Mass Layoffs Are Back. Are You At Risk?

Imagine the following scene playing out at work tomorrow:

You arrive in the morning to find a note reading 'HR wants to see you'. About what?, you wonder.

Seeing your HR manager already in the conference room with the door closed, you fidget as you wait. A knot begins to form in your stomach that gets tighter as the minutes tick by.

Suddenly, the door opens. A colleague stumbles out, looking ashen-faced. Then the HR manager’s head emerges, notices you and says “Ah, please come in”.

“I’m sorry to tell you that the company is letting you go,” she begins. “Sales have slumped and we simply can’t employ as many people. It’s nothing personal.”

And just like that, your job is gone.

You’ll get a month’s salary as severance pay, plus two-weeks more if you sign a ‘non-disparagement’ clause. And they’ve just handed you a pile of forms that supposedly will guide you through the process of applying for COBRA health coverage and unemployment benefits, should those be necessary.

And that’s it.

Oh, they’ve already taken your computer back to IT. You’ve got 15 minutes to collect any personal items and say your goodbyes. But please don’t linger. We’d hate to get Security involved…

Thanks for your service! And best of luck in your next venture!

What would you do if this happened to you tomorrow? Really chew on that for a minute.

Would you feel surprised? Liberated? Petrified?

What would your job prospects look like? Are you confident you could get re-hired quickly? Or are you looking at months (or longer) of unemployment?

What will it do to your household finances if you’re out of work for a prolonged time? Are you the primary breadwinner? Do you have other income or substantial savings that can sustain you? If not, how would you plan to make ends meet?

Most people are caught flat-footed by layoffs. There’s a complacency a steady paycheck offers that’s instantly ripped away by a pink slip. Few people are ready – emotionally, professionally, or financially – for the abrupt ending to the status quo a layoff brings.

Mike Tyson once eloquently quipped: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Similarly, everybody can afford to be optimistic about tomorrow until they get canned.

Have 'Layoff Anxiety'? You're Not Alone.

If the thought-exercise above gave your stomach butterflies, you're not alone. Nearly half (48%) of US workers report experiencing 'layoff anxiety'.

And, this is during the “good times”, folks. Officially, we’re still in the longest economic expansion in US history.

What’s it going to be like when this long-in-the-tooth expansion ends, as all inevitably must?

And as we’ve been furiously covering here at, it sure looks like the end is fast arriving. The inverted yield curve in US Treasurys, slowing US growth and negative growth rates in major European economies, anemic global shipping volumes, and a raft of other dependable indicators are flashing warnings that the world economy (including the US) is plunging towards recession.

A recession that corporate America is woefully unprepared for, due to record levels of debt.

9 Trillion Reasons To Reduce Headcount

In response to the past decade of extremely cheap and plentiful credit supplied by the world's central banks' QE (quantitative easing) efforts, company executives have borrowed much more aggressively than in the past. Often to repurchase their company's own shares in hopes of boosting its stock price (and thus their stock-based compensation packages).

And a worrisome number (hundreds of $billions) of such corporate loans made over the past several years have been low quality, high-risk, and covenant-lite.

As a result, today’s US companies are as or more dangerously leveraged than ever before. More than $9 Trillion of debt now burdens the balance sheets of America’s corporations:

<img class=“aligncenter size-medium” src=“” alt="“Corporate indebtedness charts” width=“580” height=“653” />

As growth continues to slow and corporate profits decline, debt service takes up an ever-greater percentage of cash flows. At some point, headcount cuts become unavoidable.

The Robot Took My Job

On top of that, as we've been long warning about here at, employers currently have a tremendous perverse incentive to automate and replace human labor with technology.

The simple and harsh truth is that it’s expensive, and becoming more so, to employ humans. Wages, health care, retirement benefits, workers comp, OSHA regulations, lawsuits, training, vacations, sick days – it all adds up. Machines free employers from all of those costs, headaches and potential liabilities.

Meanwhile, technological advancements in robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) are on an exponential track. Capabilities are skyrocketing and costs are coming down. With the ability to borrow at rock-bottom interest rates, is it any surprise that companies are investing in automation as fast as they can?

White-shoe consulting firm McKinsey predicts that 50% of current work activities are at risk of being automated by 2030, and that by that time, 400-800 million workers worldwide will be displaced by technology – creating “a challenge potentially greater than past historic shifts”.

A historic transition away from humans towards automated labor is underway. It’s happening in every industry and will impact every job function, at every level of the org chart.

And unlike with outsourcing or off-shoring, once these jobs are successfully automated, they’re “gone” as far as human workers are concerned. They’re never going to be un-automated.

It Has Already Begun

Remember the mass layoffs of 2008 and 2009? When thousands of people instantly lost their jobs as companies started jettisoning workers?

Well, they’re back.

In 2019 so far, we’ve seen reductions-in-force reported across a number of industries from the likes of HSBC (4,750 jobs), Nissan (12,500 jobs) and Deutsche Bank (18,000 jobs). Other well-known brands letting employees go include Siemens, Uber, US Steel, Kellogg’s, Ford, Disney, and United Airlines.

At this stage, it’s not (yet) like the carnage seen during the Great Recession. Remember how god-awful scary this was, as hundreds of thousands of people were laid off every month for two years?

<img class=“aligncenter size-medium” src=“” alt="“Job losses between Dec 2007 and Dec 2009” width=“596” height=“366” />

8.8 million jobs were lost during this period. When layoffs are that widespread, it’s just a numbers game. Amongst yourself, your family, and your friends – at least some of you are going to fall victim.

How bad could things be next time? Bad enough to take protective action, we think.

And it’s not that hard for us to make the argument that the future wave of mass firings may be substantially worse. So don’t rest on your laurels.

