12 to 40: Then and Now – Part 3

This is Part 3 of the Then and Now posts for my 60 to 40 posts.  As noted in the previous two posts, a lot has changed in 40 years.  That includes our two lives as a married couple. As with any marriage, we have had our own roller coaster ride.  Each marriage has its ups and downs.  But, we have come through because we really care about each other and have made give and take a key part of our lives.

With that in mind, there are many outside influences that can impact a relationship and one’s lives. And this has been the case for many of us in the past 40 years.  We have lived through a number of national and worldwide crises, terrorist events, massive social changes and more.  Following are some of the big events that have shaped the world we live in and, in some way, shape or form, impacted the way we live our lives.

Some of the US Presidents from 1979 to present
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter participate in the State Funeral for former President George H.W. Bush, at the National Cathedral, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 in Washington. Alex Brandon/Pool via REUTERS

Since we were married in 1979, we have seen seven Presidents in office including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump.  What a ride that has been!

The horrific attack terror attacks on New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001 have had a major impact on the world

We have heard of dozens of terrorist attacks in the world, from the kidnapping of Americans in Tehran, to the horrific devastation of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and many more since. For us, life goes on.  Gratefully, none of these attacks has a direct impact on our lives, but the indirect impact has been immeasurable.

 

I worked in the solar energy in the 1990s. It is a huge industry today.

Wind farms now dot the country

In our 40 years we have seen the renewable energy industry grow by leaps and bounds around the country. This is a wonderful thing for the world.

Gas shortage of 1979 was a major impact to us

Gas may have only been around 88 cents a gallon, but the shortage in 1979 caused massive lines

The country has seen a few major financial crises, but the 2008 crisis was massive

The housing crisis of 2008 was the cause of many losing their homes. We were very lucky…more than once.

Crisis after crisis, Julianne and I have been blessed to weather the storms in many ways.  Sadly, some of the crises did cause unplanned job losses for us. But, we worked with resilience and have come back on a couple of occasions.  Job loss is not easy.  It takes a toll on you emotionally.  But, Julianne and I have created multiple skillsets over the past 40 years and so we were able to move on to other areas of employment and survive these crises.

Social Change has pulled our country in different directions

Riding the storms of societal change

Both Julianne and I grew up in the 1960s when the Vietnam War had been a driving force for Social Change.  We also experienced the effects of racism and sexism.  Since the 1970s, there has been much in social change.  Not only have we seen a return of race-related protest and violence in our country, but also protests for women’s rights and the evolution and normalization of rights for the LGTBQ (Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bi and Queer) groups.  Fights over gun rights, employment rights, the rights of gays and lesbians to marry…all of these have had major impacts on how society and the work place function.  Diversity rules in schools and places of employment have led to more difficulty in employment.  In fact, all of the brouhaha surrounding all of the social change was likely a contributing factor to Donald Trump winning the Presidential Election in 2016.  So far, Julianne and I have weathered these storms as well.  Commitment to our own values and commitment to each other has really helped us through this.

We can get through change

My State of the Union Address – Things are Not Good

I did not watch the State of the Union address last night. No need to. I see the State of the Union every day and it is not good.

Rich CEOs pushing talent out

Rich CEOs pushing talent out

I have witnessed the greed of corporate CEOs who eliminate talented and skilled individuals from companies in order to better the bottom line so that they, the CEOs, can get a larger, more lucrative bonus.

Corrupt Politicians

Corrupt Politicians

I have seen the corruption of politicians (both on the right and on the left) who use their political office for gain and prestige rather than to serve the constituency that voted them in.  They offer unachieveable promises to get into office and then make excuses and play the blame game when they can’t come through…even though they really did not intend to in the first place.

Middle Class Being Dumped

Middle Class Being Dumped

I have witnessed firsthand how the middle class is being pushed lower and lower. I have seen how companies are eliminating their talented and skilled American employees in order to hire much cheaper overseas staff to do the business at a much lesser cost, all in the effort to make sure that the upper crust of the company keeps their lucrative bonuses. I am seeing these same, now unemployed or under-employed middle-class individuals search for employment in their own country, only to be turned down over and over again because they are “overqualified,” “too old,” or “overweight.” I further see these talented and skilled Americans not finding work for more than six months and then companies again not hiring them because “they have not been employed over a lengthy period of time.”

Keep Calm

Keep Calm and Keep Flipping Burgers

I have seen the skilled labor force of the middle-class become disillusioned. I have seen them struggling to pay their bills. I have seen them them lose dignity, and, in their desire to keep some sense of dignity, they end up taking low-paying non-benefit jobs such as burger flipping, pizza delivery, slave labor in a call center, or cashier jobs and a big box store.

Bill Gates on Dignity

Bill Gates on Dignity

In the 1960s and 1970s perhaps flipping burgers and working cashier jobs provided opportunity.  Not today…  Most of these jobs do not provide any benefits, most provide no insurance, and typically most do not even provide full-time employment so they can avoid all of the costs and make the bottom line better and keep their bonuses. Sorry Bill…in today’s world, a burger flipper doesn’t typically reach the poverty level…

Walmart Wages

Walmart Wages

I see these people having to go to their 401(k) retirement plans and remove the money early so that they can take care of their house payments and their other obligations because they no longer make enough now on these low minimum wage paying jobs. I then see our government giving heavy tax burdens to these people who have withdrawn 401(k) funds early in order to take care of their obligations rather than to go on welfare. I am seeing the middle class being punished.

WelfareAt the same time, I am seeing this same government using those heavy taxes taken from the middle class underemployed who are trying to be responsible and dignified citizens, and using that money to take care of the continuously increasing number of people who stay home all day to watch Oprah or Jerry Springer or soap operas, while getting social welfare, food stamps, and other forms of government welfare while they provide nothing to society.  Of course, come voting time, we know who they will vote for…the guy that gives them money for nothing…

Welfare moneyI am seeing our government force the middle class to lose hope such that the middle class ends up filing bankruptcy and not having a way out any longer.  They are just being forced into accepting social welfare or trying to go out on their own.  Indeed, the government tells us that Unemployment numbers are going down. What they fail to point out is that the job sectors filling the jobs are the low wage non-benefit types.  Middle class jobs are just not there, and, when they are, the companies don’t want to hire the very skilled “has beens.” So hope continues to be lost. People are fighting for jobs….

Fight for JobsSo you have a whole crew of very experienced, very educated, and very talented individuals who are having to become entrepreneurs as well as they can.  They create the opportunities and invest their fast dwindling savings into businesses, only to be heavily taxed again by doing so.  And the welfare recipients still sit at home and get paid monthly to watch Dr. Phil and Judge Judy.

Self-employment TaxI have also seen how the middle-class Americans have lost healthcare and are now being forced into getting government sanctioned healthcare.

IncreaseCrimeLike many Americans, I am seeing an increasing crime rate across the country. More and more people are using guns to kill others commit robberies and violent crimes against spouses and others.

AmericanDreamOur country is in a shambles. It seems as though everyone is out for themselves and not caring about their neighbors any longer. The rich continue to barrier themselves away from the rest of the classes so that they can continue to enjoy the indulgences at everyone else’s expense. I even see many of the “wealthy” entrepreneurs working to tell people to go into business on their own and enjoy the luxuries of life and the benefits of more time to do what they want. However, quietly, these same network marketers purchase real estate and rent at high rental rates to the growing middle-class who can’t afford to live in a home any longer.  Indeed, even these entrepreneurs continue to get wealthier at the expense of the middle class.

I continue to work on my own now in the hope that we will survive these scary times. I do count my blessings.

Falling ApartBut, at the same time, I have witnessed the state of the union and it isn’t good.