Posted by NevadaJoe
Well, I guess it is time for the "other half" to appear on Jamie's blog, and here I am. While Jamie is extremely well-read in regards to the daily politics of our country, I am certainly less so. Like most of you I can only absorb a moderate amount before I throw my hands up in disgust, turn off the TV, and go make myself a cocktail. Civic duty, as we were taught, requires an active role in our government and voting every 2/4 years is the barest minimum. And if you were raised right you know that we must accept our "responsibilities" along with our "rights". So, along with the rest of the baby-boomers, Jamie and I are now finding it is our turn to sit up, pay attention, and be heard.
Of course it isn't too hard to see that the U.S. is not the country it can or should be these days. I for one can look forward to retirement in 20 years with a pension of $400+ and a reduced social security check with a delayed retirement date to go along with that. Being born in '61 I qualify for retirement at 67, and that number is only going to go up in the next 20 years. So, in a nutshell, I will be working into my 70s and while that isn't the happiest thought, it surely isn't the end of the world. I think everyone needs something to get them "up and at 'em" on a daily basis. Perhaps you are the type to get up early and go biking, hiking, or mountain climbing, well I am not; so getting up early and working a few days a week will most likely do me good. While I am doing that the ex-CEOs of my employer (and there are 5 so far during my career) will be living the good life in one of their many homes in Aspen, Vail, Malibu, or some island in the Caribbean, fair? I don't think so, but fairness is somewhat of an unrealistic expectation in the USA of the 21st Century.
We are becoming a country of the rich, and the working poor. Without meaningful health care reform most households are only a major illness away from bankruptcy. Now, isn't that a lovely threat to have hanging over one's head? Fortunately we are a household of two wage-earners. My friends from work who are single are working two jobs and still barely able to make ends meet. For those of you with children I can only imagine the idea of funding college educations must be very sobering. We have tightened our budgets, and will learn to live on less. And I will be married to my current job because we get our health care from it. I am very thankful that domestic partner health care is available to us from my employer. It does come with a tax bite though, nearly $5000 is added to my taxable income for the IRS. Is that fair? Not to me, but I am still happy to have health care for Jamie. So, the next time you think gay marriage or legalized domestic partnership is unnecessary keep that one example in mind. Death and health related issues are much larger and messier for us too, and the cost of legal advice to set things up properly is about $3000. And that is just to get us to where "married" folks are protected, it isn't any of the clever estate planning trusts that the wealthy can use to avoid paying taxes.
Looking back at what I have written I find that I seem kind of bitter. Trust me, I'm not. But I am a realist and can see the good as well as the bad parts of life. I am tremendously blessed with family and friends. And with that in mind, I would much rather spend time with them and share a few laughs over a homemade dinner versus dining out. The events of September 11th has helped some Americans refocus on the importance of family over possessions. I endeavor to be one of them, and hope you are too. The true religion of our country is consumption. We define ourselves by what we drive, what we wear, the size of our home, and our net worth. And are we a happier country for it? Does that satisfy our core needs? I think not, and if it does, what kind of a people are we? For all the damnation of homosexuality that comes out of the republican party, I rarely hear them expound on a few other sins. What is their position on Sloth? Obesity? Envy? Man, I think that envy is one of the worst things we do to each other. It is insidious. We would do well to try to balance things out a bit. My mom was right all along, "everything in moderation". Time for me to wrap this up. So, try to be a better person tomorrow. Maybe that will be the only way we do change things around here.