Nov 7, 2007

A Not So Brave New World

Well, we had an historic election here in Newington yesterday. The state requires a minimum number of seats go to the minority party. And for the first time since probably 1968, democrats have only the guaranteed number of minimum seats. The republicans swept the town. This has ramifications that go in all directions but let me talk a little bit about what led up to this from a political standpoint.

Two years ago, a former mayor ran against John (and creamed him) saying that under his watch taxes wouldn't be raised. Well, they were raised 6%. So much for campaign promises, huh? Well, this time, the republicans (for once) ran a campaign focused on a single issue - a 3% tax cap. Every thing they did focused on that tax cap. It was, clearly, effective. And, unlike the former mayor, they have the majority now and can pull it off. Unfortunately, the expenses in town, given oil and gas and so forth, are likely to go up more than 3% in a year. And, like most republicans, education is the lowest of the priorities. History has shown that good schools raise property values significantly and bad schools have the opposite effect. I can't believe the people in this town are that stupid. Actually, after last time, I should believe it.

Ok, so on to the personal ramifications.

1) We are considering moving away. Neither of us wants to bring our children up in a town that does not value education and where voters are so damn stupid. Any savings from a tax cap would not be enough to pay private school tuition anyway. I am not sure where we would go. It would have to be some place where the housing isn't godawful expensive (see point 2 below for more detail) and where education was important. I don't want to make a decision in haste but neither can we afford to wait until house values fall further.

2) The second ramification personally is that our income, which was already tight since John started his own firm, will be cut by about 30%. A little background here: after John lost the last mayoral election, he was surprised to learn that the guy that won had selected the "of counsel" attorney in John's firm as the town attorney (mayor selects the town attorney). The of counsel guy (a) doesn't go to court and (b) can't handle the volume so he paid John and his partner a monthly fee to go to court and handle the overages. Now, this would have ended no matter how the election went because the current mayor was not running again BUT John was in line to become the town attorney if the democratic candidate won. But, of course, she didn't. Thus, the decrease in income.

Ok, enough background... so I'm really glad John wasn't around when I found out the results. I ranted and railed and sobbed and yelled at God. November sucks in general (3 family deaths in November) and the last three Novembers have been awful. 2 years ago, John lost his mayoral election, last year, we lost our baby, and now this? I am, quite literally, just not sure how much more I can take without falling off an edge somewhere. I can't figure out why this shit keeps happening to us. We give back, we volunteer, we try to raise good and respectful children, we try to be good people. And still we keep getting whaled on.

I've started my "how to cut down" list.
  • Cancelled the Netflix account. We're already down to the $10/mo/so-you-don't-pick-up-anything-but-Fox-without-cable cable and since John gets few pleasures, I'd really like to leave him that if I can.
  • I'm going to stop my voice lessons - $40 every other week.
  • And, obviously, we won't be going down to eat; I figure that's another $200/mo.
  • I need to find a way to get John to eat his lunch at home instead of going to the salad bar at the grocery. Yes, it's only $5 day but x5 days in the week and x4 weeks in a month, that's another $100/mo. (see below on the trickiness of that though).
  • I have to cancel our New Year's weekend B&B reservation - excuse me, I have to deal with whining toddler; ok, back. - this morning; hopefully, I still can.
  • I am moving the heat from 65 to 62 in the main part of the house (we keep it at 60 upstairs and in the addition) - that's more a long term thing since we're on a budget plan.
  • We're already really pretty good about not leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms, etc. and making sure washes, etc. only get run if full. Ooh, I can get a clothesline - of course, it won't be warm enough to use it much longer but, hey, I'll save what I can.
Even harder than trying to figure out how to cut 30% out of a budget that had very little fat anyway is figuring out how to support John. He takes the slow growth of his firm very personally and judges himself by his professional and financial success. I try to redirect the conversation and put off decisions so that I don't have to say "we can't afford it" because I know he takes it personally. (Not that he thinks I'm slamming him, but he does blame himself that he's not providing all the nice things in life he wants and wants us to have.) I try to reassure him that all businesses take time to get established and that most businesses, according to the IRS, don't turn a profit for at least five years. I am really worried about the effect this will have on him. I am just not sure how to boost him up - which is essential for two reasons: mainly, I want him to be happy but, also, a negative person attracts more negativity and has a much harder time achieving their goals.

I am well and truly frightened, both financially and for John.

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Blogger LauraJ said...

First can I offer a hug. Second...home made Christmas gifts and birthday gifts. Oh I dont know what else to offer.
I'd be worried to in your shoes.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous harriet said...

I'm so sorry! Hugs!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Greta said...

{{{{{{hugs to you and john}}}}}}

everything will work always does so keep your chin up and think positive...


5:26 PM  
Blogger peppypilotgirl said...

Thanks, Harriet (and everyone) for the hugs, I need them just now.;

Fortunately, LJ, all my Christmas shopping is done but 2. Definitely, going to be thinking about that for '08 though!! I've been using that great polka dot bag as our library bag, btw!

I'll bet you do have high insurance since '05, Greta, but, hey, I'd get to live near you!! ;-)

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Betty897 said...

What you're going through on a personal level is what I've been dealing with at work for several years now. "OK, health insurance costs went up another 25% this year, what can we cut now??!!!!" It's surprising how much you can cut when you really start to think about it and look around. I've done so many things at the library that you talked about. Turn down the thermostats, turn off lights in unused areas, etc. etc. etc. (Honestly, probably stuff we should have been doing anyway for environmental reasons anyway.)

Believe me I understand the problems of campaign promises, voters who are ticked about their property taxes and budgets stretched beyond their limits. We're going through all of that right now in Indiana. It ain't pretty.

I hope John does not take this turn personally. I know that's easier said than done. I'm sure your support means a lot to him.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Jade said...

Turning John away from the negativity is a very difficult position to be in... I know how it goes. Dan worries constantly about our business (which I don't blog about, but we've had more than one day where he has walked in the door announcing we may need to shut it down all together) I know he feels like he is failing because he isn't where he thought he would be right now, but he needs to remember this day... this week... this month is NOT the end of the journey. There is time ahead and there are roads to take, and they will lead to a better place, you just need to work together to decide what is going to be the best for you and your family.

The schools out here are terrific, but the housing prices are decently astronomical right around us (due to the Big Giant Companies we are sandwiched between) There are outlying areas that aren't as bad. Just a thought (and a step in my evil plot to get you to move closer to me!)

11:52 PM  
Anonymous gina said...

Move to Sweden!
Socialized health care ( with an option for private) you pay 33% average in taxes and it goes towards schools, social services and the like..the drawback is that Mama Sweden wants her share of EVERY dime that is earned! I just learned that I should report my babysitter's income, and the guy that " hooked up" the electricity for the pool light in the back that we did not have. Put on the long johns and suck it up. To be a SAHmom is no longer the "luxury" it was 3 years ago. I now have to find more creative ays of disguising ground beef and rice, but it is, what it is.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Gina said...

I want to donate to preserving that B&B for the holiday! Don't make me hold a telethon!!!

12:57 PM  
Blogger smileymamaT said...

Ahhh. No wonder LJ said you needed a hug. OK I've so been there and visit there more often than not. This is why I live in Canada, tho the taxes are crazy bad, the healthcare is free - if you have 8 hours to wait and see a Dr. So yes, get your meat and veggies in bulk on sale, hang up the laundry as long as you can, cut out the froo-froo expenses, get together in a family group hug, and breathe. You will be ok.
Worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.

I think you should keep the B&B weekend if at all feasible.

7:07 PM  

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