Ain't it the truth? There are a bunch of blogs out there about life on the down and dirty. I won't even mention the economy. My son-in-law hasn't had a job in the last year. The other one works intermittently because his job depended on the housing boom--you know, the one that went bust?
People everywhere have to make choices between eating or meds or gas. Winter's on the way. Heating costs are rising. The hottest item in NY is a kerosene heater because people can't afford the cost of heating fuel.
Food? What's that? It's too late in the year to start a garden. The squirrels are starting to look good, aren't they? It's amazing how perspective can change when your basic needs are not met. Things you would never imagine doing suddenly seem normal.
People who never had to worry about their next meal are now lining up at food pantries. And the food pantries are collapsing under the weight. Generic and store brand staples are the new popular brands. With credit lines shutting down, people are rediscovering cash. Who knows? Perhaps some will learn that skill that's in such short supply--counting!
An acquaintance of mine never moved his mindset out of the past. He doesn't understand why people need more than twenty thousand a year to live on. We haven't figured out a way to tell him that hasn't been possible for a while...at least in suburbia America.
People who live on credit are in for an especially hard jolt. Credit cards plus loss of job equals catastrophe. Depression is at an all time high in our country with the predictable results or suicide, murder, child abuse, and all those other problems.
I bet about now that you're wishing you hadn't read this blog. Stick with me. We have some good things that can come from this mess. We can start working together. We can begin bartering for the things we need--skills for skills. We can learn about old-fashioned virtues that we've forgotten like delayed gratification, saving, and thrift. I bet there are some people who have no idea what that word means.
I grew up in the sixties in a household that was below the poverty level. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that we were "poor". We didn't go without. We had food--balanced meals--on the table for every meal. Mom bought day-old bread (it tasted just like the other bread!) for half price. She walked the extra blocks to shop for the corn or green beans where it was three cents less a can. Meat portions weren't enough to feed a small country; they were enough to feed our family. Clothes were hand me downs, but they were in good shape with no holes or tears.
Perhaps as a nation we've grown arrogant and wasteful. We believe we're entitled to everything we desire. I just haven't figured out where that attitude came from. The vast majority of people in this country actually own very little. Most of their belongings are the property of the failed mortgage companies and the failing credit card companies.
If you had to walk away tomorrow with what you actually owned, what could you take with you? I meant that "walk" literally because most of us don't own our cars.
Fear can be a good thing if it makes us stop and really take a hard look at our lives. If we look, learn, and make some life changing decisions it could be the making of us and our country. I hope so.