The State of the Union

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Tonight some of you will watch the president deliver the State of the Union address. I won’t. I’ve heard lots of these speeches. I’ve watched the president’s party jump up and cheer. I’ve also never seen anything materialize from one of these speeches.

I can FEEL the state of our union. I don’t need someone to tell me about it or listen to someone talk about how good it is when it isn’t. I’m not sure what cuts politicians off from the reality of life in America once they get to Washington. Ross Perot said it was because we drive them around in limousines and ignore traffic lights for them. That must be it. They don’t live a real life – a life in real America.

Out here we, most of us struggle. You all know my struggles with retirement pay and the high cost of living. Blah blah. It is what it is. And then there are those of us who want to work but cannot for one reason or another. All reasons have applied to me at one time or another over the last 7 years.

After the housing industry exploded, it was almost impossible to find work. There just wasn’t any. Banks quit lending money and with the equity of our homes gone, there was no money to continue to purchase large ticket items or college educations or for needed home repairs. The equity in our homes vanished in a blink of an eye.

Since 2008 finding a job has been hard work. I did manage to find a full-time job in 2010. It basically involved answering the phone and being yelled at. Eight hours a day, five days a week of screaming customers. Let’s just say I didn’t enjoy it. And of course the management thought we should all enjoy being screamed at and if we would only think about it, we could stop their screaming. I never got to that point. Eighteen months later and after one particularly nasty phone call, I left.

That was 2011 and there still weren’t any jobs here. I searched for a while and then took a temp job doing the same thing, with less yelling. It was a pure relief. It didn’t pay the bills, but I was in a much better mood.

During those two years, 2010 and 2011, my husband’s health started to fail. It was awful in 2010 when he was seriously ill to have to leave him and go to work. I had no choice. Either I went to work or quit. They would not tolerate too much missed time and keep you on. Many days were spent wondering if he were okay and calling him every break I had. And I started the process to see what was wrong. Finally in 2012, we got the diagnosis and I was told that he shouldn’t be left alone. From January of 2012 until July I stayed at home. My son’s schedule became flexible enough for him to be with DH while I went back to the part-time temporary job. That option was still there in 2013 but my husband’s health and DS’s inability to cope made working impossible. DH is now in a nursing home.

Also during that spell from 2011 onward, just looking for work was depressing. Not a hugely wealthy state by any means, Maine doesn’t have a lot of jobs except retail or health care. A few office jobs may be available from time to time, but not many. The state froze hiring. Everyone cut back.

I can’t think that this has been any different for me than anyone else. Which is why 2/3 of Americans say the country is going in the wrong direction and why 73% of us think we’re still in a recession. The lowest number of the population in history is working. Something like 62% of us have jobs. The rest of us don’t.

In the last 5 years, not a lot has changed for most of America. We’re still scrimping and saving and trying to get by month by month. The only thing that has changed is the cost of necessities, but not enough to warrant a raise in fixed incomes.  Of course they don’t add in the cost of fuel or food to the cost of living increases. Those are the items that have sky-rocketed and which, if added in, would give a more realistic budget to most seniors.

We still have the ridiculous spending by our government for things that make no sense, like huge parties and retreats for government agencies, not to mention “studies” and “research” into the most arcane and unnecessary areas you can imagine. But what about us, the people of America?

We’re told that if only we’ll wait, there’s a pen and a phone that’s going to come save us. Don’t hold your breath here, it won’t happen. I saw today that federal contractors are going to be told to pay their workers $10 per hour minimum. That’s cool – it won’t affect the rest of us, except that everything the federal contractors provide will go up in price.

If I had that pen and that phone, I could do all of these things with one stroke:

  1. Eliminate poverty.
  2. Stimulate the economy.
  3. Prop up the middle class.
  4. Eliminate the need for government assistance.
  5. Cut the food stamp budget.
  6. Create jobs for hundreds of thousands of citizens.

And how would I do this? Read this from National Priorities:

Foreign Aid

In fiscal 2013, U.S. government funding for humanitarian assistance and international development will total around $23 billion. (Back in October, I included spending on diplomacy in the numbers that I reported. In order to directly address the question of how much we give in aid to other countries, I’m now leaving out diplomacy and operations of the State Department.)

Foreign Military Assistance

In addition, the U.S. will spend around $14 billion in fiscal 2013 for foreign military assistance – that’s money spent on training foreign armies and providing them with weapons.

This many give you a clue about what I’d do. I wouldn’t eliminate ALL foreign aid – just $1,000,000,000 of it. If we divide 1 billion by the number of US citizens it comes to $3.23 million dollars for every citizen. Now there’s government aid that we could use. Instead of feeling like there is no tomorrow, think of the excitement that would create! Those of us – all of us – struggling to make ends meet would have what we need. Children could go to university, families could buy homes, seniors could pay their bills and buy food, people with ideas would start their own businesses and there would be energy in America again. I don’t mean the energy like oil or electricity, I mean the energy from 320 million Americans getting tucked back into living again, not just surviving.

Give it a thought. It would be SO simple.

 

 

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Rose says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I think it is shameful how much we spend on aid to foreign countries when there are skyrocketing numbers of Americans, including children, that go to bed hungry every night.

    Like

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