Who We Are, What We Need….

Dear President Obama and Governor Romney:

Greetings! We are Middle Class, Blue Collar America. Most of us are homeowners. We live paycheck to paycheck and put a little something aside towards savings and retirement if we are lucky. If we are not quite so fortunate, we make decisions about what bills to pay or not to pay so that we can put food on the table and a roof over our families’ heads – decisions that diminish us in our own eyes. And if we are really unfortunate, our homes may be in foreclosure while the bank’s CEO is cashing his multimillion dollar bonus check.

The cost of living has skyrocketed, gas prices have not dropped below $2.50 a gallon since 2007, and our health insurance premiums and deductibles have steadily increased – all of which steadily erodes our salaries – which, speaking for myself anyway have NOT increased even with a COLA – since 2009. Many of us, who were in fact saving for the future, had good credit, paid our bills on time have now dropped to category two – deciding whats most important of the bills we have to pay, putting off needed repairs to the house, and using the credit cards to pay bills and increasing our debt load. Trying to figure out how to help the kids pay for college. All it took was one or two catastrophic events (like major car repairs) to clean out the savings, and place at least one foot on the top of the slippery slope towards insolvency. We pay our taxes, contribute to Social Security and Medicare, we’re upstanding citizens – but now we’re drowning gentlemen, plainly and simply drowning. Paying for corporate greed. Paying for all kinds of services for those who have no business being here. Paying for absolute ridiculousness in government spending and incredible waste -shrimps on treadmills, anyone? -see an old post of mine for a listing and a dollar figure.

Frankly, there isn’t much of a gap between blue collar America and the working poor anymore, and that gap is narrowing daily. We are becoming a nation of duality. Those that have, and those that do not. How can a multimillion dollar bonus to a bank CEO be justified? What has he done – other than sign documents, oversee the transfer of other peoples money, and keep track of the banks investments? That’s not worth millions fellas, we do it daily on a smaller scale with our household budgets. Any head of household can do it. We make do, and go without, in order to achieve success down the road. We might dream about being millionaires; but unless we are incredibly lucky we know that’s not going to happen. We just want to be comfortable, and as worry free as possible.

I’m asking you to send a message to corporate America ; the oil companies, the banks, the Gordon Geckos on Wall Street, and Hollywood. How much is too much folks? Living a good life and having a few luxuries is one thing – but you only have to turn on the television to see conspicuous consumption at its very worst. My Super Sweet 16 on MTV is a good example. How can that type of excess be justified? It can’t. That money spent on a “one-off” event would keep a battered women’s or a homeless shelter running for several months. It would buy a nice little computer lab – with all the fixins – for a struggling rural school, or hire an additional teacher or two for a year at any school. Or provide some cool “toys” for the first responders in any community. The list is endless; so I’ll assume you take my point; and stop here. So, what are these “sweet 16” children learning? – instant gratification of any whim? Yep. Its gotta stop.

Lets set up more loan programs for small businesses at low-interest rates, and revise the requirements so that more middle class people can qualify for them. Let’s reinvest in America by actually helping out Americans. How much of those bank exec bonuses could have gone towards personal debt forgiveness? A consumer “bail-out” if you will. A show of good will towards the average Jane and Joe? We could sure use it.

How about keeping jobs in-country instead of outsourcing?. Of course Americans have to start becoming willing to accept real wages (what the job is actually worth to perform) instead of what they “think” they should be paid – because truth to tell we tend to exaggerate our worth. And this is why savvy businessmen will hire illegals, and outsource to China or India – because they’re a dirt cheap labor pool, even with shipping costs thrown in.

How about investing dollars and time in trade schools? We’re losing valuable technical skills every day a machinist or HVAC tech retires and there’s no one to take his or her place. (see my friend’s post about our misplaced focus on a college education.) We could learn much from the rest of the world as regards our education system which doesn’t even rank in the top 5.

And what about welfare reform? Lets dust off a “moldy-oldie” idea and reformat this more along the lines of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps. The current bloated system encourages abuse, fosters unending dependence, and does little to promote self-sufficiency. My dear, now departed dad talked about how the CCC worked in the backwoods towns of New Hampshire while he was growing up in the 30’s. It was pretty simple. If you wanted a paycheck, you showed up at the town hall every day and signed up for whatever was available for work. He found himself hotpatching roads one day, delivering calves at a local dairy farm the next, and painting municipal buildings the day after that. But, if you didn’t show up for work – you didn’t get paid, period. Fast forward 70 years. What about child care? Not a problem, because some of the folks “on the dole” could staff municipal child care center(s) and provide supervision to the children of workers out doing other jobs. Local businesses would use these folks on a per diem/temp basis, and wouldn’t have to worry about paying health insurance or other benefits…. Something to think about… And actual work might actually get done – instead of the rest of us driving by and seeing 6 unionized road crew construction workers stand around with coffee in hand watching 1 other worker actually work….

Anyway – lets put our money in banks and corporations who truly reinvest in their communities, by paying it forward. Whose officers and executives take only enough salary to live comfortably without ostentation, And remove our money from the institutions who only feed their own, to bloated, avarice-ridden excess. Lets see some transparency starting at the top, so we can figure out who’s got their heads on straight and who’s got their heads up their posteriors.

