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Old 08-04-2009, 03:23 PM   #21
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Unemployment insurance is a really important safety net and I don't understand how it interferes with private business. The purpose it serves is to allow people to have a bit of money for food, hopefully stay in their homes for a while and time to job hunt. Don't knock it just because you have ever needed it. I was laid off in 1975 and it took me about 4 months to find a job. We had to move, but that was OK. With a wife and 2 little kids, the UI coupled with our savings kept us from having to live on the street and allowed me to have a focused job hunt. My plan was to take anything I could get once we were within one month of it running out, but with an MBA, I figured I just needed some time to work through the interviews. And that's exactly what happened. I received several offers and took the one that suited us best.

I am thankful that I never needed to use it again, but one of our grown kids has been laid off several times, never for very long, but the UI allowed her to focus on getting a new job and not worry about the rent. In her case, even a MBA can't guarantee that a failing company won't shed workers. Also, working for newspapers is probably not the most stable job in the world these days :-).
Excellent post.

I was on UI for about six months in 1978. I received the princely sum of $60 a week. However, this money kept the lights on and food on the table. I've never had to collect again and have never received public assistance. I've lived a very fortunate life.
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:32 PM   #22
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What stood out was the defeatist attitude that the author conveyed. I know from past posts written by a lot of us that we've had tough times like this family is going through. I've collected UI myself. It is very difficult for me to understand their attitude, but I definitely understand their situation.
It is not easy to lose a job, nor it is reasonable for anyone to expect to have the job of one's dreams waiting in a recession...but a winning "can do" attitude is needed to overcome adversity. I didn't get that from the dialogue of the adults and the teenager. Just the opposite.
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:35 PM   #23
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I sure hope St. Peter is less strict than many of you ladies and gentlemen.
Ha
There's no need to worry. According to the following story, St. Peter is very lenient.


Three men died in a car accident and met St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

St. Peter said "I will ask you each a simple question. If you tell the truth I will allow you into heaven, but if you lie, hell is waiting for you."

St. Peter asked "How many times did you cheat on your wife?"

The first man replied, "I was a good husband. I never cheated on my wife."

St. Peter replied, "Very good! Not only will I allow you in, but for being faithful to your wife I will give you a huge mansion and a limo for your transportation."

The second man replied, "I cheated on my wife twice."

St. Peter replied, "I will allow you to come in, but for your unfaithfulness, you will get a four-bedroom house and a BMW."

The third man replied, "I cheated on my wife about 8 times."

St. Peter said, "I will allow you to come in, but for your unfaithfulness, you will get a one-room apartment, and a Yugo for your transportation."



A couple hours later the second and third men saw the first man crying his eyes out. "Why are you crying? You got the mansion and limo!" the two men asked.



The first man replied, "I'm crying because I saw my wife a little while ago, and she was riding a skateboard!"
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:47 PM   #24
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Interesting that this family is pulling in the equivalent of $34,216 a year from unemployment. Or close to $3000 a month. I'm surprised the money doesn't go further that the article makes it seem, since this is somewhere in the ballpark of what our family of four spends on an annual basis in what I assume is a slightly higher cost of living city. And we have a disproportionately large mortgage payment given that we refi'd into a 10 year note. Although I do note some distinct differences in the spending patterns between our family and theirs.

It's hard not to feel a little sorry for people in this situation. But at the same time, they are not completely victims of circumstance either. I think many of us have been in situations like this or have family or friends that have.

The guy in the article also seems to suffer from alcoholism and depression. Adding unemployment into the mix can't make things any easier.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:20 PM   #25
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I sure hope St. Peter is less strict than many of you ladies and gentlemen.
Ha
I'm a compassionate person, but its hard to be as compassionate towards those who have reached this point in their lives in a large part due to the poor choices they made.

there are many times when things aren't going right and you are looking for someone or something to blame.....and all you need to do is look in the mirror.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:23 PM   #26
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I perhaps apply a similar rule as you if I am asked to help. But compassion is free. It's limitless like love, why not give it freely?

Ha
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:00 PM   #27
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Let them eat cake!
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:03 PM   #28
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There is a guy I know that is retired. He and his wife live on less than $2,000 a month and he says he 'even manages to save a little each month'.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:23 PM   #29
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The "journalist" who wrote the article didn't put much effort into looking for someone hardworking, frugal, and deserving who is having a tough time. Instead, he put a family in the spotlight that is clearly undeserving in many respects.

It is easy to look at this family and conclude, "See? People who say they are having tough times are ALL a bunch of undeserving louts." (We Americans are so good at generalizing.. )

Perhaps inspiring that conclusion on our part was the author's intention. At any rate, there ARE people out there who are deserving, hard working, don't throw money away with drinking, smoking, or gambling, and have even sold their x-boxes and still are having a tough time putting food on the table. In my opinion this author just didn't look hard enough to find someone like that or else he does not have much sympathy for those who are out of work.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:34 PM   #30
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Perhaps inspiring that conclusion on our part was the author's intention. At any rate, there ARE people out there who are deserving, hard working, don't throw money away with drinking, smoking, or gambling, and have even sold their x-boxes and still are having a tough time putting food on the table.
Wait a minute... you can't expect someone to give up all that just because him and his wife don't have jobs, can you? And you forgot to mention his dirt bike.

Drinking, smoking, gambling and playing xbox describes my college days pretty well.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:38 PM   #31
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Interesting that this family is pulling in the equivalent of $34,216 a year from unemployment. Or close to $3000 a month.

