Monday, August 9, 2010

Rant #307: The Benefits

I am 53 years old, so by my calculator, since the federal government was so nice to raise the official retirement age to 66, I have to work at least 13 more years before I even think about retiring.

And even when I am 66, due to various reasons including money, I will probably work until I can't stand up anymore.

I use my father as an example. He still drives a cab, and he will be 79 in November.

I have heard that people who are hopelessly out of work--those over 60 who have tried to find a job for more than a year without any success--are giving into the system, and filing for Social Security benefits early. Sure, they won't get what they would get if they filed when they were 66, but due to circumstances far beyond their control, they feel they have no choice but to file early.

Social Security is said to be experiencing a shortfall this year as a number of people are filing to collect payments early before their full retirement age. And unemployment is still teetering in the 10 percent range, with some areas of the country well into the double digits.

All of this while our President tells us that the economy is improving while his wife and kids jaunt around Europe.

I remember being out of work two major times in my life. The first time, I was out of work for about a year and a half. Sure, I worked, often off the books, for a portion of that period, but I generally was making next to nothing and couldn't get hired by anybody. During this span, I applied for more than 800 positions, and received back less than 75 rejection letters.

I know all this because I had to--what made matters worse for me was that I was going through my divorce, and this set the whole process back probably about six months, if not more. The court wanted to know how my work search was going, so I had to submit everything to the court for their scrutiny. Talk about making matters worse than they were!

And I paid my child support--or as much as I could afford with the pittance I was getting--and I was in arrears when I finally found something, and I had to pay back what I owed, which I did.

The second time, I was out of work for about three months. My son was only a few weeks old when I got let go. No, companies don't care what your personal situation is when they get rid of you.

Anyway, each time I was offered very little in the way of positives by any prospective employee, and each time, when I was finally offered a job, I took a position with a pretty hefty pay cut. I had no choice.

I don't know what to tell people who are out of work today. It is harder than ever to find something, and find something decent.

I still say that employers are taking out the current fiscal situation on their employees, nickel and dimeing them to death, working them beyond their capacity just so they stay wealthy and afloat. I haven't had a raise in more than three years, but at least I have a job.

And to say "at least I have a job" is the current refrain today. You don't have to like your job, just be happy that you have one.

My daughter is in the job market now, and although she wants to be a teacher, there aren't any teaching jobs available now. So many districts have cut their teaching staffs that it might be a while until teachers are needed. My daughter did find a job as a teaching assistant, but with a teaching degree, she should be making much, much more than she is now. Heck, people working in McDonald's are making more than she is now--but at least she has something to build on.

I mean, she is just 22 years old.

What of the people who have put 30 and 40 years into the workforce, only to be told that they aren't wanted anymore? I went through this myself, and I was on in my 30s when I was laid off and was out of work for more than a year.

The more I was out of work, the more potential employers would ask this question: "Why are you still out of work after all of these months?"

When I would hear this question, all I wanted to do was stick my fist in their mouths. What did they know about being out of work? But I would have to grin and bear it, and reply, "I am out of work not due to anything else but the current financial situation."

It wasn't a lie, it was true.

It must be that much harder when you are in your 50s and 60s and nobody wants to hire you. What do you do?

I hope I never have to worry about such a thing. I guess I am happy that "at least I have a job."

But it really shouldn't be that way, should it?

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