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So I totally get the idea of shared sacrifice.  I don't have a problem doing my part to get the economy back on track.  I actually vote for policies that help people that need it, and don't mind paying my part to put them in place. But lately I've been feeling like I've already given enough and maybe I might be giving more than an average amount of this so-called shared sacrifice.  

I know there are millions of others around like me, and it feels like we've taken the brunt of the hits in the downturn, so I guess that technically makes it a shared sacrifice, but it feels to me like not everybody has had to do as much actual you know, sacrificing.  I keep reading about the rich getting richer, and record corporate profits, and although many businesses in my town have closed in the past few years, the only ones opening are banks. So it doesn't really seem fair to me.

So just to set the record straight, here's what I've already "shared" since the meltdown of the economy...

I've taken pay cuts in each of the past three years in the form of furlough days (eight days, five days, and five days again this year).  Even though prices have continued to go up, my pay has been going backwards.  My husband, who is also a teacher, took a $7000 pay cut three years ago, and pay freezes the last two years.

I'm a teacher and my pension lost about a third of its value several years back when they supposedly "fixed" PERS in the state of Oregon, but it looks like they need to fix it again.  It's all over the papers that something more has to be done, and soon. So it's a pretty safe bet I'm going to "sacrifice" even more of my pension.  

My class sizes have gone up from the 20's to 30's in the past few years, so I'm doing a third more work for less pay.  Resources have been drastically cut at my school, so I'm having to supplement school supplies with my own money (even more than usual) for kids who can't afford them.  Otherwise I have to try to teach kids without the needed supplies, and then I'll be held accountable for their lack of progress.  Either way I lose.

The value of my house (the major source of my family's wealth) went down drastically (35%) and has yet to recover.  Since I've owned the house for twenty years, and my mortgage isn't quite underwater, there's no talk of any kind of plan to help me recover my loss.  It just means I'll have to work longer to build up my resources in order to be able to even think of retiring, which I probably won't be able to do now until I'm 67 if they "tweak" entitlements like they are talking about.  By then I'll have been teaching for 46 years!

I've had to have my son and his wife and two kids live with us for three and a half years because he couldn't get a job that makes enough to live on his own even with two college degrees.  The job he has now has no health insurance, and no sick days, and pays mostly on commission. I'm also helping my daughter out because she's single and has trouble making ends meet even with a masters degree.  

The fees at my father-in-law's retirement home go up every year in spite of the fact that his pension and Social Security haven't, so we've been helping him out as much as we can too. I probably should retire now in order not to lose even more of my pension when they "fix" PERS again, but I probably can't because I can't afford my bills and the cost of medical insurance in the interim before I can sign up for Medicare.

I've worked my entire life since I was fifteen, and I have a good and happy life with a great family.  I know we are so much better off than many people in this economy.  I'm lucky I wasn't laid off and I didn't lose my pension.  I feel lucky to have a decent job, which is kind of ironic, because for the first twenty years that I taught, nobody considered it a well-paying job, and now suddenly we teachers have become greedy money grubbers with extravagant pensions and benefits.  

My lifestyle doesn't feel so extravagant to me, in fact, my husband and I are stretched pretty thin trying to help our other family members who really don't have enough. It frustrates me because we did everything right, worked hard all our lives, made it into the middle class, only to bear the brunt of so many problems.  

My pension, if not my teacher's union is the total cause of the devastation of education if you read the local paper lately.  Last year my school district went on strike, and the local media had a field day calling me and my colleagues greedy and self-serving. The going narrative is that cost of PERS is the only cause in the rise of class sizes and the lack of resources, and all of us avaricious teachers should be ashamed of ourselves and give back more.  

I'm a baby boomer too, so that makes me a double whammy; I'm also the cause of the ruination of Social Security and the lack of sustainability in Medicare too. Everywhere I look I'm being blamed for the devastation of the economy.  Funny thing though, all I ever did was work hard, live responsibly, and pay my bills on time.  I don't remember ever being wild and crazy with my money and causing so much debt. If I'd have known I'd be blamed for the country's economic woes, I could have had so much more fun actually being irresponsible with my money.

