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    Mass Layoffs Are Back. Are You At Risk?

    Millions are going to lose their jobs in the coming recession. Will you?
    by Adam Taggart

    Friday, August 30, 2019, 3:35 PM

Imagine the following scene playing out at work tomorrow:

You arrive in the morning to find a note reading ‘HR wants to see you’. About what?, you wonder.

Seeing your HR manager already in the conference room with the door closed, you fidget as you wait. A knot begins to form in your stomach that gets tighter as the minutes tick by.

Suddenly, the door opens. A colleague stumbles out, looking ashen-faced. Then the HR manager’s head emerges, notices you and says “Ah, please come in”.

“I’m sorry to tell you that the company is letting you go,” she begins. “Sales have slumped and we simply can’t employ as many people. It’s nothing personal.”

And just like that, your job is gone.

You’ll get a month’s salary as severance pay, plus two-weeks more if you sign a ‘non-disparagement’ clause. And they’ve just handed you a pile of forms that supposedly will guide you through the process of applying for COBRA health coverage and unemployment benefits, should those be necessary.

And that’s it.

Oh, they’ve already taken your computer back to IT. You’ve got 15 minutes to collect any personal items and say your goodbyes. But please don’t linger. We’d hate to get Security involved…

Thanks for your service! And best of luck in your next venture!

What would you do if this happened to you tomorrow? Really chew on that for a minute.

Would you feel surprised? Liberated? Petrified?

What would your job prospects look like? Are you confident you could get re-hired quickly? Or are you looking at months (or longer) of unemployment?

What will it do to your household finances if you’re out of work for a prolonged time? Are you the primary breadwinner? Do you have other income or substantial savings that can sustain you? If not, how would you plan to make ends meet?

Most people are caught flat-footed by layoffs. There’s a complacency a steady paycheck offers that’s instantly ripped away by a pink slip. Few people are ready — emotionally, professionally, or financially — for the abrupt ending to the status quo a layoff brings.

Mike Tyson once eloquently quipped: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Similarly, everybody can afford to be optimistic about tomorrow until they get canned.

Have ‘Layoff Anxiety’? You’re Not Alone.

If the thought-exercise above gave your stomach butterflies, you’re not alone. Nearly half (48%) of US workers report experiencing ‘layoff anxiety’.

And, this is during the “good times”, folks. Officially, we’re still in the longest economic expansion in US history.

What’s it going to be like when this long-in-the-tooth expansion ends, as all inevitably must?

And as we’ve been furiously covering here at PeakProsperity.com, it sure looks like the end is fast arriving. The inverted yield curve in US Treasurys, slowing US growth and negative growth rates in major European economies, anemic global shipping volumes, and a raft of other dependable indicators are flashing warnings that the world economy (including the US) is plunging towards recession.

A recession that corporate America is woefully unprepared for, due to record levels of debt.

9 Trillion Reasons To Reduce Headcount

In response to the past decade of extremely cheap and plentiful credit supplied by the world’s central banks’ QE (quantitative easing) efforts, company executives have borrowed much more aggressively than in the past. Often to repurchase their company’s own shares in hopes of boosting its stock price (and thus their stock-based compensation packages).

And a worrisome number (hundreds of $billions) of such corporate loans made over the past several years have been low quality, high-risk, and covenant-lite.

As a result, today’s US companies are as or more dangerously leveraged than ever before. More than $9 Trillion of debt now burdens the balance sheets of America’s corporations:

Corporate indebtedness charts

As growth continues to slow and corporate profits decline, debt service takes up an ever-greater percentage of cash flows. At some point, headcount cuts become unavoidable.

The Robot Took My Job

On top of that, as we’ve been long warning about here at PeakProsperity.com, employers currently have a tremendous perverse incentive to automate and replace human labor with technology.

The simple and harsh truth is that it’s expensive, and becoming more so, to employ humans. Wages, health care, retirement benefits, workers comp, OSHA regulations, lawsuits, training, vacations, sick days — it all adds up. Machines free employers from all of those costs, headaches and potential liabilities.

Meanwhile, technological advancements in robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) are on an exponential track. Capabilities are skyrocketing and costs are coming down. With the ability to borrow at rock-bottom interest rates, is it any surprise that companies are investing in automation as fast as they can?

White-shoe consulting firm McKinsey predicts that 50% of current work activities are at risk of being automated by 2030, and that by that time, 400-800 million workers worldwide will be displaced by technology — creating “a challenge potentially greater than past historic shifts”.

A historic transition away from humans towards automated labor is underway. It’s happening in every industry and will impact every job function, at every level of the org chart.

And unlike with outsourcing or off-shoring, once these jobs are successfully automated, they’re “gone” as far as human workers are concerned. They’re never going to be un-automated.

It Has Already Begun

Remember the mass layoffs of 2008 and 2009? When thousands of people instantly lost their jobs as companies started jettisoning workers?

Well, they’re back.

In 2019 so far, we’ve seen reductions-in-force reported across a number of industries from the likes of HSBC (4,750 jobs), Nissan (12,500 jobs) and Deutsche Bank (18,000 jobs). Other well-known brands letting employees go include Siemens, Uber, US Steel, Kellogg’s, Ford, Disney, and United Airlines.

At this stage, it’s not (yet) like the carnage seen during the Great Recession. Remember how god-awful scary this was, as hundreds of thousands of people were laid off every month for two years?

Job losses between Dec 2007 and Dec 2009

8.8 million jobs were lost during this period. When layoffs are that widespread, it’s just a numbers game. Amongst yourself, your family, and your friends — at least some of you are going to fall victim.

How bad could things be next time? Bad enough to take protective action, we think.

And it’s not that hard for us to make the argument that the future wave of mass firings may be substantially worse. So don’t rest on your laurels.

Signs Of Trouble To Watch For

What early-warning indicators can you monitor to assess whether your company, or your specific job, is at risk?

Company Risk Factors

First, it helps to look at the industries that shed the most workers during the Great Recession. History doesn’t repeat itself exactly, but it often rhymes:

Jobs Lost By Industry During Great Recession

Do you currently work in one of these industries? If so, the above chart should give you a general sense as to how yours will fare relative to others should we indeed re-enter recession soon.

But not all companies within an industry are created equal. How can you tell if you’re currently employed by one of the more vulnerable players?

Here are classic signs of trouble to look out for:

  • Declining financials — Does your company have a higher Debt/Equity ratio that its industry peers? Are revenues and/or earnings flatlining or decreasing? Are Accounts Payable increasing as a percentage of total Liabilities? All are potential indications of a company on shaky ground.
  • Freezes — Has your company announced a freeze on new hires, budgets and/or bonuses? These are all signs of tightening pursestrings, and they constrain prospects for future growth. It’s rare for sizable layoffs to be announced before any, if not all, of these is tried first.
  • Postponement of key projects — similar to freezes, big deployments are often pushed back or shelved completely in attempt to reduce costs before headcount cuts are considered. Of course, once you reduce your planned projects, you then realize you don’t need as many people…
  • Consolidation — this is when business units are collapsed together for ‘greater efficiency’ and ‘cost savings’. This is a sign that pennies are starting to be pinched, and soon “cost savings” starts to look an awful lot like “employing fewer people”.
  • Being acquired — in good times and bad, employees at a company being acquired are at greater risk. Acquisitions are intended to unlock “synergies”, which often is a fancy way to say “if we combine our companies, we can fire all the people who have redundant jobs”. Since they don’t have relationships with the power players at the acquiring firm, those being acquired are usually the first to be shown the door.
  • Your company is “pivoting” — “pivoting” is the new smokescreen term for “What we’re doing isn’t working so let’s try something else”. True, it’s wise to abandon a doomed path. But not if you’re just trading it for another half-baked idea. While there are examples of pivots that turned a failing enterprise into a world-class success (did you know that YouTube initially started as a dating site?), those are the exceptions.
  • Bad news/too many rumors — “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. When your company is unfavorably covered by the trade media for long enough, it’s usually for good reason. Just ask the folks who work (or used to) at Sears, Theranos, JC Penny, Toys “R” Us, or Forever 21.
  • Senior management leaving — when the rats at the top start leaving the ship at the same time, it’s time to worry. They know a lot more than you do about your company’s condition. Right now, I’d be really worried if I worked at a place like Tesla…
  • Sudden stock drop — a strong stock price makes up for a lot of operational deficiencies (such as, in the example of Netflix, Uber or We Work, losing billions in cash flow every year). But when investors abandon the dream underlying your company and the stock starts tanking, life can quickly get a lot worse. Profitability and positive cash flow suddenly becomes matters of life and death. Those working at a high-flier Tech unicorn or starry-eyed start-up need to be attuned to how quickly things can turn should investors sour.

Is There A Target On Your Back?

Layoffs are like tossing sand bags out of a sinking hot-air balloon. You throw a few overboard to see if that stops the fall. If it doesn’t, you chuck out a few more.

They tend to happen as a sequence. In the first wave, the obvious underperformers are let go. That’s the easy decision, and may even be positive for morale. But if the company is still in trouble, another wave — maybe more — will be needed.

So, how can you tell if you’re at risk for the next wave in the series?

Here are some common predictors:

  • Your workload is lightening — workers with spare capacity offer a lower ROI (return on investment). Either your company’s throughput is diminishing (a bad sign) or your boss is re-directing your work to other people (a very bad sign).
  • Increase in status reports — if you’re suddenly being asked to rationalize and report on all of your activities, it’s usually a sign that someone higher up the chain from you is trying to “justify” the resources in your department. It’s a signal that the future of your department — or you, specifically — is under review.
  • “Too” young — historically, younger workers are often the first let go in a layoff as they have the least work experience and the least seniority within the organization. During the GFC, unemployment among young workers nearly doubled from 5.4% in 2007 to 9.2% in 2010.
  • “Too” old — in a growing number of industries (Tech, in particular), it’s increasingly common for older workers to be laid off first. Younger workers often are more familiar and facile with the latest software and technology, and they’re often substantially cheaper to employ. They’re willing to work longer hours for less pay and don’t have the benefits footprint that older workers with families do. ‘Ageism’ is fast becoming a common legal complaint in today’s layoffs.
  • Your boss suddenly departs — while this may or may not be a sign that your department is losing status within the company, it often means you’re losing your strongest champion within the organization. If your boss leaves abruptly, be sure to connect with her privately to get the inside scoop. Now that she’s not speaking for overall management, she’ll likely to be fully transparent with you about the company’s condition.
  • Friction with your boss — while never a promising sign, if you and your boss aren’t getting along, chances are you won’t be at the top of his list of employes to fight to keep during a RIF (reduction in force). In fact, if you’re suddenly experiencing badwill where there was none before, it could be that he’s trying to build a case for making your layoff an “easy call”.
  • Being ‘asked’ to take a pay cut — this is a pretty clear sign that you’re less essential to the company than you were previously and/or that your company is *really* hurting cash flow-wise. If you’re ‘asked’ this, take it as a sign from the universe to start updating your resume.
  • Being asked to train someone else or an outside firm on your responsibilities — this is another clear “wake up call” that your job is likely on the chopping block. Unless you know for sure you’re getting promoted, take this as a message to expect a visit from HR soon.
  • Your spider-senses are tingling — companies are social institutions by design; they’re made up of people (at least, they still are for now). If you notice the execs and senior managers looking stressed or spending a lot of time huddled in conference rooms, if the water cooler talk revolves around company problems, if perks start quickly disappearing, if people start shunning you — these are all warning signs you should heed. Don’t ignore your gut.

