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Chatterbox: Loose threads


We all should respect the people who fight the good fight without pause. Some help accomplish great things that affect society permanently, as a whole. Some are little things limited to our own household that will shape our children’s lives and ours. Big or small, many things take stealth to accomplish, but this doesn’t stop those to whom the issues are important.

There are people around the world every day doing their best for people they don’t even know. They give, unselfishly, their time, mental and physical energy, skills, and money to help accomplish important goals, locally and globally.

These heroes mind other people’s business in a good way. In every country, every day, they help fight for, or protect, people or wildlife and bring about the social, economic, and environmental change that might never occur without their intervention.

Sometimes, we are privileged to see these efforts first hand. There are activists whom we recognize and the anonymous we know only by the results we see and, perhaps, benefit from. We may underestimate the benefits earned by those occupying lunch counters being mocked and accosted, walking out of sweat shops, or marching on Washington, but the daring and caring among us have carved change in the walls of social and economic confinement, even in very small ways, here and around the world.

We’ve discussed, even recently, that right here in America, right now, there really are people working at, or seeking employment in, jobs not commensurate with the cost of living. There are nations so advanced that child care is provided by the government or included as a perk at the office. Some countries provide paid in-home assistance and help care for infants while the parents bond with a new baby and the mother recovers physically … just part of their national health care. Around the world, perks we couldn’t dream of in America are just simply part of life, and research shows the taxes and death nightmares really are exaggerated. America can easily do better, and should.

While there are, and will always be, those who don’t want to work and still seek government financial assistance, and such people will always find a way to get it. Still, there are far more who truly merit such help. Also, right now, here in America, we hear a lot of people talking about the number of unfilled job positions and how many people just don’t want to work. We must, however, look at the cost of living and child care. Most of us personally know someone, or even several people, who absolutely can’t find a job with sustainable wages enough to pay a rent or mortgage on a simple home in a decent community, while supporting a couple of children, paying for day care, and commuting costs even if only periodic. So, sadly, many find it financially more difficult to go to work than to commit full time to their children, and struggle, sometimes intensely.

Many of us know people who are employed at more than one job, and few of us know a young couple with one full-time, stay at home parent, who can still pay for appropriate housing; that life left wearing bell bottom jeans when dual incomes were first accepted on mortgage applications, and the two-income family morphed from an actual benefit to the necessary norm; we touched on this last week. Housing costs and real estate soared. It continued to soar as a comfortable family home became harder to score with salaries creeping up but not keeping up.

America, even with the new minimum wage hike, abandoned its last two generations, most of whom not only haven’t been able to build a financially soluble future, they struggle to barely keep their heads above water in the present. Most are weighed down by the debt of the very college education that doesn’t help them score a simple income commensurate with their investment in it. They not only face a scarcity of viable employment that would help them remain comfortable while repaying those loans, most could never even hope to make the strides their parents made, or create a comfortable retirement the way the boomer generation did.

Some people want to blame today’s up and coming generation, many raising a family; what we should be looking at are the incongruities between what a person needs and what a person can earn. Somewhere in there is the dark effect of a high-end greed clamping down on America’s future.