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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘Employment / Jobs’ Category


Mayor demonstrates dedication to inclusion by discriminating

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino, is a perfect example of the contention that one does not need to be particularly bright to become a politician and rise to high office.

Last year, WalMart wanted to open a grocery store in a poorer, under-served part of “his” city, bringing with it lower food costs and desperately needed jobs, but Menino refused to allow it because, he said, he was concerned about the impact on neighborhood businesses and lower-paid workers. Apparently, he was not at all concerned about the neighborhood residents and the unemployed. What was it really about? Who knows? Logic and reason have never been associated with Boston’s current mayor.

Now, he’s at it again.

Mayor Menino on Chick-fil-A: Stuff it
Vows to block eatery over anti-gay attitude

Boston's Mayor Thomas "Mumbles" Menino

Boston’s Mayor Thomas “Mumbles” Menino

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald yesterday.

“That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

Chick-fil-A has been swept up in a growing national controversy over company president Dan Cathy’s remarks questioning gay marriage and lauding the traditional family.

Chick-fil-A did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But the company released a statement yesterday saying it has a history of applying “biblically-based principles” to managing its business, such as closing on Sundays, and it insisted it does not discriminate.

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” the statement read. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

But that isn’t cutting the mustard with Menino. He said he plans to fire off a letter to the company’s Atlanta headquarters “telling them my feelings on the matter.”

“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies,” he warned.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Menino’s quote in the second paragraph really says it all.

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

Let’s think about what he’s really saying.

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston.”

You see, Boston is not a city where the residents get to decide which businesses they want there by supporting them, or not. It’s a city where one man decides whether or not a business meets with his personal approval. This is what he calls, with a straight face, freedom, when he says “That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.”

One turkey eats the leg of another.

Apparently all those high-end restaurants, which insidiously discriminate against Boston’s poor with their sky-high prices, do not count. And, of course, Chick-fil-A doesn’t discriminate. They serve everyone who has the money to buy what they sell. But that’s a bit too subtle a point for Menino’s thinking power.

“We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

The most laughable of the three quotes, since, by his words and actions, Menino clearly demonstrates everyone is, indeed, welcome except those who do not think like him and believe what he believes.

He proves how inclusive he and “his” town are by discriminating against businesses that do not meet his person standards.

Sadly, this is just business as usual for the left, who claim the moral high ground even as they violate the very principles they espouse.

Even more sadly, we see this kind of thing every day here in The People’s Republic.

How are things where you live?

Do you think Menino should be using his political power to keep out businesses he doesn’t like?

If you were Boston’s mayor, what would you do?


Are you unemployed? We Dig Jobs might be able to help…or not.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Have you ever wondered what Our Dear Leader means when he wants to print more money to spend on what he says are “shovel-ready” jobs?

Watch what happens when some folks sit down with some union guys to talk about creating “green” jobs.

Is it just me, or did those union guys look and sometimes sound like characters straight out of The Sopranos?

Now, the truth is that isn’t going to help you find a job. If you stop by their website, you can sign up to have a bag of dirt sent in your name to the White House “to remind the president who really creates jobs in America.” You may still be jobless, but at least you’ll be helping the folks who fill the bags and ship them to keep their jobs.

Of course, until such time as the feds embrace honesty and do away with boondoggles like the green jobs grants (exact date estimated at two weeks after hell freezes over), you, too, can write a grant proposal, with or without the help of your local union, present it to the proper state or local official(s), and cash in on creating jobs for folks.

Just check your conscience at the door before entering.

Do you have any good ideas for make-work jobs on which to spend “stimulus” funds?


A solution to the drug war problem that benefits everyone

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Mandi.


Below the fold on the front page of The Boston Globe Democrat today is a story about a prison inmate accused of running a multi-million dollar illegal drug ring from the slammer. Fourteen people were arrested. All for providing to a group of consumers a product the consumers clearly want and are willing to pay for. The story is here, if you are interested in the details, but it’s not this story I want to talk about today. The story was just the inspiration for an idea that would end the absurdly wasteful, destructive, and deadly war on drugs and provide benefits to every single person in the nation, drug user or not.