How To Reduce Your Vulnerability

After taking an honest assessment of your job situation, would taking some precautionary measures against a layoff make sense?

Spoiler alert: if you’re one of the 132 million full-time employees currently working in the US, the right answer is pretty much always “yes”. There’s simply no good reason to trust your primary/only income source to blind faith.

In Part 2: The Layoff Survival Handbook, we detail out the steps to take now to reduce your vulnerability to a layoff, and the critical steps to take right away should you become laid off.

Many of these will enhance your career trajectory and satisfaction even if a pink slip never arrives. But should one do, you’ll be far better off for having taken them.

Given the mounting recessionary risks ahead, we all need to prepare for what’s coming.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

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47 Comments

  • Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - 10:05am

    #1
    S7

    S7

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 29 2009

    Posts: 12

    11+

    Not everyone faces layoffs

    A frustration I have with our current economy, that depends upon privately owned companies to fully fund the government, is that the government has too much of an influence on the economy.

    What happens in an economic downturn to government employees? Nothing.

    What happens to your property taxes in an economic downturn? They go up.

    We must do with less while the government will always have enough.

    You notice in the chart, what were the only sectors to add jobs? Government employment. (I’d like to see the breakdown for health services, but I suspect they are partially or fully subsidized  by the government.) There is a major disconnect between public and private employment. Government jobs from the federal level to the local level seem to be the safest place to find employment. The pay is equal to or above private sector jobs, there is a level of redundancy that borders on the absurd and there is an almost non-existent threat of job loss due to incompetence, inefficiency or laziness. Even Ted Kennedy kept his job after killing Mary Jo.You don’t need to pay top dollar to find the best people for Government work, normally it take 2 to 5 government workers to do the job of 1 privately employed worker.

    Government employed jobs should be the last place to look for employment. Because the pay is, in my opinion, far too high, it attracts certain types of people that don’t see any problem becoming a 100% consumer drain on the economy. Unfortunately, probably most of these people don’t see it that way. They are, NON-ECONOMIC PRODUCERS. They are going to be a drain on the economy their entire life. The higher up you get in the government, the bigger drain you become. Public employment should be seen like welfare, you may need it for a time to help get you back on your feet, but there needs to be a limit for how long somebody can draw any percentage of their income from the government trough. We don’t need to have the same people in certain jobs for their entire career. We don’t need to pay for retirement pensions for people that think they are “Public Servants”. These people should be viewed by more and more people as a problem when the private sector really starts to suffer and do without, and government employees continue to receive you taxpayer supplied pension check while you vacation in Hawaii.

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  • Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - 8:01pm

    Reply to #1
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 908

    10+

    government employee vs. self employed

    I agree with virtually all your points.

    If I were starting out (and had no scruples), I’d look for a government job for the reasons you stated.  Higher salaries, better benefits, bigger pensions, virtual invulnerability to firing or lay-offs due to laziness or incompetence (political correctness violations are a whole different matter though), and you can spend a good deal of your time surfing the net at the taxpayer’s expense.  What’s not to like?

    In terms of what level of government, the higher the better.  With regards to pensions, municipal governments are the most likely to default but you can be a real imbecile and never have to worry about losing your job.  State governments often have state constitutional protection of their pensions.  Just tax the serfs more to make up the different.  Federal governments have the printing press so those pensions have the most security.

    At the other end of the spectrum is the poor self-employed slob (of which I was one).  You will be the cash cow keeping the whole system running.  As a personal example, let’s look at Obamacare.  I was triple taxed with that.  My monthly health insurance premium went from the high $500s to over $1700 per month (and we’re all healthy).  Deductibles and co-pays increased and the quality of my plan coverage went down.  So much for being able to keep my plan if I liked it.  In effect, I was subsidizing at least two uninsured parties and perhaps more.  And more often than not, they were parties that do not take personal responsibility for their health like we do.  I know because I treated these people all the time.  The government also added a 2% “sequestration” tax that we had to pay on all Medicare patients.  In addition, they cut Medicare reimbursements (and increased the bureaucratic load, another cost to me).  So I lost money 3 different ways.  Oh yeah, my office building, which I am part owner of, got slammed with a whopping big property tax increase.  So the local government took its pound of flesh as well.  In addition, in our city, we get taxed on all property owned by a business.  So if I buy a new computer for the office, up goes my tax.  Getting back to federal taxes, let’s look at Social Security.  As a small business owner, you pay double the tax for Social Security since you are your own employer.  And of course, you have to fund your own pension and benefits.  In addition, every local cause and charity looking for donations always hits you up because (in their mind at least) if you own your own business, you’re “rich”.  Yeah, right.  Well, I worked my butt off getting and paying for the education to get this job, paid perhaps a quarter of a million dollars throughout my 40+ year career for continuing education (journals, books, videos, courses, seminars, etc.) to be tops in my field, worked 60 to 70 hour weeks my entiree career, worked almost every evening and weekend doing the every increasing paperwork, and took all the risks.  From a strictly economic point of view, in my opinion, charities and causes should solicit donations from government workers because that’s where much of the money is going in this country.

    End of rant.

    Disclaimer: I know there are many honest and hardworking government employers who deserve what they earn but they are also far too many who aren’t and don’t.

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  • Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - 8:25pm

    #2
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 324

    1+

    son #1

    A couple of months ago we had a conversation with our oldest son.  He works as a software engineer for a start up in San Francisco.  He told us he is “expensive help” and was concerned about his future employment.  He gets it.  Last week he told us he gave his 2 weeks notice and will become a FAANG  employee.  From dads point of view he has stacked the odds in his favor regarding future employment.    Time will tell.

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  • Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - 8:58pm

    Reply to #2
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 908

    1+

    book recommendations

    Hi Nate,

    For younger folks with an entrepreneurial bent, including those with qualifications like your son, there are two books that I recommend that I wish were available to me when I was young.  They provide a blueprint for success.

    They are:

    The Millionaire Fast Lane by MJ DeMarco (just ignore his bragging about his Lamborghini)

    Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

    Best of luck to him.  Sounds like he’s making a good move.

     

     

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  • Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - 11:12pm

    Reply to #1

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 298

    7+

    You should be happy that government employees get so much money. They are spending it in the private sector and supporting your business. It’s Ben Bernanke’s helicopter money. The private sector certainly isn’t rising to the plate.

    One could say that the public sector is paying its employees too much money, benefits and job security at the expense of taxing everyone else. That’s one way to look at it but one could alternatively point out that the public sector is just better at keeping up with inflation and that it is the private sector that is lagging behind in how it treats its workers. It seems like government employment is the last refuge of the middle class.

    You don’t pay taxes to support government operations or its workers. The elites force you to pay taxes to keep you poor and in debt. “The government”, via the Federal Reserve, could simply print all the money it needs to operate. The world for the last 50 years has needed US Government debt and there’s no reason this could not have funded all of the government’s budget.

    Here’s some sad news for  you: streamlining and slashing government to make it more efficient and “productive” (whatever that means – I’ve been on here for years asking for  a definition of “productive” and never seen one) would not “improve” the economy. I’m not sure what metric one uses to measure “improve” but I guarantee that doing so would not have any lasting improvement on real GDP (inflation adjusted), unemployment or average worker income. Be careful what you wish for because the resulting deflationary crash would wipe out the private sector. And due to technological automation, resource constraints, and poor worker training due to funding cuts to public education to make more room for military spending, the economy will basically never grow again in real terms. Even if the private sector was “freed of its shackles” of crippling taxation. Employment will never recover; it will only get worse. It’s over, man. Government spending is the final band aid keeping this sinking boat afloat. But it too will crash when the currency crashes.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m not in any way supporting the many inefficiencies and bureaucratic crap going on in government. But here’s the deal — middle class government workers making $100k a year doing menial BS jobs are not wrecking the economy or  stealing your wealth. The trillionaire elites are — you know, those guys who literally own everyone in the world who has any debt because they own the banking system? The guys you ultimately pay your taxes to? How many posts are people making here calling out them as the destroyers of the economy and society?

    It’s always been the strategy of the elites to divide and conquer the middle class. Sad to see that even on this website they are succeeding.

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  • Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - 8:20am

    #3
    Steve

    Steve

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 27 2009

    Posts: 18

    6+

    The far reaching impact of government pensions

    Government employees, pay and pensions are a blight on our society in more ways than one.

    Much has already been said about the inefficiencies of government as well as taxing the real producers to pay those who essentially produce nothing but only provide “services.”

    More recently it has become apparent of the damaging impact these retired and pensioned government employees cause at the top.  Take a look a the leadership (the elders) of societies agencies, corporations and churches.  The government is a system where an individual can more often rise to his/her level of incompetence, then retire with a fat pension, savings and social security.  This “wealth” provides a layer of insulation from the reality the rest of us endure.  So many struggling workers, too busy to give their volunteer time to society, revere the fancy titles of those government workers who rose to their levels of incompetence.  Having the insulation of their government funded retirement plans, these incapable leaders show-up in all areas of leadership in our social structure.  Too many Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels (and so on) leaders who learned to “lead” in an authoritarian/military/government system are now available to lead us all to the slaughter.  All because of their past titles, time on their hands, and now funding in retirement.  They are showing up as elders in our churches (imagine that!), Commissioners, Board members and so on.  Behind the scenes they are making decisions and shaping our ultimate demise.  And they have the arrogance to believe they are “right” in their decisions and guidance.

    Take a look around at who is directing our society these days.  You may find the incestuous impact of our government growth, pay and pensions is further reaching than you ever imagined.

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  • Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - 1:52pm

    #4

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 28 2017

    Posts: 3

    6+

    Most government workers work hard, serve the public well and earn their compensation

    Having worked for a state agency for 27 years, I have to say, I have seen very few staff who goof  off and few managers who are incompetent and unproductive.  Those who are a problem are eventually worked out of the system according to the policies in place.  Most staff and managers work under a lot of pressure and provide the very best service possible to the public.   The compensation for some is quite good, at higher levels, but most don’t make all that much, and their health insurance costs go up and up, while the retirement benefits have gone down and down.  Sounds like many of you who have had bad experiences with government worker interaction, such as DMV, getting permits, etc..  Much of that is due to policies they have to try to turn into real life while dealing with very heavy work loads.  Seems most who decry the ineptitude and huge compensation of public workers have no idea what their work is like or what they really get paid.  Government jobs are available…try one and see what you think.

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  • Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - 2:10pm

    Reply to #1
    S7

    S7

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 29 2009

    Posts: 12

    5+

    I don't pay taxes to support government opereations or it's workers?

