Is YOUR Economy Booming?

It was quite a show. Whether the cocktail party reception was placed in a room that was just a bit too small for the number of guests might have been by accident or quite possibly by design. In the very center of the room was a table filled with oysters on the half-shell, impossibly large shrimp with cocktail sauce, cracked crab legs, and other delicacies. The wait staff scurried back and forth to the open bar for those who didn’t choose to partake from the wine displayed at the table by the door. There were only a few tables with seats. This wasn’t a party. The people in attendance were there to be seen, to PAY their respects to the guest of honor, and to leave as soon as possible. And into all of this we throw Dave Cunix, the world’s worst mingler.

I approached four people, all holding wine glasses, who were standing near the back of the room. We all introduced ourselves and then two of the group, a married couple, took the opportunity to break away. I wish I had done the same. I was left with a financial planner in need of new friends and the owner of a chemical company, equally capable of polluting a conversation or the water supply. I will spare you the majority of his opinions, his rehash of the worst of Hannity, or his unhappiness with arrogant people (read Jews) like Dr. Zeke Emmanuel. What I found particularly offensive was his lead issue with Obamacare – the previously uninsured will be flooding the system demanding health care.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provided front door access to people who had been shut out from the health care system due to finances or preexisting conditions. Some were met with open arm. Some were met with resentment. How dare the poor clog up the waiting room at MY doctor’s office?

Today is the last day of Open Enrollment. Health insurance premiums in Greater Cleveland went up around 10%. Some were less. Some were more. The Tax Credit Subsidy, the help people get to pay their premiums, didn’t go up 10%. And I know that my clients who don’t qualify for a subsidy, the people who pay 100% of their premium, didn’t see a 10% increase in their income.

So my question is – Is Your Economy Booming?

We hear, incessantly, that the US economy is booming. The stock market is booming. Unemployment is falling. But, how are you doing?

If you take a trip to the mall, yes there are still retail enclaves, you will see plenty of vacancies. Talk to the store employees and you will find people working two and three jobs. Their hourly pay rate virtually unchanged in the last 10 years. Adults, 45 – 70 years old, still making less than $12 an hour. No benefits. No stability.

While entering information into I learn about the number of ways people work to make ends meet. Part-time real estate agents vie with future multi-level marketing executives for server positions at your favorite restaurants or to stock the shelves at your grocery store. Two jobs. Three jobs. Too busy to be successful. They are locked on a hamster wheel that takes all of their time and energy.

How frustrating it must be to be fighting to get by while the news touts our booming economy. When the national discussion turns to you getting a raise, alarms are sounded about the dangers of inflation and the fragility of American businesses.  And if you actually can afford to purchase insurance, because G-d knows you aren’t getting group health insurance at work, you encounter people who view you as an interloper.

I have heard from some how their 401K’s have grown in the last 10 years. Those more politically motivated will only tout the growth of the last three years. It is as if the stock market only goes up and never ever goes down. And, more importantly, the value of the Dow Jones doesn’t impact your  day to day ability to buy groceries. We really need to spend more time talking about the personal economies of average Americans.

The guest of honor kept his remarks to a minimum, working hard to say damn near nothing in three short paragraphs. I got my moment with him, trying not to be the first and certainly not the last, and then gave the valet my ticket to retrieve my car.

By the way, those shrimp really were huge. Someone’s economy is booming.


Picture – Some Exclusions Apply – David L Cunix