I don’t think I’ll get any argument about pointing out that providing recreational drugs to people who want them is a multi-billion dollar industry. In addition, the illegal drug trade has probably produced more well-paying jobs in America than the trillions in stimulus money Our Dear Leader has thrown away. But it’s a dangerous job. You could be captured by the government or killed by competitors or the government. Still, despite all the risks, the rewards are so great, that whenever government arrests one dealer, another steps right in to take his or her place. Which is why the drug war fits perfectly into the classic definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.

But I have a solution and I think it might be a good one.

Most recreational drugs, especially narcotics, cost next to nothing to produce and could be sold very profitably for a low-enough price to allow those who become addicted to live with their addiction, including holding down a job. Such was the case before government stuck it’s nose into the drug trade. Were all drugs legal to sell, those doing the selling would stand to reap huge profits. So, let’s legalize all drugs, regulate them, and designate the existing drug companies as the exclusive providers. And in return for the multi-billion dollar windfall, the companies will have to sell their medicinal drugs for a set percentage over production costs.

What will happen if we do this?

The cost of medicinal drugs will be sharply reduced, which will benefit everyone. Medicare and Medicaid expenditures will plummet.

The violence associated with the drug trade will end.

Addicts will no longer need to rob and steal in order to support their habits, A job at Burger King will pay enough to keep them high when they’re not working.

Government will no longer be killing innocents when they smash down the doors of wrong houses.

Billions will be saved by not having to incarcerate anyone for selling or using drugs or committing crimes to get the drugs.

Tax-paying jobs will be created at all levels, from manufacturing through wholesaling through distribution down to retail. And let’s not forget the local, state, and federal inspectors who will be checking to make sure the products are of advertised purity.

And speaking of taxes, think of how much new tax revenue will be generated, taxes that can go toward helping addicts, if such is society’s desire, or toward other worthwhile endeavors.

Is there a downside to this plan? If so, I’m not seeing it.

Some will say that legalizing drugs will just create more addicts and further burden society. I think more people will indeed experiment but I also think anyone who really wants to experiment can easily do so now given that most recreational drugs are readily available in most places. And some will suffer due to the lack of quality control.

What do you think?

Would you be willing to let drug companies produce recreational drugs in return for lowering the cost of your Lipitor and other medicinal drugs?

Do you see a downside to the plan that I’ve missed?

And if all currently illegal recreational drugs were legalized, which would you try, if any?


Are you part of the 16.8%?

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Times were good when I was in my late-teens and twenties back in the ’60’s and ’70s. Yes, we were all a little crazy back then, but we sure had fun and anyone who wanted a job could find one. Even when unemployment peaked in the mid 70s at 9%, it seemed like there were jobs to be found if you really wanted one. Or perhaps we were just lucky here in Eastern Massachusetts.

Times are not so good for young people today. New unemployment figures released by youth-focused Generation Opportunity peg the unemployment rate in the 18-29 year old group at 12.8%. And that’s just for those who are still looking for work. Add in the 1.7 million young folks who’ve given up looking for a job and you get a real unemployment rate of 16.8%!

Generation Opportunity President Paul T. Conway, a former Chief of Staff for the US Department of Labor and US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), had this to say:

“For young Americans, through no fault of their own, their story is one of few opportunities, delayed dreams, and stalled careers. Today’s unemployment numbers tell the story of millions of young Americans who are paying the price for the failed policies coming out of Washington that have inhibited economic opportunity and job creation.”

He’s correct, of course. Government spending and regulations have always been job killers. Franklin Delano Roosevelt couldn’t seem to grasp that simple concept in the 1930s just as Barack Hussein Obama can’t understand it today. True, there was then and is now much blame to be spread throughout the halls of Congress as well as in the White House, but it is to the White House people have come to look for leadership and only terminal myopia can allow anyone to suggest the current President has done anything but a horrendous job of anything but playing golf since taking office.

I’m no fan of Mitt Romney nor of most of the Republicans who vied for the nomination. If I had my druthers, I’d install Ron Paul in the Oval Office. But that’s not going to happen so the next best thing is to not reward incompetence by voting against another four years of socialist, pie-in-the-sky Obamanomics.

