A Community in Transition

Things are changing locally, and I don’t believe it is a good thing in the short-term.  My daughter-in-law has tried to find work for a couple of months.  She had an interview Friday and began working Saturday morning.  While I am happy for her, she will need to keep searching for work.  Why?  Because all jobs are being cut back to less than 20 hours per week.

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Her employer was brutally honest with her during the interview explaining that because of “Obamacare” (which more than doubled their insurance rates) they have had to cut all positions (except management) to part-time and not only part-time but less than 20 hours per week. As a result the business will be hiring 10 new employees to cover the shifts.  At close to minimum wage the most she can expect to bring home in a month will be approximately $500, not a week a month!  This will never pay enough to properly support any working adult especially with a family.

You may wonder why I said “I don’t believe it is a good thing in the short-term”.  While I can feel for those who will have to juggle 2 and even 3 jobs to make ends meet, This situation will take negotiation between employers and employees to work out a schedule that will allow them to work another job, and those with families will find locating childcare, even free childcare by relatives, to be a scheduling nightmare.

I can see a possible silver lining coming from this trend of part-time employment.  What if each person, for their own reasons, got tired of running between jobs?  Became exhausted by the struggle to support the lifestyle they previously had?  What if all this stress led more people to reevaluate their lives and make changes that would allow them to cut back on hours worked?

Would we see the following things happen?

  • Backyard gardens to reduce grocery bills.
  • Less reliance on fast food/take out
  • Return to whole foods which are cheaper
  • Moving to a smaller home that costs less to keep up
  • Thriving thrift shops and consignment stores where you could find everything from clothes to furniture
  • A resurgence of the local repair businesses
  • Less reliance on the car
  • More neighborhood stores that catered to the basic needs you couldn’t provide for yourself.
  • Return to free entertainment where friends/family gather for a cookout, night of card games or just to st on the porch and visit with neighbors again.
  • More reliance on a sharing economy, by which I see not every household owning each item they occasionally use and instead borrow and share with friends and neighbors.
  • With less income, we could see the end of the huge malls and big box stores and a return of the independent businesses
  • Children getting to grow up at home where they participate in the gardens and other family chores
  • I can even see the return of the extended family home, known here as multi-generational homes..  Instead, of giving up the larger home families can’t afford on a reduced income,, grandparents or even aunt and uncles, could move back in, having their own space and help defer costs
  • The multi-generational home would also help to reduce childcare costs with more adults sharing the responsibility.
  • A good friend says she can see older women, single or widowed, who move into one house to cut costs share in the chores while keeping their independence.
  • And to make better money I can see more people starting a small business from their home whether it be in crafting, childcare, or some other business that would be of value to the new economy.

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If all these things resulted from one change, in this case the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, just think how different life would look.

  • We would once again know our neighbors
  • There would be less trash ending up in the landfills, one of my pet peeves, as people would buy less and take care of what they owned
  • Reduced rates of obesity from a healthier diet
  • Can I hope to see less GM foods being grown?
  • Reduced neighborhood crime, (after an initial increase) with more people home at irregular hours due to shorter shifts working
  • Air pollution would be reduced because we would have fewer trucks delivering goods to stores to sell to us.
  • Less reliance on luxury items which would include cable TV, gaming systems, and other material things which have resulted in our sitting indoors on our butts.
  • Home grown businesses would teach the value of a dollar to children and improve the self-esteem of those who are able to create something worthwhile that they enjoy doing.

Earlier today I was reading an article about Andrew Jackson Downing at The Simple White Rabbit.  The descriptions of what our homes should be fit perfectly with what I was envisioning as a possible outcome of a society which has to drastically change the way they live to survive with less income. Here are a few of the quotes I found of particular interest, but please visit and read the rest of the article.

  • “The true philosophy of living in America is to be found in moderate desires, a moderate establishment, and moderate expenditures.”  
  • “Let the cottage be a cottage – the farm-house a farm-house – the villa a villa, and the mansion a mansion. . . . there is a peculiar beauty that belongs to each of these classes of dwellings. . . .”

  • villa must be “large enough to minister to all the wants, necessities, and luxuries of a republican, and not too large or too luxurious to warp the life or manners of its children.”
  • “But the man of wealth so loves to astonish the admiring world by the display of riches, and it is so rare to find those who comprehend the charm of grace and beauty in their simple dress!”

