Archive for Marriage

The Lie of Home Ownership and other myths of the Supremacy of Modern American Life.

Posted in Apartments, Economy, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2012 by urbannight

One of the hallmarks of the ‘American Dream’ is home ownership. The phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” originally meant life, liberty and the pursuit of property. (Or so we were taught in my college government course)

But I would argue that it is a myth. It isn’t really true.

Lets say you buy a house and over the years you get it paid off early. So now you feel it is truly yours and you no longer have to pay the bank. You have a deed that states that house and bit of dirt it sits on is your personal property. You still have to pay the government to actually have the right to own it. If you don’t, the government can seize it. Even thought you OWN it. It used to be that the local government could seize it to put a road through as well. But that law has changed. Now they can seize it if they want to build a mall there or if they want to put in a country club.

Ultimately, this means you DON’T really own anything. Despite what you paid to get that piece of paper saying you own it. At least you got a tax break on it. Oh wait, no. Romney wants to take that away. So you will no longer get that deductible on your taxes, which is about the only reason, anymore, that they say ‘owning’ is better than renting. 

At least if you rent, Renters insurance is less costly than home owners insurance and if you need something fixed, you just call maintenance and you don’t end up with a repair bill. 

Seems to me, renting is now the way to go.

Basically, home ownership is more like having a feudal estate.  You don’t ‘own’ the land, it is loaned to you by the government for you to manage for them.  And then you send in a portion of what you earn from the land in ‘taxes’ to the king.  Only people don’t usually ‘work’ a lot that a house sits on for income.  So you pay income taxes on the work you DO do and then you pay property taxes from the same work income. 

Wow.   I think those feudal landowners’ probably had it better.  They only paid one tax.  They just had to fight for their lord when war happened.  Oh yeah, we do that too.  Sometimes through volunteer service and sometimes through a draft.  And, sometimes, people who volunteered and served their term of service are not allowed to leave when their time is over.  So maybe they were still better off back then.

At least we have better medical treatment.  Although, for an industrialized, first world nation, we have the worst rates for easily prevented death from asthma.  We also have a strangely high infant mortality rate from other preventable deaths (from conditions that should have been preventable).  This is because medical costs are so high that people don’t go to the doctor for things that don’t look, seem, or sound serious at the moment.  Not like other industrialized countries with nationalized health care and people can go to the doctor for things more often without going into bankruptcy (even thought many people who lose everything because of medical dept actually have health insurance).  So while we have better medical treatment it is too costly for people to access it.  Lets call that a null.  So feudal people are still better off.

The working conditions were not great.  At least we have that better.  Well, if you can find a job.  And if it has a good health package.  And if it has high enough wages.  Even all those added together, we actually work more days a year, have less days off.  So we have better tools and equipment and work conditions but we work more and have less time for ourselves.  I might call that a wash too.

I guess the freedom to live our lives the way we want and no one telling us how to live.  Nope. We don’t even have that.  The GOP is trying to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights and religious people are trying to tell people who they cannot marry.  Which is a bit a change from the king being able to order certain knights or lords or marry their daughters to other certain knights or lords.  Still, it is one person dictating who can or cannot marry. 

Finally, I’ve found one thing in which we have going better for us than in feudal times.  We live longer.  That’s about it.

He died and I don’t know if I should offer her my condolences or congratulations?

Posted in Life, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by urbannight

I’m trying to process my thoughts and reactions.

Once upon a time in a land far far away a young woman didn’t have a very good home life. As a result, she married someone in order to get out of her parents home. Because back then, you usually lived at home even after school and college if you didn’t manage to get married during college.

So she ends up living on a farm, being allergic to all animals other than camels and llamas (which is why here vet degree turned out useless), married to someone with the same issues she had growing up in her parents home.

She eventually has enough and leave him and moves back home swearing she will never marry again. She has never really shared details of what her home life was like or what finally happened that caused her to leave him. But once again she became desperate enough to leave her parents home that she married again. She said that this husband was better than the first because, “at least he didn’t hit.”

When I met her, her son from her first marriage was grown and she was coming to our stitching group. When her husband would let her. He didn’t like it when she went out by herself. He didn’t like it when she drove. And when they went on trips, he had to do the driving. So she knew something was wrong when he asked her to take over. In fact, she ended up having to take him to the hospital.

For the next 8 years or so, (I don’t think it has been a full decade) he has been ill and needed a great deal of care.

While we don’t know a lot of details about the marriage before he fell ill, we do know he was manipulative and emotionally abusive and a serious control freak. After he became ill, is was worse in some ways and better. On one hand, she could get out a little more. Especially whenever he was hospitalized.

On the other hand, his treatment of her got worse. One day he had her drive him to the bank so he could make sure her name was not on any of the accounts and make sure she wouldn’t have any access to money. He was also contacting a lawyer so she or her son would never get any of his money. He wanted to give power of attorney over to a relative that did not live near them.

She eventually convinced him that this was a bad idea. For the simple reason that she would not be able to pay any hospital bills and if he was hospitalized and completely out of it, as had happened a number of times, she would not be able to okay any treatment until they were able to get the relative to fly in.

One time he almost killed himself because he was taking his medications wrong. She rushed him to the hospital, they got him straightened out. After that they told her that even thought he seems okay enough that he ought to be able to keep track of things like that, he wasn’t really and she needed to keep track of it all.

And then she stopped coming to stitching because the woman she came with started working had worked and her job included weekends. This husband was only okay with my friend going places with this woman. Maybe it was because she was a stay at home mom and wife for so many years that he thought she ‘knew her place’. As the woman is a wiccan, he probably had no idea the amount of support she gave our friend and how much we all kept trying to work on this friend’s self esteem issues.

This woman I’m talking about is a wonderful woodcarver. She calls her style crude primitive but in actuality it is not crude at all. It is slightly on the primitive style but that is a legitimate carving group that refers to a look but not to any lack of skill. She also has a huge heart and spends a lot of her time knitting mittens and hats for someone she knows in the social work field. These get handed out to kids and poor families if they go in during the cold months.

This woman had her sense of self-esteem and self-worth beaten into the ground by her family and two husbands but was not broken. She is stronger than she thinks she is. We always thought she was strong enough to stand on her own but I think, in the end, it wasn’t because she was afraid to try but more because she just didn’t have any idea on how to do it.

She is also a bit of a technophobe and she refused to have anything to do with the internet. To her, a computer is only a fancy word processor. So the other day, she called a mutual friend who owns the store at which our stitching group meets, to inform her that her husband had died. The shop owner then disseminated the news via a media form most of the stitching group would see.

My first reactions was elation. Followed very quickly by guilt that I could feel that way. It turns out I wasn’t the only one. The person who spread the news said that when our friend called her, she didn’t know whether to say, “I’m sorry,” or “Congratulations”.

At that point the other day, our friend was “ecstatic with the idea of just her and Agnes (the cat) sharing the house. She’s also excited that she can go to McD’s any time she wants now without having to plan an excuse.”

How bad does a marriage have to be when that is a woman’s reaction to the death of her husband? From every hint I’ve ever heard, I think this is being freed from a prison or sorts.