    Mark BC, do you receive all or part of your income/pension from the government, leaning towards the Keynesian brand of economy? My taxes absolutely pay for the weaker mortals in government. The Federal Reserve has nothing to do with our government except to put the patsies into government to higher like minded patsies which higher like minded patsies to offer more bread and circuses. If someone can live with themselves being a jester in the circus, then good for them.  We don’t need government debt for the economy to function, we don’t need overpaid government employees to purchase our skills or products. If somebody has no marketable or trade-able skills, they rely on bloated government contracts or B.S. paper pushing jobs in the government for their income. Or they end up selling something that SOMEBODY ELSE produced or developed for their income. It’s a messed up economy, I agree, but the government is not any kind of an answer when it comes to spending money and creating healthy growth.  The only reason the government can print money without concern for the collapse of the fiat currency is the result of 100+ years of public indoctrination through government funded education systems, brainwashing, chemical neutering and a media psychological straight jacket that most of society is more than willing to put on. A fundamental failure to understand money basically.  Most people believe what they are “programed” to believe, thank you public education. Most people will not deviate from the currently most common path to the “American Dream”, which is, go to college (get into debt), get a job and save money until you have 20% for a down payment to buy a house you probably cannot afford (more debt), get 2 new/newer cars for dependable transportation to work (more debt), have kids (put them into the indoctrination center of public education to create more sycophants), get a boat, an RV, new I-Phone, and, and, and,…..(endless debt). I chose not to travel that path. I will continue to hammer the weaker mortals employed by the government, they need to realize their place in the pecking order, and it is at the bottom. And when the collapse comes, and austerity is implemented, those employees will be screaming the loudest, about how “it was in my contract”. Tough shit. Deal with it.

    Grow your own food, do something that somebody else is willing to barter with you to exchange goods, and if they don’t like that, I’ll pay them a sparring fee to get into the local chain link octagon cage with me for a Saturday night MMA event. At least you will have some money for band-aids and food.

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  • Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - 5:17pm

    Reply to #4
    Steve

    Steve

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 27 2009

    Posts: 18

    5+

    Being an elected Commissioner of a fairly sizeable county for three years, I have personally witnessed that which I previously stated.  The public elected me to do some clean-up of the situation in the county.  Although somewhat naive going into the role, it didn’t take too long to learn the deep state really does exist, as does tremendous waste and inefficiency in the system.  There are good people working there, of course.  So many of them are working hard and attempting to do a good job.  Working hard on misguided, unnecessary projects doesn’t make it ok.  I was shocked at the government’s methods having come from working for 40 years of infrastructure building in the private sector.  Unfortunately, it’s often the leadership’s poor guidance, lack of appropriate experience and years of funding from the bottomless taxpayers pit that has led to the incestuous waste.  I stand by my previous note.

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  • Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - 6:00pm

    #5
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 29 2009

    Posts: 237

    5+

    True confessions: I was a government employee ...

    … for much of my working life. This is in Australia, so comparisons may not translate easily.

    I have worked for the federal government in three different departments with staff numbers ranging from huge to small, and for a state government (plenty of staff). Also I have been privately employed, in both corporate and non-corporate areas, and self-employed.

    In my later government jobs, I can truly say that everyone I worked with had a strong sense of mission, no desire to waste time and resources, no intention of being there solely to earn a pension, little waste, interested in doing a good job. The taxpayers’ money was well spent. I worked jolly hard at my various jobs and reckon I earned my keep and more. I was a profitable servant.

    I have also found that private corporations can be just as wasteful as government departments, just as bureaucratic, just as inefficient. They can spend lots of money on a muddle-headed project for little return.

    No, too often the real culprits are the politicians who pursue ideological goals and/or create toxic cultures which waste time and money and lives. In this country we have at least two government departments whose staff are ordered to be systematically nasty and vile to certain groups of people (won’t go into the gory details), and to keep their jobs they must comply. One can only wonder what effect this is having on the physical, mental and emotional health of the staff, much less the hapless victims.

    As they say, a fish rots from the head.

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  • Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - 9:21pm

    Reply to #4
    ao

    ao

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    most perhaps but all too many don't

    Well, I may be a bit biased in my feelings about certain public employees.  So let me review some of my experiences.  Local township officials voted themselves a defined benefit pension plan when previously they had a defined contribution pension plan.  Virtually every other municipality in the country has gone in the opposite direction, to save the tax payers’ money.  When questioned, they said they hired a consultant who said they would save money this way.  Having done my own investing for years, I knew this was either an incompetent consultant or an abject lie but I let it go since I was busy working my 60-70 hours per week (while all these government employees always work 40 hours or less, unless they’re getting beaucoup overtime bucks).  Later on, through a FOIA request, I found out they lied about even getting a consultant.  They feathered their own nests while keeping the taxpayer in the dark and continue to do so.
    The township supervisor was a triple dipper, getting pensions from two other government positions.  He sat at his desk a good part of the day BSing with friends and acquaintances who would visit with him.  The only thing he ever worked was his rear end. 
    The township tax assessor made several errors in assessing my property.  When confronted with his errors, he said to me, “ao, it’s only a few extra dollars a year (even though it was a 3 digit figure) and you should be grateful you’re getting all these government services for your tax dollars”.  I told him, “When it comes to having the money in my pocket or the township’s pocket, I’ll take it in my pocket, and furthermore, you’re p*ssing on my back and telling me it’s raining out”.  He said, “And warm rain, at that.”.  He knew exactly what he was doing.  He was also a double dipper, having retired from a state job to work for the municipality.
    On to the police department.  A very good and extremely reliable and honest friend personally witnessed two cops stop a young lady in a vehicle they were pursuing who pulled off onto an unpaved side road in an attempt to escape and got stuck when she hit a dead end.  After some discussion with her, each of the cops, in turn, proceeded to get into the back seat with her (while the other stood watch), presumably a levying a “tax” of sorts for letting her go.  When all was done, the cops went off with smiles on their face and the young lady went off on her way.  There are multiple other incidents of corruption, graft, dereliction of duty, etc. in this police force that are too involved to go into here.
    Another cop who was chief of police in our town  (who is now a double dipper as a sheriff).  He refused to enforce an ordinance even after all 30 households in the neighborhood signed a petition against the repeat offender neighbor who was violating multiple ordinances and even threatened an elderly widow.  We figured the violator either was in a position to blackmail the chief (who it turns out is gay) or paid him off.  We COULD NOT get him to enforce anything against this guy.  Oh yeah, years earlier I had witnessed the gay police chief in a car after hours with another cop involved in “suspicious activities”.  It was in the secluded part of the empty parking lot of my office building late at night.  I had turned the lights off to take a quick nap since I was on a paperwork deadline that weekend and needed to get it done.  You do the math.
    I could go on and on with the stories of incompetence of these cops from seeing them napping in their cars to having stupid accidents just because of their carelessness, one of which I witnessed right in front of me.  I was also called in once as an eye witness to an accident that occurred while the driver was DUI.  The story is too long and involved to relate but I couldn’t believe how dumb the investigating cop was.  He evidently flunked Detective 101. 
    I’m friends with the chief of police in another town and he told me that one of the cops working on our force flunked the psych test he administers to every potential hire and he refused to hire him.  But he’s working for our town and everyone hates him because of what a jerk he is.  I could go on and on.
    Shall we move on to corrections officers.  Well, there was the female officer who was sleeping with inmates, the male and female officers who were having sex on the job, the officers who were sneaking contraband to the inmates for a pretty penny, and the inmates who were falling asleep on the job.  And that’s just locally.  How about the ones guarding Epstein?
    Our director of public works was incompetent in maintaining and upgrading our the sewer system and, as a consequence, our sewer tax went up 60% in our year.  Our zoning officer will harass certain people and yet completely refuse to enforce the ordinances for other people.  Our drain official did nothing to stop a violating builder from filling a storm sewers with sand in a local subdivision. 
    And then I could get into teachers.  My son had this particular science teacher in middle school.  On parent teacher night, after listening to her for 5 minutes, I could tell she was disengaged and just going through the motions.  My son came home frustrated because she wasn’t teaching.  She really adversely impacted his love for science that year.  She’d have them read aloud from their textbook or watch videos while she played games on her computer in front of the class.  He happened to see the reflection from her computer screen one day even though it was turned away from the students.  And she did this day after day.  And there are others. 
    How about the road maintenance folks.  Our county road maintenance crew had an incredible ability to all stand around BSing while one guy did the work.  And somehow, they could never seem to master the art of fixing potholes.   If there were 3 potholes, they filled 2.  If there were 4, they filled 3.  If there were 5, they fixed 4.  It was uncanny how incompetent they were.  Having had a performance car at that time with low profile tires, I knew where every pothole was on my 5 1/2 mile route to work.  I finally spoke to the supervisor and told him to give me some materials and I would fix the holes.  He didn’t like that.  Somehow though, he did always seem to manage to have the road in front of his house repaired to perfection.  It was also one of the roads that was plowed out the best.  Funny coincidence.   
    Interestingly, the department of motor vehicles in our area actually isn’t too bad.  But I lived in two other states where they were like purgatory.  These people were downright nasty and sadistic and loved making people wait in line only to tell them to go into another line after they had waited an ungodly period of time.  I’ve always been amazed that no shooter has gone postal in a DMV office because of this.  The motor vehicle inspectors were another group that were abusive, lazy, and just plain dumb.  I think they inhaled too many exhaust fumes. 
    There are more stories I can relate from the municipality where I work which is next to the municipality where I live.  Ditto for the county employees.  Ditto for the state employees.  Ditto for stories from federal employees I know, all the way up to the head of the EPA who performed selective enforcements during the Obama Administration on companies that did not support Obama but ignored those that did, even though they had multiple violations.
    Believe me, I could write a book. 

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  • Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 9:57am

    Reply to #5
    S7

    S7

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    The difference between private and government entities

    The difference between most private corporations being wasteful, bureaucratic and inefficient is they create their own wealth. If they cannot keep generating wealth, they fail and close up shop. They can do whatever they want with their generated income. People voluntarily purchase their products or services. The government creates no wealth or income. Their income is force ably taken through imposed taxes, most of which we never agreed to pay.  They are given a check that is normally larger every year regardless of how they perform. We were not supposed to be a socialist/communist government but that is what society has been brainwashed to believe is the answer, hence that is what we have become.

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  • Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 5:01pm

    #6
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

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    We are...

    ducked, just wait, Property rights will fail just after the electoral college. I pray for an economic collapse to precede an……

    get your mare settled! It will be fun😕

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  • Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 9:21pm

    Reply to #6
    ao

    ao

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    yep, you can see those things coming

    The key will be the guns.  I expect the attempted confiscation progression to be roughly along the line of (but not necessarily in this specific order) banning “high capacity” (whatever that means) magazines, tactical rifles (otherwise known as those nasty “assault rifles”), any magazine larger than 5 rounds (attempted unsuccessfully in NJ several decades ago but sure to be tried again), semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic hand guns, “high power” (whatever that means) rifles, all handguns, and then shotguns (proceeding from semi-auto to pump to double barrel to single shot.  I expect ammunition access to be controlled more and more as well.  A tax on firearm ownership, ostensibly to fund firearm liability,  will probably be levied at some point and gradually increased until it is no longer economically feasible for the average citizen to afford one.  Of course, that still leaves the serfs with knives and other sharp and blunt instruments.  I’m just reading “The Tiger” by John Vaillant, a book about a man-eating Siberian tiger in the Far East of Russia, and was surprised to learn hunting knives needed a license in Russia (presumably to keep better tabs on potential poachers).  I’m wondering when this type of licensure might proposed as law in the UK in an effort to tamp down their increasing numbers of knife attacks.  Of course, the average anti-gun person doesn’t seem to realize how effective a sword, a gasoline bomb, a motor vehicle, or other non-firearm weapon can be in wreaking havoc.  Or how criminal enterprises can fabricate firearms (or 3-D print them) or steal them from armories (like Bonnie and Clyde stole their BARs).  Or that the deadliest killer of all time, Genghis Khan (who outdid Mao, Stalin, and Hitler), managed to slaughter tens of millions without a single firearm (since they weren’t invented yet).  But that would be asking people to think, an apparently unpleasant past time not willingly participated in by a substantial portion of our population.

     

     

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  • Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 11:03pm

    Reply to #1

    Mark_BC

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    No, I’m not a Keynesian. I actually respect free market capitalists more than I do Keynesians. But not by much. Both philosophies are BS promoted by people who haven’t put in the effort to understand how “economic production” actually works (and who refuse to define it despite using it as a central theme of their theses), nor of human nature, or the biological and physical natural processes driving everything in the economy. Both ideologies are built on invalid and simplistic assumptions about how the world works.

    From what I’ve heard (I could be wrong), foreign countries are no longer buying US Treasury issuance which leaves the Federal Reserve as the only funder of federal government debt.

    I’ve never worked for government, only ever the private sector. I’ve interacted with government workers a bit and never seen anything but hard workers getting not much more, or the same, in return than workers in the private sector get. But who knows, maybe I just haven’t been personally exposed to this destructive blight on our economy so powerful that it can bring down the entire system, LOL <SARCASM\>

    One of the critical flaws in your claim that unproductive workers are sapping the rest of us “productive” ones via taxation or other inefficiencies, is the fact that we have seen large increases in worker productivity over the last 30 years due to computers and automation. One hour of human labour can “produce” a lot more than it used to, simply because we have all these computers around to help us. Competition has refined our productivity and use of these tools to maximise our output, because labour isn’t cheap. Look at the grocery store checkout, or the DMV filing systems, or any sector of the economy. I work in the design of industrial facilities and the old timers at work say that we can now design a project 3 times faster than before we had computers, and with 3 times fewer people. This is a direct increase in worker productivity; probably at least five fold.

    It therefore follows from this that we could “produce” the same amount of stuff (or “goods and services”, as people like to call it) today as we did 40 years ago, but with only half the labour hours it used to require (this is probably a very generous number and the real number would be higher). Therefore, the direct result of this is that we could employ one out of every two people to jerk around on their job and play video games all day, and still pay them, while the other person puts in the same amount of effort someone did 40 years ago when people supposedly didn’t jerk around in public sector jobs (which I find hard to believe…). And we would all enjoy the same amount of prosperity as we did 40 years ago because we are still “producing” the same amount of goods and services.

    But people don’t see it this way. It’s easier to blame others who still have jobs and security. I’ve heard of experiments with rats where, when they are living with plenty, they are peaceful. But deprive them of essentials of life and they start blaming each other. If you give them electric shocks they attack each other out of blame. This doesn’t happen when they are well fed. I’ve always predicted that the same would happen with human society — when we go down the final slide after Peak Oil, the middle class will enter civil war between this contrived left-versus-right nonsense and not identify the up-versus-down struggle between the elites and the masses as the true battle to be fought. That’s why the elites are building bug-out palaces in New Zealand.

    One thing that I’ve found interesting about free market capitalists is their insistence that only an unfettered market should determine how the economy is structured. But what I’ve never heard a free market capitalist explain is what level of employment they think the free market would naturally achieve. I’d suggest it would be in the 50% unemployment range. Is that socially sustainable when government handouts are cut?

    You don’t understand the real reasons behind your oppressive taxes and the labour market collapsing:

    • The status of the US dollar as reserve currency has artificially boosted its value. This has caused industrial “production” to move to Asia where labour is cheaper. American workers are incapable of competing with this because goods remain expensive in the USA and workers couldn’t live on a Bangladeshi wage, nor should they.
    • Because the economy can no longer grow in real GDP terms, the private sector cannot make net profits. It becomes a zero-sum game where any winners come at the expense of the losers. Right now, Wall Street is the winner which makes everyone else a loser. Capitalism does not work when the economy can no longer grow.
    • Wall Street has literally stolen everyone’s pension via the derivatives scam. All that is left holding up the illusion of pensions is the ponzi sheme financial system.
    • As mentioned before, government spending and debt is the only thing left holding up middle class consumption and GDP. The USA has become a consumer driven economy due to the outsourcing.
    • All I hear about is how the government is stealing wealth via the Federal Reserve and income tax scams (I agree). But then why is the government broke? Shouldn’t it be rich if it’s stealing your wealth? Government taxation is merely the instrument that the elites use to steal from you and get hideously wealthy. As the middle class becomes completely hollowed out, so does the government’s tax base because the elites can hire good lawyers to avoid paying taxes (they write the laws themselves).

    I detest the current system / government / educational system / media even more than you do, believe it or not. But I will not out of ignorance blame my neighbours as scapegoats for this who had nothing to do with creating it.

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 3:08am

    #7

    Michael_Rudmin

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    Joined: Jun 25 2014

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    Guilt

    Mark BC (et al), I think there IS some guilt to be apportioned. Yes, as you note, the lion’s share of the guilt is with the wealthy who have stolen … but our own lawmakers are a part of that. Indeed, many of them go into legislation specifically for the graft it affords. Our cities, our state legislatures are rife with that. Congress, too.

    But it is also guilty, when a person CAN produce, and choses not to, but instead lives as a parasite of those around him who are of good will.

    That is not to say all government workers — but many of them do. Indeed, I had a pretty good field engineer who had severe genetic kidney disease; when an opportunity arose for him to get a city job, I encouraged it.

    Let’s go a step further: demonizing the homeless. I think that is wrong; and yet I also am well aware that the very people I give food to… are often able to work, and work very HARD at taking money for nothing. I can say there is guilt in that, even as I try to ensure that they have another day.

    I guess I’m not into biting; but if a person can do good for their neighbors and instead choses to do evil, I declare that is bad; and there is guilt there.

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 5:52am

    #8
    Penguin Will

    Penguin Will

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    To the OP, I find myself sitting here nodding my head and saying “Yep, that’s something that definitely should be done.”

    I’ve joked that I have left jobs in every way imaginable. I’ve quit, been laid off, been fired. Good terms and bad terms. You name it. There is a stigma and shame that comes with it and that can be difficult to overcome. We attach worth to our jobs and our titles. Even if you get the axe through no fault of your own it can be life shattering. So I say get ready, stay ready, and do so intelligently.

    True story: At the end of my stint as a researcher I was headed back into industry where I had been prior to going into the lab. I was lucky in that I had several job offers. A couple of them very prestigious, one in particular. At the last moment I took the 2nd best offer because it gave my wife the chance to get closer to her family. The job was great, bringing some powerful new design tools into an outfit that, frankly, needed them.

    Guess what? A year and a half later they decide that maybe all these expensive new tools and the guy that brought them in weren’t really what they needed. I was called in on monday morning, given a few weeks severance and sent down the road. I went from being a senior designer with impeccable credentials to just another unemployed Joe in less than 10 minutes.

    It was wrenching. You’re furious at them for not knowing what direction they really wanted to go before you take a pass on the job of a lifetime to join them. You’re embarrassed that you aren’t important enough to them to even warrant a paycheck. You’re dreading the conversation with the wife and all that this will entail. I’m telling you brother it will rob you of your manhood if you let it. I’ve seen it break good men as the days of being unemployed turn into weeks and then months.

    In the end it turned out alright as eventually I landed the job of my dreams after a short stint with another company. I would not trade my life for anyone’s. But that trust will never recover. I ALWAYS find myself thinking of ways to gain independence from the system. I find myself planning and executing ways to get my place to pay for itself so that one much smaller paycheck could see me through to retirement and beyond.

    Let’s be honest. After what we’ve seen the people in charge of this system do after the financial crisis do you trust them? To keep the economy healthy and productive? To be fair and equitable when difficult decisions have to be made? To take the long view and try to leave the country stronger and more united than they found it?

    Chris has said it for years, and he’s right. Community is where it’s at. And as Red Green closed each show with “Keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.”

    Will

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 9:04am

    Reply to #8

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 181

    5+

    The stick is on the ice but...

    There are no penalties for the many illegal hits that are going on all over the place!

    Hi Will,

    You have to be a fellow Canuck quoting Red Green lol. It’s too bad we cannot use his favourite fix all tool (duct tape) to get us out of the terrible predicaments we face.

    With respect to the conversation around govt. employment, I will add my two cents. I am currently a provincial government employee after spending the majority of my career in the private sector. Each side has its pros and cons, and each side is guilty of transgressions that affect people’s lives deeply.

    Each province, state, country has their differences when it comes to governance. Some of the pension/salary excesses highlighted above do not exist here. Just reading about the excesses makes me ill! One does not join this public service for a big salary. One trades off money for job stability with good benefits and a pension.

    As many have said, there are a lot of hard working civil servants who are trying to do things for the greater good. I am one of them. I made the same great effort in the private sector, but after 25+ years of enduring ongoing discrimination related to my disability, which stifled my career, I gave up and decided to see if the grass was greener on the public side (sad to report it is not).

    There are also those who do not put in a honest effort – no matter where they work – and do not care one way or the other. Tarring and feathering public servants everywhere is a favourite pastime. It is what it is. What I would dearly love to see is some tarring and feathering of all the organizations that continue to be discriminatory which prevents many, many millions of people with disabilities from gainfully working. It all ties in to the larger social problems that our billions in tax dollars go to funding. There is a relationship there folks…

    As for govt waste & excess, the problem as I see it is the short term election cycle in our systems of government. Four years is all elected officials get to pursue their (often self-serving) agendas. They do not engage in strategic thinking that goes beyond the election cycle, and do not start projects that will not get them re-elected. The system gives them no incentive to do so. Civil servants must march to those agendas, whether they want to or not. We are at the mercy of our political masters. When power changes hands programs are changed, deferred or cancelled, with years of hard work being discarded because it is no longer the flavour of the month. Some civil servants are able to play the game, roll with the punches and soldier on. But others give up after a few election cycles, when they realize that their cherished program to fix/eliminate (pick your favourite social issue) is never going to happen and the reality is they are just a minion in a revolving door that sees the corrupt masters coming and going with each election. So their motivation is slowly beaten down. People who once cared deeply about making a difference and started out wanting to change the world are reduced to just wanting to get through the day and go home. That is exactly where I am at right now.

    Of course when governments get a second term some programs and services do continue, perhaps in the same manner with the same, or if you are really lucky, more funding; perhaps it is changed up to suit the current business climate. Or programs & services are deferred & shelved to collect dust, or cancelled, and the program staff are shuffled to start again on the new favourite flavour being pursued by their masters. How is that the minions are the one’s always being tarred and feathered? We are not the problem people!

    I recently started a consulting business on the side. I did so to supplement my small retirement income, as well as to keep myself engaged with my life’s purpose, which is helping foster inclusion for people with disabilities. It will keep my brain cells working and happy, and if things work out well, I will be able to get the level of satisfaction and gratification that comes from helping others – something that has been elusive no matter where I worked.

