In the latest installment of our reader-reported series about the effects of the recession, we received updates by readers of all ages from across the country. The news is not all bad–we heard from hopeful entrepreneurs and workers who were spared in previous rounds of layoffs–but everyone is encountering obstacles great and small. Read their stories and share your own using the form at the bottom of the page or by posting via YouTube and submitting the link. The previous collection can be viewed here.
Time for a People’s Bailout
The pinch has been felt here in rural northern California by the middle class and the poor especially. I live in a small community that traditionally has been very conservative, but that is changing as even those of means have to do some belt-tightening to make ends meet.
My family was hit hard during the Bush recession that started in 2001. I was laid off in 2005 and remained on unemployment for more than a year. When I did find work it was only temporary, and I found myself on unemployment again in 2008 for six months. We have been able to maintain our mortgage payments, but our credit card bills have grown month after month. Our home was flooded in 2007, and we have been slowly rebuilding it. We had planned to refinance after the house was done, but now we find ourselves “underwater” again, this time with our overvalued mortgage, and we can no longer do a refi to solve our credit card debt. I’m left with consolidation or bankruptcy.
Mr. President, “We the People” need your help! To hell with these Wall Street bankers and insurance swindlers: pay the bailout money to “We the People” and we can then pay our creditors and mortgages, which will in turn take care of the bankers’ issues as well. We can call it “trickle-up” economics, since the trickle-down variety has not worked.
The View from Wheeling
In my town of 50,000 people, I have seen several local stores go out of business, such as a second-hand children’s shop, a bakery and a video rental store. I have noticed a wonderful reduction in traffic, which means less benzene, less noise, less accidents, less carbon and less gas usage–yeah! In my local newspaper, I have read that while our library’s finances are in very good shape, our schools’ finances are not. I have also read about several thousand layoffs that have or will soon transpire as local factories and larger businesses close. For the past several years, I have kept an eye on the police blotter printed in the local paper, because I care for two children and my elderly father and I feel it is important to know what types of crimes are committed and at what frequencies they occur. I have noticed a definite uptick in the number of burglaries and auto break-ins, as well as an increase in scams aimed at the elderly. I have not seen a large number of homes for sale–the number seems to be about the same as in the previous four years. On the positive side, I have seen quite a few temporary auto license plates, indicating that someone has the money to purchase new vehicles.
Julia K. Ambrose
Working Harder to Keep Working
I work as a secretary at a law firm, and I’ve already survived two rounds of layoffs. Those of us who are left have had our benefits cut, our workday increased from 7 to 7.5 hours, and the number of the attorneys each secretary is required to support increased from 2 to 5.5. I’m lucky to have a job, although the cuts have put me and the other secretaries more at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other stress-related problems.