Shanty Town USA — When We Finally Agree Capitalism is About Being Poor

It’s that Ebeneezer and Grinch time of year. Hooverville. The great American fat crocodile tear with stories of legless troops getting a bag of groceries and free big screen TV and compact car. All those bags under our collective eyes watching brute felon sports professionals (sic) run by their brutish Mafiosa coaches and owners. We are ready for that extra 15 pounds, those romps in those wonderlands of Consumopithecus Anthropocene union-busting box stores, those nanoseconds looking at the homeless, pennies for their crimes. We will feel good about Tis the Season. America is back on track falling off the tracks. Cool. Let’s listen to Jon Leibowitz tell it like it is. One skinny jowl away from SeanFX or AnnFX or You-Name-Him/Her Celebrity News (sic) Bungler. We are about to be told that this is the season when 50 percent of all those sales are made, so do your duty, throw out the good and make room for the new! Black Friday is the 222 days before Xmas.

animals.nationalgeographic.com

Photograph (of condor) by National Geographic — We could really dig the new flick, “Giant GMO Condor that Ate Coulter for Breakfast.” Starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!

Never Trust A Liberal Over 3 Autographed by Ann Coulter

But we are being foreclosed on, minute-by-minute, species by species, generation to generation. Something missing in the water? Lithium too high? ChemTrails of electromagnetic brain flaying background noise? We are shuttered behind doors, gleaming lights from the seven screens inside, like Meth heads cooking up crystals, we watch the screens, flip through files, move mouses, styluses, and our greasy fingers over icons. We are ready for the Net, mitochondria cinched to the EMF tendrils. Something about tuning in, scanning 5,000 channels for variety to stay asleep; watching and listening to lips move while words are like dominoes. We watch as the words cascade into a giant Niagara Falls image in our minds. One domino and another, tipped over. Lost vocabularies. Books to nowhere. If only we could always sing on YouTube. Is that a career path? Explain. Stupid pet tricks. Things go better with CocaCola and porn. LOL.

Somehow, the cars at the end of the block, near the park-that’s-about-to-be-sold-to-Walmart, they are getting fogged up more every morning. Those vans seem precariously full, sprung shocks, the smell of 20 circus clowns stuffed inside the Bug. Rental homes with a dozen cars parked around each one, people coming and going at all hours of the day and night:  Blinds closed; garbage piled up; cig butts scattered next to Red Bull cartridges. Migrant workers moving from store to store, from cleaning gig to washing gig, to teaching station to call center. We are the roving bands of un-Merry Men and Women. Tis the Season to kick us when we are down.

Silicon Valley’s answer to Shantytowns? Diaspora-Ville. Sim City Refugee Camp? Fun little game controlling who gets the penicillin, which granny croaks, and whose dog gets cooked for dinner? Watch as the disease takes over. Who is in the hoard that will come out blazing with AK-47? Sounds like a plan? Sounds like an app? Sounds like the new gigabyte game of the decade. The Road. The new unfit to make the One Percent Narrative perfect, well, seven people freeze to death in San Fran, in the shadow of Google.

Photo Credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry/Shutterstock

Isn’t this just so erudite and cool? GIS of the world of rich and poor? These polite and pointedly daft and off-the-real point conversations, over at NPR, the commercial station that wants to be something it might have never been, even when Billy Moyers was on board:

“Explore the median household incomes in neighborhoods across the United States, based on the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.”

We are a nation of watchers, flipping through layer after layer of Geographic Information Systems cool ass graphics. Waiting for algorithms that will predict our own personal intellectual and spiritual foreclosure. Just input the data, and let it roll!

Last of the last. NPR, which is the erudite’s channel, goes for broke exposing the ludicrous things in Amerika. Yet, the ludicrous, well, that’s what’s in, what’s at the center, and we all better buck up and get it:

There are all too many endangered species in the wild and precious little money devoted to conservation. So if you had to choose, how would you do it?

We concocted a thoroughly unscientific survey: A choice between saving the beloved giant panda, the odd-looking grey-faced elephant shrew, and the insectoid American burying beetle.

Most people chose the panda. Along with apes, elephants, big cats, and black rhinoceros, pandas are some of the biggest fundraisers in the animal kingdom. What makes us want to save pandas, but not bugs? Not surprisingly, it turns out that animals deemed cute yield bigger donations and campaigns.

This week, NationalGeographic.com is exploring our ideas of conservation in a series called “Last of the Last.” Christine Dell’Amore, news editor for NationalGeographic.com, helps explain how we choose which animals to save.