    I have seen it all, experienced it all in my 42 years of working. I have been hired, fired, quit, laid off, treated great and treated horribly. I have filed a human rights complaint against an employer. I have re-trained three times. I have re-invented myself and started over from scratch several times, in different locations. I am doing so yet again because I cannot trust the system to deliver on my pension and other social contracts.

    That mass lay offs are/may be coming, that so many people are struggling to find decent work that pays decent wages is a reflection of a system that does not place value on human life. Some think it is great to pay some guy 35 million dollars a year to toss a ball around, with many more aspiring to do just that. Yet we only want to pay day care or elder care workers 10 bucks an hour to do important, challenging work to care for loved ones. We are a part of the problem as long as we continue to support the guy with the ball, the many more like him, the billionaire entertainers and all the others who are greedy takers, who give back nothing of real value in return. There is so very much wealth so horribly allocated because our values have been so corrupted by money. It is a real reflection of how far off course humans have drifted.

    There is only one security in this life, which I have found out the hard way: being able to take care of oneself (and your family if applicable) is all that truly matters. If you can do that you have that much better chance of having a life that has fulfillment in a way that is meaningful to you.

    Jan

     

     

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 10:17am

    Reply to #8
    ao

    ao

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    1+

    true vs. fake disability

    Jan,
    Kudos to you for having worked through your whole life in the wide variety of venues that you have, facing the trials you have, all the while dealing with a disability.  I’ve found that many people with true disabilities are of a similar type.  A former patient and friend who was a low level quadriplegic went to work every day.  He had a home health aide who assisted him with his dressing, grooming, and toilet chores and took his electric wheelchair out the door into his hand control van and drove off to work.  He did this for years until his company folded and he was laid off and no one else would hire him (despite him having a fantastic work ethic and a wonderful brain and engaging personality).
    Unfortunately, in the USA, Social Security disability has become the new unemployment.  I would venture to guess that 90% of the patients that I saw who eventually applied for disability after racking up the requisite number of visits with various and sundry health care practitioners to “prove” their claim were capable of working.  Sadly, the people who are truly disabled often have a hard time getting the disability they deserve because of the “competition” (of sorts) from all these slackers.  Yet surprisingly, the government seems to have little interest in preventing all this fraud.  I know because I’ve looked into the issue on multiple occasions.  When an individual who is on Social Security Disability Income due to back pain can mow his lawn, trim his hedges, work underneath his car on a creeper and under the hood of the car, seal his driveway, dig post holes, and sit in a deer blind out in the cold for hours on end, I think he’s capable of at least some type of work.  When a young man and a young woman, living together, both apply for and receive disability for purported pain complaints (which are NOT of a disabling nature) before they even turn 21 years old, because their friends do this and their parents did this and their parents before them did this, something is dreadfully wrong with the system.  
    These fraudsters are bleeding our system of billions of dollars and it’s infuriating to witness their actions and the government’s general lack of interest in stopping it.  But of course, it’s all part of the Cloward-Piven strategy strangling the country. 

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 12:59pm

    Reply to #8

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 181

    4+

    yep, the cheaters definitely wreck it for everyone else!

    Hi ao,

    I agree with all you say. It is very disheartening for those of us who have genuine disabilities, who want to be contributing, accepted members of our communities, and feel good about what we bring to the table, which as you pointed out, is often considerable.

    It would seem work ethic has by and large gone out the window, somehow replaced with entitlement. I see it too, in so many different ways and it burns my butt, to put it politely. While there are many more like me, I think these days we are outnumbered by those who cheat.  One need only look to our leaders and bankers to see that cheating is okay and acceptable with few if any consequences. Small wonder then that the average Joe and Jan are cheating as well – if you can’t beat the system might as well join it. It is a product of the times.

    I am reminded of that excellent essay way back when by Charles Eisenstein, the essence of it being that it is society that is unwell, not us, and to not be okay with that does not mean we are the ones that are not well and in need of changing.

    I do believe in Karma. Those who conduct themselves well and with integrity will be rewarded – if only with the inner peace that comes from being good people and living with integrity. Those who choose to cheat and all that crap, well, Karma will deliver to them in some manner that which they may deserve. (I am reminded of my former, very greedy landlord who treated his tenants terribly while building his wealth to buy an oceanfront home. There is now a sewage treatment plant being built right across the street from him LOL! I smile to myself every time I walk by… Karma indeed).

    Thanks for chiming in. I know in the past we have had some disagreements. I appreciate your comments on my tenacity, and respect the thoughts you expressed. They do resonate with my thinking for sure.

    Jan

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 1:07pm

    Reply to #1
    S7

    S7

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    3+

    Agree to disagree

    I don’t mean to blame anybody, just stating the fact that government jobs, programs and employees are a net negative economically. Some of these jobs are necessary but the size and scope of what the government is involved in and thereby controls the influence of is way out of control. Just because computers have made things more efficient, it doesn’t make it a reason to employ more people monitoring worthless data or selling $500 toilet seats and hammers to their brother in law that is a NGO that is directly benefiting from fraud, waste and abuse. I know. I have a brother in law that is milking the system. I worked on equipment on board the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and was training the “On Board” maintenance  crew before they went overseas. They all had a 3rd grade understanding of the equipment I was involved with and they were the responsible parties for ordering the tools needed. They were handed a Snap-On tool catalog and told to get what they needed. $55,000 later they had basically what any mechanic would dream of, but they didn’t know how to utilize half of the tools they purchased.

    I don’t understand why if the economy can no longer grow, the private sector can no longer make profits. The economy doesn’t depend on the government spending money to spur economic growth and profits. It is not the responsibility of the government to make sure everybody is equal. We’ve gone down this socialist path so far I don’t see meaningful change coming anytime soon. The government, in my observation, employs many if not the majority of people that those people cannot successfully compete in the private sector or produce something that someone else is willing to make an exchange for. (No entrepreneurial spirit or gumption to make something work for themselves, they just want to coast along for the ride counting beans, or processing permits, or being one of the 4 supervisors watching Jose dig the ditch)  Or they are a part of the long lineage of self perceived elites that has successfully infiltrated governments since the beginning of recorder history to try and control other people.

    If you can’t do, sell. If you can’t sell, go to work for the government.

    I hope wall street steals every bodies pensions, especially the government employees. Without worthless fiat currency, a large portion of these people don’t have they skill-set to survive and many do not have the ability to learn something new, and that is sad commentary on a great nation, but life is tough. It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 4:41pm

    #9
    jisaac

    jisaac

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    Posts: 8

    1+

    ao,

    It’s not for you to decide what constitutes a real or fake disability.

    There are far more claims for mental health (which impacts mental capacity, energy levels) and conditions like chronic fatigue, pain than anything obvious and clear cut.

    There will always be a percentage that do cheat, they are in the minority.

    A lot of health problems are invisible. Mental health problems, as well as chronic fatigue, pain can be far more debilitating than being crippled when it comes to working.

    Sometimes people have episodes when they can’t work.

    It’s not black or white – a question of being able to work 100% 0r not. Being able to do a little bit of physical work a few hours a week doesn’t mean the individual can function properly in most jobs and work enough to cover expenses.

    I don’t know what you have in the US, but in canada it’s done by the provinces. Here, disability does not preclude paid work. There are people who can only work some of the time, work as much as they can and get money clawed back.

    Everyone, “disabled” or not should contribute to society to the best of their ability. Earning money btw doesn’t guaranty making a  positive contribution; people who hold bullshit jobs, whether in the private or public sector are a drain on society. We don’t need “diversity officers”  or people working in marketing trying to get us to buy more crap we don’t need with money we don’t have. We don’t need “fund managers” who contribute but just gamble with other people’s hard earned money and skim off the return.

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 4:43pm

    #10
    jisaac

    jisaac

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 22 2018

    Posts: 8

    * fund managers who don’t contribute

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 6:38pm

    #11

    Dave O

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 23 2011

    Posts: 21

    6+

    Yes, I am at risk. What now?

    It is unfortunate to see the finger pointing from so many smart people.

    I am at risk. That is a scarey thing even with a level of faith.

    I have worked in the private sector for about 25 yrs, and paid into a system that I know is corrupt.

    I tried to leave corporate America and helped a friend start a farm.  It was sucessful for him, but did make enough to support my family.

    When I passed the denial stage, I entered the anger and depression stages.  The way I allowed it to impact my mental state, contributed to my divorce.  And the divorce process has already backrupted me.  So, at 46 with 2 sons and a few bits of silver and knowledge of how to grow food, I see the paradigm about to shift.

    I dont expect an answer, and even without material reaources now, I expect to help my sons and mom and step dad and brothers and neighbors, even if I don’t know how.

     

    or I die trying.

     

     

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 7:10pm

    Reply to #11

    Adam Taggart

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 25 2009

    Posts: 2620

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    How many others here are less-than-ready to face a pink slip tomorrow?

    Dave O wrote:

    I am at risk. That is a scarey thing even with a level of faith.

    Dave – I’m sorry to hear of your tribulations. It sounds like life has passed you through a particularly painful wringer.

    I appreciate your honesty and emotional courage sharing this with us.

    While I’ve enjoyed the thoughtful debate this thread has sparked on the value and contributions of public vs private employees, I’d expected more folks to address the anxiety and angst you’re giving voice to.

    As I wrote in the original post above, layoffs are gutting. And unless you’re one of the rare people with a new job already in hand and a foot out the door when the pink slip arrives, virtually no one is prepared — emotionally or financially — for the instant arrest getting laid off throws your life into.

    Income — gone. Routine — gone. Identity — upended. Future prospects — suddenly much less certain. Self-esteem — often shaken.

    It’s a very unpleasant potential outcome to consider, because it threatens the comforting affirmation we tell ourselves as we fall asleep: Tomorrow’s going to be OK.

    And just as the arrival of a Dorian-scale disaster shows us how fragile our usual state of normalcy truly is, contemplating a layoff forces many to admit that without their employer’s paycheck, they’re much more financially vulnerable than they’re comfortable with.

    I’m harping on this because I really do want folks to go through the mental exercise of taking a hard look at their current job and assess:

    • How impacted would I be if I got laid off?
    • What would I do if that were to happen?
    • Being honest with myself, how vulnerable is my company/job right now?
    • Are there prudent steps I should be taking today to put myself in a better position should my risk of getting laid off increase?

    For the reasons enumerated above, the next few years look increasingly likely to see a substantial increase in mass layoffs. If they get bad enough, it just becomes a numbers game — you and/or folks you care about will be some of the victims.

    Dave O, Penguin Will and a few others have shared their personal experiences on the destructive impact a layoff can wreak on your savings, morale and relationships. I really want to help folks evade as much of this pain as possible, which why I’m highlighting this unpleasant topic here on the site.

    How many others here are less than ready to face a pink slip tomorrow?

