Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Musings on the Best Laid Plans

Given the current economic situation nationwide, I did a lot of serious thinking around Thanksgiving because that day was not only the holiday, but also my father's birthday, and the Friday following was my parents' wedding anniversary. They were young marrieds during the Great Depression, which in our location also meant the Dust Bowl. Having come from relatively modest circumstances as children, they seem to have taken the economic hardships of that time in stride. It also helped, I'm sure, that they had no dependent children at that time. My mother's family had come out to this country with six children shortly before she was born, homesteaded in a dugout on the bank of a draw in New Mexico Territory, and eked out a living in rather tough times. However, there was a small community, and the nine children all got an education that was above-average for the time and location. My dad's family moved out here from Dallas in the 1920s. His father was a mechanic/farmer. My dad, a young man at the time, had actually attended a business college in Dallas before they moved, a definite advantage. They did, however, learn lessons from the Depression and the home front shortages of World War II. My father had his own business and extended untold amounts of credit to others over the years, but bought nothing on credit himself except for two local businesses that provided monthly billing which he paid in full. My husband and I moved back into the family home after my mother's death a few years ago. It is very nice, but it was built for cash as well. I remember being taught that a mortgage, while sometimes necessary, meant that you did not really own that property until you finished paying for it. My DH grew up pretty much the same way. Over the years, we've had a mortgage and car payments like everyone else, but we have gone without and been almost unable to sleep at night until we have paid everything off. We've been fortunate to be able to do that, but we've also worked very hard and done without some things that our contemporaries have seemed to take for granted. Now we are approaching retirement age, and in spite of our efforts we're facing the same kind of challenge our parents faced in the 1930s. I hope we can do as well as they. I must remember that many of their stories focused on how the community and families pulled together to have good times and to take care of each other in difficult circumstances.

Having said all that, I am witnessing some real difficulties that some people I know are having. These people have also worked very hard and lived frugally. They have been properly insured themselves and covered by Workmen's Comp. In spite of this, an injury, the arguments between Comp and Insurance, delays, fiddling around on approvals by the insurance companies, and the 20% of the major medical expense they owe under the PPO plan, has eaten them into an almost destitute position. These are people who have not only contributed to our society by working hard all their lives, but also by working in the kind of job that serves others. While I am politically very conservative, I can't help but see this as part of our health care system taking advantage of those who have "done everything right" in trying to provide for the future. Surely in America we can do better than this.

1 comment:

LizzieK8 said...

I agree that it's a hard for many of the "youngsters" to understand what "tightening the belt" really means. Although I think my birth family was pretty well off, my dad was tight with a penny so we learned to economize and not waste. (Which is another whole essay!)

My Xhusband told me we didn't have money (later to find out he was hiding it all for the day he'd divorce me) so I really learned to make do raising my six kids.

Healthcare....well, I don't "do" doctors much so although I have some from the VA and welfare, I don't use it very often. I've been lucky not to have anything major happen to me, as have my kids and grands. I do see however, how hard it is for so many economically "tween" people.

We can do better and I think we will. Enough of it has been brought to the forethought of many people's minds and, well, "Yes, We Can!"