Friday, July 3, 2009

OUR COUNTRY


In this month of celebrating our country, I am sure we are all still proud to be Americans. However with the recent recession, dishonesty in the business-sector, and poor politics in Washington, we all long for a little more integrity in our nation.

I question how this system of ours works. It seems that no matter what my husband and I do, we can’t get ahead. We, like many Americans, have been in a financial crunch for the last few years. We do everything we can to lower our expenses and stay away from credit card debt.

I dropped my cell phone plan to the basics, but no sooner had I done it when the rates went up and there were additional taxes. I didn’t save a penny. Many would say it would have gone up anyway. But is that true?

I decided to drop our second city garbage can. We would save one hundred twenty dollars a year. Shortly thereafter, our city charges went up and I was paying the same amount.

I’m sure you have seen the advertisements about weather-proofing your home to cut-down on power and natural gas expenses. We followed all of the suggestions and puffed out our chests that we were conserving energy. A month or two later there was a report on the news that natural gas consumption had dropped and the gas companies were raising their rates to cover it.
A few years ago, diesel fuel was lower than regular gasoline. A large number of consumers purchased diesel trucks to save money. They were a little more expensive but would save you on fuel over the long run. We decided to buy one. The industry noticed the trend and increased the price of diesel fuel, making it more expensive than regular gasoline. This increased the costs of other consumer products due to shipping expenses. Between it all, we still weren’t ahead.

When we as a people have protested the price of gasoline by driving or flying less often, the rates have not always gone down. Instead the oil companies charge more because they are losing their profit. I don’t know about you but I don’t think it is right for the oil companies to raise gas prices just because it is a driving holiday or season and they know they can get more money out of us. I don’t understand why the government isn’t doing something about it.

Our health insurance was so poor at the company my husband used to work for that we were paying over seven hundred dollars a month premiums and still paying around two thousand dollars a month on prescriptions alone. Although he liked his job, he was forced to change employment for better coverage. We were so relieved to solve our problem. Within two months his company was bought-out by a larger company and the health insurance coverage has continued to decline.

On a broader scale, my belief is that families used to be able to live on the paycheck of the husband. When women started hitting the job market solely to have a little extra money coming in for an even better life, the government decided they couldn’t stand the middle class getting ahead. Now it is almost necessary that both husbands and wives work to stay on top of the bills.
In my mother’s day sewing your own clothes, canning your own food, and making home-made items were a way of saving money. Now all of that is considered a hobby and the prices of sewing machines, fabric, canning supplies and craft items are exorbitant. You almost need an extra job to pay for these pleasures.
Yesterday on the news I heard that the Utah State Government was pleased to announce a thirteen percent decrease in power usage due to the closure of government offices on Friday. On the same news, Rocky Mountain Power is asking for a 66.9 million dollar raise hike.

It would be nice to believe this was all coincidental. Even if it is, it seems impossible to ever get ahead. I know we haven’t seen a pay increase in many long years despite the cost of everything going up.

My husband and I have worked hard to stay out of debt and make our own way in this world. We have gone without, forgone entertainment and vacations, cable TV, electronic devices, RVs, etc. and I personally find it maddening when other consumers are running up their credit card debt on items they think they deserve but they can’t pay for. That means the rest of us have to foot the bill. Some of us have gone without but now we have to pay for someone else’s fun and games.

Along the same lines; is it right for people to not pay their taxes and then make a settlement for pennies on the dollar to pay it back? I wonder who is going to make up the difference.

Yes, I believe this country is the land of the free. On this Fourth of July I will stand proud to be an American. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and yes…my air-conditioning going. But from time-to-time, I can’t help wonder about how much suppression is really going on in America.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cindy,

    My Grandma always used to say: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." This saying has never meant more to me than it does at this time ~ my husband lost his job at Christmas (no warning ~ no severance package). It came as a tremendous shock; our 27 year-old son-in-law had just passed away in his sleep 3 weeks earlier, my Mom just found out her breast cancer had metastasized to her spine and our daugher-in-law was diagnosed with graves disease.
    Because of a heart condition I am not able to work outside of the home so the heavy load of being the sole provider has always been my husbands. Since I can't MAKE any money I have ALWAYS tried to save money. At this time we have the biggest and best garden we have ever had (and we are eating better and healthier too); I have been making most of the gifts we have to give or we have been giving gifts of service; I have been going with my husband when he goes to take resumes or for job interviews and we pack a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches (we have become closer and look forward to our picnic lunches); his golf membership and dues were already paid up, so I ride in the cart with him and read while he golfs.
    So far we are still unemployed (unless we want to move out of state, and I can't leave my Mom or granchildren at this time). But I feel blessed with my life and I am determined to appreciate and enjoy what we DO have.

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