously, and lost all insurance, while junior staff remained.

    It was easily the scariest moment of my life.

    I was fortunate in that a client offered me a job almost immediately, but the whole situation left me feeling betrayed and sick to my stomach.

  • http://ncpr stillin

    Here’s how my husband, who has been kicked out of our home, dealt with being laid off. He, by the way, hid money, lied about money, was cheap with money, which is part of what got him out of the house in the first place. He got himself a real skaaaaanky girlfriend, who ia also laid off. He moved in with her. They spend their unemployment in the bars around town. Her layoff included a buy out from General Motors so they are enjoying their lemonade! They shop at the mall. She happily covers most of his bills. He owes me over 90,000 in BACK CHILD SUPPORT ARREARS. He tools around in his bmw around bar to bar. His last job netted him 3,000 a week take home, AFTER TAXES, as a superintendent on the new world trade center site in NYC. I don’t expect to ever get a cent of it, but I AM WORKING.

  • John

    This mass unemployment is a systemic failure not an opportunity for individual growth. Most people end up worse off, not as holistic heath coaches and yoga gurus.

  • http://www.kisu.org Jerry

    I’ve been laid off twice in the world of commercial radio. The first time my boss walked into my office after we had a manager’s meeting and told me he couldn’t afford me anymore, that I had two weeks notice, and that I could use station phones, typewriters and copy machines to look for other work if I wanted. I had six kids, and the toughest part was telling my wife. It was a tremendously stressful year before I got my old job back (don’t ask!). My boss was really a cutthroat in the business world…few people skills.
    The second time came right after the station I was at was sold, and the PD, who had been there for about four months, almost cried when he informed me he had to let me go (along with the other three highest paid staffers at the station), and he gave me six months severance (a normal paycheck every two weeks for the next six months).
    Today I’m the general manager of a public radio station, thankful that working in public radio has helped me re-acquire the love for broadcasting that drove me every day early in my career.
    Bottom line? I’m convinced that if you have the right skills, and perservere, something good will happen. The ups and downs are part of life, and to expect it all to be “ups” is unrealistic. I also understand that no one OWES me a job. It’s my responsibility to earn what I get.

  • steven

    I have been starting new companies since 1993 (when it was very unfashionable). During that time I have created over 200 high paying US jobs, laid off many very close friends and been laid off myself. My advice is, have several months of cash in the bank (assuming you will get laid off, because it is becoming the norm, not the exception) and be ready/willing to completely reinvent yourself. I am on my third complete career reinvention in less than 15 years; however, without some cash cushion, you can’t easily reinvent yourself. Don’t get down. Reinventing yourself is tough and scary, but trust me you feel alive everyday. Besides, regardless of what career and/or company you work for now (small or large), it is unlikely you will spend your entire career there until retirement there. Think ahead. Change is good!

  • Chris

    During the downturn in 2000-2002, I was the middle manager across the desk delivering this terrible news to several dozen people, over several gut-wrenching rounds of layoffs. To anyone who has been laid off then or now, please know those decisions are not easy, and are not made cold-heartedly and unsympathetically. Frequently, the person delivering the news went to bat for you but higher ups had the final say. I went to the mat for each of the people I was forced to lay off, many of whom I had hired and cared for personally. No joy here pulling the rug out from underneath people you work with, and know have young families, student loans, a new home, etc.

    The stress of those layoffs led to my own departure from the company and re-invention. I have kept in touch with many of my former staff, and am happy to see the new directions their lives have taken. Good luck to all who are in the throes of this process.

  • Doug Wysockey-Johnson

    Check out Make a Living Have a Life Groups, offered through Lumunos.org. They help people do the inner work of job transition. You can’t go after what you want if you don’t know what you want, and this group is great at helping people know themselves.

  • http://www.pauling.us Gene

    Volunteering to organize meetings & using your skill set to help students around the world

    Networking for new skills

    Planting seeds for next generations

  • Tim

    I was laid off over a year ago after 16 years with a successful career with the same company. I knew that I felt “stuck” and never could see myself lasting until retirement there. I live in a rural area with few prospects in my field. I did a short stint at underemployment which felt even worse than being unemployed.

    I have to sell my house and move on. I made a vow to remake myself, but really don’t know how to get into first gear with it. I know that this change will eventually lead to something good, but can’t see how to get going.

