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The tragedy of layoffs

This piece from the Washington Post is about the challenges of layoffs in America. A child of a Ford worker lived through the layoffs at Ford in 1980:

The layoff announcement threw our family, and the families of 1,500
other workers, into turmoil. Families went from planning vacations and
seeking college educations to planning cutbacks and seeking low-paying
but available work.

At the time it must have seemed very difficult:

The greatest sacrifice was made by my parents. My father was a
lawyer who had left day-to-day legal work to get a higher-paying job at
Ford in the go-go ’60s. With news of the plant closing, he made
twice-weekly trips to Birmingham to take legal refresher courses,
sleeping on the couch of my best friend from high school, who was
attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham. My dad, in his
fifties at the time, took classes with twentysomethings from wealthy
suburbs. At age 53, he passed the Alabama bar exam, the oldest person
in the state to do so that year.

My mother, who had left a career
in a bank to be a stay-at-home mom, went back to school to get her
teaching certificate, and then taught Spanish and special education in
the Alabama public schools. At an age when most couples were
contemplating sunny retirement, my parents soldiered on.

story was far from unique. The American spirit is powerful, and we saw
dozens of inspiring stories from our fellow laid-off Ford families. But
when you move from the statistical forest to the individual trees, you
can see that each successive year was lived with more stress, fewer
dreams and altered futures.

Yet the author, by working, was still able to attend Stanford. His younger brother, by joining ROTC, got to Stanford, too. The story is meant to chronicle the tragedy of layoffs. But in fact, it shows that for this family at least, the end of the story turned out much better than they most have thought at the time.