First things first: I’m not destitute. My family has a roof and plenty to eat. Our house is an oasis of relative plenty, no matter what I say next.
You know how bankruptcy experts say most american families are one medical emergency away from financial disaster? We’ve had two in the last eighteen months. We came out o.k. from mine, but I’ve already talked about it so much it’s not worth bringing up again.
Cheryl’s accident is starting to worry me – both of us actually. My wife’s accident was more than a month ago now and her condition is worse (actually it’s been down and back up recently, but the trend line over time is still a falling slope). To put that in perspective, think about how long ago the elections were. Her accident was eleven days before Obama was elected. Put the two together and this summer seems like some odd, mixed up, alternate reality.
Her leave is running out. We’ll need to hire movers to transport the paperwork we need to apply for FMLA (job protection under the Family Medical Leave Act… so her department can’t fire her for absences), make a claim on our disability insurance, send insurance statements/bills to our attorney, and apply for any scraps that might be left over from her department’s leave transfer program (which has suffered a run on hours lately).
It’s my nature to consider the worst scenario… no hours left in the leave transfer program, disability insurance strings us along for a month or two before finally paying out their meager benefits (a fraction of her salary), the mounting medical bills end up far exceeding the virtually uninsured shit-head’s coverage and our “uninsured motorist coverage,” and our health insurance refuses to cover the gap. The bills, combined with the recent tanking of the markets, has left us in a situation that could get ugly if a few of these things don’t swing our way.
Add to that my doctor’s anxiety disorder diagnosis (no surprise, considering my DNA), and you can see why I might be feeling a little worried.
And this was all before listening to the news today: job losses this last quarter (or was it month?) were the worst they’ve been in thirty-four years. The optimist in me says it’s not a big enough number to take us back to the FDR days, but the former math major in me is quick to point out that we’re talking about 1974; not exactly the glory days of the US economy. On top of that, my job exposes me to the large numbers of underemployed out there every day. Folks are showing up in court with documented proof they’ve been working their tails off to find work. Most Judges’ favorite line, “anybody can go out and find a job at McDonalds” isn’t entirely true anymore. That makes me grateful to have a job, but it also worries me – a lot.
I don’t know about elsewhere in the US, but it’s getting pretty freaking brutal here.
The mixed blessing is the inherent decrease in demand this produces, and some lower prices. But I keep reading economists who say deflation is an extraordinarily bad thing. Maybe the blessing isn’t so mixed after all.
It would seem we’re living the new american nightmare. Our earnings are decreasing, our debt to asset ratio is… well, bad. The economy is in the shitter, and our state legislature is poised for another session faced with trying to find another few billion in spending they’ll need to cut (they’re a cabal of right wing-nuts who’d sooner carve out a testicle with a dull spoon than raise taxes). In case you’re not following FL politics (and I wouldn’t blame you, with the fascinating events north of the border), this is the same exercise they’ve undertaken at least two or three times in the last year to eighteen months. Heck, what’s a few billion between friends? If memory serves, the state budget is only around 50-60 billion, so that 2-4 cut a pop is starting to hurt.
Again I remind myself that it could be much, much worse. I could be working in the auto industry, or for a bank.