My Story…by Robin

I’m sure you’re wondering just why Patricia and I started “Mad As Hell”. Well…because we are. We’re frustrated with the ‘status quo’, and angry that our elected officials choose not to listen to those whom they’re supposed to represent, instead dancing to the tune of their corporate masters, all in the name of campaign funds.

So while the corporations embrace and flaunt their greed, demanding ever rising profits for their insatiable hunger of money and power; and the politicians, our supposed leaders, continue to enact laws that benefit the 1% and their mega corporations, the rest of us, the 99%, struggle to get by.

I wish I could say that my ‘story’ is unique. But it’s not. It’s echoed again and again and again, all around the world.

Learn more about The United States Navy

My husband was in the Navy when he and I were married. As an enlisted Petty Officer, we damned near starved to death for the first few years. As he rose in rank, the pressure subsided slightly. Circumstances saw him and the Navy parting ways in early 1986. We settled in the Great Northwest with our young son. Bill worked for a small, privately owned video store…for minimum wage. No insurance, no benefits. Again, we damned near starved to death. We didn’t qualify for any state assistance…he made $1.86 over the cut-off limit. We managed to hang on, and eventually I was able to find work at a local factory.

With luck, Hubby found a job for a small government contract company, which provided services for the Navy. We were young and hungry, and as a result, he started at a much lower wage than he should have. But, we felt that we were finally going to make it. We were going to live the American dream.

We found a house…just a small, older ranch house, about 1100 square feet. Nothing fancy, but a suitable home for a young family, with lots of potential. Within six months Hubby had his first raise. Yep, we were on our way.

Click to learn more about chemical damage - Chemtox

During this time, I was being exposed to chemicals that were toxic, although I wasn’t fully aware of how dangerous they were. I knew freon wasn’t something to play around with, but didn’t realize that sticking my hands into a vat of the liquid to retrieve components for circuit cards would damned near kill me. No, we didn’t wear gloves or have ventilators. Within eight months of taking the job I was suffering headaches and nausea. Then started having what felt like small heart attacks. Bloodwork and other tests were run on me, and I was told that I was suffering from chemical over-exposure. By this time, I was so sick I couldn’t walk down the hallway of our home without holding onto the walls. I was done working…I couldn’t even crawl out of bed to go to work. Time, and love of family saw me recovering. It would be years before the toll on my body would reveal itself.

In the meantime, Hubby continued to get raises, and by the time he’d been with the company for fifteen years, we were starting to feel as if we could actually make it on the one income. So I stayed home to raise our son. We were getting bills paid, we could eat out once in awhile, and even put money into savings.

In 2008, after the small company he had started with had been sold yet again, to a larger corporation, Hubby started feeling the dissatisfaction that accompanies working for an employer who takes perverse pleasure in letting you know that they could care less about you. “Stick your hand into that bucket of water,” he was told, “then pull it out quickly. As long as the impression of your hand remains there, that’s how long we’d miss you if you left.” So, he began looking for work.
The End of Workplace Loyalty

Here’s where the story gets interesting. In 2008, a particular job, similar to what he was doing and qualified for, offered $65/hour. Just a bit less than what he was making at that point in time. Again, circumstances came into

play, and he didn’t apply. A year later, he was laid off, after 21 years. The reason? “Downsizing”, of course. A very nice, neat term used for getting rid of employees over the age of 45, those who made the highest salaries among the techs, those who had the ‘grandfathered’ benefits.

Learn more here
Let Go, downsized, whatever you call it, it hurts.

I watched my husband sit day after day, applying for work online, because you have to have internet access to even apply for the majority of work these days. I think the only places that still take paper applications are McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Together, we watched as wages for the jobs he was qualified for drop from $65/hour to $45/hour…to $20/hour. In a matter of six months! Now college graduates are being told that $15/hour is a ‘good wage’. Are they freaking nuts? We made $15/hour on unemployment and went into the red every month!

