Posts belonging to Category The Suck
I got word yesterday morning that I am being laid off (1) at the end of March unless I can find another position in the company. Of course this is a bit like the corporate version of musical chairs, except that instead of taking away one chair they’re removing hundreds. After perusing the internal job postings, I didn’t see anything that fit my needs(2), so I expect that March 28th will mark the end of 19 years with the company.
I’ve halfway been expecting this for nearly a year. They weren’t giving us any significant new work due to constant budget cuts, and my primary mission is to turn requirements into designs and guide them through the development process. Hence I was pretty underutilized, and ended up working on some on-going support tasks and some Java development. I am guilty of just not taking it seriously enough, I suppose.
Anyhow, I am trying to look at this as more of an opportunity than an obstacle. They’re giving me six months of pay as well as medical and life insurance, so I have a bit of cushion. I’ve got my resume out to a couple of people now for review and will get it out on the major sites to get the ball rolling on something regular. The upside is that I am seeing a lot of openings. It just appears to be a matter of getting my qualifications across in the best light for each one. And if nothing is forthcoming I’m considering going freelance, perhaps even starting my own company. There seems to be a lot of work available if you can build up your reputation.
Updated to add: They are also offering up to $2500 in reimbursement for training. I’m contemplating whether to get a Project Management certification. My work has always been intricately linked with the project management role, and I’ve even filled in as a PM on a fairly large project when the PM was injured and was away for several months. But I’m open to suggestions on other skills that might be useful to acquire. I’ve got more than 10 years doing J2EE apps, so I have lots of experience in Java, servlets, JDBC, database design and implementation (DB2 and MySQL), JSPs, etc. Also web services using SOAP. I’ve got some personal experience writing in PHP and Perl for the web, and I know my way around Linux (actually, Unix in general) pretty well. But I’ve never done .NET, C#, or any of the Microsoft stuff.
(1) Isn’t it interesting all the euphemisms and rhetorical contortions that are required in corporate speak to avoid saying the “l” word?
(2) I find myself in the unenviable position of owning a home in a down market, which severely limits my mobility. I suppose I could try to rent it out if I had to move somewhere else, but the logistics of that are messy. Additionally, the D/FW area has one of the better job markets in the country, so I am hopeful for a good outcome.
Only 42% of those who currently own a General Motors car are even somewhat likely to buy a GM product for their next car. That figure includes just 30% who are Very Likely to do so.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% of current GM owners are not likely to buy another GM car, while 16% are not sure.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans nationwide say they are now more likely to buy a Ford since that company did not take any bailout funding. Only 12% are less likely to buy from Ford.
There is an interesting political twist to the attitudes about buying GM. Currently, among those who hold populist or Mainstream political views, 46% own a GM car. But just 15% of those in the Mainstream are Very Likely to buy their next car from GM.
This corresponds with the informal discussions that I’ve had with several people, both current and past GM vehicle owners. It also corresponds to my own attitudes. I currently own an Avalanche. My next vehicle will NOT be a GM as long as it’s owned by the government and the unions. And this is coming from someone who was strongly considering a Traverse before the bailout. But now I will look at Ford or one of the foreign brands that builds their vehicles in America instead of GM.
I am gravely concerned about the effect that future tax and energy policies are going to have on the country under an Obama administration, especially since he will have a Democrat-party majority who will go along with him in Congress. When you combine his ‘spread the wealth around’ tax policy (and the definition of ‘wealth’ seems to keep being defined down) with his belief in the myth of AGW and his desire to bankrupt the coal industry (which provides a significant portion of our energy), we could be facing a perfect storm of economic circumstances that would lead to tremendous economic losses and the loss of many more jobs.
In particular, I will be watching to see what kind of tax policy that he and the Congress eventually come up with, because I’m fairly certain that I’m going to be one of the people they target to pay for their new programs. I’ve already calculated the effect that each 1% increase in taxes will have on my net income, and I’m starting to plan out what I will do at certain clip levels. For instance, I currently have a house-cleaning service that comes in every two weeks and I also have a lawn service that comes each week during the spring, summer, and fall (pretty much up until Thanksgiving, given our usual weather patterns). If my taxes increase by 2% I will probably drop the house-cleaning service. At 3 or 4% I will drop the lawn service. And I expect that I won’t be the only one. So the pain will spread. The house-cleaning service will probably have to lay off people. So will the lawn service.
The above scenario doesn’t even take into account the spike in energy prices that would be caused if he manages to impose his desire for a ‘cap and trade’ system of carbon credits. If I were faced with a combination of a loss in net income due to higher taxes as well as higher energy prices, then additional cuts would have to be made. I will cut down on dining out and other discretionary purchases. Every one of those cuts will have a ripple effect through the economy, as the reduced spending causes business to have to refactor their costs structures, which usually entails laying off employees, as labor is usually the most significant cost in a company.
What I find most ironic about the effects of the job cuts is that it usually will hit the people in the lowest paying service jobs first, which I think are precisely the people who Obama is promising to help.
Anyhow, I suppose it’s easy to fall into the trap of class envy and look at someone who is making $100K or $200K and think that they are rich and that you could use that money more than them (no, I don’t make anywhere near $200K). But that’s a fool’s game, since those people are paying for the goods and services that keep a lot of people employed. Cut their net income, and you will see immediate and painful effects. We only need look to the past couple of months and the effects of high gas prices to see how people react to a situation where they are facing what is effectively a decrease in their net incomes.
The future is going to suck and it’s going to suck hard.