I would pose a question to all the powers that be in Washington, D.C., and especially to President-elect Barack Obama and his new appointees when they take power: When do people like me get a "bailout"? What of the people who have worked their entire lives and either continue to do so, or perhaps are currently out of work through no fault of our own? What of we who did not take out particularly risky mortgages we knew we could not afford, but continue to struggle to pay our mortgages on time and watch the values of our homes decline? What of we who are faced with medical bills that our health insurance did not cover or because we cannot afford health insurance? What about we who have not defaulted on our credit cards (and thus are never offered any special lower rates or lump-sum payoffs that those who default are) but find economic times have caused us to use them for necessities, and we now are almost at our credit limits for the first time in years? What about us?
I watch all the news and political shows and always find myself wondering how many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year the guy or gal in the suit I'm listening to earns. Do they know the feeling of seeing a bill arrive in the mail and the sinking sensation in the pit of our stomachs because we know full well we cannot pay it? Do these wealthy members of industry, the media and government—those asking for bailout money, those dispensing it and those reporting on it—know what it is to try to keep a family member from hospitalization, even though it will make them better, because your family cannot pay for it? Are any of them trying to explain to their kids that this year Santa won't be bringing anything? Do any of them have hanging over their heads deferred student loans that we know will come due in a couple of years? Do they know what it is like to have no savings left at all despite having worked for the last 35 years? And to watch the tiny retirement account that does not even contain a year's salary, dwindling daily?
There must be hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of us. We are the backbone of America. We have worked as carpenters and masons, secretaries and nurses, maintenance men and women, civil servants, waiters and waitresses. We are current on our bills, and our mortgages, credit cards and student loans were made by honest prime lenders, not subprime lenders who committed fraud. So where is our bailout? Shall we deliberately default on our mortgages and loans as the only way anyone will take notice of us? It is easy for the automaker CEOs and the UAW president to afford the time and money to travel to Washington, D.C. Too bad every hard-working American from every state in this nation cannot find the time and money to board buses to face our lawmakers to point out that assisting the wealthy who have mismanaged multimillion-dollar corporations on the one hand and the irresponsible people who made ridiculous financial decisions on the other, leaves out the bulk of America. With no one to speak on our behalf, we have become the silent majority.
Pamela Woodies is a full-time secretary and part-time political science major at Boise State. She lives in Boise's North End with her husband, 15-year-old son, two dogs and one cat.