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Cycling in a Depression, "Guys like me who built America are no longer needed

Politics / US Politics Aug 30, 2010 - 12:22 AM GMT

By: Submissions

Politics

John Mele writes: You want to know who I am? First, I'll tell you who I was.

I joined the Marines when I was 18, went to Vietnam when I was 19, was an 0331 machine gunner, survived a tour of duty in heat and humidity in the mountains of northern South Vietnam near the DMZ. My rear base, the Rockpile, was the most remote base in Vietnam at that time, or so we were told. I survived that war and when I got home I used the GI Bill to get into the Boston Architectural Center, a night school of Architecture. I worked days a few years as a construction laborer and then as an office boy in an architectural office. I got married, was accepted to the University of Oregon and got my BA in architecture in '77, worked, moved a few times (due to recessions), had two beautiful daughters, raised my family, etc.


After Nam I straightened out, as they say, and sailed a pretty solid course even when the seas of the economy were rough. We had our ups and downs, weathered financial recessions, lost one home and built another, finally settled in Knoxville, TN where I had my own architectural business mainly because I couldn't work in a cubicle with 400 other architects.

But in '09 that all changed. This is who I am now.

I am a former Marine, Vietnam war veteran, mad as hell and about to lose my home again. As far as I could tell, our entire financial system collapsed. I mean take forty to fifty years of “economic progress” and just dump it. That is in essence what happened. Many are still clinging to it, hoping for its revival. Something will recover but that something will never be what it was before. In '09 they changed all the rules. The jobs disappeared, gone to China and India. Guys like me and those before us built this great land and were no longer needed. The bridges, the skyscrapers, the industrial centers, the homes, highways, dams and byways, all built by us, was now thrown away as the “financial system” did not need us anymore. Things called “derivatives” took our place. The US auto industry was on the ropes, banks were collapsing, Wall Street was in chaos, and millions saw the future as a place of unemployment or low paying jobs, if one was available.

So, I decided not to follow the same path I'd been on. With no prospects for work and a boiling anger about--what I felt--was a stolen future for me and my country, I decided to take some alternative actions. I had not failed, the system had failed me and I was determined not to give up but also not to be a fool. I was 60 and soon no matter what I did age would get me. Do I go down playing by the ever-changing rules of financial insanity that I was being forced into? Do I take any job and try to keep the home I spent a lifetime working for? In short, do I suck it up again, go to where I must and start over again at 60 and keep my mouth shut and show up for work and do this until I am dead?

Hell, I’d rather charge up a hill and give it my all to save my “SPIRIT”, because that is the most precious part of any of us. Think "Geronimo" and replace it with "Whitehorse" and you get an idea of WHY I planned this. One last gasp, one last charge, one last mission till the forces of my destiny would overtake me. Would I die trying, if so I was willing to face and accept that. Would Whitehorse save me? I had no idea. I had no idea! It all started with a joke I said to my wife. After repeating it a few times it made more sense than what I was seeing around me.

The inequalities of life invade all our lives. In essence we all make decisions within the confines of the hand we are dealt. At age 60 I decided to challenge that hand one last time and in doing so set my SPIRIT FREE.

I am cycling to Whitehorse, on a bike with a 65 pound pack, a 3700 mile trip...I'll see you there, if I last...

© 2010 Copyright John Mele - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

anne
30 Aug 10, 06:56
boomer whinging

As a baby boomer ... you had it all . Why you are losing your house again? hmmm ... seems like you drank more than your share of the Cool Aide. And as far as I can tell .. most architects haven't gone OS. In fact they are still able to find work domestically. What happened to all that money you made whilst the boom time was going on?

Please ... spare us your rhetoric. The gen x,y and z are the ones who are going to have to pick up this mess. Stop whinging like a typical boomer. You have a three generations after you who aren't very happy about your entitlements... and they will be ruling the place soon. And that is where the biggest cuts will comes ...to those people who think they will retire with a nice social security pay. Wake up!!! you are the biggest drain on society -and that will be the first cut.


Liz
30 Aug 10, 09:13
boomer whinging

I have ventured from 'living the life' married to a high tech success guy to minimum income as a single parent of two so I feel I can speak from both sides of the fence. For the gen x,y and z....if you has been born a baby boomer, you wouldn't have done it any differently.

The architect is doing exactly what they need to do....taking some time to re-group so they can come back fighting for survival like the rest of us.

Baby boomers lived the life for a while, it's true; they also strived to give the x,y,z a better start in life....a better future. We didn't do this to you....we didn't see it coming.

Instead of blaming each other, how about we pull together.


PJ
30 Aug 10, 09:43
boomers

In the USA, the generations coming after the “boomers” are:

In prison (There are currently more than 2 million people in American prisons or jails, most under 40 years old)

Less healthy (boomers never heard of peanut allergies and asthma was rare as were overweight children)

Poor (50% of all children on food stamps, 90% of Blacks)

Less educated (dismal graduation rates from High School, male left column female right)

American Indian/AK Nat 51.1 51.4

Asian/Pacific Islander 76.8 80.0

Hispanic 53.2 58.5

Black 50.2 56.2

White 74.9 77

The “boomers” will not be relinquishing control of anything any time soon they do not have the money to retire and few in the upcoming generation have the skills to replace them. Any government that survives or comes to power in the USA will pay he “boomers’ off with Social Security and Medicare or there will be no government.


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