Reader Rant: ‘I was just living the dream. … Now I’m angry.’

by on July 14, 2010 · 34 comments

in Economy, Popular, San Diego

middle-class1

By Scott

My name’s Scott and I’m unemployed.  So here I was, just minding my own business, providing for my family and just living the dream.

For 15 years I’d been running staffing agency territories and training the recruiters.  Things were great. In 2006 my wife and I sold the house we’d owned for 12 years, put a $250K down payment on a bigger place.

One day I’m checking my 401k online and almost 1/2 was gone!  What the heck!?

A little bit later, there’s a foreclosure across the street. Same floor plan as ours – ends up selling for $100k less than what our 1st mortgage is. Doggone it!

I hear about judicial loan modification (cram down), congress it going to help straighten things out I hear.  I learn that I used to be that way until Congress changed it in 2005….. hmmmmmm.  Well, cram down doesn’t pass, and I make a point of seeing which Congressman / Senators voted against it.

Playing the lost docs game with Chase Mortgage on a mortgage modification. (Still trying 18 months later)

As unemployment rises and , I reduce expenses, but in the end I get laid off.  Re career at 50 – whoohoo!  I hammer the marketplace, trying to get work, but the recruiting agencies aren’t expanding yet.

Shocked when congress goes home for the Memorial Day weekend without extending unemployment benefits. But oh well, they’ll get it right when they come back……

July 4th rolls around. Still trying to get a job.

I’m hearing comments from Republican Congressman/Senators that as one of the unemployed, I’m lazy, spoiled, spending my money on drugs, should take a lower paying job, and am just milking the system.CLASS_WARFARE_FIST

House passes unemployment extension in the final hours, but Senate has already left for the 4th of July holiday….. Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffering in the worst economy and they go celebrate 4th of July?

What the heck?

I read that Republicans block the extensions because it will add to the deficit. Been hearing a lot of Republicans screaming about the deficit, so I go to treasurydirect.gov to see what it was when our President took office. Almost $11 trillion. Currently at $13 trillion. I get curious, what was it when President Bush took office? – I look it up on treasurydirect.gov – almost $6 trillion.

Wait just one cotton pickin’ second, something’s not right here….

Darrel Issa

Darrel Issa - richest man in Congress?

I go to ontheissues.org website and see that our Congressman, Republican Darrell Issa voted against :

  • Modifying mortgages in bankruptcy –
  • extending unemployment –
  • all of the stimulus funds to get economy going –
  • regulating the subprime mortgage industry

Ok, I’m pretty angry now.

I read his voting record further. I get angrier.

I vote for the Democratic candidate in the primary – Howard Katz.

I begin reading more on Darrell Issa and I find out he’s the richest man in Congress and read lots of articles surrounding a “less than ethical” background.

My one vote isn’t going to be enough I figure, so I wrote to the Democratic candidate Howard Katz, told him our current Congressman’s voting record does not reflect the best interests of my family and could I volunteer to help his campaign. Never done anything like this before, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to tossed around like a ragdoll and then have my character insulted.

I begin to take things personal.  I am starting to see how the political game is being played for power and millions of Americans are the chess pieces.

I don’t know if we’ll unseat Darrell Issa.  With a lot of help, luck, and good winds, we’ll replace him with someone whose positions and values reflect the needs of our new current reality.

Things have changed, for me, and millions of others.  I’m not afraid of our future. I’m not nervous about our future.

I’m angry.

And I’m going to do whatever I can to send that message.

Howard Katz

Democrat Howard Katz - running against Issa in the 49th Congressional District.

Please visit our candidate’s site. www.hkatzforcongress.com .

If you can donate anything -we have to pay the rent, buy signs, buttons, we have to advertise,etc. as it’s an all volunteer staff.

I hope you’ll do what you can to send a message to congress this November.

They’re not watching out for us.  One vote isn’t enough

And by the way, “I stand with the President of the United States”

Always have before, always will.

