Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Sure could use a bit of good news today.

You know you’ve had a rough go of things when one of the best phrases you’ve heard since 2008 is, “You’re taking a hit in pay, we’re reducing your medical coverage and, um… no more paid holidays for you!”  Why?  Because the good news is, you didn’t lose your job.  Now you just have to worry about keeping: a) your house b) the utilities on and c) an adequate supply of food in the fridge and pantry. 


I’m not whining, because I know for a fact that I’m preaching to the choir.  If I were any good at skipping rocks, I’d probably hit about 14 families that I can name (but won’t) who wear the nametag Misery while in our financial company.  Liens on homes, wolfish debt collectors calling, credit cards with seriously unbalanced balances and ridiculous interest rates.  All in the name of robbing Peter to pay Paul or at least to keep one of them at bay until things get better.  But, I almost hate to ask …will things ever get better?


All I can think is, “What will they do with us?”  What will they do with a nation-full of people who can no longer crack their monthly nut and have no hope for the future?  The long ago image of folks on street corners selling apples to make a handful of coins during the Great Depression seems almost quaint, although not to those who lived through it.  But, short of selling a kidney – how are men and women today supposed to earn an honest nickel (or more accurately, $200-500)?  We can’t house the criminals we already have, what in the world will they use for debtor’s prison for the millions of Americans on the brink of financial collapse?


It’s not that folks aren’t willing to work either.  There are no jobs to be had.  Where our local paper once had pages and pages of employment opportunities, there are now about a dozen jobs listed – about four of which are unpaid internships at the local paper.  Friends of mine have looked under every possible rock for a position, any position (day or night), and there are none to be found in a 50 mile radius (with gas at bucks a gallon).  In addition, some of the prospects out there are asking for a minimum educational degree to earn slightly more than minimum wage (which won’t help toward those student loans for those that did return to earn said requirement).


Granted, over the years we’ve become a nation of consumers (hello, media?  I know you won’t take any responsibility, but your darn influence is mighty) – but in the last couple of years I’ve noticed a whole lot of trimmin’ going on around me.  Goodbye yearly vacations/trips to Grandma’s, magazine subscriptions, crazy cable packages, coffee runs… and the list goes on.  I’m sorry to also report that in addition to chucking the ridiculous you-didn’t-really-need-that items I’ve also watched terribly reasonable individuals go without other things, like proper medical or dental care, all because they thought they would just wait until the economy turned around.


This weekend the calendar heralds the arrival of Spring 2010, which in my community also marks the beginning of a very busy charitable season.  Not this year.  Extra dollars normally earmarked for silent auctions, 5Ks, raffle tickets and even wickedly delectable Girl Scout cookies are instead paying for groceries and gasoline.


I’m not equipped, nor inclined, to tell Uncle Sam what to do about this mess — but I do know that I don’t want a bandaid on a booboo I don’t have nor do I want to see the apple polisher CEOs get all the candy that should have been distributed to the entire class.  I have lived my entire life by the motto, “If I didn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it” … but there’s not much use for rolled up sleeves and a can-do attitude, if there’s nothing you can do.


Summer is around the corner and there will be thousands of new graduates scrambling for jobs and I sincerely wish them luck.  Last year in our valley, City Hall saw close to 650 applications for approximately 30 positions they offer that they normally see about 100 applicants for.  Seriously, I bet a buck (scratch that – a nickel) they receive double the amount this June.


Between 1929 and the 1930’s folks had to re-think how to survive in tough economic times.  I believe we’re going to have to do the same.  Sure, we’ve spent a couple decades talking about noble concepts such as recycling, reclaiming and reusing … but in the next couple of years there are some other words that might need to be reinstated.  Words like morsel, scrap, mend and repair.  Who knows, maybe in the act of saving ourselves we’ll take another few positive steps toward saving the planet.  And that, certainly is an extra bit of good news today.

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