My Reserve Nerve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you heard the phrase before, ‘you are on my last nerve’? Most people have, it is a common expression, at least in the circles I run in. These days I am beyond my last nerve all wore out, it is blinking and causing the top of my head to tingle in anticipation of the next stomping. Yes, I am beyond my last good nerve, I have nary a single good nerve left. This is why there are folks about, hanging in the peripheral of my world who have now stepped into the region of MY RESERVE NERVE.

I only have one Reserve Nerve and I think it important I maintain this one in tiptop condition, doing so will prevent me from doing anything stupid or ugly. There are so many reasons I might do stupid, mean, unnecessarily ugly things right now; things that could have either short or long-term effect on my ability to earn a living in fact. I must watch my temper and my mouth; however, it is hard so very, very, very hard.

Before I go any further with my rage against the machine, let me first tell you a little about my real life self and the real life world I live in.

The Short and Not so Sweet

I work in a very specialized part of the IT world called ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). For twenty-two years, I have been working with the SAP product, though I have worked with all the others.

For sixteen years I have worked as a Program and Project Manager, this is even more specialized than simply working within IT.

Since 2008, I have been independent with my own LLC and have rarely been without work for more than 30 days unless it was by choice.

The above being said not to stroke my ego, truly. I simply wanted to establish a baseline for why my Reserve Nerve is on active standby.

My Last Nerve Gone

In 1999, the market blew up with the fear all the computers would stop (remember the millennial clock). All the greatest minds ran to Congress and said we need to expand the H1B program, there aren’t enough qualified Americans to fill the IT demands in the market. This wasn’t true then, it isn’t true now.

So Now to My Last Good NerveNerve Ending 1

I made a decision at the beginning of the year I wanted to change my life; well actually, I simply wanted a life. Part of this change was a career transition. I wanted off the road, out of airplanes and airports and chasing contracts; I want a ‘real’ job with normal hours, a real paycheck and benefits. Yes, working independently has its perks, but not enough anymore. I will tell you it hasn’t been easy, obviously since nearly four months in, I haven’t gotten close and I am beginning to panic. One of the reasons of course is employers are leery of people like me, people who have spent so many years in consulting, people who have been independent for as many years as I have; they think we won’t make the transition. The other reason? Well that goes to a little problem called getting through the RECRUITER.

Anyone know the rules of the H1B? In brief, for a company to qualify to bring a temporary worker into the US on an H1B they must have done the following:

  • Attempted to hire within the US first and be able to prove there are no qualified candidates.
  • A temporary H1B is issued for highly qualified (must have a university degree) in a scarce skill, these include; Engineering, IT, Science and Math

That is the short list. Given the above, tell me why nine (9) out of ten (10) recruiters do not speak English as a first language and have no manners at all? Here are a couple of my favorites over the past week, just to give you a taste.


Me: Hello this is Valentine

Caller: Speak to Logar

Me: This is Valentine, may I help you?

Caller: Logar, I looking for a MM Lead saw your profile on Dice.

Me: Well then, you might have noted I am a Program Manager not a functional lead. I don’t think I can help you.

Caller: You don’t want this then? Click.


Me: Hello, this is Valentine

Caller: Yes, yes speak to Logar is he in?

Me: This is Valentine Logar, he is a she.

Caller: Oh, sorry. Looking for a Project Manager knowing FICO and Development.

Me: Are you looking for a Project Manager that has managed these aspects of a project or one that also does this work.

Caller: No, my client wants the project manager to do the work and manage the project part time. Good rate, all-inclusive $55 an hour.

Me: I am sorry I can’t help you.

Caller: What is your rate?

Me: It is more than that; however, I can’t help you I am not looking for a project at this time.


Caller: Looking for Valentine Logar

Me: This is she

Caller: Looking for Program Manager, long-term project in Detroit.

Me: Send me the specification let me look at them.

Caller: First must establish your credentials, is that okay.

Me: What do you need to know?

Caller: What is your rate?

Me: $85 per hour plus expenses or all-inclusive $120 per hour

Caller: Might be too high I will see. I can get cheaper from India. Are you US Citizen?

Me: No Texas

Caller: Oh, do you have the right to work anywhere in US?


My Reserve Nerve is All I Have Left

Nerve Ending 2If you don’t know, an all-inclusive rate means they expect you to pay your own travel costs. This is fine if you live in the same city the project is, otherwise just no. Yes, they really will just hang up if you say NO. Yes, they really will tell you straight up they can get someone cheaper from India.

I am stupefied by the entire process right now. I do have a few good recruiters, truly I do. The number of calls and e-mails I get daily from random out-of-the-blue, don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground though, well my Reserve Nerve is on active duty. My level of frustration is on high alert, especially as I find myself at the point where I know I will have to consider contracts as a interim solution while I look to make the desired transition.

I am nothing if not flexible! I don’t know why, but it truly does seem to be getting worse out here.

Spare a Job, Brother?

John W. Geary
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Men of authority have employed all the destructive agents around them to promote their own personal interests at the sacrifice of every just, honorable and lawful consideration. 

John White Geary

Brother, can you spare a job?

Since the 1980’s we have been bleeding jobs in this nation. With every recession, recovery is slower, unemployment numbers stagnate and US Citizens sit on the sidelines as their opportunities to pursue the elusive American Dream are shattered.

