Recession, take me away

By Cary Tennis

Published January 11, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

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To hell with you. Congratulations, you are rich. I am still paying off the credit card debt from the last recession, you bastard, back when my family's combined income was a little over $12,000. Quit your job and give it to me so I can be rich, too. Go finish your novel and play Scrabble with your wife, if that makes you happy. I work full time and write novels, too, just trying to get free.

-- Jeff Crook

Cary Tennis' article welcoming a recession was funny but, joking aside, I'm not sure we should be inviting a recession for vacationing reasons. Let's not forget that a recession will affect some more than others. After all, we won't suffer equally. The rich, as always, won't feel it a pinch.

-- Thomas Gilmore

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed Cary Tennis' column about the supposed recession coming on. When I heard that retailers had a bum Christmas season, I silently cheered! I, like Tennis, thought to myself, "Maybe people have realized they have enough stuff, maybe they are getting concerned about high credit card debt and low savings, maybe they realize consumer goods aren't the balm for all wounds."

American productivity has been praised to the skies, but what that means is more and more of us feel like hamsters running the endless exercise wheel. While retailers find it hard to believe Americans could ever be sated, I do see people around me making different choices in their lives. I can't quite agree with Tennis that losing a job altogether means more personal freedom (people with children just don't have that luxury), but I do think many workers are realizing that there comes a point at which one's time is worth more than the boss can pay for it. (Let's not forget that the reason a person is paid for his work is that no one would do it just for fun.) A four-day work week would benefit the great majority of us working people, even during recession. More people would have jobs and more people would have increased personal time. Thanks for a breath of fresh air among all the recession gloom and doom.

-- Christine Eldred

After reading Cary Tennis' column, "Recession, take me away," I am so furious that I can't even muster the proper decorum for a letter to the editor. Where the hell does an admittedly rich, well-off copy editor get off telling the country that it'd be a good thing if we went through a recession? Is he actually stupid enough to believe that everyone in the country is now somehow rich enough to weather another depression? How does a few weeks of working in a furniture store qualify him to make these insanely bourgeois statements about labor? I can only hope that this article was written as a very broad satire and that I was too dumb to pick up on it.

I'm sorry, I'll try to calm down now. The point I am trying to make is that maybe for Tennis and his abundant tech wealth, all a recession means is little more than a forced vacation. But when that recession starts to trickle down to working people, because CEOs are too cowardly to take their losses upon themselves, I don't know how anyone can think this is a good thing. If you're making under $20,000 a year in a menial job at a Burger King (just one of the great entry-level jobs produced by the new economy) with no health insurance, I can't see how getting laid off is some kind of wonderful bonus.

Maybe pompous elitists like Tennis can afford to take a recession as a time of introspection. That's probably because they won't have to drive through entire towns devastated by the breakdown of the economy, walk past millions of people out of work fighting for any kind of job available, and watch crime and suicide rates skyrocket in low-income areas. And all of it because our country's supposedly great financial wizards were so blinded by piles of money that they ignored the fact that this new economy they were creating has no basis in fact. Who gets screwed in these situations? The working classes.

So fuck Tennis and his goddamn armchair politics attitude. Take away his job, home, "shiny new car" and all his possessions and see how he enjoys his little vacation.

P.S. Sorry about saying "fuck," but sometimes it's the only word that works.

-- Matthew Buchholz, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Apparently Americans are finally realizing that they've been cheated -- of their free time, their leisure, their sanity, their family life, their calm. This "work ethic" has been deformed into a bizarre soul-snatching requirement that ignores its ancient base in pride in a job well done merely to serve a faceless corporate hunger for ever more profits, at the expense of a real life for us all. Unlike the rest of the Western world, America does not get a minimum five weeks of vacation, a lengthy lunch and the spirit that there are more important things than work. These ideas are almost taboo in the American working world, yet it's how the rest of the world works.

There's a great old article somewhere online about "The Abolition of Work" (very utopian but interesting) as well as the Utne Reader's recent coverage about "Vacation Starvation" in America -- both good reading for a goldbricking kinda day.

--Kim Tilbury

I agree with much of what Cary Tennis has to say in the "Recession, Take Me Away" article.

Our consumer culture requires "consumer gullibility," to use Tennis' words, to believe that we must buy and buy and buy to be happy. And of course to do all that buying, we have to work and work and work.

We're living to work instead of working to live, as many people are beginning to realize.

The smart, educated and lucky can do what I did last year and leave a profitable career path to do something they believe in and that pays less. In good times or bad, we can take a little time off.

But a recession means more people with fewer options and opportunities than the average reader are unemployed and out of luck.

-- Shane Robinson

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