Monday, February 28, 2011

first time filer

If you listen to the unemployment reports like I do - it seems that NPR was always talking about unemployment just about the time I was on my commute home from my last job.  (As I think of it, I can hear Kai Ryssdal's voice in my head.)  They always talk about the number of jobless claims and then they say something about first time filers for unemployment benefits.  Well, I don't to pay much attention to these reports as every time I think about it I get this awful sick feeling in my stomach.  Such is the life of the unemployed, some times underemployed worker these days.   

Today, I filed for unemployment for the very first time.  So when you hear this week's job's report and they mention first time filers, you can think of me.  Here's hoping that I don't find myself in the long-term unemployed category .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Utah does have the best snow

Just when I was getting a bit fed up with Utah, it started snowing.  I can't say that I always love snow, it can be a bit of a pain sometimes but I do love to look out the window and see the world covered in fluffy white flakes.  I've lived in a number of snowy places, but I always find myself comparing it to Utah snow.  

So, maybe I'm glad that I'm staying for a few more days.  Even if it means that I have to wrestle with my cat while I type.  If cats could blog, this one would. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

dangers in discretionary budget cuts

I usually try to keep politics out of my blog because a) I don't want this to be a contentious space and b) I often find it difficult to express my position with the articulation that I feel it deserves.

But today, I'm going to talk about something that has been on my mind lately.  And to do that I think that maybe I should share a little bit about where I am coming from.  I am: 30 years old;  Raised in a conservative (in every way) household;  Politically independent, oft times finding myself disgusted with both political parties but more often the Republicans; And an unemployed/underemployed attorney.  I think that America is great despite its faults (and yes, we have a few).  I get most of my news from NPR and the New York Times.  I can't stand most tv news shows but have a soft spot for Rachel Maddow -even though I don't always agree with her but I appreciate her thoroughness and snarky, cool headed tone.

I am also highly influenced by David Brooks.  I have been reading his column in the NY Times for a couple of years now and find myself generally agreeing with this self described Republican.  Brooks is the kind of Republican that I can get behind - knowledgeable, smart and moderate.  And so I found his column last week to be most interesting because it spoke to something that has been on my mind a lot lately: Government spending.  Brooks explains that most of our spending goes to entitlements.  And for political reasons, congress can't or won't, for better or worse, make cuts to entitlements.  And so congress is looking to make cuts in "discretionary spending" - which I agree with in principle but gets a little stickier in application.

"...[A] vast majority of the budget is off limits to politicians who are trying to control debt. All cuts must, therefore, be made in the tiny sliver of the budget where the most valuable programs reside and where the most important investments in our future are made."   David Brooks, "The Freedom Alliance", NY Times (February, 10, 2011) 
The danger in cutting discretionary spending, as Brooks explains, is that discretionary funding goes to very programs that make America great.  Programs like NASA, PBS, and foreign aide.  As an American I take real pride in these programs and would be very sad to see them go.  It is our technology, education and good will that makes America great.  And I believe that those who work within these programs are doing important work that shouldn't be thrown out like a baby with the bath water.  

And speaking of jobs, lest we forget the elephant in the room, cuts in discretionary spending means that people are going to loose their jobs.  Because, think about it, where does all that discretionary funding go?  Most of it goes to people's salaries.  And we all know that the private sector is still growing at a snail's pace, so, we're talking about more unemployment and fewer jobs for job seekers, like me and so many others.  

 I recognize that our nation is in a very sticky situation and that we may all be called upon to sacrifice to get through the mess that we've gotten ourselves into.  I only hope that we can do so without undermining the very strengths that make our nation great.

Yesterday, I signed a petition asking Congress to not cut funding to NPR and PBS - not because, I couldn't live without Masterpiece Theater but because, I believe that these programs are a national treasure that serve a vital role in our nation, to inform and educate the American public.  Click on the tote bag to sign the petition.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning

My new roommate is also a contract attorney, so we've had LOTS to talk about.  She compares it to working for the Dread Pirate Roberts.  

As Wesley tells Buttercup in the Princess Bride, at the end of each day the Dread Pirate Roberts would say: "Goodnight Wesley.  Good work.  Sleep well.  I'll most likely kill you in the morning."  And this went on for years.   

And so it is with contract work.  We go to work everyday with the sure knowledge that it could be our last.  And we're all the more neurotic for it.  

Such was yesterday.  I went to work.  Diligently stared at a computer screen all day.  And at 8pm I got a call from my staffing agency that I'd been cut from the project.  while it was no surprise, it left me rather stunned.  Funny how knowing that something is coming doesn't really take away the sting.  Unemployment is incredibly dissettling. 

I won't miss the project, but I will miss my coworkers and the paycheck.  I really bond to the people I work with everyday - maybe it's the close quarters or maybe it's something to do with misery loving company.  But I can also say that I've made some really good friends that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten the chance to get to know so well, but for working together as contract attorneys.  The people are what make the job bearable.   

On the bright side, I was able to move up my trip back home and now I leave tomorrow!  (Gotta love Southwest - did you know that they'll let you change the dates of your trip after you buy your tickets? Revolutionary idea, right!?) Can't wait to meet my new little niece, Sofie.