The US Army base at Fort Monmouth, NJ is in the process of closing down. With that, my husband will soon be losing his teaching position at the West Point Military Academy Prep School, which is housed on the Fort Monmouth army base. Well, that’s not exactly true. He still has his job, but he will have to follow it to its new location on the main West Point campus in New York. So, for the past few months, we’ve been debating the following three options: one, I quit my job, we sell our house, leave all of our friends and family, and move to NY. Two, he quits his job, leaving me to pay all the bills by myself while he looks for work closer to home. Three, he sleeps on the sofa bed at his parents’ house in upstate NY, commutes to his job at West Point Military Academy during week, and comes home to PA on the weekends. These three options are bleak, and one of them – option 2 – is just downright impossible.
Thanks to the infinite wisdom of Pennsylvania’s new Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, education budgets across the state will be slashed, which will mean that higher ed job openings – or any education job openings for that matter – throughout the state will most likely be slim to none. At least there’s the potential for my husband to get a job working in one of PA’s finest prisons since that’s one area in which Corbett wants to see some increased spending. Obviously, it’s better for the budget if we lock people up rather than educate them.
Like his Republican brethren in Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, Corbett obviously does not believe in the idea of shared sacrifice when attempting to balance budgets and seems to feel that the middle and working classes – the teachers, the police officers, the fire fighters, and the social workers – are the reasons that the country is in a budgetary crisis, completely discounting that a decade’s worth of tax cuts for the rich, the funding of two endless wars (and now possibly a third), and the irresponsible and despicable practices of the financial industry that spiraled the WORLD into chaos, are the real factors that got us into this mess in the first place. Nope – our elected officials are still protecting their rich friends on Wall Street while breaking the backs of the people who ACTUALLY keep the country operating.
Ok, that explains the potential lack of jobs. So, the next question is: why can’t I, in the meantime, just support myself and my husband while he looks for these jobs that don’t exist? I have a job, don’t I? It is just the two of us after all (and the cat – although he may have to start looking for work as well). We don’t have kids, we don’t have expensive car payments, and our mortgage is hefty but not unbearable. So, why can’t I swing it solo for a little while?
Because I’m a teacher at a community college.
Because I don’t help rich people get richer. Because I don’t get thousands of dollars in bonuses and stock options at the end of the year for doing the job I was hired to do (try not to throw up when you click on this link and see that “Goldman Sachs is expected to pay its employees an average of about $595,000 apiece…Workers in the investment bank of JPMorgan Chase stand to collect about $463,000 on average.”). Because I don’t create credit default swaps, derivatives, or sub-prime loans. Because I don’t cheat people out of their savings, retirement funds, and health care. Because I don’t sell people “AAA rated investments” that I turn around and bet against later, making money on both ends of the deal. Essentially, because I don’t fuck people over.
Because all I do is teach. Because all I do is try to make people more effective communicators, more marketable employees, and better citizens so that later they can all get fucked over, too.
Do I sound bitter? That’s because I am.
I’m bitter because the American government continues to be in the back pocket of people who DON’T MAKE or DO ANYTHING, who do not contribute even one iota of good to this country. Who make all their money and keep it to themselves, who don’t pay their share. Who get away with paying virtually NO taxes. Who send their jobs to foreign lands, who cost American people their jobs and livelihoods. Who want four houses because three houses weren’t good enough. Who want a $500,000 bonus because $50,000 wasn’t good enough. Who want to be the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Secretary of the Treasury because being the CFO of Goldman Sachs wasn’t good enough.
I’m bitter because it’s “class warfare” when people get angry at the rich, but it’s not class warfare to viciously and overwhelmingly maul middle and working class jobs, public assistance, access to education, and health care.
I’m bitter because my husband, who has over ten years of higher ed experience and two master’s degrees, can’t find a decent job near our home and will have to live apart from me for the foreseeable future.
I’m bitter because, despite working my actual job plus taking on extra classes and tutoring for side money, I still don’t make enough money to cover our bills on my own. I’m bitter because when I do my job well, I don’t get a reward at the end of the year.
I’m bitter because my husband and I, like so many other people in this country, have done everything Americans are “supposed” to do: we went to college, we earned advanced degrees, we bought a house, two cars, and a big screen TV. We’ve worked our asses off. Yet, at the end of the day, we’re still facing a choice between the lesser of two evils: live together, have one income, and be broke as hell OR live separately, have two incomes, and possibly upend our marriage. So much for those family values I’m always hearing about…
Yea, yea…I know. If I don’t like America or Capitalism or bald eagles, I should just move to Canada or France. I don’t know if the Canadians or the French are looking for any new roommates, especially American ones; and, ultimately, I think my husband and I would probably be just as broke and just as hard up for jobs there as we are (or will be) here. But, at least there, unlike here, we’d have health care and really good food to take our minds off our poverty.