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Today’s must-read: Arianna Huffington on shorting the middle class

Submitted by on 1, April 20, 2010 – 4:40 am2 Comments

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Today’s must-read is a reader (and contributor) – forwarded post by Huffington Post namesake Arianna Huffington about how Wall Street hosed the middle class. I’m passing this along not so much for its content as for the Alameda angle, in the form of one Dean Blackburn:

It’s the story of Dean Blackburn of Alameda, California. The first part of his life was a classic American success story. Raised in Minnesota by a single mom, a teacher, he was “middle class by default.” Through a combination of smarts and hard work, he made his way to Yale, then took a succession of jobs in the growing Internet world that had him steadily progressing up the economic ladder.

Then came February 2009, when he was laid off on the last day of the month. His boss chose that day because it meant the company wouldn’t have to pay for another month of his health coverage. “Looking back on it,” he told me, “that hurt more than the layoff itself — just knowing that the president of the company was exactly that calculating and that unfeeling about my own, and my family’s wellbeing.” The timing, Blackburn continued, “put those ‘family days’ and company picnics in a weird new light.”

Fourteen months later, he is still looking for a new job. As he, his wife, and their 2-year-old daughter deal with the immediate financial struggles his extended unemployment has brought, Blackburn has become acutely aware of the broader implications of the shorting of the middle class. “Ultimately,” he says, “it’s not about a dip in corporate profits, but a change in corporate attitude — a change that means no one’s job is safe, and never will be, ever again.”

It’s one of the reasons he’s decided to try to start his own company, NaviDate, a data-driven twist on online dating sites: “It’s no longer a trade-off between doing what you love and having stability. Stability is long gone, so you better do something you love!”

Anyway, you can read the whole piece by clicking the link up top. (And while you’re there you can do what I do and check out all the Daily Show clips I missed while I was writing stories and sitting through those long City Council meetings.)

2 Comments »

  • Steve says:

    Thanks for the link Michele. Huffington’s absolutely correct — the middle class has been hosed by Wall Street. And, the hosing will continue. It’s unbelievable that there hasn’t been more of an outcry against the trillions (yes trillions) that have been given to the leading financial firms in the form of direct bailouts and subsidizies (such as the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy, or ZIRP). Yes, isn’t it wonderful that bank stocks are soaring again, but this is only because the government, i.e., we taxpayers, have provided such largess.

  • Dean Blackburn says:

    Thanks for the mention, the whole article came together quite by surprise, via a llinkedin group i belong to… One minute I’m answering a few questions a freelance writer has over email, the next Arianna is calling me up to talk further. The key, as always is to take advantage of every opportunity you get!

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