(Note: my response, as recaptured from a thread at Scalzi’s blog)
I am sympathetic to those who’ve lost work. No, really.
I’ve been fired 4 or 5 times in my 21 years in the work force, and I’ve been laid off exactly once. My wife has also been fired and/or laid of several times in the same span. Each time for both of us it was an event of no small magnitude in our humble house, and if it happened again today it would still be an event of no small magnitude. I “get” the life storm that a firing or a layoff can bring. Been there, done that. May do it again. In 2009 I was very, very close to getting axed — by a (now former) boss who was on the hot seat himself, and trying to take others down with him. It made for a very stressful year.
My point is that the era of eternal job security — if it ever existed at all, which I doubt — has long since passed. The modern vocational or professional person must expect transition. There are ways to stay ahead of the curve. To see the layoffs and the firings before they happen. To store up a sufficient reserve for the transition points, so that when they come, they don’t wreck everything down to the ground. I think many people have learned this the way my wife and I did: the hard way.
And there are tons of people with their heads in the sand. Who persist in believing that the job they have now is the job they should have forever, and that if ever they are fired or layed off, it is an act of the utmost and supreme evil, curse those devil bosses in their shiny top hats, twirling their finely-waxed handlebar mustaches, saying, “Nyah nyah nyah!”
Many of these same Americans happily plunder their credit cards and run up fantastic amounts of consumer debt on “things” while putting not a cent aside for a potential rainy day. My wife and I used to be among these people. We learned better as we got older, and after enough life storms taught us the hard trick of living more sensibly, and taking action to jump to new jobs when the clouds of the tempest are still far on the horizon. Not on your doorstep.
Romney must sound like a horrible man, if you’re a head-in-the-sand type. ZOMG he said he likes to fire people, oh noes!
For those who are in touch with the new reality — which seems not so new, and in fact appears to have been the norm for at least the last 25 years, or more — Romney does not sound evil. He sounds like a realist. Companies need to compete, and to compete you occasionally have to cut staff and/or prune the unproductive. Sucks. Sure thing. I’ve been on the shit end of that stick many times. It’s a real gut punch. But expecting companies to take on and keep staff forever…. unreal. Literally.
Now, we might argue about golden parachutes, and corporate millionaires skating across the gulfs while the poor working class take it in the shorts over and over and over… but I don’t think Romney was defending golden parachutes or corporate graft of the sort that’s been highlighted in the last few years among the “bankster” set. Trying to spin it as if Romney was defending golden parachutes and corporate graft, or that he likes firing poor innocent working people, you know, because he’s a dirty rotten bastard deep down in his rich little black heart of hearts… it’s just silly. Populist, for sure. But still silly. And I don’t think it will fly in November. Not with the 51% necessary to win.