• To a Mr Bitter from Titirangi

    I was merrily eating my lunch yesterday at work and flicking through the paper. I landed on the letters page – which is always good for a bit of a giggle – and lo! a submission entitled Recession victims!

    According to this writer, the members of the “debt embracing, profligate generation X and Y still have their jobs by and large, so their income is intact. With interest rates dropping as a result of the recession, their financial situation has improved significantly.”

    Wahey! Wow. Something I might expect to see from the mouth of an American, but here?

    I think this person is just a LITTLE out of touch. It’s Gen Yers who are (among others, although not exclusively) being laid off. Last in, first out. Unemployment is climbing, and those with less experience and fewer qualifications are more likely to be let go, and to find it much harder to secure any kind of new job.

    By no means is the income of my household intact. And sure, interest rates are dropping, but this only affects savers and mortgage holders. My savings rate has dropped like a rock and is hovering somewhere around inflation level. But you know what? Credit interest rates are exactly where they were before the recession began, if not higher. Prime does not seem to affect unsecured credit, for whatever reason. I don’t know if this is a Downunder phenomenon, and quite frankly I don’t care to find out. I just know that’s the way it is.

    So please, KL Matthews, don’t tell me that my financial situation has improved significantly. And don’t deign to tell me that I will benefit from the recession. I’m going to find it harder to get a job after graduation, probably be taken on at a lower pay than I might have otherwise, and with fewer benefits.

    My partner may be the next spending three years out of the workforce, which we hope will pay off in the long term. If the recession hadn’t happened, odds are he would still be gainfully employed and at a decent living wage. But in the meantime, our “financial situation” has plummeted to depths I could never have imagined last year.

    Unfortunately, like many who started out with nothing, he does have debt. Debt that he was making progress on, and which has now been halted. Not huge amounts by any means. An amount that I compare to MANY other PF blogger and think well, gosh, that really is nothing. Why am I so stressed? Well, I’m stressed because even at a low level, it’s simply not serviceable for a laid-off person. I’m stressed, especially now, because we do not have a functioning car, among other myriad worries. (Great op-ed here about how the recession is hurting low socio-economic areas, btw, and some proposed solutions. I definitely don’t agree with them all but they’re fascinating! Especially about ensuring quality used cars so people can get around. I can’t stress enough how bad public transport is here. How many times have I talked about the bus service? And with the Govt. investing in the Waterview tunnel and a freaking “nationlong cycleway“, that’s not gonna be improving anytime soon. ). How long will it take to recover and get back on top? Neither of us knows. We’re both living in a state of constant uncertainty. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even you, Mr Bitter. Please remove the lemon from your mouth – you’re not the only one unhappy with the way things are, trust me.

  • Bored?

    A couple of my friends dropped in last week when I was sick. I wasn’t super pleased at first, cause I looked and felt like hell, was unshowered and sitting in bed in my daggy old PJs. But the thought was appreciated, and then we got into watching random shit online. Like this UK ad for shavers (thanks Ginger) which I originally heard about in this column by Tracey Barnett, but was too lazy to hunt down myself…imagine how stoked I was to stumble across it without any extra effort in the blogosphere.

    If you haven’t I recommend you check out the Evolution of Dance on YouTube – def good for six minute of entertainment! (Apparently part two sucks, though)

    And then we got all retrospective and hunted down old 90s – mainly one hit – bands.

    So if you were into 90s cheesy pop, kill some time and watch these!

    For your pleasure…

    Link love!!!

    Dream – He Loves U Not
    O-town – Liquid Dreams
    Lfo – Summer Girls (Seriously, whoever wrote this should be shot)
    NSync – Bye Bye Bye (I still think this video kicks ass :P)
    Hanson – MMMBop
    Spice Girls – Wannabe
    S Club 7 – S Club Party (Never a good idea to namedrop yourself, let alone in the title)
    Steps – Tragedy (BeeGees cover)

    I love me my classic rock and glam metal, but 90s manufactured bubble pop has a special place in my heart. Not ashamed to admit it!!

  • Free speech

    I like to wander over to Jezebel occasionally. I really like their features where they tear apart the week’s goss magazines, and sometimes their Snap Judgements are really spot on and hilarious.

