Answering the Proverbial Political Question
By Michelle Maskaly on September 06, 2012
“Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
It’s a simple question, which is why political strategists on any side like to use it in every election – whether a candidate is running for mayor or president. But, as I pondered it over the past two weeks during the conventions, I learned it’s not always a simple answer.
Four years ago I was working as a news editor for a major cable television network in Manhattan. I was in the process of looking at houses in an upstate New York neighborhood where I had always wanted to live.
My health care plan at work was pretty good: health, mental health, dental and vision. I had a 401K that I contributed to, as did my employer. Part of my paycheck went directly into savings. I had pre-tax commuter benefits and was given a stipend for late-night travel. Paid-vacation was the norm, and if I worked holidays I not only got paid, but also got an extra day off.
Fast forward to now.
I have been at an open-ended, in-office contractor at a financial services firm for more than a year. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Health benefits, they’re offered through a third-party, but it’s not standard health care. It’s basically a discount package that has lots of limitations, despite paying more than what I’ve ever paid per paycheck.
Paid vacations? Nope.
Every week, I apply to half-dozen or so jobs across the country. If I’m lucky I will get a call back every month or so. But, I’ve been told, I’m either over, or under, qualified for many of the positions.
Paying my bills? Mostly, but with the help of doing freelance work on the side.
So, am I better off than I was four years ago? The simple answer is, no.
Will it impact who I vote for? No.
Slightly surprising? Yes.
Many times when I have this discussion with people they automatically think I’ve written off Mr. Obama as a candidate. But, I haven’t – although I’m not saying that I’m voting for him either.
What I am saying is that I realize it’s not always 100 percent the President’s fault when things go down the tubes. Although he is our commander-in-chief, Congress has to pass the bills to fix things. And, when they are passed, it takes a number of months for the law to go into effect.
Policy takes time as well. As does stimulus, job creation and tax breaks and more buzz words whose goal is to get you thinking immediate action.
So, are you better off now than you were four years ago?
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