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Thread: Austerity / Recession either name, it stinks.

  1. #1
    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Austerity / Recession either name, it stinks.

    In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to reduce their deficit spending while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to pay back creditors to reduce debt. "Austerity" was named the word of the year by Merriam-Webster in 2010.
    In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. Macroeconomic indicators such as GDP, employment, investment spending, capacity utilization, household income, business profits, and inflation fall, while bankruptcies and the unemployment rate rise.
    Today I read the article about Dimitris Christoulas and how he committed suicide as a result of his pension being cut and not being able to make ends meet. If the government here even tried to cut pension payments.... It is bad enough when they change the health care/prescription structure for retirees (and current employees who don't get pay increases). We just found out that the health coverage that was always 100% covered (like hospitalization) is now only going to be 90% starting with the next plan year and they are raising our co-pays from $25 to $30 and raising the monthly cost of the insurance to boot.

    This past weekend five police cars showed up on my corner (I live at the junction of two streets, think of a T and we live at the intersection of the T) and just sat there. As my daughters were outside playing (yes, they actually play outside!) I went over to see why they were just parked there. They informed me that they were doing a "medical welfare visit" for a house down the street. It turned out that one of my neighbors had been let go from his job after 38 years and he has no family around here and he had not answered his phone all week so they called the police to check on him. Thankfully, he his alive, but he is afraid of what will happen become of him. He has a disability, is an older gentleman, and after 38 at one job, he does not think he can start over again and fears he cannot make it.

    The house across from my sits vacant, the people bought the house less than a year ago and then left in the middle of the night as they could not afford it.

    Three houses down from me sits vacant as well. They put a second story on the house and after a little while they "took a vacation." That was two years ago. They have never come back.

    The house across from me the other way, is a house that sat vacant for years as well, it was almost condemned by the county as it had black mold growing in it and the roof was missing in the back. Someone finally bought it as an investment and fixed it up to rent out. The first people to rent it paid for the first month and then never paid again. The owner had to evict them and then fix the place up again as apparently the people trashed it. It has been sitting vacant for 6 months.

    At the end of the street that connects to mine, the wife died. The husband could not afford to keep it and had to sell it.

    I believe there is one other vacant house on that street as well, it's hard to keep up.

    My dad needed help with completing his tax forms as he does receive an annuity and I didn't know how to do the calculations for that for taxes. I looked online to see if he was eligible for any sort of program from our County. I found out that they offer "free tax help to low-to moderate-income people generally under $50,000" That really tells you something about the area that I live in and the times we are living in when $50,000 is the cut-off for free help! It used to be if you were bringing in $50k, your family could have a house, a car and a great life.

    Our Governor is looking at increasing our state sales tax from 6% to 7%. It was just raised from 5% in 2008. And our county just started a 5 cent bag tax on January 1st. This means ANY time you buy something in a store, if you put it in a bag and it is NOT your own bag, you have to pay 5 cents for the bag. Now if you can stuff 30 things in one bag, you only have to pay the 5 cents once. But, say you are at Subway and buy a sandwich and chips to go, would you like your sandwich in a bag? That will be 5 cents.

    And yet, with all of this going on, if you walk by an Apple Retail Store on any given night, they are packed. The iPad 3 sold out in record time and the stock shot up through the roof. It seems there are some things people would rather go into debt for or their priorities are mixes up and would rather give up one thing for another.

    So, please tell me, am I just all doom and gloom today? Is it any better where you are? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel or is there another wave still to come?
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  2. #2
    Hanna
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    It's really interesting to hear what things are like on your street. Thanks for sharing that. But sad to hear you feel things are going downhill. And I agree with your observation about the disgusting contrast between people unemployed and scared about the future, and others trying to work out which cool gadget to get next or what computer game to waste their time on, like the crowd at the night open Apple store.

    It's particularly scary to sad to hear about people who worry about affording medical care, in the USA. That is certainly one thing that is much better in Canada, surely. I honestly can't imagine how unpleasant it must be to worry about paying medical insurances and whether you can "afford" to get sick. Instead of worrying about healthcare, I am worried about pension issues, along with most people I know.

    State sales tax (you mean VAT, right?) is between 17-25 % in the EU, so on that score I do not feel sorry for you yet! Ipad prices in the USA look like a steal to me, due to your lower sales tax. Food and petrol (aka gas!) likewise.

    I agree the downturn is depressing... I still remember the autumn day in 2008 when it officially started. Reading the scary headlines and seeing near suicidal city workers at the Bank tube station in the City (financial district) of London where I worked then. Who would have thought the recession would still be going strong, four years later?!

    Here in Sweden, I am seeing a welfare state in genteel decline. Lots of things that used to be public and free are suddenly privately owned and cost money. Things that used to be well maintained are beginning to crumble and look worn. Previously, the obsession of the state here was welfare for all, at any cost. Including the hopeless cases. Now, much more responsibility lies with the individual or family to look after their own interests. Right now, the state's obsession here in Sweden, is politically correct values - feminism, anti-racism, secularism. Tax sponsored paternity leave, for 4 months, just as an example of the level of craziness. Meanwhile, idea of the all inclusive cradle-to-grave welfare state that we were famous for, is starting to get dismantled.

    In the UK I lived in a bubble of prosperity and everything was very well looked after - but there, the class differences are much bigger than in Sweden. I just happened to be at the right end of the scale. I am planning to move back there.

    But I think we may be complaining to the wrong crowd - what Russia went through in the 90s was much more extreme than anything that has happened as a result of the recession. And there are more social problems there, as far as I am aware. Just look at the average lifespan for a Russian man.

  3. #3
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    Just look at the average lifespan for a Russian man.
    It's growing like nowhere else
    But still is short, you are essentially right.

  4. #4
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    It's growing like nowhere else
    But still is short, you are essentially right.
    What a relief it's increasing. I think it's an awful tragedy.
    To any Russian men reading this: Look after yourselves!!!!

  5. #5
    Почётный участник Sergey_'s Avatar
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    Sorry for the offtopic
    five police cars showed up on my corner...
    5 cars just to make sure he was alright? O_o

  6. #6
    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sergey_ View Post
    Sorry for the offtopic

    5 cars just to make sure he was alright? O_o
    I know right?! When the first car showed up and was just sitting there, I was like okay, and then another, and another. I was thinking, who is going to jail? It was like right out of a movie. They put their bullet proof vests on and two went to the front door, one was crouching under the front picture window, one was by a side window and one went around back! I believe they were concerned that he was either dead or might have a firearm in the house. And yet... they said it was perfectly safe for my girls to keep playing outside!
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  7. #7
    Hanna
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    It's a bit strange that the friends called the police to check on him. They should have gone there themselves, and knocked on the door, checked the windows or left a note if they were so worried.
    It's really understandable that he is worried though - I mean, after 38 years he's not that far from retirement. I hope he gets lucky and finds something.

  8. #8
    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    It's a bit strange that the friends called the police to check on him. They should have gone there themselves, and knocked on the door, checked the windows or left a note if they were so worried.
    It's really understandable that he is worried though - I mean, after 38 years he's not that far from retirement. I hope he gets lucky and finds something.
    It was his family who called and they don't live in the area to be able to come by. They kept calling his house and cell and he didn't answer.
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
    Check out the MasterRussian Music Playlist
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