Even the Republican ones.  That’s my President

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Cindi July 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Live in any other country, and you will see that the U.S. political system has more holes than swiss cheese. But if we view ourselves as pawns, does that mean we also have to accept that our votes are a waste because all politicians are crooked?

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avatar Goatskull July 14, 2010 at 5:11 pm

“But if we view ourselves as pawns, does that mean we also have to accept that our votes are a waste because all politicians are crooked?”

Not sure that we should just accept that our votes are a waste but I really kind of believe that all politicians are crooked. I guess I’m just pessimistic. I just don’t understand why a truly honest person would ever want to peruse a career holding a public office, at least at that high of a level. Even the people I vote for I would never want to sit down and have a beer with them. I suppose you could say that I vote for the people I vote for in hopes that their selfish pursuits will somehow also benefit the fest of us. In other words, helping us will help them.

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avatar Steve C. July 15, 2010 at 12:58 am

With Issa it’s always I, I, I. Issa Isn’t Interested. When he first ran for congress he said “Don’t expect me to fix the potholes.” I say we elect someone who sees himself as a public servant and not vice versa.

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avatar just my 2 cents July 15, 2010 at 7:14 am

Just a little curious seems like you got caught up in the ” i’m rich look at my home equity” sindrome?
Did you really think that was hard cold cash you were seeing ?? Come on….To see a home appreciate THAT much and want to lay your hands on the bucks was the real problem….

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avatar Kenloc July 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm

It’s not uncommon to see home in California appreciate 250k in 12years. Look at the historical figures for any 12 year period and adjust for inflation.When he sold the home that 250k WAS cold hard cash.People that sold homes after a decade weren’t the problem.People expecting to get that return in a few years were.The mistake was
reinvesting in another home at the peak of the market(2006). up until that point he did it right,buy low and sell high.Hindsight is 20/20 i guess.

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avatar just my 2 cents July 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm

problem with that is the house ” probally ” appreciate 2ook in 3 years…play paper money he rolled into another house and could not pay the note when things adjusted !

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avatar Steve C. July 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Never let he facts get in the way of a good tantrum, eh? The GUY LOST HIS JOB! The problem was not an adjustable note. You’ve invented that on your own.

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avatar just my 2 cents July 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm

he spent 5 paragraphs on it…
dont matter …aint my life.

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avatar RB July 15, 2010 at 8:06 am

So you want the government to pay down your mortgage, pay you extended unemployment and give you a government job as a congressman, while you are complaining about the massive government debt and the sub prime mess. Gee, you are living the American Dream! Look north my friend. There is no sub-prime mess, no bank bail outs, no loan modifications, no congressional reports, no two thousand page laws that nobody reads, and no financial reform needed. Canada’s magic is merely requires 20% down on mortgages, something we use to require.

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avatar mr fresh July 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

let’s not forget that our friends to the north have universal health care. and they didn’t buy into the meme that removing regulation from financial securities, which provided the financial incentive (hey, nobody’s looking, what the worst that could happen?) for sub-prime mortgages would lead to unlimited prosperity. their middle class is alive and well, thank you. we’re left with old pictures of GOP lawmakers (with the help of the Clinton administration) posing with chainsaws in front of all the regulation books (allegedly) they were dismantling.

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avatar RB July 15, 2010 at 10:07 am

Yes, we are both talking about our friends to the north that don’t have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who are still giving out loans with 3% down, still taking bailout money, and are not apart of financial reform. Canada, the country who has no Rep or Dem and no illegal immigrants from Mexico or the US taking their jobs. Yes, we are talking about the same place.

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avatar Kenloc July 15, 2010 at 11:51 am

sounds like you guys ought to move to Canada.

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avatar RB July 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Hey, our President is running two wars without a withdrawal date. We are only a draft away from having a lot of people heading to Canada.

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avatar Shane Finneran July 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

One more big difference for home buyers in Canada: they don’t get to write-off the interest expense against their taxable income.