What we really need in Washington is to sweep out the entrenched politicians and bureaucrats at every level. Unfortunately, that can’t happen in one election. But what can happen is to send a clear message by giving the boot to all those up for re-election who had a hand, or even a finger in the economic disaster of the past three years, starting with the Apologizer-in-Chief.

If you’re part of the 16.8%, you really have to be a little crazy to vote for four more years of failure. And if you’re working, think about the 16.8% and how you could contribute to pushing the number even higher if the nation is subjected to four more years of job-killing, trillion-dollar deficits and failed economic policies.

Are you part of the 16.8%?

Either way, how will you be voting in November, and why?


Are you, too, getting older…and poorer?

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I’m pretty good at math, so I did some the other day. I wanted to figure out where I stood, retirement-wise. It turns out, I won’t be standing, but sitting right here in front of the computer monitor working. Social security and our meager savings will not come close to allowing us to live comfortably here in The People’s Republic of Massachusetts. And with our first grandchild due next month, I’ve abandoned all hope of convincing Martha to move.

As it turns out, though, we’re not alone. Lots of others are facing seniorhood with less-than-stellar financial resources, too.

5 Steps to Greater Retirement Self-Reliance

Poverty rates have been rising for older Americans. They’re not alone, of course. The meager recovery from the recession has left millions of us worse off. Younger people can at least hope for a rebound when things get better. But it is hard to find a silver lining in any of the clouds that hang over older folks.

Tax rates are set to rise. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are under the gun. Federal and state spending will be under pressure for years, if not decades. And the flood of aging baby boomers promises to intensify demand for senior health and safety-net programs, just when it’s clear that the money for any expanded efforts is just not there.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) recently took a look at poverty rates among people age 50 and older, and how they changed between 2001 and 2009. Looking at four different groups of older people, here is how their poverty rates have changed:

Ages 50 to 64: from 9.1 percent in 2001 to 12.3 percent in 2009

Ages 65 to 74: from 8.4 percent to 9.4 percent

Ages 75 to 84: from 8.8 percent to 10.7 percent

Ages 85 and older: from 15.9 percent in 2001 to 14.6 percent in 2009

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Number 3 on the list, delaying retirement, is not even an option for me. It’s a necessity.

Even if I do delay collecting Social inSecurity until I’m 70, we still won’t have enough to live on comfortably. So the bottom line of my math exercise is, barring a  big lottery win, I’ll be working until I die.


What’s your situation?

If you’re approaching “that age,” will you have enough to retire comfortably?

If you’re younger, do you have a concrete plan to generate enough savings to retire?

And how do you feel the nation’s ongoing shift to socialism will affect you?


Would YOU Hire This Nanny? Michael says no. I say yes and why.

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite talk-show host is a local guy named Michael Graham. He deals in The Natural Truth, as he calls it, and it’s rare occurrence that I disagree with his take on issues. But today is one of those rare days.

I’ve reproduced one of his blog posts below. My comments follow.

From The Maestro’s Mailbag: “Would YOU Hire This Nanny?”

From my email:

Dear Michael, my wife has had four interviews with our prospective nanny named Sheri and we want to hire her even though she is a little young (21). 

She is also very attractive.


But here is the problem.  She is from Florida and so I googled her and found a picture of her looking exactly like THIS.  EXACTLY.  In fact she has a few series of pics like this.

Needless to say, we are very concerned even though I think she is the best interview (out of about 20) and she is extremely qualified CPR, working on early childhood degree etc)

Is there any way I, as a married man, can hire this girl?

Thanks, Eric

My reply,

Dear Eric,

No.  Huh-uh. There is no way you can hire this woman as your kids’ nanny…assuming, that is, you want to stay married.

First, if you tell your wife “let’s hire her!”, you’re screwed. Your wife will, I assume, immediately begin divorce proceedings/hit you with a claw hammer/both.

Option two is for your wife to hire her.  But if you’re married to a woman so clueless that she’d but that [see pic above] in your house with you, five days a week, you’re probably doomed, anyway.  What sane married woman would let that happen?

Then there’s option three: Somehow this woman does end up being your kids’ nanny: hanging around all day, babysitting at night, maybe coming on a family trip…

If you’re going to hire her, Eric, let me save you some time: Just go ahead and hire the divorce lawyer now.

