Category Archives: politics

are YOU better off than four years ago?

Time changes a lot.  When you’re in the How I Met Your Mother timeframe (several years after college has ended), things start to move more slowly.  For your whole life, until you’re 22 or so, every four to six years your life completely changes.  Different school.  Different phase of life.

But as an old friend said when he graduated college and  got his job, “Well, time to work until I’m 60.”  That’s a long time with not a lot of change.

Only four presidential election cycles have occurred in my lifetime in which I’ve been able to participate.  And I’ve participated in all of them, voting in the 2000 election only three weeks after my eighteenth birthday.  I’ve volunteered and canvassed and listened to my candidate speak in the other two elections that have already happened.  My guy is coming to Hollywood on Sunday, and I’ll be out of town, visiting friends who are in from out of state.  That’s just the way my life has been heading, I guess.

Because of my comparative youth, it’s no indicator of the economy to say whether or not I’m better off than I was four years ago.  I do have the same job I did four years ago, although many of the details of the job and my workplace have changed significantly.  In 2008, most teachers in my area were struggling to hang on.  But by now, we’re steadily recovering, and there are more jobs in my field than there were four years ago.  So that’s something.

I also bought my car four years ago – the first car I’d bought in my own name, even with my own bad credit.  (It’s still not great, but I blame that less on the economy.)  I bought it September 21st, 2008, and the guy at Carmax who sold it to me and who discussed Tommy Friedman with us set my radio to Praerie Home Companion as I drove away on that early Saturday evening.  He kind of ruled.  My car payments kind of haven’t ruled over the past four years, but I’m getting it down and will have it paid off next September.  I also bought it about a week before all of the markets crashed.

Back to my job, and even a little further back than that now, I got my job in April of 2007.  I graduated college a week later.  I was set, and according to many economists, the recession, at least in Florida, began in April of 2007.  My timing could not have been better.  Whatever misgivings I have about my job at this point, the reminder of being able to hang on keeps me where I am.

So I got a job right as the housing market started slipping, and held onto it when Florida schools started slashing through teacher jobs.  I got my car, even with my shitty credit, before the markets tanked and there was no credit available.  I needed it, too, as my brakes were failing in my beloved Neon and I needed to get to work.

And looking away from economics for a moment, timing also sealed the deal on me meeting my husband.  It worked out perfectly.  Suffice to say, he is also a hell of a lot better off than he was four years ago.  He’s three years older than I am, and in the fall of 2008, he had just returned to the US after three years living and teaching abroad, landed at this parents’ house, without a single job prospect despite multiple promotions in his prior jobs, despite the fact that they were overseas.

(Side note: if you’re going to teach overseas, don’t look at it as a career move.  Do it because you want to have the experience, and you plan on getting more training back home in the US.  Unless you plan on staying out there.)

We met in the summer of 2009, and suffice to say, we’re both better off for having one another in our lives.  We don’t have a ton of savings, but we have some.  He has some investments, I have a small retirement plan and good, cheap benefit, and we’re doing what we can do.

We flirt with the idea sometimes, but we don’t really want to touch the housing market with a ten-foot-pole, although friends are telling us that it’s only going up from here.  They’re right.  And as much as I want to act out House Hunters, not happening.  I’m into fixer-uppering, and T-storm would rather just buy something without problems.  Although he did marry me, so that philosophy doesn’t exactly hold.  (Heh heh.)

We love living in Wilton Manors, and we love being married, and for all intents and purposes, we are better off than we were four years ago.  I don’t make any more money than I did four years ago, but that’s the fault of my ineffective union* and Rick Scott, who has really screwed me.

So that’s our status.  While that doesn’t particularly affect who we’re going to vote for, as we have our own ideas and we do a lot of research on a lot of things – and for Christ’s sake, we live in Wilton Manors – that’s the answer to that question.

 

*sidenote: I believe in unions, and supported the teachers’ union in the recent Chicago strike.  It just happens that mine gets shockingly little done.  That’s South Florida politics, I guess.

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eat it, Bachmann!

I was actually looking for reliable information on divorce rates for the decades in which I grew up (I turned 18 in 2000, which should give you a pretty good indicator of my youth-ness).

And I found this, which referenced Nate Silver, on whom I have had a huge crush for years. HIS BIG SEXY BRAIN!

Derp derp, same-sex marriages might actually decrease the divorce rate?!

Well, it’s kind of a shot.  There’s a chance it’s right.  Except that Silver is never.  Wrong.

Big.  Sexy.

Brain.  You got it!

(Addendum: T-storm might not be any use for statistical modeling, but he’s got a pretty big, sexy brain himself!)

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Let’s just think about this for a minute…

Getting political for a sec.  This won’t be the last time.

There are a bunch of D-bags out there who constantly rag on teachers.  And they say things like, “Well duh guys, the economy sucks and we all have to make do with less.  That includes those rich, spoiled teachers with their lingering summer vacations.”  And while teachers hit the streets in protest, said D-bags roll down their windows and complain about how few benefits private employees get, and then drive off in their late-model luxury SUVs.

Well you know what?  Allow me to just say, now that this ridiculous school year is ending, that teachers are doing more with less.  A lot more.  I’ve seen a lot of teachers in general kicking some serious ass on a lot less than they’re used to.  Not to mention that all Florida teachers are going to be subject to a 3% pay cut next year, as well as continual cuts to programs & resources in schools.  Teachers are still going to move students forward.

Even though that path dangerous – because whenever you do more with less, the powers that be will decide you never needed more, and they’ll keep you on that steady diet of nothing (wasn’t that the title of a Minor Threat album or something?  Fugazi, maybe?).

But what is the alternative?  Be crappy to students and give them less than they deserve?  It’s not their fault they couldn’t talk mommy & daddy out of voting for union-busting nitwits.

Kids deserve the best that society can afford to give them, at least in their education.  Kids deserve to eat healthy foods, to feel safe in their communities, and to grow into intelligent young people via public education.  And less intelligent budget cuts in places all over the country threaten those rights.

Miracles can happen.  Some teachers are Christ-like in their ability to make wine from water (and don’t many of them wish they could actually accomplish this during their planning hour).

But even Christ himself cannot make wine out of thin air.  And that’s what state and local governments are trying to see happen.  Holding classes where students do nothing but learn on their own with a laptop, no assigned teacher for the period.  Thus defeating the purpose of them even coming to school.  I predict parents are going to start crapping their pants over this – and I hope they do.

Okay, evil, cartoonish governors and ill-fated superintendents: we got it.  Teachers have to make do with less.  But what message is that sending to kids?

“Hey kids – we don’t think you’re important.  We don’t place a premium on your future.  We are taking things away from you to give to private businesses, who are only going to invest in more private businesses, and we’ll get some sales tax revenue from that, sure, but then that revenue will only go back to more tax breaks for companies, and not to schools, because we just can’t afford it.  You understand, right?  Now go consume things that are bad for you, and take low-paying, entry level jobs at these same corporations, because we don’t care about you.”

Think about it.  Just for a minute.

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