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 Replies

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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