Every time I see John Boehner on my television set talking about how we can't raise tax rates on the "job creators" or as he always calls them "small businesses," it makes me crazy.  Every time I hear how this has to be a "balanced" approach I want to scream because so far it hasn't seemed very balanced to me.  I have a feeling there are many people out there just like me ready to throw something at their television set. I'm so sick of people who are at the top and in charge of fixing things, who have no concept of how most of us live. I'm tired of them telling us that we all have to do our part to solve this, while they're trying their hardest to not actually solve anything except keeping themselves at the top. I wonder if it will ever change and what it would take to do so.

Originally posted to thalli1 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:31 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Barbara Jorand 1992 (14+ / 0-)

    Here is part of Barbara's keynote speech from 1992.

    The American Dream is slipping away from those persons who have jobs, job which no longer will pay the benefits which will enable them to live and thrive because America seems to be better at building war equipment to sit in warehouses and rot than in building decent housing. It's slipping away. It's slipping away.

    The American Dream is slipping away from those workers who are on indefinite layoffs while their chief executive officers are taking home bonuses which equal more than the worker will ever make in 10 or 20 or 30 years.


    Our strength in this country is rooted in our diversity. Our history bears witness to that fact: E Pluribus Unum -- "from many, one". It was a good idea when it was founded, and it's a good idea today. From many, one. That still identifies us still identifies us. We must frankly acknowledge our complicity in the creation of the unconscionable budget deficits -- acknowledge our complicity and recognize, painful though it may be, that in order to seriously address the budget deficits, we must address the question of entitlements also. That's not easy. That's not easy. But we have to do it; we have to do it; because the idea of justice between generations. That idea mandates that the baby-boomers -- that's our ticket -- the baby-boomers and their progeny are entitled to a secure future. They are.

    However, if we are going to ask those who receive benefits to sacrifice their must be equity in sacrifice. Equity in sacrifice. That idea says that we will sacrifice for growth, but that everybody must join in the sacrifice, not just a few -- everybody. Equity in sacrifice means that all will sacrifice equally...equally...equally. That is, the person who is retired on a fixed income, the day laborer, the corporate executive, the college professor, the Member of Congress -- all must sacrifice for equity.

    So some twenty years ago we all sacrificed.  Then the corporate executives got to roll back their sacrifice. Cuts to capital gains, cuts to income taxes. We kept our sacrifices, they tossed theirs off.

    No here we are in 2012 and we are called on again to make 'shared sacrifices.' We make even more sacrifices. And the rich? They simply give back less than they did last time.

    We step back.
    They step back.

    They step forward.
    We stay put.

    Now we step back again (two steps back).
    They set back a half step.

    We are losing ground with these 'shared sacrifices.'

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:10:13 AM PST

  •  Obscene Lie (15+ / 0-)

    There is a particular cruelty in the big lie of "shared sacrifice" and "balanced approach".  There is nothing shared about the sacrifice and nothing balanced about the approach.  

    I mean how wealthy and how disconnected from reality do you have to be to take seriously this Kabuki over 1 or 2% in the tax rates on people for which this is cutting luxuries at most?  They want to balance that against taking chemo away from a 65 year old?!  They want to say give up 2 years of healthcare or fund out of your insufficient assets 2 more years of insurance, co-pays, deductibles and while you do that remember that we'll be coming back for the COLA on Social Security so don't expect those assets to stretch so far and we'll get around to cutting Medicaid so don't expect to nursing home care when those assets run out.    

    I mean how can you tell me someone earning $250K can't afford a tax increase while at the same time you tell me that someone making 1/10 of that or nothing at all can give up Medicare at 65?  

    The tragedy is that the people hurt the most by this lie are the working poor. Those people who believed in Obama because they thought he was on their side. The people who have no luxuries. The people who have no surplus.  The people who will accept the sacrifice with a stiff upper lip and soldier on doing with less of what they truly need while the upper middle class whines that they can't afford private school tuition and a trip to Bali and the latest Ipad and that cute new Beemer and if they have to cut back well I guess we'll not be able to give the maid a Christmas bonus.

