Thanksgiving Belt-Tightening

by: David Sirota

Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 17:52

Now comfortably at the in-laws place in Lafayette, Indiana, my wife and I have finally found a bit of time to go over our bills and try to find ways to cut our already thin budget. Without going into the ugly (and boring) details, the grim economy is starting to hit us (like everyone) pretty hard, with delayed paychecks, a lost client and persistently higher necessity costs (health care, heating, etc).

Ahhh, the oh-so-glam life of a progressive writer and a social work student. But then, this was the economically destabilizing decision I made for myself when I opted to leave the safer confines of D.C. and become a writer, and my wife made when she decided to make her life social work. We made these decisions with open eyes, and I for one wouldn't take them back (he says, with a stiff upper lip, mostly certain of his declaration).

Things are tough out there right now, and I am thankful they aren't tougher for us. We still have health care and a roof over our head. That's more than a lot of people can say. But for the first time in my adult life, my biggest fears - losing health care and losing my home - suddenly feel a whole lot more real. I'm not saying I'm at Defcon 1 (ie. no health care and foreclosure), but I think my economic situation has moved from Defcon 5 (not really worried) down to Defcon 3 (fairly worried). It's scary, and if I'm not around here as much in the next few weeks, it's only because I am trying to do some extra work to make ends meet.

Lots of people have misconceptions about the situations of others. Lots of commenters, for instance, make comments that subtly imply that because I'm in the media every now and again, I'm living in a mansion with my own chef, sleeping in silk pajamas on a fancy temperpedic bed. I have a good life, no doubt - good in that I have a great family and a dog and my health. But during these economic times, we should all remember not to make hasty judgment about the situation of others, whether me or anyone else.

As I said, it's tough out there. Be thankful for what you have - because these days, you may not have it tomorrow.

UPDATE: I didn't think to add this in, because I didn't write this post as a lamentation or a fundraising appeal - I wrote it as something of a Thanksgiving meditation on how we should all appreciate what we have. That said, if you want to support the kind of work I do (as opposed to me personally), consider subscribing or donating to In These Times. I always have to remind myself there's no shame in promoting good progressive institutions (I should know that reflexively - I started out in politics as a fundraiser for a Democratic congressional candidate!).  

David Sirota :: Thanksgiving Belt-Tightening

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Happy Thanksgiving, David. (4.00 / 3)
There is a real cost to being an activist.  Thank you for all you do.  

Spend! (0.00 / 0)
Forget about saving your pennies until after Christmas!

If the big shopping weekend that starts Friday is a complete bust, the US economy will be at the bottom of Lake Erie on Monday, instead of just  circling the drain.  

Happy Thanksgiving. (4.00 / 3)
We are all worried, some more than others.  Hope you stay and your wife make it through.  

I know how you feel (0.00 / 0)
I am also beginning to see some softening in my client base. My situation continues to be, oddly, good, but I feel like you after having lost two contracts lately. I have moved a notch down and the worrying has ticked off. I must say though, that in the past, it's been sheer absolute terror of losing what I have that has pushed me out of complacency to increase my billings.

famous; but not rich (4.00 / 3)
Lots of people have misconceptions about the situations of others. Lots of commenters, for instance, make comments that subtly imply that because I'm in the media every now and again, I'm living in a mansion with my own chef, sleeping in silk pajamas on a fancy temperpedic bed.

A Russian dissident had a phrase for this, famous; but not rich

hey it could be worse, we could be in a McCain/KBR labor camp.

Extremely counterproductive budget advice (0.00 / 0)
Are you familiar with Kokoro in downtown Lafayette? If not you should totally try to eat there before you leave. They've got, like, barbecue steak maki and it's weirdly delicious.

thanks for fighting the good fight dave. (4.00 / 3)

Gratitude (4.00 / 1)
And I am super-grateful that my dead car turned out to NOT live up to the dire prediction of Auto World, which told me the alternator was kuputz.

Just a battery....which probably cost the same as an alternator at the dealer.

But, then, think of the number of people expecting 20 for dinner who learned their oven is on the fritz....this morning.  

Yup, always something to be grateful over.

Lafayette is a great not so little town.. (4.00 / 2)
Hey I was born there. 'rents were married and buried there.

Take a stroll through the downtown area -- it's a lot cooler than when I was a kid. Window shopping is free.

