Wednesday, February 25, 2009

If You Cut Me, Do I Not Bleed?

Here’s why I did not vote for Obama and why I hope the Senators want to keep their jobs enough to slow down the Love Parade. Hal and I, not to be too crass, are among the “elite” whose taxes will be increased if Obama’s spending bill goes through as stated in his speech last night. He wants to reform health care, and hallelujah for that, but he wants my little family to pay for it, and I lie awake at night wondering just how we’re supposed to make it all happen.
Let me tell you what the increase means for us. We’ll pay roughly 50% of our income in taxes. He’s talking about taking the cap off our Social Security tax, which will be a giant increase by itself. Now, I like Social Security. I’ve never complained about paying it, even after I realized that Hal and I will never see a penny of it. I figure, heck, I like it when people can eat human food instead of cat food. I enjoy knowing that their retirement years are comfortable. So I’m okay with what we’ve been spending in Social Security. Besides, we owe it to them and I pay my debts.
As far as taxes go in general, I’m in favor of them. I routinely vote to raise my own city/state taxes. I vote for bonds to be passed, for increases in sales taxes, gas taxes, etc. But right now? During these economic times?
I’m wondering if Hal will have a job in 3 months. There’s a very real possibility that he, like thousands of his compatriots-at-law, will be thronging to the unemployment office to pick up a check. Because no one in the law industry is hiring and as good and kind as the partners at his firm are, they are not wizards and they cannot create work out of thin air. And as long as banks don’t loan money, mergers and acquisitions don’t happen, so corporate lawyers don’t work. Which means that losing 50% of our income now moves us that much sooner to a cozier relationship with my parents, in their house, in order to feed our 3 children.
Here’s another problem. We haven’t even begun to save for college for our children. We’ve been working to pay off our own college bills. So, that was our goal this year, to squirrel away money for their education. Because, given our tax bracket, they’ll get nothing but a good laugh from the Financial Aid office.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for spending our way out of this economic mess we’re in. I say, “Give me roads! Give me light rail! Give me infrastructure!” But fixing Medicare, Social Security, and the National Debt while we’re trying to spend our way out of Gomorrah? What Moron didn’t take Finance 101? You can not simultaneously increase spending, reduce taxes for the under 250’s and pay off a trillion dollars. Unless, of course, you expect blood from those of us who, until now, have been credit card free, dues-paying liberals. I’m in the minority, I know. But I promise that an increase in my taxes will not save the economy. It will take money away from my daughter’s self-employed ballet teacher; my local farmers market; the neighbor we would like to hire to finish our basement; the middle child’s piano teacher, also self-employed and tax paying, etc, etc. What I’m saying in this long-winded, not-my-brand political rant, is that I never believed in trickle down economics. But when I look at how to pay the huge increase in our taxes, I know that it has to come from somewhere, and since selling children isn’t an option, the money will have to come from the self-employed friends who currently see us as a sure-thing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Busta Move

As kudos for being successful students, I shove food into my children’s gullets. Go ahead, lecture me on how much damage I’m doing to them, using food as a reward system. It works, I like eating out, and gosh, darnit, so do they.
This time, we tried Moroccan. Now, in case you think that was dangerous, the first choice shouted at me by my food-snob daughter was “Casa Bonita”, where, I swear, they can’t even open a can of refried beans without ruining them. How hard can it be to make cheese enchiladas? You sprinkle cheese on a tortilla, warm it up, top it with lettuce and tomatoes. But at CB? Oh, no. They open a can of the nastiest, most putrid nacho cheese sauce, pass it through a heat lamp until it’s almost room temperature, and serve it up. And you don’t have the choice of not ordering food. You absolutely MUST order food if you want to pass through the gates. Because they have teenage boys diving off cliffs inside the joint. Topless. You see who this is for, right? Anyway, so they get you at the food.
Before she’d even finished the word “Bonita” I was shaking my head and saying, emphatically, “Over my dead body not in a million years save your own money if you want to go there again.” Her next choice? Anything with the word “Buffet” attached to it. Clearly she had thought about my needs, my food preferences, and had maliciously chosen things not on my scale of “edible”. So, when a friend suggested a Moroccan restaurant that seats you on cushions on the floor, all the food is eaten with fingers, and they even have belly dancing, I planned my counter-attack. I knew the food would be fine: we eat couscous regularly and they have lamb for my husband who prefers his meat greasy.
Everything went beautifully. The food made me want to move to Morocco (don’t worry, this is not an announcement), the wait staff, other than an abundance of Fa cologne, seemed jovial and fun, and the kids loved the whole experience.
And then the belly dancer came out.
Now, I’m aware that many traditional dances are thinly veiled seductions. Even the hula, which men historically performed, changed to a mostly-female cast when Capt. Cooke took one look at the dance and thought, “Ah, if we could just get chicks to swing their hips like that.” I’m okay with all of that. And I laughed when my three daughters burst up from their seats and started dancing, too. The oldest focused on the shoulder movements. Pretty benign. The youngest had her own somersault-arabesque dance. Cute. And the middle one? Oh, she was all over the hip swaying, butt shaking, chest pumping moves. I should have known. The belly dancer, the real one, was so charmed she sent our server back out with a stack of coloring sheets which also informed us that she does children’s parties. Not in this household, Scheherazade.
On the good side, they can support themselves in college. Hal saw the belly dancer on the way out. She was shimmying low to let a fat smiling guy slip a twenty between her wonder boobs. Gee, I’m glad the kids got good grades so they could witness that. They do offer mother-daughter courses. I think it will be a good routine at the next church talent show.