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Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Changes for the good that have occurred because a great number of people online have lent their support for them have been too long in coming.

This year, we have seen the power of many like-minded people. Ordinarily, most of us would not have spoken out or supported these issues.

It’s interesting that all who supported StopSopa, OWS, Planned Parenthood through social networking, did so without direct coordination. As long as people do what they do from the standpoint of goodness and in harmony with others, there is no down side that I can see.

It’s when hate, intolerance, and destruction of people and ideas are forcibly projected by a few vociferous people or groups when the power becomes a hammer and its consequences are feared.

I was thinking about this this morning. There is an “anti” segment of society and a “pro” segment. It’s interesting that more conservative-thinking people are generally against things: ideas, words, change. Liberal-thinking people have more of a “live and let live” behavior. Neither side will ever convert the other. We have to learn to accept and respect each other.  Somehow we have to be willing to meet in the middle if America is to survive as a democracy.

Until then, it is important that we know this type of power exists and how it can be used, because we may be called on for something far more important. We have to be ready to give our whole-hearted support and to sustain that support.

I have in mind an American Taliban-like movement. We are seeing its effects right now in smaller areas. This is not about religion or conservatives. This is about radical beliefs that relentlessly strive for the subjugation of women in society and financial/economic oppression of the masses. How like the middle east much of this thinking and these actions are.

Possibly, I’m beginning to sound more like a zealot. But, my actions are caused by anger because of inequalities that, up to this time, have not been acted upon and improved or removed.

And, I’m finding that there are many people who share my desire for independence and compassion and who oppose anything that restricts freedom of thought and limits our rights and abilities. This is a tipping point. We have discovered “we” and the power to change things.

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A recent comic tweet on Twitter was: “iPhone > Android > Land line > Typewriter > 2 cans with a string > Message in a bottle > Pigeon with a note taped to it > Blackberry”

It prompted a friend to say, “It’s sad, because Blackberry was the original leader in the industry. I had one of the original Blackberry text pagers, when all other pagers were just using numbers.”

It has actually been happening more often in recent years to companies that fail to innovate or maintain a cutting edge. In graphic arts and desktop publishing, it is QuarkXPress. It was once untouchable and the gold standard for graphic designers and publishers. Now, Adobe InDesign has surpassed QuarkXPress and taken the lead. I doubt Quark will ever reach more than a corner of its former market, if it continues to survive.

And, with a real sense of personal loss because of memories I have of using Kodak products over the years, I think of Kodak filing for bankruptcy this past week. Again, its longtime business has been overtaken by new technology.

I remember in 2002 there was a book, Love, Greg & Lauren, written by the husband whose wife was terribly burned at the WTC. He frequently mentioned how he was sitting at her hospital bedside writing long emails about her condition to family and friends on his Blackberry. (The compilation of all those emails was the basis of the book.) At the time, it was the first I had even heard of Blackberrys.

Now, in 2012, the Blackberry appears to be on the wane, even among businesses that have been the largest portion of its users.

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We were just out shopping for bed pillows at Kohl’s. Instead of being
elated, I felt sad to see the deep price cuts on so many nice things. We
actually bought standard/queen pillows for $4.99 each, cut from $9.99 which was a sale price. We used to buy them for $15-$20. How long can the store stay in business with no or very slim profits?

Then, we looked for a tablecloth to replace the one on the dining table.
Danny suggested Linens ‘n’ Things.  It was their last day and they just
had a semicircle of tables loaded with fabric products. Some were out of the
packages and thrown every which way. Racks of bare shelves cordoned off the largest part of the store. It was absolutely empty. Even the shelves and
lights had been sold. A throng of customers surrounded the tables and
quietly delved into them, tossing packages around, and checking prices on
others.

In that shopping center, THREE anchor stores: Linens n Things, Circuit City,
and Living Spaces were going out of business. I don’t think of the
superlative bargains, but of the people who will be out of jobs, and the
money that is being lost.

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News everywhere reports the dismal financial condition we’re in. But, there aren’t many reports about workers in the invisible lower middle class. As an employee of a union with nearly 11,000 members, I have witnessed what are called the working poor among our members. A large number of our members in a certain region are single moms with low paying jobs. Many of them have been coming to the union to request monetary help. These are known as hardship requests.

The cap on our public employee local’s hardship contribution is $500 and a growing number are given — without strings — to members every month. The sad fact is that even the full amount they receive is not going to help any of them very much. Besides having so little money to pay for the necessities, these people for the most part, don’t know how to manage the small amounts they have. But, they also get into some awful tangles that can’t be prevented, due to medical treatments, family death, abusive spouses, and so on. Increasingly, they face eviction and repossession. Often, it would take a lot of money to make all their creditors current, pay for shelter and transportation, put food on the table, and clothes for the children.

They ask for help from family, friends, and from anyone who can offer it. Nothing is stable or sure in their lives — most particularly, now. The bad financial consequences are beginning to be felt by the public agencies they work for. Thankfully, the agencies cut services, before cutting employees. Our union keeps an eye on the progress of budget cuts and steps in whenever the question arises as to how many and where should employees be laid off. We help our members, mostly without them being aware of it, by ensuring the agencies look for other positions that can be filled with the people they want to cut to avoid letting them go.

But soon, I expect the the other shoe to drop. The terrible force of a bad state and national economy will throw public agencies against the wall. To survive, among other actions, they will have to cut people loose. What will happen to these people who are barely surviving in the working world? What about their children? The reality of financial destruction for so many more has cast its dark shadow over all the working poor.

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