Our homes suck us dry of funds and limit the experiences we can enjoy when we have a home that exceeds our needs.

What do you think? Can we find a good life come out of a part-time economy?

51 thoughts on “A Community in Transition

  1. Hi Lois, this is my first time at your site and I LOVE it! Here in Australia, we are watching things go downhill in the US and Europe, knowing that we are in for the same experience soon. I think many people here would love to have a part time job but are also very tied to (addicted to) their current earning level through big mortgages and middle class expectations that include overseas trips, new cars and a lavish lifestyle of eating out and spending without thought. What needs to change, in my opinion, is the entrenched attitude that full time employment, preferably in a ‘career’ rather than a job is the ‘holy grail’. This is complete bollocks! If we all embrace the freedom and enjoyment that comes with free time and a simple life rather than fretting over getting our old full-time ‘lifestyle’ back (which may never return) then life could certainly be better with less.

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    • Hi, Deb. I was not tied to expensive trips or a big house, but I was raised to believe I was expected to do better than my parents and my grandparents before them. That expectation was hard to turn my back on out of fear that I would lose their respect and love. I think too many are still tied to that mentality.

      I do see a new attitude in the younger generation. Living in a university town and having students living around me I get to see first hand what their dreams and aspirations are. Very few of them are looking for what we began to call the American Dream. They are busy creating their own employment opportunities, for instance my one neighbor informed me he invested in a Kirby shampooer and is making a living by shampooing carpets, leaving him flexible to do what he loves which includes playing music with a band. They know they want time for the things they enjoy more than they want the large paycheck and ownership of material items.

      I hope we see more people who find their way back to accepting enough and finding happiness along the way.

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  2. Change is never easy. It was never going to be easy to implement healthcare. That doesn’t make universal healthcare a bad thing (or socialist, for that matter!!).
    This situation is hard, I know, but it does pinpoint that change is necessary at a fundamental level and not everything that is golden actually shines.

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    • No it wasn’t going to be easy to implement healthcare in this country that would guarantee everyone would be covered. I do hope things get sorted out for those who need it. Isn’t is crazy how the US government’s talking heads have made the word socialist carry such a negative impression? The thing is we already have programs which would be considered socialist, but they don’t want to mention that.

      I do believe this may be the spark that changes the way we here view what we are entitled to and start living within our means.

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  3. Lois what an excellent post, I agree things are changing and I think that the part time culture is not just in the USA, but here too, the reasons are many, While we have a very good Health care system, and I am so grateful for that when I see the expense and problems faced by Medical insurance etc… But part time workers here, the employer does not need to pay as much in Insurance stamps which go towards paying our NHS costs National Health Costs, etc.. So it works out cheaper in the long run, Plus they can employ on temporary contracts, which again works for the employer and not for the employee..

    Many firms are employing overseas immigrants, or workers from the Latvian countries who are hard working and accept the basic pay, Those in Britain who are unemployed often turn down jobs such as farm labour picking in fields etc, Then moan that foreigners are taking the jobs..

    I think the whole culture of how we have view work and our systems we now have in place will change in the not too distant future… We see things changing ever faster..
    And we can not keep sustaining the costs of High bills on little pay, as those who hold power and high places seem to be out of touch and care little for those hard working individuals who have 2 or 3 jobs to keep their heads above water..

    I read a post over at Learning from Dogs, on how a well known British man Russell Brand has made waves with his views on the system, and I agree with him whole heartedly the post can be found here http://wp.me/pzqeS-4dP The system is failing us, and it needs to change..

    And I hope when we understand that when we learn to pull together and embrace Community for support we can make those changes that stop us feeling separate and thinking we have to compete but can bring about co-operation with each other and nature…

    You have raised some very good points here Lois.. Very good

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    • Thank you, Sue. I am sorry your country is embracing much of the same practices we are here. While your insurance is different from ours, it still costs money and businesses are going to use everything they can to reduce costs. I keep thinking that the businesses here who are cutting the hours to part-time should take what they are saving by not purchasing insurance and pass that on to the employees by upping their wages a bit. That would at least help the worker.