  • http://vangoghtheplay.com JOSEPH KAKNES

    after 20 years in the mortgage business, my company closed. My passion for painting took over. Two years ago, I left this country to visit my brother in Costa Rica and have been here ever since. It is paradise for an out door impressionist! I now have a gallery in Islita, on the pacific coast, wrote the play, Van Gogh (vangoghtheplay.com) and have never been happier in my life.
    Follow your Bliss!

    check out my life in Costa Rica on Facebook.

    joe kaknes

  • LizNola

    I was a professor when Hurricane Katrina hit. After some slights of hand our department was eliminated and I was unemployed in a ruined house and little money to rebuild. I got a call from a former colleague who offered me a job that was not my expertise. To make a long story short, I got work doing something that I learned in school but never applied before. It was challenging. After a year I went back to school and got another degree at night and over weekends.

    So now I have many new skills. It is still not my favorite job, but I have carved out a place where I can be creative with it. And my fellow workers, all who were hit by Katrina, are exceptional. Everyday there is a door that opens with new opportunities. But I think making the task of developing new skills everytime you can is important so you have choices.

    It was lemonade getting sacked once and lemonade for a job that was not really my liking but you can make things go your way if you work on it.

    I am grateful.

  • http://www.buddhaspillow.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    I think the topic and presenters are valuable. To inspire hope in those who has been dumped by corporate America for its purposes is a good thing. I add one caveat:

    Corporate America is also trying to eliminate the social security network which provides health care insurance and retirement benefits. I hear young and healthy voices here. However, these young and healthy entrepreneurs will inevitably become old and eventually become infirm. I would hope they would support the tax policies and social network policies in government which will enable their creativity to continue despite illness and old age.

  • http://www.unlockthehiddenjobmarket.com Duncan Mathison

    Amen to the the comment about making sure your reinvention has to take into account basic needs – even if you decide to change the needs by unloading expenses.

    A lot of people mess up reinvention by taking a wild shot at a new profession without really investigating the new career. Take time to meet people that are doing the work you want to do. Do you like the people, can you imagine doing the day-to-day work?

    The good news is that reinvention is possible when it is also a must. No reason to stay stuck in a lifetime profession! And no reason to stay stuck at the same old lame income level – every career change I have done has been motivated by earning more money!

  • Barbara Costa

    A question for the filmmaker — I’m wondering how he funded the film, did he find outside funding sources? Did he hire a crew, or shoot and edit on his own? Great subject!

  • lisa

    I was laid off twice in 2001&’02 from one of the internet consultancies. We were thankfully debt free, and had some cash saved. I found no work for almost a year, eventually relocating my family to keep money coming in. I don’t believe in the personal reinvention “everything will be ok” myth that people put forwarded at these times – many of our friends lost all of their savings, houses, and their credit was destroyed. We can’t all be successful in non-vocations. selling our books, making our movies, and teaching yoga. We can, however, learn new skills, keep working hard, and get new and better jobs.

  • http://makeupbybrea.com Brea

    After being a teacher for 6 years,I had a really bad experience and decided I needed to step away from the classroom for awhile. I had gone to esthetics school so I decided to do something in that field. I got a job at a salon spa and was doing facials and waxing and some makeup, but the work environment wasn’t a good match for me so I put in my notice and right before my two weeks was up, I was laid off. Due to the circumstances, I was able to receive unemployment for the next few months. During this time, rather than finding a job at another spa or another teaching job, I started my own business doing makeup for weddings. Since 2008, Makeup by Brea has done makeup for over 80 brides in the Boston area and love my job. I would never have started it without with the push of a lay off and looking back I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

  • cindy

    As to the callers who were fortunate enough to have wealthy relatives to subsidize or employ them, what about people who are not so fortunate? For them, the cup is not so full.

  • Tim

    It’s all well and good to think we can go off and become artists, authors and chefs. Some of us have families, children and health insurance to try and keep up with. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure that allows little time to dream of what we want to really do to make us feel good about our lives.

  • Keith Bozek

    Growing up the child of a miner and watching the unravelling of the steel industry, I saw frequent layoffs and watched people have to move and reinvent themselves nearly 30 years ago. Not sure why everyone thinks this is new. I think the impact to the steel industry in terms of a populace was far worse yet life went on.

