Well, Ms. Hart (and the rest of the country), welcome to my world. Your “new” normal has been my normal since 2001.
A strong comparison can be made between the state of Michigan and the rest of the country as a whole. We have here a state that has been bleeding jobs, and thus population. Michigan’s expenses far exceed what it makes in taxes, what with social services, bloated government, high prison population and legacy costs of benefits and retirement for state workers. Personal income tax and small business tax do nothing to lure business to make a home here. Cut spending? Ha, ha — the idea! It’s more exciting to teeter on the edge of insolvency. Besides, we can make do on stimulus money or hope for a bailout. The corruption in Detroit is not only embarrassing, but we've also seen, as the layers are peeled away little by little, that it also costs all of us untold millions.
The fun ride for the rest of the cash-strapped country is just beginning; here, it’s been in full swing for almost a decade. Had Velma beenliving here, she would have left years ago.
Business is declining, yet we work longer hours. We are petrified of a future with no Social Security or Medicare, so we save more. The unknown has us cutting down on improvements to home and business, freezing salaries, buying used cars instead of new. There are no more vacations on a whim like we could when we were younger and had money to burn. I use my time and airfare to visit family, and instead of renting a car, I mooch one from a relative. I grow my own food, do my own yard work, clean my own house, cut and color my own hair. I buy more of my groceries in bulk. If an item isn’t at least 50% off, I won’t buy it at all. We don’t eat out as often as we used to, and splurge on really good dinners on weekends only.
We can’t sell our house, because it’s worth about half what we paid for it. We’ve been thinking of renting out the extra bedrooms, but we may need them for when the kids might have to boomerang back to the nest. It took eight months for my son to find a part-time job after graduating from college, and who knows if the daughter can find employment in two years when she has her degree.