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The Sound of No Money

Truth Partisan's picture

The Sound of No Money

It sounds like this: I don't know how I'm going to heat my house this winter. I don't know how I can afford driving my car to work. There's not going to be enough money. They're going to freeze to death this winter. A lot of people are going to move South. I can't afford to heat my house and eat. I have to already buy all the food on sale now, what happens this winter? Everyone needs to have a little plot of land like a victory garden so they can grow their own food. Maybe going to college will have to be like during the Depression, took twice as long to get through school. You went to school one year, then you worked the next year to earn the money for the year after.

All of these things have been said to me in the past six weeks. We are having a crisis now, and when the really cold weather sets in again in the north, we are going to have a huge crisis in the north, if oil prices stay as they are now.

Some people I know have locked into very high oil prices for the winter; some can't afford the price they have locked in. Most of the schools around here have spend their summers so far upgrading their heating systems. A member of the school board told me that the heating costs here are going to be over one million dollars for the schools this year--at the discount price gotten by schools banding together. The price of a full cord of wood jumped from 225 to 350 in about two weeks. People are driving less, signing up for fewer summer courses, and buying less. The thrift clothing stores are crowded. There are more yard sales. There are more cars for sale on the lawn.

Food prices have jumped a lot also, especially dairy and meat, so that many are having less. Fruit prices have gotten higher too, especially the shipped fruit, but also the locally grown. The shelters and the food pantries are out of food and requesting donations.

Everyone said this: What are we going to do?

UPDATE: Only a few of the above are also true of me personally (for example, the heating the house problem, which I solved by the buying of 3 cords of wood) but all the things were said to me by people who live here. We are all in this together.
You here at Correntewire are the best. Thanks for helpful suggestions. Maybe we should make a thread for winter survival.

What do you think of the idea of a "Warm House"? You put a sign in the window, and there's a free ad in the paper, and people can come sit in your living room for the day and you keep the stove stoked up so everyone's warm. They can keep the heat low at their own houses. Then the next day--or week?--someone else has the Warm House at their house.

(The title is from this Sunday.)

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scarshapedstar's picture
Submitted by scarshapedstar on

I'm actually supporting myself 100% for the first time in my life, and while I don't have as much time as I wish I did to study for the MCAT, it's not too bad a life here in midtown Atlanta. Public transportation is pretty bare-bones, but it you plan your life around it, it's really worth it not to have to pay a car note and gas and car insurance. I work 5-9 AM as a lifeguard at on most weekdays, and that covers my rent and utilities. My food money comes from waiting at the cheapest (and therefore slowest) restaurant in Buckhead, but it works. I'm squarely at the bottom of the economic ladder, but it's comfortable enough for a youngun. I can't say that I'd want to do this forever; obviously I hope to get into med school and hop onto a much more glorious treadmill, but in the near future I can at least get a better waiting job and earn a respectable income.

People really just need to ditch the car before the game of Metro Musical Chairs is stacked against them. And if you think "But I simply must get some home equity!" well... that, like a car, ain't all it's cracked up to be in 2008, eh?

But I still believe
And I will rise up with fists!!

Submitted by PA_Lady on

What happens when all of us going-broke-paying-for-heat rural Northerners move down? Are there going to be enough jobs, enough apartments for all of us?

Why should I have to move to a congested, polluted, noisy, crime-ridden city* in order to afford food, heat, electric, etc?

What we need to work on - as has been repeated here often -- is becoming more locally sustainable. In the old days, before oil, people were more self-sufficient, travel away from home was restricted to vital trips planned in advance, and needed skills were used to barter for goods/services that couldn't be produced at home.

To be honest, if/when it all goes to hell, I'd rather take my chances out here, where I can grow my own food (or a large portion of it) and have access to water and wood, rather than being stuck in a city (or worse yet, the suburbs) and wondering when the food truck will arrive.

(Treadmills, by the way, go nowhere, no matter what kind you're on. The idea is to get off altogether.)

- - -
*I know for many city and suburban folks the idea of living out here in the middle of nowhere is just as horrifying.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Don't move south to save on your energy bills. South of about Philly, the AC bill in the summer more than compensates for the lower oil bill to heat in the winter.
This is as true in the Ozark foothills as on the Texas high plains. In the Ozarks, you get the worst of both worlds, though -- winter starts earlier, is colder, and lasts longer. Plus it's never really dry. Like Louisiana, only with less mosquitoes.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Submitted by jawbone on

lessening of pain and for preventing deaths. Energy stamps would work for electric, heating, transportation needs.

It's not a long term program (hopefully), but we can't just let people sink or swim. Given Obama's attitude toward the tax holiday, I don't know what he will do.


Truth Partisan's picture
Submitted by Truth Partisan on

We REALLY need some short term solutions right away. And the need will be even greater for the winter in the north.

Obama certainly isn't touting any short term program, saying they are short-sighted. But not dealing with the crisis on the ground is extremely short-sighted. He could do something NOW--he's a senator, he could introduce an emergency bill.

I like your proposal. How would your idea of energy stamps work--as compared to home heating aid, which is averaging only about 300 dollars/family that qualifies with a lower income?

Submitted by PA_Lady on

The big problem is going to be the cost. While food stamps are were meant to cover most of an average family's food bills (before prices started heading skyward), we simply won't pass legislation that would do the same for energy costs. It won't even be considered, not when we're looking at hundreds per month to heat the average home, on top of a couple hundred or more in transportation costs for the average commuter.

Assume an energy stamps program that paid 1/3rd of the average family's monthly heat and transportation costs -- my pulled-out-of-my-ass guesstimate of $200/mo for heating and/or transportation times 5 months (Nov 1-March 31) times...say, 10 million households? That's $10 billion, for one fiscal year. Cheap compared to a lot of DoD projects and about the same as a month in Iraq, but the flying monkey brigades will shriek and fling poo to a degree that will make the S-CHIP fight and lapel-pin/Pledge/secret Muslim hysteria look like kindergarten scuffles.

That said, the best short-term fix (IMHO) is to expand LIHEAP, both the annual grant and income eligibility. Then tax oil company profits to pay for it.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

(and did) and he might again this winter. I like the idea of expanding LIHEAP too, as well as the 'round up' options on energy bills various utilities offer.

I'm finally going to get the woodstove I have been waiting for (if I ever really get the stimulus check) and have been putting extra vegetable seed by, in case I am suddenly feeding my extended family next summer. Oh, yeah, the price on veggie seed is going up too, as land goes out of production on that and into biofuel.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

I'm wondering if -- like we saw with Big Pharma offering discounts or free meds for people who couldn't afford their medications (I get one of my very-expensive daily meds this way) -- if Big Oil won't start running some kind of feel-good program of its own.

Like Chavez , they'll either offer fuel oil at reduced prices and/or give a tank or two to families that meet income guidelines via local heating oil companies, etc.

It would be completely self-interested, won't be nearly enough, and would be restricted to the poorest families, but at the same time - it could be useful and ease some of the demand on LIHEAP that could go to other, slightly better off people. Especially if the grants and eligibility are expanded to aid more families.