    •  I'm lucky (8+ / 0-)

      I'm disabled, so I already have Medicare, and have had cancer twice since getting it. I know so many people who stopped being able to work in their 50s, and have simply had to cross their fingers hoping nothing terrible happened until they reached 65. It bewilders me that with so many of the long-term unemployed being older workers who must do without decent health care, raising the Medicare age is even whispered about.

      Meanwhile, as for cutting COLAs as McConnell would like - for three of the past 5 years, there has been no COLA. This coming year, my COLA will be 16 or 17 dollars a month, not quite making up for the $20 cut to my food stamps that just happened last month, and which the COLA will probably cut more.

      I really appreciate those of my friends like you who are still working (though a number of teacher friends have retired early) and helping to keep me alive. But I also wonder at those who complain about having maybe to give up the ski lodge in Aspen while the rest of us share the sacrifice.

      Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

      by ramara on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:39:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You've had to sacrifice because the plutocrats... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thalli1, dfarrah

    don't like sharing. From properly funding the retirement your were promised to paying for the education system they rely on for competent labor, the Capitalists just aren't interested in paying anything close to their fair share. And that's been the entire idea. They rigged the system to work like this.

    It's truly stomach turning to hear anyone claim they are fighting for us while peddling this Balanced Approach, Shared Sacrifice drivel. It's simply a continuation of the theft.

    "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

    by 2020adam on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:37:48 PM PST

  •  hey McConnell sacrifices too (0+ / 0-)

    the poor dear has to live off $170,00 odd a year - how does he cope?


    when you realise that he probably DOES ask himself this question, when meeting the filthy rich on their home turf, you wonder what goes on in his brain!

  •  I feel very much like you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dfarrah, Yo Bubba

    We help our grandchildren,,, the ones we haven't adopted.
    We haven taken in several children since the meltdown.
    We still have one that has been out of work for a couple of steady work.
    We have helped with nursing home and now my Daddy has broken his hip.
    We lost our house
    We lost our car
    We downsized..I guess that sounds better,
    We gave up luxuries like me a perm or manicure
    We gave up vacations.
    I gave up a lot on Christmas buying,
    We recharted wants and needs
    We had to quit helping the schools as much as we were.
    The 501 has taken a  hit.  My vet org.
    We don't eat out.
    We spend most of our times at hospitals and dr, offices and pay through the nose down here in Scott world, even for gas just to the there.
    Have helped our siblings financially.  We are in our 60's.
    We send twenty or so every month to some of them,
    I think we have done our part.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:05:16 AM PST

  •  Bless you for being (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yo Bubba

    so helpful to your family members.

    And fwiw, screw 'shared sacrifice'  --the regular people have already sacrificed enough enriching the 1%-ers with their [the regular people's] steadfast labor over the years.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:24:00 AM PST

  •  Walmart Obamacare! (0+ / 0-)

    Shared sacrifice is a real lump of coal when Obama seeks to give up two years of Medicare while paving the way for rich Waltons to escape paying for Walmart Obamacare!

    Walmart, after all, was one of the partners behind the push for ObamaCare. In fact, as things started to drag in summer 2009, WalMart partnered with Center for American Progress and SEIU to try to nudge the process along. While the letter signed by the heads of all three organizations preaches of “shared responsibility,” it also talks of removing “the burden that is crushing America’s businesses” and an employer mandate that does not “create barriers to hiring entry level employees” (as workers forced into part time unskilled positions are sometimes facetiously called).

    Walmart gave ObamaCare a lot of credibility back in 2009. It was clear then what the payoff was going to be. And they’re cashing in now: by making the poverty wages they pay their employees the trick to get us to pay their employee health insurance, rather than the billionaire Waltons who can afford it.

    I guess that’s what Walmart believes constitutes “shared responsibility.”

    Win the Future!

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