How Do You Help A Friend In Dire Need

I have a close friend who is going through hell right now; I can literally see him falling apart and coming undone.  He is just over 50, been out of work for over 2 years, has lost almost all hope in life and in finding a job.  The things he used to like doing he no longer is interested in.  He is showing classic signs of depression; he sees a psychiatrist, he takes anti depressants, he also has an anxiety disorder and is on medication for that as well.  He has also been drinking heavily the last year or so.  To me, looking in from the outside, the losing of hope is the hardest thing to watch.  When you lose your hope little else matters.  I have seen him over the past few years go on countless interviews, trying different kinds of meds to see if they will help more, going to the gym to see if that helped.  He says he is at the point now where with each interview that doesn’t work out he has less and less hope that he will ever find another job.  He thinks age has been part of his problem in not finding work.  For the last 20 years he worked as an executive with a 6 figure income, he is very bright and could have a fantastic future.

But, what do you say, what can you do to help a friend in need like this?  He usually just wants to be home, he is married but his wife doesn’t get home until 7 so he is alone all day.  I can relate to many of his issues, you know all the things that will make you feel better but you, or I should say I, don’t do them.  Neither does he.  What are the odds this friend will find another job?  Are they higher or lower than the likelihood of his drinking himself to death.  This time in our economy is really rough on some people.  Some people are getting left behind and I fear he might be one of them.  But what do you say, how can you help, what should you do.  I just don’t know.

Lots of Advice and Lots of Stuff…

So, all day I have been having trouble getting into my account here to write a blog posting.  Its kinda funny how the people that design websites are never the ones that use them so thats always an issue with usability and user interface.  I am not the type to look in a users guide or anything, if things aren’t easily understandable I move on to another site, or product.  If u have to read the owners manual that means the company hasn’t done their job properly.

So todays posting, actually observation, because I feel like what I do is have opinions on whats going on every day.  For me the unemployment thing still sucks, but how often can u talk about  that?  The healthcare debate does floor me because we are all talking about the wrong things; if Obama’s plan doesn’t work or isn’t good enough, make a better plan.  Talking about the individual mandate is boring.  And people like Sarah Palin who ridicule Michelle Obama because she tries to get people to eat healthier is just beyond belief.  Mrs. Obama is suggesting what people do, not dictating, and we all know of course, she is right.  Please, we are an obese nation and a little words of wisdom from the first lady should be nothing but admired.  Not necessarily followed, tried to follow though.

So aside from all that today Thursday March 29, 2012, 5 days after my birthday, there really is no earth shattering news to update everyone on.  Although, one thing I do dislike is all of the positive upbeat people on twitter, who rehash every cliche in the book, I find that annoying.  Yes, try your hardest, but it doesn’t always work.  ‘Thinking positively’ doesn’t always work either.  It more like we need to think realistically as to where we are, where we want to go, and where we can realistically go.  So, in conclusion, have fun, trying what u can and life takes you where it takes you.  Sometimes that quick bit of luck changes everything.  Feel good about what you do.

Linked In Needs To Be Replaced – I Am The Person To Do It

Someone tweeted something about Linked In this morning that caught my eye and I realized I have never broached the subject on here.  I hate Linked In; I think its a horrible website, poor user interface, extremely poor job searching mechanism.  Their worst offense in my opinion is that every time you apply for a job a message flashes up  saying ‘if you pay $29 per month’ your resume will go to the top of the pile and have better visibility.  To me this is the lowest form of sleazy profiteering off the backs of the people who can least afford it.  When you look at the unprecedented numbers of unemployed people and people losing their homes; these are the people you want to charge?  To me this is repugnant, preying on the weakest people.  You have no privacy on Linked In; if I feel like adding something to my profile the update message goes out to the entire feed – even though i did change the settings so that wouldn’t happen, it still does.  The one good thing about the site is that you can keep track of colleagues even if they have switched jobs, or moved.

