Reflections on Unemployment

For about four months, I was an intern at an electronics store. That means the company pays me in knowledge and experience, while I live on welfare. I’ve learned to help people fix their computers and find out what’s wrong with them. Everything was going well, but at the end of the contract period, I was told they can’t afford another hire.

This is not an occurrence that is unfamiliar to me. I have not had it happen before this time, but I know it happens. My mother experienced it several times before. After googling it, I’ve found that this experience is not uncommon. The employer wants to reduce costs, the unemployed intern wants, at least, to gain experience, and the welfare office wants the intern to get hired. The third one is the only one who loses.

But that makes me wonder – why am I still unemployed? Am I just a retard who has nothing to offer, or is something else the matter? If I accept the former conclusion, then the plan is obvious – lay back, relax, and use retardation as an excuse for why nobody wants to hire me (probably for a good reason). But I suspect it is not the problem.

My granpas always worked. One was an academic, the other one was a captain and an inventor. My mother’s mother always worked – she was an electrician. My second grandma I can’t say too much about, as she became ill very early and was not productive. My parents always worked, except during the economic crisis times in 1992 and 1997, where many Russian people lost their jobs and had to become businessmen on the spot. In the late 90s, this is exactly what happened to my family. My mom got into debt, got a clothing store, and survived off of that, while the government taxed her more than pre-crisis. If someone says it was the time Russian socialism collapsed and people got to experience rabid capitalism, they got the wrong picture. In 2001, my mother and I moved to Norway. Since then, mother experienced many internships that didn’t result in proper hiring, short-term mini-jobs and confused looks from social workers, who concluded that her lack of career success means she just has “problems with communication”.

It’d be very likely that I’d accept such a label for myself, if what is happening to me now, did not happen to my mother first. I was always introverted and not very socially graceful. But both my parents were always popular, socially brave people. I remember when I was small, they always invited lots of guests for New Year’s Eve and other holidays. The company they held were all educated, cultured people with jobs. That is how things were for my mom, until she moved countries.

All this leads me to my conclusion. Almost everyone in my family was competent and hard-working, and I have their genes. But once one of these people ends up in Norway, they lose status, they are demoted to the lower class, and experience a job drought. I can’t help but think switching countries is the common factor. I can’t help but think that if I stayed in Russia, I would have a job since age 17, just like my mother did. Instead of having financial security and job drought, I would have financial insecurity, but plenty of places to get hired at. Something we do, which works so brilliantly in Russia, fails entirely in Norway. But what is it? Is it within my power to change, or is it simply a matter of having relatively powerful, employed relatives that can use their network to give you a job?

Thoughts on this will be appreciated. By the way, if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, here is my profile: 🙂

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25 Responses to Reflections on Unemployment

  1. Interesting article for those who don’t mind using Google Translate:
    1.Worker’s rights are big in Norway, so companies are paranoid about hiring the wrong person, and keep hiring people they know well.
    2.It’s especially hard for immigrants without a good network.

  2. I’m sorry for your unemployment woes. World economies are changing and jobs are not as plentiful where there is a great deal of regulation and government intervention. In the US when people are unemployed we try to encourage them to start a business, to find a need and fill it. It could be something simple like housecleaning or running a daycare. Even in the Us that is becoming more and more challenging every day. I have no idea how it works in Norway.

    • It’s ok 🙂 I don’t want people to read this and perceive it as “woes”. I’m doing well, although the unemployment is unfortunate.

      As for business, it’s possible but tricky. Being a simple employee is a greatly privileged position in Norway. Your taxes are calculated and taken by the employer, and you’re entitled to all sorts of goodies from them. As a business owner, you have none of that, but you still have to make sure you follow all the rules and red tape and, if you earn enough, pay a dozen different kind of taxes.

    • I do have a little business for the purpose of illustration work especially for foreign customers 🙂

  3. Eric says:

    Insanitybytes is correct: in fact, in the US it’s arguably even worse since contracts and hiring preferences are also doled out to non-whites, fags, and to women. Being hard-working and innovative are actually liabilities over here. Not only that, but businesses who don’t submit to various kinds of politically-correct extortions get persecuted and harassed for it.

