Mar 2, 2009

I lost my Get Out Of Jail card for Monopoly. :(

Alright, before I say anything, I want you to know first off that I don't consider myself "economically intelligent", so if I say something that doesn't fit, please correct me. Okay, so I'm not really going interested into getting into a huge discussion of America's dissolving economy; this is really more of a rant about two issues: the economy's effect on me, and how people are referring to the government during this crisis.

First, my parents have been working all last night and this morning to figure out taxes, debts, and all that jazz. I woke up to find both of my parents in a bit of a panic. Turns out we are about $190,000 in debt and my parents are becoming aware of the possibility of losing the house. We are four people living under that roof: Mom, Dad, my brother, and myself. Four mouths to feed, six mouths if you include the cats. Anyway, I mentioned earlier that Dad is a trucker and he recently found new work at a local dispatcher. However, trucking is so bad in Savannah now and my Dad is seriously considering over-the-road trucking. Over-the-road trucking (not sure if this is the official term) is when a trucker works for a company that sends them off to anywhere in the country, usually a span of twenty to twenty-five states. The trucker is usually away from home for two weeks to a month, and returns home for a very small amount of time. Dad did over-the-road trucking back when I was nine years old for (then) Builder's Transport. I recall that he would be away for two, sometimes three, weeks and come home for only two days. He was able to make a good amount of money (for a trucker), but he was away a lot and ended up missing some events that I'd view as important to me, such as the first soccer game my team won, my tenth birthday, and winning the Stock Market Game in fourth grade (ironic, due to my lack of economical skill). Being away from home had a very negative effect on thr family and my dad. You can be sure there was a lot of crying involved. Despite the anger I did feel, I knew that Dad was simply trying to support his family as best as he could. The company he worked for eventually faced a hostile takeover and was basically forced to quit. What I mean is that the company drove some truckers harshly in order to get them to quit so the company wouldn't have to send the final check. Upon hearing that he would have to work for four weeks to come home for a single day, and work through Christmas and holidays, my dad quit on the spot, to which his dispatcher simply replied "Good." For about nine years now, my dad has worked for several state- and city-wide dispatchers, and several problems rose quickly: companies would face shutdowns; his own truck would become a money vacuum, sucking up thousands of dollars in repairs until finally getting a new truck (which actually runs pretty good); loads would not come in to the ports; dispatchers became unable to supply truckers with work; and with all the companies falling out of business, truckers have dropped in demand. Now my dad is being faced with the idea of going back to over-the-road trucking, which he shared with me that it is the last thing he ever wanted to again. I'm not fond of possibility of Dad taking this job again, especially at this time of my brother's life (he's sixteen), but in this economy, everyone is being forced to take "do what you have to do" positions. Is my dad going to go with it? I can't be sure. More than often he has raised over-the-road trucking as a last resort in the past three years, but I believe that this time he really feels that it is vital. My mom, on the other hand, is a preschool teacher and is barely even paid. She showed me her latest check this morning. After two weeks of exhaustian, frustration, and stress (all jobs have this, but trust me, preschool teachers have it tough), she made a mere $424, and that's before tax and other deductions. I have often told my mom to use her degree, a Bachelor's in English as a Second Language, to find work in Chatham County's public school system, but she is not keen on teaching high schoolers nor does she think her degree could be used here, since she attented the University of ConcepciĆ³n in Chile. I recently recieved a check from my university for $413 for unused funds from my Pell Grant, and my parents have come to me to give whatever I can to help the family. My original intent was to place the check in a savings account and use it for college funds later, but the situation is urgent and I quickly endorsed the check for them. I don't think that I mentioned earlier that my dad is the worship leader at our church. He recieves a weekly check for a hundred dollars (this is a hired occupation in the church). My dad is upset because the church pays him so little (compared to what a part-time worship usually makes, maybe about five hundred dollars). He has decided to either ask the elders for better pay or for financial support. He understands that our church is small, but the church does have a really good amount of funds for its size. Now before anyone says something about people in the church and doing stuff for financial gain, Dad originally took the job because the pastor, a college buddy, invited him to become the worship leader. My dad did not originally know that this would actually be a paid job. He has gladly played in worship bands of several churches free of charge in the past, and has never let the paycheck become the main concern. However, according to the church's spendings and list of paid positions, my dad is being paid unfairly. Only now in this emergency has he ever been one to think about the salary. It was only because of this did I realize just how desperate he is feeling. Now I fear for my family's future. Will our house be foreclosed? Am I going to have to drop out to help support the family? Is Dad going to go back over-the-road? My head is filled with questions and I'm worried sick. If there is anyone else in this position be assured that I know exactly how you feel. All I can do is pray and keep faith that God can pull us through.

