Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Truth about the Economy

Robert Reich explains it all in 5 bullet points in 2 minutes. Down there. At the bottom of my insipid ramblings.

Back in the early 1990's, I remember having a very strong gut feeling about an undercurrent redistribution of wealth. We were a family of three living in Flower Mound, Texas - I was a project manager/estimator for a construction company, wifey was a dental assistant/office manager, daughter in public school.

We we living a modest lifestyle within our means - a $95k garden home, an Isuzu Trooper, a Nissan Sentra - no boat, no jet ski, no motor cycle, no lavish vacations, no debt besides mortgage and car notes. Hell, we only budgeted "movie night" (with dinner out) once a month. Our vacations were to Colorado and northern New Mexico - camping out in the National Forest - with a night in a cheap motel every third night or so.

The problem was that this modest lifestyle was eating up essentially 100% of our net income. We didn't have much in the way of savings. No investments. I think I had a 401k. Sundays were my budgeting/bill paying/expense projection days. I tried and tried to figure out where to cut back. Sure, we could have cancelled our cable and saved $25 or perhaps $35 a month. There were no cell phones back then so we had to have a land line. I'm remembering now that I had a company car - so the gasoline bills were low, too.

I remembered looking back to our first car after we were married - a Toyota Corolla for $1,200. And looking at my Isuzu Trooper at $12,000 - my college graduation-gift-to-myself. And then Sentra six years later at $16,000 - used. I remember projecting my weekly take-home pay week after week, month after month, and nothing ever accumulating.

I'm sitting here now acknowledging that we could have shopped for clothes at Wal-Mart instead of Dillard's. We bought our furniture - what little we owned - at Haverty's and Dillards and Foley's. I remember going from a full-size bed to a queen size and thinking/feeling how indulgent and luxurious it seemed.

I remember wondering how we could be working so hard, making good money, living within our means - managing at just above the frugal level. I remember wondering why we were basically just breaking even. I remember wondering why all our neighbors had boats and jet skis and motor cycles and were taking Disney and European Vacations. Most of that was credit cards and HELOC (home equity line of credit), if that credit/default/redistribution of wealth device even existed then.

What I remember most is the feeling that someone, somewhere, was getting rich - accumulating wealth off the backs of the hard working common folks - the "middle class" - and that someone damn sure wasn't me (us).

Those memories are fading into the distant past now - my recollection is vague - but I remember it being very strong back then. A very powerful gut feeling of injustice happening out there in the world. Ah. It's still there, that feeling.

Oh well.


I think I'll make myself a tequila sunrise and go bake myself outside in the shade.

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