Luck was with us, and Hubby found a job. The kicker? It was the exact, same job he’d been looking at back in 2008. I can tell you he’s NOT making anywhere near $65/hour! In fact, as of right now, we’re living on about 1/4 of what he was making when he was laid off. Not that the cost of living has dropped at all!

I’m angry that at 55 years old, my husband is working harder, for less, than he was when he was 30. I’m furious that at the age when we should be looking forward to, we’re struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Retirement is nothing but a pipe dream, we know that he’ll be working until the day he dies. I’m ‘unemployable’ because of a back injury and the fact that I’m now very sensitive to chemicals. But, I can’t get disability, because I can’t ‘prove’ that I suffered overexposure. I can’t get disability because I can’t prove that I get migraine headaches that lay me out for days. I can’t ‘prove’ that I’m in pain 24/7, that I’ve learned to live with that pain. I refuse to do anything that will worsen my condition. So…I’m ‘unemployable’.

We played the game by the rules, only to be told that the rules had changed. Corporations continue to lay off workers with the skills and experience needed to do the job, just so they can hire young people in for a fraction of the wage, blow smoke up those young asses, telling them how lucky they are to be making a ‘professional’ wage at $15/hour. They continue to cut benefits, all the while telling employees how ‘lucky’ they are, and if they aren’t happy, that there are millions of unemployed people who will happily take their places.

People, slavery is alive and well in the US in 2013. Anyone employed is a slave to corporate greed. Anyone employed is a slave to corporate egotism. How many of you work for a company that insists that you ‘represent’ said company, so that anything you say or do, even on your own time, must meet ‘corporate approval’. Complain, and you’re either fired, or made so miserable that you quit. Any health insurance provided is just barely enough to cover any expenses, and only a few have prescription drug coverage. Wages are now hourly rather than salaried, because it’s ‘cheaper’. There isn’t sick time or vacation time. It’s PTO, ‘Paid Time Off’. You get a set number of hours per year, and that has to cover everything from illness to appointments to seeing Jr. in the grade school play. If you’re out of PTO, and have to take time off, you’re not getting paid, pal.

Learn more about living wage as a human right

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ETHICS? What happened to morality? Those things were tossed overboard for the love of money…for greed. The more profit, the better. The more profit, the more the CEOs and board members and stockholders make. Screw the employees…without whom there wouldn’t be a company/corporation.
Learn more about the system of inequality in the westAnd apparently these geniuses in the boardrooms, and on Wall Street, have forgotten that a worker who can barely pay his/her bills isn’t going to be buying much. New car? Forget it, can’t afford to pay for a car that cost more than the house I live in. Vacation? In what reality, Sparky? Even if we had the PTO hours to spare, where is the money supposed to come from. Eat out? Yeah, only if there’s a ‘2-for-1’ coupon involved. New clothes? Sorry, I shop at the thrift store now.

14% of all of the capital in the world (that’s cash flow) is held by corporations. 14%! Just before the Great Depression, it was only 2%.

WHY do corporations need to sit on BILLIONS of dollars in profits while the employees work for less than cost-of-living wages? Why do CEOs like the Walton siblings rake in BILLIONS of dollars while the majority of their employees require food-stamps to put food on the table for their children?

Learn more about Wall Street: the deification of greed hereI’ll tell you why: GREED!

I’m mad as hell. I’m not going to take it any more. The greedy bastards have pushed me to the limit. I’m determined that my grandchildren will NOT inherit a planet ruled by GREED!

I will NOT sit quietly, and watch my husband work himself into an early grave, just so some damned CEO can have his new Lear Jet this year.

I will NOT sit quietly while my rights to protest being treated like a slave are eroded.

I will NOT sit quietly and watch the world of “1984”, by George Orwell comes to pass. Or the corporate run world of “Running Man” (movie starring Arnold Schwartzenegger.)


I encourage you to share your story. Send an email to the Mad As Hell email address. Patricia and I will make certain that your voice is heard!


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Personal Oppinion

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  1. Good points, Robin. It really does feel like the good life that our parents enjoyed is gone thanks to self centered decisions by those people who seem to think there is no such thing as too much money. It is time to take back our right to a fair and livable wage.

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