Signs Of Trouble To Watch For

What early-warning indicators can you monitor to assess whether your company, or your specific job, is at risk?

Company Risk Factors

First, it helps to look at the industries that shed the most workers during the Great Recession. History doesn't repeat itself exactly, but it often rhymes:

<img class=“aligncenter size-medium” src=“” alt="“Jobs Lost By Industry During Great Recession” width=“800” height=“466” />

Do you currently work in one of these industries? If so, the above chart should give you a general sense as to how yours will fare relative to others should we indeed re-enter recession soon.

But not all companies within an industry are created equal. How can you tell if you’re currently employed by one of the more vulnerable players?

Here are classic signs of trouble to look out for:

  • Declining financials -- Does your company have a higher Debt/Equity ratio than its industry peers? Are revenues and/or earnings flatlining or decreasing? Are Accounts Payable increasing as a percentage of total Liabilities? All are potential indications of a company on shaky ground.
  • Freezes -- Has your company announced a freeze on new hires, budgets and/or bonuses? These are all signs of tightening pursestrings, and they constrain prospects for future growth. It's rare for sizable layoffs to be announced before any, if not all, of these is tried first.
  • Postponement of key projects -- similar to freezes, big deployments are often pushed back or shelved completely in attempt to reduce costs before headcount cuts are considered. Of course, once you reduce your planned projects, you then realize you don't need as many people...
  • Consolidation -- this is when business units are collapsed together for 'greater efficiency' and 'cost savings'. This is a sign that pennies are starting to be pinched, and soon "cost savings" starts to look an awful lot like "employing fewer people".
  • Being acquired -- in good times and bad, employees at a company being acquired are at greater risk. Acquisitions are intended to unlock "synergies", which often is a fancy way to say "if we combine our companies, we can fire all the people who have redundant jobs". Since they don't have relationships with the power players at the acquiring firm, those being acquired are usually the first to be shown the door.
  • Your company is "pivoting" -- "pivoting" is the new smokescreen term for "What we're doing isn't working so let's try something else". True, it's wise to abandon a doomed path. But not if you're just trading it for another half-baked idea. While there are examples of pivots that turned a failing enterprise into a world-class success (did you know that YouTube initially started as a dating site?), those are the exceptions.
  • Bad news/too many rumors -- "Where there's smoke, there's fire". When your company is unfavorably covered by the trade media for long enough, it's usually for good reason. Just ask the folks who work (or used to) at Sears, Theranos, JC Penny, Toys "R" Us, or Forever 21.
  • Senior management leaving -- when the rats at the top start leaving the ship at the same time, it's time to worry. They know a lot more than you do about your company's condition. Right now, I'd be really worried if I worked at a place like Tesla...
  • Sudden stock drop -- a strong stock price makes up for a lot of operational deficiencies (such as, in the example of Netflix, Uber or We Work, losing billions in cash flow every year). But when investors abandon the dream underlying your company and the stock starts tanking, life can quickly get a lot worse. Profitability and positive cash flow suddenly becomes matters of life and death. Those working at a high-flier Tech unicorn or starry-eyed start-up need to be attuned to how quickly things can turn should investors sour.

Is There A Target On Your Back?

Layoffs are like tossing sand bags out of a sinking hot-air balloon. You throw a few overboard to see if that stops the fall. If it doesn't, you chuck out a few more.

They tend to happen as a sequence. In the first wave, the obvious underperformers are let go. That’s the easy decision, and may even be positive for morale. But if the company is still in trouble, another wave – maybe more – will be needed.

So, how can you tell if you’re at risk for the next wave in the series?

Here are some common predictors:

  • Your workload is lightening -- workers with spare capacity offer a lower ROI (return on investment). Either your company's throughput is diminishing (a bad sign) or your boss is re-directing your work to other people (a very bad sign).
  • Increase in status reports -- if you're suddenly being asked to rationalize and report on all of your activities, it's usually a sign that someone higher up the chain from you is trying to "justify" the resources in your department. It's a signal that the future of your department -- or you, specifically -- is under review.
  • "Too" young -- historically, younger workers are often the first let go in a layoff as they have the least work experience and the least seniority within the organization. During the GFC, unemployment among young workers nearly doubled from 5.4% in 2007 to 9.2% in 2010.
  • "Too" old -- in a growing number of industries (Tech, in particular), it's increasingly common for older workers to be laid off first. Younger workers often are more familiar and facile with the latest software and technology, and they're often substantially cheaper to employ. They're willing to work longer hours for less pay and don't have the benefits footprint that older workers with families do. 'Ageism' is fast becoming a common legal complaint in today's layoffs.
  • Your boss suddenly departs -- while this may or may not be a sign that your department is losing status within the company, it often means you're losing your strongest champion within the organization. If your boss leaves abruptly, be sure to connect with her privately to get the inside scoop. Now that she's not speaking for overall management, she'll likely to be fully transparent with you about the company's condition.
  • Friction with your boss -- while never a promising sign, if you and your boss aren't getting along, chances are you won't be at the top of his list of employes to fight to keep during a RIF (reduction in force). In fact, if you're suddenly experiencing badwill where there was none before, it could be that he's trying to build a case for making your layoff an "easy call".
  • Being 'asked' to take a pay cut -- this is a pretty clear sign that you're less essential to the company than you were previously and/or that your company is *really* hurting cash flow-wise. If you're 'asked' this, take it as a sign from the universe to start updating your resume.
  • Being asked to train someone else or an outside firm on your responsibilities -- this is another clear "wake up call" that your job is likely on the chopping block. Unless you know for sure you're getting promoted, take this as a message to expect a visit from HR soon.
  • Your spider-senses are tingling -- companies are social institutions by design; they're made up of people (at least, they still are for now). If you notice the execs and senior managers looking stressed or spending a lot of time huddled in conference rooms, if the water cooler talk revolves around company problems, if perks start quickly disappearing, if people start shunning you -- these are all warning signs you should heed. Don't ignore your gut.

