I want to apologize in advance for the rant I am about to go on, but I have had enough already.

My friend Katie posted the following status on Facebook yesterday:

“[I am] amazed by how often and in how many ways the people who try to do the right thing, are relatively responsible with their limited incomes, and generally make good choices get the SHAFT when trying to improve their lifestyles even the littlest bit, while others can run up credit card debt, overspend, and simply walk away or get people to feel sorry for them and help them.”

Of course, I had to comment right away when I saw this. Steven and I feel exactly the same way. It seems like no matter what we do, we just can’t seem to get ahead. We try to always be responsible. We pay our rent on time, pay our bills, and pay our taxes. We saved up and bought a home when everyone was telling us that the market was great and prices weren’t going to get any lower. We decided to make a small investment so I could make a go of doing my writing and photography full-time and be able to be home to take care of our daughter. We opened a bank account immediately after Cadence was born so we could start putting money away for her to go to college someday. We drive used cars that so we don’t have to carry the extra load of car payments. We try to only buy things that are on sale when we go grocery shopping. We work hard for every penny we are given, and then watch in dumfounded amazement as half of it is taken before it even reaches our pockets and the other half just seems to disappear as we pay for bills, for groceries, for gas, and for the dozen other things that just seem to pop up every month.

Somewhere, somehow, the great American Dream turned into a rather grim reality. Too many average Americans are struggling just to make ends meet while the corrupt politicians and corporate big shots are lining their pockets with money taken out of the hands of blue collar workers. Billions of dollars were printed like Monopoly money and given away to dozens of big banks and businesses that our illustrous President deemed “too big to fail”. But they have failed, and they have taken all of us down with them.

So what about the rest of us? What about the people whose homes are suddenly not worth even half of what they paid for them? What about  the families who are watching their savings accounts dwindle? What about the young adults who worked hard to get a good education, yet find themselves drowning in student loan debt, yet for all their knowledge, still can’t find a job? What about the people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their hope? Where is our bailout? When do we get the chance to wipe the slate clean and start over?

I was raised with a good work ethic. My parents did their best to teach me the value of a dollar, and that I had to work hard to earn the things I wanted. We were blessed in many ways. We always had a comfortable home and food on the table. There were always some gifts under the Christmas tree. But there were things we couldn’t afford and certain luxuries that we made do without. I got jobs mowing lawns or babysitting to make extra money, and started working part-time at a local grocery store and preschool when I started high school. I was never one who expected something for nothing because, in my experience, that just wasn’t the way things worked.

I guess that’s what makes it so hard for me to understand our current economic situation in this country and the sense of entitlement that so many people have. You get what you earn people. Nobody owes you anything. You want something? You gotta make some sacrifices to get it. How is that so hard to understand?

We spend so much of our lives working and worrying, worrying and working. We are so wrapped up in the craziness of it that we miss out on so many of the little pleasures that life has to offer us. Life is too short to spend so much time caught up in this kind of craziness. And yet we’ll keep on going, keep plugging along, keep working and scrimping and saving and dreaming of a better life with more opportunities for our children until we finally get so fed up with this broken system that we are forced to figure out a way to change it.

Today’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all you hardworking folks who are out there pinching your pennies and dreaming of something better. We’ll get there eventually. Until then, just keep on keeping on.

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