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Who is she exactly? She is you. She is me. She is all of us.
She is fearful. She is indebted. She is well-educated. She is worried about her children's futures. She is angry. She is sad. She is like me, and she is like you.
Her pay at her job has been cut. So has her husband's. They have also lost benefits that they were told they would not lose. Recently, she wrote to me and said, "We are about to face a two-generation indentured educated class. . . this is starting to look familiar-- from like 1690-- the Virginia Company . . ."
She included this link: Leaving England: The Social Background of Indentured Servants in the Seventeenth Century."
She went on to say:
The best and the brightest are about to spend their lives paying off debt that cannot be discharged or forgiven--but can be (and has been legislated to pass down to former and future generations). I have paid my pound of flesh in cash and public service, as has my husband. We are now just paying the interest and fees charged. We deserve relief--as does my son, who will soon be entering the same track [my emphasis].Her anguish is difficult for me to digest, because I can't imagine what it is like to worry about children (and I wish for the day, i.e. to bring a child into this world, but doubt that will ever become a reality) . . . and yet . . . I do worry about this woman and others who are struggling like her, so I identify with her. I am reminded of my own unsettled, fearful thoughts when I read these notes from her and from all of you. Please keep sending them to me. They remind me of why this matters, and why we have come together to fight against this injustice, this economic slavery.
She is you. She is me. She is all of us.
Like her, I worry in similar ways. I worry about my future. I worry about my nieces. I worry about caring for my older family members. That is to say, I worry I will be unable to care for them. I am scared and exhausted and tired. What if I were to get cancer, and I had to deal with those medical bills and all this debt? Many of you are already there, and your stories always make me tear up. I will never be hardened. If I were to ever become that way, I would be a useless human being, a waste, a loss.
Instead, over half of my money goes towards debt, debt, debt. And I am sick, sick, sick of it.
In saying those things, that does not mean that I don't wish to pay it back, or that I somehow expect a so-called "free ride." Those who assume we are like that sound stupid and moronic, because they haven't a clue. Those of you who assume such things about us have also forgotten that the banks and Wall Street, the very institutions who brought this country and the global economy to the brink, were bailed out. Just like that, they went running to the Government and begged for money. That was after they gambled with ours. They sent in pencil-written requests for billions of dollars under the Bush regime, and huge checks were cut for them. Just like that! Snap! Money sent. No problem! I know. I know. I know. The money has all been paid back! And look at how much better we all are now! There are fewer banks who control our assets, and those big banks are now firing thousands of thousand of workers. But continue to turn your rage against the wrong people, you intellectually deficient mongrels. Blame us for being "deadbeats," and "lazy" and "irresponsible." Turn a blind eye on the class warfare that has been launched against you and me and millions of other Americans. You're playing right into the very hands that have robbed this country. Bravo!
Luckily, my family isn't all so cruel and understand the bigger story. Thank God for them.
But let's talk some more about buying shit. When I do happen to buy things I need, such as clothing, I immediately feel guilt. I become sick to my stomach. Indeed, as soon as I leave the store, I am mortified by the "huge expense," and I become despondent. Meanwhile, we are told at every turn that we should be buying shit ALL the time. (And for the idiots who have the audacity to mock me for being poor, I tell you this: you are stupid for thinking we are losers and we don't deserve to buy stuff. Besides, it doesn't matter how you judge us. As Robert Reich and other experts point out, 70% of the U.S. economy is driven by consumer spending. So you can laugh and mock all you want, but you and your family are being brought down too. If that hasn't happened yet, and it continues to worsen, you'll be there with us. We'll see how hardened you still are when you can't buy a thing for your family or for yourself).
I mean, what if I were to lose my job? What then? How will I survive? There are rumblings in my household that a layoff might occur. This terrifies me. I am terrified on a regular basis, because of all the stories I read. There are thousands of you who have written to me, pouring out your heart, telling me your most intimate thoughts. It reminds me of the emotions that Steinbeck described in his phenomenal essay, "Primer on the '30s.'"
He wrote, "And feelings in the Thirties ran high. People were not afraid to express them as they have become recently. If you believed a thing, you shouted it. We lived or at least talked excitement."
Those are comforting words in these uncertain, dark times. I have always identified with the Great Depression. I grew up hearing stories about it.
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My father grew up very poor. His first home was a garage with a wooden-like bunk bed built above the concrete. His mother was a woman of the Depression-era from Kansas. Her name was Ruth, and she was tough as nails. When I was quite young, I recall her speaking about the crops being destroyed by insects, the insufferable dust, the heat . . . Once she said, "the chickens only ate grasshoppers, and they tasted like grasshoppers." While I am not eating chickens that taste like grasshoppers, the endless heat of this summer in this state, and my own poverty, made me think of her a lot. I think I have become tough as nails, too, and that makes me damned proud.
A few days ago, I wrote to my father, and I was feeling more than just glum. I said, "I am mourning the loss of our country. It's amazing how it is imploding. I never thought I'd see the day when the US would collapse. It's truly astonishing."
I agree with what you say while trying to remain calm using Lincoln's reasoning- humbly I am quick to add with my new pork pie hat in my hand- that this all a part of God's plan that we can not be expected to understand . . . I do not know of a darker time in my adult life...but though maybe not the darkest (well hell yes, it's 11:30 PM) of my entire life . . .At least he made me chuckle. We must cling to our jokes in these dark times. My father has surely done that. But the fear is spreading.
The mother had this to say about fear:
The politicians need to know how scared we are. My grandfather was a doctor. My father a scientist. I, I am a librarian. My daughters have the makings of genius (ok, we are biased here, but really they're 1uite gifted--10 & 12 reading and learning at college levels), and my son, well you know about him. But my girls, if they can afford college will be encouraged by my husband and I to leave the country. They have been learning Spanish since they were 4, latin since fourth grade, and I am teaching them the basics of Japanese, French, and German. They can't stay here. This place is going to hell. If my son gets a job out of the country, he will go. My husband and I are toying with the idea--if it weren't for his elderly parents and our children, we would go. I know we would go. The brain drain has begun. There is evidence in every college and university. My husband (a college prof) talks about it every day.Despite how bleak things seem, and how awfully down I am today, I have dear friends who write me things like this: "Remember you have friends and family who love you and are pulling for things to improve in your life. You are NOT in this alone."
I needed to hear that.