    And those of you who feel confident about your current situation, is there any actionable advice you can offer those folks above and beyond the litany of solutions provided in Part 2?

    cheers,
    A

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 7:15pm

    Reply to #9
    ao

    ao

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    actually, it IS for me to decide

    I have to respectfully point out that when someone qualifies for disability in the US, SOMEONE has to make that determination.  That is a judge and the health professionals who have been treating the patient.  The judge is supposed to make her/his decision based on facts and data, not on opinion and belief.  And that’s where I came in as the health professional.  I did scientific and evidence based assessments and measurements that determined whether that individual was or was not disabled and determined the degree of disability.  I didn’t deal with mental disorders, only physical disorders.  Obviously, physical disorders have mental implications but the primary claims I would deal with (I’m recently retired) are for physical disability, not mental disability.  There are criteria, tests, measures, data, etc. which are all too often ignored by the system but are quite accurate in making a fair and objective assessment as to disability.  Just because a problem is “invisible” as you say, does not mean it’s undetectable.  Gravity, cosmic rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet light, infrared light, microwaves, short wave radio waves, long wave radio waves, electric current, etc. are all invisible but are very detectable and measurable.  Perhaps it is different in Canada but this is the way we do it in the US, for better or worse.

    You state “There are far more claims for mental health (which impacts mental capacity, energy levels) and conditions like chronic fatigue, pain than anything obvious and clear cut.”  Far more claims than what?  Than physical problems?  Do you have data for that?  I think you’re conflating chronic fatigue and chronic pain but they are different entities and chronic pain is multi-faceted (although it is all too often treated, erroneously so, as a block entity).  I know a little bit about this area having practiced for 41 years, lectured in 40 states, taught in two universities, written chapters in textbooks, published articles, and collected tons of data on chronic pain.  From my experience and data, those who are not making 100% truthful claims are in the majority.  From a psychological perspective, if you apply Paul Ekman’s studies on detecting deception, you’d find that the vast majority are lying about at least something.  Often they can work or work part-time or do easier work but chose not to do anything at all.  Just because the government makes a determination of disability, doesn’t mean it’s truthful and accurate determination.  On the contrary,  governments lie and they lie all the time for a multitude of reasons which are usually self serving.  I would expect that as you spend more time on this site, if you haven’t realized that by now, you will in the future.

    It’s interesting that in WW2, there were soldiers who lost a leg and went back into battle), lost an arm and went back into battle), were shot multiple times with one example having been shot 7 times (once in the neck, 4 times in the back, once in an arm, and once in a leg) and went back into battle but we have males of the same age who develop some back pain (which 80% of adults will in their life time) and they’re already bucking for lifetime disability.  It’s shameful.

     

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 7:29pm

    Reply to #11

    Dave O

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    Adam,

    Thank you for your work and focus on preparing folks for the possible future scenerios.  I appreciate your kind words.

    My life is blessed, regardless of the difficulties that most encounter. It is like camping in the summer.  Beautiful and full of bugs!

    The mental component is a huge benefit that this community has provided.  I belive than many in the general population are incapable of looking past the human optimism bias.  Once the predicaments of the future hit, those that have been preparing (even if mentally, like me) can be part of the solutions….

     

    or maybe that is my optimism bias.  🙂

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 8:27pm

    #12

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

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    10+

    more thoughts from someone who has been there, done that

    Thanks for getting us back on track Adam, and to Dave O for sharing the heart rending story. I am so sorry to hear of your challenges. That is a bummer!

    First, a qualifier to the discussion re disability. The system here in Canada is vastly different than the USA. You just about have to be half dead and unable to even hold a pen before you qualify. And if you do, you are limited to how much you can work before they claw back your meager, below poverty level payments. Believe me, if you qualify for a disability pension in Canada, you are living in hell. That being said, you will still be far better off than if you were born in, say, sub- Saharan Africa….

    The biggest thing I can say to those who are facing the prospect of unemployment is to focus on cultivating your emotional resilience, for that is what will carry you through the hard times. Those of us who have faced great adversity, whether from a disability or other life challenge (and everyone has them, just in varying degrees) and who have managed to keep going have done so because we were able to cultivate personal and emotional resilience. Without that you will have a tough go of it.

    Let me share some of my story in the hopes that it can inspire some of you who are fearful and afraid. In 2003 I was fired from a job I loved and was ideally suited to my profound deafness. Having struggled mightily to find my place in the working world, I was deeply wounded and floundered in my hope. My husband of 15 years was unable to support my emotional needs and we ended up splitting. I decided that it was time to pursue long held dreams. I left town with my worldly belongings in the back of a little Mazda truck. What started out as a few weeks off to get my head together became a two and a half year journey to rebuild my shattered self and confidence. I lived-worked on organic farms (Wwoofing) to help pay my way, which included 5 months in Europe. I had always known I wanted to live on the west coast, so when I returned from Europe in 2005, I landed here in Victoria. I had no job, no place to live, did not know a soul, had no family or friends.

    I began to rebuild my life one day at a time. It was brutal at times, the mental anguish soul crushing. Options are much more limited when one is profoundly deaf, for you have had your ability to communicate and connect with other human beings severely compromised. I joined a Toastmasters group. That led to someone telling me about a great apartment for rent. My skills and experience got me a job – for 12 bucks an hour in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. I sucked it up and did what I had to do. I took over unused gardens outside my apt. and grew some veggies. I worked hard, lived frugally and kept getting up every time I got knocked down. I kept going. It was not easy by any stretch. But I did it. And I credit my emotional resilience which developed from facing so much adversity as a person with a disability.

    Fourteen years later I own condo worth over 500K in a highly desirable area, with gardens to grow veggies & small fruit shrubs, developed a European lifestyle where virtually everything I need is within walking distance, I can walk home from work for lunch, and my car gets cob webs on it in between uses. Is it perfect? No. Is it great for families? Not likely. But it worked out for me and was worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

    If I can do it – with the extra challenges of profound deafness – you can do it too. Sure, it takes guts and fortitude and a never say die attitude; things that are in short supply in this era of instant gratification and sitcoms where life is good again after 30 minutes. We all know it does not work that way. It is the work ethic and keep on going attitude that will carry you.

    Do not delude yourself. If you have to start over again it will be perhaps the hardest work you have ever done in your life. Focus on building your emotional resilience. You can do it. All of you. Believe in yourselves and never stop believing. That is something no one can ever take away from you, no matter what. If you want/need more inspiration read Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. It is timeless and every bit as relevant today as it was when published.

    And good luck!

    Jan

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  • Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 8:51pm

    Reply to #11

    Locksmithuk

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 19 2011

    Posts: 105

    11+

    Pink slips

    I’m only partially prepared, and like Adam I really, really feel for Dave O and anyone in a similar position. So far I’ve been lucky enough to avoid falling into that particular hole. My sincere best wishes to Dave.

     

    I think the hardest of Adam’s questions to answer is “Being honest with myself, how vulnerable is my company/job right now?”. I sit on the board where I work, and despite the fact that ours is a great, solid company with 3 major income streams and significant industry experience, none of us could say for sure how vulnerable we’ll be when the next downturn hits. The adverse impacts of global connectivity on local business is the hardest factor to assess. As are the local external factors which we simply can’t control. Professionally speaking, I work with a risk-averse mindset, and maybe because of that I’m quietly nervous for us. Aside from a spend-happy marketing department I think I’ve got us as financially tight as I think we can go.

     

    In the last 3 months I’ve done something which I’d seriously recommend to anyone. I built a financial model [highly customised to my own circumstances], and I projected my asset position and net income to the age of 99. Yes, of course it comes with assumptions that I have no control over [like future pension payments and discounted cashflow rates], but that’s not where the value in the exercise is. For me that value lies in 2 things: 1) education & insight about my monetary habits; 2) mapping out my future options, relative to one another. I learned some eye-popping things about my habits and my future.

     

    For people in situations like DaveO’s, the above exercise may seem redundant. It’s not. You’ll ride up & down emotionally as you assess each of your options, but I posit that you’ll mentally arrive at a point of understanding & acceptance relatively quickly. You can then plan your actions. My best friend was completely wiped out financially & emotionally by a divorce 12 years ago. [Luckily I found him after each of his 3 failed suicide attempts, and eventually I told him to give up trying because he was obviously shit at it. Ha! Thankfully he took the advice.] He has now financially recovered to a large extent, and he’s very happy again. So, recovery is possible, but I have no personal experience of the inner pain suffered along the way.

     

    Adam’s point about actionable advice -: aside from the above, I can only recommend something which works for me personally. I do not use the word ‘resilience’. Instead, I intensively and actively practise being an extreme financial tight-arse*. This forces me to evaluate EVERYTHING that I spend money on, and it forces me to seek solutions & alternatives until I can absolutely do no more evaluation, and only then do I bring out my wallet and brush off the cobwebs on it. In doing all this I’ve realised that in the past 5 years junk yards have reinvented themselves in my eyes into goldmines. I also have no shame in asking businesses for free timber, pallets, cast-offs etc – most of them are happy to oblige. In the process, my practical skills and knowIedge have improved a lot, I’ve spent time with some incredibly knowledgeable & savvy people, I’ve toughened up, and although I still have a long way to go I am less underprepared than I was 12 months ago. I’m just going to keep going, learning, trying.

     

    *I’m tight except when it comes to tools and education. I have no hesitation in spending extra on the best tools and the best education. Last week I spent USD$20 attending a fruit grafting class. I now have the knowledge to grow up to, say, 20 different apple varieties on a single tree, and I can use my valuable garden space for other types food production which will allow me to barter or give away. In the same class I learned how to produce an endless supply of mushrooms by propagating spores with glass jars and kitty litter. [No, that’s not a typo.] All of the above is good education for $20.

     

    In summary, these are my most actionable advices, which I accept may not work for everyone. Also, I haven’t read part 2 yet, so apologies if the items below are already covered elsewhere:

    1. Honestly quantify, face, understand your current situation. If things look tough, assess whether you have a problem or a predicament [this is a crucial distinction];
    2. Identify deficient areas and decide whom to approach for help. [This may well determine your future friendships.]
    3. Economise. When you think you can’t economise any more then economise some more. Yes you can, believe me;
    4. Test one of your most vulnerable limitations in a safe environment, and be honest about how you fared. Then do it again;
    5. Life has taught me that quite often things don’t turn out as badly as feared.

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 6:23am

    Reply to #12
    Penguin Will

    Penguin Will

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    6+

    Jan,

    No I’m not from Canada, I’m just a hillbilly from the US… but I was at just about every Possum Lodge meeting on TV. And I had season tickets for the hockey team at college so maybe I can gain honorary status. 🙂

    You’ve had a rough time but you seem to have rallied back hard. Sometimes that’s what it all comes down to: fighting your way through it and salvaging as much as you can. You can spot someone who has done it quite often, they have a unique mixture of self assuredness and humility.

    I am not the be all and end all for any of it. But I do have a somewhat unique viewpoint in that I have seen and lived through some very rough times where they were widespread. When I was just a tike I saw what real economic devastation looks like up close and personal. In the early 80s the coal industry just about completely collapsed in Appalachia. It was all over and it was bad.

    How bad? Watching the pillars of your community stand in line for government cheese bad. Seeing upstanding members of the community turn to alcohol and neglect their families bad. Divorce. Domestic violence. Despair. It all came our way. And it ended up blowing a hole in the demographics of my state that a child could find on a graph.

    You know what separated those who got destroyed from those who limped through? I think two things: flexibility and friends.