Again, we need that GIS precision, that app lucidity, those Sim City creators to help us design, for entertainment purposes and NPR purposes (which is, in the end, entertainment for and by the psychoanalytical crowd, both those on-under the couch and those lurching over like that buzzard of old, the condor!) a SHANTY TOWN USA-Planet Earth minute-by-minute graphic of the explosion of camps, with all the Census data rolled up into gritty but bright InfoGraphical Highlights!

Wendy Carle, left, holds her neighbor’s dog Hero as she is handed an eviction notice by San Jose city worker Rita Tabaldo as city worker Mark Ruffing, center, attaches a notice to a Carle’s tent at a tent city in San Jose, California

Photo by Oliver Moody

The words “Palo Alto” are all but synonymous with Silicon Valley’s effervescent technology industry, appearing, for example, at the end of every communication from Facebook.

But the Californian city’s council is now considering designating areas where people can sleep in their cars in the midst of the biggest housing crisis the region has seen.

Rents in Silicon Valley have risen to their highest level since records began and, beneath the multi-zero headlines of prosperity, its poorest residents are in real trouble.

We are a disturbed society, one bent on sucking the words of talent-less celebrities, sucking the hot air of politicians, sucking the fees-levies-fines-taxes-add ons-rents-costs, sucking the TV-jamming of China roving the moon, new talk of water on Europa, the gushing over the ice-free shipping passages of the Arctic, the potential for minerals, gold and hydrocarbons.

Yet … Yet, we can’t even finesse food stamps? We can’t jigger with our great digital gods how to levy fees on the One Percent and their 19 percent sycophants? How to re-educate flunkies ruling the boardrooms on the realities of externalities, that is, the cost of doing their business and the cost to us, the people, for their hoarding of wealth and eviscerating of liberties and communities, is PAYING for labor, PAYING for potential economic and environmental harm, PAYING for “to be or not to be” a human being in a globally aware and connected world. Time to bomb their homes? Take them out? What is it in Amerika that allows these murderers go free?

Here, the Associated Press. This is sick stuff — poverty, hunger, young masses of poor, rich-rich-rich while the rest of us can’t even count on public safety nets. This Obama freak and Patty Murray freak, cuts-cuts-cuts, and this embarrassing private insurance service we have paid for in the form of the Un-Affordable Care (sic) Act? We are the biggest losers.

The Silicon Valley is adding jobs faster than it has in more than a decade as the tech industry roars back. Stocks are soaring and fortunes are once again on the rise.

But a bleaker record is also being set this year: Food stamp participation just hit a 10-year high, homelessness rose 20 percent in two years, and the average income for Hispanics, who make up one in four Silicon Valley residents, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year_ capping a steady 14 percent drop over the past five years, according to the annual Silicon Valley Index released by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, representing businesses, and the philanthropic Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Simply put, while the ultra-rich are getting even richer, record numbers of Silicon Valley residents are slipping into poverty.

In the midst of a national economic recovery led by Silicon Valley’s resurgence, as measured by corporate profits and record stock prices, something strange is going on in the Valley itself. Most people are getting poorer,” said Cindy Chavez, executive director of San Jose-based Working Partnerships USA, a nonprofit advocating for affordable housing, higher minimum wages and access to health care.

Nowhere is this growing disparity more obvious than this sprawling and trash-strewn 28-acre tent city that authorities are trying to clean out. Beneath the sweeping shadow and roar of jets soaring in and out of nearby San Jose’s international airport, residents here say times are so tight they have nowhere else to turn.

“This is the most ridiculous place ever,” said Kristina Erbenich, 38, clambering onto her bike, a heavy pack on her back. The former chef said she spent $14,000 on hotel rooms before her savings ran out. “If everyone around here is so rich, why can’t they do something to help?”

United Way Silicon Valley CEO Carole Leigh Hutton wonders the same thing.

“How is it that in an area so very rich, we have so many people so very poor? Why can’t we break that cycle? With all the brain power in the Silicon Valley, we should be able to solve these problems. But what we need is the collective will.”

The causes for the growing disparity are complex, but largely come down to one thing: a very high cost of living. The median home price is $550,000, and rents average just under $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in this region that is home to many of the nation’s wealthiest companies including Facebook, Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Google. For a family of four, just covering basic needs like rent, food, childcare and transportation comes to almost $90,000 a year, according to the nonprofit Insight Center for Community Economic Development

“The fact is that we have an economy now that’s working well only for those at the very top,” said Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C. “Unless we adopt a new approach to economic policy, we’re going to continue going down this path, which means growth that does not really benefit the great majority of people in this country.”

