December 12, 2008

Abroad, riding the unemployment wave

Even in Argentina, the news is unavoidable: U.S. jobless rates reach a 26-year high. That about sums up Alice´s time in the marketplace. This leave her back where she started, only a tiny bit wiser and a whole lot older.

When did Alice attempt to enter the workplace initially? That would be 1982, the year to which the current lack of jobs is being compared. But how did it happen that Alice has consistently ridden the recession wave? First, she tries for gainful employment at a time no one is hiring.

Later, she becomes a recessionary trend-spotter, as noted by her 1990 exile from corporate America. That time, she worked for a company that the magazine where she toiled on the same day that it won a National Magazine Award for general excellence, an experience recently likened to working for a TV show that is cancelled the day it wins an Emmy.

She hit the 1990 unemployment line ahead of the benefits extension afforded colleagues who quickly landed subsequent jobs at trendy mags that folded just a few months later. So, Alice has had her recessionary bout with government subsidy of artistic pursuits without incurring Jesse Helm´s ire, or so she chose to look at being on the dole then.

Now, she´s been self-employed for long enough that the only unemployment money she will get is from the first national bank of Mom, a long-standing institution that has only made a couple of bad loans in its day, none of them to Alice. Her credit is good there.

The terms of doing business at the bank of Mom would be unacceptable to most people: while repayment plans are at the customer´s request, in the interim the customer and her daily life are subject to far greater scrutiny than they would be at, say, the late Wachovia or the deathbed-rattling Citibank.

How did Alice come to Argentina? Frequent flyer miles, the last remaining currency. And why? Because if she is going to lose money, she might as well have a good time in the process. A couple of thousand bucks are nothing compared with the beating her portfolio has taken in the past six months -- and this time, she will have a great suntan, leather goods, and some excellent adventures to show for it.

Once upon a time, the U.S. was the land of opportunity, or so it was perceived. Now, immigration seems to work on the pay to play principle, which is not exactly what I consider welcoming. It appears to me that if you want to get foreigners to spend their dinero in the U.S., you would want to make it cheap and easy for them to visit. No, first we make everyone pay a toll.

Welcome to America. Whatever you want, we make you pay tax on it, and, unlike other countries, we offer no rebate upon your exit. Whatever you´ve got, we´ll take it. Pity we couldn´t convince enough people to buy what we were selling, so our deficit is so high, if the U.S. tried to write a check, it would bounce sky-high. Knowing us, we wouldn´t apologize.

On election day, I was a patriot. Today, not so much.

Today I want to be an Argentine.

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Blogger Merrily Down the Stream said...

Hey Girl - I went to my 5 year high school reunion in 1983 and NO ONE had a job. Just student loans waiting to be payed. I HAVE to believe we will survive this one or I'll go mad thinking about it. So, that being said usually i am going mad thinking about it...

9:49 PM  

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