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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