YUEI: Plan B

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Submissions to our Uncommon Economic Indicator project have highlighted the way in which many New Yorkers are turning to second jobs, freelance gigs, and other fallback plans. Writer Caitlin Kelly recently took a part-time job, and thinks that Plan B can offer lots of new experiences and lessons. Plus, Brian Lehrer Show listener Amanda Joyce, who posted to the UEI site, talks about how she went to plan B, but by choice: she recently quit her job. What do you think? Have you had to turn to your back-up plans recently? Comment below!


Amanda Joyce and Caitlin Kelly

Comments [14]


Norman, I probably won't convince you, but this letter from Ornish to the Times' Paul Krugman raises some points that are worth considering.

"To the Editor:

Paul Krugman writes, ''Diseases that are associated with obesity and other lifestyle-related problems play, at most, a minor role in high U.S. health care costs.''

In fact, chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity account for more than 50 percent of health care costs in the United States and most of the world. Studies show that approximately 95 percent of these chronic diseases are preventable or even reversible just by making comprehensive lifestyle changes.

In contrast, more than $30 billion was spent last year on coronary angioplasties and stents despite evidence from randomized controlled trials showing that they do not prolong life or prevent heart attacks in stable patients. Newer technologies like coated stents may actually increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

If we are to make universal coverage available and affordable, then significant resources need to be devoted to teaching people to make comprehensive lifestyle changes, not just to drugs and surgery.

Dean Ornish, M.D.
Sausalito, Calif., Nov. 9, 2007"

Feb. 17 2009 12:55 PM

Thanks for your post. I recommend you go beyond the JAMA articles to read the books of Drs. Ornish and Sternberg.
The suggestion isn't: don't go to the doctor.
The suggestion is that we can all do a great deal to help reduce our risk of heart disease and other illnesses independent of outside medical care.
I don't believe I have misread Dr. Ornish (or Dr. Sternberg.)
Yes, as you mentioned, there are pharmaceutical treatments for both high cholesterol and arthritis.
But statins and many of the arthritis medications have been proved to have significant side effects. Remember Vioxx? (As a sidenote, I strongly recommend reading Melody Peterson of The New York Times on the marketing juggernaut that the pharmaceutical industry has become - and the effect it has had on the medical profession.)
The best medical advice is to use the information we've had for the last 20 or so years to PREVENT illness. I applaud Drs. Ornish and Sternberg for resisting big pharma and for letting Americans know they have the power not just to prevent, but to mitigate the effects of heart disease and arthritis through non-drug, non-side effect-laden treatment. And yes, "reverse" is the term used by Dr. Ornish.

Feb. 17 2009 12:40 PM
Anxious on the Upper West Side from Upper West Side

Although I am gainfully employed, within the last few weeks, I've had to activate aspects of my "B" plan because of sudden increases in my credit card interest rates. I've decided not to wait for my tax return and take a short term loan from my 401k to pay the credit card down and then repay my 401k with the tax return when it comes in.

The drastic increases shocked and distressed me, especially since I have a very high credit score. I just happen to be one of those people that needed to use my credit card for expensive emergencies over the last few months leaving me prone to predatory lenders at the worst possible time.

I've learned too over the past few weeks that others with good scores have received increases as well. It's upsetting that our tax dollars were used to pay out multi-million dollar bonuses to bankers and then they turn around and hit us again by shooting up the interest rates to astronomical levels.

Feb. 17 2009 11:17 AM
hjs from 11211

the shame is being a low earner
you can't keep up with the jones if u work in the drive thru and they are double income professionals.

Feb. 17 2009 11:11 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Right on, Patrice! Anyone who thinks there's shame in working a retail or restaurant job needs to look at their attitudes: When you go to a store, do you treat the people who work there as if they should be ashamed of what they do? Do you think you're better than they are & you'd be "lowering yourself" to do the same kind of work? I hope not--remember, we're trying to *dispel* the image of public radio listeners as elitist!