How To Reduce Your Vulnerability

After taking an honest assessment of your job situation, would taking some precautionary measures against a layoff make sense?

Spoiler alert: if you’re one of the 132 million full-time employees currently working in the US, the right answer is pretty much always “yes”. There’s simply no good reason to trust your primary/only income source to blind faith.

In Part 2: The Layoff Survival Handbook, we detail out the steps to take now to reduce your vulnerability to a layoff, and the critical steps to take right away should you become laid off.

Many of these will enhance your career trajectory and satisfaction even if a pink slip never arrives. But should one do, you’ll be far better off for having taken them.

Given the mounting recessionary risks ahead, we all need to prepare for what’s coming.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

A frustration I have with our current economy, that depends upon privately owned companies to fully fund the government, is that the government has too much of an influence on the economy.
What happens in an economic downturn to government employees? Nothing.
What happens to your property taxes in an economic downturn? They go up.
We must do with less while the government will always have enough.
You notice in the chart, what were the only sectors to add jobs? Government employment. (I’d like to see the breakdown for health services, but I suspect they are partially or fully subsidized by the government.) There is a major disconnect between public and private employment. Government jobs from the federal level to the local level seem to be the safest place to find employment. The pay is equal to or above private sector jobs, there is a level of redundancy that borders on the absurd and there is an almost non-existent threat of job loss due to incompetence, inefficiency or laziness. Even Ted Kennedy kept his job after killing Mary Jo.You don’t need to pay top dollar to find the best people for Government work, normally it take 2 to 5 government workers to do the job of 1 privately employed worker.
Government employed jobs should be the last place to look for employment. Because the pay is, in my opinion, far too high, it attracts certain types of people that don’t see any problem becoming a 100% consumer drain on the economy. Unfortunately, probably most of these people don’t see it that way. They are, NON-ECONOMIC PRODUCERS. They are going to be a drain on the economy their entire life. The higher up you get in the government, the bigger drain you become. Public employment should be seen like welfare, you may need it for a time to help get you back on your feet, but there needs to be a limit for how long somebody can draw any percentage of their income from the government trough. We don’t need to have the same people in certain jobs for their entire career. We don’t need to pay for retirement pensions for people that think they are “Public Servants”. These people should be viewed by more and more people as a problem when the private sector really starts to suffer and do without, and government employees continue to receive you taxpayer supplied pension check while you vacation in Hawaii.

I agree with virtually all your points.
If I were starting out (and had no scruples), I’d look for a government job for the reasons you stated. Higher salaries, better benefits, bigger pensions, virtual invulnerability to firing or lay-offs due to laziness or incompetence (political correctness violations are a whole different matter though), and you can spend a good deal of your time surfing the net at the taxpayer’s expense. What’s not to like?
In terms of what level of government, the higher the better. With regards to pensions, municipal governments are the most likely to default but you can be a real imbecile and never have to worry about losing your job. State governments often have state constitutional protection of their pensions. Just tax the serfs more to make up the different. Federal governments have the printing press so those pensions have the most security.
At the other end of the spectrum is the poor self-employed slob (of which I was one). You will be the cash cow keeping the whole system running. As a personal example, let’s look at Obamacare. I was triple taxed with that. My monthly health insurance premium went from the high $500s to over $1700 per month (and we’re all healthy). Deductibles and co-pays increased and the quality of my plan coverage went down. So much for being able to keep my plan if I liked it. In effect, I was subsidizing at least two uninsured parties and perhaps more. And more often than not, they were parties that do not take personal responsibility for their health like we do. I know because I treated these people all the time. The government also added a 2% “sequestration” tax that we had to pay on all Medicare patients. In addition, they cut Medicare reimbursements (and increased the bureaucratic load, another cost to me). So I lost money 3 different ways. Oh yeah, my office building, which I am part owner of, got slammed with a whopping big property tax increase. So the local government took its pound of flesh as well. In addition, in our city, we get taxed on all property owned by a business. So if I buy a new computer for the office, up goes my tax. Getting back to federal taxes, let’s look at Social Security. As a small business owner, you pay double the tax for Social Security since you are your own employer. And of course, you have to fund your own pension and benefits. In addition, every local cause and charity looking for donations always hits you up because (in their mind at least) if you own your own business, you’re “rich”. Yeah, right. Well, I worked my butt off getting and paying for the education to get this job, paid perhaps a quarter of a million dollars throughout my 40+ year career for continuing education (journals, books, videos, courses, seminars, etc.) to be tops in my field, worked 60 to 70 hour weeks my entiree career, worked almost every evening and weekend doing the every increasing paperwork, and took all the risks. From a strictly economic point of view, in my opinion, charities and causes should solicit donations from government workers because that’s where much of the money is going in this country.
End of rant.
Disclaimer: I know there are many honest and hardworking government employers who deserve what they earn but they are also far too many who aren’t and don’t.

A couple of months ago we had a conversation with our oldest son. He works as a software engineer for a start up in San Francisco. He told us he is “expensive help” and was concerned about his future employment. He gets it. Last week he told us he gave his 2 weeks notice and will become a FAANG employee. From dads point of view he has stacked the odds in his favor regarding future employment. Time will tell.

Hi Nate,
For younger folks with an entrepreneurial bent, including those with qualifications like your son, there are two books that I recommend that I wish were available to me when I was young. They provide a blueprint for success.
They are:
The Millionaire Fast Lane by MJ DeMarco (just ignore his bragging about his Lamborghini)
Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson
Best of luck to him. Sounds like he’s making a good move.