Sometimes I wonder who is reading what I am writing, I saw this morning 14 people from India were reading it which I think is great!  If there are any ‘Angels’ or VC people reading this I’d like your help.  I’d like to create an improved jobs networking site that addresses all of the weaknesses of Linked In.  I feel like with the right vision (mine) and enough capital (yours) we could create a much improved site and wipe them off the map.  This could be done, our world is changing so quickly that here today, gone tomorrow.  Think about how practically overnight the spectacularly successful and popular website My Space was replaced by Facebook.  Linked In needs to go, someone help me do it!

Health Care – Why Is This Such A Loaded Issue

Yesterday I say the President’s top advisor, David Plouffe, on all the Sunday talk shows.  First off, as I have mentioned many times Obama’s advisors are horrible spokespeople, too staid, too professorial, no emotion; and horrible messaging.  But, that is another post, because not one of them is good.  Mr. Plouffe was asked on each show about ‘Obama Care’ and he triumphantly said Americans will love it; he had the same 3 talking points on each show.  We will love it because:

1.  Preexisting Conditions – Insurance Companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage if you have a preexisting condition.

2. People up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents plans.

3. Something about elders saving $600 per year on medicine.

Ok, this isn’t enough to convince me this plan is a game changer; this is a start but why is it all so muddled up?  Somethings have already started, some go into effect in 203 and 2014.  What are those things?  How will costs be lowered?  Whats the goal, insure everyone or lower costs, or both?  To me, to date, I have not heard much of anything impressive about his plan.  What happens with people like me who are unemployed?  Why is  this all that the administration has said about their plan?  You hear the Republicans screaming bloody murder about how the plan will bankrupt America; thats the message you hear, not what good the program will do.  Are we not bright enough to understand what your plan includes Mr. Obama?

Now on to  the Republicans, all you  hear from them is they want to over turn all of Obama Care; ok then what?  Back to rapidly rising costs, people not having insurance, insurance companies getting to call the shots?  Whats your plan?  All I have heard from the R’s is that they want to make insurance something you can buy across state lines.  Ok, that sounds good to me, why not?  But thats also not a plan.

The major question is, is do both sides want a health care plan or not?  If not, that is disgraceful that both sides wouldn’t want to make sure every citizen has healthcare available and affordable.  If both sides do want health care why not sit down and work it out.  Rather than spend energy trying to repeal Obama’s plan, why not start with it and make it better?  Add in buying across state lines if that helps.  Don’t members of Congress have some kind of health care system where they can choose the plan they want, from the provider they want?  Why can’t we all have that?

As far as the individual mandate goes everyone must pay their own way.  Thats not an infringement on civil liberties, thats bullshit.  Everyone must pay.  Maybe a 2% (or more?) tax increase on everyones taxes to cover the costs.  This controversy is an embarrassment to our Country; each and every one of us should want everyone to have healthcare.  The goals should be to have everyone have it and to lower costs, add competition.  Maybe the single payer option?

Everyone is not entitled to drive a Mercedes Benz; everyone is entitled to health care.

They Say It’s Your Birthday..

Yes, and today is mine.  Birthdays have always been a weird mix of emotions for me.  You want people to remember, but if they make too much of a production then I feel like an idiot for people making such a fuss.  I don’t really like being the center of attention.  So, what do I want for my birthday aside from world peace?  Lots of stuff; the new iPad, those nicer Apple earbuds, another shirt with my name on the back; maybe a new flatscreen TV (are they ever going to be integrated?), a new iMac would be fun, maybe I’d like a macbook air.  A job.

Every time I think of each of those things I realize, they are just things and things aren’t really important.  What is important is a friend emailing a last week asking when about 6 or 7 friends could take me out to lunch.  I have a niece and nephew I think the world of, getting a happy birthday text from them makes my day.  Getting texts from other friends is perfect, a nice way to remember someone without making a big scene.  And, of course, my husband of 19 years (ok its only been legal in NY for 4 months) and I will go out and have a nice mellow dinner including sushi then some cake. Its the personal interactions that really matter not the material ones.

Now, I am not a pollyanna or unrealistic.  If you held a gun to my head an insisted on buying me stuff, see the list above.  I’d enjoy any of the stuff in the first paragraph – but  the personal interaction is better!