      We too have a problem with immigrants coming in and taking jobs and the farm work is an area where the citizens don’t want to labor away. One politician went on a rail about it one time saying the migrant workers earned $50 per hour to pick food and didn’t know why Americans were refusing the work He was so out of touch with reality. Those migrant workers make only a few dollars an hour, not even minimum wage which is why Americans don’t work the fields. I jokingly sent an email to this politician informing him that when he found the $50 an hour jobs my friend and I would travel there and accept the work. My friend and I joked that I would scoot around on the ground to pick the food growing lower and she would get things in her reach from standing. Then we would come home at the end of the season with more money than we could ever earn here. I never heard back from the politician. :-)

      I have heard Russel Brands comments but not seen the interview. I will head over and read this. What I have heard more is the negative responses coming out here in the US. The main one being whether he realizes his ideas would drastically reduce his income. I am sure he does as I have heard other British individuals, Paul McCartney comes to mind, who have voiced the opinion that they have not moved to the US to save on taxes because they feel it is their duty to pay what is owed to help British society. I have great respect for those who feel this way instead of moving to get even more of their earned income like many do here in the US.

      I do hope people begin to pull together in time I believe that once over the mentality of wanting everything possible they would find more happiness.

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  4. Lois! I love this. Maybe it is because it is the direction my family is going in.
    When we had our first baby, we were both young, jobless etc.- my husband has a music degree and I don’t think anything could hold him back from pursuing a music career, and I did not want our baby to go into daycare. We worked out an arrangement where we both work part time (him about 30 hrs, me more like 16) and I work in the morning, where he works afternoons/nights. We decided to stay close to extended family (our folks helped watch our son when we worked), and we have been able to both pursue our dreams inside and outside of work.

    The flipside of this is a huge attitude and living adjustment (as you state above.) We buy everything used (if we buy anything). Our entertainment is free, our house is small, our cars are old. We’ve learned to derive a whole different form of happiness and satisfaction that does not include buying things (which I hope to instill in my child…)

    That being said, everyone wonders about our healthcare/benefits. “You must get a real job so you can get benefits?” and “When are you going to get a real job?” Currently we buy health insurance privately, so we will benefit from Obamacare by having lower premiums (and not being rejected for pre existing conditions, or have bumped off our plan because we had too many health problems and used it to much- that has happened to us!!) We do participate in CHIP for our son, and that program has been great so far.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Katie

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    • Katie, your life sounds fantastic to me. Your son is fortunate to have time spent with extended family and the combined hours you and your husband work is minimal enough for you both to have plenty of time together as a family. Your lifestyle is the wish I have for everyone. Personally, I hated watching my son be required to work double shifts which meant at least a couple days of the week he didn’t get to spend any time with his family as the 8 hours off would be spent driving, sleeping and then rushing a shower and meal before returning to work.

      You are also setting a great example for others who once they get over their concerns about your medical needs will be able to see there is an option for them as well to work less and enjoy life more. If those around you find themselves losing jobs or having hours cut back drastically they can turn to you and your husband as an example of how to make the adjustment.

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      • Yeah, I would really like to try to incorporate our set up into my blog to show people it can be done- I remember when we first joked about it – “wouldn’t it be great if we each worked a part time job, to make one full-time job” ? And then to actually doing it- I won’t say it wasn’t hard and we’ve made plenty of financial mistakes along the way. We get a lot of criticism (even from family) and it’s funny the double standard- it’s okay for me to work part time because I am a woman- but my husband is a lazy loser who doesn’t provide well for his family…
        We get to do a lot of stuff together as a family and my husband gets to spend a lot of quality time with our son- which is so important to me. I hurt for your son- it is so hard to have to work so much and not see your kids (but I do know, sometimes it has to be done).
        For the next couple months I will be taking time off to take care of the new baby, but I plan on going back to working part time and going back the the equal sharing thing after.
        Thank you again for spreading the word like this, I always enjoy and feel encouraged when I read your blog posts.
        Katie

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        • Katie, I am so sorry you have had to listen to such criticism. It’s sad that those around us can’t be happy for us when we find what works for our families. I thought I was past all the criticism but then I decided to move to a studio apartment and it started all over again. Why in the world do people think they have a right to decide how another person or family chooses to live their life? I look at all the people who live for their reality TV shows and imagine that they are so unhappy they feel they need to experience fun through others. When it comes down to it I believe those who criticize the loudest are envious because we aren’t afraid to live the dream of our own making.