You should be happy that government employees get so much money. They are spending it in the private sector and supporting your business. It’s Ben Bernanke’s helicopter money. The private sector certainly isn’t rising to the plate.
One could say that the public sector is paying its employees too much money, benefits and job security at the expense of taxing everyone else. That’s one way to look at it but one could alternatively point out that the public sector is just better at keeping up with inflation and that it is the private sector that is lagging behind in how it treats its workers. It seems like government employment is the last refuge of the middle class.
You don’t pay taxes to support government operations or its workers. The elites force you to pay taxes to keep you poor and in debt. “The government”, via the Federal Reserve, could simply print all the money it needs to operate. The world for the last 50 years has needed US Government debt and there’s no reason this could not have funded all of the government’s budget.
Here’s some sad news for you: streamlining and slashing government to make it more efficient and “productive” (whatever that means - I’ve been on here for years asking for a definition of “productive” and never seen one) would not “improve” the economy. I’m not sure what metric one uses to measure “improve” but I guarantee that doing so would not have any lasting improvement on real GDP (inflation adjusted), unemployment or average worker income. Be careful what you wish for because the resulting deflationary crash would wipe out the private sector. And due to technological automation, resource constraints, and poor worker training due to funding cuts to public education to make more room for military spending, the economy will basically never grow again in real terms. Even if the private sector was “freed of its shackles” of crippling taxation. Employment will never recover; it will only get worse. It’s over, man. Government spending is the final band aid keeping this sinking boat afloat. But it too will crash when the currency crashes.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not in any way supporting the many inefficiencies and bureaucratic crap going on in government. But here’s the deal – middle class government workers making $100k a year doing menial BS jobs are not wrecking the economy or stealing your wealth. The trillionaire elites are – you know, those guys who literally own everyone in the world who has any debt because they own the banking system? The guys you ultimately pay your taxes to? How many posts are people making here calling out them as the destroyers of the economy and society?
It’s always been the strategy of the elites to divide and conquer the middle class. Sad to see that even on this website they are succeeding.

Government employees, pay and pensions are a blight on our society in more ways than one.
Much has already been said about the inefficiencies of government as well as taxing the real producers to pay those who essentially produce nothing but only provide “services.”
More recently it has become apparent of the damaging impact these retired and pensioned government employees cause at the top. Take a look a the leadership (the elders) of societies agencies, corporations and churches. The government is a system where an individual can more often rise to his/her level of incompetence, then retire with a fat pension, savings and social security. This “wealth” provides a layer of insulation from the reality the rest of us endure. So many struggling workers, too busy to give their volunteer time to society, revere the fancy titles of those government workers who rose to their levels of incompetence. Having the insulation of their government funded retirement plans, these incapable leaders show-up in all areas of leadership in our social structure. Too many Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels (and so on) leaders who learned to “lead” in an authoritarian/military/government system are now available to lead us all to the slaughter. All because of their past titles, time on their hands, and now funding in retirement. They are showing up as elders in our churches (imagine that!), Commissioners, Board members and so on. Behind the scenes they are making decisions and shaping our ultimate demise. And they have the arrogance to believe they are “right” in their decisions and guidance.
Take a look around at who is directing our society these days. You may find the incestuous impact of our government growth, pay and pensions is further reaching than you ever imagined.

Having worked for a state agency for 27 years, I have to say, I have seen very few staff who goof off and few managers who are incompetent and unproductive. Those who are a problem are eventually worked out of the system according to the policies in place. Most staff and managers work under a lot of pressure and provide the very best service possible to the public. The compensation for some is quite good, at higher levels, but most don’t make all that much, and their health insurance costs go up and up, while the retirement benefits have gone down and down. Sounds like many of you who have had bad experiences with government worker interaction, such as DMV, getting permits, etc… Much of that is due to policies they have to try to turn into real life while dealing with very heavy work loads. Seems most who decry the ineptitude and huge compensation of public workers have no idea what their work is like or what they really get paid. Government jobs are available…try one and see what you think.

Mark BC, do you receive all or part of your income/pension from the government, leaning towards the Keynesian brand of economy? My taxes absolutely pay for the weaker mortals in government. The Federal Reserve has nothing to do with our government except to put the patsies into government to higher like minded patsies which higher like minded patsies to offer more bread and circuses. If someone can live with themselves being a jester in the circus, then good for them. We don’t need government debt for the economy to function, we don’t need overpaid government employees to purchase our skills or products. If somebody has no marketable or trade-able skills, they rely on bloated government contracts or B.S. paper pushing jobs in the government for their income. Or they end up selling something that SOMEBODY ELSE produced or developed for their income. It’s a messed up economy, I agree, but the government is not any kind of an answer when it comes to spending money and creating healthy growth. The only reason the government can print money without concern for the collapse of the fiat currency is the result of 100+ years of public indoctrination through government funded education systems, brainwashing, chemical neutering and a media psychological straight jacket that most of society is more than willing to put on. A fundamental failure to understand money basically. Most people believe what they are “programed” to believe, thank you public education. Most people will not deviate from the currently most common path to the “American Dream”, which is, go to college (get into debt), get a job and save money until you have 20% for a down payment to buy a house you probably cannot afford (more debt), get 2 new/newer cars for dependable transportation to work (more debt), have kids (put them into the indoctrination center of public education to create more sycophants), get a boat, an RV, new I-Phone, and, and, and,…(endless debt). I chose not to travel that path. I will continue to hammer the weaker mortals employed by the government, they need to realize their place in the pecking order, and it is at the bottom. And when the collapse comes, and austerity is implemented, those employees will be screaming the loudest, about how “it was in my contract”. Tough shit. Deal with it.
Grow your own food, do something that somebody else is willing to barter with you to exchange goods, and if they don’t like that, I’ll pay them a sparring fee to get into the local chain link octagon cage with me for a Saturday night MMA event. At least you will have some money for band-aids and food.