That said however, please be aware. “There’s a storm coming… You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” ~ ‘Selina Kyle’ in “The Dark Knight Rises” In fiction there is truth, gentlemen. Witness what’s going on in the Middle East for the last year or more. We work hard every day and we’re tired. We’re sick of having too much to get any kind of meaningful help when we need it; and too little to get ahead. Please, when one of you is elected President – Remember us, and give us a break! Thank you.

Dear Readers: please reblog this if you agree and get the word out.

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30 thoughts on “Who We Are, What We Need….

  1. I’m pretty pessimistic that much will come from the top-down (whether the Federal Government or Wallstreet). Being anti-establishment minded, I lean toward tuning out the TV programs that glamorize luxury, don’t go to the block-buster movies, and always be suspicious about who is trying to sell me some product or lifestyle (of products) through entertainment. Regarding politics, vote at the local level. Those folks are most accountable to you, because you can show up at their town council meetings, etc. Regarding banks, limit credit card use, save for inevitable repair/replacement expenses, use cash for anything under $100 (don’t let the corporations track your spending), and move funds to local banks and credit unions. Maybe my grandmother had it right in the 1970’s when she refused to have money in an investment company’s money market fund because she could not go to the branch and talk to the manager. We have become a lazy society and are easily scammed.
    Oscar
    P.S. I saw Barney re-blog this and wanted to come back to your site to read it.

  2. Well done. Very good points. There is a very sober documentary on HBO about poverty moving into a long island suburb called “Hard Times.”. It breaks your heart. There is a fact of life that needs to be stated clearly – businesses will always chase cheap labor. The textile industry has migrated from England to New England to the Carolinas to China and to Vietnam. But, here is one of the challenges we are facing today – when you send jobs overseas, the people left behind cannot afford to buy your products. A small businessman said the other day – “you can make my tax rate zero; what I need is customers to buy things.” We need to bring some manufacturing back to the US and set up more US based call centers. We are seeing some of this, but not enough. This is where government can incent things. Yet, we need clear direction on the vision. Good post.

  3. First of all I love this post!
    As to ‘How much is too much?
    Once someone crosses over to the ‘too much’ it then becomes a ‘game’ as it were to see what and how much they can control.
    Enter money in politics.
    Is all lost?
    No but my guess is we, the middle class and poor, haven’t seen the ‘bottom’ yet.
    When we do, then we can have a revolution fueled by ideas not money.
    Anyone is entitled to however much they can work for.
    They are and need to be responsible for ‘paying it forward’.
    The very ‘core’ of the wealthy and corporations have turned to seeing ‘how much’ and only for personal gain.
    Building self worth not community wealth.
    They need to get back to the ‘ask not what your Country can do for you but what you can do for your Country’.
    Will they?
    Greed is a strong motivation. Will patriotism be as strong?

  4. This is terrific. Well done. We do not talk enough about the real problems in our country as you just did. They certainly are not talked about on the campaign trail in a constructive way. Thanks.

    • Found a great related article by Glenn Kessler at the washington post, added the link at the bottom of my post. Please check it out and let me know your thoughts. Also, my twitter link to this post has been retweeted a few times. The movement has begun! 😉 ROFL!!!!

      • I’m thinking that I better start paying attention, you are going to become the premier political writer in my circle of bloggers!!
        I read two papers every day, the NY times and Washington Post, on the iPad. The Post is free. At any rate, Fact Checker by Kessler is always interesting, and if anything, he is too “nice” to these guys.
        Sometimes, as we can do is hope that someone along the line, somewhere, writes a piece that gets re-blogged enough that the message gets out there. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
        I have written about it before, you imply it in this message, and “All Things Boys” talked of it in a comment she sent me a few weeks ago: This country is facing a precipice, and it feels as though it is only a matter of time before we fall over the edge into Greek-style protests and riots in the streets. Protests and folk music toppled a president and ended a war in the ’60’s, it feels that people are more disengaged today, but it is not beyond belief that a similar eruption could occur in our future. Next week, next year, next decade.
        You are on track with a great piece, and our best work comes from when we speak from the heart, which you very obviously did.
        Well Done!!

          • I had seen the poverty post on another site early today. This is getting ugly, and all DC can do is diddle around figuring how they can get more into their pockets while taking away more from the poor.

          • Should clarify – I edited and added to the post itself, did not add another link to the related articles. Hope you are doing well. I’ll email you later Hugs to you and your bride!

          • No question on the welfare reform. Dad was in CCC for many years, working in the woods of upstate New York, cutting trails, clearing brush, building way stations. It was the only means to put bread on the table for his parents, and freeloading brothers, who thought that work was “beneath” them. Everyone can do something!

          • Everyone should be doing something! Even the less able bodied can contribute. But those that can work, should be working. If a job pays an honest wage, it shouldn’t be considered “beneath” anyone. There is much to be learned from those that grew up in the Great Depression. A superb work ethic, to start…. but (to coin a phrase from a dear friend) “thats just me..” 😉 I’m just full of sass today!

  5. You have been very prolific today. I hope it is at least a catharsisic exercise.

    This is an excellent post, and you have nailed it right on the head. I fear that people are going to get to an overload point, and the results will not be pretty, and these two guys are clueless.

    I would like to reblog this, if its ok with you.

    Great job

    • Sure go ahead. Thanks!! Some of these I’ve had in queue for a few days . So I’m not quite as prolific as it may seem ;). But yes quite cathartic. Thanks for the emails too!! Hugs, D.

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