Friday, February 7, 2014

Are You A Used-To-Have?

I'm a Member of the American 'Used-to-Haves' From HuffPo

I used to have a house. I used to go on vacations. I used to shop at department stores, get my hair done and even enjoy pedicures. Now, I don't. I'm a member of the American "Used-to-Haves."

Me too! I measure these things as: I used to have subscriptions to - the daily paper, National Geographic, Omni, Seirra Club, Audubon, and more. They dropped off one by one until I had no more subscriptions. This didn't happen all at once. As Kathleen Ann says,..

Now, I'm renting an apartment and I'm desperately awaiting a check so I can pay the rent. Yet, I'm lucky to have an apartment that includes utilities. Despite my college degree from a prestigious college, and solid employment track record, I can't get a job. It's been so long since my corporate days, I now feel unemployable.

My age doesn't help. But I'm as healthy as a thoroughbred, I appear quite young and would gladly accept a basic salary. I'm a bargain! But no. I'm freelancing for $15 an hour these days, but I used to earn $100 an hour. In fact, all the freelance hourly rates have been driven down to $15-30 an hour. To make ends meet, I also work as an aide ($13.75 an hour) and run a small local company. And my annual earnings are under $20,000.

Yeah, tell us about it.

We "Used-to-Haves" all used to work in the corporate world for big, wealthy companies. We were discarded in layoffs. I've been told, as my employer du jour let me go, what a positive difference I made and the value of my contributions. I agree. I know I made my bosses look brilliant. Fully aware that my contributions built the company's brand image. Yet, I was expendable.
I know this tune... 
As a new "Used-to-Have," I denied my slide. "I'm not poor!" I nervously chuckled to myself. But as I slid more, the smartest thing was finally acknowledging poverty and applying for the benefits available. I'd never been poor before. I didn't know how to be poor. But finally, I learned. The magnitude of my shame and embarrassment is unspeakable. It's impossible to explain to people who aren't poor -- "The Haves." When I'm beseechingly desperate for a check owed to me, the check writer inevitably has no concept of how frighteningly desperate I am for that money. They say, "Next week? or "The accountant says two weeks." I plead, nicely, sincerely, "Is there no way you could just write me that check?" And the answer is "no." It's just putting a pen to paper, but for "The Haves," I'm just a pain in the neck.

The press calls it "The Great Recession." It actually was the "Great Theft." In the wake of this very public, often-glossed-over theft from the middle class, the perpetrators have been revealed. We know the American corporations without the courage, scruples or heart to help us, the ones responsible for the recession and the politicians who put the toxic policies in place. We "Used-to-Haves" aren't stupid.
As a "Used-to-Have," I'm beyond angry. I'm not a "Never Had." I know what it's like to pay bills on time and have a little left over. I remember vacations and pedicures and going out to dinner. As a "Used-to-Have," I know exactly what Corporate America, lobbyists and politicians have taken away from me. The "Used-to-Haves" and the children of the "Used-to-Haves" won't forget. The "Used-to-Haves" are educated. Many of us and our children have amazing talent and academic honors. We know how to get things done. And though all of the odds appear to be against us, we must refuse to give up hope.
I dunno, sometimes it's just easier to have another rum drink and yell at the clouds. Geeze, I am getting old. 


  1. I quit a mechanics job at a dealership after ten years and two years of college to get it.
    I was making 19 dollars an hour.

    It has taken me twenty one years to get back to that level of wages.

    I know poor, I know hungry and I know the darkness when the lights get shut off.

    Now I work six days a week and grab all the overtime I can. Friday I worked 14 hours when half the crew didn't show up because of the weather.

    I still can't seem to put any money away.

    That has to change.

    Glad you found me at my new place.
    I have a different outlook now but the vocabulary hasn't changed.



  2. Hi Busted, thanks for stopping by! Sorry so long to reply.
    I know, buddy. I used to make money, but the "owners" figured out how to drain most, but not all, of my earnings and leave me just enough to survive and just enough to keep me around as wages fell through the floor. I still told them to pound sand after an 85% pay DECREASE. And went out on my own. I can be poor without having to be an indentured servant. Fuck them. Robert Reich is right and I highly recommend "Inequality For All". But, I know I am preaching to the choir.

    It's incredible to me and us what has happened to wages for our generation. I have seen the graphs, you have too, that explain income inequality over the last 35 years but no-one else seems to notice. Amazing! I was in Wal-Mart the other day, no choice as everything else is gone, and as i was checking out the cashier had reached some kind of milestone and the manager and some of the crew came over to sing to him. I listened respectfully and with enthusiasm for this young man and when they were through, I asked the manager if she could now pay the man a living wage. I told the boy he is getting a raise and looked the manager in the eye. Yes or no? They shoveled me out the door without a word and perplexed looks all around. WTF Busted? Pay the people, improve the economy. A happy song and a clap on the back does not pay the bills.