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avatar Steve C. July 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Being a know-it-all, surely you must know that the middle class of this country haven’t seen an increase in earnings in nearly 40 years; and that during the Bush 43 years they saw their incomes actually drop. All this happened while the top 1% of wealth raked in close to 29% of total income. That level hadn’t been reached since 1928–the year before the balloon burst and the Great Depression became part of our history.

Americans have been forced to borrow because their incomes have fallen so much they can no longer afford to pay living expenses without borrowing. There’s the cause of our present troubles–not low down payments, you twit, but low wages!

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 16, 2010 at 7:50 am

Steve C – Really appreciate your ability to put things together succinctly. Keep it up – your comments are a great contribution to our discussions here.

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avatar OB Cindi July 15, 2010 at 8:17 am

The problem is that American jobs are going to other countries–Philippines, Mexico and India are the top three places companies like to send their work because they can pay less then $5 an hour without worry of CA Workers Compensation laws. In the last 3 years I have laid off 600 employees between 2 companies that ended up sending the work to third-world countries to make more money with less overhead. Charge companies $3,000 per head to move jobs overseas, and maybe these companies will think twice about pulling American jobs overseas. Let them feel the economic burden of this act–shared responsibility, not just in Unemployment Insurance costs.

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avatar Sunshine July 15, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’m dis0olusioned too, Scott. American Dream, my ass. I owned a 3 bd/2bath house with all the room my young son & I needed and then some for 14 years. 14 years of fixing broken items, repairing near worn out parts, cutting the grass, and complying with ridiculous Homeowner Association rules and regulations. A dream?…more like a nightmare.

When, in 2000, a less-than-integral boyfriend stole $27,000 from me (off my credit cards that I had in ample supply back then), we were reduced to bankruptsy and living on a meagar $700 per month until I could get back on my feet. To add insult to injury, my mom was dying of brain/breast cancer that same year and I was a bit distracted by that to focus on my finances.

Then, out of the blue, came a crippling disability that landed me in the hospital several times and rendered me unable to work. By the end of 2000 I was bankrupt financially, devistated by the death of my mom, on my own again with 7 year old son in tow, fully disabled, and recovering from a lamonectomy (low back surgery).

And the advise I got from my family? “Just pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get a job.” “Stop being so lazy.”

So, after working for 35 years, paying taxes from each check, saving a little here and there where I could, I was unable to work for the first time in my life due to health concerns. I ended up cashing in all my savings, stocks, IRA’s, and my son’s college fund to survive. Yeah, some dream.

In 2001, I returned t0 college to carve out a new career as a councelor. (again, my families cries of “get a job” echoed every conversation. Three years later with Certification in hand along with $14,000 in student loans, and several more hospital visits (with their bills ~ no insurance here) under my belt, I was once again equiped to return to the work force part-time only per doctors orders. After searching for work for more than a year, I landed a wonderful career working with the Co-Occuring population (addiction/mental illness recovery) and accepted their pay rate of $9.26 per hour (much less than the $25 per hour I used to make, but it was good solid rewarding work.) Yet, even with a solid new career under my belt, a good j0b that provided enough for us to get by, and a fantastic network of friends, sleepless nights filled with worry were frequent. Food and toilet paper were still luxuries. Only the bills that came in color were opened and paid (ah, those lovely shut off notices). Loans from family & friends saved our mortgage from foreclosure more than once. The struggle to survive continued.

Fast forward to 2009. I visited OB once again that February. My son & I came to OB for the past 6-7 years as we could afford day trips/short overnight stays at the Point Loma Youth Hostel and always enjoyed it here. That fateful February day, I was walking along the sand, thinking of everything and nothing and trying to figure out what to do with our lives, when I noticed some writing in the sand.

“Smile, this is it” was all it said. I took that message to heart. It was all I needed to go home, put my less-than-new house on the market, and give up the American Dream of homeownership and pushing the rock uphill. Our house sold the same day I listed it, and for more than what I was asking for! 2 months later, house still in escrow, we were living in OB, renting a cottage that was more than 2x’s our mortgage payment, yet now out from under the burden of the American Nightmare.

