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Up to Par and Back Again

Warning: rant ahead, including politics.

If it’s been a while since I wrote, it’s because life has issued its typical challenges.  I feel sometimes like I’m playing tennis, with one of me playing against double tennis aces across the net.  I hit the ball now and then but for every one I hit at least a dozen zing by me untouched because I don’t have enough arms or nets to return the volleys.

The knee has become enough of an issue that I told G part of our income tax refund is now earmarked for a motorized wheelchair.  I am not especially enamored of being tied to a set of wheels, but right now I’m eating up all sick/personal/vacation time with the days I simply can’t walk.  Yes, I have a desk job.  It just so happens that my desk hovers out on one of Saturn’s rings, which is a damned long hike when you’re fighting to make it there and back.  The cane helps most days.  Then there’s the rest of the time.

So a set of personal wheels mean the difference in going to work or not, at least until I have another surgery and a radiation therapy chaser.  Which, they tell me, still isn’t a guarantee that it won’t come back again and again.

Sorry, didn’t intend to go off on another whine-fest. I just get disgusted because for all the la-dee-dah of FMLA, federal law doesn’t REQUIRE your employer to let you take it when needed.  The law has more loopholes than a crocheted doily.  As it stands I qualify, but still have to have enough paid time off accrued or any time I take still counts against my attendance and puts me at risk of being fired.  Furthermore, even with insurance I’ll have to cough up a couple of grand in co-pays and deductibles.

Our healthcare system is all kinds of busted, and don’t get me started on the pitiful excuse for a solution handed down by the US political regime.  Requiring insurance without funding it is just another abuse, particularly given the current economic climate.  Go look at the average job posting.  Most offer $10 an hour or less.  Take out $400 every two weeks to pay for health insurance and it won’t even pay for your gas to GET to work.

I’m fortunate to make a fairly decent wage.  If G’s job had panned out (it didn’t – he’s still looking) we’d be sitting pretty within a few months’ time.  Provided my knee magically heals.

I don’t want to go back to a world in which a woman was a second-class citizen (or worse).  But there was a time when one job, one wage-earner was enough to qualify you for middle class.  Nowadays you’re lucky if two people working two jobs each can make ends meet at the low end of the scale.  I’d have loved being a housewife.  Never had the luxury.  Years of working ridiculous hours has served me well career-wise but it’s knocked the hell out of my body and short-changed my family.  Sadly, there are people who have worked even more hours than I have.

The US as a nation is broken.  Our health care is broken.  Our housing is broken.  Our education is a hot mess.  Every other first-world country mandates paid time off for employees, including maternity leave and vacations.  We in the US aren’t even guaranteed half an hour a day for lunch – look up the labor laws for yourself.  European nations have national health care systems – not perfect, but a hell of a lot better than the upcoming law here.  Our new law, in effect next year, says we have universal coverage too.  We have to pay for it out of our own pockets.  And if our pockets don’t stretch that far, too bad – the government is a potent collection agency.

Used to be families lived on one income.  That was what it took to be middle class.  Nowadays if you’re lucky enough to be middle class it probably entails two people working two (or more) jobs apiece, along with enough debt to guarantee they’ll never see the end of it.

It sounds really nice to blame people for using debt unwisely; credit card debt is definitely out of control these days.  One of my family members is carrying $30K in credit card debt – all for “frivolities” like replacing an AC that went out, repairing the wall part of their home that got smashed in an accident, repairing and replacing and so on.  (Not sure why their homeowner’s didn’t cover the repair after the accident, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.)  That end of the family tree makes good money, and lives in a VERY modest 2-bedroom home they bought quite a while ago (bef0re housing costs exploded) and they still struggle to stay afloat.

You want a real solution to this nation’s problems?  Force every member of the government, from the President to Congress and on down, to live on the median income, median benefits and housing and everything else, that’s the real norm in this country.  As in, the law expressly forbids them from ever exceeding it.  And then force them to spend a year living as the poorest of our poor.  Bet me how long it would take to make some very real changes.  It would either require those in power to change the law, or change who was in power – either way, same end result.

No doubt it would just push a lot more of governmental deals under the table, but considering how much is already there I figure couldn’t be much worse for us.

Maybe the solution is that we all do a term in office.  One term in office guarantees you a lifetime pension that’s way beyond what the average American will ever see.

Is it any wonder I had politics on principle?

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