    I feel the same way, I think the problem is cultural. The late economist Louis Ruykeyser used to say that we live in the Age of Envy. Envy and narcissism are the driving forces in most of the Anglosphere today, I think going to place like Russia would be better.

  4. Subliminal Portal says:

    Emma? Let me tell you something. It’s worse when you’re struggling to find work, and you have a rich father who is an absolute selfish dickhead about sharing his money with his kids. Pardon my French! Not to mention, my father did not work for the 1.2 million dollars he has but rather he inherited it from his father. After all the rotten things he has done to other people, including me and my mother, it is as though he got rewarded for his transgressions. One time when I was on YouTube, I gave this one gentleman who was at odds with his father my words of sympathy. I mentioned how selfish my father was with his money and how he short-ended my mother in her divorce. Then this one other asshole posted a reply to me, saying, “Get a job and make your own money, you lazy f—-.” If that douchebag who made that comment to me were standing right in front of me, I probably would have punched him so hard in his face that his jaw would have been lying on the floor before he knew what hit him. You have to figure that people who act and speak so insensitivity and so self-righteously as him go thinking of their crass remarks as such over an expensive bottle of champagne and a dish of caviar in their plush ivory tower that they inherited from their rich uncle or grandfather. I don’t like to say the word “fag,” because I don’t like to single out any particular group of people. However, because Eric used that word in his post, I’m going to go ahead and use it in mine just to stress this one point of mine. The nameless douchebag I came across on YouTube who made the crass remark against me looked like an absolute fag in his avatar with his pointy nose and his black hair and pretty boy looks. I had to figure that he must have fallen in love with himself the day he was born, especially after he had made such a callous comment to me in his reply. The main crux of my post here is that people who have always had it easy are usually the ones to get up on their moral high horse about matters involving unemployment, homelessness and financial desperation. They’ve never faced a single crisis in their life, so they walk around with this “ITS NOT MY PROBLEM!” kind of attitude about everyone else. As a Russian national, Emma, you likely already realize that the Russian Revolution of 1917 probably could have been avoided if there had not been so much income inequality in that nation at that time period. Therefore, you likely already understand how damaging income inequality can be to any nation, including the United States of America, no matter how industrialized it is. Rich people here in the United States of America always whine about how misunderstood they are and how much worse they have it than people below their so-called socioeconomic stratum care to realize. However, I can’t buy this line of bullshit from any of these members of high society, so to speak, because I am yet to see a rich person dressed in rags, living homeless, and pushing a grocery cart down the street with everything they own in it.

    • I’m sorry your relationship with your dad got so bad. So to whom does he want to leave his money after his death?

      “As a Russian national, Emma, you likely already realize that the Russian Revolution of 1917 probably could have been avoided if there had not been so much income inequality in that nation at that time period. ”
      It’s been a while since I’ve studied this part of history, but surely inequality in rights was the problem? At least, in England the rich invited socialism by intervening into the laws, making sure they are the government, and are financially protected in an unfair way. I don’t believe you can talk about income inequality while still having rights inequality.

      “The main crux of my post here is that people who have always had it easy are usually the ones to get up on their moral high horse about matters involving unemployment, homelessness and financial desperation. ”

      You’re probably right. They never find out how it is to do everything “right”, and still lose. The same way many women don’t have understanding of men who did everything they were told but are dateless. But I haven’t met any conceited people like that, yet. But who cares about them. Obviously, doing “what you’re told” was the real problem.

      • Subliminal Portal says:

        Thank you for your reply, Emma. Yeah, I’m hoping that my father is leaving 50 percent of his money to me and the other 50 percent of it to my sister, although I realize that there are no guarantees in life except for taxes and death. I get the feeling that he’ll probably live to be 107 years old, if not a 120 years old. That’s a long, long time. It’s like the Spanish proverb that says that bad weeds never die. By the way, my father did not inherit the 1.2 million dollars from his father until after I was an adult out on my own and he was divorced from my mother. Therefore, my mother and I did not reap any of the benefits of his sudden gain of wealth. However, he got to reap the benefits of growing up in the lap of luxury, because his father was wealthy by the time he was born. Therefore, my father was spoiled and thought it was his right to treat anyone the way he pleased by the time he was grown up, including me and my mother. But don’t get me wrong? My paternal grandfather was no generous man with his money either. It was my paternal grandmother who knew how to get money out of my paternal grandfather whenever she needed it for something or she wanted to spoil my father and his brother as they were growing up. After my father struck out on his own and got married, he was pretty much left to his own financial devices, which were much less than what his father had at his disposal. So, yeah, I grew up in a middle-class household rather than a wealthy one. My paternal grandmother did do kind and generous things for my father and the rest of my family, but, unfortunately, she died when I was a little kid; and once she died, there was nobody around to set my paternal grandfather straight on money matters involving his loved ones.

