Better Off?

I find it puzzling that so many conservatives are in such a lather about Obama’s reelection. One of the questions that arose throughout the election cycle was whether or not people were better off now than four years ago. It’s entirely possible that I’m either dazzlingly lucky or blindingly competent, but these last have been the best four years of my life economically. I did the following:

  • Made my highest salary ever
  • Lost that job but had the good fortune to turn down several other opportunities and pick one I love
  • Invested more than ever in the stock market, my 401k, and my kids’ education
  • Got money back from my insurance company thanks to the Affordable Care Act
  • Had my highest tax refund ever (while fearing that I had screwed things up and would take a bath)
  • Spent loads of money making improvements to my home

In short, it’s been a great few years for me. I’m not necessarily interested in giving credit for that to Obama (other than the Affordable Care Act, maybe). But my point is that even if he hasn’t been directly responsible for what’s been a period of prosperity for me, his policies haven’t wrecked my life or finances either, and it’s hard for me to imagine that he’s going to wreck them going forward.

I’m nowhere near wealthy, but I’m fortunate enough to be nowhere near the poverty line either, and maybe I’m just in a rare sweet spot that has made me, in fact, better off now than I was four years ago.

It’s easy to run around muppet-arming when somebody the pundits tell you to be afraid of gets into office. Lord knows I thought hard about striking out for Canada when Bush got into office (and then did it again), and things never got quite so bad as requiring that. But it was sure easy to think that they might. So in a way, I can understand the impulse conservatives have right now to think that things are going to be awful (in spite of things like the Affordable Care Act and falling unemployment that seem like they’d make life better for us plebes).

I do wonder, in real life, pragmatic terms — as in how people’s particular finances and prospects are likely to be affected and not some abstraction about how millionaires will have smaller piles of gold and gems to sit on while eating haunches of meat — how much impact Obama’s continued term in office will have on folks in my tax bracket and lower. I’m not baiting or trying to speculate (while distancing myself from the speculation by pretending I’m just idly wondering). I’m really sincerely curious what particular policies Joe and Peggy down the street think will drive them to ruin, and exactly how.

Maybe I’m doing just enough better than many people that policies that’ll affect them negatively won’t affect me. But if, in my still pretty modest tax bracket, I can be so out of touch that I can’t really quite imagine what all the fuss is about, then how vastly more out of touch must Romney be? And Obama, for that matter? And anybody who’s managed to make it to the national stage in politics?

Stay Away from the Moon

I just stepped out of the office for a glass of water and stopped, as I often do when poking my head out, to say hi to my wife and son. My wife told me that Finn had asked what she wanted to do today, and she answered that she’d like to fly to the moon. She shouldn’t do that, he cautioned her. When she asked why, he replied, “Newt Gingrich.” Pressing for more details, she discovered that his reasoning was that Gingrich would make you work in a factory if you went to the moon. He apparently wants to build factories in space, which proposal Finn learned about this morning while overhearing my wife’s listening to Rachel Maddow.

Yet another reason to avoid voting for Newt.

You know, I hear that while he was building factories on the barren moon, he was shopping the idea around to build on other celestial bodies as well, the promiscuous rascal.

Given his religious background, it stands to reason that Romney might have an interest in space too.