Sorry, but that’s the Natural Truth.


Michael Graham

I think Michael’s analysis is only party correct and pretty sexist. He assumes that if a young, attractive woman is around, the guy will not be able to stop himself from doings something stupid and/or that his wife will inevitably fall prey to uncontrollable jealousy or suspicion.

Now, I will grant you that in many cases, that is exactly what would happen. But is it really inevitable?

Are we really going to tell attractive young women they cannot use their intelligence and hard work to get ahead in life; that jobs in their field will not be open to them because other people can’t behave like adults? Or maybe we’ll tell them, “Sure, you can be a nanny, but only for single moms with no boyfriends.”

Sorry, Michael. I hope you were just trying to be funny with this post, because as a guy, I’m insulted you assume I can’t keep my hands to myself and that my wife can’t control her imagination.

Many people look with disdain on young women who rely on looks and their bodies to make their way through life. Are we now going to condemn them simply for having good looks and bodies?

I said above, I think Michael is partly correct. I would leave the decision up to my wife and hope that she is secure enough in our relationship not to be threatened by an attractive nanny.

Of course, we’d not be hiring a nanny at all, since we both believe one parent or the other should always be caring for children, even if that means working different shifts. But that’s something for another day’s blog post.

So…ladies and gentlemen, what would you do in the writer’s place? Hire the woman or not? Who decides?

Gents, if she’s hired, will she inevitably become a temptation you will not be able to resist?

And ladies, if she’s hired, will you always be comparing yourself to her…wondering if maybe hubby likes her better…etc.?


Being 30 and living with your parents is…awesome? Really??

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I was twenty-four going on twenty-five when I moved out of my parent’s house back in he ’70s. I can still remember the conflicted look on my mother’s face when I told her I’d found an apartment and would be leaving in a few weeks. On the one hand, she was happy to see me get out on my own, something that was long overdue. On the other hand, the loss of the 10% of my poker winnings would make a dent in the household income. I was living the life of a gambler in those days and doing well. But I’d recently come to realize that if I wanted any sort of normal life, I had to get a real job, which I did. Once the crappy, low-paying job was secured, it was time to leave the nest.

I moved into the cheapest apartment I could find in a decent neighborhood. It was on the second floor of an old house and looked it’s age. It was spacious, but to get to the bathroom, you had to go out into the hallway that was used by the tenant on the third floor. My first order of business when I moved in was, with the landlord’s permission, to cut an opening in the shared wall and install  a door from the apartment into the bathroom, then seal the door from the hallway.

I learned some important lessons in that apartment, not the least of which was that staying warm costs money. I leaned that one morning when I woke to an apartment in which you could store milk without it spoiling. Not only did I have to arrange for an oil delivery, the guy wanted an extra twenty bucks to re-prime the furnace. The second heat-related lesson I learned was that a hundred gallons of oil doesn’t last very long in an apartment with leaky windows. That was when I learned about weatherproofing.

There were many more lessons, the costs of food and utilities among them, and the fact that girls seemed to look more favorably on guys who had their own place.

Despite shivering many a winter night with the heat set at 50, despite eating mostly canned food because I couldn’t afford a refrigerator or take-out food, despite the mostly found-on-the-street-on-trash-day furniture I had, despite everything, it never once occurred to me that I should move back to may parent’s house. I loved the freedom and independence too much.

Apparently, these days, lots of young folks feel differently.

Being 30 and Living With Your Parents Isn’t Lame — It’s Awesome

Just how much of a bummer is it to be well past the age of adulthood and still living under your parent’s roof? As this living arrangement grows increasingly common, the perception is that it’s not so bad after all. In fact, living with mom and dad can be pretty sweet. According to a new survey, young adults who live with their parents are nearly as likely to say they are satisfied with their housing situation as those who live on their own.

Last fall, a study revealed that the number of young adults living with their parents had soared. Prior to the recession, 4.7 million Americans ages 25 to 34 lived with their folks. As of last year, though, the number had increased to 5.9 million, thanks largely to years of widespread high unemployment and underemployment for young workers—who often simply did not have the money to move out of their own.