          I would love it if you were able to add these aspects of your life into your blog and believe many people would find the courage to reach for their dreams by reading your stories.

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  5. I applaud you, Lois, in looking past the current challenges to better possibilities. We’ve gotten so far down this road — it’s going to be hard to get back on track. I’m hopeful we can. :-)

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    • Pat,I am very worried about social unrest for a period as people lose their homes and struggle to make ends meet.. I have to look past the problems to a solution and hoped by putting this out there someone who is going through this will see it and see a potential way to make these changes work for their families. I am very concerned for the families who may lose their homes, if they don’t have family or good friends who can put them up I fear we are going to have even more children living on the streets.

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  6. Ah!!!!!!!! I will not take the bait, I will not take the bait….. No ranting Bethany, no ranting. Politics = bad, bad, bad…

    OK, now that I’ve talked myself down… ;-) I hope that you’re right and this does lead to people connecting more. I think it would take a huge change in our cultural mindset though. Lack of community is a huge problem, and I hope that people do see that making connections is more important than making a lot of money.

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    • HA! At one point I started to type a sentence which stated I wasn’t trying to start a political discussion, but then I eliminated it and figured if anyone wanted to have a political discussion, as long as it was appropriate I would welcome it.

      It would take a huge change in the overall mindset, but it’s been done before, although past generations weren’t as self-absorbed as this one. But what else can you do but work to find a way to survive? People aren’t going to be able to survive without making changes because the ability to earn more just isn’t there now and may never return in my lifetime at least.

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      • Yes, on all of that!

        “It would take a huge change in the overall mindset, but it’s been done before, although past generations weren’t as self-absorbed as this one”

        This is especially interesting, when you tie it into my theory on selfishness. Maybe if people no longer had the ability to try and meet their needs through shallow rewards, they would be forced to look at themselves and at life more deeply.

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        • Bethany, everyone is chasing that American Dream,, which used to mean hard work would be rewarded with the means to have the lifestyle you wanted. Now the dream is to have what everyone else has and marketing has made people feel they are failures if they don’t have X Y and Z. So now we want everything but aren’t willing to work for it in many cases. Hence all the credit card debt. Credit cards need to become a thing of the past for us to move forward in the new economy..and yes it does tie in well with your theory of selfishness.

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  7. I really like this quote, “villa must be “large enough to minister to all the wants, necessities, and luxuries of a republican, and not too large or too luxurious to warp the life or manners of its children.”

    It’s okay to have nice things, but that shouldn’t give a sense of entitlement to you kids.

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    • That was my favorite quote as well. Raising my boys I “lived in the wrong neighborhood” many of the kids they went to school with wouldn’t visit our home because it was too small and we didn’t fit in with their social class. It was so sad, but there was no way I was going to go into debt to buy a home in those new subdivisions just to fit in. I don’t get it, we were the same people no matter where we lived.

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  8. I love this post. I’m from Canada so we’ve had our medicare system for a long time.

    That said, I long for many of the items on your wish-list. I often lament that neighbours no longer speak to each other, don’t even get to know each other! We don’t have that sense of community which I really miss – we had it when I was young but now… not so much.

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    • Dale, I miss the same things, although I do know my neighbors now, but it wasn’t like that until my move here 2 years ago. Until then I had neighbors who would never speak to you. My childhood was much like yours, our neighborhood banded together and it felt like a large family.

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  9. I think the part-time system that is manifesting across the USA will be good in the long term encouraging a paradigm shift into sustainability, “make-do”, self sufficiency and a rise in personal businesses.

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    • Alex, I hope that will be the outcome as I don’t see good paying full-time work returning anytime soon. But I do see a lot of unrest and crime at first as people who are used to having what they want turn to robberies to have what they want. We lost our soul somewhere. We were a country that believed in hard work and earning what you had, now people feel entitled to have everything they see others having and will do anything to get it. I will say if unrest comes, I am glad I don’t live in one of the major cities and know my neighbors.

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        • The US was great in creating all these investments that were basically worthless and passing them on to other countries. While I know each country has their own challenges I believe the selling of these investments by the US to other countries helped worsen the existing problems. The only reason things aren’t worse for us here in the US is because we have so much valued, such as oil, in the dollar. If that changes we will see an immediate depression hit us.

