Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bloodbath


By day, I work for an educational publisher, and in past years, it has been less subject to extremes in the economy than many others, since the education field is such a crucial one — indeed, one of the few that is supposedly relatively stable, if not growing. However, the publishing business overall has tanked badly, and we are still exposed to much of that instability. Yesterday, almost a fifth of the staff at my workplace was cut loose, including my partner in the typesetting department, with whom I have worked for going on ten years now. She’s got lots of health problems, and for those who were let go yesterday, their insurance coverage terminated at midnight last night

The only option for most of them is COBRA, which is horrendously expensive. However, in this case, the timing of Obama’s stimulus package being passed may have been propitious, since now the government will pick up about 60% of the COBRA premium

Even then, for most of them, it will be a monumental struggle to stay afloat. And the company cutting staff just means that much more money coming out of the economy than going into it, thus perpetuating this evil cycle. I absolutely understand the personnel cuts; if the business fails completely and puts the lot of us out of work, it’s all that much worse. Still, this is a bitter pill to swallow. In some respects, I am grateful to still have a decent job. But overall, my mood is this:

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.

How wonderful it would be to have the answers and the means to implement them. But our problems are so widespread and so complex — thanks so much to corporate greed — that it’s going to take more a change in mindset than infusion of money for the real recovery to happen. As we’ve dug ourselves in deeper and deeper, the glowing horizon keeps getting farther and farther away.

Our company move was necessary, I’ve no doubt of this. But I hope that, at the end of it all — not just for our business but across the board — no one is going to end up rewarded for making “tough decisions,” when the consequence of this “tough” decision-making is financial devastation for so many talented and undeserving individuals. If they are, then the negative cycle will not have been broken but perpetuated. And that’s the last thing any of us need.

1 comment:

Stewart Sternberg said...

Corporate culture has to change. We need to re-examine certain myths held by staunch capitalists. The idea that if businesses were just left alone or given a multitude of tax breaks that they would reinvest that money or find their redemption in the glow of competition and the 'unfettered' marketplace is absurd. There is no free market. The market has always been controlled.