Let me just preface this post by saying I hate Thursdays. I know its only one day away from the weekend, but it seems that all the bad things that happen in our lives occur on a Thursday. Today is no different and even though it’s only 7:15 in the morning, we’ve already gotten off to a bad start.
For us, Thursday’s are paydays. Rob always goes early on Thursday mornings to grab the rent money from the bank, because the place we rent from does not take debit or credit card (I know, too strange these days), and a few items from the grocery – usually coffee, creamer and something for his lunch. Money is always tight, but we usually manage to make it through well. However, for the past two paydays (he gets paid every two weeks), a garnishment has been taken out of his check for taxes that we owe from the time of the economic downturn – or as I call it, the “crash”.
We do not dispute that we owe these taxes and in fact are more than happy to get them paid off considering what we want to do in the future. Had we known that we owed the taxes, they would have been paid sooner, but that’s neither here nor there. No, we do not dispute the tax assessment against us. However, the agreement states that the amount taken from his check is not to exceed 25% per pay period. BUT, the company that handles the payroll for his place of employment has been taking 50% every payday – two full payments at once, twice a month! Once we pay rent, this leaves us with $50 to do everything we need to do for the next 14 days – eat, put gas in the car, do laundry. I have personally not had clean clothes to wear for over a month now, except the few things I can manage to wash in the sink and hang to dry.
So, no, this morning did not start out great. In fact, it started with both of us being upset, a bit shell-shocked that this is STILL an ongoing issue even though he spent the better part of a day on the phone with this payroll company last payday and was assured it had all been straightened out and that the amount they took in overage would be on this week’s check.
In the car, on the way to his job, I could tell his blood pressure was already high. His breathing was intensified, he was red in the face and he was taking everything as a personal afront – a clear indication of his hypertension in action. I had to bite my tongue several times and tell myself that we’re both under a lot of stress and that this was not anything either of us could control.
“Honey, we’re in this together, and we’ll find a way to be okay.” I said to him as I dropped him at the door, but as I drove away I prayed “God, I don’t know that we’re going to be okay. I really don’t.”
As I drove home I thought about all the things that have happened to us since 2010 and all the news that continues today that the economy is improving and that there are more jobs now and that standards of living are on the rise and I got a bit angry. Where are they getting their numbers from? More importantly, what age brackets and factions of society are they looking at when they do these surveys and studies?
The truth is as I look around my own community I see where these numbers just do not add up – 25 year-olds who were in the foster care system now forced into menial labor for less than a living wage just to survive; vets who cannot get proper medical care, proper housing assistance or any other kind of assistance forced to live in one-room motels just to keep a roof over their heads; and people like us, who’ve lost everything and seem to keep loosing ground no matter how hard they fight – over 50 but under retirement age, sick and unable to seek medical treatment.
The fact is that once you’ve hit poverty, it’s a steep and slippery climb back out and many do not make it Poverty in and of its self-poses a whole new set of problems that have little and everything to do with money. Without money, an unfortunate but necessary evil in today’s world, you cannot afford proper nutrition nor medical care. Without those two things, you soon begin to experience illness, which generates more debt due to doctor’s bills and missed days from work This, in turn, causes a decrease in funding for proper and well-maintained shelter, and the ability to set anything aside for a better future. It’s a never-ending cycle that needs to be broken, but how?
The necessity for cash for all things is where we lose it. The barter system does not work for certain necessities and if it does the goods exchanged or services exchanged are often not enough nor the right kind to aid where needed. Many things that are basic tenants of above-poverty level lifestyles cannot be bartered for – gas for vehicles to and from work, above sub-standard housing, good, nutritious and healthy food and medical care, and often, energy (gas, water and electrical) cannot be bartered for and in those instances where they can be traded in exchange for a live-work arrangement, the workload far outweighs the benefits provided.
We are making it our life’s mission, through the creation of Osiyo Eco Village Farms, to change this standard and provide real solutions for real-life problems.
Over the next few weeks, if we can maintain the hosting of this website, I will be publishing a series of articles that describe in better detail not only the challenges we are currently facing but also the benefits and solutions we hope to provide with Osiyo. I’ll also be looking at some other living, working models of the type of community we plan to build, as comparison studies.
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Rob and Cher
Osiyo Eco Village Farms founders