Now, other than God, my hopes and prayers are also with the government. It seems that people are pushing and pushing all of this on the White House. However, what upsets me isn't really the actions that are being taken by the government as so much as it is the American public and media and their lack of patience. I realize this is an emergency, I'm also one of these people in a ship sinking fast, but at least I understand that there are too many hazards to rush Congress into this. Yesterday, I found a political cartoon depicting President Obama driving a fancy car with a fat man with "Conservatives" written across his body asking "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?..." Now, I'm not one for cheap political party shots, but the artist has made an excellent point. Obama has only been in the White House for less than two months, and the people, fueled by the media, are pushing him too hard. First of all, the man is the President, not Superman or a messiah. He has to deal not only with our economy, but the war, immigration, environmentalism, energy crisis, and every other problem in the world that shows up on his desk. It was quite obvious to me from the beginning that the moment Obama stepped into office, he was going to realize just how much he is going to have to deviate from his initial plans to fix everything. I'll admit it, I did not vote for Obama, I voted McCain. However, Obama won, and I see no point in complaining about anything. I'll let the man do his job and support him as my leader, as most of you Christians out there should. I may not agree with all of his views, but I will not allow that to lead myself to ignorance. A lot of people seemed angry when Obama ended up changing his mind a lot of things (i.e. his plans to remove troops from Iraq), but everyone out there needs to understand that when one becomes President, he/she is going to be presented with previously unknown information and realize that there are certain methods that just won't work. Now, the liberal media is upset with Obama's policy changes and the conservative media is putting him in negative light because the economy hasn't been fixed yet. Now, I believe that the crisis was initially imminent from Bush Sr.'s tax raises, and that Clinton was able to delay it for awhile, but after 9/11 the effects were akin to a lioness waiting for an injured antelope to strike. I in no way am so ready to force blame on President Bush or the conservatives, but I do accept that much action that could have been taken to prevent or weaken the crisis was either left to float or seen as not vital. The fact is, we are now in a crisis and cannot change the past. However, we can still attempt to find those who have purposely fueled the crisis for personal gain. Now, we may not be able to toss them in jail but, as the recent O.J. and Blagojevich trials have shown us, fate has a funny way of getting back at you. Okay, now people also need to understand that though there are some of us who cannot afford to wait, rushing into this thing head on is not a good idea. Think about this: we rushed into the Middle East, we rushed into Vietnam, and we rushed into Reconstruction. None of these ideas did good for us. Rushing into this situation will most likely make matters worse. I believe this is the real intention behind Obama's stimulus plan for the citizen to make only $13 more. Governer Mike Huckabee, on his Fox News talk show Huckabee, shoed that though thirteen dollars is hardly an increment, it can do good for household items such as groceries. This isn't an attempt to make the middle class rich, it's more like an experiment or maybe a prototype to see what works. A little extra cash in your pocket isn't such a bad thing. Now, if everyone has a little extra cash then that actually might stimulate marketing. I don't know, we haven't seen the results. I do believe that the government is kind of closed-off to the public, however. Now I'm not saying it's because everyone in Congress is rich or anything like that, but it does kind of put a wall between the citizen and the politicians. Many celebrities have actually come up with methods that could very well work. Glenn Back is one of the few "over the top" conservatives that I believe brings up some very important issues, such as the kidnappings near the Mexican border. On a few occasions he has brought up something about the economy that I agree with. Though I think he flies the Patriotic flag a bit too much, he is right when he says that moral ground is important for America. It is because these banks and business people have become so frugal and perverse with their green that we seem to have been caught up with these bailouts. AIG is now coming back for another bailout, and we all heard about their parties, hundred thousand dollar bonuses and such. Do these people deserve all of this? I can't really say. I think that the employees could have been more careful with spendings. The jacuzzi/cocktail parties weren't a good idea, though. As for the bonuses, these