I just came back from Boston on Sunday and got into discussions with friends. All of them had something to say about housing, of all things. They were talking about owning a home for the first time. They weren’t complaining. They were, in fact, proud of themselves for making the move. The conversation then got interesting. Since each of them was single, there was no need for a 3 Bedroom house or an acre of land to put it on. They could buy small. When I asked how much they were going to pay for their little place in Boston, numbers between a 1/4 to 1/3 of a million dollars was what they said. In my mind, me being married with kids, they weren’t even buying a house. They were buying a garage or an in-law unit or a condo-sized place. These were intelligent hard-working people, and in my mind, they were paying way too much for way too little. My days working with the homeless sprung to mind, and I explained how the problem with, say, losing your job, was that it cost triple to move back in to a place — first month, last month and security deposit. Each of us understood that, in Boston, anyway, that was about $5,000!
Who can live like that? One tragedy and you’re not coming back economically. People don’t save money because they don’t make enough as it is. One hit and it’s all over without a lot of help. I’m not sure, but I would have to guess that the IQs of these people are above average. They work hard and continuously, and they have good jobs — or reasonably good ones anyway. If they’re above average, then people who are average can’t even afford that. The American Dream — a house, a car, 2.2 children, white picket fence — is so far out of reach as to make it the American Fantasy. Housing is a basic need. I don’t know how anyone in Boston can afford their basic needs. The same is true, of course, in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, which are more expensive than Boston.
There is something terribly wrong when people can’t afford to their basic needs.
Beyond that, though, so much of the American Dream aka “normal life” is simply unaffordable to most Americans. Included there are:
- A pro baseball game with the family
- A pro football game for one or two
- A pro basketball game
- A movie for the family
- Snacks for the movie
- One ticket to a Broadway play
- A concert at a club or arena.
At even $15.00 per hour, you have to work a full day to take the family out to the movies for two hours! Now, you can’t afford your basic needs and it costs too much to avoid the fact.
Cars now cost 25 or 30 thousand dollars.
Health insurance can cost that same amount every year, and cost $5,000 in medical bills (deductible) before it kicks in.
Medications are so expensive that if we didn’t have insurance, I couldn’t afford mine.
My family is ok. Most of my friends are ok, I think. In the context of poverty, though, lives simply don’t work economically.
Does racism or sexism or homophobia matter? Well, if you can’t get or keep a job because of them…. yes, it does. Why would a woman stay at a job where she’s harassed? Let’s see, hmmm….
Put this against the agenda items that Congress and the President are pressing for and see why people gave up on government or are so angry about so much.
I don’t have solutions, but I know where the problems are. Just saying, I noticed.
Resisting with Peace,