Tough Times

Times are tough. Compared to millions of Americans, times aren’t that bad for my family; but in some ways we’re poster children for the social, infrastructural and economic challenges that the country currently faces. For instance:

  • My home has decreased at least 15% in value since I purchased it due to the foreclosure crisis.
  • Refinancing my mortgage to take advantage of the lower-interest rates is not cost-effective, as I would have to pay the difference in appraised value and pay for mortgage insurance, even though I’m in no danger of defaulting on my loan.
  • We had to spend a hefty chunk of savings (around $3,000) on a new furnace this winter.
  • Debbie’s charter school shut down last year because they didn’t pay their rent, and none of the former employees were eligible to receive unemployment benefits because the school administration told the unemployment folks that the entire staff quit.
  • As soon as Abraham left Debbie’s body, he was no longer covered by her insurance. Since it took a few days to get him on my insurance, his doctor visit in the hospital wasn’t covered and we had to pay it out of pocket. $200.
  • My old insurance, Kaiser Permanente, refused coverage for Abraham’s first two visits to the pediatrician. $1300.
  • Debbie’s current job as a part-time art teacher is at a parochial school that pays its teachers $75 a day. We spend more sending Abraham to daycare than Debbie makes at work. Her school may close after next year because the Diocese of Cleveland can’t afford to keep so many schools open.
  • There is little hope that Debbie can find a full-time position as an art teacher. Even though Buhrer Elementary was just rebuilt a block north of where we live, her constant searching is disheartening simply because there is nothing to find.
  • Due to a pre-existing condition, Debbie was unable to get adequate medical insurance after losing her job. The six-month policy she purchased has refused to cover all of the care she received during the time of the policy. From what I’ve read lately, these policies are a joke, and the companies that sell them are racketeers. She’s out another $700.
  • I lost my shirt with my pension plan and my deferred compensation plan.

To sum up, banks don’t want to loan, employers screw their employees, the school system is in an abysmal state, and health insurance is a giant malignant leech. This is why we voted for Obama. After the matroshka Gaussian Copula-derived, over-leveraged, shell-game orgy that Wall Street engaged in after being deregulated and handed a few buckets of little blue pills by the Bush Administration, well it was time for some change we could believe in.

But you know what, things could be much worse. We’re lucky in the following ways:

  • I own a solidly constructed home, built in 1900, that has an upper apartment that we rent for some supplemental cash.
  • I have a great job that I love, and good job security.
  • I have much better health insurance, and live just blocks from Metro Hospital, which has given me nothing but excellent care from courteous staff since I’ve lived in Cleveland.
  • We have plenty to eat, and are warm at night.
  • We have family and friends that look out for us.
  • We live on a street of good people, who are friendly and keep an eye on each other’s properties. There are no blighted homes.
  • The non-bank-bailout stimulus package might actually mean that Debbie can get a job as a teacher. She’s got a Master’s Degree in Art Education after all.
  • The cost of living in Cleveland is great. The art and music scenes are vibrant, all you have to do is look around your neighborhood. I’ve been all over Cleveland and I’ve yet to be in a neighborhood that didn’t have regular folks doing extraordinarily entertaining stuff.
  • We are all healthy.
  • Abraham is awesome.

4 thoughts on “Tough Times

  1. Hi, I came across your blog through a link on the Plain Dealer. Great post! I too voted for Obama, and absolutely agree with about the mess that Bush and the Republicans left this this country in. I worry though that it’s too much of a mess for Obama to fix in 4 or 8 years. I’m afraid all of the problems with the economy, the war in Iraq, etc. are going to take a good decade or more to fix, if not several decades.

  2. You are relatively lucky and your circumstances are very similar to my own. You should also consider that you are lucky to live in a relatively low-cost city and you and your wife have skills that are adaptable to many career options. Has your wife explored work-at-home options to save on daycare costs? Buena suerte.

  3. Hey Adam,
    A few years back (when Kathryn was around 1) we ran into a similar situation. Christy was working just to send Kathryn to day care. I’m not saying that our solution would work for you and Debbie, but maybe you can find a way to have Abraham stay home with Debbie. Y’all could take on one or two children around Abraham’s age to watch in a home day care setting. No licensee is needed if you have fewer than 5 kids.* It’s not the most ideal sort of set up for someone who would rather be teaching, but it might be a way to get by until the trickle down money from the stimulus package makes it down to our level (I really hope it does).

    I can’t believe I was happy that my retirement fund only lost 39% last year. It really stinks that despite putting money into the fund it still comes out with less than the year before. The only silver lining I see is that I am not retiring anytime in the next few decades, so at least I’m buying a lot more shares right now (as long as they aren’t worthless in 30 years).

    *Check your local/state laws on this my knowledge only covers the state of Indiana.

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