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.