According to a new Pew Research poll, 21.6% of Americans ages 25 to 34 now live in multigenerational households. The figure has risen steadily since 1980, when it measured at just 11%, and it spiked, unsurprisingly, starting in 2007.

Some may assume that these young adults are desperate to move out on their own. Living with your parents just has to be demoralizing, perhaps even a bit soul-crushing. Another recent survey, timed to be published for Valentine’s Day, made a strong case that living with your parents does nothing for your love life.

But in the new Pew survey, the attitudes and optimism of young adults living with their parents aren’t that different from that of young adults living on their own. Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of those living with mom and dad say they are satisfied with their family lives, compared with a slightly higher percentage (73%) of those living on their own who report the same. While 49% of adults out on their own declare themselves satisfied with their present housing situation, 44% of those living with their parents can say the same thing. Roughly the same portion of both groups (83% with parents vs. 84% on their own) believes that they will have enough money down the line to live the kind of life they want.

In a column published by the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, one college grad forced to move back home explained why her living arrangements have proved, surprisingly, to be pretty great:

After four years of dorm living in New York City, with fire alarms that wrenched us from bed at 2:30 a.m., cursing whatever drunk sophomore had pulled the emergency lever “for fun,” I appreciated the quiet. I loved having a house to myself, 9 to 5. I loved hosting elaborate meals for my parents’ friends, the overworked adults sighing with relief into their glasses of wine. I loved my parents, come to that, and the long conversations we had on world events prompted by my hours in the kitchen listening to NPR.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

How nice that she can hang around listening to NPR all day. What a life, eh? I wonder if it ever occurs to her that her parents might like the opportunity to hang around all day, too, but they’re too busy working to support themselves and her college-degreed butt. Or maybe they’d like have the occasional spontaneous romantic evening without worrying about her walking in at an inopportune moment.

I suppose it never occurs to her, or to many of Generation Cupcake, that life is sometimes uncomfortable and hard. And I suppose it’s the fault of her and other parents who dedicated themselves to sheltering their precious angels from any and all adversity and disappointment while they were growing up.

Perhaps the young lady quoted above can’t find a really well-paying job where she can use her degrees in French Literature and Women’s Studies, or whatever they are, but she sure can find a job or two at McDonald’s or Target or waitressing. And maybe she can’t afford an apartment on her own, but I’d bet that she could afford to share a place with several others her age. Or maybe, just maybe, she could turn off NPR and spend her days creating her own job by starting some small business.

Parents, you really are not doing your kids any favors by sheltering them from life. There are hard lessons to be learned and it’s far better to learn them while they are young and resilient.

Moving back home should be a temporary thing, a short time for kids to find an income, even if it’s from a crappy job, and a place to live, even if it’s a crappy apartment with a bathroom in the hall. I guarantee they will learn more about life in the first two months on their own than they learned in four years of college and however many years of living with you.

Do your back-in-the-nest kids a favor, parents. Kick them out and make them spread their wings. They’ll thank you for it some day.

What do you think? Am I just being a surly, out-of-touch curmudgeon?

When did you leave the nest? Or are you back there and if so, why?





If you can’t DO the job, don’t TAKE the job.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

For those who don’t know, Wegmans is an east coast grocery chain. Some say it’s one of, if not the best in the business.

Sign at Wegmans draws attention

It’s a first for Wegmans in this area. They’ve put up a sign asking customers buying pork or alcohol not to use a particular checkout line when a Muslim teenager is on duty as the cashier.

And the best part of the job is, you don't actually have to do the job if it makes you "uncomfortable."

The sign went up a week ago at their Lyell Avenue store.

Wegmans says they haven’t gotten any in store complaints and Wegmans was very upfront about the cashier. They just wouldn’t allow us in the store to talk with her or customers.

Spokeswoman Jo Natale says the cashier is a teenaged girl who wears a head covering. She told her supervisor she was uncomfortable handling those items because of religious reasons. So the store manager who had experience with this type of situation outside of Rochester decided to put up a small sign whenever the girl was at the checkout counter.

It says, “If your order contains pork or alcohol product, we respectfully ask that you choose another lane.”

