I'm not sorry for the things I'm about to say. They're not a secret. I live with these thoughts daily and I sleep with them at night. They've become part of my landscape throughout the day, like a lamp on my desk, or the radio in my car. While my internal optimist carries on, attending to day-to-day issues, the rest of me is wondering if I'm the only one pondering this...
Financially, I'm starting to wonder if anyone is doing the math on our current spending. I'm having a hard time understanding how we can run a war at 13 million a day, then bail out the financial markets world wide (Although it may be too late to save Iceland) for 700 billion plus and still expect to get a tax cut. Or even anticipate that taxes shouldn't go up. This is on top of our day to day spending nationally.
I mean seriously... if I had an income of X and decided that not only would I spend Y and Z like I usually do, but start over again at A and spend all the way back up through R, I don't think I'd be cheeky enough to think the bank would then give me a rebate on all my spending. Especially if I was spending borrowed money. At some point you have to start paying for it, yes?
So I'm puzzled that we're not concentrating on getting out from under this huge national debt that we've just taken on. I worry that we've lost 2 TRILLION dollars out of retirement funds in the last few weeks. I worry that no one is going to bother fixing social security or address national health care because our new leader will unfortunately have bigger issues to deal with.
I know there's people that say there's things in the national budget that can be cut. I have to tell you... that makes my teeth clench. Where I work, the belief is that the first cut to the budget is to service to people who can't complain. I work for a disability service agency. We contract with the state and county to provide services. Our budget has been cut almost 30% since 2000. Our operating costs (liability insurance, health-care insurance, mileage, equipment) have gone up 35% in that same time. We have the same amount of clients. That's some tough math. But we've seen it over and over. Vulnerable people, people with disabilities, the aging, the infirm, the mentally ill... they're the first to get screwed with a budget cut and the last to get unscrewed when times get better.
So yeah, I worry. TOG worries.
A month ago, we emptied the account we had set aside for our trip to Ireland and pulled some money out of my retirement and paid off everything except our mortgage. We also dumped our cell phones and scaled back to one wireless network for all the computers in the house. And we've adjusted our grocery budget from carefree to careful. We've made the commitment to a very light holiday season as well. Why? Because we're running lean and although we've always saved...we're committing to setting aside as much money as we can each week. If one of us should lose our job we want to survive, not just endure.
I know that in times of economic downturns, economists want to induce spending, not saving. However, the Old Goat and I have been poor. Really poor. We didn't enjoy it. Thus, on our way out of poverty we became savers. When we want something, like the increasingly elusive trip to Ireland, we set up an account and start saving. So when W gave us a check this year to stimulate the economy, we put it in savings. We suck. We know.
So in this election year, (yes, she's going to touch on politics) I'm not considering candidates based on gender, skin color, fashion or cute one liners. I'm considering candidates based on who has the most workable plan... who is willing to do something a little differently... I want someone careful and thoughtful, someone who considers long term consequences. Because from where I stand, same old, same old doesn't look like it's working right now.