    I was pretty gutted when they decided to ban commenting. And then I didn’t visit the site for a few weeks. When I finally remembered to, whaddya know? Comments were BACK! I guess it’s one of those sites (like I said in a tweet) that just isn’t as good without feedback. It’s one of those sites that thrives on comments. The stories are only half the story. The comments are what bring it to life. They have some DEDICATED commenters, and some lively debate.

    But I find a lot of their commenters…well, exhausting. And repetitive. And boringly predictable. A lot of them are super feminist, a lot of them are tough and defensive and come from abusive backgrounds. And sometimes the vibe gets a little overtly PC and I just can’t take it. And yes, I find them somewhat annoying. Once, I can’t remember what the original article was about, but the comment thread was by some Christian proclaiming that she didn’t hate gays – no, she LOVED them – but thought their lifestyle was wrong. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Male and female fit together, nothing else works.

    So of course, everyone jumped on her. She tried to defend herself, and I think, did so very politely and elegantly. She never once lost her cool and remained gracious throughout. She was asked lots of questions, which she answered, and responded to most points raised.

    Now, I totally don’t agree with her. But I admired how she conducted herself, given the hostile environment. If she’s been reading Jezebel, surely she knows what the community is like. And she must have been brave indeed to put her lone opinion out there – a rare conservative voice among countless liberals, stereotypical feminists, and LGBTs. (And if that was  the first article she ever read and commented on, well that was just stupidity, I guess).

    But I really didn’t see why everyone insisted on carrying on so much. She obviously wasn’t going to change her mind. Or concede any points. Some of her argument didn’t make sense. They still weren’t going to back her down. She was a HARDCORE Christian, and nothing anyone could say would change that. So why did they keep trying, and abusing her? Why continue on a lost cause? I think most of them were just ranting for the sake of it – she was an easy target, and she didn’t lose her cool back at them.

    And really, can someone’s opinion be WRONG? I mean, I think her opinion was wrong. I don’t agree with it. But by definition, an opinion is what someone thinks. It can’t be WRONG. It can be hurtful, and homophobic and illogical, but it can’t actually be wrong.

    That’s something I struggle with. A lot of my friends have diametrically opposed political/social views to mine. It makes for some sparkling discussions sometimes. And as long as it doesn’t cross the line into hate speech – as long as it remains civil – even though I may throw my hands up and bemoan their ignorance, we live in a country which celebrates free speech and where everyone is entitled to their own views.

  • Here‘s a sad story for you.

    Would you stop and help a girl who told you a strange man had been following her for miles?

    What would you do?

    The woman she approached had a car – she was filling it up at the Waterview BP. She could have offered to drop her home, and driven her safely to her doorstep.

    But she didn’t. She just told her to be careful. Easier said than done, right?

    Whatever happened to community spirit?

    I wonder though, what else could that poor girl have done? What if a random guy was stalking me as I walked home? I guess my first call would be to BF and hope to God he picked up. I might try to go into the BP station, explain things to the station attendant and just stay there until someone could pick me up, or something like that. I wouldn’t want to be trying to make it home on my own.

    It’s got me a bit freaked out, because Waterview is only a couple of suburbs over. I don’t do a lot of walking, but it’s still enough to make you worry.

  • Caught between the two

    spreads

    People complain that the media sensationalise and beat up everything. Stories are too negative. They trash everyone.

    I was asked today by someone how I got the idea for one of my stories (which was, perhaps, a bit of a beatup). I explained I just wanted to write something about this particular thing, and that angle came out of the
    interview.

    And yeah, it was printed, although I was told would be better if I’d found someone who said they were rubbish and slammed them. (Which I more or less had, until the source wanted to change their quotes).

    Which yes, I feel is unnecesarily harsh and making something out of nothing. I guess we are always trying to seek out extreme opinions, it makes for better reading. Conflict, after all, is one of the big news values.

    No doubt i’ll soon be wholly entwined in the working reporter’s mindset, but for now I teeter between both and can see the two sides.

    Just as an aside, something I found really interesting…. sometimes you just don’t get the quotes you want, or sometimes you get gems that make a whole new story. In our textbook chapter on interviews, it says interviewing for stories is a bit like cross examination by a lawyer. Good journos know exactly what to ask and they know what the answers will be before they even ask them, so they know what to expect.