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  10. I don’t know much about the new health care system, but will all of these part-time employees be eligible for insured health care now when they weren’t before? In some cases I expect the cost of their premiums might be less than the costs of the medical care they’re now paying out of pocket. So there could be a net gain. Maybe I’m being naive.

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    • You aren’t naive Dar, all these people who are now being left with nothing but part-time work will now be eligible for medicaid which is state run through the welfare offices for those living in poverty. I’m extremely confused as to why this seems to be okay and what the original intent was for this program. The states are already going broke or already are, the extra costs will break many. Yet, if you don’t have insurance the federal government will make out because they will levy a $5,000 fine against each person, I hear they will either attach your tax refunds or get it from your bank accounts which will leave these families who were just barely above poverty levels in even worse shape than they were without medical insurance to begin with.

      See I live here and don’t understand what’s really going on.

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      • The federal government is paying for the Medicaid expansion, so it won’t cost the states anything. Well… they’re paying for all of it at first and then the federal dollars are slowly tapered off. But according to the CBO (congressional budget office – the nonpartisan organization that crunches numbers for congress) the Medicaid expansion will more than pay for itself by getting those people into preventative care and out of the emergency room system, which currently costs the states billions.

        In fact, lots of people are concerned that Obamacare will increase the deficit because of the tax subsidies, but the opposite is actually predicted to occur. The CBO says that Obamacare will actually reduce the deficit by both slowing the rate of growth in health care expenses and by getting people into the system so they’re getting preventative care.

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        • Cat, I sure hope this is true. I would like to see something done to guarantee health care to all, not just illegal immigrants. You probably see the problems the hospitals are facing from guaranteeing their health care when the federal government doesn’t repay the hospitals, just like I saw in Arizona. In the three years I lived there I believe 2, maybe a third but I can’t remember for sure, were forced to close.

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  11. Ha! Now there’s a new and interesting take on the whole Obamacare issue! On a certain level this entire topic just makes me sick (yuk, yuk). I mean, I am completely grateful that we at least have some sort of health care regulation in this country now, but because the insurance lobby is so powerful, the only thing we could get was this crazy kluged together system. A single payer system would have been soooo much easier to administer, fairer overall, and wouldn’t have caused the sorts of problems that you’re describing. Guess we have Joe Lieberman to thank for that since he vowed to join a Republican filibuster of any single payer system and pretty much single handedly kept it off the table. Sigh.

    Anyhow, more to the point of your post, I have very mixed feelings on this topic. On the one hand I totally agree about all of the many benefits that you describe that would come about from people having to get by on less money. On the other hand, the fact that ordinary Americans are constantly being forced to make do while the wealthy and the corporations keep getting richer and richer makes me so angry that I just want to spit. At some point this is gonna stop working though, because when people no longer have the money to buy the goods and services that are making the rich people richer, the game will be up. Maybe that’s what you’re saying though… people should just opt out of the economic system? If only that were truly possible…

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    • Cat,, I am very confused by the whole insurance issue. if your income is at or near poverty level you can qualify for medicaid, and there are even programs in many states for those who are above the poverty level but can’t afford to buy insurance privately to have insurance. So we are really talking about a medium to lower middle class, of which is shrinking every day, who need a way to purchase their insurance in an affordable way. This whole Obamacare has been blown way out of proportion and made more confusing and it seems costly than it should have been. I do agree with you on the single payer system but anything that makes sense probably won’t get passed, like you said because of the lobbyists.

      Don’t get me wrong I too have mixed feelings about the subject. It is all well and fine to embrace voluntary simplicity, but the key word is voluntary. When it is forced on a group of people the main reaction is anger and frustration. People are going to try and hold on to their current lifestyle for as long as possible and be resentful for quite some time if they have to give a lot up to survive. But, in my scenario the rich wouldn’t continue to get rich off the people any longer. Yes, I see us opting out of the economic system as we currently know it and return to a small locally run economy. We would return to the little person; the neighbor who runs a small store the woman down the street who can do amazing things with fabric to repair furniture or make curtains from what is available, farmers who will sell their wool as yarn. I see the large corporations failing, people leaving them by the droves.

      It may only be a dream of mine, but it’s the only way I can see this situation turning around into something positive because right now it is anything but.

