Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Wastefulness of the AZ Budget Battle

I'm not sure I have time for as thoughtful a post as I would like, but it's looking like if I waited for that, I'd never post anything.

Lately, I've started relaxing a tiny bit about the fact that I've been RIF'ed from my district (or "riffed"). Not because I'm confident about being called back, but because my Linkedin profile is somewhat complete, my resume is updated and tuned, I have several versions of it and cover letters, and I have some pretty wonderful letters of recommendation which humble me and boost me with the confidence I will need to get through this. So I'm poised to apply for jobs, and now I have begun to seriously think: of the seven jobs for which I have applied, which would I really accept without knowing whether I will be called back to Tucson High? Only one or two really make the cut. Before I would consider becoming a pharmaceutical rep or a technical writer, I would want to know whether I would be offered my old job back. I am starting to be choosy about what I apply for, although I am not at all sure that I can afford the luxury.

I estimate that I have spent at least 20-25 hours on job searching activities so far. Some of these were hours when my children talked to me about their day and then slowly climbed me like a wall of impenetrability while I typed at the computer and asked them to go play on the patio. Some of these were hours I should have spent giving feedback to my students on their research papers and planning a more engaging Huck Finn unit for the end of the year, or calling parents of students who were struggling. These were important hours I was giving up in a fog of panic and heartache.

So, how many others in Arizona are in my exact position? How many resumes and careerbuilder applications are they sending out?

How many of those jobs are they serious about?

How much time are the HR folks at those companies spending on e-mail and with manila folders trying to keep all of this straight? How many little white postcards are being sent out informing these applicants that, due to the extreme volume of applications, they will be contacted if their experience and qualifications meet the needs of the employer? How many needless interviews will be held while the clients, customers and students of those interviewers wait their turn?

Come May 22, how many of us will be in line (or online) to apply for unemployment? Food stamps? WIC? AHCCCS? How many of us will end up being double-dippers for a time, living off of our summer paychecks and collecting unemployment all summer, only to find ourselves employed in August? But we can't exactly not apply, because what will happen if we are not employed come August? How many of us will end up in foreclosure or in a short sale, and who absorbs the impact of that lost debt? Who is paying for all of this? The Republicans as much as the Democrats, I can tell you.

There is an entire, frightening economy developing out of Arizona's budget crisis alone. On top of the already frightening economy. And yet it is all sold to us as something unavoidable, inevitable, part of the process, the result of a bad economy. But there are solutions; it's just that those in power want to write the script of these last few months of the fiscal year so that in the grand finale, they can seem to be flexible, compassionate, problem solvers. It makes me sick.

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