We will talk about X-box, about computer crapola around the Obama Care (hmm, Social Security was set up with PEOPLE and 3 by 5 note cards and mail) thing. Meta-data and  meta-sports. We will pass those seven-layer Mexican (sic) dips, talk about who will be fumbling the lip-synch on the Super Bowl, and which disgusting companies will be rolling out more inane and juvenile and childish junk on those million dollar a second advertisements.

We will congeal our brains into thinking all sides are acceptable3 sides in science, depending on which side of the political whore’s bed  you woke up from;  that there is no truth anywhere; that life is one giant spinning wheel of fortune dialing opinions, all of them being probable; and only the best broadcaster and best duke-it-out debater wins, so there’s your truth, America!

So, the following, another tidbit, but one that crosses all lines. Yes, the adjunct faculty story is the student story. You gotta hand it to Americans, in the comments sections, just telling people like the one featured below to buck up, shut up, love it or leave it, to realize she is a loser, and to just pull shots at StarFucks, err, Starbucks, as an option at age 52 with a serious thyroid problem to boot.

PhDs on food stamps, biologists paying to do research, smart, ready graduates selling cologne at Target. It’s a screwed up society of do-nothing, know-nothing, build-nothing, make-nothing uncommon crappy sense. We jam the networks, jostle on blogs, inundate the WWW with a million new sites a month, and our synapses are all tied into Zucker-FuckerBook thinking, Skypeing our lives away forever . A world that is a giant selfie, full frontal, cute poses, emancipating light on all the skin, freckles and double-chins Photo-shopped (yep, it’s now a verb) away!

Notice how we are artificial, fire jumpers in our digital dreams, waiting for a new season, something more over-the-top than Breaking Bad. We dream and finesse the digits in the digital hyper-reality to believe we are something more than just Walter Mitty, and broken Eichmann. The next rotten psychiatric session a la script of the white (and, mostly, Jewish) men-are-boys-are-deviants club of cultural conquest is about to make news, man, make headlines as the new in show. What fabulous narratives out there, all 9.5 billion of them. Here, John Steppling, again, on his blog. About space being blurred. Our culture’s narrative blended into marketing, and constructed realities ready to blot out the truth of a world without ice, the truth of China gagging on their silver spoon. Mountains of smog, and water too metalized to drink. Bloated and smiling pigs by the thousands floating in rivers in the middle of the shopping district. Being awake, tied to screen and scraps of knowledge, snippets of something not quite developed, is really BEING asleep. I hear the sleeping talkers on NPR everyday. I see the bubble brains delivering if it bleeds it leads pain on local TeeVee with Prozac faces and Botox Brains and sing-songy deliveries.

Today, the erasure of space is linked to the constant hum of data information, of social networking, and of the compulsive repetition of the same. There is no space for accumulation in narrative. Emotional or intellectual accumulation is destroyed by the hyper-branded reality of the Spectacle. So, the poor are stigmatized for sleep. It is a sign of laziness and sloth. Of lassitude and torpor. The ideal citizen is one at work all the time. Industrious and attentive to the screen image or the sound of command. Diligence has come to mean a readiness to obey. A culture of shaming and reprimand is based on a model of reality in which there is no history to reflect upon. Today’s mass culture only reinforces this. The “real” is a never changing present. Plots revolve around the idea of disrupting this present, and then returning to this present. Actual tragedy, Chernobyl or Bhopal or Katrina are simply ignored in terms of their material consequences. What matters are events that disrupt the Empire’s carefully constructed present reality.

Today, the failure to adhere to the constant command to shop, or somehow to interact with screens and data (regardless of how pointless) means that most people feel a dread of failing to be diligent and ‘awake’. Awake in the 21st century actually means asleep.

[and ...]

Marketing and advertising are in the business of preventing aesthetic discrimination. They replace reflection with the illusion of choice. Choice in shopping is equated with individuality and freedom. In the process, time and space recede a little further. Complex narrative is antithetical to shopping. Too much time is needed to read complex narrative. To even read a complex sentence. Nike has achieved the ultimate, for the moment, with just a sign, the ‘swoosh’, which communicates its own simplistic narrative and command. Giant telecoms and corporations like Google and Verizon and Microsoft have now monopolized narrative much as they have monopolized or organized their consumer base. NSA is not much different in the sense that it simply tracks everything, and stores it for future use. And it really doesn’t matter if it’s ever used. The point is to create a model of society. Consumers willingly ask to be tracked. And they can hardly do otherwise. One cannot boycott any of this, it serves no real purpose, except to further marginalize one and make one even more vulnerable. The new disposable population, those most economically marginalized, across the planet, have to be dealt with. This is the embedded death wish of modern capital. Or the murder wish.

