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Posts tagged ‘economy’

A Simple Suggestion

The other day on talk radio, the commentator suggested that “this country needs a conservative coalition”. I respectfully disagree. The LAST thing this country needs is another group or organization designed to divide the population into “US” vs. “THEM”.  What we NEED is a COMMON SENSE coalition that unites liberals, conservatives, Americans of all age, race and creed to point out and hold our representatives accountable for stupidity and demand common sense in government.

Let a common sense coalition of American voters draft a budget and see what happens. I used to work for a local church. The head of the Finance Committee was a sweet 95-year-old retiree called “Doc”.  He and his committee went through the church budget line by line. The final budget was fair, workable and reasonable. Some people weren’t happy. We changed propane suppliers. The old supplier agreed they had been overcharging the church, but offered to match the new supplier’s prices if we’d stick with them. Doc refused. “They already cheated us once, who knows for how long.”

The recent “sequester” should be a real eye-opener to what our elected officials consider “unnecessary”. Memorials, parks and natural wonders were so unnecessary that not only did the government stop funding their continued operation, they SPENT EXTRA to make sure that things like water fountains weren’t usable and pressured states to avoid picking up the funding slack. “Unnecessary” employees were laid off for the duration–and then paid for the work they didn’t do.  Congress–most of whom are already financially secure with substantial personal and business assets–continued to receive their substantial paychecks and benefits. Meanwhile, disabled veterans, some of whom receive a monthly pension of $120 (a significant share of their income), were told they wouldn’t get a check in November if the sequester wasn’t resolved in time.

There’s plenty of examples of government behavior that don’t make sense. When a plethora of existing laws aren’t adequately enforced, the resulting “problems” are addressed by…..MORE LAWS. 

Like I said, it’s time for a common sense coalition.

Entitlements–the Other Side

I’ve been reading a lot about “entitlements” and how isn’t it terrible some people depend on the government for their livelihood and don’t pay income tax. I do think it’s a good idea to require drug testing to receive public assistance, since most jobs require drug screening. But when politicians, newscasters, and the general public lump Social Security recipients in with welfare recipients, I get a little angry.

I didn’t ask for a Social Security program–I HAD to get a Social Security card when I got my first job (at 16). I didn’t have any choice about paying for Social Security “insurance”–it was taken out of every paycheck I ever received in the 34 years I worked. Even more was taken out of my late husband’s paychecks.

And when my husband unexpectedly died (leaving me with six kids aged 2 to 17), we couldn’t have survived on my tiny paycheck without survivor’s benefits. When the kids grew older, I went back to school (while continuing to work) and finally got a good paying job. Yes, part of my tuition was paid by government grants. Good paying job=more income tax.

Just when I finally had money in the bank and platinum cards in my wallet, I became disabled. Once again, the Social Security was a godsend.

My monthly disability check is less than one paycheck from my last job. The medical bills and 75% drop in income trashed my credit rating and wiped out my savings. They say that SSD and retirement benefits were never designed to be a person’s entire income, but to supplement savings or work at lessened capabilities due to age or medical condition.

What savings? Most Americans don’t have enough savings to last through the disability application process, let alone supplement their support for the rest of their lives. And in today’s economic climate, it’s virtually impossible for an older disabled person to find suitable work.

And so we live –austerely–on our meager checks. We find cheap housing and defer maintenance as long as we can. We clip coupons and shop grocery sales. We pay sales tax on everything we buy, gasoline tax on every gallon that goes into our beat up (but paid for) old car, and property tax if we’re smart enough or lucky enough to own our homes. For some reason, it seems that the disability check is always just a few dollars higher than the limit to qualify for other programs so we can’t get food stamps or Medicaid.

The average Congressman draws a salary that is ten times what the average beneficiary has to live on. Yes, there are more of us. But we didn’t design the system–the government did. Social Security is a promise to provide a (minimum) assurance of future benefits in return for weekly contributions. A promise that most Social Security recipients paid for over many years of hard work. If the system isn’t working, it’s not our fault for believing the promise and expecting it to be honored by the other side. It’s not our responsibility to re-invent the system so it works. But, as usual, it will probably be us that pays the price. Even if we don’t pay income tax.

 

This article may be reprinted as long as resource box below is included. Reprint notification appreciated at judy33873 at gmail dot com.
I supplement my Social Security by selling handcrafted gifts and freelance writing online. After expenses, I still don’t make enough to pay income tax. Grab some free content or  contact me for writing assignments through my blog at <a target=”_new” href=”http://publisherpotpoourri.wordpress.com”>http://oakhillcreations.wordpress.com</a&gt;

The New Economy

When I was little, things were simple. My Daddy was a card-carrying member of the UAW. Every contract brought a better paycheck and better benefits. Daddy worked at the same company for 30 years, and retired to Florida with a paid off home, good credit, and money in the bank.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch….I married a card-carrying member of the UAW. Like me, Gary was an only child, and we wanted a big family. Our first daughter’s birth cost $249.
At first, every contract brought a better paycheck and better benefits. The last pair of glasses I bought for myself cost $38 (including eye exam). Eighteen months later, with our new vision insurance, I got new glasses (which cost $200, plus the eye exam). A similar thing happened when we got dental insurance. All of a sudden, a $20 office visit was $160. The hospital bill for our last baby was over $10,000–paid by insurance.
As a child of the fifties, I was taught to trust the government, believe in the American dream, and give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay. Cash was always preferable to credit, and money in the bank would help you cope with any emergency. We had an insurance man for life, home, and auto insurance, and health insurance from work. Life was good.
Somewhere between then and now, things changed.  Cash became suspect, and credit became all-important. In some neighborhoods, the insurance settlement is the new lottery jackpot.
All I ever wanted was the same–or slightly better–standard of living than what I grew up with.  Instead, I’ve spent most of my life scrambling to get by, sometimes working two or three jobs. I could always find a job when I truly needed one–until now.
The rules have changed. Everybody is trying to get a bigger piece of the pie, and the crumbs that trickle down aren’t enough to survive on.  Our young people can’t find work, so they stay home, supported by aging parents or even grandparents, barely getting by.
And the behemoth that is big government and big business cannot accommodate the drastic changes that are needed to turn this thing around in time to avert a crisis. We are in the early stages of crisis, and still pretending everything will be okay as long as the plastic is approved and the minimum payment stays low enough. After all, if we keep paying our bills on time, we can get the limit raised, and when we retire we can sell our home for ten times what we paid, and…wait a minute, what do you mean I paid ten times what it’s worth now?
The big question is “what are we going to do about it?” An even bigger question is “what can we do about it?”
Judy Cox supplements her Social Security by freelance writing online. Visit her blog at https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com