Yesterday, nearly 1000 big law firm employees were laid off (across many firms, across many states). This Herald article talks about layoffs at one local firm:
It’s the legal world’s Valentine’s Day Massacre: American law firms just eliminated some 1,000 jobs.
With the economy in the dumps, the mergers and acquisitions that
required legal expertise just aren’t happening. And the loss of revenue
has forced many businesses to scrutinize their costs. So for a handful
of reasons, law firms aren’t getting the amount of work they used to.
Since the start of 2009, [Above the Law] has reported on about 2,000 job cuts at
law firms. Then yesterday, he tracked an additional 1,000 cuts.
Those cuts included 74 layoffs at the Boston-based Goodwin Procter.
Other area law firms that have reduced Boston staffers in recent
weeks include Choate Hall & Stewart, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP,
DLA Piper US LLP, Fish & Richardson PC, Foley Hoag LLP, McDermott
Will & Emery and Nixon Peabody LLP.
Yes, I'm still employed, though everyone at my firm is on edge. Management hasn't talked much, but there was already a round of staff layoffs and there's been some very sketchy attrition recently... the kind where someone is around one day, and then suddenly their office is empty the next. It's weird to operate in a world where you expect to get information about your employment from an online gossip blog.
I wish the very best of luck for those laid off yesterday (along w/ the millions since this economic downturn began). I know it isn't much but....
The human cost of this economic downturn is really humbling.
as I understand it, when the Titanic hit that iceberg, at first the crew didn’t think it was so bad. The ship’s hull was divided into watertight compartments, and not enough of them had been ripped open to sink the ship. But the flooding from the initial hole tipped the ship, and the compartments were open at the top, so that compartments that hadn’t been ripped open by the impact of the iceberg started filling up, tipping the ship even more, flooding more compartments …
Rates on three-month bills, among the most popular assets for investors seeking higher quality, plunged to 0.06%, the lowest on record. [This means that people would rather earn next to nothing than invest in anything else - because of the fear that investing in anything else will actually cause you to lose value.]
The U.S. Treasury said it will sell bills to allow the Federal Reserve to expand its balance sheet, a day after the government agreed to take over American International Group Inc.
"The Treasury Department announced today the initiation of a temporary Supplementary Financing Program at the request of the Federal Reserve,'' the department said in a statement today. "The program will consist of a series of Treasury bills, apart from Treasury's current borrowing program.''
In other words, the Fed has run out of money... it is BROKE.
And the Dow down more than 400 points for the day. I guess $85 billion isn't worth what it used to be.
One of my doctor cousins is married to an Italian man, M, whose family still lives in Italy. Recently, M's elderly father was in a car accident and sustained pretty severe injuries, including head trauma and a broken hip, which required several hours of surgery. Despite the fact that he had major surgery and was already in less than perfect health (he has a history of heart problems and severe arthritis), he was released one day after his surgery. Naturally, this was a cause of great distress to my cousin and her husband.
What I was able to discern from talking to my cousin was that in Italy, which has a single payer system, hospital beds are very hard to come by. So although everyone is entitled to catastrophic care (and illness care), the resources for recuperative care is almost non-existent. Despite the fact that my cousin’s family is solidly upper middle class (iow, they have money and would have gladly spent it for their father’s care), every avenue they pursued in terms of looking for on-going care basically dead ended. Finally, having run out of options, M (also a doctor) jumped on a plane to Italy and spent almost 2 weeks there to retrofit his father’s home with appropriate medical equipment and train his brother so that the brother would be able to provide the kind of basic post-op care that they could not hire.
Now I know that for certain critics, this is sufficient justification to disqualify the entire proposition of universal health care. What insincere bollocks. While I’m sure that the citizens of single payer countries find it irritating and aggravating that they cannot get the standard US two/three days post-op recovery, they are probably also pretty damn happy that they never have to question whether basic preventative and illness care will be available to them. Ultimately, it’s hard to be pissed at the system that guarantees your right to live.
