• author
    • Terri Connett

      Columnist
    • January 30, 2019 in Columnists

    Paycheck2Paycheck

    Thanks to Mr. Art of the Deal’s 35-day government shutdown, we learned something. I’m not talking about the stuff we just knew in our guts but couldn’t prove. Like how empathy-deficient and out of touch Trump and his Richie Rich team are. That is until they opened their Posh Pie holes.

    Like when billionaire Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross didn’t understand why furloughed workers would turn to food banks versus taking out “government guaranteed” bank loans. And on a completely different subject, is there anybody Kate McKinnon CAN’T impersonate?

    Or White House economic adviser, Keven Hassett, who told PBS “NewsHour” furloughed workers are “better off” because they will be getting a vacation without having to use their vacation days. And will eventually, at some point, get paid.

    Eric’s wife, Lara Marie-Antoinette Trump, summed up the situation as follows, “It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.” According to Wikipedia her middle name is Lea, but I claim justified creative license on this one.

    President Turd first asserted most government workers were Democrats (perhaps a window into his thinking) and later said they are all fine people, heroes in fact, who just need to make some adjustments. Remember your own advice, President Fuckface, when you find yourself out of a job.

    Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell avoided saying something stupid by not saying anything at all. Instead, he shifted his efforts from the legislative to the judiciary branch of government. Sure Trump may be a Putin asset; a threat to our national security, a dirty rotten traitor but Mitch turns lemons into lifetime appointments.

    McConnell made hay in Trump’s first two years, at a record-shattering pace, pushing through the Senate and seating 84 federal judges, who just happen to be 91 percent white and 76 percent male. During the shutdown, Mitch got busy cramming six more judges through. Spoiler alert: all white, all male.

    But the one new thing we all learned was just how many hardworking, middle class Americans with good jobs are living paycheck to paycheck and are only one emergency away from homelessness. If air traffic controllers, IRS analysts, park rangers, FDA inspectors, TSA agents, and Coast Guard servicemen and women are living so close to the edge – what about food service workers, retail clerks, construction workers, and certified nursing assistants? How are they making it?

    And I can’t help but wonder just how many of those furloughed workers believed, and may still believe, Trump’s empty campaign promises to the “forgotten.” If you continue to proudly wear your red MAGA hat after this month-long punch to you and your family’s guts and the very real threat he imposed on your national security, I give up on you. You deserve to be abandoned.

    As Democrats, Independents, and maybe even Republicans, we can’t forget what just happened. Living wages and affordable healthcare for all must be at the top of the platform for our 2020 presidential candidate.

    The TV interviews of those struggling families affected by the shutdown hit close to home for me because I used to live like that, all the time. I grew up poor. Not middle class, poor.

    Back in 1957, my 27-year-old father died of leukemia. My 25-year-old mother quit college when she got married. She didn’t know how to drive a car. That’s how they rolled back then. She had a full-time job at home with me and my three siblings. When Dad died in October, my older sister was five and had just started kindergarten. I was three, my brother was two and baby sis was 6-weeks-old.

    Thanks to Social Security and Aid to Dependent Children, we received a bare bones monthly income. Mom took in other families’ laundry to make a little extra. And once baby sis was out of diapers, my mother became a waitress on the graveyard shift at a 24-hour diner while we slept at home alone. Child Protective Services, had they known, would not have been pleased. My mother later became a teacher’s aide and eventually went back to college and graduated from nursing school the same year I graduated from high school. Also that year, 15 years after my father died, Mom happily remarried.

    But in those early years, we were often hungry. I didn’t know that pain in my stomach at bedtime wasn’t normal. I wasn’t allowed to be a Brownie or a Bluebird. By Girl Scout-age, I finally understood we couldn’t afford the uniforms and I stopped asking. There was a lot of shame in being poor, regardless of how you got there.

    I wonder what happens today to young widows with four little kids? Or working families with special needs children? College graduates drowning in debt? High school seniors who can’t afford college? Senior citizens who have to choose between medicine and food?

    I mean, good on Howard Schultz for working his way out of the projects in the Bronx to build a worldwide coffee empire. I don’t drink coffee, but I’m genuinely happy his American dream came true. And not to take anything away from his achievement, but he is white. And he is a “he.”

    What about all those little black and brown girls and boys in Poortown, USA who weren’t/aren’t so lucky? One of them may have figured out the cure for cancer or multiple sclerosis. One might champion climate change or invent an alternative to that motherfucking hard plastic blister wrap that’s impossible to open.

    For those who’ve never lived paycheck to paycheck, remember what we all just witnessed during this shutdown shitshow. It’s out in the open now. We must only vote for those who want equal justice for all of us. That means equal opportunities for education, housing, healthcare, jobs, a living wage, criminal justice, the whole shebang.

    I think it was Nelson Mandella who said, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

    Or maybe it was Lebron. But you get the point.


      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • January 31, 2019 at 12:14 am
      • Reply

      OMFG, you are a GODDESS! Nailed it — again! And I get your early pain — I was a single mom either on AFDC or later, working poor — I starved so my daughter could eat. Amazingly, there were few times when she went without, too, although there were times when I ate only beans and rice and would take a bite of her vegetables to stop the shaking from malnutrition. And I had a Bachelor’s degree. Conservative selfishness and lack of empathy is a ruinous burden we can no longer bear. It’s time for the revolution to begin.


      • Joanne Kauffman

      • February 1, 2019 at 12:21 am
      • Reply

      Right on, lady. Keep up your good work. Love that you are using your writing talents in the service of justice.


        • Terri Connett

        • February 1, 2019 at 6:49 am
        • Reply

        Merci, Joanne! This means so much coming from my writing mentor extraordinaire!



    • My mum once lived paycheq



    • My mum once lived paycheque to paycheque, and i never realised it until now. Counting how many fish fingers we might eat at each meal, one pot noodle for dinner and he cheapest brand of breakfast cereal… She sacrificed so much to give my brother and i a ‘normal’ life and we didn’t notice. We knew that we were different, in second hand uniforms but we were cared for. This article resonated with me – a part of me can’t believe that the ills from the past have been perpetuated into the present, leaving us with poverty still on our doorsteps. Thank you for the reminder.


      • Terri Connett

      • February 3, 2019 at 2:53 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you for commenting, JL. ‘Sounds like our mums were sisters in a common struggle and did their best for us. And we counted fish sticks too!!



    • You are on FIRE!! <3


        • Terri Connett

        • May 19, 2019 at 11:56 am
        • Reply

        Thanks, Debra!!



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