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Michael Steele and the Demise of Working America

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Back in April 2009, GOP chairman Michael Steele appeared as a guest on a republican-oriented talk radio show. A caller to the program voiced his opinion and stated he did not believe the U.S. is in a state of economic crisis. Steele laughed in agreement and claimed that “[t]he malls are just as packed on Saturday.”

San Rafael, California is located 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge along U.S. Highway 101. With a population of approximately 50,000, it retains the flavor of a small town without sacrificing any of the amenities you’ll find in the most sophisticated of communities.

Nearly every week for the last six months, as I drive along “Mainstreet” on my way to work, I’ve noticed a new storefront that has gone vacant. These are not the vacant addresses that once housed “Old Navy” or “The House of Knives;” and 4th Avenue is not a strip mall. These were shops and boutiques that operated and prospered for the last 20 or more years by catering to the desires and whims of what had been one of the most prosperous communities in the nation. But ever since the mask was removed from Bush’s depression last summer, many of these privileged professionals are finding themselves squeezed financially in the same wringer as the rest of America’s middle class has been for quite some time. As a result, one by one, these shops are falling by the wayside.

The American economy we see today is the end-result of political policies that have been transforming American society for the past 30 years. Based on slogans such as privatization, de-regulation, free trade, out-sourcing, “conservatism,” tax reform, and right to work, legislators have been giving American business what it wants since the days of President Regan. They have turned this country into a place that no longer resembles the country it was when I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

San Rafael, CA is a long way from Flint, Michigan, the town where I grew up.

Flint was never a place that you would mistake as being a center of sophisticated culture. It had always been a blue-collar town. But in its own way, it had once been a pretty prosperous place. Flint was probably the first urban center in America to feel the crunch created by those economic and business policies that destroyed industrial America. You could say that Flint had been America’s canary in a cage, because that town began dying in the 1970’s.

Type the words “Flint Michigan” into your browser or into the search bar over at You Tube. Take a look at what conservatism has done to America. Flint residents living next door to an abandoned property are now able to purchase that property for $1.00. The city will come in, demolish and remove any existing building on that property and fill in the holes. Thereafter, the new owner only needs to keep the property looking presentable. Another strategy being used is to provide incentives for residents in out-lying areas of the city to move in closer to the city center, so that city services can be discontinued to the abandoned areas.

In the wake of the policies listed above, community after community across America have been pushed over the brink of the same slippery slope as Flint, Michigan was abandoned to years ago when business (General Motors) moved out. Michael Steele’s words prove he remains as ignorant of where America stands today as John McCain was during his failed presidential bid, and Steele’s words are just as irrelevant as is the Republican party. The trouble is, that leaves America with only one other political party. From the looks of it, the Democrats have been cowed for so long by their minority status that following their return to a leadership position, they immediately bowed the knee to the masters of corporate Amerika. That being the case, I can’t see how we’ll ever emerge from the wreckage that’s been left behind.


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Happy “Recessionary” Mother’s Day

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Adecco Group North America’s latest American Workplace Insights Survey indicates the economy is changing life at home and work, leaving moms feeling the most stress.  Surprisingly, more than three quarters (80%) of working moms are working because they have to, showing there is likely an increased strain on family budgets due to the economic crisis.  Additionally, almost half (48%) of working moms are more stressed due to the current economic volatility.

While the majority of moms work because they have to, there are distinct advantages to being a working mother. According to Adecco’s survey, children of mothers who work are more likely to be better behaved and do better in school.  74% of working moms think their children do well in school compared to 60% of non-working moms.  72% of working moms think their children are well behaved while 65% of non-working moms feel this way.  Additionally, working mothers are 10% more likely to think their kids find them to be a role model than non-working moms (67% vs. 57% respectively).
Adecco’s survey also finds:

  • Working more: Nearly one in five (16%) working moms report that their work hours have increased in this economy.  Almost half (48%) wish they could spend more time with their kids.
  • Re-entering the work force: 13% of working moms went back to working recently due to the economy.
  • Michelle Obama most admired: Michelle Obama took the top spot as the most admired famous mom over Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Reese Witherspoon, Kelly Ripa, Jenny McCarthy, Angelina Jolie, Elisabeth Hasselback and others.

Adecco also offers the following tips for ways mothers can reduce workplace stress and work more effectively:

  • Focus on how parenting makes you a better professional:  Being a parent sharpens a wide range of soft skills including effective interpersonal communication, the ability to negotiate, and compassion.  These same skills are crucially important to being both a successful leader and team player in the office, better enabling parents to navigate both domains.
  • Focus on productivity over face time:  It’s more important that workers properly prioritize, manage their time and deliver other than simply putting in “face-time” until all hours at the office.     Workers do not need to be in the office all the time to make a powerful contribution.   Be sure to set defined works goals and results beforehand with your supervisors.
  • Be realistic about your goals. Do not expect to be able to spend the same amount of time with your child as someone who is a stay-at-home parent. Instead, concentrate on making the most out of the time you have. And let your children know too. Children, regardless of their age, need to know what to expect each day and they look forward to when you will be home.
About the Author: Bernadette Kenney is a working mother and chief career officer of Adecco Group North America.

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