For the last thirteen years I have traveled fulltime in a motorhome, seldom staying in one place for longer than a month, and often moving on after only one night’s stay. One of the things I like most about my lifestyle is that I get to talk to people from all walks of life, in every corner of the country, and I make it a point to do so.
From waitresses in small diners on the back roads of the Midwest, to long haul truckers I meet at the fuel islands of truck stops, to small business owners from Arizona to Minnesota, and retirees whose careers included anything and everything, I always enjoy getting to know these people, and talking to them one on one.
The one thing that stands out to me, and has for years now, is that no matter who I am talking to, and no matter where I meet them or what their station in life is, they all seem to be fed up with the state our country is in, and they all seem to have a feeling that there is nothing they, or anybody else, can do about it.
And this isn’t something that has only been going on during the Obama presidency. I remember talking to a waitress in Bowling Green, Kentucky years ago who told me that she and her husband were both working two jobs, and still could not afford health insurance. She said the company her husband worked for had closed down, they were in danger of losing their home, and they knew they could never retire. “But what can you do?” she asked, shrugging her shoulders. “Nobody in Washington cares about us little people out in the real world.”
Three years ago I talked to an old Army buddy who told me that his company had just declared bankruptcy and he had lost all of his benefits, including his retirement. He said he was going to have to work unit he died. “It’s always been the same way,” he told me, “the rich get richer, and the poor get screwed.”
I had a cousin who went to work for a hospital right out of high school, and worked there until deteriorating health forced her to stop working when she was in her mid-50s. The hospital had been acquired by a succession of different companies over the years, and with each new owner, a little more was chipped away from the employees’ retirement plans. My cousin discovered that if she could not qualify for some disability due to her health issues, she would not have enough coming in to even pay her rent.
Another cousin worked for the police department in a major city, and was forced to retire when crippling arthritis made it impossible for her to work. This is someone who started working when she was still in high school, and never was unemployed. She did not want to to retire, but with her twisted fingers and feet, she could not continue to work. The pittance she receives is enough for her to barely squeak by, if she lives very frugally. Meanwhile, over the years, the city’s health insurance plan has been whittled away until she could not even afford the co-pay on the many prescription medications her doctors prescribe.
At a craft fair in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan a couple of weeks ago, I got into a conversation with a man who told me that he had worked for an electronics company near Detroit for 25 years, and then they moved their operation overseas. He was finding that, at age 55, with two kids in college, there were no jobs available that would even come close to allowing him to maintain the lifestyle he and his family were accustomed to, let alone continue paying college tuition. He was another victim of corporate greed, and a company that turned its back on loyal employees to save a buck by going offshore. He said he felt betrayed, and well he should!
Just last week, my wife’s sister told the family that her 401K funds had all but disappeared in the last few weeks’ stock market plunges. She works for a major defense contractor, and in her early 50s is wondering just what the hell happened to her American dream.
I have heard the same stories over and over again for years, and I keep hearing them. People are pissed off, they feel betrayed, and no matter who’s in office, nothing ever gets better.
These are not lazy people! These are not stupid people that blew their money at some casino or lived beyond their means. These are hardworking Americans who paid their taxes, played by the rules all of their lives, and still got screwed.
They got screwed during the Bush administration, and they are getting screwed during Obama’s administration. Why? Because we have a system that ignores the working middle class, the very people who keep America working. It doesn’t matter if the people in Washington are Democrats or Republicans, none of them are taking care of the people who elected them.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Those words are the preamble to the United States Constitution, one of the most sacred documents in the history of mankind. But aren’t we the people those words were written about? What ever happened to our domestic tranquility? To our general welfare? To our posterity? Don’t we the people still deserve the things our forefathers tried to insure us with those words?
The road we’ve been going down for the last few decades is turning out to be a dead end. Maybe it’s time for we the people to take control of the wheel and control of our fate. Because the idiots we have in the driver’s seat now are drunk, blind, and stupid!
Tags: 401K plans, American economy, American working class, college tuition, companies moving offshore, corporate greed, health insurance, investments, long haul truckers, medical disability, Obama presidency, retirement plans, small business owners, stock market, United States Constitution, waitresses, Wal Street