Wegmans also says the girl has been coached what to say if customers ask why. People News10NBC spoke with outside the Lyell Avenue Wegmans store said they were okay with it and one even knows Christians who don’t like the idea of serving alcohol.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if one applies for a job, one should be able to do the job. But it appears that necessity is falling by the wayside.

How absurd is it that a business would hire a worker who won’t do the job when he or she encounters some part of the job s/he doesn’t like?

If a devout Christian decided she was “uncomfortable” handling contraceptives or meat during Lent, would Wegman’s accommodate her and send folks to other lines?

What if five of the six cashiers on duty were Muslim and five out of six folks shopping were buying hams for Easter? Should they all wait in the one line staffed by a non-Muslim while the other cashiers do nothing?

The same applies to the Christians mentioned in the article who don’t like serving alcohol is restaurants. If that is the case, don’t take a job waiting tables. Can you imagine walking into a place for dinner on a Friday night and being asked if you plan to drink and when you say yes, you’re told your wait will be two hours because only two of the eight waitstaff are “comfortable” handling alcohol? The life expectancy of that establishment would likely be measured in weeks.

In the Wegman’s case, when the girl said she did not want to handle some of the things the store sold, I’d have handed her a pair of gloves and told her to wear them or transfer to grocery, if there was an opening, and stock shelves.

And lest anyone imagine this is a religious thing, I would never have even hired Elsa Sallard, the dwarf who wanted to use a footstool or ladder to work as a barista at Starbucks and sued when the manager rightfully fired her. Given the settlement in the case, apparently the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believes wanting to do a job is reason enough to be hired. That you can’t actually do the job without endangering other workers and/or customers is now irrelevant.

Political correctness has been chipping away at the fabric of our culture for far too long. So long, that businesses are now willing to inconvenience customers, the people with money that keep the businesses in business, rather than take the chance of offending people who clearly are not able to do a given job.

It’s insanity. And it’s spreading.

What’s your take on this?

Should the girl be at the register or doing something else?

And how far should businesses be forced to go to accommodate potential hires?


Please! Just stop whining, get off your butt, and get a job. Any job.

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Melinda.


I can’t recall the last time I read such a fine example of self-indulgent whining as the following:

Trials of a stay-at-home boyfriend
It’s hard being unemployed for six months. Even worse is when your girlfriend picks up the check at dinner

I am a stay-at-home boyfriend. This lifestyle was dictated by circumstances – not choice – but it’s hard to deny it has benefits. Showers: optional. Getting dressed: optional. Human contact: optional.

Still, I squirm every time my girlfriend, Stephanie, and I go out to dinner and she reaches for the check. Sometimes I snag it from under her lingering fingertips and whip out my Visa – for which she pays the bill — as if that’s somehow less demeaning. Say what you will about modern times and gender roles in the 21stcentury, but there are still certain behaviors associated with manhood. Providing. Protecting. Being a stay-at-home boyfriend may look easy. But let’s say I’ve forsaken a certain amount of pride.

Last August I earned my master’s degree from Northwestern University. I have now been unemployed for six months. I realize now that life with a liberal arts degree is self-inflicted. It turns out that few job descriptions list a base understanding of semiotics or rote memorization of the oeuvre of Alfred Lord Tennyson under necessary Skills/Qualifications.

But give me a Break, Break, Break.

It seemed like worthwhile knowledge for those of us naive enough to believe English, history and philosophy were rewarding academic pursuits. What else could allow me to play the sophisticate at parties, wearing tweed jackets, or quoting Nietzsche on nihilism when someone asks if I’ve seen last week’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” What I didn’t realize is that first you must earn the money to buy that tweed jacket, which is damn expensive.

Instead I have discovered I am over-qualified, under-qualified, wrongly qualified. At this point I just want a job to resent. Late at night, lying belly-up on the mattress, I long for the discordant beep of a malfunctioning fax machine or a bumbling secretary to diagnose a case of the Mondays.

Day-to-day, the single-most intimidating obstacle I face is not the unemployment rate or another round of hapless job interviews, but attaching an identity to the man I make eye contact with each morning in the vanity mirror. Every tee ball trophy I was given as a child, all those words of blind encouragement in the classroom — be whatever you want to be — were just another ingredient in a soufflé of grandiose expectations.  And every day the gap in my job history expands is another day I struggle to find myself.

