Tuesday’s Grocery Trip

A couple of places around town I usually shop for groceries are Winco (employee-owned, Northwest-based), Fred Meyers (Krogers umbrella), and The Coop.  This morning I went to Winco on Fairview to grab a few things: milk, margarine, bananas, chips & salsa….and some other stuff.  The first thing I noticed.  The chips I like for nachos have gone up 20¢.  I buy down.  The next big item – milk.  The last time I bought milk it was close to $3.28/gallon.  Today it was $2.48.  What, cows are overproducing now?

Not wanting to define myself as particularly shallow, I don’t know that I thought about ‘The Economy’ or the impact of money, investing, etc., outside of my own small economically-challenged life.  Some family crisis about five years ago prompted my returned to Idaho.  At the time I was working for a radiology group based outside Cleveland and I worked in the corporate office building.  It was actually decided that although I would be the first what I did, I could not only do from home but I could even do it from Idaho.  So I packed up my Jetta, loaded Chloe the cat who remained pissed until about Iowa, and looking like an upscale version of the Clapett’s, I drove cross-country, home to Idaho.

Everything was cool until our owner decided to sell the radiology group not to other medicos, but to actual businessmen.  Bad decision…..within a year they were filing for bankruptcy.  I don’t know the specifics of their folly, I just know that a week before Thanksgiving three years ago, I was laid out.

Along with unemployment benefits, I used my 401K to pay off my car and to “get along” which I managed to do well enough until I managed to get another job, this time at The Elks.  It wasn’t until mid-2007 that I realized the full unnerving depth of what had transpired.  I had gone from earning $16.57/hour in November of 2005 to earning $12.11/hour in February of 2006.  That’s $4.00 less an hour – $32.00 per day less – $160 week less = $320 biweekly less or per pay period to a smacking $640 or so per month less OR some $8000/year.  (More realistically when filing taxes, I found it was closer to $12K) That wasn’t including overtime, which I got every stinking pay period working for the radiology group.  Dumbly, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t replace things at first.  I guess I thought I’d be just fine.

Wellll…. now the following has occurred.  My car – that upscale Clapett-mobile needs a new ignition switch. it’ll have to wait. In the meantime, I’m driving my father’s car and, trust me, it is so TOTALLY a Grampa car.  My glasses broke two days ago.  Fortunately I have an extra pair. Granted, they’re five years old and totally out of style, buttttt…. I can see.  So new glasses will have to wait as well.  Of course not to mention clothes.  The necessities of clothing: socks, bras, undies ….. now! I understand the term “threadbare” because that’s where I am.

Oh Christ!  Did I mention that the IRS caught up with me?  You know that previously mentioned 401k.  Well, there’s the small matter of taking it out early as in a penalty fee.  Especially if you haven’t reached the age of 59 – which I haven’t….yet.  And yes, I did declare it as income.  I just didn’t make room for the penalty so the IRS was kind enough.  Now there are exceptions to taking out 401k funds early: 1) Being a first-time home buyer, medical care (expenses), tuition (me/dependents), funeral expenses, home repairs (damage) or eviction.  Apparently paying my rent in advance for a couple of months and paying off my car so I wouldn’t have those expenses to worry over and stress over – doesn’t count.

Now – I’m not necessarily complaining seeking contributions of slightly worn bras or day-old bread.  I’m essentially describing an awakening.  Except when in treatment/therapy for alcohol & drug treatment, I never really worried about where I was going to live, what I was going to eat or how I was going to live or get by.

The ones I worry over are those who earn considerably less than me.  We have patients who are for one reason or another on a fixed income.  They can be relatively young or elderly and range from having suffered a fall becoming a quadriplegic or paraplegic, have a specific condition as in cerebral palsy, suffered a CVA, heart attack or some traumatic injury or disease that renders them unable to stay or be employed.

On MSN Shopping, an article ‘Why aren’t groceries getting cheaper?’

I’m definitely cutting back,” said Irene Arce, a resident of West New York, a New Jersey town just across the Hudson River from New York City. Arce said she now shops at three groceries to find the best deals. “I’m eating more vegetables, less chicken, buying bigger packages and freezing them, and not buying organic anymore.”

Now what does “real life in real time” have to do with, oh – I don’t know, the big fucking bailout just not so long ago – remember? Remember the strategy as put forth by Hank Paulson?

That’s not what taxpayers bargained for. Paulson originally told Congress he’d use the money to buy mortgage-backed securities that were clogging the financial system. He’d create a market for them by holding a kind of reverse auction, buying them from the banks at the lowest prices they’d be willing to sell them for.

But Paulson has abandoned that strategy and is now just handing the money directly to the big banks, and AIG — all of which are using the money for their own purposes. It’s the worst type of trickle-down economics. Taxpayers are sending the money upward, and almost none of it is trickling back down.

Because as one commenter suggested: Those with smaller incomes spend more of their money to live than do those who make more – regardless of the means in which they ‘earn’ their money.  Consumer spending – those that make up the lower middle class, the working class poor, the poor, the destitute outlay more of their income and make up “the bulk” of the spending in the economy.

I’ve never been interested in ‘The Economy” but it looks like times are a changin’ – and time for some more educatin’

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