Dear America

America…

Home of the brave, land of the free and country of the broke, hard working, underpaid, stressed out people. We are supposed to be the greatest country on earth, but in reality we are a country filled with millennials who work 40+ hours a week yet cannot keep up with the crushing weight of their student loans on top of their already steep daily bills. Those who have been working 30 or more years who are no more closer to retirement than they were the day they began their careers.

Many of us are in way over our heads in extraneous debts from credit cards which we have to use to buy gas, and groceries because our bank accounts are drained each month from our other bills and loans. We are a country which works nonstop to keep up with the Jones’s but we can’t even keep up with Uncle Sam. We are told from a young age that an education is the key to success, yet more and more it seems as if it’s actually the key to a lifetime of debt and stress.

I am one of the millions of Americans struggling to pay their bills each month. I am twenty-nine, I have a B.A. in Art History and an M.A. in Art Administration. I work five days a week, collect a paycheck that many would see as decent pay, yet each month I am crippled by the overwhelming amount of debt that I have. I have more than a mortgage’s worth of student loans, some federal and some private. I have credit card debt because I sometimes don’t have money in the bank for groceries. I also pay my rent, car payment, internet and cell phone bill each month along with buying basic necessities such as food, gas and toiletries. Oh, and the kicker… I’m living well above what the government deems the poverty line for individuals which is a ridiculous $11,880 for a household of one in 2016. (aspe.hhs.gov)

I save as much money as possible yet because of overdrafts on my account when bills come out my savings account is constantly depleted. I am part of the staggering 48% of Americans who could not handle a mere $400 emergency without selling their belongings or borrowing more money. This is backwards. I work hard, I work extra hours, take on extra responsibility. I went to school, did what I was supposed to do, I should be able to enjoy my life. I should be able to go out for a drink and not have to worry that I won’t be able to buy groceries. I should be able to celebrate that I’m going to Paris this summer instead of dreading that I should have just saved the money for bills. I worked really hard to go on that trip, yet I’m having a difficult time celebrating it.

What do we do? How do we stand up to a broken system so that we can ensure a solid future for ourselves, and our families. Who is the person with the voice big enough to help this cause? Education is not a business, this is America, it should be a basic human right. But, our government is always too busy bailing out big business and corporations that are just plain irresponsible with their money. So, I guess we’ll just sit here and wait, waving our hands and yelling for help while the people in charge keep passing and throwing spare pennies our way.

Also, this shit is stressful so take a second to laugh.

by Colleen O’Connor


Originally published at obviweretheladies.com on August 16, 2016.