Wide Open Wednesdays: Austerity measures in inches

Politics weren’t discussed much in my family. My parents voted, but they didn’t talk about it. What they did tell us was to do good in school, be home before dark, stay out of trouble and get a job!

We weren’t poor, but we pinched our pennies the way Italians pinch little kids cheeks. I always got half a napkin. If I got a whole one then I had to share because as my mom always said,  “our name wasn’t Marcal” and “paper doesn’t grow on trees.” We had to turn off the lights when we left a room, because neither was our name Con Ed. Mom would wash paper plates and reuse them, she brought plastic bags back to the supermarket, because she hated all that plastic. Everything was saved. I rolled my eyes, but mom was ahead of her time. She could have been the poster girl for the reduce reuse recycle campaign.

When I finally pinched together enough pennies to move out on my own, I was earning $10,000 per year.  With that I paid my rent, utilities, and tuition for college. Sometimes I managed to eat. I was vegetarian not by choice, but by necessity. I was proud and it came as a shock when in one of my college courses I learned that I was living below the poverty level which in those days was $14, 000.

I looked forward to a time when I wouldn’t have to scrimp, save and sacrifice. I dreamed the American dream. Then I became a teacher. I understood the dream was deferred when a car salesman explained I didn’t qualify for the advertised financing because my debt ratio was greater than my income ratio. Then I married my husband. The first time we went grocery shopping together, it was shock and awe. He was just chucking things in the cart without looking at prices! That cereal was $5.00! And he shopped retail and not just on those Macy’s One-Day Sales. Then he introduced me to wild Alaskan salmon and I can never go back to farmed fish. I got spoiled. I use my own napkin, but it’s cloth and I wash and reuse it.  I still shut the lights when I leave a room. I wash out and reuse ziplock bags. Which drives my husband crazy. He has worked hard, and after losing everything when he was 12, and his home and country were invaded, who am I to deny him the pleasure of an overpriced cereal?

Now, the government wants to furlough my husband and “sequester” 20% of our income. There goes summer vacation and summer camp for my son. My husband is stressed. I’m pissed. I know we’ll get by like I have always done. We’ll just scrimp, save and sacrifice again. We’ll eat less and maybe lose some weight. Maybe I just realized the American dream is truly a myth.

*Now, I am going to get on my soapbox. Mom and dad are hissing at me to sit back down and be quiet*

It could be worse. They could freeze our bank accounts and then just help themselves to our life savings. At least they are taking potential earnings from us and not just grabbing at our nest egg. But what about the youth of today? Can they save up a nest egg? How many 19 year olds can get a full-time job, an apartment and put themselves through college today? I’m sure there are some,but with the prices today, and the rise of unemployment, I doubt there are many. And what about the Senior Citizens? My mother-in-law may just go bankrupt in Cyprus. Will she have to leave her home again and come live in our sunroom?

How are average citizens responsible for bad financial practices that the government makes? Government should be responsible for making sure every individual is guaranteed certain unalienable Rights, such as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. I expect the government to protect my rights and secure safety for myself and the nation. I do not mind if I have to pay taxes to secure this, but everyone should pay their dues. Regulations should come from above. Trickle down is just the big cats pissing on us. I think that if they continue to take too much from so few, then that is a form of tyranny, and under such tyranny, it is the right of the individuals, as stated in our Declaration of Independence,  it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. There is only so much one can scrimp, save and sacrifice.

Oh, and I will find a way to go on summer vacation, because I will not give up my right to the pursuit of happiness.

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