Future DIL, who is smart as a whip and who works in the banking industry, and I were discussing sub prime lending, the foreclosure crisis and the economy. She argued, and I agree with her, that sub prime lending is not the cause of the current foreclosure crisis. Unemployment is. The fact of the matter is, no matter what ridiculous interest rate you are paying, if you have a job you pay your bills. The folks that are going under these days are not your typical credit risks. That is not to say that sub prime lending isn’t predatory or just plain awful, it simply is one part of a very complex picture.
She directed me to Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis; I urge you to check it out for a readable analysis of current financial trends. You need to understand to work for meaningful change.
Now for Five Husbands (back) Story Hour
The L word as in Law, Long and Protracted and Lost
I graduated from law school in 1990. The world wide recession that began with black Monday in 1987 had, by then, taken firm hold in the USA.
The catch phrase from that year was “I wish I could help you” as in when my torts professor told me that the days were gone when he could pick up a phone and get a promising young law student a job. I think he was telling the truth, that he couldn’t help me find a job because of the recession, but I have my doubts. This was the self same professor known not so affectionately as “high C Cohen” because of his predilection for giving otherwise high achieving students C’s. He gave Five Husbands, then known as Two Husbands, a C in torts.
It was a devastating blow.
I was a single mother divorced from a seriously abusive alcoholic who never paid a dime of child support. My first year of law school, the year of the “high C,” I was working full time in my previous career, attending law school and raising my boy. This involved juggling work and driving interminable miles to take Son. No. 1 to his Nanny’s so I could study.
Until that time if you had asked me about sleep, I would have told you it is a take it or leave it kind of thing, but after I started law school, sleep took on the élan of a clandestine affair. I dreamed of sleep when I wasn’t sleeping, I yearned for it, I would have sold my soul for a full night of it. I went without it though, because I wanted to be a big firm lawyer. I was driven.
I loved law school; I loved the study of it, the cameraderie and the intellectual challenge. I loved the education, but my decision to go was fueled by a desire for economic security. I thought a law degree would insure a good life for me and my boy. Turns out my C in torts and the L shaped recession decided otherwise.
I graduated with honors, but not summa cum laude, which was necessary, given my choice no choice of a mid-tier law school, to garner big firm offers. Aggravating my employment situation was my new marriage to Husband No. 3 and pregnancy with Son. No. 2, both of which coincided with my third year interviews.
If you think they don’t ask the questions they are not allowed to ask you are just plain wrong – I was asked whether I planned on having more children, and even though I did not disclose my pregnancy, I didn’t get any offers.
Graduation passed. Son No. 2was born and the Gulf War was starting. There I was an honors graduate, newly admitted to the bar, with a a beautiful bouncing baby boy and Son No. 1 who hoped the long hard years of mommy always being busy were over. Husband No. 3 wanted me to work, after all I had the credentials, but there were no jobs, good or otherwise. A fellow law graduate was delivering my newspaper – it was that bleak.
After about 10 months of Husband No. 3 doggedly asking every other lawyer he knew if they had a job for me, I found work. And it was work – I toiled in a windowless office day and night for fifteen dollars an hour. My boss was an old school lawyer who told everyone I worked “part time” because he afforded me the flexibility to stay home when my baby was sick.
I billed 2600 hours of part time for him that first year.
My first job dictated my second job and each job thereafter. For me, and for many of the folks I graduated with, the experience of that recession has had a long term effect on earnings and employment stability. So today, as a I do piecemeal work for other lawyers who are fortunate enough to have stable practices, for an hourly rate not much more than what I earned all those years ago in my first job, I hope that the experts are right and that this is a V shaped recession.
But, but truth be told, I feel like I have been living an L one since 1987.