My family still thinks me crazy for giving up a house for a rented 1 bedroom cottage that is so small you need to go outside to change your mind. Yet, we’re happy.

We’re happy that we live so close to the ocean. We’re happy that we can walk/bicycle/bus anywhere we need to go (and thank goodness, as our 1970 VW Van crapped out a month ago). We’re happy that there are still towns like OB in this country where those who simply want to live a peaceful, playful existance can call home.

Now, if our landlady isn’t foreclosed on, we have a place to call home. See, it never truly ends.

Hard times are upon us all ~ yes, even those in the top 2% who will never experience day to day month after month of poverty as we have. I feel fortunate to be asble to provide a home for my son and myself. Food and toilet paper are still low on the priority list as medical bills now consume a good portion of our income. But, hell, it could be worse.

Now, as for those nasty little politicians…..vote em all outta office. Someone’s got to take a stand and tell the truth in Washington, D.C. Where is Mr. Smith when you need him?

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avatar RB July 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

“Now, as for those nasty little politicians…..vote em all outta office. Someone’s got to take a stand and tell the truth in Washington, D.C. Where is Mr. Smith when you need him?” AMEN!

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avatar Shane Finneran July 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I enjoyed this rant. We need to hear more of these reports from folks who are being let down by the system. And we need to do more calling-out of shameless “leaders” like Darrell Issa, whose policies screw average people.

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avatar annagrace July 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I agree Shane. Sunshine’s post was very powerful and deserves to be a rant on its own. Her post reveals that “the dream” can evaporate overnight when you have health problems. Needless to say, Mr. Issa was also dead set against health care reform.

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avatar Shane Finneran July 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Yes, Sunshine’s post was terrific. Her comment on her family members tossing out “get a job,” the world’s most useless advice, really hit home. I’ve seen folks in my family turn on other family members who have fallen on hard times, and it’s really disconcerting. Basically the same thing is going on at the national level, with the shameful failure to extend unemployment benefits… I’d like to think both my family and my country are better than this…

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avatar Nancy July 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Thank you, Sunshine, for telling your story with you positive attitude, but I’m hoping that you’re not inclined to vote all the incumbents out of office, but just the ones who aren’t fighting for we average folks. It would be a shame for Sen. Boxer to lose to millionaire Carly Fiorina who would become another Issa as far as I’m concerned. We have to also look at the billionaire Meg Whitman running for governor of our state who has said she’ll cut 40,000 state employee jobs right off. She hasn’t had enough interest in the past to even vote regularly, and now she’s bored with her life and wants to finally get involved with government by destroying it with her philosophy of running it like a business.
I fear for what’s happening in this country with the economic devastation that’s happened and the dying middle class with the wage scale so low. Your tale is a telling one forecasting a dire lifestylefor many, especially in San Diego. The millionaires are turning into billionaires, and the middle class falling into the lower class. Tough times ahead I’m afraid, but we must not lose sight of voting for those politicians (and they are out there) who will look out for the little guy.
Thank you again, Sunshine, for telling your story, which I think is one many can be telling.

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avatar RB July 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm

All incumbents need to go including those that voted for the bank bailout (Boxer), Stimulus Plan that has given us 12+% unemployment (Boxer), and GM and AIG bailouts (Boxer). Is California better or worst since Boxer has been our Senator?
It is not about Dem or Rep. It is about failure of government.

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avatar annagrace July 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Actually California is better with Boxer.