  • Bonnie Day

    How are people finding affordable health insurance when going out on their own? That seems to be a black hole in this country. Thoughts welcomed!

    • CG

      Hi Bonnie -

      My husband and I are self employed.  It all depends on where you are in the country. 

      In Illinois where we live you can apply to individual health insurance, and if you are healthy it is pretty cheap (my husband, daughter and son get their insurance for about $250 a month).

      For me, since I am uninsurable, I go through ICHIP.  It is a program set up by president Clinton.  It is $357 / mo.


  • Char

    Reinventing ourselves to get by and cope after what happened to our economy is all good and fine. But it’s imperative for each and every one of us to understand WHY it happened because it will happen again and again. Understanding our monetary system is something that every American has a duty to learn. Sites like monetaryreform.com are very informative and eye opening.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez


    I feel you but you will prevail because the lord is with you. Keep you heads up. prove to the world that a single mother can and will survive.

    My mother worked so hard to feed me.
    she worked 12 hours a day. I rarely see her probably every weekend or even months while I was being taking care of by her friends or relatives.

    I grew up a descent person with respect to poor people who were more unfortunate than me.

    I treat them as my King and Queen for they reminded me of the son of god who was born in a barn.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    I will never forgive the People who did this great recession, especially Wall Street or the Financial world. The evil Madoff,AIG,Lehman Bros etc etc.
    (When AIG Philippines went down it took with them millions of college saving funds from poor Filipino families)yes it was global.

    I can’t understand why the struggling Americans and Filipinos has always have to suffer while the rich benefited from our demise. Why is it that the POOR always have to suffer?

    But one thing that never suffer is our Emotional Intelligence.
    Without EQ our lives will be more devastating but our emotionnal intelligence is far more greater than this great recession.

    We shall rise up again for the better not for worst but I hope and wish that 10% unemployment rate will NOT jump to 12% this year.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    What is $100.00 worth nowadays.

    1. $25.00 to fix my flat tire.
    2. $25.00 for groceries


    3. $25.00 for regular gasoline (almost a full tank but not quite)
    4. $25.00 for
    a Value meal – fries,double mcdouble and coke and kid’s meal for my 6 yr old daughter.
    tolls $1.50 each on Mass Pike, 50 cent to help a beggar in Mass Ave and some change for myself.

    That’my hundred buck today.

  • Frank the Underemployed Professional

    When your government allows middle class jobs, both blue collar and college-education-requiring knowledge-based jobs, to be sent overseas…

    When your government allows businesses to import foreigners on H-1B and L-1 visas to displace Americans from formerly middle class, often college-education-requiring knowledge-based jobs…

    When your government allows millions of poor immigrants, both legal and illegal, to enter the country and deflate wages and displace people from formerly decent working class jobs such as construction and meat-packing…

    …It shouldn’t come as any surprise that your nation’s economy will enter a downward spiral as your society engages in a “race to the bottom”.

    Instead, of course, commentators try to blame the new depression on a banking calamity and the bursting of the housing bubble. In reality, what we are experiencing is not merely a temporary cyclic downturn but rather a more permanent downturn and a structural change to our nation’s economy.

    The new depression has only just begun and the United States will transform itself into an overpopulated, impoverished third world country.

  • Brett

    “I think everyone knows that actors start their careers by waiting tables, and artists, but right now it seems about 15 percent of us need to be “waiting tables” while we vision the future and try to get there.” -Ellen Dibble

    This is so true. And, I would add that pride is found in doing a good job, not in having a certain position. The first year I “dropped out” I took music gigs in small dives for a % of the door/tips (still do sometimes); I did yard clean-up when there weren’t any customers who wanted traditional Japanese Zen gardens installed; I taught music students who didn’t care about learning to play music; I painted a few houses, etc. Not only did it keep the money flowing, but it allowed me to try things (keeping books, working with customers, etc.) on for size. It also got me into shape for when my niche finally did start to come into its own, and by then I was starting to be known as someone who had been around and had a customer base, and it began to feed itself.

