Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Safety nets

Nobody really thinks about safety nets until it's them who needs one. Boot straps are all well and good until somebody makes off with your boots. It's easy to criticize the other guy when you're pulling down a six figure income. But for many it's "you can't have your cake and eat it too".  And what is meant by that you ask? So many have worked all their lives but not quite made it to the finish line. They worked and saved but not quite enough to retire. They're stuck with a house that's worth far less so they can't sell it if they could. A quick look at housing shows that there is a bundle of homes in the one half to one million dollar range foreclosed on sitting empty. A body might have done all the right things all his/her life and still landed up with little other than a bunch of declining assets. But this is about safety nets.

For the most part I like safety measures. It's probably what's kept me alive for these many years. There is a point where there's too much gear to dawn and at a certain point one safety requirement gets in the way of another. The relatively simple act of cleaning the inside of a 10,000 gallon holding tank can become quite a production when all of the safety gear is in place. Steel toed rubber boots - check, poly overalls with jacket and hood - check, hard hat - check, ear plugs - check, chemical resistant gloves - check, safety harness with steel cable retrieval system - check, full face respirator with 50 ft. air line - check, emergency escape air bottle - check, walkie talkie - check, fire extinguisher - check, GFCIs - check, confined space entry permit - check, confined space rescue plan - check, work safety plan - check, notification of two government agencies - check, notification of the local fire department - check. The add to this 50 ft. of pressure hose and a 3 inch vacuum hose and things can get quite cramped in a confined space with all that gear. It's wet. It's dark. It's hot and it's dangerous but without the assistance of a supervisor and outside guys the job could not get done. They are the safety nets. If the air system fails or the worker inside gets into trouble they are there as a backup.

So here we are in our current situation, a bad economy, the worst since the 1930s. I've seen enough of those who thought that they were somehow above it all only to be let go after working 20 and even 30 years who are now humbled by the experience. They thought there were secure that it wouldn't happen to them, but it did. On the other end of the spectrum are the folks who might have worked for a time but due to one misfortune or another must now rely on the generosity of others. And few of them if any would like nothing better to have a job and be out of that system. Imagine for a second what it would be like if all the safety nets were removed. No welfare, no food stamps, no medicaid. Then take it one step farther with no Social Security or Medicare. All of these programs were put in place because people were dying. You can sneer if you will as if somehow your wallet is being robbed and the money being given to undeserving people but consider that it could be you on the receiving end some day.  


BBC said...

Auto sales are doing okay, I never have figured out why people would buy a new rig every few years when they're not buying their homes.

Demeur said...

Simple. There was a time when you could leverage the value of a car. You could trade your old one in and not lose anything on the deal. That's not true anymore. So I can only guess that some folks can write off the value through depreciation and must dump it every few years. With homes if you bought it at the top of the market you're screwed.

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