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avatar Steve C. July 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm

The stimulus gave us 12% unemployment, you say? The facts don’t agree. The fact is Issa voted against the stimulus, when he shouldn’t have. His vote was a vote to send the tax money of the people of this district to other parts of the country. That’s how legislating works. He did not get in there and fight for his district because he was trying to make the situation worse! That’s the GOP strategy! That’s it! They want to make things worse so they can point the finger of blame at the Dems. But Isssa’s side lost and so millions of dollars came flowing into the district in spite of him. Go to Recovery.gov and confirm this for yourself. I did and because I did I know that hundreds if not thousands of jobs were saved (directly) and many more thousands through indirect benefit. There were also hundreds of jobs created as well. So, you simply can’t say that the stimulus gave us 12% unemployment unless you’re also trying to point out that, without it, the rate would likely be 15% or even higher-which is exactly where Issa and “the disloyal opposition” (my expression), the GOP in Congress want it to go. Wake up and wise up. They’re playing people like you for fools.

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avatar Patty Jones July 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Yeah. Welcome to the Rag, Steve C.

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avatar Dave Rice July 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I got beat to the punch, and much more eloquently, I might add. Dittoing Patty, welcome!

What really gets to me is the “Fail, Obama, Fail!” attitude of the republic party. They figure their best shot at credibility is by doing everything possible to make things as bad as possible until they get their way? Sounds like when I got put on time out and started throwing my Legos around the room in protest…

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avatar john July 22, 2010 at 4:36 am

While Issa DOES have a level of responsibility toward his local constituancy, he also has a duty toward his votes on policy of a national scope being within the philosophy of his party and they believe that theirs is better for the nation’s fiscal health. (not agreeing that it is or isn’t) The GOP’s support is as crucial to him staying in office as is the local voters, and the GOP’s overall philosophy in theory is against creating a bigger gov’t for the ends of promoting economic growth.
The GOP’s ideal of economic stimulus is a tax break for the wealthy with the knowledge they will reinvest that money back into the economy, and in this repetitious cycle everyone eventually shares in it.
The current stimulus package depends on gov’t expenditures with the knowledge that money goes to people who put it back into the economy.
Bashing Issa for not approving the latter on the basis he wants a stagnant economy is groundless, he just disagrees with the philosophy of this method.
His party feels the government is not a better place to invest your money than the people who fund it. I’m not personally endorsing either philosophy.

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avatar Dave Rice July 15, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Just focusing on your statement that government stimulus specifically caused 12% unemployment – would you care to expand upon that?

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avatar RB July 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Please read or focus on my words with more care. Words matter. Where did I say or use the word ’caused’. Also when did you and Senator Boxer make agreeing to bailouts of big Wall Street firms like GM, Citicorp, AIG, Goldman, etc. with taxpayer money a litmus test for being a Democrat? It is not about Dem or Rep. It is about the failure of government.

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avatar Nancy July 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Our County Board of Supervisors need to be held accountable, and even though our representative is not up for re-election but 2 others are, and hopefully they’ll be replaced. They have not been looking out for the average person, and have no clue about what’s been going on.
Please go to this site :
http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/government/article_e71a0b16-8e36-11df-915c-001cc4c002e0.html which tells about their passing up federal stimulus money that would have provided jobs for the unemployed. They’ve also been lacking in the County’s food stamp program that has been the worst in the state in providing those in need.
We have to pay attention to who is looking out for the middle/lower class, and it isn’t this group running the county now.

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avatar annagrace July 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I agree Nancy. In addition, while the Sups shined on the stimulus funds, the Santa Margarita Gun Club received $3,500 for their junior rifle program- located in beautiful Rancho Santa Fe. Why do I think these kids aren’t headed to Afghanistan? And why hasn’t the mainstream media delved into the facts? And why can’t I find a contact for the Santa Margarita Gun club? Seems they have left town????

I dug around on the internet and found that this grant- a supervisor”s slush fund- was buried in the Libraries and Education 2008 Grants. Where is the responsible reporting?

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avatar Steve C. July 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Nancy, you couldn’t be more right. They all got “the memo.” Play the “guardian of the deficit game” in order to jam a pillow over the face of an economy in critical condition. Never before in my nearly 60 years have I seen politicians behaving this way. They’re way over the line, and I believe the people will get wise to their game and that will mark the end of the GOP as we know it.

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