    My advertising is very low-tech; my overhead is small…I even employ a helper or two in the warmer spring, summer and fall months, or if I have a large job, in my landscape business. This is a slower time of the year for me, but I still work more than I used to as a bureaucrat. I work six days a week normally and often seven days a week from March-November, but with some flexibility. That is limited somewhat by my 20-hr a week job as a group home counselor, which is mostly on Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoons and evenings.

    Although I work harder, with longer hours and less (sure thing) security than I used to, I don’t feel like it is harder. The downside to all of this is the lack of safety net if I get sick. My balanced and cherished life could come undone in a relatively brief period of time…and that is scary!!! I also am not getting any younger!!!

  • Steve

    Frank, the Underemployed Professional, hit the nail on the head. Just one example of this, 15 years ago we purchased a refrigerator. It came with a 10 year warranty and was made in the USA. 5 years ago we purchased the same type of refrigerator, made in Mexico, but with a 5 year warranty. The exact same model today cost 125% more, is still made in Mexico, and now has a 1 year warranty. And Wal Mart, the Shopping Channels, etc. can’t push more junk made in China onto us fast enough. My wife and I are in our 60′s and have numerous friends our age. We ALL feel as Frank does, that the American “dream” is dying.

  • Peter Nelson

    This is so true. And, I would add that pride is found in doing a good job, not in having a certain position.

    OK, then in which one is health insurance found?

  • Peter Nelson

    When your government allows businesses to import foreigners on H-1B and L-1 visas to displace Americans from formerly middle class, often college-education-requiring knowledge-based jobs…

    We’ve had this discussion already in other threads – Until I was laid off last year I worked for years as a design engineer for a well-known multinational high tech company. Part of my job involved reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates for high-end engineering and science (PhD-level) positions. We could not find qualified Americans for many positions. We had projects that had to be put on hold while we tried to staff up! In a fast-moving technology industry this put us at a distinct disadvantage to our (often foreign) competitors.

    The future is all about science and technology and to be competitive US companies need access to the very best talent in the world. If we can’t get enough of it in the US then what exactly should we do? You ducked this question in the other thread – please answer it now.

    US employers all over the country are faced with the same dilemma – hire a few H1B workers to keep the US R&D operation functioning or shut down the WHOLE operation and move R&D to India.

    Instead of whining, tell us a solution that will allow US employers to remain competitive in an intensely competitive world market.

    • Bob

      Isn’t there a law of supply and demand?  Sounds to me that to increase the supply you increase the incentive (pay), which in the short term gets you a bigger slice of the available supply.  This is called competition, which many employers choose to bypass by going outside the market.

      Sooner or later low wage markets will find ways to market directly to consumers too.  I suppose only then will the well heeled corporate lobbies cry unfair and demand futher protection for themselves.

  • Stacked

    Most workers today have always been underpaid, under insured, and under employed. They do not have any savings at all. They’ve never made enough to do so, and they don’t live well either. They’ve got maybe a couple of grand in a savings account, no stocks, no bonds, no hard assets, save a small home and a car that are themselves financed. When they lose their jobs, they have about 30 days at best of reserves.

    People giving advice here mostly have had years of stable, well paying employment to learn, grow, and save something with before getting the boot. You people are the exception. The majority out there live paycheck to paycheck, and they have never splurged much if at all. What do you tell these people? They are the majority! They have perhaps a tiny bit of family help, any government services, and maybe 30 days of money.

    So, lets play Devil’s Advocate and pretend that this is the reality of all these “Don’t be pessimistic; Advice Givers.” How does one rub two fresh sticks together and come up with fire hot-shots? How? Luck. That’s what you’re all side-stepping. You need some “luck.” Otherwise, you’re pretty well scr*wed.

    There is an old saying: “It is impossible to sleep when the neighbors are hungry.” Think about that one deeply. It’s not about the “charity” one should do. It’s about them eating you, and you’re “Buck Up Buttercup” Advice. It’s got more calories than your “Positive Attitudes.”

  • IT Guy

    I agree with both Stacked and Peter Nelson’s comment!

    Being myself an IT worker, I do see most of the qualified (i.e. eligible people either at the entry level or mid level) NOT from USA, and I’m not quite sure why is it so?

