April 22, 2013

The irony of being out of work

I haven't posted about what I'm about to discuss because this blog is not about me, it's about ideas, and this post is going to be somewhat personal.  But not totally, there is a bigger point to be made.  Last November I lost my job.  It was the second time in just over two years that I've lost my job.  The first time it was about downsizing.  This time it had more to do with things like salary and differing viewpoints on corporate culture.  In any case, the reasons are not important.  What is important is how the layoff has impacted me, and whether it has affected my views on the social safety net.  The short answer is - it has.  But it's not in a way you'd expect if you 're worldview is that of a liberal.

Some context

I've been out of work for almost 5 months now.  I have never been out of work for very long and I certainly didn't expect to be out of work this long, this time around.  Last time I was out of work I had four interviews and four job offers out of that, within a month and a half of starting to look.  

I'm very eager to get back to work.  I don't like being unproductive.  Despite a more limited number of postings that fit my skill set this time around, I still expected to get a couple of interviews.  I expected to have less choice but at least an offer by now.  So far I've had two interviews, both with recruiters who have me in their database and they've since disappeared.

I've got a lot of resumes out there and I hope to get some traction soon, but there's no guarantee. Still, I'm keeping a positive attitude.


Five months into this situation, my severance package has run out and I'm on employment insurance (EI as it is referred to here in Canada) now.  Because of my previous salary, the cap on the insurance is less than half of my regular income.  Needless to say, I'm staring at insolvency not too far down the road.  Having spent the last 5 years paying down my existing debts and seeing the light at the end of the financial tunnel, the tunnel may end up being extended or maybe even collapsing in on me.  Fun stuff.

Given those circumstances, it's possible to see someone changing their views about the social safety net.  But my views have not changed.  I've always subscribed to the view that the social safety net is necessary but that it should not be a hammock where people can spend their entire lives, living off the public purse.  Now that I've fallen into that net, that viewpoint has not changed, but something else has.

In the past I have been in a position to take advantage of the safety net but did not need to do so.  My view was that it was my personal responsibility to avoid public assistance at all costs.  In fact last time I would probably have been too proud to accept it even if I did need it.  Not so this time. I think pride is a dangerous emotion and we all know what it precedes.  So I have, out of necessity, accepted employment insurance. But more importantly I have accepted that I am not infallible and that anyone (i.e. me in this case) can need help.  People should not be afraid to accept the assistance/help/charity of others (even government) when they need it.  The promise that we should make when accepting that help is that we will use all of our resources, all of our resolve to remove that need as quickly as possible.  In the future others may need that help, and they deserve their opportunity to get it as well.

So what's the bigger point?  Society is not based on everyone succeeding, it is based on everyone trying.  Those who keep trying, deserve our support as they always have, and I've always believed.  Those who have given up, should not expect others to not give up on their behalf.  If you've given up on yourself, why should anyone else continue to believe in you (besides perhaps family)?

All that said, anyone wanting to help out can donate to my Paypal account (see link at bottom of the page) or click on some of my advertising in the side columns.  It can't hurt. Thank you.

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