Thanks for all you do.

drive up to Detroit for Thanksgiving (4.00 / 2)
and see how many millions are fearing that they will not have any family income after Christmas.

Our entire economy here is in complete freefall. We already have almost 9% unemployment, and the bottom has not been hit yet. Not even close.

Every person I know has a family member directly employed by the auto industry or their direct suppliers. And Michigan's economy all radiates directly from the auto industry. Stores are already closing, restaurants are closing, arts organizations are canceling productions... everywhere you look, people are getting laid off left and right already. And, there are no jobs available, especially if you are a skilled, degreed worker with years of experience.

I can't even count on both hands the number of people I know in various fields (school teachers, computer software engineers, auto designers, coffee shop workers, school principals, arts administrators...) who have been laid off in the past year. No one up here feels remotely "safe" from the axe. I am self-employed (similarly to you), and I have no idea what the next month will bring.

There have been breadlines in Oakland County for a couple of months. Oakland County - one of the "wealthiest" counties in the midwest.

We should all be very thankful for all we have. If we have a roof over our heads, something to eat, and family, we have much to be thankful for.

Welcome to town David. (0.00 / 0)
Hope you have a good time in our little town.  If you have lots of time on your hands and are really bored, I have two possible small trips for you.  If you want to see something 'green' take 52 west towards Fowler.  There are two wind farms there.  One has been up for about a year, the other is still going up.  You can see most of it from 52 and it would take you about an hour.  It's pretty impressive if you haven't seen something like that before.  
If you want a longer trip and want to see factory farming at its finest, go north on 65 to Fair Oaks Dairy.  You won't miss it, there is a ton of advertising for it on the interstate.  There is somewhere around 20,000 dairy cows in that area.  The marketing for the place is brilliant.  The have a visitor center, complete with a deli, a cheese factory, and if you take the tour you can see a cow giving birth.  If you want to do some reporting, stop and ask some of the locals how they feel about the farm.  I'd be very interested to see how they feel about their neighbors.  It's probably about an hour trip one way.

Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.    

As an "accidental" Social Worker (4.00 / 1)
employed by a small non-profit that is at the bottom of the hill in which the shit is rolling down on us (Washington state has failed to pay King County which is therefore unable to pay my agency...) I am sympathetic to you, and especially, your wife.

With the possibility that my healthcare my well follow my agency into oblivion in the next few months, I feel your pain.

In the past I have cleaned toilets, worked 22 hour days, and stood in human waste in my sandals for $11 bucks an hour.  I fear those may soon be fond memories...

Anyway, in the holiday spirit I wish you and yours a very Happy time.  I also wish all here at Open Left the same.

And I also wish to express to you personally, David, that while at times in the past, and likely in the future as well, I have disagreed with you on substantive matters as well as subjective considerations of style, I greatly appreciate your efforts and activities.

Keep fighting the Good Fight, and keep posting (or at least until the internet service terminates your access due to failure to pay).  I love disagreeing with you!!!

And every once in a while I enjoy agreeing with you.

Thanks David! (0.00 / 0)
and Happy Thanksgiving.

While I disagree with some of the things you write and in fact, you told me to stop reading, I don't.  Why?  Because I am thankful for strong, progressive voices in the media.  We are a big tent and have room for disagreement.

So thank you, David and the rest of the team here at OpenLeft.  This blog is in the top "5" everyday (kos, Mydd, OpenLeft, Eschaton, Pandagon).  The reason?  Because all of you have a different way of exploring things from each other and the other sites.  All of the FP posters on all the sites offer a full spectrum of progressive thought.

So thank you, David.  I won't post anymore "GBCW" posts.  I promise... grin.  Good luck to you and your family.  At least we are all progressives so despite the hard times, we are all in this together, in spirit and reality.

Here's your problem... (0.00 / 0)
Your too progressive and too male to sell books...

My Suggestion...

Get a Sex Change Operation, become a woman who is slightly better looking then the usual TV talking heads, kick several puppies, maybe rip out the still beating hearts of a few people... write a far RW book... and then you'll be Ann Coul... I mean You'll be a millionaire... Wingnuts buy books... we know that.

That's a great idea (0.00 / 0)
I think I'll give it a shot...

[ Parent ]
Happy Thanksgiving! (0.00 / 0)
Looking forward to reading more of your columns. And thank you for fighting the good fight.


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