Feb. 17 2009 11:03 AM
Adina Genn from Long Island, New York

For part-time work, choose companies that have career paths, and enable you to pick up new skills. I recently discovered what a fantastic opportunity awaits at McDonald's...The company is results-driven, giving more hours and raises to high performers. There are managament tracks, even franchisee tracks, and opportunities to earn college credit. Moreover, the company is growing. People who work at McDonald's talk about honing customer service and teamwork skills. I discovered all this while co-writing my book, Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's (McGraw Hill). Now when I walk into a McDonald's, I don't see value meals, but opportunity.

Feb. 17 2009 11:02 AM

I have been fortunate to have been inculcated with the 'idea and truth' that there is no shame in homest work. The CEO and potwasher both contribute and are equally valued and valuable.

Feb. 17 2009 10:54 AM
Di from Chatham, NJ

Plan B is working for me now. I guess I was "lucky" to lose my job in June 2007 - 'early" - when my office job disappeared - small accounting firm taken over by a much bigger one. This happened early enough that I was able to regroup before this dep, ahem, recession. In fact, i already had Plan B working for me: I had started becoming qualified for what was to have a been a retirement job down the road. I had already started working nights and weekends on freelance projects, and after losing my job I marketed and moved towards full time, where i am now. Plan B job was the one i qualified for and worked at right out of college but moved away from after relocating, marrying and responding to an economic downturn back in 1973!!!

Feb. 17 2009 10:51 AM

God bless this guest. I love her straight talk.

Feb. 17 2009 10:49 AM
isaac from Uptown

It's funny that someone mentioned yoga. I would definitely do my yoga teacher training and also get an internship to learn some new skills. It would be an exciting opportunity to try a new direction.

Feb. 17 2009 10:46 AM
Khaki from Brooklyn

One word: eBay. My boyfriend and I started selling on eBay about two months ago. We are packrats and so this has been incredibly profitable. We've sold everything from the Tiffany's jewelry an ex gave me to vintage components of an unfinished BMX bike. More than ever, consumers are looking for not only a bargain, but quality at a barain.

Feb. 17 2009 10:35 AM
Norman from NYC

It's ridiculous to claim that people who lost their health benefits can maintain their health through yoga, exercise, a vegetarian diet and meditation.

If you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, there are drugs that can lower your chances of dying significantly, and none of those interventions you mentioned can come close.

Similarly, there are certain early (and expensive) treatments for arthritis that can significantly slow the progression of arthritis (and reduce heart failure, which is a major complication of arthritis), while those other interventions can't come close.

If you have heart disease or arthritis, and you follow this advice instead of seeing a doctor, you'll die sooner.

I read some of Ornish's articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and this is a misunderstanding of Ornish.

Feb. 17 2009 10:32 AM
BL Producers

Thanks, Eva, for sharing a helpful tip. We encourage you an anyone else with great advice for surviving this economic slump to post to Your Uncommon Economic Indicators Bulletin Board. Here is the link:

Feb. 17 2009 09:56 AM

I enjoyed Caitlin Kelly's article about working in retail. She really shows that you can get something out of a job working with the public. New York used to be filled with people who worked supposedly "odd" jobs but had, say, degrees in Russian lit. The boom changed much of that. We got great health care in the financial sector, but given how stressful some of those positions were, we no doubt needed and used more health care than if we'd kept our bookstore jobs.

For those who have lost their health benefits, I would like to offer something that, ironically, might be of greater benefit to your health. Drs. Dean Ornish (UCSF) and Esther Sternberg (NIMH) have (separately) published several books that demonstrate how much control people have over their own health. Ornish makes the case that you can reverse heart damage through yoga, exercise, a vegetarian diet and meditation. Sternberg shows how our minds improperly influence the production of stress hormones, which then create inflammatory conditions, including heart disease and arthritis.

Ornish and Sternberg provide techniques that will not only help you cope during this (or any) difficult time, but, according to recent research, may work better than costly invasive procedures.

Feb. 17 2009 04:45 AM

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