Today I join the ranks of laid-off over-50 men who will probably never find a job as good as their last one. Let's face it: the demand for journalists has been going down every year for the last decade. Worse, the demand for senior-level editors has never been huge, and is dropping faster than the need for young college graduates who will work for next to nothing. Sure, in addition to being a competent writer and editor with a good grasp of technology and science, I am also skilled in the art of building viable (and profitable) online communities, but does that mean anything in today's horrible economy? Will I be able to find another job? Failing that, will I be able to get enough freelance work to survive? I have no idea.
In any case, I'm preparing to give up my mortgaged house. Without a job I can't afford the payments. Luckily, my wife and I have already bought a small (and very cheap) house trailer we hope to have fixed up and ready for occupancy around the middle of January, so we'll be out of here long before Wachovia forecloses on us.
I always did well as a freelance writer, and since I last freelanced 10 years ago I have become a competent video shooter and editor, too, so I probably can build enough freelance trade to produce a decent living before my small savings account runs dry, especially if I can collect some unemployment (I'm eligible) while I scrounge up enough freelance work to live on.
My biggest problem -- and biggest fear -- is health insurance. My wife and I are both 56, and we have pre-existing conditions that no private health insurance plan will cover for at least two years. My only choice is to continue my current employer-paid health plan through COBRA, and that's going to cost $848 per month. Meanwhile, Florida's maximum employment payment is $275 per week -- which means my wife and I will have a total of about $300 per month to cover all other expenses.
There's no point in complaining. I've voted for more than a few Republicans over the years, and this is my payback for that mistake. I've voted (mostly) for Democrats since 2000, and hopefully the Democrats now in office will realize that people like me need as much help as bank and Wall Street executives.
That's enough for now. I need to get some employment applications and freelance story proposals out. I don't know what you're doing this New Year's Day, but that's what *I'm* doing.