Meg Whitman, CEO of HP announced there would be a force reduction of 10% due to over a billion dollars in losses last fiscal year. In real numbers, that 27,000 Americans will lose their jobs.

Since 2001, we have lost 42,400 factories, 75% of them employed over 500 people when they were still in business. Overall, we have lost 5.5 million jobs, forever since 2001.

There were 2.8 Billion cell phones sold worldwide, can you guess how many were manufactured in the US? If you guessed zero, you would have been right.[1]

We have 15.1% of our citizens, 46.2 million people in this nation living in poverty, the highest level since 1993. Without jobs, they don’t stand a chance of lifting themselves out either.[2]

Now before you get all weepy, just think all those closed factories are sitting there just waiting for the Job Creators to open them back up, create jobs and fill them with production equipment so Americans can go back to work! All we need to do is cut them some slack, stop punishing their success and give them more tax breaks so they can ‘invest’ in America. Of course, there are a few additional items on the agenda, lest we get ahead of ourselves;

  • Stop being so damned greedy you out of work Americans let those corporations pay you what your worth! How does $1.30 an hour sound? That would make you just a little bit cheaper than your competition over in China that is a whole .06¢. This is what manufacturing labor pay in China costs; the Philippines and India lag slightly behind but I am betting if you agreed to less than a living wage you could be back at work in a heartbeat. [3]
  • But hold on there, all those nasty Communist – Socialist countries way over there (China, Vietnam, Philippines, India) they have one up on us and those Global Industrialists sure do love them for it, can you guess what

    Our Factories Today

    it is? Out of guesses yet? Let me help you, the Government invests in Infrastructure! This investment includes building beautiful state of the art factories chalk full of the latest and greatest cost saving technologies, as well as, housing nearby for workers (primarily a Chinese production). All of this paid for by the government!

  • Finally, all those wonderful Socialist – Communist nations offer something we don’t, want to try guessing one more time, no? Tax breaks, that’s right those nations are acting as tax havens for the American based multinational companies. They take advantage of the infrastructure your hard work, the backbreaking efforts of generations of Americans put into this nation and the taxes we all continue to pay but have sent all the jobs offshore. In fact from 1999-2008, employment in American foreign affiliates rose 30%, creating a total of just over 10 million new jobs, while during the same time we bled 21 million jobs.[4]
    • All of the numbers above are from 2010; these were the most current I could find. They are nonetheless an accurate assessment of our situation.
    • Finally we have the drone attacks on Unions, most especially on Public Sector; Teachers, Police, Firefighters in particular. These days it seems the public sector employee (except the elected official who seems to see him or herself as above the fray) is a figure to be vilified and abused, the enemy and a person to be held in greatest contempt. The meme is these public servants, protectors, educators, first responders and  guardians are not valued members of our community but instead are leeches, sucking at the public teat. This of course is an inaccurate depiction of all our public service resources; police, firefighters, teachers, animal control officers all of them play a vital role in our communities for some reason though there has been a shift away from the respect we once held for them, now we want them to provide their services free of charge.

What does this all mean? Poverty is on the rise though our unemployment numbers are slowly going down. The recession that began in December of 2007 isn’t ending as quickly as we want or need to rebuild a robust and vibrant economy. Austerity is the name of the game; though this strategy has decimated other nations many would have us walk this path insisting it is the fault of the unemployed, underemployed and the poor themselves for their situation.

Click to Expand Image

Don’t have a job? It is your fault; you are lazy according to State Representative Josh Byrnes (R) of Iowa who had this to say in late 2011; There are jobs out there and I think the problem is that some people think some of these jobs are beneath them. When you are unemployed I don’t think there should be any job “below” you. In truth it’s probably more of an ego or perception issue than being lazy. Thank goodness our immigrating ancestors to the United States didn’t have that attitude. According to a study by Deloitte there is a skills gap in the US, this study performed late last year found 600,000open positions in manufacturing with no talent to fill the openings. Really? None, at all nowhere in the US, hard to believe isn’t it? There are no skilled workers anywhere in the US. Could this be the fault of the US worker or is it our education system is failing our children, not preparing them for trades. So here we are the first post-industrial nation and on the cliff of disaster. Our American Dreams, the idea each generation could do better than their parents a thing of the past, most certainly they cannot in this economy or with the future outlook not to change soon.  Public schools have cut out all those frivolous programs, trades, shop and the arts. College isn’t for everyone and these days the cost of a college education is staggering, but

Courtesy USA Today

wait if college isn’t the answer what is? According to Deloitte and employers we have a skills gap, is the answer Vocational or even Apprenticeship in a skilled trade? Well, shockingly, there is little to be found on either but what limited information there is, VoTech training can run into the Tens of Thousands. I found tuitions for Machine Operators at $11,999 for 950 instruction hours including books, the jobs one could hope for after completing this training? Nationally is $41,000, if you took out a subsidized student loan at 6.8% interest you will pay $28,160 for your training which includes $16,161 in interest payments.

The above is just one example, there are others but the real issue is we have no recourse. We are behind the eight ball. We have lost entire industries; we have permanently lost jobs that will never come back. We are not prepared for the new post-industrial America. We have not adapted to the future we have created through runaway greed and unrestrained Capitalism. Our children are not educated or trained and there is an entire swath of our population convinced we don’t owe them a future.

Are you one of them?

John Maynard Keynes
Courtesy Wikipedia

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the for the greatest good of everyone.

John Maynard Keynes

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