    Got a chance to work a month or two on a crappy job 2 hours away? Swallow your pride and do it. Live in a camping trailer and save your bucks. Your neighbor has some extra fruit or beans or whatever and offers it to you if you’ll pick it? Swallow your pride and take advantage with a smile. Remember him or her and send them a pack or two of some frozen apples or tomato sauce that you’ve put up. Give when you can, take when you need to. Wife got a chance to pick up a few hours at the local shop? Trade off keeping an eye on the kids so she can take her mother to the doctor each week. And on and on.

    It marks you to see that stuff. And you carry the fear of it happening again your whole life. At least I have. If things ever get as bad nation wide as they did in the Appalachia of the coal collapse of the early 80s you will see things you would have never believed. But then again, I look around after so many years away from home and I have to admit that we have weathered the storm. The economy might not have ever recovered fully but the people have adapted.

    Maybe it’s like my dad used to say with a smile “You give a hillbilly an acre of land and a water source and you can’t starve them out. You’ll never be rid of them.”

    Will

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 8:04am

    #13

    sand_puppy

    Status Platinum Member (Online)

    Joined: Apr 13 2011

    Posts: 1945

    14+

    A Special Form of Joblessness: Retirement

    Charles Hugh Smith just penned a very insightful essay on his dilemma as a 65 yo who is not financially able to stop working.    I’m in a similar situation.

    Labor Day Reflections on Retirement and Working for 49 Years

    September 1, 2019

    Let’s start by stipulating that if I’d taken a gummit job right out of college, I could have retired 19 years ago. Instead, I’ve been self-employed for most of the 49 years I’ve been working, and I’m still grinding it out at 65.

    By the standards of the FIRE movement (financial independence, retire early), I’ve blown it. The basic idea of FIRE is to live frugally and save up a hefty nest egg to fund an early comfortable retirement. As near as I can make out, the nest egg should be around $2.6 million–or if inflation kicks in, maybe it’ll be $26 million. Let’s just say it’s a lot.

    You’ve probably seen articles discussing how much money you’ll need to “retire comfortably.” The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The conventional idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a boat and well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time golfing or boating as he/she might want.

    FIRE retirees might opt for socially aware volunteer work or hiking trips in remote regions. Whatever the activities, the basic idea here is: retirement = no work = enough cash to do whatever I please.

    Needless to say, Social Security isn’t going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on.

    Charles then talks about the FED induced failure of the traditional strategy of ‘retirement savings account compounding interest at 5.25%.’    In an era of ultra-low interest rates and the popping of the “everything bubble” that will devastate pension funds, that strategy fails.  Thanks FED.

    To quote Jackson Browne:

    Don’t think it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.”

    So, what are the alternatives?

    Which leads to another strategy entirely: focus not on retiring comfortably, but on working comfortably. Line up work you enjoy that can be performed in old age.

    —–

    This brings me to my personal adaptation to continuing work in emergency medicine as an older man.  I have found a local community hospital that 1) is not a trauma center, 2) will permit me to work only day and evening shifts in exchange for working weekends, 3) is near my home, 4) only part-time hours, 5) employ an assistant (a scribe) to function as both a hearing assistant and to write the chart into the computer system without me taxing my aging brain cells to learn a clunky new electronic medical record (EMR).

    The hearing assistance is especially important for me.  When the patient mumbles something I can’t hear, I turn to the scribe with raised eyebrows, meaning, “Please repeat that?”

    I have also asked the hospital page operators to re-route phone calls to my personal cell phone which has direct blue-tooth connectivity to my hearing aids.

    All a part of learning to work comfortably as an older person.

    (And I am very, very, very fortunate to have ended up in a field that is desperate for workers with my skill set.  There but for the grace of God, go I.)

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 9:16am

    Reply to #12

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 181

    1+

    Pride & ego as constraints to change

    Thanks for sharing Will! Great stuff!

    One word you used – pride – really jumped out for me. I think that pride and its relative ego, are barriers that get in the way for some people when they hit the hard times, preventing them from taking a lower paying menial job with status that is looked down upon. For example, how many able-bodied white janitors do you ever see? Not a lot because of the stigma attached to that kind of work.

    Many of you may be familiar with Brene Brown, who has done a fabulous job studying and explaining vulnerability and shame, which tie in to the pride/ego thing. An inability to show vulnerability, or to ask for help, is what holds so many back from doing what they need to do, especially in times of real need. We suffer needlessly when we let shame and pride rule us. I highly recommend her blog & books. They helped me immensely when I needed to understand more about why some things are the way they are for me.

    It seems the whole self-help/spirituality genre revolves around seeing ego as the barrier that prevents us from doing what we have to do, and being the best humans we can be. It is a concept I believe in and try hard to work on each day. Easier said than done in a society that promotes superficial values, which relentlessly stoke the pride and ego higher and higher. Those who buy into it the most will be the ones who fall the hardest, and struggle to cope the most.

    Jan

     

     

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 10:30am

    #14
    jisaac

    jisaac

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    Joined: Apr 22 2018

    Posts: 8

    2+

    ao,

    You can not look at people you don’t know,  and decide if they’re gaming the system or not. You haven’t seen their medical reports (which u seem to have blind faith in) and haven’t been in their shoes.

    “oh, he can mow his  own lawn, therefore he can work and shouldn’t get any assistance”. (ignoring the fact that a lot of people on disability do work but can’t enough to make ends meet) Get real!

    Yes, there are tests, no they don’t detect everything – you can’t measure someone’s experience. There are a lot of people who feel like crap but have normal test results.

    Health professional are narrow minded and think they’re gods, can measure everything.  They can’t!

    There are also no objective tests for mental illness – it’s all based on outward symptoms, inventories. Yet there can still have debilitating symptoms.

    There are conditions that weren’t acknowledged as real which we know now are, like fibromyalgia. Victims of this condition were dismissed. There are people who have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism, are treated with T4 only, have normal blood test results and just blame the patient. Talk about having blind faith in tests and “treatments”. The same is happening with chronic lime disease – something conventional doctors don’t acknowledge even exists.

    The claim that government overlooks things is bullshit -> where I am the rejection rate is around 50% and they’re tightening things up even more.

     

     

     

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 10:34am

    #15
    jisaac

    jisaac

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 22 2018

    Posts: 8

    https://www.ssdrc.com/5-72.html

    …says in the states the initial approval rate is only 36%.

    when things are getting bad it’s easy to find scapegoats. What gets paid out is nothing compared to what’s spent on unnecessary war and bailouts. you’re looking at the wrong target.

     

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 1:11pm

    Reply to #14
    MarkM

    MarkM

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 22 2008

    Posts: 356

    2+

    ...and some people

    just have a weak constitution, while others do not. The coming times will separate the wheat from the chaff. Everything for everybody is utopian pipe dream.

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 2:07pm

    Reply to #14
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 908

    4+

    we have different perspectives

    Actually, I most certainly can look at people I do know (having seen them multiple times and also living in a small community where you run into people in a variety of venues) and determine if they’re gaming the system.  And measurement and test systems are getting more and more accurate and can tell much more than most lay people think, if the testers and measurers are keeping up with scientific advancements.  But I didn’t say health professionals were omniscient.  There are good, bad, and indifferent.  I’ve seen plenty of the bad and indifferent.  I made up my mind I wouldn’t be one of those.  I spent about a quarter of a million dollars (AFTER I graduated from 3 universities) on post-graduate education and continuing education to be the best of the best.  You’re wrong about most of what you said in the post but I’ve learned in the past that facts won’t get you to change your mind.  One of my “rules” for understanding how people function is that “most people are not rational, they’re emotional”.   I would guess you’re coming from a place of being disabled or being close to someone who is disabled.  That would tend to color your thinking with emotion.  Also, in many cases, the Shakespearean adage of “Methinks thou dost protesteth too much” seems to apply.

    The initial approval rate you quote is probably correct.  But the vast majority of people have learned (or have been advised by their attorneys) to apply again.  If they’re refused the first time, unless they are really obviously bogus, they’ll be accepted the second and third times.

    There’s lots of misinformation about fibromyalgia and I don’t agree with a fair portiion of the medical literature on the subject.  It’s overly simplistic and inaccurate.  One of the textbook chapters I wrote was in a medical text on myofascial pain and fibromyalgia so I know a bit about the subject.  There are both genetic and psychological factors that are very often involved, some of which can be changed, some of which that can’t.  In most costs though, fibromyalgia, properly managed, should NOT prevent someone from being able to do some kind of work.

    You presented a strawman argument on what’s spent on war and unnecessary bailouts.  Wasteful government expenditures doesn’t justify gaming the system.  And people who are on SSDI who don’t deserve it are bleeding the system big time.

    When I see someone logging and getting SSDI for a physical problem, he’s gaming the system.

    When I see someone sailing across the Atlantic solo and getting SSDI, he’s gaming the system.

    When I see someone at a soccer tournament sitting for 2 hours in a slumped position and not adjusting his body once for pain and also doing skydiving where he can have incredibly hard landings and he’s getting SSDI for back pain, he’s gaming the system.

    I could rattle off dozens of more cases like those just off the top of my head.

    Pain does not necessarily justify getting SSDI.  And yes, I’ve been in tremendous pain and could get into pain on a moment’s notice doing the wrong thing.  I’ve sustained 15 significant orthopedic injuries to my body, half of which (based on imaging tests alone) could qualify me for SSDI.  But I chose not to, for a variety of reasons.  People need to do some kind of meaningful and productive work to have a sense of purpose and dignity in their lives.  There’s nothing sadder than to see someone on lifetime disability, who is capable of working, whiling their life away watching TV, stuffing their face, smoking cigarettes or pot, drinking beer, etc. and not doing much else.  Yes, that is certainly not everyone but it is way too many.

    Too many people hang onto their “fibromyalgia” or “disability” or “such and such problem” as their identity.  It becomes who they are.  They even protect that identity if it is threatened.  And they are often quite reluctant to part with it.  When I was in that position, I made up my mind to assume the opposite mindset.

    PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING,  when facing great adversity in one’s life, whether it is being laid off or being injured and possibly disabled, is MINDSET.  MINDSET IS EVERYTHING!!!  I’ve seen people in wheelchairs (paraplegics and even quadriplegics), amputees, people with severe progressive neurological disorders, etc. who were INDOMITABLE in their spirit.  Despite the trials and tribulations they were facing, they made up their minds to fight it every step of the way and move forward, by whatever means possible.  Only he is lost who gives himself up for lost.  You do what you can for as long as you can and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing but you never give up.  I guess having grandparents who were survivors that escaped Communist Russia and Nazi Germany and a father who was a Marine Corps drill instructor imbued me with that mindset.  It has served me well.  YMMV.

     

     

     

     

     

    You

     

     

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  • Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - 2:15pm

    Reply to #14
    ao

    ao

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    and poor coping skills

    Yep, I agree Mark, weak constitutions, poorly developed coping skills, etc.  Yet interestingly, history is full of people who were sickly and weak when young who built themselves up to be physically and mentally strong and healthy adults.  But some people don’t want to hear that story.  They want someone to feel sorry for them.  They want to tell their tale of woe.  And that can be part of healing … to have others who have empathy and compassion for you, others that you can tell your tale of woe to and share your experiences.  But a time comes when that must end.  Unfortunately, some folks become black holes of emotional need.  Whatever you give to them, physically, financially, emotionally, or otherwise, it will never be enough.  They want more.  But they don’t want to put in the personal time and effort to get it.

