Last Monday, I bought a Strawberry Shortcake watch; I need to tell time if I'm gonna become more disciplined. Time-telling is crucial to becoming a responsible adult, as well as not showing any panty lines when wearing pants that are sedately colored but fashionably cut enough so that you do not seem geeky and thus potentially "weird." But since I don't like Strawberry Shortcake or pretending like it's 1984 again, I rarely wear it. So then. There goes one hour's wage, into a little piece of candy-colored plastic that I will never wear. And so. Will I ever become a responsible adult?
You might laugh, especially if you know me intimately; I am nearly twenty-six years old and I still talk about becoming a responsible adult while many friends have gone to graduate school or have become successful professionals who pay their credit card bills on time. They have cell phone numbers. They drive cars. They take trips to Europe each year.
But I must consider the question of responsible adulthood, in terms of whether or not I should take it seriously; I'm pessimistic in regards to its usefulness, of its necessity in a state of emergency. I won't try to speak as a pundit because punditry is for the noisemakers on CNN and FOX and what good are they in these times? I am simply trying to consider a question seriously, especially since many friends have not become successful professionals; regardless of experience and/or education, they work for cheap, without benefits, as easily replaceable temp workers. In regards to our ability to pay the rent next month, I'm very worried for my friends and, frankly, myself. (I'm not too worried about my mom, however, because she works for the defense industry; war is lucrative.) I mean, there is the matter of this pesky recession, little of which I have read about in my local newspaper.
However, I did read that, according to a column in the business section of the San Francisco Chronicle, entitled "You’re not powerless in layoff": "[A Rutgers University survey] found that only 40 percent of workers who had been laid off in the past believe they have the chance to reduce their chances of being laid off again the next three to five years. Unionized workers were even more pessimistic. Seventy-one percent of workers in unions, including teachers' associations, said there are no steps they can take to avoid potential layoffs.
"Certainly that pessimism might be valid for a few people, but one of the most dangerous habits any worker can get into is to exaggerate how powerless you really are. Too many times, people use it as an excuse for their own laziness or insecurity. 'My boss hates me.' 'I can't find a mentor.' 'It's all politics.'
"Focus on what you can control. If you were laid off, think about why it happened. Are there skills you're missing? Have you lost your enthusiasm for work? Is your industry fading away? Are there better opportunities in other parts of the country - or world?"
In the same section, a story mentions that, according to a recent report by the Labor Department, 486,000 US jobs have "vanished" since January 2003. Interestingly, the writer doesn't explicitly mention who is behind the vanishing act: businesses and bosses looking out for the bottom line. But good news (at least for corporations who want to avoid pesky union-organizing or the payment of decent wages that take into account the high cost of living, let alone health benefits or retirement plans): "One bright spot in the July report was an increase of 41,900 in employment of temporary workers. Since April, 122,000 temps have been added to the nation's job rolls."
Perhaps I'm thinking hard enough about how I might control my job situation. Perhaps I should ask for a raise from my boss. Perhaps I should not be too pessimistic. But regardless of my pessimism, I don't think that my local newspaper will ever seriously examine why unionized workers and workers in general might be more than a little pessimistic regarding their livelihoods. Why would the San Francisco Chronicle wish to acknowledge publicly what some workers understand, that it is "all politics"? Its writers would have to consider that workers might also understand that the state of politics exist due to the decades-old machinations of corporations and government seeking to maintain the capitalist system by whatever means necessary. But, of course, a columnist for a bourgeois piece-of-shit newspaper like the San Francisco Chronicle wants readers (and workers) to focus only on their "laziness" and personal insecurities; because if they didn't, workers might decide to develop habits more dangerous than pessimism.