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Those Hard Choices

by Dr. Tim G Williams

posted in News and Society

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Already the summer of 2015 has been hit with the resurgence of scorching heat. Form the Southwest to the Gulf states temperatures have already reached well above 95 degrees. Those Republican Climate Change deniers about global warming have to agree this past summer was pretty darn hot. So darn hot it was the hottest summer on record. But, for so many especially those on fixed incomes where their Social Security is the only means of support and the rest of our working poor, which by the way is over 76% of the working population, have seen their electric bills reach a point that hard choices now have to be made to either pay for food or stay cool.
The family of Winston Smith who has three young children and works two jobs making a combined income of just under $30,000 per year is a typical statistic caught up in the cycle of what is now poverty income. He is one of the fortunate ones though for he still is working. The plight of the Smith's is typical of so many families all over America struggling to make ends meet. With so many caught in this cycle of poverty today is a sobering reminder that our governmental officials continue to carry out what looks like a vendetta against it's very own citizens.
Having three young children leaves the Smith family with some really hard choices that have to be made. For Mrs. Smith one hard choice is either working at the only job she could land, that being at Walmart for just $9 per hour or stay at home to take care of the children. But, with the rising costs of day dare today that hard choice of remaining at home to take care of her children really isn't a choice at all. Home being a two bedroom apartment at $850 per month in an area that really is not child friendly is the only place they could find with so little savings. Living in Tampa, Florida where over 9 months of the year where the temperatures remain so hot and sticky means that AC is just as relevant as home heating is in the Northeast, like Maine or New Hampshire.
What makes this situation worse is that the cost of energy has only continued to soar. That cost of energy today is draining the incomes of so many families like the Smith's to the point where there are going to be more hard choices one would not normally have to make if the cost of energy remained stable. The Smith's electric bill within the span of one month went from $120 to $196. When the food stamp program was slashed just last year around Christmas just is barely enough for one weeks worth of food still today at $122 per month. If one does the math considering rent, car insurance, car payment for Mr. Smith to get back and forth from work, extra food and all the other what many call necessities today like cable, phone and Internet there are going to be very hard choices that have to be made just to keep a roof over their head and some semblance of food on the table.
When a recent report came out about how so many Republicans and even some Democrats view a large percentage of the population as having it made in the shade sort of speaking just underscores how out of touch they really are. They have the audacity in dictating laws and policies the have a direct negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of so many millions of Americans. For the Smith's out there hard choices are being made each and every day. For seniors, there again are faced with even more hard choices that have to be made.
When one is faced with rising electric bills not to mention homeowners who have to also pay for water and sewage the increasing energy costs are also reflected on every other utility bill. Take the Smith's and everyone lese on fixed or low incomes hard choices become the norm. Do I rob Peter to pay Paul are the realities in today's economy. Many are caught in this web of juggling bills just to keep from being hungry and homeless. Incomes today for far too many just don't equate to the rising costs of living. A sad reality that is so often overlooked upon when legislatures from state houses and Washington convene to issue policies that consistently prove detrimental to the greater portion of our society.
For the Smith's when they got their electric bill a hard choice had to be made. Faced with the fact that there wasn't enough disposable income to pay for both the electric bill and their entertainment of cable TV the hard choice was made to discontinue the TV just to be able to pay for the energy to run the refrigerator and keep the apartment air conditioning on. The sad reality today is the fact that not only the Smith's but too many others on fixed or have low paying jobs have already made that hard choice. Welcome to the new reality. In so many instances trying to balance their expenditures on necessities just to stave off being out in the cold millions like the Smiths have to compensated each and every month to compensate for the fluctuating rising costs of energy. When the price of energy climbs everything else costs so much more.
The fate of not only the Smith's but for millions of Americans is a constant reminder of what our energy policies have done to the majority of Americas. When policies that continue to favor a select few have rendered millions the inability to gain an financial advantage where those hard choices don't have to be made. The United States does have the availability, the resources and the technology to implement policies that would greatly impact the lives and livelihoods so that the hard choices that are being made now won't have to be made. Does our government have the courage and the will to do what is right and beneficial for all Americans? We shall see especially with this next Presidential election.
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