Yes, I realize it’s a horrible song…but it’s the first title that came to mind….
Like most intelligent Americans I’ve been following the entire economic crisis/recession/depression/or whatever the hell you prefer to call it with keen interest. I’ll even go far enough to admit that I might be getting addicted, at least in reference to policies that pertain specifically to New York State.
I’ve never been one for politics or economics. I’ve found both to be dull beyond comprehension, but this year it’s hard not to tie personal meaning to what I read each day. I compare so many stories to those told to me by my parents who lived through The Great Depression, although they were just tots themselves. I think about why I’m thankful for once that my procrastination paid off when it came to investments, but I wonder if now when the market is low should I reconsider and actually hand in my paperwork to buy into my 403B? I read daily about layoffs not just at national levels, but in my hometown, and in the community I currently live in. I’m thankful I’m no longer teaching in my old district as they face a huge state aid cut from the state and the impending closure of the GM plant in town taking with it not just jobs, but entire families and student enrollments as well. I’m glad I’m no longer paying college tuition as I watch the schools under the State University of New York take a huge hit and increase tuition universally. However I still bemoan the huge amount of student loans I still have to pay and wonder why no one seems interested in offering a bailout for education loans…then I realize that people may overindulge in their houses and automobiles but are probably a lot less likely to overindulge when it comes to education, especially in the era where parents pay such a tremendous part of the bill. I’m the exception, not the rule, even if it sounds pompous to say so. I do worry that in another 14 years (that I know will pass quicker than I like), I’ll be faced with possibly helping my children attend college and I’m fearful that the laws passed today may impede my ability to help them in the future. I worry as I read about cuts to medicare and programs to seniors that my parents will lose what precious few benefits they have as well. I’m fearful for everyone at the moment and feeling all the while like I should be doing more.
And above all at the moment, I fear daily for my own job. Not a topic I prefer to discuss, but nevertheless a reality as the funding for my program is listed in all of the newspapers as potentially cut IF and WHEN the NYS government make their final decisions. It’s not so much that I fear the loss of income, I have faith in myself to find employment somewhere doing something. The one thing I can say for all of us in my family is that we all have a strong desire to work and are typically quick to find some kind of employment. The part that is driving me absolutely crazy is not knowing. It’s the constant crunching of numbers, the constant emails, phone calls, and meetings and then the sitting around and waiting for something to happen and some final decision to be made. I’d almost rather have bad news than no news at all…and lately I’ve been living with this ‘up in the air’ feeling for months. It’s exhausting to say the least.
I have no problem with not owning new things…I grew up that way…I also have no problem with my kids not having the newest of everything either. I plan to pare down this holiday season. Over the years our family has grown. I’m not complaining by any means and enjoy having new family members to buy gifts for each time there’s a marriage or a new niece or nephew. I’ve always done a Christmas Club each year through my bank, one of the few times I manage to actually save money, and a trick I learned by watching my mother for years when I was a child. I went shopping with some co-workers about a week ago and spent the Christmas Club and am only part-way done with everyone. The positive side is that everything is paid for thus far without a credit card bill, the downside is that I’m not quite done yet. I may have to resort in future years to my old system of one or two gifts per paycheck beginning in September. My sister-in-law shops all year which is another smart strategy, although I’m not sure I have storage for the gifts throughout the year.
This article Parents Sacrifice to Shielf Kids from Bad Economy from The Daily Journal highlights the fact that despite whatever sort of ‘crisis’ we seem to be in economically, the one entity that seems to not be affected are our kids.
The irony? How many times have you had a conversation with someone about how today’s kids are spoiled? How often have you caught yourself saying “Well, I never had new clothes all the time…I never received all of my toys from Santa…I never had everything I ever wanted and I turned out just fine.”
So why do we do this?