Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Americans are going hungry - too.

”The young man, wearing a shirt and a tie, turned up just as the pantry operated by an Iowa food bank was closing for the night. He knew it was after-hours. That’s why he was there. He kept his gaze downward as he told the woman from the food bank that he had lost his job, had a wife and kids and was too embarrassed and ashamed to stand in line to receive a bag of groceries that hopefully would feed his family for a week. “I have a master’s degree. I shouldn’t have to do this, he said.”

That’s the stark reality that America is facing today, as more and more new faces were standing in line in food banks. Some of them, not looking anyone else in the eye, hoping not to be recognized by friends or neighbors.

The bitter irony for some of them was that, once, they had contributed to their local food bank. Now its them who needed its help.

Sure, these people do not fit the stereotype of those who would likely come to a pantry, a shelter or a kitchen. But a lost job, an unexpected medical expense, a utility bill or difficulty paying the rent or mortgage - especially during this period of high food prices can push people into that line.

Right now, an estimated 36.2 million people struggled with some form of hunger in the US alone or, to use the government term, “food insecurity.”

We always viewed Americans to be self sufficient. But now more and more people with jobs, with educations, but with diminished opportunities, resources and hope – were struggling.

Many of them never thought in their life that they have to come to a food pantry. Yet sadly the line grows steadily each day.

Guys, if its any consolation to you, we also have so many hungry people here. But in contrast, we don’t have a food bank. We don’t have a pantry to run to. We are left to fend for ourselves.

That, is even more pitiful.


Sid Brechin said...

What Odette is saying is as usual very true. Today food banks are almost independent charities. I sometimes volunteer at one stocking shelves of things that come in and putting together the bags that will go out. They have been around all my life but until recent years less noticed as Churches pretty much ran them and did a good job. The one I help at is still in a sense church run as it is the Salvation Army that handles all the administration.

What Odette mentioned about the man having a Master's degree and shouldn't have to be out of work reminds me of another problem we have here. I'm in Canada and I think the US has the same problem I don't know about Europe. It is that so many people get qualifications that are not really qualifications. A degree in fine arts limits you to working in fields where you are in a sense as dependent on handouts as you are in a foodline. The money may come from wealthy patrons or a government but if the overall economy dips that money dries up.

While university educated people especially those in the liberal arts are finding themselves unable to find work, employers are starving for skilled workers. The government here is begging young people to go into apprenticeship programs. Trades people can usually find other work with little trouble.

I have never had trouble finding work though I am now retired and retired very young. I have Military, College and Trade qualifications.

I have 3 brothers. One has three college diplomas and 3 technology licences. Avionics Tech, Electronic Tech and ( sorry but this is a mouthful ) Biomedical Electronics Engineering Technologist.

The next brother has College electronics is an Electronics technologist and has three trades. Industrial Electrician, Millwright and Gas fitter.

The youngest is the only one of us without college he works in sales at Dunn & Bradstreet.

We as a country are looking overseas to recruit skilled workers as we have not been producing anywhere near the demand domestically. At the same time we are pumping out tons of folks with "soft" degrees. If you are in a field where you don't produce something that can be seen, or felt or measured you may not actually be producing a product. Also if your work is something always identical with no real need for intervention on your part you are in a job that will in all likely hood be taken over by a robot.

I don't know the solution but I do know part of it is to stop there is something wrong with getting our hands dirty.

Healer68 said...

Actually Sid, it kind of is, but isn't the same here in the US. Yes, we're still losing jobs to robotics but, for now, that has pretty much flattened out. There's only so much any facility fitted with robots can do without human support. We've had, for a while now, entirely automated warehouses. Not a single human being except truckers and maintenance techs ever step foot into these buildings. In places like giant freezer warehouses where icecream and such are waiting to be picked up, that's great. Humans can only spend so much time in them before they suffer injuries from the cold without any sorce of heat.