Being an elected Commissioner of a fairly sizeable county for three years, I have personally witnessed that which I previously stated. The public elected me to do some clean-up of the situation in the county. Although somewhat naive going into the role, it didn’t take too long to learn the deep state really does exist, as does tremendous waste and inefficiency in the system. There are good people working there, of course. So many of them are working hard and attempting to do a good job. Working hard on misguided, unnecessary projects doesn’t make it ok. I was shocked at the government’s methods having come from working for 40 years of infrastructure building in the private sector. Unfortunately, it’s often the leadership’s poor guidance, lack of appropriate experience and years of funding from the bottomless taxpayers pit that has led to the incestuous waste. I stand by my previous note.

… for much of my working life. This is in Australia, so comparisons may not translate easily.
I have worked for the federal government in three different departments with staff numbers ranging from huge to small, and for a state government (plenty of staff). Also I have been privately employed, in both corporate and non-corporate areas, and self-employed.
In my later government jobs, I can truly say that everyone I worked with had a strong sense of mission, no desire to waste time and resources, no intention of being there solely to earn a pension, little waste, interested in doing a good job. The taxpayers’ money was well spent. I worked jolly hard at my various jobs and reckon I earned my keep and more. I was a profitable servant.
I have also found that private corporations can be just as wasteful as government departments, just as bureaucratic, just as inefficient. They can spend lots of money on a muddle-headed project for little return.
No, too often the real culprits are the politicians who pursue ideological goals and/or create toxic cultures which waste time and money and lives. In this country we have at least two government departments whose staff are ordered to be systematically nasty and vile to certain groups of people (won’t go into the gory details), and to keep their jobs they must comply. One can only wonder what effect this is having on the physical, mental and emotional health of the staff, much less the hapless victims.
As they say, a fish rots from the head.

Well, I may be a bit biased in my feelings about certain public employees. So let me review some of my experiences. Local township officials voted themselves a defined benefit pension plan when previously they had a defined contribution pension plan. Virtually every other municipality in the country has gone in the opposite direction, to save the tax payers' money. When questioned, they said they hired a consultant who said they would save money this way. Having done my own investing for years, I knew this was either an incompetent consultant or an abject lie but I let it go since I was busy working my 60-70 hours per week (while all these government employees always work 40 hours or less, unless they're getting beaucoup overtime bucks). Later on, through a FOIA request, I found out they lied about even getting a consultant. They feathered their own nests while keeping the taxpayer in the dark and continue to do so.
The township supervisor was a triple dipper, getting pensions from two other government positions. He sat at his desk a good part of the day BSing with friends and acquaintances who would visit with him. The only thing he ever worked was his rear end.
The township tax assessor made several errors in assessing my property. When confronted with his errors, he said to me, "ao, it's only a few extra dollars a year (even though it was a 3 digit figure) and you should be grateful you're getting all these government services for your tax dollars". I told him, "When it comes to having the money in my pocket or the township's pocket, I'll take it in my pocket, and furthermore, you're p*ssing on my back and telling me it's raining out". He said, "And warm rain, at that.". He knew exactly what he was doing. He was also a double dipper, having retired from a state job to work for the municipality.
On to the police department. A very good and extremely reliable and honest friend personally witnessed two cops stop a young lady in a vehicle they were pursuing who pulled off onto an unpaved side road in an attempt to escape and got stuck when she hit a dead end. After some discussion with her, each of the cops, in turn, proceeded to get into the back seat with her (while the other stood watch), presumably a levying a "tax" of sorts for letting her go. When all was done, the cops went off with smiles on their face and the young lady went off on her way. There are multiple other incidents of corruption, graft, dereliction of duty, etc. in this police force that are too involved to go into here.
Another cop who was chief of police in our town (who is now a double dipper as a sheriff). He refused to enforce an ordinance even after all 30 households in the neighborhood signed a petition against the repeat offender neighbor who was violating multiple ordinances and even threatened an elderly widow. We figured the violator either was in a position to blackmail the chief (who it turns out is gay) or paid him off. We COULD NOT get him to enforce anything against this guy. Oh yeah, years earlier I had witnessed the gay police chief in a car after hours with another cop involved in "suspicious activities". It was in the secluded part of the empty parking lot of my office building late at night. I had turned the lights off to take a quick nap since I was on a paperwork deadline that weekend and needed to get it done. You do the math.
I could go on and on with the stories of incompetence of these cops from seeing them napping in their cars to having stupid accidents just because of their carelessness, one of which I witnessed right in front of me. I was also called in once as an eye witness to an accident that occurred while the driver was DUI. The story is too long and involved to relate but I couldn't believe how dumb the investigating cop was. He evidently flunked Detective 101.
I'm friends with the chief of police in another town and he told me that one of the cops working on our force flunked the psych test he administers to every potential hire and he refused to hire him. But he's working for our town and everyone hates him because of what a jerk he is. I could go on and on.
Shall we move on to corrections officers. Well, there was the female officer who was sleeping with inmates, the male and female officers who were having sex on the job, the officers who were sneaking contraband to the inmates for a pretty penny, and the inmates who were falling asleep on the job. And that's just locally. How about the ones guarding Epstein?
Our director of public works was incompetent in maintaining and upgrading our the sewer system and, as a consequence, our sewer tax went up 60% in our year. Our zoning officer will harass certain people and yet completely refuse to enforce the ordinances for other people. Our drain official did nothing to stop a violating builder from filling a storm sewers with sand in a local subdivision.
And then I could get into teachers. My son had this particular science teacher in middle school. On parent teacher night, after listening to her for 5 minutes, I could tell she was disengaged and just going through the motions. My son came home frustrated because she wasn't teaching. She really adversely impacted his love for science that year. She'd have them read aloud from their textbook or watch videos while she played games on her computer in front of the class. He happened to see the reflection from her computer screen one day even though it was turned away from the students. And she did this day after day. And there are others.
How about the road maintenance folks. Our county road maintenance crew had an incredible ability to all stand around BSing while one guy did the work. And somehow, they could never seem to master the art of fixing potholes. If there were 3 potholes, they filled 2. If there were 4, they filled 3. If there were 5, they fixed 4. It was uncanny how incompetent they were. Having had a performance car at that time with low profile tires, I knew where every pothole was on my 5 1/2 mile route to work. I finally spoke to the supervisor and told him to give me some materials and I would fix the holes. He didn't like that. Somehow though, he did always seem to manage to have the road in front of his house repaired to perfection. It was also one of the roads that was plowed out the best. Funny coincidence.
Interestingly, the department of motor vehicles in our area actually isn't too bad. But I lived in two other states where they were like purgatory. These people were downright nasty and sadistic and loved making people wait in line only to tell them to go into another line after they had waited an ungodly period of time. I've always been amazed that no shooter has gone postal in a DMV office because of this. The motor vehicle inspectors were another group that were abusive, lazy, and just plain dumb. I think they inhaled too many exhaust fumes.
There are more stories I can relate from the municipality where I work which is next to the municipality where I live. Ditto for the county employees. Ditto for the state employees. Ditto for stories from federal employees I know, all the way up to the head of the EPA who performed selective enforcements during the Obama Administration on companies that did not support Obama but ignored those that did, even though they had multiple violations.
Believe me, I could write a book.

