What’s in it for me?

Money money money money. It’s top of everyone’s minds these days. The bailout plan, unemployment, the Octuplet Mom. Money.

So as you probably all know, I lost my steady job on New Year’s Eve, leaving me unemployed for the first time since early 2002. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to find many sources of income – freelancing, consulting, stripping (just kidding on that last one. So far). But none of it is guaranteed – it could fall apart at any time. Of course, the same could be said for any job. But somehow the 1099 provides less security than the W-2. I’m constantly thinking, “sure, things are OK now. But what if …?

It’s those “what ifs” that’ll kill you.

So that led me to ranting a little bit about the stimulus plan on Facebook last night. And while Facebook is great for short rants, my blog is the place for long, uncensored, drawn-out rants. So here’s where I will clarify.

My problem isn’t necessarily with Obama. Yes, I voted for him. No, that wouldn’t prevent me from criticizing him if I thought he was doing a crappy job. But it hasn’t been long enough to know what kind of job he’s doing. The stimulus plan? When I was making a steady (and quite honestly, fairly decent) income, I’d have sat back and said, OK, let’s see how this all plays out. But there is something so paralyzingly frightening about not having a steady income that it’s hard to look at the bigger picture. I want to know what’s in it for ME. Extending unemployment benefits and adding $25 a week or whatever? Well, I have yet to be able to collect the one week I actually did qualify for, and that amount of money won’t even pay a car payment. Take the cap off unemployment. Let everyone, regardless of their income, use the same formula to collect benefits – in Florida, that’s the quarter in the base period with the highest earning amount divided by 26. Blah blah … because oh, the maximum weekly amount is $275. I never had to bother doing the math, because I just said, oh great, $275. Yeah, that’s a livable income.

Or – allow me to earn up to the calculated amount. Give me my $275, but give it to me even if I earn $276 that week. Give it to me no matter what I earn – up to the quarter-divided-by-26 amount. Just give me some credit for freaking EARNING money and getting by, and don’t penalize me for having earned a decent income for the better part of the last decade. Because right now it’s the college-educated, white-collar citizens who have been stimulating the damn economy like mad who are getting hurt the worst.

Do I have credit-card debt? Yep. Have I paid my bills on time, every month without fail? Yep. Have I ever failed to make a car payment, rent payment, utility payment? Nope. Am I a model freaking citizen? Damn straight. So where’s my bailout?

I’m on board. I will watch and wait and hope for the best, and understand that everyone in a leadership position in this country, regardless of party, has a gargantuan job ahead of them and no one – Obama, McCain, Clinton, Romney, Guiliani – could have come in, snapped their fingers and in the first two weeks turned things around (OK, maybe Guiliani could have, but there’d have been leg-breaking and thugs involved. Damn you, Rudy, for ignoring Florida. We could have been so happy together … ). There will be criticism for anyone trying to clean up this mess, and none of them are particularly concerned about my particular problems. A white girl with a master’s degree and a household income that’s still solidly middle class isn’t going to be anyone’s poster child for the shitty economy.

Somehow, though, that doesn’t make me any less scared.


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