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Making it - Just Barely

I am a single mom - I teach at a university in Wisconsin. when I was younger, I knew that I could work hard, better myself through education, and I wouldn't have to worry about sending my kids to college or my retirement. Presently, I am one of the teachers in Wisconsin who took a $4000 pay cut. I haven't had a raise since the early turn of the century. All around me, things are getting more and more expensive, and my salary is going down, rather than up. Currently, I am taking nothing extra out of my pay for retirement other than what the state demands, and my take home pay for 9 months (I am a teacher with a masters degree) is a little more than $36,000. I work during the summer to earn an addition $7000 so that I can pay my bills. Even though I am paying for it, I am lucky to have health insurance. I am grateful for that.

I know that many families have it worse. Please don't hear me as complaining. I'm just telling the facts.

My oldest just graduated from high school last year, after dealing with some medical issues. I'm not sure how I am going to pay for a college education. Although my take home pay is low, my gross pay puts me above the poverty level, and too high to receive financial aid except through loans.

You tell me: how am I supposed to spend money to increase the economy when I don't have any money to spend? My state budget was "balanced" on my back. Don't push the federal budget on my back as well.

I'm having a very difficult time when I see CEO's and stockholders making off like bandits - and I'm scraping by. The American Dream? It doesn't exist for me anymore. I don't believe it exists at all, quite honestly. The bar has risen way higher than I can meet, given my pay, the cost of goods and resources, and my taxes.

My children and I will figure out how to get them through school. We'll manage. That's what I've done all my life. Jokingly, I've told them that they are going to have to have a good income, as they'll be supporting me in their garage apartment. :-)

The bottom line, though, is this: The bar for reaching a comfortable standard of living (and I'm saying comfortable - shelter, transportation, food, medical care, education - not 7 houses and 3 cars, etc.) has risen. It costs me more to live, and I'm living with smaller salary. I don't have a quarter of the retirement my dad did at my age. He retired at 55 years old, and I'm 57. I'll be depending on Medicare and Social Security.

I don't begrudge those who have more than I do - AND I do want them to pay their fair share of the resources they used to get more than I do. There is common wealth that belongs to all of us. If we use more of that "common wealth" in resources, it's only fair that we pay our fair share. Those with more need to pay their fair share.

—DeborahWI
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