Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Voted Obama

In the past I used by Blog as a vent for things that were happening in my life. Mostly bad things. Depending on the era you browse through in my archive, you might think I was a horrible depressive mess. But I have learned by reading my old blog entries that I tend to post more when things aren't going well and that may not reflect well on my life. Who knows how long this stuff will remain online. In a time like this, I owe it to myself to take some time and write a bit about this election.

I have all ready voted for Obama. I live in Ohio which thankfully offered early voting through absentee ballots this year. During the last presidential election I stood in line nearly four hours to cast my vote for Kerry, who ultimately lost after a close race. The night that it was announced that Bush won his second term I was devastated. I didn't understand how it could even be a close race. Bush had done a terrible job. His administration had started a war "against terrorism" with the wrong country. Our nation was sinking in debt. And I was wondering how I was going to pay my mortgage because I was making less and paying more for everything ... than I had in five years.

My wife and I sat down and had a very serious discussion about leaving this country. In the end I think we came to the same decision. That we couldn't leave the place that we had been born and raised. Where our family lives. Where our kids had friends. Where everyone spoke the same language. But it was clear on election day that the country wasn't with us. I imagined a very dark future for the country, and for my family. Unfortunately I was right about what the Bush administration would do with another four years.

In 2004 I worked for a small training center which had been acquired by another small training center. I was about to be laid off and I can't say I didn't see it coming. My area of work had taken a dive in previous years and just never came back. When I was laid off it was almost a blessing because I was about at the end of my rope with my employer (see old blog posts). My wife and I decided to start our own business and try to find that "American Dream".

In the years that followed I watched my wife struggle with a disease that we couldn't afford to treat. I watched my family learn to get along without a father, because I was always on the road trying to keep my business alive. I continuously made deals with my mortgage company in an attempt to save my home. With each "deal" I extended my mortgage, and ultimately raised my payments beyond any affordable means. I went from drinking irish liquor to drinking 40oz's alone in various Motel 6's around the country. In the end I gave up: drinking, my business, my home of six years, and $27,000 in retirement savings. Things got really, really bad.

This is real life folks. I'm not some punchline on Fox News. I'm not some "fool who didn't calculate mortgage rates". I had one of those fixed rates. But it didn't matter. I worked my ass off balanced a couple of jobs, and I lost it all anyway. Using the last bit of my retirement money I was able to keep my car. A Honda with 150,000 some miles on it. Well technically, I used the last little bit to pay what I was taxed for having withdrawn all that money to try and save my ass. The cost of withdrawing retirement savings early: 40%.

In the end I escaped with my family, and a car. And we started over in a new town.

So there is some history. Here is why I have voted Obama.

On Health Care
This is the most important issue to me. Because Health Care needs fixed. As regular readers know, my wife suffers from a chronic and progressive disease which has no cure. Treating the symptoms of this disease can get expensive. I took a job in a hospital first and foremost - so that I could take care of my wife. In years past, she has suffered through some nasty Lupus flares because we simply could not afford to treat her. At one point we were paying $400 a month for her medication, and we had a hard time finding a way to pay for her to see a rheumatologist (which was a requirement for the medication). These days, the symptoms have not gotten any better. But I'm thankful that we can get her some help. McCain's plan for health care is to give you $5 a year to go buy your own healthcare. While some of you may think this is a good idea, just hope you don't ever get sick. Under McCain's plan - I could not afford the insurance I currently have. His plan is reminiscent of when a past employer of mine cancelled our health care package and gave us a "health savings account" instead. The company contribution to this health savings account was $20 per paycheck. It absolutely killed me that the owner of the company had the money to afford better insurance, but decided to put that money into his own pocket instead.

Taxes on the Middle Class
Obama wants to cut taxes for everyone making less than $250k a year. Folks, I know some "small business owners" who have exceeded that. And let me tell you - they will NOT be hurt when they have to pay extra taxes. Do you know what small business owners do with that extra money? $150 haircuts. $2,000 campaign contributions. $80,000 luxury cars. Multi-million dollar homes. This is just what I have seen first hand. Now, how could they better spend some of that money? How about by giving their worker bees a little wage increase once in a while? How about buying into some better health care options? These so called "small business owners" need to be called for what they are. Upper class, wealthy, and greedy white guys. Tax them more. Tax us less. Do you know what I did with my last "stimulus check"? I fed it to back taxes from my "small business" - which only grossed $40k my last year of operation. Note that I paid 38 percent in taxes on my business. You do the math.

The Economy
Do you know what corporations do when they find themselves with an excess of money? They build more buildings. Hell, they make more buildings even when they aren't doing well. They gamble stock. They try new things. If it works, they make more money for their executives. When it doesn't work, they can shut the whole thing down, pay themselves severance and nail all those little drone workers with the damage. That's not right. The first fix for this is for this country to admit it'd greed and gluttony. People should be held accountable. And while that is being fixed, how about we improve the financial situation for the working middle class. Let us have some money and we will waste it on things like FULL tanks of gas. And FULL gallons of milk. I can't afford those things right now. And I'm not alone.

And now I am out of battery juice in the old laptop. I'm also getting a little cold here working above the covers. Electric blankets beat gas bills in an old house like this. I'm going under for the count. I will blog more later.

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