Click Here to read the rest of this overwrought maundering.

Give you a “Break, Break, Break”?! How about giving all of us, and your poor girlfriend, a break.

You’ve been sitting around for six months feeling sorry for yourself and you expect us to do what, join in your self-pity party?

Sorry, pal. There are lots of jobs available. Try McDonald’s or Burger King or WalMart. True, they will not tap all that vast lake of literary learning you lapped up in order to earn your useless degree, but they will put money in your pocket so you won’t have to keep sponging off your girlfriend.

Did you take any math classes to get that degree? Try this: $10/hr > 0. If you skipped math, it means ten dollars an hour is greater than zero.

Imagine how good you’ll feel looking in the mirror and seeing someone who’s being productive, who’s doing the best he can under bad circumstances, instead of someone who spends his days watching TV and lamenting his rude introduction to the real world.

You might even learn some useful skills. And while your flipping burgers or mopping floors, you can still be applying for better jobs. (Hint: employers are more likely to hire someone who demonstrates his ambition by working than someone who’s earning a second degree in daytime TV.)

You made some bad choices and at least you are man enough to admit it. Now make a good choice. Man-up, get off your ass, and go take any job you can find before your girlfriend realizes she can do a lot better than the whiny, Sponge Bob-watching loser you’ve let yourself become.

What do you folks think?

Am I being to hard on him?

Or is he possibly just another grownup cupcake who can’t deal with the real world?


Can you be fired for your religious beliefs?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Can you  be fired for your religious beliefs?

I’m one of those whacky folks who think my “right to work” if I can find work is does not obligate any employer to keep employing me until I decide to leave. I believe any employer can fire anyone at any time for any, or no reason. But that is not the state of American law these days, when employers have to document a series of transgressions in order to fire anyone. And a person’s religious beliefs are not on the list of items that may be considers as transgressions.

What got me thinking about this was this story from yesterday’s news:

Former NASA specialist claims in lawsuit that he was fired over his belief in intelligent design

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A computer specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is going to court over allegations that he was wrongfully terminated because of his belief in intelligent design.

David Coppedge (left) with his attorney, William Becker.

Opening statements in the lawsuit by David Coppedge were expected to start Tuesday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court after lawyers spent Monday arguing several pretrial motions.

Coppedge, who worked as a team lead on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, claims he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work.

Intelligent design is the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone. Coppedge lost his team lead title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.

In an emailed statement, JPL dismissed Coppedge’s claims. In court papers, lawyers for the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL for NASA, said Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment. They also said Coppedge lost his team lead status because of ongoing conflicts with others.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

I suspected the true reason Coppedge was fired as soon as I read the headline. I was pretty sure by the end of the third paragraph and found I was correct by the end of the fifth.

Coppedge was not fired because of his religious beliefs, he was fired because he could not keep his religious beliefs to himself.

I am not an employer. I’m self-employed and the only one in my office all day unless my wife comes in to tell me something. But if I did have employees and one of them spent any part of the workday proselytizing, or even just “engaging his co-workers in conversations” about intelligent-design or anything else not related to work, I’d fire him, too. And probably a lot faster than the folks at JPL canned Coppedge.

Had Coppedge invited co-workers to join him after work to discuss intelligent design or any other subject, he might still be employed at JPL, but he did not.

It seems to be a presumption peculiar to some devout Christians that their faith confers on them a right to engage anyone and everyone at any time in discussions intended to convert them to the truth as they see it. Perhaps their faith blinds them to the reality that most folks simply want to be left alone with their own beliefs, whatever they may be.

I daresay Coppedge might find it annoying if a Muslim or Jew or Rastafarian constantly pestered him at work trying to show him the error of his religious beliefs. Yet he apparently believes his own such actions justified to the point that he apparently continued even after receiving a written warning.

I can only hope the judge who hears the preliminary arguments in this case has the good sense to dismiss it. Nobody has the right to waste his employer’s time and money to advance personal religious, political, or any other kind of beliefs.

Do you agree? Disagree?

Am I missing something important?

And do you think people should have a right to stay in their jobs no matter what?





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