people do deserve their big paychecks: they work, they deal with everyone else's problems, they spent years obtaining the credentials. Now what they could have done is give them the bonuses but not such huge ones. Everyone states that the bailouts were just like flushing the dollars down a toilet. Now I do agree that the bailout wasn't well regulated. In fact, it asserts my point about rushing into things. Congress happily voted in favor of the bailout immediately and basically handed the money over so fast that the Department of Treasury was unable to keep up with where it was going. Does AIG deserve a second chance? Certainly not. Remember these bailouts are funded by our taxes, and with the crisis, I believe that if AIG is begging for money after only a few months, then chances are they aren't serious about their problems. They may be better this time around, but they had their chance and blew it. Citi Bank is asking for a bailout. I don't know why, but I suppose it is fair to listen to them and give them a chance. Now, as for the automobile companies, I believe that out of all the companies to come forth, they deserve the bailout most of all. Why? The automobile companies do two great things for America. First, they produce something tangible for the public, something that just about every American needs and buys. Automobiles have been responsible for putting America on top when Ford first started producing. The other great thing it does is provide work for both blue and white collar workers. Blue collar workers are provided with jobs dealing with actually building the vehicle, working on machinery, mechanics and tasks of the sort. White collar includes designers, CEOs, scientists, and various other office jobs. The automobile industry has done a lot for America and it is time we gave back. My dad is wary of any kind of bailout now, but he agrees that he has no problem with this industry being saved with his tax dollars. Now, many people are put off by any kind of bailout so I believe that if the automobile industry cannot recieve a bailout, Congress should at least do anything they can to save these companies. In a way, these industries are the true backbone of America. They make cars and trucks. The trucks transport products. If the products cannot be transported then America will face a major meltdown. Cars provide economical support in that almost every American buys one, most households owning two vehicles, and even provide entertainment whether through sport or show. Ford's assembly line is one of the major forwaders of the Roaring Twenties. The automobile industry has proved themselves to be responsible. But what about the private jets? I find this controversy to be ridiculous. How many of those congressmen have personal jets? Private jets are privately owned. As for the Company jets, Congress and the media inquired if any of the CEOs were planning to sell the company jet to gain money for the company. This is just plain silly. Who is going to buy a company jet at this time? With everyone being so gung-ho on major spending, what person in thier right mind is going to buy an expensive jet? How many people do you see buying Camaros and private yachts? Fox News did a cover about the amount of fuel used by company jets. Now this is a good point. Private jets use a greater amount of fuel than commerical flights, and I had to agree that commerical flight would have been a wiser decision, and the CEOs did take the issue to heart and used commercial flights after the incident. However, this issue is not about energy conservation, though it plays a part. Honestly, I was aggravated by the focus on the CEOs' jets rather than the actual bailout itself. I still have yet to see anything on the news about the automobile industry. As far as I know, they have yet to come to a decision. I understand that Congress is trying to be tighter about bailouts, but come on. The automobile industry is nothing like banks. We haven't even given them a chance. They have tried to save their workers, even going as far as to give workers a paid month off to suspend production and reduce spending on supplies. The moral ground Glenn Back mentioned seems to be stable with the automobile industry. Give them a chance, I say. As for the American people, stop rushing Obama. The man has only just stepped through the door and now you are all demanding a miracle. The economy is not going to be fixed overnight. Chances are, it will be another six months to year that it gets better, and even then it just might get worse before it gets better. As for those who can't wait, these are the people Congress needs to focus on. If we are going to stimulate the country, we are going to need to save these people. Stop giving bailouts to banks for a while, and instead bail out these poor souls. If the government has enough money to spend $3 trillion on bear research we have more than enough to support the fincancially desperate for two years. Just think about that.

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