But, as far as trades and "skilled labor", it's true our newer generations are losing interest in jobs like auto mechanics, plumbers and pipe fitters (similar to your gas fitter I guess), electricians, carpenters...etc. So many teens these days (maybe because they're just about born with a blackberry in their hands) want cushy, more higher paying, white collar jobs like pc techs, netowrking, programing, doctors, scientists...etc.

However, we still have WAY more construction workers, auto mechanics...etc then there are jobs. It may seem impossible, but it's a sad truth. With the amount of building, refurbishing of buildings and even rebuilding after fires going on here, our construction workers should be able to find tons of work right? !!!WRONG!!!

The fact is, we had a flood of them rush to Florida to build new houses and such. Now? The housing market there went down the shitter and all those skilled tradesmen and women had to uproot their families and move to another state. AGAIN!!! God knows where they found work this time.

As far as mechanics, with most American cars still coming off the line being designed to turn into garbage after 5 yrs, plus the fact that people are keeping their cars longer because they can't afford to or, get a loan for a new car, the need for mechanics are at an all time high. But, what good are all these skilled people if many of our companies who employ them are "downsizing" or even closing thanks to the steady lack of sales for the last 5 years?

So many car dealers, tire and muffler shops and such who employ most of these mechanics are closing up shop. Many car dealers are being forced to close after being in business for 30 damn years or more! Where are all these people going to work (that's not even including the white collar employies)? Maybe a new shop. Or, maybe flipping f**king burgers at McDonnalds. Like all the rest of our unemployed, god help them and their families.

As far as what type of college degree you get, now a days, it doesn't make much difference here. There's a new slang term for ANY degree you get here in the US, even PhDs..."Toilet Paper" Many of these people might as well have gotten a "MBF" degree (Masters of Burger Flipping). Or, a Ph.D in "FFFM" (Fast Food Franchice Management). But, in reality, all their resumes will be tossded like toilet paper because, for many jobs, they'll be told: "You're over qualified". Pretty f**cked up, no?

There's a whole new trend here that may or may not have been invented by the US. As well as new terminoloy. One term that's been around for years is "Under Employed". These are the people who were, or maybe NEVER have been employed full time.

Another term here is "Discurraged Unemployed". These are the people (including college educated, middle or upper management with up to 10 or more years of experience) who, after fishing for a job for 4 or more years without even one "bite" simply give up. Even more f**ked up, no?

Yet another group of people here are basically "under the radar". They're the people who, for whatever reason, never applied for unemployment. Because of this, hese people weren't officially registered with the state governments as unemployed.

The hard, cold facts are, the US govenment has no f**king clue what the hard, cold facts are. There's the "official" government number of unemployed, and then there's the "actual" number. The difference is pretty shocking.

Right now, the realistic estimated number of American citizens who are unemployed is about 2 million. It many seem insignificant but, this is the reason why all the businesses that rely heavily on American citizen's spending our money are going belly up. This, in return, is why so many of us have very little, or no money at all, to spend in the first damn place.

This has also created a situation that hasn't existed since the last depression. Speaking of which, the US government has been covering up the fact that we've been in a nation wide recession. They've also been covering up the fact that many states are already in a depression. Anyway, the situation is that, with so many people out there job hunting, we now have up to 1000 people competing for 1 job. !!!ONE JOB!!!

That's 1000 to 1 odds people. Not even the most hard core gambling addict would bet on that. And, it's why so many people have simply given up job hunting.

If you've read my blog, then you already know what my plans are for dealing with this problem. From what I've seen and heard, there are some horrible events bubbling up and waiting to happen in this country like a pressure cooker. Whether or not they actually take place remains to be seen. Either way, something's gotta give before the lid blows sky high.

If something doesn't happen soon, things here are going to get really ugly really fast. And, they'll make the Great Depression of 1929 look like a sunday picnic with a basket full of rotted apples and "wish sandwiches".

TheKnight777 said...

I am in agreement with all of your postings above.

Great comments guys!!


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