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      • I don’t blame you for being confused… what we’ve created is a complex web of state and federal programs, with giant holes in them. Basically one part of Obamacare involved expanding Medicaid to cover anyone earning up to 138% of the poverty level – the problem was that Medicaid is a joint state & federal program, so while the expansion costs were covered by federal dollars, the supreme court ruled that states could opt out of the expansion, and many Republican controlled states chose to do so leaving anyone earning between 100% and 138% of the poverty level without ANY health care assistance. Seriously, if you live in a state that opted out and you’re in that income level, you can’t get either Medicaid or the Obamacare tax credits, you’re just out of luck. People who fall into that category are exempt from the mandate requiring them to purchase insurance, but they’re no closer to getting the health care that the both need and deserve.

        Similarly, states were supposed to set up their own independent insurance marketplaces or exchanges, but for reasons I don’t completely understand, states were also allowed to opt out of that requirement, so the federal government had to take on the task for over half of the states – hence the giant sign up disaster we are currently witnessing.

        Basically, the thing is a mess because instead of accepting that Obamacare was now the law of the land and working to make it function properly, Republicans on both the state and federal level have done everything in their power to try to make it fail. Grumble, grumble, grumble…

        Sorry to rant about politics. It just makes me really angry when they start messing with something as fundamental as people’s ability to see a doctor when they are sick, and they’re doing it purely for political gain.

        But back to the point. I totally share your little dream, and I think that it really is the way forward.

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        • Cat, you have delved into the Obamacare much further than I did. Thanks for the info I understand it a bit more now. One question, for those who fall in that loophole and can’t get insurance are they still tied to the penalty of the $5,000 for not having insurance?

          Two things I don’t understand is why in the world the intent was to expand medicaid. The intent should have been to provide insurance for those who didn’t quality at a price they could afford, especially with both the federal and state governments going broke.

          The other problem I have concerns the doubling, or more in some cases, of the cost to those already insured, and to businesses. Guess that was the insurance companies that helped write the law’s way of boosting their bottom line.

          Don’t apologize for your rant, I almost wrote a rant instead of what I did, but didn’t feel I understood the ins and outs of the program enough to write an honest and informed post.

          I am fortunate, as long as I don’t lose my right to choose my own doctor, my family doctor will see me, my children and grandchildren for whatever we can afford, or as she put it what we have in our wallet that we can afford to part with.

          Her father started a medical practice in honor of his parents who during the Great Depression couldn’t afford medical care for their family. There is a plaque on the wall in the entrance stating in honor of his parents no one will ever be turned away for lack of payment. His daughter has continued to believe her reason for becoming a doctor is to help people not to get rich.

          I may have told the story before, but the doctor who started the practice refused to take money from his medicare patients. He accepted what medicare approved and simply erased the balance. Doctors in the area took him to court over this practice. He lost and was told he had to go back and bill every patient for every visit.

          He complied and billed each of his patients. My grandmother received a bill in the thousands. She was upset and told him she could have easily paid the bills when they were due, but to pay this huge bill now would be tight. He laughed, said he was ordered to bill everyone, but he wasn’t ordered to collect. He again wrote off every one of those bills, never collecting a dime of the money.

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          • Wow! That’s one heckuva good Samaritan doctor!

            In terms of Obamacare, if people fall into that hole between Medicaid and Obamacare, they are exempt from the mandate and don’t have to pay the penalty.

            I agree that the thing is a mess – I just think there are too many powerful stakeholders here who had to be appeased. And the behavior of the Republican party, in my opinion, is just inexcusable. Not many people realize this, but Obamacare is actually based on the REPUBLICAN counter proposal to Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal back in the 1990’s. So basically Obama says “sure, I’ll accept your proposal” and then they do everything in their power to block it, break it and otherwise keep it from working.

            But… in the good news department, the state of Vermont actually passed legislation laying the groundwork for a statewide single payer healthcare system. It won’t take effect until 2017, but I predict that LOTS of people are gonna want to move to Vermont! With any luck, it will be a rip-roaring success and other states will follow suit.

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          • Cat, I did hear Obamacare was based on the counter proposal of Hilary Clinton. Our government is broken. It’s no longer about working for the people, it’s about what they can get from the lobbyists and making the other party look bad. Nothing can get accomplished when the only goal is to make the person next to you look bad.

