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On the seventh day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me....
Seven Swamis sitting
Six beasts a-playing
Five olden beings
Four 'hauling' nerds
Three drenched men
Two fertile loves
...and a cartridge in a bare tree.
Lovin' the mild temps, not lovin' the payback that surely isn't too far away. That was one bitterly cold, snowy, icy storm that pummeled the mid-section of the country last week, and it's not officially winter yet. Surely many metropolitan budgets are stretched to the max, and to dip into the coffers so early in the season doesn't bode well.
For me, there is a disconnect with what I see and hear on the macro scale, economically. The Dow Jones is well above 10,000, a good number of troubled investment funds have seen some healthy improvement...surely there is an impetus within the government and to a lesser extent the news industry to spin things in a positive light. The litmus test of litmus tests, though, is checking in with the common man, and I'm not talking about the 2 story home in a cushy subdivision with 2.3 children (even though I've always wondered what that o.3 one would look like).
Many banks aren't lending. Most companies aren't hiring. Health insurance costs are already going up, with plenty of company plans being diluted to basically catastrophic coverage and that's it. Actually, yours truly gets the double-whammy...
Being self-employed, I have my own policy with BCBS of NC. As luck would have it, there is a 4.6% rate increase for all health plans effective Jan. 1, but it gets better. My birthday is around the corner this month and I get to grab the half-century ring. Just so happens that also throws me into the next older tier which means an additional (read 'sizable') increase in my premiums, on top of the across the board adjustments. The bottom line is that I had to greatly increase my deductible and increase my co-pays just to keep my premium within $10-15 higher of where it has been. I have a good sense that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
This holiday season is noticeably different for millions. Money just isn't there for so many, and while this season isn't about money, holiday commercialism is slathered ad nauseum at every turn. I'm making a lot of my gifts, which is a better way to go, anyway, but I know of many who almost daily have to decide between a tank of gas or food for meals as they juggle they're withered incomes. By no means is the common person out of the woods from the worst of conditions, and I muse if we're even on anything more than a crude footpath as opposed to a highway as we make our way out of the thickets.
There were "8 maids a-milking", but tomorrow there will be...?
Kinda sorta inline with my diatribe above...