  • Relatively untouched…

    Another little reminder this week of just how little everyone else seems to be affected by the economy. So we were in class, discussing media coverage of the situation and all of the conflicting reports – one minute it’s doom and gloom and doldrums for another ten years, the next the housing market has picked up and it will all be over by 2010….etc, etc. And the statement’s put out there: We’re all relatively untouched, aren’t we? Nobody’s felt the impact personally?

    Well, I sure as hell have! It’s had an ENORMOUS effect on my life – it’s been a driving force behind me and BF’s daily lives since November. That’s a long time. And it’s a lot of stress. So I just couldn’t let that go, and I said so.

  • Oh, poor me…

    Here’s a little gem of a story about unemployment in the Herald.

    “One person who was a high-flier marketer two years ago on huge money, $200,000, is looking at $130,000-$150,000 roles. It’s a domino effect,” she said.

    Awwww. Pardon me for not empathising with that person! It’s about living within your means. By that time you are probably somewhat established in your career and yes, you might have huge student loans, but you don’t need to lease a car or buy a $600,000 house.

    I recall reading an article (perhaps on MSN? Or maybe not) about a couple whose husband had to take up a pizza delivery job.

    Yet their kids went to private school and they WOULDN’T COMPROMISE on that. Some kind soul donated their school fees. THAT DISGUSTED ME.

    Why should someone else pay for your kids’ education????

    How could you accept that?

    If you are down to the breadline, you CUT all costs.

    Private school is a luxury, not a necessity.

    I understand especially in LA state schools are not the best. But when times are tough, you gotta do what you gotta do. And at the worst, the wife (who I don’t think worked) could always homeschool the kids.

    Back to this story….Even $130,000 is a lot more than the median income in NZ. It’s not like this person’s income has been halved, either.

    Going from $25 to $13 is much more of a hit.

    And that’s why it irks me a little that low income earners aren’t getting a tax cut.

    Like it’s been said many times, low income earners would DEFINITELY spend their tax cuts, because they don’t have a choice….the cost of living is so high, and in many cases outgoings are equal to or exceed incomings, so they don’t have the option of saving that extra money.

  • The end of the world, etc etc…

    I just  did a couple of online surveys – one was about banking (kinds of banks I’d like to use – not unlike another one I recently did on pharmacies and what kinds of pharmacies I’d like to see….) and one was about the economic situation.

    So, next time a story comes out on how everyone is all doom and gloom,  I’ll be one of those statistics.

    But BF made a good point. Had he not had his hours cut, and then been made redundant, we wouldn’t really be doing that bad. We wouldn’t be well off, but our situation wouldn’t really have been affected. Hardly anyone else we know has really been affected personally – not many we know have mortgages or been laid off, most everyone is studying and have kept their part time jobs, etc.

    Interest rates are now at 3pc – the lowest in history.

    Credit card/loan rates are still almost 20%. I wonder if there’s any point writing to BNZ to complain – BF’s loan is still at 18.2. Outrageous. But we live in NZ – doubt there’s much we can do, esp as it’s unsecured.

    If I don’t secure a job after graduation, I’ll be happy to keep doing what I’m doing; it’s pretty close. But we had a guy join our class this week who made us all a tad nervous. He finished his BCS last year (PR major). NO luck getting a job. Not many from the year did – they graduated straight into the plunge of the recession. Anyway, so he somehow wangled a last minute enrolment and is now studying with us.

    If he couldn’t get something in PR, what’s the odds for us journo students?

    Not to mention that most of us will probably end up in PR later in life – what’s going to happen when the entire media is made up of green fresh reporters who don’t know where the Seychelles are? (Found that out today – off the African coast near Kenya – looks absolutely stunning).

  • Deadbeat dad

    I’m sitting here looking at jobs for BF with that new TV show Missing Pieces on…that’s the one where they track down long lost relatives. Today they’ve found someone’s dad in Australia. With 17 years of child support owing, he’s not coming back to NZ anytime soon. But now they’ve interviewed him, shown his face on national TV….. what now? Will the IRD come after him? Can they made the producers divulge his whereabouts? Do they care enough, and can they touch him over there? I’m sure 17 years’ backlog is a crippling amount…