Maureen is absolutely correct. There are very few of us in this country who aren’t completely vulnerable. We have no safety net to speak of in this country, and people who lose a job, become seriously ill, have a car accident or their vehicle breaks down, have their identity stolen… etc. It’s frightening that so many of us can so easily slip into poverty.
Two crises? That’s generous.
I am not saying this to anyone in particular, but…
Don’t save money. Hoard cash. You are a dragon, and you need to sleep on a pile of cash. That is your primary motivation. Cause there are bigger dragons out there that want yours.
I think it depends on where you are economically. Some people could absorb more crises than others, but most of us are vulnerable precisely because there is literally no more safety net. Unless you’re the 1%, that is.
I’ve been on that particular doorstep through a confluence of factors and despite an income that was adequate at the time. If the car had died, or I’d gotten sick…bad news bears.
Early this year, my wife slipped on some ice on her bike and came down hard on her shoulder. Since then she’s mostly been able to work, but often has to take time off because the pain is too bad. As she had the accident while she was on her way to work, it’s treated as a work injury and she hasn’t had to pay for her treatment or worry about the consequences of taking time off (it would have been similar if it were in her own time, just paid for by her own insurance). Her shoulder still isn’t better, so they’ve given her 4-6 weeks off work with four or five hours of therapy every day. She doesn’t have to pay for this either, and she’s on full pay during her time away from work. It sucks for her to be in pain so much, but we’ve had practically no financial fallout from this and our premiums won’t be affected. People at work are understanding and just tell her that she should have taken time off earlier. She’s also been offered psychological help in case she’s affected by the pain or whatever else she’s going through.
Because of all of this, we will stay in the same home with the same jobs and my wife just has to focus on getting better while I can continue my studies. A lot of people here seem to imagine that it’s similar in America, with some slight variations. They’re usually pretty horrified when they find out the truth. It’s kind of like this, but where people realise the crisis that would have ruined them.
We need a comprehensive way to prevent this when people are in crisis.
We need a lot of other things, too. There are powerful people committed to making sure we don’t get them.
As a child, I never imagined that musical chairs was actually a metaphor for the 21st century economy. We could have taken that clown out easily.
The best bet is to live far below your means. Not only does it better prepare you for a crisis, it also allows you to more easily walk away from your job if the conditions become less tolerable.
It doesn’t have to be like this. I’ve lived in countries that enjoy lower taxes than the USA while also enjoying universal healthcare and proper social safety nets (eg unemployment benefits that while meager, never runs out, so you can tighten your belt and take the time to upskill and find a better job, and better your lot in the long run - generating more wealth (and taxes!), not be forced to take whatever shitty job you can find. Homelessness is almost unheard of. People live in security, not under the thumb of these fears and stresses. Everyone here is stressed.
The (widespread but especially American) culture of “got mine fuck you” is part of the problem.
The (widespread but especially American) culture of philanthropy being the preferable solution (vs society conceding an obligation to prosperity for everyone) is part of the problem.
The (widespread but especially American) culture of government being bad is part of the problem.
So it’s a big cultural problem. But alternatives exist, they work, and they’re much better.
some day i’d love to live in a country like that… but can i really trust an @Archvillain?
There are downsides. There is nothing in the world quite like what Amazon Prime can offer when you live in a major US city
It is indeed very scary out there – I’ve had my eyes opened through personal experience, and through engagement with one of my neighbors in community to prevent her losing her home as she grows old on a fixed income insufficient for the costs of living there.
I’m captivated by the tragic ongoing series by a Daily Kos diarist that captures, in personal stories, in all the scary intimate details how the littlest things cascade and how the holes in the safety net suddenly lead to insurmountable challenges (and way disproportionate expenses) when you’re living on the edge.
but there is good news: People are working on (re)weaving together pieces of the safety net, one piece at a time. I’m today at a gathering of Community Land Trusts, making the case for municipal/statewide (CA) support/consistent property tax exemptions for this tool for preserving affordability (by cutting out the cost of land and capping its value) and providing support to the residents.
This is why I cannot understand why people are against universal healthcare! Why do you want to punish sick and injured people? And children? How is bankrupting families a way to run a healthcare system? Its so bizarre!
What? And let the shirkers, welfare cheats and economic migrants take advantage of the benefits?
My brother has always made a habit of this. Before he got his big break as a story editor on Amazing Stories back in 1985, he was on food stamps. And then he was writing and directing major Hollywood movies and TV shows, but still living quite modestly. He drove his '89 Nissan Maxima for ten years, followed that up with an entry-level Audi that he drove for nearly as long, and now he’s racking up the mileage on a Prius. His house is beautiful, but not very big at all, and has been paid off in full for nearly twenty years. He was profiled in Playboy when he was a hot young up-and-comer, and the take-away quote he gave them was essentially, “You’re the flavor of the month for one month… and then it might all go away in an instant.” So he’s never taken his success for granted, considers himself the luckiest person he’s ever met, and has always been ready for that success to evaporate. I think it’s a sound approach to life.
I’m not gonna do that so much. Burglars don’t need rings to make themselves invisible before they make off with the dragon’s stash, and once cash is gone, how much recourse does one have? I’ll still rely on the FDIC for the moment, and the day my deposits exceed the $100K maximum insured so I gotta get another bank, I’ll know I’ve arrived. My standards aren’t particularly high, y’know.
It’s not only in the US. Even though there’s social welfare and universal healthcare here in Australia, there’s also a substantial homeless problem, people living below the poverty line, etc. And much of it caused by/the result of a single crisis or a series of cascading crises. (I know you weren’t saying the problem is unique to the US; just wanted to explicitly point out it happens in many other places too. Even where it’s unexpected: I saw homeless people in Stockholm, Sweden. In the middle of freakin’ WINTER… temps of -19 Celsius. Utterly horrifying.)
Easy to say, much harder to implement when there’s a constant string of calls from collection agencies.
The dragons always get all the money – that’s the way it works.
i should temper that comment a touch.
always have access to enough cash somehow to last you a week. credit union, bank, floorboards, up to the implementer.
but don’t think about socking away money as ‘saving’. considering the sharks out there (hospital bills, lawyers, being evicted, losing your job because of one single stupid DNS update failure…) you just kind of have to be a dragon. credit won’t save you, loans won’t save you, good will might but that also has to be repayed.
and what i am really getting at is this: if you have a $1000 in credit card debt, and a $1000, do not use that liquid capital to pay down the loan immediately. hoard it, add to it, and pay down the debt on a three year plan. yes, it costs more, but in a crises a $1000 in liquid currency is worth a lot more.