Am I Better Off Now than 4 Years Ago?

By , September 26, 2012

I have avoided politics on this blog even though I have a lot to say on the topic. That isn’t the purvue of this publication. However, I, like anyone else who pays any attention to public affairs, have been asked to consider The Big Question: (which I take the liberty here to correct for accuracy): Am I better off now than I was when the current president took office?

Well, let’s see . . . .

Since the current president took office, I started my own small business, Yeldagalga Publications, LLC. Through it, I’m expanding on my freelance Web design work, and helping authors prepare their writing for print-on-demand publishing.

I didn’t seek any loans or grants to start the business. I started it using our own funds. An investor injected a small amount of capital—$500—but I didn’t need that investment to get started, it was just a good opportunity for both of us at the time. By the next year, I showed a net profit. Clients are fairly thin on the ground, since people are nervous about spending money, and I’m overly forthcoming with answers to casual questions that allow friends and family to proceed without needing to hire me. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve been hired to do, and the clients seem to be as well. I have a real advantage in having almost no operating costs and low living expenses, which allows me to charge much lower fees than most people in my line of work.

The skills I use in my business are largely self-taught. I’ve acquired these skills through my own initiative, rather than learning them in school.

Earlier this year, Michelle applied for and got a part time job in town. It pays well, provides some benefits, and brings her into contact with new people, which she loves.

None of this is making us rich monetarily, but it pays the bills, and meets our financial needs.

Aly entered college in this same period. She paid for her first year through scholarships and work, and has just paid for the coming term. She’s signed a couple of student loans, but not the higher interest loans we hear about on the news.

Anything else? A lot of public policy decisions and homeland security issues have been addressed to my satisfaction, but all that has little direct impact on our lives here, so I won’t go into detail.

So yes, my family is better off now than we were in 2009.

BUT . . .

I should point out that we took possession of the homestead during the housing crash that occurred under the previous administration. We managed to procure the property despite steep downward national trends. We paid off both the old mortgage and the new one, so we never faced any problems with housing debt. We survived the financial crash. It did wipe out a lot of our retirement savings, but we weren’t really relying on it. And, incidentally, we never qualified for the tax rebates that “everyone” got back then.

We looked after our own interests. We eliminated debt. We pared down expenses to a minimum. We get much of our food from our own efforts rather than paying someone else to provide it. Our jobs offer services that enough people want or need that they’ll pay for it, even in a bad economy.

In other words, we’re not the kind of people who expect or demand that the President of the United States make things “all better” for us. The president isn’t responsible for whether we succeed or fail, we are. Yes, some policies affect us directly, but for the most part our own efforts dictate whether we survive or go under.

So, perhaps we should ask a follow up to The Big Question: “If not, who’s fault is it?”

You will find a version of the essay above, as well as writing on similar and related topics in Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm by Mark A. Zeiger, available in print, eBook, and audiobook editions. The published version will likely be expanded, clarified, or updated from what you have just read.

5 Responses to “Am I Better Off Now than 4 Years Ago?”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Well said!

  2. JohnM says:

    Hello Mark:

    I certainly respect what you and your family have been able to accomplish regarding lifestyle. Clearly, you are an independent, resourceful and rare “doer” of the highest sort.

    Finding your site/blog was the result of my being an avid fan of the late Phil Bolger, and reading different people’s success with building his designs. He was indeed, a rare, and gifted man in the Marine design field.

    Your question posted “Am I better off……” somewhat surprised me. However, being a person who has spent much of my adult life wondering about such things, I will give a short opinion on your question.

    First: You are better off from what I can discern from this most interesting Internet photo/essay, than perhaps 95% of the rest of the citizens of the U.S., and more likely 100% better off than the rest of humanity.

    I don’t know what went on four years ago, but by this I think you may be referring to your future financial prospects. The financial future of the general U.S. “working” population is NOT going to get better, no matter who sits in the “Oval Office.”

    A lot of our society worries endlessly, over finance, and “What if?….. you fill in the blanks.” I have known some very wealthy people, who at the coming prospect of death, wished for “Health”, instead of their millions$$.

    I spent many years pursuing a religious/social/political answer to why so many large scale national events occur, that are totally to the detriment of our nations well being.

    I have studied much of our actual, historical, Constitutional Law seeking an answer. I read much of our nation’s history, including the War of Independence, the “Civil War”, WWI, WWII, the Korean War (much of MacArthur’s writings on the subject), Vietnam War, and the “Banking” system …etc. I think you get the picture.

    Through these multitude of quests, one particular fact emerged; the events the public is taught (public school, college) and believes to be true, those things one “hears about”, TV, Radio, Newspapers, are a “packaged public relations belief system, that has been in effect for over 100 years, perhaps longer.”

    To put it more simply, the Media LIES about everything. The U.S.Government LIES to the gullible public about everything, ALL the TIME. The grade schools, High schools, and Colleges shove blatant LIES of the worst sort into the minds of innocent, trusting children, and young people, that are in 100% sync with the “planned obfuscation of truth.”

    Surely, being a “homeschool family” you are aware of some of this.

    The real “Historical truth” regarding the “World” we live in today, as well as the past events that brought us to the state of affairs currently in place is knowable. There does exist a “Hierarchy” in the world controlling powers, and their plans are written about, even boastfully. The public is regarded as “chattel property”, “dumb fools”, and “willing slaves!” to name a few adjectives.

    However, most people today read very little, if at ALL!, and TV is the basic delivery system to keep the “status quo” moving along.

    Those (the majority) will NEVER understand.


    John M

  3. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi John,

    I don’t talk about it much on this blog, but I wouldn’t argue with anything you say here. You forgot to throw in the term “Fodder Units” (a term every conservative should look up, read about, and understand the implications of). I try not to proselytize on the blog, because that sort of talk tends to get one categorized with groups one does not necessarily support. I tend to sum it all up with the (half joking) phrase: “There’s a reason I live out in the woods!”

  4. Sandy Pittman says:

    I know this is an older post and you may not even see my comment, but I want to say that I have the same belief that we make of our life what we will and putting the blame for unfortunate things that happen in our lives is just passing the buck for our own poor planning or thinking processes. I will keep my opinion about the government to my self, except to say, I don’t have a problem with the president, but the lack of caring of the people we have elected to office disturbs me greatly. Where is the cooperation that is needed to heal the problems in our country. Many of these problems are able to be healed with cooperation and concern for our fellow man. If we could all just see past the tip of our own noses we could see that every individual act of caring and concern can begin the healing process.

  5. Mark Zeiger says:

    Sandy, I agree! Unfortunately, I think we’ve reached the point (or perhaps we’ve always been there) where the type of person who achieves public office is precisely the kind that has little or no empathy for others. They all try to appear as if they do, but one wonders.

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