Sunday, April 3, 2011

Losing Jobs for a Good Reason

As many folks are aware, I am one of the long term un/underemployed. I have not worked in my chosen career field of Software Quality Assurance and Testing in nearly seven years. I know it sounds counter intuitive, especially after all my rants over the past year on the subject of jobs and employment, but there are positive reasons for folks to lose their jobs.

There have been a couple of NY Times articles this weekend that have covered a few of these situations. First up is this article from yesterday (Saturday, April 2) on nonprofits "going out of business" due to achieving the desired results:

So far, the number of organizations opting to go out of business for mission-related reasons is too small to call a trend. It is still far more common for a nonprofit to close its doors because of financial pressure, which is increasing as governments continue to pare their budgets and donors maintain tight grips on their giving.

Still, the novelty of organizations going out of business once their work is done has attracted attention.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a widespread phenomenon because there are a lot of groups taking on problems like alcoholism and domestic violence that aren’t problems that go away,” said Jan Masaoka, editor in chief of Blue Avocado, a blog for nonprofits. “But I do see that in some cases there is an opportunity for organizations to wind down gracefully and with their job done.”


What will happen to Malaria No More’s employees is perhaps Mr. Case’s biggest concern.

But Martin Edlund, who has worked for the organization since its founding in 2006, said that he was more excited about the significance of its ending. “We talk around here about malaria being the first great humanitarian success story of the 21st century, and I comfort myself at night knowing that if I have that accomplishment on my résumé, I’m not going to have any trouble finding another job,” he said.

Now obviously, no job loss can be considered all that positive and as the article points out, the successes mentioned are quite small in comparison to those nonprofits that have been hit hard by the Great Recession. But it is a positive in that progress is being made against a long term health foe such as malaria.

The second article is from today's (Sunday, April 3) NY Times concerning anticipated job losses due to the abolishment of the death penalty in Illinois:
The weeks since Gov. Patrick J. Quinn signed a law making Illinois the 16th state to ban the death penalty — while also commuting the sentences of those on death row to life without the possibility of parole — have been tumultuous for those laboring in this grim legal niche.

When the news came, after months of speculation surrounding the fate of the legislation, the mood in the office was one of joy and relief. The lawyers and investigators and secretaries, most of whom had clients on death row and others potentially headed there, gathered around a computer to watch the live news conference. After work, some went to bars to revel in the moment.

It was not until the next day that people at the office began openly discussing the uncertainty that lay ahead. Some said they would retire, others will stay on in new roles, and about three dozen will be laid off.
Let me state right here that I am against the death penalty. Yes, I recognize that there are individuals that the world is probably better off without. I recognize that abolishing the death penalty should be done in conjunction with some long term prison reform. I also recognize that some of my preferred options would most likely fall under 'cruel and inhuman punishment' (and no, I will not address those options right now).

Humans are not infallible. There have been far too many cases where someone sentenced to death winds up being freed later because someone else had committed the crime. According to this list maintained by from 1971 through 2010, there have been 138 death penalty cases where the person was subsequently freed. The average time between sentencing and exoneration has been 9.8 years. Only 17 of these cases involved DNA.

There is speculation that at least eight innocent people have been executed. Of course, once someone has been executed, there are no do-overs; no "oopsies, my bad." The case of Cameron Todd Willingham shows how the state will continue to fight any efforts at post-execution exoneration.

I hate the thought of people losing jobs and I hate the death penalty. However, I think that most everyone who works to abolish capital punishment would agree that losing their job because capital punishment was no longer available would be just about the finest way to lose a job that there could be.

And because I can:

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