I'm not a big fan of the business section of the paper. For one thing, I don't get it. I don't understand market trends, productivity rates, mergers and acquisitions. In the privacy of my own (home) office, I find my eyes glazing over when I look at the numbers on the very spreadsheets I produce. Assets and liabilities I sort of get, but "depreciation" and "accrual" might just as well be "carburetor" and "transmission" for all I understand them.
When I read about companies downsizing and employees in tens of thousands being laid off, I'm moved, even angered that events and circumstances have brought us to the point where this kind of news is accepted without outrage. There should be a national movement to prevent these things from happening. Somebody should do something, but I have no idea who or what.
On the other hand, when it's someone I know, even a little bit, who loses a job because of economic conditions, I take it personally. I still don't know what to do, though.
When I read on the very front page of this morning's paper, across several columns, of the impending bankruptcy of United Airlines, it reminds me how close to home it can hit. And it doesn't affect only those laid off. United is one of the Bay Area's big employers. When I worked in the mall next to the airport, a lot of our customers were United employees and their families.
If I still worked at that shoe store, my own income and even my job would be threatened by a big airline layoff. If I have no income, a lot of other people suffer as well. Soon there are more companies, big and small, forced to downsize. It sounds so cold, when what it really means is that families are thrown in turmoil and people no longer have what they need to get by.
You don't have to understand the business section to get this concept, when real faces are substituted for the raw statistics. And unless we can figure out how to stop it, it's coming to get us all, like a river of sludge. It might get your neighbor before it gets you, or the other way around. There seem to be a few people unaffected by all this, but I don't know any of them. Maybe they have the answers that elude me.