The American Spirit

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My health insurance premium is going up $70 a month. My mental healthcare will no longer be covered 100%, so I’ll have a co-pay starting in January. I don’t get a free annual check-up anymore either.

As far as I know, I’m not getting a raise. My rent isn’t going down. And yet, my cost of living is definitely going up.

I suppose even in the simplest terms, the cost of living always goes up and wages have stayed depressingly stagnant.

I’ve often wondered how people do it. How those living paycheck to paycheck could account for even the slightest increase in their everyday lives.

I think I have it sort of figured out.

You won’t find us on the streets refusing to work. There aren’t mass strikes. We rarely ban a company or product for too long.

I believe The American Way is to survive.

So long as gas is reasonable and bread is cheap, so long as we perceive to be doing OK in the midst of terrible tax policies, salaries that could not be considered a living wage, healthcare costs, student and payday loans that should be illegal, urban areas that will soon only be affordable for the well off, We Persist.

How?

We buy our groceries at Aldi. We shop at Walmart. We thrift. We coupon. We Uber Pool. We share out Netflix password. We get a “side hustle.” We have roommates. We relocate. We move back in with mom and dad. We stretch our credit to the limit to give ourselves and our families the slightest bit of temporary happiness. We give up on our dreams.

We help one another with GoFundMe’s and food pantries and a billion non-profit organizations that only exist because we refuse to acknowledge how poorly this government treats the majority of it’s citizens.

The thing that makes America great and simultaneously not so great is our will to make it work. Though we may feel depressed and pessimistic and hopeless, we have somehow managed to get through another day, to carry on.

What we need to do is stop carrying on. We need to demand more. We need to come together collectively and say we will not stand for this anymore.

We make this country run. We show up. We feed it. We clean it. We stay up all night with it.

I’m all for doing more with less. But we have lulled ourselves into complacency as we eke out a living, a false sense of security because of our ability to own smartphones and tablets, to eat the occasional steak and drink a $20 craft cocktail, to replace our wardrobes at H&M, to not be ashamed of our Payless shoes and fake leather bags.

And we are the lucky ones.

There are millions of others who are buried in debt they will never get out of for their entire lives.

And we are ALL one illness or injury away from a health crisis that none of us could possibly pay off.

We are all one layoff away from eviction, repossession, homelessness.

Many of us are already there.

I’m not ungrateful. But I truly believe the system in place is purposeful in it’s design.  We are fine with being cogs in a wheel so long as we can have THINGS and appear successful among our peers and to the outside world. So long as someone is willing to lend us the money at 20% interest. So long as companies take our retirement funds and make more money investing it then we’ll ever be taught to do. So long as we can receive goods and services from monopolies.

Childcare is outrageously expensive. Housing costs are directly related to how good the schools are. Our healthcare system literally lets people remain sick and even die based on how much money they make.

We do not care for our women. We do not care for our elderly. We do not care for our disabled. We do not care for our children.

We openly segregate and discriminate.

There are laws, yet no justice.

It’s time to admit we’re tired of carrying the weight being put upon on us with such disregard and carelessness.

This burden we did not ask for and certainly do not deserve.

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