The difference between most private corporations being wasteful, bureaucratic and inefficient is they create their own wealth. If they cannot keep generating wealth, they fail and close up shop. They can do whatever they want with their generated income. People voluntarily purchase their products or services. The government creates no wealth or income. Their income is force ably taken through imposed taxes, most of which we never agreed to pay. They are given a check that is normally larger every year regardless of how they perform. We were not supposed to be a socialist/communist government but that is what society has been brainwashed to believe is the answer, hence that is what we have become.

ducked, just wait, Property rights will fail just after the electoral college. I pray for an economic collapse to precede an…
get your mare settled! It will be fun?

The key will be the guns. I expect the attempted confiscation progression to be roughly along the line of (but not necessarily in this specific order) banning “high capacity” (whatever that means) magazines, tactical rifles (otherwise known as those nasty “assault rifles”), any magazine larger than 5 rounds (attempted unsuccessfully in NJ several decades ago but sure to be tried again), semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic hand guns, “high power” (whatever that means) rifles, all handguns, and then shotguns (proceeding from semi-auto to pump to double barrel to single shot. I expect ammunition access to be controlled more and more as well. A tax on firearm ownership, ostensibly to fund firearm liability, will probably be levied at some point and gradually increased until it is no longer economically feasible for the average citizen to afford one. Of course, that still leaves the serfs with knives and other sharp and blunt instruments. I’m just reading “The Tiger” by John Vaillant, a book about a man-eating Siberian tiger in the Far East of Russia, and was surprised to learn hunting knives needed a license in Russia (presumably to keep better tabs on potential poachers). I’m wondering when this type of licensure might proposed as law in the UK in an effort to tamp down their increasing numbers of knife attacks. Of course, the average anti-gun person doesn’t seem to realize how effective a sword, a gasoline bomb, a motor vehicle, or other non-firearm weapon can be in wreaking havoc. Or how criminal enterprises can fabricate firearms (or 3-D print them) or steal them from armories (like Bonnie and Clyde stole their BARs). Or that the deadliest killer of all time, Genghis Khan (who outdid Mao, Stalin, and Hitler), managed to slaughter tens of millions without a single firearm (since they weren’t invented yet). But that would be asking people to think, an apparently unpleasant past time not willingly participated in by a substantial portion of our population.

No, I’m not a Keynesian. I actually respect free market capitalists more than I do Keynesians. But not by much. Both philosophies are BS promoted by people who haven’t put in the effort to understand how “economic production” actually works (and who refuse to define it despite using it as a central theme of their theses), nor of human nature, or the biological and physical natural processes driving everything in the economy. Both ideologies are built on invalid and simplistic assumptions about how the world works.
From what I’ve heard (I could be wrong), foreign countries are no longer buying US Treasury issuance which leaves the Federal Reserve as the only funder of federal government debt.
I’ve never worked for government, only ever the private sector. I’ve interacted with government workers a bit and never seen anything but hard workers getting not much more, or the same, in return than workers in the private sector get. But who knows, maybe I just haven’t been personally exposed to this destructive blight on our economy so powerful that it can bring down the entire system, LOL <SARCASM&gt;
One of the critical flaws in your claim that unproductive workers are sapping the rest of us “productive” ones via taxation or other inefficiencies, is the fact that we have seen large increases in worker productivity over the last 30 years due to computers and automation. One hour of human labour can “produce” a lot more than it used to, simply because we have all these computers around to help us. Competition has refined our productivity and use of these tools to maximise our output, because labour isn’t cheap. Look at the grocery store checkout, or the DMV filing systems, or any sector of the economy. I work in the design of industrial facilities and the old timers at work say that we can now design a project 3 times faster than before we had computers, and with 3 times fewer people. This is a direct increase in worker productivity; probably at least five fold.
It therefore follows from this that we could “produce” the same amount of stuff (or “goods and services”, as people like to call it) today as we did 40 years ago, but with only half the labour hours it used to require (this is probably a very generous number and the real number would be higher). Therefore, the direct result of this is that we could employ one out of every two people to jerk around on their job and play video games all day, and still pay them, while the other person puts in the same amount of effort someone did 40 years ago when people supposedly didn’t jerk around in public sector jobs (which I find hard to believe…). And we would all enjoy the same amount of prosperity as we did 40 years ago because we are still “producing” the same amount of goods and services.
But people don’t see it this way. It’s easier to blame others who still have jobs and security. I’ve heard of experiments with rats where, when they are living with plenty, they are peaceful. But deprive them of essentials of life and they start blaming each other. If you give them electric shocks they attack each other out of blame. This doesn’t happen when they are well fed. I’ve always predicted that the same would happen with human society – when we go down the final slide after Peak Oil, the middle class will enter civil war between this contrived left-versus-right nonsense and not identify the up-versus-down struggle between the elites and the masses as the true battle to be fought. That’s why the elites are building bug-out palaces in New Zealand.
One thing that I’ve found interesting about free market capitalists is their insistence that only an unfettered market should determine how the economy is structured. But what I’ve never heard a free market capitalist explain is what level of employment they think the free market would naturally achieve. I’d suggest it would be in the 50% unemployment range. Is that socially sustainable when government handouts are cut?
You don’t understand the real reasons behind your oppressive taxes and the labour market collapsing:

