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Tue

06

Jul

2010

How I and millions of other victims of the depression (NOT "recession") are costing YOU money, deliberately
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 05:46
by Burton H. Wolfe

In the second week of October 2008, I became a victim of the depression - and do not call it a recession. It is a recession for many opulent persons, and especially for the officers of banks and other financial institutions, corporate executives, and the members of the U.S. Congress along with the president of the U.S. For the rest of us, it is a depression.

As of the first week of October 2008, I was supplementing my $906 a month Social Security benefit with enough sales of my e-books, royalties on my books remaining in print, and a few writing and editing jobs, to meet my expenses. In the second week of October 2008, suddenly as though shut down with a bang by a global giant, all of that came close to a halt, and there has been no change. As the result, first I had to dig into two bank accounts, a CD and a money market account, until they were wiped out. Then my last remaining bank account began to diminish so rapidly that I was in danger of not being able to keep up rent on my apartment, pay my electricity bill, pay my telephone bill, meet my monthly car purchase and car insurance payments, or pay for much of anything else but food, computer operation expenses, and other expenses that are vital to me for one reason or another.

At that point, I began doing what millions in positions similar to mine are doing: I stopped paying off the full amounts due on three credit cards. Instead, I have been paying the lowest amount allowed by the banks, while the amounts due on each and finance charges have kept escalating. I have done this while knowing that if I cannot find a way to turn the situation around soon, everything is going to collapse on me, and along with being forced out of my apartment into possible homelessness and losing my car and credit, I am going to leave the banks stuck with perhaps around $12,000 of unpaid debt, and maybe more.

Multiply me by millions of others doing the same thing, and what is the overall result? More bailouts for the banks left stuck with our unpaid debts, trillions of dollars more added to around four trillion dollars of debt now existing for the society collectively, and higher taxes for those of you still able to pay taxes.

That is not all. Increasing numbers of Americans are walking away from their mortgages, figuring that the reduction of their property value has decreased so severely that it makes financial sense for them to abandon their homes and tell the bank executives to go fuck themselves. Those of us running up more credit card debt, with the probable prospect of not being able to pay it off, are saying the same to the financial institution executives who are at the root of the cause of the depression and the misery they have inflicted on us.

Does this make you angry at me and the millions of others engaging in what seems to be irresponsible, unethical conduct which is bound to have an impact on you? Well, here is what you have to consider in judging me, and what you have to consider in judging other victims of the depression whose stories differ from my own story only in particular details.


Working for pay from age eight

I began working for pay when I was eight years old even though I did not have to do so, because my father, though not rich, had enough money to give me an allowance and was willing to buy anything for me that I wanted, since I was the joy of his life. I delivered newspapers on weekday afternoons instead of continuing to play games on the local playground. On Saturday mornings I hauled my wagon to the local version of a supermarket and waited for some woman who bought more than she could carry to come out and hire me to get her and her stuff home.

Though my father could afford tuition and other expenses, I worked my way through college - clerking, driving a truck, doubling as camp counselor and bus driver in the summer.

Later in life, when I ran out of editorial jobs and sufficient sales of my articles and books to pay rent and food and all else, I sold men's clothes in a department store, shlepped boxes around in a warehouse, drove a taxicab, drove limousines, and managed an apartment building.

After I began running a non-profit educational and legal project in 1985, I still had to keep working at jobs part time because I was not allowed to take a salary from the non-profit.

The non-profit folded in 2005. By then I was drawing Social Security, I had become eligible for subsidized housing, and I had become ensconced in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco for rent of $207 a month.

To cut this story short, I will just say that I left California in June 2008 and wound up in Coconut Creek, Florida, where I rent a condominium apartment in a village compound.

Rejected everywhere


Once the depression took hold, my efforts to promote my e-books and books in print no longer produced results. People stopped buying anything more or less in the category of luxury or non-necessity, including most types of books, and Google and other computer world giants have destroyed book authors by placing thousands of free e-books on the internet. My efforts to sell articles produced what I left behind me decades ago when my work was gobbled up by editors of newspapers and magazines: rejection slips - almost all stock rejection slips stating "sorry, but your article does not meet our editorial needs."

Thousands of writers, faced with this same situation, are giving away their writing free to newspapers, magazines, and online journals - hoping that some editor is going to recognize their talent and offer paid work. Overall that is not helping most writers to get paid for their work. Instead, it has backfired, as more and more publishers and online producers rely on contributions they get free.

I had hoped that three online journals I have been publishing occasionally - one for village residents, one for Florida residents, and this one for anybody - would result in my being able to obtain ads or in some wealthy individual or organization sponsoring the work. But that has not happened, and instead the expense of producing the journals has only piled up more debt.

After obtaining four book contracts and advances against royalties from big publishing houses in earlier years, I have found no takers for any more and have resorted to self-publishing e-books and turning over two print books to a POD (print on demand) publisher.

Once income from those sources no longer sufficed, I had to face the reality of the situation: for the first time in 20 years, it was necessary to apply for employment.

