I think about the only thing keeping me semi-sane right now is all the time I’m spending on the water. There’s plenty to be disturbed about. The economy is great, if you are rich. If you work for a living, things are very tough indeed.
Sure, the unemployment numbers are up a bit, but that’s hardly the whole story. It doesn’t tell the story of my engineer friend who’s been out of work for over a year and has dropped off the official statistics. Then there’s all the people who are working, but for a lot fewer hours and at a lot less money. Of course, there’s the flip side, people working 80 hours in an attempt to maintain some semblance of a middle class life. As long as nothing breaks down or no one gets sick, everything will be fine.
One of the things that pains me is the number of really talented people who can’t do what they do best. Instead, they do what they can to get by. There’s the teacher who’s working as a janitor. There’s the extremely skilled artist who once did fine work on commission. I saw him the other day painting novelty signs on the sidewalk in an attempt to buy some gas. There are skilled tradespeople not practicing their trades. Most of them are doing some kind of work, so they aren’t listed as unemployed.
My lovely wife and I are doing fine, but that’s because we’ve worked for years to put ourselves in a position where we can live on very little money. We do need some however and what we get doesn’t go as far as it used to. It pains me to see friends and family suffering. Some had bought into the refinance your house to live well lifestyle, but many people did. No one listened to me when I warned it would all end in tears. They ignored me and why not? Wasn’t everyone saying that real estate could only go up?
I dread what will happen come winter. I know a lot of people who’ve been unable to pay last winter’s heating bill, so they’ve been cut off. Last winter, I showed one of my friends that he could use diesel fuel instead of heating oil in his furnace. While he couldn’t afford the 125 gallon cash up front delivery, he could afford to by diesel fuel 10 gallons at a time. The guy still has my diesel fuel cans and funnel. He needs them more than I do, I guess.
Medical insurance is another issue. Many of my friends have dropped it and are taking their chances. I saw one guy today who really should see a doctor. He’s in constant pain but he has no insurance. He can’t afford to miss a day of work to see a doctor either. Medical costs me $740/month, so I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep it my own self.
It’s not just my area. Compared to some places I’ve seen in my travels, my home town is an economic prosperity zone. Too many people are right on the ragitty edge. International news reports protests in the streets all over the world. I wonder how it’ll all play out in our country.
I cruise around in my little sailboat and it calms and relaxes me. My wife and I would really like to do some coastal cruising. On my bad days, I have this vision of sailing down the coast, watching cities burn in the distance. It’s a grim thought, but not impossible.
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