  • The status of the US dollar as reserve currency has artificially boosted its value. This has caused industrial "production" to move to Asia where labour is cheaper. American workers are incapable of competing with this because goods remain expensive in the USA and workers couldn't live on a Bangladeshi wage, nor should they.
  • Because the economy can no longer grow in real GDP terms, the private sector cannot make net profits. It becomes a zero-sum game where any winners come at the expense of the losers. Right now, Wall Street is the winner which makes everyone else a loser. Capitalism does not work when the economy can no longer grow.
  • Wall Street has literally stolen everyone's pension via the derivatives scam. All that is left holding up the illusion of pensions is the ponzi sheme financial system.
  • As mentioned before, government spending and debt is the only thing left holding up middle class consumption and GDP. The USA has become a consumer driven economy due to the outsourcing.
  • All I hear about is how the government is stealing wealth via the Federal Reserve and income tax scams (I agree). But then why is the government broke? Shouldn't it be rich if it's stealing your wealth? Government taxation is merely the instrument that the elites use to steal from you and get hideously wealthy. As the middle class becomes completely hollowed out, so does the government's tax base because the elites can hire good lawyers to avoid paying taxes (they write the laws themselves).
I detest the current system / government / educational system / media even more than you do, believe it or not. But I will not out of ignorance blame my neighbours as scapegoats for this who had nothing to do with creating it.

Mark BC (et al), I think there IS some guilt to be apportioned. Yes, as you note, the lion’s share of the guilt is with the wealthy who have stolen … but our own lawmakers are a part of that. Indeed, many of them go into legislation specifically for the graft it affords. Our cities, our state legislatures are rife with that. Congress, too.
But it is also guilty, when a person CAN produce, and choses not to, but instead lives as a parasite of those around him who are of good will.
That is not to say all government workers – but many of them do. Indeed, I had a pretty good field engineer who had severe genetic kidney disease; when an opportunity arose for him to get a city job, I encouraged it.
Let’s go a step further: demonizing the homeless. I think that is wrong; and yet I also am well aware that the very people I give food to… are often able to work, and work very HARD at taking money for nothing. I can say there is guilt in that, even as I try to ensure that they have another day.
I guess I’m not into biting; but if a person can do good for their neighbors and instead choses to do evil, I declare that is bad; and there is guilt there.

To the OP, I find myself sitting here nodding my head and saying “Yep, that’s something that definitely should be done.”
I’ve joked that I have left jobs in every way imaginable. I’ve quit, been laid off, been fired. Good terms and bad terms. You name it. There is a stigma and shame that comes with it and that can be difficult to overcome. We attach worth to our jobs and our titles. Even if you get the axe through no fault of your own it can be life shattering. So I say get ready, stay ready, and do so intelligently.
True story: At the end of my stint as a researcher I was headed back into industry where I had been prior to going into the lab. I was lucky in that I had several job offers. A couple of them very prestigious, one in particular. At the last moment I took the 2nd best offer because it gave my wife the chance to get closer to her family. The job was great, bringing some powerful new design tools into an outfit that, frankly, needed them.
Guess what? A year and a half later they decide that maybe all these expensive new tools and the guy that brought them in weren’t really what they needed. I was called in on monday morning, given a few weeks severance and sent down the road. I went from being a senior designer with impeccable credentials to just another unemployed Joe in less than 10 minutes.
It was wrenching. You’re furious at them for not knowing what direction they really wanted to go before you take a pass on the job of a lifetime to join them. You’re embarrassed that you aren’t important enough to them to even warrant a paycheck. You’re dreading the conversation with the wife and all that this will entail. I’m telling you brother it will rob you of your manhood if you let it. I’ve seen it break good men as the days of being unemployed turn into weeks and then months.
In the end it turned out alright as eventually I landed the job of my dreams after a short stint with another company. I would not trade my life for anyone’s. But that trust will never recover. I ALWAYS find myself thinking of ways to gain independence from the system. I find myself planning and executing ways to get my place to pay for itself so that one much smaller paycheck could see me through to retirement and beyond.
Let’s be honest. After what we’ve seen the people in charge of this system do after the financial crisis do you trust them? To keep the economy healthy and productive? To be fair and equitable when difficult decisions have to be made? To take the long view and try to leave the country stronger and more united than they found it?
Chris has said it for years, and he’s right. Community is where it’s at. And as Red Green closed each show with “Keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.”