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  • Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - 3:27pm

    #16
    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

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    ao, that is overly simplistic

    I had a very hard time getting ssdi, we were just this side of homeless.  No-one knew what was wrong with me, you should have seen the form that I filled out, first form no help, took me months and months and it was pretty scattered, illegible, etc…. You would think that the form itself should have been a piece of evidence about my disability ! The “exam” by the social security doc was a joke, and he knew it.  How can you measure something like that ?  It took me 3 times back and forth on the freeway to get the right exit, I kept missing it.  I had trouble in the elevator.  Dizzyness, etc… of course, and not getting the right floor.  But, once I got to the doctor,  I could answer his puzzle questions, I have always been very good at those and am high IQ.  Yes, I can do higher level thought sometimes in short bursts, not enough to work all day, or at least, you cannot predict that I will be able to.  I used to be an engineer.   So, even with my other physical symptoms, and confusions, he did not qualify me, I mean, he didnt see me missing freeway exits and confused, only that I was late.  I couldnt actually work, no matter what I tried.  I ended up working a 4 hour shift at the farmers market once a week for a season or two, I did not tell the man I worked with I was in pain and often having visual disturbances.  Then I spent the next 3 or 4 days on the couch.

    Thank God for those disability lawyers, for one.  And, thank God for finding another doctor who ordered a SPEC scan, that family paid for, that showed the lack of blood flow to my brain.  Most doctors do not know what test might be called for, and quite frankly, what person who has been out of work for 5 years can afford a $5,000 co-pay for a test that MIGHT show the disability court a definitive physical result.

    My diagnosis went from chronic fatigue, with no treatment.  Then, the doctor who ordered the SPEC scan had also tested me for, and diagnosed me with Lyme disease.  Concurrently A different doctor, and Osteopath had diagnosed me with fibermyalgia, which the other doctor woudl say, sure, caused by the Lyme, that chronic fatigue and fibermyalgia are discriptions of symptoms not cause.

    Yes, the Lyme treatments have given me improvements.  Not all better, never will be when not treated for 5 years.  And, as someone else has said, it is very hard to measure or prove the symptoms that keep me from working, the lack of memory, confusion, anxieties, fuzzy thinking, word finding.  The more I think, the foggier it gets, I can often do things a short time if not too tired, and it varies seasonally.  And it is very, very real.

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  • Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - 3:39pm

    #17
    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

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    what it can lead to

    We still cannot edit.  So then these things lead to secondary big health issues.  3 years ago a very upsetting thing I dont need to go into happened, and with my reduced thinking functionality I was having trouble processing and was overly upset.  I caused myself to get a TIA, a mini stroke.  I already have reduced blood flow, which is why too much stress or tiredness or interacting or thinking too hard to long gets me more foggy, I have reduced blood flow, I cant do that much at once, and tiredness or stress makes it worse.  So I had the mini stroke.  Then, I wasnt gripping the same with the outer fingers of my left hand, so I cant remember that, rely on gripping at the wrong time and end up falling off a ladder ( to my bed) and fracture my pelvis.

     

    But, speaking to the points of this thread.  You never know what will happen,  everything I did years ago to not have debt and have lower monthly bills are what helped.  So I am in a good place, I did not loose my house.  There is fruit falling off the trees ( a few broke this year, I do not prune, or water them) it is pretty easy to grow greens.  I put solar on the house before I got sick, so I have very low bills.  Before I got sick I had sold my house and bought a lower priced one with an extremely large downpayment and a 15 year loan, instead of what other people do and buy too much house.  The low income air quality program replaced my wood stove this year to a new clean burning LOPI endeaver, I love it.

    Sure, unfortuneately my new place had a tick problem…. but…

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  • Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - 7:39pm

    Reply to #16
    ao

    ao

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    sigh

    Actually, it’s not overly simplistic.  Go back and read what I wrote … carefully.  As you probably are aware, reduced cerebral blood flow can affect reading comprehension.  You’ll see I addressed the issue and, in fact, what you wrote corroborated what I said.  Virtually all the things you mentioned can be tested for and measured, IF THE RIGHT THINGS ARE DONE.  You’re an engineer.  Isn’t a large part of what you do testing and measurement?  I come from an extended family of a large number of engineers (and, in fact, I seriously considered electronic engineering as a career at one time).  Actually, a couple of cousins are literally rocket scientists.  You don’t launch a rocket to the moon (one cousin) and you don’t launch a Harpoon missile (another cousin) without some testing and measurement being done.  Biological systems have greater complexity but still operate according to science, not magic or alchemy.  As such, they are subject to testing and measurement and other scientific methodologies.  You are a case of one.  One the other hand, I’ve seen many hundreds of cases over my lifetime.  And as I’ve mentioned in the past, my specialty involved physical musculoskeletal problems, not mental or neurological problems.  I don’t claim any expertise with those although I have a passing knowledge.  Just like I told the other person, we have different perspectives.  You can’t generalize your individual experience to the broader population of either patients or health care providers.

    So, a key question, has anyone told you how you can improve your cerebral blood flow?  My guess is no.  But there are such strategies.  Are you interested or do you think such things are impossible?

     

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  • Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - 3:23am

    #18

    Michael_Rudmin

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    Ao, I'm interested

    What can one do to improve cerebral blood flow?

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  • Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - 8:00am

    #19
    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

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    of course there are things

    There are things and I do them, thus I can drive short distances int eh daytime, for example.

     

    As you say, these are not in your field.  SO, you should not generalize based on your field.

     

    The reality is that they DO NOT test for these things.  ANd, not all cognitive problems are testable.

     

    The disability doctors do not order tests for brain function, at all.  They spend 5 minutes asking some questions

     

    Maybe you should work on your reading comprehension

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  • Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - 8:04am

    Reply to #18
    mntnhousepermi

    mntnhousepermi

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    there are herbs

    But, a problem with many herbs is that then, for me, it lowers blood pressure even further, which leads to its own issues.  Basically, it doesnt work for everyone, and it doesnt make it “all better” but it may be able to help somewhat.  If you realy need more info on this as it relates to Lyme, you can message me

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  • Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - 8:09am

    Reply to #18
    ao

    ao

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    send me a message Michael

    And I’ll let you know.

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  • Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - 8:50am

    Reply to #19
    ao

    ao

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    double sigh

    Actually, I’m not generalizing based on my field so your statement is a non sequitur.  Certain problems may not be my specialty but it doesn’t mean I’m not cognizant of them and their solutions.  For example, I’m not a financial advisor or financial professional of any type but I do my own investment and I do it very successfully.field.  I have a high IQ as well and can figure out almost anything I put my mind to.

    When you say “they do not test for these things”, who is they?  Because these things can most definitely be tested for.  And if the correct tests are administered in the correct circumstance and environment, almost every cognitive problem can be detected so you are in error in your understanding.

    I would agree that most disability doctors are not very thorough and I would not want to be treated by the vast majority of them.  And I’m not a disability doctor or even an M.D.  But there are doctors that DO test for brain function.  You proved that by finding one.  Just because one doesn’t find them or go to them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  One also has to remember that diagnosis and treatment is a human process and as such, it’s imperfect.  That is true of anything and everything that humans do.

    With regards to my reading comprehension statement, it’s fine but at age 66, I know my memory is not quite what it used to be.  But I truly think you do have a problem and it can be tested for.  If you’re telling me that your cerebral blood flow is compromised and your cognitive function is affected but somehow your reading comprehension function has been completely spared, I think that’s unlikely … possible, but very unlikely.

    Herbs work through pharmaceutical action, not nutritive action, and as such, they may provide part of the answer but not the full answer.  And if they’re lowering blood pressure, they’re probably not going to be of much help.  There are, however, physical and nutritive measures that can benefit you.  But you have to do them unfailingly and over a long period of time.  There is no quick fix.   Interested?

    Getting back to disability, one does not have to be perfect to work.  One can work with a certain degree of disability.  As I said, MINDSET is everything.  All too many people on disability have a dis-abling mindset rather than an en-abling mindset.

    In all areas of human characteristics and behavior, there is a spectrum.  For example, there is a spectrum of will and tenacity.  There are those who never give up and there are those who very easily give up and there are those in-between.  The ones who never give up very rarely go on disability.  Even if they are majorly messed up, they just don’t view themselves as disabled.  They persist and persevere, regardless of their problems.  They are tough and have grit. Most people on disability have something wrong them, granted.  But having something wrong doesn’t necessarily preclude one from work.  Individuals with Down syndrome work.  Individuals with CP work.  Spinal cord injured, amputees, and neurologically impaired work.  People with back pain, neck pain, and other pain work.  But when I see someone get full disability because they have thumb pain (yes, I’ve seen that), that’s just wrong.

    Getting back to the issue of this thread, to overcome the adversity of a lay-off requires all the things I mentioned and more … will, tenacity, grit, determination, daily forward progress (in some way, shape, or form), relentless positive mindset, etc.  It’s a mental game (like almost everything at life) and mastering that game will, sooner or later, lead to success.  It ultimately comes down to a choice.  Am I going to roll over and figuratively die or am I going to languish in the middle with some expenditure of time and effort (but not 100%) or am I going to go out and kick ass doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes until I succeed.  One can’t let circumstances dictate one’s mindset.

     

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  • Sun, Sep 08, 2019 - 6:26pm

    #20
    NickAdams10

    NickAdams10

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    On topic

    A layoff is probably the most likely disaster any of us faces, much more likely than an EMP attack or the complete collapse of the U.S. dollar (these examples are not completely unlikely; however, mass layoffs have a much greater chance of happening than one of those scenarios). It is worth serious discussion and consideration here. I am surprised that we’re taking the opportunity to snipe at one another about something tangentially related to the topic at hand.

    As far as mass layoffs go, I’ve been through two, and they were unpleasant. Thankfully, I have learned from those experiences and have managed through a combination of luck and skill (mostly luck) to be positioned to deal with one much better. I have a few thoughts:

    1. Build as much social capital as possible. Never hesitate to help a friend or neighbor, especially if there is a chance that he or she may return the favor when you need it.
    2. If your income grows over time, keep your spending flat or as flat as possible. Then, do No. 3 or No. 4.
    3. Reduce debt while you’re still employed, especially consumer debt. During a layoff, cash flow is king.
    4. Save an emergency fund. (Obviously, this might in conflict with No. 1; each situation is unique and deserves its own balance.)
    5. Try to maintain more than one income stream per household in more than one industry.

    These are general guidelines, though. If there are two lessons that I have learned about personal finance, it’s that every situation is unique and that only the people closely involved really have the knowledge to make suitable choices. Those, and that money only goes so far. What really matters is people.

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  • Mon, Sep 09, 2019 - 3:11pm

    Reply to #20
    NickAdams10

    NickAdams10

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    Edit

    No. 4 should read as follows: Save an emergency fund. (Obviously, this might in conflict with No. 3; each situation is unique and deserves its own balance.)

    My apologies.

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