    Initially, even I was under the impression that we require more H1B and L1 people because our Technology Sector is GROWING EXPONENTIALLY and our domestic population of ~300 million people ARE NOT ABLE TO MEET the DEMAND (ie, we already exhausted our domestic eligible/qualified people) BUT to my utter dismay, I was wrong (or so do I think).

    Now when I sit back and have a look, I guess a majority of US new generation is busy with keeping themselves “happy” (aka being “cool”) not being aware of the reality that ground beneath them is moving, and moving very very fast.

    Secondly, there is one more aspect to it, if we are going to get even a BS in Math/Science at the cost of around 100K then, I guess our International competitors are much ahead of us who are dumping Math/Science graduates at the rate of may be a 10 thousand dollars.

    I hope I’m wrong, very very wrong.

  • Brett

    “‘I would add that pride is found in doing a good job, not in having a certain position.’” -Brett

    “OK, then in which one is health insurance found?” -Peter Nelson

    Oops, sorry…forgot to include citations and peer-reviewed empirical evidence… :-)

    Well, if you had read my comments from earlier today, you would understand what I was saying. My point is that if one is trying to start some endeavors that are defined outside the box/starting a small business after a long life of being entrenched in one career, self respect has to be redefined and put into a perspective (especially if one needs to keep cash flowing), and this can actually open up new perspectives, i.e., sometimes odd jobs and part time work doing anything can keep one going while one is developing one’s niche and can serve to enhance one’s experiences and perspective. Not working at all while waiting for jobs to open up in one’s career/waiting for the next fully formed idea to drop into one’s lap can become financial, emotional and spiritual suicide.

    I’ve dropped out, and I plan to stay dropped out. It is healthier for me, yet I can only speak to my own situation (and my own situation was only what I was commenting about). As “IT Guy” suggests, I am not living my life to prove my “coolness,” nor am I going to put my personal happiness in quotation marks.

    Of course, health care coverage is a concern for myself as it is for most folks. I think one of the major flaws in the health care system is that decent, affordable health insurance is only reasonably accessible through one’s employer. I have lousy insurance and two chronic, life-long conditions, to boot! Not to mention I’m 55…you don’t remember?! Anyway, sometimes spending one’s time trying to think of the best ways to solve the world’s problems is less important than solving one’s own problems.

    My first year after leaving my career was pretty rough, yet I was in fairly good shape financially and in terms of my health (a luxury some don’t have). I spent a lot of time, though, developing contacts and support systems that would enhance my vision of “dropping out” of a scripted life. It was a bit scary (and at times felt like I had lost my marbles), but I kept building a clientele of music students, building and establishing relationships with venues for regular music gigs, developing relationships with other musicians, landscapers and designers, closely following/observing trends in landscaping and in local needs for services, establishing relationships with nurseries, etc.

    I also spent a lot of time configuring my different projects in ways that fit in with my desire to keep what I do in line with my beliefs, e.g., using sustainable gardening techniques, organic materials, and I rarely use powered tools in my work beyond my work truck; teaching music in ethical ways that give the student proper instruction (a lot of teachers don’t maximize student skill development through standardized methodology, nor do they create lessons that accommodate learning styles, as that will undermine profits); not seeking out music venues where venue owners are known to rip off musicians, etc.

    I sold an investment property in 2004 at quite a profit (bought the property in 2001), made the house I live in more energy efficient, put some money back into my money-making endeavors and put the rest into my retirement/investment accounts, and so on. This has helped a lot, as well as having spent most of the ’80′s and ’90′s saving, as well as buying and selling some real estate properties.

    I know what I have done would not be realistic for everyone, but it was right for me. I’ll not apologize for the fulfillment of my so-called vision and success of “dropping out.” I can empathize with others not in the same unique position as I, though. Also, anything can happen, and I, too, could be back to where I started. It is impossible to take the gamble completely out of life, at least as I find it.

    Health insurance/care needs loom large in the equation when a person is laid off from a job. Even more fundamentally can be housing, food, clothing…and, as we age, there’s thinking about that time when we might not be able to work anymore…

    But, Peter, there have been many programs from “On Point” about health care reform, and I am sure there will be many more…so, lots of future opportunities to comment about health insurance, and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of good, sound ideas.