There are no penalties for the many illegal hits that are going on all over the place!
Hi Will,
You have to be a fellow Canuck quoting Red Green lol. It’s too bad we cannot use his favourite fix all tool (duct tape) to get us out of the terrible predicaments we face.
With respect to the conversation around govt. employment, I will add my two cents. I am currently a provincial government employee after spending the majority of my career in the private sector. Each side has its pros and cons, and each side is guilty of transgressions that affect people’s lives deeply.
Each province, state, country has their differences when it comes to governance. Some of the pension/salary excesses highlighted above do not exist here. Just reading about the excesses makes me ill! One does not join this public service for a big salary. One trades off money for job stability with good benefits and a pension.
As many have said, there are a lot of hard working civil servants who are trying to do things for the greater good. I am one of them. I made the same great effort in the private sector, but after 25+ years of enduring ongoing discrimination related to my disability, which stifled my career, I gave up and decided to see if the grass was greener on the public side (sad to report it is not).
There are also those who do not put in a honest effort - no matter where they work - and do not care one way or the other. Tarring and feathering public servants everywhere is a favourite pastime. It is what it is. What I would dearly love to see is some tarring and feathering of all the organizations that continue to be discriminatory which prevents many, many millions of people with disabilities from gainfully working. It all ties in to the larger social problems that our billions in tax dollars go to funding. There is a relationship there folks…
As for govt waste & excess, the problem as I see it is the short term election cycle in our systems of government. Four years is all elected officials get to pursue their (often self-serving) agendas. They do not engage in strategic thinking that goes beyond the election cycle, and do not start projects that will not get them re-elected. The system gives them no incentive to do so. Civil servants must march to those agendas, whether they want to or not. We are at the mercy of our political masters. When power changes hands programs are changed, deferred or cancelled, with years of hard work being discarded because it is no longer the flavour of the month. Some civil servants are able to play the game, roll with the punches and soldier on. But others give up after a few election cycles, when they realize that their cherished program to fix/eliminate (pick your favourite social issue) is never going to happen and the reality is they are just a minion in a revolving door that sees the corrupt masters coming and going with each election. So their motivation is slowly beaten down. People who once cared deeply about making a difference and started out wanting to change the world are reduced to just wanting to get through the day and go home. That is exactly where I am at right now.
Of course when governments get a second term some programs and services do continue, perhaps in the same manner with the same, or if you are really lucky, more funding; perhaps it is changed up to suit the current business climate. Or programs & services are deferred & shelved to collect dust, or cancelled, and the program staff are shuffled to start again on the new favourite flavour being pursued by their masters. How is that the minions are the one’s always being tarred and feathered? We are not the problem people!
I recently started a consulting business on the side. I did so to supplement my small retirement income, as well as to keep myself engaged with my life’s purpose, which is helping foster inclusion for people with disabilities. It will keep my brain cells working and happy, and if things work out well, I will be able to get the level of satisfaction and gratification that comes from helping others - something that has been elusive no matter where I worked.
I have seen it all, experienced it all in my 42 years of working. I have been hired, fired, quit, laid off, treated great and treated horribly. I have filed a human rights complaint against an employer. I have re-trained three times. I have re-invented myself and started over from scratch several times, in different locations. I am doing so yet again because I cannot trust the system to deliver on my pension and other social contracts.
That mass lay offs are/may be coming, that so many people are struggling to find decent work that pays decent wages is a reflection of a system that does not place value on human life. Some think it is great to pay some guy 35 million dollars a year to toss a ball around, with many more aspiring to do just that. Yet we only want to pay day care or elder care workers 10 bucks an hour to do important, challenging work to care for loved ones. We are a part of the problem as long as we continue to support the guy with the ball, the many more like him, the billionaire entertainers and all the others who are greedy takers, who give back nothing of real value in return. There is so very much wealth so horribly allocated because our values have been so corrupted by money. It is a real reflection of how far off course humans have drifted.
There is only one security in this life, which I have found out the hard way: being able to take care of oneself (and your family if applicable) is all that truly matters. If you can do that you have that much better chance of having a life that has fulfillment in a way that is meaningful to you.

Kudos to you for having worked through your whole life in the wide variety of venues that you have, facing the trials you have, all the while dealing with a disability. I've found that many people with true disabilities are of a similar type. A former patient and friend who was a low level quadriplegic went to work every day. He had a home health aide who assisted him with his dressing, grooming, and toilet chores and took his electric wheelchair out the door into his hand control van and drove off to work. He did this for years until his company folded and he was laid off and no one else would hire him (despite him having a fantastic work ethic and a wonderful brain and engaging personality).
Unfortunately, in the USA, Social Security disability has become the new unemployment. I would venture to guess that 90% of the patients that I saw who eventually applied for disability after racking up the requisite number of visits with various and sundry health care practitioners to "prove" their claim were capable of working. Sadly, the people who are truly disabled often have a hard time getting the disability they deserve because of the "competition" (of sorts) from all these slackers. Yet surprisingly, the government seems to have little interest in preventing all this fraud. I know because I've looked into the issue on multiple occasions. When an individual who is on Social Security Disability Income due to back pain can mow his lawn, trim his hedges, work underneath his car on a creeper and under the hood of the car, seal his driveway, dig post holes, and sit in a deer blind out in the cold for hours on end, I think he's capable of at least some type of work. When a young man and a young woman, living together, both apply for and receive disability for purported pain complaints (which are NOT of a disabling nature) before they even turn 21 years old, because their friends do this and their parents did this and their parents before them did this, something is dreadfully wrong with the system.
These fraudsters are bleeding our system of billions of dollars and it's infuriating to witness their actions and the government's general lack of interest in stopping it. But of course, it's all part of the Cloward-Piven strategy strangling the country.