Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Money, Money, Money

Not only is Money, Money, Money Vivi's favorite ABBA song but it seems to be a primary concern for the majority of us these days. With all the news of banks collapsing, the stock market uncertainty, and mounting foreclosures I find myself worrying less about whether or not we'll have the money to send Vivi to college and more about whether or not the money in our retirement plans will actually be there when we need it.

I'm a worrier by nature so all this economic news hasn't exactly left me with a warm and tingly feeling. I try to remind myself that we're lucky though. My husband makes enough money that we are able to live a full and happy life. Not an extravagant life, by any means, but a happy one.

What makes a happy life? For us, it's lowering our standards for what we "need." We don't have a huge house and, thanks to my husband's foresight, we have a fixed rate mortgage and expect to have it paid off in less than seven years. We have one cell-phone that we carry only for emergencies. We don't have cable or the latest gadgets. Most importantly, we don't have the feeling that we are deprived.

For us, our lives are enhanced by knowing how lucky we are to have the little luxuries we do. Those luxuries aren't fancy cars or designer clothes, they are things like an occasional meal out, a few new books for my husband, a couple of yards of fabric for me, a yoga class, and a family vacation. I think it is such a gift that we have a wonderful library two blocks from our house where we can get any book or DVD or CD that we desire.

This is not to say that we don't have money worries. In the next couple of months, we will have paid for a new boiler with installation ($5000), a rehabilitated and safer chimney ($3000), our midwife fees for Turtle's upcoming birth ($3800), and Vivi's visit to the emergency room ($ god only knows). It's shocking to see it all written down. While I can't blame George Bush for the poorly-timed but necessary maintenance to our home, I can blame him for our pathetic excuse for health insurance.

You see my hard-working husband is self-employed so we have to pay for our own health insurance. We pay Blue Cross about $400 per month for coverage that does not kick in until we have met a $10,000 deductible. Effectively, we have catastrophic care. We just could not afford the $1500 a month we would need to pay for broader family coverage.

So how does George Bush play into all this? About a year ago, Bush vetoed bi-partisan legislation that would have expanded children's health insurance. The bill would have subsidized health coverage for 6.6 million people, mostly children, from families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford their own private coverage. Ladies and gentlemen, that would be us. (OK, so maybe I am feeling a little deprived but health insurance shouldn't be considered an extravagance.)

With 47 million uninsured Americans currently living in this country and millions of others like my family who are underinsured, one would think that this election would be a wash. Obama's plan clearly will cover many, many more people than McCain's but do people really care? Or do they only care when they are the ones actually seeing the medical bills? I just don't understand how this country can tolerate Bush taking us into a war that has cost us at least 600 billion dollars so far but aren't outraged that our government is unwilling to cover the cost of health care for our children. It makes me sick...

How's that for irony?

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