The signing of today’s debt ceiling bill doesn’t make me anymore optimistic for the future of our county. Granted we may have avoided total collapse, but pardon me, aren’t we just kicking the can down the road more?
The stock market isn’t encouraged. All the gains of 2011 were wiped out in this recent downward run. I can’t bear to look at my investments. Neither my husband nor I have ever enjoyed a regular pension plan, so like millions of other Americans our retirement money is 401K or 403B plans.
I lost my good job three years ago, and worked in another full-time job for a year. That job paid forty percent of what I made at the first job and the benefits cost almost three times as much. After a miserable eleven months, my husband and I decided it cost us less for me to work as a freelancer. Thankfully I’m getting work, but it is nothing like a full-time job. And thankfully, my husband received a promotion which triggered his first raise in three years. (Again, I state I know we are lucky, despite our health insurance costing half of his take-home pay every month.)
Our family will be fine. My husband has a tenured position and we have little debt. But there isn’t much margin for error. If the health insurance continues to go up, I’ll be forced to take another job in addition to the freelancing. That is, if I can find a job. It took me almost a year to find the crappy, low-paying breath-sucking job I had in 2010.
I ramble on, but what I really wanted to talk about are our friends. I just got off the phone with a friend who lost a good job and has cobbled together employment with Kentucky Unemployment Insurance for the last two years. Her husband has a job but is currently out on short-term disability. The private insurer through some quirk in the regulation hasn’t mailed them the check he is due for sixty percent of his salary, though he’s been out since mid-June. She was driving to sell plasma.
She says they can’t cut anymore. I’m not judging her, though she doesn’t always have a good track record of making the best decisions. She has borrowed from family members, who want money back. I want to give her some cash – just to tide her over, as a gift – but I can’t. There are too many people in line in my own family who need help. Now bad choices have caught up with bad luck, and life doesn’t seem fair to her at all.
It can happen to any of us at any time. My husband and I have been to the brink several times in our lives, and somehow, some way, we’ve made it back up the hill. I can’t help my friend right now, but I don’t feel good about it.r