            What is it about the New England states, they are often trying things, like healthcare, that is way ahead of the rest of the country. Even if they don’t work properly in the end I applaud them for trying to fix something broken. If it wasn’t so cold up there I would consider moving. :-)

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  12. I like all your points – I for one want more down time and connections – people don’t connect anymore – I do have a multi-generation home though – my mother-in-law lives with us and shares some of the cost – she’s in great shape and in great mind – she just didn’t want to move into a condo or townhouse – I love having her here – my children really connect with her and a relationship between a grandmother and her grandchildren is very special.

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    • Lois
      i think you make very sound points. I question though, if many will address their needs the way that you hope. Folks have gotten so used to “things” , it is hard to change that mentality.

      I hope that many take up your “ideas”

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      • When my husband was laid off (for about a year) a few years ago, we had to cut back dramatically, and we both feel that was really good for us. Although we added back a few treats (occasional dinners out, for instance), for the most part we’ve stuck with buying and spending less, shopping more at thrift stores, etc. – and it’s now second-nature.

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      • Lynn, I don’t think the majority will embrace these things willingly, they will go down kicking and doing anything they can to maintain the status quo they are used to. But if things get much worse I do see people grudgingly taking a few of the steps, such as to downsize if possible or we will see families band together. As one member of the extended family loses their home they will be invited to move in with another. This over time would work so well for all parties involved that it will become permanent. I already see more people growing small gardens around my town, this would grow as well. The thrift stores are already seeing increased business and this trend would grow. But it would be one step at a time until people would one day look around and realize life was good again, even if it was different.

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    • No, people don’t connect anymore. I recently saw a picture of a young adult woman walking down the street with a cell phone she was texting on with a cup of Starbucks coffee in her hand. I couldn’t get past the thought that we never bought coffee out, we did get together in a cafe for a cup of coffee, which then cost $1.50 with free refills, to visit with friends. We had picnics and we knew all our neighbors and their families. We have become a society that has to be connected at all times, needs their Starbucks and not as a social gathering but rather a necessary jolt of energy as we run to the next thing on our schedule. Texting or checking social media is not connecting in a real way.

      I think it’s great that your mother-in-law lives with you. I briefly considered moving in with my son and his family as a way to combine the bills into one and make it easier on his family and eliminate his need to work double shifts.. But his home really didn’t have a dedicated space I could go to when I needed alone time.

      I agree the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is special relationship and so many children are growing up across the country from grandparents and other family members missing out on wonderful experiences.

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      • Hi Lois – so true I see people all over the place connecting but not really – they are connecting with electronics! We were very fortunate -my mother-in-law moved in with us when we lived in a smaller house and we were able to buy a bigger house and put a suite in with kitchen and laundry area for my mother-in-law – my children have to get permission to go into her suite to visit – she loves having them there but both my husband and I made it clear that their grandmother has her own space and it’s to be respected – our children are now teenagers and can look after themselves but when they were younger we rarely asked her to babysit as I was always aware of having her so close that I would never want to take advantage -my friends all considered me crazy but I love the relationship that has formed!

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        • You have done well making the transition. I think how you live is how multi-generational homes were in the past here. I never figured out why but the grandparents usually had the upper floor of a house. They would come together for meals and such but their space was respected, like you do for your mother-in-law.

          The only difference between your not asking your mother-in-law to babysit and how past generations handled it was past generations saw the rearing of children as needing all involved to accept some responsibility. Of course it took a lot more work to run a household then as most food was grown and everything was made from scratch. There were no modern appliances like a washing machine so all chores were shared. And of course children didn’t need to be watched as closely because it was safer and because the neighbors kept an eye on all the children as they were usually all outside playing in the streets. :-)

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        • I think it is great that you made sure to respect your mother-in-laws space and privacy. I don’t live with my sons but my oldest son lives only 2 miles away from me. I have had to set some ground rules after one day when I was out my son remarked that I never had plans and he counted on my watching the children that day. Don’t get me wrong I love my kids and grandkids, but I do have my own life and want that respected. Past generations had it a lot harder, chores were very time consuming needing everyone in the household to contribute so the grandparents were an integral part of making the home function and that included watching the children. But that generation didn’t have “retirement” as we know it and children were freer and didn’t need such close supervision as we do today.

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