Coffee heat rising

Don’t Panic: A sign of light

Frugal Scholar had a bit of a meltdown as rumors of 25 percent cutbacks swirled through her campus. This kind of talk is unnerving, especially since we know that when layoffs loom, the talk that precedes them often comes to pass.

There’s certainly no real evidence that the economy’s alleged recovery is affecting the average Jane and Joe at the state level. Here in Arizona, the state and cities are at the point of canning firefighters and police, and we’re told that unless we vote in the proposed tax hike—which we probably won’t, this being a Kill-the-Beast sort of place—schools will be shut down and cutbacks will be Draconian. Real estate is still worthless, and while the media yelp enthusiastically over openings at this and that megacorporation, they’re all minimum-wage burger-flipping, shelf-stocking, and housekeeping jobs.

But…some individual stories offer a glimmer of  hope. Tina, a.k.a. The Kid, landed herself an editor’s job in the College of Business out at the Great Desert University. Pay isn’t great, but it’s a helluva lot better than the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was paying her. A paycheck could fall way short of that and still be an improvement: she earned more in five hours waiting tables at Applebee’s than we paid her in a week. What she’s earning now at least apes a normal wage. And, because the journal has private funding, she will get occasional bonuses that, mirabilis, will not be paid through the rapacious state of Arizona.

Meanwhile, she had a bunch of freelance gigs pending, all of which had been sitting there for quite some time and none of which were doing anything. She had given up on them, figuring it was all so  much hot air.

Now, however, the largest of those putative clients wants her to manage a textbook project. Pay: $39,000, more than the enhanced new salary at GDU. Add that contract to the day job, Applebee’s, and her other contracts and, says she, in 2010 she could rack up as much as $100,000!

Not bad for a liberal arts graduate. Not bad for cobbling together a living from a bunch of different sources.

She’s now considering farming out this work to her fellow editorialists, keeping a finder’s fee for herself. This strategy will bring a few bucks for her and keep her clients on the string, so if the job falls through for any reason (it is ASU, after all, and ASU is the State of Arizona, an institution in shambles), she’ll still have the freelance work to fall back on.

Another friend was offered ten grand to do a book project but turned it down because she has enough work, thank you.

So, the post-layoff world is not altogether bleak. It is possible to turn up work here and there (some of it paid in cash), and my experience is confirming SDXB’s assurance that it doesn’t cost anything like what you expect to live in Bumhood. I’m now not only not sorry GDU laid me off, I’m glad of it! Wouldn’t go back to work full-time on a bet.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Panic: A sign of light”

  1. @ SimplyForties: 🙂 Darned right!

    I’m convinced that if affordable, no-strings-attached health insurance were universally available, large numbers of Americans could and would escape from wage slavery. Why stay on the treadmill if you can earn enough independently to support an acceptable lifestyle? The only thing that keeps people in chains is the exorbitant cost of health insurance.

    As we see, if Tina had waited three or four weeks before accepting the yoke, a freelance job paying more than GDU’s 9-to-5 would have come along. Given a choice between the two, though, she still would have had to take the underpaid day job (which entails more work, plus an unpleasant commute plus $800/year to park her car plus a boss looking over her shoulder eight hours a day), because she has to have health insurance for herself and her child. If she had access to affordable healthcare, she could have taken the better-paying independent contract that allows one to work remotely, from anyplace one cares to live.

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