From Maureen Dowd, one of my favoritest columnists evah! Happy Holidays y'all.
A Tale of Trigger
By Maureen Dowd
Published: New York Times, December 26, 2007
When consumerism curdles, it’s tempting to become an emotional Marxist about Christmas.
Not Karl. Groucho.
“Now the melancholy days have come,” Groucho Marx wrote to pal and fellow comic Fred Allen on Dec. 23, 1953. “The department stores call it Christmas. Other than for children and elderly shut-ins, the thing has developed to such ridiculous proportions — well, I won’t go into it. This is not an original nor novel observation, and I am sure everyone in my position has similar emotions. Some of the recipients are so ungrateful.
“For example, yesterday I gave the man who cleans my swimming pool $5. This morning I found two dead fish floating in the drink. Last year I gave the mailman $5. I heard later he took the five bucks, bought two quarts of rotgut and went on a three-week bender. I didn’t get any mail from Dec. 24th to Jan. 15th. ... For Christmas, I bought the cook a cookbook. She promptly fried it, and we had it for dinner last night. It was the first decent meal we had in three weeks. From now on I am going to buy all my food at the bookstore.”
I found Groucho’s grouchy letter in Caroline Kennedy’s “A Family Christmas,” a selection of songs, poetry, prose, letters and a list of the questions most frequently asked of Macy’s Santa.
("Q: Are you lactose intolerant?
A: No, Santa likes all kinds of milk, except buttermilk, although he will use buttermilk in cakes and pancakes.”)
The book includes the solemn and sardonic, including this verse from Calvin Trillin, yearning to escape the shopping zoo and endless loop of Der Bingle crooning and “Jingle Bells” jingling:
“I’d like to spend next Christmas in Qatar. Or someplace else that Santa won’t find handy. Qatar will do, although, Lord knows, it’s sandy.”
As a little girl, Caroline had the advantage of being able to ask the bloodhounds on the White House switchboard to get Santa on the line.
“The fact that he had the same soft Southern accent common to many White House workers of the day escaped me completely,” she writes dryly.
She includes a letter her father, as president, sent to Michelle Rochon, a little girl in Michigan.
“I was glad to get your letter about trying to stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole and risking the life of Santa Claus,” J.F.K. wrote, noting that he shared her concern with Soviet atmospheric testing. “You must not worry about Santa Claus. I talked with him yesterday, and he is fine.”
Ms. Kennedy writes that she continues the literary tradition of her mother. Jackie wrote Christmas poems for her mother, and Caroline and John wrote poems for Jackie.
As I read her book, it struck me that everyone must have a holiday tale they could write up and paste into the back of “A Family Christmas.”
Mine would be about Trigger.
When I was little, I got one of those wooden horses that bounced on springs for Christmas. I loved him and rode him every day.
One morning, I came down to the porch and the horse was gone. My mom explained that a poor woman and her son had walked by, and the little boy had stopped and stared longingly at the horse.
My mom’s world was turned upside down when she lost the father she adored at 12, so she had a soft spot for children who hurt. On a police widow’s pension, she was always mailing a few dollars off to St. Jude’s or to children she had read about who were hungry or needed an operation.
When she told me that she had given my horse to another child — a stranger — I was crushed. Whenever we fought for the next 16 years, I reminded her of her perfidy.
On my 21st birthday, I came home to find a bouncing horse with a handwritten sign in its mouth. “Hi. I’m back!” It was signed: “Trigger.”
I brought the horse of a different era to live with me, as a rebuke about how long it took me to appreciate one of my mom’s favorite sayings: “Don’t cry over things that can’t cry over you.”
Her lesson was lovely: that materialism and narcissism can only smother life — and Christmas — if you let them.
In a piece reprinted in the Kennedy anthology, Henry van Dyke writes: “Are you willing ... to own, that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness ... to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings ...? Then you can keep Christmas.”