CLARK KENT'S INBOX September 26


This post is based off a comment I left on the blog Rude Cactus (nice guy, check him out) in response to a question he posed concerning the personal opinions of his readers over the current economic crisis. Typically, you’re not supposed to leave such lengthy comments, but I guess I had a great deal to say on the matter. Someone, maybe my dad, once said if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all. In other words, spouting off just for the pure sake of hearing the sound of your voice (or your keyboard), is not going to help anybody so make sure your input counts. I hope this meets the criteria of being helpful.

One side note: I edited this slightly from my original comment in order to direct it towards a more general audience. Incidentally, much of what came across Clark's Inbox this week coincided neatly with my response so I sprinkled links to what I read through out the text.

So, in reply to how the economy affected me, and what are my thoughts I write,

As a former homebuilding exec I had front row seats to this whole mess. I used to marvel at how people who just defaulted on all their credit cards and recently had their cars repo'd could still qualify for a home loan. It was a pretty good company (the CEO refused his 9 million dollar as a matter of principal while his peers cashed in) made up of a great bunch of people whom I will always miss. Even so, the market where I transferred to in order to be closer to my kids was shrinking rapidly and layoffs were occurring on an almost bi-weekly pace. I was a loyal associate that made the company some big bucks earning me a high salary, that ironically, made me a huge target for a layoff. Right or wrong, I felt it best to leave on my own terms and in an amicable fashion so I resigned returning to Houston where the economy remained solid. At the very least, I wanted to be able to provide a steady income for my children if I couldn't be near them.

With little trouble I landed a job, albeit a lower paying one, but a job nonetheless. Because it was an international homebuilder, what was happening on Wall Street and the American housing market had minimal effect because the revenues it created internationally translated into stability for the company, and for my position. Or so I thought.

Not 60 days later they laid me off along with 20 other people. And talk about your Schadenfreude moments, my fiancee (now my wife) called to tell me she got let from her job at an oil and gas company the same day!

Since then, we've got rid of both our cars for a fuel efficient mini-van (mini-van cries desperate by itself), moved to a new apt (during the middle of a hurricane no less) with lower rent and utilities, combined cell phone plans, as well as cutting back on all manner of variable expenses. It resulted in huge savings, but still not enough for us to make ends meet.

I've been working on a job hunt for nearly 7 months. They say it takes longer for executives, but this feels different when you can't even get a phone call or returned email. I remember not that long ago when headhunters called at least once a week trying to whisk me away off to some other great company. Not so anymore. Now my unemployment has run out making my search all the more desperate. The fact McDonald's conducts interviews every Monday is not out of the question. (It's true,I do some consulting work to investment firms and research companies, but it's not steady enough to be considered a real job)

My wife, thankfully, landed a great job this summer working for Matt Simmons (read about him in the upcoming issue of Forbes as well as here). This of course, puts us on the forefront of information concerning the future of the oil industry making us very informed on the energy situation. I'm telling you, and everyone - watch what happens to oil and which candidate has the most solid plan for dealing with our energy dependency. That will be a key element to our future recovery.

And forget the housing sector. It's not going to happen anytime soon. Some markets are okay like in Texas, and sure the demographics support a steady demand for housing, but with a nearly two-year supply comprised of newly constructed inventory, existing homes and foreclosures the math is fairly easy to figure when it comes to predicting when stability will return to the real estate market. That's assuming lenders hunkered down in their bunkers ease up some. Their poop chutes are so tight right now that, if you added a little carbon to the mix they could crap diamonds.

On a macro scale, watching Bill Clinton on The Daily Show (watch Part 1 & Part 2) and reading his interview on CBS this morning, I was impressed. I'm a veteran, and I like McCain, but I think Bill's right in his comments concerning who will best lead the country out of our current situation. I have a hard time trusting a candidate who yielded to his party's will and pandered to female voters just to get votes) And the bail out? I'm undecided as of yet. It depends on how it's structured. In any case, nothing is going to get better anytime soon and I think we all have to be realistic in our expectations and prepare ourselves according in the interim. One thing's for sure, taxes will be going up for all of us at some point. Bet on it.

That being said, I'm not sitting around having any pity parties for myself. Many good things have come out these circumstances. One, I got married, and because I ended up at home allot, I spent most of that time getting to build a relationship with my new step daughters. I also started a blog, which not only improved my writing skills (being a writer has always been my lifelong dream), but it also afforded me the opportunity to meet many great people and bloggers via the net. Most importantly, it made me a more aware parent of the issues concerning my step-daughters and my 3 boys from my previous marriage. I'm certainly more attentive and involved in their lives than maybe I would have been in my old job.

I'd still like to have a job, and it doesn't need to be as high paying as the ones I once had, just something steady would be nice at this point. Until then, I guess it's what you make of it. It always could be worse.


When I say it could always be worse, that's not just a cliche I say in a feeble attempt to convince myself I have it easy. It's the truth. Here's a perfect example. Read about writer Lori Hall Steele's circumstances. Single mom to a seven year old, stricken with a paralyzing illness and no health insurance and a house about to be foreclosed on. If that doesn't put a human face on two serious issues that will be influenced one way or the other by this election, I don't know what does. If you can, get involved. Even something small can make a positive impact for her.

These are just a few of the reasons it's important to vote in this election. It's rousted me out of my decades of apathy, and that's saying allot given how lazy I can be. So, to end on a lighter note, I guess I'll have to put up with this (see the video below, and yes, that's me in there) for the next few months. Lest you think me cynical, read this article from the LA Times. Both parties are at fault, so pointing fingers is immaterial in my book.

Allow me to mimic Rude Cactus's question if you will.
What has been the personal impact of the economy for you?
What is the fix?
And which candidate stands a better shot of correcting it?


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