Issues Of The Day

I’ve had so much swirling around in my head the past few weeks, I honestly don’t know where to begin.  Perhaps that’s why I have been so hesitant to write anything here.  I’ve got so many different topics I could tackle, it could all just come out like a jumbled mess.  That being said, as I sit here wasting an entire Saturday afternoon, I decided it better to make an attempt at getting my thoughts out in the open rather than to continue sitting here in silence, unable to come to any real solutions.

That being said, none of what is preoccupying my thoughts is necessarily bad, per say, it’s just a lot, and it could suggest a foreboding future for me.  I guess I’ll start as broadly as I can and try to narrow it down.

This year has been an awakening for me in regards to the world of politics.  While I usually kept an eye on how things were going, I rarely took a vested interest in any of it.  I am by no means a political person, nor am I an activist of any kind, however this year, with the presidential election and several issues that have become important to me, I find myself much more aware of how the current political arena is going to affect my life.  While I have always tended to favor democratic candidates over republicans, it wasn’t until this year that I slid off the fence and made the choice to register as a democratic voter.  While I found George Bush to be a laughable president, I feared for the future of our nation had Mitt Romney been elected to office.  I took great pride in voting for Obama, who I had voted for in 2008, and I stayed up on election night awaiting the results.  Since that night, I have found myself watching a great deal of political based news programs and taking a deeper interest in how things in Washington effect my every day life.

The current issue on everyone’s mind is the approaching fiscal cliff that could potentially throw our economy back into a recession.  My current fear is that regardless of the outcome, I am going to see an increase in my taxes next year and as I already squeak by on a paycheck to paycheck basis, my belt may be getting tightened to the point of breaking.  My cost of living has not changed dramatically since I began living on my own, however I always found myself relying on small bonuses throughout the year to help me keep my head above water.  Should my taxes go up, by even a small margin, I am going to have to seriously consider how I am going to make ends meet.  The first solution and the most basic is to try to cut costs, but there are few things in my life so extravagant that giving them up will free up a great deal of disposable income.  Although I find it a bit ridiculous in this day and age that in order to survive I might have to cancel my cable subscription, that would be the first and most expensive luxury to go.  The thing is, it is not like cable television is some accomodation only the rich can afford.  Watching TV is something all Americans do and it seems a little crazy that that will be the thing I have to sacrifice, but I am seriously considering it.  The second solution is to seek a second part-time job.  I have dabbled with the idea of picking up something in addition to McDonald’s, however the few attempts I have made have not offered me the type of hours I would be able to manage around my current McDonald’s schedule.  Ideally, I would like to find something close by that would pay me cash but I am just not sure if that is the answer or not.  I should be receiving a raise this year, as I always do, but it may not be slated to come until mid-year, and trying to get by until June can be tricky.  In the past, I have called upon income tax returns, vacation pay, and what little I have in savings to get me through the year, but all of these things simply may not cut it.  Should we fall off this cliff that they are talking about, the increase in taxes I could face could seriously threaten my ability to pay to live here.  Then I am really stuck.    I have considered discussing the possibility of having my younger brother move in if he were willing to pay a share of the rent, but I have no idea if that proposal would even interest him.  On one hand, it would provide him a place to live closer to his job, but he has never showed any desire to share a place with me and I certainly am not about to bring it up to him.  I am definitely not willing to bring in a stranger as a roommate, or a friend either, as both scenarios always lead to disaster of one kind or another.  I have always managed to get by, but the current state of affairs in our government is causing me some concern.

As all of this has been transpiring, I can’t help but find myself interested in finding some way to better involve myself in the community around me.  I feel like being more active and more involved in the community provides me a source of connections to possible solutions to my own economic problems.  As crazy as it sounds, I started having these crazy thoughts of running for some type of political office, as if somehow I managed to get myself directly involved in politics I could come up with a solution to all of our problems.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, I have no aspirations to be a politician, however I question if there is some way I could associate myself with local democrats in an effort to be more politically active?  I have no political experience or any kind of political background, but I wonder if it is something I could be good at?

My interests, as of late, of course involve working within the Latino community, but I also have found an interest in becoming more involved with the youth community in the area.  Perhaps it is because I feel like I am becoming a counselor to some of my younger employees at work, but I wonder if I could be any good at teen mentoring for example?  Of course it would be great if any of these ideas could lead to a paid position somewhere, but somehow I doubt being a local mentor is going to offer me much in the way of income.  Again, it would be a great way to get myself more involved in the community, but I am not sure how it would alleviate my financial burdens.

The next big thing that has caught my eye is an uprising by fast food workers in NYC last week.  A group of roughly one hundred employees from various fast food restaurants in NYC walked out in protest, demanding higher wages, among other things, such as better insurance.  While there are always murmurings among the employees, it is very difficult to petition for higher wages in an industry that denies unions and has a pretty tight stranglehold on their finances.  While I have always received raises and been assured by my boss that he is paying at the high end of the spectrum when it comes to manager pay in this industry, it is no secret that he, and all owners for that matter, could be paying more, especially to the basic crew members who are often paid the absolute minimum wage allowed by law, leading many, if not all of them to live in poverty, or very close to it.  I always find myself torn by this situation.  I certainly sympathize with the employees and would like to see more money in my paycheck as well, but I also understand how franchise owners are stretched by the corporations they work for themselves.  McDonald’s is pretty smart in the sense they benefit greatly by franchising out their stores to local owner/operators.  It seems to me that recently, these uprisings have become more organized, more serious, and more likely to have an effect.  While I can not afford to walk out of my job in protest, I admire those who are taking this risk in an effort to make things better.  Perhaps this is where my political day dreaming began, as I saw the only opportunity for me to assist in the fight was to become more political, in an effort to avoid getting fired from McDonald’s.

Like all of these topics, there is no easy solution.  I have heard many make the argument that raising the wages will not necessarily solve any problems, as it is very easy to then raise the cost of the goods, in this case, hamburgers, to off set the cost.  Of course the owners don’t want to do this as it will cost them customers and the entire ripple effect could be disasterous for the industry.  I have started thinking about various ways the wages could be increased fairly without destroying the fast food world, but as I am no real politician, I wanted to run some of my ideas past a friend of mine to hear his thoughts on it all.

While not reaching any significant solutions here today, I still feel as if I have reached the end of my discussion.  I could probably go on for several more pages, but I doubt it will do much other than tire my fingers from typing.  That being said, I’m off.

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~ by James on December 8, 2012.

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