  • http://lemonademovie.com Erik Proulx

    A reply to Barbara Costa:

    We made Lemonade for almost zero dollars. I put a couple of people up in a hotel for a couple of nights, and I had to buy lunch for the crew, but everything else was donated. How? Twitter, my blog (Please Feed The Animals), and Facebook. As soon as I announced on those places that I was making this film, resources found me…Including Picture Park, which was the production company, and VirginAmerica, which sponsored the travel to and from Los Angeles. I’m not saying this is typical, but I am saying that if your idea is good enough and you are passionate enough to pursue it, doors open that you may never have known were there.

  • Janet

    I found the most difficult problem in finding a new job is the long process of hiring. Even if you are qualified, it’s still takes forever.

  • Stacked

    Less than 10 years ago, it took about 3 weeks to find a job. Then it was a Resume, and 2 interviews with maybe 2 interviewers, sigh on the dotted line, something on the order of mid 5 figures, full insurance, plus you could expect a few other “perks” and a Christmas Bonus, and matching funds to double matching funds for a 401K. That was AVERAGE. It’s only been 10 years, and you’re telling me we can’t do that anymore? BULL-SH…! Some people call them “Challenges.” They aren’t “challenges.” They are “Pains in the A..!” All I’m saying is that until companies in this nation are AFRAID of not hiring, they won’t.

  • IT Guy

    @ Stacked:

    Are you really saying that people are not getting jobs becase they dont want to??

    Also, could you please elaborate what do you mean by “All I’m saying is that until companies in this nation are AFRAID of not hiring, they won’t”??

    Atleast in Tech Sector I’m really aware that they are hiring like crazy outside N America, esp in India…

  • Stacked

    I’m saying that people have forgotten that the number one reason to keep people working is so they don’t sit around and figure out how worked over their lives really are. WORK is the American Empires version of what the Romans called “Bread & Circuses” or what the Ancient Egyptians invented “Beer” for.

    It’s not as if our money really has any value anyway. We have a fiat currency! It’s only worth belief, when you get right down to it. My point being, all of this…this “Economic Crisis” this “Great Recession” this modern “Depression” is either deliberate, or a Confederacy of Dunces. You simply can not break what isn’t REAL!!! Money…is a piece of paper at best, and really a cluster of electrons in a computer in more practical terms. It’s an idea, backed by belief, shooting around in telecommunications lines largely, but most importantly, peoples heads! You want things to be “Good?” Presto! You want things to be “Bad?” Presto! Decide to make people believe it. Convince them to work 65hrs. a week for this illusion. Convince them to sit at home and feel depressed for this illusion. Tell them they’re not being “creative” enough for this illusion. Control them, with this illusion. Laugh at them, for it’s an illusion. The fools! Too easy! Ahahahaha!

  • peter nelson

    Laugh at them, for it’s an illusion. The fools! Too easy! Ahahahaha!

    Better check your pill organizer – I think you missed a dose.

  • IT Guy

    @ Stacked:

    Sir, you speak like a “monk” who doesn’t need to care about the “worldly” world, as everything is “Maya” an illusion (in your terms, its money).

    Well, then I must tell you sir that, the same “illusion” is required to buy clothes, food and a shelter, which ofcourse is not an illusion, atleast for an average person, who thinks he has some real feelings, real needs, not just some illusion based “sadness or happiness”.

    I have heard a version of your statement time and time again from lots of “monks” who live near “Himalayas” and other remote places, trying to achieve “Nirvana”.

Sep 3, 2014
This still image from an undated video released by Islamic State militants on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, purports to show journalist Steven Sotloff being held by the militant group. The Islamic State group has threatened to kill Sotloff if the United States doesn't stop its strikes against them in Iraq. Video released Tuesday, Sept. 02, 2014, purports to show Sotloff's murder by the same rebel group. (AP)

Another beheading claim and ISIS’s use of social media in its grab for power.

Sep 3, 2014
In this Fall 2013 photo provided by the University of Idaho, students in the University of Idaho’s first Semester in the Wild program take a class in the Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness, Idaho. (AP)

MacArthur “genius” Ruth DeFries looks at humanity’s long, deep integration with nature – and what comes next. She’s hopeful.

Sep 2, 2014
Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

True stories of daring women during the Civil War. Best-selling author Karen Abbott shares their exploits in a new book: “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.”

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

On Point Blog
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Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

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Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
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Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

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