Thursday, August 25, 2005

And You Thought Gas Prices Were High....

I have come to the conclusion that our country is striving to become the poorest nation in the world. Oh, it's doing it very slowly and in a much different fashion than the third world nations that are already well below poverty, than the countries depicted in the commercials with Sally Struthers begging for food and money, supposedly for the children. No, our nation is using a strategy so far off the beaten path that no one would see it unless they looked really hard.

Gas prices, for one, are just unbelievable. War, conflict - whatever you want to call it- is truly not the reason for these prices. It doesn't cost THAT much money! Not to mention that we have oil HERE in the UNITED STATES! DUH! I live seven minutes from work by car, just a hair too far to walk to work and still be presentable - not to mention a hair too far in the freezing Midwest winters (9 out of the 12months of the year) or the scorching hot summers of the Midwest. My paycheck is going to be my gas money soon. I'm not saying that by using means other than my car to get to work will put less of a dent in my wallet, I'm just saying that....well, OUCH!! It's ridiculous. I have started making my children hoof it to the places they want to go - which I should have done a long time ago. I am trying terribly hard not to feel the guilt about his because they SHOULD walk. It's good for them. I always walked to wherever I needed to be, why can't they? Right? Ok, then. That's settled. They'll walk and I won't feel guilty (especially why I drive seven minutes to work).

Let's talk about how the cost of education is yet another way the government is helping our nation into an even bigger financial crunch. I have three kids all in school. LargeBoy just started high school. Girl will be in high school in two years, SmallBoy in six. Currently Girl and SmallBoy are at a parochial school. There are ups and downs to this, but the bottom line is it is expensive, but I'm locked into it per my wonderful little divorce from Ex, so I can't whine about that. However, high school itself is almost as bad as parochial school! Sure, the registration fee, the yearbook fee, the lunch fees...reasonable. I'm talking about books and supplies; things I'm going to need for all three kids which, by the time SmallBoy gets there, will probably be obsolete. Books! Holy cow! When I was in high school all of our books were on state loan, even the novels that we had to read for my English classes. Today, only a few were on loan. We had to purchase his novels, his history book and his Spanish books. His history book was $91.50! For a high school text book, I think $91.50 is outrageous! Thankfully we were able to find a used one online for $48.00, and I have one of his novels myself. The bookstore at the school, however, didn't give us the option to not buy any of the books, only to return whatever we have or don't need. The return process, of course, allows not for money to be returned to the families, but for it to be left on account for next time. In theory, this is a great idea, as then, perhaps, next semester's books will cause a little less damage in my bank account. In practice, though, it stinks, as I still have ultimately paid for the books twice. GRRR......I don't understand why the funding for education and books has gone down. It makes no sense. Our children are important. Their education is key to the future of our country. If we can't afford the books for our children, then what are we to do.

The school has a program that helps those families that absolutely cannot afford it. They get a discount on books and lunches. I am in total support of that program. Unfortunately it's the people in the middle who get screwed. The people who make too much to qualify for the aid, but due to the rest of their financial obligations cannot afford it. I looked over the form to see what it asked and what it considered as requirements. It asked merely the income per household in comparison to the size of the household. So what! According to my income per size of household I should well be able to afford my child's high school education and, for that matter I should be able to afford it if all three of my children were in the school simultaneously. What it didn't account for is the fact that my children need food bought for them, clothing bought for them, a roof over their heads, school supplies, any extra services or medical bills paid for,and fuel to get them from place to place. Hmmm....ironic how the gas prices rear their ugly heads again!

Isn't there a more efficient way for the government to spend its money? Perhaps the lovelies who figure out what goes where, financially speaking, should take our children into consideration and stop trying to drive our country into the ground through them. Perhaps they should remember that our children are the ones who will ultimately be in charge of their Insurance, their Social Security (ha ha ha), the staff in their nursing homes, the lawyers who will execute their wills, perhaps even the people who help decide if the ambulance company that is supposed to take them to the hospital after their heart attacks can afford to gas up their fleet....

Wow! I NEVER soap box! That was very, well, relieving. Honestly, I had only planned on complaining about the price of books and the graphing calculator that I can't find cheap except far away - which means I have to spend money on gas to go far to save money. I, in no way, meant for this to become a political rant, but take it how you will and feel free to let me know! Comment, argue, commiserate.


Julie said...

We were in the states for about six weeks this summer, so I can understand what you're saying about the prices going up. But I'll point out that here in the UK (and most of Europe) it costs about $8-9 a gallon for gas. We have a gas station on base because of these high prices, but even there we've been paying $2.50 for about a year now (up from 2.25 for several years before that). And if we buy gas coupons to fill up offbase, it costs $3/gallon. So, while I totally understand your frustration, just know it could be a lot worse.

I honestly don't know how Brits afford to get to work. I have to fill up every so often off base (poor planning) and it costs me about $90 to fill up a medium-sized US car. If I had to do that all the time i wouldn't be able to buy food!

mommyguilt said...

Holy COW! That's absolutely insane!