      • Liz says:

        There probably won’t be anything left by that time anyway. 1.2 million doesn’t go so far. That’s about the price of a furnished house and a boat.

      • Subliminal Portal says:

        I don’t know about that, Liz. He’s a real cheapskate and a tightwad just like his father was. That’s why his father had so much money when he died, because he never spent it. Then again, considering the way President Obama has been messing up the United States economy and considering the possibility that Hillary Clinton might get elected president only to mess my country’s economy up even further, the United States currency may not be worth anything at all by the time my father dies. Therefore, he may have 3 or 4 million dollars in his estate, and all his fortune will be like one big pile of Confederate money that is worth zilch. The United States of America is over 18 trillion dollars in debt, so generations and generations will paying off this debt in taxes through decades. And that’s assuming that the United States of America does not collapse the same way the Roman Empire did so many centuries ago. President Obama has already instituted a $2,300 administrative fee for anyone who chooses to leave the United States of America for good and permanently renounce their citizenship, and no other country I know of does anything like that. Experts say that the reason he instituted this same administrative fee for American ex-patriots was to make it more difficult for people to leave the United States of America, renounce their citizenship, and ultimately escape the mountainous tax burden that hangs over this nation.

      • Liz says:

        You’re surely right about the US dollar. The only thing keeping us afloat is….most every other economy is in as bad or worse shape. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it isn’t likely to be good. I didn’t know about the administration fee, but I do know that the US is the only OECD country to tax non-resident citizens. That fee, though kind of high, is probably a bargain compared to maintaining US citizenship abroad and paying double taxes.

      • Subliminal Portal says:

        Good point, Liz. Nonetheless, if someone were to offer to give me $600,000, I would take it in a heartbeat. Even though they say that money cannot buy you happiness, I think we can all agree that it still makes life a lot easier.

      • Eric says:

        “The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent vice of Socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”—-Winston Churchill

      • At least the inherent vice of Capitalism is essentially fair.

  5. Liz says:

    Here we have internships as well. I was talking to the parents of a college graduate from Duke University (pretty prestigious, and she graduated with honors, but the degree was in Communications…not very marketable). They were proud to announce that she got a slot for a year long internship somewhere in South Carolina. She’d applied everywhere for internships throughout the US and got a slot there…they said there were only two slots and hundreds of applicants. She will be there for a year (no guarantees of a job after that of course).
    So, let’s consider this plainly now. This girl has just graduated from a top tier school that cost a WHOLE lot of money…hundreds of thousands, surely. She is happy to have been able to procure a position that requires her to travel to a different state to live, ad is unpaid, for an entire year (where she will surely incur more debt in order to make ends meet). Welcome to the new economy.
    I remember when my dad told me a story about the Great Depression. He grew up in a farming community that had more millionaires per square foot than any other town in the US until very recently. Most of the money was made by a business that made parts for refrigerators (new tech back then). The company owners promised a job for anyone who worked for them without pay for three months training. I thought at the time that sounded like an awful deal. But I heard that story in the 80s. Now, it’s a great deal compared to much of what we have now.

    Imagine you are a company with an essentially endless supply of free labor. All that is required is to keep the “employee” for a few months and then there will be turnover to another unpaid person. A seasoned employee is more valuable, but is actually paid. Cost to gains wise, it might make sense to just keep “hiring” new people for free.

    • Liz says:

      FWIW, I also know a guy with an MBA from Cambridge. That is the very most exclusive MBA available in the US. He could hypothetically make a lot of money, but it would require that he live and work in Wallstreet virtually for free for five or so years. He can’t afford it. Neither could most anyone else.

      • Liz says:

        Sorry, best available in the UK (I guess, just looked it up). At any rate, an MBA from Cambridge is a serious piece of sheepskin.

