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February 09, 2009

The Recession Snowball

-4 The economic downturn doesn't have me worried about my family. I have long been in the habit of spending as little money as possible, and we live beneath our means. While we will be have canceled a couple of trips and put off a new car purchase, I know that we are some of the lucky ones in this current situation.

What worries me most are the choices that local government is going to have to make in the near future that will effect people who need their services. The Wake County Commissioners are preparing for a possible 17 million dollar shortfall this year. They have instigated a hiring freeze and they have cut all nonessential travel. Of course, I would like to know why they were paying for nonessential travel in the first place, but that's a question for another time.

We all know that what will be cut are services for the people. Services for people who couldn't afford to pay for them when the country wasn't in a recession. How do we expect for them to be able to pay for them now?

I listened as my husband and my father-in-law talked about the library closings that are scheduled in Wake County. They quipped about how everything was online now, and people really didn't use the library anymore, especially for reference material. People just use the internet.

People who can afford a computer and afford the monthly fees use the internet. The rest use the computers at the library. One of the branches that Wake County will be closing is the digital media center in downtown Raleigh. It was located in the heart of downtown and is usually full.

Where will those people go now? Will they be able to spend the extra money on transportation to a branch that is no longer within walking distance of their homes? Will they have the time to add in the travel it takes? Why does it always seem like information and education for people in our society who are considered low-income is always the first thing to be slashed?

It bothers me. The recession bothers me. I know there are upper and middle class people in trouble, but what worries me the most are the people who weren't making ends meet in the good times. The people for whom "low-income" really can't get any lower.

When our family's income was cut, I did things that almost make me blush. I let the maid go. I started coloring my hair at home. I stopped getting the dog groomed once a month. All of these things that I cut from our family's budget are things that cut another family's budget through no fault of their own. They were, in all honesty, our family's version of "unessential travel."

The recession feels like a tiny snowball to me. It starts on top of the hill, rolling, rolling down. Rolling right past most of us, it's getting bigger on it's descent, but even if it bumps into one of us high enough up on the hill, we are able to keep our footing. However, it keeps getting bigger and bigger as it rolls down the hill, and there are all of these people at the bottom who can't get out of it's way.

And here we stand, on the hill, looking upwards, just glad that we are left standing.

I don't want to be that person on the hill. I want to be the one who is part of a chain to help people up the hill, out of the path of the snowball.

I have no idea how to do that. I don't know how to help people when our family is tightening our own purse strings.

I do know that closing libraries and cutting services isn't going to help. It's just something that is making the snowball bigger on it's way down. 

An original Deep South Moms post. Marty can also be found at Don't Take the Repeats, Triangle Mamas, and Twitter.

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