Sunday, December 12, 2010
Food Line Mindset
When I was a young carpenter, I saw that guys with special skills or tools kept busy and made more money than other carpenters. I did piece-work back then, mostly hanging fascia board on tract homes for 50 cents a foot. When the first programmable calculator came out, I bought one and spent two weeks making a program to calculate my cuts for the different roof pitches. I took great pride in my work and expended considerable effort improving my skills and maintaining top-quality tools. Even with my work ethic, however, I was unemployed from time to time.
Whenever friends or family suggested I file for Unemployment Insurance, I felt insulted. I tried to explain the subtle distinction between being unemployed and being unemployable, but no one understood why I wouldn't claim "my" money. "It's your right!" was all I heard.
These days my work is heavy-commercial concrete formwork on mega-resorts and such. I do layout with AutoCAD and a surveyor's total station. I probably couldn't keep up with the young bucks, slugging stakes into the ground with a sledgehammer, and I'm glad I don't have to. But even with my mad layout skills, I'm just about out of work. Las Vegas is dead and I don't expect it to recover anytime soon.
When the boss hands out the layoff checks, my fellow carpenters will nervously talk about taking a vacation at "window E". But "my" unemployment money, the taxes my employer was forced to pay, has long-since been spent. To make unemployment payments, the State of Nevada has had to borrow 100's of millions of dollars from the Federal Government which had to borrow it from the Federal Reserve which had to print it on pieces of paper. And nobody sees anything funny in this?
In two weeks or so, I'll take my vacation at Window E. I'll ignore the damage to my dignity and jump through the flaming hoops and demeaning forms to collect my unemployment "compensation". I'll do it because, well, since my America died, I'm just not the same man.