At the time this issue of Wolfe's Lair was produced, I had applied for more than 300 jobs, including a job as census taker after being told I was certain to be hired because I have a veteran's preference, I scored high on a required test, and the Census Bureau needed "hundreds of thousands of census takers." I have been told over and over again, in followups, "don't call us, we'll call you." And that has meant, every time, rejection.

My feelings - duplicating those of millions who would tell you if allowed


I am 77 years old. I have some medical problems, but no way do they affect my ability to work at any job that does not require heavy physical labor. I work at the computer seven days and nights a week. I take gym workouts lasting an hour to an hour and a half four or five days a week, and though I cannot do in the gym what I could 20 or more years ago, it is still more than many guys half my age can do. So, I cannot and do not accept the conclusion that I am no longer employable. There are lots of jobs I can do with far more experience, skill, and intelligence than are observable as to those now holding them down. How much incompetence have you seen in private and public agencies? Well, you would not get that incompetence from me.

Look, I have paid my dues to society. I do not expect charitable award for it. All I expect is that I am allowed to make a living. I am goddamned angry at having been relegated to society's collective trash or garbage can. The anger and frustration rage in me even after I have gone to bed. I have trouble sleeping. I can't get rid of my anger and frustration even when exhausted. I lie awake thinking about what I can possibly do to get out of this nightmarish situation. I also think a lot about what I would like to do to the scam artist president who promised change and the members of Congress who promised change, but have stuck to the same old formula which has impoverished so many of us: prop up the big corporations, give them billions of dollars to keep going and pay their executives more and more bonuses, and all of those gratuities for them will trickle down to the rest of the population. It is the old trickle down theory that has been a failure for more than a century.

In my fantasies, I picture rounding up everyone responsible for letting the rich grow richer while the majority of us get poorer to the point of losing everything: Obama, the members of Congress, the top executives of the big corporations, the bankers, the heads of the other financial institutions. I have them all shackled and put in holding cells awaiting execution. Gallows are built in a public square in Washington, D.C. Once the rigging is ready, a dozen of them at a time are brought out of the cells to be hanged. I am the executioner. I am the one who gets the pleasurable, satisfying task of pulling the lever that rips the platform from their feet and sends them plunging to the point where the ropes stop and their necks snap.

That fantasy emanates from the mind of a man who has been an ardent opponent of capital punishment all of his life. But now, I tell you honestly and sincerely, that I would gleefully execute all of these destructive, mindless, corrupt human beings.

What you can do

Are you one of the conscientious persons who realizes that what is happening in this society is so unfair and downright cruel that new ways of dealing with it are morally and ethically imperative if we are to maintain any pretense that the U.S. is a democracy rather than an oligarchy or plutocracy of, by, and for a privileged aristocracy? Do you see any sense in paying millions of men and women unemployment benefits instead of putting them to work? Do you feel at all uncomfortable with the fact that there are 50 million Americans living in poverty and double that number in jeopardy of losing everything from a job layoff or illness, while there are billionaires spending more money on their pet dogs, a dozen automobiles, jewelry that sits unused in boxes, etc., than many impoverished persons can earn in the remainder of this decade? Then start pouring out letters and telephone calls to Obama, your representative in Congress, to the staffs of television and radio stations, and to newspaper editors and publishers. Tell them that the trickle down way has to end, that instead of putting more and more money into the hands of those who have destroyed the economy, and doling out more and more unemployment benefits, there should be a massive public work projects sufficient to provide paid work for everybody who can work, even if partially disabled. Tell them that the way to go is to put people like me to work for pay so that we have money to pay rent, pay mortgages, buy food, keep up our car payments, buy goods, and get the economy rolling well again. Tell them that is the way out of the mess, and until the present destructive methods being used are turned around completely to that way, people like me whose lives have been destroyed are going to be taking down everyone else along with us.

As for what you can do for me personally, if you have read this far and are not furious with me because of the course I am following, here is what you can do: Give me a job. If you cannot do that, then go to the web site of Mind Opening Books, which you should be able to reach by clicking on http://mindopeningbooks.com. Buy some of the e-books for yourself and your friends. I do not want charity. All I ask is that I be given a chance to earn enough money to survive. Is that too much to ask?

I hope that you will subscribe to this online journal, forward this issue to your contacts, and provide some feedback on your reaction to what I have written.

What would I like most? I would like to find a sponsor for this journal so that I can devote full time to it, publish it every week or even five days a week, and provide, to as many persons as may be possible, a lot of critically important information and analysis that is not obtainable from other sources. Back in the days when I was considered to be the foremost investigative journalist on the West Coast, that is what I did. I can still do it, if given the chance.
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Corey Mondello said:

0
Trust No One
My belief today is, screw the government, because they will eventually screw you.
 
July 06, 2010
Votes: +0

Corey Mondello said:

0
Trust No One
Screw the government, they'll screw you eventually.
 
July 06, 2010
Votes: +0

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