I’m college educated, but never felt comfortable applying to the white-collar world. So, I scuffled by for some years as a cook and then joined the carpenters union–in part, for reasons of “activism”, fight for the labor cause, yada yada–about 13 years ago. That was pretty good up until latter ’07, when the bottom dropped out real fast.
I have had to go non union since then, but private sector work here in the small towns of New England is sketchy for rank and file tradesmen. I was on UI for a year or so and otherwise have been able to piece together a couple years worth of work at about 1/3 the pay and no benefits: it’s all 1099 now, which is technically illegal, and can be likened to a migrant labor mentality: seasonal and serving the extremely rich who, with their huge, relatively uninhabited estates, occupy most the land in a feudalistic way.
Anyway, regarding the debt. Well, since the decline, I have basically been living paycheck to paycheck for subsistence only, have been homeless a bit and using food pantries here and there. When work is happening I can get by okay at this level, with pretty much zero “discretionary” money available: raw survival.
I didn’t file my taxes over some of those years because I knew I didn’t have the cash to pay the government and basically have been in a mode of resistance about it. Plus, I have some CC and other basic bill type stuff that I basically blew off as well, for lack of funds and need to eat and such.
A couple months ago I was driving home and got randomly scanned by a cop and, long story short, turns out my license had been suspended for “back taxes owed to the state”–unbelievable. Well, that is, as I’m sure you all can understand, a direct attack on my survival–no car–and, combined with work being cut back to next to nothing, has pretty much shot me out of the water. Borderline homeless again and some days without eating much.
It takes some up front cash to initiate some sort of deal with the state–to get the process going, lawyer, probably–and, well, I haven’t had that.
I haven’t believed in the “system” for some years and that’s part of my problem I guess, as there is certainly the unavoidable shame and sense of isolation, powerlessness, and for me, a tendency toward some fairly serious depression.
I’m near 53 and am of the harsh realization that perhaps my life is destroyed for the duration. Maybe it’s the fact that I recognize the system as a farce, that things are therefore not necessarily my fault in the end, and that keeps my head afloat, but at the same time hunger is very real.
This “Strike Debt” thing, well, sounds good–have no idea how and if it is working. I get tired of listened to the talking heads giving their analyses of the situation. Most of them seem to be making a living at that. I am old enough to see that most movements haven’t done much to change anything.