[and ... ]

The marginalized population hides their feelings more from self preservation. The more affluent are allowed snark, and irony, and tend toward, instinctively, the reinforcing of prevailing accepted values. The erasing of space and sleep, and the promotion of trance like obedience is the perfect outcome for the ownership class. The proprietor class. Wealthy enclaves across the country, gated often, and most certainly privileged in educational opportunity, and free, largely, from police harassment, exist in what are increasingly surreal personal spaces of hyper consumption. These are the establishment shopping experts who applaud the narrative commodities of the police state. The underclass, however, is susceptible to all the same influences, even if in less pronounced ways. The master narrative valorizes Jay Z, because he is rich. He is a genius. He is a shallow and venal man of pedestrian taste, but no matter. He is marketed. The breakdown among black and white around celebrity is a topic worth following up.

So what do we do with these REAL stories? Nothing really sexy, nothing worth a moment’s sleep in a Cormac nightmare, so why even cover it? What do we see in these people who are telling our stories, their modern-day narratives of Hoover and Reagan and wicked America that bashed the heads of protestors, anyone speaking out, us,  the awake, those of us on the streets jamming their waste-ridden waves of propaganda? How do you talk to a sleeping man, a sleeping nation? Bombs?

Cut those food stamps. Laugh at the raise-the-minimum-wage movement. Grunt ” it was meant to be, Capital and Capitalism and Free Markets and Socialized-Welfare-propped-up Corporations … that there has to be Dickensian realities in this Anglo-Judea European tradition of those who have and those who have not.”

Poverty is part and parcel cornerstone of capitalism’s allure, its magic,capitalism’s  giant treasure chest to be found in the middle of doing nothing or working hard at nothingness. Pet Rock to iPad to nano-laxative to Google Glasses to the Spectacle trapped in a chip behind the cortex. We have to be irrelevant to be relevant … worth our weight in bitcoins.  Teachers who teach and try to follow the hat-tricks of a nation at risk! Read:

How I Get By: Mary-Faith Cerasoli

Full_12162013-cerasoli

Close your eyes. Picture a homeless person.

The image you’ll likely see is that of a man with matted hair, vacant eyes, and leathery skin. He’s probably wearing torn clothes, with an odor that hits you from a good distance away.

Now open your eyes and look at the photo above of Mary-Faith Cerasoli.

She’s a professionally dressed middle-aged woman with a careworn face, hair swept back prettily over her ears, plucked eyebrows, rouged lips, and manicured nails. She’s an adjunct professor who teaches Spanish and Italian at the Bronx and Manhattan campuses of Mercy College and Nassau Community College in Long Island. She has a life-threatening thyroid disease, and she’s homeless.

Since fall of 2010, when the 52-year-old started adjuncting, Cerasoli has had to rely on the kindness of friends to survive because her pay is so meager. Over the past six months she’s had to move four times. Her annual salary for teaching five courses per semester is around $22,000 before taxes. Because she has no health insurance, she goes to a specialty clinic in Manhattan, where she has racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills.

To get to classes, Cerasoli commutes five days and a total of 300 miles a week from Westchester, N.Y., where she is staying in the basement of a friend’s home, to the Bronx and Manhattan. She had been relying on her bike and public transportation until the owner of an auto shop in Peekskill, N.Y. noticed her frequent trips and gave her a 10-year-old Pontiac Vibe from his lot.

Cerasoli’s students don’t know that she is barely getting by. She tells her story in the edited transcript that follows.

On becoming an adjunct professor:

I’m not married and I have no children. I’ve always been a career girl. Before I got into higher education, I worked in the music industry in Italy. I traveled with stars like Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder as their interpreter.

Today I’m a professor and I don’t have a mailing address.

I have a master’s degree from Middlebury College and I taught AP language courses at the high school level for 10 years. In 2011 my teaching licenses expired. I couldn’t afford to pay the license fees, and for the extra coursework I would have needed to become a permanent teacher. Because I couldn’t work around the state bureaucracy, I had to stop teaching high school.

