Downward spiral

A few days ago I had to make a call I dread making….a call to the Internal Revenue Service. Like many Americans I have a healthy fear of the IRS but unlike most Americans my fear is not based in fiction but reality. Thanks to several years of self employment the Spousal Unit and I owe a chunk of change, aside from the time they levied our bank account, overall they have worked with us. Though I must say having your bank account levied even temporarily is no fun.

Anyway I got a notice in the mail the other day which was strange because I had recently spoken to them about our account. So I placed the call and after waiting 40 minutes to get a human on the phone, I got the worker who clearly was offended that his colleagues had been working with us. Despite the hard proof in front of him that in the seven years we have lived in Maine, our income by and large has been reduced greatly, he asked why did we owe?

Now on second thought that is a seemingly innocent question and as I have done in the past I explained how we ended up in Maine and all the things that have popped up that have created this debt with the IRS…but Mister Man was not having it though in the end the reality is that at present we owe more than we even earned last year meaning there is not a lot he can do since the reason we got the notice was more due to a computer error than anything else. Shit, even the IRS computers recognize when a person can’t pay….

But in retelling the story to my husband I was reminded of a story I read a few days ago, basically the data shows when folks are laid off from good paying jobs it can take years to earn what you used to and in some cases you never earn what you once made. While we were not laid off when we moved here, in fact it was family issues that brought us here, the fact is in 7 years aside from one year where the Spousal Unit came close to earning what he once made when we were in Chicago, the other years have been a downward spiral.

Funny thing is when people lose a good income, your bills don’t suddenly get reduced (wouldn’t that be nice!) instead you have to figure out how to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and pay off that bitch Sallie Mae, and her distant cousins Visa and Mastercard if you were a member of the middle class as we were for many years.  Of course many in the educated middle class end up going the route of my husband and join that class of consultants and freelancers…a group that even now I think is not reflected in the unemployed or underemployed numbers. Folks who can still pretend at least on the surface that life is good even when they know deep in their hearts they are leaning on Visa and MasterCard to subsidize the income they really don’t have….no while everyone loves to believe we can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps the truth is one you get knocked down financially, you need a lot more than bootstraps to get up and avoid the financial death spiral.