This is not much less than what he would have been taking home at $53K/year from the RV plant, less federal and state taxes, SS, 401K contributions bar bills, commuting costs, etc. Their situation is grim, and I don't have a very good feel about their future, but I have a hard time sympathizing with them after hearing about her reaction to the new job situation. IMO, she should have taken the job, shown them she was employee of the month material and it might have turned into a full time position with commensurate compensation. Selecting continued unemployment and hanging out with Homer on the couch isn't exactly a positive career move.

As for the MIL's basement, why do they have to live with overflowing catboxes and insulation falling off the windows? Get up off the couch, turn off the damn TV and clean the place up.

Unemployment is not the only problem facing these folks. They have made, are currently making, and will probably continue to make poor lifestyle and financial decisions.

BTW, What are they buying on layaway at Kmart that is so important that they would dedicate such a large chunk of their meager income to, anyway? That little subplot really piqued my interest...

Do I feel sorry for them? YES
Do I feel responsible for them? NO
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:40 PM   #32
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I'm glad I don't live in a glass house....
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:47 PM   #33
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I wonder how much the Washington Post (Our nation's self-annointed social conscience) paid them for their story?
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:49 PM   #34
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This is not much less than what he would have been taking home at $53K/year from the RV plant, less federal and state taxes, SS, 401K contributions bar bills, commuting costs, etc. Their situation is grim, and I don't have a very good feel about their future, but I have a hard time sympathizing with them after hearing about her reaction to the new job situation. IMO, she should have taken the job, shown them she was employee of the month material and it might have turned into a full time position with commensurate compensation. Selecting continued unemployment and hanging out with Homer on the couch isn't exactly a positive career move.

As for the MIL's basement, why do they have to live with overflowing catboxes and insulation falling off the windows? Get up off the couch, turn off the damn TV and clean the place up.

Unemployment is not the only problem facing these folks. They have made, are currently making, and will probably continue to make poor lifestyle and financial decisions.

BTW, What are they buying on layaway at Kmart that is so important that they would dedicate such a large chunk of their meager income to, anyway? That little subplot really piqued my interest...

Do I feel sorry for them? YES
Do I feel responsible for them? NO
That pretty much sums up my sentiments, except I would not expect her to take a pay cut to go work for the chiropractor. Especially since she would get dinged with payroll taxes, and have to pay for gas and car maintenance to get to/from work.

Judging from the amounts they were pulling in from unemployment, it looks like the wife had a decent job, too (before she was terminated). My guess is they were grossing $80k+ during 2007 (ie comfortably middle class by middle America standards). And virtually nothing to show for it in terms of accumulated wealth. Empathy - yes, sympathy, no.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:50 PM   #35
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I'm glad I don't live in a glass house....
Don't volunteer to be interviewed by a national media outlet if you don't want to experience glass house syndrome.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:09 PM   #36
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Don't volunteer to be interviewed by a national media outlet if you don't want to experience glass house syndrome.
Ain't that the truth! I'm pretty safe though as I live a boring life. No one would want to read about me....
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:44 PM   #37
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I feel sorry for them . Sure they made poor choices but they did not exactly grow up with stellar models . Of course he should not have thrown money around at the bar but it was probably the only time in his life he felt like king of the hill . Of course they should have saved some of their salary but they did not and now they have problems . I for one have made some stupid mistakes and I'm sure a story about those parts of my life would bring a lot of tsktsking but I'm only human as most of us are . As they say " There but for the grace of God goes I ".
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:53 PM   #38
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I thought the article was exceptionally well-written and it seems apparent that the journalist spent a great deal of time with this family to convey their despair so accurately.
Ha will appreciate that I found the article through Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics blog, where he supposed that his readers would feel the same way as many of us. You might enjoy his commentary:
What Does This Sad Story Say to You? - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com

I found the story and photo essay riveting. I agree with the consensus view that they created this mess, but I cannot help but feel sorry for those children and the long ago lost dreams of the wife. I've known people like this and gotten a glimpse of their hopelessness.

Whew--whatever it was that caused me to get where I am--luck, charm, hard work, good schooling or whatever, I'm sure as hell glad to be here instead of in that wretched basement.
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:04 PM   #39
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...Selecting continued unemployment and hanging out with Homer on the couch isn't exactly a positive career move.

As for the MIL's basement, why do they have to live with overflowing catboxes and insulation falling off the windows? Get up off the couch, turn off the damn TV and clean the place up.

...BTW, What are they buying on layaway at Kmart that is so important that they would dedicate such a large chunk of their meager income to, anyway? That little subplot really piqued my interest...
Are we related?
My money is on either a large size flat screen TV or a Wii system for the teenager.

I lived in a basement apartment in college with 3 other gals because that's all we could afford. We used what little spare money we had on a trip to the Salvation Army to get low price items to make it as bright and cheery as we could. It's all in the attitude.
You gotta make the best of what you are dealt and take an active part in changing those lemons to lemonade.

Their lack of gratitude toward the mother for taking them in was a real eye opener for me. My "entitlement mentality" detector went off.
I guess I'm gonna burn, but these types give a huge black eye to hard w*rking folks who live within their means and deal with prolonged job losses in spite of honest efforts to get w*rking again.
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:09 PM   #40
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I perhaps apply a similar rule as you if I am asked to help. But compassion is free. It's limitless like love, why not give it freely?

Ha
Because these people need a kick in the ass more than compassion. And while compassion may be free, our tax dollars supporting this family are not.
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