Yep, that's what I'm going to try and do this New Year's Eve - pretend its 1999 again with a future still looking bright, I say we just skip over the last ten years. By now, as it closes, most wags have weighed in on how this has been the worst decade ever. I'd started it fully enmeshed in what was then the brave glorious new world of the Internet. I loved working with customers because I was selling the biggest dream going - the World Wide Web, a place of riches unknown awaiting. All major cities were going to be fiber optic by 2002, or so we were told. After the new millennium was ushered in, on my first day back to work, I'd received notice and was told the ISP I worked for was going out of business. A few weeks later, I was lucky enough (or so I'd thought) to get a job with a networking company. They closed three months later, it took months to get my last paychecks. After that, their competitor hired me - they closed doors two months later. Soon after, I was interviewed for the San Diego Union Tribune, here's most of it:
Downturn in tech world leaves out-of-work dot-commers seeking a new life in the old economy
By Kim Peterson
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 24, 2001
San Diego County is supposed to be a bright light in the bleak U.S. economy, with steady job growth and a low unemployment rate.
When people lose jobs here, they usually find new employment quickly, experts say.
But try telling that to Dean Humphries, who can explain the workings of a T1 Internet line but repeatedly hears that his resume has "red flags."
Or to Lisa Pautler, who went from making $70,000 a year at a dot-com company to applying for temp work.
Or to Rebecca Schlesinger, who can create online magazines but now teaches tennis lessons part-time to make money.
They are among the betrayed believers -- the foot soldiers of the online revolution who were so confident in the dot-com industry that they staked their careers on its success.
Now, as the tech downturn continues, they have enough pink slips and dashed hopes to know that the cause they embraced was not going to bring them riches -- or even keep them employed.
Economists use the term "structural unemployment" to describe an industry-specific spike in unemployment that isn't seen in the general business climate, said Alan Gin, a University of San Diego economist. It usually happens when older, dying industries are replaced with new ones that require different skills.
The Internet is certainly not old or dying, but the dot-com philosophy of conducting commerce strictly online has certainly gone out of favor, he said. Revenue dropped, companies folded and workers are suddenly unemployed.
"Since all of this is happening all at once, it's difficult for them to find new jobs now," Gin said.
In San Diego County, where the unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, someone who has lost a job can usually find a new one, he said.
Yet it's different with dot-coms. While there is no specific data on local unemployment within the sector, Gin said, job cutbacks in this area have been severe nationwide as companies have gone out of business.
Now, as former dot-commers begin rebuilding their lives, they face a new battle: After months of hunting in San Diego County, a region where jobs are supposed to be plentiful, their calls are not being returned and their prospects are dim.
Take a look at the want ads these days and work is there -- for accountants, dental hygienists and receptionists -- but Internet-related positions are almost nonexistent.
"It's like the Internet died," said Humphries, who has spent all his savings and is burning through his "never-to-be-touched" money.
He was laid off from an Internet service provider in January and, four months later, from a company that installed computer networks in factories.
Potential employers spurned his resume, using phrases like "little red flag" to describe his job-hopping. He has tried to explain it away with a phrase of his own -- "it's a modern-day economy" -- but that doesn't work.
His unemployment is running out, but he dreads requesting a benefits extension.
"That's going to be hard to deal with," he said, "Hearing someone say, 'I don't understand. You've had four months to find a job and you can't find a job?'"
So now he's applying to places that have no interest in his Internet expertise, places like the bar at the Bahia Catamaran resort in Mission Beach. As bad as his situation may be, there's something else that worries Humphries: What if the economy gets worse?
"That's the scary factor in all of this," he said. "That's the kind of thing that wakes you up at four in the morning with a bit of a cold sweat."
The economy did get worse. I've never really economically recovered; I don't see that changing anytime soon. It's a life of hard budgeting - rarely eating out, cooking all my meals, cutting coupons, little money for entertainment. With all this depressing life, one could imagine my excitement when Barrack Obama ran for President of the United States. He seemed to address people like me when talking about how there needs to be jobs - one thing that really caught my attention was when a reporter asked about health-care, he answered that millions of Americans can't even afford one dollar for co-pays, that there needs to be coverage for those without money.
Well, shame on me. Like many of you, I've been fooled by politicians, long ago realizing they are comprised from the start, they'll say whatever they need to be elected. But this time I let down my guard in hope it was going to be different, that Barrack was a man of the people. President Obama now says he never campaigned on what is called the Public Option - if one re-listens to what he said, he used weasel words. He's playing semantics, which is one game I'll never join. I'm sure he's still a better President than the rest of the candidates that ran, but it doesn't matter - he lost me. Instead of taking the reigns of this country with bold leadership and the hard changes that need to be done, he's spending his term running for the next election, doing his best to pander those that will never accept him and ignoring those that helped get him elected.
After World War II, no civilization in recorded history had the high standard of living the United States experienced. We peaked at the beginning of this decade and now the long, slow decline has begun. I consider this a crossroad period - through chaos comes opportunity and I'd thought with Obama's rhetoric he'd understood that, I'd thought he had what it took to lead the country through this turbulent time.
I'm not saying that society is going to freefall and collapse, but things have changed and it's never going to be the same. Happy New Year's peeps - the struggle lives on, here's hoping it's a little less tomorrow than it is today.
David Bowie: Art Decade
Johnny Otis Orchestra: Happy New Year Baby
Lonnie Johnson: Happy New Year Darling
Led Zeppelin: Ten Years Gone
Smokey Hogg: New Year's Eve Blues
Bob Dylan: Things Have Changed
The Beatles: I've Got A Feeling
Louis Jordan: Let The Good Times Roll
Other New Year mixes: