I am often told by well-meaning and kind people that maybe I should consider cutting back on how much of my life I share, at least online. Just a few days ago, a tweep (twitter follower for those who don’t use twitter) suggested I make my account private. I admit there are moments when I think to myself, maybe I do talk too damn much? Then I step back to look at what it is that I have shared, really marital woes, financial woes are simply a part of life! The fact that so many of worry if we share a little of ourselves publicly is the type of thinking that in the last 30 years has allowed this country to change course. No, I am not saying we screwed ourselves but that our corporate overlords count on the fact that at least in American culture we have a list of items we don’t talk about with others.
Number one on that list is money, we don’t talk about it. Instead we all call ourselves middle class and everyone thinks that means everyone is fine. Never mind that today’s middle class is not that of our grandparents, where a good stable job meant a raise every year, employer paid health insurance and a family vacation every year or so! Hell back in the old days we did our 40 hours a week and at the end of the year the boss rewarded us, back then folks knew the boss man cared, see the boss understood happy workers meant happy pockets on his end.
Yet somewhere along the line that changed, the boss was no longer content to be well off or rich, the boss needed to be super rich! Now you have a world where a CEO making 300 times or more what one of his workers earns is not really that shocking. Instead we think, it’s just life and if we still are making enough to pay our bills, can still access healthcare and maybe even take a vacation, we tell those who can’t do those things, maybe they should try harder. Or we tell em look for another job, go back to school or my favorite, better manage what you do have. (Sorry, but Dave Ramsey a guy with more than enough giving me advice while I run out and buy his books or pay for his Financial Peace University so his pockets get deeper and I realize at the end I don’t have a spending issue I have a lack of money issue is a great example) Sure plenty of us can probably stand to buy less crap, but kicking a daily Starbucks habit is not quite going to make up for the fact that you pay more for less when it comes to your healthcare, that you no longer get a raise, that the reality is your dollars simply don’t do what they used to. Shit, that daily Starbucks habit is the one thing you do that makes you feel like all is not lost. We buy a cup of coffee and tell ourselves we aren’t as bad off as others when the only thing standing between us and someone else is the fact we still have a job!
The reality is we are screwed; one of the things I have learned in blogging for the past 3 years is that I am not the only one struggling financially. In fact it seems most people I know are struggling on some level. For some it’s hardcore, trips to the food pantry or receiving SNAP benefits to make ends meet. For others, it’s quietly letting the house slip into foreclosure or making the choice as I did recently to file bankruptcy. Yet shame keeps us quiet, because in America the lie we have told for so many years that if you do ABC you will get XYZ is just that…a lie. There is no formula for success, if you are doing well financially these days, its luck, blessings or family/long term wealth. The truth is most of us are just keeping up appearances.
Well as the Occupy Wall Street movement starts to gain traction, it seems the personal is political. People are tired; people want change and if the elected officials aren’t going to make it happen people are willing to do what they need to, to get a spark started. If you have not seen this, take some time and look at it. Those of us who are the 99% are your friends, neighbors, coworkers and we are ready to share. As I read the profiles of these folks I was struck by how many people in this country now delay health care. Delaying treatments is so common now we don’t think about it, I have been doing dental work piece meal going on a year now which sucks, yet I feel lucky I can do it. Plenty of folks can’t which is why we are hearing more stories of folks dying because they can’t afford the $200 to get a tooth pulled.
When you are eagerly awaiting the latest iGadget, the idea that a person can’t afford to get a tooth pulled means nothing. Not because you are a heartless beast, but if you are fortunate enough that you can still get your hands on a few hundred bucks for a non-planned expense, you are still doing pretty okay. Many people aren’t and I would almost bet you money you know at least one such person, but they will never tell you! Yet for those whose every dollar is spent before payday and there is no extra, it’s really easy to grasp how even a $10 antibiotic is more than you can afford. Yet that’s the new America, we live in.
I think personally more of us need to get real and be open, after all it’s not like a future employer is not going to know you are broke. Helloooo, pre-employment credit checks anyone. Anyway I am one of the 99%, struggling to make it every day, and while it sucks at times, my work allows me to know it can always be worse. My basic needs of food and shelter are secure, now that healthcare thing is trickier but even that I am managing, one procedure at a time. For me I think more about my future should I reach a point I can’t work and the future of my kids. I wonder if when elder boy finishes college in a few years will there be any jobs. I wonder if we will even be able to send the girl to college?