After teaching high school for a decade I thought that being an adjunct would be a piece of cake, but I didn’t know the realities of being an adjunct. I didn’t know about the salary. My first position was at Mercy College. The chair of the Spanish department needed somebody to teach at the last minute. In a very embarrassed tone, he told me that the salary was only $2,000 per course. He was apologetic because he knew how bad it was. But I took it because I needed the work. I’ve done some substitute teaching and tutoring on the side.

On her living arrangement

By 2011 I couldn’t afford to rent out a room because I didn’t have enough money. In the summers I was denied unemployment benefits. All of my things are in storage at a friend’s car dealership. I’ve been sleeping around in friend’s homes all summer. Right now I sleep in a cold basement at a friend’s house in southern Westchester. The couple recently sold their home because the husband retired and they can’t afford the high taxes. They will have to vacate the home soon and so will I.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I don’t have time to deal with it now. I have to stay focused on teaching. When you’re an adjunct, you have to cross every “t” and dot every “i” because you don’t know if they’re going to renew your contract.

On her daily commute:

I start my days around eight in the morning, and I spend two to six hours commuting each day from Westchester to Long Island. The car is old but it’s my office. Everything is in the car—two heavy bags of textbooks, student papers, chalk, and dry erase markers. I’ve been averaging a flat tire every month.

I spend $60 a week on gas, $15 per day on tolls and $100 a month for car insurance. I got one new tire last month and that cost me $100. I still have to get two more. My muffler’s going to go any day now. There’s a loud banging noise, like the car on The Beverly Hillbillies. I’ve been lucky enough to find a secret parking space in the city, where I take my bike out of the trunk and ride to class. It saves me time and money.

On physical and mental health:

Though I’m not paying rent, I have to put just about all my money toward everything I need to teach—my car, my cellphone, and my food.

Food costs me $150 to $200 a week. I don’t have time to cook at home. Depending on my schedule, I eat only one meal a day. I’ve lost 15 pounds in the past year because I had to cut back on meals. I’m 5’5” and I now weigh 120 pounds. Between classes I have to run out to Fairway and buy packages of baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced cheese, or mixed green salads. These are foods I snack on while I’m correcting papers.

I have a life-threatening thyroid disease. Because I don’t have health insurance, I have thousands of dollars in medical bills that I owe. My credit is ruined. I have around $60,000 in student loans. I’ve been on food stamps and tried to get on disability, but I was denied because I teach five courses which they count as full time and so I’m not eligible. I won’t be eligible for Medicare for two years.

I see professors crying in the faculty offices because they can’t afford health insurance or handle all the stress coming from students who don’t have a good foundation in their native English tongue. Some students won’t buy the textbook because it’s so expensive. They come to me in tears and say, “I can’t afford the textbook.”

Adjuncts are on the front lines and all of these problems are getting dumped on us. When you’re an adjunct you have no place to run and hide. You don’t have an office where you can lock the door. The students don’t know about our working conditions. They expect you to have office hours and they think you’re always available. But I spend so much time on commuting that I can’t hang out on campus. I have to constantly move around and can’t afford to pay extra tolls to meet with students. I tell them to send me emails and there’s no make-up exams.

With everything I’m up against, all I can do is take one day at a time. I can’t think about all my problems because I’ll have a mental breakdown. To survive, I live minimally and I get by with the help of my friends. One friend gave me a car for free and others have let me stay in their homes. Some friends have sent me money from Rome because the Euro is higher than the dollar. Without their help I don’t think I’d be here.

Comments:

Dr. Robert “Migrant Intellectual” Baum

A thousand thank yous and a lifetime of blessings to both Stacey Patton and Mary-Faith Cerasoli. I wept reading what was essentially my story 1995-2003 (graduate assistant and fellowship) and 2003-2011 (VT and NH adjunct). All I can say is a simple appeal to the administrators, trustees, legislators, and corporate funders of the higher education outsourcing epidemic — adjuncts are the backbone of the postmodern university; this crisis is an opportunity to harness the resiliency, genius, hard work, intelligence, creativity, and beauty my colleagues around the country demonstrate day in and day out by the tens if not hundreds of thousands. These are my friends; these are my colleagues. These good people started a mission they fully intend to finish, becoming the best teachers and best higher educators under the worst possible economic conditions that still have little to do with the economic downturn.

You see, the economic downturn and endless administrative waste and Executive Team criminal neglect for the welfare of their teachers didn’t simply start one day in 2006 or 2007 when the housing market and banking market and credit markets crashed. We had witnessed already two decades of problems related to contingency and the devastating effect it took on curriculum, retention, graduation, job security, private/public partnerships, and the entrepreneurial spirit in general. The economic crises exacerbated chronic ailments that had already gone untreated — not undiagnosed, not unknown, but untreated. As in, willfully ignored. As in, contingency will lead to an internal outsourcing of talent, increase stress on all systems internal and external to the contemporary college and university.