The Lack of Intelligence in Todays Media

So, today I was going to write about the media until the AP story got my blood boiling and I put it on my blog, since they were stating exactly what I am feeling.  They are professional writers, I am not.  Maybe you can’t tell the difference, that would be a nice compliment for me.  Anyway this morning I was thinking about the media, none of that BS like its the liberal elite media or anything like that, just the media sources I watch and the kind of news and information they deliver.  I tend to watch CNN a lot because its always on and can serve as background noise.  I have to single out Wolf Blitzer as being one of the most annoying and worst people in the news.  He is so breathless, so over animated over nothing.  Who ever told CNN to start saying that they are the ‘Best Political Team on TV’ should be fired.   That statement is so condescending to the audience and so self promotional it makes you wish O’Reilly was on 24/7.  Also with Wolf, the constant ‘great reporting job’ he says to anyone who gives him a report, its nauseating.  And his constant mention of his blog.  Isn’t there some kind of news/commercial ratio that is in place on tv?  Not to mention the cross promotion of whats on HBO, their ‘sister’ network.  It really makes u lose all respect for CNN for being that blatant, that desperate and that lacking in morals to hear him constantly self promote.  Also, why does CNN have ‘Breaking News’ that I had read about 3 hours earlier on my iPhone?

Another person in the media I dislike is David Gregory; I do not think he asks questions to find out substance, he asks questions so scoops will be on his show.  Why he was named Tim Russert’s successor is beyond a mystery to me.  I really didn’t care for Russert’s style either, putting up old quotes and saying ‘you said this then, and now you say something else….’  I think George Stephenopolous gives a great interview.  I think Candy Crowley also gives a great interview.  As I have said in the past on this blog, why are the interviewers asking questions just so politicians can go over all their talking points.  Which reminds me, I think Chris Wallace also gives a tough and fare interview and is amongst the best of them.  A question for any of the Sunday shows, or ever weekday interview (Wolf):  ‘You don’t like Obama-Care what would you replace it with?’ Do you think everyone should have health insurance?  How do we lower the costs of health care.  Everyone should have access to affordable healthcare, what about a  debate on the best way to accomplish that?  Healthcare is a key issue and should be at the top of all politicians plans for the future.  That doesn’t mean that one person, Mr. Obama, has the complete answer. It will take an act of working together, using lots of ideas to have better healthcare at lower costs.

Another question never asked by the media; what would have happened in 2008/2009 without the bailouts, TARRP, stimulus and auto bailouts.  The republicans love to blame the president for unprecedented spending, but what would have happened without that spending.  D’s and R’s have their talking points and spin points; I believe its the media that needs to do some research and say, without TARRP we’d be here ____, without stimulus we’d be here ____… and to ask the politicians point blank if thats where they want to see the country now.  I do think the media has to play the median arbitrating player; they need to ask the tough questions and not let either party out of answering.

I believe the media has let us down.  They haven’t informed us of what exactly is going on, what effects the actions we have taken have had.   Would it have been worse, would it have been better?  We, the American people need theses questions answered before we can decide.  So NBC, FOX, ABC, CNN do a better job of asking the right questions and stop looking for scoops.  We can’t fix our problems if we don’t know what caused them.

For Long-Term Unemployed, Hiring Bias Rears Its Head

By Stephen Singer 03/23/12 Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — Few job seekers who fail to get an interview know the reason, but Michelle Chesney-Offutt said a recruiter told her why she lost the chance to pitch for an information technology position.

The 54-year-old, who had been laid off from her IT job in Illinois, said the recruiter who responded to her online resume two years ago liked her qualifications and was set to schedule an interview. But he backed away, she said, when he learned she had been out of work for 13 months.

The employer he represented would not consider applicants who were unemployed for more than six months, she said.

“What they don’t consider is that these are not normal times,” said Chesney-Offutt, who was unemployed for nearly three years before landing a job.

As high unemployment persists more than four years after the start of the Great Recession – and nearly three years after it was officially declared over – many who have struggled for years without work say they face discrimination. Nearly 13 million Americans, or 8.3 percent, were unemployed in February, the U.S. Department of Labor says.