  6. Liz says:

    “The employer wants to reduce costs, the unemployed intern wants, at least, to gain experience, and the welfare office wants the intern to get hired. The third one is the only one who loses.”

    A bit of a quibble with this part, Emma. The welfare office loses nothing…it’s the taxpayers who lose, it’s coming out of their pocket. This is privatizing gains while socializing costs. Then the regulation on the back end incentivizes the businesses not to hire (ie pay).

    • You’re right, the social workers lose nothing. They get paid for this work, whether their “customers” win or lose. But I think it’s fair to say that the state is disincentivizing tax payers from working and paying more, and thus slowly digesting itself.

  7. slacker says:

    I think Its just a brutal job market out there right now no matter where you live. There seems to be way more people trying to find a job than they’re companies willing to hire and that lets them be very picky with the people they choose. We’re living in an time where McDonald’s of all places has begun conducting second interviews. A lot of my friends with degrees are working entry level jobs that they are way overqualified for, I don’t know how they’ll ever pay off their student debt (I no longer regret not going to college).

    “But that makes me wonder – why am I still unemployed? Am I just a retard who has nothing to offer, or is something else the matter?” I realize that your contemplating multiple potential reasons for why you’re unemployed and not solely questioning yourself but try not to let it get to you. I spent over two years looking for a job before I found one and being unemployed for that long really crushed my spirit and self esteem which made it next to impossible to come across as confident in a job interview especially in combination with my introversion. I have a job now and I feel much better about myself but I probably only got the job I have now because its physically brutal and has a very high employee turnover rate, very few new highers last longer than a month.

    Unfortunately your probably going to have to just keep searching and take what you can get. Have you ever held a job before? I don’t know what its like in Norway but in the U.S having no job history past a certain age is a death sentence, almost no one will hire somebody with no employment history that happens to be in their twenties. I used to naively think that entry level jobs were for people who had never worked before but that is no longer the case, well in the U.S anyway.

    • “I realize that your contemplating multiple potential reasons for why you’re unemployed and not solely questioning yourself but try not to let it get to you.”

      Thanks 🙂 And I’m glad you got that job.

      “Have you ever held a job before? I don’t know what its like in Norway but in the U.S having no job history past a certain age is a death sentence, almost no one will hire somebody with no employment history that happens to be in their twenties.”

      I had this internship. I also did volunteer work in a student organization. And then there are my comics and illustrator assignments, the only work where employers directly paid me money. So I never had a 9-5 style job where I’m formally employed and get paid by the same person. Is that bad? I think it might look bad in some people’s eyes.

      • slacker says:

        I think most companies would prefer that you have an employment history with a normal 9-5 job but I think what you have isn’t bad. Even if you weren’t paid for your internship it should count as business experience and doing volunteer work shows that your keeping busy. I don’t know what most places would think of your drawing but I don’t see how you having a skill that you have made money off of could possibly be a bad thing.

      • So there is hope 🙂 But it could have been better. There is a lesson in all of this, and that is “Lots of higher education is not always better – sometimes it’ll turn you into a mid-20s person with limited work experience” : /

  8. Liz says:

    To offer a rough idea of how bad things are in the job market, I’ll give the example of the Southwest hiring process for flight attendants. They usually announce ahead of time that they are hiring. It’s a pretty good job because it requires no higher education, has full benefits and no experience necessary. Eventually flight attendants make six figures with a great retirement package and it’s a pretty easy job.
    Last time they took online applications, the system shut down after something like 2 minutes. They’d received all applications they were going to take in the first few minutes of opening up to accept them. You’d literally have to be sitting on the button to ‘send’. Plus, during those minutes they received THOUSANDS of applications. I can’t remember specifics, but I think they were hiring a couple hundred. For pilots it wasn’t as bad, I think they were taking applications for a couple of hours before it shut down. They received hundreds of applications and took (if memory serves) 40 by the end of the interviewing process.

    • Hmm, so what skills are required in that job, if it needs no higher education? Is it something any inexperienced person would be comfortable applying for, or is it more to it? I don’t know much about the job. But yes, sometimes I’d apply for a job for unskilled people and their reason for rejecting me would be “We got 100s of applications, nothing wrong with your resume”.

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