Put simply, learning conditions and economic conditions had been for decades linked. We know through countless accreditation self-studies and journal research, books, seminars, countless conferences, etc. what administrators, trustees, and the rest choose to ignore (like the factory boss who is shocked, shocked to learn there are illegal workers processing chicken parts). So, can we all stop acting surprised? Thanks.

Ray James

The plight of adjuncting in the U.S. has been well documented within the claustrophobic, hermetically sealed circles of academe, but the public at large is mostly unaware of it. Part of the reason is that the rest of middle-class America is mired in its own deep economic struggles, which virtually consume their every waking moment, and the perception still persists that academics, including adjuncts, have a cushy work life. Until the rest of America learns of the dirty large secret of adjuncting, its deplorable conditions will continue. Perhaps Pope Francis, ostensibly a new friend to the world’s economically downtrodden, will look into the matter at least at Catholic colleges, which claim an exemption from adjunct unionization on the basis of religion.

Dana R.

Is there any real chance this woman will ever acquire a stable, good paying job in academe? No. Or, negligible. Is there any chance that she could become self-supporting and relatively safe if she took up some other career. Yes. The origins of the problem seem obvious: she took up a field in which there were no reasonable chances of getting a good, stable job with her current credentials. Time to switch careers. Being a barista at Starbucks strikes me as better than this.

Ivani Vassoler

Yes, the precarious, deplorable conditions of adjuncts are well documented. I have nothing to say, except: a) I really lament this situation; b) I would like to help Professor Cerasoli – although not sure how. Is there any way I could contact her?

Joe S

Perhaps time to bid adieu to this race of rodents. Teach overseas. It’s a living, pays the bills and gets you some savings. Not the perfect answer, but really, where are we when the educated have these troubles?

Larry Cebula

This is a sad story, but surely I am not the only person wondering “why doesn’t she do something else for a living?

Rachel Neff

Ah, yes, the “why doesn’t she go into another profession” arguments.

1) She has a large amount of medical debt. Many employers will run background checks. $60,000 in debt is a huge security risk, and a Starbucks barista job would probably take a pass on her to prevent any possible embezzlement.

2) She is older. If she is two years away from being able to collect Medicaid, then she is probably experiencing age discrimination in her search for employment.

3) Many people outside academia do not understand why you aren’t teaching. Many employers will take a pass on her simply because they think she’ll leave for a teaching position the minute one opens up.

4) The amount of time it takes to look for an “alternate academic career” is just as time consuming and emotionally draining as looking for a tenure-track position or trying to find enough adjunct work to stay out of poverty.

5) She lives in an area with an extremely high cost of living. $22,000 a year is not a lot to get by on and it is only compounded by her lack of health insurance.

Getting another job or career is not a simple solution given her debt, age, and the current U.S. economy.

MARGARET HANZIMANOLIS  about 20 hours ago

Stacey–thank you for telling Mary-Faith’s story, and Mary-Faith, I stand with you. That colleges and universities are subjecting such a large sector of their core employees to this sort of outrage, with no substantial reforms accomplished under federal labor law, federal or state education codes, or even, in some cases, unions themselves, is barely believable. Slowly the stories come out. When I lived in VT for $22,000 per year, I drove to work for two winters in -30* weather without a heater. One hand to steer, and one hand in my armpit. Then, switch. I used live coals from the woodstove, shoveled out every morning to a big turkey roasting pan, to slide under the engine and warm up my old pick-up truck’s oil pan at 5:00 am because I could not afford a tank heater. Then I sometimes had to shovel a 1/4 mile driveway by hand to make it to class on time. That ed code, labor code, unions, and administrators have ridden this weary workforce for so long, and with such heartlessness, is something verging on criminal. Many thanks, Stacey and Mary-Faith. Like Migrant Intellectual, I was sorrowed. But there is also a heroic story: how we cling, stubbornly, to what we do so well, and how we are able, year after year, to continue in the face of terrible barriers to serve students with magnificent dedication, and with the best , the very best, we can possibly summon.

Paul Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington, and with life long learners and gifted and talented high school students. Poetry and short fiction, the novel and creative non-fiction are also his stem cells. Check out his stuff at www.cirquejournal.com. He can be reached at: paul@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.