As of January, California, Connecticut Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee were considering legislation to prohibit employers from discriminating against the unemployed in help-wanted ads or in direct hiring or in screenings by employment agencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Employers typically would face fines if found violating the law. The Oregon House, for example, voted last month to fine employers $1,000 if they post a job ad telling unemployed workers to not apply.

Some personnel managers say evidence of discrimination is sketchy and that hiring decisions are based on a host of subjective reasons that defy remedies imposed by laws.

“There’s much more subliminal discrimination against the unemployed that’s hard to document,” said Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration. “Hiring is an art, not a science. You rely on a gut reaction.”

For example, employers may suspect that an unemployed applicant is seeking an available job for the wrong reasons, she said.

“A manager is going to get the vibe that they’ll take anything to get a job and if something better comes along they’re out the door,” Sarikas said.

Also, some long-term unemployed applicants may come across as too urgent for work, “and desperation doesn’t translate well in an interview,” she said.

Terri Michaels, who manages a Hartford employment firm that primarily staffs temporary employees, criticized hiring practices that screen out unemployed job seekers. Despite the policies of small staffing companies such as hers, some large employers have an unspoken policy against hiring applicants who’ve been out of work for two years or more because they want workers with a stable job history and recent references, she said.

“They won’t be able to say it but they’ll act on it,” said Michaels, manager of Stewart Staffing Solutions.

Employers generally expect job candidates – even while unemployed – to show they did some work such as volunteering or working temporary jobs, she said.

“People who did not work in any capacity, didn’t do anything are not as desirable to prospective employers,” Michaels said. “One has to question, is that discriminatory? I don’t know.”

Michaels said employers may use unemployment to weed out applicants for no other reason than to cut down a huge number of resumes for coveted job openings.

“When you have 14 million unemployed, everyone is applying for everything,” she said. “You have to be somewhat discriminating.”

A New Jersey lawmaker who co-sponsored the nation’s only law barring ads that restrict applicants to those already with a job, agrees that job hunters need to show they’ve been active, even in unemployment.

“Don’t sit at home. Make yourself available to your community,” said Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley.

Still, she said she backed the legislation after colleagues showed her employment ads specifying that the unemployed should not bother applying.

“I found that absolutely reprehensible,” Riley said. “When you apply for a job, you should be viewed based on your skill level, not whether you have a job or not.”

Connecticut lawmakers are proposing legislation that would ban discriminatory job ads, but may back off from a more far-reaching provision that would permit unemployed job seekers who claim discrimination to file a complaint with the state’s human rights commission or sue in court.

The largest business group in the state, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, sees a ban on discriminatory job ads as reasonable, but lobbyist Kia Murrell said businesses will fight efforts to give workers the right to sue over claims of discrimination.

“You as the employer will be shaking in fear of a claim of unemployment discrimination,” she said.

The state’s human rights commission told lawmakers that substantiating bias in hiring would be difficult and could require its staff to be nearly doubled if just a small fraction of Connecticut’s 150,000 unemployed were to file a discrimination claim.

State Sen. Edith Prague and Rep. Bruce Zalaski, who head the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, said they may drop the provision allowing claims of discrimination.

“It’s not our intent that everyone can be sued,” Zalaski said.

The National Employment Law Project, based in New York, wants states to add laws that do more than ban discriminatory ads. Laws should explicitly prohibit employers and employment agencies from eliminating from consideration candidates who are unemployed, the advocacy group says.

“You want to tell employers they can’t screen workers out of the process because they’re unemployed,” said George Wentworth, a lawyer for the group.

Chesney-Offutt, of Sandwich, Ill., said she took a 4-hour-a-week job teaching voice lessons so she could tell prospective employers she was employed.

“They didn’t care I was unemployed,” she said. “They just wanted to know if I could teach voice lessons.”

The strategy worked and she eventually got a job in insurance customer service, taking calls from customers reporting claims. It doesn’t allow her to use her information technology skills, but she’s glad to be working.