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Wrote this a week or so ago, my ongoing issues with the system. Maybe it's my punk rock mentality, but I'm pretty sure society is broken in a lot of ways.

The struggle of the middle class in middle America is real. I'm not looking for sympathy so much as an acknowledgment of the holes in the system so that maybe we can work towards a solution in our lifetime so future generations stand a chance at success. The two places I have faced glaring problems are with the health care system and more recently, housing. I know I've talked about this before, but since I haven't reached a satisfactory solution in my own life, it's hard to just shrug it off.

Background on myself. I have a full time year round job. It's not one of the prevalent seasonal jobs tied to the ski resorts in the area, it's a genuine career type job with health insurance and paid time off. I'm an hourly employee, but required to work at least 30 hours a week. I make more than what the federal government has established as the poverty line and less than what the census has established as the median income for full time residents in my county. My credit card debt is minimal, and I do have a car payment, but on my used vehicle it is lower than most. Based on all statistics I think I fit firmly in the middle class.

Healthcare I have talked much about before, but I feel it factors into everything, especially now that we are essentially required by the government to obtain health insurance. If I were to get sick or injured, as is normal in human life, and go to a doctor and had to pay for the entire bill out of my own pocket, I could not afford it. I would be paying that bill for months, possibly years, and they might even send collections after me if I didn't just put it all on a credit card. If you put it on the credit card because you can't afford it, then your bill is even higher, because now you have to pay interest on it, and it's even less affordable. If I were to obtain health insurance on my own, I couldn't afford that either. That $200 plus a month is food for one person, or my car payment (and my car gets me to work), or more than my whole month's gas budget. I'm not talking about having extra spending cash to travel or buy new gadgets or gear, I'm talking about cost of living expenses. I also, according to statistics, make too much money to qualify for medical assistance programs. So, too poor to pay for medical care/coverage, but too rich to qualify assistance. This is where the struggle of the middle class lies. I hate to say it, but it's possible I'd be better off if I made less money. So what do I do, well, I'm fortunate that now, after years of this, I can get health insurance through work, which is marginally more affordable, but I can't help but think that money could be better spent on something else, especially when I still hesitate to visit a doctor when I need it because I still can't afford the deductibles.

Housing. The cheapest single family home on the market in the zip code I live in is listed at $160,000. You may not think that is all that bad until you dig a little deeper. This property has no well or septic and is not hooked up to public water, this means no drinking water and you have an outhouse. There are many properties like this on the market, they sound ok on the surface, but they are not habitable by the standards of the lenders. If you make enough money to purchase a home with a large sum of cash you have managed to save over the years and have more cash to spend on upgrades and repairs you are in good shape. If you are middle class, chances are you have possibly saved up some money for a down payment and plan on obtaining a loan to pay for your new home. This is pretty standard in America. What I wasn't prepared for is that if you are obtaining a loan, the property you are purchasing not only has to meet all of your personal requirements for your new home, but the bank's requirements as well. So that home for $160,000 isn't something you can buy because the bank isn't going to give you a loan for a property without running water and a toilet that flushes. Looking at move in ready homes, your prices tend to jump up. Here's another one for you. The next zip code over, so between my current residence and my current job, the cheapest single family home on the market is $667,500. Low income housing in the county starts in the $300,000 range. According to my banker, the purchase price of my new home needs to be under $200,000 or my monthly payments would be 75% or more of my monthly income, and after paying for my mandatory health insurance there may not be anything left over for a car or food or gas or a phone or utilities or any other luxuries. Oh, you don’t consider having a cell phone or internet access or cable tv a luxury? What about electricity? Again, these are the problems of middle class America. These are things we have come to accept and expect as standard quality of life necessities. I could sell my car and hitchhike to work. I could live without a phone at home. Do I want to? No. So I listen to my banker and hope that I can find a home I can afford because the notion of a higher paying job in the area seems absurd when this is the highest paying job I’ve had ever. Perhaps I am an idealist, and I like to believe that since I have worked hard my whole life, and hold multiple jobs, and have landed some sort of career, that I can have a roof over my head, preferably a house. We could look at the rental market, but here’s the reality, renting my own home is actually more expensive monthly than purchasing one (and we’ve already looked at the expense of purchasing one). Renting a room means I have to have strangers as roommates, I can’t live with my fiancé anymore even though we have lived together for almost 6 years and want to have a family together (and having kids while we live in different houses with various strangers as roommates really doesn’t sound like a good option to me), and I’d have to give away my pets, and I’m sorry, but I have had Miss Sunshine for almost 10 years now and it would break my heart and hers if we were to part ways, this is not an option. So these are the difficult choices I make as a middle class American. I choose to have a car and a phone and a fiancé and a dog (actually 2 and a cat). I choose to live in Colorado. I choose to stay at my middle income job. Because of this I struggle with housing and healthcare. There is no easy answer. The system is flawed. If I were to live somewhere the cost of living was lower, the wages would be lower as well. When I moved to NC for a summer, I learned this first hand. For the same position as I’d held in Colorado at the time (actually it was a higher position in NC) I was to make $3-$5 less an hour. I keep telling myself it will all work out eventually. The reality is that it will all work out because I work hard and make it work out. I’m not sure I’m trying to complain exactly, but I’m frustrated. There are programs in place to help low income families get food and healthcare and housing, but I make too much money for these programs and I don’t make enough money to take care of these things without them. I’m stuck in the middle class. A topic for another day perhaps, but what’s really eating me up is that I want to have a family and that’s even more challenging. I’m looking at housing with the notion that I’d like to have kids in the second bedroom not a roommate. I want to have health insurance so I can take them to the doctor or take care of myself so I can take care of them. One day of child care would cost as much or more than one day of my wages so available income for other things would be less. It’s a fragile and complicated system and I’ve yet to figure out how to make it work to my advantage.

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